Last year I became mildly fascinated by the vast array of products many of my friends and family members were selling via social media.
Don’t get me wrong. I completely understand that I spend half of my time hocking my wares. It is what it is. As someone once put it to me, “we all gotta get down on that grindstone.” And when I say “friends” I don’t necessarily mean people I know. I used to have a bad habit of friending anyone and everyone just to be creepy and peer into their life. We all need perspective and social media gives a hell of a lot of that.
One of the more fascinating multi-level marketing schemes I came across was someone selling “pearls.”
This person would start a video stream and open “oysters” in front of an audience of people who had prepaid for them. She would pull these oysters out of a bag, shuck them open, and maybe you’d get lucky and get a big pearl or fancy colored one, or maybe you’d get a normal one, either way, you always got a pearl. Then the girl would try really hard to sell you a necklace or ring setting to put the pearl in.
I put those words in quotes because I do not know if they were real pearls or real oysters. I went as far as asking but I was promptly booted out of the stream. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.
Another interesting rabbit hole I went down was with a group of folks trying to sell off what looked to be used leggings at deep discounts.
They would get on a video stream and you could pay to get a number put into a plastic Easter egg, and if your number came up you would win some XXXL leggings. I was promptly kicked off of this stream when I started asking for more details about their whereabouts because it looked like they were broadcasting from a nuclear bunker or a cult’s breakroom.
Obviously, these things are scams but at the same time, these people are falling for it so someone is making money somewhere.
It made me think of that old saying “Selling ice to an Eskimo.” I know it’s not politically correct but you get where I’m going. Heck, I’m not even innocent in this scheme. We buy gallons of “crystal clear spring water” every week that I am convinced comes right out of the tap.
How could I get in on this action?
The answer came to me one day when we had a pile of fill dirt delivered to our house so that we could fix an area of erosion in our yard. A man pulls up in a flatbed truck and dumps all this stuff out and I realized I had just bought a metric ton of Georgia Red Clay. The same stuff that my entire yard is made out of.
I realize I was paying for the fact that I didn’t have to dig it out of my yard and remove all the cans and batteries myself, but it got me to thinking, it’s basically the same as buying water I already had in the tap.
I started to work on my own multilevel marketing scheme where I would just sell dirt. I called it — Dirtopia.
I got to work creating some convincing-looking ads from stock photos and put up bags of dirt for sale on my website for $100 a pound. I put some clever words like “small batch,” and “artisan” on pictures of dirt, to see where it went. I went on a wild posting spree across my social media accounts thanking people for purchasing from me (even though they didn’t exist) and trying to recruit resellers. I even came up with a homeopathic version of my “dirt,” because if you didn’t know it, homeopathic medicine is about as snake oil as it comes (hope I don’t lose any readers).
I was honestly doing this for fun. I figured people would understand that it was just a joke but as I stated, a lot of people that follow me do not actually know me at all.
I kept it going for about two months and ... I will not out anybody but I was actually contacted a dozen or so times by folks interested in being official Dirtopia regional sales reps and managers.
Once the COVID lockdowns started happening I dissolved Dirtopia because I didn’t want to be in any position of giving people false hope.
But I will tell you that some of the people that contacted me were even from the great state of Georgia, which I believe goes as far as to prove that old saying true. I don’t know if you can actually sell ice cream to an Eskimo but it is possible to sell red clay to a Georgian.
I’m not knocking it, “we all gotta get on that grindstone.”