Three Ways to Make Money in Direct Selling

Man inserting a coin in the piggy bank.

If you’re looking for a little something on the side—extra money, flexible work hours—direct selling might be the place to start. With low start-up costs, minimal overhead, and flexibility, this retail model checks a lot of boxes for great part-time work and small business ownership.

With the right expectations, it may be the perfect side hustle for you. The first step is to demystify the job and discover all the ways direct sellers can bring home the bacon.

Interview Yourself

Generally, joining a direct selling company makes you an independent contractor selling products for commission. Before committing to anything, discover if you’re a fit for the job. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I enjoy selling?
  • Do I want to own a small business?
  • Am I passionate about the company’s products?
  • Do I have realistic expectations about the return on my investment?

Your next step is to find a company. A great place to start is the Direct Selling Association’s (DSA) list of the largest 25 reputable direct selling companies. Select a company with a proven track record for product quality and integrity—like USANA Health Sciences, which produces high-quality nutritional products.

Next, look for the company’s compensation plan. It should be easy to find online. Review it with a fine-tooth comb to learn when and how the company will pay you. At a minimum, you should see commission from your own retail sales and sales made by others you enroll in the company. You may also see a minimum requirement to remain an “active” seller. The company you choose should have low start-up costs, a solid return policy, and low inventory requirements.

Armed with realistic expectations and a reputable company with a fair compensation plan, you’re ready to get out there and earn.  

Develop a Strategy

Direct selling is like most entrepreneurial adventures—you get out what you put in. You’ll want to match your hustle with your goals. With that in mind, there are several ways to earn money.

1.   Sell Products

Get passionate! The best way to develop passion for the products is to use them. Customers recognize when you love what you sell, especially if you can tell a story.

In-person sales—They’re a great way to build meaningful relationships with customers. When you authentically share and recommend products, you’ll see repeat purchases and more customer referrals. You’ll get to know people as you recommend specific products to solve their individual needs.

Online selling—Most direct selling companies offer a branded website customized with your personal information. When customers buy through your website, you get credit for the sale. Persuading potential customers to click your link is the goal for any social media marketing you do.

2.   Build a Team

It’s natural to share things you’re excited about. Sharing can generate an opportunity for you and the potential team member. On the flip side, never pressure people into something they’re not interested in or suited for. The best way to grow your team is to politely invite people to join you—your enthusiasm and authenticity will be contagious.

When it comes to leading a team, selling products is the base of your business. The nature of direct selling calls for sharing and selling products and having your team do the same. You’ll earn money from commissions outlined in the company’s compensation plan:

Team commissions are based on products sold by team members you enrolled. You’ll earn a percentage of their sales, providing you’re an active seller. Team commissions are the fastest way to earn.

Bonuses are offered based on specific qualifications. You may be eligible for “matching” bonuses based on the growth of your team’s sales or “leadership” bonuses for top earners.

3.   Earn Incentives

Contests, incentives, and rewards are superb motivation for many direct sellers. You may win exotic trips, valuable prizes, and even extra cash when you meet the qualifications.

For some, recognition is the best reward. Incentives offer prestige in the company, but titles and awards are also up for grabs. Recognition usually comes each time you reach a specific goal. For example, you may achieve a “pace setter” title if you enroll three new team members within a month of signing up. Other titles may include “leader,” or “director,” and vary for each direct selling company. Awards like pins, watches, and tech gifts are usually sent when sellers achieve new titles.

If you love kudos for milestones, some companies’ incentives could be great motivation to grow your business.

Give and Take

Earning money is a give and take. As with many ventures, your financial potential is tied to your effort. And as you work your business, review your goals versus the time and effort you’re putting in. Achieve success with realistic expectations and continually assess your return on your investment.

So before jumping into a new business, ask important questions, do the research to understand what you’re getting into, put yourself out there, and connect with people. And most importantly, enjoy the journey.

About Carson Derrow

My name is Carson Derrow I'm an entrepreneur, professional blogger, and marketer from Arkansas. I've been writing for startups and small businesses since 2012. I share the latest business news, tools, resources, and marketing tips to help startups and small businesses to grow their business.