Dropshipping and Affiliate Marketing are two different online business models, though having said that there is some crossover in the skills required to make them successful. Explicitly, Dropshipping is where you sell an item online, typically on an ecommerce site of your own, you then get that order fulfilled by a supplier, and you pocket the difference between your sale price and the cost from the supplier. Affiliate Marketing on the other hand, is where you create content, link back to a vendor website, and if a customer clicks on your link and buys a product, you receive a commission for sale.

Describe Dropshipping

As you can see Dropshipping requires you to have an ecommerce store of some description, whether it be through shopify, woocommerce or another online platform, where you list dropshipping products for sale. A classic example of this might be an ecommerce site based around yoga, and you list yoga mats of different types and styles which you then source from a dropshipping marketplace such as Aliexpress. Obviously this is a very simple example, and to be successful in dropshipping it’s worth exploring possible niches and suppliers and analyzing them objectively.

Do I need a website?

Affiliate marketing does not require a website, though it definitely it can be most easily done if you do have one. Some forums and social media platforms do allow you to post affiliate links in your content though it’s really a case by case basis per platform. For example, Youtube allows affiliate links in the video description.

Dropshipping does require a website, but don’t be alarmed if you are a technical noob, there are some fairly simple ways to start an ecommerce site, though the level of complexity is really how long is a piece of string. A subscription platform such as Shopify is a simple way to start in this field; it’s interface can be fairly easy to start with. Personally I much prefer the wordpress / woocommerce platform, though this has a steeper initial learning curve. If you’re completely stuck, look on a services exchange such as Fiverr for someone who can build out the site for you.

How are Dropshipping and Affiliate Marketing Similar?

So, when you ask ‘is dropshipping affiliate marketing?’ my answer is no, they are distinct online business models. They do however require some similar skills – one of the main ones for example for both online business models is to drive traffic to either your ecommerce store with dropshipping products; or your content with affiliate links. I have gone deeper on the skills necessary for both dropshipping and for affiliate marketing in my main article, affiliate marketing vs dropshipping. Skills with good crossover between the two business model are encouraging conversion of sales, customer retention amongst others elaborated in the main article linked above.

What are the big differences between Affiliate Marketing and Dropshipping?

In affiliate marketing, you are recommending other peoples products, and you receive a commission when someone you have referred buys a product. In dropshipping you are making a sale and instructing a supplier to fulfill that order. Dropshipping gives you control over price and margin, affiliate marketing does not. Dropshipping also potentially requires some customer service and supplier communication.

I hope this helps clarify for you that Dropshipping is not Affiliate Marketing, though there are some broad similarities between the two popular online business models.

Affiliate Disclaimer: In case you were in any sort of doubt, yes, I’m an Affiliate in some manner for some of these programs and products. I like to practice what I preach. If you are intending to utilise any of these offers I’d love if you went through one of these links to support my site.