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Guest Posting Scams

Posted by on Jun 4, 2012

You know, it probably seems like I’m totally against guest posting lately. I’m not, even if I did write a post about guest posting lies. I just tell it like it is, and then I show you what I mean.

In this case, I’m going to share what I believe turns out to be a guest posting scam by someone representing themselves as working at a company called Greenlight Digital. It turns out this is a legitimate company; how legitimate the person who wrote me is makes me curious. My issues were thus:

1. She seemed to not know what she was doing. She kept having problems understanding me, as I did her.

2. She parceled out information one bit at a time.

3. She tried to get me to sign up for something where I could “get” articles to put on my finance blog that they were going to pay for, but she sent me the first one.

4. She tried to tell me that I wouldn’t get paid for two weeks, but I had to run the article with their links during that time.

Those are just the highlights. It’s better to share our correspondence here, and you tell me your thoughts on the matter. Hers will be italicized, and mine will be in blue; I know you like that. 🙂 Here we go:

Hi,

We are currently running a campaign in combination with one of our major UK clients, and were wondering if you would be interested in hosting content on http://www.topfinanceblog.com/

One of our major clients is currently focusing on increasing the visibility of their pages on the web, and it would be great if you could play a part.

I have several flexible possibilities in mind including bespoke guest posts and articles.

Our writers are flexible and are willing to write the articles based on your focus (also being happy to take topic suggestions should you have any particular topics in mind). The content is bespoke and based on your site so will certainly be in regards to your site’s subject – once it is written you are, of course, free to review the content before placing it on your site and any changes you wish can be made for you to ensure you are comfortable with the content.

In exchange we would offer you payment dependent on the visibility of the content.

If you would like further information or if this has sparked your enthusiasm then please feel free to contact me via email Veronika.Kustrova@greenlightdigital.com .

I look forward to hearing from you!

Kind Regards,

Veronika Kustrova
Web Relations Executive | Greenlight

Greetings,

This is the advertising policy of Top Finance Blog: (not sharing advertising policy here, but it’s my standard policy for that blog)

Hi Mitch,

Thank you for your reply.

We are currently running a campaign for our finance clients such as XXX and XXX (not going to “out” her clients, in case they’re not her clients) and were wondering if you would be interested in this advertising opportunity. I have briefly outlined below exactly what we do and what we are looking for from you.

All we are looking for up to 3 article/blog posts. Our writers are flexible and are willing to write the articles based on your focus (also being happy to take topic suggestions should you have any particular topics in mind). The content is bespoke and based on your site so will certainly be in regards to your site’s subject – once it is written you are, of course, free to review the content before placing it on your site and any changes you wish can be made for you to ensure you are comfortable with the content.

The content can remain live for as long as you like unless the specification of the client changes, in which case we would ask you to remove the content. We do ask that there be a homepage link (internal) to the content so that your users can read it. Each post must meet CAP regulations, we provide details on this alongside the content.

You can see some examples of our articles at XXX & XXX. Please note these are examples, do not place this on your site and that your articles will be based on the focus of your site and so will be different from these examples

For the posts we offer a one-off payment per article of £75.

Do you have price for one-off payment per article?

The reason for offering this price is that I expect that the review will be posted in the form of a blog post, which would be top news while it is still fresh (a month or so), to be replaced with newer content as time wears on.

Our partnerships are built on maximum flexibility as we recognise that circumstances can change, for example you may wish to redevelop or refresh your site and may no longer wish to have our items on the site. If the case arises where circumstances do change you need only inform us and we can either renegotiate or end the partnership, and vice versa.

What are your thoughts on this?

Regards,

Veronika

Hi Veronika,

We’re going to have to clear up some terminology because I’m not sure what you’re saying.

One, I have no idea what CAP regulations are. Two, I have no idea what “one-off” means. I can’t respond to this without that knowledge. At least I knew what “bespoke” meant; not a term used here in the U.S. I want to make clear that this site is in the United States, and all content on the blog must be geared towards an American audience. As long as it’s on a finance topic and not something we’ve had on the blog within the last month, all should be fine.

