22 Advantages and Disadvantages of Affiliate Marketing You Didn’t Know

Affiliate marketing has clearly become a huge industry.

What is it about affiliate marketing that makes it so popular among people of all sorts?

This post is all about the great and worst things that come from affiliate marketing.

I am going to talk about as many advantages and disadvantages of affiliate marketing as I could gather and throw some light on the never-discussed topics.

Majority of the people who get started with affiliate marketing are clueless and fail to understand that it's a business and requires a great deal of commitment.

If it was ever started as a hobby and just with a mindset to make some quick money, it will die eventually even before it takes off.

It's crucial to understand that like any other offline business you got to work hard in order to achieve the results you desire.

It's important to understand the advantages and disadvantages of affiliate marketing in order to know whether an online business based on affiliate marketing is aligned with your goals or not.

Related: 10 Common Affiliate Marketing Mistakes To Avoid As a Beginner

Advantages of Affiliate Marketing

advantages of affiliate marketing
Image by Nattanan Kanchanaprat from Pixabay

Affiliate Marketing is suitable for when you are looking to make money from home.

The benefits that come with this activity are important as you could receive a sizeable amount of money for your efforts.

Here are the main advantages of affiliate marketing:

1. Benefits of Affiliate Marketing For The Affiliate

Getting an online business ready can be a thrilling endeavor in its own right.

Just think about the possible profits you might get and the excitement of creating something special for the online world to see.

An affiliate marketing business is easier for you to run than any other business.

Once you get a site up and running, you will find ways to promote products without having to determine the price of an item, or how you are going to ship it, and other commonplace concerns.

This exciting endeavor can be interesting and give you a better sense of control.

2. Benefits of Affiliate Marketing For The Merchant

While you are bound to benefit from many things that come out of an affiliate marketing routine, it also offers advantages to the merchant.

Businesses enjoy how they outsource their marketing efforts to the public at large.

There are benefits of affiliate marketing for the merchants that make it popular with businesses:

  • A merchant will not have to pay anything for this unless and until the affiliates actually do well with it.
  • A business can plan the payout scheme for the marketing program based on what it can afford to pay.
  • A company's page will have a better SEO rating as more affiliates link up to that page through their affiliate sites.
  • Everything involved in the campaign can be controlled by the business (or merchant). This includes the messaging to be used in the advertisements, any graphic features on those ads, and so forth.
  • The entry cost for getting an affiliate program ready is minimal.
  • A business will not have to pay other websites for ad space unless that group wants to promote its wares on those sites.
  • The operating cost is exceptionally low.

All a business has to do is plan the links and approve new affiliates.

All these points about affiliate marketing prove that it is an entrepreneurial effort worth making.

You will definitely benefit from this system when you plan it all carefully.

It also offers many advantages to businesses.

3. Businesses Are Not Demanding

Any business that you join as an affiliate will appreciate your work.

There really isn't any pressure from the merchant.

The problem with many jobs is that it is tough to get a good relationship running with other employees or higher-ups.

A frosty relationship between you and a manager could hurt your chances for success.

The good news is that an affiliate program will not be judgmental or hard on you.

The demands a company makes on its affiliates are not overly oppressive.

A merchant will understand if you are not getting money through your program. After all, it takes a while for you to earn money from a campaign.

You are not at risk of being fired if you are not doing that well initially.

Merchants know that affiliates have their own lives outside of their efforts.

These businesses understand that you are looking to make them attractive and that you are using your own ideas in planning an affiliate program.

The merchant might even know that you could be working with several campaigns at once.

Your merchant will accept that you are your own person and that everything you do is based on the efforts you put in and the skills involved.

You should never badmouth your merchant or network, and avoid giving inaccurate information.

You could be at risk of being dropped from a campaign if you start to abuse your work or purposefully hurt the merchant.

4. No Extensive Investments

In order to start an online business based on affiliate marketing will need almost little or no initial capital.

You just need to start up a website which is cheap and easy to achieve.

The problem with many other ways to make money online is that they require you to invest lots of money first.

You might consider an angel investment plan to support new online business with the intention of getting some profits over time.

However, that could be an expensive endeavor.

You might have to spend thousands of dollars to support a business that might not even get off the ground or turn a profit.

It could take a while for you to see a profit (if you get one at all) and it might be minimal.

With affiliate marketing, you just have to start a website and get a hosting and domain plan ready.

It can be pretty cheap to get online these days.

After this, you can create a site with content that highlights the program.

Also, you do not have to buy the product or service that you are marketing.

It is still recommended that you do this just so you have a first-hand understanding of what you are writing about and because it can give you more new ideas for posts.

It is all optional, supporting the point that affiliate marketing is affordable for anyone to enter into.

How Much Effort Is Needed?

