Parties for Pay: Good Idea or Not Worth the Time?

Can you really make money hosting parties for pay?

I don’t throw parties for pay, but my Facebook is plastered with invites for this kind of thing. So, I’m going deep into the bowels of the internet to find out – do people actually make money with this stuff? How hard do you have to work? Is it worth a busy lady’s time? Personally, I’m not a sales person, so if it requires any work at all I’m out. I’m also out if there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff. I just don’t have time with all that I’m already doing. But, I know there are plenty of ladies (and gentlemen) who would like to give up some of the work they do and make money another way, so let’s take a look.

First of all, parties for pay are technically called “Multi-Level Marketing” companies, or MLMs. If you’re looking for one to start, that’s how I’d search for it.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, think of the Tupperware parties of yore, or Thirty-One bags today. They’re everywhere, right? Someone invites you to a party where they’re going to show you a bunch of products and then either try to push you into buying something until you feel guilty enough to do it, or feel too guilty to push their products and then lose a bunch of money. What a fun idea! We can probably blame this on Amway if we want, although technically the first MLM was a company called Wachter.  Today there are over 1000 options, so something for everyone I guess.

The Bad News about Parties for Pay

Competitive pricing? Maybe.

One of the reasons I’m writing this is because a friend of mine started Mary Kay a while back and it cost her a TON of money. Yes, you read that correctly. It cost her money to make money. I get it; she’s technically buying a franchise, so of course it comes with a price tag. But it was a lot, and the rules were strict, and she wound up losing all of it. Then the other day I saw this article online. Parties for pay were causing women to lose money AND have psychological problems. Wow! That seems like a terrible business opportunity, doesn’t it? In fact, the FTC did a study of 11 companies and found 99% of MLM reps lose money. Reading that made me cringe and think parties for pay are terrible, terrible ideas.

When I started this research I admit I was only looking for physical parties for pay, like you see with Mary Kay or Thirty-One, but I went down the rabbit hole my friends. I mean, I went deep down a rabbit hole, and I’m not even interested in this for myself. It started to seem like such a scam I felt like I had to talk about all MLMs, including ones where you do all your work on Facebook and never see another person.  A different friend of mine got into LuLaRoe and swears she is thriving, despite all the bad news coming out of that company. Now, she might be lying, but she is a hustler and she’s pretty open about her mistakes, so I feel like she probably is making money. Obviously some people have to, right, or this wouldn’t be a thing. So what’s their deal?

Who Actually Makes Money?

Buy my fancy lipsticks! I’m selling it out of a van so you know it’s good!

Oh come on now. We know who they are. They’ve got a bridge to sell you. They were the Girl Scout that somehow sold enough cookies to feed a small country. They can place three hundred cold calls and still feel upbeat. Oh, and it appears they all have their own websites. When you first start researching parties for pay, you’ll see a lot of hopeful articles and hear about how much money people made. I’m sure plenty of them are true. But, I would remember one thing when you’re looking at those articles. If the person writing it is involved in an MLM, they’re probably selling you something. It might just be trying to convince you to join up, but you can be sure they’re getting something for that.

Actually, they’re probably getting more for getting you to join than if they’d sold you something. That’s where the real money is – networking and signing people up under you. It’s not exactly a pyramid scheme, but here’s a good explanation of how MLMs work. People who make money blogging have to network a lot too, so don’t think that’s a bad word.  It’s all about having a community, and if you are good with that, you’ll probably be more successful at your MLM. I’m going to talk about the numbers on this anti-Jamberry article in a second, but for now I’d like to direct your attention to the comment section. People are aggressively fighting both for and against the company. I especially like that the pro-Jamberry people try linking to their websites. See? They are constantly on it! No wonder they make money.

Should I Try Parties for Pay?

Not enough money for my time (although what is, really?).

