David Sharpe bio

College students nowadays are tech-savvy and looking for innovative ways to make money over the summer. Some MLM companies market specifically to this demographic, and Southwestern Advantage is one of them–although you won't be using much of your tech knowledge to make a sale.

If you're a college student who has an interest in independent business endeavors and marketing, Southwest Advantage may have an appealing ring. The question is, is it all it's cracked up to be?

As always, Legendary Marketer is here to provide tips and tools for anyone who wants to enter into the field of online business. Today, we're going to look at one of the oldest MLM companies in the country–and one that isn't exactly “online.”

Read on to learn everything you need to know about Southwestern Advantage.

What Is Southwestern Advantage?

Southwestern Advantage is one of the oldest companies we'll likely ever review. We're talking 166 years old. That's right, Southwestern Advantage was founded in 1855, making it arguably the oldest MLM in US history.

What do Southwestern Advantage affiliates sell? The company specializes in educational resources for elementary schoolers, including books and CDs. More recently, they also added a series of subscription-based parenting websites to their inventory.

How Do You Join Southwestern Advantage?

Southwestern Advantage is marketed almost exclusively to college students, particularly those who are looking for ways to cover tuition. Available affiliate positions are seasonal, typically spanning about 12 weeks, and many college students take these positions over the summer. In fact, it would be almost impossible to take on this work during the school year, as affiliates work 12-hour days, 6 days a week.

Once you become a Southwestern Advantage affiliate, you are sent to a specific town (one that has been selected for its population that includes a lot of parents and young children). Southwestern Advantage may set you up with a host family to live with, but this is not a guarantee.

In order to officially join the Southwestern Advantage team, you'll have to supply a “letter of credit” to the company. This must be signed by two legal adults who are willing to provide a financial buffer, and most students have their letters signed by their parents. Before you ask your parents to sign, know that they're agreeing to shell out $500 apiece if your endeavor as a book salesperson doesn't pan out.

Once you're signed up, you'll need to buy a set of books to show to interested parents. At a minimum, this set will cost $350. You'll also attend a week-long training conference in Nashville before you get to work.

How Much Money Are Students Making as Southwestern Advantage Affiliates?

Okay, we know what you're thinking: that's a major investment just to get started. How much do you stand to actually make in return?

One thing that impresses us about Southwestern Advantage is the commission rate. Most MLMs offer a commission rate that ranges between 10-30%. Southwestern Advantage, on the other hand, offers a commission rate of 40%.

According to the Southwestern Advantage website, first-year participants made an average of over $11,000 during their 12-week season. Participants that returned the following year made an average of over $23,000 and by the fifth year, the average was over $72,000.

The trouble with these figures is that they don't tell the whole story. As far as income disclosure statements go, this one is pretty cryptic. After all, averages tend to be skewed by the top sellers–and the top sellers tend to make up a minuscule fraction of the sales force.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Becoming a Southwestern Advantage Affiliate?

Like any MLM, we're not looking at a black and white opportunity, here. There are compelling reasons to become a Southwestern Advantage affiliate, but there are also some obstacles that are worth considering. Let's take a look at the biggest pros and cons.

The Pros

We may not be able to tell you how much most affiliates are making with Southwestern Advantage, but it's clear that there is a possibility of making decent money. Plus, this intensive program (sometimes referred to as an internship) does give college students a chance to test out their skills in sales.

The biggest pro, in our opinion, is the chance to experience something new. The week-long program in Nashville can be a good opportunity to learn and network. Spending a season in a new town is also an unusual and positive experience.

The Cons

Most of the time, one of the big pros of becoming an MLM affiliate is the ability to set your own schedule. Southwestern Advantage expects you to talk to 30 potential customers a day. We weren't exaggerating when we said that you'll be working 12-hour days, 6 days a week. This is pretty much the opposite of setting your own schedule.

Another downside is that Southwestern Advantage is using an outdated sales model. The reality is that while the door-to-door sales technique has its merits, it's not the best way to maximize your marketing skills. Without providing an outlet for digital marketing, Southwestern Advantage isn't giving its affiliates the opportunity to flex a more useful skillset.

Start With Marketing Skills to Build Your Independent Income

At Legendary Marketer, we're all about embracing different marketing opportunities, side hustles, and business endeavors. Southwestern Advantage may be a way for college students to make decent money, but it's lacking one important feature: digital marketing.

If you're a college student who wants to make money now while also learning the digital marketing skills needed to take control of your own future, you've come to the right place. Take advantage of our low-cost online courses that will teach you everything there is to know about digital marketing. Already, over 80,000 budding entrepreneurs have registered for our $7 Online Business Builder Challenge and gained crucial digital marketing skills.

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