It was so much fun to have Lauren Kinghorn from Inspiring Mompreneurs join me live last week Friday to discuss Affiliate Marketing VS Multi Level Marketing, especially since we have differences of opinion when it comes to Multi Level Marketing. I detest MLM and Lauren is a huge fan.
***Disclosure -The links in this post may contain affiliate links and I may receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on a link.***
Affiliate Marketing VS Multi Level Marketing
What Is Affiliate Marketing?
To explain it very simply, affiliate marketing is like being a freelance sales representative for companies that offer affiliate programs. As an affiliate marketer I promote the products of companies such as Amazon, 4 A Kid, The Papery and many more, and when anyone purchases something from that company through my link or referral code I earn commission for those sales.
It is a very straight forward and simple business structure.
What Is Multi Level Marketing (MLM)?
Multi Level Marketing is often also referred to as Network Marketing, Direct Selling, Relationship Marketing or even Trust Marketing. The whole idea is that you sell person to person. In recent times Multi Level Marketing has moved online, but traditionally it has been sold person to person, in person.
Multi Level Marketing has two aspects to it, the selling of products which gives you one level of income, and then there is also the business side of it where you introduce other people to sign up to the business. If you recruit people that also love the business side of Multi Level Marketing and they in turn recruit people under them then you start earning multiple levels of income.
Not everyone in MLM focuses on recruiting and building multiple levels of income, in fact a lot of people that join MLM do so to get products at the wholesale price.
The Differences Between These Two Income Strategies
With MLM you have to pay to be a member, and you often have to use their products too, while with affiliate marketing there is no fee to become an affiliate and there is no requirement for you to buy anything that you promote.
It is easier to promote a wide range of products and a wide range of companies that it is with MLM. MLM is a lot more intensive than affiliate marketing.
It is also easier to go global with affiliate marketing since most of your marketing efforts are online and for example by promoting Amazon almost anyone in the world can buy products from your links, while MLM is often concentrated more in your area since it is traditionally person to person. However a lot of MLM marketing companies are now in numerous countries and it is getting easier to promote MLM online.
A lot of affiliate marketing products are digital products which means it is an instant download, for example ebooks and courses. This means that there are no logistical challenges. With network marketing you are almost always working with physical products.
Most MLM opportunities offer more training and support than affiliate marketing programs. It is easier to get support and guidance in MLM. With affiliate marketing each company has its own set of marketing materials and some may offer comprehensive information on how to market their company and products while others may offer very little.
With MLM you can build a team and you will then need to mentor your team and assist them. With affiliate marketing you only promote the products.
The Similarities Between These Two Income Strategies
There are a lot of similarities between MLM and affiliate marketing. Both are ways to promote products to make commission on your sales.
Both strategies require you to be authentic and create trust with your audience.
They both have the possibility of generating passive income over time. With network marketing you will get the same customers buying the same products over and over again, however with affiliate marketing you might not necessarily have the same person buying products through your links over and over again but one blog post on your website has the possibility of generating repeat sales.
What Do People Love About Affiliate Marketing?
It’s free to join and there is so much freedom when it comes to the amount of products you can promote – just think about the amount of products on Amazon alone that you can add to your blog posts.
The structure is simple and some affiliate programs, such as Amazon, has a very high conversion rate. I know that if I write a certain amount of blog posts with Amazon affiliate links in them I am bound to make sales.
You can work from home, or you can work from anywhere. You are not limited to where you are located.
What Do People Love About MLM?
The personal development and training that comes with MLM is excellent. Leaders in MLM talk about the skills they have learned, how they have learned how to generate leads and the experience they have gained, including the mistakes they have made. It is about who you become through the process.
The training that comes with MLM is free and you don’t only get training from the company, you get training from the people that are working in the business too.
Members have leverage in that people that buy the products become loyal customers and are repeat buyers of the products. Once you find someone that really loves the products you don’t have to continue to push the product and they will most likely try the range of products.
If you recruit the right people into the business that are motivated to work hard and learn you have the ability to earn a fantastic income.
