MLM vs Affiliate Marketing – Which Is Better?

To hear most marketers talk about it mlm vs affiliate marketing is a rather heated debate and I don’t understand why.

There are so many marketers out there who will tell you all the good about one method and bash the other.

Its actually funny to see how some justify why they say affiliate marketing is best and how terrible network marketing is, and visa versa.

I do things a little different and believe strongly that you should not do one or the other but instead learn how to thrive at both.

While affiliate and network marketing are very different, I think they complement each other very well and when you utilize both methods together, you can take your online business to a new level.

For those of you just getting started and are trying to figure out which path you should take should really consider your personal strengths before pulling the trigger and joining one or the other.

If you are one who likes to work on their own and needs quicker results then affiliate marketing is probably the best way to go but if you are looking at building a long term residual income then you may want to get started in the network marketing arena.

Still trying to decide which method is best for you?

Listen to my experience with both methods, it will help make your decision a lot easier.

affiliate marketing vs network marketing




MLM vs Affiliate Marketing

I remember it like it was yesterday, I was an eBay powerseller who was frustrated with the rising cost of sellers fees and shipping costs and was looking for something new.

Hours and hours of research online led me to this thing called affiliate marketing and saying that I was interested was an understatement.

I started reading everything I could get my hands on about how this affiliate marketing stuff worked and found a mentor who was willing to show me the ropes and teach me how to succeed in this business.

The thought of me making thousands of dollars each month had me sold and I was 100% in.

I bought everything I needed to get set up, domains, hosting, themes, auto-responder and a couple other things I really didn’t need but looked really cool.

I was ready and was soaking up every word my mentor was preaching to me.

He told me to blog daily about my product so I did and you know what happened, nothing.

But I kept going and right at the 3 month mark I made my first sale, 75% of a $47 product but I didn’t care because that one sale was enough to show me that this was real and it was possible for me to succeed.

I was truly stoked and once I had regained the belief in affiliate marketing I really stepped up my efforts and started scaling up my efforts.

The sales started rolling in rather steadily and now I was marketing several products in the health and fitness niche as well as a couple of popular Clickbank products in the make money online niche.

Things were going great and I was making good money from my affiliate sites but it was never going to be enough to quit my day job and make this a full-time gig so I went back to the drawing board and really started focusing on launch-jacking new product releases before they hit the market as well as getting into a lot of niches with less competition.

Just making these small tweaks to my business made all the different and within 6 months I went from barely making $1,000 a month to well over $5,000 a month but even that wasn’t going to be enough to call quits to the 9-5.

I was doing all that I could possibly do with my affiliate sites and was constantly starting up new projects but it seemed that I would never be able to scale my business large enough to reach my goal of quitting my job.

Quitting was not an option because I love affiliate marketing and despite high refund rates, low payouts per sale, and having constantly improve my game just to keep up with all the competition out there, I was here to stay but I was definitely looking for something that could take my business to the next level.

Insert network marketing…..

MLM vs Affiliate Marketing

I remember looking into mlm, network marketing when I was just an eBay seller looking for something different but I remember reading one horror story after another and it just didn’t seem like the right path for me.

I am not one who likes the whole house party, 3 way calls and getting together for mixers or conferences so the thought of me succeeding in network marketing looked grim.

When I heard that people were now using the internet to grow their mlm business, I was more than interested I was excited.

After all, network marketing offers the business model that we all want to be in, building up a team of distributors and earning commissions based on what the team does and not just relying solely on your efforts.

In my opinion this is the perfect business model but trust me it has its flaws too.

After months of checking out different mlm companies, their product lines and compensation plans I decided to go with a company that has been around and has built a solid reputation in health and fitness industry.


Advocare for me what a real no-brainer, they are a one of the top tier programs who offer world class health and wellness products that are endorsed by hundreds of non-paid professional athletes, offer a very generous compensation plan and are already a house-hold name.

I tried their most popular products at first including Spark energy drink and even completed the 24 day challenge which was a lot better than what I thought it was going to be.

For me it came down to picking a company who’s products I believed in then going out and giving it all I had getting my feet wet in my new network marketing business.

Like I said, I do not like talking on the phone, doing house calls or letting strangers in my house so I would be building my mlm business completely online.

I knew that some people still think of network marketing as a face to face business and that is fine I was content to make a run at it online and see what happened.

I used the products for about 3 months to really get to know what the products could do and to develop my product story before launching my company website.

