Affiliate Marketing vs Own Product?

affiliate marketing vs own productWhen starting an online business there are many pros and cons about developing your own product vs affiliate marketing where you sell a ready developed product as an “affiliate” and take a commission on it.

Developing your own product is a legitimate way of making money online that is promoted by many Internet coaches – and there are good reasons they do this, because these teach skills that students can use over and over again.

Which is great – if you want to keep on turning out new products.

So it comes down to being very clear in your purpose. But first, let's get this old chestnut firmly out of the way.

Start An Online Business Free?

Sorry – I need to bust this myth. You will either pay with time or with money. How can you earn if no money is changing hands?

If you cannot afford anything at all, please find an offline way to earn extra income. Clean cars, sell on eBay, anything…. but you need a small investment to start any business.

And NEVER spend money you need for food, rent or essential living expenses.

Your business start-up costs should come from cutting out non-essentials or spare money.

Back to basics…

What Type Of Online Business Do You Want?

You can choose to create your own product, OR promote a ‘done-for-you' business and take a share of the profits. The latter can be affiliate marketing or network marketing.

If you are deciding whether to go into affiliate/network marketing vs own product production, you may like first of all to ask yourself this very basic question:

Did you start an Internet business to make money online? Or to learn product creation? Click To Tweet

Please think carefully about this, and share your answer in the comments!

Now it may be that you DID start looking into Internet Marketing because you had a burning desire to inform the world about a particular subject that you already are an expert in – for instance cat training.

If this is the case, there are many excellent coaches who will teach you….

How To Create An Online Product

You will learn how to….

  • Research the market-place
  • Become an expert in a specific topic (unless you already have expert knowledge)
  • Target a suitably sized niche
  • Gather together an interesting and well-structured collection of information
  • Format it attractively as an eBook, videos – or maybe both
  • Devise sales copy to pique visitors' interest
  • Create a blog to write about your subject
  • Produce a lead capture page
  • Put together a website to sell / deliver the product
  • Devise a series of autoresponder messages to follow up undecided prospects
  • Create graphics banners of various sizes to promote your product
  • Come up with an up-sell offer to maximize profit at point of sale – plus appropriate website
  • Persuade other affiliates to market your product – give them at least 50% commission
  • Drive traffic to your offer
  • Provide good after-sales support to manage the inevitable glitches
  • Probably other steps I missed

Whew. How long will that all take to learn when you're starting as a newcomer to Internet Marketing, maybe doing it part-time?

Nevertheless, undaunted you work your socks off to produce your digital product.

Then What Happens?

You tell your coach and other affiliates about your product – with LUCK, they promote it madly; they make lots of sales on which you earn a percentage of the “takings” that varies from 50 ideally right down to 0% because “You will get the buyer's details on your list”.  Yes – it happened to me some years ago, I got 0% commission when I sold “my” product via my coach's list, because I was using his contacts and “selling” to them allowed me to get them onto my mailing list. Hmmmm

Actually, “my” product was “assigned to me as part of the package” rather than something I created – in fact I never even received a copy of “my” product. When I made suggestions to correct errors on the sales page they were ignored, and the coach stopped answering my support tickets and calls.

It wasn't just me who felt like this – there were others, and last I heard some of them were banding together to take him to court. Funnily enough he seems to have disappeared from the Internet Marketing scene altogether.

So…. back to my abortive product launch: those buyers never bought from me again, because they presumably felt more connected to my coach than to me.

So, to summarize a typical product launch by a coach….

  • The initial sale frenzy probably lasts a week.
  • Then the next student is clamoring to get their product promoted.
  • Yours is forgotten, but you have a list of buyers now. So you promote the next student's product to your list, people who are also on your coach's list – remember?
  • Your coach is offering his customers a mega bonus that you can't compete with, so he'll probably get the sale.
  • You pick up crumbs from your product promotion
  • Then oh dear – your product is out-of-fashion …. time to start the whole product creation process again
  • By the way – your masterpiece sold for the princely sum of $9.95 before affiliates' commissions!

No surprises for guessing that I don't recommend this approach and regret ever trying it. But when I “signed up for it”, that wasn't how it was explained to me.

Next method please…..

Are You An Expert?

Expert TopicBefore my disillusionment above is completely misunderstood, let me assure you that a real expert in their field can deliver a good and original product and make money from it.

So learning how to create your own product is an excellent way to go for someone in a specialized niche. Especially if you have a REAL skill that many lack.

But for those of us learning and promoting Internet Marketing products, you need to BECOME an expert in the topic of your product.

Sadly I'm honest enough to admit that while I know a bit about “xyz”, there are many online marketers who know more about it than I do. So why would I try and sell readers MY product when in my heart I know that there are better ones out there?

Should you REALLY create your own Internet Marketing product? Click To Tweet

Product Creation Was Wrong For Me

When I first started in online business, I took another coaching program even earlier than the one described above. At that time I made what I now know was the wrong choice and I did actually develop my own product.


