Start a Network Marketing Business

Copyright © Diane M. Aull

Why do most MLM associates fail?

It sounds so simple! You find an MLM company with a good payout structure and decent products, you do some basic marketing to your friends and family (that’s the "network" part of network/MLM marketing) and the products will simply "sell themselves"! The company’s literature assures you this is so.

What’s even better, you can recruit "downline" people to sell the company’s product (that’s the "multi-level" part of network/MLM marketing), and you’ll get a portion of the profits from each of their sales. And they recruit associates for their downline, and you get a commission from their sales, too!

The premise is that eventually you’ll be getting so much in commissions on your downline sales and recruitments that you’ll hardly have to lift a finger on your own.

Often, the products really are as good as or better than the alternatives and are offered at a reasonable price, and the Web is nearly perfect for prospecting for leads. So why is it that the overwhelming majority of associates fail to even make a decent living, much less attain wealth, with multi-level or network marketing programs?

Canned content and purchased "leads" don’t work well for network marketing.

If, like most MLM wannabees, you’re simply using the pre-written affiliate site that your company provided, you have to understand that thousands of other associates are using exactly the same site to promote their business. There’s little chance of your cookie-cutter site standing out in that crowd.

There are a ton of hucksters out there offering to sell you a lists of "hot leads." Problem is, they’re selling the same leads to all the other would-be MLM superstars out there. So again, your message will likely be lost in the shuffle — and may even get you branded as a spammer, if as few as one of those "hot leads" complains to your ISP!

So, what are you supposed to do?

Educate yourself and get the right tools.

One useful resource is Site-Build-It for Network Marketers, a comprehensive suite of tools to help you create a unique, content-based site to attract leads to your multi-level marketing business. You don’t have to know anything about HTML or programming or search engine optimization; everything is designed for ease of use. On the other hand, if you do have experience as a Webmaster, you’ll be impressed with the power and flexibility of this system. You can make money two ways: from site visitors who want to buy your products, and from new associates joining your downline.
[Learn more]

Avoid Obvious Scams

There are a few warning signs to look out for.

If an MLM or network marketing company seems to be more interested in selling more memberships in the program than they are in selling their supposed product or service — or worse yet, they have no obvious product or service to sell at all — watch out. If you can’t offer prospective customers something of value — besides the "opportunity" to become a member of your downline — you’re going to face a hard sell.

Often, pyramid schemes try to disguise themselves as legitimate MLM plans. The difference is that, when you examine it closely, in order to make money in a pyramid, you must bring in additional members. In a legitimate MLM, you can make a living simply selling the product; you can make additional money by recruiting a downline.

If the explanation of how you are compensated seems to require a degree in advanced mathematics to understand, proceed with caution. Matrix programs are notorious for making money only for the program founders.

If anything at all "feels wrong" or you have any qualms, stop. Your intuition may be trying to tell you something. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.


There are legitimate, long-standing multi-level or network marketing opportunities available. There are also a lot of hucksters and scam artists who are all-too-ready to separate you from your money in return for big promises (and little else).

If you are a good salesperson, or are willing to work hard to learn effective marketing techniques, and are willing to devote the hours and energy it takes to get a legitimate business off the ground, you can be quite successful.

On the other hand, if you’re not willing to make a substantial investment of time, money and effort into your business but are rather considering MLM as an "effortless" way to "make a fortune while you sleep," you should probably think again.

Related Resources

Direct Sales Company Directory
A directory of direct sales companies (many of which operate with the network marketing/MLM business model) brought to you by Information about each listed company, so you can begin to evaluate whether the opportunity is right for you.
Party Plan Companies
A directory of party plan companies (such as Tupperware, Pampered Chef, At Home America, etc.) Find out a bit more about each of these companies and contact company reps.
Here’s one network sales company I’ve had personal experience with. Watkins has been in business since 1868 — over 136 years, so you know they’re reputable. Your great-grandmother may well have bought vanilla extract, spices or salves from her local door-to-door "Watkins Man." You won’t find any pressure, quotas or minimum purchases at Watkins. What you will find are friendly people, tons of support and resources, and high-quality products you can really feel proud of. Highly recommended.

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