Direct selling offers millions of people the opportunity to make money on their own time, mainly as a supplement to income. According to the Direct Selling Association, more than 14 million people in the United States are doing it right now.
How it works. Direct selling is person-to-person sales of consumer products or services taking place outside of a traditional retail location. Direct sellers are independent consultants, not employees. Products are sold primarily through parties, hosted in private homes where you gather a bunch of your friends or you get people you know to invite their friends. One-on-one selling is also an option.
Most direct selling companies make it easy for you to sell their products: Every seller gets a Web page on the company's Web site from which to take and process orders, so when your customers want to reorder, they can do it online. Each time you make a sale, you earn a commission. And if you recruit people to become sellers, you'll make a small commission on their sales too.
Is it right for me? For most people direct sales is ideal for supplemental income, not your main source. The median income in direct sales is $2,500 annually, which means 50 percent of the people make more, and half make less. The average seller spends less than 10 hours a week focused on his or her business. Steer clear of any promise of big bucks or fast cash with minimal effort; that doesn't exist in direct sales.
Take your personality into account. If you're very shy and introverted — if you're not outgoing or willing to hustle — then any form of sales probably isn't right for you. Unlike working in a retail store, where customers walk in, with direct sales you're on your own — you must find your customers. So a driven, motivated, friendly person who wouldn't be shy about asking her friends to consider buying her line, and who isn't shy about chatting up strangers, is needed.
What should I sell? Pick a product line that you are personally passionate about. If you can't see yourself using the products or giving the products as gifts, stay away. Here are just a few of the companies that you can sign on with:
Shure Pets carries products for pets and pet lovers with a starter kit for $99. With priced ranging from $5 to $100, this site is ideal for animal lovers and people with a passion for pets.
Shaklee offers nutritional supplements, personal care products and home cleaning products. The starter kit is $39.95. This company has a very cause-oriented distributor force that cares deeply about the environment.
Baby Crazy focuses on baby products from diaper bags to safari play sets. Various starter kits range from $99 to $259, and the company is favored by moms and grandmothers who enjoy buying the best for their kids.
Tastefully Simple sells gourmet food products, the most popular of which is its bountiful beer bread for $4.99. While all products retail for under $10, the starter kit is $170. The successful sellers love to entertain, socialize and, of course, eat!
Private Quarters has a wide range of high-end bath and bedding, including the top-selling deluxe queen feather bed for $169. The starter kit is $199 and has led to success for sellers who value good quality home products and limited competition in this category among other direct selling companies.