The Federal Trade Commission warns "Not all multilevel marketing plans are legitimate. Some are pyramid schemes. It's best not to get involved in plans where the money you make is based primarily on the number of distributors you recruit and your sales to them, rather than on your sales to people outside the plan who intend to use the products."[21]
For full disclosure, I want to point out that I am not affiliated with any multi-level marketing or direct sales companies, and that I don’t receive any compensation from the industry for my opinion on it.  I’m sharing this with you because after I wrote what is considered the most widely read, copied, and quoted MLM article in the history of the industry, I was accused of writing it to promote my own MLM business or the industry in general, which is not the case.
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The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) states: "Steer clear of multilevel marketing plans that pay commissions for recruiting new distributors. They're actually illegal pyramid schemes. Why is pyramiding dangerous? Because plans that pay commissions for recruiting new distributors inevitably collapse when no new distributors can be recruited. And when a plan collapses, most people—except perhaps those at the very top of the pyramid—end up empty-handed."[45]
I’ve heard all the arguments. “How can it be a pyramid scheme if it’s legal?” Through some crafty loopholes. The fact that there is an actual product to sell allows them to operate and give the appearance of legitimacy. “You just haven’t found a good MLM yet.” Wrong. A good MLM is an oxymoron. “But how is this any different from any other major corporation where the CEO makes the most money?” Because the people below the CEO at legit companies get paid salaries and have actual benefits. They don’t depend on endless chains of recruiting new members.
Remember, however, that a percentage of something is better than one hundred percent of zero sales – so it is a good idea to network with more experienced marketers. Take advantage of the expertise and training that they offer, and use their resources to build your business. One you are ready, you can always bring in new people, and even share leads with them – building your downline so that they will supply you with a good residual income.
I don’t care where doTERRA in ranked. The oils are good, but the company SUCKS. It is all built on big bloggers. Don’t have a big blog – you’re going to make pennies while others demand you make a minimum $100 a month order. The company itself has great customer service, but try to reach compliance or tell them that your uplines are making fake accounts or ordering off multiple people in the downline just to ensure they make bonuses and NO ONE listens. It’s supposedly geared to help the underdog succeed – this is a gimmick.
Just because you paid for the lead, it doesn’t mean that you should get emotionally attached to each one. Buying leads is, and always will be, a sorting process to find your next business partners. If you are terrible at the phone, either, buy MLM leads or get a job at a telemarketing company. Gaining experience on the phone is worth its weight in gold. Every big recruiter or enroller is good on the phone. Most of them used to be terrible but experience made them better.
“Joining an MLM is appealing to women who find hope in their promises of a better life: freedom, economic independence, and an endless supply of cheery trinkets. Despite professing quick-income prospects though, it’s difficult for MLM consultants to earn more than pocket change. When glitzy recruitment videos yield to the reality of suburban cul-de-sacs, people selling for MLMs can be plunged into debt and psychological crisis.” (Quartz)
Hi JP, Your assessment of Melaleuca stating… “When you hit over a billy in annual sales, that’s reason enough to be on the shortlist. On top of that, they’ve been in the MLM game for over two decades, and they’re now the “largest online wellness shopping club” (basically just sounds like a fancy way of saying they sell a lot of miracle diet pills).” is VERY misleading and inaccurate. They offer “far more” products and services than weight control supplements. I have been a “customer” only of Melaleuca for over 20 years and can attest to the superb quality of their products. Please get your facts correct before posting inaccurate information. 🙂
Once you are ready to buy leads, understanding which lead product is best for you is the next step. Are you interested in calling leads when their interest is at their highest? Then you will want to purchase Real time leads. Are you just getting started and want to get a lot of practice and build your list with a lesser investment? Then, the discounted, aged leads may be better. Test them out and see what works best for you.
Everyday, people get sucked into the lure of MLMs (“multi-level marketing” or “network marketing”) and I can’t stress enough the need to stay far, far away from them. These include Herbalife, Arbonne, LuLaRoe, Younique, Rodan + Fields, and Amway among many others. I understand the need for flexibility, especially if you are a full-time student or are raising young children. Believe me, I also understand getting a job that allows you to create your own schedule and work remotely takes Hunger Games level competition. I am always surprised when I see college educated women sucked into these things. But it’s telling about other issues, like childcare, maternity leave and corporate culture in the US. MLMs are pyramid schemes, and are extremely predatory because the only way to make any money is to sign up more and more people under you which will just ruin your social relationships and make you a pariah where it matters most: your friends and family members.
Hey Ray, I could not agree more that you have to have a constant lead flow and it does take time to generate your own. So of course I always give leads to my new recruits when they are willing to call them. I am not a cold calling type of person so generating my own is the best way for me. I hated cold calling and love the fact that when I call the leads that I generated I have immediate posture because they have already figured out that I am very successful. Thank you for sharing this I know it will help many.. Ray Hidgon is a STAR!!
I learned seo and blogging, failed at that. I learned Facebook ads and email marketing, learned how to target the right demographics for Doterra, now people contact me wanting to know about the oils, then I got present and sign up, this my friend’s is the best of both worlds and what everyone should learn, find your form of marketing, go teach and sign up and leave for friends and family alone, unless you know they’ll want it.
Don’t give up, and don’t throw money into areas where you don’t have to. There’s no such thing as completely free marketing leads – you are always risking something, whether it is your brand, or your future earning potential. However, with good networking, passion, and the right people, you can achieve success. Talk to some mentors and more experienced marketers today, and see what they have to say for you. You may be surprised at how much you can bring in, with the right choices when you are getting started.
Thinking about quitting your job and starting your very own home-based business? Great! Thinking about how you’re going to go about taking on this big venture? Hmmm… That’s a really great question, right? You can either take control of your life today and start doing what it takes to make this dream come true, or you can keep dreaming, it’s up to you. If you choose to take control, take the first step by choosing one of our many Lists so you can start to reach out to those who can help you reach your goals.

