affiliate marketing alternatives
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Affiliate Marketing Alternatives: 16 Ways to Make Money in 2023

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What are the alternatives to affiliate marketing? 

There are many ways to earn money online in 2023. If you’ve been thinking about taking the first steps to make money online, and you feel affiliate marketing may be too competitive, I’m here to reveal some alternate ways. 

Before revealing the best affiliate marketing alternatives, let’s first look at what affiliate marketing is, and if it’s still profitable. 

What is affiliate marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a type of performance-based marketing in which a business rewards one or more affiliates for each visitor or customer brought by the affiliate’s own marketing efforts.

It’s a popular form of making money since there’s no initial investment, and there are no limits on how many sales you can make.

An affiliate can be an individual, company, or other entity that markets the seller’s product and receives a commission for each sale generated. The commission varies depending on what the affiliate is selling. Some affiliates may receive up to 50% commissions, others may earn up to 75% – it all depends on the individual product you’re promoting. 

Is affiliate marketing still profitable?

Yes. Affiliate marketing is one of the most cost-effective ways to grow your business. It’s a great way to make money without having to invest in inventory, and it’s also a great way to increase brand awareness by reaching a new audience through your affiliate partners.

Affiliate marketing still has its place in the current digital market, and will still continue to as long as someone is able to build and grow their own audience, whether that’s via blogging, email marketing, social media or YouTube. 

That said, affiliate marketing does have its downsides. One of the disadvantages is that you are dependent on the affiliate marketer for your income. If they stop promoting your product, you’ll lose out on income.

Additionally, you need an audience to promote a product to. If you don’t have an audience, you won’t make any money. 

Affiliate marketing alternatives in 2023

What are the best affiliate marketing alternatives? 

Here are some things to consider. 

Blogging

I’m a huge advocate for blogging. Starting a blog is more than simply writing down your own thoughts and hoping someone reads them – a blog is your own digital real estate and you can 100% turn it into a REAL business. 

There are so many ways to make money blogging (and you can also incorporate affiliate marketing alongside any of these methods).

Display advertising

This involves selling advertising space on your blog. Companies will pay you a fee in return for displaying their ads on your site – you can do this via an ad network like Google Adsense or you can sell your ad space privately to other creators or small businesses within your niche. This is a little more complex since you’ll probably need to do some form of email outreach to get people interested. It’s a great way to make passive income.

Consulting

Consulting involves advising people/businesses on a specific topic. Consultants can be hired by companies, organizations, or individuals to help them with problems and issues that they may be facing, such as market research, branding, sales, etc. 

If you’re an expert within your niche, you could advertise your consulting services via your website and start creating content that is aimed at your buyer. When you factor in SEO and keyword research, then this is a great way to market your consulting services. 

Freelance writing or designing

You can definitely start freelance writing or designing from a blog – I became a freelance writer by using my blog posts within my portfolio. I then joined Upwork to look for a freelance writing job. I did this (and made an income) for 8 years before going to work in-house. 

Blogging is a great way to develop your writing and design skills. The great thing about starting a blog is that you can advertise your services from your website as a form of inbound marketing. While it can take a while for your website to become noticed, learning about SEO and implementing it will help you to reach your target clients. 

Sponsored content

Another way to earn money blogging is through sponsored content. 

Sponsored content is when a brand or business pays you for writing a blog post on your website. This is a form of advertising for a specific company. For example, if you have a food blog, you may get asked to write a sponsored post on a specific type of cookware. 

Once you have built a successful blog, you’ll likely get opportunities coming directly to you via email. However, when you’re still building a blog and growing your traffic, these opportunities can be a little harder to find. 

There are two sites that I recommend for sponsored content opportunities – Get Blogged and Intellifluence. I’ve used both these websites and been paid promptly so I can vouch that they’re 100% legit. 

