The Pros & Cons of Affiliate Marketing | A Practical Overview

I would like to start the writing by mentioning a simple study carried out by Forrester Consulting. This study shows that in the US alone, affiliate marketing reached 4.8 billion dollars in 2016; outperforming the Belize economy twice over – and this affiliate market has been predicted to reach nearly seven billion by 2020.

pros & cons of affiliate marketing
Data Source: Forrester Consulting

Practical studies like these show that affiliate marketing is in a solid state and most importantly it’s continuously evolving and thriving.

But the question arises …

What is that all about?

Let’s first put it simply: what is affiliate marketing and how does it work?

What is Affiliate Marketing?

pros & cons of affiliate marketing

If I simplify the definition of affiliate marketing, it stands for a performance-based business in which revenue is generated by marketers who are called affiliates and they earn a fixed amount of commission paid only when sales are made or a qualified action takes place.

Why Adopt Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing could be a great source of passive earnings. Around 9 out of 10 publishers acknowledge that affiliate programs are extremely valuable to their overall marketing strategy and it works as an efficient source of revenue, which accounts for almost 20% of their annual revenue on average.

pros & cons of affiliate marketing

On the other hand, affiliate programs help to increase orders, conversion rate, and ROI as a whole. There are some successful people who have been earning a 70% higher ROI, thanks to their effective affiliate strategy.

How to Become an Affiliate?

It’s pretty simple to be an affiliate for any affiliate program. What you need is to promote the respective products or services. You can do such independently for any kind of affiliate program. You will become basically an independent promoter of the respective products or services.

pros & cons of affiliate marketing

In each affiliate marketing, each affiliate has a unique ID added as a parameter to the links he/she shares. Using these links, conversion tracking can be done and you will get paid according to the periodicity and percentage of the agreed sale that happened by your referred links.

Like all other businesses, however, affiliate marketing has its merits and demerits. Today, in this article, I will demonstrate the ally or foes of affiliate marketing. Let’s explore each good and bad part of affiliate marketing while engaging in the world of affiliate marketing.

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Pros of Affiliate Marketing

pros & cons of affiliate marketing

To begin with, we can start with the pros of affiliate marketing and they are as follows:

1. Zero/Minimal Investment

In affiliate marketing, you can run your business almost with zero costs. You just need to promote products and you can do that in various ways. You can start writing free of cost using different free blogging sites. Most importantly, you don’t need to invest in creating and developing products.

pros & cons of affiliate marketing

You also can start with a minimal cost of the domain, hosting, and purchasing your own website. Most of the affiliate companies follow that process and also offer a free starter package that lets you start the affiliate programs. They also offer premium subscription services with more resources and assistance.

2. Easy to Start

pros & cons of affiliate marketing

This is probably the most reasonable factor for choosing this platform. All the amenities of affiliate marketing show that this is the easiest way to start your business. You just need to perform some basic steps to complete the whole process while starting with the platform.

3. Billion-Dollar Business

pros & cons of affiliate marketing

I already started by stating that affiliate marketing is a billion-dollar industry that is growing rapidly with enormous opportunities. The only question remains is, what chunk of this multi-billion dollar industry can you exploit? Don’t overthink, just jump in!

4. Learning through Earning

pros & cons of affiliate marketing

You can learn through any kind of profession while you deal with the respective responsibility. But in affiliate marketing, you can get more opportunities than any other profession.

5. Flexibility

pros & cons of affiliate marketing

In the case of the publisher, the affiliate program lures diversity. There are some of the most common REWARD TYPES if you go for affiliate marketing.

  • Pay-Per-Sale: This one is a policy where you have to pay a minimum percentage of the sale price for every purchase made by a customer using affiliate marketing.
  • Pay-Per-Click: In this case, regardless of whether a sale is made or not, you have to pay for the number of users that are directed to your website.
  • Pay-Per-Lead: In this part, affiliates are rewarded once visitors fill out the contact form leaving their personal information.

These are some common REWARD TYPES in affiliate marketing that can leverage for each affiliate marketer.

6. Market-Ready Audience

pros & cons of affiliate marketing

In affiliate marketing, as you are getting a wider place to sell other’s products and services, that will results in more customers, ultimately more sales. Moreover, if you will find different products from different popular brands that have market-ready audiences that will help you to promote those products.

7. High-Income Potential

pros & cons of affiliate marketing

Although it seems that affiliate marketers get a small portion of revenue from each sale still it has enough potential to generate more sales. If you can generate a high volume of sales overall, you will find something unbelievable.

For instance, if you create and sell web templates, you can promote web hosting services as an affiliate. This could be the source of an extra income stream. Moreover, only one article could be the source of your extra income.

8. Extensive Products & Marketplace

pros & cons of affiliate marketing

This is one of the most astounding advantages of being an affiliate in the affiliate marketing arena. You will get a lot of products and services all through the marketplace. From there, you can hit your expected target audiences which could facilitate your affiliate income.

