Top 10 Good Business Models, Not MLM: MLM Alternatives

Are there any good MLM Alternatives? In other words, are there other great ways to leverage yourself and create a residual income or simply make some extra money (online or offline)? Of course there are. Truth be told, there are many ways to make money online, supplement your income, leverage yourself, or even replace your income.

What works for one person might not work for someone else!  Just because a business model doesn’t work for someone doesn’t mean it’s not good.  We all have our own natural talents and abilities and it makes sense to find a business model that matches those talents and strengths.

Some of the most common MLM Alternatives include:

1. Affiliate Marketing: This is the process of selling someone else’s products or services online, and earning a commission from each sale.  Some affiliate programs also let you recruit people and earn a commission from their sales.  With affiliate marketing, you focus on sending people to the offer and making sales while the vendor processes the payment, delivers the product and handles any customer service issues for you.  I’ve done affiliate marketing for over five years now and think it’s a great business model.  However, close to 90% of all affiliates earn nothing. Once you know how to generate leads and high quality traffic, affiliate marketing has huge potential.  Plus, it’s free to join.  The only money you spend is on your marketing and promotion.

2. Investing in Real Estate: Real Estate investing is quite popular, especially if you have sufficient working capital and some specialized knowledge (or good advisors). You can potentially earn passive income from your rental units. However, most people do not have enough working capital or expertise to do this successfully.  Many people have also lost a lot of money with real estate investing.  Throw in the fact that you’ll probably have to deal with shady tenants (who have more rights than you do) and you might quickly discover this isn’t as sexy as it sounds.

3. Infopreneuring: This is the process of selling information products, such as seminars, eBooks, DVDs, and training courses. This is my favorite way to make money online. This is my most recommended choice of all the MLM Alternatives listed on this page.  You can simply create information products about a topic you understand, such as a job experience or hobbies. You could sell your information products on popular websites like, or even on your own blog or website.  The real beauty of infopreneuring is the profit margins.  Most information products give you at least a 7 to 20 times mark up.  Try doing that in any other business!

4. Blogging: Blogging is very popular. The problem with blogs is that more than 90% of all bloggers don’t make any money or get any website traffic.  Most bloggers give up within six months or less of getting started, if they even last that long.  If you don’t know how to market your blog, or you aren’t passionate about what you are blogging about, you will probably fail. It’s also important to note that it takes most bloggers a few YEARS to build up traffic and start making money.  Learn how I build my business by blogging.  But for the right person this is a tremendous business model.

5. Patents & Intellectual Property: You could create patents, copyrights, trademarks and other intellectual property and sell it yourself, or license it out.  For example, you could write a book or create a course and copyright it.  Or, you could invent something, patent it, and then license the rights to a manufacturer for an ongoing royalty.  This option can get fairly expensive and you definitely need specialized knowledge.

6. Insurance Agent: Working as an insurance agent (part-time or full-time) might be one of the best MLM Alternatives out there, because you can earn a residual income from your policy renewals.  You even have the option to become a broker, where you can recruit other agents and earn overrides and commissions from their sales.  Sound familiar?  If you like to sell, this business model can be very lucrative.  If I was going to do any traditional career, this is what I would do.

7. Traditional Business: You could start a traditional business, such as a restaurant, diner, barbershop or automotive shop.  Just remember that the start-up costs and monthly overhead will be quite expensive.  You’ll also need employees, which is a headache.  And once again, it will probably take you a few years to build up a successful “traditional” business, just so you can break even.  The worst part of owning a traditional business is that you will typically be stuck to one location, you’ll work long hours, and you won’t be able to take time off.

8. Part-Time Job: If you’ve tried the home business route and couldn’t make it work, you can simply go out and get a part-time job.  The downside is that you won’t earn residual income or have any good tax advantages.  The upside is that you will get some immediate, guaranteed income.

9. Membership Site – Membership sites are a great way to make a residual income.  You can create a password protected website and sell monthly memberships.  People can pay you $19.95 per month, or even a one time fee, to get access to the information.  I plan on doing a membership site myself in the near future.  Of course, you still need to learn marketing so you can promote your site effectively.  Just think about how much you could make if you had a membership site with 500 paying members who each paid you $20 per month for access to your site?

10. Direct Sales: Do not confuse network marketing and direct sales.  Direct sales is when you focus on selling things yourself, rather than recruiting others and building a team.  If you enjoy selling, this might be a good option for you.  You could join any direct sales company that has a product you like and a good wholesale-retail markup.  This might include a top tier MLM Company or something non network marketing related.

