Dropshipping vs Affiliate Marketing: Which is More Profitable?

Would you like to make money online but aren’t sure whether affiliate marketing or dropshipping is best for you? You’re not alone, don’t worry. Both methods are beginner-friendly and don’t require a big investment, which is why they’re so popular.

In this article, we’ll take a look at both methods, compare their profits, ease of starting, and earning potential, and break them down into pros and cons. So let’s get started!

Dropshipping vs. Affiliate Marketing: Overview

Affiliate marketing is all about promoting other biz brands to boost their sales and earn a commission. Dropshipping, on the other hand, lets you sell a company’s products under your own brand name and you earn by directly selling to customers.

Both have low start-up costs, don’t require inventory storage, and have low risk. 

But there are key differences in payment and earning methods. 

In short, affiliate marketing gives you a commission while dropshipping gives you direct profits.

What is Dropshipping?

Dropshipping is a simple and flexible way to run an online store. You sell products from suppliers on your own website without having to hold any inventory. You get to set your own prices and keep the profit difference between your selling price and the wholesale price.

But, with dropshipping, you’ll also be in charge of creating your own marketing campaigns and dealing with any customer complaints. Once an order comes in, you just forward it and pay the supplier, who will then take care of the rest.

Starting a dropshipping business can be a great way to get into eCommerce with a solid foundation. All you need is a good strategy to be successful. 

If you want to get started on your dropshipping journey, here’re some useful resources:

Dropshipping Pros

1. Build Your Own Brand

By running a dropshipping business, you have complete control over the operations and pricing of your store. This gives you the ability to create a strong brand image and improve customer loyalty, leading to better brand recognition.

2. Higher Profit Rates

By having control over your product’s pricing, you can achieve higher profit rates, even with marketing costs. The freedom to promote your products in various ways and the ability to add an affiliate program to your store can also increase sales.

3. Improved Cash Flow

In a dropshipping business, you receive payment after the customer pays for the product on your online store. This improves your cash flow, giving you the flexibility to manage and grow your business.

4. Wider Reach and Increased Conversion

The dropshipping model allows you to sell various products globally and reach a wider audience. You can easily retarget your audience through various marketing campaigns, optimize your landing pages and web design, and improve your site traffic and conversion rate. This increases the likelihood of attracting customers and making them repurchase your products, compared to affiliate marketing.

Dropshipping Cons

1. Handling Customer Support

When running a dropshipping website, it’s important to provide top-notch customer support to ensure a smooth ordering process for your clients. This means that you’ll be responsible for coordinating with the supplier if any issues arise, which can be time-consuming. However, you can ease the workload by hiring virtual assistants from websites like Fiverr and Upwork.

2. Lack of Control Over Shipping and Product Quality

One of the cons of dropshipping is that you have no control over the shipping process or the product’s quality. This can result in shipping delays or product defects, leading to unhappy customers and negative reviews. To avoid this, it’s important to choose a reliable supplier that delivers products in a timely manner and provides high-quality products.

3. Increased Competition

As dropshipping is a low-risk business model, it’s becoming increasingly popular, leading to increased competition in the industry. This means that there are likely to be other merchants selling the same products as you, especially in popular niches. To stay competitive, you may need to keep your prices low, which could result in lower profits. To succeed in the market, you’ll need to have a solid pricing strategy and perform market analysis to make informed decisions.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

With affiliate marketing, you can earn money just by recommending products or services to your followers. When they click on your unique affiliate link and make a purchase, you’ll get a commission – a piece of the sale. 

Different affiliate programs offer different commission rates, and some even pay for leads, website clicks, or app downloads. 

Companies like Apple, Fiverr, and Sephora all use affiliate marketing programs to grow their business. So why not give it a shot and start getting paid for your recommendations?

Affiliate Marketing Pros

1. Low Costs

Affiliate marketing is a great business to start if you’re looking to save on costs. You won’t have to pay any fees to join an affiliate network like Clickbank or Amazon Associates as the merchant covers administrative costs. 

The only expenses you’ll have to worry about are your website and server costs, which are still relatively low. Plus, since it’s a business expense, you can write it off during tax season. Just keep in mind that you’ll need to cover your marketing costs, as you’ll be driving traffic to the merchant’s website.

2. Passive Income

Another great advantage of affiliate marketing is that it can be a fantastic source of passive income. While there’s some upfront work involved in setting up your ads or producing content to convert sales, once that’s done, you can sit back and watch the money roll in. 

You don’t have to worry about creating a product, shipping anything, or dealing with customer support. All you have to do is send highly targeted traffic to the merchant’s landing page and watch the conversions come in.

3. No Customer Support Hassles

As an affiliate, you’re not responsible for providing customer support, which is a huge plus. The merchant takes care of that, which means you don’t have to worry about answering customer inquiries, handling refunds, or resolving any issues. 

All you have to do is direct the customer to the merchant, and they’ll handle the rest. This frees up a lot of your time and energy, allowing you to focus on what you do best: driving traffic and making sales.

