How to Start Your Own Direct Sales MLM Business

If you’ve been following our recent posts on ITT, you’ve seen us review several different direct sales MLMs such as Scentsy, Park Lane Jewelry, Pink Zebra, Tastefully Simple, etc. All these businesses operate on a similar model of direct sales multi-level marketing (MLM). What this means is that private individuals and not retailers sell the companies’ goods. These individuals are rewarded with commissions for selling the goods; they also earn extra commissions for recruiting other private individuals, who then also (hopefully) sell the companies’ goods.

In the work-at-home arena, there is high emphasis placed on which direct sales MLM businesses offer the highest commissions or the best incentives. There are online forums and social media groups that teach and advice individuals on how best to sell for this or that direct sales MLM company. Lots of blog posts have been published espousing how to sell merchandise from various MLMs.

However, what if, instead of joining yet another direct sales MLM company, you created your own?

It’s entirely possible- and here’s how you can do it.

How to start your own MLM company

Obtain cheap merchandise from wholesale marketplaces.

Your first step towards establishing your own MLM business should be in securing unique yet cheaply priced merchandise, which usually comes from wholsale marketplaces like AliExpress or Alibaba. These dropship marketplaces not only offer cheap goods from all kinds of manufacturers, most of which are based in China, they will also ship your goods for free (via ePacket shipping).

The advantage of using AliExpress is that you can order individual merchandise items and test them out at your leisure. Once you are certain that the item fits your need, you can order it in bulk. Alternately, you can check out Alibaba, the parent site of AliExpress, and order bulk merchandise there.

The wholesale prices that you will pay for your items through AliExpress and/or Alibaba are just unbelievable. Let’s say you wanted to start selling bracelets at $15-$20/piece, which is a reasonable sum of money for jewelry. Here is an example of what you’d pay as your wholesale price:

Arguably, you could mark up this merchandise to 1000% its priced value on AliExpress and still come off looking decently priced. That markup would also give you a wide baseline from which you could run promotions and provide commissions to your MLM members.

Taking this one step further, you could dropship selected merchandise directly from AliExpress and/or Alibaba to your members, saving yourself the hassle of paying for shipping/handling and then needing to house inventory.

Create your business commission structure and install software.

Create a few documents and a website that outline your products, how recruits can join your business (oftentimes by paying a membership fee), and the 3+ levels that recruits can access to increase their weekly/monthly commissions. In order to make new memberships worthwhile for you, create a selection of kits that members must choose from when they first get started with your MLM.

You will need to obtain MLM software that operates within your website and awards different commissions to different levels of members. Some examples of such software include Xennsoft MLM software, which is offered via Utah-based Xennsoft. If you’d rather not pay for such software, open-source options exist, including Mvc’s MLM Studio, which is a WordPress-based open source MLM software.

It’s imperative that your MLM software accurately track your business members and their earned commissions. Otherwise, you’ll earn bad online reviews and members who eventually leave (or even sue) your business. And speaking of being sued…

Incorporate your MLM business as an LLC.

The MLM world is rife with dissatisfied members and individuals who are more than ready to call your business a scam or pyramid scheme. If you run your business as a sole proprietorship, you are likely to lose your shirt when (not if) you get sued. Thus, in the MLM business world, it’s essential that you protect your personal assets by incorporating ASAP.

Luckily, filing your business as an LLC isn’t difficult or time-consuming. You can create an LLC even if you are the only employee of that business. More information is provided here.

Market your MLM business online and elsewhere.

Once you have your products picked out, your website set up, and your business incorporated, it’s time to start marketing your MLM and its unique value proposition. To this end, you can hire help fairly cheap, such as through sites like Fiverr.

Microjob sites like Fiverr are not only filled with experienced professionals who can complete specific tasks for you, and cheaply, they are also a great timesaver.

When creating your MLM, keep in mind that you will need to deal with members directly from time to time. Frankly, most MLM members do want to see and know who their business owner/founder is and what is his “backstory” to creating this particular business and its line of products. If you are by nature a people person, you have a better chance at succeeding.

Also, most successful MLMs pump up their members with incentives programs, occasional conferences/trips, rewards, etc. Consider setting aside some money now for these incentives as part of your overall marketing plan.

The MLM as a leveraged dropship business

Most dropship businesses advertise wholesale marketplace-derived merchandise that is dropshipped to customers following their purchase. This is a good business model in and of itself because you do not need to house the merchandise in order to sell it. Also, because you are sourcing your merchandise from wholesale manufacturers, you can mark up your goods several hundred percent and make a handsome profit. Alternately, you can generate promotions and sales with ease to drive consumer demand for your goods.

By adding an MLM layer to this business model, you leverage your people power significantly through member recruitment. Now, not only are you selling individual wholesale items to customers, you are also selling batches of wholesale items to member-customers. Those member-customers must then turn around and sell the items they purchased from you or eat the cost.

This is, by in large, why there are many upon many MLMs, each with their own unique product line(s). The MLM business model is actually a profitable business to get into- provided you are the MLM owner and originator. In contrast, members within the MLM structure can make some money by selling merchandise- but it’s doubtful they will ever replace their full-time income in this way. However, some MLM members do in fact succeed by breaking out of the current structure and starting their own MLM businesses.

Can 700 Profit Club Really Make You $700 a Day?

What would you reply if I said to you that I’ve found a product that can earn you $700 a day forever, with just 10 minutes of set up time?

Well, if you’re a regular here I’d expect your response to be: scam!

And that was my first thought when I encountered 700 Profit Club, because that’s precisely what they are offering.

This system looks very dubious so I thought I’d dig into it to help you decide if it’s worth your money or not.

The 700 Profit Club Sales Pitch

The sales page for this system is a classic single video pitch with a hidden buy now button that appears after a certain amount of time has passed.

The sales video is an annoying one that goes on and on without you being able to pause or skip bits, but luckily for you I watched it for you!

As every second passed in this video it became apparent that something was off here.

First of all the video focused heavily on how you can make $700 per day, every day with just a 10 minute setup.

This figure is extremely precise, and this is something that you simply can’t achieve when making money online or any business as you never know how many sales you’ll make per day.

The preciseness is a tactic: it’s enough to make a dramatic difference in someone’s life, but not too much to seem unachievable.

700 Profit Club 10 minutes

From there the video provides two outright lies. The first being that this is the final day that you can get access to the system and that the number of places is limited. This is utter BS. This video will have said that from the day it was launched and will say it until the day they pull it off the internet.

The second outright lie is that the $700 per day is guaranteed. Who guaranteed this? There’s no terms or conditions attached to the site, and as I mentioned, no business out there will guarantee a set income (especially one that is over $250,000 per year!) unless you’re being employed by them!

700 Profit Club 15 people

From that point the video uses typical marketing techniques using your bad experience with previous scams to try to legitimize 700 Profit Club as something that is not a scam.

This continues by showcasing, at speed, people who have apparently used the system to make lots of money. Sadly, each and every one of these testimonials cannot be confirmed, mainly because they use generic name sand stock photographs.

Surely if this system made people a bunch of money they would be shouting about it from the rooftops?

700 Profit Club stock photos

This sort of BS continues In the form of “proof of earnings” shown, that really prove nothing. Sure there’s some screenshots showing bank accounts full of money but a) these can be easily faked and b) even if real who’s to say the money was earned using this system?

700 Profit Club proof earnings

This doesn’t prove anything!

How Does 700 Profit Club Work?

In order to make you the $700 a day, the system apparently uses “a new sensation sweeping the internet”.

This sensation is something called Coolhandle.

This sounds awesome, but what the heck is Coolhandle? Well, the video never explains this but luckily we have something called Google that can help.

Coolhandle is not a new sensation, nor is it a method of making money online. Well it is, but only in the broadest of senses.

You see, Coolhandle is a hosting company.

