MLMs–a Love/Hate Story

I, too, have fought my desire to be part of a multi-level marketing business. I love the idea of selling something from home. I have tried selling Younique on two occasions and Beachbody coaching once.

But ultimately, I must call these businesses what they are–pyramid schemes with goals that are unattainable for little old me. I’m not saying they don’t work for some people who work (very hard) at them. I’ve known several friends who have had measurable success in various enterprises. But they are what an ex-fling called “regressive economic models,” and they are not for me.

Do I need help right now? Well, sure. I’ve lost my health insurance and I’m mentally ill, which is not a great combo. I worked part time essentially just enough to pay for last year’s health care and ultimately I still owe money for an ER visit. I am foregoing my monthly premiums to pay for oh, I don’t know, groceries and stuff. My temporary job is soon coming to an end and though I receive job placement assistance because of my disability, I’m terrified.

Enter the temptation of the shiny new MLM.

Most of the things sold by MLMs are slightly unaffordable for me. What I mean by that is that I should be spending my money on, I don’t know, groceries and stuff. There are minimal start-up costs for some of them, it’s true. But when you pile on the stock or the workout DVDs you’re supposed to have on-hand it quickly becomes unaffordable.

So what did I do when I was married? I started two of those suckers at once. Beachbody AND Younique. Working out and looking fabulous by putting on makeup and taking selfies. Sounds easy and ideal, right?

$1000 plus in personal purchases later and eh-hem. Yeah. You get the drift. Though I was trying my hardest and branching out past my comfort zone and doing all the things the top sellers told me to do, I was falling flat on my face. Figuratively, of course, but sometimes literally. I’m very lucky I didn’t hurt myself beyond the old and expected knee injuries. Back then I could afford physical therapy. Now, not so much.

Recently I started up another one of these small businesses. Makeup again, because hell, who doesn’t love a good selfie or fifty? I was told to ask friends that would be supportive as a way of hand-picking people for my business page.

I was not expecting the backlash I got. It turns out people would really rather just give you money then waste it on something they don’t need. Especially when the prices for many working folks seem outrageous and they know you will only make a percentage of it back. It makes sense when you think about it.

And the person who convinced me to dabble again is a really good person. The kind who is successful at this sort of thing and has the “I can do it so you can do it” attitude.

Unfortunately, I can’t do it. I am the worst salesperson because I am a cynic and if I don’t like a particular product, I will tell you what I think about it. If the newest glittery black eyeshadow makes me look like I’m ready for a My Chemical Romance concert I’ll let you know. If I think something costs too much I will let you know. If I don’t want to have to pay over $100 bucks a month for a maintenance nutritional shake I will let you know. And as an added bonus, I will usually make fun of whatever products I find particularly offensive, which in general is not good business practice.

Also, directly messaging people? I don’t really like it unless we’re having a personal conversation. I am the world’s worst solicitor. I will now take time to apologize for those direct messages I’ve sent so far on Facebook. And those I sent when I briefly worked for my real estate friend. Ugh. Never again. I am horrible at networking, people. I’m also not that great at marketing, though I plan on figuring that out soon just to spread the bloggity-blog near and far. I’ve liked shedding some light on living with chronic illness and I think the more people who talk openly about mental illness the better off we all will be.

Where was I? Oh, yes. I find myself, sadly, in a position where I cannot help my friend out the way I’d intended. Because I know that ultimately I try, and I try, and I will sell nothing. I wish my friends in these businesses much luck because I know that along with drive you’ll need it. And I know you work your booties off, and I respect that. I’ll even buy stuff from you once I can (truly) afford it.

But for now, I must bid adieu to my dreams of staying at home and somehow making money from these enterprises.

I don’t call myself The Former Idealist for nothing.

 

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