Do Affiliate Marketers Qualify As Entrepreneurs?

How to Write a Product ReviewJustin Brooke started a great discussion on Facebook a few months ago, asking if Affiliate Marketers qualified as Entrepreneurs.

I'm a Super Affiliate and earn the majority of my income online via Affiliate Marketing, so I found this topic very interesting.

You may be asking "Why does it even matter?" - and in fact, several people asked that very thing in the original thread. And while I'm not sure it does matter, some very interesting things came up in that discussion regarding the difference between making money online, being an entrepreneur, and being "just" a business owner...

Here are just a few responses to the question:

Does an Affiliate Marketer qualify as an Entrepreneur?

I liked the "Affiliates are just hustlers" comment. πŸ˜€ lol

My response? I said:

"A professional affiliate makes good business of bringing products to markets, and markets to merchants. And a smart affiliate marketer has a variety of revenue sources, with a business that serves a market to the point that it's independent of any individual revenue source or single merchant." -Lynn Terry

So what's the real difference between a small business owner, an entrepreneur, and a "hustler"?

A Small Business Owner wants a regular income, and the stability and enjoyment of being self-employed. They are content to make a good living and run their business doing the day to day tasks.

A Hustler is out to make a quick buck and "cash in" then "cash out". They aren't committed to a cause or a lifestyle, but rather money-focused and looking for the fastest, easiest way to make money online - with no real roots, or business to manage.

An Entrepreneur is a visionary, with a mission and a purpose larger than themselves - and their own life. They seek to make a difference, leave a mark, and add value to the world (or to a market).

(Those are my definitions and my thoughts - I'd love to hear yours!)

The best resource I found in that conversation was a link to this chart, outlining some of the main differences between a small business owner and a true entrepreneur...

Top 12 Differences Between A Small Business Owner and Entrepreneur:

Small Business Owners vs Entrepreneurs
-chart source

I found that chart very interesting, and very well done. It confirmed that I am indeed an entrepreneur, which of course I already knew. πŸ˜‰

I've been in business more than 17 years now, weaving through a variety of business models and markets - with two primary goals: to make a real difference, and to have the freedom to use my talents to do so.

A big part of that (for me) is for my life to mean something. To have a mission that fuels me, and something that gives meaning to the otherwise mundane cyle of eating / working / sleeping / etc that makes up everyday life.

Of course, I also wanted to create an ideal lifestyle for myself and my family (which includes two awesome children, and now two beautiful Great Danes). I wanted to be a full time parent and have an awesome career at the same time, and under the same roof. Mission accomplished!

working from home

I work from my home office, and often from my back deck as you can see in the photo above. I used to have an office and shop in the city, but for more than a decade now I've been working from virtually anywhere - from mobile devices in airports, with a beach view in Australia, on a gorgeous resort patio overlooking the mountains in Colorado, you name it!

Back when I still had clients (before I phased out my service-based business), I was "quiet" about my nomadic office space. I had my business line forwarded to my cell phone, and kept a professional "appearance" even if I was sitting poolside with my laptop. These days it doesn't really matter where I am - so long as I'm moving toward my goals - and I love that!

Writing A Product Review

I don't miss having an office, and I especially don't miss having "office hours". When I get bored with my home office, I grab a few things and go sit by the river to work - like in the photo above where I was writing my review of the Problogger Workbook.

Am I an affiliate marketer? Yes.

Am I a business owner? Yes. (The IRS agrees. lol)

Am I an entrepreneur? Definitely!

While labels don't really matter in the grand scheme of things, knowing who you are - or knowing your objectives, and knowing who you want to be - is definitely the key in reaching your goals in life.

Regardless of whether you're an "entrepreneur" or just a "hustler", I say go at it full-on! πŸ˜›

Your thoughts?


About Lynn Terry

Lynn Terry is a full-time Internet Marketer with over 17 years experience in online business. Subscribe to ClickNewz for the latest Internet Marketing trends & strategies, Lynn's unique case studies, creative marketing ideas, and candid reviews...moreΒ»


  1. Cool topic and post. I agree that affiliate marketers are definitely entrepreneurs. This especially applies to those that learn the industry, find success and then expand into becoming their own brand or launching new companies.

    • Daniel Dou says

      I agree too. πŸ™‚ But in order to avoid any confusion, I've created a new occupation classification for myself. I call it...


      I'm the first affilipreneur. But you can join me. And together, we will rule the world...

  2. Hi Lynn,

    Definitely agree that affiliate marketers are entrepreneurs. It's a lot of work, and planning and goal-setting! Yes, you could leave it at the small-business model, but I, too, want to make a difference with my website.

    Knitting may not be IM, but there is so much good that can be found in relevant, professional sites and that's where I'm headed!


  3. Hi Lynn,
    I love your article here. I've worked in corporate, in my own bricks and mortar business and now as an 'entrepreneur' having created a freedom lifestyle too. Even when things have been harder financially, I can't take myself away from this position of being able to make my own decisions, choose my own timeline and place of work. It's the absolute best - and when financial and personal goals and objectives are achieved, it's nice to have myself to thank for it (along with supportive mentors, team and associates of course :-)).

  4. That's Awesome Lynn!

    Other entrepreneurs must not say Affiliate marketers don't have a goal/s because they really have.

    I guess, virtual works are definitely amazing, unlike businessmen who work in an office with office hours and strict rules and etc.

