Affiliate Marketing vs Drop Shipping. Who is the Winner in 2018?

October 16, 2018 12 Comments



I’ve been an affiliate marketer since 2013 and have actually started making money since 2014.

As an affiliate marketer I can say affiliate marketing has changed my life but it didn’t come easy. I’m not making a ton of money but it’s not bad either.

Sometimes I earn $1000, sometimes $1500 or even $2000. But to be honest, I’ve been working hard over the past 2 years and that’s why my income didn’t increase.

Now I’m working hard and believe my income will increase in 2019.

Recently I decided to start another business called drop shipping and did some research to get more info about this new type of business.

It’s not new but it’s new for me. For now I decided to not start drop shipping and I will explain why further in my article.

I will show all the pros and cons of both affiliate marketing and drop shipping. Once you get familiar with all the facts you will decide for yourself which way to go.

In short, I will try to cover as more info as possible so you can see the difference between these two. Within my review I will try to answer the following questions:


  • What is the difference between Drop shipping and affiliate marketing?
  • Is drop shipping better than affiliate marketing?
  • DropShipping or Affiliate Marketing. Which is more profitable?
  • Should I go for affiliate marketing or drop shipping?
  • What is common to affiliate marketing and drop shipping?




Affiliate Marketing

As you may know affiliate marketing is all about promoting programs, products, services without actually owning them. That’s why we love affiliate marketing.

You promote it and when someone clicks your link and goes to the merchant site and places an order you earn a commission. This is called affiliate marketing.

In fact, people love affiliate marketing because as an affiliate marketer you have no obligations.


  • You are free to promote any product/service you want
  • You don’t pay money for it
  • You don’t need to handle orders, product returns
  • You don’t have any obligations
  • You don’t talk to your customers most of the time
  • You don’t charge your customer’s credit card most of the time


But this doesn’t mean you sit back and money flow into your pockets. Affiliate marketing doesn’t work that way.

You still have some obligations and have to do the work. Let me explain briefly what kind of work you have to do to earn revenue as an affiliate marketer.

Your affiliate marketing business starts with a website. You can use any platform you want, such as,,,,,



I personally love and use SiteRubix and highly recommend it. Because apart from a website builder you also get access to a top notch certification course on affiliate marketing, other tools, support and more.

Building a website is not difficult. The only thing that takes some time is customizing your website by adding images, creating menu in order to make your website look beautiful and user friendly. This can take a few hours at best or 2,3 days at worst.

As I can see from my experience this is number 1 challenge for beginners in affiliate marketing.

But thanks to a top notch support that you can get from the affiliate marketing business center this challenge becomes very easy to go through.

Next challenge will be deciding on a niche which means you have to think of choosing a topic that interests you and build your business around it.




This will be your niche. For example, if you love electronics you need to choose a specific category and make it your niche. Your niche can’t be too broad.

You can’t build your site around Apple products. Because in this case you will be competing with big brands, such as Amazon, Walmart, BestBuy. You can’t do it.

You need to choose a specific niche. Let’s say you can build your site around Apple Watches. This will be your niche. This niche is a great one.

You will be also writing about Apple Watch accessories, such as bands, Apple Watch face covers. This market is huge and your income potential will be huge too.

But choosing a niche is not easy. You need to do some research. This will be your second challenge.

Your next challenge is getting traffic to your website. By traffic I mean getting visitors to your business. This part of the business is the hardest one.

If you can accomplish this part successfully your business will go very well.

But you don’t have to worry much about it because this part of online business if hard for everyone.

Everyone involved in online business is struggling with it. So you won’t be alone.

To get traffic you need to continuously write new fresh content for your website.

By content I mean you will be writing articles, descriptions about your product or service, creating tutorials or guides with images.

Remember, writing new content is important. One single article can be a game changer.

It can send you a few hundred visits a day. In order to continuously write new content you must love your niche. This is critical.

Creating youtube channel will get you even more traffic. Not all videos that you create will give you a good number of views but some videos will.

There are way more strategies to get traffic, such as email marketing or social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest.

You can even buy traffic from Google or Yahoo. When it comes to affiliate marketing paid advertising is not your main strategy.

In fact, these strategies that I’ve mentioned above require time and effort. If you focus on them you will be making a solid income per month.




Drop Shipping

Now let’s talk about drop shipping, its pros and cons and then decide who is the winner. Drop shipping is a little different from affiliate marketing.

In drop shipping you can make as much money as in affiliate marketing. It depends on how you well you do the work.

Drop shipping means you build a site, list products and start selling them. In fact, you don’t need to buy those products.

You contact suppliers and get a list of products from them and then list those products at your eCommerce website.

When someone comes to your website and buys something you immediately order that same product from your supplier and your supplier send this product to your buyer. This is called drop shipping.


In drop shipping you have to:


  • Handle orders
  • You charge your customer’s credit card
  • You need to contact the supplier to ship the product
  • You provide customer service and answer questions
  • You buy traffic from Google, Yahoo or Facebook
  • You have to follow MAP policy
  • You have to handle product return
  • You have to manage out of stock problems
  • Follow supplier’s return policy


Drop shipping is just like affiliate marketing. You have to do the work. The harder and smarter you work the higher will be your revenue.

