Affiliate Marketing is where you promote someone else’s product and earn a compensation when you refer sales. So you, basically, find products that appeal to your audience, promote these products (or services) to others, and earn either a percentage or a flat amount on each sale that you generate for the merchants that you promote. You don’t get to dictate the price of the product or the commission earned. For example, if you decide to run a fitness site, you could promote fitness related products – gym gear and supplements. You join “XYZ Supplements” affiliate program. You write a review on your site about the product and include your affiliate links. Someone clicks on the link, gets redirected to the merchant’s website, buys the product, conversions are tracked, products are shipped to the customer, and you get paid! So you don’t have any of the headaches of selling products – your only job is to write a post and market to your audience.
Affiliate marketing has contributed to the rise of many leading online companies. Amazon.com, one of the first significant adopters, now has hundreds of thousands of affiliate relationships. It is not uncommon to see industries where the major players have affiliate programs–often structured in a similar manner and making similar competitive changes over time.

I agree with most of your sentiments except on the issue of paying a membership fee. Legitimate manufacturers and distributors DO NOT charge membership fees. At most, a nominal $3-$5 service charge if your order is under a certain amount. Rarely is it a good idea to deal with a supplier that is charging any type of monthly or yearly membership fee because they are middle men and you're not going to get as great a wholesale price as you would from the manufacturer or distributor. Ideally, it's smart to contact suppliers that do not advertise drop shipping on their website, then once you become an approved Reseller ask them to drop ship for you. Many of the manufacturers that I work with offer the same product price whether you use drop shipping or arbitrage. .
In 09 i started in affiliate marketing and had some pretty good success, but what i found out was i didn't control returning customers (email list) in affiliate marketing as i did with my own drop shipping website. I had more control in profit, payouts, upset/down sell, emailing list etc. The main thing is you have more control with the drop ship business model than affiliate marketing
Speaking about the money, we need to mention that affiliate and monetized sites won’t give you as much as dropshipping store can. The profit per visitor on these sites is insignificant, so you will need to attract tons of customers to your website in order to make more or less solid money. With dropshipping, profit per sale fully depends on the profit margin you set – therefore, you will get a nice income much quicker. A great opportunity to start making money right away!

Let your recipients know what you want them to do (sign up for a trial, claim a discount, etc.). An ideal call to action should draw attention, be clear and, of course, be clickable. Design a big button, so it’s easy to click on mobile devices. If your email is long, add another call to action, so your subscribers don’t have to scroll to find it. Make a CTA copy compelling.
The main downside to dropshipping is that as the store owner, you’re responsible for customer support. Fortunately, you can easily outsource the customer support to someone who specializes in it on Upwork.com for an affordable price. All you need to do is provide guidelines and general responses for the customer support representative to follow. By outsourcing this component, you free your time up to focus on marketing and optimization. This allows you to grow your business faster.
Both affiliate marketing and dropshipping require similar skill sets. To be successful in either you’ll need to be able to market your products by creating ads and driving traffic to landing pages where customers will buy the product. This might not sound too difficult, but it can take a while to start seeing any significant number of people actually buying products using your site or links.
The reason this could be beneficial for those interested in affiliate marketing, is let’s say you are promoting something super technical that maybe you don’t have all the answers for, something very specialized. Could be a new type of electronic, something like that. If you promote it as an affiliate. You don’t have to worry about answering these questions or dealing with complicated customer service issues. So not dealing with customer service could be a huge benefit if you promote or produce content in a niche like that.
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. 
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