Affiliate or AdSense: Which Makes More Money?

When we consider affiliate marketing programs, one of the first questions that comes to mind is “Affiliate or AdSense?” This is like a trick question, however, because if you are a professional blogger like I am, you can’t afford to play with your recurring income, and you can’t afford to miss the opportunity offered by affiliate marketing, where the real money is.

Affiliate or Adsense

In this post I will share some of my experiences in this regard, and you can decide which is right for you: AdSense or affiliate marketing.

If you are new to affiliate marketing, you can read my post on:  how to start with affiliate marketing.

Let’s have a brief look at my model: I use affiliate marketing banners + AdSense + direct advertisements to monetize my blog.

There is a very common misconception that Google is against affiliate marketing, and this is not true. Google allows you to keep the affiliate link, but insists that you place it on a quality blog. If you publish low-quality content and place ten affiliate links within that low-quality content, no search engine bots will accept this shoddy work.

Things to know: AdSense vs. affiliate marketing:

  • It’s easier to get into an affiliate network than it is to get an approved AdSense account
  • Affiliate marketing pays more than AdSense
  • Most of the affiliate companies offer PayPal as a payment method, whereas AdSense does not.
  • You can find affiliate products for all niches, but AdSense is not allowed on certain niches.
  • AdSense offers recurring income, whereas affiliate marketing pays once per shot.
  • AdSense is managed by Google alone, whereas there are many large and small affiliate companies.
  • Affiliate ads are more attractive, whereas we don’t have control over AdSense ads.

Clearly, just from a look at the points noted above, affiliate marketing is more lucrative and beneficial than AdSense.  Still, before drawing your own conclusion, there are a few things you should know about affiliate marketing:

Affiliate marketing works only on certain pages, so every page of your blog will not be making money for you. AdSense, on the other hand, works even for those pages that do not work for affiliate marketing products. Adsense is a backbone for any blogger when it comes to making money online, because it keeps your cash machine flowing, though the payout per day is less than a single affiliate sale.

With one affiliate sale, you can make somewhere between $10-$100, depending on the product that you are pitching. In my case, the payment from one affiliate sale will be more than what I will be making with AdSense in a week.

One thing that I can do here is take down my prominent AdSense ad spots above my post, and replace them with any affiliate banner from within my niche. This can be risky, though, because it might perform very well…or it might not. If I end up making 5-7 sales a month, it will be better than my AdSense unit for that location. But if it is not, then I might end up making $0.

If you are like me and you rely on both AdSense and affiliate sales, I would suggest working on a combination of both AdSense and affiliate sales, done in the proper manner, so that you don’t become an affiliate market blogger.  With useful content, you will end up making some handsome amounts of cash by the end of the month.

Make sure your most clickable areas, like above the post and the sidebar 350 block, are covered with AdSense ads.

In my opinion, you can select these fields for affiliate placement:

  • 125*125 (sidebar)
  • 728*90 (header,Footer)
  • 468*60 (below the post, below comments, above comments)

Always remember that using the maximum AdSense unit does not guarantee maximum revenue. In fact, using 1-2 ad units mixed with links and search units yields better results.

Read: Can you use affiliate links with AdSense on your blog?

Do let me know your opinion. Which do you prefer…AdSense ads, affiliate banners, or both?

Update: 1 1/2 years after writing this post, I am here to let you know that affiliate marketing has worked better for me. Even with 1-2 banners, the conversion is high, because target visitors convert more for affiliate product sales.

Use the comments section below to let us know whether affiliate marketing or AdSense is working better for you.

If you find the information in this post useful, please share it with your friends and colleagues on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus.

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Article By
Harsh Agrawal is a blog scientist and a passionate blogger. He is blogging since 2008 & writes about Blogging, SEO, Make money online & tech. His blog, ShoutMeLoud receives 1 million Pageviews/month and have over 700K subscribers.