Now, if you want to make money online you are recommended to get hosting to create a website, though it’s not always needed.

However, just because you have a website doesn’t mean that you have the skills, knowhow or support to actually make money!

Coolhandle also doesn’t look like it’s even a good host:

700 Profit Club coolhandle reviews

There’s no information that 700 Profits Club provides anything other than a link to this hosting company: no training, no support, nothing!

By signing up to 700 Profits Club you’re redirected to the Coolhandle sales page where you’re asked to select an internet marketing related domain name.

700 Profit Club domains

These are based on your location but you can select a different one.

The process continues and you’re asked to select your hosting type and its set to a 3 year plan with a bunch of extras added. This totals in at $285 which is a lot of money.

700 Profit Club coolhandle cost

Sure you can change the options and reduce it, but the fact it pushes the most expensive stuff is typical of this whole system.

Even though the per month price of the hosting is reasonable, cheap even, the fact that you’re pushed to it by a dodgy looking sales pitch and the poor reviews the hosting has received means I for one would not touch them with a barge pole!

The Bottom Line

700 Profit Club is a scam in my opinion.

The only thing it’s designed to do is to push you to a crappy host and get you to sign up to them.

While Coolhandle might supply you with an easy way to build a site (something a lot of large well-known hosts such as Hostgator already do), it’s missing something.

That something is the training, support and help to teach you how to actually make money online.

At no point in the sales pitch of 700 Profit Club or Coolhandle does it mention how you’re going to actually make money. All you get is empty promises that you’ll instantly make $700 a day.

There’s no doubt in my mind that all of this is utter BS and that you should avoid 700 Profit Club and Coolhandle at all costs!

Is a Park Lane Jewelry Business a Good Investment of Your Time?

Park Lane Jewelry was founded in 1955 by Arthur and Shirely LeVin and calls itself “the world’s leading direct sales jewelry party plan company.” It is based in Schaumburg, Illinois. Similar jewelry companies to Park Lane include Lia Sophia (now closed), Silpada, Premier Designs and Stella & Dot.

This higher end jewelry company offers bracelets, necklaces, earrings, rings, watches, and more through its website and its representatives, the latter of which go by the moniker of “Fashion Directors.” The company also states that its jewelry is backed by an unconditional guarantee.

How does Park Lane Operate?

Direct sales companies do not deal with retailers. Instead, they contract with private individuals who sell the merchandise directly from the company. In so doing, these individuals become wholesale distributors and mark up the merchandise as they deem appropriate in order to make a profit.

With Park Lane, individuals who wish to become such distributors pay $39 to join the company. They then select one of three starter kits. The first kit is the “Free Kit”- provided you make $600 in sales to cover its cost. The next kit is the same as the Free Kit except that you pay $129 for it and do not worry about generating any sales. The last kit is the Presidential Kit, which costs $500 and includes a huge assortment of jewelry and supplies.

Fashion Directors who manage to sell their purchased inventory make a 30% commission on their goods. That commission increases to as much as 50% depending on sales volume or the number of recruited Fashion Directors on one’s team. Interestingly, the company reports that it has no MLM-type multilevels, and commissions are earned from all the members of one’s team.

Unfortunately, the company’s website doesn’t show how the commissions are calculated and how much sales volume or recruitment is required to kick earnings up to 50%.

About that unconditional guarantee…

Park Lane Jewelry pieces are guaranteed to be free of defects for up to 120 days after purchase. What that means is that the customer or Fashion Director can send a piece back to the company for an exchange or replacement and pay nothing on shipment or handling. After 120 days, a $7 or $12 handling fee is added to jewelry or watch items, respectively.

Cash refunds are also possible if the items are returned within 30 days of their purchase and are accompanied by a receipt.

Minimal pressure to sell

Some direct sales companies require that the rep sell a given volume of merchandise or face deactivation of her membership in the program. With Park Lane, Jewelry Directors can work when they want and collect their 30% commissions as time allows. Leaders who have actually recruited Jewelry Directors must host two parties or recruit one team member per month in order to continue earning commissions from their team’s sales.

Is Park Lane a worthwhile business opportunity?

With so many business opportunities out there, you may be wondering if Park Lane is a worthwhile investment of your time.

The good:

Straightforward commission structure- It seems that Park Lane is not into building downlines of downlines, as is the case with a majority of direct sales companies. Granted, recruits are always welcome and also earn the Jewelry Director an extra commission. However, it appears that the company places a greater emphasis on actually having its reps simply sell jewelry.

High quality merchandise– There are many direct sales jewelry companies out there, offering jewelry and other accessories. Hands down, Park Lane has a larger assortment of high-end jewelry pieces, with some of its pieces costing as much as $400.

Open work schedule– Park Lane is more flexible than most direct sales companies when it says that its reps can work when and how much they want to. There is no rep deactivation. Also, the fee to join the company is fairly low when compared to other companies.

Incentives– Park Lane members can enroll in incentives programs to earn trips to locales such as Aruba. They are also eligible to work towards a Mercedes. The company has contests and drawings for such prizes as well.

The not-so-good:

Expensive jewelry– Jewelry purchases, especially at home parties, are often a spur-of-the-moment thing. One does not consider spending $5 or $10 on a piece of costume jewelry. However, Park Lane’s jewelry is more expensive on average than that of other direct sales companies. So, customers may hesitate and not purchase merchandise.

Parties, parties and more parties- Park Lane emphasizes that parties are the way to snag customers and make them purchase merchandise. These parties do not necessarily have to happen at one’s home, but they need to happen. As such, reps will be spending time and money to host parties, and these expenses are not accounted for by the company.

No guarantee of income– Working for a direct sales company can sometimes feel like shooting fish in a bucket. You may host a lot of parties. You may get a lot of interest in the merchandise. You may even get a few orders…followed by silence and requests for refunds. In short, there is no actual guarantee that you can rely on this side gig for income or even side income.

In MLM world, Park Lane is better than most, but…

It’s still not a recommended side business to get into because it’s hard to predict how much you will earn as one of its Jewelry Directors. Furthermore, you’ll be traveling far and wide to locate customers who have deeper pockets and can afford jewelry pieces that cost several hundred dollars.

Have you bought or sold Park Lane Jewelry? Please let us know in the comments below!

Is a Tastefully Simple Business Really that Simple?

If you like to cook and experiment with new recipes, you may have considered starting a Tastefully Simple business from your home. Maybe one of your friends or coworkers even recommended Tastefully Simple to you.

What is Tastefully Simple?

Tastefully Simple (TS) was founded in 1995 by Jill Blashack Strahan and Joani Nielson and offers food items, seasonings, recipes and cook-at-home meal kits. The company operates as an MLM and hires contractors, called consultants, to advertise, demonstrate and sell its products. TS consultants may be found selling their wares at festivals and trade shows, at home parties, or even online.

These are but a few of the products that TS advertises on its main website:

How do you start as a Tastefully Simple consultant?

TS consultants can join the company by purchasing one of these three join kits:

  • A 30-meal kit that costs $200.
  • A $69.95 10-meal kit in a choice of Family Faves, Fix It Fast or Easy Grillin.
  • Any other qualifying meal kit.

In addition to buying a meal kit, the new consultant also pays a $39.95 join fee.

Is Tastefully Simple a good business investment?

The TS website doesn’t provide a lot of information about how much money its consultants can earn or how much of a commission they earn once they recruit other team members and rise up in the TS ranks. However, one piece of info that is noted on the website is that consultants earn 30% on the items they sell.

Consultants also earn the following rewards if they host a party and sell a given volume of product:

There are additional incentives offered to consultants who sell lots of product or recruit many downline consultants. Trips to tropical locations, for example, are touted as one of the incentives of being a TS superstar.

So, what stands out about Tastefully Simple in terms of its pros and cons?

