Multi Level Marketing (a.k.a. Network Marketing), Direct Sales, Affiliate Programs, what do they all have in common? 

 

They are all commission based sales structures. Most pay anywhere between 10% – 30% commission on product sales. Affiliate programs tend to pay the least and are done by the company giving the market affiliates a discount code to offer their customers, with some affiliate programs also requiring you to make a social media post and/or story about their brand, company, or products daily. Direct sales is very similar to multi level marketing. Both have sales representatives that are paid by commission, both have sales representatives who are self employed, and neither require a brick and mortar store. Some direct sales business models are even structured similar to multi level marketing, which encourages sales associates to recruit and train new distributors. In short there is not much of a difference between Direct Sales and Multi Level Marketing.

Multi Level Marketing is a little different due to the recruiting element of the business structure. Basically in this structure you are a sales representative and you get paid your commission for your sale but you also get bonuses for recruitment of other sales associates and a percentage of their sales too. The percentage made off your downline is wholly dependent on the company you have chosen to partner with. For example with Monat, one of the companies I partner with, I don’t actually get paid a commission from my down line until I am in a leadership rank, which is the 5th rank in the company and offers only a 2% commission on group volume. So most of my income from Monat is made through my sales and bonuses, of which there are a lot of bonuses. Basically, you can build a team if you want, but you don’t have to in order to make money. Seint Beauty, a makeup brand I also chose to partner with, has a very similar business model. You definitely get a really amazing commission from selling but if you decide to build a team you are compensated for that, too. I have to also say that neither one of these businesses that I chose to partner with require me to meet a sales quota, but any product, or keep any stock. The only thing I pay for is a monthly website maintenance fee of $20 and a partnership fee which is less than $50 a year. These were some of the criteria that I looked for when I was considering converting as a customer to a business partner with these companies. I had already used the product and loved them, I trusted the quality and the company, the customer service was outstanding, I gushed about the products with my friends, and shared the products on my social media platforms. Taking the step to become a business partner was a no brainer plus I wanted the larger discount too.

 

I am not saying that multi level marketing is better than direct sales or affiliate marketing. What I can say though is that multi level marketing has gotten a bad rap due to a few bad apples and changing the stigma around these business structures is hard. People know all about the bad apples and are really reluctant to try it out for themselves. The best way to avoid being taken for a ride is to do your homework. Like with any company you work for, I hope you are researching the company and learning about who you are working for. How they treat their employees matters and if it sounds too good to be true or people try to sell you “the dream” maybe you should dig a little deeper. Look for yourself at the success rate of the sales associates within that company. Is the success of the companies sales associates based on sales or recruitment? The short of the matter is that if you can’t make a decent earning without recruiting then it is not likely to be a company that will give you much ROI, unless you are really good at selling “the dream”. The companies worth pairing with will make it possible for you to earn a good income based on sales alone, with the option of building a team if you want. These companies are not get-rich-overnight kind of businesses and anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is selling you. You can make a decent income with these businesses if you work the business. Working the business takes time and effort. Some people will tell you that you can do this in as little as an hour a day. Well, you can, but you will only be paid like you worked an hour a day. The real way to make money is to work your business like a business. Take the time to plan your daily work, learn the ins and outs of your products, compensation plan, and the value the products can bring to your customers. You want to know what you’re selling!

You need a plan for selling. How do you want to run your business? Do you want to ask your friends, neighbors, and family to buy your product and support your business? If you do make sure you have them in mind. Why would they like the product or service? How can it help them? If you don’t want to sell to your nearest and dearest then how are you going to sell? Social media is a great tool but it only works if you have a plan, are consistent, genuinely love and believe in your products. People can spot a fake a mile a way. You also need to be in it for the long haul. You need to be prepared for a slow start and slow growth. You need to be comfortable in front of the camera and you need to be comfortable with sharing yourself on social media. Like I said these types of businesses are not built overnight and you do have to put a lot of time and effort into building your brand, your business, your audience’s trust. The great thing about the two businesses that I partnered with is that they offered an amazing and motivating community of like minded people to collaborate with. Communities like these offer support, training, and comradery. I have learned so much watching these like minded individuals share their triumphs and failures, we collaborate, share content, and network. These communities are wonderful resources. I definitely feel like I got the most bang for my buck when I decided to build my businesses with these companies, and it was a ZERO risk investment!

What I mean by that is, in order to partner with these companies I was required to purchase a product pack. That is how I made the transition from customer to sales associate. Each of these companies’ product packs was a different price, both under $500, but the cost doesn’t really play any relevance to this point. The point is that I paid for products which I received and use daily. I have already earned back my initial investment in commission though using, sharing, and selling. Even if I were to quit working these businesses tomorrow I would not be out anything. I would be doing myself a disservice at this point if I quit, because I have put a lot of time and effort into building a customer base.

 

If you’re looking to start a side hustle each of these business models will make you some extra cash. Some require more work than others. Affiliate marketing definitely will make you some spending money, is pretty easy to squeeze into your social media stories, and doesn’t require much of a time commitment. Some affiliate marketing programs offer their affiliates free products to try and some require you to buy, but offer a decent discount to get you started. Direct Sales and Muilti Level Marketing do require more commitment, but the ROI is usually greater if you stick with it and are consistent in selling your products and building your customer base. In short there is real potential to build a substantial income with these two business models, it just depends on the company you choose to partner with, the quality and demand for the products, and how hard you want to hustle.

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