Psst, I make money on some of the links in this post at no cost to you. It keeps the lights on around here.

A few days ago, I received an interesting text from a former college friend. We’d actually been pretty close during college but grew apart over the years. The text read, “Hey girl! I’m throwing a Pure Romance party and I’d love for you to come! I just became a consultant with them and I think you’d really enjoy it!”

I shook my head before deleting the text.

I’ve also had to remove myself from Facebook groups and leave group chats about “an amazing new fat burning product that you can sell from home!” It’s the same for Jamberry, Herbalife, Pure Romance, and so many others.


Multi-level marketing in all its glory

Let me preface what I’m about to say: there’s nothing wrong with selling products from your home or being a rep for a company and selling their products. But I don’t agree with most multi-level marketing schemes.

According to Investopedia, multi-level marketing (MLM) “is a strategy that some direct sales companies use to encourage their existing distributors to recruit new distributors by paying the existing distributors a percentage of their recruits’ sales.”

In plain English, this means MLMs ask their representatives to bring on other representatives to sell more products. In exchange for bringing someone on as a rep, you get a cut of that person’s profits.

I personally believe MLMs are pyramid schemes in sheep’s clothing, but there are some big differences as far as the law is concerned. MLMS aren’t illegal, but I do think they’re annoying. Here’s why I’m gonna pass on the MLM products.

My problem

My problem with MLMs is that their terms can often be difficult to meet and sometimes they’re downright predatory. They require reps to buy hundreds of dollars’ worth of product to start selling and often take a large cut of proceeds away from the reps.

The other issue is that the reps will often grasp at any opportunity to make a sale--and that means hitting up friends and family. The sad thing is that most of these reps don’t have experience in sales. They don’t know how difficult sales can be, or how to be successful in a direct sales model. They’re lured in by promises of being their own boss, making money on their own schedule, and working from home.

Hey, I get it! Who wouldn’t want that kind of flexibility? And that’s how MLMs trap many people into a makeup- or jewelry-selling frenzy.

The issue for me is that MLMs rarely make anything I actually want. Double that with my friends’ spammy selling techniques and it’s enough to make me hurl. The high-pressure sales tactics are also really off-putting. Granted, it depends on who is selling to you, but I hate the aggressive sales techniques that MLMs use to push product. Many MLM reps fail in their business, having little to show for the time, money, and effort they’ve put into the sales.

The alternative

I’ve spoken to a few people who sell for MLMs and they’re very defensive about their business. These people genuinely believe in the products they’re selling; the issue is that they don’t always read the room and realize they’re bothering people. I’ve also heard diehard MLM reps say that other reps who talk smack about the company, quit, or who don’t have money just don’t have a work ethic. Eh, that’s true sometimes, but I think it has more to do with people realizing MLMs aren’t a great way to make easy money.

If you’re looking for more flexibility or a way to bring in extra money, you have alternatives to Lipsense.

Here are a few alternatives to selling products as an MLM rep:

1. Moonlighting

I’m skeptical of the current “side hustle” trend, so don’t get me wrong here. But I don’t think there’s anything wrong with moonlighting to rake in some extra money.

For example, I do freelance writing projects on the side to bring in extra money. I make about $200 a month doing something I love anyway. In fact, I could probably make a lot more money if I bothered to find more clients. Whatever your talents, use them to rake in the extra money on the side.

Need more ideas? Here are 99 side hustle ideas from Side Hustle Nation. 

2. Ask for a raise

If you want more money from your current job, why not ask for it? This depends on your job circumstances, of course. The key is to maximize the earnings from your full-time job before seeking out other streams of active income.

3. Passive income

Passive income is amazing. This is money that you don’t have to actively work for. MLMs require a lot of hands-on work to see profits.

If you want to see money roll in without much extra effort, consider passive income. This can be in the form of traditional investing, renting out a property, writing eBooks, and more. In fact, here’s a list of 25 passive income ideas. 

4. Find a work-from-home job

If you love the remote work potential of MLMs, I don’t blame ya one bit. I have a remote job myself and it’s been amazing!

However, you don’t have to do MLM to work remotely. Check out job boards like We Work Remotely and Indeed to find virtual jobs. Consider something like a virtual assistant position that comes with a guaranteed set of hours and income.

I get why people are drawn to the MLM business. These businesses are slick and they want to take your money. Fortunately, there are plenty of alternatives to selling Mary Kay to make a living.

The bottom line

I know plenty of people love their MLM companies. I’m not here to judge how people earn their money; it’s an honest living, after all. I personally am put-off by the popularity of MLMs. I just want people to know that there are alternatives that can net you more money with less struggles.

We want to know: How do you feel about MLM companies?

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