A while ago, one of my favorite hobbies was going on Reddit and browsing r/antiMLM. There were tons of scandalous stories and hilarious messages centered around these people promoting their MLMs. Even more entertaining were the countless YouTube videos I watch on the rise, fall, and terrible business practices of various Muti-Level Marketing companies.
While this content was entertaining, as I drove deeper into the subject, I began to feel a sense of sadness. Every day thousands of people are swept up in these MLM schemes. They lose money, friends, family, and overall quality of life. And it makes you wonder; if so many people are sacrificing their livelihoods for these companies, then what’s really going on? What exactly is an MLM? And how does one function?
If you’ve been online within the past decade, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of the term “MLM.” However, you might not know exactly what it means. Well, I’ll put things into perspective for you. If you ever encountered cryptic Facebook or Instagram message asking you to buy some products, host a party, or join some kind of “exclusive” business, then you’ve had a firsthand encounter with an MLM. Congrats… I guess.
These messages, creatively nicknamed “hunbots” are often sent by friends, family, or other mutuals. And if you got an iffy feeling while reading them, that’s because these users are caught up in a very common marketing scam. As mentioned before, the term “MLM” is an acronym that stands for Multi-level Marketing. You may also know it as network marketing, or a pyramid scheme.
Well-known MLM companies include LuLaRoe, Mary Kay, Avon, Amway, and Herbalife. (And there’s more where that came from, unfourtunately)
I really like the use of the term “pyramid scheme” because when you look at the structure of these companies, they follow or format that is shaped like a pyramid. The higher-ups at the top are comprised of a very small number of people. Meanwhile, there’s a sh*tton of struggling workers at the bottom, all with lost Investments and broken promises.
Let’s say there’s one businessman at the very top of this pyramid. As the head of the company, he hires two more employees under him. These employees must pay an entry fee in order to join the company. Afterward, they are given products to sell, and some of the proceeds go to the big boss. These other two employees than hire their own employees to work under them. Same deal; the employees on the third level show the products, and most of that money makes its way up to the one at the top. The cycle goes on and on and on to form a pyramid.
The Typical Experience
So how does this work from the average MLM’s employees perspective? Put yourself in the shoes of someone who just got sucked into an MLM. I know, it’s terribly cringeworthy, but bear with me.
So you’re a new recruit. You must pay an entry fee to join this exclusive establishment. The cost may vary, but usually, the more you pay, the more benefits you receive. They may even have to your systems.
You’ll then be given products to sell. You may have to pay a fee to get these products in your hands on them. You might have to sell them at a higher cost than their unit price. But here’s the deal; more emphasis is placed on the action of recruiting more members. You will get paid in commission for every new member that you recruit. And guess what they use new members will do? They’ll pay entry fees just like you, and go on to try and recruit new members themselves. The way the system works is that it benefits only the higher-ups and early recruits. Hence why they call it an MLM. It’s got multiple levels, and the higher up you go, the more you’ll benefit at others’ expense.
What these companies won’t tell you is that new members are their main source of income. When new recruits run low, that’s when the company starts crumbling down. And once that company crumbles, the early recruits and CEOs collect their money, while regular employees are left broke.
To most people, spotting these MLM companies is pretty easy. A job offer that charges entry fees, has a vague company set-up, or has no adequate interview process, is naturally going to raise some alarm bells. So you might be wondering; how the hell do people fall for these things?? Aren’t they obvious scams?
In truth, it’s not obvious to many demographics. And if you happen to get swept up in an MLM, it’s really hard to get out. Unfortunately, the only reason these businesses still exist is that people keep falling for them.
There are three strategies that MLMs use when recruiting people;
- Targeting certain demographics
- Using charisma and big promises
- Giving people a sense of belonging
Let’s circle back to the “hunbots”. Ever wonder why those MLM messages will often use this upbeat “girl boss” language? Well, that’s because most of these companies are created to appeal to young college girls and middle-aged women. Young adults sometimes don’t have enough life experience to notice when they’re being scammed. Meanwhile, some older people don’t have enough tech-savviness to notice online ploys. Many women enjoy the idea of becoming their own boss and achieving a sense of empowerment.
