The Pros and Cons in Affiliate Marketing

The Pros and Cons in Affiliate Marketing

The great thing about affiliate marketing, is that it benefits all the people involved. The publisher get rewarded for putting in the effort, the seller only pays out for marketing when it works and the customer gets good information about their purchase. But in this post, I am going to cover the pros and cons in affiliate marketing from the publisher’s point of view. This is part of my mission of giving you the full picture of what it is like to be an affiliate marketer.

Becoming an Affiliate Marketer

As an affiliate marketer, you promote products and services that are provided by merchants. You do this by building up an online presence by creating content on your website. The idea is for you to have total freedom of how you build your online presence and you choose how to get the job done under your own terms.

Affiliate marketing is one of the easiest online businesses to start. this is thanks to its low startup costs and its earning potential. However, it can also be seen as super tough, as your success depends on how hard you work, the niche you choose and using the right techniques.

Like everything in life, there are advantages and disadvantages. I will now highlight the pros and cons in affiliate marketing.

Pros Of Affiliate Marketing

1. Huge Earning Potential

Affiliate marketing is a billion dollar industry and the sky is the limit to what you can earn. Some people say that it is saturated, but this is actually impossible, as affiliate marketing is a process. There are saturated niches, but as long as you choose a good niche, you will be able to capitalise on its potential. As an example of how much you can earn, imagine making $30 for making a sale. This is a very realistic amount depending on the niche and the affiliate programs you join.

The Pros and Cons in Affiliate Marketing - earning potential

As you can see, the earning potential is pretty good. By having a website full of content that can make these kinds of sales, you could be on to a winner. Once you, have the method dialled in, you can build multiple websites (but don’t spread yourself too thin).

2. Low Startup Costs

Most traditional businesses are expensive to start. For example, if you were to open a shop, you would need to rent or buy the premises, fit it out, hire staff, pay all the bills, buy stock and store it. To start affiliate marketing, all you need is a computer, an internet connection and a hosted website. There may be things that you want to pay for later on, such as premium WordPress themes, business tools or even some online advertising to boost your traffic.

3. You Don't Need Any Specialist Skills

There are some skills that you have to learn, but you don’t need to be a super hacking programmer or anything like that. I recommend that you get some training, rather than trawling the internet or relying on online gurus. In my experience, Wealthy Affiliate is the best platform for learning. Check out my warts n’ all review to learn more. But, affiliate marketing is something you can learn while doing.

4. You Can Start It In Your Spare Time

I started my affiliate marketing business alongside my job. As soon as I got home after work, I opened up my laptop and got on with it. When it started to work, I went part time and now I work from home full time. Affiliate marketing isn’t the only thing I do, but it is where I spend the majority of my time.

5. Flexibility And Convenience

The flexibility of affiliate marketing is the best thing for me. While working for somebody else, you are stuck working to somebody else’s timetable. Affiliate marketing allows me to create other streams of income, but the best thing is, I can enjoy my life.

If you are a regular visitor to this website, you may be aware that I live in the French Alps and spend as much time as possible snowboarding, mountain biking and hiking. These are all weather dependant, so when I was working for somebody else, I had to hope that the weather was good on my days  off. Now, I can go in to the mountains for a couple of hours in the morning and get my work done later. I will often have to work late at night, to make sure my list of weekly jobs are done, but that is totally fine with me. There are many times when I have to say no to going out to play, but affiliate marketing gives me a good work/life balance, as I can choose my working hours.

You don’t need to be an outdoor enthusiast to benefit from this flexibility. It works well for parents, people that live in remote places, people that like to travel or anyone that would like to fit their work life around other things, rather than the other way round.

6. You Don't Need To Worry About Customer Service

With affiliate marketing, customer service is all down to the merchant. As the publisher, all you are doing is informing your intended audience about products and services to help them make a purchasing decision. All you really need to do, is to make sure that you create content that is helpful. The more helpful it is, the better it is for your readers and for search engines.

However, by allowing comments on your posts, you encourage people to contribute to what you have said. This is great for search engine optimisation, as it shows that your content is engaging and that your website is alive and kicking.


7. Work Wherever You Want To

The flexibility affiliate marketing gives you means that you can do it anywhere. This is why it is popular with people that live the digital nomad lifestyle. As long as you have an internet connection, you can work, whether that be from the beach, your camper van or local coffee shop.

8. You Don't Have a Boss

By working for yourself, you don’t have to follow corporate rules and fight through red tape to get jobs done. It is all down to you. The other great thing about woking for yourself, is that you don’t have to put up with workplace issues, annoying coworkers, gossip, dress code or designated lunch breaks.

