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What Makes the E-Currency Exchange Business So Profitable?
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5 Reasons You Need a Business Plan to Succeed as an Online Affiliate

Affiliate vs. MLM

These words are often used interchangeably, but actually indicate very different types of programs. Both systems allow participants to develop income streams, but they require different approaches in order to be successful. Since the focus of is to review programs that could be used to build residual income, you can find both types of programs listed here.

Affiliate Programs
One of the best examples of an internet affiliate program is offered by If you have a website, you may place links on your site to (either general pages or specific products). If someone clicks your link then ends up buying a product, will pay you, as an affiliate, a commission on the sale. That is an affiliate program in its simplest incarnation. If you manage to get a large volume of people to follow your links to and make purchases, then you can expect these commissions to amount to a healthy revenue.

MLM Programs
Multilevel marketing programs (MLMs) are more complex. Let's say you are an affiliate and you are making a little extra money from commissions. Your friend Sally has a website and asks you about becoming an affiliate. You direct Sally to the section of's website that addresses joining the affiliate program. Wouldn't it be nice if gave you some financial reward for introducing Sally to the affiliate program and potentially increasing's profit? (They don't, by the way.) If you do receive any form of direct financial benefit for introducing new people to the program, then the affiliate program becomes a multilevel marketing program.

The direct financial benefit can take many forms. You could get a flat fee for introducing Sally to the program. You might receive a small commission on the sales generated from Sally's website. You could

receive a payment each month that Sally participates in the program. You might get some combination of those options.

The program described up to this point is defined as two-tier or two-level. Let's say you also receive direct financial benefit when Sally introduces her friend Matt to the program. Now we're talking about a three-tier program. In MLM terms, Sally and Matt are part of your downline.

What's the fuss?
Now you have a clear understanding of the differences with affiliate and MLM programs. They're both good business opportunities. Why would anyone care what label is attached to the program?

Some people have a very strong attachment to one type of program or the other. Proponents of MLM programs prefer the potential for exponential growth. If you have a few successful entrepreneurs in your downline, you can build an impressive residual income. People who prefer affiliate programs wish to avoid the difficulty with finding a quality MLM program. There are excellent MLM opportunities available, but the scams and poorly implemented programs far outnumber the genuine wealth-building opportunities. Affiliate programs are safer and less prone to failure due to poor management.

Bottom Line
The difference boils down to the presence of a downline. MLMs have one. Affiliate programs don't. Both can make money, but an MLM requires you to also sell the money-making potential of the program.

Neither option gets you out of selling the company's product or service. Sorry.

About the Author

Copyright (c) 2003 Clay Mabbitt.
Clay Mabbitt writes articles about evaluating online
money-making opportunities. Need in-depth reviews of
the latest affiliate programs? Find them at


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