YouTube is the ‘ultimate’ modern day MLM

That’s right, I went there.

Multilevel marketing (MLM) is a strategy that some direct sales companies use to encourage existing distributors to recruit new distributors. In MLM schemes, there can be hundreds or thousands of members worldwide (or in the case of YouTube, Instagram and the likes, millions upon millions), but relatively few earn meaningful incomes from their efforts, indicating a possible pyramid scheme. Multilevel marketing is also referred to as ‘referral marketing’.

The entire premise of multilevel marketing is that people make sales for a company without being actual employees of that company. The ‘consultants’ make a small commission for their work and those higher up at the company will always be the one’s making real money. While companies like LulaRoe, Amway, Mary Kay Cosmetics and Avon might be struggling in a pandemic-ridden 2020 due to the structure and nature of their corporate pyramid, YouTube has been reaping the rewards of their corporate pyramid one-hundred-fold over the past decade.

Before you roll your eyes, hear me out!

Content creators are not employees of YouTube. They’re consultants. They don’t get benefits. They don’t have taxes taken off of the money YouTube pays them. They don’t earn a regular income. They’re paid based on performance. And, if they so like, they can take some of that payment from YouTube and put it directly into the membership costs of belonging to a YouTube network that promises to help them grow their platform. Furthermore, YouTube relies on content creators to bring in new creators and grow the YouTube platform further and bring in more money. In the case of YouTube, content creators are selling advertisements.

Now, let’s compare YouTube to Mary Kay Cosmetics, a widely known MLM. Mary Kay Cosmetics does not hire employees, they instead opt for a company structure that sees consultants making sales for the business, and, bringing in new consultants. Consultants are not paid a regular income, instead they earn based on performance. The more they sell, the more they earn. Mary Kay Cosmetics consultants also have the option to take their earnings and put it towards a network that will allow them to grow their platforms, and (hopefully) in turn sell more makeup.

Sounds familiar, right?

YouTube operates monetization on a sliding scale. Content creators are required to meet certain thresholds with their channel in order to even become monetized in the first place. As an audience grows for a particular content creator, new opportunities open up for them on the platform, such as being able to live-stream, finally earning a portion of the adsense dollars that YouTube is already making from their videos, and eventually even being able to open up their own ‘Membership structure’ for their channel in which people can pay the content creator directly for things like shout outs or sneak peaks. The better you perform, the more chance you have to earn. But also, if you don’t perform at all, it does not hurt the company whatsoever.

Mary Kay also operates their pay structure on a sliding scale. Sales consultants are required to make an initial investment in the company and sell ‘x’ amount of dollars worth of product before they’re able to even earn a profit. Depending on the amount an individual is able to sell, Mary Kay opens the opportunity for said sales consultants to earn bonuses – these can be anything from extra commission to free trips to the chance to drive a pink, branded car. The better that you perform, the more chance that you have to earn. But also, if you don’t perform at all, it does not hurt the company whatsoever.

In both cases, networking is pretty key to finding any sort of moderate success.

Now, wait a minute, wait a minute. The initial investment into a company like Mary Kay Cosmetics is one that you pay directly to the company. What is the initial investment in YouTube?

I’m glad that you asked.

While the initial investment one must make to begin a YouTube channel is not paid directly to the platform itself, you are required to have some form of technology – be it a phone, camera or computer – that allows you to film, edit and post videos to the platform. No, you don’t buy those phones, cameras or computers directly from YouTube. But, what you do give YouTube is your time. And time is valuable. For reference, when you’re just getting started with video editing, it can take as much as thirty hours to edit a single ten minute video. For someone like myself, last year I worked for an economic development firm part-time. The hours weren’t regular, but when I was working, I was earning $20 an hour. If I spent 30 hours on a project, I would earn $600. For a new content creator on YouTube, until they reach 4,000 hours of watch time, 1,000 subscribers or more and compliance with YouTube’s community guidelines, they’re not earning a single cent. That’s 30 free hours of work they’re providing YouTube with, each time they upload a video.

Depending on the content creator, it can take a couple of months before earning monetization, or it can take a few years. This is why hustle culture on YouTube can, at times, be very toxic… which is not unlike the culture among any MLM company on earth. In YouTube, and in Mary Kay Cosmetics, the deck is stacked in favour of the bold, the beautiful and those who are the most ‘commercial friendly’. But, when you’re getting the tips and tricks of the trade from someone in the trenches, they’re not going to tell you that.

Someone with heavy investments into Mary Kay Cosmetics is definitely not going to tell you how hard it is for them to earn an income because they need you to sign up to help boost the income they’re struggling so hard to earn.

Someone with heavy investments (yes we’re counting time and money) into YouTube isn’t going to tell you the cost/value ratio of a single YouTube video because the minute they do, they’re going to lose out on opportunity for earning potential. Yeah, there’s a reason why YouTuber’s don’t comment about how much money they make. The moment they do, YouTube can flag their channel and decrease their earning potential. And, in an industry in which their money isn’t guaranteed, they don’t want to risk earning less if they don’t have to.

In a 2020 world, especially with the ongoing pandemic, marketers and large corporations have realized that there’s a certain je ne sais quoi about having regular folk advertise their products. What better way to do that then to enter every person’s home/life through the technology they already have. Advertisers pay YouTube to be able to run commercial campaigns during videos on the platform. In turn, YouTube promises advertisers that their ‘Consultants’ (Content Creators/Regular Folk) will bring enough people to the platform to bring a valuable return on investment in said advertisement. When you really stop to think about it, this isn’t that far removed from well known MLM companies that do the exact same thing through Instagram and, in a lot of cases, YouTube as well.

Somehow, though, YouTube has morphed itself into a ‘Legal’ pyramid scheme. One where those at the top get richer, and those, even in the upper echelon of the platform, still seek out sponsorships and affiliate codes/links to earn the majority of their income.

YouTube was estimated to earn more than 15 billion dollars in Ad Revenue in 2019. (From Business Insider) Only between 10-30 percent of that revnue is distributed to the content creators who are responsible for earning that income in the first place. That means that between millions of content creators who earned YouTube that 15 billion dollars, high-end estimations of that would suggest they shared 4.5 billion. And that’s being reaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaally generous.

Sure, a portion of 4.5 billion sounds great, right? Let’s say that there was 4.5 billion to go around and approximately one million channels on YouTube to split that among. That’s $4,500… for a year of work. Now take into account that those dollars aren’t being spread evenly. Those who performed better are going to be earning a larger piece of the Adsense pie. Realistically, the dollar amount a content creator could be making from YouTube could be absolutely abysmal compared to a regular nine-to-five job. This is why there are sponsored videos, affiliate links and free giveaways. But that’s a story for another day!

The pandemic has hit this world hard. People who work for companies like Mary Kay Cosmetics can’t just go do what they’ve always done because hosting a ‘Mary Kay Party’ to show off the merchandise isn’t exactly recommended when there’s a deadly disease sweeping the planet. They’ve taken to Instagram and YouTube and made some sponsored content of their own to try and keep their company afloat amidst all that is going on in the world. And, while the blow YouTube might be suffering due to the pandemic isn’t quite as large, they’re hurting too. It’s not easy for companies to produce advertisements for YouTube when their entire staff is/was working from home. For this reason, YouTube has recorded a loss in their second quarter profit earnings from ad revenue. That is also the reason why there are so many more ‘this video is sponsored by’ and ‘this product was gifted from’ videos circulating YouTube. In a work-from-home world, content creators are learning the already low revenue they were earning from adsense is going to be even less in 2020.