I will answer what I do know. Each article gets to have a link in it going back to the site in question, but the link can’t be a blatant ad, and the link has to have relevance to the word it’s linking to. For instance, if the article says “credit card” and the link goes to a credit card company, or a finance company of some kind, it’s a good link. If the article says “credit score” but links back to “Bob’s Young Horses”, that wouldn’t work at all. I’m sure you know this, but I’m just making sure.

Hi Mitch,

Thank you for your reply.

One-off payment means paid just once and CAP regulations mean that the article content and publishing needs to follow correct SEO rules.

As I mentioned in the previous article the content is unique and it is relevant.

Please let me know your thoughts.

Kind regards,

Veronika

Greetings Veronika,

Just to clarify this part first, you’re saying you’d pay $XX to place each article? Second, I do SEO as one of my businesses, but even a paid post follows the rules of this blog, although I don’t often turn down what’s requested unless it goes against the format of the blog. I still need to see the websites being linked to ahead of time, and need to mention that anything regarding payday loans, either in an article or the website being linked to, won’t be accepted.

If I’m clear in what you’re saying then we can go forward and I will gladly take a look at the posts you have.

Hi Mitch,

Yes that is correct we would pay $XX/£XX per article.

I have already sent you a few examples of our articles for Santander.

I am also happy to take any suggestion of the topic for the article to make sure it will fit your audience.

If you are interested please send me your full contact details for our records (Payee Name, Payment Method (Paypal) Phone Number, & Address) and I shall get the content commissioned for you; you should have it within a few weeks.

Kind regards,

Veronika

Hi Veronika,

I’d be interested, but the two articles you sent me had blatant advertising in them, and that wouldn’t be allowed, even for a paid post. I just want to be clear on that up front. As long as the articles pertain to something that would interest an American audience, we can take a shot at it. I’d like to see an article to review before I send my payment information, and please remember that every article must have a one line bio with a person’s name that will be responsible for responding to any comments the article receives on the blog.

Hi Mitch,

Please see the article in the attachment.

Kind regards,

Veronika

Greetings Veronika,

I have to modify a couple of lines but otherwise the article works, and your link will still show. If you don’t have a problem with that then I’ll go ahead and schedule it and let you know when it’ll be going live.

Hi Mitch,

Yes that is fine the article can be modify by yourself.

Please can you add the attached text image “advertorial promotion” to the bottom of the article. Just save file on your pc – please ensure image remains GIF format. Please rename the image to any number, e.g. “23”.gif.

When the article will be publish send us the link and we just check if it meets the CAP regulations.

Please send me your full contact details for our records (Payee Name, Payment Method (Paypal) Phone Number, & Address).

Kind regards,

Veronika

Hi Veronika,

If I add that image I’m going to have to charge you an extra $XX for it, since that’s obvious advertising. This means the cost of the article is $XXX. If you agree I’ll add the image; otherwise, it’ll still be $XX for the article itself.

My pay information is thus:

Hi Mitch,

Unfortunately we have to use this image according the CAP regulations that is beneficial for both sites.

I understand your point. Please can we try to negotiate for $XXX/£XX per article? The price would include also the PayPal fees.

Thanks,

Veronika

Before I had time to respond to the earlier email, I received another email from someone that said the same exact thing as Veronika’s original email. I wrote her back mentioning Veronika, and she wrote back saying to just work with Veronika. Then I got this:

Hi Mitch,

We contacted you recently about hosting content on your site for some of our clients, and you’ll be pleased to know we may have some content for you.

We’re doing some work for XXX, and wanted to know if you’d consider the following proposal.

Proposal details (this lead to a link that wasn’t on their site, and, because I have Mailwasher, would have led to one of those strange links that would have altered the link on my site, something I warned about Gera Agency)

As soon as you’ve accepted, one of our editors will prepare the content for you, and get it over for you to approve.

Also…please note that if you haven’t accepted or declined within 7 days we may automatically assume you’ve declined, and this opportunity will expire, so please be sure to let us know either way.

If you have any questions about this request, or email, please don’t hesitate to contact us, either directly on the number below.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Best regards,

Veronika Kustrova

I had actually scheduled the article for publication and sent a date telling her when it would go live; then the email above showed up and irked me to no end, to whit:

Veronika,

No, I’m not doing that, and I’m not clicking on that link. If that’s the only way for me to participate then I don’t want any part of it. If that’s how this works and the only way it works, then I’ll just delete the article I already have ready to go next week and we’ll part ways now.

