Network Marketing vs. Affiliate Marketing: What is the Difference?

Both network marketing and affiliate marketing can potentially transform your business. However, in order to know which method is better for your business, you must know the difference between the two.

Which one you choose depends on what you are seeking to achieve and how you want to do it.

Below is all you need to know about the difference between network marketing and affiliate marketing.

Network Marketing

Network marketing is quite different from affiliate marketing. Sometimes also called multi-level marketing, it also involves promoting a product but through different tactics. 

Instead of selling a product through affiliate links, network marketers join a team or a company selling certain products. Network marketers work independently to promote a product or service and build a network of salespeople along the way. 

Even though not all network marketing programs are the same, many encourage you to find new salespeople to join the team and sell the product. This enables network marketers to earn a commission from every sale their recruits make.

Think of Avon products, for example. This is based on network marketing. New members receive the materials needed to sell the products and also attract new members by presenting them with the benefits of the opportunity.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing involves joining an affiliate program to promote a service or product online (often through a blog). The affiliate (also called the publisher) creates content centered around this product and includes links to the company website that visitors can click on to make a purchase. 

Every time a buyer makes a purchase through one of these affiliate links, the affiliate receives a commission. 

Merchants can also track who clicks on these links and know when a consumer has made a purchase. 

One example of affiliate marketing programs is Amazon Associates

Main Difference

The basic difference between affiliate marketing and network marketing is in the approach. Affiliates strive to attract their target audience to click on the links provided and make a purchase. 

With network marketing, the goal is to develop relationships with your customers base and to foster business relationships as well. In this scenario, you don’t just sell a product to web users you don’t know. Instead, you make real connections with customers and new members.


As mentioned earlier, an affiliate makes money every time a buyer purchases a product through one of the affiliate links. These commissions can be lower or higher, depending on the affiliate program the affiliate chooses to join. 

While some affiliate programs are high-volume, the percentage the affiliate gets is rather small. On the other hand, affiliate programs that target businesses often bring higher commissions.

The amount of money an affiliate can earn also depends on the quality of their content, whether it’s YouTube or a blog. It also depends on the niche. 

With network marketing, the marketer doesn’t really start making money until they build a sizeable network of business partners and then earn a percentage of their earnings.

Some network marketing companies require new members to purchase start-up equipment or training materials to join the team. 

Essentially, there are two ways to make money through network marketing: by selling the product/service or through commissions from the sales made by your recruits.

Motivated individuals with enough time and energy to invest in this can potentially earn solid income through network marketing although that is not guaranteed.

Which is Better?

The answer to this depends on what you’re trying to accomplish and in what way. Both methods are very popular and widely used among businesses and individuals.

Affiliate marketing is rather simple and doesn’t require recruiting new members. You can join an affiliate program, build a website or YouTube channel, and start promoting the product you selected without investing much.

The more effort you put in promoting the product through high-quality, useful content, more consumers will click on the links and purchase the product because they trust you. Hence, you make more commissions. 

Network marketing might require a bit more energy to call people and promote a product or service. You also need to invest time into finding new potential members to join your team. 

Both marketing methods offer an opportunity to make money but in different ways. While affiliate marketing is more digital and can be done without additional salespeople, network marketing requires a more personal approach. 

Related articles

Steps to a Healthier Workspace

4 Steps to a Healthier Workspace

Whether you like it or not, your workplace is the place where you’ll end up spending a fair chunk of your time on a daily basis. This simple but quite important revelation puts one in just the proper mindset for them to start thinking about improving the quality of their stay at the office. Office […]

Start With What You Are Going to Sell

The Key to Success: Why You Need a Business Plan and How to Write It

Statistics about small business aren’t as grim as they used to be, but they aren’t very promising either. Even with the improved numbers, the majority of businesses won’t celebrate their 10-year anniversaries. If you are on the verge of launching something, of turning your precious idea into an actual business, and the negative statistics pop […]