If you want to make money as a middleman between a customer and a product seller, you have two options; you can take up affiliate marketing, or you can get into the world of CPA. What’s the difference, and which is better?

Affiliate Marketing

First, let’s take a look at affiliate marketing. You’ve certainly heard of it; it’s all over the web. Affiliate programs are available for just about anything. Amazon has one, with their Amazon Associates program. Video games have them with benefits for players who sign up other players. Even small companies often offer affiliate programs, because paying a few bucks to customers to turn them into advertisers and brand advocates is cheaper than running comparable ad programs.

How Affiliate Marketing Works

The basic premise of an affiliate marketing program is simple. On one end, you have the customers. On the other end, you have the store, like Amazon, selling products. In the middle, you have the affiliate marketer. As an affiliate marketer, it is your job to curate a list of products in a given nice and do everything you can to sell them. This might mean writing reviews, it might mean creating user guides, it might mean advertising, and so forth.

Your goal as an affiliate marketer, with this website full of products and reviews, is to get users to use your affiliate-flagged link to purchase products. With Amazon, for example, you create links to a product with your affiliate ID appended to the end. From there, any product the user buys during that session of browsing counts as an affiliate purchase for you. You got the user there, so you get a commission out of whatever they buy. If you refer them for a $5 widget and they decide they need a $1,000 TV, you get a cut of that TV.

As an affiliate marketer, you have a lot of work to do to be successful. You need to build a website. You need to choose a niche. You need to research the hell out of that niche and find a place where you can succeed without unnecessary competition. You need keep that site up to date and making money. Most successful affiliate marketers also run wide networks of sites, so they have a number of different income streams.

CPA Marketing

Now let’s compare affiliate marketing with CPA marketing. First of all, what does CPA stand for? It’s Cost Per Action, or sometimes Cost Per Acquisition.

CPA is available for just about anything, the same way as affiliate marketing. You can find it for a variety of products and services, in a wide range of niches.

How CPA Works

One difference between affiliate marketing and CPA is that usually affiliate marketing comes from the manufacturer or seller of the products. CPA, on the other hand, comes from networks with a range of offers from various sellers, more like a marketplace than a single store. Becoming a part of, say, Joe Blow’s Affiliate Shack gives you access to just what Joe Blow sells. Becoming a part of a CPA network can give you access to a lot of different offers from various manufacturers in different niches.

CPA also doesn’t rely on a sale. You still have the same customer – CPA – seller layout, but instead of requiring a sale to get paid, you can get paid for other actions. They might be form fills, or email submissions, or sales calls, or ebook downloads, or app installs, anything else the seller wants. Essentially, you’re being absolved of the need to sell. Instead, all you need to do is hook the customer up with the sales people of the seller. Some CPA offers will give you a bonus if the sale happens, while most just pay you for the lead.