Hi Mitch,

I am afraid I have to do this. Otherwise I am not allowed to raise the payment for you.

Kind regards,

Veronika

Then I’m sorry we can’t work together. I will remove the article so you can place it elsewhere. Maybe another time.

Hi Mitch,

After talking with my manager. I can approve it.

Please let me know when the content is life.

Thanks,

Veronika

Hi Veronika,

As I previously mentioned, the article will go live on XXX by 10AM EST. I won’t be around, so you’ll have to check based on time conversion. Hopefully payment will be made within 24 hours of its going live. Thanks.

Hi Mitch,

Thank you for your reply.

Unfortunately the payment takes approximately 1-2 weeks to transfer. I will try my best to proceed the payment as soon as possible.

Cheers,

Veronika

Hi Veronika,

Your company seems to have a lot of rules I’ve never had to deal with before with anyone else. I’ll wait 24 hours and then I’ll remove the links until I’m paid; that is, if you still wish to go through with this project. I’m not feeling like a valued partner, and thus I will not feel like being taken advantage of for one or two weeks of links to your client’s sites without payment.

Hi Mitch,

Apologies I cannot proceed further.

Best,

Veronika

And that was that. Now, I mentioned the 4 issues I had with what went on; was I sensitive, overly protective, or spot on in my assessment of the situation?

Here’s the thing. I’ve talked before about how we get offered certain amounts of money and it can help to make us kind of stupid sometimes. If you’ll do anything to make money, you set yourself up to be taken and scammed. There was just too many strange things that occurred here for my comfort level. If I was making the contact, I’d have put it all up front so there wouldn’t be any questions. I should have known earlier that they’d want to add a banner ad, that they’d think I would want to sign up at some kind of link go to get articles (which makes no sense) and that they hoped not to pay me for two weeks. I wouldn’t have gone for it, but at least it would have been honest.

That’s why I share this stuff. It just feels like a scam, and it leaves me wondering if it’s legitimate or not. The link make me suspect. Always take care of yourself, because it’s your blog or website. Don’t allow yourself to be taken advantage of for pursuit of the almighty dollar.
 

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31 Comments »

Glori:

Wow. What an experience that must have been. Thanks for sharing it. There was also this one site that I wrote like two articles for and I expected that I would be paid for those, but it turns out I had to undergo a “one month evaluation” before they start paying me. Now I think my articles are the most traffic-attracting ones they have because they keep on moving it on the homepage.
I regret that I didn’t clarify things. Any suggestions?
Glori recently posted…5 Secrets Successful Online Writers Are Hiding from YouMy Profile

June 4th, 2012 | 2:04 PM

Unfortunately no Glori, because you didn’t ask enough questions up front. I will say this; unless you know the people you never give them everything without getting at least a piece of the payment unless you have a contract. After the fact it’s hard to prove anything. This is why we have to be ever vigilant in looking out for scams.

June 4th, 2012 | 10:32 PM

There are some really shady people when it comes to marketing especially for guest posts. When they ask for a guest post, I normally like to see their work and check their page to see if they have some good readers if it’s a freebie. If they pay, I’ll ask them upfront to pay me just to know they are serious. A lot of times people don’t think about the integrity and the long term benefit that could arise from a mutual exchange.
John recently posted…Inspiration Blog # 2 – Manifesting what you love and setting a trend (Greg Selkoe – Karmaloop)My Profile

June 4th, 2012 | 2:43 PM

I’m not so tough John. I can review a post to see if I think it’s quality or not without asking to see something they’ve previously written. Sometimes I find these folks use multiple names, so that would never do. And I don’t ask for pay up front, but I do ask for it within 24 hours after it goes live, otherwise I just pull the links, since if I wrote the article I know it’ll still work well for the blog.

