affiliate marketing vs mlmOne of my biggest pet peeves as an affiliate marketer is that many people confuse affiliate programs with multi-level marketing schemes.

There is a huge difference between the two. In this post I’ll look at affiliate marketing vs. MLM, and try to point out why I think affiliate marketing is the better option.

Related Post: Get a Free Affiliate Marketing Training

What Affiliate Marketing Is

Affiliate marketing is simply comission-based marketing for the online world.

We’ve all heard of a traditional sales job where the salesman goes door to door (or phone call to phone call) trying to sell a product.

Like those jobs, affiliate marketing is simply the act of referring people to a product online. The difference is that you have immense choice over which products to promote, and can make recurring commissions because your blog posts stay active for as long as you want them to.

Click here to read more about the basics of affiliate marketing.

What Multi-Level Marketing Is

Multi-Level Marketing, or MLM, on the other hand, is the act of not just selling a product, but recruiting other people to also sell the product. You earn commissions on your own sales plus a smaller commission on sales of your downstream network.

While there are valid MLM programs out there (Nerium is one of the more popular ones right now) many multi-level marketing programs are less than savory. That’s because the idea is simply to convince others how great your company is, and then earn money off of their work.

It’s like sales meets HR and recruiting.

Affiliate Marketing vs. MLM

The reality is that very few affiliate programs offer downstream commissions. That means that as an affiliate, you usually get paid only for referring a user who purchases a product, not for any further customers that person also refers.

The result is that the perspective of an affiliate marketer shifts to pay more attention to the individual users themselves, rather than what those users might do for them down the line.

Good affiliate understand that helping users answer questions and solve problems is the real job description, and refer their users to products only when it’s relevant to that individual.

You can read more about getting started with affiliate marketing in this post, or click here to see my ultimate list of home based businesses.