Remote Work Europe

Unmasking MLMs: Predatory Practices and Financial Pitfalls, vs. Real Remote Work - with Dani Leigh

May 31, 2024 Maya Middlemiss Season 5 Episode 8
Unmasking MLMs: Predatory Practices and Financial Pitfalls, vs. Real Remote Work - with Dani Leigh
Remote Work Europe
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Remote Work Europe
Unmasking MLMs: Predatory Practices and Financial Pitfalls, vs. Real Remote Work - with Dani Leigh
May 31, 2024 Season 5 Episode 8
Maya Middlemiss

Send us a Text Message.

Ever been curious about the hidden costs of joining an MLM? Discover the raw truths about multi-level marketing schemes with our special guest, Dani Leigh, a seasoned digital nomad and the insightful voice behind Travelling Jezebel and Not Your Boss Babe (which she built and developed and recently sold - aka a real digital business!)

Dani takes us on her personal journey from globetrotting volunteer to uncovering the predatory practices of network marketers that target individuals seeking remote work opportunities. This episode peels back the layers to reveal how these schemes have surged, especially during the pandemic, trapping many in financial and emotional turmoil.

Our conversation exposes the realities behind the glossy faรงade of MLMs, focusing on their recruitment-heavy models and overpriced products. Dani and I dive into manipulative marketing strategies, like the guilt-inducing "women supporting women" narrative, and the deceptive income disclosures that lure people into these traps. Hear real-life stories of how MLMs infiltrate communities, from expats to military families, and exploit vulnerabilities with empty promises of financial freedom and flexible work. Together, we highlight why these schemes are nothing more than modern-day scams and offer advice on how to recognize and avoid them.

We wrap up with a deep dive into the nuances of running a successful online business. Dani shares her own experiences in diversifying income streams through affiliate marketing, website ads, and new ventures like Instagram and organizing group trips. This episode is packed with practical tips and valuable resources to help you navigate the ever-changing digital landscape while steering clear of unreliable business models like MLMs. Whether you're a seasoned digital nomad or just starting your remote work journey, this episode offers essential insights to protect and empower you.

Connect with Dani on here - https://www.instagram.com/travellingjezebel/ (I
and check out her delicious blog https://travellingjezebel.com/, to see what a REAL remote business looks like ๐Ÿ˜Ž

(she has an amazing tour to Pakistan coming up soon too  https://travellingjezebel.com/pakistan-tour-2024/)

Support the Show.

๐ŸŒŸ REMOTE WORK EUROPE CONNECTED IS OPEN ๐ŸŒŸ
(It's now even easier to get involved and kickstart your remote work career success)

And you can find all our latest training and resources in our online store.

Finally, make sure you're subscribed to receive our free newsletter, packed with information, updates, and REAL remote job opportunities every week ๐Ÿ˜Ž
Here's to your own remote future ๐Ÿคฉ

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send us a Text Message.

Ever been curious about the hidden costs of joining an MLM? Discover the raw truths about multi-level marketing schemes with our special guest, Dani Leigh, a seasoned digital nomad and the insightful voice behind Travelling Jezebel and Not Your Boss Babe (which she built and developed and recently sold - aka a real digital business!)

Dani takes us on her personal journey from globetrotting volunteer to uncovering the predatory practices of network marketers that target individuals seeking remote work opportunities. This episode peels back the layers to reveal how these schemes have surged, especially during the pandemic, trapping many in financial and emotional turmoil.

Our conversation exposes the realities behind the glossy faรงade of MLMs, focusing on their recruitment-heavy models and overpriced products. Dani and I dive into manipulative marketing strategies, like the guilt-inducing "women supporting women" narrative, and the deceptive income disclosures that lure people into these traps. Hear real-life stories of how MLMs infiltrate communities, from expats to military families, and exploit vulnerabilities with empty promises of financial freedom and flexible work. Together, we highlight why these schemes are nothing more than modern-day scams and offer advice on how to recognize and avoid them.

We wrap up with a deep dive into the nuances of running a successful online business. Dani shares her own experiences in diversifying income streams through affiliate marketing, website ads, and new ventures like Instagram and organizing group trips. This episode is packed with practical tips and valuable resources to help you navigate the ever-changing digital landscape while steering clear of unreliable business models like MLMs. Whether you're a seasoned digital nomad or just starting your remote work journey, this episode offers essential insights to protect and empower you.

Connect with Dani on here - https://www.instagram.com/travellingjezebel/ (I
and check out her delicious blog https://travellingjezebel.com/, to see what a REAL remote business looks like ๐Ÿ˜Ž

(she has an amazing tour to Pakistan coming up soon too  https://travellingjezebel.com/pakistan-tour-2024/)

Support the Show.

๐ŸŒŸ REMOTE WORK EUROPE CONNECTED IS OPEN ๐ŸŒŸ
(It's now even easier to get involved and kickstart your remote work career success)

And you can find all our latest training and resources in our online store.

