Affiliate Marketing vs MLM. Which is Best.

Affiliate Marketing vs MLM. Which is Best.

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Affiliate Marketing vs MLM. Which is best

This argument that has been around for a long time. So today we will take a look at both, and come to a descion on affiliate marketing vs mlm and see which is best.

Feel free to disagree, you can leave a comment in the comment section below.

Lets start with affiliate marketing.

If you don’t know, affiliate marketing in its online form has been around since 1994. Although the idea of revenue sharing was conceived long before the arrival of the internet.

You could say the “Father” of online affiliate marketing is William J. Tobin, who started an e-commerce site for PC Flowers and Gifts back in 1989.

Amazon for example never got going until 1996, with Amazon Associates.

The Rules Governing Affiliate Marketing.

The U.S Federal Trade Commission published guidelines for affiliate marketing in 2000 with regards to disclosures. The regulations of “Dot Com Disclosures:

Information about Online Advertising” drastically influenced the legitimacy of affiliate marketing in the world of online marketing.

The legislation was updated in 2008 which requires bloggers to disclose their relationship with the companies they are promoting.

Since then additional rules have been imposed regarding privacy, particularly with email and tracking software.

However it is nowhere near as complicated as the media is making it out to be.

In most cases a privacy policy and affiliate disclosure are more than enough to be able to use affiliate tracking cookies, while giving your website visitors full disclosure as to what information is being tracked about them when they use your affiliate links.

With that said, it is very important that you make certain that you’re reading the rules associated with your individual affiliate network when it comes to proper cookie use.

The Business Model. How does Affiliate Marketing Work.

There is no requirement to outlay any money for products.

Essentially the merchant pays you a referral commission on the sale of a product bought from your website.

The amount you receive is a percentage of the product value. More on this below.

As an Affiliate you are the publisher. You have a blog and you write content. You write about things that interest you. It could be travel, photography, fitness, cars… anything.

If it sounds like work then… yes, but think about this.

  • Every single thing you do online is creating content.
  • Even liking a book of faces post and leaving a comment is creating content.
  • Writing an email is creating content.
  • Making images for Pinterest or creating infographics is creating content
  • Producing YouTube videos is creating content.

To break it down a little further, no matter what your interest is, somewhere out there, there are others who share the same interests as you, and hidden among the merchants is one who has a product that you know is great.

So if you provide a little helpful information about this product, in your content and include a link to it, then you are monetarizing your content.

This can provide passive income for you, without you ever having to anything else to that blog post.

Really though you should update every now and then, but the above is the basics of affiliate marketing.

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How are Referral Commissions Determined.

These vary from merchant to merchant. Much the same as in the offline world, sales commissions are a cost and built into the overall price of a product, and vary from merchant to merchant.

A common method for reputable merchants is to join an affiliate network marketing company.

This streamlines the marketing process, keeping the merchants costs to a minimum, with all the merchants under one umbrella sharing the marketing costs.

However, the commissions paid by the merchants are still determined by the merchants, but paid out by the Affiliate Networks, which also distributes payment to the merchant.

It is a tracking code. In simple terms, an affiliate tracking cookie is a file that is created and stored on your visitor’s web browser when they click on one of your affiliate links.

Basically, this allows affiliate networks to have the ability to make certain that they can determine where sales have come from

In Affiliate Marketing if a user clicks on your affiliate link, and reaches a product but didn’t buy it at that point, then the cookies are saved in the browser of that user, which means that if that user purchases that product within the cookie period (30, 60 days for example), then you will get a commission of that affiliate product.

Cookies have a expiry date, most generally expire after 30 days, but there are also 60, 90 and often longer periods of duration. Amazon has a 7 day cookie and E-Bay has a 24 hour cookie.

I am not sure if Amazon still has a 90 day cookie for adding to cart, they had a big shake out in 2019 / 2020, slashing commissions and adding costs to vendors.

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Rakuten advertisement photo.

If the user purchases that product after the cookie period ends, then you will not get commission.

How to Join an Affiliate Network

Generally they like to see a blog with some content, (30 or more articles), and the site has been established for at least 6 months.

In reality, if your site is over six months old you should have more than 30 articles.

With mainstream affiliate networks such as Awin, CB and others like, Rakuten, the application process is simple. Submit your site, and they will give a Yay or Nay in pretty short time. Before deciding on a network be sure to read their affiliate policies.

Once accepted, choose a merchant aligned with your interest(s), and the affiliate network will send your request to the merchant for approval.

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A sample of advertising niches on the Rakuten Affiliate Network.

Can you be an Affiliate Marketer without a Website

Of course. There are lots of alternatives. With Clickbank, you don’t really need a website at all. And there are others. Amazon, E-Bay, Live Chat, Payonner, to name a few.

Actually… here is an alphabetical list for you. (just click on Promote in the header bar). Some require a website, there are many that don’t though.

You can also do private deals. Just be sure you have a contract, and negotiate an extended cookie life. Say, 6 months or more.


While it may seem complicated, you do need to look after your interests, and check out what you are becoming involved with. One thing is for certain the affiliate network company has its interests covered.

Of course there is a lot more involved other than just writing content. SEO, Keywords, niches, how and where to add links and finding good affiliate networks.

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