If you’re trying to earn money from home on the internet, one of the things you are probably going to hear about again and again is affiliate marketing. Here's just one of over 561 million results on Google for the phrase “affiliate marketing.”
But what is affiliate marketing? What are the pros and cons? And how can you get started with this opportunity if you decide it's right for you?
Are you wondering if affiliate marketing is:
- hard or easy?
- legitimate or not?
- part-time or full-time?
- a suitable opportunity if you want to start building your own online business?
- a realistic opportunity to make income from home?
This article can provide you a good introduction and some ideas to carry forward.
What is Affiliate Marketing?
Before we talk about the pros and cons of affiliate marketing, let's cover what it is. In a nutshell, affiliate marketing is when you create various forms of content such as blog posts, articles, videos, audio recordings, or paid advertisements to promote and sell other people’s or companies' products or services.
When you make a sale or have someone perform an action such as signing up to receive additional information about a product, you earn a commission.
So, you join an affiliate program, promote the merchant's product or service and receive commissions – it is as simple as that.
Or is it?
The Pros of Affiliate Marketing
Some of the many pros of running your own affiliate marketing business are:
- Low Starting Costs: You can actually get started with affiliate marketing for very little money. Technically, you can actually get started for free. There are very few businesses out there that you can create with such a low initial investment.
- Easy to join: Most affiliate programs are quite easy to join. You simply have to fill out a form with the required information. Some have some basic requirements for your site, but generally, they are not too hard to fulfill.
- No Hassle Dealing with Products: Since you are selling someone else's products, you don't have to deal with packaging, shipping, inventory, customer support, or any of the like. Those aspects are dealt with by the person or company selling the product or service. All you need to do is entice people to buy it through your site.
- Can be Done from Anywhere and Anytime: With an affiliate marketing business, all you need is your computer (or another such device) and an internet connection to keep up with your daily work. This gives you the freedom to work from home while the kids are at school, napping or doing their homework, or in the park while you are waiting for them to finish baseball practice.
- Part-time or Full-time: Affiliate marketing is something that can be done for as few or many hours as you like, depending on your situation and goals. Since you're the boss, you're in control. Whether you want to earn enough for a full income or just be able to earn a bit while spending more time with your kids, affiliate marketing can help you do it.
- High Income Potential: When it comes to affiliate marketing, the amount of money you can earn is virtually limitless. It all depends on how much traffic you are able to generate and how many people you are able to convince to try the offers you are promoting. While it does take some time to develop a successful affiliate marketing business, if you’re willing to put the time in, the rewards can truly be life-changing.
- The Ability to Help Others: One of the reasons that I enjoy affiliate marketing is that I’m able to help others by providing solutions to their problems. When your readers or viewers are searching for the most suitable products to meet their needs, you can be right there in front of them, providing them with a solution and earning a little bit of money while doing it. That's a win-win!
The Cons of Affiliate Marketing
There are some pitfalls associated with affiliate marketing as well. These include:
- There Are Many Scams: If you do a Google for guidelines on how to get started with affiliate marketing, you will find a lot of scams designed to separate you from your money while promising you impossible results. This can be the case whether you are looking for affiliate marketing training or affiliate programs to join.
- Can Be Overwhelming: When you’re first trying to get started learning how to set up your own affiliate marketing business, there’s a lot of information out there (remember those 561 million results I mentioned above?!). Without a solid plan of action, you can find yourself struggling to get from point A to point B, and ultimately never get going.
- Challenging Aspect of Finding a Niche: It can be hard to find a niche that is suitable for you – one that you know enough about to be able to help people, profitable, and with reliable affiliate programs already developed for you to step into.
- Not as Simple as it Seems: Join, promote, sell, earn! It sounds so easy. If you have someone to show you what to join, how to promote, and all the details in between, it can be easy – eventually. But there is a learning curve and you need the right guidance and support to get you there. It takes work, no matter what anyone tells you!
If you just want to know about the pros and cons, you can stop here. If you're interested in pursuing affiliate marketing, then read on….
How Do You Avoid The Cons While Pursuing The Pros?
