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Affiliate Marketing vs. Network Marketing: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on January 3, 2024
Affiliate marketing is earning commissions by promoting products, while network marketing involves selling products and recruiting distributors.

Key Differences

Affiliate marketing is a performance-based approach where affiliates earn commission for marketing a company's products. Network marketing, on the other hand, involves not only selling products but also building a network of distributors.
In affiliate marketing, affiliates are independent and promote products using their channels, like blogs or social media. Network marketing participants work more closely with the company and focus on direct selling and recruiting.
Revenue in affiliate marketing comes from successfully driving sales or leads through affiliate links. In network marketing, income is derived from personal sales and a percentage of the sales made by recruited team members.
Affiliate marketing is primarily online and relies on generating traffic to specific links. Network marketing often combines online and offline methods, emphasizing personal relationships and direct selling.
Affiliates in affiliate marketing usually do not need to buy the products they promote. In contrast, network marketers often purchase the products themselves and sell them to others.

Comparison Chart


Earning commission through promotion
Selling products and recruiting others

Mode of Operation

Mostly online, using affiliate links
Online and offline, personal selling

Revenue Source

Commissions from sales or leads
Personal sales and team sales commissions

Relationship with Company

Independent promotion
Closer association, often as a distributor

Product Investment

No purchase required
Often requires purchasing products

Affiliate Marketing and Network Marketing Definitions

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is earning a commission by promoting another company's products.
She earns a steady income through affiliate marketing by reviewing gadgets on her blog.

Network Marketing

Network marketing relies on building a network for product distribution.
He hosts regular meetings to grow his network marketing business.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing allows individuals to monetize their audience or traffic.
By using affiliate marketing, he monetizes his Instagram followers effectively.

Network Marketing

Participants earn commissions from their sales and their recruits' sales.
In network marketing, her income grew as her recruits made more sales.

Affiliate Marketing

It's a performance-based marketing strategy, rewarding for successful referrals.
Her affiliate marketing success is based on her blog's high traffic.

Network Marketing

It's a business model where profit comes from direct sales and recruiting others.
Her success in network marketing came from both her sales and her team's efforts.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketers earn a percentage of the sale made through their unique link.
Every time someone buys through her link, she gets a commission in affiliate marketing.

Network Marketing

It combines personal selling with multi-level marketing aspects.
She combines her selling skills with team leadership in network marketing.

Affiliate Marketing

It involves marketers creating content to drive sales via affiliate links.
His YouTube channel focuses on affiliate marketing for fitness products.

Network Marketing

Network marketing involves selling products and building a network of distributors.
He grew his income in network marketing by expanding his sales team.


Do I need to buy products in affiliate marketing?

No, buying products is not typically required in affiliate marketing.

Is purchasing products necessary in network marketing?

Often, participants buy and resell the company's products.

Do network marketers need to meet their clients in person?

Personal interactions are common in network marketing.

How do affiliate marketers make money?

Through commissions from sales made via their affiliate links.

What's the key to success in network marketing?

Successful selling and building a strong distributor network.

What is affiliate marketing?

Earning commission by promoting other companies' products.

What is network marketing?

Selling products and recruiting distributors to earn income.

How do affiliate marketers find products to promote?

Through affiliate networks or direct partnership with companies.

How do network marketers find recruits?

Often through personal networks, social media, and direct outreach.

Is affiliate marketing a form of passive income?

It can be, especially if content continues to drive sales over time.

Is training provided in affiliate marketing?

Some programs offer training, but it's mostly self-learned.

Are there any risks in affiliate marketing?

The main risk is not generating enough sales or traffic.

Can affiliate marketing be done entirely online?

Yes, it's mostly an online activity.

What are the risks of network marketing?

Potential risks include unsold inventory and dependency on a downline.

Is network marketing scalable?

It can scale with the growth of the distributor network.

What's the average income in affiliate marketing?

It varies widely based on niche, audience size, and engagement.

What's the average income in network marketing?

It also varies, depending on team size and sales volume.

Can affiliate marketing scale up?

Yes, by promoting more products or increasing traffic.

Does network marketing require team management?

Yes, managing and motivating a team is a key component.

Do network marketing companies provide training?

Many companies offer training and support to their distributors.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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