June 23, 2017

Network Marketing vs Affiliate Marketing | What’s The Difference & Which One is Best for You?

two faux boxers demonstrating affiliate marketing vs network marketing

Network marketing and affiliate marketing are both super good ways to make money online.

While most network marketers still focus on offline marketing (the "talk to everyone you know and everyone you meet about your business" approach), online strategies can help both network marketers and affiliate marketers build superstar businesses from the comfort of their laptops.

But before we get into online marketing and building an internet empire, let's talk about the difference between network marketing and affiliate marketing.

man at a crossroads

​Network Marketing in a Nutshell

Network marketers are kind of hybrids between customers and salespeople.

I know, I know... Network marketing is not selling.  It's sharing.  Or recommending.  Or whatever.

But to be completely honest, to succeed at network marketing, you have to be something of a salesperson.  You have to sell things.  Plain and simple.

You might do that by blogging about ingredients in body wash, or by making make up videos, or by sharing DIY recipes for common household products using essential oils.

But if you're not selling, you're not earning.

And if you're not buying products, you're also not earning in network marketing.

​What do network marketers do?

  • buy products that they love at discount​
  • recommend those products (online or offline)
  • earn a commission every time someone takes them up on their recommendation
  • train a team to do product presentations, workshops, run trade show or farmer's market booths, build blogs, promote on social media, etc.
  • earn a commission based on what their teams do

Network marketing can be super lucrative if you do it right.

If you learn how to build a business by attracting people to you, and if you master some ninja leadership skills and ​train your team to do what you do, then you can build up a loyal customer base who will buy from you for life.  (Or at least for a very long time.)

That is the biggest reason why I pair network marketing with affiliate marketing: network marketing allows your customers to be linked to you for life in a way that affiliate marketing doesn't.​

affiliate marketing vs network marketing

Afilliate Marketing in a Nutshell

Affiliate marketing has a few key differences from network marketing, though both affiliate marketers and network marketers make money by promoting other people's products.

​What do affiliate marketers do?

  • blog (and sometimes create videos) about something they're passionate about​
  • recommend products that their target audience would like
  • earn a commission every time someone buys a product through their blog, through social media, or through their emails

​Affiliate marketing is a lot like network marketing in that you're recommending products and earning a commission on sales.

It's unlike network marketing in that you don't have a team (you only earn on what you sell), you don't have to buy the products to qualify as an affiliate, and most affiliate programs are free to join.

[The exception to these general rules is the digital marketing space, where a lot of courses ​allow you to sell them as an affiliate only after you've purchased them yourself.  For physical products like cameras, makeup, and diapers, however, you generally don't have to buy the product to promote it.]

The benefits of affiliate marketing over network marketing is that you never have to call people and you don't have to train a team.  You just write about something you love (fitness, video games, fishing, cameras, travel, makeup, etc., etc.) and you earn money every time someone buys something through your blog posts or your emails.

Want to add affiliate marketing to your tool belt and don't know where to​ start?  Get your hands on your FREE beginner's course right here.

How to Find Affiliate Programs

The super easiest way to find affiliate programs in your niche market is to go to Google and type in "____ + affiliate programs".  (Fill in the blank with whatever you want to write and talk about: makeup, organic skin care, fishing, gardening....)

You'll get a handful of affiliate programs that you can peruse and apply for.

Before you start applying for affiliate programs, though, it's best to know a little bit about what you're doing.

When you apply to become an affiliate, you'll need to fill out an application form.  If you already have a blog based website, and you know what you're going to talk about and where you're going to promote (through SEO, or on Facebook, or with YouTube videos...) then you're more likely to get approved.

Want to add affiliate marketing to your tool belt and don't know where to​ start?  Get your hands on your FREE beginner's course right here.

The Best of Both Worlds

If you're a network marketer, you can supercharge your business by adding related affiliate products.

I'm with a company that does certified organic skin care products, bath products, and superfoods.  They don't sell things like dishwasher liquid, though, or laundry detergent.  And the makeup line isn't very extensive.

I don't have to restrict myself to offering only the products ​that my primary company sells.  I can find other, compatible products that my target audience would likely buy, and then suddenly I have a much larger range of products to recommend than just what my network marketing company sells.

Not every network marketing company will let you do this.  

Most will.​

But be sure to check your company's policies and procedures first.  If they do not allow you to promote other products to your customer base (a super restrictive policy, but it exists in some cases) then you're kind of stuck.

Many companies will allow you to promote other products to your customers, however.

And, by the way, if you're with a company that doesn't allow you to directly sell or directly recruit online (i.e. you can't mention the company's name), then check out this post on how to promote your network marketing company when you can't say their name in public.​

The conclusion: I would highly recommend adding other relevant affiliate offers to your tool kit if you're a network marketer.

You can join companies like Amazon (Yes, Amazon has an affiliate program.) or other companies in your niche market​ and create multiple streams of income instead of just limited yourself to what your primary company offers.

This also gives you more freedom to choose a network marketing company based on the quality of products or the caliber of the team, instead of worrying about the range of products they offer.

I don't know about you, but I've sometimes worried that my primary company doesn't offer enough of a range for me to build a really successful business online.

Adding​ a few other affiliate offers can help supercharge your business and make you more than just a representative of your company.

Want the best affiliate marketing training course in town?  Get your FREE beginner's course right here.​

Learn where to find affiliate programs, how to set up a blog for free, and how to get yourself found by your target audience.  Start supercharging your business now.

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Rebecca is a mother of young twins, a Ph.D. candidate at McMaster University, and a total content marketing ninja. She is the founder and creator of RebeccaVendetti.com and also runs an online organic skin care business at LiveSimpleLiveOrganic.com.

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