Ben: My High School Sweetheart

I said at the beginning of this month that I wanted to do a bit of a series for Pride. I also said that in that series I’d talk a bit about the different relationships in my life. Since I always refer to “my three unique relationships”, let’s talk a little about them.

Ben is my husband and the person I’ve been with the longest.  We met and began dating in high school – I know it’s a cliche but we are high school sweethearts. I even changed my university plan to stay with him. I know that changing your big life decisions to make a relationship work isn’t normally recommended when you’re 18 but it worked out for me.

Because of this, Ben and I have grown up together.  I was only 16 when we started dating.  In a practical sense he’s seen me through a lot.  Right away there were big decisions about university and the logistics of applying, registering, etc.  Then there was dorm life, figuring out how to feed ourselves, managing classes, getting jobs… until we mastered living together and planned a wedding … well, I planned the wedding and he showed up at the agreed upon time 😉

From graduating to jobs and everything in between we really have transitioned from teens in love to partners in life together.  People always get really excited and happy to hear that we are high school sweet hearts. We get a chorus of “awww – that’s adorable!” And I do like to think that we are.

When reflecting to write this post though I realize that we tend to think high school sweet hearts are special because they found their partner at such a young age and when many people spend their 20s on an emotional dating rollercoaster we’re already living together and committing to each other. (I walked down the aisle and married Ben when I was 22)

I think what’s really special is that we manage to grow together.  The truth is that it meant choosing our relationship at really critical moments in our lives.  It meant choosing Ben instead of pursuing an interest in moving to Newfoundland for university. That changed my major from journalism and creative writing to English and History.  It also meant moving to Oshawa because that’s where Ben’s career opportunities are and he was in the workforce ahead of me.  It means that the first thing I decided about my identity, values and lifestyle as an adult was that everything about me is connected to him.

I don’t mean to make myself hard done by – let’s be clear.  It has also meant that through really big and intimidating decisions like pursuing grad school and then dropping out of it, making a career of  being a freelancer and transitioning to a polyamorous lifestyle I have had an amazing support system. In these moments where I have designed my adult life and worked to define myself I have always had him, like a lighthouse in moments of uncertainty, he has given insight and lit my way.

I absolutely loved the university I attended and couldn’t have dreamed a better university experience for myself.  I loved living close to Toronto and exploring the GTA.

I love him.

My relationship with Ben, I think, is unique for the history and the safe space we have created for ourselves – hey look, a buzz word! Seriously though, there is no space safer for me then beside Ben. He has seen every side of me. He allows me to talk his ear off, or to be silent. He encourages me to write while he practices bass and takes me on adventures when I need to get out of the house.  He is familiar with the complicated balance required to look after someone who may be extroverted or introverted depending on the day… and he can always, always make me laugh.

He knows me to my bones because he watched me build myself.  He never asked me to choose him – he never did anything to limit my growth or push me in a direction I was unwilling to go. He has always loved me with such certainty and kindness that I knew wherever life took us I would be happy, so long as I had him.

Yes, I am a super cheesy girl, through and through. It’s Pride month and I won’t hide that side of myself anymore than I hide anything else. =)

Hope you enjoyed this little reflection on my relationship with Ben. It’s only the first of three relationship reflections. Watch out for some other pride-related thoughts I’m musing on.

Carmen

Sincerely, Carmen in Canada

When I write about working from home I caution my  readers not to romanticize the reality – I give up stability, normal working hours (although I am slowly building towards normal hours, more on that another time.), and many of the perks of a “regular job”. I always acknowledge that I’ve traded these things for the convenience of staying at home and pursuing a flexible career.

Let’s talk a bit about what I get in return for my trade.

Who I work For and What I Do

I work for three different companies.

Company one, the company I’ve been with for the longest, is a Chinese company focused on educating Chinese children. It offers one to one classes and they have designed the curriculum. Students book me at the time they prefer and I try to make the process of learning English fun and interesting with games and lots of smiles, virtual high fives and rewards.

Company two I am new too. It offers one to one classes as well as group classes with as many as six students. This company focuses on adults, however, and they take student from all over the world. In a class I might have a few people from Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, or Germany! These classes are also focused on teaching the art of conversation by supplying students with useful sentences, natural back and forth examples and pronunciation guidance. They will have already studied the basics like vocabulary and grammar on their own – I’m just there to help bring it all together.

