Network Marketing vs Affiliate Marketing

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Speak the words Affiliate Marketing to some people and watch their hair stand on end.

Well, you may not have experienced such an event. Be thankful for that if Affiliate Marketing is your thing.

Judgment is so often passed immediately on hearing the spoken word, without the recipient having the slightest knowledge of the subject raised.

I can vouch for that as it has been my personal experience.

Not only is my experience with the reaction of people, but I also have experience of being involved in both Network Marketing and Affiliate Marketing.

Receiving a Questionable Invitation

My first encounter with Network Marketing came about through a phone discussion with a prospective client within the hairdressing industry. Having never met this person prior to our conversation, I had nothing to judge the invitation I received from her, other than to attend a meeting. Usually, I’m not quite so trusting as I was on this occasion.

It was late on a Friday afternoon in November 2005 when I answered that phone call. Not until the following Monday evening would I attend the meeting, leaving me wondering during the weekend what I was in for. Little did I know the journey ahead of me.

My Introduction to Network Marketing

On arriving at the meeting venue that Monday evening and waiting with others, all strangers in a reception area, my curiosity was increasing as to what or who would appear when the hefty looking door opened.

After a wait of approximately ten minutes, the door was opened. This was when I meet the Leader of this group who I later discovered had recently started a new business, of which I would be learning about. I introduced myself, advising the reason for my presence that evening. I was welcomed and that was the start of a completely new experience under the umbrella of Network Marketing.

Not a great number of people attended that meeting. This was understandable due to the business being recently formed.

All those I met, or at least sat through the meeting with, appeared to be alert and respectable.

The presentation was from the person referred to earlier as the Leader. In fact, he was the founder of a new division of a particular network marketing programme.

Everything presented by this man appeared to be above board. I still remember that Monday evening and being introduced to new and grand opportunities.

How Does Anyone Make a Good Decision?

Throughout that week, consultation and some research took place while I continued to wonder whether I should be involved or make a correct decisionforget the entire experience. Eventually, my decision was to sign up for this programme. It certainly wasn’t a cheap venture. A few thousand dollars as I remember, paid upfront. And I was set to go. Well, that was the idea.

With almost no experience of marketing, all I could wonder was how I could achieve what was expected of me, now that I was involved in this programme.

The fact was, this was a completely new experience. Something I had not previously heard of. It sounded wonderful. In fact, it was enticing and roused a feeling of excitement and success. I heard talk of various levels to be reached. Each level would be recognized by a celebration gathering and presentation of a new badge. There were different levels to be reached. Success with each level meant an increase in income.

It wasn’t long before realizing I was involved in a venture which was easy for some. Not so easy for others. Being in the ‘not-so-easy’ category meant experiencing quite some trial and anguish. To be slow progressing was not part of the plan. Pressure mounted over a period of two or three years, and it was time for me to bail out and put the experience behind me.

A Second Network Marketing Experience

Believe or not, after a while, I joined another Network Marketing programme. This was very different in that weekly meetings were not predominant. I more or less worked in consultation with the person who introduced me to this programme. In other words, my referrer.

In spite of the best efforts on my part, again I failed at Network Marketing. However, I heard shortly after pulling out that the entire programme had failed. Hence, the programme itself was not successful.

Everything Comes In Three’s (So It Is Said)

Everything Comes In ThreesThere’s nothing that quite equals ‘attempting’. And, this was another attempt at Network Marketing. How could I refuse someone who had so much faith in this new-to-me programme!

This Network Marketing business, on first sight, appeared to be less pressure than the others I had attempted. There was not so much focus on attending meetings. It didn’t take long before I pulled out of this programme knowing that no-one could ever again entice me to be involved in network marketing.

In fact, the third programme is one that markets excellent products such as household and health needs. I did enjoy using their products and, had I been experienced in marketing I would have been happy to promote the products. But, again, this was not for me. The need to strive for success so that my up line could succeed financially was an enormous strain.

After three very different experiences with Network Marketing, I vowed and declared that Network marketing was not my thing.

My Reason for Participating in Those Three Programmes

At that stage of my life, I did not find it easy to say No when approached by friends and acquaintances. I tried to oblige whenever possible. People who introduced each programme appeared confident of success. How could I not support them and, by doing so, supposedly benefit myself? Those were my thoughts.

