What Percentage Of Individuals Active In MLM and Affiliate Marketing earn over $100K a year?

Last Update: May 22, 2023

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Have you thought about this question? Especially if you are a failed network marketer and currently active in affiliate marketing? I was curious so I asked this question to ChatGPT. Don't worry, I am not going to show you the ChatGPT answer. Instead, I used what I found to come up with my own response that incorporates the data they provided.

Common Traits

Any form of entrepreneurship has fundamental, common requirements you must meet to succeed. Hence, it is not surprising that network marketing and affiliate marketing have similar, common requirements too. I'm addressing them in the form of strategic questions:

  1. Why do you feel this business model is right for you?
  2. Do you have clear financial goals and the time frame to achieve them?
  3. Who is your target audience?
  4. What problems they have or needs they want met?
  5. Are you marketing a product or service that will meet their needs?
  6. Do you have the work habits necessary for success?
  7. Have you created a game plan (business plan) to move forward?
  8. When do you expect to achieve your initial goals?
  9. Where are you going to learn the skills you need?
  10. How are you going to handle obstacles in your way?

How Do You Define Active?

No matter whether you are in network marketing or affiliate marketing, 95% will quit. If you don't quit, you are active. Bear in mind that your level of activity can vary. Your success rate will depend on how active you really are.

Now Let Me Answer The Question I Posed

Less than 1% of active network marketers earn more than $100K. This seems to be a general consensus.

Substantially more than 1% of affiliate marketers earn more than $100K. ChatGPT didn't provide an exact number for several reasons:

  1. Requires dedicated effort
  2. Needs continuous learning
  3. Mandates effective implementation of marketing strategies
  4. Niche selection can influence your earnings
  5. Adaptability to changes in online marketing

Why Do More Affiliate Marketers Succeed

Once again, ChatGPT provided several reasons:

  1. Flexibility to promote a wide range of products and services
  2. These can be over different niches
  3. Hence, more opportunities are provided for income generation
  4. Online marketing skills can be leveraged
  5. Content creation can be used to build an audience and drive targeted traffic.

All of this can increase the earnings potential of affiliate marketers that network marketers don't have. They are stuck with one company and are limited to the products and services they only provide.

Affiliate Marketers Are In The Right Place At The Right Time

There is a growing list of companies who are adopting affiliate marketing to increase sales. Hence, the huge number and variety of products and services available to affiliate marketers is immense.

Whatever your passion is, you will be able to find products that you can create helpful content to connect customers with vendors.

Affiliate marketers are only limited by their imagination.

What Do You Think?

Can you share your experiences? If you have better answers please share them. That would be awesome!



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Recent Comments


You've provided a good rationale for affiliate marketing, Edwin! I did rather well in my MLM company, though wasn't in the top earning capacity...at least, I brought in a few checks that were over $1,000. However, I like the affiliate marketing approach. You are right -- it gives you a lot more flexibility. I really like that it's not necessary to have the products on hand.

Hi Fran,

Thanks for your insights. While you were active in MLM did you keep a tally of the expenses you incurred from buying products to qualify for commissions as well as your expenses for attending conventions and meetings?

When I was in MLM I spent a lot on these things that resulted in operating at a loss. I was able to use that in filing my tax return so that helped to minimize my losses.

Kudos to you for achieving some success. $1000 checks were impressive.

Glad you found this piece helpful.



Yes, I kept track of expenses. I evidently operated at some kind of profit margin, as I was able to keep purchasing what I needed. My regular income would not allow that.

Great job Fran! I call that success in MLM.

Here's an interesting tidbit. I am writing an article about MLM in my PPC Campaign to attract people to WA. Kyle helped me do that in a way that promotes MLM and encourages the reader to enlist WA in their team to help them. You can read what he wrote in his second-last response at this link: If you read it I'd like to know what you think. You'll have to scroll down a bit as Kyle has been helping others too.



Hi Edwin,

This post is an absolute treasure trove of information! Your thoughtful comparison of network marketing and affiliate marketing really shines a light on the potential rewards and pitfalls of each. It's great to see you drawing on the wisdom of ChatGPT and then incorporating it into your own insights.

As I have said before I was part of Amway for awhile. I loved it, but it ended up costing me too much!

Success is clearly not a given, but it's heartening to see proof that dedicated affiliate marketers can truly thrive.

Looking forward to your next post and continuing to grow in this exciting field together.

All the best,

Hi Julia,

Thank you so much for your supportive comments.


Excellent post Edwin! :) I have a few cousins in my family who are into MLM's and honestly one of them is quite successful at it, but, in the past 8 years she has been with her particular MLM, I can definitely tell you her sales over the years, have gradually decreased.

She has people "under" her in her respective "teams" in her MLM who she earns commissions off of, from basically recruiting those individuals, and then benefiting from the sales they make as well as her own.

But, even so, recruiting and keeping those people takes a ton of work, and making them stick with it as well, is also quite a lot of work for one to do. I've watched her grow her business from day 1, wondering if it will ever take off. To, watch her win all-expense-paid trips around the world these days about once a year.

But, I've also seen her beg family and friends who know her for sales at the end of some months because her sale quotas aren't high enough for her to get by on, in terms of getting paid her normal base commission rate per the rank she is at within her company.

This is the issue with MLM's compared to Niche Affiliate Marketing. You end up having to pay for traffic to your social media pages, to promote your business, (likely more than you would if organic traffic were to happen on your site/ social media pages.)

And, sales are not guaranteed, because essentially you have no content, ONLY products. :/ Not exactly a "recipe for success" in my mind when it comes to business. But, to each their own.

