Ask the Readers: Is it worth it to be in a direct sales business?

Today’s question is from Rachel:

I am thinking about becoming a rep for Thirty One products in order to make a little extra money. However, when I contacted some of my friends about whether they would host a party, many declined. Has anyone been successful in one of these direct sales lines? How do I go about lining up people for parties? Or should I just forget it and do something else? -Rachel

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  1. says

    ♥Avon is a nice one because:
    You can leave your personal link for example: anywhere whether facebook, a blog…etc, and if someone clicks on it and shops the store, you get the credit. I don’t even sell to anyone personally these days, just make money by people shopping through my link, and that’s no effort whatsoever, because it directly ships to them, and then up to 45% of the purchase gets deposited into my account every month (easy peazy)

    –Avon’s products are super high quality, and cheap! I mean, who couldn’t afford a $1.99 mascara, or a .69 lip balm, 1.69 shower gel…etc. You don’t have to feel bad when people make a purchase, it’s already cheaper than items at Wal-mart.

    –People know Avon so well, you don’t have to do any kind of sales pitch. IT’s not a negative thing, that it’s so well known, and there are so many Avon ladies out there. It actually will work in your favor.

    ♥I like thirty-one a lot, but the fact that the distributors only get 25% is kind of a put off for me.

    ♥I also sell Premier and LOVE it!! It’s nice to make 50%. I usually make $100-$250 per jewelry show or book party, and that’s with every expense taken out for gas, giveaway prizes, materials…etc You could get rich (well, it can change your life anyway 😉 just on doing the shows, but the rest of the business is extremely generous too. You get 10% of the sales of anyone who signs up to be your premier “daughter”, then 10% of everyone they sign, and then 10% of everyone they sign. They are a Christian company, and give to over 60 missions world wide, Word of Life being the top one. Service, integrity, fairness…all things that are emphasized so much. I could go on and on, but I won’t lol.

    Anyway, with any direct selling, just like they’ve been saying on this thread, you get what you put into it. Service, Service, Service. If someone calls you with customer service problem, go out of your way to fix it. Better yet, beat them to it, call them when they receive their product to see if everything is going well, and if they are happy with their order. Send thank you notes to all of your hostesses, with a special coupon to use around their birthday. It’s those little things that can make all the difference. Tying those strings of friendship, and maintaining a friendship with everyone you meet, is a must.

    I don’t even think about the amount I’ll make when I’m doing a show. It’s always about how can I help my hostess, and serve her guests. It’s not until the show is closed, that I realize that wow I made a profit here too. It all works so sweetly that way.

    I have so much to add, but I’m going to stop here. Yes, you totally can make money through direct selling. It all depends on your outlook, and what you’re willing to do to make it work.

  2. Heidi says

    I browsed through all the comments below and agree with so much of what I read. I lost my job a year ago. I always wanted to be able to stay home with our daughter but financially that was not possible. I figured since I didn’t have a job outside the home anymore that I would look into direct sales so I could stay home. Like so many other comments, I didn’t want to host parties since I hate going to them myself, I didn’t want to worry about quotas or keeping inventory on hand, and people can only use so many purses, candles, necklaces… I kind of figured that’s all that was out there. Thankfully once of my husbands friends introduced us to Team National. It is classified as a direct sales company, but we don’t have any of the above headaches. No products to sell (seriously!), no quotas, no parties, no inventory… All we do is help people save money on things they are already buying (toilet paper, shoes, furniture, dog food, paint, diapers…) without changing their spending habits, and if they choose they can also make extra income helping others do the same. I not making thousands, but enough to keep me from having to get a job outside the home, and I work very part time. Like others said, you do get out of it what you put into it. I pretty much took the spring/summer off and made almost nothing then, but that was my choice, not a fault of the company. I haven’t been involved in any other companies so I have nothing to compare it to personally, just what I have heard from others, but I am completely satisfied with my choice. In today’s economy I wouldn’t have the guts to ask people to buy something from me that I know they don’t need, but our company helps people save money and make money and that never goes out of style!! If you want any more info I’d be happy to help.

  3. says

    I’m a huge skeptic of MLMs and most Direct Sales companies. I’m just not convinced half of the things work or do what they say…a wrap that makes me skinny? Sorry. The only thing that will actually make me skinny is less food and more exercise.

    One company is Send Out Cards. I use their products personally (greeting cards) for my full time job and personal. It’s all online – someone has a birthday you get on your page, select a card or build a custom one, and they print it, stuff it, stamp it, and send it for you. It’s not the cheapest MLM out there but they also have a retail option if people just want to sign up to send cards instead of selling under you.

    I like it because it’s not just a good product for individuals but even more for businesses. Businesses like to send out mail to customers. And this allows them to do it at a lower cost, with higher quality cards. There’s all kinds of great things about it…but I also don’t “sell” it as my business. I use it every week and for Christmas cards each year. I have signed up three people who only signed up on the retail side…so they aren’t out there selling it themselves.

    Other than that…it’s there if someone wants to enroll under me. If not, no big deal. And NO parties!!! That, to me, is the very best part! ! ! :)

    IF you want to know more about it feel free to shoot me an e-mail/reply here. I won’t post my personal page unless someone wants it.

    Best wishes to the person asking the question. I like 31 Products but wouldn’t sell them. If i had to I’d sell Partylite or Scentsy.

  4. says

    Most definitely!!!! I had tons of medical bills due to may child being in NICU and you’ll be amazed at how easy this will become…my friends didnt really enjoy the products (at first) but I told them y I needed to join to make some extra cash. I told them I needed them to have a party for me so I could get too their friends and then their friends and so on….I only joined to pay off these bills but then I made tons of friends…the parties now just fall in my lap and sometimes I make more then at my full time job…I’m now a director and it’s the most amazing company to work for…..I’d love to explain more in detail if you’d like!

