Have you ever bought a digital product, whether it be a training program or a tool, because you thought it was THE answer to earning money at home, and you ended up with that sinking feeling in your stomach that it was a BIG mistake?
I’ve done that too many times. Sometimes I’ve gotten my money back. Sometimes not.
There have been times when I spent a LOT of money. And wow, did I feel foolish! Most of those times I did get my money back. Whew!
But even when it was just a few dollars, and I chalked it up to experience, those few dollars here and there add up.
Then there’s the pure frustration of it all… when I would start to think there’s nobody honest out there… they’re all just out to get my money.
Or maybe it’s me. I just can’t do it. Other people can, but I can’t.
Just looking back on the years of spending too much time and too much money, all to try to make ends meet and still stay home with my kids… it’s too much to even think about all at once! Give me some ice cream and let me forget it all!
If you have ever felt that kind of frustration and despair, keep reading. Maybe get yourself some ice cream if you have to, but keep reading.
If you’ve never felt like that, maybe you don’t need to read this. I seriously don’t want to waste your time. You’re probably okay.
If You Want to Know…
Here’s the deal. In order to stop being scammed, you have to understand three things:
1. Understand what scam is.
2. Understand yourself and what makes you fall for it.
3. Understand how to stop falling for it.
What Scam Is
Scam is something that lures you in and then doesn’t deliver.
How does it lure you in? It could be through a promise, or through playing on a fear.
It’s okay to promise something, if you fulfill that promise. And it’s okay to mention a fear, if you provide a real solution.
But the part that makes it scam is that it doesn’t do what it says it will do.
Different Types of Scam
There are five different types of scam that I can think of. Not all of them pertain to offers of digital products online, but they are all forms of online scam.
Claiming to Be Someone They’re Not
An example of this would be an email asking you to wire money to a friend, when it’s really someone impersonating your friend because they hacked your friend’s email account.
Or getting an email that claims to be from a reputable company (but isn’t), asking for your account information.
Or getting a pop-up on your computer screen saying to call support because there is a virus on your computer. When you call, they try to charge you $500 and get you to give them access to your computer so they can “fix” it.
Taking Your Money Without Delivering the Product
One time we needed something to help one of our animals. I don’t even remember now what the problem was. But I saw this great product advertised, from another country, and I ordered it. It never came. It was too hard to try to follow up, so I just gave up and lost the money.
Hype that Doesn’t Live Up to Its Description
The hype might be focused on lifestyle. This is where they imply that you will be on the beach next year, sipping lemonade. Or driving the car of your dreams.
Or it may be focused on results. You’ll have thousands of people visiting your website.
Even though there is probably a disclaimer somewhere, the hype way overpowers the disclaimer. This product is AMAZING… The more you read, the more your heart rate increases. You have to have it! It’s going to solve all your problems!
But you only have 1 hour, 36 minutes, and 43 seconds to decide. You have to put the kids to bed, then get back on the computer quick, and order it before it’s too late!
So you order it. It’s worth the risk. And there’s a money-back guarantee.
Once you get into trying to use it… well, I won’t go into detail here. There could be any number of possible problems, depending on the product.
But it’s not what it was all hyped up to be.
This type of scam is common with digital products.
High Price for Low Value
This can be somewhat subjective — you have to consider what you get for the price, to decide whether it’s overpriced.
There might be a training program that costs “only $3,000.” And you can even pay in three monthly installments!
If the training includes one-on-one coaching, $3,000 may be a good price, if the coaching is good.
If it includes an intensive six-week course, plus updated training modules being added every week for the next five years, plus continual support available, it may be a good price.
If it includes access to everything the owner has ever created or will ever create in the future, it may be a good price.
If you were to make a list of all the training programs out there that cost in the $2,000 to $5,000 range, you would see quite a spectrum in terms of real value. I would say that the ones that are on the low end in terms of value would be on the high end in terms of being called “scams.”
Marketing to People Who Would Not Benefit From It
This is a product that you’re not ready for yet. You don’t know enough yet to be able to benefit from it.
Some may say, “Well, that’s the customer’s responsibility. They should know better.”
But how can a customer know better about what they should already know, if they don’t know what they don’t know?
If you sell a juicer to a two-year-old who wants to make orange juice for his mom, is it his fault if the orange juice doesn’t turn out right because he put whole unpeeled oranges in the juicer?
You should have either made a point of only selling juicers to people over the age of two, or taught him to peel an orange first, or at least told him that the juice won’t turn out very professional if he doesn’t know how to peel an orange yet.
You can’t assume that he already knows that, or say it’s his responsibility if he doesn’t.
I would call it a scam to sell a juicer to a two-year-old.
If you have ever fallen for a scam, it’s important to ask yourself why.
Here are some possible answers. (If you think of others, feel free to put them in the comments below.)
I was gullible.