What really gets me, though, is when I’m watching a YouTube video and there’s an advertisement for an MLM company or product within the video itself. It’s become a bit like Russian Nesting Dolls… an MLM within an MLM, within an MLM. As the world continues to adapt to circumstances around us, these instances are only going to become more and more prevalent. Especially since YouTube won’t be going anywhere any time soon.

And, because I went ahead and called them the ultimate modern day MLMi in the title, I will add that where struggling MLMs require high investments for you to even test the product, all that is required to test YouTube is technology and boredom. Thus making them a far superior MLM to any other in existence right now.

Your blog layout matters

Imagine that you’re a realtor and you’re trying to sell a house with neon green walls. Sure, the odd house hunter who comes through might really like the colour, but for the majority of customers, seeing neon green all over the walls is going to be something they cannot look past. It can, in a lot of cases, be the deal breaker.

Sure, they might stay. They might finish looking at the house. But they also might just look at the walls and walk out. Neon green walls take work. Not only are you spending a profound amount of money on a home, but you’ll have to put considerable effort and money into repainting the entire home when you move in.

This is why when people are getting ready to sell their homes, most people will paint any bright walls a neutral colour. Neutral colours are easy on the eye. Neutral colours go with all sorts of different furniture. Neutral colours allow a house to feel as though it can be made into a home.

Now, imagine this same notion applies to blogging. If you’re blogging as a hobby and don’t care who, if anyone, ever sees your blog, it’s perfectly awesome to have ‘neon green walls’. But if you’re blogging in hopes of garnering an audience, to gain followers and reach new people, those neon green walls are going to be a deal breaker.

In laymans terms – if you want people to love your blog as much as you do, your layout needs to be neutral. Your layout needs to be one that appeals to the mass population. If people stumble upon a blog that is difficult to navigate, has broken links or empty pages, crazy colours and designs that make scrolling difficult and reading tedious, they’re not going to fall in love with your blog, regardless of how good your content is.

Your blog layout matters.

If you’re seeking blog growth, pretend you’re a realtor. Pretend you’re enticing potential buyers into paying attention to your content. If you want people to notice your blog then you need to give them reason to get beyond the layout to see the content that you share. That is considerably harder if you have the equivalent of neon walls.


Disclaimer: As with all advice that I provide on this blog, please take what you like and leave what you don’t. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to running a great blog, so if you don’t like the advice shared, don’t use it! You know what is best for your blog, these types of posts are merely to lend a helpful suggestion.

Referral Links: What’s the point?

Referral links is a common business practice when a company provides you a link that you can use to share with your friends, family, social media followers, YouTube channel or blog. If your friends, family, social media followers, YouTube subscribers or blog followers use the referral link to make a purchase, they get a discount off of their purchase and you get a credit towards your next purchase with that company.

This is different from affiliate marketing because, with affiliate marketing you make a small commission from someone purchasing a product that you’re advertising. This commission varies depending on the type of product, the following you might have and the amount of people who purchase. It can be as low as a few cents that you get per purchase that someone makes on a product that can cost fifty or sixty dollars. If you save that money up over time, it could turn into a pay cheque of sorts, but unless you have a vast reach across the web, it’s likely only ever going to equal pocket change.

With referral links, the company guarantees that if you sign up one of your friends or family members, one of your blog followers or YouTube subscribers, or someone from social media, the money is given to you in the form of a credit off of your next purchase. The value does not change, and the referral link is only for a certain period of time.

So, Company X will say ‘If you share this link with your friend and they make a purchase, they will get $20 off their purchase and you will get $20 off of your next purchase as a thank you for referring your friend to our company’.

Why referral links are so beneficial? If you’re smart about it, you can share with your blog, social media accounts, friends and family a referral link to a company that you already make purchases from. So, if one of them does make a purchase, then you’re essentially lessening the amount that you’re required to pay the next time that you order that thing or use that service.

Take for instance the company that I purchase my contact lenses from. I’m blind as a bat without some form of glasses or contact lenses so, over the years I have become frequent purchaser of contact lenses from an online distributor. This distributor offers their lenses at anywhere between $20-$50 less a box than if you were to purchase them from your local eye doctor. So you’re already getting a great deal. My contact lenses cost $140 every three months. Now, due to my frequent purchases from said company, the company has recently provided me with a referral code. This referral code is for $20. If someone uses my referral code to purchase contact lenses or glasses for themselves, they will get $20 off of their purchase and I will get a $20 credit for my next purchase. If three people use this referral code, each of them will get $20 off of their purchase and I will get $60 off of my next purchase, making the cost of my next order of contact lenses $80 rather than $140.

It’s a way that companies use their own customers to market their products to new customers. In the case of the company that I purchase contact lenses from, if I were to share my link and have just seven people make a purchase using my link, the next time I went to purchase contact lenses, they would be free.

Sweet deal, right?

There’s inherently more value to someone for choosing to use a referral code rather than trying to use affiliate marketing for their blog. Whilst referral codes might not put money directly in your pocket, they do make the items you use cheaper, thus leaving the money in your bank account that you would otherwise need to spend.

Keep in mind, if I referred even one person to purchase their contact lenses from the same company that I do, that’s $20 that stays in my pocket because I have a credit from the company. A program like Amazon affiliates, depending on the size of your following and how hard/fast you pump out the affiliate links, may take you several months to reach a $20 sum that you can cash out for money in your pocket. So, if you’re already using said service or program anyways, its a worthwhile consideration to see if there’s a referral code available.

Some examples of companies that offer referral codes (in no particular order):

  • Uber
  • HelloFresh
  • Clearly Contacts
  • AirBnB
  • RobinHood Commission Free Investing
  • Rakuten
  • Daily Harvest Meal Prep
  • Grove Collaborative

Some companies, such as Uber, offer a referral code to every single customer who has an account. All you have to do is share this code with your friends to start earning credits towards the next time you need to take an Uber.

Other companies will send out referral codes to customers who are frequent purchasers from their company.

And some companies you can receive a referral code for sharing by contacting their customer service department.

Please note that the value of each referral link will be different as they are all set by each individual company. So, one referral code for a company might have a value of $20 whilst a referral code for another company might only be worth $5. I would highly recommend that if this something you’d like to consider doing, when doing your research on referral codes that you would like to share and use, make sure you don’t just share every referral code you can get your hands on, but that you choose to share the codes that will bring you the most benefit. If you don’t order meal prep then don’t share a referral code for Hello Fresh. If you do take Uber rides frequently, then share that code as far as your reach can reach.

I would also like to add and important point here in that Referral Codes are different from Discount Codes. Discount codes are those which a company creates to give to an influencer to determine their reach. The company keeps track of how many people use that influencer’s code to determine the value of working with that influencer for future projects. And, in turn, the influencer gets a small commission off someone using that code (usually a percentage of what overall purchases were made with said code). So, providing discount codes is essentially another form of affiliate marketing.

Referral codes are for anyone who uses that business or service. Whether you’re an influencer or not, whether you have ten followers on social medial or a million, you can have a referral code. Because the company banks off the fact that you’ll promote to more people than they’ll have to give company credits for, it’s largely free promotion for them. Also, a lot of people never take advantage of the credits earned. Which in turn makes the referral program even more valuable for a company.

If you use it properly though, stick to the referral links that are most valuable to you, you can purchase items that you need for free.

Considering referral codes? Do your research. Find out of there are companies that you shop with online, or through apps like Uber, that you can get referral codes from to start saving you money off future purchases. Stick to only companies that you use and make an effort to share that code as far and as wide as possible.

