How easy it could be to deceive you for quick profits

How easy it could be to deceive you for quick profits

By Chuck Woodbury
RVTRAVEL.COM
Below is an actual email I received this week. It made me mad. I was offered $60 to post a “sponsored article” from a “leading healthcare provider.” Other offers would presumably follow. If I were to accept them, I could ask for $100 per article and get it.

What makes me mad is that countless website publishers take advantage of offers like this for easy money. But the articles are advertising in disguise, but normally passed off as legitimate stories. They can be so well written that it’s hard for you and me to determine if they are real or fake.

Click the video, where I have more to stay about all this.

Here is the offer I received this week:
“I came across RV Travel while looking for resources for our next blog and I knew I had to reach out immediately on behalf of a leading healthcare provider. This month, we’re looking to secure sponsorship placements with five prominent blogs and RV Travel jumped straight to the top of our list.

“To give you an idea on what we do, we would be looking to write sponsored content for your site. This content would usually come in the form of a 500-word article and would include a ‘do-follow’ link to our client. The writer of the article would spend time on your site and get a feel for tone, style, and the type of content you usually post. They can go and write a tailored article for your blog. You can review, edit and reject the article if you find it not suitable. We want to contribute to your site and pay you for the privilege of posting it. However, we don’t divulge the name of our clients or brands at this stage – normally only when the articles are sent over for review.

“As long as you are comfortable, we would also request that the post not be marked as ‘sponsored’. In this regard, would you accept sponsored posts? If $60 per post is acceptable to you, just let me know so we can proceed further.”

ANOTHER OFFER
I received a similar offer a week earlier from an agency representing a client in the RV industry who was willing to pay me $500 if I would to post its message on the RV Travel Facebook page. The assumption would be that I would not say it was sponsored. I turned down the offer, but it was not easy tossing away an easy $500.

I get proposals almost every day offering me free products (and often money) to write favorable reviews on Amazon.com or to produce a video about a company’s products. If I were to do it, I would receive more offers. It could be an easy way to earn decent, even good money. A lot of people do it.

Here’s another letter I received recently, this time from an ice cream company.

 

AND ONE MORE. . .
Hi there,
I noticed your site has published a very interesting article. I think a collaboration between us could be of interest to your audience. I represent a digital marketing agency currently working with a major construction company. We would like to feature a unique piece of content on your site. For the privilege, we would be happy to offer you a fee of $75. — Milo

• • •

I could literally make thousands of dollars each month taking advantage of these easy-money offers. But I don’t and I won’t. I recorded a short video to go along with article, which you can view above. I recorded it at a low resolution to minimize bandwidth if you are on a limited data plan.

Read more about paid and sponsored content here.

##RVT812

Facebooktwitterpinteresttumblrmail

Related

32 thoughts on “How easy it could be to deceive you for quick profits

  1. Bob

    Your integrity is why your writers (me included) write for you rather than for many of the other options we are faced with.

  2. Diane

    Thank you, Chuck. Men of integrity are hard to find nowadays. I’m glad you are one of them.

  3. Tommy Molnar

    To put it simply Chuck, THANK YOU!

  4. Roger

    Really appreciate your integrity Chuck. A question though. You mentioned you deeply appreciate your few very good advertisers. For example, I’m interested in the “Guy Harvey Outpost Club & Resort Tarpon Springs” I saw advertised here. Should I take that as an endorsement of their quality and this opportunity? I’m guessing the answer is no, but it would sure be interesting to read your thoughts on the place – maybe a field trip?

    1. Chuck Woodbury

      No, not an endorsement, Roger. They approached us about advertising. We poked around and found nothing that suggested the business as anything but up and up. If we were to start receiving complaints from our readers about the place, we would look into the matter and if we concluded that the business was not ethical, we would no longer accept the advertising. What I can tell you is that if the company were to tell us that we needed to run a story about it in order for the advertising to continue, we would say no . . . I would prefer we had no advertising at all, but we do need the income. And most of our advertisers are quality operations and I am proud to have their support.