Company three is the leas formal. There is no powerpoint or directed class goal. Really it’s skype built in to a web platform where the minutes spent on a call can be easily tracked. This offers a one to one video connection and the goal is unstructured conversation practice. Think of it this way – someone in a foreign country has spent a lot of energy learning English but doesn’t know if they can take what they know in theory to the real world with effective conversations in English. This company is their way to connect with native English speakers, practice, have interesting conversations and get some advice along the way.

Why I Love my Job(s) – Seriously!

What all of this means is that I spend my day talking to people around the world, literally. They tell me about their homes, the culture and the politics, their travels and their experience with travelling.  They tell me what they do for work, why they like it and what makes it difficult. I learn about and sometimes meet their families.

Secretly, I think I learn so much more than I teach.

I am so lucky to genuinely smile throughout my time working.  Even in hour 12 I am still smiling my face off listening to a 6 year old describe their day at school.

I could work less. Twelve hour days, even if they only happen once or twice a week, are undeniably overkill. Nobody is forcing me to open my availability and allow that many bookings. But its so hard to resist when I know I will more than likely enjoy all 12 of those hours!

I mean, the paycheques don’t hurt either.

My Work Identity: Meet Teacher Carmen

Don’t we all have that person we are at work? That personality we fold up and tuck away in an office drawer when we’re done for the day? I sure do.

She likes tea – and need a  lot of it. But she’ll drink diet coke if there’s no time to make tea. She is obsessed with her planner and anything organizational.

She’s got a bit of a sticky not problem/addiction, and she’s not seeking help.

Sometimes her pets make guest appearances in class.

Her favourite students are the ones that laugh with her or tell her about different cultures.

The practice platform does not require me to send formal feedback to the people I meet but the other two are more formal education platforms so my students always receive feedback. That is how my teacher identity got her name – from my introduction:

Hello, my name is Carmen and I live in Canada.

… to my sign-off:

Sincerely, Carmen in Canada.

 

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Happy Pride Month!

close up photo of a hedgehog beside rainbow curved frame
Photo by Amber Faust on Pexels.com

Before we even start – yes I did pick this feature image because look at that little hedgey…he’s so cute I couldn’t resist him and his rainbow ❤

I love pride month – I love watching my social media feeds fill up with rainbows, conversations about acceptance and love stories.  It’s a generally happy time with lots of celebration and people embracing who they are without apology.

Don’t mistake that opener for ignorance – there’s lots of serious conversations and realities to be recognized when it comes to Pride. One of the best things about Pride Month, in my humble opinion, is that its an excuse for us all to make room for both the celebration and the reflection required.

I knew that I wanted to find a way to bring that to my own little corner of the internet.  over the past few weeks I’ve been thinking about what that might look like.  Since Pride Month is happening throughout June, I’ll be doing a bit of a pride series – my first series!

I don’t want to admit how many times I get an idea that I realize is worth more than one blog post, mentally plan out an awesome series of posts, and then never write them…

Not this time!

I always say that I’m in three unique relationships but I usually only say it in passing reference to something else. This month I want to spend a little time sharing and celebrating what makes each of my relationships unique.

I also want to talk about some of my thoughts and things learned over the past 9 months or so since deciding to trust my heart and fall in love all over again.

Really this is just a little intro to the idea of a pride series and a teaser of what’s to come.

What are your burning questions about one or all of my relationships and the general experience of being out in my poly relationship? =) Now’s the time to ask!

Happy June 1st everyone =)

Landing that Online Job

So a couple weeks ago I landed two jobs in one week – both of them working strictly online through specific platforms.  So now I want to share a little bit (actually, a lot) about searching for and landing that elusive online job.

My specific jobs (and in case you’re counting, I’m now working with three companies) are all based on teaching English and supporting English learners.  So that’s the experience I’ll be speaking to. There are some general truths that will carry over if you’re looking at other industries online.

Teaching English is a huge online industry simply because the internet is such an excellent way to connect teachers of a language with learners while everybody has the benefit of staying comfortably in their home.

English is the dominant language of business so if you are a native English speaker you have a crazy advantage as many around the world are scrambling to learn our language in order to maximize their business, work and travel opportunities. I have spoken with people from France, Saudi Arabia,  Turkey, Syria, Brazil, South Korea, Taiwan, India, and China.  They are all different age groups and their reasons for learning English range from personal interest and a sense that it would just be good to know, to learning for academic pursuits like attending an international University to learning for travel and work.