Of course, many men fall for this as well. Normal jobs can be sucky. Sometimes you just wanna make easy money on your own schedule. Especially when the companies in question promise big returns while working on your own schedule. MLMs will often have spokespeople who can convince you to care about their cheap leggings or mediocre supplements.
Once they get reeled into the business, MLMs will host social events that provide a personal connection to other employees and higher-ups. They’ll start to form a bond with these people, until they become almost like a family. Remember that job you wanted to quit and knew you should quit, but the people were so nice that you just…had a hard time? Well, it’s that time 1000, because by this point you’ve already invested so much money and time into them.
I’ve read so many horror stories of people losing their cars, their houses, their kids, all in the name of some cheap makeup products.
Hypage Review: Is It Better than Linktree?
“Link in bio.”
The phrase is so ubiquitous, it’s almost lost its meaning. If you have a public-facing social media presence, you’ve had to think about what link you’ll put in your bio.
Hypage offers a new solution. Like Linktree, it lets you put your socials, your work, and all your other important links in one place. But it also lets you sell merch, subscriptions, and other digital products.
Is this the next big thing for content creators and entrepreneurs? Here’s our Hypage review.
Hypage is a product by Hyax, a broader platform for selling digital products. Hyax itself is part of Rgrowth, a product incubator that also created the giveaway tool Vyper.
But chances are, you don’t care about all that. What can Hypage do for you?
First of all, chill. Second of all, Hypage claims it can cover your bases from all of the following services in one:
- Linktree—Compile all your links in one place
- Gumroad—Sell digital content to your fans
- Patreon—Create your own membership
- Ko-fi—Accept instant donations
- Substack—Curate an email list
On top of everything else, Hypage takes zero transaction fees. They’re a subscription-based service, so you pay a simple monthly fee and get to keep whatever you earn from your content.
Anyone can sign up for Hypage for free, but like I said, they make their money off of subscriptions. That means, as the old saying goes, you gotta spend money to make money.
Hypage offers three payment plans:
- Free – An unlimited free tier that lets you create a fully custom bio link with a hy.page URL.
- Pro – $19/mo. Allows you to sell products, accept donations, take fan requests, removes Hypage branding.
- Enterprise – $39/mo. Allows you to sell subscriptions and memberships.
How to sign up for Hypage
You can either sign up for Hypage with a free account, or try a free trial of a Pro plan. Either way, your first step is creating a username, email and password.
Once you sign up, you’ll be asked what industry you’re in. The options include ecommerce, SaaS, music, digital marketing, and a few others. For the purpose of this review, I chose blogging.
On the next screen, you’re asked to create a project; on the Pro plan, you can have up to three. Think of each project as a different brand, each with its own URL. Each project also has its own dashboard.
The Hypage dashboard
The homepage of your dashboard includes a summary of your page’s activity: new people, orders, and revenue. Beyond that, there are sections dedicated to Hypage’s main functions:
- Your link page
As well as sections to keep track of orders, users, and settings.
Setting up your link page
Before you get into page design, you’re invited to add as many links as you’d like. With custom icons and unique link settings, you can really add and customize any link you can imagine. You even have the option to embed code, including video.
Next, you’re taken to the design tab, where you can fully customize your text, colors, and backgrounds. The layout is stagnant, but in my opinion, it looks more stylish and functional than the default layout for Linktree.
Keep in mind, on a free plan, your page will include Hypage branding. Pro users can eliminate that branding, but you’ll still have to use either a hy.page or links.page URL.
Selling products and memberships
Hypage offers a great deal of free rein for selling products and services. It’s a bit of a cheat, but you could really use this as an ecommerce tool. At the very least, ecommerce companies can easily use this platform to showcase their latest and most popular products.
