Looking for work is a common task these days, as more and more of our day jobs disappear, or cut our schedules down. And the only way to look for work right now is to join job hunting boards and websites. These can yield genuine leads, but they are also full of scams and pitches for multi-level marketing companies, or MLMs. Most of these pitches come with the promise that you will get to “be in business for yourself” or “own your own independent business.” But while multilevel marketing does require you to file taxes as though you were an independent, or freelance, worker, signing up with an MLM is very different than working as an independent business owner, artist, or freelance worker in any field.
You control your own work hours in freelancing. Your life gets overtaken with MLM.
I can hear the chorus of “Ha!” as I write this. Yes, there are people who manage to just sell a few MLM items here and there and wind up with some free or very low cost makeup, candles, household goods, etc. And we have all heard of nightmare clients who do things like text you at one in the morning to ask you to add two sentences to that email drip campaign you handed in last week. The difference is you fully own your freelance business. You can tell that client to back off and contact you during business hours. You can also remind them of your “one revision” policy, unless they would like to purchase another email drip campaign. You don’t get to do that with your upline in MLM. They can call it “your own business” all they want. In reality, you work for them, and they set the rules on how you interact with those above you, those you sign up, and with customers.
Last year, I signed up to sell Avon. I only did it because I saw $29 worth of things I wanted, and another $18 worth of things I wanted to try in the sign up kit for only $30. I had nothing to lose at that point. Thanks to a few nice pity sales, I got to try a lot more products for free. It was a good thing I didn’t get too attached to anything, because earning money would have meant spending my entire days searching for people willing to buy Avon from me. Even in a company as old and established as Avon, there simply aren’t enough interested people in your social circles. You are not going to sell hundreds of dollars worth of product each selling period simply by making a few posts online. You need to devote days, or even weeks, to the business before you make any kind of money. In most cases, you would have averaged more per hour by getting a traditional part-time job.
You have the option to broaden or narrow the focus of your freelance business as you see fit. Life becomes focused on a single set of products or services in MLM.
Whether you start a freelance business or sign up for an MLM, things are going to change. You are going to be busier. You are going to be focused on whatever work you do. When you start your own freelance business, that is probably going to be your art, or a side field you…and others…are equally passionate about. In an MLM, your new focus is going to be on a bunch of products you need to sell. Many people become desperate to sell the products after investing so much money in them. The products are all they think about, and all they can talk about. Anyone who tries to gently point this out gets labeled with whatever snarky term the company uses to brush off their detractors, and ignored or avoided.
My passions are music, creative writing, and writing for and about artists. I am also passionate about helping people in all fields avoid and recover from scams and avoid and recover from involvement in new age practices. I do not mind spending my working hours focused on these things. Had I turned the corner from personal use representative to actual, selling Avon representative, my new focus in life would have been skincare, makeup, bath products, and the little other odds and ends Avon sells…and not the history of those products in general or the impac they had on our society...just the products themselves…and only the ones sold by Avon.
Freelancing allows you to set your own prices, inventory/services and practices. With MLM, you have a built in limit to what you can do how much you can make.
When you become an independent consultant/freelancer for your own business, the practices and prices are limited by the law and the market. You can charge $50.00 to write a resume or $150.00 to write a resume, depending on the market where you live. You can add letter writing, ghost writing, and news feature writing. You are free to advertise your resume writing service on Facebook, Twitter, or in big painted letters on the side of your house if you want to. MLM products can only be sold within the pricing set by the company. You can sell that $18.00 Tupperware container for a single dollar just to get rid of it or promote your new “business,” but you can’t introduce a new line of $5.00 containers and a new line of $25.00 containers to your Tupperware page if the company does not make that particular product. And they have strict rules about where and how you are allowed to advertise their…errr….we mean your…products.
The basic supplies for your field are all that’s needed to freelance. With MLM, you get stuck with a ton of unwanted products.
When you freelance, you need to invest in good quality items for your field. A makeup artist needs a good kit. A graphic designer needs art supplies. A writer needs a computer, notebooks, and pens. D.J.s/radio program hosts need music libraries and photographers need good cameras. Those are probably items you want anyway if you are truly passionate about your field.
You probably do not really want everything the MLM company offers, but you will wind up owning much of it.
Working for an MLM requires you to first purchase some type of kit. This kit typically contains a lot of paperwork, promotional materials for the company, and a sampling of the products the company offers. There is no option to have the cost reduced if you do not want something in the kit. Once you purchase the box of paperwork and goods from the company, you are classifed as a “representative” of that company. They may or may not require additional fees or purchases, but there is always pressure to purchase more. Many companies even cancel your account if you fail to purchase or sell enough of their products.
New businesses are exciting and interesting. Friends and family start avoiding you in MLM.
The biggest loss in MLM is often your friends and family. It is possible to get so caught up in a freelance business that you put a strain on your relationships, but for the most part, those closest to you will be happy to see you working so hard at something you love.
People start rushing the other way when they see you coming when you’re in MLM. They scroll past your social media posts. It just gets old. You used to talk about the topics that interest you, your pets, your partner, your job, your kids, your art. Now everything’s a sales pitch for products they had little to no interest in to begin with. Your “ new friends” are really just the people in the MLM company, and whether you want to face this or not, most if not all of those people only speak to you because getting you to sell more benefits them.