There are a lot of companies out there that you can teach with – hence why I work with three.  It’s a good thing for both teachers and learners that there are so many platforms with similar services and job opportunities because it drives each of them to be competitive.

So, Where do I apply?

There are a few different ways that you can apply. You can research individual companies and apply directly to them or you can seek a recruitment group that will consider your resume and suggests companies you may be a good fit for.

I caution that free websites where you send your qualifications and they match you are probably not worth your time.  I tried it and they sent me an email saying they thought I’d be a good match for a company that was already on my resume.

That was the only company they sent me a notification for, despite the fact that I am a good fit for many companies.  Furthermore, they do not support you through the application process.

So really, you’re no further ahead than if you found the company on your own.

It sounds too simple to be true but I recommend starting the way I did: Google search “Teaching English Online” and consider what companies come up.

You want to understand their target client in order to determine if they are a good match for you.  For example, one of my companies targets students in China exclusively.  China is 12 hours ahead of me so if I want to teach them in their preferred time, after dinner and through the evening, I need to get up and start teaching around four or five in the morning.

I don’t mind but I do encourage people who want to do this kind of work to consider how time zones may impact their schedule and availability to work.

Other companies I work for target students around the world.  They have stronger demand from some regions and therefore still have hours where they highlight demand. However, because they do invite students from all over to learn on their platforms they are able to provide some opportunity to work throughout the day for me.

Company requirements range from preferring a long list of certifications to only requiring that English is your native language.

In summary for where to apply:

  • Research companies yourself
  • Understand the impact of their target clients and timezones for your schedule
  • Do you meet their requirements

The Application Process

How many people would love to work online? And why is that?

Because many people consider working online or from home to mean that the work is easy, low commitment, and open to anybody.

Therefore companies looking to hire English teachers and other online contractors are working hard and developing processes to discourage non-serious applicants.

Assume that competition is tough and ensure that your resume and application answers include relevant keywords. If you’re applying to teach English for example, you should be the kind of candidate that can have the words “teach, taught, tutor, children, adults, learners, English” on their resume.

Assume that your first challenge is to be filtered through an algorithm and use appropriate language accordingly. Don’t write something that would only matter to a human reviewer or a human reviewer may never see it filtered through the system. Straight forward, clear language that relates to the position responsibilities is best.

Furthermore, be prepared for multiple interview and training stages.  You’re going to have to jump through some hoops.  Jumping through hoops both demonstrates your seriousness about and commitment to the position and provides additional assessment opportunities for the company to feel confident they are hiring contractors who are a good fit.

In this process, one of the keys to success is staying organized.  Many companies will have developed their own platform that you would be working through and from the interview onwards they will be trying to teach you to effectively use this platform to meet their performance goals. You want to have clear notes on how to use the platform, all related requirements, and what the performance standards are.

Save any documents they provide you during the process all together in one folder; the documents may be provided through email and through the training platform so collect them in one place where you can access them at a moments notice.

Succeeding Online

Most online companies I have worked with, from transcription to teaching, rate contractors on a 5 star or 5 point system.  Most consider 4.85 and higher to be a generally acceptable range for contractors performance.  Aim higher, always, but especially aim for 4.88-4.95 if you are seeking advancement and bonus opportunities.

The most successful contractors are the ones who treat their opportunities with the same respect, commitment and care that they would be expected to give in a formal office environment. They follow instructions to the letter, follow up on all recommendations (If the company says that something is helpful but not required successful contractors are the ones who go ahead and follow that recommendation!), attend workshops and access all the support offered to them and they take pride in doing good work.

The reality is that it doesn’t matter where you’re working – a more traditional environment, somewhere with a startup vibe, remotely for a brick and mortar company or strictly online – every company favors employees who work hard.

Be that worker.

Developing a Career

I wrote a while ago about diversifying yourself.  I want to reiterate that the downfalls of working online necessitate diversity and maintaining contracts or opportunities with multiple companies.

