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When looking to work from home, direct selling may be one of the ways that you come across. Direct selling, by definition, is marketing and selling of products directly to consumers away from a fixed retail location. I interviewed five very different women and researched the benefits and setbacks of direct selling. My main question was “Is it possible to create a livable income with this business venture”?
The research and responses I received were all different, but *SPOILER ALERT* it IS possible, but it isn’t for everyone.
First, I’d like to introduce the five amazing women I interviewed during my search:
Tracey Stoeckel– Mom, blogger, and maker of things. 43 years old and a single mom to two incredible teens. Owner of Little Ruby Soap & Candle Co for 16 years. Direct sells with Thirty-One gifts(check out her Facebook page here)
Lauren Kaplan– Owner of a price comparison website for DIY moving trucks and full-time employee at an engine sales company. 29 years old wife, and also a mother to a 3-year-old kitty. Direct sells for Arbonne and Norwex part-time for supplemental income.
Melanie Etheridge– Virtual assistant and graphic designer who works from home. Beachbody coach and also revolves her business around helping out other Beachbody coaches. 47-year-old wife and mother of four homeschooled children. She can be found on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Portia Davenport– Waitress and mother to a one-year-old toddler. Sold Scentsy part-time, but no longer participates in direct selling.
Joleen Rae Hottel– Has worked in finance for ten years. 47-year-old mother of one, and a wife. Started selling Mary Kay in the 90’s, and now sells for Rodan & Fields(you can also find her on Facebook here).
How successful has your direct selling business been so far on a scale of 1-10? It doesn’t have to be directly related to sales/income.
Tracey: I would say that my business is about a 7. I would like to broaden my customer base and have more parties. Overall, for the effort that it takes, the returns are pretty nice.
Lauren: Arbonne is successful for me. I think because it is a product that I believe so much in and I could really stand behind that it became so easy to sell. I wanted to share with everyone I knew about the great benefits of Arbonne’s products. As for Norwex, it hasn’t been that successful. Now I think it could be, but I started selling this one more for the discount for myself and to introduce friends and family.
Melanie: I would definitely say a 10!!
Portia: It honestly depends on the month but I’d say 7.
Joleen: So far a 9 because of the residual income and so much support and social networking. Plus I love the skincare products! The business model is easy to do while I work full time and I’m building a business so I can quit working soon.
Looking forward a year or two from now, can you see yourself working with this company?
Lauren: I do think I will continue to sell Arbonne and Norwex as a part-time gig. I think if I ever move to a new state that I might pick them both up a little more.
Melanie: Absolutely! It is the best thing I have ever done for myself and my family!
Joleen: Yes. It builds slowly in some cases, and it’s not a get rich quick scheme. I have a five-year outlook. By the end of this year, I am hoping to quit my ft job. I have residual income for a car payment and by end of year or 2017, I’m hoping it will cover my mortgage. In five years the sky is the limit.
Portia: No. It becomes stressful. It’s just too much sometimes between having to make sales with a husband, baby, and work.
Tracey: I can’t imagine why I would ever leave this company. Each time I nearly miss a quota to stay active, I get a random unexpected order. The universe wants me to be here. There are new products every season and great incentives and specials to keep customers interested. It is such an easy business.
How much time do you think you spend working on your business every week?
Melanie: Well, I have HUGE goals for my business, so I really work more than I have to! I would probably say 12 hours each week is sufficient.
Portia: 20-25 hours a week on average. 4-5 hours for three days and 8 hours on the weekend.
Tracey: I would say that on average I spend less than an hour each week working on my business. If I have a home party or a clearance sale or something like that I might put in 3-4 hours, but that is about the max. I do this very part-time for extra fun money. I know many consultants near me who work full time and do multiple events a week.
Joleen: I do marketing in the evenings, but not every night. I contact follow-ups and on Saturday’s. It’s really easy because I can do everything from my iPhone. So on average, I spend about an hour a day on the business.
Lauren: I haven’t been super active with either of them anymore. When I was active I would say I spent maybe 20 hours a week.
Do you think your business would benefit from any extras to take it to the next level?
Portia: I wouldn’t want to push the work on someone else so no I don’t think I would hire anyone.