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COMMENTs ( 59 )

  1. Rama Krishna says

    Hi Harsh,
    I was looking for this type blogs and found here. I’m new blogger in market so how can be possible to earn money from blogs and how Adsense and Affiliate marketing will be possible on blogs. Plz give me as soon as possible suggestion. I am looking forward to you.

  2. Mike says

    Hello Harsh Agrawal,

    I am new in Google Adsense. I have added the code to my website. But, currently, I am thinking of other company like adsense.

    Does adsense allow other company ad camping too?

    Thanks
    Mike

  3. Manoj says

    Really a very nice and encouraging post for affiliate marketing along with adsense.
    But I have a doubt is it ok if someone starts affiliate marketing before adsense and later apply for adsense if it has been rejected previously.
    Appreciate your help in advance :)

  4. says

    Actually,

    The fact is Affiliate is not a fix income. Affiliate income doesn’t make sure how much you are going to earn. Whereas when it comes to adsense it always plays well if your site is good and has good number of traffic. Well, there is no limit of affiliate income but in Adsense there is.

    So on conclusion Adsense is good as a backup income and affiliate is good as the main source of “More”/”extra” income.

    Kudos to you harsh for this wonderful post!

    Aditiya

  5. says

    My website has adsense and now I am willing to add affiliate ads but I am confused if Google doesn’t allow me to keep both at a time.

    Is there any website which has both – adsense and affiliate? If yes, please send me the link.

    Thanks,
    Benojir

  6. Shaswat Shah says

    I believe affiliate marketing is far more better then just using adsense. Infact I am runing my blog since 4 months my traffic is low so from that I can’t earn more from adsense but I have earned quite well from affiliate links. All you need to do is build direct readers for your blog and they will follow you. :)

    Anyways thanks for this great article :D

  7. Saif Ansari says

    i think affiliate is better than adsense if your website most of visitor are come from us or Canada. right??

    • says

      @Saif
      It all depends upon what kind of blog and one traffic one have. You are right about the fact that U.S./Canada traffic works good for Affiliate, at the same time it works great for AdSense too. What really matter is, what kind of website you are running and what kind of affiliate program you are promoting.

  8. Arup says

    On the begining I was not able to think blogging without Google Adsense but as the time passed I started loving affiliate marketing and its quite enjoyable.

  9. says

    Affiliate is certainly much better but it is not as passive income as Adsense. I’ve sold a few HostGator hosting, some wordpress plugins and very few eBooks. The problem with Affiliate is that if you are busy with something else and could not promote the products consistently, you make NO MONEY at all!

  10. prabhat says

    hmm.seems like affiliate marketing is much better than adsense..applied for dreamhost and thesis affiliate and i think its not going to be easy to make some serious money with them.

  11. Ankur says

    hey harsh its very nice to read your blogs….they just motivate you not only in wirtting blog content but also to work hard in a right direction. i also have started my blog after knowing my interest and reading your blogs techburst.in
    can u please have a look onto it and after reading some of the content tell me wether should/can i take it forward?
    pls give me some advice….really looking forward to your reply

  12. Albert Paul says

    I prefer Adsense because adsense provides a steady income rate,Can we use Adsense and other affiliates together??

  13. Irfan says

    I were using one ad unit above content and were happy with the out come but then after hearing lot of voices from blog i started using few other ad units as well and again happy with the out come!

  14. ashish says

    YEs true but in case when there are less affilate or direct adverts person needs 2 depend on adsense primarily

  15. ismail says

    I only keep focus on adsense marketing.

    But affiliate marketing also good bussines to get some profit.

  16. Boy Nelson says

    Some gurus claim that they can make thoudand of dollars everyday by selling affiliate products. For me, it is tough to make even 1 cent.

  17. Kartik@DailyTechPost says

    Great article..but I think link & search ads pay very little as compared to other ad units…..