You can create a description, add images, set an inventory, add digital files and links for deliverables, and choose from a range of pricing options. They seem to emphasize Stripe integration, but you can also set up through PayPal.
Memberships are where the industry you picked when you signed up comes into play. Since I signed up as a blogger, it orients my membership page as a blog.
The customization options are similar to those of your link page. It’s not nearly as in-depth as a web design tool like WordPress, but it’s fairly in line with other subscription blogging platforms like Medium, Substack, and Patreon.
The layout is slightly different for users in other industries. Still, you basically create separate outlines for the homepage and for each individual post. You can also choose whether each post is paywalled or free.
Final Hypage review: Is it the future?
Let’s return to the question of Hypage vs. Linktree.
Linktree’s Pro plan costs $9/mo, less than half of Hypage’s. For that price, they offer extensive analytics, design options, martech, and yes, monetization tools. You can accept payments and sell ecommerce products directly through Linktree.
Still, Hypage certainly offers a few things that Linktree doesn’t. Most notably, it allows you to create a Patreon-style subscription page embedded in your bio link. The analytics aren’t all that impressive, but this feature certainly sets them apart.
You also have to consider the basic product. As a free, bare-bones bio link service, is Hypage better than Linktree? Honestly, yeah. It’s just well designed, with a great array of custom options.
No, Hypage is not the only place to create a bio link and sell digital products on one site. With its high prices, it’s not likely to shake the table, even though it lets you keep your revenue. Unless you have a huge audience, the cut you take from Substack or Patreon is probably a better deal.
For marketing, however, it’s always great to cut out excess and try to keep everything in one place. In that regard, and as a more stylish option for simple, free bio links, Hypage does have something to offer.
Final grade: 6/10 🤷
The 10 Best Task Management Tools for 2023
Managing a business can take a toll on you if you try to do everything yourself. Good thing there are numerous software available that can make your work easier and faster. Below are the ten best task management tools you can choose from.
What is a task management tool?
Before we get to the list, let’s understand what task management tools are. As its name suggests, a task management software is a digital platform that helps business owners and their teams manage their tasks. They help plan, organize, and prioritize tasks to complete them efficiently and within the specified time frame—just the help you’ll need in handling your business.
The 10 Best Task Management Software
The following is our list of the best task management tools that will have you ready for 2023.
From your simple to-do lists to more complex tasks, ClickUp has got you covered. It allows you and your team to manage everything in one place—chat, tasks, documents, and goals. It provides access to a suite of practical and cost-effective productivity tools. It gives high customization capabilities and suitability for small and large businesses in various industries.
ClickUp has a forever free plan but to enjoy many of its amazing features, you may want to subscribe to their premium plans. Pricing starts at $5 per member per month and can go up to $19.
If your business requires you to have designs and other visual materials, ProofHub is the best task management tool for you. It can help you collaborate with your team members, especially when discussing visual assets. It is easy to use, thanks to its intuitive interface.
ProofHub has two plans you can choose from, the Essential and the Ultimate Control. Pricing starts at $45 and offers a free trial, so you can check out the app without making a considerable commitment.
A team communication and collaboration software, Chanty enables businesses to communicate through instant messaging and voice or video calls. It is a cloud-based collaboration platform that uses AI to help with team communication, project management, and the automation of many tasks. Its unlimited group messaging feature lets you connect and collaborate with other teams.
Chanty has a forever-free plan suitable for businesses with up to 10 members. Alternatively, the business plan lets you do more for only $3 per user per month.
A reasonably priced task management tool, Basecamp has unique features you won’t find in many similar applications. Real-time communication, client access, and automatic check-ins are some of these. You can easily find projects as it has a designated place for file storage and sharing, making it ideal for team collaborations.
Basecamp is affordable. At only $11 per month per user, you can get unlimited use of most of its tools and features. It has two plans you can choose from, the Business and Personal.
Create, store, organize, and collaborate anywhere you are in the world with Bit.ai. This task management software lets you create project documents, technical documentation, client deliverables, and training guides, among many others. Its simple and intuitive user interface makes it ideal for first-time business owners.