Finally, make sure you're subscribed to receive our free newsletter, packed with information, updates, and REAL remote job opportunities every week ๐Ÿ˜Ž
Here's to your own remote future ๐Ÿคฉ

Speaker 1:

you're listening to the remote work europe podcast, the show formerly branded as the future is freelance. The name has changed, but our values have not. We're still the podcast for solopreneurs, digital nomads and slowmads, consultants, remote workers, e-residents and everyone living a life without traditional boundaries. We're here for people who defy categorization, those who make a living and a life their own way in Europe and beyond. Fortnightly, on Fridays, we're serving up expert tips, inspired insights and stories from the frontiers of freelancing and the remote work revolution to help you achieve success with your borderless business and liberated lifestyle, whatever success means to you, as you live life on your own terms.

Speaker 1:

Today's episode explores an area which I've been keen to examine in the podcast for some time, that is, the murky world of multi-level marketing and network marketing. I have a lot to say about this, and it could easily have been a solo episode, but I know that there are other people who have few points too and who have done the research, none more so than Dani Lee. Dani is a blogger known as the Travelling Jezebel, but she has also spent a lot of time exploring the darker side through her blog Not your Boss Babe, so I would encourage you to have a listen to this conversation. If you've ever been curious about or tempted by one of these programs, dani's here, she's got receipts, she's done the work and together we explore the way that these things are taking a grip in the online and remote work world and why you should avoid them at all costs. So, dani, welcome.

Speaker 1:

Thank you so much for joining us on Remote Work Europe. Thank you so much for joining us on Remote Work Europe. Thank you so much for having me. I'm excited, excellent. Well, first of all, I mean we're going to talk about a very important subject today, which I'm very keen to unpack your expertise on, but before that, we'd love to get to know you a little bit more and the Dani story Travelling Jezebel. So please tell us about your remote work journey, oh gosh, okay.

Speaker 2:

So it started. Basically, I've never had what you would consider like a real job. So I started traveling as soon as I left uni. I'd saved up a little bit of money and I went to Asia and that was supposed to be a three month trip and then I was going to come back home and that turned into about a year and a half. So I was, I was doing two things. So I was partly volunteering in a hostel in exchange for a bed and food and drink and that kind of stuff. But then I also was doing little bits of everything online, so a bit of freelance writing, content creation, that kind of stuff. And it wasn't making very much money, but it was making enough to sustain what I was doing traveling and stuff like that. But people I didn't really know. I didn't call myself a digital nomad, because nobody really. I mean, this was about eight, nine years ago. People weren't saying that really then, or at least the people that I met weren't really doing that kind of stuff and somehow that managed to sustain me through.

Speaker 2:

Then I came to Europe and I continued volunteering. So I was doing like English teaching again volunteering in hostels and stuff like that, and then I was building the blog up on the side, my travel blog, and that was making me a little bit of money again. And then the pandemic hit, and that's when I met my partner. So I moved back to the UK and I did lockdown with him and during that time so I had my travel blog that I was working on and that was growing and growing weirdly, even though it was no one was traveling.

Speaker 1:

So the only way we could travel was through other people's experiences.

Speaker 2:

But then I started, cause obviously we had nothing but time right. So I started watching a lot of YouTube and I discovered what I know now to be anti MLM, anti multi-level marketing, and I got so invested in this kind of commentary that these YouTubers were putting out there and because back during the pandemic MLMs were thriving, so I got really, really interested in it. And then I started another website called Not your Boss Babe, which ironically is because they all call themselves like boss babes and all this stuff. So it was a bit of tongue in cheek. But yeah, I started that other website and that was made purely to kind of unmask that and just because, while there was a big kind of community of anti-MLM creators on YouTube, nobody was really writing about it. And I thought there are still people Googling this stuff. There are still people Googling is Avon, a pyramid scheme or this and that. So that's why I started that second project, which I know you will need to dive into a bit more.

Speaker 1:

Well, it seems like it's never going to go away.

Speaker 1:

I don't know what it is, but these things run in cycles and they come up, they come back.

Speaker 1:

I've been living in Spain for many years now and seen I've been living in Spain for many years now and seen, particularly within quite small expat communities the way these things rip through, and one of the big problems which we're obviously going to talk about is the simple maths of how many wax melts or milkshakes that can possibly consume. But it does seem that since the pandemic, since unlocking the reason we started remote work europe initially remote work spain was a response to a craving for ways to make money remotely and not have to go back to traditional jobs, and clearly the multi-level marketing industry has glommed onto that big time and we're seeing it promoted more and more as a kind of a way to live remotely, and it makes me very angry because a lot of it is so invidious the promises, the lies, the way that it leaves people behind. I'm keen to know your thoughts on what the key issues are at the moment, what you're seeing as the trends. Do you think anything's changed? What should we be looking out for?

