Why I Don’t Do MLMs |
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Why I Don’t Do MLMs

admin February 2, 2015

This is a post I’ve been tossing around for awhile.  A couple weeks ago, I had a conversation about it on my Facebook page, and that made me realize just how many people really wanted to talk about this subject — so I decided it was time to go ahead and write it.

I should clarify up front that I’m not against MLMs (multi-level marketing companies, like Young Living or 31 or Ava Anderson) in general.  I have many friends who are consultants, some of whom earn solid part or even full-time incomes.  I’m glad that it works for them.  I’m happy they found a company and products that they truly love and that they enjoy sharing.  I’m not out to trash them, or the business model in general.

But…I don’t do MLMs.  I won’t do MLMs.  I’ve been approached many times about signing on as a consultant for this company or that one, and I have always rejected it.  This is about why I choose not to get involved.

Why I Don’t Do MLMs

There’s nothing wrong, per se, with MLMs.  If you love their products and you enjoy selling (and have a knack for doing so without being pushy or rude) then why not?  But that is not the case for me, for many reasons.

If I were going to get involved in an MLM, the circumstances would have to be perfect.  Specifically, I’m looking for these things.

Unique Product

In order for me to throw myself behind a product 100%, I have to believe it is truly unique.  I am not aware of any MLM whose products are truly unique.  Now, some will argue with me that so-and-so has unmatched quality.  I’m not getting into that fight.  I mean that if you want to buy a purse, cooking equipment, essential oils, supplements, etc. you can do so from a whole bunch of different companies.  MLMs are not selling product categories that only they offer.  Some of them make it out to seem like they are…and that makes me feel weird.

Affordable/Good Deal

Parting with my money is not something that is easy for me.  If I am going to spend more than $10 – $15 on an item, I am going to research it thoroughly and possibly even sit on it for months before I make the leap.  Especially if it something I could probably live without.  I’m very, very cautious and I need to feel like I am getting a good deal.

Now, that doesn’t mean it has to be cheap.  There are companies and products I stand fully behind that absolutely are not cheap.  But the product has to be worth the money I’m paying for it.  I have not found any MLMs that have products that I, personally, feel are truly worth the money, for various reasons.  Either it’s not a product I really use often (and therefore no amount of money is really ‘worth it’ to me) or I have found other options that are priced better and which I believe are of equivalent or superior quality.  I can’t and won’t promote something that I don’t feel is a good deal because I don’t think it’s fair to my customers.

Something I Use

In order to get behind a product and promote it, it has to be something I honestly do use.  The most effective salespeople stand 100% behind what they are selling and are sincerely passionate because they use it.  And they use it because they like it and believe in it, not because they “have” to.  I couldn’t sell a product effectively (and wouldn’t want to) unless I did truly use it and enjoy it.  There’s no MLM product that I do use regularly or feel that passionately about.

Quality Training

To be honest, I don’t know enough about any specific MLM to know how they train their salespeople.  I can’t speak to how good they are.  But I would want a company that took the training aspect seriously, that didn’t teach their consultants to use bogus marketing techniques or make suspicious claims.

I’ve seen some rather interesting sales techniques out there.  One company promoted their water-based body products by putting crackers into mineral oil and water to show how the cracker in oil hardened and the cracker in water became mush.  This was supposed to prove that water penetrates your cells and mineral oil just sits on top and is bad.  In reality, any oil would have ‘hardened’ that cracker, even food-grade oils that are perfectly skin-safe.  And, our skin is naturally moisturized with oils that it produces, not water.  This was a gimmick, a visual designed to sell, and not anything based on reality.  (Not that I’m blaming the consultant, who was simply told to do this.)

Honesty and caution in the sales process is important.  Companies need to recognize that and train their reps accordingly.

My objection to MLMs comes down to these main reasons.  There’s no company that I find that “fits” who I am.

But wait!  There’s more.

When I shared these basic thoughts on MLMs before, a number of people told me that I must not have heard of their company before.  (No, nobody shared a company I hadn’t heard of.)  They went on to extol the virtues of said company and try to convince me why it is the best one.  Some people even expressed that they were surprised I hadn’t jumped on board with Company X because clearly it is a good fit for me and I should be doing it.

