Major Downsides of Building Your MLM Business Online

What are the major downsides of growing/building your MLM Business online?  I’ll be the first to admit that there are many good things about online MLM.  It’s not perfect, but if you know what you are doing it’s a good way to work smart and leverage yourself.  The internet can work for you 24/7 and you can reach a global audience.

But for most people, trying to figure out how to build their MLM Business online is more of a nightmare than it is a benefit.  There are so many things to learn.  The internet changes daily. And if you were to study 100 of the top online network marketers you would quickly discover they had 100 different strategies and systems.  Who do you trust?  Who do you follow? Information overload is everywhere online.

What I want to do in the paragraphs below is cover the major downsides of building your MLM Business online.  I do not write any of this to scare you off, or be negative.  I simply want to “open your eyes” to some of the problems you will face with online MLM.  It definitely won’t be as easy as you think, so you should know what you are getting yourself into.

# 1 Teams Fall Apart Quickly

When you sponsor people online, and you never get to interact with them face to face, most of the folks will drop out like flies.  Network marketing is about connections and friendships. It’s hard to build connections and friendships online.  It can be done, but it’s really HARD to do.   People are more likely to quit when they have never met you personally and really aren’t close friends with you.  If they are easy to sponsor they will be easy to quit.  To be quite frank with you, I’ve never met a top earner in any company who built their team 100% online.

# 2 It’s Not Duplicatable

This is the biggest problem with online MLM.  Even if you are a master at it, most of your team will not have the desire or skill-set to figure out blogging, SEO, video marketing, email marketing, article marketing, pay-per-click, social media strategies and all of the other things they have to figure out.  Why do you think so many leaders teach old school MLM?  Because anyone can talk to a friend, have a home party, or do a one-on-one presentation.

# 3 Steep Learning Curve

I’ve talked about this in other articles.  The bottom line is that there is a STEEP learning curve to building your network marketing business online.  Don’t let anyone else tell you that it’s easy either.  It’s not.  It took me a few years doing it full time to figure it out.  Yes, you might do it quicker than I did, but I guarantee it’s going to take at least a couple years of part-time effort to learn the ropes of online network marketing.

Most people can’t learn online marketing strategies AND build a network marketing business at the same time.  So what happens is they put their network marketing business building efforts on hold while they try to figure out the online stuff, so they never end up building a team.  Did you hear that?  Let me say it again so it sinks in.  Most people put their network marketing business building efforts on hold while they try to figure out the online stuff, so they never end up building a team.  And that’s the problem with it!

# 4 Crazy Competition

The internet has CRAZY competition.  Back in the late 1990’s and early to mid 2000’s, the internet was like the Wild West for network marketers.  Anything went.  You could get one penny clicks and create leads like crazy.  Not anymore.  There is so much competition today online that it is extremely hard to get noticed and stand above the crowd.  And if you want to do that you better have deep pockets!

Spend even five minutes on Facebook and you will see tons of paid ads for opportunities, products, and systems.  And that doesn’t count all the spam that other network marketers do. Look at how many YouTube videos there are about network marketing.  Type in almost any MLM term on Google and you will get MILLIONS of search results.  Each day the competition gets worse.

# 5 Very Time Consuming

Running a blog and website online to build a MLM Business like I do takes a lot of time.  It’s time consuming to research, edit and write blog posts, send emails, make videos, work on SEO and all the other countless things you have to do to keep your business going.  For the average part-time person, there’s not enough time in the day to do it right.

Factor in the learning curve, and trying to build your MLM Business online can take over your life!  Yes, once you have everything set up and working smoothly it’s low maintenance.  But to get to that point you have to invest tons of time.  And most folks aren’t willing to do that.


Please note, I am not trying to be all gloom and doom here.  As I mentioned earlier, if you know what you are doing, or are willing to take the time and money to develop your online marketing skills, the internet is a fun, exciting and an effective way to grow your MLM Business.  But for most reps it’s more of a nightmare!

Final Thoughts

The bottom line is that online MLM is not for everyone and it’s not a very good way to build your team.  That’s why so many leaders still stick with old school methods.  You want something that is simple and duplicatable with your team.  It’s hard to do that if you are promoting your business exclusively online.

By all means, if you already have good online marketing skills, then leverage those skills.  But I think it’s best to stick with the basics.  Stick with what is proven and have a simple system for your team.

What are your thoughts?  What do you think are the major downsides of building your MLM Business online? Leave a comment below and let us know.  I look forward to hearing from you.

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Chuck Holmes is a Network Marketing Professional, author, and blogger. He's been in the industry since 2002. He is one of the top producers in his network marketing company. He is happily married and lives in Florida with his beautiful wife, Rachel. He enjoys flea markets, reading, writing, walking, fishing and funny movies. You can call Chuck during business hours at (352) 503-4816 EST or you can email him at

8 thoughts on “Major Downsides of Building Your MLM Business Online

  1. I totally believe online MLM building can be helpful, but you should also work off line too. The online system should just be a side part of your MLM business. What that comes down to is time management. If you are going to do both online and offline network marketing, you need to schedule it in the most profitable way. Chuck has blogged often about creating a business plan, and you will need to write down a good plan of action for this.

    • When you combine online and offline you can’t go wrong.

  2. Yes, I agree that nothing can take the place of face-to-face recruiting and mentoring. Meetings are always best conducted and attended in person. People who never meet the person that they ‘work’ for, or rarely do, would have little incentive to be loyal. If you had no alternative, I could understand recruiting on line, but your best efforts really need to be made on a personal level.

  3. In my personal opinion, if you can be totally different than all the other ones out on the world wide web, you may do good. The hard part will be finding a way that others haven’t already used. I do believe that when you build an online team, you should use Skype or a similar program–Go To Meeting is also great, and have regular meetings and one on ones. It needs to be as up close and personal as possible.

    The learning curve is steep, and whats more, the internet is consistently changing. You need to keep up with the changes and adjust to them quickly.

    • Using SKYPE is definitely a great way to stay in touch and connect with your team members.

  4. Hi Chuck, This time round I would like to create a debate in my mind (aloud of course), based on this article. The downsides of building a business online are many. I agree with the instability of the team concept. It is also very true about an extremely steep learning curve, that leads to higher drop outs. The competition is also there making online systems look bad. However, what would be your take on the HUGE advantages that the methods bring. Would it be in order for me to claim the benefits by far outweigh the disadvantages? I imagine the best thing in business is to do a cost benefit analysis and ascertain if certain inputs are of value to the business of are just liabilities.I however would like to commend this post for exposing gray areas we have imagined to be perfect all along as an MLM community regarding the internet. A very interesting read. Thanks.

  5. Hey Chuck-
    You mention it took you a few years to figure out the online side of MLM. Do you mind expanding on that a little? It’s so helpful to hear about the realistic side of MLM, especially online. Did you go into it expecting the learning curve to be longer? Shorter? And do you think it is easier or more difficult as more and more info is available online- some that is very conflicting?.

    • I think most business owners go through a steep learning curve in any business. If you start a restaurant business, for example, and you’ve never owned a restaurant before, it would probably take at least a few years to figure things out and be successful. People come into MLM having no business, sales, marketing entrepreneurial or MLM experience, and think they will achieve instant success. It just doesn’t work that way.

      To answer your other question, the internet can help with a person’s learning curve, however, there is so much conflicting information online that it’s easy to get information overload. I think it’s best to find 1-2 mentors and learn from them. Find someone successful who has accomplished what you want and jump in their hip pocket.

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