A lot of newcomers to the world of internet marketing ask this very same question. Honestly, it’s a lot simpler than you may have previously thought.
In order to avoid the scams that exist on the internet, it is important for you to find a quality training program that will teach you how to get off and running the right way, right out of the gate.
Aquality program will be organized so you must complete tasks in order. This way, you are able to see results from your hard work.
Finally, in order to be successful, you will want to surround yourself with other like-minded individuals. For that reason, it is important for you to find a group of people that you can network and communicate with who are pursuing similar goals.
Try to find people who have a little bit more experience than you do so that you can ask them for advice and help when you need it.
Where to Go from Here?
There are many different training programs on the internet that will help you learn how to get started. One such program that I recommend is Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing.
Why is this?
The course is budget-friendly at $197 for a one-time payment and $210 in two monthly installments. This will allow you to test the waters to see if affiliate marketing is right for you without breaking the bank.
In return, you'll get over 30 lessons, a workbook, and a private mastermind – in addition to some great bonuses that include group coaching sessions.
Third, this course provides you with an online community of like-minded individuals who are more than willing to reach out, say hello and help you out. This will enable you to forge relationships that can benefit both your personal life, as well as your business future.
Instructor and course creator Michelle Schroeder-Gardner runs the award-winning personal finance blog, Making Sense of Cents. She started blogging as a hobby, and now earns over $100,000 a month blogging, with around $50,000 a month of that coming from affiliate marketing.
Her writing and advice have been featured on sites such as Huffington Post, Forbes, Yahoo, Cosmopolitan Magazine, Zillow, US News, Nasdaq, MSN, and more.
So, if you're thinking of giving affiliate marketing, then you should head on over and check out Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing, so you can, you know, make sense of affiliate marketing!
28 thoughts on “Affiliate Marketing: Pros and Cons”
I’ve been thinking of making a real start in affiliate marketing and that’s how I came across your post. I’m trying to work out whether it’s worth my time and if anyone really makes any decent money with it.
It sounds like there are almost as many cons as there are pros.
Do you make a decent living doing affiliate marketing? Is it really worth getting involved in?
I use affiliate marketing to supplement our family income, Darren. I have a pretty full schedule even without it, so it is definitely a part time venture for me. In spite of that I am quite satisfied with how much I earn for the work I put in. Of course it took a long time to reach a point where I was earning – I was definitely slow as a snail. But once I got over the hill, I stayed there.
Is it really worth it for me? Yes! As I said I have a full schedule which is unpredictable as well. I was looking for online work from home that I could really do on my time that wouldn’t affect my clients if I didn’t manage to work sometimes. And affiliate marketing turned out to fit the bill perfectly. If I don’t have time to work on my site, I am the only one that suffers. So it has actually been perfect for me.
Hope this helps you figure things out for yourself,
I like the way you led me logically through your website. It keeps you interested and there are lots of opportunities for you to make money with this site. I’ve picked up a few great ideas, thanks!
Glad you liked it, Vonnie.
Let me know if there are any particular points you need answers for.
I have decided that I want to start an online business so I can work from home and hopefully this business will continue to generate money once I am retired as an additional source of income.
While trying to figure out ways to make money online I learned about affiliate marketing. I think this sounds like the best option for me.
However, I am not very tech savvy and I do not have a website. I also have no idea how to create a website.
You mention a program called Wealthy Affiliate. Is this similar to Empower Network or Affiliorama? I have started looking into these programs but I am not sure about them.
Wealthy Affiliate is more similar to Affiliorama than to Empower Network. I know Wealthy Affiliate in and out – I’ve been an active member for a couple of years now. I’ve only read about the other two, but from what I understand Empower Network is not so great for beginners. You can make a lot of money with it, but you really need to have online marketing skills to do so.
Affiliiorama, like Wealthy Affiliate, is good for beginners. They both have step-by-step video tutorials to get you started, website builders, and other tools. I’ve read good reviews about Affiliorama’s training and tools and I can personally vouch for those at Wealthy Affiliate. Of course there are differences in the training set-up, but both work and are genuine sites to enable people to learn how to become affiliate marketers.
