I’ve been dealing with some moral and ethical questions to ponder. Many people face these types of decisions.
Just in the last two weeks, I joined into some other businesses to make money more quickly than a blog, as I referenced in a recent post that blogging takes a while to start producing income. However, a lot of caution is needed when you buy into other business opportunities. Some ethical dilemmas in business apply to many or all niches, and some to mainly one in particular.
I’m referring throughout this article to affiliate marketing businesses, but some of the principles may be very applicable to other ways of making money online as well.
This is a long post, but I’ve been working on it for quite a while and I consider all this information to be important. Not going to try to cut it down.
Honesty and Trust Are Vital To Your Long-Term Success
If you’re in business for yourself, or you’re thinking of going into business, I want you to realize if you don’t already that people have to trust you before they will be willing to buy from you.
If they were going to buy it anyway, you might just be a convenient link in the purchase. But if they haven’t already decided whether to buy, you need a reputation for giving good information to get their purchase through your links.
Not to belabor the obvious, but the best way to help people trust you is to tell them the truth and not be deceptive.
I will write about the value of honesty again later, but for now I just want to point out that lying can become a habit, and you really don’t want to get into it. Even if your nose doesn’t get longer.
You might make a little more money in the short-term by lying to people, but word will get out, and no one will trust you. That’s something to be avoided. A bad rep can transfer over into other businesses and take a long time to get rid of.
I have had some qualms about other businesses I have been in, where it seemed to me that certain statements they were making were not factually true. I could have been wrong as I kept it to myself and never confronted anyone about it, but it was just one of several reasons I quit that business. I would have taken the time to question my leaders if it was the only concern.
I wish now I had overcome my fear and just asked the questions. The people there were pretty nice and taught me a lot, I wish I didn’t walk away not being sure if they were teaching me to be dishonest.
Other General Concerns
So what other ethical considerations are there for any type of online business?
1. Does the product or service really help people? It’s not a good idea to recommend something just because someone is willing to pay you to promote it. Make sure it’s something good and helpful first, and consider the needs of your particular audience when choosing items to promote.
2. Do you have personal experience using the product or service? Do you say so, and not imply personal experience when recommending a product or you haven’t tried? Personally I would not feel comfortable recommending something if I don’t know anything about it and haven’t researched it carefully, even if I have never used it personally. I suspect a lot of other affiliate marketers feel the same way. Good on you!
3. Is there value in the product or service?
That is, is the amount of benefit equal to or greater than the money price of the item? This one is trickier, and the value something holds can be different for different people, but you really should not recommend a product unless you think a person can benefit or that you have benefited more than the cost of the money you spend on it.
4. Are there unsavory, unkind, greedy, or dishonest people involved in the business? If so, can you run the business without being forced to comply with directions that you consider to be unethical?
5. Spiritual or religious concerns, for those who have those beliefs.
I’m not going into my religion in this blog, but it is important to me.
Does this business make you a better or a worse person? Are you doing things that make you feel dirty, or do you feel good about what you’re doing? Do you worry about your fate after death because of what you’re doing now?
Trust your gut on this one, I don’t know of a better way to decide something like that.
If you do have concerns, and others in the business don’t seem to have those concerns, I would encourage you to learn from my mistake and ask them about it. They may have a perfectly good explanation of why you’re worrying about nothing.
One thing not to worry about – you can’t help everyone, and some people will reject your efforts to help or misunderstand no matter what you do.
No matter how good your intentions are, you might say something that someone reacts to negatively and thereby loses the ability to hear the rest of your very valuable information. That is a problem for them, but you can’t completely avoid these things.
It’s best not to worry about the people who reject help. Maybe something you say will help the down the road. Take comfort in that, and move on.
You have to be willing to give up the idea of not upsetting anyone. Some people might not like that you’re promoting products. Others might object to one or more of the products, or the payment structure of the company. You can’t make your business decisions based on what a few people think. On the other hand, if a lot of people are upset about it, you might be needing to make a change.
It’s worth thinking about, anyway.
One Niche Seems More Problematic
There are many good niches to get involved in, and you can make money promoting just about anything. But I would say you have to be choosier in certain industries – Health and Wellness Products for example. There are a lot of great products, so many it can be hard to choose, but are they all worth the cost, is harder to say.
Some people just want your money.
But primarily, I would say the Make Money Online niche is filled with lots of people just trying to get your money and not caring whether it actually helps you or not to buy their product. You want to be careful and do your research. Ideally you have someone you trust who you can look to for advice.
Caveat: I am not saying that I know who is dishonest or greedy, and who is not. Nor do I have data to prove that the industry is filled with bad people.
I’m not saying it is a majority of people in the industry.
But I have heard that a lot, and I am just passing on a caution based on that idea.
True story: I have had people who are supposedly making lots of money in marketing products to other people but lose control when someone else tries to sell to them. Someone called me bad names and even swore at me over and over just because I sent them some information they didn’t ask for one time. A very memorable moment in my marketing career.
It was rude of me, perhaps, but not nearly as bad as swearing at someone you don’t know because you can’t control your own emotions. I would sure hate to be that guy, no matter how much money he has.
Happiness is more important than money, and you can’t be happy if you’re upset, worried, or stressed all the time.
Hopefully you have access to good coaches, or training systems that help you filter out the less valuable or even scammy products.
There are many platforms where you can find opportunities if you are interested in this type of business, but I will write about those in the future.
Are Make Money Online opportunities, or other MLMs, just Pyramids?
Pyramid schemes are illegal in most countries and in most US states.
What is a pyramid scheme?
Lots of MLMs have been shut down by government entities with accusations of being a pyramid. I don’t know whether the accusations were correct. Pyramids are illegal in many places, including most US states. But the definition seems to be somewhat fuzzy.
