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For Parents in Louisiana
This is for parents who live in the unique culture that is found in our part of the south. Everyone is welcome to read, but parents only posts please.
READ THIS FIRST: Official Frequently Asked Questions and Answers - Important Up to Date Information You Need To Know about EIDL
\ submitted by cue378 to EIDL [link] [comments]
*LAST UPDATED 7/14**)
OFFICIAL FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS FOR EIDL
This post will be a master thread with everything we have collectively learned on EIDL
about the loan and the application process. It will be updated on an ongoing basis and will always contain the most current information. Things change frequently at the SBA with policy and you should check back on this thread on a regular basis.
Please post any questions not covered and I will respond and add them here.
INDEX OF QUESTIONS:
- How do I get in touch with customer service phone support?
- What are my chances of being approved for this loan? Can I know in advance?
- I received a decline letter for “Business activity not eligible”. What can I do?
- How is the loan amount calculated? How can I request a specific amount?
- What is the maximum loan amount?
- When will I get my portal invite?
- I finally got a portal invite and accepted and submitted an amount. My application says it is "processing", now what?
- I understand that processing really means "underwriting", but how long will it actually take? What is the normal amount of time?
- Does contacting my congressmen or senator actually work?
- I accidentally entered the wrong revenue or COGS on my application and my offer amount was lower than I expected, is it possible to change this?
- I need to change my Rev or COGS and I already accepted an amount in the portal, Tier 2 told me to do it! Is it too late?
- Who are you, cue378? Can you help me?
- My loan as obligated or already funded, I made a mistake with my COGS or revenue and I am not happy with the amount. Can I change it?
- How do I show support for the volunteers and moderators for EIDL
- I received my portal link, but when I go to create an account it just takes me to the login page. What can be done?
- I was declined for "unsatisfactory credit". What are my options?
- What documents are required? Will a loan officer contact me?
- What is the status of the Advance/Grant program? Can I still get a grant?
- What are the eligible uses of EIDL funds?
- I received a denial letter for the reason "ECONOMIC INJURY NOT SUSTAINED". What does this mean and what can I do?
- What is CAWEB and how can it help me track my loan disbursement and other status?
- I received my portal invite link, however when I go to create an account I just get the message: "The user account has not been confirmed yet. Please confirm using the link in the e-mail". What can I do?
1. QUESTION: How do I get in touch with customer service phone support? ANSWER:
The highest level of official customer service is known as "tier 2" and can be reached by calling 1-800-659-2955 and asking for Tier 2
. (NOTE: As of 5/29 the previous direct number is currently out of service)
They are unfortunately, a very limited means of support. They are able to check your application status and see the current "stage" and leave notes in your file, but unable to directly make any changes or escalate anything in a meaningful way.
Most are very nice and well meaning people but are usually poorly informed and often provided contradictory information between calls. The important thing to understand is that notes left by T2 do not actually notify a loan officer or anyone, they are simply waiting to be read if someone happens to open your file and takes the time to review the case notes. So if a T2 says they requested a change do not assume it was or will be made.
2. QUESTION: What are my chances of being approved for this loan? Can I know in advance? ANSWER:
The loan is relatively easy to get approval for by loan standards. The exact underwriting criteria the SBA is using was leaked by some helpful people (hat tip to u/Sbaleaky
) and thus you can have a good understanding what your chances are.
Underwriters look for the following:
-Minimum Credit Score of 570. They will pull from experian. Close to Vantage 3 model found on nav DOT com or TransUnion numbers on credit karma. They do NOT use FICO. Credit score is largest factor for approval for this loan and no exceptions are made for under 570.
-If economic injury was sustained based on formula described in QUESTION 4. If this is a negative number you will be auto declined. (SEE QUESTION 5) The SBA does not consider potential revenue lost or general expenses in the loan amount.
-Tax liens or tax issues are NOT a disqualifying factor or taken into consideration for COVID19 disaster.
-Business start date must be prior to 1/31/20
-open bankruptcies = Declined. Closed OK.
-Arrest for felony < 5 years = Declined
-Arrest for misdemeanor < 5 years = Declined
-Sole proprietors with delinquent child support > 60 days = Declined
-Any business principals with 50% or more ownership with delinquent child support > 60 days = Declined
-Your business must pass verification in some way that it is a valid operation. If they can find it on google it will suffice. Otherwise you may have to provide documents to prove it's a legit business.
-Your business type must not be on the list for ineligible business activity. See list on FAQ.
-All owners on application must be either US citizens or Permanent Residents. E-2 Investor visa is NOT eligible and any attempts to appeal or add a co-borrower who is a citizen or LPR will be unsuccessful. Corporations, Partnerships, and Limited Liability Entities (LLE): Alien-owned corporations, partnerships, and LLEs properly registered and licensed in the state where the disaster occurred are eligible. If any member, partner, or shareholder, owning 20 percent or more of the applicant business is in the USA they must be a qualified alien. If the alien resides outside the USA an exception may be made.
3. QUESTION: I received a decline letter for “Business activity not eligible”. What can I do? ANSWER:
EIDL has a list of restricted business categories, if your type is NOT on this list and you still received this letter you may have been improperly classified.
The following applicants are not eligible for EIDL assistance.
- 7-Eleven Franchise Stores, despite what corp office says. (advance is OK)
- Lending or Investment Concerns (except for real estate investments held for rental)
- Multi-level Sales Distribution (Pyramid) Concerns c. Speculative Activities d. Non-profit Organizations that are not considered a Private Non-Profit
- Consumer and Marketing Cooperatives. However, other cooperatives and small agricultural cooperatives meeting applicable size standards are eligible f. Not a small business concern (except for PNP of any size) g. Gambling Concerns. Concerns that derive more than one-third of their annual gross revenue from legal gambling activities.
- Casinos, Racetracks, Etc. Businesses whose purpose for being is gambling (such as casinos, racetracks, poker parlors, etc.) are not eligible for EIDL assistance regardless of their ability to meet the one-third criteria established for otherwise eligible concerns.
- Loan packagers who derives more than one-third of their annual volume from the preparation of applications seeking financial assistance from SBA
- Religious Organizations.
- Political or Lobbying Concerns.
- Pawn shops, when 50 percent or more of previous year’s income was derived 50 30 9 71 Effective Date: May 31, 2018 from interest
- Real Estate Developers. Establishments primarily engaged in subdividing real property into lots and developing it for resale on their own account.
- Life Insurance Companies.
- Concerns Engaged in Illegal Activities (as defined by Federal guidelines). p. Government-owned concerns, except for businesses owned or controlled by a Native American tribe.
- Concerns with Principals Incarcerated, on Parole or Probation: remain ineligible if the parole or probation is lifted solely because it is an impediment to obtaining a loan.
- Concerns engaged in live performances of, or the Sale of Products, Services, of a Prurient Sexual Nature.
- Businesses considered as hobbies.
- Concerns Involved in Change in Ownership Situations: Concerns which had a substantial change of ownership (more than 50 percent) after the impending economic injury became apparent, and no contract for sale existed prior to that time are ineligible .
4. QUESTION: How is the loan amount calculated? How can I request a specific amount? ANSWER:
There is no way to request a specific amount, the eligible amount is calculated automatically by formula based on your inputs. There are three known formulas:
- Standard Small Business: Revenue minus COGS divided by 2 minus advance, subject to maximum of 150K
- Not for Profit: 6 months operating expenses year prior to 1/31/20
- Business that collects rental property income, your offer is calculated by lost rents due to the disaster, not the standard formula. If your offer is lower than expected you may have been wrongly classified into this formula.
