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Entries in side hustle (1)

Tuesday
Aug082017

How Stay at Home Parents Are Making the Most from Direct Sales Jobs

Many parents have difficulty achieving a proper work-life balance. Working as your child's chef, chauffeur, nurse, and personal assistant may be rewarding, but it simply won't pay your bills.

That's the main reason stay-at-home parents have been turning to unique employment opportunities to make their schedules work for them. There are thousands of opportunities to make extra income in the industry of multi-level marketing, also referred to as direct sales. It just requires persistence, dedication, and a knack for marketing.

What is an MLM company? Law Street Media explains, "a multi-level marketing company is one where individuals act as salespeople and sell items from a particular company to the public. Sometimes they’re referred to as direct-selling companies. The sellers aren’t paid any sort of salary, but rather make money through commissions for the items they sell, which they usually buy in bulk from the company that produces them."

While many see multi-level marketing opportunities as nothing more than a scam targeting stay-at-home parents, there are just as many -- if not more -- who are incredibly grateful for their experience. Caroline Ehrhart from Delaware, for example, was talked into becoming a consultant for LuLaRoe, a clothing distributor known for its dresses and leggings with colorful patterns. Even her husband, a U.S. Marine, was encouraging her to give her sales skills a try.

But she, along with many other initial skeptics, had serious concerns about the hefty startup costs. The baseline for a LuLaRoe startup package runs about $5,000.

"I was just really confused because it's a lot of money you have to put in on the front end," Ehrhart told Delaware Online.

One of the biggest challenges when working as a consultant for a direct sales company is building rapport with a consistent customer base. That's why many salespeople start by selling to friends and family rather than strangers.

There's a reason this approach works. When Princeton psychologists Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov studied interactions between strangers, they found that we form lasting first impressions in a tenth of a second. So while door-to-door cold sales have largely disappeared in the digital era, multi-level marketing allows aspiring entrepreneurs to leverage their own network of acquaintances, friends, and family.

When that's not enough, some men and women rent kiosks in malls to find customers. Shoppers make 82% of their purchase decisions in the store, and Ehrhart had to set up creative retail displays in several different areas to draw in her first customers.

However, there's another popular tool in the direct sales world, and it's a major reason why the industry is booming right now. The internet and social media have given direct salespeople new ways to connect with customers and set up sales parties, and that's why your Facebook feed is full of "party" invites to by leggings, essential oils, and nail wraps. Social media has become a viable medium in which to advertise... well, almost anything, and with even a small following, consultants can successfully book both in-person and online parties and earn commission on the profits.

U.S. marketers will spend more than $103 billion on search engine marketing, display, social media, and email marketing by 2019, growing by 12% each year, and as recognition grows, so will sales.

One pro tip from husband-and-wife duo and top LuLaRoe consultants Alex and Matthew Laigle emphasizes availability and interaction. The couple hosts weekly online parties using Facebook Live.

“Our customers call our live sales ‘Laigle TV,’” Alex told Racked. “It’s about so much more than just selling product. It’s a community event where we all joke around, have some girl talk, and sell some gorgeous clothes! They’re fun, interactive, and an amazing way for us to build relationships with our customers.”

Ultimately, MLMs may not be the right opportunity for everyone, but for those who are committed and persistent, the sky's the limit. It might have its critics, but the MLM industry is giving countless stay-at-home moms and dads the chance to get their side hustle on. Today, nearly 64 million workers in the U.S. have a job that lets them work from home at least part of the time, and that number keeps growing.

"I actually love it, and I'm so happy I started doing it," said Ehrhart. "I have something to do and I can still provide and help out with family stuff, and still spend a lot of time with my child."