Personally, I haven’t seen too many bloggers use Referral Codes as a means of monetizing their blogs. But if done properly, it is a smart way to monetize your blog. If you have any questions about referral codes, leave them in the comments section below.


Lastly, for self promotional purposes, if you purchase your glasses or contact lenses online and live within Canada, The USA, Australia or New Zealand, you can use my referral code. In the case of “Clearly” (also known as “Clearly Contacts and Glasses”, it’s a referral link.

CLICK HERE TO USE MY REFERRAL LINK >

If you use my referral link to purchase your next pair of glasses or order of contact lenses, you will get $20 off your purchase and I will get a $20 credit that will go towards my next order of contact lenses.

If you’ve never heard of this company before but order your glasses or contact lenses online, have a poke around their website and see their prices. You might be surprised. They’re very competitively priced and base shipping largely takes only 2-3 days… even with the ongoing pandemic. Their website can be found here >

Who knows, you might like them and want to start ordering from them and ask the company for a referral code of your own if you’re blind as a bat like I am.

If you purchase glasses or contact lenses online and haven’t been getting much out of it CLICK HERE TO USE MY REFERRAL LINK > or seek out to get your own referral link from this company.

The basics: Instagram 101

As with any marketing tips/tricks/advice provided on this blog, please take all information with a grain of salt. This information is not provided as the ‘be all to end all’ word. So, take what works for you and leave what doesn’t.

Not everyone is interested in Instagram growth. So, if you’re one of those people who doesn’t care one way or another, this advice likely isn’t for you. Which is totally fine. This information is being shared for those who might find it helpful!

Without further adieu:


Hashtags are a tool that allows Instagram users to find other Instagram users who post similar images, share similar interests or are like-minded individuals. When you post an image to Instagram, if you would like the opportunity for others on the platform to find said image, it’s imperative that you use proper and relevant hashtags that depict what’s in your image.

Put the hashtags within your caption, do not put them as the first comment. When you do not put the hashtags within the caption of the photo itself, you’re losing valuable time and real estate within the Instagram algorithm for people who could potentially be viewing your image.

You can post up to 30 hashtags per image. If you are a blogger, or running a business account, it’s recommended that you try to keep hashtag use to 9-11 hashtags per image. There are several reasons for this, most important of which being, if you limit the hashtags you’re using to 9-11 hashtags at most, you’re focusing on only the most relevant hashtags pertaining to the image. When people start reaching hashtag 15 and 16, they start just using random hashtags that don’t really pertain to the image and it can become very spam-like, overcrowding different categories on the platform. This is why you can search ‘#TheGreatOutdoors’ and see pictures of hamburgers and french fries.

When selecting hashtags, select categories that you would search for. Why? Because not all hashtags are as valuable as others. If you’re searching for something on Instagram, there’s better odds that someone else is too. More people are going to be searching ‘#TheGreatOutdoors’ than ‘#Tree’. As you type in the hashtags to Instagram, the app will actually tell you how many people have used said hashtag and similar hashtags. Example:

Include a selection of both popular and less popular hashtags within the 9-11 hashtags used per image. Using the screenshot as an exampe, #LakeLouise will have the potential for more people to find your image, and in turn, your page. But, with more people searching this item, your image will more quickly slide down the Instagram algorithm than if you use #LakeLouiseLove. For this reason, it’s recommended that you use a mixture of both popular and less popular (STILL RELEVANT) hashtags when sharing your image.

If you want to connect with others, ALWAYS use a caption. There’s nothing worse than finding an image that you truly love on Instagram and realizing the person who shared it couldn’t care less about people finding their image and connecting with their content. Use a caption – share the store of the image, or share a story that has nothing to do with the image but speaks to you and your character. If you want to connect with people, a picture won’t speak for you… no matter how pretty it might be.

If you’re specifically looking for growth, there are hashtags that are for bloggers to connect with other bloggers to help support one another. Using #BloggersUnder500 or #BloggersUnder1k, etc… are like flashing the bat symbol for bloggers to find other bloggers and help one another grow their platforms. If you’re looking for growth, use these hashtags to connect with other bloggers and help them find and connect with you.

Promote your Instagram account on other platforms. I follow at least a dozen bloggers on WordPress of which I had no idea that they had Instagram accounts until they followed me. There is no mention of their Instagram accounts ANYWHERE on their blog. Why not? If you have a blog, let people know that you have an Instagram too. It can’t hurt.

Location searches on Instagram can help you to connect with people in your area that you might not even know exist yet. This one might be especially beneficial in this time of social distancing. Want to connect with people in your area without connecting with people in your area? Search your local, nearest airport code or city abbreviation in Instagram. Make new friends. Reach out to people that way. This is actually a great way for small/local businesses to reach out and let public in their city/surrounding area know they’re there and open for business.

You DO NOT have to post every day, but much like with blogging, it helps with the growth of your page if you post somewhat regularly. People like to come to instagram to see new content. If you post once and then don’t come back for a month, then post three times in a week then disappear for two months, you’re going to have a very difficult time convincing people they should connect with you and and your content. If they can’t rely on you to connect with, why should they follow you?

Share other’s images to your Instagram Story. This one doesn’t help you at all. It’s not for growth. It’s not for any other reason than you might like an image. If you like an image that someone you follow has posted, share it to your Instagram story. It furthers their reach, gives them a form of cross promotion they haven’t yet had. Also, it allows you to share images of places you might not yet have been, or might not have seen. This is also extremely beneficial for any small businesses that you might follow. Especially if they’re still operating during COVID. A little share here and there might help their business immensely during these stressful times. So… sprinkle a little kindness in whatever you do!

Don’t just post things because you think they’re trendy. People aren’t so dense that they cannot figure out who’s being a try-hard on social media. While you might like the instant gratification of sharing something that’s been going viral day after day after week after week, the tired, tried and done a thousand times means being a trendy Instagram user gets old real quick. You won’t build connections, you won’t have the interaction you’re searching for and, you’ll lack authenticity. It’s 2020, people. Real is the new real.

Be nice. Hopefully this one doesn’t require an explanation.

You have to have 10,000 followers in order to post links. Unlike Twitter where you link every tweet, you have to reach a threshold of engagement to earn that ability with Instagram. So, if you’re looking to use Instagram to promote your blog, you’re going to have to get creative.

Don’t spam people. I don’t even want to tell you how many unread messages I have in my inbox of people trying to sell me MLM products or sign me up to work under their MLM business. If you spam people, it will annoy them. And if you are looking to grow your Instagram profile, I would recommend you not annoy people in the process.

If, and only if, you’re not worried about privacy, make sure this option is checked off under your settings tab:

If you’re worried about your privacy, or family or friends finding your page, and in turn, blog, then make sure this box isn’t selected in your settings. This could recommend your page to people in your area or people who you share mutual friends with. So, if someone you know follows your page, but not everyone you know is aware of your blog, be careful with this function.

If you are running a small business, or any business for that matter, stick to business and keep your personal opinions out of it. I recently witnessed a cafe in Vancouver lose 10,000 followers in less than 24 hours after the owner got on his Instagram Story to proclaim that the government was ruining everyone’s futures so that fewer people would die and that we should risk the deaths of those that could catch it anyway to ensure that business can keep going as normal. This cafe is one that’s been on several TV shows (Diners Drive Ins and Dives, You gotta eat here and a couple of others) and had grown a rather large following online because of that. And he threw it all away when he started sharing his personal opinions. Whether someone agrees, or vehemently disagrees with your opinions, they don’t want these opinions from a business. No one followed his cafe on Instagram to get advice on economics, government or politics. They followed his business account to find out what soup of the day he was serving for take out. What baked treats he could deliver that day. A move like that could quite literally kill a business reputation.