I found this extremely amusing, to be honest.  Especially given that I’d just expressed that I had no desire to join any MLMs at this time.  And believe me, as a blogger with a large audience, I could make a lot of money by promoting one.  I get offers to join one or another at least weekly.  I’ve been invited to countless in-person and virtual parties for colleagues and friends who are consultants.  I’m familiar with my options.  And my objections above, for me, still stand.

But as I said, there’s more.

Leadership

I’ve been told a whole bunch of times, “Why reinvent the wheel?”  They always mean, “Find something out there that works and use it; don’t waste your time trying to do or create something yourself.”

And I always thought, “But what if they got it wrong and I could do it better?”

I’m a big self-starter.  I like to do things independently.  I like to be a leader.  I like to be fully, 100% in control of what I do.  It’s why I love blogging and owning my own business.  I like being able to completely control the direction I go at the highest levels.

And no, I couldn’t get that with an MLM.  I would not control which products they offered.  What was in those products.  What marketing materials were available.  I would have to work within the system provided to me.

That’s a draw for many people because they don’t want to take the risk of starting something from scratch.  They don’t want to work long and hard to develop a brand, a reputation, to invest hundreds or thousands of dollars, to possibly take a loss for several months, to fail.  There’s very little risk with an MLM because it’s an established business and brand, they’re taking all the risk, they control the inventory, and if you “fail” you’re really not out much.  Maybe nothing, if you consider that you get to keep the products you started with.  And that just isn’t true if you own your own business.

But I love it.  I love the risks.  I love the rewards.  I love the long, hard hours.  I love driving the business’s goals at the very top level.  I love learning new things and creating it all from scratch.  I just have that drive.

It’s a huge reason why I don’t do MLMs.  Even if there were one with excellent, affordable products, excellent training, and it was completely unique, I’d still hesitate because it wouldn’t be “my” own thing.  It’s just my personality to want to be the leader.

I think when you’re assessing your career opportunities, you have to be honest about what kind of person you are.  Do you like to be in control of everything?  Do you like flexibility, but prefer less risk?  Do you like to just do your job and then go home and forget about it?  We need all types of people out there.  None is better than another.

Because I know myself, I know that MLMs are really not for me.

why i don't do MLMs

Companies I Do Support

You’ve all probably noticed that although I don’t do MLMs, I do work with companies for advertising.  This suits me much better — I’m not doing any ongoing push for a particular product and I can be really choosy about which companies I work with.  And, when I do find those unique companies I love, I can get paid to bring those products to you.  It’s win-win-win.

The companies I’m naming here have no idea they are being included in this post.  Nobody paid me to say this.  Most of them have paid me in the past for other posts, but not this (and not all of them).  I’m naming them because I really do use and love them.

Real Salt/Redmond Clay — One of my favorite companies.  We exclusively use Real Salt in our kitchen, and we use Redmond clay in the bath all the time.  I also have hydrated clay, Earthpaste, Redmond soap, and bath salts from them in my house at all times.  I use these things daily.

Green Pastures — They make fermented cod liver oil, and I’ve been taking it on and off for four years.  I notice definite improvements to our health when we take it.  It staves off colds and other illnesses more quickly than just about anything.  I often have very little need for additional remedies when I take this at the start of anything.

Plant Therapy — After much research, I eventually settled on Plant Therapy essential oils.  I have several of them (at least 15) and use them daily.  My favorite is the “Relax” blend!

There are other companies I fully support but these are ones I use most often.  These are not affiliate links.  I get nothing for this.  I’m just sharing because I want to.

How do you feel about MLMs?

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24 Comments

  1. I’m glad you mentioned Plant Therapy b/c I did a lot of online searching & decided to start buying their products too. I’ve only gotten one bottle but like it so far. I also like that they are on Amazon. 🙂

    I’m hesitant to buy MLM’s b/c I think their business model drives up their prices for many of the companies.