To most online companies you are an independent contractor.  That basically code for them not owing you anything. No overtime – no matter how much you work, no sick leave, maternity leave or any other leave expected in most Western work environments, no health or wellness benefits, no paid vacation, and no guarantee of work or pay.  You work as much or as little as you want within the limits of how much work they have.  If students don’t sign up for classes my wide open availability means next to nothing. I might open eight, or even 10 hours of availability in a day and still only work 2-4 hours.  The company I work for doesn’t owe me anything for available hours that go unbooked.  The deal is that I work, they pay me, and in all other aspects, I am responsible for myself.

Many people are attracted to working online because of the “set your own schedule” ability and the idea that it is flexible. As I mentioned above though, don’t expect to be paid for any time that you aren’t actively working. You don’t have to open your availability if you don’t want to – but you are going to end up wanting to work as much as possible because otherwise you’re not getting paid.

The Impact of Policy and Culture

There is generally some understanding of uncontrollable circumstances.  For example, a large windstorm took down some power lines near my home and left me without power for 24 hours one weekend.  I messaged my company and was forgiven for canceling my classes because the circumstances were beyond my control and beyond what I can reasonably be expected to cope with while maintaining quality work.

I add the caveat about coping while maintaining a reasonable level of quality in your work because if your online employer is based in another culture you may find they have a different level of tolerance for personal issues than you’ve come to expect.

Some workplaces in Canada have very open and lenient policies for things like sick leave and mental health, for example. You can not expect this from an online company.

Realize this: Your manager might support you staying home from work because of that wicked head cold but it isn’t because they feel bad for you – they just don’t want you getting them sick.  When you work from home your head cold doesn’t affect anyone else.  My sick days with my companies are extremely limited.  Not feeling well is not a reason to not work when you work at home in your PJs.

Even more prominent – mental health and what should be done for people struggling with mental health issues is a cultural knowledge.  In Canada, we have a very empathetic attitude about mental health.  Most workplaces recognize it as a genuine concern and have varying levels of support. I know many companies still fail their employees completely, however, most have good and improving policies.

When working for a company based in a culture like China, I have found that mental health is considered a nonfactor.  It falls under looking after yourself, which is considered separate from your work life and not their responsibility.

Harsh – yes, very much so. However, it is a sacrifice that comes with developing a career that ignores physical borders.  You must work fluidly between cultures and learn to meet expectations that differ from what would be expected of you if you worked strictly within your own culture.

Working from home has its own unique set of benefits – there’s absolutely no doubt about that, for me.  However, those benefits mean mentally letting go of the benefits we may have expected from a more traditional workplace.  It’s a personal decision to favor one set of benefits and deficits over the other and figure out what kind of career is going to bring you the most satisfaction.

Carmen

 

 

Unsolicited Relationship Advice

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I know I grew up lucky, in some (ahem, many) ways. Many of my friend’s parents were divorced, and they moved between two separate homes.  My parents were together.  Perhaps even luckier for me, my parents were happy to be together. Parental yelling matches, dad on the couch or threats to leave are all unfamiliar stereotypes to me.

Perhaps it is because my childhood home was so happy that I find relationships and relationship advice to be such an interesting subject.

I also got married young. In fact, I fell in love young. I’ve been with Ben since I was 16 and got married when I was 23.  Young for my generation in both experiences.

Now, as many of my readers will know I am in three unique relationships and navigating life with five romantic relationships under one roof. Each of us values strength, stability and functionality in our relationships and we work hard to build our relationships around these values and our personal needs.

It must be a combination of all these factors that makes me feel entitled to provide some form of unsolicited relationship advice.

But you know that feeling when you see people struggling with something that comes naturally to you, and you just want to help and provide your knowledge and see if you can make their struggle less, their day easier? Yeah that happens to me a lot.

What the Advice Columns Miss About Fighting

I’ve seen all kinds of advice columns reassure their readers that fighting is normal. There’s a couple thoughts I want to  unpack here, so bear with me.

Let’s remember for a second that normal doesn’t mean necessary. It might not be all doom and gloom for your relationship if you argue from time to time but if you don’t fight at all, that’s okay too. (I’m assuming you don’t fight because you aren’t disagreeing; please don’t bottle it all up just to say you don’t fight. Remember, it can be normal!)

But then don’t the relationship columns also tend to tell us that if we’re fighting about “the big things”, like money, children or lifestyle, we should run for it because there’s no way to build a relationship when you can’t agree on the foundational aspects of a life together?