The skills I picked up doing affiliate marketing really payed off as I was able to get my network marketing blog ranked in the top 5 of the search engines rather quickly and with that came more sales and signups that I thought was possible for someone just getting started.

I am now 1 year into my network marketing career and while there have been some ups and downs, I would recommend this model to anyone who is serious about building a long term business.

mlm vs affiliate marketing

MLM vs Affiliate Marketing

After hearing how I got started in both affiliate and network marketing, I will give you my comparison of mlm vs affiliate marketing to help you decide which is better for you.

Multi-Level Marketing

The concept behind this marketing method is rather simple, you begin by purchasing and using the products yourself then recommend them to others.

When you begin selling the products you begin earning commissions and start sponsoring other distributors into your organization who will duplicate the process by using the products then recommending them to other people and sponsoring people into their organization.

This process is repeated over and over and depending on the company you chose determines how many levels of distributors in your organization you will earn commissions from.

The idea behind mlm is duplication, you learn how to generate sales and signups then teach others how to do the same thing.

What I love about mlm vs affiliate marketing is that with mlm you are building residual income meaning that you can get paid over and over from the work that you do today, for instance, that new distributor you sign up today can produce sales for your organization month after month from now to eternity and you will earn a commission from their efforts each month.

What’s a comparison without a list of pros and cons, so here is my mlm pros and cons:


  • You can work your business full or part time
  • Relatively inexpensive to get started
  • Typically you receive product discounts or even free product
  • Training provided by your up-line and through the company
  • Crazy bonus opportunities are normally offered to distributors including vacation trips, cash and cars
  • Work from home or anywhere in the world
  • Expenses are tax deductible
  • Residual income
  • You are part of a team and everyone is working to help each other succeed
  • You have the satisfaction of knowing you are helping other people
  • You can build your business extremely fast and could make a life changing income in a short period of time.


  • This type of business has a negative image in the public’s eye
  • People think of this business as a scam and full of hype
  • You will get told no a lot more than yes
  • It can take years to really get your business going
  • Its easy to get discouraged and want to quit
  • Many people who you sign up will drop out
  • May require you to make a lot of phone calls
  • Will require you to sponsor and mentor the people you sign up

Don’t be fooled by the long list of pros and short list of cons, mlm is a tricky business and comes with a 93% failure rate for a reason, this business model is not for everyone and when I say it can take years to really get started, believe me!

Having said all that, I believe that mlm is one of the best way left to generate true wealth and long lasting residual income.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is a completely different animal than mlm which is what so many people love about it.

Unlike mlm where your focus is building a team and being rewarded based off what the team does, in this marketing model you are the only one that matters.

It will be you that goes out and signs up for affiliate networks, researches and picks your keywords to target, write content about your keywords or products, make sales and earn commissions from doing so.

People like the affiliate model because there are no phone calls, no team building, no mentoring or any of the other stuff that is required to success in mlm.

I have been an affiliate for several years now, here are my pros and cons:


  • Very easy and cheap to get started
  • You get to chose what products you promote
  • You can do this anywhere in the world with a laptop and internet connection
  • Results come much quicker than with mlm
  • There are affiliate programs out there for almost every product known to man
  • The available training is endless
  • No quotas, no auto-ships, work your business when you want to
  • Promote a variety of products if you want to
  • Some affiliate programs offer residual commissions
  • It really can be a lot of fun!


  • Affiliate commissions tend to be on the lower end, there are not many high paying affiliate programs out there.
  • Refund rates are typically high, especially for digital products
  • Scaling this business can be very tricky when you get to a high level
  • A lot of competition
  • Products are constantly changing
  • Some affiliate programs make you wait months to get paid

As you can see the affiliate model is so popular for a reason, easy of entry, there are many how to do affiliate marketing training programs available for free, in fact soon I will be publishing my free affiliate marketing training course right here on this blog so be sure to check back soon.

I have many years of affiliate experience and just 1 year under my belt as a network marketer but can honestly say that I love both models and could never chose one over the other.

If you are first getting started and are looking for the best model for you, do your research and decide what is best for you and your situation.

If you found this network marketing vs affiliate marketing post helpful, please click the share button below.



About Justin

Hey everyone, thanks for taking the time to stop by my blog, I created Next35 because I recently turned 35 and am committed to making my next 35 years as awesome as they can be for my wife and for myself. I have broken down the topics on my blog in the four areas of my life that I will be focusing on Family, Fun, Health and Wealth. If you have any suggestions on how I can make this blog better or if you just want to say hello, you can contact me anytime!