Affiliate Marketing Vs. Print-on-Demand: Exploring E-commerce Options

As the world continues to embrace the digital age, more and more people are turning to e-commerce as a way to make a living. With so many options available, it can be tough to decide which route to take. And that’s where we come in. In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into two popular e-commerce options – affiliate marketing and print-on-demand. We’ll explore the pros and cons of each, and hopefully, by the end of this article, you’ll have a clearer picture of which option is right for you. So if you’re ready to explore the world of e-commerce, buckle up and let’s get started!

Affiliate Marketing

ConceptThe process of promoting other people or companies products and earning a commission on each sale made through your unique referral link
InvestmentLow investment cost as the affiliate doesn’t need to create or purchase products to promote
MarketingAffiliates need to apply their promotional techniques to attract potential customers to the advertiser’s product/service
ProfitabilityCould potentially earn high commissions by promoting high ticket items or recurring monthly products/services
ControlThe advertiser retains control over their product/service, pricing, marketing, and branding


ConceptThe process of creating unique designs or products that get printed on demand and shipped directly to the customer
InvestmentLow investment cost as the entrepreneur doesn’t need to keep an inventory of products
MarketingThe entrepreneur needs to apply their promotional techniques to market their unique designs or products and attract potential customers
ProfitabilityCan earn profits through a markup on the print-on-demand supplier’s base cost for creating and shipping the product
ControlThe entrepreneur retains creative control over their designs/products, branding, marketing, and pricing

Affiliate Marketing vs. Print-on-Demand: Exploring E-commerce Options

Affiliate Marketing and Print-on-Demand

When it comes to e-commerce options, Affiliate Marketing and Print-on-Demand have become popular choices. While they differ in their approach, both have proven to be effective in generating revenue for businesses.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate Marketing is a performance-based marketing strategy that involves promoting the products of other businesses and getting a commission for every sale made through your referral link. The idea is to leverage the trust and influence of the affiliate to redirect their audience to the product being sold.


  • Requires little to no upfront investment
  • Can be done from anywhere
  • Offers potential for high revenue
  • Provides a passive income stream


  • Requires a significant audience reach to be effective
  • Commission rates may vary and are not always reliable
  • May require building relationships with several businesses

Key Points:

  • Affiliate Marketing can be done with various platforms, such as Amazon Associates, ClickBank, and ShareASale.
  • Measuring affiliate performance can be done using metrics such as clicks, impressions, conversions, and revenue generated.
  • Affiliate Marketing is compatible with other e-commerce models, allowing affiliate marketers to sell and promote their own products.


  • Easy sign-up process
  • Access to various products and companies to promote
  • Customizable links and banners
  • Real-time reporting and tracking


Print-on-Demand is an e-commerce model that allows businesses to create and sell custom designs on merchandise, such as t-shirts, mugs, and phone cases. The idea is to offer unique and personalized items without having to invest in production and inventory.


  • Requires little to no upfront investment
  • Offers flexibility and quick turnaround time for designs
  • Allows for niche and personalized products
  • Reduced risk of overproduction and unsold inventory


  • May require a higher profit margin to be profitable
  • Quality of products may vary and depend on the supplier
  • Competition can be high in popular niches

Key Points:

  • Print-on-Demand businesses can use platforms such as Printful, Printify, and Teelaunch.
  • Measuring Print-on-Demand performance can be done using metrics such as sales, click-through rate, and customer retention rate.
  • Businesses can experiment with multiple designs and products without having to commit to inventory.


  • Customizable products and designs
  • Integration with various e-commerce platforms
  • Automated Order Fulfillment
  • Shipping and handling taken care of by the supplier

Research and Performance

According to a survey conducted by Mediakix, affiliate marketing spending is projected to reach $8.2 billion by 2022. The report also noted that 81% of brands use affiliate marketing to increase sales. Print-on-Demand, on the other hand, has a projected market size of $10 billion by 2025, according to ResearchAndMarkets.