In addition to this, you can choose and focus on those products that pay the highest amount of commission. The more popular products you chose the wider marketplace you can have.

9. Promoting Complimentary Products

pros & cons of affiliate marketing

In affiliate marketing, as an affiliate, you could have chances to promote complementary products apart from the main products. This also increases your opportunity to extend your earnings.

10. Do What You Love Most

pros & cons of affiliate marketing

There are a lot of affiliate marketing programs that can be followed. Most importantly you can have enough options to choose from according to your interest. It can be said that you are probably more likely to find your most favorite niche.

11. Work From Anywhere As a Digital Nomad

pros & cons of affiliate marketing

One of the most important aspects of affiliate marketing is you run your business staying from anywhere in the world. You just need to have a laptop and an internet connection to run the operation.

It means you can lead a nomadic life with a solid income stream staying here and there. This will also allow you enormous flexibility and an enhanced capacity to build an income stream.

Cons of Affiliate Marketing

cons of affiliate marketing

Like any other platform, affiliate marketing has its weak points too. Before jumping into this marketing field make sure of all the demerits that you might face in the future. Let’s have a look at them:

1. Commission-Based Payment

pros & cons of affiliate marketing

Unlike the maximum internet marketing companies which typically pay for each person who clicks on the ads, affiliate programs mostly work on a sales commission model. Though there are still ads for the visitors to click on, affiliate programs usually only pay when a purchase takes place.

In this case, ads use a temporary browser cookie to track what the person buys.

2. Need A Lot Of Patience and Hard Work

pros & cons of affiliate marketing

Initially, it needs lots of struggle while starting with affiliate marketing to take you up to the label. It’s not like a fairy tale where everything will happen with a little effort. Yes, there are a few exceptions, but exceptions can never be examples.

In affiliate marketing, usually, it takes lots of effort and dedication to stand out from the crowd. You need to adopt a set of different strategies and policies while affiliating different sorts of products.

3. No Control Over the Competition

pros & cons of affiliate marketing

Literally, as an affiliate, you don’t have the legal right to own affiliate marketing programs. That’s why you have obeyed all the rules and regulations set by the product owners or service providers. You just need to adjust to their eco-system.

In terms of competition, affiliate marketing provides solid benefits with minimal risks so that people voluntarily engage with the industry.

4. Uncertainty

pros & cons of affiliate marketing

Opportunities come up with risks and the same thing happens for affiliate marketing. There is no promise that your income will hit a certain figure (if not sound and well-planned strategies are set and followed). You have to give your best to extract the maximum output but you can’t ensure that your income will be a definite figure.

Your affiliate income can fluctuate every now and then. If you can grow a wide range of audience, it can be said that you can expect an average income flow.

5. High Competition

pros & cons of affiliate marketing

It is a highly challenging task to promote any product in this competitive marketplace. If you choose any product to promote using your website, it has a high chance that there are many others who already are doing the same as you are preparing.

So, it’s very much difficult to get or achieve the attention of the right people.

6. Choosing the Right Product

pros & cons of affiliate marketing

When it comes to choosing the right product from a ton of products, it’s always a difficult task to make it happen. In affiliate marketing, you will have a ton of products on the field. So make sure to do proper homework before choosing the right product that may fit you.

7. Working as a Third-party

pros & cons of affiliate marketing

As an affiliate, you just work as a third party who is promoting and getting paid by the merchant. That’s it! There is no direct relationship with consumers. That means you are helping only the merchant who is building his buyer list.

So, you are only getting paid for each sale, and once a consumer buys something using your link, he/she may not buy the same thing using the same link rather he/she may buy things directly from the merchant. That’s how the merchants are getting more potential customers.

Final Thoughts

pros & cons of affiliate marketing

Starting an online business is getting easy these days but maintaining and making the most of it is very challenging. Though affiliate marketing has its drawbacks, at the end of the day it will provide you with a decent way of earning.

So, before getting started with affiliate marketing, study the platform properly, its pros, its cons, and then make your decision. If everything carries out properly, you can give it a try.

I hope this article helped you much in describing the pros and cons of affiliate marketing. If you still have any queries, you can let me know by leaving a comment below.

Some Cool Recommendations:

20 Affiliate Marketing Mistakes and Their Solutions.

Amazon Affiliate Marketing for Dummies.

How to Start Affiliate Marketing – a Friendly Guide for the Noobs.

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Sazzadul Bari

Hi, this is Sazzadul Bari, Digital Marketing Strategist at WPManageNinja. SEO content writing, outreaching, link building, and lead generation are my specializations. And when I am not drooling over WordPress plugins and updates, you'll find me enjoying sports or going through my favorite books.


  1. Choosing the right product is difficult and also it’s important to be transparent, and promote products that align with your values and that you truly believe in. And constantly testing and making changes to marketing tactics after choosing affiliate marketing products

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