Affiliate Marketing vs Rank and Rent SEO: Which is Better?

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affiliate marketing vs. rank and rent seo

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If you’re here, it’s likely, you’ve heard about affiliate marketing and rank and rent SEO, and you might be concerned about how the business models vary, and which business model would work best for you. Here, we’ll be comparing affiliate marketing vs. rank and rent SEO, and discussing the pros, cons, and alternatives.

There is a huge population of people who want to learn how to make money online. Learning to make money online can help you to build a very lucrative income, it can give you more lifestyle freedom, and it can also give you more enjoyment with how your time is spent.

There’s many ways to make money online. There’s e-commerce, selling services, publishing eBooks, selling products on places like Amazon FBA or EBay, and the list goes on and on. The problem is when many people do their research, they get sucked into the promises “gurus” and course creators make, and they don’t really analyze the differences in the tasks they’ll have to do to make the various business models work.

Affiliate marketing and Rank and rent SEO are two very popular business models and if you haven’t heard of them or how they work, you should probably check out one of my other articles to get some context.

Recommended Reading:

In this Affiliate Marketing vs. Rank and Rent SEO, I will tell you:

  • What each is
  • How each works
  • Pros and Cons
  • What they each do well and they don’t
  • What others are saying (good and bad)
  • The Major Differences
  • My Recommendation
  • And, Alternatives (in case you want to do some additional comparisons)

To view this content in video format, check it out here:


What is Affiliate Marketing? An Overview

A woman studying about Affiliate Marketing

Like cold calling, social media marketing, video marketing, or paid advertising, affiliate marketing is a type of marketing that enables business owners to expose their products and services to new audiences. Unlike other types of marketing, affiliate marketing benefits merchants because they only have to pay for warm leads or sales (whichever criteria they set).

More people are growing interest into affiliate marketing as affiliates and as merchants because it’s really a win-win for both. Affiliates who master the fundamentals can make very lucrative incomes, and merchants can increase their # of customers without paying “out the wazoo” up front like they’d have to with direct mail, PR campaigns, or other marketing types.

In summary, there’s usually three parties involved: the merchant, the tracking software or affiliate network, and the affiliate or digital media company. Ideally, the merchant (who makes the products or services) will get more customers and sales, the tracking software or network will track each transaction and get paid for their service, and the affiliate will get paid for influencing an audience towards a buying decision.

What is Rank and Rent SEO?

Rank and Rent SEO works very similarly, but rather than this being a marketing strategy, this is more of a business model for a marketing agency. With this business model, you’d typically work with companies who don’t have an affiliate program, and may even be completely oblivious to the existence.

There are usually three parties in a rank and rent SEO equation: the merchant, the call or lead tracking software, and the marketing agency. In this equation, the marketing agency would build a website about a niche relevant to the merchant (which is typically a local business with a short sales funnel) and they’d track the leads transferred to the merchant, and charge for the service.

How Do I Get Started with Affiliate Marketing?

To get started with affiliate marketing, you’d pick an interest, build a website, get traffic to the website, and refer the traffic to relevant products and services to make money.

How Do I Get Started with Rank and Rent SEO?

To get started with rank and rent SEO, you’d pick a local business interest, get traffic to the website, refer the traffic to the local business merchant’s product or service, track the conversion action, and set up an accounts recievable process to collect the payments for your service.

Who is Affiliate Marketing For?

  • Those who like simplicity
  • Affiliates who want lots of flexibility with niche ideas or who want to create their website around their interest
  • Those who want the potential to work with multiple brands: product-based, SaaS, and service-based
  • Those who want to promote a cause
  • Those who don’t want to worry much about accounts recievables or billing
  • Those who don’t want to primarily implement a traditional sales model to get clients but prefer social media, video marketing, content marketing, and the like
  • Merchants who want leads, but they want to have an intermediary that’s not controlled by the marketing agency
  • Merchants who are willing to provide some follow-up so affiliates know about sales, promotions, and stay excited about promoting your brand

Who is Rank and Rent SEO for?

  • Those who want to work with local business owners and people who may not want to start an affiliate program
  • People who want to work with mostly service-based businesses
  • Those who don’t mind managing ccounts recievables or doing billing
  • Those who don’t mind implementing a traditional sales model (cold-calling, cold-email, door-to-door, or live networking) to get and retain clients
  • Those who want to help consumers find service-providers near them
  • Merchants who want leads and don’t mind being charged recurrently by the marketing agency for them
  • Merchants who may not want to provide follow-up like what would be required to run a salesforce or affiliate force–they want to passively get leads without much thought of theirs

What Tools are Required for Affiliate Marketing?

