Why Multi-Level Marketing Just Isn't for Me


If you’re a blogger, you may or may not be familiar with multi-level marketing companies. If you’re anyone who has a social media account, you are probably familiar with an old friend or a stranger messaging you about an exciting opportunity and that they only have a few spots left on their team. If you have a public Instagram account at all, I’m sure you’ve been asked to be a product tester for a personal discount.

Multi-level marketing has become quite prevalent as of late and I don’t know a single person who hasn’t been approached by someone promoting a product or service from such a company. There are many pieces out there - podcasts, Youtube videos, news stories, etc - that tout the pros and the cons of this business model. This post was not created to add to that debate. I’ve heard both the pros and the cons. I know from the policy side, both the pros and cons of MLMs. I’m not here to argue either way. If you are in an MLM or are in network marketing or direct selling and you’re having a great experience, good for you! I genuinely mean it. I’m glad it’s working for you because I don’t wish ill on anyone. If you hate MLMs with a passion, I get it and I understand. While I personally fall on the side of con regarding this business model, I again want to reiterate that I don’t want to debate why it’s good, why it’s bad, why it makes sense for some brands and not others. I get it, we all have our own agenda. The agenda for this post today is to talk about why I personally would not be a good fit for any multi-level marketing companies and why if you were to have me as your downline, you’d probably regret it.

I’ve had an influx of messages lately from people ranging from asking me to be their downline, asking me to pay to test out products, and asking me to promote their MLM in a post. To be honest, I’m not great at confrontation (even in online form) and I hate being put in a position where I’m pressured to say yes. This post will be what I’m going to start linking to when my cowardly ass is too scared or lazy to explain why I don’t want to do this. While most people are quite good at respecting my “no’s,” I’ve had a few people who wanted a more in-depth explanation. While I don’t necessarily think I owe anyone an explanation for why I do or don’t want to do something, I think having a list of reasons written out like this would be handy for such confrontations. So without further ado, here are some answers to common questions that I’ve gotten regarding why this particular business model isn’t for me:

I have a few spots open, would you like to join my team?

No, I would not. I work a full time job, I blog part time (but frankly takes up a LOT of time, almost like a full time job would), and I have very little time to myself as it is. Not only do I not have the time, most network marketing jobs require a LOT of social interaction and as an introvert, the socialization aspect of it tires me to my core. I hate talking to strangers in public places (seriously, when people I don’t know try to make conversation with me on the metro, I want to run away most of the time). Frankly, it’s probably in your best interest not to have such a socially awkward/introverted person like me on your team because I would sit there hating life due to all the talking to people I would inevitably have to do. And it’s not just face-to-face interactions either. I have super outgoing friends and as much as I adore them to bits, I have to mentally work up the energy to text them back sometimes because I know that one text convo with them can sometimes last for hours. I don’t want to approach strangers over the internet when my own extroverted friends exhaust me. (Seriously though, I do love my friends, but as an introvert, I am just not made for extended social interaction. Luckily, my boyfriend is extroverted and he handles long social situations for me :)

It takes no time at all, you can do this in your free time

I have a hard time believing you know what my schedule is like but for the sake of argument, let’s say you do. I barely have enough free time as it is and during my free time the last thing I want to do is cold message people I don’t know, or even people I do know, to either buying products or joining my team. As someone who gets those messages a lot, I find the interaction so uncomfortable and guilt-inducing, I hate the idea that I could make anyone else feel like that. If you enjoy talking to strangers in your free time, then yeah, network marketing and MLMs may be your thing. Those are not things I want to do in my free time.

Don’t you want to be your own boss, set your own hours, work on your own time?