  • I was so new to everything on-line that the learning curve was just too steep and although I didn't actually give up, because the product is still online and sells occasionally, even now, years later I haven't recovered the development and coaching costs.
  • Crazily at that time I had no idea that affiliate products existed! I had no inkling there were such excellent products already produced. I could have saved myself an awful lot of time, money and grief – and probably made more money in the long-term, even though I was sharing the commission with the product developer.
  • I could have got more products to market faster, had I not wasted time developing my own products.
  • I could instead have learned the REAL skill I needed – marketing to targeted customers.

Instead I plunged in, woefully ignorant and assumed Internet Marketing would be far easier than it actually is. Like a lamb to the slaughter I handed over my “learn to create your own product” fee and expected to be in profit in a few months.

How to fail with product creation - OR how to avoid my mistakes! Click To Tweet

It wasn't a complete disaster because I did learn a vast amount from the first coaching program, and I produced an eBook that still sells. So to revive it, I just need to put some more work into the marketing and update the product to current standards. No prizes for guessing why I am not rushing to do this.

Note to self – driving traffic and building a list of buyers are the real skills to master:-)

The total overwhelm mode that I went into, from the product and website creation, nearly ended my Internet career prematurely even before I got to the stage of driving traffic to my offer.

It wasn't that there was anything inherently BAD about that first training: it was just too complicated for someone at my skill level in Internet marketing, when trying to build a business part-time.

Several years older and wiser, if I were to start again I would take a training course such as this one. The eBook explains the pitfalls of online marketing that you need to follow, but the real gem is in the webinar you're invited to attend. If you haven't got time right away, still register, as there'll be an invitation to a recording.

Update With 2015 Results

Glutton for punishment, I had another go, to see if my improved blogging skills would make it any easier to develop and sell my own product. Here's what happened.

In late 2014 / 2015 I was persuaded, again, to produce my own product to “brand myself” as an expert.

It still wasn't a great success – and this is what I felt the main reasons are:

  • There are thousands of products in the Internet Marketing niche
  • Some are (frankly) rubbish, but some are of such high quality I can't compete with the resources I have available
  • I am painfully honest about the fact that although I have learned a lot over the years, many other people are more expert than I am
  • I felt a fraud saying I was an expert in “xyz” when I KNOW there are better products I can offer to my readers
  • I / you STILL need to learn the same marketing skills for promoting any product, whoever produced it

So, in my opinion, unless you really are an expert in a very tight niche, I still consider that in the battle “own product vs affiliate marketing” the clear winner for people starting an online business, is selling someone else's product. This could be affiliate marketing or it could be network marketing (aka MLM).

But the problem is that income from affiliate marketing can be slow.

I Did Some Very Simple Maths….

Affiliate marketingBy trying out a few affiliate marketing programs I learned that even with affiliate marketing there are right and wrong ways to do it. By which I mean, profitable or costly ways!

The maths of trying to earn a good income from low priced affiliate marketing products just don't work out. For instance – if you're selling $27 products, and looking to make $3000 per month extra income – to replace your regular income – that's over 100 sales a month you need to make. Ouch! Are you anywhere near that level of sales yet?

Were Things Better In 2019?

Affiliate marketing (of one kind or another) is still easier than producing your own product and (unless you have a real niche market) possibly more profitable. But driving traffic remains the puzzle, and with the price of advertising so high these days, to tempt customers with free or low-priced offers it's tough to cover the cost of generating traffic and hard to even make up the shortfall by taking extra paid advertising.

So I am now profiting from the traffic generation training in this free affiliate marketing course.

Social marketing with your own Facebook has been the buzz-word of 2019, but – apart from some very clever social media marketers – I wonder just how many sales are being made, as opposed to relationships being forged where actually everyone is just trying to sell their own products to their new “friends”.

Update 2020: I have indeed started making sales via social media – so I can say that it works. But it's very time-consuming. And beware of making too many very nice friends (who are more skilled at marketing than I am) LOL But, if you like the idea of free traffic from social media marketing you'll find an extremely helpful module in the course just above.

Any other ideas?

Instead of Making 100 Sales A Month?

Instead of attempting to make 100 $27 sales of a new affiliate product each month, I have revised my marketing to promote an affiliate program that also includes wealth creation strategy.

This is a type of affiliate marketing – I am promoting a ‘done-for-you' business – but I have the option to introduce affiliates (as a single level affiliate program) and earn commission on those I introduce.

For me this is…

My Perfect Affiliate Marketing Company

In a nutshell, my advice is to:

  • Avoid start-up companies, go for a well-established business – but not one of the “giants” that ‘everyone' has heard of.
  • Stay away from companies where you need to hold physical stocks of products and even give them away free as samples
  • Unless you're a super-salesperson, don't commit to monthly sales targets
  • Find a company where you can take a penalty-free break if a family or work needs your attention
  • Choose an affordable service with longevity and mass appeal – otherwise you'll spend most of your time replacing distributors who “quit” because building a business is virtually impossible

The company I have chosen is an online share club. Click here to learn more.