  5. Kelly Hess says

    You should really talk to an accountant about this, very few people actually “make” money with these types of companies!

    • says

      I’ve enjoyed reading through the comments on this post. For years, I was not interested in this type of business. The few times I had been to different parties, the consultant was very pushy and I didn’t want to be that person. However, once I heard about Dove Chocolate Discoveries, I was curious. I couldn’t get the idea of a chocolate party out of my head and decided to go ahead and try the business. Because, it’s something I’m passionate about. I love chocolate. I adore good chocolate!

      I’m a firm believer that whatever you do decide to try, it has to be something you’re passionate about. If you’re not 100% behind the business and product, you’re going to have a difficult time talking to people about your business. I also think a consumable product is going to be more productive for you. Repeat business is huge.

      As far as finding your hosts for your business, if you’re dependent on your friends and family, you’re not going to last long. I asked some friends to host my first parties to help me get started. They were curious about a chocolate party and agreed. From there, I booked parties with some people I didn’t know. From those parties, I booked more. You do have to be willing to talk to people you don’t know. It’s been a good experience for me to stretch my comfort zone. I’ve met some amazing people through my business that I would have never met otherwise. The occasional event (fundraiser, bazaar, etc) can help introduce you to new customers. There are a lot of people who don’t have the room in their budget for these types of things. On the flip side, I’ve been to a number of parties where the guests to have the income, they love the product and enjoy shopping this way. There are some social groups that simply enjoy getting together at some type of party like this on a regular basis and doing their shopping, for themselves or for gifts.

      As others have stated, you do have to remember that it’s still a job. You’re in business for yourself and have to be disciplined to work it. I’ve worked out a schedule with my husband as to how many days a week I will be out doing parties and which days work best for us. We re-evaluate that as changes occur. I have scheduled times to make my phone calls to prospective hosts, new team members and customer follow-up calls.

      If possible, follow a local consultant to a party and see if it’s something you can picture yourself doing. Depending on the company, that may not be possible. I was one of the first in my state when I signed up, so I had to wing it! Ask about training, in person, on-line or by phone. When you choose someone to sign up with, make sure it’s someone you feel will be willing to work with you and help support you to get your business started.

      I don’t think this industry is for everyone, but if you do like the flexibility of setting your own schedule, you’re committed to working that schedule and you find something you love, it can be a great fit.

  6. says

    Yes you can make $$ with direct selling – however, it’s not easy – you have to work at it. I have been selling Avon for 8 years and love it – don’t have to have parties, no requirments , great products and awesome discounts. Also have a great support team and everything at my disposal to be successful. It’s finding what is the right fit for you and your lifestyle – worse case scenario – you try it and don’t like it – then quit -but at least you tried. Good Luck kj

  7. says

    I have recently begun working with a company called ACN, it is the world’s largest direct seller of telecommunications and energy. What makes this opportunity different from other direct sales jobs is that I am not selling something that people don’t need. My job is to connect people with less expensive ways to use the services they are already paying for – internet, home and mobile phone, television, home security, and in some states energy. I could never convince someone to buy something they truly do not need, but I love the fact that I can offer people ways to save money on what they are already using while serving my family in the process.

    • Allie says

      I have also recently started working with ACN and I believe it is an amazing company! Like Jamie said it isn’t selling people stuff they don’t need it’s finding a way to help your friends and family pay for their current services for either the same price or cheaper and they in turn help your own family as well. If you have never heard of ACN before it is a great company to look into!

  8. LL says

    I’m a consumer, not a sales rep. Here’s my take:
    If you make and sell an original (or mostly so) product that is all your own, I am likely to buy at least some little something, just to help support you. If you are part of a marketing chain selling something who-knows-who made so that a whole line of people can get rich off of my $50 purchase of something that cost 50c to make – NOT gonna happen.
    Just sayin’. 😉

  9. says

    The trick, in my opinion, is to sell something that is going to need to be replenished. I am a Mary Kay consultant (mostly for the discount) because it’s not only a great company but the products sell (and re-sell) themselves! I don’t hold parties–I just sell to friends and family and continually have extra money coming in. :0) My mom sells Thirty-One and LOVES it. That’s a great company to sell for because they always have new products and prints coming out that women love and are willing to keep buying.

  10. Sarah says

    I was in a network marketing business for the past couple years and am still a consultant but mainly just for the discount now. Luckily though I had signed up with a skincare company so I still get several reorders a month even though I’m not doing any parties. I will tell you that it certainly can take a lot of time and it simply became too much for me to stay dedicated to. Most of them will tell you that it only takes 10 hrs or less a week which may be true in some cases but if you’re like me, an already a full time working mom, 10 hrs is still a lot of time I don’t always have or want to give up. I hoped to use this as way to stay home but eventually I could see that it was taking me away from my family too much with not enough profit for me personally. Now we’re just trying to follow the Dave Ramsey plan and do little things for some extra cash. There were some VERY succesful people on our team so I know that it is completely possible and I do think that most direct sales companies are very smart business plans. The women on my team who were very successful were the ones who were already able to stay home and this was extra income. They did have a little more time and a little more flexibility in their schedules and they could make all the phone calls during naptime and such so keep your time in mind before you decide. But here are some things I would consider:

    – I would pick a company that has products where people will get hooked and reorder such as skincare, makeup, cleaning products. I love Thirty One bags but I’m guessing you wont get as many reorders. Like I said I still have people reordering because they love the product and run out of their face lotion or makeup every couple months. That’s just a smarter business decision where eventually it will take less time because you won’t need to do as many parties if you build a great client base.
    – If you do this, people will always say no. It is hard but you can’t take it personally! They’re not saying no to you, just the business and no might just mean not right now.
    – When you call to ask for a party, first tell them what they are going to get out of it! This is key to booking!!! Tell them the hostess rewards and maybe an extra gift you’ll throw in for booking a party this month! And sound excited about it! If you’re not excited about it why should they be?
    – There’s a fine line between being good at what you do and being pushy… don’t cross the line! :)
    – I will never regret taking this on because I grew so much as a person through my business! If you’re not normally a really outgoing person, that ok! You will grow so much if you do this!