Lastly, for lack of better conclusion, if you made it this far, follow me on Instagram! @MillennialMe88

Blog Monetization Options

Photo from iheartradio.ca

Have you ever wondered how people make money from their blog? This post will break down some of the more common options (not every option) that people use to monetize their sites and earn income from blogging, as well as share some of my personal insights as to the positives/negatives to each of the options.

I will also provide some links to other resources that might help if you’re considering any of the options for your blog.

Disclaimer: I do not recommend any one option over another. If you’re looking to monetize your blog, please do research before you go ahead.

AFFILIATE MARKETING

One of the easiest options to use as a means to monetize your site, affiliate marketing is when you share an affiliate link (a link generated by said company to track useage) to a product online. If someone purchases that product using the link that you have provided you will receive a small commission from their purchasing of that good.

The biggest player in affiliate marketing in 2020 is Amazon. Read more about the Amazon affiliate program here >

You can also get affiliate links from platforms such as Uber, Hello Fresh, AirBnB and Sephora if you do some digging and contacting of companies. Affiliate marketing is something that works really well if you already use and speak of the products prior to getting an affiliate link. You’ve built a rapport with your readers, so to speak, so when you begin providing them links, they trust you’re being honest with them. Nobody wants to buy dog food from someone who’s recommending it even though they don’t own a dog.

Please note that all affiliate programs only works if people purchase the goods that you’re linking. You do not get money just for linking an item. So, you’re peddling products and giving companies free advertising without a guarantee that you’ll earn anything from it.

SELL SOMETHING

You can use your blog to sell just about anything your little heart could dream up. Whether it books, blogging courses, crafts, consultations, copywriting services, voiceover work or whatever it is that you are good at, if you think that you could turn that into income, then do so.

You will be responsible for ensuring the consumer is happy with the product(s) being provided to them, so there is some… due care required in the process.

It’s also worth noting that you do not need to purchase the premium/business WordPress account in order to sell things. You can purchase the premium/business account, but you can also use E-Transfer, Paypal or Venmo as long as you make arrangements to guarantee delivery of product or service to the consumer. Some bloggers even have their books available on Amazon and simply link to Amazon from their blog.

Please note that just because you put something for sale does not mean that it’s going to be purchased. A lot of people believe that all they have to do is acknowledge their product or service is for sale and people will run to buy it. This isn’t always the case. You should be doing market research on any product or service you’re offering prior to offering.

ADVERTISE

With respect to WordPress, if you have purchased the premium account, or higher, you have the opportunity to earn income from the ads on your website. This is not available for people who use the platform for free, nor is this available for the people who’ve purchased the personal account.

Please note that considerable traffic is required in order to even make a small amount of money using advertisements for monetization. (I used to run a corporate blog that had 50,000 hits per week, on average, and we made roughly 70 cents per day in ad revenue) Pay per click requires people to see advertisements in order to click them, and if you don’t have sizable traffic viewing your blog each day, earnings from advertisements might not even be enough to cover the fee you paid for the premium WordPress account.

PRINT ON DEMAND

Websites such as TeeSpring and Bonfire offer a service known as print-on-demand. Print-on-demand involves creators designing merchandise and marketing said merchandise to their readers/viewers. Each print-on-demand company takes a base fee off the sale of any items that are sold and will create each singular item as they are sold… hence the phrase print on demand. The company will then ship it to whomever made a purchase of said item, thus ensuring creators are not on the hook for holding stock of said items, or investing any real money into the sale of the items whatsoever.

A great Youtube channel to learn more about print-on-demand is Wholesale Ted. Sarah is a seasoned vet with print on demand creation, promotion and sales who shares her wisdom with the internet, for free, as a means to try and help others find success using the very services she makes her living from.

Please note that print-on-demand services have slowed considerably due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and a lot of warehouses needing to close down to protect the employees who work for them.

SPONSORSHIP

Sponsorship looks different for every blogger. It’s dependent on companies, your traffic, your followers, your engagement and your earning potential. It’s also dependent on you reaching out to a company that you’d be interested in working with and asking them if they would be willing to sponsor a post, or a series of posts, for your blog. You have to make the first step, which is why a lot of bloggers stray away from this route.

If this is an avenue that you would like to take, networking is very important to gaining sponsorship from various companies. Introdue yourself to companies through email or LinkedIn means. Don’t just say ‘Hey, can you sponsor me?’ Wine and dine them, so to speak. Let them know what you do and what you’re good at so that when you approach the subject they’re already aware of the benefit that could be had from sponsoring content on your blog.

*Sponsorship can be monetary, or they can come in the form of being gifted products in exchange for speaking about them on your blog.

Please note that if you’re gifted any product, or being paid to talk about any products on your blog you are required to follow the guidelines of the FTC (in the United States) and/or the equivalent in your country of residence.

CEATE A PATREON ACCOUNT

Patreon is a membership platform based in the United States that provides business tools for creators to run a subscription content service. It allows creators and artists to earn a monthly income by providing exclusive rewards and perks to their subscribers, or “patrons”.

Whereas you are required to have a certain amount of subscribers to set up memberships on Youtube, you can set up a Patreon for free with any amount of followers on your blog, whether it’s 2 or 2 million, and ask for your blog readers to support you through becoming a Patron.

Patreon Website >

Patreon then takes a small fraction of your earnings from each month to pay their fees (staff salaries, money transfers, etc) and the remainder you can transfer out as you please.

I have a Patreon account actually introduced myself on there to people who support me through Patreon. The people who support my Patreon at the $5 level are actually listed on the ‘Supporters’ page in my blog menu.

Please note that a Patreon account might be difficult for people to contribute to during the present pandemic state the world is living in. A lot of people who might have considered supporting you and your blog prior to COVID-19 now have a much tighter hold on their spending to ensure that they make it through the next few months of not working. So, if you create a Patreon account, please keep that in mind. Everyone is struggling right now… unless you’re Bill Gates.

CHARGE FOR GUEST POSTS

If your blog is in high demand and you’re looking for a means to take advantage of that, offer people the ability to write guest posts for your blog for a small fee. It could be as little as one, two or three dollars per post. They’re getting advertisement out of being able to share their writing on your blog and you’re getting content and earning that fee.

Please note that you cannot guarantee any person a certain amount of views or followers will be gained by writing a guest post for your blog. So, if you’re charging people for guest posts, you need to ensure you’re not making false promises (that I see a lot of people make). Be real, reasonable and honest with anyone who wants to purchase a guest post for your blog – it’s an opportunity for further reach, not a guarantee.


As with any information that I provide on this blog, please do your research before taking a deep-dive into any one of these categories. Be responsible, be smart and invest your time and energy wisely to ensure that if you are going to monetize your blog, it’s going to be worthwhile.

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to monetization, so please adjust any and all strategies according to you and your blog. If you have questions, leave them in the comments below and I will try to answer, or direct you to someone who can answer.

What causes blogging burnout?

Photo from Neurotracker.net

Over the past fifteen months I’ve seen a lot of really good bloggers up and quit. They stop coming online, or they delete their pages all together. People come and people go, that’s a fact of life. But burnout, is that avoidable? What causes burnout? What causes people to go so quickly? Even the promising bloggers, they say hasta-la-vista faster than anyone could say ‘please don’t give up’. Why?