Speaker 2:

So I think what I do find interesting I don't know if this is a huge shift, but something that I've just noticed personally on my own kind of social media and stuff is that MLMs used to be very product-based. So people sell in shampoos and wax melts and all that stuff, and that definitely still exists. But I think people are more aware of that now and there's a bit more of a stigma around that. But I think these days it's very hard to actually tell what is and what isn't an MLM, because so many of them these days are being promoted as kind of, you know, start your own online business, but they never specify exactly what this business is Not unless you said coaching.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and a lot of the times it'll be kind of like a coaching business, and I know that coaching is a legitimate job, but I also think that has been very infiltrated by these MLMs where you can pay a lot of money to learn how to be a coach, to coach other people how to be a coach and recruit people and stuff like that. It's less product-based, I think, and it's more about just these services where I think a lot of people might know quite a bit about MLMs but yet they still get sucked into these other schemes and they don't even realize that what they're in is an MLM and a pyramid scheme is having a product, having something to actually sell, and some of these ones that are entirely digital or service-based seem very close to that line, because what are you actually selling other than here?

Speaker 1:

are tips to recruit more people, to put more money into the bottom of it?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I think the ones with products. Although people look at them and we say, oh, you know, that's a pyramid scheme, but they are, at least you can still buy a nail polish or whatever. And I mean I would assert that the most of the people buying these products are people still in the MLMs. I don't know how many outsiders are actually buying this stuff. But yeah, it is very interesting that, instead of getting smarter and going further away from that kind of pyramid scheme definition, it seems the trend seems to be the opposite direction. It seems to be in this kind of service industry where the only service you're really getting is people can pay you so that you can tell them how to do what you're doing, like there's no tangible thing that they're getting.

Speaker 1:

It's yeah, and that is the literal definition of a pyramid scheme, isn't it?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, exactly.

Speaker 1:

It's all recruitment and no product. I mean, we do certainly here in Spain and I sometimes think sort of culturally and socially there are things that are slower to catch on here than maybe in the UK or US, so we can maybe look at what's coming down the pipe, but we do still have a lot of the product-based ones. Here. There is sometimes a sense that somebody is the first in their area to be the seller of the latest thing and maybe they feel that they've got territory and they can Do. You think any of the products are worth it in terms of if that were the only way to buy it, which is another big question nowadays, because we're not in the 80s housewife Avon times but are any of them better than others that you've come across in your research?

Speaker 2:

I don't think so. I think there are certainly some products I can't think off the top of my head, but I'm sure there are some products that are okay. I'm not necessarily saying that all of them are bad products. I don't think they are by any means. I think the issue for me is just knowing how much the markup is is because obviously, every single product that you buy has a markup. But in an MLM, well, 30% of what you pay for the product is going to directly to the person who sold it to you, but then maybe another 15% is going to the person above them, and then so on and so forth. So it's kind of like these products are marked up significantly higher than they would be in a different business model. So I think that's why I?

Speaker 2:

can't get past I don't want to be your boss should be paying your wages.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and how can anybody think that's a better way to buy than buying directly online from whoever makes the thing or is the first to import it into a market? How can I possibly think you're going to get a better deal when it's been through 15 layers of referral sellers?

Speaker 2:

I mean even my mum. I mean she knows a lot about this stuff now because I'm always ranting about it to her, but even she used to buy it. There was an Avon lady that used to come in her work with catalogues and mum would always buy something because she said, you know, oh, it's a woman with her small business and I just want to support another woman by purchasing from her and not on the website and stuff, and I think people genuinely, and that's also how the sellers market- it as well, you know, when they're on social media, they're like you know I'm a small business and stop supporting these corporations and support me instead, and it's like you're in a corporation.

Speaker 1:

You are and it's not your business, it's their business and you are just a tiny little cog and they tell you exactly what to do, how to do it. They control what you get paid. You are somehow bought into this illusion and you want to encourage other people. And the women angle is particularly invidious. It just really trading on that. Women supporting women. Younique was huge here a few years ago. Oh, yes, yeah. They had so much publicity around how they're supporting victims of abuse and once you dug into all of that online and there were literally people posting on Facebook buy this lipstick to help survivors. Oh my gosh, you can call them out. How much? Okay, If that's 15 euros, how much of that 15 euros is actually going to support an abuse survivor? Tell me?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, exactly If you don't know that, then you can't claim it and they couldn't answer that. And even if you try and find it out directly from the corporate headquarters, it's incredibly vague. They've got this foundation somewhere vaguely associated with them and no tangible link between product sales, and yet they're putting out these materials for their distributors to use to try and guilt their friends.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely, absolutely. And I think you hit the nail on the head when you said about how the documentation is so vague, because I've analyzed so many of these compensation plans and income disclosure statements and stuff and even after I've analyzed probably 50 at this point, it's still so difficult to actually understand what they're saying. So I think if I can't understand it and I know what I'm looking for and I've analyzed a bunch of these then how is this person who it's a first MLM she probably doesn't even know that she should be looking at the income disclosure statement.