Unfortunately, by focusing on the needs of those people who urged me to join their programmes, I gained very little that would benefit my own situation. This caused me to lose valuable time over a period of approximately 4 years.

A Change of Heart

Having left Network Marketing behind me, sometime later I discovered Affiliate Marketing. This was something I found online with no influence from anyone. Working on the internet appealed to me and, although in 2010 I started my first website, I had little time to spend working on it.

It was 2006 when I sat at my computer and with very little knowledge of the internet, I began searching about how to make money online. It was then that I discovered a programme by the name of Google Cash by Chris Carpenter.

I remember reading an ebook Chris had produced for the reason of teaching how to follow his programme. I read the entire book. Then at my computer, I followed his direction to start making money through this Google Cash programme. By following the direction explained in the eBook, I had an active online account. After a few days, I saw activity which was people finding my links. Of course, this was a paid advertising.

Taking fright at the activity which was so new to me, I deleted the account. If only I had had the courage to stay with it. Who knows what would have happened. One thing I learned over the years was that Chris Carpenter was a reliable and successful online entrepreneur.

Had I been more experienced in using the internet, Chris Carpenter’s programme may have been my way to making a generous income. I will never know, due to the lack of not only courage but also being a complete beginner with online activity.

During the next few years, my interest in Affiliate Marketing continued and in 2010 I built my first niche website, which has proved to be successful.

Time to Move Seriously into Affiliate Marketing

During 2015 things changed and I got seriously into Affiliate Marketing. Affiliate marketing is something I enjoy immensely. There are huge possibilities for those interested in earning their living working online.

A great advantage of working in Affiliate Marketing is being able to work from home, with no-one to answer to other than myself. If I don’t apply myself to the tasks required to grow my business, in no way am I causing a detrimental effect on anyone else.

The Truth of Network Marketing vs Affiliate Marketing

First of all, let’s be clear about the meaning of Network Marketing, Multi-Level-Marketing or Referral Marketing. Whatever the title used, those three titles all have the same meaning.

My reason for referring throughout this article to Network Marketing as opposed to Multi-Level Marketing is, when mentioning Affiliate Marketing, people have jumped to the conclusion that I’m talking about Network marketing. In fact, their assumption is NOT correct.

Affiliate Marketing is a totally different model to Network Marketing, Multi-level or Referral Marketing. Affiliate Marketing has no relationship or connection to those other three marketing concepts.

7 Requirements for Success in Network Marketing  

  1. First and foremost, a never-give-up attitude
  2. Outgoing personality
  3. Extreme confidence that you will succeed
  4. Being able to deal with refusals and hard-knocks
  5. Prepared to lose friends
  6. Highly skilled in Cold-Calling and Door Knocking
  7. Prepared to encourage your down line

Network Marketing is Not for Everyone 

It definitely is possible for people to succeed with Network Marketing. But, what is it that leads to the success of those people?
During my time in Network Marketing, I found that a greater percentage of those who achieved were already successful business people.

Due to their experience, these people had a significant list of contacts before they set out on their network marketing attractingPeople Successful in Business others to join under them.

So, in truth, another name for Network Marketing is Multi-Level-Marketing. The method of Multi-Level-Marketing is to invite others to join. When each person joins, they are ‘under’ the member who invited them.

Levels are different in each Network Marketing programme, but the fact is each programme is made up of levels. The person at the top earns from each person who joins under them.

If Your Friends Are Important to You

During my time in Network Marketing, also known as Multi-Level-Marketing, I experienced people who avoided me after a first approach.

Also, I’ve heard it said that Network Marketing is the easiest way to lose friends. I would go along with that.

Friends are important to most people, I for one, and there’s no way I enjoy losing a friend for the sake of a pressured lifestyle.

Have I Lost Friends Through Affiliate Marketing?

Working as an Affiliate Marketer is a totally different story. No way does my Affiliate Marketing lifestyle affect my friendships.

As an Affiliate Marketer, there is no need to approach friends or make cold-calls to invite people to join me. I make my own choices and I’m not answerable to anyone, such as I was with Network Marketing.

Affiliate Marketing has no resemblance to Network Marketing, Multi-Level Marketing, or Referral Marketing.

I am totally independent as an Affiliate Marketer. There is no requirement to attend weekly meetings. I can work at my computer, laptop or other device and make good progress without involving anyone else.

