You are probably thinking of starting an affiliate marketing business and you are wondering about what are the pros and cons of affiliate marketing before you start so that you know if you should do affiliate marketing or not.
This is a great and smart question to ask before you start as knowing the answer can help you mitigate the possible risks of wasting your time and money on something that you might start with and not continue.
Although affiliate marketing is legit, and my favorite way of making money online, but it might not be for everyone as people have different personalities and different circumstances.
And after more than three years of doing affiliate marketing, I will help you here know the advantages and the disadvantages of doing affiliate marketing to generate income online.
11 Pros of Affiliate Marketing
1 – Low Initial Cost
Affiliate marketing can be started at a very low cost, especially if you do it in the long-term way, which is through creating a niche blog about a topic that you choose by yourself (niche), and creating helpful posts that rank on search engines and start getting traffic from Google, Bing & Yahoo.
To follow this method, then all what you need to start is the domain name, web hosting for a year, and a proper training.
The domain name with the hosting might cost around $70 for the first year, and to get a training, although there are many free YT courses, but many are outdated, teach something wrong, or not supported.
You can get a proper step-by-step training that is designed for absolute beginners at courses like Savage Affiliates that costs $200 one-time payment for the low plan.
Or you can learn at the #1 affiliate training and community platform that is called Wealthy Affiliate, which costs $49/month, or $495 for a complete year, but it includes also the web hosting for up to ten sites, in addition to make useful tools that are paid outside this platform, not to mention that they offer a free plan to get started without paying anything.
In general, you can start an affiliate business for a low initial investment of anywhere from $70-$500 for a complete year, and you can make the money back and start profiting within the first year if you put in the work consistently.
Can you start a brick an mortar business at this low cost?!
I don’t thing so.
2 – No Need to Create a Product
A great advantage of affiliate marketing is that you don’t need to take the risk and spend time and money to create and test a product, publish it, and see if people like it or not.
With affiliate marketing, you can find out what quality products are already there, and find ways to promote them to new people and get commissions without having to create a product by yourself.
3 – Beginner Friendly
Affiliate marketing through blogging is the most beginner-friendly method to start an online business.
The reason for that is that it doesn’t require technical knowledge or experience, and it doesn’t require using many tools.
You simply need a domain name and a WordPress hosting service, which don’t require coding or technical knowledge to work with.
You don’t need to deal with advertising platforms, advanced tracking tools, deal with shipping and customer support, setup payment gateways, …etc.
That’s why I always advise that beginners start with affiliate marketing through blogging, and later on, they can expand with other ways of making money online.
4 – Flexible Working Hours & Location
Because you don’t need to deal with customers, shipping, returns, …etc., you can work the hours you want.
This could be during the day, at night, at early morning, on weekends, weekdays, ….etc.
And you can work from anywhere you want as long as you have an internet connection and your laptop.
Some people are leaving to countries like Indonesia, Thailand, Philippenes, and others in order to enjoy the low-cost life while still working on their affiliate business.
Or maybe working from a coffee house like what I’m doing while writing this very article you are reading right now.
The choice is yours.
But remember that this is still a business and it requires you to put in the effort on continuous basis.
It just doesn’t matter if you work from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm, or from 7:00 pm to midnight.
Choose what is best for you and every day could be different.
5 – Can Be Done on The Side – Low Risk
Another great advantage of doing affiliate marketing over any other model is that because you can do it during any time, and you can work around 2-3 hours per day, you don’t to leave your current job in order to start with affiliate marketing.
You can work on it early in the morning, or after you leave work, and keep doing so until you start making a sustainable income, and then you might decide to either continue on doing it as a side thing and keep your original job, or you quit your job and focus more on your affiliate business.
It is a low-risk business model.
6 – Can Choose Your Niche
In order to be successful with affiliate marketing or any other online business model, you need to choose a niche to work on.
This is important in order to be able to understand your audience and be able to find products that help them, and convince them buying these products through your affiliate link so that you make money.
And the best part is that you can choose the niche you want to work on, so that you enjoy doing affiliate marketing on the long run.
