Affiliate Marketing vs Drop Shipping – Which Makes Money Faster?

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I received a reader question yesterday asking which will make money faster, Affiliate Marketing vs Drop Shipping?

The reader was asking because she is on a budget and needs to make money quickly.

There are multiple answers to this question (in my opinion) based on my own experience and what I’ve researched online.

Consider the answers below before you jump into either. Especially if you are working within a budget.

Affiliate Marketing vs Drop Shipping – What is the Difference?

affiliate marketing vs drop shipping

Before we get going, I’ll explain what the differences are between affiliate marketing and drop shipping for readers that may not know.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is the promotion of another company’s products or services in exchange for a percentage of the sale when a product is sold.

how affiliate marketing works

Amazon.com is one of the largest online retailers with an affiliate program. The Amazon Associates program is often where new affiliate marketers get their start.

One of the easiest ways to get started with affiliate marketing is by creating a niche website.

Let’s say for example that you want to join Amazon’s affiliate program. There are millions of products in which you can promote.

The best way to start is by thinking about what interests you most. In my case, I love eating pizza and we make homemade pizza all the time.

I would then create a niche website that revolves around my love of pizza. I could write about our various homemade recipes.

Then I would link to various pizza related products on Amazon using my affiliate links, like so:


When a reader of my pizza niche website clicks on one of my Amazon affiliate ads like the one above and buys any product from Amazon, I earn a commission.

Amazon will then pay me my commissions via direct deposit or paper check depending on your preference.

Each affiliate program pays out differently. Some pay once a month, others twice a month, and some each week.

That is essentially how affiliate marketing works and there are over 100,000 different affiliate programs online that you can join for free.

The Benefits of Affiliate Marketing

There are so many reasons why I like affiliate marketing. As an introvert, the benefits are why I gravitated towards it so easily.

Here are some of my favorite benefits of affiliate marketing:

  • You don’t need your own product to start
  • There are tons of affiliate programs that you can join
  • It is one of the lowest cost businesses to start
  • No customer service
  • No shipping or handling
  • Work from anywhere with an internet connection
  • Unlimited earning potential
  • It is fun!

What is Drop Shipping?

Drop shipping is quite a different online business model than affiliate marketing.

It involves promoting various products through an eCommerce platform such as Shopify or the AliDropship WordPress dropshipping plugin.

Here is a graphic representation of how it works:

the dropshipping model

Drop shipping begins with figuring out what you want to sell and then finding a dropshipping supplier.

Many successful dropshippers source products from AliExpress.

Once you know which products you will sell, you set up your eCommerce platform and import products into your store.

When customers buy products from your store, you then buy them from your dropship suppliers and pass along your customer’s shipping details.

Your dropship suppliers then ship the item directly to your customers. Whatever the difference is between what you charged your customer and what your suppliers charged you is your profit.

The benefits of dropshipping include:

  • Low cost start-up
  • No need to buy inventory up front (less risk)
  • No shipping or handling
  • Huge profit margins
  • Work from anywhere with an internet connection
  • Own multiple stores
  • Unlimited earning potential

You can quickly understand why the dropship model has become hugely popular among online entrepreneurs.

Which Method Can Turn a Profit Faster?

hundred dollar bills

Now that we know the differences between affiliate marketing and drop shipping, let’s figure out which one makes money faster.

It is not uncommon for someone to turn to the internet to make money because there is a misconception that money can be made faster online.

Coming from a place of desperation is not the best way to approach earning income online.

This is because you are then in the perfect position to be scammed by unethical internet marketers.

This is why you often hear or read about similar stories of affiliate marketers that have spent thousands on products that never worked.

As far as which method can turn a profit faster, I would have to say dropshipping.

But before you go and build your dropshipping store or have one built for you, let me explain why.

Affiliate marketing is generally a slower way to earn income if you rely primarily on content marketing using SEO (search engine optimization).

However, when your content marketing efforts begin to rank in the search engines, you will have free targeted traffic which increases your sales potential.

You can promote affiliate products using paid advertising but that too takes time. It often requires a large budget and a lot of trial and error.

Dropshipping requires paid advertising from the beginning. Many dropshippers use Facebook Ads and influencer marketing (paid shout outs) on Instagram.

Since most dropshipping products are impulse buys, it is easy to see a return on your advertising investment much faster.

Many dropshippers begin making a profit within their first three months in business.

Which Method Works Better on a Budget?

marketing on a budget

The winner for budget-minded online entrepreneurs would have to be affiliate marketing. This is because you can start affiliate marketing for very little.

You can build a niche website and generate free web traffic with content marketing.

That is how I earn a consistent income online. Is it slower? Yes. But when your marketing efforts begin to kick in, the results are amazing!

Believe me, I am about as impatient as it gets. I was constantly trying my hand at building niche websites and when they didn’t earn income quickly, I gave up on them.

When I was laid off from my previous job, I knew I had to put in more effort and educate myself on how to succeed with affiliate marketing.

Through my research I found Wealthy Affiliate and it made all the difference.

Sometimes you need to realize that you need guidance, support, and the tools to succeed in an online business.

As for how long will it take to earn income with affiliate marketing, I say give yourself at least a year.

Some affiliate marketers begin earning within 6-months. However, dedicating a year of consistent effort to your online business is ideal.

A year is a small amount of time in the grand scheme of things. I’ve worked YEARS for employers without anything to show for it.

I surely could devote a year’s growth to my own business and you can too.

In Closing

Regardless of which method you choose for earning an income online, remember that both methods require consistent effort.

Success will not happen overnight. You will have to devote time to your business and that is the keyword to remember, business.

If you treat affiliate marketing or dropshipping like a hobby, you will earn hobby money. If you go into it as a business, you can flourish and exceed your expectations.

Which online business model are you leaning towards and why? Leave your feedback in the comments below.

I wish you much success in your online business endeavors!

Big Christmas Sale at AliDropship

About Eartha

Hey there! My name is Eartha. I'm a full-time internet marketer. I created an online business to free myself from a 9-to-5. You can too and it starts with your own self-hosted WordPress blog. Check out the web hosting I use for my niche blogs. Includes a FREE domain name, FREE SSL, and WordPress auto-installed for you.

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