With an affiliate marketing program, you can put in as much work as you want or as little.

You can work on the program every day or every other day because you are your own boss.

Just remember that you are more likely to make money from this when you put in as much effort as you can.

You need to spend time creating attractive content for your affiliate program to work well while also making your site stand out.

You have to be consistent when getting your work going too.

This includes producing a website that has an outstanding layout and is regularly updated.

However, the good news is that you have the freedom to figure out when you want to update it or how long you will spend on a typical day on updating and managing your site.

5. Make Money At Any Time of Day

Your site will bring in money from anywhere at any point in the day.

This is thanks to your site always being open.

Your site does not come with the same restrictions that traditional brick and mortar businesses have.

People will always have the ability to buy products because your site will be open at all times.

The options you have for working are vast.

You could do anything you want but it does help to put in as much work as you can while still being comfortable with your strategy.

6. Target Anyone Around the World

You can make your affiliate marketing work as localized or widespread as you want.

You have the freedom to do what you wish when getting a targeting plan up and running.

For instance, you might try and target people within your local community to your site.

You might be located in an area where rain is common.

You could have an affiliate program with a site that offers rain barrel products or yard care items that help people manage lawns that receive a lot of rain.

The site you produce could be targeted to your local area as you talk about how rain impacts the citizens.

You also have the option to target a general population.

You might tailor the information on your site to be about any kind of market.

You would have to put in more effort if you want to target a very specific group but the options you have for your work deserve to be explored.

Regardless, you have the right to get in touch with anyone you want.

You could talk with a particular demographic or people from a certain part of the world.

You just need to figure out who you feel is the best group for you to reach as you promote your work.

7. No Need For Stock

An online retailer will require a lot of stock to sell to its customers.

It needs enough products on hand to ensure it will not run out of the products and that it can satisfy the needs of all its customers.

This is a problem that many businesses encounter as they often struggle to afford the inventory they have to stock.

Sometimes that inventory might spoil or become worthless.

Even worse, a business might not have enough products during busy times or when an unexpected surge of activity comes onto a site.

This issue does not occur when you work as an affiliate.

Affiliates never have to stock any products.

They are responsible for leading people to the sites that have that inventory for sale.

You will not have to package or store product either.

For you, the process of selling items is simplified online as your job is to direct traffic to the merchant.

The cost associated with getting a warehouse ready for securing items or maintaining those items is eliminated in an affiliate business.

You do not have to reserve any space; nor do you have to keep tabs on whatever you are trying to sell.

The merchant will do all that for you.

8. Say What You Want

Your marketing work allows you to say anything positive you want about what you are selling.

You provide a review of a product or service and a discussion of particular features of that item.

News stories about it or anything else that relates to what you are offering can be included.

Just be certain that you come up with enough ideas to write articles for the products you are promoting.

Your site will be easier for people to read and more valuable if you have enough content to last for weeks or months on end.

Do not be negative or else you might be seen as being unprofessional.

9. Easy to Track

Affiliate marketing is an entrepreneurial effort that you can easily track.

As you work on your campaign, you can get regular reports from a merchant, host, or other entity involved in how well your site is working.

You can get details on how many people are reaching your site, where they are coming from, their physical locations, and what they review when they are on your site.

You can also use analytics to get ideas on how cookies are produced and what part of your site is active.

This helps you to see what people are doing as they get on your site and click a link to reach a page from which you might make a commission.

The analytics you use can help you to see what your efforts are achieving.

You could use analytics to decide what needs to be changed on your site.

10. Based on Performance

Everything that comes with affiliate marketing is based on your performance.

You only get paid when you perform well.

Why is this an advantage?

It is a benefit to a merchant in that the merchant only pays you when your site is attractive and inviting enough to entice visitors who are redirected to the merchant.

This encourages you to stay active and persistent.

Many people suffer from a lack of motivation when trying to make money online.

By using an affiliate marketing program, you can continually make your site stronger and more distinctive.

This, in turn, gives you a better chance at earning some huge payoffs.

It is also a fair concept in today's business world.

It seems that there are far too many cases where people get a long way because they have lots of money in the first place or because they have the right connections.

It is a challenge for people to really move forward with their business endeavors these days because they do not have the assets and materials needed to make their campaigns really stand out.

With an affiliate marketing business, you will go far based on how well you can perform.

It is not about who you know or what you already have but rather what you do.

Your desire to make money and your effort are the keys to making something successful.

11. Works For Any Product

Affiliate marketing can work for practically any kind of product.

Just look at what a marketing network site offers and you will see many options for products you can promote.

You could work with campaigns to promote health care products, appliances, software, or online services.

Anything of value to you can be promoted through your own site.

This type of work is extremely versatile in that you can find something that relates to a field you understand or in which you have a vested interest.