Taking days or weeks away from a digital device will not have an effect on anyone else. Admittedly, taking days away from my computer may harm a newly developed website. But this is not hurting other people.

The definition of Affiliate Marketing is ‘promoting other people’s products’. There are literally thousands of companies that offer affiliate programmes. These companies, or businesses, benefit financially through the Affiliate Marketers who join their Affiliate programmes.

Affiliate Marketing is an absolutely legitimate way to earn an income working online.

Why Do People Jump to Conclusions?

So why is it that people who have absolutely no knowledge of online marketing jump to conclusions when they hear the words ‘Affiliate Marketing’?

I’m unable to answer that question. All I can do is consider their harsh or ugly words to come from a lack of knowledge. Or, maybe misinterpreted statements on the subject from others who are ill-informed.

Gaining Experience Prior to Judgment

Referring again to Network Marketing:

My interpretation of Network Marketing is that it’s not all bad as some would say. For instance, in my first experience of Network marketing, the products I was attempting to market were of the highest quality within the range of Personal Care and Dietary products.

The name of the products is NuSkin, based in the United States of America.

NuSkin PremisesDuring the period I was a distributor, a convention was held in Salt Lake City. I attended that convention in 2007 and during that time, visited the Nu Skin business premises in Provo, Utah.

NuSkin appeared to me to be a credible company. However, the success of the company depends on the success of its distributors. So this is where I did not fit in. A distributor of any product needs to be highly educated in the field of marketing products one-to-one.

What I have written is my personal experience with Nu Skin. While writing this article, and referring to Wikipedia, I’ve discovered quite a history of the NuSkin company. In no way am I prepared to pass any opinion on what is stated in Wikipedia.

The Third Multi-Level Company was “Melaleuca”

This is a reputable company promoting household and health products.

Melaleuca is a legitimate company in spite of it being a networking company dependable on distributors, in a fashion similar to Nu Skin.

Companies such as Nu Skin and Melaleuca are sometimes referred to as pyramid schemes, or perhaps some say they are scams.

The truth is that both these companies function legitimately. There is nothing suspicious about them. But, as I’ve previously said, to be successful as a distributor in either of these companies you do not want to be thin-skinned. There are hard knocks to be taken.

Returning to the Truth of Network Marketing vs Affiliate Marketing

The role of an Affiliate Marketer is to promote products owned by other people who are attempting to earn from the products they own.

The people who own these products could be small businesses who create their own products for sale. Or, they may be large companies such as Amazon.

As an Affiliate Marketer promoting these products, my role is that of Publisher.

The reason for using the word Publisher is due to people such as myself, owning a published website where I promote the products of companies who approve my application.

Using my own website to promote products owned by small business or large companies has no effect on anyone else.

When a visitor to my website decides to purchase a product I’m promoting, that is the decision of that visitor. I am not putting pressure to make a purchase on that visitor, or the next visitor or however many visitors there are to my website. It is their choice to purchase or not to purchase. And, there is NO additional cost to the visitor purchasing a product through my website

This is completely opposite to Network Marketing were often enormous pressure is placed on a person to become a Network Marketer, otherwise known as Multi-Level Marketer.

7 Requirements for Success in Affiliate Marketing

  1. Access to the Internet
  2. Your own computer or laptop
  3. A desire to to make money working from home.
  4. Developing good Time Management skills.
  5. Learning how to Set Achievable Goals
  6. An understanding that it takes time to build an online business
  7. Investing in a reliable programme to learn the skills of Affiliate Marketing

Read Wealthy Affiliate Review

In Conclusion

It is my hope that people who do not understand the meaning of a particular name, word or phrase connected with working online, will refrain from making a judgment on others, such as myself.  Knowledge is power.

Within search engines, such as Google, ample information can be found about almost any activity worldwide.

I invite you to leave your comments or questions below.

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10 thoughts on “Network Marketing vs Affiliate Marketing”

  1. This is a very educative post for people, especially newbies, to understand the major differences between Network Marketing and Affiliate Marketing. Reading your post would make people who are new to making money online understand whether they should earn money through Network Marketing (sometimes referred to as Multi-level Marketing) or through Affiliate Marketing. I, too, tried Network Marketing through EARN EASY COMMISSIONS, but discontinued to “frictions” in relationships as you have outlined.