    Reply

    • Every business works by a MLM idea…. they just don’t all go by that name. You have people at different levels in every business! 🙂 And I have found MLM are maybe more expensive not because of the MLM factor (because as I mentioned EVERY business works like this!) but they often carry higher quality products. I’d rather support a local Mom trying to make an extra income with a MLM business than buy at Walmart (and other similar companies) and buy junk while supporting some big shot CEO. 🙂

      Reply

      • Agree! I think MLMs get a bad rap because of past experiences (I’m a former Herbalife girl…), but I can say, from experience, that the latest EO MLM is different model – one that supports sharing, nurturing and community. There are no other MLMs out there right now with the same model. I have also replaced my full-time Northern Virginia VP Marketing income (took 2 years of 1-2 classes per month or so) that I gave up to become a stay-at-home mom. I share whenever I get the chance — not because I’m extroverted (I’m not), or I’m looking for $$, but because people need to know about EOs. My business has grown organically, in one of the top 10 poorest states (for health AND poverty). While you can look at most MLM models and feel as MAM feels, I wouldn’t discount them all! I’m proof of that!

        Reply

  2. I have seen your name & your blog around the alternative health community but I have very little time to read multiple folks regularly. I also dislike inbox clutter. THIS though. A thousand times. Thank you for putting into words that niggling ~something~ that I just hadn’t been able to verbalize. And hi from your newest subscriber. Feel special 🙂 I think one thing you pointed out is huge to me. We all have limited time, energy, money, etc. It is super important to me to use all of those things wisely. Is it needful for me to have a perfectly clean home or energy for intelligent conversation when hubby gets home from work? Most days I can’t do both. That is budgeting myself. I feel the same about the products I buy.

    Reply

  3. I would love to hear your thoughts on LuLaRoe. I’ve always felt the same way as you when it comes to MLM. I’ve been incredibly picky and this company meets all of my standards. Just curious to hear your thoughts!

    Reply

  4. I LOVE my MLM! I love the community of others in my MLM, I love the EOs, and I love the income! So glad you didn’t trash them because I’ve had nothing but a great experience with my EO MLM (other products and companies in past years, not so much).

    I cannot think of a better way to share EOs. If the oils were just sitting on a shelf in some store, most people would simply pass them by without understanding how absolutely life-changing they can be. Using the MLM model, millions of people sit around family rooms and dining room tables sharing the oily goodness.

    And, in my opinion, EOs being sold through retail channels only now have MLMs to thank for educating millions of new consumers. The fast-growing MLM EO companies have created a groundswell of new health and wellness just barely tapped before. But, again, that’s just my opinion ;-)!

    Reply

  5. I don’t do them either and don’t really like them. The three main reasons are because I feel like selling me stuff is the only reason they want to be friends with me or talk to me leaving me feel used, we can’t afford them, and we don’t NEED Them. Our house is already so full of junk we don’t use. I’ve just taken to ignoring it all anymore.

    Reply

  6. I’m with you on MLMs. I’ve joined two companies thinking maybe I can make a profit or at least get a decent deal on my own products. But both times I found that I’m just not a salesperson for “stuff.” I’m a sales person for ideas like birth, breastfeeding, natural living, healthy choices. Skin care products and essential oils are great and all but unless I really feel that a friend, family member or acquaintance should pay me that much for something, I’m not going to introduce it, much less tout its greatness to the point that you should pay an extra 10, 25 or even 50% over what I would pay for the same thing because I paid for the membership or signed the contract.

    Reply

  7. I work for Younique Products a naturally based makeup and skin care line that is MLM. I love every minute of it. I agree you must enjoy and actively use the products to truly be a good MLM representative. I can speak for Younique that I have constant support and training to become better at my job and the company is big on empowerment of women and also cruelty free which is so very important to me.

    Reply

  8. I thought this was a really great article. I did start my own essential oil company that offers proprietary blends to balance the body as I have always been slightly adverse to MLM’s as well. You did a great job articulating many of my reasons in this article. The one that you did not mention, that I also feel is important, is intention. I think there is a different intention if you are trying to put something out into the world because you genuinely believe it will help people as opposed to trying to make a monthly quota

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts in this great post

    Reply

  9. Keep standing your ground. I am glad you have not joined a MLM company for monetary gain like so many do. I too use Plant therapy oils, Green Pasture CLO and Redmond Sea Salt products! Sounds like we are in the same boat. I got talked into Young Living oils by a friend from church, but I just was not impressed with the marketing, the prices, or the limited availability. I am so glad I found plant therapy. Their oils work just as good for me and my family. I also love that they have free shipping and easy internet access to their oils instead of through a sales rep.