Speaker 1:

She probably doesn't know what one is. It's not exactly for first front and center on their website, is it? They've got to have it somewhere tucked away in the small print.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and just so much.

Speaker 1:

small print's so hard to decipher and it's yeah it's ridiculous, and it's their best friend who introduced it, so why would they go looking for that contradictory information? I mean, that's the thing that I find so horrible that's what's so terrible, isn't it?

Speaker 2:

yeah, it's it that the way that because I often say that. Well, a lot of people say that they do function like cults, in the sense that your friend or your sister or someone is recruiting you, so you trust that person, and then you recruit your friend and your sister and whatever, but then if you do want to leave, it causes such fallout because they'll tell you if you leave, then you're not supporting me or you're not trying hard enough, and they're actually told to cut themselves off from people who don't support their businesses and want to buy from them. And it's really. I know it affects men as well, but I think it really disproportionately affects women, especially that whole kind of like sisterhood thing that they promote.

Speaker 1:

Yes, the social thing will replace all of your friends. You don't need them anymore because you've got this new family. But then you can only stay in that family if you keep buying product, even if you've got no one to sell it. To Just keep buying your minimum volume every month, and we'll still love you. But if you decide, if you suddenly see the light, you've got to hope that there's still some of your original friends and family out there that you haven't burned completely in this process. It just feels like how did they get away with this for decades, when this is known? You've published so much about it. There are other YouTubers and TikTokers out there and yet it seems every time a new one comes along we have the same hype cycle again and the same people falling for it. What can we do about?

Speaker 2:

this, danny, I don't know Cause, like you say, it is just constantly shifting. Cause I think, if we think back to like Tupperware parties and stuff and or what's the knife one called Is it Cutco?

Speaker 1:

the knife one Like where people would actually go to your house and have like a product demonstration, and I'm sorry, who wants to go to a party where someone's going to try and sell you Tupperware, like I've never understood the appeal of that. Yeah, I went to some in the UK which was Pampered Chef, which was, and they were good products but they were incredibly overpriced. And you know it was awkward and weird because you're sitting in your friend's house, you know that they've put on this spread for you. Um, you know that they're going to get some payment according to how you buy, and there was this sense of all looking at each other like, well, what's the cheapest thing? We don't want to be rude, but you know I'll buy that spoon because I don't. I want to stink my supper to an extent, but no, please don't take my email address.

Speaker 2:

Well, that's the thing, there is that pressure. Well, that's the thing, there is that pressure, and that's why it's just I don't know. That's why it really does rip through communities, isn't it Especially like using it with expat communities and with I know that military wives get sucked into this stuff, and it's just so insidious. But yeah, it's constantly changing. So they moved from these parties, like with the product demos and stuff, and now they moved online and they market it in a different way. They're like oh, do you want to work from your phone, do you want to be able to travel the world and work by the pool and all of this crap? And now people are starting to cotton onto that. So they're not even necessarily saying that you need to sell nail polish anymore in order to do that. They're just saying, oh, you should think about having a coaching business or social media business.

Speaker 1:

Your own online business.

Speaker 2:

I don't think any business owner has ever said in the history of time I'm an online business owner. That's just not what people say if they have a real business.

Speaker 1:

What do they do? Yes, run a mile before they start flogging you and stuff. Yeah, it is really frightening, in a way that they're still managing to get away with this, because I read a book last year about remote work scams and I've had a lot of criticism and pushback about it. The first half of the book was about the really blatant phishing scams people wanting to get all of your bank details, that bogus equipment, the random tasks and things like that and we still get targeted with those every day across the remote work communities. You know I need 10 freelancers to type a PDF or something you know and you know it's a data grab. Those are fairly easy to spot.

Speaker 1:

But then the second half of the book I wrote about multi-level marketing and why I believe it is a scam because it is not presented as a true version of what it is. It's people come and join my online business, achieve financial freedom, have your own business, be your own boss, babe, and it's a complete lie. It's utterly bogus and as soon as you dig into the earnings disclosure statements associated with any of them, it's perfectly obvious that I published one on Remote Work Spain recently, which was the forever aloe thing, and dug out their statements and it was literally like less than 3% of people were earning over a thousand euros a year. Everybody stuck with this ton of aloe crap in their house and I've seen people doing this one Now where I used to live on the Costa Blanca, not far from where we were talking about.

Speaker 2:

You lived for a while aloe is a huge crop.

Speaker 1:

It grows naturally. There are lots of people, there are lots of local businesses who are producing excellent products from that. If you want to market that online, yeah, it's probably a. You know it is a miracle ingredient. It can do amazing things for your skin and your hair and things like that. So, yeah, by all means promote that and how natural it is and how great, but go and get it down the road. You know, if you really want to have an online business selling aloe, you can definitely do that.