The good:

Good quality products– TS food products are advertised as being as natural as possible, gluten-free, etc. In effect, I would expect to find TS stocked on the shelves of Whole Foods or some other natural foods store.

Market saturation is harder– Unlike jewelry, clothing or candles, food is consumed on a regular basis. As such, you are less likely to saturate your market with TS products once you’ve sold to all available customers. Sure, you may have to wait a week or two before advertising to the same clientele…but eventually cake mixes, sauce packets and spice jars are used up and people are hungry again.

Products transparency- Some food-based MLMs showcase finished meals and other foods on ther websites without telling the consumer that she isn’t getting the actual portrayed food, just the seasonings or sauces. TS makes a good effort to emphasize that it isn’t selling entire meals, just the kits and additives to make them.

Food items are listed with ingredients as well as customer reviews. For example, here is the information on the Brown Sugar & Maple Bacon Seasoning:

The not-so-good:

Products aren’t cheap– In general, TS products are pricier than those found in a regular grocery store. For example, the spice jars on TS run almost $10. In contrast, McCormick seasonings at a Kroger store cost $4-$8.

Unfortunately, as is the case with most MLMs, products must be priced higher if consultants are to be paid a commission. The company must also make a profit.

Products are consumed- As a TS consultant, you’ll soon learn that you need to spend money on products in order to make money on products. As you host parties and give out food samples, you’ll run low on your initially ordered TS kit(s). So, you’ll find yourself ordering more kits as time goes on.

The silver lining to this is the fact that you’ll score free and 50% off products as you sell a given volume of TS products at your hosted parties. So, those free and reduced cost items will at least partly cover your supplies. On the downside, you’ll need to continually order products even if you never sell anything for TS.

You can be deactivated- In the TS legal agreement, there is the following stated term: “I agree to maintain a minimum of $200.00 of Part One Retail orders, less credits, per quarter. In the event that I fail to have and place the required quarterly minimum, the Company need not provide any written or electronic notice that this Agreement has been terminated.”

So, if you don’t purchase and/or sell at least $800 of product each year with TS, you won’t be an active member.

Parties are a must– Food is a sensory experience, meaning that customers are more likely to purchase a food item once they’ve tasted it. As such, you’ll need to host house parties in order to move product. Given that TS even rewards you based on how much product you move at a house party, you may not even have the option of not hosting parties on a regular basis.

There’s a website fee- TS Consultants who wish to list products on their own TS-sponsored website must pay a $10.95 monthly fee for the website. Additionally, consultant must pay $29.95/month for the ecommerce platform that connects to their website.

Tastefully Simple is a business pass

In a world of many upon many business opportunities, Tastefully Simple simply costs too much money and time to be a feasible long-term business. TS is a business you may wish to shop from while compiling your family’s dinner plans; however, buying the actual business requires that you devote all your spare time to hosting parties, cooking, shopping for groceries, and making sure your stockpile of products doesn’t go bad or become contaminated.

Have you sold products for Tastefully Simple? Please leave your comments about this business opportunity below.

Should You Become a Pink Zebra Consultant?

If you’ve attended any kind of arts and crafts trade show, especially during the holidays, you may have already seen Pink Zebra. Or maybe you were approached by a Pink Zebra consultant and introduced to this company and its products.

Maybe at some point you even signed up to be a Pink Zebra consultant.

Regardless, I’m going to review Pink Zebra and go over the pros and cons of signing up with this company in order to work from home as one of its independent consultants.

What is Pink Zebra?

Pink Zebra is a relatively new business on the scene, having been founded in 2011. The company operates as an MLM direct sales organization, meaning that it sells through independent contractors, not employees. These contractors, who are called consultants, are compensated with commissions when they sell product and when they recruit other consultants. Because those recruited consultants eventually recruit other consultants, the original consultants at the top of this many-leveled marketing pyramid can make significantly more money from their recruits than their own individual sales.

Pink Zebra sells several lines of products focused on home décor, jewelry and personal care. One of its signature product lines is Sprinkles, which are fragranced soy wax beads used to create custom candles. The Sprinkles are sold in cylindrical jars, as shown below:

You can purchase several jars of Sprinkles and mix them together when creating a unique candle scent. Once all the mixing is done, you just add a wick and have your candle.

In addition to Sprinkles, Pink Zebra also offers scented jewelry, candle containers and shades, wax simmer pots, air freshener hangers and clips, and select bath products.

The company’s online catalog for these products is extensive. There’s even an outlet area, complete with clearance merchandise.

Other sections of the website are devoted to recruitment of independent consultants. Signing up as a consultant is heavily encouraged, and the rewards of becoming a consultant are also strongly touted.

What are Pink Zebra consultants?

Pink Zebra consultant are contractors who sign up with the company to sell its products via direct (person-to-person) sales. Consultants can sell Pink Zebra wares by hosting parties, by posting their products on social media platforms, or by conducting private one-on-one consults.

Consultants sign up to Pink Zebra by buying one of two starter kits. The smaller kits is $99, while the larger one is $199.

Inside these kits, the consultant gets small batches of Sprinkles products, marketing materials, invoice pads, catalogs, etc. The deluxe kit comes with the blue-gray Boho candle shade shown in the photo and Pink Zebra backpack.

Consultants are compensated at with 25%-35% commissions depending on their product sales volumes. This is a fairly good commission level given that it does not yet involve any recruitment.

However, if a consultant were to personally recruit someone else, s/he would earn quite a hefty 7% commission from that recruit’s future product sales.

Commissions continue to build as recruited consultants personally recruit other consultants.

Pink Zebra consultants earn an additional 2% on their team’s sales.

Pink Zebra also offers online training videos, monthly webinars and access to a Web-based workstation called “ZebraNET” for tracking orders, tracking your team’s progress and accessing your training tools.

Pink Zebra: As good as it sounds?

All the above-noted commissions and training materials make Pink Zebra sound like a really decent at-home business opportunity. Here’s my breakdown of the pros and cons of this business.

The good:

Good quality products– The soy candle Sprinkles and other products offered through this company appear to be of good quality. One of the company’s videos even goes over how eco-friendly and safe the products are for everyday use. The candle shades and holders offer some quirky yet applicable designs for home use to “out-in-the-sticks” cabin use.

Higher than average commissions– Pink Zebra states that its commissions are higher than those of its competitors, and it’s right. This is also one of the benefits of working with a relatively young MLM company. As you can see, no one has even advanced to the level of Presidential Director (as of 2015):

The not-so-good:

Low earnings– To its credit, Pink Zebra discloses the 2015 numbers for average consultant earnings in the above graphic. Unfortunately, this graphic also shows just how little money the average beginner consultant earns. Even managers, who have two downlines, don’t earn much more than $6K/year.

This hints that each consultant may only have recruited one additional consultant under him/her. As a result, the Pink Zebra marketing pyramid may be extremely thin.

Parties, parties and more parties– Pink Zebra is strongly based on a home party model. While it is mentioned that you can sell online or through fundraisers, the company emphasizes how much more money you’ll earn through parties.

The problem with having two parties each week is that that entails a lot of work. House cleaning, prepping food/drinks, inviting guests, post-party cleanup…there’s a big reason why people don’t want to host parties at their house. Even during those obligatory house party holidays like Easter or Christmas.

In the above graphic, Pink Zebra states that, somehow, having eight parties each month will take only 25 total hours or about 3 hours per party. Somehow, I find that hard to believe. Food prep alone takes a few hours. For a Pink Zebra party, I would also need time to prepare product samples, lay out ordering forms, process orders, etc.

Also, after hosting one or two house parties, who would be left to invite (again)?

eBay is booked– I did a quick search on Pink Zebra products for sale on eBay. To my surprise, I located over 70,000 listings. In some cases, the products being listed on eBay were going at far below their retail value on the Pink Zebra website. This tells me that some consultants are dropping out of the program- and creating a sales hole for other active consultants who still wish to sell their products at full price.

