Is starting a blog the same thing as joining a multi-level marketing company?
This is one of the most common questions that I get asked from readers—and it’s a smart, very fair question, in my opinion.
The short answer? No. Starting a blog is not the same thing as joining a multi-level marketing company. But it can definitely feel that way sometimes. And that’s exactly why I want to break down a few big key differences here for you.
Before we get started, a little background to keep things honest and open:
- I’m writing this breakdown for one primary reason: to help moms who want to support their families financially make a smart decision. Please always do your own thorough research before investing your time or money into any product or company no matter who is recommending it. (Even if your best friend is recommending it. Even if Oprah is recommending it. Even if I’m recommending it.) Remember: if it seems too good to be true…it probably is. Be smart here.
- I’ve never been personally affiliated with a Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) company, other than being approached frequently by sales representatives. I’m writing this breakdown based on the personal experiences of multiple friends and family members and independent research.
- I’m a professional blogger and I love it. My decision to become a blogger was one that was made strategically. I aim to be as open and honest about professional blogging as possible to help others determine if it’s a smart choice for them. I’m writing this breakdown based on my own personal experiences.
Aight. Now that we’re on the same page, let’s break this down, loves.
Blogging vs. Multi-Level Marketing Companies
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our full disclosure here for details.
- Starting a blog that you can monetize and joining a MLM company will both require you to spend money upfront to get started.
- Starting a blog is cheaper if you do it the smart way. The only thing I spent money on when I started blogging was a year of web hosting from Bluehost for less than $50. That’s it. I didn’t invest another cent into my blog until I started making money from it. I also had a 30-day money back guarantee in case I had an “oh, shit! this isn’t for me!” moment.
- MLM companies require more money up front. Some companies (Beachbody, Lipsense, ItWorks, etc.) fall into the $100-$200 minimum startup range, where other companies (LulaRue) can require you to put up literally $1000s just to get started.
- You can make money by selling products and/or services with a blog and an MLM company.
- If you’re working for a MLM company, you’re selling their products and services. That’s it.
- For bloggers, affiliate marketing is your game. What is affiliate marketing? It’s when you share a product/service with a custom, trackable link, and when your readers purchase an item through that link, you receive a small commission (at no additional cost to the purchaser). For example, all those gift guides you see around the holidays? Those links are affiliate links. With affiliate networks like Amazon and Etsy (whom you can join through Awin), the sky is the limit as far as what you can sell. (You can see a longer list of affiliate programs to join on my Ultimate List of Blogging Resources.)
Other Monetization Opportunities
- You can develop a following that can be parlayed into other sources of income, such as sponsored posts, with both a blog or an MLM company.
- It’s a whole lot harder to monetize with an MLM company because your platform is so embedded in a single company. The exception here would be a MLM sales representative that’s built up a large, authentic, highly-engaged social media following. But even then it’s a bit of a stretch, to be honest. Most companies want to work with an influencer who fits into a particular niche, but isn’t linked to one particular line of products.
- Booking sponsored posts in the blogging world is a very natural fit. Bloggers work with different brands on a regular basis, and brands are always looking for great bloggers and influences to work with. Because you have a website, you can also pull in some extra income through online advertising. You could also use your platform to book other freelance writing gigs, virtual assistant work, etc.
Career Advancement Potential
- You can technically put either blogging or working for a MLM company down on a resume as work experience.
- Blogging can an asset to a resume; working for a MLM company actively hurts a resume.
- Blogging experience can be a huge asset, especially if you’re interested into moving into the rapidly-growing world of Marketing/Communications. You’ve started and run a website from scratch. You’ve started and managed social media accounts from scratch. You’ve written professionally (and if you’re doing sponsored posts, you’ve worked with other creditable brands and companies). And you’ve done it all in a way that reads as impressive/real, not “scammy”.
- You can gain similar experience by working with a MLM company. You can grow and manage social media accounts, run a website, write, manage invoices, and pick up genuinely useful skills that should translate to another job. The difference is that you have to put the name of the MLM company on the resume, and unfortunately, that kills any credibility instantly.
- There are business competitors in every single blogging niche, and in every single MLM company.
- You theoretically have the potential to out-perform business competitors in every single blogging niche, and in every single MLM company.
- The potential to out-perform business competitors in a MLM company is way more challenging because there are so many people who are all trying to sell the same products and services with the same sales techniques. Take it from a girl with a public Instagram profile who is: 1. A mom of young children, 2. Doesn’t wear make up, 3. Doesn’t care about fashion, 4. Is overweight…I’m the target audience for almost every MLM marketing company out there. Every single day (and I mean literally every single day, y’all), my Instagram inbox is filled with “Hey, girl! I know this is random, but…” messages from women who are trying to sell me a MLM product. And it crushes my soul every time because I know it’s mostly moms who are just trying to support their families financially. But at the end of the day? I can’t respond to all of the messages. And I’m not going to buy the products. And if I did, it would only be from 1 of the 30 or so sales reps who reach out to me each month, so the odds are not great.
- There is way less competition when it comes to blogging. Because you can sell pretty much anything through affiliate marketing, you can pick products that you truly love and that your readers will love, too. And you’re not limited to one line of products. This also allows for the competition to thin out quite a bit. My audience, for example, loves, loves, LOVES anything that helps them succeed at breastfeeding while still living a balanced life. So when I recommend road trip essentials for breastfeeding moms, it genuinely helps my audience, and there’s not much competition because it’s so specific and unique. If I was trying to share with them which Beachbody workouts are best for traveling breastfeeding moms, I would have a lot more competition.