dōTERRA – Business Opportunity or Terror?
I’m not an “essential oils” man, myself. I mean, I use a bit of moisturiser, but that’s about as far as I go.
And vitamins. I take a multi-vitamin & mineral tablet with meals, if that counts. That’s it, though.
But I’m aware enough of doTERRA to have been taken by surprise when I walked into my workplace kitchen area and saw a little black bag, shaped like an oversized pencil case, emblazoned with the logo.
I wondered if it was an attempt at “strategic advertising”, or if someone was intending adding oils to their coffee or water.
I wasn’t asking, though. I didn’t particularly want to spend my morning being regaled with the health benefits of that shit. I wasn’t that curious to know why that doTERRA bag was lying there.
That bag containing the “gift of Earth” as doTERRA means. Or gift of dirt maybe, depending on your experience of it.
However, some folks swear by the stuff. They eat it, breathe it, and rub it on themselves. Whatever. So long as you’re happy and it’s not hurting anyone, do what you like: it’s none of my business.
Except some argue it does hurt people, or at least it does the way some zealots of the brand use it.
I’ve read the stories wherein a person has applied these oils direct to skin, then went and lay on a sunbed and ended up with second or third degree burns.
I’ve also read the horror stories where desperately sick people have been talked into abandoning traditional medical treatment in favour of these oil droplets, and it’s ended tragically.
However, you get fruitcakes in all walks of life so maybe not too surprising if an MLM is found to have a few in the ranks as well. A product like oils, with all its new-agey connotations, may attract more than its fair share of these folks.
Exacerbating that, is that MLMs tend to elicit a cult-like devotion to the product, with advocates imbuing all sorts of miraculous properties to the contents of their little overpriced bottles.
Essential oils aren’t quite a placebo either, the body does react to them, so they’re far from harmless.
Like all MLMs in the health & well being market, doTERRA officially prohibits its distributors or “Wellness Advocates” as they call them, from making false or unproven claims for the products. There’s the dire warning that this can lose you your franchise and business.
All found within 5mins on Instagram
But go take a look right now at Instagram with the hashtag “doterra” and you’ll see any number of health benefits being claimed for the oils, along with pseudo-prescriptions describing how to mix and apply them.
According to some, these oils are an effective remedy for everything from the common cold to cancer. They can alleviate depression, provide motivation and focus, cure cerebral palsy and autism… and even ward off spiritual ailments.
My favourite claim is that they can cure Ebola. That one earned doTERRA a warning from the FDA.
Now that’s faith
But nonsense like the above aside, if folks stick to sensible use and adhere to medical guidelines, then go ahead and knock yourself out. I’m not here to argue one way or the other on the pros and cons of actually using the stuff, but on whether you can actually make a buck out of selling it as a distributor.
If you want to get in on doTERRA, it starts with a membership fee of $35 (£20 in UK) and you have to renew that for $25 (£15) every year.
What this gets you, is access to the wholesaler’s discount as a Retail Customer.
You can’t sell to the public at this level, just purchase for personal use at the “lowest possible prices”.
If that’s the case, that you want the product at the lowest possible price, then you could argue you could do that on eBay. You’ll find plenty former MLM distributors dumping their stock there, and for a lot cheaper than any discount you’d get on the home site.
But buying direct from doTERRA does come with the assurance that it’s the genuine article, and depending on what you’re planning on doing with the stuff, maybe it’s worth the extra to be guaranteed of that.
doTERRA states Wholesale or Retail Customers account for 80% of their membership in the US (link). These are people who love the product so much, they join up just to get it cheaper, and nothing more.
Herbalife claims something similar… but all these MLMs pretty much sing the same song, they just put it to different music.
Anyway, doTERRA say they’ve got three million (3,000,000) members in the US, so 80% of that is two million, four hundred thousand (2,400,000).
Meaning 20%, some six hundred thousand (600,000), are folks selling doTERRA as distributors and looking to make some money out of the “opportunity” that the company promises.
