Referral vs. Affiliate Marketing: Which Is Right for You?


If you are eager to find authentic ways to work independently or seeking viable work from home gigs, you have probably run across terms like referrals and affiliate marketing. In fact, you may have even dipped your toe in one or both. Yet, many remain unclear about both avenues, and so we offer this article as a means of better understanding the best affiliate marketing options and referral programs. Of course, we also want to help you understand which can serve as the best ways to work independently.

If you are a cut to the chase or flip to the last page of the story sort of person, though, we can tell you that both are good for your business or earnings goals. And, you can employ both referrals and affiliate marketing no matter what sort of industry or niche you work in. Let’s learn why…

Driving Growth

When you want to discover the best ways to work independently, it is important to understand what you might do to earn steady streams of income that are both diverse and passive. Diverse simply means that they are not of the “all your eggs in one basket” sort of activity. Passive means that you find a way to earn income that lets you set up the system and put in only minimal effort to continually generate ongoing sales.

Both affiliate marketing and referrals can do this, but they also share a great deal more in common.

  • They both drive new customer growth
  • They both use indirect supporters to generate sales
  • They both have the opportunity for making high ROI or return on investment

Thus, they are both some of the most popular ways to work independently. Affiliate marketing differs from referral in several ways, however. For instance, the affiliate marketer’s supporters have no personal knowledge of the referred customer. Usually, they refer a particular brand or product for purely financial reasons.

Referrals operate on a more personal basis. The support suggests your product to a colleague, co-worker, family member or friend. They are motivated by the relationship, but they are also motivated by the reward associated with the referral.

Here’s what we mean. When you are an affiliate marketer, you are a publisher who creates material and content relevant to your niche or industry. Within your content, you promote a specific product or service. For this example, let’s say you are someone who does affiliate marketing with all-natural health supplements. Your content covers health issues, diseases treatable with changes to diet, and so on. In your content, you point to the supplements you wish to sell as a viable solution. When a reader clicks the link to the supplement’s landing page and makes the purchase, you are given a share of the sale.

The reader may never know you and may not realize you have a formal, affiliate relationship with the supplement maker.

With referrals, you might directly refer your friends to the supplement maker. When they use the link you provide and create an account or take the desired action (which could be just submitting an email or actually making a purchase), you are rewarded. Often, with further referrals upon your initial referral, you continue to earn rewards.

Though it seems that you might be limited with referrals, it is not as finite as it seems. As one expert in both marketing methods said, “referral marketing has a tremendous potential of big rewards for you. The biggest advantage with referral marketing is the fact that you do not have to sell anything. You simply have to refer people to a particular site. And you are handsomely rewarded for referring people.”

So, to summarize. If you want to find ways to work independently and make a good living, you can turn to affiliate and referral marketing. With referrals, you make money by simply referring people to a website or product and get a reward for their taking the desired action. With affiliate marketing, you are actually helping a vendor to sell their goods by creating informative, entertaining and useful material that drives them to the sale.

Which Is Right for You?

There are many good programs for those interested in both affiliate marketing and referrals. Keep in mind, though, when looking for ways to work independently you also want to work as smartly as possible. That means seeking the kinds of programs that have a good amount of overlap and which allow you to optimize the returns you get for any input or effort.

Though we have done a few articles about the highest paying or most viable programs, let’s take a look at the choices you can make for our own business. Using each of them gives you a chance to insert referral codes and promotions into your pages and content done for affiliate marketing as well as sales pages and even payment pages.

In fact, you could simply create a space on almost any content that offers readers a simple “how to create your blog” or affiliate pages and then gives the URLs for your referral and/or affiliate programs. The links below include such crucial tools as payment sites, PPC campaign sites, cloud based services, advertising and publishing. All of these are universally required by those eager to work independently or simply create a viable online business.

The Tools and Resources Essential to All

Payoneer Referral Program – For everyone who uses your referral code to apply for an account, you earn a reward (and they do too). So, if you have sales pages and a shopping cart through which transactions occur, you are free to note Payoneer as a payment method AND encourage people to get a reward for signing on through your link. You then get paid for their account creation and the products sold. They also have an affiliate program. That means that you can spread the word about them as an alternative to PayPal or option for those in non-PayPal covered locations. You earn high commissions and if writing about payment services fits into your niche, it could be a fantastic way to develop passive income on two fronts.