While both Affiliate Marketing and Print-on-Demand have been proven to be effective in generating revenue, their success largely depends on the individual strategies and marketing efforts of the businesses using them. Affiliate Marketing can offer high revenue potential with little financial investment, but requires a significant audience to be effective. Print-on-Demand offers flexibility and the ability to experiment with various designs without committing to inventory, but requires a higher profit margin to be profitable.

Considerations and Suggestions

When considering either Affiliate Marketing or Print-on-Demand as an e-commerce option, businesses should consider their target audience, niche, and marketing strategy. Businesses with a significant and engaged audience may find Affiliate Marketing to be more effective, while businesses with a focus on unique and personalized products may find Print-on-Demand to be a better fit.

It is also important to do extensive research on each platform, including their commission rates, product quality, and user experience. As both eCommerce options require minimal upfront investment, businesses can also consider experimenting with both to determine which is more effective for their specific niche and audience reach.

Affiliate Marketing vs. Print-on-Demand: Exploring E-commerce Options

Guidelines for Using Affiliate Marketing vs. Print-on-Demand: Exploring E-commerce Options

1. Understand the differences between Affiliate Marketing and Print-on-Demand

It’s essential to know the differences between Affiliate Marketing and Print-on-Demand to choose the e-commerce option that best suits your business needs. Affiliate Marketing involves promoting other people’s products and receiving a commission for each sale made through your unique referral link. Print-on-Demand is a service that allows you to design and sell custom-made products without holding inventory.

2. Choose the right platform

Choosing the right platform can be the difference between making a sale and losing a customer. Consider the platform’s features, audience demographics, fees, and marketing tools before choosing. Popular platforms for affiliate marketing are Amazon Associates, ShareASale, and Commission Junction, while Print-on-Demand platforms include Printful, Teespring, and Redbubble.

3. Build a strong marketing strategy

A strong marketing strategy will help you stand out from the competition and reach your target audience more effectively. Consider using social media, email marketing, content marketing, and paid ads to promote your Affiliate Marketing or Print-on-Demand products. Make sure your marketing efforts align with your brand’s values and target audience.

How to Create an Affiliate Marketing Strategy for Your E-commerce Business?

Step 1: Understand your products: Identify the products you want to promote through affiliate marketing and analyze your target audience’s needs.
Step 2: Identify potential affiliates: Find potential affiliates who share your target audience and offer a commission structure that aligns with your budget.
Step 3: Create a promotional plan: Develop promotional copies, graphics, and landing pages that affiliates can use and provide them with useful resources to promote your products.
Step 4: Track and optimize your affiliate program: Track your affiliate program’s success, gather feedback, and optimize your program by offering incentives, bonuses, and better commissions to your high-performing affiliates.

How to Start a Print-on-Demand E-commerce Store?

Step 1: Choose a print-on-demand platform: Research and pick a print-on-demand platform that meets your business needs and aligns with your budget.
Step 2: Design and upload your products: Create your products’ designs or hire a designer to do it for you. Then, upload them to the platform and set the pricing, descriptions, and tags.
Step 3: Create your storefront: Customize your storefront’s design and layout with your brand’s identity and create a navigation structure that is user-friendly and encourages sales.
Step 4: Launch your store: Once you have finished designing your store, you can launch and start promoting it through paid or organic methods.

How to Combine Affiliate Marketing and Print-on-Demand For Your E-commerce Business?

Step 1: Choose a print-on-demand platform that allows affiliate marketing integration: Look for print-on-demand platforms that offer built-in affiliate marketing functionality or that easily integrate with affiliate marketing platforms.
Step 2: Set up your affiliate program: Create a commission structure that incentivizes affiliates to promote your products and offers them an easy-to-use affiliate dashboard.
Step 3: Provide affiliates with promotional tools: Give your affiliates access to promotional materials, such as graphics, description copies, and product links, that they can use to promote your products.
Step 4: Promote Your Affiliate Program: Publicize and promote your affiliate program to your target audience through social media, email marketing, and paid advertising.