The legal distinction between MLMs and traditional pyramid schemes has been characterized by many authorities as a legal fiction. Jurisdictions that retain a legal distinction between MLM pyramid businesses versus illegal pyramid schemes retain said distinction on two key distinguishing features: 1) that MLMs always encompass the sale of actual products/services, while traditional illegal pyramid schemes ordinarily do not (though sometimes they do), and 2) that climbing an MLM pyramid is overwhelmingly statistically improbable (especially to its highest participant levels) but not theoretically impossible, whereas climbing a traditional illegal pyramid scheme is both statistically and theoretically impossible.[citation needed]
Multi Level Marketing (MLM) is a business model or marketing strategy in which the distributors' income includes their own sales, and a percentage of the sales group they recruit, which is commonly known as their ‘downline’. Customers can also sign up as a distributor to sell the company’s product. Usually, the sign up fee will be the price paid to purchase the product.
I was at “Sweetness Bakery and Cafe” the other day to order a hot chocolate with a friend. The barista asked me if I wanted half & half, whole milk, soy, rice, or hemp milk. I had never tasted hemp milk before. And I remembered the transition soy went through when manufacturers started sweetening soy up. So, I decided to try hemp since I figured it was sweet enough or the cafe wouldn’t suggest it. And Oh My God! It was the best cup of hot chocolate EVER! And I was amazed at what can be done with hemp.
4. Cassette tape or video sponsoring. If your company has an exciting cost-effective product cassette tape, it can be used in place of or in addition to a brochure. These are automatic merchandisers that stimulate people to action. While opportunity tapes are important, most successful recruiters lead with a good product tape. Once people appreciate your product offering, they're more open to the business opportunity.
For full disclosure, I want to point out that I am not affiliated with any multi-level marketing or direct sales companies, and that I don’t receive any compensation from the industry for my opinion on it.  I’m sharing this with you because after I wrote what is considered the most widely read, copied, and quoted MLM article in the history of the industry, I was accused of writing it to promote my own MLM business or the industry in general, which is not the case.
Market America is just as known for their massive discounted products portal as they are for their crazy rich CEOs. I’m talking Forbes list, mansion in Biscayne Bay and penthouse in Manhattan, celeb bffs, and giant yachts rich…all thanks to MLM. They’ve hit their fair share of SEC-shaped road blocks, but Market America is still going strong at #29 on the DSN Global 100.