Most successful affiliate marketers use tools like:

  • Market research software
  • Websites
  • Web hosting
  • Landing pages
  • Training and education
  • Email marketing software
  • Analytics
  • Bookkeeping/invoicing software (optional)
  • Legal services (optional early-on)

Merchants who work with Affiliates use tools like:

  • Tracking software
  • Affiliate networks
  • Payment processors (like Stripe or Paypal)

What tools are Required for Rank and Rent SEO?

Successful Rank and Rent business owners use tools like:

  • Market research software
  • Websites
  • Web hosting
  • Landing pages
  • Training and education
  • Email marketing software
  • Analytics
  • Bookkeeping/invoicing software (less optional)
  • Legal services for contracts and review (less optional)

What Types of Training Programs are Available for Affiliate Marketing?

There are some affiliate marketing programs that are high ticket, there are seminars, some offer community support, some have software-as-a-service tools included, and some are simply digital courses. An affiliate marketing education can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. High end programs cost upwards of $10,000 and may not offer superior quality than their lower ticket counterparts. There are lots of options to choose from.

What types of Training and Support Communities are available for Rank and Rent SEO?

Rank and rent SEO is a smaller niche with less competition, and I personally think it’s why course creators are heavily emphasizing this model. The courses are charging $1000+ for education and higher for programs that offer some level of support (like Facebook group support).

What Does Affiliate Marketing Do Well

  • It offers a win-win opportunity to the merchant, affiliate, and optionally the network
  • It’s a low cost business startup
  • Fairly low overhead costs
  • Location freedom and time flexiblity
  • Not much client-facing activities or deadlines
  • Easily transferable or easy to sell
  • Passive income potential
  • No product creation and low customer support burden
  • Unlimited income potential
  • Very scalable

What Does Rank and Rent SEO Do Well

  • Moderately scalable
  • It offers a win-win opportunity to the renter and the marketing company
  • Moderately low cost startup
  • Moderately low overhead costs
  • Some level of time flexibility and location freedom
  • Moderately transferable (after lots of training because it’s a more rare business to transfer)
  • Passive income potential once a solid customer base is built
  • Moderate customer support burden
  • More of a cap on income potential because you’d require team building to scale the service

What Doesn’t Affiliate Marketing Do Well

  • For business owners who want to abdicate and don’t want any responsibility to communicate to their salesforce, affiliate marketing may not be the right option for them as merchants
  • For business owners without established brands, it might be harder to recruit affiliates
  • For those considering becoming an affiliate, but who don’t want to create content, they may not be suitable for affiliate marketing

What Doesn’t Rank and Rent SEO Do Well

  • Rank and Rent SEO doesn’t build an asset for the merchant
  • There are less niches to choose from for marketing agencies
  • There are less potential vendors to work with once you’ve built a website within a local niche
  • It’s a service-based business so it’s less transferable and harder to scale

Affiliate Marketing Review Roundup

Here is a roundup of reviews from affiliate marketers (of various skill levels) that describes their experiences:

Common Positive Feedback

  • I’m able to travel the world and make money while on vacation
  • My website is an asset for me to make money while I sleep
  • Affiliate marketing helped me quit my job
  • Working with affiliates blew up the sales in my company

Common Negative Feedback

  • It took me awhile to make money
  • It looks easy but it’s actually hard
  • Driving traffic is hard
  • Learning the tech stuff is hard
  • I don’t like writing
  • It took me awhile to succeed
  • Many people fail in affiliate marketing
  • You may not earn well
  • We added an affiliate program and had a hard time recruiting affiliates
  • We didn’t make money working with affiliates
  • I don’t understand the whole “affiliate marketing thing”

Most Helpful Positive Affiliate Marketing Review

Over the years I have worked with well over a million people in this space here within Wealthy Affiliate. I have seen just about every walk of life imaginable from someone struggling with their current situation, to a business that needs help within the online world, to doctors and lawyers that simply don’t love their careers and want an escape.

Kyle, Co-Founder, Wealthy Affiliate

Most Helpful Negative Affiliate Marketing Review

Your success in Affiliate Marketing is all about your SEO skills.

Trying to rank on the page 1 of Google is extremely competitive now in 2019 for affiliate marketers.

Its not like how it was in 2012, where you could write well-written review posts for obscure keywords like “Product name” + “review” and expect to rank on page 1 naturally.

Now you need serious amount of backlinks to get to page 1 and even then it can take up to a year to rank for affiliate keywords.

