Issue VIII May 2007

In this issue:

"Home Biz Critic is dedicated to the research and the objective review of home based business opportunities."

Gracie Bowers
The Home Biz Critic

In My Experience
This month's In My Experience piece is entitled "Investigate Before Beginning" and discusses the importance of looking before you leap.

Network Marketing: Compensation Plans
Everyone wants to get paid, yet too few people really take time to investigate "HOW" they get paid or "How the plan would work".

Review of the Month: Barefoot Books
At Barefoot Books, we celebrate art and story that opens the hearts and minds of children from all walks of life, inspiring them to read deeper, search further, and explore their own creative gifts.

Marketing On The Internet: Press Releases
A powerful online marketing tool that is often overlooked and under-used is the online press release.

What's New at Home Biz Critic
Jack and Diane paid me to ghost write their story, Navigating the World of Network Marketing; Conversations with Jack and Diane because they had quite a tale to tell.

In My Experience

Gracie Bowers

Investigate Before Beginning

This month’s newsletter did not come easily. Ideas usually just take on a life of their own prompted by the onslaught of questions I receive daily, and I am intuitively led to discuss a certain topic. Maybe, with the change of seasons and the renewal of life, it’s a good time to address the beginnings involved in network marketing. This subject has been mentioned in past newsletters, but the fact that people repeat the same mistakes over and over is reason enough to contemplate the idea again as spring raises our hopes and horizons.

So, let me begin by saying the obvious. We all begin our journey in network marketing somewhere, and the probing questions and research needed to guide an informed decision are no less timely today than ten years ago. Perhaps, with the advances in technology the need to investigate before taking that initial beginning step in a network marketing company is even more important because the anonymity and the speed of ecommerce make investigation prior to commitment essential. It’s much easier today to lose your initial investment with all the fraud and hype flying around the net.

I recently completed a book for Diane Walker and Jack Bastide. On the web Diane is lovingly referred to as MLM Blonde and Jack as MLM Legend. I came to know them through friends of mine in Send Out Cards, and over the course of the last year, together we crafted their story of fifteen plus years in network marketing into a book, Navigating the World of Network Marketing – Conversations with Jack and Diane.

Jack and Diane had a number of beginnings as they explored network marketing and the journey was fraught with deception, disappointment, and delays as they learned what constitutes a successful beginning. Paying attention wasn’t their strong suit when they got started because they believed the best of everyone and couldn’t imagine anyone betraying them. Over time, their innocence wore off and a much more critical business model evolved as part of their investigative style. They became good at investigating before beginning a new network marketing company. They learned how to ask the right questions and get answers. They learned to check out companies from the physical real estate up before forking over a check. They no longer believed everything they were told just because they wanted to believe that any new venture would lead to financial independence and lifestyle freedom. They developed a critical eye and ear.

Many of you may be blessed with a critical eye and ear. I was not. I have learned to listen and observe and feel what others tell me now before responding. This is perhaps the most important information I can give you. Step back for 24-48 hours from any network marketing venture that presents itself to you and make no decisions. Then begin your investigations.

When visitors to the Home Biz Critic site, call or email me, invariably they ask for my opinion on what they should do and which companies are legitimate. I don’t have all the answers to those questions. Each of you is a far better judge of what you can see yourself doing and what motivates you to explore network marketing. I can’t do your homework for you because my opinion is only an opinion. Research is the vital component to making an informed decision and it leads to self trust and assurance which is far more important that anyone else’s opinion. There are three things that you must do as you start your new network marketing adventure. You must investigate the company, the company’s training, and your upline. At this point, you may wonder how you can manage all this, or even, if it’s possible.

For the established companies in network marketing, investigating the company and their training means reading the website, and making phone calls to headquarters to ask questions about anything that needs clarification. All of the legitimate companies encourage scrutiny, onsite visits, and questions. They never tire of providing information that can be verified through their distributorship because they expect company leaders to emerge from this careful type of investigation. This is the sales representative they are seeking to attract.

Unfortunately, there are a whole slew of companies popping up on the web every day that offer instant riches, instant gratification, and very little history to the would be recruit. They are difficult to contact, provide nothing in writing and leave little recourse for recovery of money if you decide later you’ve made a poor decision. Yet, they make money off of the unsuspecting and the uninformed because the hype is so good that emotion often outweighs common sense in the initial encounter. It all sounds so good and so easy. And, it’s usually all done over the web.

