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by: Judy Thompson
Copyright 2005 Judy Thompson

If you are thinking about joining a network marketing company, also referred to as multi-level marketing, or MLM, one important item you will want to understand is its compensation plan. Otherwise, “How will I get paid?”

There are four basic kinds of MLM compensation plans that will be described in this article.. Each of these may have several variations. Some plans are better suited for the people who really enjoy sales and may desire to retail a lot of products. Some plans are designed to attract especially the “heavy hitter.” Some plans pay well for the beginner and may or may not be attractive to the big recruiter. Some plans make a serious effort to reward even the little guy or gal who can only sponsor or recruit a few people, but also pay very well to the top distributors.

These plans are called Unilevel, Stairstep Breakaway, Binary, and Matrix.

1. UNILEVEL. This is a simple, straightforward compensation plan. It allows for a distributor to have a first level of unlimited width. The levels the company pays commission on generally range from 3 to 9 levels deep. The more volume generated by you and your organization, the more you can earn. A disadvantage to this plan is that building wide means the distributor may give less help to his personal enrollees.

2. STAIRSTEP BREAKAWAY. This is the most common of all the compensation plans. It is where most of the really big money is made in MLM. This big money, however, is made by a very small percentage of people. Breakaway plans are geared for full-time effort. Attrition is the highest with breakaway plans and it generally will cost more to build your business. This is a work program. It takes persistence, salesmanship, and requires the ability for you to train your recruits. Companies which use breakaway plans tend to pay higher commissions. However, the plan may be extremely difficult for most people to duplicate.

3. BINARY. This is a very complicated and hard-to-understand plan. It does, however, offer a simple system that is easy to duplicate. Otherwise, you recruit just two and help them do the same.

4. MATRIX. This plan allows you to build a limited width organization. For example, a 2 X 12 group means two people on your first level, and paying 12 levels deep. Other examples would be a 4 X 5, 3 X 9, etc. This is generally pretty simple and easy to understand and explain. The low volume requirements usually common to matrix plans helps make it a good plan for part-time distributors.

The above briefing only scratches the surface of these compensation plans. For a more detailed description, you may wish to go to:

Even though some of the internet hype may claim that you can make big bucks with only a little work, don’t believe it! With network marketing, as in any other business, you’re going to have to work at it and make some investments if you expect to be successful. To make money in MLM, you will have to work, no matter what company or compensation plan you select!

About the author:
Judy Thompson, a former teacher and business owner, is also an experienced network marketer. She promotes a nutrition company that has an automated support system. For details, go to:

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