The main point that makes me lean towards Wealthy Affiliate is the cost. They both have free trials. But at Wealthy Affiliate you have the training, your sites and support (both technical and learning support) for $359 a year whereas the costs at Affiliorama seem to add up to quite a bit more.
As I said in the beginning, I’m no expert. I do know beginners who have succeeded with both Wealthy Affiliate and Affiliorama. I would suggest trying out the free trials of both and decide for yourself!
The best thing I like about affiliate marketing is that you don’t need to touch any products or contact any customers. This alone makes it a much better business model than a lot of others. For example, if you were to sell products on eBay yourself, you would have to organise the storage and shipment of those products, and then deal with customers if they are unhappy. Instead, you can just be an affiliate of eBay and get money from referring customers to eBay to buy others peoples products. It’s an amazing setup really.
I agree, Marcus. The fact that you can benefit just by convincing people to buy a product you believe in without any of the hassles of inventory, shipment, refunds, etc – that is sweet!
The only downside of this is that you literally have no control over pricing, etc. So even when you have interacted with a customer and helped them find what they need, you can’t negotiate prices or give holiday discounts. I’ve been in situations where I had got to know the person and really wanted to help them find a plan they could manage to purchase the item, but then found myself helpless to do anything more than email the merchant. But those situations are rare compared to the benefit of generally not having to deal with all the hassles of selling and shipping yourself!
I like how you outlined the pros and cons about affiliate marketing. I think affiliate marketing can be easy to understand and master if there is a proper online platform that allows newbies to pick up the knowledge.
I have heard about Wealthy Affiliate a few times. I think I am going to give it a try since you too recommend this program. I am relatively new to the blogging, online business and affiliate marketing world. I guess this will be my start to this adventure.
I will come back for more information and tips from you. Well done with your post here!
I’m glad you found it useful, Alex. As with anything, the more basic knowledge you have about the topic, the easier to it is to grasp it.
Let us know your experiences with Wealthy Affiliate after you have been there a while! Wishng you all success!
Affiliate marketing sure does have a lot of scams or at the very least products and services that just don’t sell. So your outline of the pros and cons do give some clarity to understanding the whole concept.
As far as Wealthy Affiliate goes, in my experience it doesn’t oversell. It doesn’t tell you affiliate marketing is easy. What it does do is give the tools required to make affiliate marketing work. The tools range from written lessons and videos from the founders and equally importantly, a forum of 1000’s of people motivated to help. Any question is answered ASAP or has already been answered. Is it easy? No. But you can learn what to do and how to do it.
It’s true, Chuck. there are so many scams out there. It gets hard to decide who to follow or know which program really teaches you anything. That was one aim of these pros and cons – just to give a realistic idea of what affiliate marketing involves. Then you can at least know what you need to learn and make an educated decision when deciding about where to learn it.
I agree with you 100% regarding Wealthy Affiliate!
Great blog post Robin,
Actually affiliate marketing gets pretty easy when you are able to build an email list in your chosen niche.
One you build a relationship with your list and position yourself as the “go to” person in the niche, you can generally make affiliate sales on a consistent basis.
It’s all about getting people to know, like and trust you while presenting them with information in a helpful and informative way.
Great points Edgy!
People don’t realise how important relationships are – online is no different from offline. People have to trust you. If you help them and not just try to sell to them, they will. One of my affiliate marketing friends doesn’t ‘sell’anything on her site. She just provides comparative information about the products and lets her readers decide which one they want. She answers a lot of questions and makes a lot of sales. So… I agree with you totally!
I like the way you’ve listed the advantages and disadvantages of affiliate marketing. Reading the advantages, I first thought, Wow this is for me! But then reading the disadvantages I was brought back down to earth…
Brought back to earth?!? It’s not that bad. You just have to know what you are doing, as in any sphere. Or at least know how to find out what you should be doing. 🙂
(That is why I find Wealthy Affiliate so useful. I don’t mean to go on and on about the place. But I am able to go there with my questions any time of day or night and usually there is someone around to help out. That is one useful aspect of a community that has people from all over the world in it!)