Ippei Kanehara

Rank and Rent SEO Review Roundup

Common Positive Feedback

  • I can make $5k or more per month from 1 client
  • I was able to quit my job and rent client websites
  • Lots of people want to learn about this business model so there’s lots of money to be made from courses that teach this

Common Negative Feedback

  • I tried pitching several local businesses to rent my website and no one wanted to
  • Some customers don’t want to pay when I invoice them, so I have to end the contract and find new clients. That’s a pain!
  • I’m creating content in a niche I don’t “like”, but I know this business type has money to pay me per lead. It’s a necessary evil
  • I have several clients so now, I have to also manage account managers
  • Clients ask alot of questions when they get less calls or inquiries from one month to another, and even consider working with other people
  • There’s lots of competition from companies who offer to build clients’ their own sites and rank them with SEO or manage their ads
  • Clients cancel because they want to own their own sites
  • It’s like property management in the offline world

Most Helpful Positive Rank and Rent SEO Review

I honestly prefer to rank local lead generation sites these days because in local all I have to do is beat like 10-20 local companies most of which don’t know what they’re doing.

With affiliate marketing competition is pretty steep because you’re competing with people nationally or from other countries even.

Ippei Kanehara, Ippei Leads

Most Helpful Negative Rank and Rent SEO Review

There are downsides and upsides to both models.

Rank and rent – You need to find a business to rent the site and charge a small monthly fee. When renting the site you need proof of calls and leads normally.

One downside is when the site is not rented the leads it is generating go to waste and some times it may never sell or rent.

Another is much smaller profit margin for some niches and keywords. Say you rent the site for $500 per month but it generates enough leads to sell them individually for $4k a month. Your leaving money on the table.

And another downside is the client is only renting and is not actually building equity in his own business with this model, they may buy the site at the end or may not.

Lead generation- You will normally profit more from lead gen I have found plus are providing more value. Leads can sell from $1 – $7 for shared leads (multiple companies per one lead) to $20 – $75 for exclusive leads depending on the niche.

One issue I have found is allowing the clients bill to add up after a few weeks and 50+ calls, they were not happy about the cost. 50 x $25 = $1,250 when they were expecting to pay much less ($300 or so?). You need a great tracking platform for calls, I use ACT and I record everything. This way when an issue comes up I have proof. I also do not charge for any call under 1 min or so again depending on the niche.

The price issue I only had a few times but I quickly rectified it. My solution was to charge for a leads package of say $500 and once the $500 is up round robin the calls and contact the client for payment for the next leads set. This was I was always prepaid before delivery. Wish I started with that motto.

Another issue is finding a person to buy the leads, I normally give away a few days worth of leads to show the quality and the value I bring. When a lead is not sold it is money wasted.

I used to do both of these models and sell the ranked sites as well but I now focus primarily on just SEO for many reasons. I do a little lead gen for a few people and of course for my own service based businesses I own but I will not do it on the scale that I once did.

Leadskiwi, Reddit

Affiliate Marketing Startup Costs

Affiliate marketing startup costs vary most likely in the education costs. Some people pay hundreds to learn affiliate marketing and some people pay tens of thousands. Aside from education, there are few other additional costs including:

  • Website domain(s) – up to $20 for most
  • Web hosting – up to $200/mo for most
  • Professional support – ranges
  • Professional development – ranges
  • Professional associations – ranges
  • Education – ranges up to $20k

I’d recommend affiliate marketers get all of these essentials included in a package offered at Wealthy Affiliate. Hosting, Professional support, Professional development, a Professional association, and even 1-on-1 coaching for $49/mo or $359/yr!

Rank and Rent SEO Price

Rank and Rent SEO startup costs are likely to vary more because there’s more tools needed and the sales funnel is likely to be longer in most instances.

  • Website domains – up to $20 for most
  • Education ranges – Most start a $1K
  • Web Hosting – up to $200/mo
  • Professional support – hard to find
  • Professional development – ranges

There’s a growing community of rank and rent SEO entrepreneurs at Wealthy Affiliate and I’m creating courses for them there as a result.

Major Differences Between Affiliate Marketing and Rank and Rent SEO

Affiliate marketing builds an asset for the merchant, network, and affiliate. Rank and rent SEO only builds an asset for the marketing agency. There are more companies to work with who are eager to work with you in affiliate marketing. There’s less comfort with rank and rent SEO, so you’d likely have to overcome more objections and negotiate more to build and sustain contracts.

My Final Opinion of Affiliate Marketing vs. Rank and Rent SEO

Both ranking a website and affiliate marketing can:

  • Generate high ticket commissions on a recurring basis
  • Create high income opportunities
  • Build sustainable incomes
  • Help clients
  • Make a positive impact
  • Create more lifestyle freedom or time freedom over time than alternatives (like having a job or choosing other more demanding business models)

As a result, I’d recommend affiliate marketing to some people and rank and rent SEO to others. Some people may even want to do both business models over time. My personal favorite of the two is affiliate marketing, but that’s because I like how transferable it is and how it’s not as client-facing.