  11. says

    I’ve done a few programs. The easiest and the only one that I was financially successful at was Mary Kay. I love the product, it’s not over priced, and it is a consumable. I love the encouragement and the ladies.

    I attend parties because I know I want to buy something. I love 31 bags! and if you really like a product ie 31 the best way to save is to host a party. Of course it is hard in this economy because like mentioned before, many of us are living check to check. But that is how I filled my kitchen with Pampered Chef.


  12. says

    I’ve enjoyed reading the comments posted so far – such a variation of people’s perspectives. EXACTLY what you’ll run into with ANY business. Not everyone likes the same dental office, not everyone likes the same hairdresser, not everyone likes the same pediatrician. THANKFULLY, or those people would never get to go home and leave their business! For people who stated that NM just doesn’t work, they simply have not found the company that makes them passionate. If you look in ANY of the companies listed, there are people that do well – really well. So rather than saying NM doesn’t work as a blanket statement – ask a different question…why didn’t it work for me? Maybe it was your certainty, maybe it was your effort level, maybe it was lack of organization, maybe it was only trying it for a couple of months, maybe there was no training available for you to learn how to do it. Have you ever watched a REALLY great movie – and have you shared it with others? How do you feel when you share about that really great movie (or restaurant, etc.). Your heart starts pumping, your voice gets louder and more emotional – this is how you have to feel about the NM company you join. THEN you will see that NM works for anyone who wants to put the effort forth.

    I love network marketing, but I really resonate with the people’s comments who say that you have to believe in the product you’re selling. I am with a direct sales company – and we did a LOT of research before we began. We knew that we needed a product that people would continue to consume on a regular basis. Yes, I own Pampered Chef products – and I love them, but there was a time I was getting invited to 6-8 parties a month, so I own all I want to own from them. I also LOVE Norwex products, but as the company grew in our area, I was also invited to 6-8 parties a month and now own all I want to own from them. SO, I would urge you to look at a “more consumable” product than these to be successful for the long haul or as other suggest, find out the saturation in your area. If no one does Norwex, you could probably do quite well for a period of time as people learn about what it is. We partnered with a Health and Wellness company that offers the best quality and most absorbable nutritionals in the world (based on independent research – not the companies own “paid research”), they have a weight loss line that is second to none, a paraben free skin care line (parabens are preservatives that are highly linked to cancers and hormone disruption) and a healthy energy drink (to replace the overloaded sugar and caffeine bombs that you can get in gas stations). So as you can see, there are different “niches” that you can specialize in with this company (all consumable products), or you can promote all 4 product lines. When I started, I needed to lose weight, and I lost 60 pounds that I couldn’t seem to shed after baby #3 after beginning to use the products. I felt my energy returning, my brain returning, and the pounds were coming off without feeling deprived or hungry all day. As you can tell, my excitement about these products built with the great results I experienced on my own. I don’t have to “sell” them at all. People (including the “tough to ask” family and friends) asked ME about what I was doing – and could they do it too? I don’t push sell at all. I let the results speak for themselves. As more people got results from the products, more people ask how they got their results and they’d refer them to me to buy their products. Now I have led several sessions of a 12 week weight loss class that I LOVE. I get to really build relationships with new women over those 12 weeks (not just a one night encounter), and I get to really change lives. It’s not just about the weight loss anymore – I get to hear stories of how Moms now have the energy to go out roller blading with their kids – and that they feel like playing games and running around the park with their kids because their health is better. Blood pressures, cholesterol and blood sugars are dropping for people. I can’t tell you how rewarding that is. And yes, I make a substantial amount with this company, and yes I take one night a week to go facilitate this class in my church and teach others about health. But my family actually gets “more of me” because of the health benefits I’ve received despite me being gone one night a week. Periodically as people have asked me about the skin care line, I have done small demonstrations and facials for women to experience the paraben free system. I have had an 85% purchase rate when I do those events, despite it not being my full passion. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the weight loss system and tend to stick with that.

    I have found that when people begin a product that changes their health, energy and wellness level, they will put it as a priority and continue to buy. SO, when we had a few “bumps” in our road and I couldn’t work the business very much, my checks kept coming and didn’t decrease during a 4 month break of me working my business. THAT is how network marketing is supposed to work. It is supposed to be sustainable – and your efforts, if you’re selling a consumable product, should continue to produce consistently. I know that others have focused on the “expense” of a business like this, but I hope their company had a good training system that should have taught them that mileage, material fees, etc. can all be business expenses and will help you with your taxes. Sandy Botkin has stated that the average person working a home based business should be able to find $3,000 – 9,000 in legitimate tax write offs if they keep track of expenses as the year goes on. Who wouldn’t like to save that kind of money on your taxes…you have to look at that as keeping money in your pocket as well.

    So the other suggestion I’ll give you is to look at what kind of training and support is offered through the company you’re looking at. I saw from the posts that some companies charge for that – which makes no sense – if they want their own company to do well, it should be free, it should be consistent and reachable by all (internet options vs. on location only).

