Dreaming of living abroad as a blogging digital nomad, people are blindly handing over their money to a growing numbers of online experts.
One Woman’s Cautionary Tale
Staring into the stark light of my Mac in disbelief that September morning, I reread the email. I’d flown cross-country to San Francisco for a workshop I signed up for months ago. Now, hours before it was to begin, my online guru is cancelling it.
9 Months earlier
The Initial Sales Pitch
I dabbled with blogging years ago, as a way to escape my isolation as a newly-minted expat in Costa Rica. So, I listened with interest to the video I’d come across on Facebook.
Chatting like a girlfriend, the disheveled-looking blonde says, Anyone can become a successful blogger with a six figure income. You can have it all; travel to exotic locations, and work for yourself. Let me show you how. She looks away from the camera to redirect one of her children’s activities, chuckles, and intimately shares her frustration trying to make videos while nursing.
What she said, and the way she said it, made it all seem possible. Christina is a published author who began travel blogging when the term wasn’t even in existence. She left her high-powered job years ago and has been living abroad with her family, ever since. She ‘s living the dream!
Addressing The Prospect’s Objections
Anyone can do can do it, and your life experience would only be an advantage. she assured me. Bait taken.
The Up Sell
Before I received the last course module, I got an email from Christina.
She fawned over my success so far, and said now was the time to get some subscribers. I only had one subscriber at that point, and he was sitting next to me switching from one channel to the next, so I considered her advice.
Closing The Sale
Address The Prospect’s Objections (Round 2)
It seemed, my dream could only become reality by taking her next
course. Christina assured me that I could work the courses simultaneously, and in doing so, the material would be enhanced. Bait taken again.
The other students in the next blogging course, and I became friends. We’d cheer each other’s successes and commiserate at our common frustrations. By the end of week 7, I increased my subscribers from 1 to 100+, had created a small e-book to give away, and was thinking about other products I’d create. Half-way through the 100 days, and no where near the 1,000 subscriber goal, I still felt that number was achievable based on Christina’s encouragement.
The Up Sell (Round 2)
That’s when the enticing email came in about a series of 2 day workshops Christina would be holding in six cities across the globe. The promise of a one-on-one time with my mentor, where, together we’ll formulate a long-term plan for my blog, would be amazing, but the cost was daunting.
“Whether you’ve been blogging forever (without earning much) or you’re just starting out (and want to make a living) this weekend-long crash course will teach you how professional bloggers make a living from blogging with integrity and how you can fast track your way to a full-time income.“
“WHO THIS WORKSHOP IS FOR?
Bloggers who want to make a full-time living from their blog but don’t want to compromise their voice or integrity to do it.“
“WHAT DO YOU GET?
That’s when Christina began disappearing. She’d cancel our weekly course group chats at the last-minute, and promised content never materialized. Trying not to upset her, or seem ungrateful, I asked privately about the missing modules. She’d promise them soon, yet nothing materialized. I was in a holding pattern, and the control tower had gone dark.
Promise, excuse. Promise, excuse. Week after week. My fellow students and I all felt adrift, but kept drinking the kool aid. Surely she’d rally, once they landed in a Mexican rental house with better WiFi. Surely she’d get us the lessons, once they got over the 5 weeks of flu that ran through her family. Surely, she’d prioritize her current student’s needs over the magazine she was trying to launch.
Slowly reality began to sink in for us…we were victims of a con.
“September Morn” In San Francisco
The cancellation email, written by Christina’s assistant said, “… in the last 12 hours…” Christina is in the, “…darkest of dark times.” She is in no, “…condition to interact much with the world...You will get updates on refunds and the state of everything…in a separate email, once she is able to make any decisions beyond those vitally necessary while she deals with this emergency.”
There were two registrants for this workshop. The other flew up to San Francisco from Mexico.
A day later, the same assistant, sent an email saying our registration fees would be reimbursed soon, and three days later they were. This covered her with PayPal, but we’ve heard not a word from Christina. No apology or explanation, and when asked for reimbursement for our expenses, she refuses to respond.
This has been a difficult, yet valuable learning experience for me. Even though I face the wrath of Christina and her followers, it’s time to speak out about the ever-growing number of people who so easily treat people so poorly.
Gurus ‘mine’ each other’s followers and target them on Facebook. I now have a feeding-frenzy of gurus populating my feed. The script is always the same, “I’m making six figures and you can too!” So many people long for a ‘location independent’ lifestyle, there’s an unending market of gullible people lining up to be relieved of their hard-earned cash. There’s even one ‘guru’ who says, The ONLY WAY to make money as a blogger is to sell blogging courses to want-to-be bloggers. Let me show you how!
Victims of online scams are often too embarrassed to say anything. But for those who do, gurus delete their comments, ban them from their feeds, and threaten them into silence. Flaunting their many powerful connections, gurus tell victims they’ll destroy their blogging/writing career if they dare speak out. Because of this, most want-to-be bloggers and writers, chose to slink away quietly. A fact gurus count on.
Some honest ‘gurus,’ who over time have successfully created and sold quality content, offer money-back guarantees, but the most do not. So buyer beware.
There’s no ‘Trip Advisor-type’ of forum that potential consumers can check before handing over their money to these so-called experts, so it’s time to shine light on all the gurus (the good and the bad) and their practices.
Have you been burned by an online ‘guru,’ or are you benefiting from someone’s blogging courses? Please share your experiences in the comments sections. Let’s help future consumers make good decisions. Threats and bullying, are common for those who are afraid of the truth, so I will honor your anonymity.
Pura vida, Penny