You will still need to choose carefully so you can pick products in niches or markets with which you have a desire to work.

The best part of this is that a marketing network can link you up with practically any business.

The niches and subsections of any industry are diverse and many of them can lend value on your site.

12. Easy To Find Opportunities

You can find great opportunities to get into this field.

You can simply do an online search to find the latest affiliate programs or you can get onto the websites of different businesses that are offering those programs.

An affiliate network site like ClickBank can be especially helpful.

A network site will help you find all the newest and most attractive affiliates based on the fields you are interested in or whatever works for certain markets.

You will learn more about some of the specific opportunities for you to check out a little later in this guide.

The chances you have for making big bucks are huge.

13. Work With As Many Products As You Want

Affiliate marketing is a very versatile entrepreneurial endeavor to get into.

There are no limits on how many products you can promote at a time.

You can sign up for several products when getting a site ready.

You can promote all of them on the same site.

As you do this, you have to consider how well they relate to each other.

You must also look at how many ads you are including on your site as you don't want to have too many clogging it up.

You need to watch for how well you can manage these different products within your campaign.

The interesting thing about some of the marketing options you have is that multiple campaigns are sometimes run by the same merchants.

A single merchant who has several ClickBank sites dedicated to specific health care supplements might use the same affiliate program for each one.

That merchant might encourage potential affiliates to sign up for as many of these programs as they desire.

Related: 13 Reasons Why Affiliate Marketing Does Not Work For You

Disadvantages of Affiliate Marketing

disadvantages of affiliate marketing
Image by Darko Djurin from Pixabay

Even with all the great things that affiliate marketing brings, there are still some problems to anticipate.

It's time to discuss some of the problems that come with being an affiliate.

There are always two sides to a coin.

This can certainly be said about affiliate marketing.

As beneficial and special as this option for making money can be, it can be difficult as well.

There are many problems that come with affiliate marketing and they need to be explored in detail.

While this plan for making money online can be appealing, it can also be a challenge if you are not cautious.

Do not let any of these problems with affiliate marketing discourage you from actually moving into this field.

It remains a very viable and attractive option to consider when finding ways to make money.

However, it is going to require a good deal of effort on your part.

Some of these disadvantages of affiliate marketing should be considered so you can avoid the problems that might arise while you look for an opportunity.

1. Hard To Predict

One of the biggest issues surrounding affiliate marketing is that it can be impossible to predict where the public interest is going to be in the future.

You might think you understand all the ins and outs of your field but in reality, you have no idea of what is going to happen.

The business market is always changing.

Whatever you are promoting might not be popular a week or month from now.

This sense of uncertainty is a problem that can hurt even the best marketing efforts.

It is also tough to fully predict who your audience is going to be.

Analytics can help you to find the right people to market to but that does not always mean you are going to get them to come over to your site.

Rather, the online world is open to everyone.

This means the people you least expect might show up on your site.

They might be the opposite of whatever you thought your demographic was.

You have to be ready for the unexpected.

This is a problem with affiliate marketing and a fact of life.

You have to be on your feet and ready for anything that might come along as you aim to promote a merchant's wares.

2. No Real Consistency

The amount of money you earn each week in affiliate marketing varies based on who gets on your site and who uses the links you have posted.

You might get a good payday one week and less than half that pay the next.

It is impossible to figure out how much money you will make in a week.

You can never tell what the demand for something might be.

Do not ever assume that you will make a certain amount of money in a typical week or month.

All you can really do is keep working on your program.

3. Merchants Can Change Policies

Although the potential is there for you to make money from an affiliate marketing effort, a merchant can change the policies that you must work by.

A merchant has the option to reduce the commissions or rewards.

This often comes if merchants are struggling to keep their bottom line intact.

The profits a merchant will make from sales fluctuate.

As a result, merchants might try and reduce the rewards for your efforts to try to increase their profits.

A merchant may also change the reward structure.

You might end up getting a dramatic cut in how much you are earning from the campaign.

4. Some Things Are Out of Your Control

You might have control over how you are promoting your merchant's products but you won't have control over absolutely everything.

  • The merchant you are working with will have more control over what is happening than you do.
  • The merchant you work for might remove the product you are promoting from the online world.
  • A merchant can stop selling something at any moment, thus making some of the material you have posted online irrelevant.
  • Also, a merchant could change things relating to the product you are promoting.
  • That merchant might change things like the formula for a product or its appearance.
  • Maybe that merchant might want to target a totally new audience.

A merchant's expansion into new products or changed products might sound great as it could give you new ideas for creating new material.

However, it can also be a huge headache.

