Five Lessons eBay Taught Me About Network Marketing

I’ve been selling on eBay for more than a decade now.  Just to clarify, I do NOT sell my MLM products on eBay, nor do I endorse it.  Instead, I sell antiques, jewelry, clothes, belt buckles, books and more.

I’ve learned so many valuable lessons about business and network marketing from eBay, believe it or not.  In today’s post I want to share some of those lessons with you, specifically what eBay taught me about network marketing.

Even though eBay is not a network marketing company, I believe the lessons I learned while selling items on eBay are VERY relevant for network marketers.  These tips are listed in no particular order.  Enjoy!

# 1 Being the First Often Usually Means You Will Be the Biggest

According to what I found online, eBay was the first online auction service open to the general public.  And if they weren’t the first, they were one of the first.  From a company perspective, being the first in your market share gives you a HUGE advantage over other companies.

For example, in the MLM Industry Amway is the giant, doing more business than many other companies combined.  To the best of my knowledge, Amway is the oldest company in our industry.

When you look at the list of the other top MLM Companies you will quickly discover that most of them have been around for a LONG, LONG time, normally 30 to 40+ years.

From a distributor perspective, this also holds true.  I don’t believe it’s the distributors who get in a company first that make the most amount of money, but I do believe it’s the distributors that buckle down and stay with one company for 20, 30, even 40 years who do the best!

# 2 It’s About MILLIONS of People Doing a Little Bit

eBay became successful people because of the “part-time” sellers. Although their business model has changed a bit in recent years, it was initially successful because of the millions of everyday people like you and me selling their unwanted items on eBay.  I call this the glory days of eBay.

eBay is now more focused on attracting “big businesses” to sell on eBay, but a core part of their business today is still people who sell anywhere from one to 100 items per month.

Network marketing is no different.  Nearly 98% or more of your business will be the “little guy” who is just looking to have a social club, earn a couple hundred bucks each month or get their products for free.  Sure, you are looking for the heavy hitters and leaders, but they are a rare breed.  Most of your volume and income will come from the little guy who just does a little bit each month.

# 3 Go to Where Your Customers Are

At one point I thought about starting my own website to sell my antiques and vintage items.  And then I realized that I would have to build the website, get it ranked in the search engines, generate lots of traffic, and spend all my time doing that, rather than just focusing on selling my items.

eBay has the traffic.  They have the buyers.  And that’s why they can charge you a fee and even keep raising their fees.  Having that large amount of traffic is VALUABLE.

When it comes to network marketing, you have two choices.  You can spend all your time trying to meet people one-on-one or you can pay a small fee and advertise and go to where your prospects are. Both methods work.  I believe that going to where your customers and ideal prospects are is the best business decision and usage of your time.

# 4 Have Systems in Place for People to Follow

eBay has systems for their buyers and sellers.  They make it so easy to list items, ship items, buy items and deal with issues as they arise.  They have step-by-step instructions that anyone can follow.  To list an item you just follow the steps.  To ship an item you just follow the steps.  It’s as easy as 1-2-3.

You want to do the same thing in your network marketing business.  You need a simple system that anyone CAN follow.  It doesn’t mean that everyone HAS to follow your system, but you should at least provide the system for the new and inexperienced person, until they learn a better way.

five lessons ebay taught me about mlm# 5 What You Do is Up to You!

Some people on eBay sell millions worth of merchandise every month!  Some people sell $50 to $500 worth of merchandise per month.  There are no quotas.  You can make as much or as little per month as you desire.  Your success is in your hands and totally up to you!  Some people hate that, but personally I love it!  Individual results will vary!  There is no guarantee of success, just a guarantee of equal opportunity!  This is true capitalism at its finest.  The same holds true in network marketing.  The sky is the limit and what you do, or don’t do, is totally up to you.

Final Thoughts

In summary, I’ve been selling items on eBay for over a decade now.  I think the eBay business model is a wonderful business model that anyone can follow and become successful in their own business.  In addition to basic business principles, eBay has taught me a lot about network marketing as well.  I hope you found the lessons I shared above helpful.

Feel free to leave a comment below and tell me what you think.  Which lesson do you think is most relevant to network marketers?  I look forward to hearing from you.  Have a great day.

Disclaimer: eBay is a registered trademark owned by the company.  I am not an employee or corporate officer with the company.  The views in this article are just my opinion.  Individual results will vary.

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Chuck Holmes


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8 thoughts on “Five Lessons eBay Taught Me About Network Marketing

  1. Jason Ruth

    Ebay is a great alternative income source and truly does have similarities to Network Marketing and the Multi Level Marketing industry. With eBay, you really don’t need a lot of capital to start just like in Network Marketing. You can do it part time or full time. Your efforts = your results.

    Ebay is the big kid on the block, but there are quite a few other companies similar to them as well as local possibilities as well to sell to a local market.

    You’ve been doing it for 10 years? Do you have an ebook about selling on eBay?

  2. R.G. Westerman

    Thank you for writing this! It seems as we continue to progress through the Digital age, the sites that are making the most money are the ones who have a large body of people exchanging small amounts of money. Through sales, freelance work, travel sites, etc. All those users and all those tiny fees add up for the website.

  3. Greg Boudonck

    This was a great analogy Chuck. I have to agree that the first is usually the biggest and best. I also liked how you explained how you considered starting your own website to sell your items and then realized the tool was already in place for you. I see many network marketers trying to reinvent the wheel when there are systems in place that work along with tools. While it may be great to try new things, it is still good business sense to use the systems and tools that are already in place and proven to work.

    Ebay is quite similar to network marketing. You can work it part or full time. It doesn’t take a big investment, and it is completely up to you on your success there. Yes, ebay is very similar.

  4. Diamond Grant

    It is completely unrealistic to think people are just going to magically be drawn to you, especially if you are first starting out. You have to do your research, determine what your niche group is going to be, and then reach out to them. It takes quite sometime and quite a presence before you have the sort of clout needed to draw people to you without much effort.


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