- Agricultural businesses: 6 months operating expenses year prior to 1/31/20
If the formula results in a negative number or less than your advance you will be declined for "ECONOMIC INJURY NOT SUSTAINED"
5. QUESTION: What is the maximum loan amount? ANSWER:
As of last update it is currently 150K cap. This will not change anytime soon and there will be no way to request more at present. The only way to avoid the cap is if your loan was already being obligated prior to the change by the SBA from 500K. If I hear anything new on this it will be updated here.
6. QUESTION: When will I get my portal invite? ANSWER:
Portal invites are a fully automated process and not strictly sequential but follow general group patterns. If you see someone that has a higher number than you get a portal invite it does NOT mean you were "passed over".
7. QUESTION: I finally got a portal invite and accepted and submitted an amount. My application says it is "processing", now what? ANSWER:
This is when the actual loan process starts and underwriting begins. Your application will be assigned a loan officer for review using the criteria listed in question 2. The exact process is as follows (hat tip u/sbaleaky
) with the actual stages from start to finish. Keep in mind that once you accept in the portal a number of things are going on behind the scenes, which is why "processing" can take a great deal of time. Once you see a loan amount in your portal, this is NOT an approved offer. It is simply a potential amount you are eligible for based on the stated formula if you pass underwriting.
- Initial Call Needed (credit not ran)
- Credit Pulled (waiting for automated portal invitation, this is by far the longest part of the process)
- Quoted (received portal invite with an eligible amount)
- Offer Accepted (you confirmed and submitted an amount in the portal)
- Submitted Deal (waiting to be assigned to a Loan Officer)
- LO assigned and makes decision: Declined, Duplicate, Approved
[The following takes place behind the scenes and will not reflect in your portal, but will still say "processing"]
Note: The exception to this process is that some applications which are considered easy (based on unknown factors) to approve are subject to full automation and may go straight to approval bypassing the above steps. This only happens in rare cases.
- Approved: T2 Rep can now see your loan is approved on their screen. This means the Loan Officer has approved the deal and it is now going to the Senior Loan Officer. If the SLO does not approve the deal then it will go to declined.
- Obligating: SLO known as a "team leader" reviews the work of the first LO to ensure everything was done correctly. Once they sign off on the deal the loan is now fully approved. The loan is being sent to the E-Tran system to receive a loan number. The loan has not yet received a loan number from E-Tran while obligating. This is the most common phase where hang ups in "processing" can error called "error in obligating". Usually due to small technical issues or errors in your information that need to be sorted.
- Obligated: A loan number from E-Tran has been obtained and now closing documents can be drafted and sent to the borrower. This is when your portal would change from "processing" to approved. There may be a delay between when your offer is obligated to when it actually shows approved. I have seen it happen in as fast as 10 minutes or as long as 12 hours. You can also see approved but not have docs available. Docs will not show up until you get an email with the approval. The delay on this can be a few hours or more.
- Funding: Docs are signed and the loan is automatically moved to funding stage to have treasury issue an ACH. This happens very quickly and you should see the ACH sent right after with the funds arriving in 24-48 hours on banking days. **NOTE** Currently as of 6/10 we are seeing delays in funding of up to a week or even more, as it is very backed up in the queue.*\* At this point you can track the disbursement with your loan number from the docs using CAWEB to see if the ACH has been sent. See CAWEB question.
- Funded: Process complete, funds are successfully in your bank account. Congrats
You may also see a status that says, "On-Hold" Amount $0: This status typically is when your loan was temporarily declined and is still in the reconsideration department pending possible reconsideration approval.
8. QUESTION: I now understand that processing really means "underwriting", but how long will it actually take? What is the normal amount of time? ANSWER:
The amount of time it is normal for your portal to say "processing" is highly variable as a hundred different factors are involved behind the scenes. As of 6/10 we are seeing extended delays in processing time and obligating stage specifically. The average we are seeing is around 14-16 days total in processing.
If your application has been in underwriting for greater than 14 days it may merit investigate, but not necessarily indicate a problem with your chances of approval. Do NOT panic if it seems "stuck" with no communication from anyone. This is normal.
9. QUESTION: Does contacting my congressmen or senator actually work? ANSWER:
Yes, the SBA treats congressional inquiry very carefully and will flag and sometimes white glove your application. Often they will assign a special case worker during the process. The important thing is when your local congressional office reaches out they do NOT contact the local district SBA but this email: [[email protected]
). This email is NOT for use by applicants but only official government purposes.
10. QUESTION: Help! I accidentally entered the wrong revenue or COGS on my application and my offer amount was lower than I expected, is it possible to change this? ANSWER:
Yes, but two factors are important:
- You should NOT have already accepted an amount and submitted for processing in the portal. *If you already did see note below.
- You have documentation to backup the changes such as Federal Tax Returns 2018 or 2019 or P&L Statements. Tax returns are strongly preferred if available.
****The important thing here is DO NOT
accept the offer in the portal if you need to revise your numbers.**** *IF YOU HAVE ALREADY ACCEPTED THE OFFER:
Call tier 2 support as soon as you possibly can and ask them to make the following note in your file: Loan Officer, DO NOT approve this file without calling me, the applicant, because my (revenue or COGS) figures are wrong. I have supporting docs to make the changes. Please contact me ASAP. If you meet the above two criteria
contact me via email at [[email protected]
) with your Reddit username in the subject and put COGS REVISION REQUESTED in the subject line. I will respond and give you private advice on the matter.
11. QUESTION: I need to change my Rev or COGS and I already accepted an amount in the portal, Tier 2 told me to do it! Is it too late? Answer:
Unfortunately tier 2 is currently giving absolutely terrible advice in this situation. They are telling people to accept the offer in the portal to speak with a loan officer to make the revision. The problem is that once you accept you set the process in motion and then it gets obligated by treasury it is impossible to adjust. The proper time is prior to accepting. Often times loan officers never are needed, never reach out or even read these notes. I see it every day and people are stuck its the "kiss of death" advice. If you already accepted you may have time but would need to work quickly from date of submit.
UPDATE: As of 6/15 there is now a way to fix this. See question 13.
12. QUESTION: Who are you, cue378? Can you help me? ANSWER:
I am a small business owner who is a full time volunteer offering to assist in the EIDL process. I have experience assisting hundreds of other business owners in applying for and getting approved. I am sharing the information, strategies, and general knowledge I have gained over the course of 2 months. I do not work at the SBA nor do I have any affiliation with the SBA.
Do to an extreme flood of requests for help, I may not be able to answer PM's or chat requests. I have setup an email you are welcome to contact me on, but due to the volume I may not be able to respond right away or at all. My email is [[email protected]
Some people have asked how they can support my efforts. While I do not ask for donations, our subreddit founder decided to setup a tip jar in case people want to show their support. To be clear I do not ask for donations for my help, but if you decide to spare anything I do appreciate it greatly. The tip jar can be found HERE
13. QUESTION: My loan was obligated, already funded, or I already accepted the amount in the portal. I made a mistake with my COGS or revenue and I am not happy with the amount. Can I change it? ANSWER
: As of 6/12 loan modifications are now being allowed. You can contact [[email protected]
) and request a "Loan Modification increase". It is a 3-4 week process that requires documentation. A second loan will be given for the difference from the first one. It will be processed as a 20xx series loan in the old system/portal. For more details email me. Note if you have not yet accepted the offer the normal process is much faster.
14. QUESTION: How do I show support for the volunteers and moderators for EIDL ANSWER:
For supporting Cue378, there is a tip jar listed above. If you wish to show support to our community moderators, a separate tip jar can be found HERE
. Proceeds for this jar will be split between u/innocul8
. Donations in this jar do NOT go to Cue. Any amount is very appreciated. It takes a great deal of time and effort run the community and they are putting in a near full time effort.
