How Long Does it Take to Make Money in MLM?

How long does it take to make money in MLM?  That is a question I hear at least three or four times each week.  What I want to do in this post is share my insights about what to expect when it comes to making money in MLM.  This information is from my personal experience and from talking to other folks in the industry.

Let me start out by telling you that I have never met anyone (outside of MLM) who decided to START a business because they were in dire financial straits.  Starting a business because you are broke and destitute is DUMB.

You see, owning a business of any kind is not an IMMEDIATE solution to your money problems. If you need money TODAY, you should get a part-time or full-time job, not rely on a business.  Most people who join MLM to make quick money end up quitting in their first 30-60 days because they aren’t making money.

Another thing you should know about making money in business is that MOST businesses take a few YEARS to get profitable.  Don’t believe me?  Ask anyone who has owned a traditional business and they can verify this.  What’s funny is most traditional entrepreneurs DON’T EXPECT to make a profit for their first few years in business.  They understand it takes time to cultivate, nurture and develop a business.  They know they have to pay their dues.

Network marketers are funny.  Many join because they are broke or can’t find a job.  Many join because they need cash TODAY.  In probably 99% of these cases, these people don’t normally survive in MLM.  Why?  Because they had unrealistic expectations.

The people who do well in MLM are the folks that join MLM to create a Plan B.  It’s the folks WITH a day job, or a steady source of income, who want to exit the rate race in a few years. They look at their network marketing business as a three to five year exit strategy, or just a second income source.  They aren’t looking to get rich quick AND they have realistic expectations about their business, and how long it will take to start making money.

You’ve probably also heard the popular statement that most network marketers don’t make any money.  Well guess what?  Most businesses don’t make any money either.  Nearly 9 in 10 businesses don’t survive their first five years.  And the primary reason that most businesses fail is because they aren’t making money.

When you join MLM, you need to have REALISTIC expectations.  If a traditional business owner would fork over six figures or more just to START a business, and not expect to be profitable for a couple years, why would you expect to get rich quick in MLM?

In addition, most people spend a huge amount of money to go to college for four years with no guarantee of employment after graduation.  Yet, they never question their education.

Lawyers have to go to school for SEVEN years BEFORE they can even start practicing law. Doctors go to school even longer.  But they don’t call what they do a scam.

What’s great about MLM is you can start part-time while you have a day job.  You can learn as you go and get paid to learn.  MLM is not designed to provide a full-time income in your first year in business.  Can it be done?  Of course.  However, it’s highly unlikely you will replace your full time income in your first year in network marketing.

Assuming you were going to work your business 10-20 hours per week, EVERY WEEK, this is what I would expect would happen in your MLM Business.

  • 6 to 12 months to earn $500 per month
  • 12 to 24 months to earn $1000 to $2500 per month
  • 24 to 36 months to earn $3000 to $5000 per month
  • 36 to 48 months to earn $5000 to $7500 per month
  • 48 to 60 months to earn six figures per year

As a quick disclaimer, I cannot guarantee you will achieve these results.  Individual results will ALWAYS vary.  But after studying a lot of successful people in our industry, these numbers seem to be pretty common for people who get started, stick with one company and work their business consistently.

To put it all in perspective, you can make money (or lose money) in MLM.  There is no guarantee of success.  All businesses come with a level of risk.  That is why you are called an entrepreneur.

One of the best things you can do is have realistic expectations for your business.  Teach your new distributors to have realistic expectations, too.  Don’t hype people up or give them the impression that this is easy, or instant money.

Succeeding in any business boils down to hard work, persistence, and yes, some luck too. What’s great about network marketing is that it doesn’t come with the financial risk that a traditional business has AND you can start part-time while you keep your day job.  I think it’s the ideal business.

So, how long does it take to make money in MLM?  Well, that’s up to you.  You get paid to PRODUCE.  If you produce, you will get paid.  If you don’t, you will earn nothing!  This is a commission based, merit based pay system.  Your effort means nothing if you aren’t producing results.

What do you think about this subject?  How long do you think it takes to make money in MLM? Leave a comment below to share your thoughts.  I look forward to hearing from you.

chuck holmes


Chuck Holmes
Network Marketing Professional (since 2002)
Author, Blogger, & Entrepreneur

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11 thoughts on “How Long Does it Take to Make Money in MLM?”

  1. Good answer! It really is up to you how much money you will make in any business. I like that you point out that there are no guarantees other than you will get out what you put in. I agree starting a business is a dumb idea for anyone who needs money now. Unfortunately, too many MLM businesses are promoted as the solution to your money problems. Their marketers brag about replacing their income in the first year and promising if you just follow the formula you will make an additional $500 next month. I applaud you for removing the hype and speaking the truth about what it means to go into business.

  2. I strongly agree with you Chuck that you cannot become a millionaire overnight with MLM network marketing or with any other business. Success comes with continuous efforts and it takes time. You need to invest some years in business to reach the six figures. Hyping up everything would not work for business but it needs consistent efforts, realistic expectations, dedicating time, taking risks, investing money and more.

    1. There is no such thing as get rich quick in any type of business. All businesses take a while to build up, get profitable and then build your fortune. Most business owners I’ve met, regardless of their industry, took 1-2 years just to make a profit and at least 3-5 years to build up a six figure income. Yes, there are a few exceptions. But, they are few and far in between.

  3. Chuck, this post should be read by all who claim Network Marketing is a scam. The fact is any of the traditional money making ways could also be considered scams. Considering prospects, a person should be explaining to them not to just quit their job. A person could use this whole post in their presentation. Great post sir.

    1. Glad you like it. Every business I’ve ever owned took me a few years to get established and working smoothly. Good things take time. Most people are very short sighted.

  4. Right on Chuck! This is great information and 100% accurate based on my experience. I think everyone who is considering MLM should read this post, especially those considering it to get out of an immediate financial jam or make a quick buck! People don’t start traditional businesses for that reason and shouldn’t start an MLM for that reason either!

  5. It is funny how many people start an MLM business because they need money fast. Perhaps they are tricked by the sometimes low start-up costs of an MLM, or maybe they fell for an “easy money” line by a recruiter who did not know how to do quality recruiting. This is actually like any other business, where you need to invest money and put in long, hard hours before you see real results. It takes time to see results, and those results will reflect the amount of time and effort you put into your business.

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