No! Absolutely not. I have a good job that I enjoy. I have a steady salary that allows me to live comfortably. I get benefits and a 401K. I have a boss I genuinely like. I don’t have sales quotas to meet every month. Believe it or not, I don’t want to be my own boss and I don’t feel the need to be excessively wealthy. I just want to live comfortably and my current work allows me to do that and I value this stability more than potentially being rich. Not everyone wants to work for themselves, including me. I work in a field I am absolutely passionate about and sales is definitely not something I personally have ever wanted to do. Not every 9-5 sucks, and not every person has a corporate job that makes other people rich - I work in political advocacy. Frankly, even if I was working to make someone else rich, I’m actually okay with that as long as I am compensated fairly for it, which I currently am. Again, not every 9-5 job is soul-sucking. I look forward to coming into work every Monday.

My parents also owned a small business and were their own bosses - they had a dry cleaners. While it ultimately worked out for them, I remember the weeks, and sometimes months they struggled to just break even - in the early days they were operating at a loss! Luckily for them, the business turned around and they were able to sell it for profit when they decided to retire. My parents are strong people for being able to face the instability that most new businesses go through but now I know first hand that I personally don’t have that strength. I could not deal with the anxiety that would inevitably eat me up if I didn’t have the knowledge of exactly how much money would be in my paycheck every time payday rolled around.

If you’re not good at social interactions, joining my team could help with that

I didn’t say I wasn’t good at social interactions - I wasn’t raised by wolves and I know how to be polite, even to people I don’t like. I just said I didn’t like them and I don’t want to spend the free time I have forcing myself to act excited about something that I’m clearly not wanting to be a part of. Wouldn’t you rather have a downline that was actually excited about direct selling and network marketing than someone like me who would clearly hate it?

But Think of the money you could make!

Firstly, thank you for believing in me that much because I don’t think I could make a lot from just sharing things on social media. I barely make enough through my blog and my primary source of income is my full-time career in advocacy so I do think you may be giving me too much credit. However, to me, my potential earnings is not worth all the work I’d have to do, and especially the kind of work I’d have to do (again, the socializing aspect of it would honestly feel like work).

Okay,then Would you be a product tester for me for a discount?

I’ve collaborated with brands before and they’ve never asked me to pay to do them a favor. The idea that I would pay money for a product I never asked for to do work for someone else is really backward to me. I understand that people pay money to own their own business or franchise and such but that’s not what I’m being offered right now - you’re asking me to pay you to do you a favor, not start my own business. Influenster just gives me nice products to review at no cost to me but you want me to buy products from you to test as a favor? Why don’t you just ask me if I would want to buy products from you, not be a tester. At least that would be accurate. (The answer would still be “no” on principle though).

Fine, fine. Would you be interested in purchasing any of my products?

Not really. You see, I’m currently on a year-long shopping ban and I’ve decided to only purchase products I absolutely need when I run out. That means I don’t have the luxury right now to just shop for products and hope they work because I’m not allowed to buy anything until I use it up. I have a list of products I know work for my skin and those are what I’m sticking to until my ban is over.

But it’s a self-imposed ban. You can break it and support me

You’re right that it’s self-imposed, but here’s the thing: I don’t want to break it. That’s my prerogative, and it doesn’t make me a bad person for wanting to buy certain products and not others. I’m sure your product works great for you and all but I like what I like and I want to buy what I want to buy. I don’t have an explanation for it, other than “capitalism,” but I refuse to be treated like a horrible person because I don’t want to spend my hard-earned money on something that I don’t want to use or need, just to make me feel less guilty about hurting a stranger’s feelings on the internet.

Also, if you’re guilt-tripping people into buying things they don’t want or need, you’re not being a good person either.

Okay, well then would you post something on social media for me promoting me?

Firstly, I only ever work with brands whose values align with mine. When I get asked to promote products by those companies, I at least receive the products complimentary and am usually compensated beyond that for my time and efforts as well. I have turned down collaborations with brands that didn’t align with my values or whose products I wasn’t 100% behind. I’ve yet to be approached by anyone working with an MLM to meet all of these criteria.

So let me know, guys, what are your experiences with MLMs? Have they been good, bad, or okay? Have you worked with an MLM brand for your blog? Share your thoughts in the comments, I’d love to know!

DeborahWork, Lifestyle