If you’re thinking about starting an online business, either as a side project that can make you a little extra money or as something that could potentially replace your day job as a full-time money maker, affiliate marketing is an attractive option, but like any other industries, there are pros and cons of affiliate marketing.

Like many things you’ll find online, affiliate marketing has the promise of making you a lot of money without demanding much of an investment, but unlike a get-rich-quick scheme, affiliate marketing does require some effort and skill on your part.

As such, before you make the plunge, it may be a good idea to look at some of the reasons why you would and wouldn’t want to become an affiliate marketer.

Pro Of Affiliate Marketing: Zero Payments Needed

There’s a saying in authorship circles: “Money flows towards the writer, not away.” This is essentially a warning against vanity presses, which accept anyone’s money to print a few thousand books and will often inflate their clients’ egos to get more money out of them. However, once you have these books taking up space in your garage, your chances of getting them into bookstores or libraries is slim to none. Instead, a writer should get a literary agent who works on commission and a publisher who takes on the costs and gives the writer royalties in exchange.

Most affiliate companies operate on a similar principle. Wealthy Affiliate, for one, offer a free starter package that lets you access the affiliate programs, set up two websites, and get some assistance in figuring out the basics. They also offer a premium subscription service with more resources and more assistance, but you can wait until you know you enjoy the work and can make a profit from it before you go for the upgrade.



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Con Of Affiliate Marketing: Payment On Commission

Unlike other internet advertising companies, which typically pay for each person who clicks on the ad, even if it’s accidental, affiliate programs work on a sales commission model: there are still ads for viewers to click on, but the affiliate program only pays out if the person then buys something at the other end. The ad uses a temporary browser cookie to track what the person buys, and it eventually turns off if it doesn’t see a purchase.

On the bright side, even a small commission on a cheap item usually comes to more money than a single click on a banner ad, but then a visitor buying something is much less likely than someone clicking on the ad. As such, while an affiliate marketing campaign has the potential to offer enough money to make it a full-time job, it can take months or years of work to reach that point.

Pro Of Affiliate Marketing: Independence

While the commission model means you might not get as many payments as a standard internet ad, it also means that you can run your affiliated marketing campaign in any way you choose. If you mess up and run ads for sporting goods on a website dedicated to duck breeds, the only result is that you won’t see many commissions. As a self-employed contractor, the companies you affiliate with don’t have to pay you anything if you don’t sell anything and so you’re free to try whatever strategies you want.

This is a particularly important distinction if you decide to make a website that rates and reviews products. All too often, professional reviewers have their neutrality compromised because the products they review are the same ones that pay for ad space and can punish the review company by removing them if they submit a poor review. That same temptation can exist with affiliate marketers, but thanks to the commission system, the only pressure to deliver a slanted review comes from inside the reviewer.

Con Of Affiliate Marketing: Hard Work

While you don’t have to pay any money to sign up to become an affiliate marketer, you will need to invest a lot of time and money into the project if you want to see any results. You need to design any websites you create, write all of the content that the site will host, and drum up some attention on social media sites yourself. Of course, you can always pay other people to help you out with any of these steps, but then you’re exchanging an investment of time and energy for an investment of money.

As a side project, affiliate marketing can consume your weekends. As a full-time job, it can demand 40 hours or more every week. “Get rich quick” is not at all a way to describe affiliate marketing.

Pro Of Affiliate Marketing: Do What You Love

There are enough affiliate programs out there that no matter where your interests lie, you can probably find one that matches your favorite hobby. Or hobbies, since you can operate more than one website at once.

Thus, if you have some skill with writing, if you don’t mind working at a computer and talking with people online for hours at a time, if you have a strong interest in one or more hobbies you want to share with others, then an affiliate program may be a fun way to make some money.

Starting an online business is usually the easiest step in the process. After all, once you’ve started a business, you need to advertise it, to make people want to come back for more, and to turn your products into profits. It can be a long, grueling process at times, but for some people the end result makes it all worthwhile.