That’s not all bad, but it is bad. The good side is that you value honesty, expect others to be honest, and are honest yourself. The bad side is that you don’t always discern when someone else isn’t honest.
I was desperate.
This one is very understandable when you know you have to stay home, but still bring in income. The great need can make you so hopeful and unrealistically optimistic that you just believe the hype because it seems like your only lifeline.
I was inexperienced and ignorant.
Like the two-year-old with the juicer.
I once learned all about launching a product. With that wonderful knowledge that was going to make me loads of money, I tried to launch a collection of puzzles — a new type of puzzle that I had created.
The problem was — hardly anybody wanted it. I only made one sale, and that wasn’t even through my “product launch.”
I didn’t know that it’s much more important to meet people’s needs.
I just wanted to DO something.
That can be a good thing, in many cases. But when it causes you to hastily and unwisely jump at opportunities which later backfire, it’s obviously not a good thing.
You can learn a lot from your mistakes. It’s just nicer not to make so many of them.
Ways to Avoid Being Scammed
Now let’s address each of the possible descriptions of yourself, and figure out how to avoid falling for a scam in the future.
If you value honesty …
When you are presented with a great-looking opportunity/training/tool, look for at least three honest reviews before making a decision. These reviews should present both pros and cons about it.
Also, check out any alternatives that the reviewers present. If the alternative itself has a lot of negative reviews, you might question the honesty of the reviewer.
To avoid feeling like you’re going off on all kinds of little bunny trails, trying to see if a reviewer is honest, so you know if they’re giving an honest review of whatever it was you were researching in the first place, keep a record of reviewers that you do trust as being honest. Then look to them first for reviews.
If they haven’t reviewed a particular product that you might be interested in, you could ask them if they would consider doing a review!
I know all this may take some time. You do have to balance time with money. If something is $7 and seems pretty likely to be worth it, you could just go for it. But if you do this, be on guard when they offer you an upsell!!
An upsell is a related product that the owner offers you right after you make a purchase. It costs more than the original product — that’s why it’s called an upsell. It is usually marketed as something that will enhance your use of the original product.
There can be downsells, too (costing less than the original product). But with an original product priced at $7, the next offer is going to be an upsell.
The upsell sales page may give you the impression that if you don’t act now, you’ll never be able to get this at such a good price. And since you just spent $7 anyway, your mind may be telling you that this is all okay. But if you haven’t done enough research yet, STOP at the $7.
Save the upsell sales page, so you can come back to it later if you want to. Then either do more research or use the $7 product and make your own evaluation of that product first, before deciding on any upsell.
If you need to make money now …
Because of your desperate need, it can be very easy to slide off the edge by falling for a scam, and make your financial situation even worse.
This is a tough place to be in. So you’re going to have to be tough on yourself.
You may need to ask someone else to keep you accountable. If you’re thinking of a certain avenue for making money, get their advice first. Give them permission to ask you from time to time how you’re doing in this area.
As you keep looking for a way to earn money, do some obvious things like cleaning out your basement or garage and selling stuff on eBay or at a yard sale, etc.
If you can tutor, do childcare, or pet sitting, do it.
If you can cut spending, do it.
Keep looking for a way to earn money from home long term, while you do whatever else you can do in the short term to relieve the financial pressure.
If you don’t know what knowledge or skills should come before which other ones …
Search for free training.
Often times when someone is selling a high priced training or coaching program, they do webinars to get people interested. Watch these webinars. But don’t purchase anything yet.
Watch more webinars. Take notes. Ask questions on the webinars if that’s possible. Keep learning.
When you’re tempted to pay $199 for some training, do a Google search for anything related to that type of training. You may find some free tutorials, maybe on YouTube.
Get to a point where you have a pretty good idea what your first few steps should be, to be able to earn money online. Then look for training or tools that relate to those specific steps.
When you’re ready, evaluate the options, read reviews, choose one product, and get started.
Continue making a list of the next things you’ll need to learn. And so on.
As my dad says, “Something is not on sale if you don’t need it.”
Learn how to learn what you need, and then get the best deal on it that you can.
If you’re an eager beaver and need to reassure yourself that you’re putting in your best effort …
Being a hard worker is a very admirable trait. You just need to find a direction where it actually pays off.
Which brings me to my next point.
Is There Anything that Puts the Good Stuff All Together?
No. Not that I know of.
Okay, wait. There is something that puts most of it together… except for the need money now part.
This won’t promise you an income next week. But in a week’s time, if you put your best effort into it, you would be off to a good start on earning an income in a few months.
It’s a training program, with website hosting, WordPress, keyword searches, a supportive community, and more, built into it.
You don’t have to wonder what you need to learn next, because it’s all laid out step by step. The careful sequencing not only makes learning easier, but gets results.
It’s called Wealthy Affiliate.
You can try it for free, and choose to upgrade if and when you’re ready.