The eCommerce space has dramatically expanded in recent years. More and more people are shopping online and there is an infinite pool of brands and products to choose from. For those who want to start a new business or a side hustle, the opportunities are diverse. But perhaps one of the most popular dilemmas is whether to go down the road of affiliate marketing or create and sell your own products.
There is no short answer as both coins are two-sided. Let’s find out more about the advantages and drawbacks of affiliate marketing and selling your own products.
What is affiliate marketing?
Affiliate marketing is an incredibly popular strategy. In fact, more than 80% of brands have affiliate programs. Affiliate marketing is a strategy designed to help online retailers increase traffic and sales volumes. Under such an arrangement, an external website (that’s you) receives a commission from the online retailer for traffic and sales landed from its referrals. The external website (also referred to as the publisher) generates this traffic by promoting the brand’s products or services on social media channels, their website, or other means.
There are a ton of affiliate programs that can be joined today. Amazon Associates is one of the largest ones. With a market share of more than 40%, it is certainly considered an important affiliate network.
So what can affiliate marketing offer?
The perks of affiliate marketing
The fundamentals of affiliate marketing are all about promoting someone else’s products through your own channels. This presents a range of different advantages.
No production process
Product creation is often a time-demanding task. When it comes to affiliate marketing, you can get started instantly. All you have to do is choose the products you want to promote and become part of the affiliate program. The strategy eliminates the necessity to think about the product design and characteristics. There’s no need to organize materials or speak with manufacturing companies. It’s a quick and easy process to get involved in.
No financial investment
Promoting products via an affiliate program doesn’t require any financial expenses. All costs of product creation and production are completely avoided. All you may have to think about is sponsoring social media ads to increase the awareness of the product you’re promoting. Overall, it’s one of the most budget-friendly ways to become part of the eCommerce space.
As noted earlier, affiliate programs are very popular. This means that there are a myriad of products to promote as an affiliate. This empowers you to select products that will be a good fit for your existing audience. By choosing high-quality items that your viewers will connect with, you can send more traffic to the brand or advertiser and earn a higher commission.
A rewarding opportunity
Speaking of commissions, affiliate programs can be extremely fruitful. However, not all of them are the same. Every affiliate program has its own commission structure. If you want to earn higher profits, it’s vital to perform your research in advance. For example, on Amazon, the highest paying affiliate category is Amazon Games, with a commission of 20% per sale. On the other hand, physical books offer a commission of just 4%.
Perhaps the best part of affiliate marketing is the flexibility it offers. You can easily promote a multitude of different products and enjoy commissions from each. There are no limits as you don’t have to invest any money or time developing new items. This puts you in an advantageous position where you can land more sales for brands and receive more profit.
The challenges that you should know about
Naturally, there are also a few setbacks that are worth noting when it comes to affiliate marketing.
No control over processes
At the end of the day, all processes after receiving traffic from your advertising efforts are left in the hands of the brand. This means that if their customer service is poor or their website doesn’t convert well, you may lose out on receiving a commission. Others are responsible for the sale. In other words, choose carefully when selecting your affiliate programs.
A customer list that doesn’t belong to you
Additionally, you’ll be spending time creating a customer list of people you’ve redirected to another seller’s website. However, this customer list doesn’t really belong to you. You won’t be able to sell products of your own to these customers. On the contrary, you’re helping another seller gain access to buyers that they can use in the long term.
A highly competitive environment
Becoming part of an affiliate marketing program may be easy. However, becoming a successful affiliate is no walk in the park. You’ll be competing with numerous other affiliates, who may be promoting the same products as you. Although the sellers will be scoring sales, this doesn’t mean that they will always come from you.
Advantages of selling your own products
Now, let’s look at the other option you have – selling your own products. If you’re a beginner in the space, you’re bound to experience some challenges along the way. The process is a lot more demanding and time-consuming. However, in the long-term, it could exceed your expectations and reward you with incredible profits and reputation.
Let’s explore the benefits of selling your own products.
Full control over all processes
When creating your own products, you’re the star of the show. Things like product design, features, functionalities, pricing, promotions, and advertising will all be dictated by you. This enables you to craft your own strategy, experiment with different approaches, and stay in control from start to finish.
A customer list you can use in the long-term
Most importantly, you will be able to build a valuable customer list that you can use for other products you create in the future. By creating your own products, you can gradually build a brand and become noticeable. Buyers who are already familiar and happy with you have a higher chance of purchasing other products created by you.
Access to the full revenue
Rather than relying on a commission from the transaction, you’ll retain the full 100% of the revenue generated from your sales. You can use this money to reinvest in your products, grow your brand, or spend on other businesses or interests.
Partnerships with affiliates
As a seller of your own products, you can look at the big picture from a different angle. You can partner with affiliates who will drive more traffic to your products. As a result, you can increase your visibility and awareness, score more sales, and enjoy a boost in profit.
Risks of being responsible for your own products
Selling your own products is not all roses.
Requires a financial investment
Planning and producing products to sell does require an initial investment. Your expenses can be minimized if you’ve optimized the process. However, getting started still demands a certain amount of money that you need to have at your disposal.
Demands full commitment
Another drawback of selling your own products is the fact that the process needs your full commitment. It’s certainly more time consuming when compared to affiliate marketing. Why? Because you’ll be in control of everything. You’ll need to consider the development of the product, its creation, selling it on your website or other platforms, its pricing strategies, marketing activities, communication with clients, deliveries, administration and more.
Reliance on creativity for product creation
Creativity also plays a huge role in designing and selling products, which could be challenging for some. To grow your business, it’s essential to create new things and keep your audience interested. If you don’t have a naturally filling pool of creativity, you may end up feeling stuck at a dead end.
In a nutshell
Both affiliate marketing and selling your own products come with an abundance of advantages. On the downside, they also hide risks and challenges that you may face along the way. Choosing the right path will depend on your objectives, your level of commitment, and your experience.