Speaker 1:

The reason this one came to my attention again recently was I was contacted by some members of our Remote Work Spain community, which is our biggest Facebook community. We've got over 40,000 members. It's a public group. We want information about real remote work to be available publicly and we do a welcome email so it's very easy to see who the new members are. And several of those members got sent a direct message from somebody I'd never heard of welcoming them and thanking them for joining Remote Work Spain and telling them all about this amazing new source of income. They could add oh wow, I mean, can you believe that?

Speaker 2:

How blatant that was I just that person must have thought that they were so smart when they realised oh wow, every time there's a bunch of new members, there's just a list right here for me to just jump in there, put them into my web is oh yeah, so I don't think that's happening anymore.

Speaker 1:

I sent a cease and desist email to him, tracked him down through linkedin and his, his online business website. You know you've got to go through several layers of that. Oh, yes, the aloe one, yeah, because it's all above the financial freedom and all of that. Um, yes, I cc'd forever living's customer support as well on that cease and desist and I think it's stopped but, it's the fact that he was driven to do that and thought that he could get away with that.

Speaker 1:

How desperate, how immoral, yeah, to actually feel that that's okay, and to me, that's the reason that these people are in exactly the same league as the ones who just want your bank details. You know, the product is pretty immaterial, yes, exactly, and they are on top of that. Whether you buy, whether you rub it on your skin or not or whatever, it's the same. Like just what can I get out of you? And it really it reminds me of so many people I met in that when we lived in the Costa Blanca. There were people who, basically, their friendships were all about what they could get, and the only people I know who were successful at it weren't people I liked very much. At the end of the day, of course, yeah, yeah, because how do you have to be?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, they teach you that. I mean, I've seen I don't know if you've seen the anti MLM subreddit. It's a really, really interesting place to look at people's experiences and stuff and I've seen so many people say on that subreddit that they teach you that every single interaction has to be essentially a sales pitch. And I remember one that sticks out in my mind is that this girl had had her nails done in a salon somewhere and she was buying something at the supermarket and the cashier was like, oh, I love your nails. So she says, oh, thank you so much.

Speaker 2:

And then the cashier goes well, actually I sell nail art and if you ever want to make some more money, blah, blah, blah. And she gives her her card and it's I forgot the name of the color street, color street. She gave her her card and it was just to join this MLM selling these nail stickers. And it's like you're not even safe in the grocery store, like it's, and how exhausting it is for the people in the scheme to have to be constantly doing that, constantly switched on, thinking, okay, how can I get someone to join my team or my downline or whatever.

Speaker 1:

But it's so easy. All you've got to do is recruit six people and you're made for life, apparently. So why are they saying go back through your high school yearbook and track down the people you haven't seen for 20 years and look them up on LinkedIn, message them out of the blue and ask them how they're doing and tell them about your amazing yearbook? It's obviously, if there's any proof of the pudding, that this thing of how easy it is to recruit doesn't work. It's that desperation that everybody needs a mark, and the ones that I saw, certainly where we used to live, it was new people coming into the expat world. You could see. I mean especially anybody coming in with a nice new villa and you know a nice new income or retirement.

Speaker 1:

You could just see the pound signs pinging up in their eyes when they were suddenly all over these people and inviting them to things and hanging out with them.

Speaker 2:

They're just working them, and then, a few months later, they'd move on to the next one and the next one, and it's so sad because, as someone coming especially to a foreign country maybe you don't know the language, you don't have any friends, yet it's just so manipulative, which is the whole basis of this is manipulation, isn't it? But it must feel so good to have someone that really wants to be your friend and is inviting you to hang out and do all of these things. And then either you know you get sucked in and end up in a pyramid scheme, or you realize at some point, oh, that person was never my friend.

Speaker 1:

It's either way. It's a lose-lose situation, isn't it? Yeah, and it's horrible if they're the ones that because they do get certainly the people I'm thinking of got very protective about their newbies, that it was all, no, we'll bring them in our car. It was harder for them to make other real friends because they were clearly being worked, or at least until they were worked through, and then they move on to the next people coming in. Oh, have you heard? That place down the road is sold. I think they're retired. And she's like, yeah, straight in.

Speaker 1:

And the products themselves and the claims that are made about them Another one that I guess it's kind of died away a bit now because of the way these things go in cycles. But the CBD oil go just pre-pandemic. That swung and passed in our area and suddenly everybody was selling and clearly it was a product category that was getting a lot of attention and it was getting some interesting clinical results. What the hell people were buying in these little bottles shipped around Europe to different network marketers, I do not know. But the claims they were making about them, I was reporting them to Facebook left and right, nothing happening, yeah.