    Then lastly, the only other thing I’ll mention, is that these businesses don’t build themselves. JUST like any other business. If you are a dentist, a hairdresser, a pediatrician, or a restaurant, you’d have to “market” yourself – make yourself known to the community. You can’t just hang a shingle with your name on it in a building, sit there and expect to have your office full in a short period of time. So those who say NM is too much work for your effort – haven’t ever owned any other type of business in their lives either. The benefit of a consumable NM business is that once your customers are happy and buying and consuming what they love from you – they will stay happy for life (as long as you service them properly – connect periodically, answer questions, etc.). I still own my own business in our community as well – and I can tell you that I have to work way harder at maintaining my customer base in that business than I do in my NM company. But either way, you have to treat it like a business. Work at it, be consistent, do 1 -2 things each day and you will be successful.

    Good luck to you in your decision – passion is the key. Don’t just ramdomly pick a business…do your research and the end result will be success, fun, stronger relationships in your community, and more time and financial freedom for your family.

  13. Kirstin says

    This sort of thing seems like a quick way to alienate your friends. If you have access to acquaintances such as in a playgroup or book club or something like that it might be easier since those people will probably feel less obligated or resentful about being marketed to.

  14. Misty says

    I tried selling Pampered Chef products at one time for additional income. I love their products so it seemed like a win-win situation for me. The problem that I ran into is that living in a rural community and with all of the school functions it was hard to get shows set up. I could get the catalog orders pretty easy. They raised the amount you had to sell each month and I ended up buying extra products to stay active. With my job & a child in school, I decided the easiest thing was to host a party when I wanted products. At the time there were multiple reps in our area anyways.

  15. Lisa says

    Avon is probably the easiest fastest way to start, but their products seem to be getting smaller. They have a lot of loyal customers and you don’t have to have a party to sell it. Personally, I am looking to start making and selling some homemade bread. Find a couple of good recipes and go for it. People love homemade baked goods, but most don’t have the time to make them. They can get a purse or makeup anywhere, but they can’t get my banana bread anywhere else :) It is easy to give mini muffins as samples and go from there. Our local Farmers Market is only $12 to set up on Saturday and in my state you can sell homemade baked goods and candy.

  16. says

    I have never worked for a direct sales company before, but recently found Just Jewelry and decided to sign up. My reasons: I love the product and wearing jewelry is an extra plus! Also, there are very few of these consultants around, so you have a better chance of recruiting and hosting parties because it’s something new and very afordable. Nothing in our catalog is $40. You can also make up to 50% on items sold. I too, hate asking friends to have parites, but we also do fundraisers too! I find that people are asking me if they can have parties!!
    You should check it out and let me know if you have any questions!
    Good luck with whatever you decide to do!

    • says

      I wonder who actually has read ALL the posts on here. :)
      It’s sad that most of the posts on here are negative and most are ill-informed.
      The number one thing for success in any business whether direct sales or not, is your ATTITUDE. If you give your mind a backdoor escape, ‘Well, I’ll try it and see,” that’s all your mind hears is the negative and you will most definitely quit and say, “I knew it wouldn’t work.”
      No direct sales business is a get rich quick method. I was a teacher before getting into direct sales. I never saw myself in sales, but it’s not about ‘sales.’ It’s about reaching women and having fun, and who doesn’t love a good deal in the meantime?!
      The great thing about our company is you DON’T keep inventory. You have your enrollment kit and products you earn FREE from the company just for doing your job.
      Success comes 1 day at a time. Are there hard days? Yes. Are there rewarding days? Yes. I have earned a $1,000 bonus, a cruise, free products and gained so many friends along the way! I am most thankful I can stay home with my new baby girl and be her full time mom. I have a fun job I am passionate about and am working towards the next level in leadership and a trip to the Dominican Republic!
      If you have the attitude that you will succeed, you will!
      The majority of women in this company are full time moms, work a full time job and do Thirty-One…most of which eventually quit their full time jobs because of the success and financial freedom they find.
      Don’t let the word ‘saturation’ even enter your mind. That’s ridiculous. Do you say, “Oh that Starbucks will never make it,this area’s saturated!” No! In my little town there are over 7 coffee shops–all thriving.
      Did you know 80% of all female millionaires are in the Direct Sales business?

      Bottom Line: Pick something with little start up cost, something you’re passionate about, have support of your spouse or family members and then believe in yourself! There will always be naysayers no matter what you do in life.
      Believing all the success for you ladies, wherever your path takes you…

      • Sheila says

        I have read all the posts. I live in a depressed area in a town of approx. 18,000. No one can make much in pocket money doing home marketing. The schools, scouts, and civic/community groups all struggle with fund raisers.
        How big is the market you are interested in? Can the community support you? I prefer one stop shopping and don’t have time to run around to parties to buy something over priced. I prefer to hang out with my family on my days off, not spend my hard earned time and dollars excluding them.
        It would not be for me. Do your research. Our farmers market does have some baked goods that seem to sell well here. If you are a good baker, make something different from others. Maybe Gluten Free or no presevatives. Just an idea.

  17. says

    I have seen this posted already but for me I personally believe in Direct Sales. You need to pick a company that you believe in. I do not look at my product like I am selling it but that I am sharing it with people and that I have a gift to give them. I have been very successful with my product. I was invited to speak on stage this year at our annual company convention. It is advertised on the TV, internet, magazines and more 24/7 which also helps me because they pay to get the brand out there. It has name brand recognition which is important. I do not have to do parties or keep any product in my home. I have 4 different websites from the company so that any products purchased are drop shipped and they take care of all the financial part of it. :) I myself am a stay at home mom and I use Social Media to grow my business. I hate to say it but making phone calls and parties our becoming out dated. Most people will not pick up their phone if they do not recognize the #. Most people would rather talk through text or facebook. It does require time and energy but, if you pick the correct product, use the product and learn the skills to talk to people you will be on the right path. Before I started I was very quite and shy but I invested in myself much like investing in college and every time I do I get 10X the amount back in sales because I learn to relate to people. (Self Development is Key) If you do not believe in yourself or your product nobody else will. If you are interested in what I am doing contact me either through facebook or I will send you info and help you decide if it is right for you.

