If you’ve been a long time reader of this blog or any of my other websites, or a follower on social media, you probably already know that I started my first internet business through a network marketing company (aka Multi-Level Marketing or MLM) way back in 2003, and have been quite successful in several such opportunities over the years. I’ve also been involved in many other online business opportunities and work at home programs. I had success in some but most were total failures – that’s usually the way it goes.
Of course, this was before I really got into affiliate marketing and truly figured out how to make money online. I’ve also created multiple internet marketing products, moderated several business forums, and co-founded a highly successful digital marketing & SEO company in that time.
Anyway, I said all that just to show that I’m very qualified to discuss this subject. So I want to share with you why I feel that affiliate marketing is FAR better than network marketing (MLM) and give my reasons for this assertion.
Before I get too far into this, I just want to make it clear that I am not necessarily against network marketing. I’ve had quite a bit of success with it myself and I do think it can be a good way for the average person to start a business. I’m not saying it is bad, it’s just that I believe an affiliate marketing business is the far better route to take if you are considering starting your own home based business, and there are some things that I believe are inherently wrong with the typical MLM business model that you should be aware of.
Also, I know there are some small differences between network marketing and multilevel marketing (MLM) for any purists who might be reading this. However, most people do tend to group both business models together and consider them interchangeable. So, for the purposes of this post, I am going to refer to them as one and the same.
So, let’s get to it…
7 Reasons Why Affiliate Marketing Is Much Better Than Network Marketing or MLM
1) No Targeting Your Friends and Family with Affiliate Marketing
One of the first things that virtually every MLM company will tell you to do is to pitch the opportunity to your “warm market” which are the closest people to you; such as your family and friends. I bet that’s why you joined in the first place was from someone you know giving you their spiel. Not only is this often very awkward for you and them, but it can also strain your relationships. There’s actually a pretty good chance you will lose a few friends and even have family members avoiding you after they figure out your network marketing pitch. Even if you are making money and you truly do love the business, it still weighs on you having to recruit your loved ones.
The great thing about affiliate marketing is when it all boils down to it, you are essentially just helping people find the information on the internet that they were already searching for, or at least interested in. You aren’t harassing anyone or trying to recruit the people closest to you, and you certainly aren’t burning any bridges. You are still making money for every sale much like you do in multilevel marketing, but the sales are even easier to get!
2) With Affiliate Marketing There Really Is No Hard “Selling” Involved
This was one of the biggest reasons why I made the switch from network marketing to an affiliate business. You don’t need to be good at sales or even know how to sell things in order to be successful as an affiliate marketer. Yes, you are still making sales, but you aren’t doing it in a way that forces you to be a salesman.
All you are doing is simply connecting people with the products, services, or information they are already searching for on the internet and giving them what they are wanting. They are interested in X niche and you have found the best products in that niche for them. That’s pretty much all there is to it! They are looking for something and you show them the way to it.
However, when it comes to MLM, it is a different story. You will need to be a sales person, convince people to join you, sell your overpriced products, talk to strangers, harass family members, and so on. Even if you manage to figure out how to recruit online and not do much talking or selling, you still have to help your downline learn how to sell, which brings you back to the beginning of the cycle.
3) Make Money Marketing Things You Enjoy Rather than Something You are Forced to Promote
Most network marketing businesses have their own products or services to promote and that is what you get. You don’t get to choose, they are set for you. Most of the time, you aren’t really all that interested in their products. Yeah, you might think some of them are okay, but you likely aren’t super excited about them. Probably the only reason you joined with the company was to make money, and their products were an afterthought, so now you are stuck with something you don’t really care about.
Think about it, if you don’t truly believe in the company or their products, and you don’t enjoy it, then you will almost certainly end up quitting at some point. With affiliate marketing the opportunities are virtually endless for what to promote. There are so many options that you can pick and choose whatever you are interested in, so you can make money from something you enjoy instead of being told what you were allowed to sell.
4) Affiliate Programs Are Free While Network Marketing Companies Can Be Quite Costly
MLM businesses pretty much always have a fee to join plus most of them have a continual monthly fee or minimum product purchase requirement in order to keep your membership and get paid. This can add up to thousands of dollars per year just to “stay in business” depending on the program you are in. When you are just starting out you will be spending more money than you will be making. For some people this might not be a big deal, but for a lot of people the extra money needed just to stay afloat can hinder your ability to build your business and cause you to fail. Even if you are doing well it can still take several months before you hit the break-even point due to the amount of money you have to pay.