Speaker 2:

And yeah, and it's so hard to police because a lot of these I remember, especially during the pandemic, people were selling these kind of shakes and supplements and all of this stuff and they were all on saying this can cure COVID or you need to have this so that your immune system is so strong so you won't get COVID. And eventually these businesses had to come out and change their compliance and say, look, you cannot make these massive health claims and stuff, but how do they police that when they've got hundreds of thousands of people on Instagram and Facebook selling it? You can't unless people like you and I. We see them and we report it because we know they shouldn't be doing it.

Speaker 1:

But most people wouldn't think to report that because they just think, oh well, if they're making these health claims, it must be true yeah, a friend of mine who was on chemo got sucked into these cbd drops and then ended up signing a distributor agreement because she was told she could get her own supply. It would be much more economical for you, um. And then she ended up having to buy all the. I mean it was. It was absolutely the last straw for me in terms of the people involved. And just if you would stoop that low to not only try and offer hope to somebody having cancer treatment these miracle drops are going to somehow cure them, maybe it could benefit them, maybe if they bought a quality CBD product through a proper practitioner or an importer with the knowledge and consent of their oncologist.

Speaker 2:

Maybe that's worth doing, but the fact that they were then under pressure, yes, I've seen so much of that on, especially on Instagram, when people use certain hashtags. So they might use hashtags about grief or miscarriage or hair loss and things like that. And there's one called Monat, that's a shampoo brand, and they will search the hashtags hair loss for people undergoing chemo or with alopecia and stuff like that. And they will then message these usually women and say, oh, I see you're suffering from hair loss. Why don't you buy these products? Or I see you've had a miscarriage.

Speaker 2:

Don't you want a new way of making money so you can have a new business and talk about your stroke? They actually tell them if you've suffered a miscarriage or if you've lost someone or something like that. They're like that is your selling point. The fact that you've been through this means that your audience is so primed to buy from you because you have a sob story. And it's awful the way that they seek out because, sure, if you have cancer or if you've just lost a child or if you're going through some physical ailment and you are actively seeking out these alternative cures, okay, fair enough. But when these people are coming to you and seeking you out just to then exploit what you're going through, it's awful.

Speaker 1:

I honestly don't know how they yeah one whiff of desperation or loss or neediness. It's the reason, one of the reasons that we don't in the remote work europe communities allow give me a job posts and we have one thread a month per country where we encourage people to set out what they've got to offer and what they're looking for. And you know, we said this is when to link to your portfolio or your linkedin and everything else and really set out your stall. And then we promote that to recruiters and so on. But all the other people and we literally get several a day of desperately need a job and I said I won't post that it's not just because it would clutter up the feed and it wouldn't get you anything.

Speaker 1:

But this is a public group and you cannot go around saying I desperately need this, I'm going to have to leave, I need this for my visa or whatever Not on my watch. I will not let people I mean I know they're probably posting it somewhere else and someone is going to latch onto it but even legitimate discussions about opportunities in a certain industry or something I know we'll get comments on it. So well, about opportunities in a certain industry or something I know, we'll get comments on it, so you could do what I do just send me a DM and obviously, as soon as they out themselves in the thread, I can block them and kick them out of all the communities.

Speaker 2:

But if they're DMing that person Exactly, it's impossible to know. You said 40,000 members, right?

Speaker 1:

So even if it's just 1%, which is a tiny amount, but that's still a lot of people that are infiltrating these threads and stuff, and if they're DMing them saying we're from remote work, spain, welcome. And let me tell you all about what we do. It's incredibly frustrating. This is why I wanted to make this episode and just haul all this out, because my firm belief is the only way that we can counteract this is with facts, with, yes, shedding light into these dark corners so that, if somebody's never is, it still astonishes me that they can recruit people who don't immediately say oh, I know about that, you know, must know. A friend who's been burned by this, who in one of the one of these schemes or another, because it's been going on since the earliest days of avon and tough, yeah, how do people still not have awareness of this? How do they not recognize it?

Speaker 1:

And this is why I want to keep sharing the content that you created, amplifying that message and giving people a chance to realize it hasn't. It's not different now that it's online. It's not different now that you can use social media. It's not different now that it's online. It's not different now that you can use social media. It's not different now that you can call it an online business and just offer coaching and how to recruit other people to do your online business. It was just into business.

Speaker 2:

It's, I think, a big, because this is something that I've gone back and forth with a lot in my head, because I always used to think, okay, these people must know that this isn't a great opportunity for the people that they are trying to recruit, because they know that they're not making money.

Speaker 2:

So they must know that this person isn't realistically going to make money.

Speaker 2:

And I do think that that is certainly true in some cases, or even a lot of cases. I also think that a lot of people they're not keeping track of how much they're actually spending to be inside this MLM. So whenever they sell a nail polish and they get 30% commission on that or whatever, they're tracking that as profit, but they're failing to track the fact that they paid $200 to join the MLM and they're spending $50 a month on this nail polish and whatever, whatever. And I think that that's why a lot of people, when you said, how can people not realize that their friends have been burned by this? And I just don't know if their friends realize they've been burned, because I think their friends probably think, you know, either I made this much profit and they're not taking the other things into account, or maybe they think, well, I didn't make a lot of money, but that's because I didn't work hard enough and I didn't, you know, work my biz as hard as I should have done.

