I’m taking a slight break from sharing recipes to talk about a concern I have lately. Like most women between the ages of 19-35, we have a variety of social media accounts and it’s hard not to see a variety of posts flooding your feed at all hours of the day convincing you of how better you’ll feel if you just join them – the team, the cult, the crew.
I’m not referring to a trend. It’s been around for decades but only has become more obvious lately. There’s a crew for anything a women between the ages of 18-35 might be interested in: nail polish, leggings, cooking, candles, erotic sex parties, supplements, skincare, body care, handbags, the list goes on.
I’m referring to the MLM or multi-level marketing scheme. Only they won’t tell you that. I will.
I’m neither writing this to rant or to sound bitter but I realize that’s what people will initially think especially those who sell mlm companies. I’m not writing this to try to convince anyone either. However, I consider myself a prudent woman of honesty and integrity and if writing this will actually help someone or save someone from a bad decision, you’re welcome. My afro mentioned prudence and integrity as well as my personal experience are also why I found mlms schemes aren’t really for me.
“Maybe you just haven’t found the right one…”
I’m an ordinary working class woman with social media accounts. Believe you me, I like donning cute jewelry, cooking, leggings and I firmly believe a strong multivitamin has kept me from getting sick during the Winter. If something makes me happy, I will freely promote it on my social media accounts as much as possible. There’s a clear difference doing this because you’re living an authentic life with no strings attached. But anyone with a social media account becomes a target to sell the latest product and often just because they share a general common interest.
I do not hold a corporate job nor do I make a six figure salary. But the latter is what you almost need to maintain your status and have any real success to stay in the mlm game. MLMs or multi level marketing works by recruitment sharing through your social circle. No insider will tell you this because the truth doesn’t sell.
You see, it’s very little to do about commitment but it’s a connections game hence network marketing.
How it Began for Me
I could read through the transparency. Anyone can. The incessant 5-10 posts a day promoting an attractive lifestyle and products or a line that was unlike any other. You try because it’s your aunt. Or your sister. Or that friend. But you know the truth. I tried because I tend to give most situations the benefit of the doubt.
After awhile of seeing posts, I sincerely began to wonder what made sellers fall hook, line and sinker. Yes, these sellers are real people just like you and me. I put myself in their shoes. As I am a licensed massage therapist, my natural gravitation generally made me flock to more healthy related mlm schemes. I knew the truth deep down but I decided to give it the benefit of the doubt. Try. There’s no harm and the company even offers a money back guarantee.
Plus, who knows? Despite the results that I may receive from using the products and that I really love people, I may even be really great at doing this on the side. I would be happy to promote Isagenix much like anything else that I love to share and talk about on social media.
🛑 But there were a few red flags that turned me off.
- ❌ You have to get comfortable with lying to everyone. At least a bit. Or a lot.
And I’m not comfortable with lying even if it can make me money.
You will be utilizing your network or social circle. And not one that’s given to you. And not a circle of affluent people willing to buy anything. It’s your circle of loved ones. You have to be comfortable with lying to your loved ones.
I don’t have a large social circle or quite frankly, know how some people develop the size of social circles that they do. I’m a bookworm with minimal or mediocre social skills. My circle isn’t gullible. They’re real, a little bit cynical and in fact some of them are very accomplished and leading influential lives without the help of an overpriced product thank you very much. It was a bit of a challenge trying to stay optimistic or even hide from them temporarily when I told them I took the plunge into a mlm scheme too. They didn’t say anything until I woke up. The only response? “Toldja.”
- ❌ You’ll spend money you could have been investing.
We all seen the stories where these stories transform lives and some of those lives may be among those who we know. Good for them but it’s a rarity among ordinary people like you and I. Unfortunately, with their push and shove posts, they get anyone to fall for it hook line and sinker. Free all inclusive trips? The fine print isn’t mentioning how much the seller drained their bank account to pay into it.
My friend Leslie told me about her friend’s experience with Jamberry. She wanted to go to a convention in Florida that was all inclusive and free and she was told to advertise the convention as such on her social media account as if it were a free trip. When Leslie asked her friend’s husband if the trip was really free, he responded: “No, I spent 2k to send her to Florida. She’s draining my bank account.”
