AppCoiner Review: Here’s What You Really Get

The internet is definitely the new frontier when it comes to making money. There are a vast number of opportunities out there, but as with any frontier it’s also home to bandits and snake oil salesmen.

Most of the programs and systems that you should avoid want you to believe that it is easy to make big money online without having to do any hard work.

AppCoiner is one of these sites, let me explain more.

What is AppCoiner?

The sales page for AppCoiner states that it can help you make money by testing mobile apps and games. All you need to do is sign up, download some apps and write an honest review.

App Coiner - 123

This is not all it seems to be as it’s using the words test and review seemingly interchangeably.

For most people this might seem like I’m splitting hairs, but they are very different. Are you going to be doing a variety of tests on different resolution screens? What about hardware? Operating systems versions?

Or are you simply taking a look at the app and writing a review, like you would with a toaster?

The Sales Pitch

After handing over your email address, you’re taken to the real sales page for AppCoiner.

It pushes the idea that it’s easy to test apps and make money. All you need is a basic grasp of English and a smartphone or tablet.

In fact, it lures you in with an interesting fact: in 2016 224 billion apps were downloaded generating billions in revenue.  Apparently you’re in for a slice of this cash because app developers want you to make reviews of their products.

While not strictly a lie, this is a misdirection as those billions generated from apps has nothing to do with how you’ll get paid. In fact the developers of the apps won’t even know you exist.

AppCoiner provides a handy calculator to help you work out how much you’ll get paid. This is a common technique seen on scam sites and doesn’t actually do anything. I mean, you can select how much each app review will earn you, between $5 and $30, but how do you know how much it will earn you?

It is meaningless junk designed to make you think you will earn big money.

App Coiner - calc

Your Special Discount!

AppCoiner is open to anyone, anywhere, but if your country might have a huge demand for testers, as such AppCoiner will give you a $20 discount.

This is BS, as it’s the same no matter what country you are in, they are just using a tactic to make you think you’re getting a discount for a reason, when in reality, you’re not.

App Coiner - discount

Try and leave the page and you’ll get hit with another $10 discount.

Appcoiner Discount

Not Really Testing

As mentioned above, I had some concerns about what AppCoiner is selling you. The reality is that you won’t actually be testing apps, but reviewing them.

What AppCoiner wants you to do is to log into your AppCoiner members account and write a review there.

App Coiner - member site

This seems odd as wouldn’t it be better to write the review on the apps page on the App Store or Google Play?

It would yeah, but you’ll never get paid that way.

You see, the app developers have nothing to do with this, in fact if they were to pay you for a review they’d likely be banned from the various app stores for trying to game the system.

Instead AppCoiner provides you with a website to write your reviews on. This sounds great, though far from what is promised on the sales page, but it isn’t good.

The website you’ll get will be a subdomain of another website called popularreviewer, so for example you’re might be bobsmith.popularreviwer

App Coiner - subdomain

Not only that but the site is a cookie cutter of every other site subdomain – they all look the same barring any unique content you add in terms of reviews.

There are a few problems with this sort of setup.

Firstly, you’re not in control. If the main site is taken down by the owners, your site and content is gone.

Secondly, subdomains are less likely to be ranked by a search engine. I did a search on numerous apps (“app name” review) and found only one subdomain from this site on page 5 of the results. That’s it.

Finally, you’re competing against every other AppCoiner customer.

Appcoiner Websites

Getting Paid

The sales pitch states that AppCoiner will monetize your reviews for you and will pay you out weekly, but how does this work?

At first I thought it might be some sort of affiliate marketing at the app store. That was quashed when I realized that neither Apple nor Google has an affiliate scheme for their app stores.

After looking at the sites provided by AppCoiner it became clearer –adverts. Each page of your site will contain 2 adverts, plus whenever someone clicks the buttons to go to the app stores, they are shown another advert and made to wait 10 seconds, and then forced to click a link to continue.

App Coiner - advert

It’s these adverts that will make you money.

Adverts generally pay peanuts, but these are adverts for products on ClickBank, so it is in fact a type of affiliate marketing, so at least pay more in commissions.

As well as that, there is a built in optin form. If anyone signs up they will be sent emails that contain affiliate links with your tag in them.

Traffic, Traffic, Traffic

Due to the nature of the site you’re being provided, the only way to make it even remotely viable is to send vast amounts of traffic to it.

As these sites basically don’t rank, organic SEO is out of the question, which leaves social media and paid traffic.

Buying traffic to send to these sites is a very bad idea. Unless you know what you are doing it’s very easy to pay more on traffic than you get in commissions. That being said it’s a viable option.

Social media is also an option, but again unless you know what you’re doing it could end up with you simply being labelled a spammer.

Is App Coiner a Scam?

Is AppCoiner a scam?

By definition, no it’s not, but it’s certainly misleading – instead of simply testing apps and getting paid you’re effectively running a small affiliate website.

And that’s my other major concern with this system: you don’t own anything, but are required to do the work.

Everything you build here is owned by App Coiner. They could at any minute decide to replace your affiliate tags with theirs or shut the site down and then you’d have nothing.

My final issue is that you need to send traffic to the site, a lot of traffic for it to be worthwhile, and that will be costly in either money or time or both.

You’d be better off creating your own affiliate site; it might take longer to learn but you’d own the domain and have full control.

How to Make Money Online with mTurk

Mechanical Turk (or mTurk, for short) is one of the oldest micro job sites around. It’s been around since 2005 and has been providing people with a platform to make extra income online by performing simple tasks. It’s backed by retail giant Amazon, so you’re in good hands.

It’s one of those too-good-to-be-true statements where you can work from the comforts of your home in your boxer shorts, pajamas and fluffy slippers and earn real cash. But unlike other scams online, mTurk is legit and has been paying people on time for easy-to-do tasks for years.

Getting Started with mTurk

Mechanical Turk has two kinds of users – requesters (the people who assign and pay for tasks) and workers (those who will complete the tasks). Requesters are the ones who will accept or reject completed tasks of workers. Amazon doesn’t have a say on this, but mTurk simply provides the platform to connect these two category of users.

To get started completing tasks on Mechanical Turk, you’ll need to create an account. But note that not everyone will be accepted. mTurk has an approval process, which has been notorious for denying some users for no apparent reason, but if you’re lucky to have your application accepted, you can continue filling up your account info. If your application gets rejected, you can try again in a few days.

As a new mTurk worker, you’ll be under 10-day probation with a maximum cap of 100 accepted HITs (Human Intelligence Tasks). All workers must complete at least their first HIT to begin the 10-day count. Once you finish the probationary period, you’ll be given a daily cap of 3,800 accepted HITs.

One of the most important parts of your mTurk account is the dashboard. This is where you’ll see your worker ID, how many HITs have been approved or denied, how much money you’ve made so far, and your entire HIT record.

Note that all workers have to provide their tax details and other personal info like driver’s license number, SSN, etc. If you’re not from the U.S., you have to send mTurk a filled-up W8-BEN form.

All About HITs

The HITs are on a first-come, first-serve basis, but requesters will only give you the HIT if you qualify for it. There’s a qualification tab on every HIT, so it’s best to check it out first. These vary completely depending on the requester, but common qualifications include taking a test, completing a qualification HIT, or “approved HITs greater than 500, 1k, 5k, or 10k+.