The interesting thing that most people miss about the major connection between retirement and network marketing is that once you strip out the financial aspects, you get a very different picture.   Since the creation of Social Security back in 1935, people have been brainwashed to think that retirement is all about money.  That a successful transition from work-life to home-life requires the right dollar amount, asset allocation, and spending plan. But that’s just not the case.  There are plenty of people with substantial amounts of money saved for retirement that are completely miserable.

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Agree with most of your comments. Born and raised in the corporate community, we never even considered a MLM until came across one after retirement. Looking back we would have looked seriously at the industry much earlier. In any event, we had one good run until management made a few very bad decisions…killing 40 % of our business. But now we’ve found a new home with WGN. Among the many differences is they’re a technolgy company operating as a MLM…go figure.
I would like to try the instagram. I have been in this business since January 5 and not doing very well. Took me a month just to get my children to join & this company is actually giving out shares as you join. Like I said, it took me a month just to get my children to understand the concept of the shares, after sharing the video of Magic Johnson being interviewed by Ellen Degenerate about his reqret for turning down Nike tennis shoes, with one of the owners of Nike being one of the owners of this company & how this is time sensitive, but no one else is interested. Please help.
This article was really informative and honest! I’m not presently involved in an MLM and I don’t ever plan to be especially after reading this article and the comments below. Why? Well because of EXACTLY the kind of “networking” and “recruiting” that these companies and many of the people commenting on here are advocating. I have been bombarded on my facebook, and other social media from people I haven’t spoken to or seen in years. Its becoming constant, and I am not on social media to make money. Roden and Fields, shakeology, some girl I went to high school with is now trying to get me to buy leggins from her. I have a cousin that I actively avoid now because he is constantly steering every single conversation to Herbellife and why I NEED it to be healthy. Jesus. Its just enough already. I’m all for empowering people, and I love the idea of earning an additional income to take care of your family or yourself. But I could not imagine alienating or even just annoying friends and family in order to make an extra dollar. What I dislike most is that many of those that are recruiting make it seem as if they recruiting you simply because they want to “help” you or provide you with an opportunity. They make it seem as if they are doing this out of the goodness of their hearts, when really the actual motivation is line their own pockets with more money, because the more people you recruit for your team, the more money you make. That feels dishonest and slimy to me. Unless I’m asking for “help” or an “opportunity” I wish people would assume that I don’t need and am not interested in one!
It seems to me that in your assessment of the top 25 MLM that you had a preference for one essential oil company (Young Living) over the other (doTERRA) which outranked YL. You give a glowing review of YL and state that they “set the standard” & are a “solid pick”. While you seem to question why people could possibly like doTERRA with comments like “Users swear by the oils, and for whatever reason, people (and not just people in Utah) are strangely passionate about telling their friends about them.” For “whatever reason”??? “Strangely passionate”??? You come across as bias. You also incorrectly state that YL set the standard for quality, while they may have been the first legit EO Co. they didn’t set the standard. Infact their lack of wanting to find the purest most potent EO available (which comes from the country the plants are indigenous to) and having strict testing to ensure the purity and potency is why doTERRA was founded, doTERRA set the standard because YL didn’t want to. And that is why doTERRA is the #1 EO company and why Young Living is not. Not to mention how well doTERRA takes care of the suppliers through Co-Impacting and how they’re improving their lives through The Healing Hands Foundation. The foundation builds wells, schools, provides personal care products as well as many other things. doTERRA is changing lives for the better all around the world so that is one of the “reasons” we’re “strangely passionate” about spreading the good news of doTERRA essential oils. Not only are doTERRA EO more potent and purer making the the “solid pick” they are literally saving peoples lives.
I am considering joining a MLM but can’t decide. Almost everyone I know either does Genesis Pure, Xyngular, or Thrive. I want something that is healthy and simple. Not something you have to do 3-5 items to have great health results. Please help! There are so many choices. I have researched and read reviews, about the companies and they each have pros and cons. Suggestions please Elliot and thanks again for your time and assistance.
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The Federal Trade Commission warns "Not all multilevel marketing plans are legitimate. Some are pyramid schemes. It's best not to get involved in plans where the money you make is based primarily on the number of distributors you recruit and your sales to them, rather than on your sales to people outside the plan who intend to use the products."[21]
Below is a screen shot of a program called Zennoa which l reviewed and was in the pre-launch stage. Google did not even know that program exists and ANY website could have ranked for that search term. There is really no point in wasting valuable time flogging dead horses. There is no need for another review of Empower Network, Vemma or those MLM ancestors … LOL.
Ben Thataway, a CEO benefits forever off of his employees and the employees can spend a lifetime and never make the kind of money they can make in network marketing. I know someone personally that beat out 80,000 representatives, did not join the company untli 3 years after it launched and became the top income earner. What you’ve heard, or what you think you know about network marketing is false.