Buy Pink Zebra products, not the business

Pink Zebra offers quirky, unique and good quality products. However, its business model may not be as lucrative as advertised. Also, for the work you’ll be required to put in to make that $1,120/month in profit, you’re better off starting a different online business instead. Finally, even $1,120/month does not make for a full-time wage, so you’ll be keeping your regular job.

Have you experienced Pink Zebra as a customer or a sales rep? Let us know how it went in the comments below.

Does it Make Sense to Start a Scentsy Business?

If you’ve ever been invited to a Scentsy party, you may already be aware of this company and its brand. However, you may not be aware of how the company operates and what the motivating factors of its consultants might be. If you’re considering becoming a Scentsy consultant, this review will help make your decision easier.

What is Scentsy?

Scentsy was started in 2003 by Orville and Heidi Thompson and is now headquartered in Meridian, Idaho. The company operates via a direct sales model, meaning that most product sales are conducted through word-of-mouth and product demonstrations at home. Scentsy is also an MLM because current distributors recruit new distributors and make a commission from their sales.

Scentsy, which used to be officially called Scentsy Family, offered three product lines:

Scentsy Fragrance– warmers, fragrances, stuffed animals, laundry products, greeting cards.

Velata– fondue warmers, chocolate.

Grace Adele– purses and bags, clutches, clothing accessories.

In 2014, Grace Adele was discontinued; in 2016, Velata was shut down. The company then became Scentsy Fragrance. The company changed its name to Scentsy Fragrance, but still operates under the Scentsy Family corporate name.

Scentsy Fragrance continues to offer scented lotions, scrubs, laundry detergents, room sprays, cards, etc. One of their best-known product lines is the wax warmers, which includes a plug-in warmer containing wax cubes. Once those cubes warm up, the room fills with fragrance.

The products are actually of a decent quality and do smell good. I know this because I have received some of the waxes as gifts. Comparable quality items would include those that could be purchased from stores like Yankee Candle Co or Bath & Body Works.

You can purchase Scentsy products by going online and shopping on the company’s website. However, the company strongly encourages those individuals who are really interested in the products to become “fragrance consultants.”

What are Scentsy Consultants?

Consultants for Scentsy sell products for the company by signing up and purchasing a $99 startup kit. The items includes in this kit “include EVERYTHING you need to launch your business, including fabulous Scentsy products and business tools…”

Not much more detail is provided beyond that.

Once you do become a Scentsy consultant, you are advised to sell company products by hosting house parties and advertising online, especially through social media platforms  like Facebook and Instagram. What’s in it for you?

The company compensates you with a 20% commission for your Personal Retail Volume (PRV) of up to $999.99. In other words, if you sell $999.99 worth of products, you earn almost $200. If you sell $1,000 worth of products or more, you make a 25% commission.

Because you don’t ever earn more than 25% on your PRV, you are motivated to recruit others into becoming Scentsy consultants. Through your downline, you earn anywhere from 2% to 9% via their product sales. In turn, those consultants are encouraged to recruit other consultants so that they also build their downline and kick up more earnings to you.

Is Scentsy a worthwhile business venture?

As with all MLM and direct sale companies, Scentsy requires that you be comfortable approaching others and selling products and/or consultant opportunities to them. Where does Scentsy excel in this arena, and where does it fall behind?

The good:

Product quality– The company’s products are of good quality, have a pleasant smell, and are fairly safe to use.

Product relevance– Scentsy markets its line of fragrance product to women, men and kids. So, you are cornering almost every portion of the available consumer base.

Rewards– If you like Scentsy products, one way to score a deal on them is by selling them to others. If you choose to do this online and have a large following, you could end up making several hundred dollars in party sales. In addition to making 20%-25% in commissions, you’d also gain access to the following rewards:

The not-so-good:

Commissions– The chart below is derived from 2014 data that appear with the Scentsy business disclaimer. Commissions are shown for all levels of Scentsy consultants, from Escential (beginner) to Superstar Director (a Scentsy god).

It appears that the majority of Scentsy consultants are placed at the Certified Consultants level. This is the level where a consultant has sold $1,000 or more of product but has no downline (other consultants). So, these consultants are basically pulling in 25% commissions on their sales.

Scentsy Commission Earnings

As noted in other direct sales/MLM reviews, a low commission makes it difficult to not only earn a sustainable monthly income from a business, it limits your ability to launch product promos and discounts. And, not to mention, recruit other (new) consultants too.

Recruitment– What’s really disheartening about Scentsy is that, no matter how much product you sell each month, you can’t increase your commission beyond 25% unless you recruit other consultants. In fact, at the very top level consultant position, you can earn up to another 44% in commissions from your downlines in addition to the 25% you already earn on your own sales. With that kind of money flowing in, it becomes much easier to run promos, ads, discounts, etc.- and still make a healthy profit from your sales.

Scentsy is a great product, not a great business

Scentsy products smell great and come in a number of attractive scents and unique designs. However, that’s where the greatness stops. By all means, shop Scentsy for your home, office, garage, car, etc. fragrance needs. But do not shop this company if your intent is to start an at-home business venture.

Have you started a Scentsy business? We’d love to hear your experiences in the comments below.

Should You Start Your Own At-Home Jewelry Business with KEEP Collective?

Judging by its own descriptor, KEEP Collective sounds great: You get to design your own personalized keepsake jewelry. Also, you help others design their keepsake jewelry and make a commission from your sales.

KEEP Collective has a very catchy slogan: “Design your own jewelry business from home.”

So, is it worth your time and money to get involved with KEEP Collective? Let’s find out.

What is KEEP Collective?

This direct sales company was founded in 2014 by Blythe and Jessica, who, the website story goes, quit their corporate jobs to start KEEP Collective. The company itself sells personalized keepsake jewelry through a direct sales model, meaning that it hires independent contractors, called designers, who purchase company inventory and sell it to their personal customers. There’s also an MLM side to the business because designers can recruit other designers and make commissions from their sales.

KEEP Collective sells two main lines of products, called Keepers and Charms. The Keepers are the base of the jewelry item, such as a bracelet, earring, bag, key fob or necklace. To these Keepers, one can add specific charms like birthstones, engraved metal plates, lockets, timepieces, etc.

The Keepers range in price from $29 to $49 and are made from either leather or silicone. Necklaces range from $19 to $79. Bags are three sizes and range from $29 to $79. These prices do not include the charms.

Once you have your Keeper selected, you can purchase different charms for personalization. Charms range from $9 to $34.

While you can shop the website and purchase your jewelry online, the company heavily promotes direct selling to others by becoming a “jewelry designer.”

You become a jewelry designer by first purchasing a starter kit from the company. There are three sizes of starter kits. The Basics Kit retails for $99 and provides you with a personal website, training and support. You do not receive any actual products to sell, however.

The Essentials Kit costs $149 and includes everything in the Basics Kit, $500 worth of Keepers and Charms, a display tray and a leather swatch ring.

The Business Builder Kit costs $349, includes everything in the Basics Kit, $1,000 worth of Keepers and Charms, a display tray and a leather swatch ring. You also receive a foldable neck display, three display pillows and five gift bags.

Once any one of the kits is purchased, the newly-minted ‘jewelry designer’ can start her marketing. In this regard, most designers use social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to promote their jewelry. Of course, designers can also host parties, whether in their homes or online. Likewise, each designer has a website she can use for promotions and announcements.

What is the KEEP Collective compensation plan?

With KEEP Collective, designers make back 25%-35% of their sales volume as commission. As the below chart shows, designers can technically make enough commission money to actually replace their job income.

Designers also earn commissions by recruiting other designers and building their team (i.e., downline). Downline levels go down as deep as six levels, enabling designers to earn up to 6% from the sales of others.

Is KEEP Collective a worthwhile business?