These 500, 1k+, 5k+, or 10k+ milestones are important, since your approval HIT rate refers to the number of HITs that have been approved compared to the number of HITs that have been rejected.

Qualification tests pay as little as one cent upon completion, but they are important if you want to turn mTurk into a lucrative full-time career.

You can find three kinds of HITs on the platform:

  1. Data Entry (converting image formats, filling out captcha, etc.)
  2. Surveys (Answer surveys from requesters)
  3. Transcriptions (transcribe content)

Some HITs are grouped in Batches (two or more HITs posted in one HIT). Workers should choose HITs carefully, especially if they’re still in the probationary period, since Amazon can close your account if it sees something wrong with your account.

Some HITs must be completed in just 3 minutes upon acceptance. Others have an hour, a day, several weeks of completion time, but if you miss this time frame, it will be counted as an expired HIT. It’s important to note that workers with high expiration rates won’t be able to qualify for HITs with higher pay.

Scripts and Why You Need Them

You have to understand that at any given time, there are millions of HITs available on mTurk. The great thing about mTurk is that you can filter these HITs according to your needs (such as expiry date, reward, time allotted and more).

New workers should familiarize themselves with the platform first, before taking on HITs. Ideally, those in the probationary period should choose easier HITs.

Once you get the hang of mTurk’s platform, it’s time to use various scripts that would take your turking to the next level.

The three must-have scripts you should install and why you should use them:

  1. Tamper Monkey for Chrome or GreaseMonkey for Firefox – These browser extensions allow you to install all other scripts that will make your turking life manageable.
  2. Turkopticon – Available as a Chrome or Firefox extension, this script lets you see workers’ reviews on requesters. This helps you avoid scam HITs and requesters who have made it difficult for mTurk workers in the past. Requesters listed her are given ratings for 4 factors (rewards, fairness, generosity and communication). Workers would be on the safe side if they choose requesters with over 90% ratings.
  3. MTurk HIT DataBase – Automatically records every single HIT you’ve completed.

There are tons of Mechanical Turk scripts and plugins available for workers to use. You can check out a huge list of them here. Others let you auto-refresh the HIT screen automatically, some makes browsing for HITs more effective by personalizing parameters, others alter you via text or browser. Some scripts are aimed at advanced turkers (such as Scrapper or PANDA).

Whichever scripts you decide to use, these tools would help in increasing your productivity, calculating profits, improving HIT numbers, and providing a history of all your HITs. Simply put, if you wish to earn $500 per week on Mechanical Turk, you have to take advantage of scripts.

How Much Can You Earn from mTurk?

The income potential of mTurk may seem week, since HITs range from cents to dollars, but if you give enough time and work your way up to higher qualifications (10k+ milestones), the payment you’ll receive will definitely increase as well. Many turkers have done this as a side hustle to start, but are now banking on six-figures yearly from doing simple tasks.

Withdrawing money from Amazon requires your SSN and address proof. You can request for Amazon gift cards, or have your earnings transferred to your bank account. Your mTurk funds should be transferred to Amazon Payment on your Amazon account, before it will be withdrawn to your chosen bank. Note that bank transfers take 24 hours.

It’s recommended to transfer your mTurk funds weekly, since Amazon can terminate your account for some reason or another and all income you’ve generated from Mechanical Turk will be lost.

There are tons of resources to increase your mTurk income, such as Reddit (/r/HITsWorthTurkingFor), mTurk List, CloudMeBaby, and mTurk Grind, among others.

The Bottom Line

mTurk is a legitimate platform that lets you earn real money from simple tasks. Earning your way up to higher-earning tasks may seem daunting, but you can always do this on this side and focus on mTurk alone once you’re able to earn higher rewards.

It’s an awesome platform, and if you’re still mulling if you’re going to join or not, don’t. Do it now and reap from future rewards by turking today.

Take Photos with Your Phone and Sell them at Foap for $5 a Pop

If you have an eye for photography and can quickly identify an interesting subject, scenario, or event, then you better make use of your phone to snap pictures and earn cash on the side. Foap is an Android and iOs app that lets anyone register, upload photos, and sell them for real cash. It was founded in 2012 with its corporate locations found in New York, Sweden and Poland.

Foap serves as a platform for casual photographers to sell their work to companies and brands. Calling itself as “the next wave of stock photography,” Foap also distributes photos through partners, such as Getty Images.

How Does Foap Work?

To get started with Foap, download the free app from either iTunes or Google Play. You’ll also need to create an account using either your e-mail address or Facebook account. You can’t start uploading photos yet though. You need to check out other photos first and rate at least five images with 1 to 5 stars. Once done, upload any photo you think people would find interesting, write photo description, license information, and relevant tags.

For your uploaded photos to be included in the Foap Marketplace, other users must rate your photo until it reaches 2.5-star rating or higher. The website has a rating system in place, wherein higher-rated images are seen more frequently.

The idea seems pretty easy, right? Well, Foap has two customers – the casual photographers who are uploading content into the app, and the companies or other people who need to purchase images. The demand is there. In fact, Foap claims to be partners with brands like Bank of America, Air Asia, Nivea, Absolut Vodka, Pepsi, Volvo Group, HoneyMaid, Heineken, Sony, Mango, Garnier, and more. But do these partnerships translate into earnings?

How Much Can You Earn?

Photos in the marketplace are sold at $10 each, but the money is split 50/50 – $5 goes to Foap and owners of the photos get to keep $5. The only good thing about this is, you can sell the same photo over and over as long as it’s hosted on Foap.

If you join Foap Missions – the company’s version of photo contests – you’ll get a chance to sell your photos to brands that started the mission. Companies often use the photos chosen for marketing campaigns. In return for being chosen, users may receive cash (somewhere from $50 to $500) or rewards, depending on the Mission description.

In order to get paid, you’ll need to cash out earnings before the 15th of the month. You then have to wait until month’s end to receive it via PayPal (No other payout options are available).

Things to Like about Foap

Foap isn’t the most novel idea, but there are several things to like about the app. For example, users do not need to complete a ton of requirements – all you need is a smartphone and photos that follow basic guidelines, and you can upload as much photos as you’d like.

Other notable things to like about Foap include:

  • Mobile in nature – Snap photos and upload, even while on the go
  • Huge community – Because the app is free to use, you can expect thousands of Foap users. This is a particularly great feature, especially for budding photographers who want free exposure of their work. Fans won’t translate to earnings, but it sure can help to get their names out there.
  • Photo contest Missions – The money isn’t all that great (common prize amount is $100), but it’s one way to gain exposure if a popular brand uses your photos for marketing.
  • Learning platform – Foap can be used for market research – what kinds of photos are people interested in? What kinds sell the most? The Foap rating system gives you immediate feedback of your work.

Things NOT to Like about Foap

Foap has a lot of potential, if the company changes these three things:

  1. Rating system – The rating system has received a lot of complaints from users, since it’s basically free-for-all. Your photo may look award-winning and all, but as long as users rate it low, it won’t have a chance to be seen by a wider audience. There has been complaints that users can be competitive and down-rate others with obvious photography skill.
  2. Require plenty of effort – If you’re a phone cam addict who takes over 20 snaps throughout the day, Foap can be a cool platform to showcase your work. It may not be worth the extra effort for people who aren’t fans of using their smartphones for picture-taking.
  3. Price and Prizes – If Foap changes the rating system and more “worthy” users are featured, the company should also change pricing and amount of prizes to attract more brands and budding photographers to the community.