The term “MLM company” isn’t exactly accurate because the company is not necessarily defined by the fact that it uses a multi-level marketing structure. Instead, a good MLM will be a product-centric company, meaning that it will be, for example, a cosmetics company that uses an MLM structure. Test the product of the company you are interested in; the product must be something that you would willingly advertise even if you weren't working for the company.
Ben Thataway, a CEO benefits forever off of his employees and the employees can spend a lifetime and never make the kind of money they can make in network marketing. I know someone personally that beat out 80,000 representatives, did not join the company untli 3 years after it launched and became the top income earner. What you’ve heard, or what you think you know about network marketing is false.
A: This is a challenge for most MLM distributors. When it come to products, it sounds like you've made a wise choice in your company selection. This will provide a good foundation for sponsoring satisfied customers and is the "back door" approach to a building downline. A satisfied customer will tell others, and the retailing and sponsoring cycle starts again.
Once you are ready to buy leads, understanding which lead product is best for you is the next step. Are you interested in calling leads when their interest is at their highest? Then you will want to purchase Real time leads. Are you just getting started and want to get a lot of practice and build your list with a lesser investment? Then, the discounted, aged leads may be better. Test them out and see what works best for you.

In a similar fashion, when you eliminate money from the network marketing industry, a new perspective emerges.  Personally speaking, I love talking with people who are in this industry because they are always reading, posting, and sharing something inspirational.  They have goals, a dream board, and are generally using the products that they are selling to improve the way they look and feel.
They have the stay-at-home-mother meets women entrepreneur mixture working for them. What does that even mean? Means they have the practicality side of the company that is off the product and they have the sales, entrepreneur people them promoting it, too. Anyone who follows MLM knows its usually too “product practical” (see: Tupperware, Cutco) or too “opportunity-centric” (see: Herbalife).

Ben Thataway, a CEO benefits forever off of his employees and the employees can spend a lifetime and never make the kind of money they can make in network marketing. I know someone personally that beat out 80,000 representatives, did not join the company untli 3 years after it launched and became the top income earner. What you’ve heard, or what you think you know about network marketing is false.
A few noteworthy points on this list… The only companies considered for this list are U.S.A. based; and if you click on each and every company linked above, what you will not find should be as interesting to you (and as revealing) as what you will find. There are no travel companies, only two technology companies (ACN and 5LINX), just one service company (Legal Shield), and 22 health and wellness companies. Even Amway, whose core product line still includes soap, really got started by way of the wellness revolution! Read this book by Paul Zane Pilzer and you’ll understand why nutrition, weight management, and skincare products continue to drive the trends in the network marketing industry to this day.

