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The Pros and Cons of Affiliate Marketing

8 min read

Affiliate marketing has grown into one one of the largest ecommerce marketing strategies in overall revenue over the last decade. With affiliate marketing, content creators, websites, blogs, podcasts, and more all get paid to promote products to their audiences.

Despite its popularity, some people may still wonder: is affiliate marketing really worth it? How much money can people really earn through affiliate marketing? And what are the downsides of affiliate marketing? Here is a quick breakdown of the pros and cons of affiliate marketing.

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Is Affiliate Marketing Worth It For Affiliates?

Affiliate marketing is almost always worth it for affiliates. Most affiliate marketing programs are free to join for affiliates. As an affiliate, you are the one providing a service, so it would not make sense for companies to charge you.

This is not to say that becoming an affiliate marketer is like printing free money. Affiliates should do some research to find products that suit their niche. Additionally, the earning potential of affiliate marketing is dependent on the affiliate’s following. An affiliate with one million followers has the potential to earn a lot more than somebody with 20 thousand followers. It would be shortsighted to jump into affiliate marketing with the assumption that it will lead to large amounts of cash right away. Rather, affiliate income should be thought of as a steady source of supplementary income.

Is Amazon Affiliate Marketing Worth It?

One of the most well-known affiliate marketing programs is Amazon Affiliates. This program allows websites to share official links to Amazon product pages. Any sales generated through those links results in a commission which goes to the owner of that website. Amazon Affiliates is free to join, although only qualified websites are eligible.

However, is Amazon Affiliates the best affiliate marketing program? It does have a few unique benefits. Most notably, it is run through Amazon’s platform. Amazon is a safe, familiar, and user-friendly online marketplace. This can help ease some of the tension which might otherwise stand in the way of sales conversions. Amazon Affiliates is also hosted by the world’s largest online retailer. This means there is an incredibly wide range of products for affiliates to choose from.

One notable downside of Amazon Affiliates is that the commission rates for affiliates can vary, and are often relatively low.

Affiliate Marketing Pros

Easy to Get Started

Most affiliate marketing programs have a relatively low barrier of entry. Programs like Amazon Affiliates and Instagram affiliates do have requirements in place for qualifying affiliates. However, once you’re in, there is no expertise required. Simply find products that suit you, and start promoting. There are rarely, if ever, entry fees for affiliate marketing programs.

Not Much Work Required

The work required for affiliate marketing is often minimal compared to revenue. In some cases, it’s as simple as providing a link to a product. More often, however, it’s better to provide promotional content to persuade your audience that the product is worth their time or money. Either way, it’s a small amount of work for a good payout.

Highly Flexible

Affiliate marketers have tons of freedom when it comes to choosing what they promote and when they promote it. You can post affiliate marketing content as often, or as little, as you like. In most programs, you also have a wide range of options to choose from when selecting products.

Affiliate Marketing Cons

Earning Potential Varies

The earning potential of affiliate marketing can be inconsistent. Nearly half of affiliate marketers earn $20,000 or less annually. Some people might jump into affiliate marketing with the belief that they can get rich quickly using it. However, this is not the case. In most cases, it is a good source of supplementary income, but not a full-time wage on its own.

Income is Not Immediate

Affiliate marketing earnings can vary, but they also take time to kick in. Before you can start making money with affiliate marketing, you must establish a following and a good reputation. Without an audience to market to you, you cannot be a successful affiliate marketer.

Limited Content Creation Freedom

Affiliate marketers have plenty of flexibility in several ways. But one way in which they are limited is in their promotional content. Most companies provide rules or guidelines about how their products should be presented and marketed. While this will vary from company to company, every brand has an image to uphold.

Too Much Can Damage Your Reputation

If you spend too much time promoting products to your audience, they will eventually lose interest. Nobody wants to be sold to every second of every day. If it gets to a point where you are posting more marketing content than organic content, it could hurt your reputation. You might lose followers or suffer reduced follower engagement. This, in turn, leads to lower conversion rates on your affiliate links, and less revenue.

Affiliate Marketing: Is It Worth It For Businesses?

Are affiliate marketing programs worth it for content creators and influencers? The answer is almost always yes. But what about the businesses whose products and services are promoted by affiliate marketers? Is affiliate marketing still profitable for them?

The answer, again, is yes. Affiliate marketing businesses also tend to increase profits through their programs. While there are fees involved, that is simply the cost of the marketing service. Most marketing strategies require some upfront cost. Affiliate marketing tends to be affordable, while also reducing the amount of marketing labor for the company.

Additionally, the cost is largely dependent on sales. Companies only pay their affiliates based on revenue generated through their affiliate links. This means it is nearly impossible for companies to lose money from affiliate partnerships.

There is still some risk involved, however. Most notably, affiliates are not directly associated with the companies they promote for. This can lead to problems if an affiliate presents a product in a way that is not true to the brand’s identity. But most companies provide detailed content guidelines for their affiliates to mitigate this risk.

More Ways to Earn Money Online

Affiliate marketing is one of countless ways that you can earn money online. Ecommerce is booming, with more opportunities than ever to make money from your home. If you’re looking for new ways to make money online, Ecwid can help. Learn more by reading Ecwid’s guide on How to Make Money Blogging. Or read about what it takes to open an online store.


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About the author

Max has been working in the ecommerce industry for the last six years helping brands to establish and level-up content marketing and SEO. Despite that, he has experience with entrepreneurship. He is a fiction writer in his free time.

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