By Allan McNaughton

Homeschoolers are a brave lot. You defy convention and take the road less traveled. The commitment and energy required to homeschool is more than most people can handle. Being a full-time teacher AND a full-time parent consumes the day and often stretches family finances to their limit.

Although your real job is that of being your child’s teacher, wouldn’t it be great to make some extra income for the family too? The traditional working world with its rigid schedules and long commutes just does not work for homeschoolers. Part-time work is difficult to find, often pays low, and has schedules that are subject to the whims of the employer. There has to be a better way to help with the family finances…

Owning your own home-based business is one solution that works well for homeschoolers who seek some extra income. Now this doesn’t mean you’re going to run out and start your own sandwich shop. That would take up all your time and likely all of your money. These days many homeschoolers are turning to direct sales as a way to insulate their family from an uncertain economy.

What is direct sales?

Simply put, direct selling is the sale of a consumer product or service, person-to-person, away from a fixed retail location, marketed through independent sales representatives who are sometimes also referred to as consultants, distributors or other titles. Direct sellers are not employees of the company. They are independent contractors who market and sell the products or services of a company in return for a commission on those sales.

Just about any product or service can be purchased through direct selling somewhere in the world. Many people think of cosmetics, wellness products and home décor as products that are often sold through direct sales, but there are countless other product categories including kitchen products, jewelry, clothing, organic gardening supplies, spa products, scrapbooking supplies, rubber stamps and much, much more.

You may not know it, but 74% of US adults have purchased products from a direct seller. Just think, they could be making that purchase from you! You’re in good company as a direct seller. There are more than 15 million direct sellers worldwide who represent a variety of standout companies, including Tupperware, Avon, Pampered Chef, Mary Kay, and AZULI SKYE (my company).

I’m sure you’re wondering, “What’s in it for me?”

Well, fun and money of course! Direct sellers are folks just like you. They are often stay at home Moms and homeschoolers who want to make money without giving up their lifestyle. Direct selling offers the flexibility to set your own hours, a low start up cost, it’s simple to get started, and their is no limit to the money you can make.

In exchange for a typically modest startup investment, direct selling companies provide you with product samples, business supplies, and marketing materials. Training and support is offered as no experience is required to get started. You can also earn bonus commission, free product, and incentive trips (Cancun anyone?).

As a homeschooler owning your own business is wonderful opportunity to teach your child about money, and how business works. Your children can even help you with the business. By doing so they can learn about concepts such as profit, marketing, customer service, etc. These are all things that will help them later in life.

How do I make money?

Like all businesses, in direct sales you make money by selling something. So it really helps if you choose a product that you’re passionate about. Are you a fanatic about jewelry? There’s a company for that. Love cooking? There’s a company for that. Into skin care? There’s a company for that too.

In direct sales there are two main ways of making money. The first is earning a commission (typically 25%) on your product sales. It’s pretty simple. Sell $1000 of product (which is easier to do than you could imagine) and you’ll make $250. It’s often possible to sell $1000 of product in a single evening. That’s $250 in your pocket for just a few hours of your time. I can’t think of a part-time job that pays that well!

You typically also earn bonus commissions ( often called overrides or royalties) on the sales of your team. When you’re excited about what you’re doing, people will often find your enthusiasm contagious and what to join you in the business. Pretty soon you’ll have two, three, four or even more people on your “team”.

Now in addition to making money by selling products, you’ll make money when they sell products too. This is called passive income, and it’s power to create meaningful sums of money should not be underestimated.

Building a team is not required for success in direct sales. It’s your business so it’s your choice on how you want to run it. You can be a one-person business focused on selling your products. Or you can build a team and start earning residual income – or “mailbox money”. Most direct selling leaders started their business with no intention of building a team — it just happened along the way.

Who doesn’t love a party…

There are two sorts of companies in direct sales. Those whose products are sold person to person (i.e. a 1-1 transaction) and those where the products are sold in a home party format. Home party companies are the majority in the direct selling business as this model best leverages the power of your hostesses social network.

With a home party business, all you need to do is find a hostess and she in turn will find the customers for you. This is how you can sell $1000 or more of product in a single night. Your first hostesses will likely be friends, family, and neighbors. You just offer them the opportunity to receive free product (which most companies cover the cost of), and she’ll take care of inviting the guests and hosting the party for you.

How to find the right company for you

Finding a company to represent is straightforward. First and foremost, the product should make you go WOW! It’s that enthusiasm for the product that will carry the day. If you’re not in love with a product keep on looking. Find out how you get paid and how much money you can make from a typical party (or sale). Ask about the cost of running your business as you’ll will need to replenish your business supplies (order forms, catalogs, etc) and will likely want to increase the number of samples you have to display.

The Direct Selling Association is a good place to start looking. It consists of large established companies with tens of thousands of sales reps (i..e. Pampered Chef) and also has fast growing upstart companies (called pending members) such as my company, AZULI SKYE.

Whatever you’re looking for, there’s an opportunity that’s right for you. You may not realize it yet, but direct selling can be the perfect complement to your homeschooling lifestyle.

About the Author

Deb McNaughton is the Founder & President of AZULI SKYE (www.azuliskye.com), a fast growing direct sales company.  AZULI SKYE offers a wide selection of beautiful jewelry that is sold nationwide at home parties by Independent Sales Consultants. Deb is also a mom of 2 wonderful children, who love helping Mommy with her business.

Deb can be reached at 800-516-SKYE or inquiries@azuliskye.com. She would love to hear from homeschoolers about how they see direct sales fitting into their life.