With MLM you can work from home and build your team internationally if you are in a top company that has a broad reach.
What Do People Hate About Affiliate Marketing?
The commission structure with affiliate marketing is often very low, so while the conversion rate for promoting Amazon products can be really good the commission is very low.
In addition to this very often affiliate programs have a time frame that your sale must be made from the time the link is clicked on your website. For example with Amazon your readers must make a purchase within 24 hours of clicking your link. If someone clicks on your link and adds it to their wish list and buys it a week later you will not get that commission.
However some affiliate programs have much longer time frames, even life time cookies. Other affiliate programs you sign up a customer and all purchases from then on will be your sales. It is important to check the agreement with every company that you sign up with.
You really do want a website to earn money from affiliate marketing because your earning ability is so much better with your own website. You can do affiliate marketing through social media and through word of mouth, but you will be shooting yourself in the foot by not having a website. So if the thought of having a website is off putting then affiliate marketing may not be the best way for you to earn.
It can also take a long time and a lot of hard work to build an audience that trusts you and to generate traffic to your website. Affiliate marketing is not something that will start paying off overnight.
There can be some distrust of affiliate marketers by some online marketers pushing scams and promoting things that they have not personally tried and tested. There are also a lot of affiliate marketers that are spamming people trying to make sales. This gives affiliate marketing a bad name and creates difficulties for those that do affiliate marketing the right way. Some social networks have blocked affiliate links from some online stores due to affiliate marketers spamming and using underhanded tactics.
What Do People Hate About MLM?
I really detest MLM as I was duped
into an Amway scheme in my early twenties and everything about that was rotten. My new neighbour invited me for coffee and said to bring my friend with. When we arrived she gave us coffee and cookies and pulled out her board and proceeded to give a presentation.
At first I was put out and wondered what on earth was going on, but being someone that has always been interested in making money for myself rather than working for a boss I was sucked in and so was my friend. We were sold on this amazing lifestyle and selling these amazing products.
However as soon as we were in, the products were no longer mentioned at all, we were pushed into attending all these events and seminars and the focus was only on getting people into the business underneath us. We were told to write down lists of everyone we knew and how to get them alone to give a presentation. My mentor asked me every day if I had phoned 20 new people that day with my pitch.
The people I approached got angry with me and my passion died very quickly. When I spoke to my mom she rolled her eyes and told me to run for the hills before I ruined every relationship I had.
I left the business and ever since then I have had a sour taste in my mouth with MLM.
Now I know that not every MLM is the same, but I know as soon as someone is about to pitch MLM to me and before they tell me what it is I say I do not do MLM and most people still push because I have “not heard them out”. I am constantly contacted by complete strangers that are pushing MLM. It really makes me angry.
It appears to me that a lot of MLM companies are training members to actively spam people and market in ways that are not good practices. I don’t know what Amway are teaching their members now, but 20 years ago the training they provided was unethical in my eyes.
MLM products are notoriously expensive.
The business structure looks just like a pyramid scheme to me. The only thing in my mind that separates MLM from being a pyramid scheme are the overpriced products.
I know that a lot of people feel the same way as I do about MLM and this means that anyone that gets involved with MLM will need to have a very thick skin to endure all the anger and irritation that comes from people like me.
How To Become Successful In Affiliate Marketing?
You first need to focus on building your audience and creating trust. As mentioned previously it is best to create a website for your business, which you can then monetize in a number of ways including affiliate marketing.
Once you have your website set up you will need to create quality content in your niche and help your readers solve their problems through your content. It is important to create good value for your readers.
You need to create content that your readers are interested in and then optimize your website and content for search engines so your content is found organically. This is going to be the best type of traffic to your website.
It is fantastic to also build your social networks and your email list as this will generate more traffic to your website, create more trust with your readers and in turn lead to more sales.
It may seem very overwhelming and complicated to build a website and create a blog but it is something that can be learned and built over time as you learn. I am in the process of creating courses which I will publish on this website which will guide you on how to to get started from scratch all the way to earning money from your website.