Excellent post! I am for sure going to share this! :)

Hello Cal,

Thanks for your excellent insights into MLM using your family members to illustrate some of the issues with MLM. I also have seen people do very well when they start only to see sales drop in their downline. Once you get promoted, if you don't maintain those group sales levels, you will be demoted. And lose many of the benefits at that higher level. 

I also concluded MLM is a full-time job for precisely all the reasons you mentioned.

It takes your MLM downline to duplicate your efforts in order to have a self-sustaining business. When those links in the chain break, it takes a lot of effort to repair them.



Hello Edwin! Yes absolutely! I have found especially in my cousin's case, those downlines below her and crucial to her success in her company. If not for them, she probably wouldn't be where she is today within her MLM.

Not to mention, the ton of work that comes with trying to recruit those downline team members too. Everything from cold-calling, door-to-door sales, e-mail lists, etc. I can't imagine doing all of that work, only to earn a meager 2-3% per sale.

That seems extremely low to me. Especially when there are much better ways you could be earning that 2-3% per sale. Like in niche affiliate marketing for example. Where your sales don't have to be targeted at your local friends and family nearby you.

The world is your oyster! You can be a global seller! And you aren't limited to the products one single company promotes and sells either. There's a plethora of products out there within your niche that are available for you to promote and sell.

In MLM the name of the game seems to be most people get recruited and join, sell to their nearest and dearest friends and loved ones, and see a little rise in their sales, before realizing the next month, all their close relatives are already stocked up on their products from the previous month.

And who are they going to sell to now? Or your friends and family tire of hearing you beg them to buy the same products once again. In short order, you run out of potential customers. And it's quite difficult to recruit newcomers to your company. Most people, don't realize what it takes to really truly succeed in the MLM business world.

Most people think you sit at home all day, maybe call your gal pals for a chat, and say" Oooh I love this new product I bought, it's really making my life a lot easier!" And your friend should instantly respond with something like "Oooh what is the new product you're using? Can I try some??"

But, most people these days, anyways, don't have a ton of spare money to spend on things they might never use. Especially if they are trying to support and feed a family. They're more concerned with paying their bills than they are concerned with supporting a friend or family member in their new MLM business.

And much like niche affiliate marketing, if you want to succeed in MLM, you should ideally have a social media page that is dedicated to your business, and post on it consistently to notify people about products, promotions, etc. This can also take a ton of time and hard work to do. Time, most people don't have in their daily lives.

And at the end of the day, if you do get a sale, you're only earning 2-3% from that sale. You need to do MUCH more to increase your sales volume to reach any actual decent amount of residual income.

The work involved, most people don't want to do when you explain it all to them. I did Scentsy for a while with my cousin, but, most of my friends debated joining me, once I sat down with my laptop and showed them what is involved to succeed, they ultimately said, "That's a lot of work to do, I don't want to do that."

In MLM if you can't recruit new team members, you're stuck at the basic level you're at within the company, forever. There's no room for growth. If you want to truly succeed within an MLM, it IS a FULL-TIME job to keep up with social media and promote your company to get sales.

The "sugar-coating" these companies tell people to allure them to join, is just that, a sales-y pitch. After that, it's up to YOU to do the work. And a LOT of it at that too!

There are better ways to make money though! :) Like here in WA!

Thank You Edwin for such a wonderful post! :) I have shared it with all my friends on Facebook as well! I think it really goes to show people the differences in niche affiliate marketing vs MLM business, and how one is truly better than the other in terms of making money.


Hello Cal,

You hit the nail on the head when you said your friends and family very quickly buy enough from you to stockpile their cupboards. Most will buy for a while to do you a favor. But when they see the products piling up, they decide enough is enough.

In MLM, by far the largest base for sales happens to be their own distributors. The compensation plan is set up in order to qualify for commissions on your downline sales, you have to make a minimum purchase yourself. Or see retail to people you know. That is why your friend wanted the family to buy stuff to help her maintain her rank in the company

A prerequisite to succeed in MLM is to work on oneself to become a leader who can ooze confidence in potential prospects. When they see someone who they feel is an expert and can help them learn, then they will join. You end up selling yourself first, before the company and its products.

That makes it a lot harder too.

Thanks for your insights.



I 100% agree with you there Edwin! MLM is a very hard business to be in. And unless you have the personal confidence to be in that business, or can learn from someone who does, and you end up becoming somewhat of a shell of your former less confident self.

It's a bit of a hoax in a way. You're selling your soul to a company that won't even pay you 2% in commissions. That's not a win in terms of you making $!?!? And a company that can replace you with another "rep" by tomorrow, just as easily as they would any other day of the week.

It's not my favorite business model. It turns non-sales-y people into badgering sales-y people usually, and your family and friends end up disliking you due to your sales-y persistence in your new-found personality.

It's not a viable long-term business in my opinion either.


Right on Cal!

Hi Edwin, I agree with the statistics about MLM; less than 1% earn 100k or more. The statistics are much more with affiliate marketing. Authority Hacker has stated that as of " 2023, 15% of affiliate marketers earn between $80,000 and $1 million annually." So there is the specific answer. You are right people should go into affiliate marketing rather than MLM. Affiliate marketing takes work. They must work daily to do so; however, the article says that about 58% of affiliate marketers earn less than 10k a month, which tells me that they struggle because of a highly competitive market.-Similiar stats from Partha- I didn't know he wrote it before me. Sorry if I repeated the info, but affiliate marketing is fierce and doable if they work hard at it.

Hi Brenda,

I appreciate your insightful response a great deal. Thanks!


I'm interested to read your responses, Edwin!


Hi Jeff,

There are some great responses here. I'm learning things I didn't know of. I appreciate your comment.


You're very welcome, Edwin! There are some good answers here!

Hope all is going well!


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