An Offer You Must Refuse
We’re fast approaching Halloween, and I figured it was time to offer my blogging friends a bit of a fright. If you choose to write publicly, as I do, sometimes strange things can happen. Watch out and stay skeptical.
If you’ve just gotten started in the blogging/writing for money business, you may be surprised at the rapidity of advertisement offers. When you write about an important or niche topic, people are inherently interested. Advertisers follow suit, and maybe an individual from that organization spotlights your site for a partnership.
It can be a wonderfully flattering offer, too. Suddenly, you’re offered some cash – usually a PayPal deposit – with a simple request: Publish a link, graphical advertisement, or write a favorable blog post about a company. Offers can be in the hundreds of dollars. If you just started out, that can be a pretty penny – turning your hobby into a money-making machine.
Look Past Flattery
When you’re early in the blogging business, these offers can surprise you. If your gut instinct says, “This doesn’t make sense, I have only been blogging for X amount of time,” you’re probably right. In my nearly 6 months of writing on Frugaling, I have been approached nearly a dozen times from scammers and spammers.
While some offers are absolutely real – I’ve made nearly a $1000 through private ad sales – they’re far less likely than your inbox may suggest. The problem is that there is a grey and black market for people looking to rip you off. Look past the flattery of an advertisement to see what’s behind the curtain.
These Guys Are Spooky
Just a few days ago I received two emails from the same organization, offering me $150 USD to place an advertisement on my site. At first glance, you might think that’s quite a deal, reply to the message, and begin planning on how you’ll reinvest your profits into more traffic to the site. That’s a wonderful conclusion, unless you look behind the veiled offer.
Here’s a copy of a letter I received from one scammer (pay close attention to where they say they’re located):
[REDACTED] here of [REDACTED]. We are a new media agency headquartered in the UK. I would have ideally liked to contact you directly through your email address, but couldn’t find it on your site.
I was wondering whether you’d be interested in selling advertising space on your site? We can offer you 150USD for a single advertisement.
I would love to have the opportunity to discuss this further with you. If you are interested, I can provide you with more information about our company, clients, and advertising campaign.
Please let me know if you wish me to send these details over, by emailing me at [REDACTED]
Kindly include your website for me to get back to you quickly.
Thanks ! I look forward to hearing from you.
After reading this email, you have to do three things to evaluate the offer. First, research the company they’re representing. The company appears to have a net presence (in this letter’s case). That could make you believe the offer, but you must do further due diligence. Second, do a WHOIS on the company. Every website has a WHOIS record that shows the registration information for the company. In my case, the registration details showed the United Kingdom (as the email suggested). Everything seemed to be lining up for a real offer, despite the grammatical errors. The third and final step is looking at the IP address that the message came from. In my case, as the Google Maps image shows, the visitor and scammer is actually coming from the Philippines. This is a huge red flag.
It can be saddening/maddening to receive this golden ticket – your first big start into blogging riches – and learn that it’s all for naught. Scammers and spammers are hard to defend against. The best advice I can give you is to be skeptical and research any company that may have strange dealings. Even if [REDACTED] were to offer me an advertisement, it would likely be for a grey market of illicit/nearly-illicit activities that hardly fit my audience.
Real offers will come, just give it time.