Now, if you compare that to the very small costs (if any) associated with affiliate programs, you will be shocked at the difference. In many cases you can start and build a successful affiliate marketing business without spending any money at all. Yes, it is possible to do it entirely for free!
Most people do at least get their own domain and website, so there are some small costs for that. And often times people will pay for some training and help with marketing, which will cost varying amounts. However, none of that is required, and even if you do pony up some cash to help your affiliate business along, it will still be far less than what you would spend on a network marketing business.
5) It’s Nearly Impossible to do Network Marketing Entirely Online from Home
This may not be a big deal for some people but for me it is. I am the type of person that wants to run my entire business from home on the internet. With affiliate marketing you can have a true home business and make money online. You never have to meet with anyone or even talk on the phone, and you don’t have to train your team or go to events, or anything else along those lines. That is much more difficult to do with network marketing opportunities – if not impossible. If you don’t mind those things that’s great, but it can get old really fast, and it takes a lot of your time. I would rather use that time doing things I enjoy with friends and family.
6) As an MLM’er You Are Not Really Your Own Boss
As a network marketer, you will normally refer to yourself as a “business owner” and even the company will usually advertise themselves as a business opportunity or something similar. However, you actually aren’t your own boss when you join a network marketing business! Think about it for a minute…
You don’t own the company. You don’t own the website they give you. You have to abide by their rules and regulations. You aren’t allowed to do certain things. You are forced to do others. And so on. Really there are a lot of things that are out of your control and make it so you aren’t truly a business owner.
In contrast, as an affiliate marketer, you really are your own boss. You are the business owner that chooses your niches. You own your own website. You create your own brand. You set the rules. There is no corporate entity that you have to listen to or work for.
7) You Could Lose Your Network Marketing Business at Any Time
One huge problem with MLM opportunities (and similar business models) is that all of the hard work, time, money, and everything else you put into it can be wiped out in an instant due to absolutely no fault of your own. There’s lots of uncertainty with them. On any given day they could get shut down, modify their compensation plan, restructure the business, merge with another company, change their system, etc… And those things are quite common.
You can be completely blindsided. This is not a rare occurrence either. It happens a lot more than you might imagine. Trust me, I’ve had it happen to me on more than one occasion with companies I was doing well with, and I’ve seen it happen to others more times than I can even remember. You can literally go to bed one night with everything seemingly going great and wake up in the morning totally ruined!
There is risk in any business so you can never be completely certain of anything from one day to the next. Even with affiliate marketing there are unexpected things that could happen. It’s just a lot more common with network marketing companies, and because you are at their mercy there’s really not much you can do about it.
The first ever multi level marketing company that I built up a decent income with ended up changing their compensation plan and my checks were suddenly cut down to almost nothing because of it. A couple years later, I was with another program and earning a solid full time monthly income until they merged with another company, and I lost it all without warning. Later, I started with a different business opportunity that cost me $2,000 to join. They were shut down shortly after I joined and I lost all that money for nothing. Those are just three examples. I could give you many more!
Now, let me end by adding that I do think there is one big positive to MLM companies over affiliate programs. The fact that you can build a team (downline) and earn off their efforts is very appealing, and probably one of the biggest selling points of the entire business model. It is possible to get to a point where you don’t have to work anymore and your income will still continue to grow from everything your team is doing under you. This is passive residual income and it is undoubtedly one of the best ways to earn money. However, getting to this point is far easier said than done. I would venture to bet that 99.9% of all people who get into network marketing never reach this point. I’m not saying you can’t do it, but I wouldn’t bet on it if I were you. Also, it actually is possible to do something similar and build passive income with tiered affiliate programs and getting traffic to your websites through SEO, so even that isn’t something you absolutely need to be in MLM to achieve.
Alright that’s all I have to say about this topic for now. What are you thoughts on network marketing / MLM opportunities versus affiliate marketing businesses? I would love to hear your opinions and experiences. Leave a comment below and let’s discuss it.