So, if you’re a fan of the oils, and want to spread the message as a full blown, ordained doTERRA evangelist, then you step up to being a Wellness Advocate.
doTERRA says this group, the first rung on the ladder, accounts for 62% (372,000 people) of all US Wellness Advocates, and of those 53% (197,160) earned a commission.
Earned a commission. To qualify to be in that group is simply “Commission > $0”. However, doTERRA cites the average earning, which it claims is $380.
That’s for a year, not a month. For a month it’d be $31.67.
Actually, it’d be even lower than that, as expenses aren’t factored in. That’s a gross profit figure only. However, $380 while still paltry, is the higher figure, so the better one to use.
I’ve said it before, but averages can be wildly misleading, and it’s why MLMs list them. They have to post something, so they list the figure with the best spin on it.
For instance, if you have ten people, one earning $100, and the other nine $1, then the average earnings is $10.90. The median would give a truer figure of $1, which is why MLMs don’t use it. They’re not technically lying, they’re just not interpreting the sales figures in any way you’d find meaningful.
doTERRA states that 53% of the 62% who are first rung Wellness Advocates, are the members who earned something more than zero dollars.
Those who made precisely nothing, or “Commission = 0”, are the other 47%. That’s 174,840 members.
So doTERRA is excluding around half of all first rung Wellness Advocates in its earnings disclosure.
Why? Because if they got added into that “average” it’d crash right through the floor. So they’re not, because you don’t want to tell folks what their chances really are of making it in this “business opportunity”.
See how doTERRA likes to try and obfuscate this information as much as possible.
But this will be as nothing once we get to the compensation plan.
Those 174,840 hopefuls, who failed to make a dime, will all have read the company blurb on the business opportunity and bought one of the enrolment kits. You have to buy an enrolment kit if you want to move up to Wellness Advocate and start selling the stuff.
These kits start at 139 € and go all the way up to 2,790 € (1PV is pretty much comparable to $1).
So while nearly 175,000 people made a loss, doTERRA sure didn’t.
The “cheap” section
By the way, if you’re wondering why I’m bouncing around between using US dollars, UK pounds sterling and euros, it’s because I’m trying to use the latest documents available on doTERRA, and am automatically directed to the UK/EU pages. I’ve got to jump to the US archive where a corresponding UK/EU document isn’t available – like that earnings one, which isn’t produced for Europe.
See what I mean about making things difficult.
But with regards to currency, no matter if it’s US, UK or EU, you can see those oils are overpriced.
And you’ll be underpaid for all the hours you’ll put in trying to sell them.
Moving On Up Through doTERRA
Once you start recruiting people to join you in this opportunity, to become one (half) of the lucky 62% who earn $380 a year, you’re regarded as one of the Builders in doTERRA.
Builders are ranked as Manager, Director, Executive, Elite, and Premier.
According to doTERRA these “business entrepreneurs” spend a few hours a week, to a few hours a month, on trying to flog doTERRA’s wares.
This group accounts for 23% of Wellness Advocates in the US i.e. 138,000.
Of that 138,000, it can further broken down as:
I included the true percentage of overall Wellness Advocates so you could see exactly what your chances are of earning $10.5k a year: 1.15%
Making $10k a year puts you in the top one percent of earners in doTERRA.
It’d put you in the poor’s house anywhere else.
That is a ridiculous figure. You could make more than that working a part time waitress job, and with less hours. I say that because no one makes a cent just working a few hours a week in MLMs. You’re always “on”, always trying to sell.
Always annoying everyone you meet.
Wellness Advocate Leaders
Wellness Advocate Leaders are the top one percent of doTERRA’s active membership.
DoTERRA claims the average time to achieve Silver is 18mths, Platinum is 37mths, Diamond 42mths and Presidential Diamond 71mths.
Which former doTERRA YouTubers say is bullshit, along with the average earnings figures.
That group above equates to 6,000 people in total.
So the percentages listed are breaking down that 1% of top doTERRA earners in relation to themselves. To give a better perspective, here’s how that relates to actual numbers of people earning those figures, and the percentage that represents of doTERRA’s 600,000 active members.