So, do we fight and stay because it’s normal or fight and run for it because we want different foundations for our life together?

Go ahead and argue, but not about the big stuff.

If you were a fly on our wall and you could catch us in a rare moment when we’re feeling off-kilter, you know what it would be about?

Food.

Yeah, you read that right. Like is it okay to have fries with dinner? Should my husband have brought home the bag of chips I requested or should he have said no because he knows I’m trying to lose weight?

Or can the meal plan be changed, and can anybody spontaneously stop at a store and pick up something that wasn’t on the grocery list?

What’s healthy enough for our healthy lifestyle goals and what’s healthy but not healthy enough?

How do we handle cravings?

Food.

We decided to have talks about what getting serious together meant fairly early on. We didn’t want to come out and fight off all the negativity just to find out we couldn’t really build a life together if we wanted to.

Let me be clear: When we talk about money, children (how many to have, how to raise them, etc), our lifestyle (financially, where we will live, what is important and what we don’t need, etc.) we all agree. In fact, we agree easily.  There are certainly some compromises but they were all easy to make.

So if you’re asking me (which you didn’t, but you read this far so I’ve got something going for me.), let yourself argue when you’ve got a bone to pick but if you’re not laughing at how silly a bone it was to get worked up over once all is said and done, that’s when you should worry about the fighting.

They say never stop dating, but more realistically, never stop infusing your relationship with the little, every day things that bring you joy.

Okay so “never stop dating” has a ring to it and saying it my way is a mouthful. But hear me out.

I’ve been with Ben for seven years. I don’t want to go to dinner and pretend that he doesn’t know anything about me so we can “date”. But you know what does happen at the beginning of a relationship and should be carried forward?

Finding little ways to brighten each others day. It’s bringing home tea from Tim’s when he knows I haven’t left the house today and could use a pick me up. It’s surprising me with something he saw and bought just because it made him think of me.

It’s different than dating – I think it’s more like showing how successful he was at dating me by showing how well he knows me now.

It’s spoiling each other from time to time.  About a week ago Ben offered to pay for my manicure knowing that dinner out would mess with my diet but still wanting to make me feel spoiled.

It’s knowing when he needs time to be an introvert and not burdening him with extensive conversation and crowded situations.

So by all means, keep dating. Recognize that as humans we grow and change so there’s aways new ways we can “get to know each other”…. but as the years go by go beyond “still dating” and make it about knowing and appreciating each other.

Okay just One More Thing…

Hey you’ve read pretty far in to this bit of unsolicited advice – I appreciate that!

This one’s important: Know the difference between joking and teasing. It’s trickier than you think but here’s the key:

It isn’t up to you.

It’s up to whoever is at the other end. For example if you’re making a joke about something your partner doesn’t laugh about (take me and my weight, for example) you’re just teasing and it probably isn’t fun for your partner.

Stick to things your partner can laugh about too. For me – I laugh at my own sense of style because I have enough confidence in it to take a joke from time to time. You kind of have to when you decide to dye your hair blue. So it’s fun for everyone.

Don’t be the person who leaves your partner feeling sad, self conscious or bad about themselves/something about them. Even if you don’t get why they’re so sensitive about something, respect it. As your partner you should be relied on for that.

 

Well thanks for reading – what are the things you wish you could shout from the roof tops when it comes to relationships?

 

 

 

Discovering Progress

I struggle to think of what I might want to write when it comes to fitness. Mostly this is because I often feel like I’m not really getting anywhere in my weight loss journey and I don’t want to repeatedly write about how it feels to fail.

But today I was working on my fitness notebook – more on that to come – when I realized I am making progress. It’s slow, and a little inconsistent from week to week, but it’s progress. That realization inspired this post with the goal of sharing two things:

First, a friendly reminder (because I needed it) that how we feel isn’t always a good reflection of reality. For example, I feel like I’m the biggest I’ve ever been, and like I haven’t made any progress. I feel like I constantly choose to eat junk food despite knowing that it isn’t conducive to my goals. I feel hopeless.

Part of this is because I track my habits on a micro level. Each meal and snack of each day, and taking my weight every morning… the day to day fluctuations are often times all I see.  This is the down fall of micro tracking.  The benefit, for me, comes in two ways. First of all knowing that each thing will be measured keeps a constant pressure to make better and better choices more often.  It also means that when I take a moment to mentally “zoom out” and see what all this daily tracking is adding up to over time, I have more information to complete that zoomed out understanding.