How To Become Successful In Multi Level Marketing?
There are a lot of similarities to affiliate marketing and yes you can also build it online, however traditionally MLM is built on a person to person basis so only creating online is not going to be enough to succeed with MLM.
There needs to be a conversation and there needs to be a personal relationship because it is not just selling the product, it is selling so much more. Often the products need some training too, because you are selling premium products and there is a reason for the high ticket pricing. It is not always that the products are so highly priced, it is because they are such extremely high quality products.
Lauren Kinghorn says that the very first step to being successful in MLM is to fall in love with a product or brand. If you don’t fall in love with that product or brand you will never be successful with that brand. Once you have fallen in love with it, used it for yourself and seen the difference you should be able to show and/ or demonstrate the benefits of using it.
The next step is to learn the skills to become a good network marketer, such as how to sell. how to demonstrate the products, how to recruit people and how to look for the right people to recruit. You will want to learn about lead generation and how to build and nurture relationships.
At the beginning your job will be selling products and recruiting people, but very soon your job changes to training, coaching and mentoring. So the people that make really good Multi Level Marketers are people that are good coaches, people that like to train other people.
It is also important to keep a big focus on the products that the business is based on, without the products there is an empty structure and it does become like a pyramid scheme.
There have to be products being sold and used in order for it to have long term benefits. The best is to have consumable products in order to keep sales going regularly.
How Long Does It Take To Start Making Money In Affiliate Marketing?
This is a question that is asked all the time and there is no set answer, it just does not work that way. Making money from affiliate marketing is a process. To start making money you need to first have a website, then you need to create content, generate traffic to your website and then monetize your website with affiliate links in order to make commission on sales.
There are so many variables that come into this equation such as the niche that you decide to build your business in, the amount of posts you write per week, how many words each post is, how well written each post is and how optimized your website and posts are for search engines.
If you have prior knowledge and experience of some of these things you will pick it up much quicker than someone that is a complete newbie to online marketing. If you are already working online and you have a website you will it much easier and quicker to start monetizing your existing website to add affiliate income to your income stream.
You will need to build your audience and create trust with your audience. This all takes time and it also takes time to learn these skills.
If you are new to online marketing don’t expect to start making any money for the first few months at least and don’t put too much pressure on yourself to make money. Make the focus of your time and energy learning new skills, building your new website and creating content.
Always remember that the way to make money is through content creation and traffic generation – once you know how to do this you can make money through affiliate marketing and add many more income streams, including Multi Level Marketing, influencer marketing, Google Ads and many more!
How Long Does It Take To Start Making Money In MLM?
Once again MLM is very similar and there is no set time line for making money. It is a process that will take time, to learn the skills you need and to implement what you have learned.
It also depends on the skills that you already have before you join MLM and who you are as a person. If you are coachable then you will do well and pick up the skills faster. It is also important that you are well aligned not only with the products, but with the lessons and coaching, as well as the coach that you have.
It is quicker to make money from promoting the products only, but that is not going to give you the same long term results as having a team under you too.
It is also important not to get too excited by how many people join you initially, there will be a lot of people interested and not so many willing to take the steps needed to find success in the business so lots of people will drop off, after you have put a lot of time and effort into coaching them.
About The Nu Skin Opportunity
One thing that I love about Nu Skin is that they are not the typical Multi Level Marketing in that they also offer an affiliate program which is free to join and promote which really appeals to me. This means that members can choose whether they want to promote the business side of Multi Level Marketing and for people like me that detest MLM there is the affiliate program.
I also love the way that Lauren goes about promoting Nu Skin – she is clearly in love with the products and uses them herself. She focuses on the product first and if someone is interested in the business side she shares about it, but she does not push or spam anyone. I have a huge amount of respect for Lauren and the work that she does.
In fact she even got me to sign up for the Nu Skin opportunity – so if you would like to join and market their products you can click here for South Africa, or here for USA – if you are in another country please let me know in the comments and I will give you the right link.