The good:

The product is nice. Keepers and Charms, as well as the bags and other items from KEEP Collective, look very presentable and can be worn for both casual and formal events. They are each unique in that they are customizable, and so are perfect for events like weddings, graduations, etc.

The company is young. Because KEEP Collective was started only three years ago, it has not yet reached complete market saturation. So, if you can recruit others and/or sell a lot of product, you can rise relatively easily in the ranks. As the below map shows, there is still room to grow.

The not-so-good:

The items aren’t cheap. To create a single Keeper and Charm jewelry item for yourself, you’ll need to spend anywhere from $28 to over $100. The bracelet Keepers are made from relatively inexpensive materials such as leather and silicone, so it makes no sense why they are priced as high as $49.

This means that it will be difficult to sell vast quantities of jewelry to all but the more affluent of customers who don’t mind shelling out a few hundred bucks on keepsake jewelry. KEEP Collective will not be an impulse purchase, that’s for sure.

The commissions aren’t high enough. Making 25%-35% in commissions is kind of ridiculous when you consider that you’re the one marketing the products, selling them, hosting parties, collecting payment and maybe even shipping the pieces out. If you’re going to perform three or more jobs for a company, you should start making commissions that are at least 50% (or higher.)

Also, without higher commissions, designers are limited in what kinds of promos and discounts they can offer. A designer can’t run a 50% off deal, for example, or at least not very easily, because then she’s making very little money for herself.

Are designers bailing? If you search for KEEP Collective on eBay, you’ll find loads of items priced at rock-bottom prices. Here are just some eBay listings for KEEP Collective items that are running way below retail value:

For a relatively young company, having over 1,000 eBay listings featuring heavily discounted merchandise is a troubling sign.

Don’t keep KEEP Collective

If you’re interested in creating custom jewelry for yourself and others, you could easily dropship many KEEP-like items from AliExpress and save yourself a ton of cash. You could even try selling off your excess items and see how well others like them. With AliExpress, you have lots of custom jewelry to choose from, as just this one listing indicates:

Quite honestly, you could even start your own KEEP Collective business, paying others a commission for each jewelry set they sold. But, that’s a subject for another blog post.

The bottom line with KEEP Collective is that there just isn’t enough of a bottom line to justify the work involved with selling this jewelry. Plus, the jewelry itself isn’t cheap, so many potential customers will pass on the impulse to buy. With so many other jewelry vendors out there, including custom jewelry vendors, the KEEP Collective unique value prop just isn’t that unique.

Will Selling Jamberry Nails Products Give You Financial Freedom?

If you’re a regular on Instagram, or even eBay, you may have come across Jamberry products by now. In fact, it seems that as the economy improves, more and more Jamberry products surface on social media as well as selling platforms.

What is Jamberry Nails?

Started in 2010 by three sisters who wanted to curb the cost and time involved in a visit to the nail salon, Jamberry began as an economical and efficient solution to manicures and pedicures. The company sold products such as self-apply nail wraps, TruShine gel enamel systems (i.e., nail polish), and LED-powered nail heaters. Here is a sampling of the products that Jamberry offers:


These products are not available at retail stores; instead, Jamberry is a direct sales corporation that sells its products to independent consultants. The consultants, in turn, sell the products to individual customers.

As is the case with direct selling, consultants not only make money when they move product, they also earn “overrides” (i.e., commissions) on the consultants they recruit. Here is a breakdown of Jamberry consultant levels:

In this chart, the ‘legs’ are actually recruited consultants. Why would a consultant (C) want extra legs? Because extra legs equals extra commissions and rewards, as shown below:

Finally, consultants can also earn higher commissions if they push more product. The standard commission on Jamberry products is 30%. However, consultants who sell $3,000+ worth of product can increase their commission level to as much as 40%.

How do you get started with Jamberry Nails?

Jamberry consultants get started by ordering a $99 starter kit (plus S/H). The starter kit contains four nail wraps, 40 nail wrap designs, application tools, cuticle oil and a nourish hand crème. Once the items in that kit are tried and/or sold, the consultant can order more products from Jamberry, keeping 30% of the money as her own commission.

The full size sheets contain 18 nail wraps of different sizes, which can cover two full manicures. The wraps are individually cut, shaped and heated into place using either a regular hair dryer or the LED-powered nail heater.

Consultants are advised to move product by hosting parties. These parties can be performed at their homes, online (e.g., through social media sites) or via catalog (e.g., catalogs left at work).

While the business model sounds reasonable, and while at first glance, the 30% commission sounds high, here are some reasons why Jamberry Nails isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be:

  1. The market is oversaturated. Search for Jamberry Nails products on a selling platform like eBay and you’ll find over 22 thousand listings for these products. Many product listings feature items going for less than their retail price on Jamberry.com. This is not good because it indicates that Jamberry Nails sellers are selling their items at loss.

For example, Jamberry Nails nailwraps are supposed to be sold at $15/sheet, netting the consultant $4.50 in commissions. However, this eBay listing certainly didn’t alot for that 30% commission:

2. The products may have a fungal issue. Search for the keyphrase ‘Jamberry Nails fungus’ and you’ll find a host of results describing a fungal issue that develops between the cuticle and the wrap. Other issues have included cracked nails (from overdrying) and nails that won’t grow.

3. The commission is too low. Jamberry Nails claims that it offers women a way to make a regular yearly income from home. Let’s assume a regular yearly income is $40,000. If you crunch the numbers, that means you’ll have to sell $133,333 worth of product each year or $11,111 per month. Given that the nail wraps retail for $15 each, you’ll need to sell 741 of them every month through those aforementioned parties. That’s a fairly tall order.

Conversely, many affiliate products listed on Commission Junction or JV Zoo offer a 50%, 70% or even 100% (on intro products) sales commission. With no S/H fees to worry about, these affiliate products are arguably more profit-generating than fake nails.

4. The product was a recession hit. Jamberry Nails made its debut during the last recession, when people couldn’t splurge on professional manicures and pedicures. But that was seven years ago. Nowadays, people are more likely to be employed or involved in a business- and they would rather have someone else do their nails.

Why? Because doing a proper mani/pedi with Jamberry Nails takes quite a bit of time and skill to master. Read through Beauty Judy’s review of her adventure with Jamberry Nails wraps and you’ll see why. Don’t forget that self-administered manicures can only be performed with one hand, which further increases their level of difficulty.

5. The product just isn’t that good. What initially attracts people to Jamberry Nails is the fact that there are hundreds of really ingenious designs to choose from and wear. Unfortunately, that’s where the fun stops. Many Jamberry customers report how they were disappointed with how their finished nails looked, with the wraps falling off in just days or even hours. Even when the wraps stayed on the fingernails, they often had bubbling and lifting at their edges. Filing the wraps to make them more even with the underlying fingernail only served to fray the plastic.

Should you start a Jamberry Nails business?

Before you sign up with this company and fork over $99 on its starter kit, buy a few wraps on eBay and see how they work with your nails. You might find that you love them…or you might find out that this product won’t adhere or takes too much time to apply.

If you can’t figure out and showcase your own product very well, you’ll have a hard time selling it to customers.

Otherwise, you should consider the compensation model that this company offers. Is a 30% commission sufficient for your needs and the amount of work you’ll need to put in? Can you really sell hundreds of nail wraps each month? And how will you deal with customers who want refunds or exchanges?

As with any MLM, recruitment of others is often the name of the game if you wish to increase your earnings and gradually do less work for your commission money. Are you prepared to recruit and tutor others? Will you be available to help them out if they run into a snag or customer issue?

Have you sold with Jamberry Nails before? Please let us know your experiences with the company in the comments below.

Should You Start Your Own Younique Business?

Multi-level marketing companies such as L’Bri, Avon and Monavie used to spread their direct marketing via home parties and trade show events. Recently, many MLMs have taken to social networks to spread their word (and sales). A large number of MLMs have chosen Facebook as their route, using Facebook Groups to advertise products via virtual product parties (i.e., sales events).