People think blogging is easy. Too many people believe that maintaining a successful blog is simple. Too many people believe that all they have to do is hit publish and people will like/love/leave comments and subscribe. Over the night thousands of people will magically find their blog and they’ll be such a hit that people will hang off every word they say.

People take personal offense when expectation doesn’t meet reality. Far too many people will bitch and moan if they don’t get the number of comments on their post that they think they deserve. Instead of taking the opportunity to share, and be grateful for the opportunity to share, people will get angry if their post doesn’t get enough attention. This can lead to blogging burnout quite quickly. Anyone looking for, hoping for or seeking attention and gratification from others in what they post will likely always be disappointed with the results, no matter if it was five people who viewed or 5,000.

People lack the work-ethic needed to run a successful blog. In a world more connected than ever before, people seek content from online sources 24 hours a day, seven days per week. Anyone who runs a successful blog knows that they need to put time and effort into the posts they’re making and the content they’re sharing. Showing up every now and again to share something and expect a reaction is naive. A dedicated reader wants to come back to a blog and find something new to discover. If any potential reader has to come back again and again and again in hopes of finding something new, they’re going to give up quickly. If they give up quickly, the blogger tends to give up shortly thereafter.

People try too hard to be ‘trendy’. Just because something is being talked about on the internet does not mean that it’s going to bring any more traffic to a blog by speaking about it. A blog should be a reflection of the person composing it, not a reflection of trending topics from week to week to week.

People put too much money into their blog, assuming that monetary investment will equal success. Between premium/buisness accounts, custom layouts, custom logos, social media advertisements, google advertisements, taking blogging courses and son on and so forth, there are plenty of ways to spend plenty of money on a blog. That being said, spending money on a blog does not mean that blog is going to be successful. Spending money on a blog is a lot like spending money on a gym membership. No one would purchase a gym membership and assume that the simple act of having that membership means they will get six-pack abs, yet people will purchase all the bells and whistles for their account and assume that means their blog will make the money immediately. Unfortunately, life isn’t full of quick fixes.

What are some tips, tricks and tools that you use to avoid blogging burnout? Have you ever suffered blogging burnout? What brought you back? Also, do you have any blogs that you absolutely loved reading which the blog owner quit blogging? What do you think stopped them from returning to their blog?


From analytics to photo editing, writers block to blogging basics, all of the tips, tricks and suggestions that I provide with respect to growing your blog and social media presence online can be found by clicking here >

Please take any and all tips, tricks and suggestions that you read on this blog, and beyond, with a grain of salt. Blogging is not a one size fits all journey, so take what works for you and leave what doesn’t.

Sending successful thoughts your direction!

Predatory marketing during a pandemic

Disclaimer: When I started this was meant to, in fact, be a post about predatory marketing during a pandemic. As I started thinking further, and rambling, it unfolded into a lot more than initially intended. All that being said, I was unsure of what to change the title of this post to… hence the original title only being applicable to a portion of what I am talking about.

What’s the appropriate way to do business during a pandemic?

This is a subject that I’ve been thinking a lot about the past few weeks. Whilst we’ve been aware of Corona Virus since New Year’s Day (here in Canada), things didn’t really start getting bad until the end of February. The end of February also marked a distinct turning point in this country, a turning point in which both people and corporations, companies, businesses and entrepreneurs began to show their true colours.

I’ve seen a lot of blatant disregard for the human condition the past few months. Racist dog-whistles putting Asian communities across the world at risk, fights about which resources should be put where, people hoarding groceries and cleaning supplies forcing a lot of vulnerable citizens to go without. It’s been a trying time for our world. And, amidst it all, though I’m sure there’s more happening on the inside they’re not telling us of, a lot of business is acting as though it’s business as usual.

But is it?

To quote one of my favourite books:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair

-Charles Dickens

I guess I should preface this with saying that I did a double major of Marketing and Economics while at University. I remember falling into the subject my first year as a mandatory requirement, and for the next three and a half years switching all of my electives to relate to Economics.

To its definition, economics is the social science that studies the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. More than it’s definition though, economics is the study of people. How we act and react to the world around us. What we deem important, what are needs, what are wants and what are frivolous things that we coax ourselves into purchasing.

Though it might not seem it from the outside, Economics and Psychology are two closely related subjects.

For the past year I’ve also been consulting for an economic development firm. The hours have been sporadic, at times non-existent, but it’s reignited my passion for people and the way they do things, and how someone (or some thing, in the case of what I’m talking about) can project behaviours based on the state of the world.

Basically, if you want effective marketing, you need to understand people – both from an economic and a psychological standpoint.

Wow, okay. Longest intro ever.

Does anyone else have an email inbox that has been inundated with ‘special offers’ from what seems like every company on earth the past month? Is anyone else getting special text message offers from other companies, of things they can do to take advantage of this sale that “they never do!”? No? Just me? Well, I speak from personal opinion anyway, so I’ll keep going.

When companies react to a crisis, they can take one of three routes:

Route 1) Understand that people are hurting, struggling or going through tough times and try to help. This can be done in a number of ways, using Corona Virus as the subject matter, examples include:

  • Breweries creating hand sanitizer to ship to medical facilities, senior care facilities, homeless shelters and so on and so forth
  • Clothing manufacturers halting production of clothing in their warehouses to have workers create protective masks to be sent to health care workers on the front lines
  • A basic example is just companies taking the burden. What I mean by this is, changing in-person jobs to online jobs. Purchasing the software and safety equipment necessary for the employees to be properly, and adequately looked-after because they value their employees

Companies that take option one are also the companies that understand, during a pandemic, that up to two thirds of the population are going to become very careful about how and where they spend their money. These companies aren’t about to slam products down your throat. They will, continue to market their products as done before, but they are acknowledging the fact that we’re living through unprecedented times and that there is no road map for life right now.

Route 1 is an option that I would personally consider to be a very productive means to support society… customers or not, during times of need. I have seen considerable examples of this during the past month. Vessi, a Canadian sneaker brand, gave away free shoes to any health care worker that could provide them proof of their employment/job. Tristan Style, a mid-high end Canadian fashion brand, is now paying all seamstresses in their warehouse to create protective masks and visors for health care workers.

Taking a closer look at communities across the country, there are companies who have taken this crisis head-on and are responding in productive, albeit not-profitable, ways to help. These companies are not only dedicating their efforts towards helping people in the front lines of this pandemic, they’re also helping each and every one of their employees by keeping them working. These are the companies that deserve support through ‘your’ business both now, and once the fog has cleared..

Route 2) Close or limit operations. Either for good, or for an indefinite amount of time, laying off or firing workers that relied on that employment as a means to feed their families and financially support them through said crisis.

Route 2 is a hard road to take and a hard pill to swallow. As much as we’d like to believe that everyone can stay open whilst not churning profit, it’s just not feasible. I understand that. But I also understand there are two types of businesses that have closed during this period. Those who were forced to close because they cannot financially support their employees to work through this time, and those who chose to close because the do not want to financially support their employees to work through this time.

It’s worth noting that in a grey area here also is Amazon. Amazon, a company that is.. half open(?) at this time, but is also not paying for health insurance or sick leave for any employees. I honestly don’t know enough about his personal financials to verify the validity of the statement, but I read online that Jeff Bezos (a man with more money then he could ever spend in his lifetime) could pay for basic health insurance for every single employee that works for Amazon and he would still have a personal fortune of more than 80 billion dollars. I’m not saying that Amazon is the devil here, I’m just providing all sorts of input. Nevertheless, I digress.