15. QUESTION: I received my portal link, but when I go to create an account it just takes me to the login page. What can be done? ANSWER:
Follow these steps:
- Open the email to create your portal account. Right click on the green button that says, "create your account". Click "copy link address" or "copy hyperlink" depending on your browser.
- Use a VPN service, such as NordVPN or ProtonVPN (free), to connect to a VPN server in different state than yours, preferably on the opposite coast you are located.
- Open an incognito browser window, or private browser session if on firefox.
- Right click on the URL/web address field and paste the link you copied. Hit enter.
- You should then successfully be able to create a login, enter the portal, and accept your offer.
Alternately if you don't have a VPN or want to use one you can use a mobile phone to login incognito, with WiFi off on a cellular network, to create the account.
16. QUESTION: I was declined for "unsatisfactory credit". What are my options? ANSWER:
You have a few options.
- You can bring your vantage 3 score over 570 by paying down cards, when you are ready you can request the SBA re-pull your report and reactivate your account via [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected])
- You can request to add a co-borrower that has a higher score than 570 with no open bankruptcy and run their credit to reactivate your application.
You can expedite your request for a co-borrower by having this ready to go. You can also do this preemptively if you expect to be declined for credit. The co-borrower does NOT have to be involved with the business and can be anyone. The form is available here: SBA Form 3501 - Adding Co-Borrower
Only fill out the following:
Line #14 - Add the co-borrowers information under owner #1
Line #15 - Answer question for co-borrower.
Line #16 - Answer question for co-borrower.
Sign page 10, co-borrower signs.
Ownership percentage can be 0% if co-borrower is not part of business.
Attach and send with your co-borrower request to [[email protected]
) with your application number.
NOTE: If you have an urgent need to have your co-borrower request expedited, please email me at [[email protected]
) with the subject line: "ADDING CO-BORROWER REQUESTED URGENT" I will respond within 24 hours.
17. QUESTION: What documents are required? Will a loan officer contact me? ANSWER
: In most cases no documentation is required and everything is self certified. In some cases a LO will need to contact you to clarify some things about your business or request specific documents. In most cases you will never be contacted by or communicate with a loan officer.
18. QUESTION: What is the status of the Advance/Grant program? Can I still get a grant? ANSWER:
As most of you already know, the EIDL Advance/Grant program has ended and the full 20 billion in funding for the advance has been exhausted. The option has been removed from new applications. Getting funding for the advance as a new applicant at this time will not be possible.
For older applications please see this post for more information: https://www.reddit.com/EIDL/comments/hr3l41/eidl_news_714_update_regarding_the_current_status/
19. QUESTION: What are the eligible uses of EIDL funds?
ANSWER: These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. What are all the possible uses of the funds? The wording ‘obligations that are unable to be met due to lack of revenue’ seems to be a catch all, but how much so? The EIDL working capital loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable, and other bills that could have been paid had the disaster not occurred. The loans are not intended to replace lost sales or profits or for expansion.
20. QUESTION: I received a denial letter for the reason "ECONOMIC INJURY NOT SUSTAINED". What does this mean and what can I do? ANSWER:
This occurs when the numbers entered on your application for COGS are greater than your revenue. The SBA calculates economic injury based on the formula in question number 4. You can also be denied for this reason if the resulting number is less than your advance amount. Please note that the SBA is only taking into account revenue earned prior to the disaster date of 1/31/20 to calculate your economic injury. If your only revenue was earned after that date as a newer business you may not qualify.
If the numbers on your application were correct, you would not be eligible for an EIDL. If you made an error you can request an amendment and request reactivation of your application. I can assist with this process. You need at minimum Profit and Loss statements for the period 12 months prior to the disaster starting 1/31/20. Email me at [[email protected]
) with the subject: COGS DENIAL REVERSAL REQUESTED. Include your Reddit username. I will respond with instructions on how to file this amendment.
21. QUESTION: What is CAWEB and how can it help me track my loan disbursement and other status? ANSWER:
You can use the Capital Access Finance System to track your EIDL after your documents have been signed and submitted through funding. It allows you to see disbursement status and other details related to your loan. ****Hat tip to u/tahoechick36 for this amazing write up*\
Using the Capital Access Finance System to track your EIDL after your documents have been signed and submitted through funding.
Visit caweb.sba.gov or click the link at the top of EIDL
Setting up an account:
You need a SBA Loan # to set up an account - for EIDL it appears on the first page of your documents, in the upper left hand area, and says "SBA Loan # XXXXXXXXXX.”
SBA loan #'s are 10 digits. Your Application # will NOT work for account set-up.
If you have a PPP Loan, you can use your SBA # for this loan to set up an account. Sometimes this # is easy to figure out, sometimes not. That has to do with an intermediary (like your bank) being involved, but if you can track down an actual SBA Loan #, you can go ahead and get registered without your EIDL loan number.
- On the home page click on "Not Enrolled?" in the top left. This takes you to a screen to enter info. You may come to hate this screen, this process is very finicky.
- Look at the rules for creating a User ID and Password by clicking on "Rules..." next to the fields.
- Write your exact ID & password down somewhere - if you ever get locked out and call the SBA for help, they are going to tell you that Borrowers are not supposed to be able to access CAFS CAWeb. Apparently we still can, so don't make this a big deal or maybe that will change!
- For user type - select "borrower" from the drop down menu.
- Fill in the highlighted fields with your info. Click on the "ZIP LOOKUP" button after you enter your zip code. This auto populates some other boxes, and registration won't work if you don't do this.
- For the country code in the phone number section enter "1" for the United States.
- Financial commitment ID is your Loan # - 10 digits.
- If you don't have a landline, it has been reported that just entering your mobile number in both fields works. You will have to select 3 of their security questions, enter the Captcha image info, then hit "submit" at the bottom.
If it didn't like the info you have entered, it will give you an error message for what part it didn't like, and you will have to try again, which requires re-entering quite a bit of the information. It's a pain.
But if it takes it, you're in! There may be a verification step now as well.
Finding your loan on CAWeb
- On the caweb homepage, login (if you aren't already), it will be personalized and show your name. You have to scroll down and check the "Agree to Terms" box when you are logging in.
- Click on "Borrower" in the top left, then click on "Borrower Search". This should take you to your "Loan List" showing the loan #, borrower name, loan type, amount, and loan status.
- PPP loans typically appear as "Active Un-Disbursed" - if your PPP is already funded don't worry about that. Your EIDL will show up as "Disbursed Current" if funds are on their way. It may say something else if you look immediately after you send back you Docs, but it should change pretty quickly. Logging out and back in again will sometimes refresh the status. Loan status will say "Active Un-Disbursed" until Treasury send the funds to your bank, then it changes to "Disbursed Current".
- It depends on your bank when they post in your account (same day, next day, time).
- If your banking info didn't verify, the transaction will fail to go through, and the status will revert.
- If you are not funded within 3-4 banking days, there is likely a problem - check your info in your portal, call the SBA, and then email Cue if needed.
- If you click on your loan# in the list, it opens up a page with details about your loan.
- There's even a box at the bottom to check if you want electronic account statements only, but if you check that, a warning pops up about "all attached to this loan will be affected by this change", so we recommend not selecting that option just yet.
22. QUESTION: I received my portal invite link, however when I go to create an account I just get the message: "The user account has not been confirmed yet. Please confirm using the link in the e-mail". What can I do? ANSWER:
This is a known bug/error normally relating to either getting the invite ahead of schedule or other missing information in your file that would prevent the account creation from moving forward. Tier 2 cannot solve this and it need a special approach to resolve. Please email me with the subject line: "USER ACCOUNT HAS NOT BEEN CONFIRMED". Include your reddit username in the email somewhere. My address is [[email protected]
How to fill in W-8 tax forms?