  18. Jaimee Maree says

    Hi,
    I actually have a question relating to the content in your article. (great article by the way) If you have created a blog with information about an affiliate product (and just general information to create interesting content) will adsense approve your blog even though you are an affiliate for another product on that site?

  19. wilson says

    I can’t say anything negative about either one, as long as you know how to leverage both of them, then you can really make some killer money, but its definitely harder with adsense.

  20. Vikash says

    I am using combination of both. As written in your post, Adsense is the backbone for any blogger’s earnings. I always play around with my affiliate links, But Adsense is the place where i get most of my revenues. So i dont risk it much.

  21. Basant | Techno-Pulse says

    AdSense is working well with me. No luck with Amazon’s affiliate till now. I also tried infolinks but it’s 1 month earning is equal to my 1 day AdSense earning. So, I discontinued it today after a month.

  22. Michael Aulia @CravingTech.com says

    Affiliate Marketing is more profitable but it’s harder to earn compared to AdSense. I’m doing a mixture, depends on the post I’m writing about but AdSense is quite alright although most visitors have gone blind nowadays with AdSense

  23. Rahul says

    You forgot to mention amazon, ebay and click bank. I got some success in amazon affiliates. Looks very promising if you can write nice things.

  24. MostlyBlog says

    i have also started with click bank so harsh can you tell me how it perform did you have any experience with theme?and if you can then please write one post on it.

  25. Anish K.S says

    for me i am using matrimony codes, for paid registrations i am getting 25$ and normal registration 1$.

  26. Arijit Das says

    Hash, i recently stepped to affiliate ads… I just want to whether ClickBank is best or any other affiliate links?

  27. Saeed Shahab says

    I haven’t so far added any ads to my new blog but infolinks, I am trying to build up content for now. What’s your opinion, whether to start with both affiliate and adsense or only adsense? I am planning to start with ads in a month or two.
    And why is the post dated 23 June 2010 where comments October 2009? Is this some repost?

  28. SQL Training says

    I too do the same things in my blogs, combine both Adsense and affiliate marketing. But I must say affiliate marketing does a better job for me

  29. Ziv says

    It is a BIG mistake to combine Adsense with any type of advertisment!!!!
    If you want to keep your Adsense CTR high, why lose readers attention to other atractions..
    (I wouldn’t even consider inserting CPM netwroks if I go with Adsense, as Adsense is CPC netwrok).
    If you want maximum consentration of your readers to your affiliate goods, than remove Adsense blocks and replace them with your affilate goods..
    Combination is like shoting in all direction (and missing).
    Sorry to say that this, but this is a mistake of so may newbies.
    cheers

    • says

      Thanks Ziv for your comment.. Well I won’t say it’s a big mistake.. Depending on your Adsense placement you can add different type of ads..
      Like 728*90 ad at header or Footer which can be CPM ad or affiliate ads…
      One thing which I strongly recommend never add lots of adsense ad units.. For me 2 adsense ad unit perform in comparison to 3.

  30. Rajesh Kanuri says

    although adsense performs.. one will have a lot of options to do with affiliate marketing.. but all depends on the products they choose to refer…

  31. techprism says

    Google the Search Engine Gaint, came up with the notion, called AdSense. The very best program till date.

  32. Phani says

    I’m doing good with Adsense till date.
    Haven’t yet tried any Affiliate programs. Will study them for some time and start :)
    Anyways, thanks harsha for sharing them . :)

  33. Rahul says

    I think people who don’t know, how to promote affiliate products should rely on adsense. Adsense can make more money and easiest after all.

  34. Shabnam Sultan says

    Thanks, for your post. Some sites do well with Adsense whereas some do good with affiliate ads . It all depends on the content.

  35. IndianCashMaker says

    well, it all depends on luck…if you are promoting a product of around $50(your commission), then just a single sale can fetch you amount equal to around 100 adsense clicks….but i prefer adsense as compared to affiliate banners

  36. Lee Ka Hoong says

    I personally think that both of them are good, I used to place both of them in my blog. For Adsense, I just earned about $20-$30 per month from this blog, and I earned better than selling banner ads.