This is certainly the case with Younique. This MLM company, which was founded in September 2012, is unique (sorry) in that it markets almost exclusively through social media. Thus, many of its “presenters,” as they are called, use Facebook to host virtual product parties.

What products are offered through Younique?

This MLM company offers women’s cosmetics, with most items ranging from $20-$60. Some items, like the moisturizers, cost a bit more ($65). While these items are on the higher end of the scale (in terms of prices), they still aren’t grossly expensive. By comparison, L’Occitane sells their moisturizers at prices ranging from $60-$120, and Algenist face creams are similarly priced.

The Younique sales model is MLM-based. Presenters that join the company must pay $99 for a starter package. They must also make $125 in personal retail sales (PRS) within three months to remain in the program.

To move up to the next level (yellow), a $1,000 PRS amount must be reached. The following level (pink) requires recruitment of one presenter and company wholesale sales of $2,000; this means that the recruit is purchasing $2,000 of merchandise to sell. However, the pink-level presenter’s PRS amount is decreased to $250.

At level white, presenters earn 20% commissions on sales. At level yellow and beyond, 25% commissions are earned.

Regardless of how you cut it, Younique places a heavy requirement on pushing product. Presenters who can’t hack it and don’t sell enough product are deactivated. So, unless a presenter is willing to purchase product with her own cash, she had better be out there, selling Younique products.

As a result, many Younique presenters have chosen to reach wider audiences by having virtual parties on social media outlets such as Facebook. Here are just some of the products that have been featured at Younique Facebook parties:

Younique virtual parties on Facebook and other social media run a familiar course:

  1. The presenter creates a Facebook group devoted to Younique buy, sell and trade.
  2. Periodically, the presenter put an item or items up for sale- but not their prices.
  3. Viewers are asked to PM (private message) the presenter for product prices.
  4. The presenter PMs interested parties with prices.
  5. Viewers either buy or don’t buy the product(s).

By not showcasing the product prices, presenters can entice viewers with the product(s) first. Sending PMs to people also opens up communication channels, transforming a cold lead into a warm one.

While there are some testimonials from successful presenters, the truth of the matter is that 95% of new presenters in Younique quit the company after a few months. Only 1-3% of Younique presenters truly ‘make’ it, in that they make a reasonable (and regular) monthly commission without needing to buy their own product.

With such imposing stats, is the Younique business model worthwhile?

The good:

  • The $99 startup cost is fairly low for any kind of business, MLM or not.
  • The company not even five years old, which means fewer presenters and market saturation.
  • Many Younique product are made from organic and/or animal-free ingredients. Animal products, such as hairs used in the brushes, are harvested humanely.
  • Presenters receive access to their own selling website.

The not-so-good:

  • Only 51% of the population will use your products.
  • There is pressure to sell $125 in product (in the rolling 3 months) or be deactivated.
  • To maintain their levels, presenters must reach their sales goals every month.
  • Downline commissions can only be earned if presenters maintain at least one active presenter, reach $1,000 in lifetime PRS, and earn $250 in PRS each month.
  • Presenters must not only sell their own products, they must also come up with ways for their active presenters to sell their products.
  • With starting prices for Younique products being $20 and above, the items aren’t exactly in the “mindless splurge” category.

Thus, as you might infer from the bullet points above, Younique places heavy emphasis on recruitment, large downlines, and lots of product advertising and selling. If you have a bad month or get sick, you may lose out on your commissions. If you take a long vacation, you are similarly placed at a disadvantage and will need to hustle like mad to make up for your lost sales.

Virtual parties may seem like a great advertising idea at the outset, but the fact is that most of your social media friends will eventually tire of your party ads and ask Facebook to not show your announcements in their news feeds.

So, you’ll be spending extra money on Facebook Ads to get your products out there and noticed by people outside of your circles. If you decide to host actual house parties, such events will also cost you in terms of time, food and drinks.

Still, if you like having virtual and/or real parties and are a social butterfly by nature, this may be the ideal gig for you. There is also the potential for selling Younique products quite well in rural and isolated areas where brick-and-mortar stores are few and far between. Of course, this only works if those rural and isolated areas have money to spend on higher-end cosmetics.

Have you sold with Younique before?

As with all MLMs, we aren’t particular fans of the business model in general. With most MLMs, the first hurdle is having to sell inferior products at inflated prices. There is often heavy pressure to sell first within your social circles. Once you exhaust your sphere of influence, the pressure moves to recruiting the people you know to sell to their social circles. This model just isn’t sustainable in the long run.

Have you tried selling Younique before? Have you attended a party, virtual or in-person? Do you have experiences with their products? Sound off in the comments below.

WordPress Page Builders 101

One of the biggest complaints that new WordPress user have is how hard it is to get a post or page to look “just right”.

While WordPress is pretty easy to use, this is a justifiable complaint if you’re trying to create a post that isn’t in a simple blog style format.

In order to create something a bit different, you would need to learn CSS and HTML at the very least to achieve your desired look.

The beauty of WordPress though is that there are thousands of clever people out there looking to solve peoples problems and of course they listened and created plugins called Page Builders.

What Are Page Builders?

These plugins allow you to create complex looking post and pages through an easy to use drag and drop system.

Often these are done from a front end point of view, where you actually see your site and drag and drop elements on to the page so you can see the content forming in front of you.

Some page builders are slightly less fancy though and utilize a backend system where you add multiple modules to create the same effect but without the visual feedback.

Page builders allow you to add all sort of things to your pages, including:

  • Text content
  • Images
  • Columns
  • Widgets
  • Galleries
  • Counters and Timers
  • Call to Actions
  • Optin forms
  • And many more

Not only that but most page builders offer pre-built examples that you can load and modify to your needs.

This flexibility, especially with the ability to create sections and blocks on the page make page builders incredibly powerful.

When to Use a Page Builder

Page builders fill a void in WordPress and allow people, even those who might not know a lick of CSS and HTML, to create beautiful looking pages.

This can lead to some people getting a bit carried away with using page builders, often when it’s not needed.

What then are ideal candidates for page builders?

#1 Home Pages

If your theme doesn’t allow you to create a complex, beautiful looking home page (which to be fair a lot do nowadays), then a page builder is the perfect option.

Simply create a new page, build it up with the page builder and then assign it as your home page and you’re done.

#2 Landing Pages

If you’re interested in marketing with your site, then you likely know the power of landing pages, and page builders make these a snap to build, especially builders like Thrive Content Builder which seem to focus more on landing pages.

#3 Complex Posts

Most of your content is going to be pretty straightforward text with some image thrown into the mix.

There are occasions though when you need more than that.  One type of post that I personally find hard to do in the WordPress editor is lists style posts where you want images on the left and content on the right.

Trying to get them even and orderly is a nightmare, but page builder make this easy with their row and column structures.

When Not to Use a Page Builder

One thing I consider a mistake when using page builders, is using them for everything!

If you have an article that is basic text with a few images, using a page builder is overkill. Not only does it make it slightly longer to produce the said article but using it on every single post and page can potentially have a negative effect on site speed.

Problems with Page Builders

It’s not all rosy with page builders, there are definitely some considerations to make before you use one.

#1 SEO issues

A lot of page builders generate quite a large amount of additional HTML that gets added to the page making it less semantic which may affect SEO.

#2 Speed

Some page builders make use of shortcodes to load and display your content, some simply have extra calls to the database. Both of these add weight to a site which can slow down page load speeds.

#3 Locked in

Like using a theme with too much functionality, some page builders make it very difficult to stop using them or to swap to another page builder. I’ve seen it where if the page builder plugin is disabled the content is simply gone. That’s not an ideal situation. Even if the content remains, it could be strewn with broken shortcodes or simply just plain and lacking the detail you added in.

