We are talking about MLM and distributorship programs that give you a "free website" with your distributorship. Even very good distributorships puff these up into something they are not - the dirty little secret is that as a marketing vehicle, they only half work.
See, distributorship websites are usually just a masked affiliate website - and no matter how they set them up, they are ALWAYS duplicate content. Search engines will not index them, and so you cannot get your best source of free traffic. This means you can ONLY get traffic you pay for.
Distributorship websites also almost never let you change the content in any meaningful way - that means that you cannot use link exchanges (another reasonable source of free traffic). Many marketing sites that offer free link placement will not let you list unless the site is YOURS, and not a distributorship site.
So in order to make them work, you really need your own website. You can link that website to your distributor website, so that your distributor website can still provide you with some benefit. But you can register your own site with the search engines, you can do link exchanges, you can build an article library to attract even more traffic, and you can offer additional resources for your downline to set you apart as a desirable upline.
Company provided websites are almost always limited in ways that make them not work in the way that distributors think they will. And they often never know why. I think that the way they are presented is somewhat deceptive, and I think it is shameful that companies do not at least address the traffic issue after the distributor buys in, but there is nothing but silence on the part of MLM and Direct Sales companies on the topic.
A good website to promote a distributorship need not be expensive. We offer a package that addresses the specific needs of distributors, for as low as $150. That is a reasonable amount to spend to get free search engine traffic over the long term.
Written by Laura Wheeler, MicroBusiness Website Developer, and founder of the MicroWebmasters Alliance