Speaker 1:

I just need to listen to my upline and ignore the haters the ones who are just dragging me down and I need to buy another 200 euros worth of nail polish to put in the garage over the last months and not see that as a direct expense, because my own business, and yet I haven't got a clue about the difference between profit and turnover.

Speaker 2:

Because I think it's just going to check, but I'm pretty sure it's 99.6% of people that never make money. I'm pretty sure that's the statistic. Yeah, so on average, 99.6% of participants in MLMs lose money. So I talked about this a lot on my two websites, about this 99.6% statistic, and I would still get people commenting saying, well, I made this much money this month and I made this much money, and I said, well, I don't care because that's your experience, allegedly, but these are the facts. So either you're in that 0.4%, which doesn't really change my mind about MLMs, or you're just lying, or you're mistaken about how much you really make.

Speaker 1:

You are in that 0.4%. You made that money off people down the line of you with the garage full of nail polishers and your friends and their friends, and that is the model If you be putting all of their money into this business because they are the customers.

Speaker 2:

The real customers of the MLMs are the people inside the MLMs. Like we said before, I don't think that your average person on the street is buying these products a lot of the time, because they're just not worth it. They're overpriced.

Speaker 1:

They are the product. And this is the thing. When people say I really want a remote job or a way to earn money remotely, and then they see something that says, oh, anybody could do it. All of these ones that want to recruit in our communities say, well, it's open to anybody, male or female, retired students, whatever. It's really hard to say to people sometimes, given this reality check, that there are no jobs that are open to anybody. We have machines and we have automations to do all the things. I mean it could be that showing up somewhere physical, like literally to guard the entrance to a building or something like that you might get paid purely for being there for whoever you are, you don't require special skills for that, or to you know, to watch something, something. There are no online jobs like that. There is not a single online process in the world where you can say it's open to anybody with any skills, no special qualifications needed. It does not exist.

Speaker 1:

I don't know how to get this across to people that anytime you see those words, the only product here is you and to recruit you and suck you in. They are not offering you anything. They are after you. They are after exploiting you, whether that's to immediately rip off and fish your identity and get straight into your bank details, or to make you buy 200 euros worth of nail polish every month. Either way it's straight. Um, yeah, it is not paying you yeah, how do we get this across?

Speaker 1:

I'm interested in your perspective as a travel blogger too, and how that plays into the whole digital nomad lifestyle. Look at me, sat by the pool or the beach. I mean, what do you think? This is something that's just going to get worse.

Speaker 2:

I think, yes, I think, even in I mean I'm not hugely involved in the digital nomad community I've been to, I think, three of the festivals now, so I've I've seen a little bit and even I've noticed that in the first one I went to Bansko I think two summers ago and then it was very much kind of regular people with regular jobs, like there were software developers and there were this and there were that.

Speaker 2:

But then, at the one that we met in Portugal, it really did seem as though something had shifted and it seemed like a lot of people were essentially selling this dream, like they were either coaching people on how to become digital nomads or they were selling a co-living or a co-working or whatever. Like it was all very insular, which is fine, like I'm. I'm a big proponent of co-living, co-working and all of that stuff, 100%. I think it's great, but I do think that the focus is becoming more and more on this lifestyle and worshiping the lifestyle I should. That's the thing.

Speaker 1:

I think people are worshiping the lifestyle. That's the thing. I think people are worshiping the lifestyle and it's getting a little bit, a little bit icky. I think it's kind of icky yeah, 100%, which is why I don't do photos on the laptop on the beach and why I keep wanting to talk about the work, and that doesn't always go down well, but it's like let's talk about the realities of the work and trying to do that on the road or in an airport or whatever, because it's hard and people don't talk about that.

Speaker 2:

I know some people do. I know that you interviewed Han remote life Han and I know she often talks about you know, this isn't all glamorous, Like, yeah, this is really great and this is what I'm doing, but it's not all perfect all the time. And I think she's one of those people. Yeah, she works really hard.

Speaker 1:

She's also really talented. Again, it's not something you can just oh, anybody can do this. You know you just start and go traveling and be a nomad or be a remote worker, and she's an example of somebody who's got particular talent and works really hard to put those things together to build the life that she wants. And I don't know. I will keep talking about the work. I will keep finding people and bringing them in, and we've talked. This is going to be quite a long episode. Apologies to everybody. I hope you're still listening To put my money where my mouth is on what I just said. I do want to wrap up talking to you, dani, about Travelling, jezebel and the kind of how you make it work as a blogger, because this is something like hand people. Look at the. I'd love to do that, I'd love to travel, I'd love to make money doing what I love. So tell us a little bit about that work, about where it's going, and tell us don't give us the Instagram by the pool version.