#4 You don’t learn

Page builders make it easy for newbies and non-techies to create wonderful looking pages but that comes at the price of never learning basic HTML and CSS. Those skills are advisable for any marketer or site owner to learn, even if just at a basic level to help in situations where a page builder cannot be used.

Top WordPress Page Builders

There are lots and lots of page builder plugins available for WordPress, but here’s a selection of what I think are some of the best ones that you can use (in no particular order).

Beaver Builder

Beaverbuilder

Jam packed with features and templates, Beaver Builder is one of the best page builders out there.

It uses front end views and one thing I love about this builder is the fact that once disabled, the content remains.

The main downside to this plugin is the price; at $99 it’s not the cheapest option. It does however also have a free “lite” version available on WordPress.org.

As well as that the cheapest option does not support multisite, so if you need that be prepared to pay $199.

Elementor

Elementor

This page builder is relatively new to the field but it does offer a lot of different features and templates. I couldn’t see anything that specifically wowed me, but there was an overall sense of quality to the plugin.

That being said it does lack in some areas, especially editing inline text.

Still it’s easy to learn and use and at $49 it’s affordable for most budgets.

Page Builder by Site Origin

Siteorigin page builder

What’s impressive about this page builder is that you get all the features and easy to use systems that other page builders have, but it’s free.

It actually confused me because as a marketer my first question was how do they pay the bills? The answer is via premium addons to the plugin!

This plugin does have some flaws in that it’s perhaps not quite as easy to learn as others and the front end editing isn’t as fluid as other plugins, but for free these are minor concerns.

Divi Builder

Divi builder

Bundled with the popular Divi theme, Elegant Themes also provide the functionality in a separate plugin.

The problem with the theme is that if you decide to change theme and used the builder, you’re stuck! This plugin changes that but only slightly as the content is still locked to the plugin.

That aside, Elegant Themes have created an excellent product here with lots of features and templates thrown in.

At $69 it’s middle of the road price wise.

Visual Composer

Visual composer

If you’ve ever browsed themes on Themeforest or even bought some, you might have come across Visual Composer. It’s often bundled with themes and is still the best selling plugin on Codecanyon, Themeforest’s sister site.

As a plugin it performs excellently with yet again numerous features thrown in.

Downsides would definitely be the use of shortcodes to generate the content and some possible conflicts with other plugins.

At the price point of $34, it’s definitely the best value for money out of the premium plugins listed here.

Thrive Content Builder

Thrive content builder

The final plugin I’m going to mention get’s a lot of use from marketers as it has a higher focus on marketing related aspects rather than more general use.

That being said you can still use it to create beautiful pages even if you’re not marketing with your site.

The front end view is simple to use and deceptively powerful.

The Bottom Line

Not every one will need a page builder, and you should really look at your needs before opting for one.

Ultimately most page builders are similar in what they offer, which makes it hard to choose between them.

As such it’s important to test each page builder out to make sure it definitely has everything you need before buying – most plugin developers offer demos nowadays.

Used with care and selectively, page builders are an excellent addition to your WordPress toolkit and can help take the design and look of your site to the next level.

4 Apartment Rental Scams to Beware of and Avoid

Springtime often brings forth thoughts of moving into a newer, closer or better apartment. Likewise, some freelancers wish to set up shop at a location outside their home, or to work from a location that is closer to their client’s headquarters.

Unfortunately, scammers are well aware of the springtime move tendency and try to capitalize on hapless renters. Here are four common apartment rental scam scenarios that you should be aware of (and avoid):

Apartment rental scams to avoid

Scenario #1: You scan the newspaper and find an apartment with many amenities at a super low rate. You call or email the owner of the property and they are more than happy to show you the apartment; however, you must first provide your personal information, such as your social security number, address, bank account numbers, birth date, etc. Once you provide this information, you never hear from the owners again.

The real deal: More than likely, you’ve just been a victim of an identity theft. The scammer is a hacker who will now attempt to access your personal records and make purchases on your credit cards and/or bank accounts.

Scenario #2: The owner in question is not available because s/he lives abroad, is a missionary, in the military, etc. However, s/he will gladly accept your application and security deposit and send you the keys (via an agent, lawyer, etc.) to the apartment once these materials are received. Once you send your application and wire the money, you never receive those promised keys or hear from the owner again.

The real deal: You’ve just had your money and identity stolen by someone who created a fake apartment rental ad. That person could in fact be out-of-state, or even out of the country. The so-called agent, lawyer, etc. is imaginary.

Scenario #3: The ‘owner’ answers your ad inquiry and even agrees to show you the apartment. You are then asked to fill out a rental agreement, provide your bank and other information, and leave a security deposit plus one or two months’ rent. When it comes time to move in, however, you find out that not only is the apartment no longer available for rent, but that the “owner” you dealt with has long since left town.

The real deal: A scammer broke into an unoccupied apartment and showed it to you as their own. Alternately, the scammer is a buddy of the actual renter/owner of the apartment and is using the place as a base of operations for his/her scam. In some cases, the scammer is an evicted tenant of the apartment and is using it to collect money from unsuspecting renters before being kicked out by the sheriff.

Scenario #4: You find a reasonably priced sublet on Craigslist and agree to take it for a few months after meeting with the current renter and landlord. You provide your information and deposit, then have trouble getting in touch with either the renter or landlord. Upon conducting some research, you learn that the real landlord not only doesn’t allow sublets, but has even disallowed Craigslist ads of rentals because of sublet scammers.

The real deal: Scammer duos pose as renters and landlords and list properties that they either have access to and/or can pretend to own. Unsuspecting renters provide their information and security deposits and may even receive fake keys. Once the transaction is complete, the scammers disappear, leaving their victims with worthless keys and no address to call their own.

How to not be a victim of an apartment rental scam

Each of the following above scenarios can be prevented if you follow a few simple protocols when apartment-hunting.

  • You are not required to provide any of your personal or financial information, nor any money, as a condition of viewing an apartment.
  • You should never wire money to anybody, ever, and especially not without first viewing the property.
  • If the actual property owner does in fact live overseas, use your credit card or Paypal to secure your claim on the property. Reputable owners will often ask that you use a verified third party rental website to place a deposit.
  • Before providing anything to an ‘owner,’ check with the city/county website and verify actual ownership.
  • When dealing with a potential owner via Craigslist or other ad, call the listed phone number and talk to the person one-on-one. Verify everything that the owner emailed to you to ensure that his/her email wasn’t compromised.
  • Be leery of owners who appear too eager to rent their apartment to you, or who don’t care about your background screening or whether or not you can sign a lease.
  • Don’t believe that any owner would rent their place remotely- most owners want to actually see their renters before saying yes to them. Alternately, absentee landlords will entrust their property to a local real estate management company.
  • If an apartment is priced far below the price points of its neighbors, there could be a scam afoot.
  • If you must pay money, use your credit card, Paypal, or a verified apartment pay website. Never pay with cash or personal check. Never wire money to anybody.

The FTC provides additional information on apartment rental listing scams and how to spot them.

What if you become a victim of a rental scam?

If you do unknowingly become the victim of an apartment rental scam, you should first contact the police. In such situations, legal authorities may already be aware of the scam, and your testimony might help solve the case and catch the culprits.

If you answered an ad, get a hold of the publisher and notify him/her of the issue. Again, the publisher may have additional information on the scammer that could be provided to the police.

Contact the FTC by dialing 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) or going to the FTC Complaint Assistant. If you suspect that your scammer is based outside of the U.S., file your complaint with Econsumer.

By taking the above noted steps, you’ll not only provide valuable clues to authorities, but you’ll help warn others about the scam.

14 Sites That Offer Work-At-Home Legal Writer Jobs

If you’re a lawyer, a legal professional, or at least have a legal educational background who knows how to write and prefers to work from home, you’re in luck.