  18. says

    What a fun question. I have enjoyed reading the responses.

    The best advice I have heard about direct sales is to pick a product you really love.

    Then make sure it’s a reputable company. I like the Direct Sales Association:

    It’s made a really big difference to me to have my sister-in-law as my sponsor. She is someone I know and can trust for an honest opinion, and she is willing to help me. Pick a worthy sponsor.

    Unless the product is being sent directly to them, I don’t like the idea of surprising a customer with a shipping charge on top of tax. Research what companies charge for shipping.

    Is it a consumable product? I get a lot of repeat customers because they want more!

    Who can I give my product to as a gift?

    -The more people you can give your product to as a gift, the more potential customers you have.
    -Since I get commission off the gift, it allows me to be more generous.

    I looked at all these factors and picked Scentsy. I love the product.

    No matter what I decide to do, there will always be people lining up to criticize my choice. Pick something you love (whether it’s working for your favorite retail chain or direct sales or teaching preschoolers!!) and spend time with the people who offer you support and encouragement. Pray over your business.

  19. Lee Anne says

    I work with Discovery Toys and I absolutely LOVE what I do! Like people have mentioned before, you have to be passionate about your product and you have to work your business. Discovery Toys fits perfectly into my life. I’m a stay at home mom of a 3 year old and I have lots of mommy friends. I am able to choose when and where I work and therefor I am in control of the amount of money I make. This company offers great training and support. I also live in a large area where there are no other reps close to me. This has both advantages and disadvantages. You have to choose what works for you! Best of luck!

  20. says

    In regards to discomfort to buy or sell at parties, I would consider finding a company that sells product that people HAVE to buy / stuff that’s already in their budget.

    Like food.

    I’m a rep for Wildtree All-Natural Foods (soon to be officially certified organic) and its a brilliant choice because everyone eats. If you hate to cook, Wildtree helps make your food faster and tastier. If you love to cook the same is still true.

    Now, I don’t think direct sales is for everyone. But if you are selling food at a party with friends over wine, it’s fun and an easy “sale” because people are planning to buy groceries anyway.

    For me, when I bite the bullet and follow through with my leads, I make money.

    • says

      Hey, if you are still considering what company you’d like to do, I highly recommend Noonday Collection. It’s a direct sales fair trade business that gives 50% of the purchase price right back to the artisans that create the product. The company is just 2 years old & is exploding all over the US right now. The jewelry, bags, accessories, Sseko sandals, home goods, etc. come from all over the world– and the impoverished & underprivileged are given a sustainable income. I have been AMAZED at the interest & excitement I’ve received from everyone- because they LOVE the idea of their purchase making a difference. At the trunk shows we just share the stories of the artisans, the unique ways the products are made, & the impact the purchases have. And the gorgeous products then sell themselves! I love that I can do this on the side as I stay home with my kids, help raise $ for adoption, AND help other moms all over the world have income while I do it.

  21. Anna King says

    I sold for a well known make up company that used the home party concept. This summer I found the website: What an eye opener. I now realize that all of those companies are multi-level-marketing companies. Most of them are really some form of pyramid where the women/men at the top make most of the money. The gal or guy in the trenches rarely make much money. Now I refuse to go to any home selling party. Friends don’t sell to friends. I just say, the truth. I believe those products are overpriced. The poor sales person is lured in with promises of big money, but that seldom happens.

    Any opportunity that sounds too good to be true, likely is. There are many resources to check out various businesses. If you google Pink Truth, or use the web site you will find links to other resources. There is actually a list of all of the MLMs out there. Pretty much all of the home parties are not money makers. You have lots of expenses for very little in return.

    • says

      Anna, most MLM companies are actually NOT “pyramid” schemes! If they were they would be shut down! The shape of an organization doesn’t make it illegal. Think about a typical large company – one or two CEOs at the top, then below them a few upper managers, below them even more middle managers, then on the large bottom, all of the workers – a pyramid shape also!!

    • says

      There are always scary theories about something and direct sales is an easy target because in order to be successful, you have to be a self-starter and those who find it’s not for them sometimes whine that it was the business or the company, not that it wasn’t a great fit for them. Perhaps that is the one thing that needs to be stated first thing- you have to be a self-starter.

      Pyramid schemes are illegal and MLMs are not. Like Lori B says, pretty much all companies are set up with fewer top money makers than workers- think about this! What business have you seen where the workers make as much as management or where the managers make the same as the president or CEO?

      In direct sales, the people who have been with the companies the longest are making the most money. They simply arrived on the scene sooner and have been with their company longer- they’ve stayed the course and stuck it out building their host and customer base and their team. There are people in direct sales making darned good money (5K,10K and more per month) because they have been working hard at their businesses for 8, 10, 15, and 20 years and more- the same amount of time that anyone spends in a career. If you think about it, you can’t make that kind of progress in a traditional setting. Who ever heard of doubling, tripling, and quadrupling- or more- your income within a decade at a traditional job? The people who make the money work for it- in a pyramid scheme, the people at the top steal it and leave the people at the bottom stranded. That is simply not so in a legitimate (member of the Direct Sales Association, for example) direct sales business- or in any business, for that matter. And the new people make money right from the start- typically about $100 for about 4 hours of work. That is better than retail any day. But like I said in my earlier post, you don’t make money just because you bought the kit- you’ve got to take action and make smart decisions.