Digital products and courses

Selling digital products and courses is an effective way to boost your online earnings. The major plus point is that you don’t need a massive audience to get started. You can begin selling digital products and courses even with a small audience. 

For both courses and digital downloads, like templates, ebooks, and workbooks, you can sell them via your WordPress website. There are plugins you can use like WooCommerce to do this. Alternatively, you can use a platform like Teachery. 

I recommend that if you want to sell courses or downloads, you start an email list first. This will help you to get feedback on the types of products that sell well in your niche. You can also test out your ideas on your email list first too. 

Workshops

Paid workshops are similar to courses – the main difference is that workshops tend to be in video format and between 30-90 minutes long. 

Workshops can also be later made into online courses so they’re ideal for testing out a topic idea on your audience. 

Virtual summits

A virtual summit is a live streaming event where information is presented on a specific topic or topics. 

Summits are usually held by a group of experts within a niche. If you wanted to take part in a summit you could look out for opportunities from other influencers within your niche. 

Virtual summits can be free to attend, where you’ll make money when an upsell is presented to people joining the summit. Alternatively, it may be a paid summit where you’ll receive a percentage of the ticket price. 

Not only are these events a great way to make some extra cash, but they’re super effective for growing your online audience. 

Blog bundles

Blog bundles are when multiple bloggers put their paid products within a specific bundle for people to purchase. One of the most popular blog bundles is Ultimate Bundles. Although, I’ve seen bundles in all types of niches. 

Sell your website

Did you know that you can sell a blog? Websites are being sold for thousands of dollars. 

A blog really is digital real estate – it’s your space on the internet that you can grow and eventually sell to a new owner. 

Now, the bigger your audience, and the more money you make monthly, the more you can expect your blog to sell for – I’ve also sold a starter blog (a website with content that wasn’t making money) so even if you start a blog and later decide to stop, you can still sell it for a couple of hundred dollars. 

You can sell your blog on places like Flippa, Blogs for Sale, and Empire Flippers

If you want to start a blog, check out my free 5 day email course. It’s a step-by-step method for getting set up in the easiest way possible. 

Selling on Etsy

Another one of the most popular affiliate marketing alternatives is selling on Etsy.

Etsy is a huge marketplace for handmade sellers – these days you’ll also find tonnes of digital products for sale so if you don’t have an audience (or want to start blogging), selling on Etsy may be right for you. 

You can sell all types of things on Etsy, including website templates, planners, workbooks, candles, beauty products, handcrafted jewelry, and much more. 

Pros 

An advantage of selling on Etsy is that it has a relatively low entry point for sellers. You don’t need any type of certification or license to sell your products on the site. There are no upfront costs or inventory requirements to list items for sale, and no monthly fees. Sellers only pay Etsy when they make a sale, which means that there are no upfront costs for them either.

Etsy also offers seller services like SEO and paid advertising which can provide additional benefits if you want to grow your business in those areas.

Cons

The biggest one is that Etsy is super saturated. There are thousands and thousands of sellers. Plus, you’re at the mercy of the algorithm. For example, if you create a product that gets a lot of views and sales, it will show up in searches more often and will have a higher ranking. If this product doesn’t sell for a few days, it can get pushed down in the rankings and be harder to find.

The other disadvantage is that there is no way to guarantee your position on the site. If you’re not careful with SEO, your products can get lost in search results pages and never be seen by potential buyers.

The third disadvantage is that Etsy charges an extra fee of 20 cents per item sold on their site which adds up quickly when you’re selling more than one item per day or week.

Selling Courses

You can create and sell courses on platforms like Udemy. This is ideal if you don’t have an audience but want to make a little bit of extra money. 

You can create a course on any topic – you don’t need to be an expert either. As long as you’re only a couple of steps in front of someone else, you can teach them about a subject. 

Pros

Courses are great for building an authority brand and driving traffic back to your website. You can also position yourself as an expert in your field and generate more income from other sources, such as consulting or speaking engagements.

