Is Affiliate Marketing better than MLM?

affiliate marketing vs mlm

 Affiliate Marketing vs MLM

Affiliate marketing seems to be the latest buzzword in the online business sphere but now that big names like Amazon and eBay are getting in on the trend, let us talk about it seriously for a moment. Is this another Multi Level Marketing scam? Or does affiliate marketing really work?


If you have ever seen a YouTube video that is sponsored by a company or a brand, or read a blog reviewing retail products- anything from a book to a pair of sunglasses while browsing for the right one to buy, you’ve witnessed Affiliate Marketing in action.


Essentially, Affiliate Marketing is a catch-all term for online creators who promote content on their websites and similar platforms and get a commission from the number of sales that go through them. It has little to do with multi-level marketing as affiliate marketing basically just serves as a bridge between a company that creates a product and is looking to sell it and the customers who might be interested in such a product.


Understanding the Difference

Consider a website that reviews books, movies, comic books and other such similar content. Their audience is a set of people who are interested in these niches and as a result, would most likely be interested in products associated with the books and comics that they read.


A company that caters to such an audience, like a t-shirt company that offers t-shirts with graphic designs of comic book characters might find an affiliate marketer in this review website, especially if they are very popular. By offering the review website an opportunity to promote the company’s products on their website and earn a commision on every sale, the t-shirt company is able to tap into an audience who are extremely likely to buy their products.


It is a win-win situation for everyone. Especially the customers, as they are not only introduced to products that are tailored to their tastes, most affiliate marketers will also offer a discount or a free trial if you place an order through them.


Things to Consider

– With affiliate marketing you don’t have to pay an yearly fee


– Unlike MLMs there is no initial investment in Affiliate Marketing that you feel pressured to justify and neither are you attempting to force a product on someone who isn’t interested in buying it.


–  With some MLMs there is no product or service to sell and one only gets money from referrals.


– You just have a pyramid scheme, where the top level ones make money at the expense of the ones below


– U.S F.T.C is adverse to any MLM schemes and advises all to stay away from it.


When new people don’t join, which will happen sooner than later, you lose out on your money.


Affiliate Marketing – A Different Approach

The question though is, as a creator, do you really make money from Affiliate Marketing?


Or do you risk turning off your audience by selling out? Of course the idea of a reviewer who is financially invested in the product may make an audience wary, but most affiliate marketers only promote products that they have used and are personally fond of.


Most successful reviewers will compare several products and only associate themselves with the products that they do like and end up honestly advising you about the best ones available.


It is very easy to weed out reviewers who are paid off or are just trying to make a quick buck by promoting unsatisfactory products and on the internet, no doubt they will be called out for such behaviour by their audience immediately.


More and more online retailers are offering affiliate programs to bring their products to a wider audience.

The most popular of these is Amazon’s affiliate program through which you can promote any product available for sale on the website through your platform.


The Top Benefits of Affiliate Marketing vs MLM

Non Intrusive Advertisements

If you are an online content creator, affiliate marketing offers a system of advertisement on your platform that is non-intrusive for your audience and at the same time, supports your creative endeavours.


Corporate sponsorship

It is an incredible way for creators, especially those whose content is mostly online to continue pursuing their artistic interests and make enough money through it that they do not have to take up a traditional job.


Helps You Explore Your Life

Affiliate marketing is also an incredible option available to people who are not interested in the nine to five grind.

For example, a housewife interested in writing, who blogs about her everyday life and talks about childcare, education and homecare can review and promote products that she is familiar with, like children’s books and household products.


Not only does she have relevant experience in talking about these products, her audience is also mostly other housewives who will be interested in trying them, especially now that they come with a recommendation.


Affiliate marketing is not a pyramid scheme or a multi-level marketing scam at all. In fact, it is an innovative and highly effective internet marketing and advertisement technique that looks like it is here to stay.


All the best,



If you enjoyed this post, you might want to check out these articles as well;
What is Affiliate Marketing and Does it Work?
Online Retail Growth And Its Benefits To Affiliates
Build Up your Passive Income during Retirement with Affiliate Marketing


10 thoughts on “Is Affiliate Marketing better than MLM?”

  1. justin

    Hey really good article, I agree with everything you said. I’m part of an affiliate marketing group on facebook and I always see people spam these MLM scams and the only way to make money is from referrals. Affiliate marketing there are multiple ways to earn income and I’m trying to start earning from each of the ways! Keep up the good work!

    1. Ed

      Thank you, Justin. Affiliate marketing is certainly a better choice than MLMs. There’s only so many friends and family members available to recruit.


  2. JeffWA

    Hi Ed, Without a doubt and essentially because so many MLMs that are still present on the Internet are nothing but fraudulent scams – making false promises that a person could become quite wealthy if he/she chooses to join such an outfit, affiliate marketing is a more legit and viable opportunity to build a financially successful online business.

    As noted in your excellent article, the individual acting as an affiliate marketer through promoting a company’s (Amazon got example) products does not have to worry about recruiting other people to be placed beneath him/her in a down-line in order to earn real income. Besides that, many of these MLMs – especially those involved in promoting products having to do with dieting/health/wellness for the most part are non-FDA approved regarding the pills and drink concoctions that are a major component of their businesses.

    Just as long as an affiliate marketer gets aligned with a legit program, (for there are scam affiliate marketing programs as well), and is willing to work his/her tail off in promoting products on a website in the long run financial success can be achieved by that individual.

    It’s no wonder that the best training program on the Internet, Wealthy Affiliate provides so many tools, education and support for a person to become an affiliate marketer in running an online business. The site does not at all promote MLMs, and for good reason!


    1. Ed

      Thank you Jeff. Well said. 


  3. Dave

    Hello there,

    I have also been thinking that affiliate marketing is far better than Multi Level Marketing and turns out I was right. 🙂

    Personally, I like affiliate marketing because it helps you grow your passion and learn more about things you have always wanted in life, all the while making money.

    As for multi level marketing, you have to keep persuading folks to join your downline amd promote the products that the company you are promoting are selling. No flexibility here, no fun.

    1. Ed

      Thank you Dave. Very few people make a lot of money with MLMs. Trying to sell expensive products, trying to recruit friends and family. Not fun! Good luck with your affiliate marketing venture.


  4. Karen

    I have been involved in both MLM and Affiliate marketing – and I by far prefer the affiliate marketing approach.

    I never got on board with the whole prospecting thing required in MLM. Their marketing methods are dated and just cause discouragement to their members.

    One of the reasons I love affiliate marketing is that you get to learn and use proper online marketing methods – rather than making a list of a 100 people you know… 😉

    1. Ed

      I agree Karen. One of the reasons why I completely despise MLMs is that you have to recruit friends and family. I was never comfortable with this. You basically have to look at them as opportunities. There is no denying the fact that there are people that have become very successful with MLMs, but most don’t. You have to be extremely outgoing and very likable. Thanks.

  5. Chris

    Thankfully, I’ve never been part of an MLM setup, but I have worked as an affiliate marketer for nearly a decade now. 

    I’m afraid I’ll never see the bright side of MLM, no matter what certain people try and tell me. To me, 99.9% of them rely on recruitment rather than products – they are all based on a pyramid, but they are also clever enough to get around this illegal model with small print etc. 

    Have you ever been part of an MLM yourself, and if so, how did that experience pan out for you?

    1. Ed

      Thank you Chris. I have been involved in a total of 3 MLMs over the years. It always sounds good when you join, but reality sets in quickly after. It’s always the same old thing, they want you to bother family and friends. It’s just not my thing.

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