They say the support will always be there. But not when you fall and lose your money. That doesn’t sound like friendship built on authenticity, does it?
Like they used to say in business: “you spend money to make money”, but the asking price of mlms are so high that the risks involved are driving ordinary people broke or in debt in comparison to the only people who are making it: the top few percent of the top. You are literally keeping up with the joneses but you’ll never be the joneses.
Money is hard to come by. I worked hard for my income as a massage therapist and saving it was a challenge on top of bills and my debts. If you have extra cash flow, you could fair better paying off debts, investing in a stock portfolio, saving for children’s education and retirement.
- ❌ The products are often not any better or may even be ineffective.
You may be a director or executive or CEO of Freedom in the delusional minds and rose colored sunglasses of your networking circle but you’re still a salesperson.
For one, try putting “CEO of Freedom” on your real resume and see where that gets you.
You’re peddling a product that you hopefully believe in that’s no different than what’s on store shelves with a higher markup price. In my case, I could find multivitamins that offered the near same benefits if not more, were non gmo and happened to be organic for more than half the price than Isagenix’s multivitamins. With Isagenix, I would paid a little over $200 every month and that’s if I stick with the same order: 14 packets of shakes, one bottle of multivitamins and one bottle of enzymes.
That doesn’t even factor in groceries for me. Talk about a restricted, low calorie diet. And like most women, I do like to eat quality food. Nothing brings me more comfort. This recipe blog wouldn’t exist if I didn’t enjoy cooking as much as I do!
- ❌ Health and wellness “coaches” don’t care about your workout or your diet or the fact you Instagrammed your kale smoothies – unless you purchased their workout, their diet and their shakes.
It definitely helps to know and be passionate about the product. But most sellers truly don’t care and will only support you if you’re promoting the same product as them. You can even be Instagramming an organic kale smoothie but it’s not their kale smoothie.
I mean, you obviously live a lifestyle or if you’re trying to better yourself, someone who is a “coach” should acknowledge that whether you were on their team before or not. But they don’t care. They make it so your life won’t change until you specifically use their products when the formula is usually made up of no better or the near exact same thing you can find on store shelves for half the price.
I once knew a Beachbody coach who saw her life change over doing the workouts and drinking her Shakeo almost every morning. She actually unfriended me on Facebook because I wouldn’t do Beachbody with her. I mentioned I do have a gym workout and a diet that works for me. Her response: “Well, it’s nice that you think your plan is better but you’ll talk to me when you come to your senses.”
You can’t really explain or justify their behavior to any of their followers of a program. Most followers act brainwashed and cultlike which is more unhealthy than it is helpful.
- ❌ A salesperson is not a doctor or a dietician and yet if you sell someone supplements, be prepared as anyone with a wide range of issues will come to you for help. This is dangerous if you are asked to provide advice without being qualified, certified or have the appropriate training.
Customers look to the salespersons for advice on what products to use. Salespersons are expected to be somewhat knowledgeable and have experience of the product. I liked how the Isagenix site did post articles linking how it can aid illnesses. The research is there. However, I still didn’t feel confident the product doesn’t prepare a seller wisely enough when a customer would experience adverse effects.
As a massage therapist, I always was told how we cannot recommend supplements unless we have the appropriate training to do so. This is going out of our scope because it’s considered dangerous to give unlicensed medical license. And yet you have many, many, many sellers thinking they know the answers all for a buck.
How many doctors or dietitians do you know whom use an wellness related mlm? That should give you an idea.
We don’t always have to like what doctors or dietitians have to say but those who are equipped with more training almost always should get the upper hand.
- ❌ It’s not all according to God’s plan unless you’re into the prosperity Gospel.
None of this is really Christian or gospel. There are many red flags here that prove it isn’t. Yet some people misconstrue Scripture – by a lot. They think the gist of it is to believe, love God and be happy and great your reward will be on earth and in heaven. And true what God gives you and how you can give back is important but actions and behavior speak volumes.
