Is Affiliate Marketing MLM?

Kathy Burns-Millyard

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When new affiliate marketers start learning the business, one of the first questions they ask is: Is this a Multi Level Marketing (MLM) program? And the answer is: No.

You see, an MLM concentrates on generating additional members. Usually you have to pay ongoing fees to be part of an MLM, and you make your money by getting others to sign up for the same program. To keep the MLM legal, you do have products or services to promote, but the real money is actually made by signing up more people to be “distributers".

Affiliate marketing on the other hand, is all about selling products and services. You can't make money unless you sell something. Now, there are affiliate programs available which are considered to be “multi-tiered". The most common of these is a two tier affiliate program.

What exactly is a two tier affiliate program? Well it's a way for you to make more money from selling affiliate products. And in some cases, it's a way for you to not lose money by promoting affiliate programs.

You see, some affiliate programs advertise the fact that anyone can join as an affiliate for free. So if you, as an affiliate, link to a product or service for that program, and your visitor sees the affiliate sign up link, they can sign up to the program and buy through their own affiliate link instead of yours. This means you're not credited for the sale, thus you earn no commissions from it.

If the affiliate program is two tiered however, that new affiliate will be listed as having been referred by you. Then when that new affiliate makes sales, you get a small commission from each of those.

Unlike MLMs though, you can't usually make money from affiliates that sign up from that new affiliate's link. You only make money from the one you signed up, and you only make money from them if they sell products themselves.

So if you want to succeed in affiliate marketing, start promoting the products and services. Because the more sales you make for affiliate programs you've joined, the more money you'll make in the end. It's all about the sales.

© 2006, Kathy Burns-Millyard. Want to learn more about affiliate marketing now? Check out these excellent affiliate marketing resources at


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