The Bottom Line: Should You Join Foap?

No one can earn enough money and turn Foap earnings into a full-time income. The Foap app is worth checking out if:

1. You’re only after passive income
2. You’re a professional photographer
3. You are willing to spend time and effort uploading photos (one at a time)
4. You excel in a competitive environment

Personally, I think there are better ways to spend your time in order to make money. Click here to see what I recommend most.

Should You Join L’Bri as an Independent Consultant?

If you use skincare and beauty products on a regular basis, then you have probably heard of L’Bri. This company offers several lines of products geared towards skin and haircare, and they also offer cosmetics. What’s really great about L’Bri products is that many of them feature aloe vera extract as their first ingredient. They also strive to use natural ingredients such as plant oils, nut butters, and essential oils.

L’Bri products are priced comparably to products from Avon and Mary Kay and are not as expensive as those of Lancôme or Estee Lauder. Face creams average at $20/jar, and care sets run about $50.

You can purchase the products on their own by going onto the L’Bri website and shopping online. At checkout, there is no need to interact with a sales consultant.

Alternately, you can sign up with L’Bri and earn products and commissions through the company. How does this work?

The L’Bri business opportunity

L’Bri does not offer its products through retailers and stores. Instead, it sells its goods to and through independent consultants, who then sell those products to their customers and earn a commission on their sales. As such, the company operates through a direct sales model. L’Bri also pays out commissions to consultants who can recruit other consultants- because of this, the company operates as a multi-level marketing (MLM) business.

If you really like L’Bri products, you can score free and reduced items by hosting a L’Bri party. The compensation plan is as follows:

Keep in mind that, in addition to selling a given amount of product, you will also need to have someone in your party book the next L’Bri party. Otherwise, you won’t receive your product compensation.

If you’d rather just make money by selling L’Bri products to customers, you will first need to purchase a product showcase. There are two showcases to choose from: the full showcase, which costs $350 and includes skincare and makeup products, and the skin care showcase, which costs $135 and includes only skincare products. Doing so is part of the process of becoming an independent consultant with the company.

In addition to these products, you also get your own dedicated L’Bri website, and product samples.

L’Bri consultants don’t necessarily need to purchase products themselves before they sell those products to their personal customers. However, commissions are higher if the consultants purchase product outright. For example, at the consultant level, you earn a 30% commission on products that you order directly from the company, but only a 23% commission on products that are purchased online via your website.

The entire L’Bri commission structure is outlined below and shows the four different levels that consultants can achieve:

The sponsoring bonuses outlined in this chart are commonly known as downline commissions, or the commissions that you make as a result of sales generated by people you’ve recruited.

So, is being a L’Bri consultant worth the time and money? I break down the pros and cons of this business opportunity below.

Pros

Great products– L’Bri truly strives to create and market products that contain pure and natural ingredients. They list these ingredients openly on their website and strive to explain what each one does.

Reasonable prices– The skincare and other products offered by L’Bri are reasonably priced- furthermore, customers don’t have to pay a membership fee if they just wish to buy the products outright.

Cons

Low commissions– L’Bri may not require that its consultants buy its products outright- but it sure makes it a challenge to earn a high commission otherwise. Consultants earn only 23% on products that they sell through their website. So, in order to earn higher commissions, you’ll either be having lots of parties and taking customer orders directly, or you’ll be buying product ahead of time to sell at shows or additional home parties.

Limited market– L’Bri offers skincare and cosmetics products directed towards women only. This is unfortunate because aloe vera products could easily be formulated for men, or just be offered in the gender-neutral categories of sun protection, wound healing, etc. However, because they’re not, you cannot just market your wares to everybody and expect sales.

Personal volume requirement– It’d be great if all you had to do to earn commissions was set up a website and generate 23% from every sale that occasionally rolled in. Alas, it’s not that simple. As a consultant, you must make a minimum of $200 in sales each month if you are to earn any commissions. That means that, more than likely, you’ll be hosting at least one party per month to make that $46. Either that, or you’ll be starting side businesses like these in order to sell your wares:

Little to no marketing training- Glassdoor reviews of L’Bri have one recurrent complaint about this company- the fact that it offers little direction on how to go beyond the at-home party model to market and sell products to a general audience. Because L’Bri focuses mostly on your ‘warm’ audience, you won’t know enough about how to reach out to third-party customers and boost your sales.

L’Bri has great products but a so-so business opportunity

L’Bri offers quality products at affordable prices. Unfortunately, this is where the company’s advantages end. The L’Bri business opportunity is rife with risk because you must generate a set personal sales volume each month. Additionally, you must encourage your downline to make its required sales volume or the promised bonuses don’t materialize.

Have you sold L’Bri products? Please leave a comment below about your experiences.

Should You Become a Scent-Sations Distributor?

If you have shopped for home decor products, then you may have come across a company called Scent-Sations. This company was founded in September 2002 by Carmen and Lynn Milazzo, Bob Scocozzo, and Charles Umphred. The company is headquartered in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania.

The company is best known for marketing Mia Bella Gourmet Candles, which are candles that come in different jar sizes and are offered in over 90 different scents. Scent-Sations also offers Mia Bella Beauty, a line of cosmetics that are advertised as being high in soy protein. There are also bath and body products to choose from, and even Mia Bella Bakery products.

The Scent-Sations business opportunity

You can buy Scent-Sations products online via the company’s website. However, you can also become a distributor for the company because Scent-Sations operates as a direct sales, multilevel marketing company. This means that it doesn’t sell its products to retailers. Instead, the company deals directly with private individuals, who sign up to become independent contractors (aka, distributors). These distributors purchase company products at wholesale prices and then sell them to others at a profit. They can also recruit other individuals to become Scent-Sations distributors and earn commissions on their sales.

Your first step in becoming a Scent-Sations distributor involves signing up to the company’s auto-ship program. There are three auto-ship programs to choose from, as outlined below:

In essence, you need to pay at least $39.95 per month to join and remain in the Scent-Sations distributor program. Depending on your personal needs and sales, you can upgrade to the larger $100/month plan or the $87/month skin care plan.

The main perk of having an auto-ship plan is that you get to buy Scent-Sations products at discount (i.e., wholesale). While the Scent-Sations website doesn’t specifically state how high of a discount you get, one page does reference products costing 15%-30% less than those featured online.

While you can just stop here and sell Scent-Sations products on your own, the company offers additional commissions if you recruit others into becoming distributors themselves. You commissions can add up quickly, especially if you are on the $100/month auto-ship plan:

If you focus on recruitment and press your downline to also recruit, you could theoretically make as much as 25% on commissions from sales. And even better, these are sales that you yourself don’t have to arrange.

As you continue to recruit distributors and they themselves recruit other distributors, your downline commissions could become as high as 39% and as many as 8 levels down. Keep in mind, though, that the sales volume on such high commissions is stupendous, totaling a minimum of $500,000 per month.

How do you and your downline generate such high sale volumes? There are several different methods that the company emphasizes:

Person-to-person sales– You are encouraged to host home parties and sell products to your warm market (i.e., family members and friends). You are also provided with a company website where you can advertise products, announce events like parties, and post testimonials.