For context, I'm working in an organisation in Singapore. We have been having a shot at affiliate marketing, and to partner with US organisations, it is required of us to fill in W-8 forms (W-9 forms for those liable for taxing in the US if I understand correctly.) submitted by goodfornothing__ to legaladvice [link] [comments]
But I have completely no idea how to approach this. A few of the valuable affiliates all require this tax form from our side and I really don't want to miss up on the chance to work with them.
I'm really not sure if this is under legal advice or accounting advice. But anyone who has a clue, please advice!!!!!!!!!
/r/Scams Common Scam Master Post
submitted by EugeneBYMCMB to Scams [link] [comments]
Hello visitors and subscribers of scams
! Here you will find a master list of common (and uncommon) scams that you may encounter online or in real life. Thank you to the many contributors who helped create this thread!
If you know of a scam that is not covered here, write a comment and it will be added to the next edition.
Previous threads: https://old.reddit.com/Scams/search?q=common+scams+master+post&restrict_sr=on Blackmail email scam thread: https://old.reddit.com/Scams/comments/g8jqnthe_blackmail_email_scam_part_5//
Some of these articles are from small, local publications and refer to the scam happening in a specific area. Do not
think that this means that the scam won't happen in your area.
Spoofing Caller ID spoofing
It is very easy for anyone to make a phone call while having any number show up on the caller ID of the person receiving the phone call. Receiving a phone call from a certain number does not mean that the person/company who owns that number has actually called you. Email spoofing
The "from" field of an email can be set by the sender, meaning that you can receive scam emails that look like they are from legitimate addresses. It's important to never click links in emails unless absolutely necessary, for example a password reset link you requested or an account activation link for an account you created. SMS spoofing
SMS messages can be spoofed, so be wary of messages that seem to be from your friends or other trusted people.
The most common scams The fake check scam
(Credit to nimble2
for this part)
The fake check scam arises from many different situations (for instance, you applied for a job, or you are selling something on a place like Craigslist, or someone wants to purchase goods or services from your business, or you were offered a job as a mystery shopper, you were asked to wrap your car with an advertisement, or you received a check in the mail for no reason), but the bottom line is always something like this:
General fraudulent funds scams
- The scammer sends you a very real looking, but fake, check. Sometimes they'll call it a "cashier's check", a "certified check", or a "verified check".
- You deposit the check into your bank account, and within a couple of days your bank makes some or all of the funds available to you. This makes you think that the check is real and the funds have cleared. However, the money appearing in your account is not the same as the check actually clearing. The bank must make the funds available to you before they have cleared the check because that is the law.
- For various and often complicated reasons, depending on the specific story line of the scam, the scammer will ask you to send someone some of the money, using services like MoneyGram, Western Union, and Walmart-2-Walmart. Sometimes the scammer will ask for you to purchase gift cards (iTunes, Amazon, Steam, etc) and give them the codes to redeem the gift cards. Some scammers may also give you instructions on how to buy and send them bitcoins.
- Within a couple of weeks, though it can take as long as a month, your bank will realize that the check you deposited was fake, and your bank will remove the funds that you deposited into your account and charge you a bounced check fee. If you withdrew any of the money from the fake check, that money will be gone and you will owe that money to the bank. Some posters have even had their bank accounts closed and have been blocked from having another account for 5 years using ChexSystems.
If somebody is asking you to accept and send out money as a favour or as part of a job, it is a fraudulent funds scam. It does not matter how they pay you, any payment on any service can be fraudulent and will be reversed when it is discovered to be fraudulent. Phone verification code scams
Someone will ask you to receive a verification text and then tell you to give them the code. Usually the code will come from Google Voice, or from Craigslist. In the Google version of the scam, your phone number will be used to verify a Google Voice account that the scammer will use to scam people with. In the Craigslist version of the scam, your phone number will be used to verify a Craigslist posting that the scammer will use to scam people. There is also an account takeover version of this scam that will involve the scammer sending a password reset token to your phone number and asking you for it. Bitcoin job scams
Bitcoin job scams involve some sort of fraudulent funds transfer, usually a fake check although a fraudulent bank transfer can be used as well. The scammer will send you the fraudulent money and ask you to purchase bitcoins. This is a scam, and you will have zero recourse after you send the scammer bitcoins. Email flooding
If you suddenly receive hundreds or thousands of spam emails, usually subscription confirmations, it's very likely that one of your online accounts has been taken over and is being used fraudulently. You should check any of your accounts that has a credit card linked to it, preferably from a computer other than the one you normally use. You should change all of your passwords to unique passwords and you should start using two factor authentication everywhere. Boss/CEO scam
A scammer will impersonate your boss or someone who works at your company and will ask you to run an errand for them, which will usually be purchasing gift cards and sending them the code. Once the scammer has the code, you have no recourse. Employment certification scams
You will receive a job offer that is dependent on you completing a course or receiving a certification from a company the scammer tells you about. The scammer operates both websites and the job does not exist. Craigslist fake payment scams
Scammers will ask you about your item that you have listed for sale on a site like Craigslist, and will ask to pay you via Paypal. They are scamming you, and the payment in most cases does not actually exist, the email you received was sent by the scammers. In cases where you have received a payment, the scammer can dispute the payment or the payment may be entirely fraudulent. The scammer will then either try to get you to send money to them using the fake funds that they did not send to you, or will ask you to ship the item, usually to a re-shipping facility or a parcel mule. General fraudulent funds scams
The fake check scam is not the only scam that involves accepting fraudulent/fake funds and purchasing items for scammers. If your job or opportunity involves accepting money and then using that money, it is almost certainly a frauduent funds scam. Even if the payment is through a bank transfer, Paypal, Venmo, Zelle, Interac e-Transfer, etc, it does not matter. Credit card debt scam
Fraudsters will offer to pay off your bills, and will do so with fraudulent funds. Sometimes it will be your credit card bill, but it can be any bill that can be paid online. Once they pay it off, they will ask you to send them money or purchase items for them. The fraudulent transaction will be reversed in the future and you will never be able to keep the money. This scam happens on sites like Craigslist, Twitter, Instagram, and also some dating sites, including SeekingArrangement. The parcel mule scam
A scammer will contact you with a job opportunity that involves accepting and reshipping packages. The packages are either stolen or fraudulently obtained items, and you will not be paid by the scammer. Here
is a news article about a scam victim who fell for this scam and reshipped over 20 packages containing fraudulently acquired goods. The Skype sex scam
You're on Facebook and you get a friend request from a cute girl you've never met. She wants to start sexting and trading nudes. She'll ask you to send pictures or videos or get on webcam where she can see you naked with your face in the picture. The scam: There's no girl. You've sent nudes to a guy pretending to be a girl. As soon as he has the pictures he'll demand money and threaten to send the pictures to your friends and family. Sometimes the scammer will upload the video to a porn site or Youtube to show that they are serious.
What to do if you are a victim of this scam: You cannot buy silence, you can only rent it. Paying the blackmailer will show them that the information they have is valuable and they will come after you for more money. Let your friends and family know that you were scammed and tell them to ignore friend requests or messages from people they don't know. Also, make sure your privacy settings are locked down and consider deactivating your account. The underage girl scam
You're on a dating site or app and you get contacted by a cute girl. She wants to start sexting and trading nudes. Eventually she stops communicating and you get a call from a pissed off guy claiming to be the girl's father, or a police officer, or a private investigator, or something else along those lines. Turns out the girl you were sexting is underage, and her parents want some money for various reasons, such as to pay for a new phone, to pay for therapy, etc. There is, of course, no girl. You were communicating with a scammer.
