Affiliate Marketing Vs Network Marketing | What’s The Difference?

While the 2 do share some similarities, they are actually quite different.

Pooling them together would be similar to categorizing a real estate broker and someone who comes to the Christmas party and tries to get everyone to buy that new healthcare product. Which you can pay for by getting other people to sell the same product under you.

Now both are sales focused and a commission-based pay structure.

But that is where the similarities end, Which is also the case when you’re comparing affiliate marketing vs network marketing.

The main difference between Network Marketing (Also known as Multi-Level Marketing / Pyramid Scheme) and Affiliate Marketing is that as an affiliate you have the freedom to choose what it is you’re going to sell. You have complete control over what type of products you want to promote and what industry you want to be in. When you’re network marketing, you’ll be confined to the multi-level marketing network that You’re involved in and will only be allowed to sell products within that category.

Related Post: Is Affiliate Marketing A Scam? Debunking The Myth.

Affiliate Marketing Vs Network Marketing | Pros & Cons

Network Marketing / MLM


  • There are many networks that you could join. Ones that have been established brands for years throughout various industries.
  • Some programs have Bonus features, like whoever can make the most sales will receive a car.


  • A lot of them give a “cookie-cutter” sales pitch, which is going to make things harder for you actually make sales. As you’re not going to sound any different from the last person who tried to sell them something from your network.
  • The stigma behind MLM and Network Marketing is going to be a huge challenge to overcome. As soon as a potential customer feels like you’re part of a “pyramid scheme” chances are they aren’t going to be receptive to what it is you’re selling. Even if it could be beneficial to them.
  • It can become a constant cycle of trying to find the next recruit or person to sell products beneath you.

Affiliate Marketing


  • There are thousands of products that you could promote, throughout every industry you could imagine. For example, almost anything that is sold on Amazon, you could promote as an affiliate and receive a commission at no additional cost to the buyer.
  • You can create a passive income stream with affiliate marketing. There are programs out there that offer recurring commissions. Say I referred you to Netflix and you signed up through my link. I would be paid every month for as long as you were subscribed to their company. (Netflix doesn’t have an affiliate program, this is just an example)
  • You can build a brand or business based around something you love and find affiliate programs that go alongside your business vs having to build your entire business around a product.


  • Some affiliate programs can be very saturated and competitive. Most programs will give you resources such as images and templates you can use to promote their products. But every other person hoping to get rich quick spamming social media with their affiliate links will have access to these as well. Sometimes you’ll need to get creative when it comes to how you’re going to promote something, as you don’t want to put yourself in the same pool as people who’re coming across spammy. You also don’t want to jump into a program that is very competitive especially when first starting out.
  • As I mentioned above, a huge struggle with having success with affiliate marketing is actually how unethical some people promote affiliate offers. For some reason, whenever people first start affiliate marketing, most will spam their links throughout social media or wherever they can. Hoping to make a substantial amount of money quickly. This will make potential customers feel skeptical of you when they find out you’re an affiliate due to poor interactions with previous people promoting similar products.

Looking for products to promote? Check out this post! Which Affiliate Program Is The Best? 25 Ways To Create Passive Income.

Is Affiliate Marketing A Pyramid Scheme?

No, affiliate marketing is NOT a pyramid scheme.

While it is a very prevalent structure within MLM and Network Marketing.

Affiliate Marketing can be visualized as a bridge. It is your job to bridge the gap between a customer’s needs and a product the suits those needs.

While the 2 can be easily confused, as the more sales you’re able to make the more commissions you’ll receive.

However, this would be similar to the way a real estate agent would make more money based on how many homes they sold.

Or could be compared to the way a car salesman would be paid.

Their income is a direct correlation to the number of cars they sold and would have nothing to do with how many people they got interested in selling cars.

Want a list of all of my favorite affiliate programs that offer recurring commissions? Get it here. (I won’t require your email address) 

Which One Is The Best?

While both options can be very lucrative if done correctly, affiliate marketing is more conducive to long term success.

For the pure fact that you’re able to build a brand and a business around something you’re truly passionate about and implement affiliate products alongside of something, you enjoy doing.

Building a business or a side hustle is hard, and it can be challenging to stay motivated at times. Especially in the beginning.

What do you think sounds more sustainable?

Working all day at a job that you don’t necessarily enjoy, then you have to come home and recruit friends and family to jump on board to sell a product with you.

Selling the opportunity that your MLM has to anyone and everyone that will listen.

Or coming home and blogging about something that you’re passionate about.

Whether it’s cooking or cats its subject doesn’t really matter.

It’s the fact that you’d be able to find affiliate products that will accent and go well with things that you actually enjoy doing.

Even becoming an Amazon affiliate and having your friends and family purchase things that they’re already buying on Amazon through your link at no additional cost is a great way to make some extra money.

There are fewer restrictions with affiliate marketing and the opportunity to create a real long term business is greater as you’re not going to have to worry about starting over whenever the next fad diet comes out or the hype of your MLM opportunity dies down, leaving you to find a new one.

Want to learn how to get traffic to your offers whether you’re an affiliate or a network marketer? Check out this amazing book you can get for FREE!

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