How to Pick MLM Companies to Join (And Should You Even?)

By Alexis Rodrigo | Entrepreneurship

May 30
MLM Companies: Should You Join Them?

I have a confession: I recently joined two companies to use and promote their products.

And I swear, it’s all the pandemic’s fault!

Hear me out.

Why Promote Other Companies' Products (NOT MLM Companies)

The first company I joined was Melaleuca and here’s why: They produce a plant-based disinfectant that’s EPA-registered and approved for use against SARS-COV2 (the virus that causes COVID-19). Melaleuca is a shopping club and I joined so I could buy this:

Sol-u-Guard Disinfectant by Melaleuca

I joined Melaleuca because of this botanical disinfectant that's effective against COVID-19 (Image Credit: Angela Coffman)

I’ve never used bleach in my home because of the toxic fumes. But before discovering Sol-U-Guard by Melaleuca, I bought a jug of bleach since my old stand-by, vinegar, doesn't work against COVID. What a relief to know I never ever have to use it!

Since there’s no obligation to stay in the program, I decided that I would join, buy what I needed, and get out.

But after ordering enough Sol-U-Guard to last me one year, I’ve stayed on, because my Melaleuca membership has ensured that my family has a steady supply of:

  • Hand sanitizer
  • Vitamin C (with more zinc than I've found on other brands)
  • Vitamin D

I joined two companies to promote their products (don't judge me!) and I blame it all on the pandemic ....

Click to Tweet

I’ve even gifted hand sanitizer to friends who couldn't find them anywhere!

The second company I joined is Juice Plus+. I joined because I’d been salivating over a Tower Garden since a friend posted a picture of one in her classroom in California so many years ago. I checked it out, saw the price tag, and decided it was too expensive.

Fast-forward to April 2020, at the height of the pandemic's stay-at-home restrictions.

Another friend posted about her tower and this time, the price tag didn’t sound so bad. PLUS, there’s a zero-interest payment plan. PLUS, if you join, you save 10% because you earn a commission.

Yes, there's a fee to join, but I did the math and I still came out saving.

Besides, I believe in the importance of growing your own healthy food—all year round—that I have no qualms whatsoever about promoting this product.

Tower Garden Juice Plus+

I joined Juice Plus+ because of the Tower Garden, so I can grow food indoors all year long.

Be realistic about how much you can make by promoting products by MLM and other companies. It's probably not enough for you to quit your day job.

Click to Tweet

Now, I don’t know how you feel about direct sales, network marketing, and MLM companies, but I believe they’re not all bad.

In fact, it's one of the easiest ways to start a home-based business, because the products are already created. You don’t have to worry about R&D, production, etc.

It's very similar to affiliate marketing, which is a widely accepted online business model. The only difference I can see is that, with affiliate marketing, you usually never have to pay for the "privilege" of promoting the company's products. At worst, you'd have to apply to be an affiliate and prove that you have a big enough audience (such as a mailing list or social media following).

Some direct sales/network marketing/MLM companies also provide excellent training, including how to use social media and so on.

But beware: Some of the training out there truly sucks!

I've received enough spammy direct messages on Facebook, obviously copied and pasted from some company's training. I always prefer to market my own way (and after 12 years of online marketing, I feel pretty confident doing this), so I don't pay a ton of attention to these training programs.

IMPORTANT: If anyone tells you to push your product or "business opportunity" to your family and friends or even complete strangers, to lie about how much you're making, to publish fake posts or do anything else that's dishonest, JUST DON'T DO IT!

How to Choose Companies to Promote

If you’re thinking of marketing a company's products, here are some questions:

Do you love the products? 

If you’re a happy customer of their products, then it’s a no-brainer to become a distributor (or affiliate, franchisee, ambassador, representative, etc.) and save money on your own purchases, at the very least.

Pick companies that have high-quality products with a solid USP. For example, many network marketing and MLM companies offer health products like nutritional supplements and toxin-free cleaning products. But if I don't use and love them myself, then why would I recommend them to others?

I can find vitamin C powders in the grocery, but I prefer  Melaleuca's because it contains a higher amount of vitamin C and zinc (which may play an important role in COVID-19; Google it), as well as herbs known to support the immune system. On top of that, I'm truly in love with the tea tree oil-based home cleaners. I use Sol-u-Mel on everything now.

All this means I can share my enthusiasm about Melaleuca products with integrity. I wouldn't go around gushing about them just to make a commission. 

Which brings us to the next question ....

How much can you realistically make? 

Look at the commission structure–confusing as it may be. In most cases, direct sales and affiliate marketing are good ways to make extra income, but the commissions probably won’t be enough for you to quit your day job. 

You should be able to earn money through referring product sales—not just from recruiting other members. If the company focuses on recruitment instead of sales, then that's a red flag that it's a pyramid scheme. In that case, run the other way! 

I know a few  people who make great money from promoting MLM companies or other people's products. They've earned cars and fun trips. Usually it's because they're able to sell products as well as recruit a lot of other members. Those are not average results, though, so just be realistic about how easily you could do the same thing.

How much will it cost you?

There’s usually a joining fee, but most companies make this a non-issue by giving you products or credit for their products. Or, they may bring down this fee to almost nothing to entice new members.

Also look into recurring fees such as monthly fees for your virtual office, personal website, etc. Another thing that made joining Juice Plus+ an easy yes for me was the absence of any recurring fees and quotas.

Beware of MLM companies: They require you to make a huge investment to join (I've heard of some where you plunk down hundreds of dollars in product) and/or have a monthly sales quota. You'll most likely end up spending more than you earn, just to be able to stay in the program.

Do MLM companies make it easy for you to refer customers?

If you’ll be promoting other companies' products online, then it should be easy for you to get your referral links for specific products. I was once promoting another company where my referral link only went to the home page. I could not direct people to a specific promo or product page. It was a big PITB!

Here’s where Juice Plus+ shines again. I have referral links to any page on their website—even specific blog posts. This means I don’t have to be pitching products all the time, but I can still potentially get referral sales through those links.

So what do you think? Would you be open to joining a direct sales, network marketing, or MLM company? Or would you like to join a company's affiliate marketing program?

PS: The demand for Melaleuca and Juice Plus+ products is through the roof! In fact, the Tower Garden went out of stock shortly after I ordered it, and the indoor grow lights are still on back order. I think I’m onto something ….

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. This means I earn a commission when you buy through the links on this page. While I only recommend products I myself use or have vetted, you should always do your due diligence before making any purchases. (Full Disclosure)


About the Author

Lexi Rodrigo is a communication and marketing professional for multimillion-dollar businesses, co-author of Blog Post Ideas: 21 Proven Ways to Create Compelling Content and Kiss Writer's Block Goodbye, and host of "Marketing Insights LIVE!." Connect with Lexi on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.