Affiliate Marketing vs MLM: Which Is More Profitable?

A few days back, a friend of mine boldly told me that affiliate marketing is dead in Nigeria.

He had done several affiliate marketing programs owned by Nigerians, but nothing seemed to be working.

However, this particular friend of mine had made a lot of money from several MLM programs he had participated in. 

Hence, his belief that the only marketing program that works in Nigeria is Multi Level Marketing.

Is he right? Does MLM topple Affiliate Marketing as a way to make legitimate income online in Nigeria?

Let’s compare.


In terms of popularity, there are more MLM programs in Nigeria than there are Affiliate Marketing programs.

So, it’s easy to see people doing MLM and for others to join. Little wonder people mistake MLM for affiliate marketing in Nigeria.

As of today, there are over 20 MLM programs that are being advertised for new members to join, but to find a reasonable affiliate marketing program in Nigeria is a problem.

Most affiliate marketing programs in Nigeria are not structured to last. They are only structured to use their current users to build trust for their brand and then stop paying. And if they pay at all, the commission they offer is so little and very hard to track.

Commission Structure

I’ve tried several Affiliate Marketing programs in Nigeria, and one thing I hate about them is that most do not offer commissions by percentage. They mostly offer a flat fee.

On the other hand MLM programs are structured to pay members long-term commission in percentage.

You’d see an affiliate marketing program offering a flat 500 Naira per user that is poorly tracked, and then you’d see an MLM system that offers 5% commission throughout the lifecycle of the member you invite.

Now, which is more beneficial for the marketer? The MLM program of course. That is why MLM programs in Nigeria have the largest members that are willing to go any length just to bring people in.

Buying vs Investing

There is a sharp contrast in the way customers see affiliate marketing and MLM.

With affiliate marketing, customers see that you are trying to get them to buy something they do not need.

On the other hand, with MLM, customers see that you are trying to get them to invest in something that may or may not be beneficial to them.

People would rather invest in something that may bring in profit than buy something they may never use.

That is why it is easier to convert customers in MLM and make money than it is to convert customers with affiliate marketing.

No wonder most digital marketers in Nigeria see affiliate marketing in Nigeria as very difficult with not enough benefit and motivation. So, they’d rather camp with a high-paying MLM program.

Nature of Business

The truth is, affiliate marketing in Nigeria feels like a job. In other words, it sucks. 

You’d be asked to sell something you don’t believe in or something that is very hard to sell, and you’d be paid ridiculously low commissions.

On the other hand, MLM feels like a business. You have your money in it and you want to grow that money. 

In fact, the survival of any member of an MLM system is based on recruiting new members. 

If you don’t recruit new members into the system, you’d lose your investment. So, MLM becomes a do or die affair and is treated with all seriousness.

Required Skill Level 

The true nature of Affiliate Marketing is that it depends on high-level digital marketing to work.

On the other hand, MLM depends mostly on word of mouth and network effects.

This means that affiliate marketing requires a higher skill level to be able to succeed in it than the MLM system.

Now, the issue is that the currently available affiliate marketing programs in Nigeria are not enticing enough for people with the right digital skills.

However, everyone and anyone can do MLM without needing any extra skill. All they have to do is convince their friends, family and associates to join.

Business Legitimacy

The truth is that Affiliate Marketing is one of the most legitimate ways of making money online anywhere in the world.

Same cannot be said about MLM.

However, the system on which affiliate marketing runs in Nigeria isn’t straightforward and usually comes with low commission.

On the other hand, most MLM programs in Nigeria are more straightforward and members can see clearly what they get out of the system after investing their resources.

This stimulates a lot of belief and effort on the part of members to make the system work, because they know that if the system works, they would get their due benefits.

But in reality, even though the structure of most MLM programs are clear and straightforward, not all members get to receive their accrued benefits.

Most especially, the late comers of MLM programs are often the unfortunate losers.




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