This could be something related to a hobby or passion that you hove, a sport that you practice or watch, a skill that you know, a profession that you worked in, or even something you want to learn.
Believe me, working on something you like helps in giving you energy and patience until you start seeing results.
7 – You Don’t Deal with Customers
Because you don’t create a product nor ship it, and the customers pay the original merchant directly, this means that you don’t need to deal with customers for product quality, shipping delays, refund, returns, and any similar issue.
And as someone who tried to do dropshipping for sometime, and can tell you that affiliate marketing looks like heaven compared to dropshipping because you don’t have to deal with the customers as an affiliate.
Affiliate marketing is much less stressful than any other business model, which is a huge advantage for the affiliate marketing model.
However, this doesn’t mean that you just would go and promote trashy products to your audience just to get a commission.
You still have to do your part and find them good quality products to buy, so that their trust in you increases and they keep coming to your blog to find other recommendations.
8 – Many Options Available
As an affiliate, you have a wide range of products to promote in your niche, and there’s an affiliate program that you can join for almost any niche that you want to work on.
You can go to Google and type in the search bar:
“Name of your niche” + “affiliate program”
And google will fetch for you available affiliate programs in your niche.
For example, if you were in the yoga niche, then looking on Google for yoga affiliate programs will give you many results for the top programs in this niche.
These could be from known brands that sell yoga products and courses, or from bloggers who are listing the top yoga programs.
And the nice thing is that you can promote many products at the same time, whether physical or digital, and you can promote paid membership programs as an affiliate.
All of that without having to create a single product by yourself.
And if one merchant stopped selling their product, or if they decided to close their affiliate program, you can find an alternative to promote.
9 – It Keeps Growing
Others might tell you that affiliate marketing is competitive and crowded, but I disagree with this.
Few niches are highly competitive like niches related to credit cards, loans, refinance, health, …etc.
But many niches have much less competition, and some are virtually untapped.
And in general, affiliate marketing growth relies to a large extent on people’s behavior online.
And as people get to look for recommendations and buy more and more online, this means that the opportunity of getting commissions from promoting products as an affiliate increases everyday.
Not to mention that more merchants are jumping to sell their products online everyday, and one of the best ways for them to get customers is to hire affiliates like you.
This means that there will be more affiliate programs in every niche in the future.
This is why affiliate marketing is still worth it and it is still profitable for the years to come.
10 – Scalable
Others will claim that affiliate marketing is not as scalable as dropshipping for example, but I also have to disagree here.
There are some differences in scaling methods and speed like I mentioned in my affiliate marketing vs. dropshipping comparison, but this doesn’t mean that affiliate marketing is not scalable.
The difference is that with dropshipping or selling your own product, you can scale with paid ads and reach a bigger audience faster.
But with affiliate marketing through blogging, you can scale your business by creating more relevant content, cover new angles of your niche, recommend new products, and so on.
There are literally millions of products that you can promote online as an affiliate.
And you don’t have to keep creating content by yourself, but you can hire others to write content for you, while you focus on finding more opportunities and products to promote.
Also, you can scale your affiliate website by doing dropshipping by yourself for the items that make lots of sales, you can sell a digital product that you create or hire another person to create, you can build an email list from your readers and keep promoting to them helpful products, and so on.
11 – Good Part of The Work Can Be Outsourced
As I mentioned earlier, after building your affiliate blog to a certain level, you can start hiring others to write content for you so that you spend less time on the content creation part, and focus instead on other ways to market your blog and increase the traffic and income.
You can find many writing services if you search on Google for content writers.
While with other models that rely heavily on using paid advertising, you need to constantly check out your ad accounts in order to make sure that everything is going smoothly.
With these eleven pros of doing affiliate marketing, you can see why I recommend this model for starting to make money online.
However, with any business model, no matter how great it was, there comes some disadvantages as well, of which you should be aware before starting, which is what we will discuss next.
5 Cons of Affiliate Marketing
1 – No Control Over Products
One of the disadvantages of affiliate marketing is that you don’t have control over the products’ quality, price, or availability.