These rewards gets seriously taken out of context. Say by chance they’ve got residual income from that mlm and it’s afforded them a new car, to build a home, to affording to give to charity and well things they wouldn’t normally take part in. Why? What’s their first step? Why, the same solution as any with an mlm. Take it to share on social media!
But I’m pretty sure God said something about bragging too and no, although I can’t answer for God, I’d like to think He wouldn’t be smiling over that, Sally.
Still not convinced? Still living in the fantasy genre?
But it’s not a mlm! It can’t be! It just can’t be!
It is. But it’s not like it’s a bad thing. It’s a form of networking and entrepreneurship but unless you have business skills, connections and some legit cash flow, you’ll rarely come out on top. It will be much harder for you but not impossible to get what you think you want. But at what risks? Ask yourself.
Signs you’ve entered an mlm
- Recruitment strategies
- They don’t really advertise the company name but use tag lines or certain buzzwords related to the product to grab bait. If it was truly a good company that was a life changer, wouldn’t you be proud to advertise the company name?
- Hard pressed strategies that convinces you can’t live without this product. I mean, your leggings are awesome and everyone needs a good multivitamin. You’ll be happy to recommend it in a conversation but to gush and gloat over it?
- Every team building opportunity sounds amazing, but only if you pay for it. And be prepared to shell out a lot of money.
- Do a price comparison check between what you usually spend on what you’d be buying/selling here. The products you’re talking you self into selling usually have a higher markup. If you can barely afford it, what makes you think your customer base can?
- There’s little room for integrity once you’re involved. Just canned responses.
- The followers behave as if they are brainwashed and the regimen is cultlike.
Why I Left
This is network marketing which is a form of business. It doesn’t mean I failed but like with any business, startup isn’t easy despite the claim. Some get by better than others but it doesn’t mean you’re a failure. And you can come and go at any time.
It’s a huge risk and I’m often starting up by selling the product to people that I know and people who know me. I’d spent a few months worth of what I usually spend on the same stuff from my local health food store whom I honestly missed supporting but I was giving my hard earned money to an ecommerce scheme. I had interaction, but I missed the in person interaction. MLMs allowed and encouraged in person interaction with your team but again often those interactions came with a hefty price tag.
It’s also just a product. And mlms focus on way too much time and money investing in something that does work but isn’t amazing.
Also, what if I suffered a personal crisis and couldn’t afford to maintain my status? My fiancé would have to help me but I’m also not willing to allow him to sacrifice his hard earned money like that.
Have I abandoned my healthy lifestyle? Never. And I wouldn’t consider it so much of an obsession or a healthy lifestyle but just a byproduct of who I am and what’s expected of me. As a licensed massage therapist, it’s crucial that I take care of myself to ensure my energy and that I’m able to do my best for my clients. I can do that just fine without being pushed or pressured to try something nor should our friendship or relationship solely relate to a product.
MLMs have been around for decades and aren’t going away as long as the truth remains hidden. I’m not saying that now that you know the truth do you have to stop being healthy, wearing leggings, nail polish or cooking – no, keep doing that. I certainly didn’t stop living a healthy lifestyle just because I canceled my Isagenix membership.
I just knew that it’s not me nor do I feel like taking advantage of my loved ones and I didn’t feel comfortable doing that. I feel like they can make decisions on their own without a cultlike following.
I wouldn’t see my departure as failure but owning up to being honest with myself and my loved ones whom I peddled the product. You have to come to grip with your own integrity and who you are otherwise you’ll fall for anything out there. You can’t put a price on your life. You’re not a commodity. You’re a person with unique hobbies and interests that are priceless and make you to be exclusively you.
If you’ve been successful at an mlm, good for you. But this post was mainly written for the ordinary person as a sort of what you need to know, the stuff they don’t tell you.
So no, this is not a rant post although I can’t stop people from thinking what they want to think. You heard it here first. This is a brave post coming from me but I’m a woman of prudence and integrity. I’ll try most things once. Some would say the product it wasn’t for me, some would say I failed and I’m sure others are upset by this post but I don’t care. I can’t please others but if I could help at least one person and save them from a costly mistake, I did what I needed to do out of a costly mistake.
At least I woke up before it was too late.
An ex mlm insider.