      As for selling to friends, I think we all like buying from someone we like and trust. I have friends who own restaurants where I spend my money, tire stores, office supply stores, furniture stores, accounting firms, etc… I know doctors, dentists, and real estate agents who I’d rather spend my money with than strangers who I don’t know or trust. Not only is it a-okay to sell to and buy from friends, but I also said in my earlier post to get out of your circle, because it is not your friends’ and your family’s responsibility to keep your business afloat. You have to network and be a real business person. And as a woman in business, you have the advantage of being a natural communicator and you end up making friends with your hosts, customers, and with your fellow reps.

      People are not lured into direct sales- you make up your own mind when you start a new job- no one puts a gun to your head or waves dollar bills at you to daze and confuse you. I made good money doing direct sales. I wasn’t a big gun in the company- I just worked my business like a (part-time, I might add) business. Someone else may have accomplished far more than I did in those 11 years, but it worked well for me because I did what I wanted to do with it (about 10 or 15 hours/week)- my income was anywhere from 1400 to 2500 per month, depending on how much and how consistently I worked. That’s good for part time!! I am proud of myself for building a good business and it just makes me bristle when someone trashes my 11 year career in direct sales. I mean, I wouldn’t go around trashing other people’s jobs.

      So, I just don’t appreciate a blanket negative-nelly assessment of direct sales. In my opinion, some companies are better than others and I have even seen some (not DSA members, by the way) that are sleezy, but then again, I’ve seen traditional business people who are sleezy, too.

      I’ve also seen traditional business people who have not succeeded at something they tried. Would I say that all new business ventures are schemes just because the majority of new businesses fail, though? Of course not. So there is no reason to say the same about direct sales just because there’s a website that claims to have the “truth” and to have “exposed” all these companies because there are people out there complaining. The internet is full of doom and gloom stuff like that site, and direct sales, unfortunately, is full of former reps who go on to claim that the company or direct sales in general was the reason that they failed, and who don’t own the fact that they tried something that didn’t work out- they may or may not have made smart decisions in their business and they may or may not have worked their business consistently. Like I said, you have to be a self-starter and you have to be smart about your actions.

      Women and men in direct sales are just like everyone else- they are trying to make a living doing something they like. I would like to see people stop dissing them and treating them as though they are being blinded by some kind of conspiracy and led down some money-sucking path- they simply deserve the same respect that any business person deserves. It is a great business for moms, especially, since they can make plenty more in their already-stretched time than in a retail situation where they get a tiring schedule, work all holidays, are on their feet all day, and get no home-based business tax advantages, to boot.

      For the record, I am not promoting any one company and I am gaining nothing from defending the direct sales reps who are honestly trying to make some money or make a living in the direct sales industry, in general. I just want to clear the air. Everyone has a right to do what they think is a good fit in their life and it just may be direct sales for some. It was for me until I left to pursue my dream of making a living writing. I never appreciated negative-nellies and snobs who are too good for sales. It’s a service profession that I was proud to have spent my time in. It paid the bills for this single parent- and it was really fun, too. And I was not the last successful person in direct sales- you get what you put into it if you make smart decisions and if you take action.

      • says

        AMEN – I was going to write a reply to this as well, but you’ve said it all so well. The company I joined has been around for over 14 years – and yes, the majority of huge money makers got into the company early and thus have had 14 years to build their customer base, but there are also some very young gen y-ers who joined with the company within the last 5 years who are making just as much as the 14 year veterans. As I mentioned above, I make a healthy income with this company and work it very part time. If I chose to get out of balance, and ignore my spouse, three kids, home, other business, etc. I could be making those large amounts of money too – but that is not what motivates me. I enjoy helping people with their health, having extra spending money, and enjoying the extra time with my family. Check out the compensation plan of the company you are looking at – a great company designs it so that ANYONE can be successful – not just those at the top. All compensation plans are not created equal – so check out resources and companies who evaluate them. Anyone can be successful at NM – and I agree with the post above that ANY business can fail. My main business cost me around $100,000 in education not to mention the huge start up cost, building and equipment costs and consistent overhead costs – and I’ve seen a LOT of my colleagues fail and lose a LOT Of money both on their education as well as the very high business/start up/equipment costs. So getting a “real” job is not failproof either unfortunately. Bottom line – do your research, find something you love and can be passionate about and make sure you work at training yourself every day. Never stop learning and growing! Good luck!

  22. Beth says

    I’m an inactive Mary Kay consultant. I used it a few years ago to get my own products at 50%. I no longer use MK but have considered direct sales since. I doubt I’d be successful with our current schedules (I work part time out of the home, husband is firefighter w/ 24 hr shifts and 2 young children) or with where we live (out in the country (20-30 min into town).

    Our location would eat my profits with gas money and my personality (introvert by nature) would likely be the biggest hurdles.

    I would consider consumable product (make up, oils) over non-consumable first (Bags) as this is an easier to maintain consumer base. Saturation in your area is also important. My area is heavily saturated with 31 and Pampered Chef to name a few.

  23. Courtney says

    I did take the time to read all the comments. There are a few themes:

    1) I don’t want to feel guilted into attending parties where I have to spend money.
    2)Pick a consumable/good company/well known/not saturated/something you love and use company.
    3) Most of the sales reps who said it’s great have been doing it for years, or got in with the company when it was brand new. (Most, there are a few exceptions)
    4) I don’t have the money to spend on those products, and I hate the pushy sales pitches to the point I avoid them as friends.
    5) My company is the best because….
    6) You can’t just depend on friends, you must market at craft fairs, etc. (Side note: I went to our local town day and I saw every company mentioned by name as well as a few others there. There were even duplicates of the most popular ones. I avoided all of them.)

    Personally, I would have a serious discussion with your significant other, or a parent. They know your personality. If they live nearby, they know your area and the struggles there. They also know the “Why” you are considering this.

