Affiliate marketing: Physical Products vs Digital Products

One of the most common ways to make money is to sell something. People buy stuff all the time. Whether it’s a cup of coffee on your way to work or a new T-shirt just because it looked cool, we all buy stuff.

But those are regular products. Common. You’re surely not going to open up a Coffee shop (I suppose). Not everybody wants to make a commitment of this size. The thing is, nowadays, you don’t have to.

I’m pretty sure you’ve heard of Affiliate Marketing. You haven’t? Well, maybe you’ve heard of real estate agents or insurance agents? Why would they try to sell you that house or insurance? It’s not theirs so what’s the point? It’s because they get a commission on each sale. That’s what affiliate marketing is. Promoting other people’s products for a commission.

What do I need for affiliate marketing?

Obviously you need a product to promote. Most of the gurus online teach you what to do after you’ve picked products. They don’t realise that picking a good product might be a huge challenge for beginners. You want to make sure you’ve chosen a product that is appropriate for your type of business. 

But how? Well, firstly, you’ve got to decide whether it’s going to be a physical or a digital product.

In this article I’m going to provide you with a detailed description of each category. The point is not to tell you which one to choose. The point is to show you both the advantages as well as disadvantages of each type of products. I hope that after reading this article you’ll be able to choose a good product for your business model.

a picture of a girl holding a book near a  sea, with book being an example of a physical prduct

Physical products

Those are the products that you can touch (duh).

Such products are more common in the world. They are everything. From some cheap pendants, through mugs, clothing gadgets all the way up to houses and cars.

Of course, when selling a house as a real estate agent you need more than just a blog or an email list, so that’s not what I’m going to focus on.

You need to think about the way you’re going to promote the products.

If you’re thinking about starting a youtube channel concentrated around games and stuff for gamers, it might be a good idea to promote keyboards, mouse pads, maybe video monitors or even PCs. 

The point is, think about your possibilities before you start a brand or a business. 

I mean, it’s hard to succeed in affiliate marketing when you’ve chosen a niche that has few products you can promote.

Niches like health, wealth and relationships, as well as toys, gadgets and books are niches that are very competitive. They offer an incredibly wide array of products to choose from, but it’s also incredibly hard to get through the competition. Sad thing is, If you have been told something, chances are, you’re not the only one aware of it. 

On the other hand, If a niche is of little competition, there might be less products to choose from. Also, if there’s not much competition, the niche is either new and growing (so you have to hurry) or there is not much interest in it. 

Top niches are highly competitive and have a wide choice of products. They also get a lot of searches and attention.

Lower tier nieces are barely competitive, with a more narrow choice of products and less traffic.

You have to make sure you’ve considered it when thinking of niche to go for. I’d recommend middle ground, because it might be nearly impossible to get through the competition if you go for top niches like health, wealth and relationships. On the contrary, if you choose a niche where there’s not much competition, there also is not much traffic (interest) and not many products to choose from.

Both these scenarios may end up in you working for an insufficient wage. That’s why recommend going for the mid tier niches. There is competition, but only enough for you to get inspiration and learn on their mistakes. Look what’s wrong with their business and make your flawless. There is also a decent choice of products. 

It’s up to you what niche you choose. Just keep in mind that regardless of the niche, you’ll have to put in a lot of work.

Where can I find physical products? 

Primarily – Amazon. Amazon’s Affiliate program allows you to promote every product you can find on amazon.

Apart from that, There also is, one of the more popular affiliate networks with physical products. 

If any of these networks doesn’t suit you for some reason, You can always resort to direct affiliate programs. Find a product you’d like to promote and check whether it’s owner has the affiliate program. For instance, if you run a YouTube channel about bicycles, find a bicycle company that offers affiliate association. 

The advantages of physical products.

There are people who are a bit sceptic when it comes to buying digital products. They feel like those might be a scam. That’s why they are more likely to buy physical products. They’d rather buy a book than an ebook, or go and have a course where there are actual people instead of buying a video course. Of course, this is only a fraction of people.