    I have also found Affiliate Marketing a much easier venture to handle than Network Marketing. You work from your home at your own pace and buyers from your websites which you publish do not have to complain to you if they are dissatisfied with a particular product. In this way, you work with a peace of mind knowing relationships with anybody will not be strained. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with the whole world.

    • Joseph, thank you very much for your kind words. It is very helpful and encouraging that you see value in this post for those new to finding a way of earning an income online.  

      I’m very pleased for you that you are now doing Affiliate Marketing, after your unpleasant experience with Network Marketing.  I’m sure you will enjoy your Affiliate Marketing experience for many years to come.  

      With best wishes,

  2. I found this interesting because some years ago I joined a network marketing program, on the advice of a friend. When someone introduces you to the program it sounds very enticing and exciting. Yes I was excited when I sold my first round of products and when I enrolled a few friends, but then it required some kind of consistency. I had to sell a certain quota each month. Now the sales representative role was harder than I thought. You have to have some sort of confidence and drive to approach people to sign up, and after a while I began to dislike that role. I have recently learned about affiliate marketing and, as you say, it is a totally different model. I think I will be able to work this. Thank you for this review.

    • Thanks, JJ, for your response to my post about these two different types of marketing.  I understand the excitement you experienced when selling that first round of products. Well done to you for actually being able to enrol a few friends; that’s is quite some achievement.  I can well relate to eventually disliking the role of sales representative.  That was my feeling, too, with network marketing.

      I am so pleased for you that you’re now doing affiliate marketing. Such a huge difference to network marketing. 

      I wish you great success for your future in affiliate marketing.


  3. You have done serious juxtaposition between affiliate marketing and network marketing and has helped to clear my misconceptions concerning the two terms. Unlike you, I got to experience affiliate marketing first before being introduced to network marketing and to this day, I always look back and regret my decision to invest in network marketing. I lost a lot of friends I invited to it and I lost a lot of money too. But my experience with affiliate marketing was simply exceptional since most times, everything is virtual and all I have to do is to enlighten people and provide solutions to their questions. To me, affiliate marketing is worth the time and the effort because it is a sure way to success. Thanks

    • That’s an interesting experience you had, Ro, with being an affiliate marketer prior to attempting network marketing.  I can well understand how you feel about your network marketing experience. The comparison between the different concepts must have been hard to take. Losing friends is sad.  Losing money can be soul-destroying depending on financial circumstances. 

      I absolutely agree with all you say about affiliate marketing, and it certainly is worth the time and effort. Affiliate marketing is the best way I know with regard to earning an income working from home.

      With best wishes,

  4. This post is really awesome and I’m glad you can show us the difference between network marketing and affiliate marketing. I have also seen alot of multi level marketing just like you and I can tell you, even if you became successful at it, you’d still dump it, that was the story of my aunt, she got well compensated even with a car in a network marketing scheme. I guess she quit because she was losing everyone. Friends and family left her because she would try to talk them into the sham. Anyway, she quit sometime later. Affiliate marketing like you have said is more preferable and there’s no stress to it. Working at your own pleasure is awesome. Overall, great post

    • Hi Henderson,

      Thank you very much for visiting my website and leaving your comment. And, thank you for sharing your Aunt’s experience with multi-level marketing.  To be compensated so well shows she must have been excellent at promoting products.  But it is sad that your Aunt lost friends and family; unfortunately, that’s what happens. 

      We are so fortunate to have found affiliate marketing and to have the ability to work from home, without involving anyone else.

      Best wishes,

  5. That is a wonderful breakdown Valerie.

    Network Marketing sucks in comparison to Affiliate Marketing for sure!

    And WOW Chris Carpenter way back then. Gee Whiz if you had stuck to that!? His Google Cash was one of the Go Too’s 🙂 up there with the Rich Jerk ETC.

    But similar to you I let my Fears keep me from following through which has potentially left me way behind in terms of where I could be today.

    Wish you well

    • Great to receive your comment, Rob. Thank you.

      I was absolutely compelled to write this post having mentioned to an acquaintance I do affiliate marketing.
      Her response made me feel evil when, of course, I know that’s not so.

      It’s good to meet someone who’s familiar with Chris Carpenter’s Google Cash. At that time I had absolutely no idea of what I was actually doing and was fearful that my meagre account balance would become Nil.

      There’s no turning the clock back, so it’s about the now and future.

      With best wishes.

      Kind regards,


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