This is how today I was able to realize I’m down 4.2 pounds this month. It’s not the spectacular progress we all hope for in our first month. Some weeks I lost more than expected and other weeks none at all. However it averages out to about 1 pound a week and that’s better progress than I thought I’d achieved.

I got caught up thinking about all the mistakes. Every spontaneous drive through and indulgent snack… until I realized that while I should continue striving to cut unhealthy habits I do have some progress to celebrate going in to week 5 with the notebook.

Now that’s the second thing I wanted to share today – the notebook.

I’ve attached a picture of my weekly layout because we all know a picture is worth a thousand words. The cover really just reminds me to be a whole person and not let weight be my identity.

I use this place to physically track my day to day weight, food, water and movement. I use a stencil to make it cute and organized.  It’s pretty simple but the process of recording and being able to flip back and look at how things are changing week to week is helpful for me to stay focused.

I’m not following any explicit plan. I spent about a month working through the first 3rd of the Body Love app by Anna Victoria. Ultimately it wasn’t the right program for me. I really want to be the kind of person that can strictly follow a program but I’m realizing I may not be. It’s well known that following a strict workout plan exactly is impractical for many people with busy lives (hello!) but I also struggle to stay focused while being flexible. If i forgive myself for having a busy day and missing a work out the next day I am full of excuses about why I can miss another work out, and so on. If I am not following the plan perfectly I am too lenient with myself and feel like a failure. There’s no big win for me.

Maybe at another time in my life a fully developed program will make more sense.

Since I was reflecting on the last month I brainstormed some ways to get moving in the next month. More on those ideas later!

 

Carmen

Don’t Fall for Spam; Don’t write off Opportunity

Okay so I want to talk about something: multi-level marketing companies.  They are also called direct sales, network marketing, and pyramid schemes, among other clever and legitimate-sounding titles.  These are companies that rely on individuals to sell out of their homes rather than building traditional brick and mortar stores – think classics like Avon and Pampered Chef, and newer companies including Jamberry, Lipsense, and ItWorks.

The first thing I want to say is: I’m not here to bash these companies at all.  I worked for Jamberry for about two years and I loved it. I’m going to be honest in this post and share some tips, the pros, and cons of working as a direct sales consultant and some warning flags to watch for if you’re considering joining a direct sales company.

When I browse the #workfromhome hashtag on any platform an overwhelming number of posts come from direct sales consultants encouraging anyone who wants to work from home to join their team.  Of course, direct sales is generally a work from home gig, although I kind of resent their saturation of the hashtag and more seriously, how spammy and awful some of the methods they use are.

Don’t get me wrong: There are a lot of very hard-working people busting their asses and making a great living with these companies.  My sponsor with Jamberry is one of them. (sponsor = the person whose team I joined, so she gets credit for my joining, and looked after mentoring me throughout my time with the company. I loved her!)

Generalized Problems with the Industry

As much as I had a great experience there are a lot of problems with the industry.  There are a lot of people that do and say ethically questionable things with their business.  They falsely advertise earnings to lure team members and promise those team members success without being honest about what that kind of success will require.

These companies by and large are rightfully accused of preying on societies less affluent women.  They encourage them to go into greater financial duress by promising that this job is the way to pay down all debts and look after their families.  Being able to look after your family and give your family a little bit of luxury is a huge attraction, especially when you can do while being home with the kids.  Advertising success and an affluent lifetyle without being upfront about the work it takes to get there is an aspect of direct sales I’ve never liked.  Consultants or representatives gain team members, at times, by knowingly preying on women who are in financial need and not equipped to critically analyze the terms of the contract they’d be signing with these companies.  Consultants who gain team members by doing this are really all about the financial incentives they get for convincing you to sign on the dotted line, not about sharing with you a great opportunity!

Most companies require you to “join” by buying a “start up kit” of some sort. The start up kits themselves are usually great. You get a healthy sampling of products, flyers, maybe postcards, etc. You get what you need to begin operating in the business – but you don’t get it for free. Some companies have different sizes or types of kits at different price points.  This means that you may see some opportunities as cheap or at least as being a good deal in comparison to other opportunities or kits.  Realistically though, when you’re broke is not the time to start a business.  You shouldn’t be spending your last dollars on a kit like this.