To get started with Bit.ai, you can use their free plan, but you need to subscribe to their Pro or Business plans for additional features. Pricing starts at $9 and goes up to $15 per user per month.
Whether you’re managing small or big teams, nTask is an excellent task management tool. Its streamlining features will help you with project planning, financial summary, resource management, and many other tasks. In just a few clicks, you’ll be able to share files and comments, assign tasks, and track time.
This task management tool lets you try it for seven days without the need for a credit card. nTask offers three subscription plans with prices that start at $3 per month for the premium plan.
Task management is easy with Trello cards, boards, and lists. At a glance, you can easily see your tasks and who’s handling them. It has a very low learning curve which lets your team get into action quickly. It offers many customization options and integrates with various third-party apps.
Like Chanty and ClickUp, Trello has a forever-free plan that you can use. But if you want to upgrade for more features, the three paid plans will suit your needs and budget quite well. Price starts at $5 per month if billed annually.
Get more done with a user-friendly task management tool such as Wrike. It has a fully-customizable dashboard, interactive Gantt charts, and real-time project reports, among many other vital features. It will give you complete project transparency, real-time updates, and insightful information that bring value to your business.
You can use Wrike for free, but for more features, its premium plans will let you do more. From $9.80 to $24.80 per month, you can manage tasks and many other processes easily and quickly.
One of the most intuitive task management software, Monday.com is excellent for whatever size of business you have. Its straightforward and easily navigable interface lets you see the work ahead with just a glance. Collaborating is made easy as it enables you to upload and share files, tag members, and manage deadlines efficiently.
Monday.com is free to use forever, but a subscription plan is highly recommended to avail of its key features.
Track your business’ progress in one place with Proggio. Its Kanban board view lets you effectively manage your team’s tasks. It has customizable templates that help organize and manage everyone’s work anywhere they are in the world.
Proggio has four paid plans that will provide you with more task-managing features. Pricing starts at $250 per month and can go up to $1,500.
In today’s competitive markets, businesses must manage project tasks as efficiently as possible. The responsibility to ensure that the team completes all assignments on time becomes effortless when you use a task management tool.
Top 10 Free and Paid eCommerce Tools for 2023
Starting an eCommerce business is no easy feat. You have to think about sales, marketing, customer service, invoicing, and inventory all at once. Some platforms may offer those, but you need other eCommerce tools to make life easier and automate your processes. But which are the best ones? I’ve compiled a list of the best ones here.
Type: eCommerce platform
Any eCommerce tools list would simply be incomplete without the mention of Shopify. After all, Shopify is one of the leading eCommerce platforms of all time. The eCommerce platform makes it easy for new eCommerce businesses to set up shop in no time. They have a bunch of tools to keep any eCommerce business around, such as branding, point of sales, email marketing, and payment tools.
With Shopify, you don’t have to create a website immediately if you don’t need it yet. If you want to start small, Shopify has a Starter plan where you can reach customers via social media or messaging apps.
Starter (social and messaging apps only) – $5/mo
Basic – $29/mo
Shopify – $79/mo
Advanced – $299/mo
Type: Inventory and logistics
Even though Shopify has everything you need to get your business ready from launch to your first sale, you can integrate tools into the platform, such as Veeqo. Veeqo is a logistics company helping eCommerce businesses with inventory and shipping.
You don’t have to worry about keeping track of all your products manually. With Veeqo, you can rest easy knowing they automate your stock every time there’s a sale. Plus, with shipping, you’ll have lowered rates on known logistics businesses, such as DHL and UPS. In addition, you can automate shipping processes.
One eCommerce tool that you should use is a survey. This helps you get a pulse of what’s going on with your customers, and one of the survey tools you should use for your eCommerce business is SurveyMonkey.