  5. DAVE TELENKO

    Hi Chuck, ya know I’m thinking that if perhaps you were offered to just try a product, any product & really give your opinion on, whether it was good-bad-get out of town. I would then think you would deserve getting money for your valued opinion! I’ve made donations in the past & I don’r mind doing it as we all need some honest information & guidance in RVing. By giving your opinion your NOT endorsing the product, but be sure to get the money up front. Thanks for all you great work.
    Dave

  6. Zoom

    Thanks Chuck! There is a well known RV magazine that is blurring the lines between tech articles and ads for whatever is being presented. Most true RVers can tell the difference but those new to the industry are being led like sheep.

  7. Jack Blackwell

    Chuck,
    You draw a hard line and to be an honest journalist and the advertisers are incessant in there efforts to get you to cross over and represent their product.
    I once wrote to you and said that I appreciated someone like you who is in the “field” keeping us informed about all things RV. You provide a direct, honest insight into the things I need to know to keep enjoying my new found freedom of RVing.
    These “advertisers” don’t have your insight or positive work ethics and are looking for a way to get in and capitalize on what you have built in the past 16 years. Tell them to P___ up a rope- your character is not for sale.

  8. Debbie Mason

    Thank you for staying true to what you believe in. That’s why I sent in a “voluntary subscription” last year and will renew on the anniversary of that subscription.

  9. Nina Soltwedel

    Chuck, your integrity has shown through over the years, and I appreciate it. The information you include in your website (and your site keeps getting better and better) has proven to be extremely helpful to me and to other RVers over the years. I am extremely grateful for your willingness to share your articles with the members of the RV organization for which I served as editor/publisher for 12 years. Our members have benefited from your advice, and I hope that many of them took the time to subscribe to rvtravel.com. Keep up the good work!

  10. Linda

    Thank you, Chuck, for your integrity, your views, and for just being you! As our aged generation passes on the world will no longer have any integrity or respect, only the “gimme, you owe me” people who don’t give a hoot about anyone else!

    1. Jo Ann Houghton

      I totally agree and again THANK YOU Chuck! There are not many people left with much integrity any longer and luckily we have you.

  11. Ed

    We appreciate your integrity ! It is too bad that our world requires us to feel compelled to thank people for doing the right thing. We do need the knowledge that goes on behind the scenes and we are grateful that you exposed this practice, so that we can read between the lines in articles by others.

  12. rp

    Cheryl, “Predatory Nation” is the title of a book, if my memory serves me well.

  13. Elaine Ashton

    Chuck — you are a sweetheart. The world needs more people like you. However — I would suspect that 99% of your readership holds the same values as you do. I’m also glad that in many years past — I got to meet you at Senior Spectrum. I’m even going to send this issue to Bob Carney just for him to see this video. As soon as my SS check comes next week — I’ll send more money. THANKS FOR BEING YOU.

    1. Chuck Woodbury

      Elaine, thank you for the kind words. But, please, do not feel like you need to send money to us. We appreciate the financial support from our readers, but if money is tight in your home or any other readers home, then I would prefer the money be spent on their own needs. Yes, the Senior Spectrum. I enjoyed my association with that publication — a long time ago. I still stay close in touch with Steve Chanecka, the former co-publisher. We get together once or twice a year to catch up.

  14. Bruce Kidd

    I worked 43 years in the. auto world and my integrity got me in a lot of trouble ,
    but it is really all we have. TRUST is not for sale. Kudos to you in all your endeavors,
    and ditto to the writer who said ” the other 48,000 need to anti up ”
    Keep up the great work !!
    Bruce Kidd

  15. Cheryl

    Stay strong Chuck!!!! However, if you try a product and find it to meet expectations, why not write about it and get paid? Isn’t that what many of us ‘consumers’ do when we write a review, usually for free. Advertising something you believe is a good product is helpful. I value your integrity, which is why I subscribe to the RV Travel Newsletter. I have no problem with you getting paid for your honest opinion.

  16. Eric Eltinge

    Congratulations on your integrity. Honest main steam journalism died in the last presidential election as both sides became ministries of propaganda. Can’t even escape in the RV retirement world. No wonder the millenials are going to make their RV buying decisions based on the wild wild west of social media.