What to do if you are a victim of this scam: Stop picking up the phone when the scammers call. Do not pay them, or they will be after you for more money. Phishing
Phishing is when a scammer tries to trick you into giving information to them, such as your password or private financial information. Phishing messages will usually look very similar to official messages, and sometimes they are identical. If you are ever required to login to a different account in order to use a service, you should be incredibly cautious. The blackmail email scam
The exact wording of the emails varies, but there are generally four main parts. They claim to have placed software/malware on a porn/adult video site, they claim to have a video of you masturbating or watching porn, they threaten to release the video to your friends/family/loved ones/boss/dog, and they demand that you pay them in order for them to delete the video. Rest assured that this is a very common spam campaign and there is no truth behind the email or the threats. Here
scam. The blackmail mail scam
This is very similar to the blackmail email scam, but you will receive a letter in the mail. Rental scams
Usually on local sites like Craigslist, scammers will steal photos from legitimate real estate listings and will list them for rent at or below market rate. They will generally be hesitant to tell you the address of the property for "safety reasons" and you will not be able to see the unit. They will then ask you to pay them a deposit and they claim they will ship you the keys. In reality, your money is gone and you will have no recourse. Craigslist vehicle scams
A scammer will list a vehicle on Craigslist and will offer to ship you the car. In many cases they will also falsely claim to sell you the car through eBay or Amazon. If you are looking for a car on Craigslist and the seller says anything about shipping the car, having an agent, gives you a long story about why they are selling the car, or the listing price is far too low, you are talking to a scammer and you should ignore and move on. Advance-fee scam
, also known as the 419 scam, or the Nigerian prince scam. You will receive a communication from someone who claims that you are entitled to a large sum of money, or you can help them obtain a large sum of money. However, they will need money from you before you receive the large sum. Man in the middle scams
Man in the middle scams are very common and very hard to detect. The scammer will impersonate a company or person you are legitimately doing business with, and they will ask you to send the money to one of their own bank accounts or one controlled by a money mule. They have gained access to the legitimate persons email address, so there will be nothing suspicious about the email. To prevent this, make contact in a different way that lets you verify that the person you are talking to is the person you think you are talking to. Cam girl voting/viewer scam
You will encounter a "cam girl" on a dating/messaging/social media/whatever site/app, and the scammer will ask you to go to their site and sign up with your credit card. They may offer a free show, or ask you to vote for them, or any number of other fake stories. Amateur porn recruitment scam
You will encounter a "pornstar" on a dating/messaging/social media/whatever site/app, and the scammer will ask you to create an adult film with hehim, but first you need to do something. The story here is usually something to do with verifying your age, or you needing to take an STD test that involves sending money to a site operated by the scammer. Hot girl SMS spam
You receive a text from a random number with a message along the lines of "Hey babe I'm here in town again if you wanted to meet up this time, are you around?" accompanied by a NSFW picture of a hot girl. It's spam, and they'll direct you to their scam website that requires a credit card. Identity verification scam
You will encounter someone on a dating/messaging/social media/whatever site/app, and the scammer will ask that you verify your identity as they are worried about catfishing. The scammer operates the site, and you are not talking to whoever you think you are talking to.
This type of scam teases you with something, then tries to make you sign up for something else that costs money. The company involved is often innocent, but they turn a blind eye to the practice as it helps their bottom line, even if they have to occasionally issue refunds. A common variation takes place on dating sites/dating apps, where you will match with someone who claims to be a camgirl who wants you to sign up for a site and vote for her. Another variation takes place on local sites like Craigslist, where the scammers setup fake rental scams and demand that you go through a specific service for a credit check. Once you go through with it, the scammer will stop talking to you. Another variation also takes place on local sites like Craigslist, where scammers will contact you while you are selling a car and will ask you to purchase a Carfax-like report from a specific website. Multi Level Marketing or Affiliate Marketing
You apply for a vague job listing for 'sales' on craigslist. Or maybe an old friend from high school adds you on Facebook and says they have an amazing business opportunity for you. Or maybe the well dressed guy who's always interviewing people in the Starbucks that you work at asks if you really want to be slinging coffee the rest of your life. The scam: MLMs are little more than pyramid schemes. They involve buying some sort of product (usually snake oil health products like body wraps or supplements) and shilling them to your friends and family. They claim that the really money is recruiting people underneath you who give you a slice of whatever they sell. And if those people underneath you recruit more people, you get a piece of their sales. Ideally if you big enough pyramid underneath you the money will roll in without any work on your part. Failure to see any profit will be your fault for not "wanting it enough." The companies will claim that you need to buy their extra training modules or webinars to really start selling. But in reality, the vast majority of people who buy into a MLM won't see a cent. At the end of the day all you'll be doing is annoying your friends and family with your constant recruitment efforts. What to look out for: Recruiters love to be vague. They won't tell you the name of the company or what exactly the job will entail. They'll pump you up with promises of "self-generating income", "being your own boss", and "owning your own company." They might ask you to read books about success and entrepreneurs. They're hoping you buy into the dream first. If you get approached via social media, check their timelines. MLMs will often instruct their victims to pretend that they've already made it. They'll constantly post about how they're hustling and making the big bucks and linking to youtube videos about success. Again, all very vague about what their job actually entails. If you think you're being recruited: Ask them what exactly the job is. If they can't answer its probably a MLM. Just walk away.
You should generally avoid answering or engaging with random phone calls. Picking up and engaging with a scam call tells the scammers that your phone number is active, and will usually lead to more calls. Tax Call
You get a call from somebody claiming to be from your countries tax agency. They say you have unpaid taxes that need to be paid immediately, and you may be arrested or have other legal action taken against you if it is not paid. This scam has caused the American IRS
, Canadian CRA
, British HMRC
, and Australian Tax Office
to issue warnings. This scam happens in a wide variety of countries all over the world. Warrant Call
Very similar to the tax call. You'll get a phone call from an "agent", "officer", "sheriff", or other law enforcement officer claiming that there is a warrant out for your arrest and you will be arrested very soon. They will then offer to settle everything for a fee, usually paid in giftcards. [Legal Documents/Process Server Calls]
Very similar to the warrant call. You'll get a phone call from a scammer claiming that they are going to serve you legal documents, and they will threaten you with legal consequences if you refuse to comply. They may call themselves "investigators", and will sometimes give you a fake case number. Student Loan Forgiveness Scam
Scammers will call you and tell you about a student loan forgiveness program, but they are interested in obtaining private information about you or demanding money in order to join the fake program. Tech Support Call
You receive a call from someone with a heavy accent claiming to be a technician Microsoft or your ISP. They inform you that your PC has a virus and your online banking and other accounts may be compromised if the virus is not removed. They'll have you type in commands and view diagnostics on your PC which shows proof of the virus. Then they'll have you install remote support software so the technician can work on your PC, remove the virus, and install security software. The cost of the labor and software can be hundreds of dollars. The scam: There's no virus. The technician isn't a technician and does not work for Microsoft or your ISP. Scammers (primarily out of India) use autodialers to cold-call everyone in the US. Any file they point out to you or command they have you run is completely benign. The software they sell you is either freeware or ineffective. What to do you if you're involved with this scam: If the scammers are remotely on your computer as you read this, turn off your PC or laptop via the power button immediately, and then if possible unplug your internet connection. Some of the more vindictive tech scammers have been known to create boot passwords on your computer if they think you've become wise to them and aren't going to pay up. Hang up on the scammers, block the number, and ignore any threats about payment. Performing a system restore on your PC is usually all that is required to remove the scammer's common remote access software. Reports of identity theft from fake tech calls are uncommon, but it would still be a good idea to change your passwords for online banking and monitor your accounts for any possible fraud. How to avoid: Ignore any calls claiming that your PC has a virus. Microsoft will never contact you. If you're unsure if a call claiming to be from your ISP is legit, hang up, and then dial the customer support number listed on a recent bill. If you have elderly relatives or family that isn't tech savvy, take the time to fill them in on this scam. Chinese government scam
This scam is aimed at Chinese people living in Europe and North America, and involves a voicemail from someone claiming to be associated with the Chinese government, usually through the Chinese consulate/embassy, who is threatening legal action or making general threats. Chinese shipping scam
This scam is similar to the Chinese government scam, but involves a seized/suspicious package, and the scammers will connect the victim to other scammers posing as Chinese government investigators. Social security suspension scam
You will receive a call from someone claiming to work for the government regarding suspicious activity, fraud, or serious crimes connected to your social security number. You'll be asked to speak to an operator and the operator will explain the steps you need to follow in order to fix the problems. It's all a scam, and will lead to you losing money and could lead to identity theft if you give them private financial information. Utilities cutoff
You get a call from someone who claims that they are from your utility company, and they claim that your utilities will be shut off unless you immediately pay. The scammer will usually ask for payment via gift cards, although they may ask for payment in other ways, such as Western Union or bitcoin. Relative in custody
Scammer claims to be the police, and they have your son/daughtenephew/estranged twin in custody. You need to post bail (for some reason in iTunes gift cards or MoneyGram) immediately or the consequences will never be the same
. Mexican family scam
This scam comes in many different flavours, but always involves someone in your family and Mexico. Sometimes the scammer will claim that your family member has been detained, sometimes the scammer will claim that your family member has been kidnapped, and sometimes the scammer will claim that your family member is injured and needs help. General family scams
Scammers will gather a large amount of information about you and target your family members using different stories with the goal of gettimg them to send money. One ring scam
Scammers will call you from an international number with the goal of getting you to return their call, causing you to incur expensive calling fees.