With SurveyMonkey, you’ll also know what your customers think of your products, aside from the reviews they give. Surveys will provide you with more input, and you’ll learn how to improve your products and how you can interact with your customers better. But it’s not just a tool for your customers. You can also ask your employees how they can improve your eCommerce business.
Team Advantage – $25/user/month
Team Premier – $75/user/month
Enterprise – Contact sales
Type: Accounting and Invoicing
Most eCommerce platforms will have their own payment portal. But if you want an all-around easy-to-use small business financial service software, Wave is one of the best eCommerce tools to use. They have these nifty features:
With Wave, you don’t need an accountant. Wave helps you with your taxes, bookkeeping, and billing. And if you still need financial help, advisors are ready to help you learn more about finance terms or concepts. Plus, Wave is free to use for their Invoicing, Accounting, and Bookkeeping features. Or, you can even hire a bookkeeper to do all the work for you.
Here’s the pricing for their Payments, Payroll, and Advisors features:
Payments: 2.9% + $0.60/ transaction (AMEX: $3.4% + $0.60/transaction)
Bank payments: 1%/transaction
Payroll: Tax service states – $40/mo; Self service – $20/mo
Advisors: Bookkeeping support – $149/mo; Coaching – $379/mo
Type: Data protection
Any business with a website should know that they need to back up their data. After all, you can put it right back up anytime if outages or something unexpected happens to your website. And if you don’t want to lose your data, Rewind is one of the best eCommerce tools out there.
Rewind can help eCommerce businesses protect their business from any downtime with their daily backup. If you have integrated a 3rd party app into your website, but it’s not doing you any good, you can just rewind and get back to the last time you didn’t install it. Plus, they ensure your data is secure from any attacks.
Starts at $39/mo
Type: Customer service
Zendesk is one of the best customer service tools of all time, with more than 100,000 brands and users helping customers with their concerns. The customer service tool will help eCommerce businesses connect with customers through email, phone, or live chat.
- Suite Team – $49/mo
- Suite Growth – $79/mo
- Suite Professional – $99/mo
7. Jungle Scout
If you need a marketing and keyword research tool made for online sellers, Jungle Scout is one of the best eCommerce tools to use. This tool is for Amazon sellers, but you can still use this for your online store anywhere. You can grow your traffic with their keyword research feature, optimize listings, and get more reviews for your site.
They also have an inventory management feature. Plus, Amazon sellers can get more out of the tool with their finances and ads features.
Basic – $49/mo
Suite – $69/mo
Professional – $129/mo
Are you having trouble creating product descriptions for all of your items? Don’t fret, Copysmith is an AI writing tool to help you create a copy in minutes. It can be difficult trying to come up with persuasive copy that will get people to click add to cart.
With Copysmith, you’ll have an AI assistant giving suggestions from the keywords you provided. From there, you can choose from the best copy and add it to your website. Plus, they ensure that the copy is search engine optimized, so customers can visit your online store and get more traffic. In addition, you can also create bulk product descriptions for SKUs.
Starter – $19/mo
Professional – $59/mo
Enterprise – Contact Sales
MailChimp is best known for email marketing. But it has grown into an all-around marketing platform for any business. They have a comprehensive email marketing platform, allowing businesses to segment their audience, reach more, and analyze open and conversion rates.
Aside from email marketing, MailChimp allows businesses to create optimized landing pages and social media ads and send printed postcards.
Pricing (Marketing platform – Starts at 500 contacts):
Essentials – $11/mo
Standard – $17/mo
Premium – $299/mo
10. Google Analytics
Any entrepreneur or seller needs to keep track of their online business. And if you want to know how your online store ranks on one of the widely used search engines, you can use Google Analytics.
Most eCommerce platforms will have analytics, but Google Analytics can help you with your marketing, and you’ll know how to reach more customers. Plus, you can run ads with their Google Ads and Search Ads 360 features and get access to the Google Search Console.
Start for Free
These eCommerce tools have proven their worth and helped other eCommerce businesses thrive in their own niche. Plus, they have also provided immense value and eased the minds of new and existing eCommerce businesses.