  • You might be overwhelmed by all the changes required for your campaign.
  • You will not have much control over what a merchant is doing.
  • This could make it harder for you to keep your marketing campaign working well.
  • Such a concern requires you to be more alert and aware when figuring out what can be done to strengthen your marketing by making changes.
  • You Can't Control the Ads You might have to tailor your work in your campaign based on the ads that your merchant gives you.
  • You might have to focus more on certain content based on how those ads are produced.
  • Sometimes your merchant might give you totally new ads and the old ones become obsolete.
  • This is problematic as it makes some of your content outdated.
  • The advertisements might be overly distracting and upsetting to some.

Let's say you are running a website about treating herpes.

You would not want to contend with an advertisement that just shows a lot of ugly herpes sores, would you?

You would probably rather have an ad that shows the texture of a product you are promoting alongside information on how the product treats herpes sores.

You would rather let the readers decide if they want to see photos of those sores.

A merchant's ad might include all those unwanted shots and material that you probably did not ask for.

As you look for a merchant to support, check on how the merchant's advertisements are laid out and if they are easy to follow.

Anything that appears to be evergreen in nature (like the facts about what the merchant does, highlighting certain products, etc.) is always best.

Anything time-sensitive might be a challenge to manage.

5. The Need for Perfection is Tough

One of the worst things that any affiliate could do is to create a campaign site that is not completely accurate.

Some merchants are reluctant to start marketing efforts because they know their affiliates might give out false information.

False advertising through an affiliate can hurt a merchant.

It can impact that merchant's reputation as people get the wrong information.

In some cases, it might include inaccurate details of a merchant's product.

Avoid making promises that a merchant could never actually keep.

False advertising is a problem that has to be avoided when trying to be an affiliate.

You must do your best to ensure that you do not provide people with false or misleading details.

This need to strive for perfection can be a challenge for some prospective marketers.

It is often tough for marketers to be aware of what they might be getting themselves into when they try to promote their wares and make them more appealing.

6. Some Merchants May Be Scammers

Scammers are prevalent online and can take the form of merchant affiliate programs.

These scammers might ask you for specific or detailed financial information linked to your name.

They might try to get access to your bank information or other identifying numbers linked to your name.

Be aware when trying to find great merchants to enter into a program with.

Make sure you review the merchants, what they have to offer, and how well they have been working overtime. Check on background information and find as many reviews relating to the merchants as possible.

7. Link Hijacking

Link hijacking is when someone tries to grab a link that you have posted on a site and use it to their advantage.

Sometimes people might take your link and information and use it for their own benefit.

This would not entail your personal data being lost but it would involve someone else using your program and receiving money from it.

You must be aware of how link hijacking can take place and how it could harm your bottom line.

This is a threatening activity that will keep you from getting the money you deserve.

Regularly check on your links to see that they are productive.

You might also have to use different link shortening codes on occasion (this will be discussed in the next chapter).

Whatever you do, you must review how your links are organized and be careful with how they are managed and used.

Sometimes you might have to change your links.

A merchant might have you change the URLs and other features around your site on a regular basis.

This can be frustrating due to all the coding and editing involved.

You still have to take care of the problem just to keep your site visible and open.

8. Taxes Are a Concern

You can't earn money without having to pay taxes.

It is unfortunate but it is the truth.

People are always going to ask for money from you to pay for various services.

These include things you might never use.

You might think it is unfair but taxes have to be collected to allow society to function.

You are probably using some of the things that your tax dollars are paying for right now.

The money you earn from affiliate marketing will be taxed like any other income you generate.

The tax rate for your affiliate earnings will vary based on what you earn and where you live.

It is important to keep a record of all the money you earn.

Keep records and make sure they are reported on your annual return.

Failure to do this could result in significant penalties.

9. Technical Issues

One of the biggest worries surrounding running a campaign involves the technical problems that might develop.

Such technical problems might be:

A virus corrupting your site so it cannot be used.

Problems with your computer erasing your data, including information you were using for your marketing site.

Problems with a server that you are hosting your site on; this is especially problematic if you are on a shared server.

The content you upload online being lost; this includes cases where picture files expire or no longer work, thus producing empty spots or errors.

The technical problems associated with running a site are never fun to deal with.

You cannot fully prevent them either, what with hackers and thieves finding new ways to get around blocks and security features.


Be aware of these advantages and disadvantages of affiliate marketing can help you understand how well your site works, and try to spot trouble.

All the disadvantages of affiliate marketing should not keep you from getting into this great field.

However, you should be aware of these problems as they might directly impact how well you are able to make money.

Be cautious when getting into this field and do not put yourself at risk.

Have you stuck anywhere in your affiliate marketing journey?

Feel free to share with me and I will be happy to help you with any issue you might have πŸ™‚

About the author 

Hardik Raval

Hardik is passionate about helping people launch their own online business. He loves to talk about online business ideas, affiliate marketing tools, tips and other sources of residual income available on the internet.

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