doTERRA is one of the most famous essential oil MLMs out there, with products that continue to be popular. The oils are promoted as being high quality, to the point that they may offer health benefits, while also smelling nice.
While I'm not personally convinced about the benefits of essential oils, I do enjoy the scents myself. It's also true that some smells do have the potential to help people relax and de-stress, or to energize them, depending on the smell that is chosen.
Regardless of my own opinion, many people buy essential oils regularly. There's certainly a market there that you can target. The question is whether you can make money. More specifically, is doTERRA a good way to take advantage of this field. After all, the oils from doTERRA aren't cheap.
Two Ways To Make Money With doTERRA
There are two distinct ways to earn with doTERRA. The first, and most obvious, is to sell the products. While you're unlikely to make a lot of money this way, product sales can be a way to earn a little extra income or to offset your own purchases.
The other angle is to recruit others and build a team. Team building is a more complex process, especially as you need to recruit people, manage your team, and still make sales. Still, the income potential is higher.
In this post, I examine both of these areas in-depth, then consider whether doTERRA is realistic as a regular source of income.
doTERRA's main product angle is essential oils. This includes single oils and a variety of blends. The price varies considerably depending on the specific oil or blend. The list below highlights just a handful of examples.
- Citrus Bliss: $24.00 retail
- AromaTouch: $37.33 retail
- Deep Blue: $44.00 retail
- Deep Blue Roll On: $78.67 retail
- TerraShield: $14.00 retail
- Blue Tansy: $133.33 retail
- Lavender: $30.67
- Lemon: $14.67
The variation seems to be linked to the specific essential oils used. This isn't too surprising, as some plants will be rarer or more expensive than others. There may also be complexities in sourcing them or in the extraction process.
Even so, doTERRA oils do tend to be more expensive than similar oils that don't come from an MLM. I'll come back to the significance of the price difference a little later on.
The selection doesn't stop there. DoTERRA has various other items, including personal care products, supplements, accessories, and diffusers. Most are linked to essential oils in some way or another. The variety may help sales, but honestly, most of the products will only appeal to people who are already interested in essential oils.
Essential Oils Sell!
Despite the fact that I don't personally believe in the ‘healing power' of essential oils, I do actually use them in my house! Surprising, right?
I enjoy the different smells and prefer them to using candles which can be a fire hazard and often have too strong of a smell. I don't use this particular company's products, but I do see how they can be useful, and actually fun to collect and try. My favorites so far are lavender and peppermint, but some of the blends sound really interesting!
Blending oils? Sounds super fun too!
What that means is that if I, a skeptic, actually buy this stuff, that there's going to be a pretty good size market out there to potentially purchase your products. “Natural healing” is a highly debated and popular topic online as well. What's more, interest in essential oils has remained fairly consistent for the last few years
Another thing I like about doTerra's products is that people really understand and can make use of them. So many times with ‘health and wellness' MLMs, you find that the products themselves are hard to understand. I just reviewed another product with a healing patch that clearly had no health benefits other than a placebo.
These oils are easy to understand for the average consumer. They smell good. Some help you relax, some help you focus, and others have other things they do.
I also know that some people are making money with this program. Of course, these folks tend to be very dynamic sellers and natural leaders. They have large teams that they motivate to go out and recruit and sell.
So there are people actually earning good money with doTerra, but I personally believe they are in the minority. I also believe that the majority of people earning with this company are not earning full-time incomes – and are either breaking even or barely turning a profit.
The Challenge of Becoming A Seller
Actually selling products is one of the most challenging aspects of any company like this and with doTERRA, it’s harder than most other companies. For example, companies like Avon and Amway sell a range of different products that appeal to a wide audience, but that’s not the case with doTERRA.
Instead, the majority of doTERRA’s product line is related to essential oils in some way or another. This really limits the potential audience to only people that currently use the oils or are interested in trying.
To make matters worse, you still have to contend with competition from other distributors and from other places that sell essential oils (and there are a lot of companies doing this).
When comparing the same type of oil, it's clear that you can get similar products on Amazon at a deep discount. Some of this price difference is due to the MLM model. Companies like DoTERRA have to pay their consultants and this cost gets passed onto their customers.
Is there a product-based reason for the difference? That depends on who you ask. DoTERRA representatives would say that doTERRA oils are of higher quality, but doTERRA provides little proof that this is the case.
Besides, the difference between the retail and the wholesale price is a good indication that doTERRA has a high-profit margin (it isn't really a wholesale price anyway, as distributors don't purchase in wholesale quantities).
Even if you aren't impressed with the oils on Amazon, I would argue that there are other high-quality brands out there that don't charge nearly as much as doTERRA. Simply looking for ones that aren't MLMs would be a good place to start.
In the end, it doesn't matter whether or not doTERRA oils are better than the competition. What matters is whether your customers think that they are. You will need to provide very good reasons for why they should pay such high prices for small containers of oil.
DoTERRA primarily uses a reselling model for sales. Under this approach, distributors purchase products first and then sell them to customers. Their income is the difference between the wholesale price and what they sell the oils for.
Distributors are able to choose the price that they sell the oils at, so the commission rate can vary. For distributors that sell at the suggested retail price, the commission rate will often end up at around 25%
One limitation here is that customers can see the retail and wholesale prices on the doTERRA website. Because of this, some may be resistant to paying the full retail price from a distributor.
The team building idea sounds simple. You're getting other people to join the company and you then earn from the sales that they make. Of course, there's much more to it than that.
For doTERRA, the team aspect uses a system called Power of 3. This is based on the idea of each person recruiting three others.
That graphic looks really sweet, but most people grossly underestimate how difficult it is to pitch a ‘business opportunity' to people. Most folks are happy with their 9-5 job, or if they are not happy, they are too scared (or lazy) to do anything different. It takes a very unique and motivated individual to seek out and try business opportunities.
Because of this, the hard truth is that most of your friends, family, and coworkers are simply not going to want to join your team. Some might – but of those that actually do bite, only a small percentage will contribute to your monthly income.
What's more, you're not just trying to get people on your team. Making a decent income with doTERRA means that you need to progress through the company's ranks. Doing so is where you get most bonuses.
The image below shows the beginnings of this system (the first five ranks). There are another seven ranks after this point.
New ranks give you the chance to earn from deeper levels in your downline. The percentages that you earn increase too. Of course, the requirements to progress up the ranks also grow. These get difficult fast.
You might notice something else interesting about the system. With doTERRA, you get higher percentage payments for the deeper levels in your downline. This is another reason for ensuring that the people in your downline recruit others.
But, as we've already discussed, recruitment is no easy feat. Most MLM members struggle to get the team size, performance, and structure that they need to progress very far at all.