Online shopping scams THE GOLDEN RULE OF ONLINE SHOPPING: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Dropshipping
An ad on reddit or social media sites like Facebook and Instagram offers items at huge discounts or even free (sometimes requiring you to reblog or like their page). They just ask you to pay shipping. The scam: The item will turn out to be very low quality and will take weeks or even months to arrive. Sometimes the item never arrives, and the store disappears or stops responding. The seller drop-ships the item from China. The item may only cost a few dollars, and the Chinese government actually pays for the shipping. You end up paying $10-$15 dollars for a $4 item, with the scammer keeping the profit. If you find one of these scams but really have your heart set on the item, you can find it on AliExpress or another Chinese retailer. Influencer scams
A user will reach out to you on a social media platform, usually Instagram, and offer you the chance to partner with them and receive a free/discounted product, as long as you pay shipping. This is a different version of the dropshipping scam, and is just a marketing technique to get you to buy their products. Triangulation fraud
Triangulation fraud occurs when you make a purchase on a site like Amazon or eBay for an item at a lower than market price, and receive an item that was clearly purchased new at full price. The scammer uses a stolen credit card to order your item, while the money from the listing is almost all profit for the scammer. Instagram influencer scams
Someone will message you on Instagram asking you to promote their products, and offering you a discount code. The items are Chinese junk, and the offer is made to many people at a time. Cheap Items
Many websites pop up and offer expensive products, including electronics, clothes, watches, sunglasses, and shoes at very low prices. The scam: Some sites are selling cheap knock-offs. Some will just take your money and run. What to do if you think you're involved with this scam: Contact your bank or credit card and dispute the charge. How to avoid: The sites often have every brand-name shoe or fashion item (Air Jordan, Yeezy, Gucci, etc) in stock and often at a discounted price. The site will claim to be an outlet for a major brand or even a specific line or item. The site will have images at the bottom claiming to be Secured by Norton or various official payment processors but not actual links. The site will have poor grammar and a mish-mash of categories. Recently, established websites will get hacked or their domain name jacked and turned into scam stores, meaning the domain name of the store will be completely unrelated to the items they're selling. If the deal sounds too good to be true it probably is. Nobody is offering brand new iPhones or Beats or Nintendo Switches for 75% off. Cheap Amazon 3rd Party Items
You're on Amazon or maybe just Googling for an item and you see it for an unbelievable price from a third-party seller. You know Amazon has your back so you order it. The scam: One of three things usually happen: 1) The seller marks the items as shipped and sends a fake tracking number. Amazon releases the funds to the seller, and the seller disappears. Amazon ultimately refunds your money. 2) The seller immediately cancels the order and instructs you to re-order the item directly from their website, usually with the guarantee that the order is still protected by Amazon. The seller takes your money and runs. Amazon informs you that they do not offer protection on items sold outside of Amazon and cannot help you. 2) The seller immediately cancels the order and instructs you to instead send payment via an unused Amazon gift card by sending the code on the back via email. Once the seller uses the code, the money on the card is gone and cannot be refunded. How to avoid: These scammers can be identified by looking at their Amazon storefronts. They'll be brand new sellers offering a wide range of items at unbelievable prices. Usually their Amazon names will be gibberish, or a variation on FIRSTNAME.LASTNAME. Occasionally however, established storefronts will be hacked. If the deal is too good to be true its most likely a scam. Scams on eBay
There are scams on eBay targeting both buyers and sellers. As a seller, you should look out for people who privately message you regarding the order, especially if they ask you to ship to a different address or ask to negotiate via text/email/a messaging service. As a buyer you should look out for new accounts selling in-demand items, established accounts selling in-demand items that they have no previous connection to (you can check their feedback history for a general idea of what they bought/sold in the past), and lookout for people who ask you to go off eBay and use another service to complete the transaction. In many cases you will receive a fake tracking number and your money will be help up for up to a month. Scams on Amazon
There are scams on Amazon targeting both buyers and sellers. As a seller, you should look out for people who message you about a listing. As a buyer you should look out for listings that have an email address for you to contact the person to complete the transaction, and you should look out for cheap listings of in-demand items. Scams on Reddit
Reddit accounts are frequently purchased and sold by fraudsters who wish to use the high karma count + the age of the account to scam people on buy/sell subreddits. You need to take precautions and be safe whenever you are making a transaction online. Computer scams Virus scam
A popup or other ad will say that you have a virus and you need to follow their advice in order to remove it. They are lying, and either want you to install malware or pay for their software.
Assorted scams Chinese Brushing / direct shipping
If you have ever received an unsolicited small package from China, your address was used to brush
. Vendors place fake orders for their own products and send out the orders so that they can increase their ratings. Money flipping
Scammer claims to be a banking insider who can double/triple/bazoople any amount of money you send them, with no consequences of any kind. Obviously, the money disappears into their wallet the moment you send it.
Door to door scams As a general rule, you should not engage with door to door salesmen. If you are interested in the product they are selling, check online first. Selling Magazines
Someone or a group will come to your door and offer to sell a magazine subscription. Often the subscriptions are not for the duration or price you were told, and the magazines will often have tough or impossible cancellation policies. Energy sales
Somebody will come to your door claiming to be from an energy company. They will ask to see your current energy bill so that they can see how much you pay. They will then offer you a discount if you sign up with them, and promise to handle everything with your old provider. Some of these scammers will "slam" you, by using your account number that they saw on your bill to switch you to their service without authorization, and some will scam you by charging higher prices than the ones you agreed on. Security system scams
Scammers will come to your door and ask about your security system, and offer to sell you a new one. These scammers are either selling you overpriced low quality products, or are casing your home for a future burglary. They ask to enter your home
While trying to sell you whatever, they suddenly need to use your bathroom, or they've been writing against the wall and ask to use your table instead. Or maybe they just moved into the neighborhood and want to see how you decorate for ideas.
They're scoping out you and your place. They want to see what valuables you have, how gullible you are, if you have a security system or dogs, etc.
