Why Does Affiliate Marketing Have A Bad Name?

As an affiliate marketer, I have often asked myself the question does affiliate marketing have a bad name? It makes it harder if it does.

Like everything online these days there are differing opinions when it comes to affiliate marketing. I see a lot of negativity, especially when it comes to making money online.

This is something I think is confusing to people when they are looking at ways to make money. I don’t think affiliate marketing has a bad name overall, but let’s look closer at it and compare it to other business models such as network marketing

Does Affiliate Marketing Have A Bad Name?

Affiliate marketing is a business model. You make money performing a specific action for an affiliate merchant.

Most people think that action is to sell a product. You can credit Amazon for that.

Their affiliate program was one of the first. People made money selling product for Amazon and that product was books

Today affiliate marketing is more than just selling. Now you can earn money with pay per click, pay per lead or cost per action, or when you promote a product you sell and earn a commission on.

How Is Affiliate Marketing Different Than Network Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is different than network marketing in one primary way. In network marketing you make money selling products and sponsoring new members to your group also known as your downline.

You can and should retail products, but most do not really focus on that. Network marketing has gotten a bad name because there is too much focus on sponsoring and not enough on selling the products at the retail level.

In affiliate marketing, you are not sponsoring new members into your business. Your primary focus is selling products or driving traffic to a site to get a click or maybe have a lead form filled out.

Network marketing used to be known as multi-level marketing. That was shortened to MLM.

Over the years it has gotten a bad name. Amway got most of the blame for this and deservedly so.

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Amway Hurt Direct Sales In The Past

understanding Amway and the difficulties they had.

Have you ever been invited to an Amway meeting where the person inviting you used the curiosity approach? This just meant they wouldn’t tell you exactly what meeting you were being invited to.

Then when you got there eventually it was revealed that you were at an Amway meeting. The whole idea was that if they told you it was Amway upfront you wouldn’t go to the meeting at all thus preventing yourself from being exposed to the most unbelievable business opportunity in the world in their minds.

This doesn’t go on near as much today. Thanks to the Internet and how it’s used to recruit people in the network marketing more networkers are sponsoring and selling.

Network marketing has had and continues to have a very high failure rate. However, it’s interesting to me that in affiliate marketing the failure rate is fairly high as well.

So, why doesn’t affiliate marketing have a bad name?

Here Is Why Affiliate Marketing Does Not Have A Bad Name!

As I just said in network marketing your primary focus is recruiting new distributors. I can’t think of any other business model where so much of the success is tied back to the sponsor and not the distributor.

I think that’s the main reason affiliate marketing doesn’t have a bad name and network marketing does. Since the average distributor worldwide sponsors less than 2 people in their group most end up failing.

The exception to this is unless they have a strong retail customer base. Most do not because they are told the big money is in sponsoring a big group!

Affiliate marketing is a performance-based business model where your income is tied to completing one action. Either get someone to click on an ad i.e. the pay per click model, get someone to fill out a lead form i.e. the cost per action or pay per lead model or get someone to buy from you i.e. the pay per sale model.

You do this by promoting affiliate links. These are given to you by the affiliate merchant.

You Are In Control

Enjoying the luxury from affiliate marketing

If you fail in this business it’s your fault. You didn’t sell enough products, or get enough clicks, or get enough leads to hit the income goals you have.

When you fail in network marketing it is almost always the fault of your upline or of the MLM company itself, or so we think, Right?

The primary reason for this is so much of the success in sponsoring new members is tied to using somebody in the upline as an example of just how much money can be made when you joined that MLM company. We all like success stories that make us think we can make a lot of money ourselves.

In reality that was never going to be the case. The people who make the most money in network marketing would be extremely successful in other businesses as well.

As the MLM model continues to grow the quality of successful people from other areas of their lives is growing too. The same thing is happening in affiliate marketing.

Whether it is big businesses, or just a one-man operation like you and I, affiliate marketing works. It is accepted as a business and people who take it seriously are making a lot of money with it.

Is Affiliate Marketing Pyramid Scheme?


When people ask me what I do I tell them I am an affiliate marketer. There are people who then ask me is affiliate marketing a pyramid scheme?

I would expect that in network marketing, but not in affiliate marketing. Why?

You are not recruiting anyone in affiliate marketing. I guess if you do 2 tier affiliate programs you would be recruiting, but only personally.

There is no downline in affiliate marketing. You are not building a group or your own sales force.

How could affiliate marketing be a pyramid scheme when you are the only one in it!

Are You An Entrepreneur?

In affiliate marketing, you are in business for yourself. You are an entrepreneur this way.

The people who fail in network marketing are generally not salespeople or entrepreneurial in nature and would fail if they tried to start any business of their own. They just do not have the mentality it takes.

However, the Internet is doing a great job of helping people who failed in network marketing before succeeding this time.

The reason for that?

Internet marketing skills, combined with social media marketing, make it possible for anyone to master traffic generation and email follow-up strategies. These are the same strategies that work selling anything online including affiliate marketing products.

However, I can guarantee you that when you join a network marketing company and don’t get quality traffic to your website, you are not going to sell products and sponsor new distributors.

If you join an affiliate program and don’t get traffic to your affiliate provided a website, you’re not going to get the required result either. This is basically true for anyone trying to make money online in any business model.

Some people still try to do face to face selling and sponsoring in their MLM business. I can not think of one person who does this in affiliate marketing, so you have to master at least one or two traffic generation methods to succeed.

Again the big difference as an affiliate marketing entrepreneur you are not recruiting new members. You are just trying to get your website visitor to click on an ad, complete a lead form, or buy something. The type of affiliate program determines the action you are trying to get your visitor to complete.