Fundraising– Scent-Sations offers products customized specifically towards schools, churches, and other organizations who wish to sell them as part of a fundraising effort. Much of this customization involves creating unique candle labels and matching them with colors. So, if you work at a school, church, non-profit or other organization, you could take advantage of this opportunity to earn money from fundraising sales.

Is Scent-Sations a worthwhile business opportunity?

When analyzing any direct sales MLM, it’s imperative that you consider several factors about the business including its commission structure, monthly cost, marketing plan, etc. In the case of Scent-Sations, the company can be summarized via its pros and cons as follows:

Pros:

Higher-end products– Scent-Sations offers higher end triple-scented wax candles, which cost more than candles you might find at discount retailers like Walmart or Target; however, the scents are also more concentrated and of better quality overall. In many cases, the company’s products are priced below comparable items you would find at Yankee Candle Co. or Bath & Body Works, for example.

Higher commissions– If you are able to recruit other distributors and enable them to recruit distributors of their own, you’ll quickly nudge up to earning an additional 25% in commissions just on the sales of your downline. If you keep building on your downline, you might even go beyond earning 25%.

Cons:

Low wholesale discount– Although it’s difficult to discern how much of a wholesale discount you receive on products, it appears that the highest discount is 30%. That means that many products won’t be 30% off. Also, many of Scent-Sations’ products are already offered at a significant discount via its main website. So, you may have some difficulty convincing customers to purchase your items at full retail price.

Recruitment emphasis– Although you can make money at Scent-Sations without recruiting anyone, you won’t make a significant income until you leverage your efforts through distributor recruitment. That may work in your favor if you know people who really want to get involved in the business- or it may be a detriment.

Monthly purchase requirement– Many MLMs require that their members purchase a starter kit to join…but few MLMs ask that their members continually purchase starter kits month-after-month. This can pose a problem if, for example, your customers want a bulk shipment of only one candle scent; meanwhile, you’re stuck with odds and ends of scents that you can’t move. It’s one thing to have a monthly volume requirement, where you can purchase anything as long as you spend a given dollar amount. It’s quite another to have to purchase items that you may not even need or use.

The Scent-Sations business opportunity is a pass

While Scent-Sations offers value-priced candles and other goods, its compensation plan seems lackluster for distributors who just wish to sell product and not focus on recruitment. Also, distributors are stuck buying kits on a monthly basis, which often results in excess inventory that cannot be sold and ends up being unloaded on discount sites like eBay.

Have you bought or sold Scent-Sations products in the past? We’d love to hear your experiences in the comments below.

Should You Become an Educational Consultant with Discovery Toys?

If you have young children, operate a daycare, or work in an elementary school, then you may have heard of Discovery Toys. This company, which operates on a direct sales, multilevel marketing model, offers a range of educational toys geared towards children ages 0-8 years of age, as well as toys that engage the entire family.

How does Discovery Toys operate?

Discovery Toys (DT) does not sell its products through retailers. Instead, as a direct sales company, DT sells to independent consultants, called Educational Consultants (ECs). These ECs purchase the items at discount, after which they sell them to customers at full retail price.

Currently, ECs purchase DT products at a 34% discount.

The toys that DT offers appear to be of good quality and comparable price to other similar toys. The following screen shot of the site catalog showcases toys you’d purchase for an 8-year-old child:

Discovery Toys kits

To get started as an EC, one first purchases a starter kit from the company for $79 (USA) or $109 (Canada). This kit contains a few company products, access to a personal website, and business materials (order forms, etc.)

The next size up is the Business Launch Kit, which costs $139 (USA) or $179 (Canada). There is also the Business Builder Kit, which goes for $369 (USA) or $469 (Canada). The more money you pay for each kit, the more toys you receive. These toys are important because, as an EC, you will be expected to host at-home parties as your primary means of showing and marketing DT products.

You can also host a DT party without signing up to be an EC. By doing so, you score free and discounted products depending on your party sales and how many of your guests sign up to host a party of their own.

As an EC, you are compensated a little differently. You earn money from your product sales as well as bonuses. You can also earn commissions from ECs that you recruit.

The DT website does not list its EC compensation plan; however, I was able to discover it by performing a Google search. There are eight levels of consultants in DT, with each level having its own sales goals and corresponding commissions and bonuses.

Overall, as advertised on the actual DT website, ECs can earn 25 – 34% on their personal sales and up to 7%  on team sales.

Discovery Toys: Pros and Cons

As with all direct sales MLMs, there are pros and cons to joining the business and pitching its products. Here are the results for Discovery Toys:

Pros

Quality toys– DT features toys for different ages that are organized to foster growth of specific developmental goals, such as social interaction, problem-solving, logic, etc. Some toys have been specifically developed for children with autism and special needs and are marked with a symbol denoting this. DT also offers a chart explaining which toys are intended for children with different developmental challenges. Finally, DT’s products have received excellent reviews from occupational therapists, daycare providers, and special needs teachers.

Cons

Cookie-cutter websites– DT offers you your own ‘personal’ website as a way to generate online product sales. However, the websites are cookie-cutter, meaning that every EC’s website looks about the same.

If you’re hoping that your personal website will be indexed by Google, think again. The only customers who will find your site will be those that you tell.

Low compensation– ECs earn only 20% on their monthly sales of up to $250, and an additional 5% if they exceed that amount. For a starting EC, that is extremely low and hard to make a decent profit at. It’s also hard to offer any kinds of promos or discounts with such a tight profit margin.

Party marketing– DT emphasizes the party model of selling, which is a good tactic when you are starting out and your friends and family members aren’t yet tired of DT. But once you’ve hosted three or more parties, no one in your immediate social circle will want to attend “yet another Discovery Toys party.” You’ll need to branch out online, via third party selling platforms, etc…and DT offers little to no advice on how to tackle those selling domains.

eBay competition– Search for DT on eBay and you will (currently) find over 8,500 listings, with many products priced far below their suggested retail price. With this kind of stiff competition, you’ll be hard-pressed to sell your products and make a good income from them.

Discovery Toys: Good products, not so good business

DT offers an impressive lineup of toys for kids of varying ages nd developmental stages. While the toys are of good quality and well-researched, the business model is lackluster. The company provides little direction except to sell via home parties, and 20% commissions on product sales means that, even if you throw great at-home parties and know lots of young families, you’ll still be scraping by.

Think about it: if you throw two parties a week that average an impressive $1,500 in product sales, that will give you $6,000 for the month. Even with your bonuses, you’ll be walking away with only $1,620. Over the course of a year, that doesn’t even take you above poverty line income.

Simply put, you’re better off looking elsewhere.

If you’ve had experience selling DT products, I’d love to hear from you! Please leave a comment below.

Should You Become a doTerra Essential Oils Wellness Advocate?

Have you heard of doTerra? This Utah-based company, which has been around since 2008, offers essential oils for a variety of applications, including personal use, therapy, cooking, and ingestion.

It is easy to see why doTerra has created several different applications for its essential oils: if the company stuck to only offering oils for massage and fragrance, it would quickly overwhelm the customer with its plethora of fragrance. However, by entering the areas of cuisine, natural supplements, and even traditional OTC items (e.g., vapor sticks), doTerra manages to create more need for its items.

doTerra advertises that its products are all natural and 100% pure. You can find these products online, at the doTerra website. However, once you try to purchase the products, you are directed to a DoTerra ‘Wellness Advocate.”

