It sounds like you have a good system going and you are correct, they both do take a lot of work. Most people will not have the time to put up hundreds of affiliate sites and stores. Given that you are comparing one affiliate site versus one dropshipped store, they both should take a similar amount of time to rank in the search engines. The advantage of the dropshipped store is that you won’t be completely dependent on SEO. If Google were to all of a sudden tank your website for your keywords (this has happened to me on several occasions), then you still have a solid customer base and word of mouth that will get you new customers.
Pay Per Click Advertising – PPC has been a huge game-changer in the world of advertising. It enables marketers to generate immediate traffic that fuels leads, social shares, and sales for a website. Instead of paying for ad displays, advertisers pay only when a user clicks on their ad. Traffic sources are tracked as well which identifies which ads are achieving the best result in a campaign and allow for fast and simple tweaks to test improvements.
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which took effect on May 25, 2018, is a set of regulations governing the use of personal data across the EU. This is forcing some affiliates to obtain user data through opt-in consent (updated privacy policies and cookie notices), even if they are not located in the European Union. This new regulation should also remind you to follow FTC guidelines and clearly disclose that you receive affiliate commissions from your recommendations.
Now there is a big difference in those two different business models, not just in terms of how you make money but in terms of where you can advertise. With Google, especially Google Adwords and Google Product Listing Ads, they do not allow affiliate sites. You can’t upload your CSV of products and get traffic from Google if you have an affiliate site. And that is massive!