Various legal firms and agencies are now offering legal writer jobs for creating content on their websites, as well as their clients’ websites.

Best of all, these firms are specifically looking for legal writers who can work from home to reduce the overhead costs of hiring someone to travel to their office.

But why would they need legal writers in the first place?

The internet has certainly changed plenty of industries, and the legal profession is among them. More and more people are searching for legal information online, including other law professionals, law students, and most importantly, potential clients.

Law firms and offices have wised up and started to offer up information resources on their websites that are optimized for search engines so that those who search for this information will find their way to their website.

More relevant content on their websites means search engines can index their sites better, building their domain authority and driving traffic to their websites.

In today’s post, I list down companies that are offering legal writer jobs that you can do from home.

How much does a legal writer make?

The average salary of legal writers is around $45,000 per year or about $22.50 per hour. Higher education and more technically demanding writing jobs will yield higher pay. A few job ads have six-figure salaries attached to them.

Where to Find Legal Writer Jobs

Here are 10 sites that regularly recruit legal writers.

1. Legal Writer Jobs

This law firm marketing and web design company has been around since 2003 and has contracted numerous legal content writers within that time.

According to the site, its legal writers help write general web content, including blog posts and articles, for other law firms. The agency hires both part-time and full-time writers in the areas of criminal defense, personal injury, estate planning, family law, bankruptcy, business law, and real estate.

You can try to send your resume and writing sample to (662) 510-0159, although no new listings have been posted since 2016.

2. LegalMatch

If you are just starting out in the area of legal writing, this company is a good place to go and gain some experience.

LegalMatch is a website dedicated to connecting their customers with legal issues to the right lawyer. Their specialties include Family, Employment, Criminal Defense, Real Estate, Business, Immigration, Personal Injury, Estate, Bankruptcy, Government, and Intellectual Property.

They also have a Law Library, which they take pride in as one of the most comprehensive and popular online legal resources.

LegalMatch Jobs

Their corporate headquarters are located in San Francisco, CA, and they have offices in Reno and Las Vegas, NV, Austin, TX, and a development center in Cebu, Philippines.

They currently don’t have legal writer positions open, but they do open this periodically, so check their careers site from time to time.

3. Quimbee

Quimbee offers materials to help law students ace their law courses and prepare for the bar.

It contracts legal writers to help build out its growing library of case studies and summaries, online courses, articles, and white papers as well as study guides and practice questions for the Bar.

To apply for a remote freelance legal writer job with Quimbee, you must have graduated from a law school. Experience with law journals is a plus.

4. Legal Writing Institute

The Legal Writing Institute (or LWI) is a non-profit organization that aims to improve and develop professional legal writing by supporting the development of teaching resources and forums.

They offer legal instruction and writing jobs from all around the country and posts them to their online job board. Not all the posted jobs are remote and work-from-home; however, there is the occasional posting for a remote writer or instructor.

The site is also a good source of legal information and news, and it publishes its own journal. Membership is free.

5. Nolo

Nolo has been publishing do-it-yourself legal guides since 1971. It has since evolved with technology, and now Nolo.com and the Nolo Network is one of the internet’s largest free library of legal information.

They also have a lawyer directory to help you find just the right lawyer for your needs.

Martindale-Nolo is a partnership between Nolo and Martindale-Hubbell that offers a highly targeted lead generation service that helps attorneys and law firms grow their practice. They periodically hire legal writers to create well-written and informative articles on various legal areas, such as bankruptcy, criminal law, immigration, Medicaid, personal injury, employment law, and many others.

Currently, Nolo is hiring legal writers to write about veterans benefits and veterans disability law, immigration law, and landlord-tenant law.

Payment is made per completed article, and writers work with an editor to decide on topics and submission deadlines. Writers keep their own byline, and that byline can be linked to their own professional website.

6. PaperStreet

PaperStreet is a web design company that specializes in creating, overhauling, and maintaining websites for lawyers, attorneys, and law firms.

Aside from web design, they offer content marketing solutions, including blog posts, biographies, press releases, legal articles, newsletters, and social media copy.

The posted content is optimized for external search engines, and may additionally be optimized for website-specific, internal search engines.

PaperStreet Jobs

They periodically hire legal writers to create content for uploading to websites for law firms and attorneys. Check this page for instructions on how to apply as a legal writer to PaperStreet.

They also post openings for legal writer jobs on job boards.

7. LawLytics

LawLytics builds and maintains websites especially for solo practitioners and small law firms.

They offer website features that are specific to law websites, such as contact forms that users can easily customize for lead management, blogging tools that make it easier to create law-related articles, and tools to organize your case results so you can showcase them.

LawLytics is currently looking for remote legal writers to help create compelling content, such as original articles and detailed blog posts for various attorney websites and blogs.

They require a bachelor’s degree and extensive online writing experience, and the salary is around $13 to $20 an hour.

LawLytics is offering this position through SimplyHired, but you can also try to contact them directly to express your interest in the position.

8. BluShark Digital

BluShark Digital is a digital marketing company providing SEO solutions to both small and big law firms as well as solo legal practitioners.

They are on the lookout for technical content writers who can create SEO optimized content for BluShark’s clients.

A law degree is an advantage but not required. They value willingness to learn and being reliable more than a college degree. Salary starts at $22 per written webpage (550 to 770 words) for new content writers.

Complete the information on the application page and submit your writing sample.

9. We Do Content

We Do Content is a Florida-based law firm-focused SEO and digital marketing agency aiming to help their clients build a better Internet presence.

They’re currently hiring legal writers to create service pages, detailed articles, FAQ pages, and blog posts for lawyers’ websites.

A bachelor’s degree is required, as well as excellent writing skills and at least a knowledge of digital marketing tactics, especially search engine optimization.

You can apply via their SimplyHired listing

More: Job Boards To Search For Legal Writer Job Listings

You’d be surprised at how many legal writer positions are posted in generic job boards.

10. Upwork

This site offers completely remote legal writing gigs in such fields as contract, family, criminal, intellectual property, and corporate law.

In most cases, the writer performs online research and then rewords the findings into plain English for both lawyers and their clients.

Payment varies depending on work length and experience of the writer.

11. FlexJobs

FlexJobs is a subscription-based job board that focuses on listing only freelance and/or telecommute work.

As such, it usually offers several legal writer jobs through various companies as well as blogs and websites. Freelancers who want to be regularly updated about available contract work that can be performed from home should consider signing up with FlexJobs.

12. Indeed

Indeed offers quite a number of legal writer positions and is another free resource that freelancers should be checking out, and often.

By imputing the search terms “legal writer” and removing any location reference, you can get at least 5 results. Positions can be further narrowed by salary range, job type, and experience level.

13. Virtual Vocations

This job board frequently lists freelance and legal writing jobs in subject areas such as bankruptcy, family law, estate planning, etc.

While site membership is a requirement of accessing hiring company names, this membership provides a convenient way to access job listings that are completely remote and telecommute.

14. Contena

This new job board periodically accepts new members, but you can still search the site for legal writing jobs for free and even learn which companies/clients are hiring. It appears that most, if not all, writing jobs listed here are remote and on a freelance basis.

Contena Jobs

Start Applying For Legal Writer Jobs Today!

If being a legal writer is something you truly want to pursue, I hope the list above helps you find the company that fits you the best.

Where to Find Other Work-At-Home Writer Jobs

If legal writing isn’t your forte, or you’re interested in other writing jobs you can do at the same time, here are other articles on this site that guide you how to get other writing jobs from home.

8 High-Paying Work from Home Copywriting Jobs
Get Paid to Write Articles: 7 Tips to Kickstart your Writing Career
Get Paid to Write: 153+ Freelance Writing Jobs You Can Do from Home

Do you have any experience in legal writing? Have you previously applied to be a legal writer?