Through this pandemic there are businesses that have chosen to close. They were not forced to close. They opted to lay off, or fire, their employees and just close their doors because it’s easier. They’re cutting their losses, literally and figuratively, and will revisit at a later date. These are the businesses that I truly believe do not deserve time or money when all is said and done.

Route 3) PANDEMIC MARKETING. This is where the vultures come out. Pandemic marketing is a term of reference for any corporation, company, small business or entrepreneur who has tried to take advantage of this situation to better their business/financial standing. I refer to them as vultures because these companies, while aware that in times of trouble, crisis or panic are aware that people get more careful about what they spend money on, will market the fucking hell out of you just to see how much money they can get. Examples include:

  • The big players – Walmart, Costco, Home Depot, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, etc…
  • The mid-size players – Sephora, clothing brands like American Eagle or JCrew, national chains like Petro Canada (that don’t seem to understand price gouging is illegal)
  • The predatory players – Any and all MLM companies.
  • The smaller players (these are the players who are trying to hide their pandemic marketing behind a message of ‘just looking out for you’) – these include smaller businesses, maybe the local carpet supplier who’s trying to convince you that right now, right this very instant, is the perfect time for you to redo all of the flooring in your home

Whether it through email, text message, direct facebook messages, sponsored instagram posts, youtube videos, however you’re seeing it, I guarantee you’re seeing it.

“BUY NOW FOR 40% OFF. WE NEVER DO SALES THIS EPIC!” – Carpet One

“If you purchase during these difficult times, not only will you have the ‘hospital staff care kit’ (I’m not lying, they actually named it that) but we’ll throw in the energy fizz bath bomb and hand sanitizer as well!” – Arbonne

“Walmart has just what you need to get you and your family through this together! Also, take 40% off clearance items!” – Walmart

“Get a luxury mini when you spend $35, free shipping if you spend $50 and a coupon for 25% off your next purchase if you spend $80.” Sephora

So, upon first glance, these don’t seem all that bad, do they? Well, minus the Arbonne kit. Any company that is selling overpriced hygiene items they’re referring to as the ‘Hospital Staff care kit’ during a pandemic is a new level of low. But, as far as advertisements, these seem somewhat innocent.

Except they’re coming every day. Sometimes multiple times a day. Sephora knows that people don’t need makeup to get them through a pandemic, because they’re not going out. That’s why they’re trying to bait people with these ‘special offers’ that aren’t so special. Act now and get a luxury mini? Oh boy. People can’t find toilet paper, but a sample of luxury skincare enough for 2-3 uses sounds like a steal of a deal right now.

These companies are trying to take advantage of the fact that people are, or should be, at home right now, and if they are at home, they’re bored. They’re trying to take advantage of consumers wallets before people realize the severity of the situation and buckle down on how their money is being spent.

In the case of the Arbonne, and various other MLM advertisements I’ve seen and been bombarded with the past month, the MLM memos have been to prey on people’s anxieties and insecurities as a means to sell product. In what world would anyone want the ‘hospital staff care kit’ when all of the items in said kit could be found a the grocery store for half the price? In a pandemic when those items have been stripped from the shelves! Time to take advantage.

In the case of Petro Canada, I’ve seen some pretty alarming social media messages the past few weeks about the company, from coast to coast, selling things like personal/purse sized containers of hand sanitizer for $24.99. A month ago those containers would have been two or three dollars. But, this is pandemic marketing we’re dealing with. They know that people are panicking and they’re going to take advantage.

Social media sites like Facebook. Twitter and Instagram are making bank right now. No question about it. Because every company that has been affected by this pandemic is using social media to reach out to their customers, or could be customers through paid-for advertisements. I’ve seen how predatory it’s been first-hand because I run social media accounts for the economic development firm I’m consulting with, and also for Knight’s work, and Facebook has been shoving advertisement sales down my throat the past few weeks. SALE! SALE! ACT NOW AND WE’LL GIVE YOU 10 DOLLARS OFF! Oh, you didn’t act? Well, we’re still feeling nice, act today and we’ll give you the 10 dollars off!

I guess, the point of this long and winding message that I’ve been trying to portray here is that it’s important to take a look at how companies and people are acting, and reacting, to this pandemic. Who is trying to take advantage and who is trying to help weather the storm?

It’s a widely known fact that the majority of society will tighten the grip on their wallets in times of a crisis. This is where economics, marketing and psychology meet. Certain goods will not able to be produced at the same rates they’ve been being produced at for years, whilst other goods need to ramp up production. How do companies balance profits and losses whilst knowing that the products they’re trying to sell are exactly what people don’t need in the middle of a panedmic?

In the words of the late Kenny Rodgers ‘you’ve got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away and know when to run’. That’s actually a pretty accurate depiction of business, and life in 2020.

Those who worried about how their bills are going to get paid are now being bombarded with ‘ACT NOW AND OUR $200 BIKINI IS ONLY $145!’ Do people have enough will power to ignore these sales? That’s what these companies are trying to exploit, hoping they will cave and spend even more money in a time where the future is anything but certain.

I feel as though I started this with a clear purpose in mind and I lost track of the point I was trying to make along the way. I’m hoping this makes sense. But I guess, if it doesn’t, that’s completely on brand for me.

Guest Post: SEO Basics: Optimize your blog with Yoast and improve traffic

The following is a guest post written by Debby from the blog DebbySEO. *Please note that certain plugins may not be available to all WordPress accounts due to them only being available for certain plans.


Often I am asked what the best SEO tools and plugins are that I recommend. This comes as no surprise as search engines are a major source of traffic for most sites, and every blogger wants to increase website ranking in an effort to get more sales. Sometimes we just don’t know what to do or where to start in order to make SEO work for us.

In this article I will share the best WordPress SEO plugins and tools for you to use. I have noticed that many WordPress sites on are offering great content, but simply lack the SEO plugins required to perform well. In this article I will explain how to install the Yoast WP plugin for SEO, and lightly touch topics such as keyword analysis, off-site link building and more.

Note that when reading SEO tips found in top 10 results, or when searching for phrases like “best free WordPress SEO plugins” you will find many results and recommendations. The truth is that the top recommendations are not always the best ones. After all, everyone in the Google top 10 listings seems to be out to sell something. I have been providing affordable SEO services for years and will provide you with reliable information so you can kick-start your business and blog using whitehat SEO techniques without paying a penny.

Obsessive Compulsive Keyword Disorder

Do you suffer from obsessive compulsive keyword disorder? Yes Ma’am! Keywords are extremely important for SEO as they draw the right visitors to your website. They can make or break a website. Having a better understanding of the specific keywords your visitors are searching for allows you to offer better services and products on your blog.

On the other hand, you should be careful not to use SEO tools to over-optimize. If you use keywords too frequently the website will look spammy and you may even be penalized. The Yoast plugin is designed to help you optimize SEO by spreading out keywords in a responsible manner, taking into consideration the proper density and placement based on a real-time comparison with top ranking websites.

I think of Google Analytics & Google Webmaster as a friend

Proper use of keywords has the biggest impact on your SEO campaign, make sure to use Google to better target them. If you have not already done so, I recommend that you first sign up for a free Google Analytics and Google Webmaster account. This will enable you to measure the difference in traffic before and after installation of SEO plugins such as Yoast.

There is nothing more important than SEO titles and descriptions

And Yoast is all you need to successfully complete this task. You can quickly add SEO titles and descriptions to all blog posts and pages on your website, and you can even include open graph metadata and social media images to your postings. The best way to decide what title is appropriate, is to look in Google analytics to see what your audience is searching for, and then decide on which keywords you wish to target. The descriptions should always take some special consideration as this will be listed in search engines and as such determines your click-through rate.