At some point in time as I can tell you from all the stories I have heard over the years, the whole thing blows up and the truth comes to light. There is a questionable product, a non-existent training program, and an upline that has vanished into thin air. Diane and Jack heard it all a dozen times from a dozen different companies. They found themselves out of money, out of product, or with a company going out of business due to internal meltdown. And, if this can happen to committed network marketers more than once, (and that’s people who make their primary income from MLM), then just imagine how painful this will be to the first time networker whose hopes are pinned on the marketing promises of some company. Don’t let being new to network marketing keep you from doing your homework. All of these opportunities must be real, legitimate businesses to have any value whatsoever. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and suspend belief in anything you hear till post investigation. Many of you will make informed decisions from the beginning, but for those of you who like to believe what people tell you, please take this newsletter as a kind and gentle reminder to verify what you are told.

I once sat through a sales pitch for a grant writing company. The whole sales presentation was based on the fear of loss for not acting immediately on their offer. But, I can guarantee you that the offer won’t go away if you step back, think, and ask questions all of which is not discouraged, but certainly not encouraged at initial meetings. They are set up to gather the immediate recruit. My word of caution is, “Don’t be one!” You have all the time in the world to make smart decisions.


If you are interested in learning more about what it takes to get started in the world of internet marketing and sales please take a look at my new E-Book "Millions at the Kitchen Table."

Marketing Made EZ E-Book – $149.00

**Exclusive first offering to newsletter subscribers**

NEW! eBook format at a reduced price! $50.00 off the cover price!

  • Textbook written for those of you wanting to curl up with a good book
  • Detailed information on the tips needed to succeed at home on the Internet
  • Covers topics from product development, website development, marketing campaigns, advertising, and much more
  • Includes complimentary one hour phone consultation on your business

For ordering information please email Gracie directly at or call 517-781-4531. Payments can be made via check.

Also visit were you will find other useful Internet Marketing E-Books and resources written by Gracie Bowers.



Network Marketing – Compensation Plans
By Diane Walker
From her book, Navigating the World of Network Marketing; Conversations with Jack and Diane

Compensation Plans

One thing to consider when starting up with any network marketing company is the compensation plan. Everyone wants to get paid, yet too few people really take time to investigate "HOW" they get paid or "How the plan would work".

There are all sorts of compensation plans, however "IMHO", basically most companies pay out about the same percentage overall, just in different ways. My guess is if you figured the payouts, most would come within 5 or 6% of each other; just some are more hyped than others.

The types we all know best are the binaries, matrix type plans, breakaways and unilevels. I would say these 4 are the most common. There are also 2 ups, breakaways and all sorts of variations. Some people LOVE one plan over the other. For example I know some people that swear by a binary type plan and others that would not touch it with a 10 foot pole. This chapter is just our opinions nothing scientific or earth shattering. It will jut give you an idea of the types of plans.

In this type plan it is limited to 2 legs. After you sponsor 2 people everyone else has to go under one of the two. Many people new to network marketing get very excited to think they only need 2 people, and they will make lots of money. If anyone tells you that you ONLY need to find 2 people and that's all you have to do RUN. You can never get rich with just putting 2 people into anything.

Unusually in this type plan you'll hear people say you only have to balance 1/3 2/3…. Or that it's NON Flushing. What that means is because there are only 2 legs, they usually teach the upline to build ONE SIDE…. So if everyone upline from you is putting all their recruits on the left side, you have to build the right side. It sounds easy, but it can be very hard. What you usually end up with is one leg with thousands of people, and an upline telling you they built 1/2 of your business and you only need to build the other side.

TRY IT. Unless you know some really super hot shots that can have thousand of people to join on your "Weak" side, you're sitting around with a lot of volume in the big leg but you don't get paid on it until you build another matching side.

Usually these type plans have a level width, with some sort of fixed depth. Most of the time you may be paid between 6 and 10 levels. When someone gets to a certain level, they break away from you. Sometimes they give you a little override, other times not….but the downside is in a lot of cases, when that leg or person breaks away, you still have to maintain X volume without theirs. That can be a killer.

This type plan usually has a fixed with or a limit on how wide you can go. The first level of this plan is limited to that number and it's usually between 2 and 7 in most cases. There is also a limit on depth. Some of the most common ones are 3 x 10 or 5 x 7, or 7 x 7, but there are all variations.

IMHO, this plan tends to attract people that think they can join and sit back and wait for their matrix to fill up by "SPILL OVER" from above. My experience has been those that sit and wait like that may get a few people fall into their matrix IF they do nothing, but it won't make them rich. Those that go to work, hardly ever see anyone fall into their matrix and those people waiting have plenty of empty spots first before those working.