This means that a certain products’ price might go down, and so is your commission, or maybe its quality will deteriorate, and people will stop buying it because it has many negative reviews.
Or maybe the merchant stopped selling it, which means that you can’t make any money from promoting it anymore.
However, these all are solvable issues, as you can always find alternatives for any product to promote.
Make sure before you choose a certain niche to research and find a good deal of products from different merchants that have affiliate programs.
2 – No Control Over Commissions
In the terms and conditions of any affiliate program, there’s always an item that the affiliate program owner can close the program, close your account, decline your commissions, lower the commission rates, …etc., at anytime they want.
And you can’t argue with them if they do so.
Like what Amazon did on multiple occasions.
This might be risky, especially if you put all of your eggs in one basket and promote products from one merchant or program.
The solution to this problem however, like with the previous issue above, is through finding many affiliate programs for different products in your niche so that you can switch from one affiliate program to another when you need to.
3 – The Vendor Gets The Long Term Benefit of Customers
This is especially clear with digital products where the product owner pays the affiliate sometimes up to 75% of the product price as a commission.
It is true that digital products like courses and ebooks don’t require much of “manufacturing cost” like it is with physical products, which justifies the high commission.
But still, the affiliate gets 75% of the product price as a commission for a reason.
This reason is that the vendor wants affiliates to bring him as many customers as possible, even if he/she pays the affiliate a 100% commission.
What will happen later is that the vendor of the digital product will promote many other products to the customers in the back end after getting their email addresses.
And he/she would make much more money that what the affiliate got paid to bring the customer to buy the front end product.
But this is in my opinion fair.
Remember that the vendor takes the time and risk of creating the product in the first place, and deals with customer support on the long run, while you don’t.
In any case, you can still follow the same approach by collecting your readers email addresses when they visit your blog and keep sending them helpful emails and recommend other products as an affiliate through email.
4 – It Takes Time to Bring Results
Affiliate marketing, and any other model, requires time to bring results.
And in the online world in general, you can shorten the time needed by relying on paid advertising in order to get targeted traffic to your promotion quickly.
But this costs money, which is risky if you are new to affiliate marketing and paid advertising.
And the solution to mitigate this risk is by depending on getting organic free traffic from search engines through writing content as I recommended earlier, which takes longer time to bring results.
The solution to this is to be patient and consistent in your efforts, and remember that nothing happens overnight.
Trust the process and remember that others are succeeding with it, and put in the time to create a sustainable business that you own instead of working forever for others.
5 – Scam Gurus Everywhere
There are hundreds of “gurus” on the internet that claim that they can’t teach you how to become a millionaire with affiliate marketing overnight, and they try to sell you magical tools and expensive courses that cost thousands of dollars sometimes.
And after you buy these, you realize that things still take lots of work and time, which gets you frustrated and you might lose your faith in affiliate marketing and give up too soon.
Some of them even promise that you can make $20,000 in 3 hours on the first day, lol!
The solution to this is to find one legit program or instructor like the one in the conclusion below, and follow what they teach you until you succeed without listening to everyone on YouTube and Facebook who claims to have a magical push button.
Steady, consistent work brings results, while jumping from one guru to another will only get you frustrated.
Conclusion – Is Affiliate Marketing Good or Bad?
Affiliate marketing is still the best online business model in my opinion, and the most beginner-friendly one to start with that comes with the lowest risk level.
The advantages of doing affiliate marketing over weigh the disadvantages, and the disadvantages are solvable anyway by following the recommendation I mentioned with each disadvantage above.
If you want to start an affiliate marketing business, then I recommend that you join a legit place like Wealthy Affiliate that provides you with everything such as the training, step-by-step plan, web hosting, research tools, …etc.
And on top of that, you join the amazing community of 2 million online entrepreneurs who joined this platform over the years.
Check out this review of Wealthy Affiliate to learn more about them, and see how you can start with the free plan at the start if you are not sure yet.
And if you still have any question or concern about what I mentioned above on the pros and cons of affiliate marketing, tell me in the comments’ section below and I will be happy to answer you asap 🙂