So, What’s MLM or Multi-Level Marketing, Anyway?
MLM (multi-level marketing) AKA pyramid schemes are like the cockroaches of business; they never seem to die and always pop up with a new arm or leg that looks like something new, but it’s really still the same thing. If you’re unfamiliar with MLM (or pyramid schemes), let me break it down for you. Multi-level marketing = pyramid schemes, in my opinion, and it’s basically where a company builds it’s entire profit off of the backs of others while offering no substantial way for it’s “employees” or “reps” (anyone not on the top of the pyramid) to make a real profit being part of their team. The people working under the pyramid, often, never see any kind of profit from their work, but they are encouraged by their “sponsor” to buy such and such starter kit, hold parties, promote online, spam their link to everyone they know, indoctrinate their relatives to sell candles or whatever they’re pushing, all while investing money into a company that will never ever pay off for them. That’s keeping it really basic because, of course; it’s a lot more complicated than that, but I’m here to discuss why bloggers should avoid MLM like the plague. If you don’t know much about pyramid schemes or MLM, you can read more about pyramid schemes here.
What Bugs Me About MLM & Why I Think They’re Pyramid Schemes
Okay, so let’s back up to how/when/why I got so annoyed about MLM and pyramid schemes in the first place. This past weekend, I was at home (per usual because I have no life) when a fellow blogger sent me an email about a potential blogger opportunity. So, of course, I got excited about the potential to work with a cool brand (or brands), but that excitement soon evaporated into suspicion. Said blogger remained increasingly vague as the emails went on and talked me into chatting on Skype so they could better “explain” the opportunity. The next thing I know, I’m sitting on a video chat with this blogger who sends me a video link and says “watch this and then I’ll answer your questions.” Impersonal, much? Already irritated that this is most likely a pyramid scheme, I head over to watch a seriously ridiculous video marketing promotion for Dream Trips. UGH.
It may surprise you that this sort of thing seems to happen to me quite frequently. I would get badgered by relatives to sell Nerium, Party Light, Tupperware, or some other nonsense that they were selling to make “extra money” and I would watch them work their tails off, but never seem to make any real income from it. Not only did seeing my friends and relatives being taken advantage of just infuriate the hell out of me, but the ethics (or lack thereof) of it all always left me seething in outrage that people can get away with doing this kind of business.
Since becoming a blogger, I’ve been inundated by random emails, facebook messages, instagram messages, and other annoying solicitations from other bloggers telling me how great I’d be at selling essential oils or whatever. It’s like, no. What amazes me is how people get so offended and upset when I tell them the reasons I don’t want to join. I’m sorry you guys, but I’m just a blunt person. I WILL tell you if I think it’s B.S. I WILL tell you if I think your “mult-level marketing” beauty company is a pyramid scheme. I’m looking at you, Arbonne, Avon and Mary Kay. #SorryNotSorry I realize I’m probably stepping on some toes and ranting a bit, but it really just frustrates me and I think MLM companies are extremely bad for bloggers; here’s why.
Why Bloggers Should Avoid MLM Like the Plague
They’re Unethical. MLM’s, try as they might, have an unethical business model by design. That’s not to say the companies in question are inherently evil, but the model is flawed. The truth of the matter is that MLM might even offer some cool products, but the model they use to promote and sell said products allows only the people at the very top of the pyramid to make a legitimate passive income. Meanwhile, those starting at the bottom (the sales representatives or “health partners” or whatever marketing title they’ve stamped on it) are receiving very little to no ROI (return on investment). In spite of not really making any money, they’re encouraged to purchase starter kits, displays, throw parties, and more in order to push the product or service and lifestyle of this brand. I’ve seen so much money wasted because these companies market to anyone looking to make “easy money” on the side when the truth is that the game is rigged against you and when your readers see you supporting MLM brands like this it, in turn, makes you look unethical.
They Kill Your Credibility. Another reason to avoid MLM companies is that they tend to kill your credibility. Once you begin pushing your sales “agenda,” it tends to turn a lot of people off and for good reason. If you came to a blog and allowed a blogger into your life via email, social follows, or regular visits, wouldn’t you be annoyed if you were suddenly met with a bunch of sales pitch? I would. I love supporting bloggers. I’m cool with affiliate links (they’re better than MLM – here’s why), and I’m okay with sponsored content that is within your blog’s niche and makes sense, but MLM has a way of killing a blogger’s sense of integrity in the worst way and that’s why I’ll never subscribe to any of them and I don’t recommend you do either.
They Won’t Make You Money Anyway. The truth of the matter is that MLM rarely, if ever, turn a profit for sales people. They market their company to people who want to make a quick buck and suggest it will be SO easy, will require very little work, and won’t cost you hardly anything (except a lot of money for the initial “investment”), but to quote Rumpelstiltskin, it’s important to realize that “everything comes with a price, Deary!” That is so true with everything. There’s a give and take to life, a push and pull. You’re better off promoting products you really like that you would probably promote on your blog anyway and discussing things you’re actually passionate about than promoting any MLM companies which won’t make you any legitimate money in the long run.
Overall, it’s up to you what you do with your time and money. If you want to join an MLM company and try your luck, whether you’re a blogger or just a reader looking to make some extra cash, then it’s absolutely your choice. I wish you the best of luck and success, but in my opinion, when it comes to MLM, the cards are stacked against you and will likely kill your integrity, credibility, and trust among readers.