9. Passive Income

The content you create that promotes products and services has the potential to earn you money 24/7. This means you can wake up in the morning to find that you have earn money while you were sleeping. Also the content can make you money for months or years after you have written it.

This does mean you have to create your content properly and enough of it to build up authority in your niche. 

10. Not All Your Eggs Are In One Basket

When you are working for somebody else and only have one form of income, you are at risk. If something happens to your job, you have lost your only form of income. By starting an affiliate marketing business, you can develop multiple income streams. This could be in the form of different niche websites, or something completely different. Either way, if one of your income streams is interrupted, at least you have a backup until you can fix it.

So far you can see the good things about affiliate marketing. This makes it a very tempting business model to follow. But, there are some disadvantages that you should know about.

Cons Of Affiliate Marketing

1. You Have No Control Over Affiliate Programs

To make money, you need to drop affiliate links to the products and service you are promoting. You get these from joining the associated affiliate programs.

This means that you are bound by the affiliate programs rules and conditions. Normally, this isn’t a problem, but some affiliate programs have a tendency to change their terms (Amazon is well know for doing this). If you manage to build a good reputation, you can negotiate with some affiliate programs for better rates.

2. There Can Be A Lot Of Competition

As there are very little barriers to entry, there are a lot of affiliate marketers out there. This can make it difficult to get your content ranked highly in search engines. But, you can improve your chances by choosing a good affiliate marketing niche and doing some good keyword research.

3. It Can Be Difficult To Get Repeat Business

Some say that once someone has bought through your website, they will probably never come back to you again. In a way, this is true, but it depends on the product, your niche and how often you post new content. If you get these three things right, you will become an authority in your niche over time.

To increase your chances of luring back customers, is to create a mailing list. This way, you can send your readers updates of things that they may be interested in.

4. Working From Home Isn't For Everyone

Although you don’t have the downsides of working for somebody else, you need to be a certain type of person to be able to work for yourself. Some people get lonely and can struggle with being on their own all day. Also, it can be very easy to be distracted with all the things you have at home. Part of this is, that you have nobody to answer to and nobody watching what you are doing. You only have yourself to blame if you are unproductive.

However, if loneliness is an issue, you can hire a desk at a shared working space, or work from a cafe from time to time. This will mean that you get some interaction with the outside world.

If you are easily distracted, you really need to be disciplined. By setting yourself goals and a schedule, you can make sure that you are doing enough each week to ensure you are being productive enough.

5. It Takes Time To Make Money

The biggest problem with affiliate marketing, is the time it takes to make money. It takes months before you even make a penny and it can take a couple of years before, you start making anything significant. This is why many affiliate marketers fail, as they lose hope and their enthusiasm wanes when no money comes in. There are a few reasons for this:

  • Google algorithms – Google puts new websites in to what is known as the sandbox. This is where websites sit until they have proved themselves to be good sources of information. While in the sandbox, it is more difficult for your content to rank. After about four months, your website will come out of the sandbox and google will make it easier for your content to rank highly. 
  • The learning curve – As an novice affiliate marketer you will need to learn certain techniques. These techniques include effective content creation and search engine optimisation. They are not particularly complex, but they are essential to your success. Training platforms such as Wealthy Affiliate can help with speeding the process up.
  • Content creation – Creating quality content takes time. As you get more experienced, you will be able to speed up and become more productive. This is because you will learn how to get organised for maximum productivity.
  • Mistakes – You will make mistakes. Unfortunately, on most occasions you won’t identify them until a few months after you have made them. This is will be as your knowledge improves, or when you go over old posts to do some updating. But this is all part of the learning process. As long as you learn from your mistakes and don’t make them again, you are moving forward.

As you can see, there are some disadvantages of affiliate marketing. However, most of them can be managed with working hard in the right areas.


Hopefully my list of the pros and cons in affiliate marketing has helped you with your understanding of this business model. I want to provide enough information to help you decide if affiliate marketing is for you or not before you jump in to it.

There are definitely more pros than cons. I have been working as an affiliate marketer for a while now and I believe that it is the best online business to start, but that doesn’t mean that it is easy. Working hard, using the right techniques over time will reward persistent people.

I strongly recommend that you check out Wealthy Affiliate for more insight and hands on experience. The Free Membership allows you to so this without spending a penny. All you need is an email address.

If you have any thoughts or questions about this, please leave them in the comment section below.

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