Affiliate Marketing Cons

1. Payment Structure

One of the biggest downsides of affiliate marketing is that you are paid on a commission basis. This means that you might spend a lot of money on advertising but only receive a fraction of it back as commission fees. 

The payout from an affiliate program is usually lower compared to dropshipping, and the cost of finding the right audience can be higher. You also don’t have the flexibility to set the price, so even if your audience is interested in the product, they may not buy it if they feel it’s too expensive. As an affiliate, you’ll likely make a lot less than if you were the merchant.

2. Lack of Control over the Link

People can see that it’s an affiliate link if you don’t use a link shortener. This can make them assume that the cost of buying through the link is higher, which may result in them avoiding your affiliate link and going directly to the merchant’s website. 

This makes your marketing efforts less successful, as the merchant makes 100% of the profit. Additionally, some countries require you to disclose to your audience that the links you’re providing are affiliate links, which may reduce the likelihood of people clicking your link.

3. Limited Control Over the Product

As an affiliate marketer, you have limited control over the product you’re promoting. You can’t change its appearance, description, or retail price, which can limit your marketing efforts.

Additionally, your terms and conditions may prohibit you from mentioning certain features, and the photos you receive may be outdated or of low quality, making it challenging to promote the product effectively. These limitations can make it difficult for you to differentiate your marketing efforts from other affiliates and to effectively promote the product to your audience.

Dropshipping vs. Affiliate Marketing: Which is Easier to Get Started?

Starting a business is always exciting, but the process can be daunting. If you’re deciding between starting an affiliate business or a dropshipping store, there’s good news: both options are relatively easy to launch. But if you’re looking for something simpler, then affiliate marketing might be the way to go.

With affiliate marketing, you don’t need to worry about building a retail website or providing customer support. This frees up your time to focus on your marketing efforts. And the best part? You can even start an affiliate business for free if you already have a blog or social media following. Simply find affiliate programs through networks like ShareASale, Avangate Affiliate Network, or ClickBank. To avoid making affiliate marketing mistakes, be sure to define your niche and choose products that relate to your audience.

While dropshipping requires more effort, it’s still manageable. You’ll need to do market research, find dropshipping suppliers, set up the retail price, and handle customer support. And since you’ll be relying on your suppliers, it’s important to choose ones you can trust. Consider their reputation, product quality, and service before making a decision. Websites like Modalyst, Doba, and SaleHoo can help you find the right supplier.

In conclusion, both affiliate marketing and dropshipping have their own set of challenges. But if you’re looking for a simpler option, go with affiliate marketing. Just remember to optimize your content, choose products that relate to your audience, and follow the best SEO practices for improved visibility on search engines.

What is More Profitable: Dropshipping vs Affiliate Marketing

If you’re looking to turn a profit, dropshipping might just be the way to go. With this business model, you get to set your own profit margins, which can be as high as 30%. That means if you buy a product for $15, you can sell it for $30 – and if you provide great products, you’re likely to get repeat customers.

Affiliate marketing, on the other hand, typically comes with a commission of 5-30% of the sale. Sure, some niches like online courses or web hosting offer high commissions, but the competition is fierce. Plus, once customers make their purchase from the referred site, they might not come back to your website. But if you’re always offering new products, you can still earn a healthy profit.

So, there you have it! Both dropshipping and affiliate marketing have their pros and cons, but in terms of profit potential, dropshipping takes the cake.

Affiliate Marketing vs Dropshipping: Earning Potential

If you’re looking for an income stream for your online business, you might be wondering whether dropshipping or affiliate marketing is right for you. Both have their pros and cons, but here’s a quick comparison to help you decide.

With dropshipping, you have control over the product offerings and can bring loyal customers to your online store. This can lead to a more steady income stream in the long run. On the other hand, affiliate marketing is just about referring to other businesses and you have no control over their products or prices. While you might start earning quicker with affiliate marketing since it takes less time to set up, it may not be as lucrative in the long run as sales are one-off transactions.

Ultimately, the best choice for you will depend on your goals, preferences, and the amount of time you’re willing to put into your online business. So, weigh your options and choose the model that works best for you!


Starting an online business can be an exciting venture, but with so many options out there, it can also be overwhelming. If you’re looking for low-risk business models with limited budget, dropshipping and affiliate marketing are both great choices. But, how do you know which one is right for you?

In this article, we have considered the following aspects:

  • Main differences: With affiliate marketing, you promote another company’s products, while with dropshipping, you sell products under your own brand name.
  • Ease of entry: Affiliate marketing has a lower barrier to entry as all you need to do is join an affiliate program, and it’s usually free. Dropshipping requires more effort in setting up your own online store.
  • Profit margin: Dropshipping has higher profit margins as you can set your own selling price, while with affiliate marketing, you earn a fixed commission.
  • Income potential: Both business models have the same earning potential, but dropshipping has the advantage of repeat orders from customers, leading to a more steady income.

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