Why can’t you just purchase doTerra products directly?

Because doTerra is a direct sales and multi-level marketing (MLM) company. What this means is that doTerra doesn’t sell its products through area retailers or grocery stores. Instead, this business sells its wares directly to private individuals like you and me.

Why would doTerra do this? Because it offers its buyers the opportunity to then resell those products to others for a profit. And in so doing, the company gains a sales force that works only on commission.

How does an individual like you or me get started with doTerra?

How to become a Wellness Advocate for doTerra

Anyone can sign up and work for doTerra as a Wellness Advocate. The actual cost of sign-up is $35, which gives the new member a website, business materials (e.g., order forms, catalogs), and wholesale pricing of products. After the first year, membership is renewed at $25/year.

A Wellness Advocate can get 25% off the retail value of doTerra products, then sell them at full retail costs to others. The difference in price is pocketed as profit.

doTerra states that, once you’ve purchased at least $100 worth of oils, the 25% discount on products matches what you pay each year to renew your membership.

Other doTerra benefits: Bonuses and commissions

doTerra Wellness Advocates earn different bonuses and commissions for member recruitment, which are paid up to seven levels down. Specifically, they are the called out as the following:

Unilevel: To achieve this commission, a personal volume (PV) must be met, along with a combined volume for the advocate and her team (Organizational Volume, or OV). Leg requirements must also be met. Incidentally, a leg is personally enrolled doTerra member.

Power of 3: This $50 bonus is earned if three people personally enrolled by the Wellness Advocate place 100 PV loyalty rewards program (LRP) orders and the team’s OV is at least 600 PV. The Power of 3 bonus increases as PV orders increase in size.

The full scope of doTerra’s compensation plan is rather lengthy, as this Unilevel table alone shows:

Keep in mind that PV and OV do not convert to dollars on a 1:1 ratio. It’s a bit unclear as to which items carry a given PV or OV quantity, but the doTerra sales compensation tables state that some items will carry different or even no PV/OV depending on the items, associated promotions, etc.

As with all business opportunities, doTerra has its pros and cons:

doTerra Pros

Good quality products– doTerra offers several lines of essential oils for different applications. The company advertises that its products are all natural and 100% pure. The company also works with small farmers in countries like Bulgaria, Kenya, Madagascar, and Nepal in fair trade agreements to purchase their products.

doTerra Cons

Expensive items- doTerra is by no means a company that offers cheap products. Even a single bottle of shampoo, when purchased at wholesale discount, is still going to cost $45.

In light of this, it’s going to be quite the challenge to convince customers to purchase such items at retail price.

PVs and OVs– doTerra Wellness Advocates are required to make set PVs and OVs if they are to receive their downline commissions and bonuses. Because the PV/OV to dollar value doesn’t necessarily go by a 1:1 ratio, that means Wellness Advocates may need to spend up to $100/month just to stay active in doTerra and receive their commissions and bonuses. This can easily lead to an advocate having a lot of extra stock that he has no use for. Plus, having to pay what is, in essence, a membership fee of roughly $1,200/year, quickly chips away at one’s profit margin.

Membership fee– Adding insult to injury is the doTerra annual membership fee. Exactly why a member must pay $25 for the privilege of working with this company is never explained by doTerra. Where that collected money goes is also never explained.

Emphasis on recruitment– doTerra spends much time and effort discussing member recruitment and downline rewards. It spends far less time discussing how a busy Wellness Advocate might sell the products online or at events. This means that Wellness Advocates are almost certainly going to fail at maintaining the needed sales volume for their bonuses and commissions.

doTerra is a so-so business opportunity

doTerra might offer good quality products that are ethically sourced, but its emphasis on PV and OV over actually selling to outside consumers should be cause for concern. Likewise, the products themselves aren’t cheap, so they will not immediately sell to an outside market. This will eventually result in the Wellness Advocate making up her losses by purchasing more and more product- and paying a membership fee in order to do so. Such a tactic easily leads to negative revenue- in other words, a gradual loss of profits.

With so many other business opportunities out there, you are better off passing on doTerra.

If you’ve sold or currently sell doTerra products, we’d love to hear from you! Please leave a note about your experiences in the comments below.

Should You Become a Distributor for Jeunesse Global?

If you purchase skin and beauty products, even occasionally, then you may have already heard of Jeunesse Global. This company markets high-end anti-aging skin care products as well as a nutritional drink/supplement called Reserve (which is actually from Jeunesse’s acquisition of Monavie).  The company was founded in 2009 by two network marketers, Randy Ray and Wendy Lewis.

What is Jeunesse Global all about?

At its heart, Jeunesse operates as a direct sales multilevel marketing company. In other words, Jeunesse products aren’t sold through retailers or even online, and are only available to purchase through its distributors. These distributors, in turn, purchase company products a discount and then sell them at full retail price to outside customers, pocketing the price difference as their personal profit.

Jeunesse’s flagship product is Luminesce, which it states is made with stem cell factors. Here is the lineup of Luminesce products and their prices:

  • Luminesce Cellular Rejuvenation Serum: $134.95
  • Luminesce Advanced Night Repair: $99.95
  • Luminesce Youth Restoring Cleanser: $44.95
  • Luminesce Essential Body Renewal: $59.95
  • Luminesce Ultimate Lifting Masque: $69.95

Distributors purchase Jeunesse items at a 35% discount to their retail price and then sell them to others at full price. So, if a distributor wants to sell the Luminesce Ultimate Lifting Masque at its $69.95 price tag, she will first need to purchase it at $45.47. The profit for her will then be $24.48.

In order to become activated as a Jeunesse distributor, you must first pay $29.95 to purchase a personal Jeunesse website plus promotional materials. You must also purchase sufficient Jeunesse product to accumulate 100 Commissionable Volume (CV) points. The CV:dollar ratio is roughly 0.5:1. So, if you spend about $200 on product, you’ll have accumulated roughly 100 CV.

The next level up is Executive. To qualify for this level, you must recruit two new distributors under you, each of whom also purchase the $29.95 starter package and accumulate 100 CV points. For whatever reason, these new distributors are termed “legs.”

Being an executive enables you to earn team cycle bonuses, as outlined below:

As explained by Jeunesse, once your “left leg” and “right leg” recruits have managed to sell $300 and $600 of product, you qualify for a $35 bonus.

Other bonuses are gained once you progress even higher, such as to the Jade, Pearl, and Ruby levels. At the very top of this pyramid are the Emerald and Diamond Directors- these elite members not only earn all kinds of bonuses, they also get free company-sponsored trips to vacation destinations like Florida and Cancun.

Jeunesse pros and cons:

As with all MLMs and businesses in general, there are pros and cons to getting involved with Jeunesse:

Pros:

Good products– Jeunesse products are packed with moisturizers and other ingredients that help maintain skin’s supple nature. For example, Luminesce Cellular Rejuvenation Serum contains sodium hyaluronate, which is known to be hydrophilic (water-loving) and to easily soak into skin. As a result, the substance helps reduce the appearance of wrinkles. The Luminesce Advanced Night Repair has loads of natural fruit extracts.