The main advantage of physical products over digital is the fact, that some products simply can’t be digital. Products like kitchen faucets, shovels, clothing etc. Those are physical products with no equivalent in the digital form.

Pretty much every product that is listed on amazon can be your product to promote. Amazon’s Affiliate Program allows you to create links to every product in their stores. And I’m sure that everybody knows Amazon and trusts them.

Physical products can also be a great low cost entrance product in the sales funnel. By selling something cheap and physical you build trust with a customer, so later it’s easier for you to upsell them expensive high ticket products, which are mostly digital (but don’t have to be).

Another good thing with physical products is the price range. You can find products as cheap as a can of coke, and as expensive as a car. There is a product for pretty much every price you need.

Moreover, there’s simply a lot more physical products than digital. Digital products are mostly Courses, Ebooks, membership sites, maybe media and software, while physical products are everything you can think of. There is much more to choose from. There surely is a wider choice of niches and products.

The disadvantages of physical products.

The main disadvantage of physical products is shipping. The things you promote and sell have to be delivered to a customer. While you live in the states and order something off Amazon, it’s usually a couple of days. What about different nations? Maybe overseas shipping? It usually takes much more time. It’s a major drawback. It limits your audience. From worldwide english-speakers to one or two countries. 

Imagine you’re being advertised a product and you’re convinced to buy. You go to the checkout page and it’s either $20 bucks more for shipping or 90 days delay. So you quit. And that’s what most people would do. If a person wants to buy a product, they search for it and face obstacles such as shipping. On the other hand, If you want to sell them a product, you need to make sure it’s as convenient as possible for them, or else they just won’t bother.

Along with shipping comes personal data. You have to enter your address, so that they know where to ship the product. However, there are people who tend to be cautious about their personal info and unless they trust a vendor, they won’t buy. 

a picture of kindle ebook reader, wth ebook being an example of a digital product.

Digital Products

These are the products that are non-material (duh).

Such products have become a wonderful replacement for a standard physical ones, at least in the field where it is possible. Although you can’t replace a t-shit by a digital piece, you can read a book in an electronic format.

Digital products are, for instance:

  • Ebooks
  • Online courses
  • (stock) Photography (and video) 
  • Video games and movies
  • Subscription and memberships
  • Software
  • Web hosting

Digital courses, ebooks and generally products that allow the customer to gain value, learn skills or share their experience within a membership group are called info products.

The thing with niches and competition is the same as with physical products. You have to find a perfect solution for you, Where you maximize your profit and minimize the risk of working for nothing in the long run.

Where can I find digital products?

While physical products can be found in every shop all around the world, Digital products can similarly be found – on the Internet.

You probably are familiar with Netflix? It’s a membership site, a digital product. Kindle ebooks? Also digital products. Adobe Photoshop subscription? Same thing.

Digital products can be found everywhere on the Internet. Buy where do you find products you can promote as an Affiliate? 

Well, you can sign up for an affiliate network such as Clickbank or Jvzoo. Those allow you to browse through the categories and pick a suitable product for you to promote. Just make sure the product you pick is legit, since there are some products on such affiliate platforms that just look like a scam.

If you can’t find what you’re looking for on affiliate platforms, try searching for affiliate programs. What I mean is, Find a product first, and then check if they have an affiliate program you can sign up for. You’d be surprised how many companies have their own affiliate programs for you to join.

Just scroll down the page and in the footer there usually are links to certain pages (like disclaimer, contact etc.) If they have an affiliate program there most likely will be some sort of a hyperlink. ‘Affiliate program’, ‘For affiliates’, ‘Make money with us’ or other catchphrase.

If you can’t find any, it’s not all. Try googling the product/company name and affiliate (e.g. “Photoshop affiliate”; by the way, Adobe has their own affiliate program, which is pretty sweet in my opinion)

The advantages of digital products

Main advantage of digital products is availability. They are available everywhere (unless there are some legal regulations in certain countries) as they’re distributed through the web. No need to worry about shipping fees or delays. Such products are usually delivered almost instantly via email, or access to certain parts of the website (membership sites).