And at the end of the night, they realized how important those little XML Sitemaps were, which they ignored while adoring the beauty of their sites

Yoast SEO will generate your XML sitemap with images in no-time! All you have to do is press the button and it will create a highly optimized cached page that will quickly load and be automatically updated every time you make a post. You can also easily import SEO data if you have been using another plugin. Yoast is the all-round solution for both rookies and veterans.

Let me quickly line out the features here. Yoast offers to change post’s SEO titles and meta descriptions on a per post basis, it supports meta descriptions for taxonomies (for example category and tags), it will focus on your keyword testing, configure your robot.txt file in order to add noindex, nofollow pages etc. You will additionally be able to configure an RSS footer/header, get Google search result snippet previews, clean up permalinks while still allowing for Google custom search, import data from other SEO plugins such as Platinum SEO pack and All in One SEO pack and more. Did I just dazzle you?

This might indeed all sound a bit overwhelming but it is in fact really easy and it just requires you to play around until you become comfortable with the full functionality. So far I have discussed only the free version of the plugin but there is paid version too which offers a redirect manager, focus on multiple keywords, ability to export focus keywords, internal linking suggestions, video tutorials to help you better understand how everything works and premium support to get the most out of your site’s SEO. The paid version can be obtained for less than $90, but in my opinion the free version offers plenty of functionality.

It does not do to dwell on Yoast SEO and forget to build offsite links

Yoast has been around since I just started my first SEO Company, and their plugin has worked miracles for the websites I have worked on. All the websites I have worked on increased their traffic by focusing on important keywords for their niche market, but still, if you don’t spend time on off-site link building your SEO campaign will not be very successful. Google must see links pointed to your site in order to determine that your content is relevant.

A good way to get some link juice flowing is to install a plugin that allows you to setup a resource directory where you can exchange links with content related websites. If done right, this will also add value to your blog. Another SEO technique that is often employed is to write guest postings and to obtain offsite links in topic related directories. The more links pointing to your website, the higher the relevancy. Obviously keywords used for the anchor text and surrounding content is very important for relevancy. SEO always has a high payoff in the long run, it may take time but it is definitely worth it.

Yoast drowns out all but the brightest SEO plugins

I will now mention some other SEO plugins for you to enjoy. SEMrush is said to be the most effective SEO tool but it does come at a cost. You can use it to find organic keywords and search terms that you can easily rank for. Such keywords are known as niche market keywords which are in high demand as they have little competing websites. Next up is Ahrefs, you have probably heard of the name, it is an all-in-one SEO tool for bloggers, marketers and businesses. It is an alternative to SEMRush and offers similar features and tools.

More free SEO tools are offered by AllinOneSeoPack, a popular WordPress SEO plugin offering a comprehensive set of tools to improve your ranking. You can use it to optimize SEO titles and metatags, image sitemaps, open graph meta tags and more. I have used All in One SEO Pack in the past and would rate it just below Yoast. Both offer their plugins for free so don’t wait and start optimizing. SEOPress is another free Yoast alternative that offers a premium version at lower cost. It comes with easier setup for beginners and advanced controls for more experienced users so it may be something you may wish to consider.

Remember, install only one SEO plugin at a time and frequently check for broken links on your site as these are harmful to your listings. I hope you enjoyed this article, make sure to check out the Yoast SEO installation video at:   https://youtu.be/4KOc-oM7Yr8


Thank you to Debby from the blog DebbySEO for contributing the following post to #MillennialLifeCrisis.

How to spot the fakes, the overly-edited and the just not quite real photos on Instagram and beyond

I’ve heard it said that as many as 6 out of every 10 people really can’t tell the difference between if a photo is real or fake. As someone who has done a lot of photo manipulating in my day, I thought perhaps I’d take the opportunity to show some examples of fake, overly edited and unrealistic photos as a means to know what to look for.

If you know any of the people in this photos, please do not send them hate messages. The point of this post is not to bully, it’s just to share more insight on just how Instagram and reality aren’t always the same.

Some examples:

THE TAJ MAHAL

When I first saw this photo, the Instagrammer was claiming that she merely used a filter to give it a pink-tint, because she liked the look. The problem is, there’s a whole lot more that’s been done to this photo than just adding a filter.

Firstly, as one of the most visited, photographed and loved landmarks on earth, the Taj Mahal is crowded. All the time. Every day. Even on a slow day it’s 100% unlikely that she ever would have been able to take this photo with only her in this shot.

Secondly, the reflection of the Taj Mahal in the pool has been disproportionately scaled to fit in the pool. While it is possible to see a reflection of the structure in the pool, the width of the building and the angle of this shot make it virtually impossible for the entire Taj Mahal to be seen in the narrow pool.

Thirdly, note how the shadow of her standing in front of the pool is on the stone she’s standing on, but stops dead at the pool. Her reflection does not continue in the water… which is not really how reflection works, either.

This is a small thing, not noticed by simply looking at this photo alone, but this girl has actually photoshopped those birds, the exact cluster of birds, into several other photos from different locales around the world – the south of France, Venice, etc.. Moral of the story – there is more fake in this photo than real.

LAKE LOUISE, ALBERTA, CANADA

This photo, or photos, is at the Fairmont Lake Louise. This is a place I’ve been to many times in my life and can attest to its beauty, so when I see this photo, not only do I see a cringey photoshop job, but I also take a little bit of offense. Lake Louise is one of the most beautiful places on the planet, naturally. It doesn’t need to be edited.

Putting my personal feelings aside, do you notice how she seems to have a sort of ‘ethereal’ halo around her? When people are newbies at photoshop, that’s a trick they tend to use to try and help photos blend into the background. In her case, I think she likely thought because there was so much white in the background it wouldn’t look as obvious. You can also see the halo-like lighting at the top of the chair and all the way around the edge of the window frame.

Another thing to note is that she appears to be wearing a colour changing toque. This is a small thing but the back of her toque is pink and the front of her toque is grey. This happens a lot when you import a part of an image from elsewhere into a new image. In this case, I think she imported her body in front of this window.

While I think she likely ate at this restaurant when she was there, she likely wasn’t seated by a window. This restaurant books up months in advance, and since she couldn’t get a picture in front of a window, she photoshopped herself in front of the window, added some filters and then overly-saturated the two images to try and make them blend together easily.

IT’S PARIS… OR IS IT?

Have you ever seen stars in the middle of the city? No. There’s a reason for that, it’s called light pollution. When the light from a city brightens the sky, it drowns out the visibility of the stars.

This is Paris, the city love, the city of lights, with millions of lights everywhere… hundreds, if not thousands seen in this photo alone. The Eiffel tower itself is lit in this photo. There’s also lights lit all around the tower. And yet light pollution just didn’t happen on this day? A sky full of stars just magically appeared in a not very dark sky?

To me it looks like there’s been some stitching down around hear head, and also on her left leg. Those are more subtle.

Was she actually in Paris? Maybe. Maybe not. I’ve never been to the Eiffel Tower, so I cannot vouch as to whether or not this concrete she’s sitting on is in fact there. I will say though, this concrete she’s sitting on could really be anywhere. It could be in her back yard. The fact that she’s looking away means there really isn’t a lot involved with changing this photo to be San Francisco, or Hong Kong… or anywhere, if you catch my drift. If she wasn’t in Paris, all she really needed to do was drop Paris in the background. In her case, she also heavily edited the sky to fill it with stars so that her life looks even that much more magical.