Cons:

Expensive products– Jeunesse products, even when purchased at wholesale, are not cheap. Because of their steep price, these products will not sell as fast as similar products sold by Nu Skin, or Mary Kay, for example. As a result, you will need to probably purchase samples or full size products that you can sample out to potential customers. Taking this approach will of course cut away at your profit margin.

Additionally, despite claims to the contrary, Jeunesse products are not that unique. The company formulates and adds skin care ingredients to its products that are used the world over by many other skin care companies. These other companies often offer their products for far less cost.

Low compensation– Jeunesse makes it sound like it has a very generous compensation plan for its distributors. However, after taking a second look at some of the bonuses, you can’t really call them that generous. For example the team cycle amount must be $900 to earn $35. That’s just 3.9% of the sum.

Also, Jeunesse offers New Customer Acquisition bonuses to distributors who get their customers to buy product packages. However, these packages are certainly not cheap, and it’ll be a challenge getting customers to spend that kind of cash.

Dubious scientific claims– Jeunesse and/or its distributors often make bold scientific claims about the company’s products, such as that they contain stem cells and growth factors conducive to cell regeneration. However, just looking at the ingredients list of a product like the LUMINESCE Cellular Rejuvenation Serum, you don’t see any actual growth factors or stem cells:

What you do see in the ingredients list is a number of moisturizing (i.e., water-attracting) agents (e.g., allantoin, sodium PCA, panthenol, sodium hyaluronate), purported wound healers and skin smoothers (e.g., allantoin and Saccharomyces lysate extract), stimulants (e.g., gluconolactone, ipomoea batatas extract), thickening agents (e.g., hydroxyethylcellulose, xantham gum) and antioxidants (e.g., superoxide dismutase). The only real cells being added to this cream are Saccharomyces, which are common yeast.

Emphasis on recruitment– Much of Jeunesse’s website, videos, and collateral are dedicated to member recruitment. Very little material is dedicated to explaining the products, how they work, and how hey can best be marketed to customers for eventual purchase. The business has a disturbing pyramid scheme feel to it, especially when the company portrays images such as these in its training videos:

Should you sign up with Jeunesse?

Jeunesse offers decent skin care and other products, but they aren’t cheap or even that unique. As a distributor, you’ll be hard-pressed to sell these premium-priced products to your ‘legs’ and/or customers. Furthermore, you’ll also be pressed to purchase these products yourself or risk being deactivated.

Have you bought or sold Jeunesse products in the past? Please let us know your experiences in the comments below!

Is Touchstone Crystal a Profitable Business Model?

If you’re into sparkly jewelry and like bling, you may have come across Touchstone Crystal. This company sells Swarovski crystal jewelry and claims to trace its history for over 120 years due to its affiliation with Swarovski Crystal; however, the company itself, which functions as a subsidiary of Swarovski, is only eight years old.

What is Touchstone Crystal about?

In brief, Touchstone Crystal is a direct sales multilevel marketing (MLM) company. As such, it sells its merchandise directly to independent consultants at wholesale; those consultants then price their items at a set retail value and sell  them to consumers.

Consultants make a profit on the price difference of their sold inventory. They also make a commission from the sales of people they recruit as independent consultants.

Touchstone Crystal offers some rather unique and dazzling pieces. Here is a small sampling of the company’s offerings:

You can purchase Touchstone Crystal by going to its website and selecting your desired products. From there, you are directed to get in touch with your local consultant in order to finish the purchase.

So, unless you deal with a consultant, you cannot buy the jewelry outright.

Of course, you could choose to become a consultant yourself, which would enable you to not only purchase Touchstone Jewelry at wholesale price but to also make a profit by selling it to others.

The Touchstone Crystal consultant process

To become a consultant with Touchstone Crystal, you first need to purchase one of these two kits:

Basic $139 Starter Kit 

Enhanced $299 Starter Kit

The Basic and Enhanced Starter Kits come with 8 and 13 jewels respectively, as well as business tools. If you wish to set up a website, that costs an extra $9.99/month.

Once you have your kit purchased, Touchstone Crystal emphasizes that you sell to others using the home party model. The company estimates that you will make about $200 in profit from each party you host. Here is a more detailed breakdown of the process:

So, if you are just a starting consultant, you should be hosting one party per week, during which you will sell $700 worth of merchandise and pocket $210 for yourself. At the end of the month, you should have sold $2,800 worth of merchandise and earned $840 for yourself.

This also suggests that your wholesale costs on the jewelry you purchase are roughly 70% of retail cost.

You can also make additional money by recruiting others into your team. Touchstone Crystal provides the following information on compensation from your downline:

What if you can’t decide on becoming a consultant, or just want to snag some of the jewelry pieces at a lower cost? To this end, you can host a party for a current consultant and just invite your own family members and friends. The rewards are shown below and include 30% of sales coming back to you in free product.

While this all sounds great in theory, there are different pros and cons with being a Touchstone Crystal consultant.

Pros:

Unique and beautiful jewelry– Touchstone Crystal definitely offers some good-looking pieces that sparkle and shine. Most people are well-aware of the Swarovski name and its quality.

Evergreen product– Jewelry is considered to be an evergreen product, meaning that most people can be persuaded to buy more of it, even if they already own other jewelry.

Cons:

Expensive product– As this example shows, Touchstone Crystal pieces aren’t cheap.

This may pose an issue for some customers who can’t splurge on items that cost $100 or more. In fairness, the company does offer many of its jewelry pieces at $50 or below. Still, this isn’t $5 Paparazzi jewelry.

Warm market emphasis– Touchstone Crystal emphasizes that you sell to your warm market; i.e., family and friends. That might work for a while, but inevitably, your warm market will dry up. This is especially true if someone has recently spent $100-$150 on jewelry- it’s doubtful that the person will return and make another large purchase anytime soon.

Unclear compensation plan– The Touchstone Crystal website does not offer a full compensation plan breakdown, such as what exactly consultants earn at each level. Also missing is a detailed breakdown of downline earnings and what percentage is kicked up the recruiting consultant.

You must buy product– If you’re going to be hosting parties all the time, you’ll need something to showcase besides those Starter Kit pieces. As a result, you’ll be buying Touchstone Crystal jewelry before you sell it to anyone else. Even when priced at 70% retail, this is not cheap jewelry. And if your purchased pieces don’t sell, you’re out of the money you paid for them.

eBay– Why should your customers buy a $100 necklace from you when they can easily purchase the same necklace on eBay for half (or even less) the cost? Yes, eBay currently offers 174 auctions for various Touchstone Crystal jewelry pieces, and almost all of these pieces are new and priced at discount. More than likely, the pieces are being sold by consultants who have given up on the business and are just trying to recoup some of their losses.

Touchstone Crystal: Good jewelry, not-so-good business

Touchstone Crystal offers impressive jewelry that is sure to catch attention from others due to its sparkle and beauty. However, the business model has several insurmountable problems, including product expense, warm market emphasis, and an undefined compensation breakdown. If you really like the jewelry line, you’re better off hosting one party and getting a product discount. As far as the Touchstone Crystal business model is concerned, you’re better off looking elsewhere.

Have you bought or sold Touchstone Crystal before? Please let us know your experiences in the comments below.

Should You Join Melaleuca, An MLM Company that’s ‘Not an MLM?’