This type of plan tends to attract the beginners or those that think they don't have to do all the work because someone else is going to be doing it for them. To combat this and get people working, some companies have instigated a "MATCHING bonus, for those you personally enroll you get paid a matching bonus of what they earn.

This type plan has an unlimited first level width so you can build as wide as you want. It usually has a limit on the depth, which can be anywhere from 5-10 levels. The downside is many times people try to help others, by placing people under them, and then end up building a business that limits them as those they placed grow a group and it falls below the limit in depth, so you no longer get paid.

The way to grow this type plan is to build it wide, and work with those you bring in and teach them the same thing. This type plan rewards those that are willing to work. Many do not like this type plan because they think it requires "work" to grow it, while they feel a matrix or binary, will have all sorts of people placed under them.

What happens is quite the opposite and people waiting for someone else to do the work, will be waiting a long time to come and will NOT succeed no matter what the plan. Building a network marketing business takes WORK and lots of it.

In this type plan, you join for whatever the entry is. Some of these type plans I've seen have been $1,000 and up. Then after you join, you make 2 personal sales, with NO commission. The commission on your first 2 sales goes directly to the person you joined. At the start of the 3rd sale you make a commission. The idea, is as you sponsor people, they must make 2 sales and you will get paid for 2 of their sales.

While it sounds good, and they tell you that you'll be making sales many times over, because of giving up the first 2, it's often very discouraging to a new person to come in to a program, try to learn and work hard to get a sale and not even get paid till the 3rd sale.

When looking at a company, takes a look at what type compensation plan and figure out what you have to do to maximize your earnings and go from there. Someone will always swear by one or the other, it's just a personal preference. No matter what you pick, NEVER expect to get "Spillover" and get rich doing nothing, it just won't happen.

Navigating the World of Network Marketing; Conversations with Jack and Diane will be available on the Home Biz Critic Website this summer. With over 30 years of collective experience in network marketing, Jack and Diane have a remarkable story that will assist the network marketing explorer to make better, more informed decisions.


Review of the month

Barefoot Books

Barefoot Books

The Barefoot Mission: At Barefoot Books, we celebrate art and story that opens the hearts and minds of children from all walks of life, inspiring them to read deeper, search further, and explore their own creative gifts. Taking inspiration from many different cultures, we focus on themes that encourage independence of spirit, enthusiasm for learning, and sharing of the world’s diversity. Interactive, playful and beautiful, our products combine the best of the present with the best of the past to educate our children as the caretakers of tomorrow.

The Barefoot Story: Since starting Barefoot Books in 1993, Nancy Traversy and Tessa Strickland have worked with artists and writers from across the world, bringing together art and story in a way that creates beautiful, meaningful and playful books for children of all ages. Barefoot began in their homes outside London. They have grown the business and their families alongside each other – sometimes juggling boxes of books with baskets of laundry! They now have seven children between them, two busy offices in England and the USA, and lots of wonderful books and gift products. They remain true to their core values, setting out to create books that honor diversity, inspire creativity and encourage new ways of thinking. Having made the decision not to sell Barefoot Books through any large bookstore chains, they are instead focusing efforts on creating communities of individuals who can spread the Barefoot message – and the Stallholder program is a growing part of this effort!

Barefoot Books publishes beautiful storybooks for children, including:

  • Award winning books that celebrate art and story.
  • Prestigious awards and honors including: NAPPA Gold Award, Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Award, NAPRA Nautilus Award, Junior Library Guild Selection and many more.
  • Barefoot en espanol – offers a variety of titles published in Spanish.
  • Books with sing-along and read-along CDs.
  • Multicultural stories and anthologies.

The Stallholder Program: Barefoot Books provides Stallholders with:

  • An experienced sponsor who will assist with all aspects of business development.
  • Training, conference calls, on-line chats, web-based resources and meetings.
  • Website – a personal website, which seamlessly integrates with the main Barefoot Books ordering system. There is a reasonable fee for this service.
  • Promotions and incentives.
  • Customer service support which can assist with shipping, handling and ordering questions.
  • Marketing and sales materials.
  • Details of the Stallholder program can be found at

Compensation Plan:

  • Retail Sales – income is earned by selling the product at retail, while purchasing the product at a discount. Stallholders begin with a 20% discount on all purchases. This discount increases incrementally to 33% as cumulative sales volume increases.
  • Free Gift Allowance – Stallholders receive a gift allowance in the amount of 20% of each order.
  • Personal Web Sales – Stallholders receive income from web sales.
  • There are no minimum sales and no pressure to sell. Work at your own pace.