I don’t know you, but I’m going to go ahead and say no, don’t do it. Not unless you are willing to devote your life to it, lose money, or potentially to scam them instead of vice versa. Is that possible, you ask? I think so, yes. After my research, I’m pretty sure you could sign up for one of these companies, do a launch party (where people typically have the most success – after all, no one’s sick of you yet), and get out with a tiny little profit. But even that would require a lot of research, so don’t think you’re just going to have a fun party one time and make a little extra dough with no work involved.  Honestly, you should never really expect that. No one’s going to hand you money for nothing.

If you’re going to do it anyway, I suggest you research and research A LOT. That Jamberry article I mentioned before calculates that their “$99” startup fee was actually more like $124 because you have to pay shipping, which they don’t mention. The average Stella&Dot rep makes between $0 and $100 a year if you include inactive reps, which many are because you have to sell $200 a month to be considered active. Is that even worth the effort? You’re going to need to do more than just generic internet research too. Check with your friends and family to see if they’re interested in whatever you’re selling, because they’re your first customers, and if it’s something you won’t put the time in for, likely your only customers.

Final Thoughts

I don’t know, friends. Parties for pay aren’t really scams, and they’re certainly not illegal, but they’re not for me, and they’re definitely not for people short on time trying to make real money. I’ll stick with not selling things to my friends at parties. Sometimes I’ll spend too much, like at my dinner parties, and sometimes I’ll make them so simple I don’t even decorate, but either way I won’t be making money. If anyone I know personally asks my opinion, I’ll probably tell them to skip it too. There are lots of other ways to make money from home if you want, and thinking you’ll casually make money at a gathering you’d throw anyway is probably unrealistic.

What do you think? Anyone had success with this type of money making scheme or plan on giving it a try? Let me know in the comments!

44 thoughts on “Parties for Pay: Good Idea or Not Worth the Time?

  1. robin rue says:

    I have actually hosted two of these and they were not worth it for me. Between all the time I spent cleaning and cooking to get ready, the payout just wasn’t enough.

  2. My mother-in-law now does Sweets Tables fro parties in addition to cakes. I think it’s a great way to make money and fun for her. I think doing research on who would be doing the party is important though if you don’t know them personally or through family and friends.

    • Beth Davidson says:

      Is that a company? I’ve never heard of them if they are, but I would much rather have someone do my desserts at a party than have to buy makeup I won’t use!

  3. I haven’t sold in this format, but in my opinion, someone who is selling things like Norwex or Tastefully Simple has a better chance of making money, since you run out of the product. That would be my choice!

    • Beth Davidson says:

      Oh that’s good if you don’t have to keep an inventory. The rules are so crazy with some of these, I couldn’t keep track of them all!

  4. i hate these parties haha. I always feel so much pressure to buy something and even worse they are always at your friends house and you don’t want to feel stingy but unless it’s a brand I can really get behind it isn’t for me

    • Beth Davidson says:

      I must be a terrible friend, because I have never bought anything. Lol. But it’s really hard to part me and my money, which my friends are aware of, so I don’t feel bad.

  5. I think it depends on you. I don’t really do well in sales talk like that, but some people are definitely good at it. It’s not at all illegal or a scam and if you wanna give it a try, you totally can. But like you, it’s not my thing.

    • Beth Davidson says:

      Good luck to you! Hopefully the blog works out and you don’t have to resort to selling stuff you’re not interested in. 🙂

  6. This is something I don’t talk about very much. I was introduced to a party for pay. It cost me an arm and a leg and I got very little in return. Not sure if it was me or the lack of interest in the product. It just was not for me.

    • Beth Davidson says:

      I feel like that’s what happens to so many people. It does seem fun and easy when you first hear of it, and I’m sure no one says, hey, you have to treat this just like any other business or you aren’t going to prosper.

  7. I have always stayed away from MLM because I hate asking people for money. I do not like being invited to others parties because I feel obligated to buy something. I can also go on forever about all these people I barely know friending me on FB and then I find out within an hour that they are trying to sell me something. It is totally annoying.

    • Beth Davidson says:

      That Facebook spam is the worst! I already get irritated with social media and now you’re trying to sell me stuff too? Blech.