If you’ve purchased vitamins, protein shakes or other wellness products online, then you may have heard of Melaleuca. This company, which was founded in 1985, offers many (400+) different health and wellness products, including the following:

  • Vitamins, minerals and supplements
  • Cosmetics
  • Essential oils
  • Household cleansers
  • Energy drinks
  • Bath and shower products
  • Weight loss products

Melaleuca’s unique value proposition is that all their products are organic. So, even though the products do cost more, they are better for you and the environment. It also appears that the company attempts to work with local farmers and suppliers whenever possible.

When you reach the Melaleuca website, you can shop for products and even place them into your shopping cart. Prices are not advertised on the storefronts, nor are they displayed when your items are in your shopping cart. Once you attempt to checkout, the site forces you to create an online account, which involves providing your phone number and email.

Why would you need to provide your phone number in order to create a shopping account?

Because this information is eventually used by other Melaleuca members to contact you and encourage you to sign up with the company as a member.

I know this because I had to call the company in order to set up my account. On top of my phone number and email, I was asked for my full name, state of residence and zip code. I was then told that my account would be set up in 48-72 hours once a marketing executive had gotten in touch with me. Alternately, I could work with a current Melaleuca rep in my geographic area to create my account.

When I responded that I was only interested in purchasing some products from the Melaleuca website and seeing their prices, I was provided with the following guest access site address: melaleuca.com/usguest

What’s good about this guest site is that, while you still can’t purchase your products from it, you can at least see their actual prices. To complete your purchase, you are again forced to sign up as a member.

So, why is Melaleuca so interested in having you become a member?

Because the company operates as a multilevel marketing or MLM business. Except that, in the case Melaleuca, it is always called a “referral-based” business.

What is the Melaleuca referral-based business about?

Melaleuca operates as both a health and wellness product e-tailer and a referral-based business. Company members, who are non-employees, sign up with the company in order to purchase its products online and have them shipped to their homes/businesses. The price of signup is not openly advertised on the website, much like its product prices. However, the current cost of signup is $35.

In order to complete signup, the prospective member must work with a current member and sign up under him/her. As a result, that current member, who is now referred to as a Product Advocate, earns a commission every time his/her new downline member makes a product purchase. The standard commission is 7%, which adds up quickly if the Product Advocate recruits a few more members under him/her.

Whether you are a member or Product Advocate, however, you must accumulate a set number of product points each month in order to remain in active status and collect commissions. Currently, the point level is 50, which translates to about $80 of product. So, for every month you wish to remain with Melaleuca, you must place a product order of around $80.

Interestingly, Melaleuca never uses the word MLM to describe its recruitment emphasis. Instead, it always states that it is a “referral-based company.” However, if a business offers incentives to its contractors/members to recruit others into the business, and pays them a commission for doing so, then that is the essence of network and multi-level marketing.

As with any MLM or other business opportunity, there are pros and cons.

Pros:

Eco-friendly, organic products– Many of Melaleuca’s products are on par with what you would locate at stores like Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. The company emphasizes that its products are better for the environment, and it employs fair trade practices with farmers and suppliers.

Cons:

Expensive products– It can be argued that organic and ecologically friendly products are going to cost more than mass produced items found at regular grocery stores and discount chains. However, that’s sometimes hard to justify when purchasing $10 toilet bowl cleaner or $8 glass cleaner.

Automated purchases– As a member or a Product Advocate, you are enrolled in a product auto-ship program. You can opt out of receiving certain products, but you must make a purchase each month or be deactivated.

Warm market emphasis– The company encourages its members and Product Advocates to reach out to their warm market (i.e., friends and family) as a method of recruitment. This is fine at first, but warm markets eventually dry up once everyone has either been sold to, recruited or attempted to be recruited. Steady sales and promotion in the MLM ranks is usually accomplished by those members to reach beyond their warm market. Unfortunately, Melaleuca provides very little training in this arena.

Low average earnings– Melaleuca discloses how much its Product Advocates earn as they recruit other members and move up the ranks. It’s not that much, as shown in this table:  

The average yearly income for a Product Advocate 3, who has around 6 personal customers and 20 active customers, is only $550. That’s not a side income, or even enough money for a vacation.

Is Melaleuca a good business to enter?

While Melaleuca offers organic and good quality products to consumers, its commissions are too low to warrant this company being a good business opportunity. The Product Advocate would need to recruit dozens of personal customers and hundreds of active customers in order to make a decent part-time to full-time income. While this is possible, it also requires reaching out to a wider audience, not just one’s warm market.

A final drawback to this business is its emphasis on buying products each month for personal or demo use. This leads to Product Advocates having product stockpiles at their homes. Even months after quitting Melaleuca, many reps still reports having product backups and stockpiles in their closets and basements.

Overall, there are better and higher-paying business opportunities out there, and which don’t require monthly product purchases.

Have you worked with Melaleuca as a Product Advocate? Please leave a comment below about your experiences.

Should You Become a Stella & Dot Stylist?

If you take an interest in jewelry, purses and accessories such as sunglasses, you may have heard about a company called Stella & Dot. This company offers several different lines of chic jewelry designed mostly by New York designers, as well as purses, belts, tunics, scarves, etc. The company was founded in 2003 by Jessica Herrin and has even been featured in Vogue and Cosmopolitan.

You won’t find S&D items in stores because the company operates via a direct sales model, working with so-called “Independent Stylists,” who are actually private individuals (like you and me), to sell its goods. The company does offer its goods via its website, however.

Stella & Dot is also an multilevel marketing (MLM) company. So, independent stylists that recruit other individuals to also become stylists receive commissions from their sales.

How do you become a Stella & Dot stylist?

To sign up, you must first purchase a starter kit from the company. There are three kit choices:

Once you receive your kit, you are encouraged to showcase your wares by hosting a “Trunk Show,” which is essentially an in-home party/demonstration. You can also feature and sell your goods online, via your own dedicated Stella & Dot website. However, the company strongly emphasizes that trunks shows are the way to go:

You start off earning a 25% commission on your sold goods, which jumps up to 30% if you sell over $2,500, 32% if you sell over $5,000, and 35% if you sell over $10,000 in a single month.

If you start recruiting others to become stylists, you earn a percentage from their sales. Stella & Dot advertises that up to an extra 18% commission can be earned from sales generated by your downline; unfortunately, this information is not broken down or otherwise elaborated on through the website.

As with all direct sales MLMs, there are pros and cons to working for Stella & Dot:

Pros:

Transparency– The company seems to lay out its compensation plan rather openly and, except for the missing breakdown of downline commissions, most information is shown online. For example, here is the company’s average stylist income disclosure table:

Fashionable jewelry and accessories– Stella & Dot jewelry is chic, trendy and imaginative. The clothes are unique and many pieces are embroidered. Purses are sturdy and several are made from genuine leather.

No sales quota– An independent stylist with no downline has no set quote to meet when she sells Stella & Dot products. She can sell even a single piece per year- and still earn a 25% commission.

Responsive company– There will be customer complaints with any company or business. Where customers have complained about Stella & Dot products, the company has been quick to respond and rectify the issues involved. This also goes back to the “Delight Guarantee” that the company offers to its customers, including 24/7 customer service and free product returns.

