The Truth About MLM

Well, what a week of MLM bashing it has been online! I was with 2 different MLM companies (or Network Marketing, whichever you prefer) in the last 10 years, and to be honest, I get so annoyed when I see biased, poorly researched articles and just want to share the truth about MLM.

The most offensive post I saw had the delightful headline of ‘Twice as Many People Lured into Avon & Other MLMs in Lockdown’. As soon as I saw the word ‘lured’, I knew I wouldn’t like it! Now to have a go at some unknown, perhaps unproven MLM is one thing, but they were attacking Avon!

I have never been with Avon, but I know people who make a full-time income and people who earn a couple of hundred a month which helps with holidays and the kids’ dance lessons. Also, I don’t think I know a woman alive who has not purchased an Avon product from time to time! That was the wrong company to diss!

Let me indulge myself here and dispel some myths:


But it's not! (Not if it has a good retail product.) Thanks Frazer Brookes for this pic.
No, they are not! Not if you can make money with the retail offering. Thanks, Frazer Brookes for this pic.

All MLMs are really pyramids

I can understand why people think this, especially when the post that I am talking about above said something along the lines of ‘of course the real way to make money in these schemes is to recruit people to sell underneath you. You then get a cut of their sales, and the person above you (your “upline”) gets a cut of yours, and so on’.

This makes it sound like the person who started first gets the most money which simply isn’t true. I have sponsored people into an MLM who have gone on to build bigger organizations than me so they earned more money than me. My old ‘upline’ used to say that the person who would make the most money in our business hadn’t started yet and I believe he was right.

Friends and family will start avoiding you

Now, depending on the advice you are given when you start your new business, this could end up being true!

You do not want to plague people with your product or opportunity. Simply let them know what you are doing, or if you have a catalog (as in the case of Avon) it would be rude to exclude them, let’s face it.

Whatever your product is, use it yourself and when people ask why you look so good (or comment on other relevant benefits of a product that you are using), just let them know and offer to forward some information but do not persist if they are not interested.

The sort of thing that will cheese your friends off is if you contact them only to try to sell them something. Also, if you add them to a Facebook Group without asking. Those sorts of practices used to be acceptable but really aren’t anymore.

Just ask something along the lines of ‘Would it be okay if I add you to my Group about having great skin/energy/whatever. Most people will say yes if you position it like that. (Check out what to say to people in this fab video by Tom ‘Big Al’ Schreiter – it’s completely brilliant.)


You will run out of sales if friends and family aren’t interested

This could also be true unless you learn how to sell to other people! Which does not mean sending your kids to school with your catalogs (although you could!) or posting in 50 buy and sell groups per day on Facebook.

The latter used to be a sales strategy but had limited success and could get your Facebook account closed. Also, if there are several people posting identical products in a Group, the audience will get somewhat bored and won’t pay attention.

The challenge with MLM is that all distributors are selling the same product so why will people buy from you?

The best way to address this is with a helpful online presence in the form (ideally) of a blog (although a YouTube channel could also work) that is about more than what you are selling. For example, if your product is skincare, what advice can you offer for better skin? It could be diet, exercise, face yoga, sunscreen, and so on.

If it’s utilities, what can you share that would engage your ideal audience? Maybe it’s green energy and a thousand other angles. For credibility, you could also feature other company’s products and earn a percentage on those too.

This sort of strategy positions you as a trusted source of information. You can intersperse your product information and links at appropriate intervals, but you should be offering valuable information throughout in any case.

You shouldn’t have to pay to go to work

An MLM business is not a job. There will normally be a starter kit of some sort in which you get more value for your money than you actually paid, however, even if there is not, you are essentially buying a business system. Most are not terribly expensive and I would argue that they are not expensive enough.

One of the reasons that MLM gets a bad name is that according to a study in the U.S. that forced MLM companies to disclose the incomes of their distributors, more people lost money overall than made money.

I am pretty certain this comes about because the cost of joining is too low. How so? When people don’t spend much on joining, they put in little to no effort. If I had a dollar for every person I signed up who didn’t get started, I would have quite a tidy sum! I am confident that if the minimum entry was around $1k, that simply would not happen.


MLMs will brainwash you

This is true but in a good way. If you have been living your life how most people do, i.e. get up in the morning, go to work, come home, have dinner, watch TV and go to bed every night and allow your circumstances to control your emotions and ultimately your destiny, you need to change. Well, if you want your life to change you need to change, otherwise keep doing what you are doing.

I had no idea, for example, that I could choose my thoughts on purpose and decide I was going to have a good day. I became a reader and got totally hooked on personal development. (Check out my other blog, Total Life Makeover, here.)

Unless you have enjoyed previous success in business, there is little chance of you succeeding without a change in mindset.


I will be forever grateful for my involvement in MLM. Without it, there is every chance I would still be getting up in the morning, going to work, coming home, having dinner, watching TV, and go to bed every night, and doing it all again the next day lol.

This is why I still have a soft spot for MLM and hate to see one-sided posts highlighting the negative while conveniently ignoring that it is a staggeringly successful business model.

In the end, though, I couldn’t keep up with the constant sponsoring and training when my recruits either didn’t get started or decided very quickly it wasn’t for them. This is partly the nature of the beast but most likely also partly down to my lack of leadership skills!

I decided to swap MLM for Affiliate Marketing which means there is no sponsoring or training required! This frees me up to do what I love doing which is writing and sharing tips with like-minded people. If this could potentially float your boat, check out my review of the program that got me started here. To check out my comparison of Network Marketing vs Affiliate Marketing, just click here.

Are you in Network Marketing or Affiliate Marketing? What do you love about it and what are your trials? I would love to hear about them in the comments below.


2 thoughts on “The Truth About MLM”

  1. Thanks for sharing on the difference between MLM and AM, and your experience on both. As an affiliate marketer/blogger myself, I certainly enjoy the passive side of affiliate marketing, however passive doesn’t mean easy money. As for MLM, although I can’t speak from my personal experience, I know it worked well for many but equally didn’t for plenty. So I guess the lesson here is that you need to choose what’s RIGHT for you. Thanks for laying it out for so people can make the educated decision.


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