Thanks for the list. As with anything it’s a matter of opinion and you have to put in the work to see results. If you’re just doing parties in your hometown, that’s probably not going to work. With all the tools you have in the Internet you can really promote whatever it is you’re selling. If you want to be successful with a good company, you have to look at it as a business and roll up your sleeves.
Kathleen, you are right about the “direct sales” thing. They use it because MLM has the well-deserved bad connotation with pyramid schemes. I try to explain to people that true direct selling would be something like Ebay… there’s no inherent multi-level commissions implied by the term “direct sales.” It almost reminds of calling an illegal dog fight a “recreational gaming event.” It may be true, but is far from an accurate description.
The interesting thing that most people miss about the major connection between retirement and network marketing is that once you strip out the financial aspects, you get a very different picture.   Since the creation of Social Security back in 1935, people have been brainwashed to think that retirement is all about money.  That a successful transition from work-life to home-life requires the right dollar amount, asset allocation, and spending plan. But that’s just not the case.  There are plenty of people with substantial amounts of money saved for retirement that are completely miserable.

This group effect also plays into the vital role that a person’s social network can have on their retirement. Studies show that being around negative, pessimistic or sarcastic people can actually be detrimental to your health.  And many people can get stuck in a rut when it comes to who they hang around and associate with. Which means successful aging includes hanging around upbeat, positive people.

Multi-level marketing is a legitimate business strategy, though it is controversial. One problem is pyramid schemes, which use money from new recruits to pay the people at the top, often take advantage of people by pretending to be engaged in legitimate multi-level marketing. You can spot pyramid schemes by their greater focus on recruitment than on product sales.
I’ve heard all the arguments. “How can it be a pyramid scheme if it’s legal?” Through some crafty loopholes. The fact that there is an actual product to sell allows them to operate and give the appearance of legitimacy. “You just haven’t found a good MLM yet.” Wrong. A good MLM is an oxymoron. “But how is this any different from any other major corporation where the CEO makes the most money?” Because the people below the CEO at legit companies get paid salaries and have actual benefits. They don’t depend on endless chains of recruiting new members.
One strategy some sketchy MLMers use to recruit is by giving the impression that if you don't join now, you'll miss out. They tell you that if you don't get in early, the market will saturate and therefore, there won't be anybody for you to sell to or recruit. But that myth is nonsense. First, how many people do you know and how many buy from or are in an MLM? Odds are very few, which means there are many potential customers and recruits. Further, every day there are people who turn 18 and enter eligibility to join an MLM company.
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Compensation Plan: Similar to the plan, this outlines all the ways reps earn money. To be legal and not a scam, the focus when it comes to earning money needs to be on the sales of products and services, not on recruitment of new members. Along with commissions on sales made by you and your team, many companies pay bonuses and increase commission splits based on volume of sales.
Don’t just focus on the glowing reviews from distributors who are making $50,000 per month. You should also pay close attention to those people who never made any money and gave up after a few short months. Why did they give up? What are the common complaints from unsuccessful distributors? Answer these questions to gain insights into the MLM you’re considering.
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I’ve been invited by two people to join MLM businesses. I tried to explain to the first one that she was involved in a legal pyramid scheme, but once you’re sucked in, it’s like you’re brainwashed. When the second person came along, I didn’t even bother trying to talk him out of it. I wrote a post about MLMs back in June and came to the same conclusions that you did.

To prove that we give you more in value, than you could ever give us in money, we provide you with MLM Training and Lead Management Systems at no extra cost. In fact, anyone can get a Free Lead Management System, which also includes a Free Phase 2 Customizable Marketing Site, and any package that has email leads gets a Free Autoresponder with Professionally written emails included. (You can even modify the autoresponder emails at any time.)
(May 2017 update: did this go under?) The sign up cost will make you do a triple take (almost four figures), but you get to set your own retail price on every product you sell. If you’ve got the skills to make people cough up the cash for their products (which, btw, are pretty legit), you could definitely make that money back. They’ve also been winning plenty of awards (even a growth award from the Direct Selling Association themselves).
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