Affiliate Marketing – An affiliate marketing program is a program that allows independent marketers to promote products or services and earn a commission whenever a sale is actually made. Some programs offer recurring commissions and some do not.

Network Marketing – Network marketing is the form of marketing made popular by Amway and other direct sales companies that empowers independent representatives (“distributors” or “promoters” or “IBOs”) to promote its products and services while also building a team of other independent reps that are doing the same. Reps can earn income both from their individual sales and from their group’s sales.

So what’s the difference?

The biggest difference is that network marketing companies allow reps to recruit other reps and earn commissions on the collective volume whereas Affiliate programs generally do not. While there are some affiliate marketing programs that pay through multiple tiers (meaning that you can get paid for the reps you sign up through X number of levels) it’s usually very limited (1-3 levels) whereas network marketing companies generally pay commissions based on many more tiers and sometimes an unlimited amount of tiers.

You could also say that companies that use affiliate marketing as one of their strategies often promote their products and services through other methods as well whereas network marketing companies use representatives as their only means of distribution.