What’s also good, they (usually) don’t require you to put in the address. There’s no need for that – there’s no shipping. Digital products mostly require email and a credit card to buy. There is some additional data required sometimes, but generally it’s email and payment.

Remember when I said you can’t have a digital T-shirt? Well guess what. You can’t have a physical membership to a website. It’s always digital. There are certain products that are native and exclusive to the digital world.

The fact that these products are digital makes it so that you can enjoy them from the comfort of your own home. You can watch video courses while staying at home, or acquire an ebook without leaving your house to buy one in the book store.

Another good thing is that Digital products are usually easier to promote. Since they are available almost instantly, you don’t have to wait for shipping if you want to make a review. Such products are basically easier to sell, as it’s convenient for a buyer to purchase them. 

Sometimes people are more likely to buy a low cost digital course than a guide book, since they feel like it’s got more value just because it’s a course. There is this thing in Psychology, that when you are offered a choice between a book or a course on the same issue, you’d rather choose a course. This is because courses have to kind of aura to them which makes people feel that it’s easier to learn by courses, since courses teach you stuff, and if you choose a book you have to learn the stuff yourself. 

The disadvantages of digital products

There is less choice. Not every niche can have digital products. You have to consider the availability of products when deciding on your business strategy.

Apart from that, there is no major drawback when it comes to digital products. There are some small downsides, but none of them kills your business I suppose (unless you target 70yo grandpas and try to sell them digital courses)

Older generation prefers old-school means of learning. I asked my mum and she’d rather go to school and take a course than watch it online. Me, on the other hand, I have no problem in sitting all day on the couch watching tutorial videos. It’s the generation gap I guess.

Along with this comes the fact that some people prefer traditional books to ebooks. Those have a certain feel to them, an atmosphere unlike anything else. Some people just love it and wouldn’t trade that for a kindle reader.

Some people consider them a scam/dont believe they’re legit and are scared to put in the credit card info (especially the older generation). They might be scared to get their money stolen or being sold a crappy product.


The point of this article is not to tell you which one is a straight up winner. The funny thing is, neither of those types of products are. Both digital and physical products have their own strengths and weaknesses. 

If you run a blog about making money online, most of your affiliate products will rather be digital/info products.

If you run a blog about furniture, You’d rather use mostly physical products.

However, what I recommend you do is this. 

You’ve learned what are they suitable for. Now, to put that into practice, use them both.

Why don’t you make use of each one’s strengths to create a business (Blog, YouTube channel) that uses the best of both worlds?

Let’s say you run a gardening blog. You can be affiliated with people who sell online courses on gardening and promote some ebooks. While doing so you can also promote physical products like, fertilizers, shovels, flower pots (pretty ones that you found on amazon) etc.

The point is, if your niche is suitable for such practise, use both the physical and digital products. Beware of the advantages and disadvantages of each type, and use them wisely, to the best of your ability.

Here’s a little summary of the pros and cons.

Physical products


  • People might trust such products more. 
  • There are products that can’t be digital (furniture, clothing etc.).
  • Can make for a nice low ticket sales funnel entrance.
  • Variety of niches, products and prices.
  • More of those than digital.


  • Shipping may cause trouble for some people. 
  • They require personal data i.e Address.
  • Ebooks are more convenient for some people.

Digital products


  • Available anywhere, anytime (instantly via email or online access).
  • Don’t require much personal info.
  • There are products that can’t be physical (e.g. membership sites).
  • Can be enjoyed from one’s home (I mean courses, for instance).
  • Easier to promote and sell.


  • Less choice.
  • Some people prefer old-school books and courses.
  • They are sometimes considered a scam by people who prefer physical products.

Once you’ve learned what type of product to choose, make sure to read this article on how to choose a good one.

I hope you found this article helpful. If so, consider sharing it with your friends, or in some group. Let’s spread the word, shall we?

Now that you know what’s good for your business,

Good luck on your money making Journey.