Something that has been asked about 5,000,000 different times on every site from Facebook to Quora, the battle over if DropShipping or Affiliate Marketing is better is not going away. So today I do the ultimate battle of affiliate marketing vs dropshipping and see if there is a winner.
I am going to be honest, there is no simple answer, both can be highly profitable, and both can be disastrous. It depends on your background, your skills and how much effort and time you are willing to put into it.
I wanted to create a short, but too the point post that looks at both of them and give you some background as well as skills required to succeed!
Affiliate Marketing is essentially being paid a % or a fixed amount to promote a product. That is the bare bones, highest view of Affiliate Marketing. You are the middle person between a vendor (the person with the product) and the customer (the person who wants the product) and you are paid to marry those two up.
If someone clicks on an affiliate link that you own, purchase a product or sign up and provide an email address, then you are paid either a set amount (usually called a bounty) or a % of the purchase.
There are lots of variety and flavours of Affiliate marketing, from CPA, whereby you get paid a commission for every person who does something (signs up, rings a number, adds their details) to Amazon Associates style, where you show products you feel could be useful to a potential customer, they purchase and you get paid.
Each different type of Affiliate Marketing comes with it's pro's and cons.
Blogging or creating review articles/videos is one of the best ways of doing this, buying the product and then telling people how said product can solve their problem or fix their issue or build up customer relationships or whatever that product does.
Doing this gives the person a reason to purchase from you - For example if you had a product that could write blog posts for you, and you showed people how it worked, your opinions and any tips or tricks, then someone is engrossed, pulled in and eager to purchase it, so more likely to buy!
You usually get a higher payout for doing affiliate marketing, earning anywhere from 15 %- 100% of the checkout purchase. You can earn some pretty high commissions for promoting products, or you can generate a monthly income for every month someone stays with a company.
This is going to depend on the style of Affiliate Marketing you get into, so I will try and give some examples of skills I feel you will need.
Otherwise known as cost per acquisition, CPA is all around using paid traffic (most of the time) to find people who may be interested in giving their email address, phone number or downloading somethig to get more information.
Being able to create adverts is a must for this, as you will generate the highest number of views to any particular offer this way.
Also being good with traffic generation, understanding
SEO - Blogging / Vlogging
One of the most popular types of Affiliate Marketing, because it can be quite cheap to get started, and doesn't require a huge amount of skill, as most of it will be learnt as you go.
It can cost around $100 to get started with blogging, which includes a year worth of hosting, a domain and even a decent page builder. Hosting with SiteGround costs roughly $50 - $60 for the first 12 months, which provides more than enough time to get decent at writing and learning about SEO.
Of course, if you have knowledge of SEO, or you have written articles in the past, then this could be advantagous, but there are plenty of course and sites whereby you can learn, or you can simply learn by doing.
If you hate the thought of writing, or you prefer to create short scripts that can be used for videos, then you can set up with YouTube for virtually nothing if you already have a laptop/computer and a camera or screen capture software.
As with blogging, understanding how SEO works, including the right tags, titles and descriptions for your videos really can help, you can of course learn these skills.
Another form of Affiliate Marketing, is something that should really be done with any method, but some just do this style of marketing.
It's called email marketing, because you nurture and build an email list, getting to know them, emailing them and of course, sending them offers.
It can be grown via solo ads to funnels or simply capturing them via other means, such as paid traffic or even on a blog. Copywriting is a big part of email marketing and understanding how to provide value to your subscribers, rather than just sell,sell, sell.
The list really can go on, Affiliate Marketing is such an umbrella term that covers everything from Amazon Associates to Multi Level Marketing and so much in between.
Definitely the flavour of the year or even the last few years, DropShipping!
DropShipping is running an e-commerce store, and then getting a manufacturer or wholesaler to send the items straight to your customer (think Amazon FBA, but you never see the product).
From personal experience, DropShipping takes the most skill and time (but if you are good at it it can be the most profitable and the quickest to return on investment)
Most of the time these DropShipping stores are set up on Shopify, though you can do it on WordPress and it can be cheaper per month if you use WordPress + Plugins such as AliDropship (you can read a full review here)
The main way these stores get their customers is through Facebook adverts or social media influencers.
For me, this is just as important skill to learn as any other, especially in research and understanding how influencers work.
You will also need to be able to find products that are currently ‘hot’ or ‘in’ and be able to create adverts that capture peoples attention and that’s difficult.
You then also need to be able to target those adverts correctly and scale them to a large enough scale (this is where the money drain can come into effect)
The markup on DropShipping can be fantastic, anywhere from 100% - 2000% markup is achievable if you find the right products or suppliers.
Copywriting would be beneficial, as well as the ability to create nice looking listings/stores. As with the others, being able to run adverts and being able to scale those adverts without blowing through your budget.
As I said, it’s one of the more expensive ways of making money online, using Shopify will easily run you $50 - $100 a month to use their platform alone, and scaling ads from $5 a day per item up to $50 -$ 1000 a day per item can happen if you find products that give you a good return on investment, but the ROI can be fantastic.
You will have to learn some good customer service skills though, as you can easily expect poor quality products, lost orders and unhappy customers!
If you go down this route, then I would massively recommend soaking as much knowledge as you can from YouTube videos etc, or taking on training or a mentor.
I personally used a guy called Franklin, who runs Ecom Elite - he has a decent YouTube channel that gives tons of advice, but if you really want to take it to the next level, then taking some training would be useful.
Conclusion - Who Wins In Affiliate Marketing vs DropShipping?
To be honest, it's one of those battles where both sides win.
If you are brilliant at copywriting, building easy to navigate shops and finding trending products, then you are going to be really successful at Dropshipping.
For those you might be really good at writing long form articles, are amazing in front of the camera, or may be really good at choosing audiences to offers, without the need to build those pages, then Affiliate Marketing may be the one to go for.
For me, I eventually chose Affiliate Marketing, it has given me a much broader range of skills to learn, and comes with slightly fewer headaches along the way.
I started this blog around 2017, after realising that I wanted to let people know about all the different ways someone could make money online. From DropShipping, Affiliate Marketing, Network Marketing and more.
This blog has now grown to review and explain a variety of different tools and platforms, in the bid to help you.
This blog contains affiliate links, and I will get a commission for purchases made through these links. It doesn’t change anything for you and will on occasion save you money! Enjoy, James.