Cons

One of the most obvious disadvantages is that you need to create a lot of content, which can be time-consuming and difficult. Another disadvantage is that you might not know what people want to learn about, and may end up creating something no one wants to buy.

Dropshipping 

Dropshipping is a business model in which you do not keep goods in stock. Instead, when a customer orders a product, the company simply purchases the item from a third party and has it shipped directly to the customer’s door.

Dropshipping is relatively easy to set up and manage, and can be done with little or no startup costs – one of the reasons why it’s become a popular online trend. 

I’ve also compared blogging vs dropshipping in this post if you want to read further into it.

Pros

One of the biggest advantages is that you don’t need to invest in any inventory. You can start a business with very little capital and don’t have to worry about storing your products on shelves or in warehouses.

Cons

Dropshipping isn’t as easy as it sounds. Unless you’re paying for ads, it can be difficult to get customers. Many products are oversaturated and sold by countless other people. 

Plus – one of the biggest downsides is that dropshippers lack control over their brand (product quality and shipping times) which can lead to negative feedback from customers if they are unhappy with the product they received.

Print on demand

Print on demand is the process of printing a product after an order has been received.

The process of print on demand allows businesses to offer personalized products without having to invest in inventory or manufacturing. This can be helpful for small businesses that don’t have the resources to manufacture items in bulk or that have limited production capacity.

Pros 

Printing on demand is an economical and environmentally friendly way to produce products. It reduces the need for warehousing and storage, which means less waste and lower costs. It only needs limited investment to get started as you can use platforms like Etsy, Redbubble and Society6

Cons

Most print on demand niches are saturated. There’s high competition and little profit so you could likely spend all your time making designs for them not to sell. 

ECommerce

Starting an eCommerce store is perfect if you want to sell physical products to consumers. Unlike dropshipping, you’ll need a place to store your inventory. You may also need staff to fulfill orders and ship them. 

Pros

You can sell a unique product from your own brand. This may have the potential to scale, making you an incredible income in the process. 

Cons

You need money for stock, shipping supplies, and marketing. It can take time for your brand to grow unless you have money to spend on paid ads. 

Amazon FBA

Amazon FBA is similar to starting an eCommerce store, except that you’re sending your stock to Amazon for them to sell on their platform. While you can tap into Amazon’s audience, you still need money to purchase stock. 

Pros

You don’t need to spend money on a warehouse or staff for picking, packing, and shipping your goods. You can also potentially get your product seen by Amazon’s wide audience. 

Cons

Amazon fees are expensive so there is little profit unless you find a winning product. There’s likely to be a lot of competition, even if you’re selling your own brand – you’re probably going to need money for Amazon ads to get your product shown to customers. 

Self-publishing

Self-publishing is a method of creating and selling your own books via Amazon KDP or an alternative platform. If you publish via Amazon KDP, you simply upload your book and when someone purchases it, Amazon will print it and ship it to the customer for you. 

Pros

Little costs to get started. All you really need is some software to create your book. You can upload it to Amazon KDP for free – you only pay fees when it sells. 

Cons

Again, Amazon KDP is a platform that is absolutely saturated with competition. There is no guarantee that your book will sell, even if you use ads to promote it. I’ve seen many YouTubers claim that you can make your riches selling blank notebooks – honestly, you can’t because there are so many crappy notebooks on there. (you can tell I have a salty opinion on this haha). 

Unless you’re selling hundreds and thousands of books each money, there is very little money to be made. Trust me, it isn’t worth the effort – not unless you’re willing to write a book from scratch and you already have an audience to sell it to. 

Affiliate Marketing Alternatives – The Verdict

I will always recommend blogging because it’s easy to get started. I’m not going to lie to you by pretending that it’s easy, because it isn’t. But, if you’re willing to put the work in, learn SEO and create content fairly consistently, you CAN see success. 

There are so many ways to make money blogging – and you can combine them to take your income to the next level!

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