The Stallholder program has been in North America for only about three years. With only 400 Stallholders on board, there is tremendous opportunity for individuals looking to develop a significant business. The Stallholder program appeals to a wide range of individuals – from stay-at-home mothers looking for a hobby or small business, to professionals who see the potential growth of this wonderful company.

More Information:

For additional information, I invite you to visit my website at Here you can view the entire product line, check out our business philosophy, read our press and determine if this opportunity may be for you.

Feel free to contact Lori Rohleder via the website or at

Lori Rohleder, Stallholder
Barefoot Books...our products inspire children



About Home Biz

Home Biz Critic and Empower Your Income grew from the desire of Gracie Bowers and Associates to create new home based business opportunities for people seeking alternative ways of generating financial wealth and more meaningful lifestyles.

Both Gracie and her team have a combined sales and marketing history of over 29 years experience focused on business product development, customer service, account management and business solutions. Gracie's focus has been education, external sales, and strategic alliances while other team member's expertise focus on account management, business policies and processes, and customer service excellence. Gracie Bowers and Associates have worked with both service and product oriented companies to create workable solutions that enhance the bottom line while empowering the client.

It is the mission of Home Biz Critic and of Empower Your Income to assist individuals to achieve their dreams with the right tools, the right approach, and the right processes that insure success. As partners, we can speak to the burning desire to create your own destiny, and we promise to support your objectives with knowledge and product guarantees that protect your investment.


Contact us:

Gracie Bowers and Associates
89 Waterman Ave
Coldwater, MI 49036
Phone: 517-781-4531



Online Marketing Techniques

Press Releases
Press Releases

Press Releases

This article was submitted by Jeffrey Staub of Virante, Inc.

A powerful online marketing tool that is often overlooked and under-used is the online press release. An online press release can have a surprising multi-faceted positive effect for a website. Its obvious benefit is the fact that it announces something interesting that the distributing business owners want potential customers or website visitors to know. If properly assigned to the correct category during the distribution process the press release will be distributed to those people who fit your target market best. These releases can also, if you’re lucky, be picked up by other individuals who then distribute the content even further through distribution methods of their own; visa vi inclusion in an article or posting to a website that already has traffic similar to that which you want on your own website.

Another, less obvious benefit, are the backlinks to your site that these releases leave behind. For each press release the “boiler plate” gives you the opportunity to include a link to the website of your choice. These hyperlinks are often, but not always, included with the published pieces and can be a good way to build highly relevant backlinks which can greatly improve your search engine rankings.

There are several distribution tiers which are demarcated by implementation costs. These costs range from hundreds of dollars per release, which should be relegated to only “very big news,” all the way to good old fashioned free. Below is a list of some of the many free press release distributors that are available:


There are right ways and wrong ways to write press releases. The key is to not make the release too “salesy” but more craft it in a the light of genuine news useful to interested party’s. Here is an article which gives a good overview of how to craft a press release:

Never under estimate the press release.

Virante can be found on the web at You can review Ryan P.M. Allis, the founder, at my website

Virante, Inc. can be directly reached at 919-459-1088. This company has great integrity, knowledge, and customer service.


What's New at Home Biz Critic

Okay, so I have mentioned Navigating the World of Network Marketing; Conversations with Jack and Diane in this newsletter to peak your interest. And, the reason is simple. Jack and Diane paid me to ghost write their story because they had quite a tale to tell. Both of them exhibited a stubborn refusal to give up on network marketing and preserved in this industry for over 15 years to create great personal success and wealth. Their story is one that is far more common among successful networkers than the quick rags to riches hype bantered about so often that the industry suffers from the black cloud of disappointment and bitterness this presentation continually fuels.

It has been my pleasure to get to know both Jack and Diane over the course of the past year as these conversations took place. Their perspective on network marketing from getting started, to staying motivated, to growing your business, is so timely and such essential knowledge that it’s a must read for all of you seeking to create success and avoid problems.

The book is full of practical lessons on learning, growing, and sustaining a network business. The story is often painful to read and full of personal growth as they learned the ropes and build a body of knowledge, successful business models, and legitimate businesses.

Get your copy this summer in e-book or hard cover. Coming to Home Biz Critic soon!

Have A Blessed Day,
Gracie Bowers



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