And I do specifically note that as a large and generalized industry direct sales companies specifically tend to prey on women.  We are targeted as both their consultants and their customers (the two, naturally, go hand in hand.) This isn’t new.  Think back – those companies our moms and grandmas know like Avon and Pampered Chef are the pillars of the industry and although it has evolved and diversified, the products and market are still dominated by women.  Can you think of a parallell for avon that was targeted at your dad? Can you even imagine some guy knocking on your door with a suitcase full of guy stuff the way old school avon ladies came around?

Not all companies are like this. More importantly, not all consultants are willing to behave unethically to promote their business. When I first met my sponsor for Jamberry it was because she hosted a sales party with a friend of mine.  She made me aware that if I loved the product I could join the company and get paid to do what she did.  However when I told her I wanted to get to know the product before considering a career with the company she was supportive and understanding.  Her style of interacting with me as a customer is a big part of what attracted me to the company, and her team.

I could see myself wanting to be like her.  That was important.

Generalized Pros with the Industry

Realistically the most important part of accessing and enjoying the pros of working in direct sales is finding the right company.

Companies will generally offer some level of training or at least a set of guidelines on how consultants should represent them. This sets up what the company requires, and where the room exists for consultants to make the business personal and unique to them.

Find a company where their requirements fit you and what you’re comfortable with.

A few things to define a good direct sales company for you:

  • It’s a product you’ll genuinely use and are happy to recommend to others
  • Its requirements are compatible with your commitments and goals
  • You feel confident you can consistently sell the product.
  • You see room for yourself in their market – if 25 people you know are already selling this product, who will you sell to start? (Ideally you’d expand, your friends introduce you to their friends, and those people introduce you to more people as you progress with parties and sales so it’s not always about your friends and fam, but it starts there!)
  • The methods their consultants are using to promote the product are compatible with your ethics and what you’re willing to associate yourself with and be a part of. I’ll tell anyone – I would %100 consider another direct sales company if the right one came along BUT I also have a mental list of companies I would NEVER work for because there are so many spammy consultants, even if I ever tried the product and fell in love I wouldn’t put my name to the company because there’s too much spam.

The claims that many consultants make are generally true when you’re working for it.  You do work from home, you do make money with every sale, you can make money by sharing the opportunity.  It’s a good gig.

However, let’s not forget that if you want to make money in any industry you have to work hard.  So sometimes consultants have a habit of making it sound like direct sales is easy money.  It’s not.  It can be good money but it isn’t easy money.

Major Red Flags

Remember that you’re joining this company to make money.  If the company requires you to spend an obnoxious amount to join and maintain status as a consultant, it’s not a good idea.  Life is not consistent – some months you’ll sell a lot and some months will be weaker.  If you have ridiculous monthly requirements you will struggle to create consistency and build success.

  • Do not sign up for auto-ship.  Some companies require you accept and pay for automatic shipments of product that you will have and sell as personal inventory.  Do not do this to yourself. They’ll tell you that you can easily sell the product but they won’t help you when you have a garage full of thousands of dollars of product you can’t move.
  • On a related note: Do not sign a time based contract that requires you to be active in the company for a minimum amount of time. Much like accumulating a garage full of auto-shipped products, you lose the flexibility that is usually a main attraction for direct sales.
  • Do not pay more than you can actually afford for startup.  Most kits run between $50-300 depending on the company and what they include in their start-up kit.  They are making money off these kit sales, for sure, but they also are genuinely providing you with tools to begin your business. Just don’t get tricked into thinking that to start this business you need to spend thousands.
  • Spammy consultants.  If consultants for this company are generally posting bad graphics with obnoxious pleas disguised as pitches and invitations to buy or join… beware! Spammy posts are a good indication that these consultants are desperate to move product and make goals. Don’t fall for it and become one of them.

Ultimately the biggest thing I can say is that sure – with a lot of hard work and a bit of luck, you might be able to make this your main income eventually. Go ahead girl, build you an empire! BUT consider it a side gig until your side gig starts out earning your day job – only when you’re out earning yourself would I recommend assessing it’s potential to be more than a side gig.

Good luck in your potential direct sales journey. I loved working for Jamberry and am entirely willing to work for another company if I am in love with their product.

What companies are you loving and buying from your friends right now?