    Well your list is good. There are big differences and the gap is like... wow! Small business owners are happier. πŸ˜€

    Well put all in all! Your post has been shared on, IM. social bookmarking site, enabling me to find. this good piece.m

  5. Excellent post..... From wikipedia "entrepreneurship is the process of identifying and starting a new business venture, sourcing and organizing the required resources, while taking both the risks and rewards associated with the venture." .. Sounds like an affiliate marketer to me

  6. Ryan Biddulph says

    Yep, because if you're selling something, and running your own biz, you're an entrepreneur πŸ˜‰ Keep sharing value and connecting, and you'll be just as much an entrepreneur as anybody else. Thanks!

  7. Shane Boyd says

    According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, an entrepreneur is "a person who starts a business and is willing to risk loss in order to make money." So I'll 2nd what Anthony said. That sounds like an entrepreneur to me. However, not ALL affiliate marketers are entrepreneurs. The sad fact is most of them have no idea what they are doing and they bounce around from one shiny object to another absolutely oblivious to "business" practices. Thanks for the pointers Lynn. I wouldn't be where I am without you. Cheers!

  8. Fantastic discussion, Lynn, and I appreciate your laying it all out without judgment. Affiliate marketers, small business owners, entrepreneurs -- all different with lots of intersections and commonalities and lots of value from each group.

    The whole discussion reminds me of something my father used to tell me every time I left home on a date: "Remember who you are and what you represent." That pretty much nails it whether you're out on a date or out in a business venture. You're right: the labels don't matter.

  9. Fantastic post. I'm certainly a believer that affiliate marketers qualify as entrepreneurs, especially if they think of themselves as one and act as such.

    ...Although I think most entrepreneurs will eventually desire to create their own product as well. Not only is it a heck of a lot more satisfactory, it also pays a lot more. No more middleman to take their cut. Or, if you desire, you can have other affiliates promoting your product for you!

    • Good point, James - product creation is a great strategy for Affiliate Marketers actually. You can use it to build a list of buyers, and of course make related recommendations (as an affiliate).

      That said, it's A LOT more work than Affiliate Marketing - in my personal experience. From creating the product, to selling & supporting it, recruiting affiliates, etc. Some people prefer to "keep it simple" and focus on Affiliate Marketing full time, which I did for years myself - which is totally cool.

      But yes, product creation can be a great additional source of revenue in an affiliate-based business, and a great way to make profitable new connections via JV's as well.

  10. Maurice Bernier says

    Well to get off topic a bit to start off Lynn, you got some cute feet happening here if you don't mind me saying so. πŸ™‚

    On the serious side of things, I'm not all for hustlers even if they can bring a huge list of clients into my business. Hustlers like has already been stated think to think of only the bottom line with regards to how much money they can make. They'll promote almost anything and everything to get the buck which can actually affect a business they might already be in on.

    I prefer to have a client/affiliate who actually cares about the members they bring into my business, will support and stay in contact with their referrals on at least a weekly basis. Hustlers just grow a list to sell too and can actually hurt their referrals by not having them concentrate on one business only. This will no doubt lead to mass confusion within his/her list.

    Even worse, they will tend to do JV partnerships and begin trading their lists to grow them. I for one will never do that simply because I believe all my clients emails should remain private. They have put their trust in you and you should pay special attention to that by being faithful to them in return.

    What do you think of this? Have I changed your mind maybe just a little bit Lynn?

    • LOL, thank you Maurice! πŸ˜‰ It's less a matter of changing my mind, and perhaps more a matter of clarification - in terms of how you define "hustler", or "how you hustle" yourself (if that's the case).

      For example, in the past I have tested a wide variety of methods to "make money online" - which, in my opinion, is completely different than running a sustainable online business. As one example, I used paid advertising (PPC) to promote products (via affiliate programs) outside any niche I worked in as a business. This is "hustling" in my book - ie "just turning over money".

  11. Maureen Williams says

    Hi Terry, I agree with your article that an affiliate/entrepreneur does see themselves as business owner only we have more freedom to do what we want, and when we want to do it. I have been an entrepreneur for many years. I finally found a home base business that I can say is something I have been looking for a long time. It's fun, and it allows me to meet many interesting people and I continue to grow my business. No more stress, strain or worry. I am enjoying what I do and love it.

  12. Merl Miller says

    I have been an entrepreneur in two other types of businesses and now I am an affiliate marketer. I owned a brick and mortar business and I was an insurance agent. Interestingly, the same arguments and comments are often made about insurance agents. There are as many "hustlers" who own brick and mortar businesses as anything else. I doubt that the loser who called affiliate marketers hustlers as every done anything other than complain. That said, there are some terrible sales approaches but that is to be expected in an infant business.

  13. Hello Lynn,

    I definitely agree that affiliate marketers qualify as entrepreneurs. They consider network marketers to be entrepreneurs so I don't see why affiliate marketers wouldn't be. Affiliate marketers are selling and promoting products. You are doing the same thing that businesses are doing. I have thought about this myself. Thanks for sharing this with us!

  14. As I see it the old inside the box job descriptions and titles have become interchangeable (doctor and business owner, Mom and contractor).

    Lynn has painted a good picture of the 12 differences between a small business owner and entrepreneurs. They have become interchangeable titles/descriptions we all have to transcend while outside the box, chasing the dream :

    Hustlers - dreams of being affiliated/selling the hottest products on the market
    Entrepreneurs- dreams of unlimited sources for funding/finding new products
    Small business owner - dreams of conquering national/international markets

  15. On another note, one of way of seeing it is ...

    ... it depends ...

    ... on your definition of entrepreneur.

    Of course, there are several of them. And it can differ from person to person depending on who you ask.

    But if your definition meets the criteria, then yes ... an affiliate marketer can qualify as an entrepreneur.

    On the other hand, it may not. πŸ˜›

    Just food for thought.

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