Speaker 2:

So it's a weird one. So, yeah, I have a travel blog. Um, the way that I make money from it is through affiliate links. So if I go somewhere, I'll say this is the hotel that I stayed at, this is a tour that I did on Get your Guide, and I will leave the links and people can book it and I make a small commission, like 8% or something, from that. So I make money that way and also with ads on the website. So obviously, the more people that come to my website, the more people that come to my website, the more money that I get because they're seeing the ads. They don't have to click them, they just have to see them.

Speaker 2:

But it's a bit of a scary time at the minute to be a travel blogger. That's why I wouldn't necessarily sit here and tell people you should all do this. It's amazing because a lot of people I mean touch wood, I haven't been hit by the recent Google algorithm updates, but a lot of people with huge websites that are making, you know, lot of people with huge websites that are making five, six figures. A lot of them are getting crushed and seeing their traffic go from a million or 2 million page views a month to 10,000 and they're losing their income overnight. So again, it hasn't happened to me yet. I'm still doing okay, but it is certainly scary and it's why I'm kind of trying to diversify a little bit now.

Speaker 2:

I've started on Instagram. About a week ago. I just announced that later in the year I'm actually running a group trip to Pakistan. So I'm working with this tour company and essentially he gets most of the money. This guy gets most of the money, but if I go on the tour and if I bring people on the tour, then I get a small commission from that. So I'm kind of pivoting a little bit and just trying to get that other stream of income because, like with any online job, I think it's not safe, especially with AI and stuff like that. So yeah, for now, the travel blogging thing is working. I would love for it to continue working forever and ever, but I just don't know where it's going to be in a year's time or two years time. Things are shifting so rapidly.

Speaker 1:

That's really honest, yeah, and I hope everybody is listening to this and realizing that running an online business and building the lifestyle of your dreams it's not about. Well, I recruit five and they recruit five. It's so much more to think about than that, and Danny's got one eye on what's coming down, where that source of income is going to come from. It's exactly the same with remote work, europe, which is why we're building the website and the mailing list, as well as social media. You know we've built a lot on social media, but we don't control that. Yeah, we could be switched off tomorrow.

Speaker 2:

It's so, so scary. I mean people like, say, when the pandemic hit, luckily I just started learning SEO and stuff, so my traffic actually grew during that time, but so many people again, their businesses were just destroyed because nobody was traveling anymore, nobody was searching for the best things to do in Rome or whatever, and it is just. It's nothing that you can take for granted. And it's scary. Like I said in the intro, I've never had a real job. I don't have a CV, I've just always done these things online. So it's kind of like, oh, you've got to pivot, but it's what do you pivot to?

Speaker 1:

Like it's yeah it's your intelligence, your experience, your insight that you've gained from looking at all these other online business models to see what's real and what isn't. And, yeah, I wish you great success with it all. I think the trip sounds amazing, so please share more about that. Tag me in stuff.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, for sure, and hopefully at least the one thing. I know that I'll never be a hoodwinked into joining an MLM. That's the one thing I can be grateful for.

Speaker 1:

Yeah well, you know, if you can sell this and then they can sell that. Yeah, no, I don't think that's ever going to happen. I hope that people who've listened to this also start to be shifting their mind view and start to just really raise your BS detectors to see what's out there, All these many different guises now that it's going to pop up with in your timelines, in your DMs, in your feeds and maybe even people that you know or meet in the supermarket. Heaven help us. It really is a minefield out there, but this is not remote work. This is not what remote work europe is about. This is not what remote life is about and online business is. So follow danny. We will put all your links into the show notes so you can read the most amazing foodie travel stories and if you want to achieve that lifestyle for yourself, follow us at remote work europe.

Speaker 1:

look for our real job ads and information in our newsletter. There are no shortcuts, I'm afraid We'd love to say that there are, but you can see how hard Dani's worked to achieve her lifestyle and how hard she's still working to pivot it for the future. So, dani, thanks ever so much for joining us on the podcast. This has been really interesting.

Speaker 2:

Thank you so much for having me. It's been fun.

Speaker 1:

Thank, really interesting. Thank you so much for having me. It's been fun. Thank you, you've been listening to the Remote Work Europe podcast brought to you by remoteworkeuropeeu. We bring you community information, training, coaching and more to help you achieve your location-independent lifestyle in Europe and beyond, as an employee, entrepreneur, freelancer or whatever you want to be. If you enjoyed the show, please like. Entrepreneur, freelancer or whatever you want to be. If you enjoyed the show, please like, rate and comment and subscribe to our feed wherever you get your podcasts. If you really liked it, we'd appreciate a review as well. Here's to your remote work success in Europe and around the world. You.

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Remote Work Europe Podcast Episode