There’s not necessarily a single answer to this question because your earnings depend largely on one important factor: you. If you’re willing to put in the work, and you are working with an MLM that fits your interests and passion, you’ll probably find yourself earning a pretty penny. However, if you choose an MLM that has a mission and products that you don’t have interest in, then your chances for success are far lower.

Network Marketing distributes goods and services through distributors, which may include hundreds, thousands and even hundreds of thousands of distributions networks. Distributors may buy products from the company for pennies on the dollar, and then sell the products, or they may simply sell the goods and/or services for the company and receive a commission on the sales.

Network marketing is a business model that depends upon a network of distributors for growth, such as in multilevel marketing. It is a direct selling method that features independent agents that make up a distribution network for goods and services. Some network marketing systems are based on tiers that denote how many levels deep a sales and distribution network goes. In two-tier or multi-tier examples, the people that make up the top tier of a distribution network are also encouraged to build and manage their own networks of salespeople. Each network creator (or "upline") then earns a commission on their sales revenue, as well as on the sales revenue of the network they have created, otherwise known as "downline." There are many examples of reputable network marketing operations, though some have been criticized of being pyramid schemes and have been banned in some countries as a conduit for consumer fraud.

Some 20.5 million people were involved in direct selling in the U.S. in 2016, according to the Direct Selling Association, the national trade association for companies that market products and services directly to consumers through an independent sales force. (While many direct selling companies use an MLM model, not all do, according to the DSA.) Recruits pound the pavement hawking everything from candles to essential oils and weight-loss drinks. Some popular, newer companies include Rodan + Fields (skincare products), LuLaRoe (apparel) and Scentsy (scented products).
Even while the popular culture’s view of MLMs is shifting, FitzPatrick doesn’t think we’re yet at a tipping point where consumers reject them en masse. Trump’s election may help explain why. After the election, FitzPatrick says he sent out a newsletter to the many victims of pyramid schemes who’ve come to him for help, explaining the connections with Trump. 

I initially spoke to a retired friend who said she joined a health and beauty direct selling company as a means of meeting new people. She had recently remarried and moved to a new location, so she combined the practice of meeting new people with making extra money.  After almost a decade in the business, she’s built a small niche business with family and friends despite switching to from one company to another competitor after three years.