Affiliate Marketing vs Network Marketing: Which Is Better?

by Dylan Gordon | Last Updated on March 23, 2021

If you’ve spent any amount of time looking for ways to make some extra money online, it’s a given you’ve come across affiliate marketing and network marketing.

And often times, affiliate marketing and network marketing get mistaken for one another.

They’re similar business models, but there’s a few key differences which we’ll cover later in this post!

Let’s dive right in.

Understanding the difference between Affiliate Marketing vs Network Marketing

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is the process of selling somebody else’s product or service in exchange for a commission on the sale. Essentially, it’s performance marketing or freelance sales using the Internet to drive traffic.

With affiliate marketing, there’s three parties involved:

When done properly, all three parties are satisfied when a transaction takes place!

What is Network Marketing?

Network marketing, also known as multi-level marketing, is a similar business model to affiliate marketing, but there’s a few key differences.

With network marketing, you’re signing up a team to help you promote a program. On every sale they make, you earn a commission.

So instead of selling a product or service, you’re selling an opportunity and trying to recruit more members!

I personally don’t do network marketing, but there’s a lot of MLM strategies you can use to make it worthwhile.

Three reasons to choose Affiliate Marketing over Network Marketing

It’s an ethical business model

Affiliate marketing is a completely ethical, legal business model that simply helps connect buyers to vendors.

Instead of selling people on opportunities and how much they can earn, you’re selling products people actually want to buy.

I found this to be an issue with network marketing, and it’s not worth considering due to those reasons…

After all, the MLM industry gets a bad representation for a reason!

There’s low barrier to entry

Affiliate marketing has almost no barrier to entry, since you can join affiliate programs and start promoting immediately!

This is part of the reason it can get competitive, like anything else…

So you’ll want to make the most of your efforts, meaning there’s are a few expenses needed.

Here’s what you’ll need to start:

This shouldn’t cost you more than $25/m in the beginning, which is nothing for starting your own business.

But you’ll want a way to collect and follow-up with your leads, so it’s necessary!

If you go with the network marketing route, expect to invest a lot more than this in your business…

You can choose what you’d like to promote

Unlike network marketing, where you’re forced to promote a specific opportunity or product, you can choose whatever industry and products you’d like to promote…

This makes the entire process of content creation easier, since you can choose an industry you’re truly passionate about.

So whether you’re into golfing, gardening, or anything in-between, you can create a blog or social profile focused on that specific niche!

With so many different affiliate programs available, you’re sure to find the perfect one for your niche!

Final thoughts

After doing affiliate marketing for the past few years, I can’t recommend this business model enough for beginners.

Not only is it more ethical and lucrative for the average person, you don’t need to be a great salesmen to make a decent living…

Unlike network marketing or MLM, which involves hard-closing, affiliate marketing acts more as a middle man for transactions.

So if you’re ready to start your affiliate marketing business the right way, check out this detailed post I wrote for beginners!


Finally get results in your online business.

Join hundreds of successful online business owners are already receiving our best online business content straight to their inbox!


Hey! Dylan here, I'm the guy behind HustlerSource. After years of building different online businesses from the ground up, I designed this website to help you find the right tools and strategies to grow your own business!

HustlerSource is reader-supported. When you purchase through the links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you. Learn more