The Picks and Shovels Business in Network Marketing

Today, we’re going to take a few minutes and discuss the picks and shovels business in network marketing. You might be asking yourself the following question right now.

What do you mean by the picks and shovels business in network marketing?

To make it simple, picks and shovels refer to ANYTHING that will help a network marketer grow their business. It might include:

  1. Books
  2. Leads
  3. Systems
  4. Auto-Responders
  5. Seminars or Events
  6. Training Programs
  7. Software
  8. Capture Pages
  9. Website Hosting & Domains
  10. Coaching

Keep in mind, there are tens of millions of network marketers worldwide. Most of these people are struggling to make money and grow their business. They are looking for ways to succeed. They are very open to the idea of buying tools or resources that will HELP them grow their network marketing business. They will either buy these tools and resources from YOU, or from someone else.

Think Back to the Gold Rush

If you grew up in the USA, and took a history course in high school, you probably learned about the California Gold Rush. Back around 1849, thousands of prospectors traveled west to California in search of gold.

They sold their homes, risked everything they owned and brought their families with them to California. While a select few struck gold and got rich, most of these prospectors lost everything.

However, if you take a closer look, you will see that many other people earned small fortunes during this same period of time. What were these people doing? They were in the picks and shovels business. They owned the saloons, casinos, hardware stores, restaurants, hotels, brothels, etc.

They were smart enough to realize that all of these gold prospectors needed tools. They needed food and booze. They needed a place to sleep. They needed a place to relax and have fun. Basically, these savvy entrepreneurs identified a need, filled it, and got rich by selling picks and shovels!

Selling Tools Training and Leads is Good Business

What Many MLM Top Earners Do

Many top earners in our industry understand the picks and shovels concept. As a result:

  • They sell systems
  • They sell training courses
  • They sell books
  • They sell seminars
  • They sell coaching
  • They sell leads
  • They sell affiliate products
  • And the list goes on!

In fact, many top distributors STOP building their MLM Business and shift their focus to just selling the picks and shovels to other network marketers. Others do it like I do and keep it as a side business while focusing on their primary opportunity.

The Picks and Shovels Business in Network Marketing

Why should you sell picks and shovels in network marketing? It’s actually quite simple. When you do this, EVERYONE becomes a prospect. You see, most people already have an opportunity they are promoting, but they need leads, training, services and coaching. This makes your conversation with them really easy. You are offering them a SOLUTION to their problems.

Best of all, as you provide value and build up the like, know and trust factor, many of these people will eventually ask you to join your team. And even if they don’t, you still make money! You help others, provide value, grow your team, and you have multiple streams of income. That is a win-win!

What It’s Not

Just to clarify, because some of you might be wondering, I am NOT talking about promoting multiple MLM Companies at the same time. Do not do that. It’s one of the fastest ways to lose any credibility you might have had with your prospects. Pick ONE network marketing company to promote and also find a good lead program, a good training program, a good online system, and a few great services you can promote and earn affiliate commissions with.

the picks and shovels business in network marketing

What I Do

My primary mission is to help ALL network marketers achieve success in their CURRENT company. I teach others how to do network marketing the right way. I’m an ambassador to the industry. That is my passion and overall objective.

As I create content (videos, podcasts, articles), I share what I know about the industry and recommend different tools and resources that I actually use myself, and KNOW provide real value to others. Some people visit my content, check out my recommendations and order different tools and resources that I recommend. When they do that, they get access to a tool that will help them, and I earn a commission. Talk about a win-win!

I also build my own team. I let people know about my primary business. If they want more information, I send it to them. If they don’t, no hard feelings. I just focus on SERVING OTHERS and know that everything will work itself out.

The beauty of what I do is that I can make money whether people join my team or not. That is the position YOU want to be in, especially if you are trying to build your business online.

Even better, my tools business allows me to make money when I advertise, on the front end. I normally spend at least $4,000 or $5,000 on ads per month, but the money I make from my tools sales allows me to build my list and recruit new distributors, practically for free. However, if I would have spent the same amount of money to advertise my business, I am 100% certain I could not break even doing that, let alone make a profit. Food for thought!

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, these are my thoughts on the picks and shovels business in network marketing. If you really love network marketing AND online marketing, I hope you will consider promoting different affiliate products and services that COMPLIMENT your primary opportunity, but do not interfere with it.

What are your thoughts? Do you participate in the picks and shovels business in network marketing? Why or why not? Leave a comment below to let me know what you think. I look forward to hearing from you.

chuck holmes


Chuck Holmes
Network Marketing Professional

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14 thoughts on “The Picks and Shovels Business in Network Marketing”

  1. I agree on having multiple streams of income because you never know what may happen. If you take a look at the Big Billionaires, they have multiple companies. People are always looking for information things that they are interested in so why not make money from it? Even if you charge $5.00, that money will add up quickly if it’s a popular topic.

    1. Hi Kara,

      I agree with you. It’s good to have multiple streams of income. Keep your major focus on one income stream, but have a few smaller, less time-consuming, non-competing income streams that can supplement it. That’s what I do.


  2. I see this a great deal in the freelance writing market. Lot’s of websites looking to sell people kits and books about how to become successful as a writer. My first impression is that this is ‘cheating’ in a way. Perhaps I should revisit the idea. I need to figure out what my ‘picks and shovels’ are.

  3. This is great information Chuck.

    In network marketing, I have often discovered that when we talk to people many times they are involved with a different network company. By using the “picks and shovels” system, we can still sell these people without cutting in to the company they are with. There are many tools that can be helpful to network marketers from separate companies. Training, consultation, motivational tapes, and software are all great tools that could be sold as a secondary income.

    1. They purchase it from the affiliate link in your newsletter. If it is emailed, they simply click on the link. If it is mailed, you buy a domain name and forward your affiliate link to that domain name.

    2. No, I do not have a beauty blog for my Avon products. I focus on selling picks and shovels to other network marketers.

      But, there is just as much money to be made selling picks and shovels to customers and potential customers for beauty products, wellness products, etc.

  4. For months I have been looking for that perfect company, but in actuality, there’s no such thing. I chose Arbonne because I found a good local sponsor, and I feel like I could educate health and wellness through the company. My main concern is the expensive price of the products and the start up costs to join the biz op. Like you said, sell the picks and shovels to ppl in MLM because most won’t join your business, especially if it has high start up costs. I just feel as though it’s important to join multiple companies on the retail side offering a range of prices because a lot of people can’t afford Arbonne, eventhough they may love the product. I’m just looking to fill that gap. Something I can offer the people who can’t afford Arbonne. But your newsletter technique sounds great. Do you mail this newsletter to customers and people on your team?

    1. I’ve always made more money with the picks and shovels than I did with my MLM Company. Granted, I’ve made good money with my MLM Company, too.

      However, most MLM Companies will take a FEW YEARS to build up a nice income.

      During that time, you still need a great way to make money and have multiple streams of income.

      If you only have money from your MLM Company, you don’t have a way to make money from the people who tell you NO.

      And no matter how good you are at retailing or sponsoring, you will have more people tell you NO than tell you YES.

    1. Create a newsletter that you mail out. If you sell Arbonne, for example, you could have a beauty newsletter that provides tips, tricks, etc. In your newsletter, you could promote beauty products, affiliate products, books, etc. (all that you make a commission on). That’s what I do and it works. Many people who won’t buy the products from you will buy other things that you recommend. You could also sell your own information products about beauty, and talk about your Arbonne products in your information products.

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