RevenueHits Referral This translates to the proverbial no-brainer if you are already involved in affiliate marketing. That is because you can use RevenueHits for your publishing and simply refer your readers and fellow affiliate marketers (also called publishers) to the site. Get them to sign up and your referral reward is up to 10% of their earnings for the first year. There is no limit and if you can get your content in front of many, encourage them to create their own, and steer them towards the site, you could see substantial returns for almost no work or effort.

Bidvertiser Referral – This is a commonly used PPC site that allows you to optimize the locations for your ads. It makes sense that you would also promote it on your content. When someone uses the referral link from your page or site and spends only $10, you get credited $5 of it. If they drop $50, you get $20 of it. If they sign on as a publisher and not just an advertiser, you get the first $10 they spend, and if they spend $50, you get $40 of it!

Dropbox Referral Program – Do you use Dropbox? Millions do and by using your custom referral link, you can continually expand the amount of free storage you enjoy as a referral reward. To get the link, go to your account, click the Settings-Plan-Personal-Invite a Friend pathway. Then, it is just a matter of the recipient following the steps to sign up and launch the desktop app. You can earn 500MB per referral, up to 16GB in total. If you hold a Plus or Professional account, you get 1GB per referral and up to 32GB in free space!

G Suite – This is package of purely cloud-based services that offer any organization a way to work online and goes beyond chat and email. It incorporates tools like real time collaboration on documents, shared calendars, cloud storage and much more. If you are a user of features like Gmail, Google cloud and the different online documents, worksheets and other services (and create a G Suite account), you can earn substantial referral funds for every new sign up. When someone uses your link to create a basic plan, you get $15 in return, and when it is a business plan, you earn $30. The reward is capped at $3k per domain. You can encourage readers of your affiliate content to consider the use of this package, you can simply promote it to family and friends, and you can conduct business using it, too.

GetResponse – If you are someone who is looking for ways to work independently, one of the most important tools you need includes effective email marketing. This site is touted as an all in one spot for online marketing, and the referral program is incredibly generous. If you use your URL to refer a friend or colleague, and they sign on, they get a $30 reward and you do too! That alone makes the use of email marketing more appealing, but it truly is one of the most important tools in any online business enterprise, so why not get rewarded for using it!

Infolinks – While we are on the all in one issue, the Infolinks site actually rolls both referral benefits and affiliate marketing into a simple package. It is a site specializing in smart ads and is particularly useful to publishers and advertisers. Just use your unique referral link and share it with others. When they create an account, and use it effectively, you earn 10% of their revenue for the first 12 months they are active. Sending this to viable customers in your affiliate marketing network could yield fairly surprising sums.

Now, if we want to look at referral programs that are already integrated into affiliate programs, there are many options. You can find the ideal affiliate products for your goals or niche, and by encouraging vendors or fellow marketers to use your referral link, you can usually make some surprising sums. Let’s look at one of the most famous and viable of the options – ClickBank.

ClickBank Referral Program – The ClickBank affiliate network has existed for almost 20 years and has more than 200 million customers. It is home to an endless array of digital products and commissions can be as much as 75%. Yet, they also have a referral program that allows you to get 22% of the $49.95 activation fee on a new vendor account. You then earn 5$ of the markup on every sale that vendor makes for a full year. You cannot get referrals from affiliates, though.

VigLinks – Similar in its approach, it actually does a lot of the affiliate marketer’s work for them. It uses code in your content (and if allowed, can insert new links on relevant terms) to help you make affiliate sales. It too has a referral program and it is incredibly generous. Get a publisher to use the service and you get 35% of the company’s commission on the account for the first 12 months it is active.

Start Today

As you can see, it is fairly simple to find and create your own ways to work independently. Begin by considering the niche or area of specialization that applies to you. The world of affiliate products is endless and can actually include everything from Amazon products to electronic books. The point is to find ways to generate content as a publisher, and embed both the affiliate links and encouragement to follow referral links. You can make sales through your site, and bolster your earnings if you can also encourage readers to consider using the same tools and resources that you use for your activities.

It does not take long to setup an online business that relies on affiliate marketing and referrals for ongoing income. Use the tools above and soon you can see for yourself just how simple it can be.


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