When you start writing and talking about being self-employed, small businesses and being a woman in business, you immediately catch the attention of the MLM ‘huns’. All I did was share my logo for my blog on my Instagram page, and I had no less than four direct messages from women asking me if I wanted to join their ‘team’.
No, I do not want to join their fucking team, and apart from this blog post, The Freelancer Blog will remain an MLM-free zone.
What is an MLM?
MLM stands for multi-level marketing and is basically a pyramid scheme. You’ll get all the Huns saying that no, it isn’t a pyramid scheme (because they’re illegal) but they pretty much follow the same pattern. Some of the ones that you’ve probably heard of include:
- Juice Plus
- It Works
It basically involves someone at the top starting a company and then recruiting people. That second tier of people then recruit the third tier and take a cut out of any money that they make. The third tier then recruit a fourth and take their cut from them, and so on, creating a pyramid. With me so far? Good.
With most of the multi-level marketing operations that I have researched, the people sucked in are encouraged to buy starter packs or kits and flog them to their mates. I know that in some MLM’s, if you don’t sell anything or buy anything for more than a few weeks, you become inactive and have to start all over again. If someone hasn’t made any sales that period, they then end up buying it out of their own pocket to remain active. The products aren’t cheap, and interestingly, the price is NEVER disclosed immediately – you usually have to click through to a sellers page to find out more, or are told to ‘inbox me hun’ for more details on the product and for them to try to recruit you into their
Why do I dislike MLM’s so much?
People rarely make money from an MLM – they usually lose it
According to some independent consumer watchdog agencies, between 990 and 999 out of every 1000 participants in an MLM lose money – more than 99%. Sure, the people at the top might make some money, and maybe the next few tiers, but eventually, the market becomes so over-saturated with this type of business that the lower tiers struggle to make any money. You only have to look at your local Facebook selling group to see all the posts trying to recruit people!
They often make dangerous and untrue claims
No capsule or pill sold by an MLM distributor can make you lose weight. Nor can they cure you of diabetes, cancer, depression, fibromygalia or any other illness. They contain a few vitamins, which you would get by eating a healthy and balanced diet. Sure, you might lose weight with some products, but only because they are meal replacement products. Start eating normal food again, and the weight will creep back on. The detox and coffee teas are the same – there is nothing in there that is going to make you lose weight, apart from a potentially unhealthy dose of laxatives. Don’t you think that if the pills and coffees and teas were that magical, the NHS would be making full use of them?
They prey on vulnerable people
This is the thing that gets me most furious. Every single day I see posts on social media asking for mums to ‘join their team’: stay at home mums who might need a few extra quid for Christmas, working mums who desperately want to work from home, single mums who are struggling every single day. They’re lured in with promises of quick cash, quick weight loss, holidays, new cars and bonuses.
Then they target the people who want to lose weight. It’s particularly rife around Christmas or the summer, and don’t even get me started on the ones who go for new mums. I have seen screenshots of an MLM’er trying to sell (and/or recruit!) a mum who had given birth two days previously, offering them an easy solution for getting rid of their ‘mummy tummy’. I mean, seriously?
They ruin friendships
Sadly, this is something that has happened to me – I lost what I thought was a very good friend to an MLM. Every single post on their Facebook timeline was selling their snake oil and celebrating their ‘financial freedom’. “Fine”, I thought, “I’ll just unfollow”. Then she asked me to go to hers for one of our regular catch-ups and coffees. I went – and that’s when I realised that she no longer saw me as a friend, but as a customer or someone that she could recruit. Once she realised that I wasn’t going to be drawn into it, she never spoke to me again. I will always support someone starting up a legitimate business, but I will never support an ‘MLM’ business.
This only grazes the surface of why I will never endorse any MLM on my blog, or in real life for that matter. If you have had a negative experience with being a part of an MLM, please get in touch with me and share your thoughts and experience.