Are you a skeptic?
I am; a born skeptic, and a poor one at that.
I was laid off five months ago. One of the happiest days of my life, truth be told. I’d escaped the corporate-America cube farm with my skin! My supervisor, bless her heart, was traumatized by having to let go some of her staff, so I did what I could to comfort her; but, by the time I got back home, I skipped with glee up the walk to the front door.
I was also very fortunate to receive a substantial severance package, so could take my time deciding what to do next.
I started down a dozen blind alleys, struggled back out, and finally found the nexus of my skills, experience, and passion: I can write! That’s great, but it’s notorious for not paying the rent. So, next up was to find market niches and sub-niches that would pay me to do what I love. Check.
Rubber Meets Road.
And that’s where the proverbial rubber met the road. Several months later, I’m still struggling with my web site and with developing a client base. I’m not the only writer who’s learned the hard way how much easier it is to develop business plans and write copy for other people than for yourself. It’s sort of like cleaning the kitchen: darn hard to clean your own but pretty easy to clean somebody else’s (that’s probably the principle behind home-cleaning services).
Are you scratching your head yet, wondering what all this has to do with “I’ve Tried That?”
Well, in desperation, I started looking into all those sites that promise easy money: data entry at home, surveys, product assembly, MLM, follow the marketing guru, buy this book, enter that contest, apply for government grants, find sellers for buyers, warm market, make a killing in real estate. The list is nearly endless, isn’t it?
And that’s where the writer and skeptic converge. I started seeing the same words, the same styles, P.S.es and P.P.S.es, disbelief-suspension strategies, get-it-NOW, and sales tactics used in those too-good-to-pass-up junk-mail offers that constipate our mail boxes in real life.
Running That Offer to Ground
So, I decided to see what I could find out about these offers – I tried to run them to ground. For each and every site I found, I did three things.
First, I read just far enough to figure out the offer and then scrolled to the bottom of the page to skip the rest of the blabber-jabber. I even continued through the multiple pages of the really annoying sites to get to the sign-up part. I clicked either Back or Close when asked for credit-card information, and about half the time a pop-up begged me to stay and offered a lower price or free shipping or some other enticement. Sometimes, I followed the enticement a little further, but was still eventually asked for a credit card, so bagged it. But before giving up, I always looked for phone numbers anywhere on the site or the pop-ups, and wrote them down.
Second, I Googled the name of the offer and appended words like ‘review,’ ‘scam,’ ‘report,’ ‘secretary of state,’ ‘FTC,’ ‘ripoff,’ or ‘opinion.’ Without fail, every single offer turned up in scam-report files, disgruntled discussion threads, complaints, or other forms of warning. To be fair, some also showed up in glowing reviews. But who ya gonna believe – the couple mentions of high praise or a couple hundred people complaining they’d been ripped off?
Third, if I’d found any phone numbers, I Googled them directly. (Enter any land-line phone in the search field in 999-999-9999 format, and Google will try to find it. (Do your own home phone and see what happens.) Guess what turned up? Usually, the number appeared on a call-complaint site. It might be reported to send you to voice-mail purgatory, or manned by rude or non-English-speaking salespeople, or even to be disconnected. In a few cases, Google couldn’t find the number at all.
I’m still a poor struggling writer and born skeptic, but I’m less poor than I might be if I hadn’t run those offers to ground before “investing” in them.
This article was written by Christine Rauckis who also owns and operates Clarity Communications. Be sure to give her website a visit. This is also our very first post in our series of guest postings. Get your articles featured here at I’ve Tried That. Click here for more information.