So you have a 0.5% chance of earning $28,205 annually.
Which is no chance.
And as before, that’s a gross figure without any expenses deducted.
I really don’t think that the usual MLM retort of branding the 99.5% of people who failed to make a living wage, as “not trying”, is believable.
Like I said in my Best Way To Make Money post, get yourself a real job if that’s sort of money you’re aiming for. You’ll work less, have regular hours, and won’t lose friends and family.
Because you ain’t ever, ever, getting into the ranks of Platinum and above.
Not selling overpriced, little bottles of oils out of your living room.
doTERRA Compensation Plan
To be honest, I think analysing this financial maze is moot at this point. We’ve seen the potential earnings, and your chances of landing them, so figuring out how doTERRA calculates your cut is neither here nor there now, in my opinion.
But for the sake of completeness, here it is.
Plus “The Power of 3”
Or summarised in one image:
There’s even a couple of pyramid shapes in there too. Just like there is in doTERRA’s illustrations. Because doTERRA is more Egyptian than the Sphinx.
Don’t be fed the bullshit that a pyramid scheme operates without products, MOBE had products and it was still branded a pyramid scheme and shut down by the FTC.
Speaking of the FTC (Federal Trade Commission), it’s an FTC red flag for an MLM’s compensation plan to be difficult to unwind and understand.
doTERRA sure ticks that box. I’ve read this thing several times, and against supplementary literature on the site, and still can’t find definitions for all the acronyms used.
There’s distributors and their seasoned up-lines that aren’t clear on how they’re paid, never mind me.
But if you have six minutes, doTERRA themselves will explain it:
But like I said, what you do get paid in doTERRA is so very little, how it’s calculated is a mystery not worth unravelling.
CPTG Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade
I said I wasn’t going to debate the actual effectiveness of doTERRA’s oils, but it’s worth addressing their much vaunted certification: CPTG Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade.
Except there are no FDA certified Pure Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils.
What doTERRA have copyrighted, is just the string of words, not some magic formula. The link above explains that.
It’s a meaningless, bullshit phrase with a logo attached, nothing more.
In my opinion, that is shady.
Still Thinking Of Becoming A doTERRA Wellness Advocate?
Don’t. For the love of God, don’t.
If you like the products, sure, go ahead and sign up as a Retail Customer and use the oils.
Don’t use the oils to try and cure yourself of cancer in place of Chemo Therapy, or throw away your heart pills because you’re putting a couple drips of lavender on your chest, or smear yourself in them and go sit in the sun.
Be fecking well sensible.
This is not sensible. Topical, but not sensible.
If you think they smell nice and they ain’t harming you, then by all means, carry on. Just remember, this isn’t miracle water like Jesus’s tears.
And leave it at that.
As has been amply demonstrated, you won’t make money trying to sell doTERRA. You’ll lose it.
You’ll lose it because you have to keep purchasing a minimum amount of PV a month, and maintain that volume to keep your rank.
You’ll become your own best customer and drop $$$$ on doTERRA’s products.
The product is overpriced compared to other oils. It has to be, not because it’s a quality product, but because the product has to be sold at a price point that covers all the various levels of commissions to be made on it.
doTERRA is one of the more financially harmful MLMs I’ve reviewed.
I strongly advise you do not become a distributor of this brand.
So What Do I Advise?
If you want to make some additional money, genuinely from your laptop and without extra expenses like product parties and pissing off everyone you ever heard of, then check out Wealthy Affiliate (WA).
You won’t be dropping a three or four figure sum to join, you can join up for free, no “credit card required for verification” bullshit, and you get a week’s worth of full membership to trial the place and see if it’s for you.
I joined back in 2016 and I’m still with them – and I have zero tolerance for bullshit or getting scammed or otherwise ripped-off. You can read my review of WA here.
I’m not going to pretend it’s for everyone. It suits me as I like to blog and write. It also suits me because it’s low cost and low risk. And I’ve got a bit of patience and perseverance.
Maybe you do too.