Street scams Begging With a Purpose
"I just need a few more dollars for the bus," at the bus station, or "I just need $5 to get some gas," at a gas station. There's also a variation where you will be presented with a reward: "I just need money for a cab to get uptown, but I'll give you sports tickets/money/a date/a priceless vase." Three Card Monte, Also Known As The Shell Game
Unbeatable. The people you see winning are in on the scam. Drop and Break
You bump into someone and they drop their phone/glasses/fancy bottle of wine/priceless vase and demand you pay them back. In reality, it's a $2 pair of reading glasses/bottle of three-buck-chuck/tasteful but affordable vase. CD Sales
You're handed a free CD so you can check out the artist's music. They then ask for your name and immediately write it on the CD. Once they've signed your name, they ask you for money, saying they can't give it to someone else now. Often they use dry erase markers, or cheap CD sleeves. Never use any type of storage device given to you by a random person, as the device can contain malware. White Van Speaker Scam
You're approached and offered speakers/leather jackets/other luxury goods at a discount. The scammer will have an excuse as to why the price is so low. After you buy them, you'll discover that they are worthless. iPhone Street Sale
You're approached and shown an iPhone for sale, coming in the box, but it's open and you can see the phone. If you buy the phone, you'll get an iPhone box with no iPhone, just some stones or cheap metal in it to weigh it down. Buddhist Monk Pendant
A monk in traditional garb approaches you, hands you a gold trinket, and asks for a donation. He holds either a notebook with names and amounts of donation (usually everyone else has donated $5+), or a leaflet with generic info. This is fairly common in NYC, and these guys get aggressive quickly. Friendship Bracelet Scam
More common in western Europe, you're approached by someone selling bracelets. They quickly wrap a loop of fabric around your finger and pull it tight, starting to quickly weave a bracelet. The only way to (easily) get it off your hand is to pay. Leftover sales
This scam involves many different items, but the idea is usually the same: you are approached by someone who claims to have a large amount of excess inventory and offers to sell it to you at a great price. The scammer actually has low quality items and will lie to you about the price/origin of the items. Dent repair scams
Scammers will approach you in public about a dent in your car and offer to fix it for a low price. Often they will claim that they are mechanics. They will not fix the dent in your car, but they will apply large amounts of wax or other substances to hide the dent while they claim that the substance requires time to harden. Gold ring/jewelry/valuable item scam
A scammer will "find" a gold ring or other valuable item and offers to sell it to you. The item is fake and you will never see the scammer again. Distraction theft
One person will approach you and distract you, while their accomplice picks your pockets. The distraction can take many forms, but if you are a tourist and are approached in public, watch closely for people getting close to you.
Site to report scams in the United Kingdom: http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/
Site to report scams in the United States: https://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx
Site to report scams in Canada: www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/reportincident-signalerincident/index-eng.htm
Site to report scams in Europe: https://www.europol.europa.eu/report-a-crime/report-cybercrime-online
FTC scam alerts: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/scam-alerts
Microsoft's anti-scam guide: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/safety/online-privacy/avoid-phone-scams.aspx https://www.usa.gov/common-scams-frauds https://www.usa.gov/scams-and-frauds https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/scam-alerts https://www.fbi.gov/scams-and-safety/common-fraud-schemes
In response to the post asking how to stay safe online - How to actually stay safe online
submitted by InvertedDick to Philippines [link] [comments]
There was some advice thrown around in that post, but to me the explanation given did not do it justice, or it wasn't an informative enough explanation at least. So here's my advice! I use majority of these every day. In the post I added subheadings that gives you a summary of what software/alternative to use. If you want to read my reasoning why, feel free too. It can get lengthy though! Disclaimer
: This post is just to give you something as a starting point. You can always add to these measures to be safer online! So the purpose of this is just to have a solid foundation that you guys can add/modify. Stay safe!
To begin with, you might think that browsing in incognito is safe enough for the government not to track you. The only thing this protects you from is your history being tracked. That's it. Despite them heavily marketing it as a "private" way of browsing, it's not the entire picture. https://www.zdnet.com/article/google-faces-class-action-for-allegedly-tracking-private-browsing-activity/
Just remember that in every single app/software that you download, and each device you use, think of it as a person you're handing off your data to. Is the person trustworthy? Will this person betray you and sell your data to the highest bidder? What's stopping this person from running away with my data? Are there privacy laws in their country of origin that make it illegal for them to do this? Is it possible that these guys just put privacy as a front and actually have an ulterior motive? What's their track record?
Now with all that in place, let's pick out some of the things that are known to not track you.
Operating Systems Mobile Phones
A lot of mobile phone brands used by Filipinos are Chinese phones. Huawei, Vivo are ones that I can think off the top of my head. Huawei has had multiple scandals
that proves that they cannot be trusted. Other Chinese brands cannot be trusted as well because you're giving them free access to a window of your life. They're also the role models of our current government, so any data they have about you our government will have as well. I decided to put this section at the very top because even if you follow everything else in the post, it will be for naught if you have a Chinese phone. It's time to get rid of it for other brands, or even Apple.
However, if you are unable to, then you must explore the custom OS route. This does not solve everything because if the tracking is in a hardware level, which it likely is, then this would still be for naught. But if you have an Android phone that isn't a Chinese brand, keep reading.
In this post
are a list of custom operating systems, some built on top of Android with a focus on privacy. Yes Android is under Google, but Android is open sourced and the worrying parts can be removed. This will require some technical skill though to replace your phone's OS. So unfortunately, I cannot provide any help with this. You have to do your due diligence and research about it! ttankdestroyer
Importante din ang smartphone. This comment might be controversial but I will say it anyway, get rid of your chinese phone. Pero if you still want your chinese phone, you can install custom rom. I highly suggest LineageOSas a custom rom pero you need to remember na select phone lang siya compatible. For security and privacy out of the box ang hanap nyo at nahihirapan kayo maginstall ng custom rom, just use iPhone.
For Android phones, you still have to configure your phone to harden its security, aka hardening. doppelbot linked
a great resource for this! Mobile Apps
Our commonly used apps have a lot of tracking in them by default since this is how they earn money, through ads. For android, as pointed out by boywithapplesauce
, you can find a lot of open source versions of your commonly used apps in FDroid (open source version of the Play Store).
- Slide (reddit alternative)
- NewPipe (YouTube alternative)
Other FDroid apps to consider: Blokada, DNS66, WebApps, Nextcloud, Firefox Klar
Disclaimer: Using these FOSS (free and open source software) alternatives aren't a silver bullet to the problem. There's still the fact that that you're using the service of a company that doesn't care about your right. I would use this as the very last option if you have no other choice but to use their service. Desktop
Stay away from Windows 10. They're a privacy nightmare and they're infested with tracking even if you "disable" their telemetry (tracking). Opt for Linux or at the very least macOS if you're able to. Linux is free and they have great distros like Ubuntu, PopOS, Linux Mint, and Solus. You could also try installing Arch if you're feeling brave :).
With this you'll have a clean base, free from tracking! Generally Linux distros are great, but this is a double-edged sword since one can advertise it as a Linux distro while adding trackers to it. Be careful.
Be sure to enable disk encryption during installation. Use a strong password for this encryption too. This way if things go really bad for you, let's say you get raided by the cops and they confiscate your PC, your data will be difficult to extract from the disk because it's all encrypted. You can see the password manager section to help* you keep track of your passwords.
VPN Use Mullvad. ProtonVPN is a second choice too.
VPNs will not make you anonymous online, their only job is to make sure that your ISP cannot spy on you because your traffic from your computer and the website you're connecting to is encrypted. Normally this traffic can be intercepted and peeked into, but VPNs prevent that from happening. However, one thing to note is that you have to trust the VPN provider. To protect you from your ISP, your traffic has to go through their servers. This means, your traffic can be monitored by these guys. This is why it's crucial to pick the right one. This is also why it's time to ditch those janky ass Chinese VPN or Opera VPNs. Those are shit.