How to Measure and Track Performance of Affiliate Marketing and Print-on-Demand E-commerce Options?

Step 1: Identify key performance metrics: Identify the most critical performance indicators (KPIs) for your business, such as traffic, sales, conversion rates, and revenue.
Step 2: Use analytics tools: Use analytics tools such as Google Analytics, AffiliateWP, or ShareASale to measure your KPIs and gather insights into your performance.
Step 3: Analyze data and optimize: Analyze your data regularly to identify trends, strengths, and areas of improvement. Then, optimize your campaigns to improve the performance using A/B testing, targeting, and different ad formats and designs.

How Print-on-Demand and Affiliate Marketing boost E-commerce revenues?

Step 1: Print-on-Demand: With print-on-demand, businesses can offer more product options to their customers without having to carry inventory and increase the conversion rate by creating personalized products, which often result in increased revenue.
Step 2: Affiliate Marketing: Affiliate marketing enables e-commerce businesses to reach a larger audience by leveraging the audience of affiliates, resulting in increased traffic, sales, and revenue.
Step 3: Combining Print-on-Demand and Affiliate Marketing: Using affiliate marketing with print-on-demand can help businesses increase their reach, traffic, sales, and revenue as more affiliates promote their customized products.

FAQs for Affiliate Marketing vs. Print-on-Demand

1. What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a type of performance-based marketing in which advertisers pay affiliates commissions for promoting their products or services. Affiliates earn money by promoting the products and services of other people or businesses, and they receive a commission for each sale that they generate.

2. What is Print-on-Demand?

Print-on-Demand or POD is a type of e-commerce business model in which printing products like t-shirts, mugs, phone cases, etc. are created after the orders are placed on the website. Print-on-Demand allows you to create your unique designs and sell them online without having to invest in inventory or equipment.

3. How can I make money with Affiliate Marketing?

To make money with affiliate marketing, you need to promote the products or services of other businesses or people through your website or social media channels. When someone clicks your affiliate link and purchases the product, you get paid a commission on the sale. You can earn a commission ranging from 10-50% of the sale price.

4. What are the benefits of Print-on-Demand?

Print-on-demand is a popular choice for e-commerce because there are many benefits of this business model, including: no initial investment required, no inventory management, easy scalability, low overhead costs, the ability to sell personalized products, and an eco-friendly business model.

5. Which one is better – Affiliate Marketing or Print-on-Demand?

The choice between affiliate marketing or print-on-demand ultimately depends on your goals and the products you want to sell. Affiliate marketing requires little effort to get started and can have high-profit margins, but it requires patience and perseverance to build a following. Print-on-Demand requires little upfront investment and offers flexibility in designing and selling products. It ultimately depends on your preferences and business goals.

In conclusion, both Affiliate Marketing and Print-on-Demand are viable options for those looking to explore the e-commerce market. While Affiliate Marketing offers the potential for high commission rates and minimal upfront costs, Print-on-Demand provides a creative outlet for designers and the ability to control the quality of their products.

Ultimately, the decision between the two comes down to personal goals, skill sets, and priorities. Those who are skilled in digital marketing and have a knack for promoting products may find success in Affiliate Marketing, while those with design or creative backgrounds may find Print-on-Demand to be a better fit.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that both options require hard work, patience, and dedication. Success doesn’t come overnight in the world of e-commerce, but by understanding your target audience, creating quality products, and marketing effectively, you can turn either option into a profitable business.

In closing, we recommend taking the time to thoroughly research both Affiliate Marketing and Print-on-Demand before making a decision. Consider your skills and interests, as well as the potential market demand for your chosen niche. With the right mindset and effort, either option can lead to a successful and fulfilling e-commerce venture.

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