    The fact that you are already in doubt due to friends saying no to parties would be a red flag to me. Since the majority of Direct Sales businesses also have a up/down line of consultants *you make more money if the consultant below you sells product* they are technically a Multi-Level Marketing program. MLM’s are something to avoid. They are not true scams, but they will start to feel like it, especially if there is a minimum you have to buy.

  24. says

    I posted once before but didn’t see my comment appear, so here goes again- a bit long, but I feel I need to support those who are doing well and give an informed opinion for others:

    I said I would never do direct sales- I was too good for that- and then ended up with Pampered Chef for 11 years after watching a few friends do well. At first, it was spending money I earned, and then I worked my way up to an income of 1400 to 2500/month, depending NOT on how the market or the economy was, but on how much I worked my business. And I don’t mean being pushy- what I mean is, how much customer care and host coaching did I do? How much reaching out and building relationships did I do? (Real relationships, not sales-y or what’s-in-it-for-me relationships.)

    When you are in direct sales, you are self-employed. You’ve got to be a good boss to yourself and you’ve got to be a good employee- not the kind of employee that you as the boss would fire for assuming that you get paid for “thinking about working” and for playing office- you have to take action. You have to work your business regularly by making calls to connect with people. (Do it for a set amount of time- not open-ended being on the phone all the time- that’s torture on your family.) You have to be friendly, not pushy. Pushy just never, ever works. You can’t beg the same ol’, same ol’ crowd forever. You’ve got to branch out. When I started, I had a hard time finding my first six hosts because I was shy, and by the time I left (to pursue my dream of being a writer), I had over 2,000 contacts in my database and had held over 800 parties.

    You’ve got to over-book. It’s an appointment-based business, after all, and life happens to people. And along with that, you’ve got to host-coach, because you’re just wasting your time otherwise- you might as well hand your host her hosting packet and ask her to throw it away for you if you don’t communicate with her and build a relationship before her party. Otherwise, she’ll just never get excited and never get around to inviting people. You’re her partner in a successful party.

    At my parties, I focused on the fun and the aspect of getting together for a good time. I loved the products and the recipes and worked to create an awesome atmosphere that would have the host telling me that she was so glad she had the party and would have the guests leaving and saying to the host, “Thank you so much for having me- it was a blast and I can’t wait for my products to come in. This was totally worth my time tonight!” Really, that was always my goal- to have everyone involved having a great time.

    I would have sour-puss customers who’d be smiling and laughing by the end of the party and I’d have people who’d say, “I almost didn’t come today because I was so tired- or because I hate these things- or because I didn’t know anyone but the host, etc., but I am so glad I made it- it was so fun!” I encouraged the host to fill the house so that no one would feel the buying pressure being the only few there- and so that only those who wanted to buy would do so.

    You might think that I was a natural socializer, but I really had to work at it- remember, I was shy. I just believed that I was offering people a great product with a great guarantee, a great time with some friends, great recipe and cooking ideas for their families, and great customer service from me. I am an introvert and would just have to breath deep when I picked up the phone or when I walked up to someone’s door. But I cannot begin to tell you how much I came out of my shell when I needed to, how much I learned, the skills I gained, and the friends I made.

    Here’s how to make more money than you spend- and by a long shot, too: DO NOT succumb to buying product because you just have to have it all and because you get a discount. In The Pampered Chef, you invest in your starter kit and then you can just earn more product and paperwork IF IF IF IF you work your business. Absolutely no inventory is necessary in this particular company. Pampered Chef (and all of the legitimate companies, I imagine) is not in the business of earning money off their reps, nor are they in the business of giving away stuff to reps who are expecting a whole lot for nothing. You do your part, they do theirs.

    When I first started, I was on such a shoestring budget that I couldn’t afford anything extra and my recruiter told me not to worry about that, that as long as I was watching the promos and doing parties, I could get pretty much everything I needed when they put it on a promo and to just take the starter kit to my parties for demos and learn to sell out of the catalog (which has wayyyyyy too much in it to carry to parties anyway). She also told me to never invest more than 10% back into my business, that I was there to make money, not spend it. She told me that she didn’t want anyone on her team complaining that they spent more than they made, that if they did, they hadn’t listened to her at all.

    So I made money from my direct sales business right away because that was my goal and because I listened to good advice. I treated my business like a business and invested in my kit first, then I invested my well-spent time in learning and in earning money. Also, if you read an excellent book called “Lower Your Taxes Big Time” by Sandy Botkin, CPA, you will find, as I did, that the tax benefits of owning a home-based business are incredible, truly incredible- from your starter kit, to the gas you use, to the office supplies you need, to a portion of your phone bill, to your computer- all legitimate home-based business deductions. Find an accountant who is knowledgable of the direct sales business or learn all you can to take advantage (NO, I do not mean to cheat) of what the tax codes legally allow you.

    Do your homework. Don’t expect to get paid to do nothing. Get trained. Don’t expect people to flock to you- go to them. New generations are setting up homes every year, so there are always new customers. GET OUT of your circle and stop harassing your family and friends- business really is everywhere and if you love your product, so will others. In my little, little town, there were at least 3 of us within 2 miles doing a totally bang-up business- I’m talking 5-10 parties/month and 1500 to 3000/month in income. I did parties in town and up to an hour out of town (totally my choice) and I worked my own schedule, which at one point was weird- I could only work a certain couple of spots in the week- but I learned to book those very spots.