Cons:

Expensive products– Stylists who host trunk shows at their homes and assume they’ll make an easy $500 in revenues per show are in for a surprise: Guests will be hard-pressed to pay up to $228 for a stylish purse or $39 for a pair of bead earrings. It will take some convincing to get people to pay hundreds of dollars for jewelry that, at least in their minds, carries no brand recognition and/or is not made with precious metals/gems.

As an example, check out what two tunics would cost for the average customer:

Sales quota with downline– If you end up recruiting new stylists, you will be required to “lead by example” and sell at least $500 of merchandise per quarter or your commissions from their sales will be reassigned to another lead stylist. So, if you are good at convincing others to join but only so-so at selling Stella & Dot jewelry, too bad for you.

Low average earnings– If you look at the earnings disclosure posted above, you’ll find that 72.7% of stylists don’t even average $2K in earnings for their work, and almost 90% don’t make an average of $5K/year. Those odds are quite sobering when you account for the fact that these stylists are probably out there, working hard, and trying to recruit others as they go.

“Warm market” emphasis– Stella & Dot’s website assumes that its salespeople are going to consist of women, mostly stay-at-home moms and housewives, who somehow have plenty of relatives and friends to sell their wares to. Granted, every person has a certain number of people that she knows and can gather together for a party or two…but that market is quickly used up within a few months. To be truly successful, that person must eventually reach out to and attract a wider (outside) audience of potential customers.

Unfortunately, Stella & Dot says little about this larger market and how to sell to it. In fact, the company almost seems to de-emphasize online selling and advertising in favor of trunk shows- in spite of the fact that online selling and advertising have immense potential for reaching a wide target audience.

Is Stella & Dot worth it?

While Stella & Dot does offer fashionable products and impressive customer support, it may prove too great of a challenge for independent stylists to make a steady income from, or even a side income. Also, the products are expensive and require a certain demographic of customers with sufficient disposable income to afford many of the offered pieces. In my opinion, there are less challenging business opportunities out there.

Have you sold or do you sell Stella & Dot products? Please leave a comment about your experiences below.

Is Nu Skin a Worthwhile Business Opportunity?

If you have looked into any skincare and/or nutritional supplement MLMs lately, then you may have heard of Nu Skin. This company offers a direct sales MLM sales model to its independent contractors, who are called distributors. Anyone can sign up and become a distributor by filling out an online application on the Nu Skin website.

What is Nu Skin about?

Nu Skin is a Utah-based direct sales MLM company that was founded in 1984. It offers several lines of skin lotions, spa products, nutritional supplements and even select foods. Nu Skin’s 200+ products are strongly based on the premise that their use will delay and/or mitigate the process of aging. This claim is promoted quite strongly in the company’s ageLOC lines of skin care and nutritional supplement products.

Over time, Nu Skin has worked with and acquired scientific and health related companies to expand its product lines.

In 1996, Pharmanex, which is a nutritional supplements company, was added to the Nu Skin portfolio. This addition brought about the launch of the Pharmanex BioPhotonic Scanner, a device purported to measure carotenoid levels in skin and report them back to the user via a Skin Carotenoid Score. In 2011, Nu Skin bought out LifeGen Technologies, a genomics company based in Madison, Wisconsin. This enabled Nu Skin to launch its ageLOC line of products.

How do you start a Nu Skin business?

Nu Skin does not sell its products in stores. Products can be purchased online, on the Nu Skin website, provided that the customer already knows his/her distributor’s ID. Alternately, one can purchase and/or sell Nu Skin products by applying to become a distributor. To do this, one also needs to know a distributor’s ID.

The price of enrollment is low at just $25. A new distributor is also not obligated to sell any minimal volume of product. However, in order to start earning commissions and bonuses, he will need to purchase inventory at wholesale price and sell it to new customers. He will also need to recruit current customers and non-customers into becoming Nu Skin distributors.

Wholesale inventory is reduced by 25%. So, for example, if you wish to purchase and sell 3 units of ageLOC Future Serum, you’d first need to spend $492.75 on the wholesale order. Then, you would pocket $164.25 for yourself once the customer purchased those units from you.

Nu Skin products are not cheap. Luckily, the company now offers a 30-day 100% money-back guarantee on returns. It also offers 90% monetary compensation on returned products that are over 30 days old.

Nu Skin distributors also earn additional commissions from their downline- provided that their downline meets a given amount of sales. So, as a new distributor with a few recruits, you must ensure that your downline makes $200 in sales before you get that additional $10 commission.

As with any business opportunity, there are pros and cons to signing up with Nu Skin.

Pros:

Study-based products– While the company has been criticized and even sued for outlandish claims about the benefits of its products, Nu Skin does publish user-based studies of its skincare and other products. These studies are based on the observations of the users after using Nu Skin products for a period of time. Overall, user perceptions of product benefits are positive.

Cons:

Minimum sales requirements– Nu Skin claims that its distributors aren’t obligated to sell a given amount of product. However, if they wish to earn any kind of commission and bonuses, they must actually purchase and (hopefully) sell a given volume of product. They must also ensure that their downline purchases/sells a set volume of product.

Expensive products– Nu Skin products are expensive. Expensive products mean that potential and even current Nu Skin customers will need extensive proof that these products are good and actually work as claimed. The sales cycle will be longer. Finally, some customers will simply be out-of-reach because they will not have the budget for such expensive purchases.

False product claims– Nu Skin has been sued by five states for overstating the income earned by its distributors and has been called an illegal pyramid scheme by the Attorney General for Connecticut. It’s also gotten in trouble with the FTC and has had to pay out $1 million in 1994 and then another $1.5 million in 1997. More recently, the company was fined $540,000 in 2014 by the Chinese State Administration for Industry & Commerce for illegal sales and deception of consumers.

Exaggerated science claims– When a company publishes “scientific proof” slides like these, even non-scientists like the FTC) raise their eyebrows:

A statement, such as the one provided above, is so vague as to be completely useless. Anti-aging research has, to date, identified a few aging-related genes. It has yet to cause them “to express themselves more youthfully” – except perhaps by caloric restriction. Furthermore, the work was performed on mice and rhesus monkeys, not humans. If such an event has in fact occurred any other way, the data (i.e., journal citations) are not provided here.

And then there is this slide:

Aging research scientists still can’t agree on what is/are the actual cause/s of aging, much less how to target them. Unless LifeGen Technologies stumbled upon a massive breakthrough in aging research, such claims are unsubstantiated and misleading.

Unsavory personal and legal issues– The founders of Nu Skin have attempted to portray the business as wholesome and family-oriented. However, the founders’ personal and professional lives have been anything but. Sandie Tillotson, one of the company’s founders, has had her ex-husbands publish tell-all books that have damaged Nu Skin’s image. Nedra Roney, another Nu Skin founder, was charged with prescription and insurance fraud. Robert Clark McKell, her husband, was accused of committing other (even worse) crimes.

Is a Nu Skin business worth it?

Given the ongoing legal issues with Nu Skin and its products, I cannot recommend this company as a business opportunity. Also, because the company’s products have been overhyped by both its executives and distributors, it’s hard to believe any of the product benefits touted by the company and its published collateral. With so many other (and less scandalized) business opportunities out there, you are better off passing on Nu Skin.

Have you bought or sold Nu Skin products? Please leave a comment about your experiences below.