I wrote an article a few months ago called, The Truth About Mary Kay, Stella & Dot, Scentsy, and Other Female-Oriented ‘Home Business’ Schemes. And as it were, I got such a strong response to that piece (and continue to!) that I believe it deserves a proper follow-up.
Just as many of you have expressed to me, I was very surprised when I first began to research this topic! Growing up in American suburbia, it seems like everybody gets involved in MLM (Multi-Level Marketing) companies like these at one point or another.
But as it turns out, 99% of all MLM sales representatives lose money, making “even gambling look like a safe bet in comparison.” And that’s coming straight from the Federal Trade Commission.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s Mary Kay, Avon, Stella and Dot, Premier Designs Jewelry, Lia Sophia, Scentsy, Thirty-One, It Works!, Body by Vi, Herbalife, Undercover Wear, Petra, Fine Choice Food Club, Partylite, Arbonne, Amway, or any of the similar companies out there, the odds of success are not good.
How sad that so many women chalk this up to their own failure– assuming they just weren’t good enough as a representative– when the system was rigged against them in the first place.
One thing is absolutely certain in all of this, though. It’s clear why so many women get swept up in MLMs like Mary Kay and Stella and Dot. It’s the painted picture of an independent work-life– being your own boss, working when you want to, and especially working from home.
Today I want to introduce you to alternative paths that can actually help you achieve these things.
Granted, I’m not promising success. (If I did, I hope you would find that suspicious!)
Much work and time are needed to build up any online business. Heck, plenty of people who set out to start an online business never replace their full-time income. But it’s possible.
And the more persistent you are, the more the effort will be worth it, because the effort you put in is contributing to something uniquely yours.
With that– let’s get rolling.
If you were considering selling Mary Kay or Avon…
Why not start a beauty vlog instead? That is, a video blog.
If the beauty industry interests you, chances are you’re already buying a lot of these products yourself. Segue this passion into an online business by using your web cam to record videos of yourself applying these products on yourself or a consenting friend, giving your honest reviews.
For maximum effect and Google traffic, put these videos in “how-to” form, like “how to create a smokey eye” or “how to make your hair look fuller without extensions.”
Once you’ve recorded something, simply upload your video to YouTube, use their free tools to edit it to your liking, and copy-and-paste the embed code into a blog post. It’s that easy to get started!
In regards to income, the obvious ways you can make money are through affiliate relationships with beauty brands (such that you get a cut from the sales you send their way) as well as regular advertising on your website and in-video. For more off-the-beaten-path ideas about monetizing a vlog, check out this other article I wrote entitled, The M-Word: Real Strategies for Monetizing Your Blog.
If you were considering selling Stella & Dot or Lia Sophia…
Why not open your own online boutique instead?
Finding your own jewelry suppliers is more straight-forward than you might think. You can start with a simple Google search. (Though I suggest watching this video first so you can identify any scams.)
Once you’re a little warmed up, you might then want to check out some trade shows in-person as well. That way, you can meet suppliers face-to-face, hold their product, and become absolutely sure of your decisions before you make them. Also, you’ll be able to network with others who have been in the biz longer than you have and can give you some good advice as you’re starting out.
Finally, once you have a few jewelry suppliers, you’ll of course need an e-commerce website to sell from. No big deal; if you follow this tutorial you can have that whole thing sorted out and set up right away.
If you were considering selling Scentsy…
Why not make your own handmade candles to sell instead?
This industry is one that’s easy to get into, given there’s a ton of step-by-step instruction videos online and the materials you need to get started are relatively cheap.
To start, just go to YouTube.com and search for tutorials on candle-making. Experiment. Mix your own whimsical scents. Try pouring them into different, cool containers, like vintage teacups.
Once you have some really fun and unique creations, pop some product photos and descriptions onto Etsy. There, if you make an effort to use the right keywords and mingle in the community, you should be able to get a feel for what’s popular in your candle line and/or how you can improve.
Once you’ve got the feedback, you can continue to build up a following on Etsy or expand into a website (and full-fledged brand) of your own.
If you were considering selling It Works! or Body by Vi…
Go ahead and buy some goods! Just not as a representative/seller. Rather, why not try out the products, and write about them on a blog?
If there’s anything people like better than a good success story, it’s a good success story in-the-making. And it’s easier than ever to tell yours.
Afraid you’ll fail? No worries. The truth is, weight loss is hard. And the more authentic you are about that, the more likely your blog will garner an audience, because the experience you (a totally normal person) has with different products or weight loss philosophies is going to provide valuable information for other people like you who are trying to lose weight.
In regards to money, the obvious ways you can build up an income are through affiliate relationships with weight loss products and brands you recommend (such that you get a cut from the sales you send their way) as well as regular advertising on your website. For more off-the-beaten-path ideas about monetizing a blog, check out this other article I wrote entitled, The M-Word: Real Strategies for Monetizing Your Blog.
Building a real business that can realistically result in independence, being your own boss, and working from home is not for the faint of heart. But for those possessing the passion and grit to get there, it’s well-worth the effort. Certainly the odds are much better than if you were to team up with an MLM company.
If you were previously considering joining an MLM company like Mary Kay or Stella and Dot, I hope these alternatives have inspired you to seek opportunities that truly honor the work you put into them.
Cheers to you for pursuing a business you can actually call your own.