    Learn how to take full advantage of your company’s compensation plan and work it. And for goodness’ sake, don’t make the assumption that everyone is on an ultra-tight budget. Think about the people who walk into Walmart for toothpaste and milk and come out $100 later. People buy what they want and what they see a need for. Life is more than what your own experience is. And when you get out there and find customers and hosts outside of your circle, you’ll find people living life their own way, not just your way. Ladies love to get together, to take good care of their homes and their families, and to have something new and fresh once in a while in the way of products and ideas. Whether your product is consumable or not, you are probably offering something that will add to someone’s quality of home life. If you impose your personal decisions on people, then you are deciding something for them.

    Recruiting, by the way, is sharing. You are not the last person ever to be interested in selling your product or in earning an income doing something on your own terms. Don’t be a piggy, just let people know they can do it, too. You build your business in the long run by building a team, but at first, your main income is sales, so don’t buy into the thing where people accuse you of recruiting them just for yourself- you’ll make a few dollars only from their sales until you build a significant team, but really, building a team is where the fun really takes off, so share your business and it won’t be long before you discover a whole unexpected side to direct sales- your inner leader and business woman.

    Lastly, take total advantage of every bit of the training your company offers- you are a fool if you don’t- and then also look into training from people like Belinda Ellsworth, Julie Anne Jones, Mary Christenson, etc.- these ladies have walked the talk and are dynamic, especially Belinda Ellsworth. Whatever training you get from your company is almost always free and let me tell you, people in other businesses pay top dollar for the quality of what you learn in direct sales. You learn things that will take you far in your next venture in life.

    I loved direct sales and made it work. I get nothing from sharing my enthusiasm with you right now- I just believe that it is a viable, legitimate business model and I will always defend it against misinformation and trashing from those who are cynical or who just want to complain or who went into it and never got trained and never worked their business, but instead expected something just for buying the kit. It was great training for working on my own now and great training in getting out of my shell and in gaining confidence and in getting more efficient, too. I also have an awesome kitchen full of products that I earned for free. And yes, I earned some amazing trips that cost me nothing more than souvenir money because they were awards for doing a decent job- and by that I mean about 6 parties a month consistently, not by working till I was raw to the bone. So very do-able for the person who is willing to learn and take consistent action- just an awesome experience.

  25. says

    One of the issues about making money concerns whether or not you are building a team. If you find other people who are excited about the company and what they are doing, then go ahead and build a team. When you get paid on their monthly sales, you begin to build a residual income! If you don’t have a team, you will have to keep working every month to make money through your own personal sales. Which would you rather do? Personally, I am working on team-building because I see the value of residual income! Not everyone cares about that, and just does the parties for fun or a few extra bucks. It really depends on what your goals are. Just something to think about! 😉

    Saving people money on gas & electric at

  26. says

    I have started several direct sales businesses in the past and none have been as successful as the one I started 2 months ago. I am a designer with Origami Owl lockets. They are personlized by you lockets. They are round clear glass pendants that are magnatied to shut that hold your choice of hundreds of charms. There are also handstamped plates, dangles and gemstones. The commissions is amazing. Anyway, you really have to work at your business and you really have to go outside your circle of friends to get the business. Online marketing is a great too.If you really want it bad enough, you will find a way to make it work. Good LUCK!!

    • says

      After vehemently refusing to get invloved in direct sales for years, I finally bit the bullet when I found something I fell in love with – Origami Owl. A new company, about 2 years old. only about 4000 current reps, and a wait list of about 6000 waiting to join! I have been out of work for 2.5 years and am hoping to make just enough to contribute to the bills and have breathing room, maybe $500-1000 a month. I literally just signed up, so I don’t know what the income reality will be, but with 3 little kids, I can make my own schedule and be there for school events, doctors appointments, whatever. In my tiny town of about 2,400, many of the parents of school age children do direct sales, so there must be something to it.

      • says

        Oh, I forgot to add, I have done vendor fairs with my fairly priced homemade goods right along side booths of direct sale companies. I did not make a dime. People walked right by me to something they had heard of, even if it was overpriced. So you have the advertizing already done for you when you go with direct sales.

        • says

          And my experience has been the opposite. I have done vendor fairs for over a decade now for various companies I have been with and products and services. The MLMs tend to drive people away. If a crafter gets stuck by one they lose traffic because people don’t want to get sucked into the MLM table.

  27. Kristin says

    I just began with a company that gives you your starter kit free, and only requires you to sell a certain amount within 3 months. Yes, I know that is uncomfortable to lots of people, but since my product is one that everyone uses in some form, I have had no problem reaching that goal in under one month. I really like what I am selling because I feel like it really does help people save time and money in something that we all have to do. If I didn’t really believe that my product really was something that benefits the customer (besides making them look prettier) I couldn’t sell it. It is also helpful that there is really only one real competitor for our product, and their options, while slightly cheaper are not as varied. I am not doing it because we need the money for survival or for me to stay at home. If that we’re why I was doing it, I would be super hesitant simply because it is not dependable and I would not want that pressure. But since I am doing it to have a little fun play with money, and I really believe people in my area should know about this option for their daily lives, I am enjoying it.

  28. Tessa says

    I personally love these types of companies because I feel, even if I could get the items somewhere cheaper, I am supporting a local business. I know lots of people who sell 31, Mary Kay, Pampered Chef, etc. Most of them do really well with it, and I would rather help them by buying their products than buying from a big corporation. I respect mothers who work from home to help their families out. It is something that you have to work at and you have to love the products. I have considered joining one myself, but haven’t taken the time to fully pursue it yet.

  29. JK says

    I get sooooo tired of being invited to these parties!! I can usually find the item cheaper online and similar if I really needed it.

  30. says

    Don’t do it. Sadly, the era of good and honest direct sales companies is over, long over. I am a former sales director for one of the biggest direct sales companies and I can tell you they are all scams. There are plenty of things a mom can do to make some extra money legitimately with out getting involved with one of these companies. I wish you the best.

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