Bonus Tip: As a good bonus tip I would recommend starting an eBay business.  I’ve been doing that for more than a decade now and it’s still my primary and largest income source.  eBay is very inexpensive and easy to get started.  All you need is a computer, digital camera and printer.  You can start out by selling unwanted items at your home, or selling stuff for friends and family members on consignment.  Once you know what you are doing you can find a drop shipper, or visit yard sales, thrift stores, flea markets and auctions like I do.

The Truth

These are the top 10 MLM Alternatives that first come to my mind. What’s important to remember is that very few business models offer you the opportunity to earn a residual income or IMMEDIATE income. With most businesses, you really just own a job where you have to keep working to keep getting paid.  In other words, you have no leverage.

In addition, there is no guarantee of success is any business.  I’ve never found any type of legitimate business that was fast or easy money.  Most businesses (of any kind) fail in the first few years and most businesses take a couple of years just to get profitable.  Yes, there are some exceptions, but not many.

If you are really hard up for money, my best suggestion is to get a part-time or full-time job. Trying to get immediate profits out of a new business is very hard to do.

Yes, MLM has a high failure rate.  So does every other business model out there.  And yes, you can make a lot of money in MLM, but it normally takes a few years of consistent effort to build up a large income in network marketing.  It’s hard work!

If you decide to go with one of the MLM Alternatives mentioned above, it’s really important that you KEEP YOUR DAY JOB while you build your business.  You need a steady pay check coming in while you get your business off the ground.  This will keep the financial pressure off your back.

Furthermore, I’ve discovered that all entrepreneurs must go through a learning curve and incubation period in their new business to develop the skills and mindset it takes to succeed. Depending upon your current skill-set, your budget and desire, this time-frame can vary significantly from person to person.

Final Thoughts

In summary, there are many good MLM Alternatives out there. If you’re ready to leave the MLM Industry for good, you do have options.  Your key to success is to pick a business model you understand and are passionate about.

Once you do that, you MUST make a 3-5 year commitment (minimum) to stick with your chosen business model, before you decide to try something else. You can also improve your success rate by finding a mentor, being consistent and persistent, and by having a laser-like focus.

What are your thoughts? What are the best MLM Alternatives that you can think of?  Leave a comment and let us know. I look forward to hearing from you.

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10 thoughts on “Top 10 Good Business Models, Not MLM: MLM Alternatives”

  1. I sell a lot coins too, Greg. You are really only limited to your creativity. In today’s day and age there are many ways to make money, whether it be something I mentioned above or something entirely different. What most people need to realize is that any time you start something new you will go through a learning curve, normally at least 1-2 years. I’ve never found anything that was fast, free or easy. It seems like that’s what most people are looking for. Just my two cents.

  2. As a person who has done a lot of searching for good money making opportunities, I must say you put together a pretty good list here.

    It is true, MLMs are not for everyone. You must find what works for you. What are your talents?

    Personally, I am a writer. I learned how to self publish my own books. I found that in itself, this also takes marketing. Books do not always just sell themselves.

    I have also found other avenues to use to make money online. Affiliate marketing, blogging, ghostwriting, and freelancing are all some of what I do. I found a talent and I am trying to make the most of it.

    That is the key… use your talents to your advantage. Search and find how you can take your talent to the next level. You know inside what is right for you. If you give 110% to succeeding at what you do, you will. Never stop trying to better yourself and good things will follow.

    Great blog post!

  3. Love the video. 🙂

    Just one thing on blogging: Most of the highly popular blogs I follow were never really “marketed.” Their authors have been surprised how their blog has exploded in popularity. They wrote with their hearts, were personable, and had “share” buttons (i.e., Facebook, Twitter, etc)…. If you have those elements, but still aren’t getting much traffic, by all means try advertising.

  4. I like MLM, but these are some other great business models too. At the end of the day you simply need to find a business model you are comfortable with and can see yourself doing for a period of time. I like selling on eBay and blogging, but I also realize there are other great opportunities too. No business model is easy, but certain people will do better in certain business models. Just my two cents.

  5. A good online resource to learn more about doing digital stuff online and making money with it is:

    I’m not an affiliate for this site; but he not only talks about how to make money using images, videos, information products and community sites, but he shows you how and the forums are really great.

    Recently, I just learned that there are people taking pictures with their phone cameras and are making money uploading the pictures for others to use.

    Just about anything digital can be sold online.

    1. Yes, digital items do sell, as a matter of fact, if you know what you are doing, you can sell anything. I used to be a huge wheeler and dealer in coins, and I suddenly found that there are many mistakes that come straight from the mint. I started buying fresh “mint” rolls of coins and 1 day I discovered a new nickel that had “No More Oil War” stamped on the front of it–It came straight from the mint that way. Keep in mind that I only paid 5 cents for it and I sold it on Ebay for $78. I also know of one gentleman from Germany who sold a “genuine wood fire log” for somewhere around $400. It was all in the advertising and presentation.

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