  17. rp

    Indeed, we live in a “Predatory Nation.”

    I got caught up myself in one of these phony sponsored links a couple of months ago. After ordering an aviation certified product for my airplane, I received a cheap, Chinese knockoff instead. The vender stiffed me by refusing to reply to my emails. Even PayPal failed me. But Discover card was more than accommodating, launching an immediate investigation (by phone I might add, without the rigmarole of sending a hard copy of my complaint).

    Just this week I received an official notification from Discover advising me that they had ruled in my favor, and the temporary credit to my account was made permanent.

    Germany had solved its bait-and-switch problems decades ago when it began jailing top corporate executives. Not until we do the same thing, beginning with Wall Street, will consumers ever enjoy relief.

    Meantime, don’t roll over and play dead when someone screws you.

    1. Cheryl

      So sorry to hear that Paypal was not able to address your issue. I had a similar problem and gladly got satisfaction with Paypal when a seller did a ‘Bait & Switch’. I also had to address a problem with one of my credit card holders when a seller I bought directly from, did not honor their refund policy. I like your phrase “Predatory Nation”. Plan to use it in my future conversations. I think it sums up our situation very well. Take nothing you read as fact unless you source it more than one place.

  18. Wolfe

    People have gotten so used to biased, shuny reviews that they don’t know what to make of sometimes product-unflattering honesty.

  19. Alan Phillips

    I think it is accepted that your content is compensated by sponsors. Also, it gives you a marketable website when you’re done. Think about it. A simple blanket statement that all ads marked with a * would disclose the situation. Take advantage of what is presented to you!

  20. Rob Stewart

    Chuck, thanks for having integrity! So few publishers, bloggers and advertisers still own their soul. Keep up the good work. A happy PAID subscriber

  21. rag-ftw

    Chuck, as a long time subsciber I just wanted to say your entegrity is appreciated by your readers. It is refreshing to read an article and know the author is delivering HIS honest opinion and not some paid retoric from a vndor.

    Now, a message to the 48,000 members that are not paying for their subscription. Is it not worth a few bucks to have the priviledge of reading honest content? It’s time to step up and become a paying subsciber!

  22. Marianne Edwards

    Good commentary, Chuck. As always.
    Your friends with web sites who accept sponsored content should know that if they don’t mark it as such or leave out the “no follow” attribute on a link (as requested in that example letter you showed) they risk being punished by Google’s site rankings.
    There’s nothing wrong with advertising as long as long as readers can clearing see that it’s an ad. Great that Google is trying to combat these practices.

  23. Tom Sheehan

    Chuck, As a really brand new RVer I too appreciate what you are doing a staying true to good principles. I am so new (bought the motorhome last week and will take delivery next week) I have lots to learn and don’t want to be swayed in the wrong direction. Way to much of that sh## going on these days.

  24. Larry

    Thank you for your integrity. It’s so helpful to have information that is not tainted by advertising money. I watch a video blog, autoexpert.com. He can be raunchy at times, but after years in journalism and writing for the auto industry, he got disgusted. He would say how these magazine and TV reviewers would be seduced by auto manufacturers, flown to faraway cities in the pointy end of the plane, put up in 5 star hotels to make sure they wrote good reviews at the show. Now he says what he really feels about car manufactures, dealers,etc. We see the same thing with the glowing reviews in RV magazines. And if they don’t give the glowing reviews the ads and money disappear.

  25. Bob Godfrey

    While the offers don’t surprise me, I find it very disappointing that there are virtually no limits when it comes to “selling” stuff of any kind. Testimonials of any sort are all suspect at this point in my life (since I’m getting old an cynical! ) So, can you trust anyone anymore really?

    Of course, I trust you Chuck!

  26. Rusty

    Tough choice to make, appears integrity won.

  27. David Scheeler

    As a consumer, I want to thank you for resisting the numerous offers to accept monies to publish stealth advertisements in the newsletter. I, like many of your readers, have come to look to the newsletter for unbiased articles.

Leave a Comment