Most people have some concept of what a pyramid scheme is. It’s a business where there is no product, and you just make money by bringing more people into the business underneath you. You pay, then they pay, then you get the money and move up a level. Nothing else.
I guess where it gets sticky is – what does it mean to not have a product? Does a digital product count?
Lots of businesses sell digital products. Think about all the websites with pay walls to get full access to the articles they publish. Is that not “real”? Or ebooks. Real? Cryptocurrency? Digital music? It’s hard to say those things are not real just because there is no tangible product.
How much value do you have to have in a digital product in order to count as a “real” product? And who can decide how valuable something is, for someone else?
Lots of tricky questions here. It seems simplistic to me to just label all MLMs not selling physical products as Pyramids.
Is training on how to promote the product all that you get? Perhaps it’s training you could use on any business. Or at least, any MLM, or any business in the same niche. The training might be better than the training you could get somewhere else. How does that factor in to the determination?
There might be a community of people you get access to, a group. People who can give you tips and advice even though they’re not your sponsor.
However most companies that could be accused of being a pyramid do have some sort of digital product, even if it’s just training on how to sell. In many cases it’s a lot more than that.
You’ll have to take it on a case-by-case basis to decide if a particular opportunity has a good product. Is the product worth the cost even if you don’t make money promoting it? Another important aspect.
This was a question that really troubled me for a few days. Both businesses I have joined do pay you more as you get more people to join. That’s a big part of why I think it has so much potential to increase my income quickly.
But are they pyramids? I was really worried. But I decided they’re not, and set that concern aside.
I value the opportunity,and I want to help others have the same opportunity. Time freedom and working from home, what this site is all about.
I would say ultimately it comes down to whether you think the product is valuable even if the person doesn’t make money from it.
I first joined my first business as a paying member because I wanted access to the training. I was not intending to sell it, but later I changed my mind.
Most opportunities do have some training. You have to try it to know whether the training is worth the cost, but I am not encouraging you to join every opportunity just to try it out.
A better way is to learn from the experiences of others.
There are lots of websites with free reviews of MLM companies. Some are neutral, some are obviously for or against the companies. You can do lots of research and figure out what you want to get involved in.
Are there a lot of people having success? This is another important question to consider.
One risk you face in joining an MLM will be that it might be labeled a Pyramid and shut down by governments, before you’ve had a chance to move up and make money at it. This could happen no matter how good the company is. But is more likely if a lot of people have experienced not making any money at it.
Or even losing money.
Let’s be fair, I’d be harsh on MLMs too if I kept joining various companies and not making any money. I can understand why they feel that way.
Critics of MLMs like to point out that a huge percentage of people in the industry lose money. But you can’t generalize to every company. They have different systems, and some will help each other more than others.
Is it fair that some people make more money because they got in earlier?
Well it wouldn’t work the other way around, would it? The only alternative I see would be that everyone makes the same amount. But that doesn’t work in a Network business because the money is coming from other people signing up. The opportunity to make a lot of money wouldn’t exist without the pay structure being what it is.
The people making the most money are the ones who made a decision the fastest, or found out early on. They’re doing a lot of work to promote the opportunity too. They deserve their reward. They help train their people, at least the good ones, the ones you want to work with, do.
Avoid joining under someone who doesn’t reach to help you and give training. This should not cost anything extra. Both of my companies have private Facebook groups for their members, where there is so much good content it’s hard to keep up with it all.
Ways to Avoid Deception
If you really want to choose a good product in any niche, but especially in Make Money Online niche, you want to connect with people who have experience with promoting that niche and ask them how their experience has been. Ask lots of questions. Most experienced marketers that I’ve connected with seem like they give advice at the drop of a hat, whether you asked for it or not.
We are so blessed in our modern technology. It is now so easy to reach out to someone on Social Media and talk to them directly. Even famous people. Certainly marketing gurus and figures famous in the marketing world.
Here’s What I Decided. How About You?
I decided to go ahead and go all in on a business opportunity (in Make Money Online or MMO niche) that I had already started, and a few days later I added a second. However, I have a very experienced sponsor who has hooked me up with lots of training resources, and both programs are ones where the sponsor only advances if his team members advance. In other words, the system is one that encourages teamwork. This is a key way to judge a good opportunity.
I am not going to describe or name these businesses. If you really want information on them, don’t ask me in a comment. I will delete it.
The purpose of this post is not to get buyers for my businesses, I have other ways of doing that.
I fully expect these business opportunities to help me build up some passive income that helps sustain me until the income from this blog is sufficient to do so. I really prefer helping people over finding people to sell things to. The training on these programs is helping me to have more of a mindset for success too. In that vein, I am helping people when they come aboard these opportunities, provided they are a good fit.
There Are Some Great Opportunities, But Do Your Research and Be Careful.
If you do join in one of these types of business, look for something where they have a system that rewards helping the people just starting out. Find someone you can trust to give you advice and help you sift through the programs that are not worth the money.
Be careful with your money.
I recommend having a budget.
Then don’t spend money you can’t afford to lose entering an opportunity and be totally dependent on making it back quickly in order to pay your bills. That’s a very bad idea.
You have no idea if you’re going to have the same success as other people they show in their videos. It might take you longer no matter how smart you are or how much work you put into it. Just work at it consistently, and I’m sure you can succeed. But you have to pick a system that really works.
That’s the hard part.
Don’t expect to make money in your first month. Want it, work for it, but don’t count on it.
I’ve seen very good advice to be willing to give it at least 3 months and be committed to building the business, whatever it takes in that time. The time horizon is a bit more for a blog like this, at least 6 months to a year.
I hope you’ve found this information to be helpful.
Here’s to all your success in whatever business you choose.