    Reply

  10. I’ve thought about joining different MLMs (natural remedy types), but can’t bring myself to do it. Years ago, I was an Avon Rep. (before I became, um, crunchy 😉 ) After I left Avon, I promised myself that I would never be a representative for another company. Not that I didn’t enjoy it or love the products, but it wasn’t “my” company. Instead, if I ever sold anything again it would be my own products. So, since I don’t have time to make my own products, I just tell others my favorite brands and what’s worked for me… without getting a kick-back.

    Reply

  11. So interesting! Glad there is an alternative for EOs rather than an MLM. I became a distributer for Norwex just so I could buy products at a discount. I enjoy nearly all of their stuff that I’ve tried so far.

    Reply

  12. I agree with you! I also started my small manufacture of natural products and we adopted a little boy.
    I like your life concept a lot, your website is interesting and dynamic and you have a lovely family – you are a very reach woman!
    I would like to ask how do you manage it all; any tips?

    Reply

  13. I used to make fun of all my friends in direct sales who only posted about that on social media — so when I joined Usborne Books & More my husband gave me a really hard time;)
    I agree with most of this. I couldn’t sell something I don’t believe in wholeheartedly, and I had long loved Usborne books. When I heard they had an amazing reading incentive program for schools that’s what hooked me because my daughter was in kindergarten in a very low income school — no librarian and the library hadn’t gotten any new books in 5 years. Now this was something I could do that had to do with a product I love (kids’ books!) and help my daughter’s school at the same time.
    I’m not a salesperson at all. I do love helping people find the perfect book for their kids…even if it’s not one we sell:)

    Reply

  14. Hello. I want to start my own EO business without being under a MLM company. Does anyone know the steps I should take to get started?

    Reply

  15. Spot on!! These are the exact reasons I can’t bring myself to join an MLM. I did do BeachBody for a couple months but didn’t like how expensive their shakes were since as a blogger I work with some amazing companies who offer better supplements at over half the price. Plus I don’t like the idea of trying to sell things to friends and family all the time. If I spent a lot of time promoting and selling something, than I want it to be something I created myself. That’s why creating my own brand as a blogger fits me 🙂

    Reply

  16. Hi Kate I found this writing fascinating. I would actually like to compare a few companies that are supposedly not mlm but seem like they are and you seem to have a lot of expertise in this area.
    How does this blog work? Is it only open for public discussion or can there be private messages ?

    Reply

    • Hi Caley,

      You can send me a message through the “contact me” form if you prefer.

      Reply

    • Caley, your question may already have been answered, but you can also check out pinktruth.com. It seems to have formed around Mary Kay but stays current with most other MLMs.

      It is *strongly worded,* so not for the faint of heart or those who still want to stand by a company that qualifies as an MLM. But it may make for interesting reading.

      Reply

  17. I’m coming to this late, Kate, but I thought it was interesting when I tried to post some cautions about MLMs a few months ago on my facebook page (and tried to do so graciously), it was taken over by someone who insisted that so-and-so’s compensation plan was better. Then at least two more reps joined in promoting that same company.

    Mathematically, MLMs cannot work long-term. The very concept of creating a downline is problematic, and I believe the pushiness stems from this, as well as the idea that THIS is the only product of its kind. That is the only way for the creators/ those at the top to keep it afloat for a while…because to let reps keep a good portion of the profits means that the purchasers are paying *well above* market value.

    I know many join these with the best of intentions, but if it is an MLM–meaning, a good portion of income is dependent on signing up others to sell, not only to buy the product–then it cannot work.

    So I can neither participate nor encourage anyone else to participate in any way. Many dear friends do (I have refrained from posting anything more on this), but I have to leave it at that.

    Reply

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Hi, I’m Kate.  I love medical freedom, sharing natural remedies, developing real food recipes, and gentle parenting. My goal is to teach you how to live your life free from Big Pharma, Big Food, and Big Government by learning about herbs, cooking, and sustainable practices.

I’m the author of Natural Remedies for Kids and the owner and lead herbalist at EarthleyI hope you’ll join me on the journey to a free and healthy life!

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