As a drop shipper you will face a number of challenges you have to go through.

Your first challenge is building an eCommerce website. You can use many platforms, free and paid ones.

Since you are going to charge people’s credit cards it’s highly recommended to use a paid platform, such as BigCommerce, WooCommerce or Shopify.

Shopify is the best platform that makes the whole process much much easier for you as a drop shipper.




You can even start with a free 14 days trial account. After trial you have to pay approx. $300 per year. It’s not so much to be honest and it’s well worth it.

Your next step will be researching a new niche so you can choose the right one. If you choose a wrong niche your business will fail from the first day.

And the same applies to affiliate marketing. In drop shipping it becomes even harder because you will be selling physical products and if you have prices higher than your competitors you won’t be able to get sales.

Your next challenge will be finding suppliers, getting their approval and getting a list of products from them. Dropified will help you a lot in this task.

Especially Dropified can help you and notify your customer when their order has been shipped to their address.

Using Dropified you can import products to your store with 2 clicks from AliExpress. Remember to choose only those products that have 4,5 stars. This will considerably reduce product returns.

BTW, Dropified also offers 14 days free trial. Also, remember to choose the right suppliers and never pay for access to drop ship supplier directories.

Legit suppliers never charge for access or listing their products on your eCommerce site.

Your next challenge will be following MAP policy from your suppliers. MAP means minimum advertising price which means you can’t sell products at a price lower than the price you get from your suppliers.

Next challenge will be handling orders which includes shipping orders, product return, customer service, managing out of stock problems.

For example, when someone orders a product from your eCommerce website you get the money.

Then you need to order the same product from your supplier and give him your buyer’s address so he can send it to him.

If yo get many orders you need to do it on time which means you have to be always connected to the internet even if you are out of your home.

Sometime the ordered product can be out of stock and you don’t know about it. But you already got the order and the money.

This means you need to find this product with another supplier and get it shipped as fast as possible.

Some suppliers give you a weekly inventory report where you can see if a particular product is out of stock or not.

Some suppliers give you access to their website where you can check that yourself.

If your customer decides to return the product for some reason you need to again contact the supplier and ask for return.

Sometimes someone can ask questions from you which means you preferably should have a live chat option on your website so you can answer questions as quick as possible. All this takes time and energy. As you can see, drop shipping is not that easy at all.

Next challenge is buying traffic for your eCommerce website. When you work as an affiliate marketer it’s different.

You can get traffic from search engines, youtube, social media and paid advertising. When you choose drop shipping it’s different.

You can mostly rely on youtube traffic, social media traffic and paid traffic. You can hardly get traffic from search engines.

Because when it comes to eCommerce site you can’t have long original content that gets ranked in search engines.

You can only have product descriptions that will never outrank sites like Walmart, Amazon, eBay or BestBuy.



Of course, you can get some rankings for non competitive keywords but very often they are not “buying” keywords.

This means you can’t expect a lot of traffic from search engines while affiliate marketing sites have a lot of original content and get a lot of free targeted traffic to their sites.

That’s why your main traffic sources will be mostly youtube traffic from your youtube channel and paid traffic from Facebook, Yahoo or Google.

This will require a lot of money. One Facebook campaign may cost you approx. $2000-$3000 per month until you get positive results.

I don’t think everyone can afford it. The same applies to Yahoo or Google.

Paid traffic is not cheap and requires many tweaks to your ad campaign before you start seeing profit from your eCommerce website.



When you list products on your site you need to read a return policy of each of your suppliers. Each supplier has different return policy.

Make sure to add the same return policy to each product that you get from that supplier. You have to be careful with this.

And remember that if someone tells that you can do drop shipping on sites like eBay, Amazon you must know that it won’t work.

Simply because most suppliers will not allow to do it.

Remember to work with legit suppliers that always give you a tracking number once the product has been shipped to your buyer. This is critical for your eCommerce business.




Affiliate Marketing vs Drop Shipping. Who is the Winner in 2018?

So, let’s now do some analysis and decide who is the winner, affiliate marketing or drop shipping?

First of all, both businesses are absolutely legit and can make you money.

  • It depends on what you prefer?
  • It depends on how much money you have to invest in your business.
  • It depends on your skills and interest

Let’s see what is the difference between drop shipping and affiliate marketing.


Is affiliate marketing better than drop shipping?

Yes, I think affiliate marketing is better than drop shipping.

Because you don’t need to handle orders, products returns, check supplier’s product return policy, prices, you don’t have to follow MAP policy, you don’t need to buy traffic for your website.


DropShipping or Affiliate Marketing. Which is more profitable?

Both businesses can be equally profitable. Everything depends on your approach, how hard you work.


Should I go for affiliate marketing or drop shipping?

I think it also depends on your interests and what you prefer more.

If you like writing articles for your website and don’t want to spend money for traffic or handle orders, product returns then affiliate marketing is for you.

If you don’t like writing articles and have money to invest in paid advertising then drop shipping is for you.