Does Affiliate Marketing Work?

can i make money online or does affiliate marketing have a bad name

To me, this is the bottom line when answering does affiliate marketing has a bad name. If people are not making money then it doesn’t work.

Of course, this is a ridiculous point to consider almost 25 years after affiliate marketing began. Yes, affiliate marketing works!

Maybe a better way to think about this is will affiliate marketing work for you? Take what’s in it for me, view.

Yes, there are pros and cons like anything when it comes to making money online. For example, let me list a few of them.

Pros Of Affiliate Marketing

1. No or low start-up cost. Many affiliate programs are free to join.

In some cases, you have to buy the product before you can sell it. You see this in high ticket affiliate sales programs.

There might be a start-up cost if you are selling a membership. Wealthy Affiliate is an example of this.

As a premium member, you earn $23.50 on every $49 a month sale. This is residual passive income though and you can cover the cost of your own upgrade in 3 sales plus be in a profit more.

2. No product needed. I have found that people who do get started in affiliate marketing do so because they do not have a product and the affiliate program gives it to them

3. Customer fulfilment. The affiliate merchant collects the money, ships the product, and handles customer service for you.

4. You focus on traffic. This is your real job in affiliate marketing. If you can get traffic to your affiliate sales page you are done. The merchant takes over after that.

Cons Of Affiliate Marketing

1. Choosing a product. With millions of affiliate products to promote how do you decide which one?

2. Lack of control. Because the affiliate merchant deals with the customer and not you, they have control.

This is why you build an email list before you send your prospect to your affiliate URL. Plus when you do this you can pre-sell them if you need to.

3. Traffic! In any type of Internet marketing, you have to drive visitors to a sales page.

This is really true with affiliate marketing. If you can not get the traffic you will fail in affiliate marketing.

How do you find Success - Go get it

My Final Thoughts On Affiliate Marketing

Does this answer your question does affiliate marketing have a bad name? I think I have explained why affiliate marketing doesn’t have a bad name.

I have compared it to network marketing and looked at both sides of the coin so to speak. I have also laid out more on the affiliate marketing business model and its advantages and disadvantages of it.

Here is the bottom line. You are not going to lose a lot of money in affiliate marketing. It is a promotion business model and not a recruiting one.

Get good at the marketing of your affiliate marketing website and you will do just fine. This is how to make extra money or even get rich in affiliate marketing if that is your goal!

Will You? Only you can answer that, but I can be of some help below!

The difference, in the end, is the affiliate will blame themselves, where the network marketer will blame their sponsor, their upline, or the network marketing company itself, and that is not really fair to the MLM industry.

Since I focus on affiliate marketing I get to blame myself if I fail, but I am smart enough to look for help when I can. This is where Wealthy Affiliate comes into play for both of us. You will be able to learn at your own paste as you go through all the lessons and do all the tasks for good results.

You can pretty much guarantee your success if you are willing to learn a few basic strategies which you can start to learn for free, and as your knowledge grow, so will your business. I will also offer my help in every area to get full value here at WA. Also, you will have a community that is eager to see you succeed.

If you are really interested in creating your own home business, check out my #1 recommendation on how to build a successful business. You’ll get plenty of support, training, websites, and access to 24/7 live chat where people are always online to help you. And I will be your private coach until success finds you. Get started for FREE today.

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Related Video: Why Are People So Upbeat About Affiliate Marketing?

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6 thoughts on “Why Does Affiliate Marketing Have A Bad Name?”

  1. Hello David, you have really done a great job of clarifying various misconceptions about affiliate marketing. Well affiliate marketing unlike other marketing models that have to do with involving others, is a business platform on its own where the success or failure rests solely on you as the entrepreneur. 

    I don’t expect it to have a bad name since no one is willing to publish their failure and admit to it as being their personal faults. Though the cons you listed for affiliate marketing are spot on, if one was able to get it right, then it would be a success. 

    • Thank you for your take on this but I am happy that I can prove them wrong with my own experience and countless experience from others here at Wealthy Affiliate.

      More and more people are getting great results today than before, and we owe social media for that so others can see for themselves of the success that is taking place all over the world with Affiliate Marketing.

      I urge my readers to learn affiliate marketing the right way, join wealthy affiliate with me and le this community and I show step by step how to set a successful affiliating marketing business. Thank you for your honest comment.

  2. Very fabulous post. Just like you, when I try to tell people what affiliate marketing is, they begin to compare it to MLM schemes and I try as hard as I can to understand that they are boh different. We are not recruiting to make money and we are focused on the products that we try to sell to people. This post is really accurate and I think I should share it so people can learn from it.

    • you are spot on with the answers you received when explaining Affiliate marketing to others. I typically show them my results and what I am doing. Some find it very hard and long-term but six years down the road they would be sorry that they did not start.

      I would be in their shoes if I had decided not to pursue Wealthy Affiliate and their training. whos is smiling now? If I were you I would stop telling them and just show them your results, and if you haven’t gotten quite there yet, show them mines and other successful bloggers.

  3. Hi, the way you have discussed about affiliate marketing have proven that affiliate marketing does not deserve to have a bad name, the problem there is people confuse affiliate marketing with network marketing, I like the way you differentiate both in your pos., Affiliate marketing don’t require anyone to have success like downline or upline, you are your own boss of yourself and every fault on your affiliate marketing business depends on you.

    To show the world more enlightenment about the difference between affiliate marketing and network marketing I am.going to share your post throughout social media. This is how we can help our self and our business because am also an affiliate marketer and everything you have said are true about affiliate marketing.

    • It is different and the ethics involved are very professional and more and more people are becoming an Affiliate Marketer and achieving results.

      Thank you for wanted to share this post on your social media sites and if anyone or yourself need help in getting up and running, please feel free to contact me, I will be happy to lend a hand. thank you.


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