Guest Post by David Lau, owner of Smart Income Today

adsense or affiliate marketing

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Can You Make More Money With Adsense or Affiliate Marketing?

There are many different ways to monetize your blog traffic and the two that come up quite frequently are AdSense and affiliate marketing.

So, what’s the difference between Adsense and Affiliate Marketing and which makes the most sense when it comes to monetizing your blog traffic? Click To Tweet

Can you expect to make more money from AdSense or Affiliate marketing? Which should you be focusing your time more on?

The short answer is that you can make money from both Adsense and affiliate marketing, but affiliate marketing is where you’ll want to be focusing more of your time as you’ll see much greater returns!

In this post, I will go over in more detail the benefits and downsides to each.

What Is Affiliate Marketing?

Before breaking out the pros and cons to each, what is affiliate marketing? Affiliate marketing is when you help a business sell its products and they give you a commission for each sale you help drive. Businesses are able to know which of their sales were because you promoted them because of a specific URL they give you.

For example, if you’re a blogger who writes about snowboarding and recommends a snowboard that your audience can buy on Amazon, you’ll make a percentage on each sale.

Among many different ways to build an online business in affiliate marketing, blogging and creating YouTube videos are popular methods.

Don’t have a blog? Check out this step-by-step guide on how to start a blog.

What Is Google AdSense?

On the other hand, you can say that Google AdSense is much less complicated. It’s easy to set up and understand. With just a few clicks, you can start serving ads to your blog traffic.

AdSense is a Google product, which means that it operates on A LOT of data.

It knows when to serve what type of ad to which type of person. There’s no thinking that you need to be doing on your end – you can just let Google do its thing.

AdSense pays you every time someone clicks on an ad. Super simple.

Benefits of Affiliate Marketing

1. You can choose what you promote.

Because there are so many different affiliate offers in different niches that you can choose from in the marketplace (ie. travel, health and fitness, etc), you can look for offers that specifically cater to your audience.

If you have a blog on snowboarding, then you can promote products that specifically interest your audience and earn revenue from those sales. You can also choose products to promote that you know have a high payout.

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There are many platforms where you can browse for different products such as Clickbank, Commission Junction, and Shareasale.

2. Build a relationship with the business.

As you continue to drive sales to a business, it will make a lot of sense to build a long-term relationship with them. For example, the business may provide you with an exclusive discount code that you can then offer to your audience.

This helps increase the value you are offering to your audience and increases the sales you are driving for the business. Win-Win.

In some cases, if you’re really doing a good job promoting the business, they may even create a custom landing page for you. You can see Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income have a custom landing page with his face on it when his audience clicks his affiliate link.

3. Keep tabs on the affiliate data.

Many of the affiliate offers you sign up with provide you with a data dashboard. You can see how many clicks you drove, the conversion rate of those clicks, and more.

You can use this information to determine which of your many affiliate offers you should spend more time promoting.

For example, if you see from your analytics that you’re sending hundreds of clicks to this one promotion, but not getting any sales, then maybe you’ll want to swap out another high-converting product. Or maybe you want to promote something else entirely.

4. Recurring affiliate programs.

One of the amazing parts of affiliate marketing is the recurring offers. For these offer types, once you refer someone to use a monthly subscription software, you’ll get paid every month a commission as long as the user stays signed up.

Examples of these are Clickfunnels, Convertkit and the Bloggers Glitterati VIP Membership Hub. As you can imagine, this monthly commission can really add up as you get more and more people to sign up and purchase with your link.

Personally, as an affiliate marketer, I enjoy recurring offers more because it’s a form of passive income. I don’t like to only make money once and then never again after.

At the end of the day, you can promote both recurring programs and one-time commission offers, but you may want to focus on one type over the other.

Here’s a comprehensive list of recurring affiliate promotions that you can choose from.

5. The sky is your limit. Achieve massive scale.

Because you have complete control over how you want to advertise with your customized URL, you can get users to purchase through your link in various ways.

You could create courses that ask students to use a tool that you are an affiliate of.

You can send emails to your audience specifically recommending the use of a certain product.

You can make a YouTube video reviewing a product.

The opportunities here are endless to increase the revenue you make from the promotion of an affiliate offer.

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The Downsides To Affiliate Marketing

The biggest issue with affiliate marketing is that the market can be quite saturated.

You can oftentimes find yourself promoting a product along with 1000s of other people which definitely challenges you to find ways to stand out and get people to sign up and purchase with you instead.

Another potential issue is that some high-commission affiliate offers require you to be a monthly member and make payments yourself in order to promote the product, which is not ideal.

However, this isn’t a big problem since there are so many affiliate programs out there you just need to choose the one that you look and are comfortable with.

Benefits of AdSense

AdSense is easy to set up.

AdSense is incredibly user-friendly. You can get AdSense set up in less than an hour (maybe even less) even if you have no sort of coding experience.

You get paid for every click.

Every time someone clicks on your ad, you get paid! The payment structure is much simpler when compared to affiliate marketing in that you don’t have to worry about whether or not the person who clicked ended up purchasing the product.

Your job is to get as many people seeing your ads as possible so that as many people click as possible.

Free to use.

There are affiliate offers that require you pay in order to promote their products. With AdSense, you don’t have to pay anything as it’s free to use.

Shows relevant ads for you.

With Google being the data beast it is, you can just flick the switch and have ads that are relevant to your audience be shown.

Google usually does a solid job of vetting scammy ads and making sure that the ad experience makes sense for the consumer. So you won’t have to worry about having porn/gambling ads randomly pop up on your site.

Remember, it’s in Google’s best interest to have bloggers like you set up AdSense on their site. They don’t want you to have a bad experience or else they’ll lose ad space for their advertisers.

No requirements.

As long as you have traffic, you can run AdSense. You don’t need a product or meet any sort of minimum requirements. Have a site? You can run AdSense.

With some affiliate promotions, they have certain restrictions and requirements. You don’t have to worry about any of that for AdSense.

Downside to AdSense

The biggest issue with AdSense is that there is no predictability and it is essentially a black box.

You can run it on your site and show AdSense ads to your audience, but you have no control over how much you make per click or per thousand viewers.

In order to make serious revenue every month from AdSense, you need hundreds of thousands of monthly visitors.

On the flipside, with affiliate marketing you can be choosy with the affiliate offers you promote. Naturally, you won’t want to promote the offers where you’re only making $1-2 per sale, but the promotions where you’re making $50+ per sale. Big difference!

Another potential downside of AdSense is that you don’t exactly have granular control over where the ads show up.

You can control generally where they’re allowed to display (ie. at the bottom of the mobile screen, at the top of your page), but you can’t get more specific.

To those who are picky with design and like things a certain way, this can be a turn-off.


With affiliate marketing, you have much more control over how you market products and also how much you make from promoting a product.

You can build a very solid business with affiliate marketing even with a relatively small audience base.

However, with AdSense, you need a massive audience base in order to make serious revenue.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t hurt to have both as forms of monetizing your traffic, but you’ll want to be focusing more of your time around affiliate marketing.

Author Bio:

David Lau is the owner of Smart Income Today where he helps aspiring entrepreneurs build an online business that gets them excited. Previously, he led growth at a company and managed a multi-million dollar marketing budget. He helped them see double-digit growth that helped secure $22M in fundraising.

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