Recently I’ve been seeing negative rumblings around the internet about “that MLM thing.” That’s “multi-level marketing” if you don’t know.
Some companies, like Jamberry, Younique, Young Living, Pampered Chef, Avon, and others take the money that is usually spent in traditional advertising and pay their members in commissions to spread the news about their products.
In other words, Kohl’s and K-mart spend money in advertising to convince you to buy their products. This doesn’t necessarily make them sneaky or dishonest, nor does it make their products worthless. It just means they are using their advertising budget to increase awareness about their products.
And, by the way, if your favorite blogger is showing you a great deal at Amazon or Wal-mart or Vista Print, there’s a good chance she is getting paid to do so. And there is nothing wrong with that. They are receiving a payment from a company in return for advertising. This is often called “capitalism.” (See Proverbs 31 for other examples of a woman practicing capitalism.)
Alternately, multi-level marketing companies pay their members to promote their products. In the same way the stores mentioned above aren’t trying to trick you out of your money, neither are multi-level marketing companies. Again, this is capitalism at work and isn’t illegal or shady, as some claim.
What both kinds of companies are doing is simply trying to spread the word about what they are selling.
The claim I have seen, and one specific claim which was aimed at me, is “She is only telling me about this so she can make money!”
And it is indeed true, that I could be writing everything on my site for the single purpose of getting you to give me your money. Heck, for all you know I’m not really a homeschooling mom of 8 at all, but instead a 52 year old ex-convict named “Scary” Larry Rodriguez.
It could be that I haven’t really taught 7 of my children to read using “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons,” and that I don’t really read “Little Britches” aloud to my children because they beg me to every couple of years, and these pictures of my children doing the Bible study I wrote, “How to Manage Your Mouth,” could even be fakes! (Those are affiliate links, by the way.)
That could all be a ruse.
It might be that my singular interest is to trick you by dishonest means into making myself rich, and in the process making you poor.
And by all means, if you believe those things, I would click away from this site as quickly as possible because you would be a fool to follow my advice on parenting, homeschooling, or anything else!
Except that some of you know me in real life. And you know that I really do homeschool my 8 children, and I really do deeply love many of the books I use to teach them, and I really am not a scam artist who is only interested in getting your money from you.
And that is the beauty of multi-level marketing. For example, when I bought Younique mascara from my long time friend, Ellen, I knew that she would make a commission from the sale, and I was happy for her to have that. I also knew that she would never try to scam me or trick me into buying a product that was worthless.
(Ellen and me – First day of college, 1984)
When I mentioned to Ellen that the only thing I didn’t like was that I sometimes ended up with flakes under my eyes at the end of the day, she told me that meant I wasn’t applying enough of the sealer in the second step of the application process. Voila! Problem solved! Because I know Ellen and because we have a relationship, I can go to her with any concerns I have about the product and she can figure out how to resolve any problems! I know she is honest and believes in any product she promotes, and I trust her.
At the lake with Ellen, summer 2014
Now, if you know and trust someone as a source of valuable information, and you are interested in the product recommended, wouldn’t that be the perfect person to buy from? I know that I probably wouldn’t have been able to get the advice Ellen gave me on applying my mascara from the lady at the counter at CVS. But because Ellen is my friend, she helped me out.
Of course, Ellen didn’t coerce me, pressure me, trick me, or Duck Tape my hands behind my back and force me to order the mascara from her. I was already interested in it and I decided on my own that I wanted to order. Again… capitalism. It was a win/win. Ellen got the commission for bringing the product to my attention, and I got the mascara I wanted with excellent customer support.
No trickery. Valuable product. Excellent customer service.
So, if you are interested in a product, you know the company to be reputable, and you trust the person recommending it, there really is no reason to avoid it simply because it is available through multi-level marketing.
And there is certainly no call to insinuate someone who is involved in multi-level marketing is working toward dishonest gain.