Lauren: I definitely think there is more that I could be doing to take my business to the next level. I think advertising on different social media would open a lot of doors for me, but at this point, I am happy where things are at.
Tracey: Certainly. It would benefit with more consistent action on my part. I have considered doing vendor events to find new customers. One of the drawbacks of direct sales, and especially Thirty-One is that there are a large number of people selling it, so competition can be hard.
Do you think that a woman/mother signing up with this business could make a livable income?
Lauren: I do think someone could have a livable income. I know many people that have been able to do this. It is what they love and what they believe in. You have to love your product and use it yourself because that really shows during a demo, especially when people start asking you questions about different products.
Melanie: Yes I do! It is not a get rich quick business, but it is built over time with consistency and requires a heart’s desire and passion to help others achieve their goals. If you want specifics, many coaches in my upline are making 6 figure incomes within a couple of years or less.
Tracey: If she really wanted to hustle and really work it like a full-time job, yes! I work 1-2 hours a week and average $15-$100 just depending on my effort. A woman could certainly book and hold 3 or more parties a week and make $600-$1000 weekly if she really wanted to.
Joleen: Yes, but you have to give it time. My goal is to retire my husband early too. The earning potential is open depending on how serious you take it. At first, I just wanted the skincare, but I had a horrible experience at work that made me do a 180 and I jumped into the business. No regrets. Many consultants are millionaires and they started out just like me.
If you could give one tip to the woman trying to decide on choosing direct sales, what would it be?
Joleen: For Rodan & Fields you don’t have to start with a big product kit because if you change your mind you can upgrade to a bigger kit in 30 days at the same cost as it would be if you just signed up. It’s awesome. This is a spectacular opportunity for all moms, especially those that stay at home.
Tracey: Can I give two tips? One, make sure you love love love your product. If you love it, you don’t have to sell it. You will share it with others and they will want to see what you are so excited about. Two, you get out of it what you put in. Take the guidance of your leaders, do the training, study sales, and marketing. Make yourself an expert in your field.
Melanie: My biggest tip would be to love yourself enough to invest in yourself and spend some ME time each day. That is the most important part of what we do as coaches! We spend time on our physical, emotional and spiritual selves to learn how to help others do the same.
Lauren: Choose a product that you love, would use yourself, and that is a consumable product.
My Two Cents
Now that you have read what the experts have to say about direct selling, I thought I would add in my two cents.
Do Your Research
As with anything, it is important to do your research before you jump head first into something that is new to you. Without proper research, it is impossible to weigh the pros and cons, know what your investment will cost and for what, and see if the business has support systems put into place.
The biggest mistake you can make is diving into a new business venture and not having any research behind it. You could even ask women around you (or the women I interviewed) about the business to see if it would be a good fit for you.
Choose Something You Love
Once you’ve done your research, it’s time to pick a product/service that you 100% believe in. Don’t choose a company just because you need the money, choose it because you know that you can share your expertise and love for it. As stated by the ladies above, you can’t sell a product that you don’t have faith in.
Don’t Try To Get Rich Quick
While it is possible to make a full-time income from direct selling, don’t expect to be a millionaire by month two. This can set up an impossible goal, and in return, you will become frustrated and may even feel defeated if it doesn’t work out the way you expected.
Direct selling may take you months, or even years, to produce a full-time income. But you should also know that it can be lucrative with hard work, time, and a little luck.
Have Systems In Place
You know I am all about having systems that help you in your business. Set specific days to work. Know which social media platforms you will use, and set a schedule for them. Have people pitch in and help you when the business gets busy, and hire someone if you have to. Having systems in place will keep you from burning out, or worse, quitting direct selling altogether.
Know That Direct Selling May Not Work For You
Direct selling is not a one size fits all type of business. There are so many different companies, brands, and personalities that come into play. For example, I know that I would not be able to sell products from companies that want you to hold parties. I am not a party type of gal. However, something that I could be a little more passive with could be beneficial for me.
Overall, direct sales isn’t a get rich quick scheme or an automatic money maker. You can work from home with direct selling, and it is possible to make a full-time income doing what you love. If this sounds right for you, I say go for it. You never know, it may just change your life.
Have you ever tried direct selling? Did it work out well for you?