  8. I have never heard of this. I know other MLM only make money if you are smart about how you invest and spend for your company. I have seen too many who just listen to their upline and buy everything (which benefits their upline!).

  9. I’ve never joined any before because it’s really not for me. I don’t really know how to sell products like that unless it’s all about writing. It’s great if you’re an awesome sales person!

    • Beth Davidson says:

      Yes, some people just gravitate towards it naturally and it doesn’t even matter what they sell. I’m not sure I could sell water to a dying person in the desert.

  10. I have never really been an MLM fan. I think I had one party one time but it was quite a while ago. While it was fun ( Pure romance bridal shower type party) it isn’t something I would probably do again. I for sure hate the pressure to sign up as a rep too!

  11. I hate this type of way to make income! I joined Perfectly Posh last summer because honestly it was totally worth it. At that time my daughter had a coconut allergy, and they were literally the only company that sold soaps/lotions with out coconut. Their stuff is a ton of fun, smells awesome, and is similar to Bath and Body Works, only far more pricier and more upscale. I joined for personal reasons, but had to pay to join, of course. I thought ok, why not try and at least recoup the money I paid out to join. That was all I was going for, no more. So I started trying, and had to put more money into it, to give samples away. More money, that I lost. My year was up a couple of months ago and the girl I joined under put me into her Facebook group….Y’all she had sold to all the people that I had sent samples too. The ones that I was friends with, and knew personally. The ones that wasn’t interested the three times I reached out to them after I sent samples. That pissed me off. If that’s the kind of person you have to be to make money (and she does make tons!), then I can’t be that person.

    • Beth Davidson says:

      The nerve of some people! If you have a good reason to get the products, then it’s probably worth it whether you make a lot since you get to buy the product. But… Wow. To swipe your customers. That makes the whole thing seem even worse.

  12. Lindsey Mozgai says:

    I love organizing and planning, but I can’t imagine doing things like that for someone else. I’m not very salesly so I don’t think it would go all that well.

  13. Jeanine says:

    I stay away from anything like this. I am not a fan of these type of parties, so I ignore and delete all the requests. Not my thing, no thanks!

  14. Kristina says:

    I mostly buy Pampered Chef products because I LOVE cooking and love their products for my kitchen and home. A lot of the other products I don’t have interest in buying.

  15. I’m not a sales person, so these type of parties wouldn’t benefit me in any way. I also hate attending these type of parties, unless it is someone that I’m super close to and want help show them support. 🙂

  16. This is something I don’t really understand either! I have known plenty who have gotten into it and they don’t end up making money in the long run when you consider the time they put into it.

    • Beth Davidson says:

      I’m gathering that a lot of reps join specifically for the product and then quit once they get what they want – which keeps their sponsors happy!

  17. Brittany says:

    I have always wondered about companies like that. There is such a big promise for reward but you have to put in a lot of investment to ever get there.

  18. I sold Avon for many years and realized that it just wasn’t going to be really lucrative for me unless I dedicated myself to it full-time. Many reps throw parties and make money from those parties.

    • Beth Davidson says:

      My best friend’s mom has sold Avon the entire time I’ve known her (close to 30 years) but she’s always worked full time too, so she’s never thrown a party. I guess she just really likes Avon. 🙂

  19. I always wanted to know insight about these kind of parties, so this is definitely interesting. I think it’s best for maybe if you’re selling your own homemade products vs a different company

    • Beth Davidson says:

      You know, I would probably be more likely to buy something homemade from my friends to help them get a business started than one of these products. It seems more supportive.

  20. Excellent article. It is rare that someone will do actual research and report what they have learned on a semi-controversial topic. It’s like the lottery – the most vulnerable are the most likely to spend money on it and they are the ones least able to spend it.

    • Beth Davidson says:

      Thanks! I’ve got no skin in the game, but I hate when I look up something like “MLM Scam” and the first results are all written by people in MLMs so I tried to do an honest article from an outsider’s perspective. And don’t get me started on the lottery – it’s just depressing all around.

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