    If you want to have a better layout for your blog, try not to use maximum adsense in your blog, it may annoy your readers. There is a wordpress plugin which you can enable Adsense ads to search engine traffic only, but I forgot the name, I try to get it and share it here. :)

    Thanks,
    Lee

    • says

      Lee Thanks for your comment and useful thoughts, In my case I run mix of both adsense/ Direct advertisement banner and Affiliate banner. Where adsense make almost 160-180$ for me, direct advertisement is 150$ for 3 blocks.. Meanwhile its mostly affiliate which works the best for me….

      meanwhile yes I know about that plugin, but I run a revenue sharing blog, thats why I could not rely on other plugin for now. Though I will love to know about that plugin :)
      Harsh

  37. George Serradinho says

    I use Adsense now and then, I enable it for a period and then disable it. I like the affiliate banners more as the payout is way more for me.

    This was a good read and this can be used for newbies as well as the professional.

    • says

      George Adsense works great when a blog has lots of traffic and obviously adsense placement matters a lot. In your blog its mostly Blogging and wordpress related article , so I guess affiliate will always works great for you.

    • Robbie Gee says

      Hey folks ;o) 1st time post on here & it won’t be the last!

      There is some great discussion going on here which is right up my street!

      None of my friends/ family are interested at all about this stuff but I love it!
      { It’s okay when I buy them gifts with the money I make huh! }

      I think adsense sucks, if your a affiliate marketer, it sucks your potential customers away, or most of them at least. This I have proven to myself & George touched on the subject above & it’s totally true! Think about it! Adsense is great if you have a high ranking blog or youtube video but, please, please DO NOT GET SUCKED-IN & stick it any old where! It really can cost you a lot of custom.

      Alll the Best, Robbie

      p.s I just noticed your reply below Harsh, Good job!

  38. Walter says

    I’m a little bit ignorant of affiliate marketing. But I’m learning. I will sure be careful in choosing the proper affiliate. Thanks for this informative post. :-)

  39. Sourish Nath says

    That was really a good information.Using up all 3 adsense ad blocks does not guarantee maximum benefit.Getting direct ads is not easy for new bloggers with low traffic.What do you think about using multiple ad networks

  40. Nitesh patel says

    very nice post harsh and quite good suggestion but don’t you think that the affiliate adds may be categorized by the post content like if we are writing for a gadget or technology let the adsense run and if we wite some review about some hosting or feature then affiliate adds may run on that post what you say?

    • says

      Thats very true Nitesh. Affiliate ads depend on the kind of posts you are running. For example you writing a review of some webhosting and at the same time, you running adsense, chances are high adsense will show some other webhosting ads, and guess what your reader click on ads and forget about your post. U lost a lead.. So I agree with your point.

  41. Stefan says

    Personally I feel both of them can be good for you. For an example I have a niche site about torrent sites and as you can imagine people looking for places to download movies often don’t want to buy anything. In that case I find Google AdSense working great. On my personal blog I write about WordPress and in that case affiliate programs works great since I have built up trust.

    If you have trust and the target audience are willing to spend money I recommend affiliate programs. If not I recommend Google AdSense. Often you are also able to use both of them.

    • says

      Thanks for your insight Stefan and I have to agree with it. Affiliate marketing works depending on the kind of site. For example at Shoutmeloud we have both kind of readers, so I run adsense mostly on posts which target non-buyers else no adsense on other posts.

  42. Deneil Merritt says

    Affiliate marketing is far more profitable. When building a blog, you want to gain followers that are buyers. Not just clickers!

    • says

      That’s true Deneil, it depends on what kind of subscriber and readers you have. If there are readers but with very less purchasing power, you will have less luck with affiliate. Thanks for your insight.

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