It’s an illusion. It’s all an illusion.

THE ‘CLOUD CHASER’

Take a close look at the clouds in the background of these photos. This Instagram user has photoshopped the sky in every photo she’s taken, around the world, to put in clouds that she actually liked, because the actual clouds in the sky just weren’t good enough for her. That same cluster of clouds followed her around the world.

If someone is willing to go through the process to edit the clouds in the sky, what does that say about the authenticity of their Instagram?

HOW MANY HANDS DOES SHE HAVE?

Honestly, the Kardashians are easy to use for showcasing photo editing fails because there aren’t really any photos they post without editing.

Editing of this photo was clearly done in FaceTune. If you don’t notice the flaw immediately, that’s okay. It’s subtle on first glance. But look at the hand on the right side of Khloe Kardashian, she seems to have tried to pull in her thigh to make it look thinner, and in the process, created a second hand… or at least 1.5 hands. The thing about FaceTune that people often forget is that when the APP disrupts the data to make someone thinner, it’s going to try and fix that data by re-writing the background of the photo. In this case, her hand ended up getting duplicated.

WHEN YOUR THIGH IS THINNER THAN YOUR KNEE

Either her left leg (the underneath leg) is considerably longer and thinner than her right leg (disproportionately so) or, this is a bad photoshop job. Now, this is Kourtney Kardashian, who in my opinion needs no photoshopping to start with. This photo is just all sorts of weird. It seems to give the illusion that her left thigh gets thinner as yo move farther up from her knee. For a woman who’s already very thin to start with, it’s sad that she feels she needs to be this heavily edited in order to be posted for public consumption.

Things to look for:

If you’re browsing Instagram and something seems to good to be true, it probably is. I want to disclaim that, to the people who feel a need to edit their photos there is no hate here. I just want to make people more aware of just how easy it is to fake reality. If we all know the truth behind what a photo really is, we might stop trying so hard to make our lives a series of these picture perfect images. If you’re curious about how to tell for editing, here’s couple of suggestions to look for:

  • Everything in the photo is in focus. Camera’s aren’t capable of capturing both the subject in the foreground and the objects in the background to all be in focus in one photo.
  • Copied patterns. This doesn’t just happen with the sky, this happens with human body parts. Fitness influencers are big for this – not only do they photoshop their muscles, but they’ll photoshop the muscles of anyone in the photo with them. If you’ve ever seen a group of men flexing their biceps that all seem to look shockingly similar, it’s probably because they are.
  • Blurriness or lack of texture is a telltale sign that someone’s face has been smoothed over with a FaceTune filter. Human beings have pores, texture and colouring in their skin. If you’re not seeing it in photos, that’s not because they were blessed by the genetic lottery, that’s because they edited it out.
  • Damaged/Distorted Pixels. If you’re looking at a photo and there appears to be damaged pixels within the image, this is a telltale sign of poor editing. There’s something in photoshop called the ‘Clone Stamp’ and what that does is allow you to draw over portions of an image with the pixels from elsewhere in the image. The process of clone stamping works great if you’re not looking closely at an image, but, if you’re taking a second look, the clone stamp ALWAYS damages pixels in the photograph. Once those pixels are damaged, you can’t get them back.
  • When the reflection doesn’t match the body. While people will make their waist thinner, legs longer, boobs bigger and so on and so forth, the majority of people seem to forget about their reflection. If there’s anything reflective in the photo at all – mirrors, windows, any body of water, shadows from the sun, check the reflection. Often times the reflection will be a display of their original image that they were trying to edit out.
  • A distorted background. Probably the most easy of all to spot, crooked doors, lamp posts with holes in them, clean lines of walls and paintings being off are all telltale signs the photo you’re looking at isn’t legitimate. When people try to make themselves look thinner in photos, these apps they use ‘pull in’ their body. When their body is pulled in, so is the background behind them – which makes for a whole lot of cars with protruding lesions and benches that seem to defy the laws of physics.

To anyone who doesn’t already know (I’m assuming everyone does, but just in case) any and all photos you’re viewing on Instagram from your phone can be zoomed in by pinching the screen of your phone. If you’re not on your phone, or you’re elsewhere on the web and something looks off, it probably is. You can zoom in on any photo on the internet by changing the view of your Internet Browser.

To close this off, I’d just like to say that… life is a very beautiful and fragile thing and that who you are is perfect, just the way you are. If you do edit yourself in photos for your Instagram, that’s your choice, but please, at the very least, keep the real versions for yourself. There’s nothing worse than looking back at photos of your life and realizing that they’re so heavily edited you don’t even recognize yourself. It almost… distorts your memories, if that makes any sense.

There’s no hate. I just want to remind people that Instagram and reality aren’t one and the same.

Is it legit? Being mindful of emails that try to scam bloggers.

One of the most exciting things you can receive as a blogger is emails about business opportunities/partnerships. Sadly, a lot of these emails often end up being scams. But, in receiving one, you can sometimes get so excited that you’ve been sent this email you forget to look for the small details.

It’s important to be able to tell if an email is a legitimate business opportunity for your blog, or a phishing scam. Lately I’ve both received, and heard of, a lot of different scam emails being sent to bloggers. If you have a ‘Contact Me’ page on your blog, or offer your email address on your blog, you may have even gotten some of these yourself. Here are some things to look for that can help determine whether or not the request you’ve gotten is legitimate.

  • The email should be addressed to you, not to the name of your blog, or a generic phrase such as ‘dear customer’. If you do not provide a first name on your blog, a legitimate business request will include them introducing themselves and asking for your first name
  • The email should have proper spelling and grammar. (This email I’ve included as example is a hot mess) Scams will often exchange ‘o’ for ‘0’ to bypass spam filters that services like hotmail, gmail and yahoo mail have in place.
  • The email should include a company name, at bare minimum, in the signature. If they’re smart, they’ll include it elsewhere in the email as well. If they are self employed, they will acknowledge that.
  • The email should NEVER ask you to do something in direct violation of law. IE Post a paid for advertisement to your blog whilst not disclosing that it was paid for.
  • The email should never request for personal information such as a phone number, access to your blog, pay-pal account info, and so on and so forth. If no business relationship has been established (yet) why would they need this information immediately?
  • A legitimate business opportunity for your blog will never come from someone who ‘expects’ anything from you. Initial emails should be a request and nothing more.
  • Take a close look at the email address, not just the sender name. Often times the domain can be a dead giveaway that an email isn’t legitimate. And, while it is true that some self-employed/small business owners do use services such as GMAIL for business, they will always have their name, or their company name used in the email. In the case of the email example I have attached, the name in the email address of who the email was from did not match the name on the bottom of the email.
  • Do not open poorly labeled or unlabeled attachments. And, if attachments are labeled, be careful to make sure that it’s not a scam before you open.

Last, but certainly not least, does the email make your ‘spidey sense’ flare up?

This list may sound obvious when you’re reading it, but there are a lot of people in this world who fall for email scams. People get so caught up in the excitement of them that there are a lot of Nigerian Princes with a lot of money right now. And, a lot of Lawyers in Monaco that won’t be wiring that 4.2 million they promised from your dearly departed relative that you’ve never met that they set up the will for.

I would strongly encourage that, if you feel an email could be a scam, you do not respond. Even a simple ‘No thank you’ can send them after you for months on end, request after request, annoying the crap out of you in an effort to wear you down.

If you think it could be a scam just hit delete.


Have you ever received a business request/opportunity for your blog that you felt could be a scam? What did it say? How could you tell that it just wasn’t quite right?