Thank-you for the great information. I have tried many times to make money online through affiliate marketing and have not had any real success. The one thing that you advise, which I am hesitant to do, is to surround myself with like minded people. I have joined other programs and I can’t quite fathom some of the people giving me advice as they have not had any success online themselves. So although I believe what you are suggesting is a good thing how do I know these people are actually successful?
This is the type of thing that you need to try out for yourself to know if it will work for you. The community I was suggesting, Wealthy Affiliate, has a free starter membership. So it is possible to join, look around, get to know people and ask questions. You have to judge for yourself if you think the people there are successful enough to be able to help you.
Also, what is your definition of successful? It takes time and effort to be financially successful. But along the way there are many little successes relating to learning the skills, interacting with others, etc.
I am not saying everyone at Wealthy Affiliate has reached financial success – everyone is at different points in their journeys. And most members there are ready to share however much they do know. By joining for free and lurking or looking around, you can tell for yourself if the program, resources and support can lead to success.
Does this help answer your question?
Yes Robin, that does help to answer my concerns. Like I said earlier I have joined other communities, but none have let you try them out free of charge for any length of time.
Also I do like the fact that this community seems to view success by more than the size of your pocketbook. Sometimes when money making is the only issue, people tend to become very secretive about how they attained their success. Since you are open and honest about the fact that not everyone at WA is a multimillionaire within a month, then WA does seem like a place I may want to lurk around for awhile.
No, we are not all multimillionaires. But we are a community of learning people who help each other out. And those that stick with it long enough achieve financial success as well.
If you do join, let me know when you are on the inside lurking! 🙂
I have to say I did not know what an affiliate was until last year and as you say there is more to it than you think.
For me a couple of the pros are that it is a great way to build an online business without the high risks of financial loss and it offers a great way of working especially if you have a family. As far as cons go, it does take time and patience for it to grow – I guess that is only a con if you are in a hurry!
Actually Katie, your main pros are the main reasons I got interested in affiliate marketing! I didn’t want work that got in the way of family needs and so when I found an opportunity that didn’t have high risks or an high initial outlay, I grabbed it.
Robin, your article touches upon many important aspects of affiliate marketing. This isn’t really a pro or con of affiliate marketing, but another useful and lucrative area to include is making full use of social media in your affiliate marketing. Excellent site and I wish you much success!
Thank you, Rosie.
Yes, social media used properly, can definitely help expand the reach of your affiliate marketing. ‘Used properly’ is the important part though – otherwise it can be a complete waste of time, at least from my experience. A point to be considered though! 🙂
Like you say Robin, affiliate marketing sounds easy, and it is in a way, but there is work involved, and knowing where to get the right knowledge is very important when you are starting out.
The pros and cons you describe are all true, and the most important part of affiliate marketing is learning the ropes, and Wealthy Affiliate is the place to do that. Those that stick with affiliate marketing and master it are the ones that enjoy the benefit of working anywhere, anytime.
Yes, Robert, sticking with it is one of the hardest things for a lot of people. People tend to think that things online are instant. So when they don’t get instant results, they give up. Hey! Maybe I should add that as a con: Results are not instantaneous!
It is a fact though that those who stick with it are the ones who benefit – working anywhere, anytime, around family needs and at the same time supporting family needs. What more can you ask for?
These are really some great guidelines explaining what affiliate marketing is, and the pros and cons. I am a newbie to Affiliate Marketing. I thought I knew everything about it until I came across your website. It looks like I may need to sign up with Wealthy Affiliate to get the proper training I need to have a successful online business. Thanks for sharing.
Glad you found it useful, Tanya.
I didn’t have the slightest clue what affiliate marketing was before I found Wealthy Affiliate. There are so many members with so many ways of helping out there. I often get several answers to the same question, all with slightly differernt useful aspects – it is great! The training along with the community make a nearly perfect match! I would suggest trying out the free starter course to see if you think it is worth it before going premium to make sure that it is what you want.
Best of luck!