Top Alternatives to GetResponse and Rank and Rent SEO

  • E-Commerce
  • Amazon FBA
  • Shopify
  • Lead Generation and charging per-lead
  • Local Business SEO and charging per service or for time
  • Freelance services

VERDICT: Both Solid Business Models (Depends on Your Comfort Level with the Features)


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10 thoughts on “Affiliate Marketing vs Rank and Rent SEO: Which is Better?”

  1. Hi Tiffany, 

    I’m glad you covered affiliate marketing and Rank & Rent SEO without bias. I was really looking for ward to know the difference of these platforms. I guess one factor to determine which of these two you can monetize effectively is none other than skills. Right now, I’m still a beginner when it comes to affiliate marketing but I know that a great article and keyword search can contribute a lot to get me into a good traffic and landing page which can get a few or many clients. With Rank and Rent SEO, I still don’t get how to even start with it. Don’t get me wrong, i understood all your explanations but I know it’s complicated for me. I may not have skills for it and learning about it aint easy because there are only few resource person who can train you for this. And it’s probably pricey. 

    I think both are promising online business. It’s a matter of how well you can work it to your advantage. Personally, i’m still holding on to Affiliate Marketing because I tried and experienced it. Yes, it will take time to generate income but since I’m new to this so I already expected it. Maybe in time, I can give time to Rank and Rent SEO once I am settled with Affiliate marketing. Thanks for a very clear, non biased comparison of the two platforms. I appreciate your effort on providing knowledge and information about these online businesses.

    1. I have to admit, I am a little biased. I have a favorite. Hahaha, but I didn’t want to present the information that way. Facts speak for themselves. I agree, it’s best to start with what you feel most comfortable with and build your skill level up from there. Best wishes with your business!

  2. I do agree with you Domena, that it all boils down to one’s level 

    of comfort when it comes to which business model is better in affiliate marketing and Rank and Rent SEO.

    Although I have always been confused as to how Rank and Rent Seo really works, your detailed article has not only cleared that for me but has also given me valuable insight as to how it operates.

    In my opinion, I believe Affiliate Marketing stands on top of the list, seriously I don’t even see any reason I would want to go into Rank and Rent Seo seeing how much hassles is involved.

    Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to say Affiliate Marketing is a piece of cake here, because it has its own hassles, if you don’t know how to get things up and running with the much needed time and effort, you could probably see yourself giving up on the long run.

    Secondly, you have to deal with a wider range of competition in Affiliate Marketing. But nonetheless, I still feel it’s better than Rank and Rent Seo.

    My humble opinion though.


  3. Hi Tiffany.

    Thank you so much for your precious content. You have nicely given a clear overview of Affiliate Marketing vs Rank and Rent SEO. You have nicely described what affiliate marketing is, what rank, rent and SEO are, how they works, what are the positive and negative feedback, why people fail in affiliate marketing and what are the problems and solution and so on. By reading your post I have learn many information about affiliate marketing, rank, rent and SEO. I think all the people who are working online should know about these topics.

    Finally tied to told that Affiliate Marketing, Rank, Rank, Rent, SEO all are good but we need to choose the suitable one for us. I think your post will help many people who are working in this and also for the interested people.

    Thanks again for sharing this precious post.

  4. This is a great breakdown of these 2 new and hyped up online business options which are very achievable for anyone entering this space.

    I agree affiliate marketing, whilst being potentially lucrative, is very hard to crack unless you are dedicated, patient, and willing to move and change through the process with your niche.

    The google page 1 aspirations for many will be tough, and potentially a pipedream only, but it is important to understand that persistency generally pays with this, and original and creative content is the way to achieve it.

    1. Yes, I agree about your comments on persistence. Most people who have been in the industry for awhile say the #1 reason people fail is from quitting too early. Great points!

  5. Gustavo Castillo

    Hi Tiffany
    I found you by mistake and I am glad I did. I have been in the Corporate environment for decades and the 7 to 7 is not appealing anymore.
    There are so many people trying to sell these two programs and in many cases these programs under deliver. some like local boss appears to be legit and the best of the programs out there but with only with one expensive source for monetizing makes it difficult to scale up. With all the information you have provided and I have been reading your reviews for a while. You have actually saved me thousands of dollars, many headaches and thousands of hours of trial and error. In a short time I will be contacting you to assist us in getting this process moving. Thank you and God bless you.

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