And of course I just might “out” them here. lol

June 4th, 2012 | 10:33 PM

Sure sounds like a scam to me. It also sounds like a bot replying to some key words. I’ve had a couple of weird ones recently and when I’ve replied asking how the info they want to share on my site is relevant to Australia it’s all gone quiet. It’s always good to share these scams Mitch. thanks
Sue recently posted…Of death and memories, both beautiful and sad.My Profile

June 4th, 2012 | 7:45 PM

Thanks for your perspective Sue. I often have to deal with articles that come through that have nothing to do with the U.S., which is clearly in my guest posting rules, and then I have to tell people I can’t use it. Lots of Australian and British companies write articles and pay for advertising on the site; one of these years I might figure out why. lol

June 4th, 2012 | 10:36 PM

Nice one Mitch, thanks for posting this infomation. I also experienced some similar things for several of my blogs. And on few it is mentioned that I am accepting guest posts, however it seems that the first email is always automatic and sender have never visit my blog. Few times I receive the same article to different blogs.

June 4th, 2012 | 11:35 PM

Same here Carl, and I find myself ignoring many of them because it’s obvious they haven’t read the guest posting policy. But this thing here… smarmy looking.

June 5th, 2012 | 11:11 AM

Few blogs of mine are open for contributor sign up, may sounds a bit crazy, but I don’t really know how they bypass all security sign up plugins.
Carl recently posted…Add Value to Your Business With White Label SEOMy Profile

June 5th, 2012 | 10:33 PM

Nice information Mitch, I also suffered from similar things. Guest bloggers usually post the same article to different blogs and it sounds like a scam.
Sarah recently posted…Deprenyl To Get Over Depression And Celebrate LifeMy Profile

June 5th, 2012 | 2:49 AM

Thanks Sarah; we definitely have to keep our eyes open, that’s for sure.

June 5th, 2012 | 11:12 AM
Aasma:

Wow!! Initially it was looking so simple earn money and get good content for your blog. But later it comes out pure scam. You really took careful actions before believing on their claims.
Aasma recently posted…ecommerce Website Design Development Services India | Rancor InfotechMy Profile

June 5th, 2012 | 3:49 AM

Thanks Aasma. My mind has an automatic “scam” filter that pops up when things don’t quite seem to fit or make sense, and in those cases I’m not above asking a lot of questions.

June 5th, 2012 | 11:14 AM

I usually don’t accept offers like that from people I’ve never heard or met before. Sticking with adsense and well-known affiliate programs, I think, is the safest bet. Of course, as you develop as an internet marketer, you’ll hopefully gain relationships with people that maybe you’ll be able to profit from. The blogosphere is community driven where everyone can benefit. Receiving a message like that always raises the alarm for me.
Lance recently posted…Macy’s College Lifestyle ContestMy Profile

June 5th, 2012 | 10:05 AM

Lance, I get those types of requests often, and it is a site that’s supposed to help me make money so I’ll at least look at them all. Still, as it went on things just seemed dodgy, so I’m glad I kept at it.

June 5th, 2012 | 11:15 AM

From the other side, everyone knows, that guest posting is the most efficient method for link building and generating traffic to a site. After the Penguin update, the old-school link building techniques like commenting and bookmarking don’t work anymore, the only way is guest posting and social media for the search engine optimizers. They try and try, but without a relevant content, there’s nothing to do with them.
Tatjana recently posted…Eine coole Ausstellung in WienMy Profile

June 5th, 2012 | 2:07 PM

Tatjana, there’s nothing wrong with accepting guest posts, and nothing wrong with people asking to guest post. What’s wrong is someone misrepresenting themselves and what they do. Just a few minutes ago, for example, I got an email from someone saying she wanted to write a guest post for my blog. Then in her last paragraph she wrote that if I was fine with it then she’d have her team of writers start working on the post. In my mind, you can’t call yourself a freelance writer when it’s obvious that you might not be writing the post you’re looking to submit. That’s just a lie, and I hate liars, especially when they’re that blatant.

In this case these people were dodgy, plain and simple.

June 5th, 2012 | 3:55 PM

Man that was a very interesting exchange! I think there is some sort of script or procedure they have with regards to how much info they reveal at first.

This is strange because it reminds me of an exchange I had with a company last year trying to place a banner ad on my site for a year. Turns out they were out of the UK (had to pull teeth to get that).

Then they would never reveal what the ad was, only to assure me it was not porn or get rich quick scheme. It’s like they wanted me to approve and agree to place the ad before they would tell me what it was. Always reminding me that the ad MUST stay up for the entire year.