What is common to affiliate marketing and drop shipping?

Both businesses require time, effort and patience until you start earning revenue from your business.


How much money do I need to invest in affiliate marketing or drop shipping business?

For affiliate marketing you need to invest in the certification course that will cost you approx. $350 per year.

If you want add an email marketing to your arsenal it will cost you another $230 per year. That’s pretty much all you need for your affiliate marketing business.

When it comes to drop shipping its way more expensive. Training on drop shipping will cost you approx. around $1000.

Shopify around $300 per year. Paid advertising budget should be around $2000-$3000 per month.


Though both business are great and have a great potential I think affiliate marketing is the winner.

But like I said above, it all comes down to what you love to do and how much money you can invest.

Let me know in the comments section below what you love more, affiliate marketing or drop shipping?

What is your experience with any of these businesses? Share your thoughts and knowledge. It will be very helpful for people like you that are on the fence about it.




About the Author:

My name is Adam. I'm the founder of Your Income Advisor. My goal is to help others succeed online, by exposing scams and reviewing top rated products. I can help you start your own business online

Comments (12)

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  1. julienne murekatete says:

    Thank you for sharing with us such a wonderful comparison between affiliate marketing and drop shipping.According to my analysis based on your research i still prefer doing affiliate marketing . When it comes to using money to invest in business, affiliate marketing doesn’t ask much money as drop shipping.I could not afford charging people’s credit cards , talking with customers on live chat,….

    I will adopt affiliate marketing .

    • Rufat says:

      Yes, like you I prefer affiliate marketing but this doesn’t mean I will never start drop shipping business. But it really requires a solid investment I can’t afford at the moment. Affiliate marketing is easier for me. At least for me.

  2. Nicki V says:

    That was a great comparison of affiliate marketing v drop shipping.  I have often wondered what was all involved in drop shipping.  I know that it’s becoming more popular recently and you hear of people making ‘tons” of money from it.  But from the sounds of it in your review, it looks like it could be more of a headache than what it’s worth. Can you not use SEO in  I think I’ll stick to affiliate marketing!

    • Rufat says:

      I don’t know anyone personally who is making a ton of money with drop shipping but I know that some people are making a solid income. It’s true that it is becoming more and more popular. Regarding SEO you still can use it but I don’t think you can get enough traffic to make a solid income from your eCommerce website. Generic keywords don’t send you a lot of traffic. Branded keywords are hard to compete with.

  3. Genesis says:

    I’ve made money with affiliate marketing in the past and expect to in the future again. While dropshipping looks interesting, it is a lot more work and it feels like there is a lot more that could go wrong. It’s fun to look at products, but I think I’d rather let someone else do the real selling and just point people in the right direction.

    • Rufat says:

      You are right. Like affiliate marketing drop shipping requires a lot of work and I think even more work than in affiliate business. Very often it’s much easier to direct people to sites like Amazon instead of drop shipping. But the advantage of drop shipping is that you can earn more profit per sale. But the downside of drop shipping is that you need to buy traffic.

  4. Scott Hinkle says:

    I really appreciate the comparison you have here.  I, too, am currently an affiliate marketer and was looking into adding drop shipping to my resume.  I didn’t realize the financial and almost on-demand attention drop shipping requires but, after reading your post, it makes sense.

    For me I think affiliate marketing is best.  My only hangup is writing so much but I’m getting better at it and my viewers are starting to engage me more and more.  One of the best parts is not having inventory or managing orders and so on.  I feel it gives me much more freedom and allows me to apply my efforts where I need to, and that’s my content.

    Thanks again.  You’ve saved me from a costly trial and error run to see if expanding into drop shipping would be a smart choice for me.

    • Rufat says:

      That’s true. Affiliate marketing requires a lot of writing and video recording because it’s your main source of traffic. In fact, when you decide to become an affiliate marketer you become like a writer. Because you income comes mainly from writing. If you love it you can make money. If you don’t like it then you better choose a drop shipping business.

  5. Ryan says:

    This was an amazing article that I enjoyed especially being an affiliate marketer! All bias aside I have thoroughly looked into both options and realized this post definitely outlines the important aspects of both. It definitely does depend on the person and their starting point/preferences but ultimately I agree that both can be done (evidently a lot of people are in both industries) and I also agree that affiliate marketing usually makes more sense most of the time. Great read I hope to see more like this. 

    • Rufat says:

      Yes, most people prefer affiliate marketing because once you have a lot of content you can make money literally on autopilot without providing a customer service. Drop shipping is very different. You have to continuously handle orders, product returns. Especially it becomes a hard task when start getting many orders. And that’s why people prefer affiliate marketing.

  6. Kenny says:

    Hi and thanks for creating this very insightful article to help people understand what challenges and benefits affiliate marketing and drop shipping have for them. I am also if the mind that you are better off starting out in affiliate marketing as you have more control over the process of how you make money. As opposed to having to rely on a third party to fulfill orders. Thanks Kenny 

    • Rufat says:

      When it comes to a third party we can see the same in affiliate marketing because you don’t actually own any products. In that sense affiliate marketing is no better than drop shipping.

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