After several days of exchanges I was doubting myself. I looked back over my previous emails and wondered was I just not being clear? Why couldn’t I get basic information out of these people? They contacted ME for Pete’s sake.

Turns out (finally) the ad was for some kind of new medical drug that had no place being advertised on my site at all. When I told them this, and then asked if they minded telling me why they had thought my site would be a match for them, they went silent and I never heard from them again.

You definitely did the right thing. If you have to fight this hard to get honest answers then it seems like something is wrong, to me. This is a dirty game out here, Mitch. I don’t want none o’ that dirt on me.
John Garrett recently posted…My Top YouTube Videogame WalkthroughersMy Profile

June 5th, 2012 | 2:34 PM

Smart thinking John. I had that same thing last year, a female hair products company asking to advertise on this blog and I couldn’t figure out why. Now, truthfully, if they’d offered $1,000 to do it I’d have taken it, but otherwise… lol

Still, the process of accepting a guest post, paid or not, shouldn’t go longer than a couple of emails at best. Right now I’m going through a conversation with someone else that’s reached 8 emails and is quite frustrating because of language issues; why do so many folks need to try to jazz up their language when it means they have no idea how to communicate with you?

June 5th, 2012 | 4:02 PM
Grace Sevilly:

Wow… never occurred to me that even guest posting has been penetrated by scams already. Thanks for sharing this
Grace Sevilly recently posted…Best Prices on Rio Beach ChairsMy Profile

June 5th, 2012 | 7:14 PM

Grace, nothing’s safe these days.

June 5th, 2012 | 10:54 PM

I feel your pain Mitch. I have gotten many e-mail scams over the years (though not about blogging). Thank you for sharing. Just a note, I’ve confirmed the validity of scams I’ve rec’d by checking the persons IP address in the e-mail header. One person a couple weeks back e-mailed me about working with them, however the e-mail sounded suspicious, as they were not answering certain questions I asked about the possible work. They started they were for a company that is based in NY. I verified the company was a valid company. Then I entered the originating IP address at: http://www.melissadata.com/lookups/index.htm, and found the IP or computer that this message came from was in Nigeria. I wrote a rather stern e-mail back advising them I was on to their scam and asked that they NEVER contact me again. I was so frustrated so much of my time was wasted.

June 5th, 2012 | 10:07 PM

Neat site Christina. I looked it up and it comes from London, which is one of the locations of the company. I’m still not overly convinced, but it is what it is at this point.

June 5th, 2012 | 10:58 PM

You did the right thing Mitch. I’ve knocked back offers for almost the same reasons. The way I look at it once the post is live you’ve done your bit and they should do theirs by paying up.

I get a few requests for paid links or posts but not all of them pan out because some of these guys expect to get something for nothing. Sorry, I don’t work that way.
Sire recently posted…Blogging Green To Save The EnvironmentMy Profile

June 6th, 2012 | 1:51 AM

I’m with you there. I had an offer from a representative of one of the big boys to provide free posts, and I said it would be advertising for them & they’d have to pay for it. They thought they were doing me a favor, and I could see how they’d think that, but I knew they’d be getting more benefit out of it than I would and I wanted to be paid. Heck, they could easily afford it.

June 6th, 2012 | 9:55 PM

I assume their post had links in them and they thought they were doing you a favor 😀
Sire recently posted…How To Make The Best Use Of GoogleMy Profile

June 7th, 2012 | 2:24 AM

Yeah, that’s what it was. lol

June 7th, 2012 | 2:44 PM

Guest posts can work when the guest poster has knowledgeable of your subject area and it fits in with the theme of the blog. Unfortunately that is often not the case. It’s also a good idea to use copyscape to make sure the article is unique and has not been published elsewhere.
Simon recently posted…How to Add a Background Image with DreamweaverMy Profile

September 4th, 2012 | 1:34 PM

Simon, Copyscape charges don’t they? That’s why my method of checking works pretty well; at least I am checking things.

September 4th, 2012 | 11:02 PM

Yes copyscape charges a small fee for every article you check but I think it is well worth the fee.
Simon recently posted…How to Manage your Time BetterMy Profile

September 27th, 2012 | 11:26 AM

It might be Simon, but I’m not too lazy to check lines from guest posts on my own.

September 27th, 2012 | 10:33 PM