Nord, Express, PIA, and any other USA-based VPN cannot be trusted despite their no logging policy. You can't say for sure that they don't log your data because because their privacy laws are not as strict and not as heavily enforced as their EU counterparts. The account is also tied to your personal information such as your real name, payment info, and email. This is extremely dangerous
because once they get compromised, your data can be traced back to you. Your only options really are Mullvad VPN ($5.5/mo) and ProtonVPN. I am in no way affiliated with these, I just like to point them out because they're the gold standard of VPNs. Mullvad is also much cheaper than ProtonVPN if you want to get their paid plan. Why Mullvad? mullvad.net
Mullvad does not store any information about you, at all. Not even an email, password, username, names, none. The only thing tied to your account is an account number that was generated for you. It does not store any payment information, it does not log anything. There's no way that account can be traced back to you, unless Mullvad gets sold off or hacked. In terms of security, they have an independent party to audit them. Warning about TOR and VPN
After checking out ProtonVPN, they have this option called TOR over VPN. You might think, hey this is more secure right since you're connected to a TOR network?
Nope. The purpose of TOR is to make you anonymous, by having a VPN while being connected to TOR, this will leave a permanent trail, and that's not something you want because it means you can be traced, which defeats the whole point of TOR. In fact, it's more dangerous that you're connected to a VPN while using TOR, than just using a VPN.
But Tor doesn't encrypt your traffic. So how can you make sure that you can't be spied on by the government? You can use Tor Bridges to hide the fact that you're using a Tor network. Bridges are ran by volunteers. Read more
In terms of hiding your data from the government, VPNs are sufficient because that's the use case they solve. Connecting to Tor might be over the top for this purpose. However, if you want to go beyond government tracking then Tor + Tor Bridge is a way better option than Tor + VPN.
Browsers Use Firefox mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/new/
Browsers are the gateway to the internet, so it has to be secure. Use Firefox
. Ditch your Chrome browsers! I know, you're probably used to it and have it customized the way you like it. But Firefox is the only browser that fights for your right of privacy. Chrome is under Google and they are notorious for tracking and selling your data to advertisers. All the Chrome variants out there that haven't been "unchromified" are all terrible browsers in terms of privacy as well. Yes, this includes Edge and yes this also includes your mobile browsers. Use Firefox! Firefox is the only browser where you can configure it to block trackers and even features that will risk you getting tracked. Chrome has extensions that do these, but the fact that it's not baked into its source code makes it inferior to Firefox.
Configure Firefox https://www.privacytools.io/browsers/#about_config
Recommended Firefox addons https://www.privacytools.io/browsers/#addons
After configuring be sure to run tests like DNS leak and WebRTC leak tests. Check https://am.i.mullvad.net
if you want a comprehensive rundown of tests. You can also configure Firefox to delete all browsing and download history, and cookies. In case your PC/phone get seized, there will be nothing on it. No evidence against you that you were conspiring against the government. Mobile Browsers
It's time for you to ditch Chrome and Safari.
For Android you have Firefox, and Bromite. Bromite is pretty much an unchromified browser and is pretty good.
For iOS you can use Firefox, and DuckDuckGo.
Password Manager Use Bitwarden bitwarden.com/
I have a lot of friends that still use basic passwords like their birthdays or nicknames, and this is dangerous. If they become a suspect of someone, their accounts can be easily accessed without much effort because of how ridiculously easy their passwords are to guess. (See PLDT's twitter account getting hacked for example!) So, what do password managers have to do with security and privacy?
They greatly enhance your security of your online accounts. You can have a 100 character password (as long as the website supports it, which most do) and won't have the burden of remembering it. You just need 1 master password, which you can use a passphrase password for. Be sure this is a strong password. Try to remember just one long password, I know you can do it! Some password managers also allow you to have TOTP or OTP code generation built-in to them. If you don't already know, 2 factor authentication makes sure that there's an extra verification step before you can login to your account. OTP is one of them and it generates a unique code combination every 30 seconds. I really suggest setting up OTP for all your accounts. Ditch SMS verification because you can easily be a victim of SIM hijacking. Ditch email because, it's more inconvenient than having a TOTP generator.
Okay, hopefully that explains why you need a password manager and that you have to enable OTP verification. Now what are your options? Bitwarden. It's an open source password manager and is available in all platforms (Windows, Linux, Android, iOS, macOS). It's frequently audited and its free tier is extremely generous.
Instant Messaging/Social Media/Email Instant Messaging: Use Signal App signal.org/
Facebook, WhatsApp, Telegram, Instagram, Twitter, Tik Tok, and I don't know what other hip and cool social media platforms are out there. These are all not secure. It is an extremely bad idea to have privacy-sensitive conversations. Any app under Facebook you should not use because they're one of the worst offenders of privacy. Anyone that sells ads to you tracks your information and keeps it in a database. Telegram may tout that it's privacy-focused but that really isn't the case. Telegram by default does not offer encrypted conversations. That's only available in "secret chat", which you can't set up for group conversations. So your group and individual conversations are all unencrypted. I can't even begin with Tik Tok, just stay away from it, please.
What IM should you use then? Signal https://www.signal.org/
. It's open-source, audited and peer-reviewed to provide the highest quality encryption out there. Its entire premise is to fight your right for privacy by providing the best privacy IM out there. If you're a developer, you can review their code here https://github.com/signalapp
. Try your best to convince your friends that are afraid of the government but still want to have conversations against them to use Signal. Social Media
This is difficult because social media greatly depends on its audience. If you need social media to schedule protests and if Signal won't suffice then look into these options:
Source: https://www.privacytools.io/providers/social-networks/ Email: Use ProtonMail protonmail.com/
I know that gmail is widely used, but given my reasons above, do not trust Google. Ditch Google, opt in for a service that actually cares about privacy. I'm personally using ProtonMail
. With these guys you can manage multiple emails in ONE ACCOUNT. You can set up burner emails that only receive emails and not send. You can dispose these burner emails and make new ones in case it gets compromised. These guys are based on Switzerland and if I'm not mistaken, ProtonVPN are under these guys as well. Always prioritize software under EU because of their privacy laws, unless they don't respect it of course. Which means legal trouble for them anyway so I highly doubt it.
DuckDuckGo is your friend. Google search, Yahoo, and Bing aren't.
This is where a lot of people end up making a mistake. You can follow all of the previous bullet points but when you use an account that has your real information in it, you've undone all your up until this point. DO NOT use your real name. DO NOT use Facebook because I have several friends that used aliases and they were forced by Facebook to use their real name and to provide an valid ID before they approved the change. I'll just outline these:
- Do not use your real name
- Do not provide your address
- Do not provide your birth date
- Use a burner email.
Why? Your friends cannot be trusted. I know you guys have DDS friends and with the new bill, this is very dangerous. Facebook groups for protests are also very dangerous. Group chats are dangerous.
If you haven't already and if you are able to, just delete Facebook/TwitteInstagram/Tik Tok. Your life is better off without them. Trust me, and well all the other people that have gotten rid of these. It makes your life so much better.
Deleting your data/Temporary sessions
When shit hits the fan, you're gonna have to have a method to delete everything, quickly. Unfortunately how your data gets removed largely depends on the website/app you're using. For example, it'll take 30 days for Facebook to make your account inaccessible. Even with this there's no guarantee that your data has actually been wiped clean from Facebook's database. Directory of links for deleting accounts online
Disclaimer: Deleting your account does not mean your data was actually deleted on the servers. Which is why you have to be really careful on what website/app you use. Computer data
If you have to delete your data right away you simply just have to destroy the medium. Reformatting is not
enough. Data can always be recovered from disk which is why disk encryption is so important. To delete your data for good from your disk, you have to destroy the medium.
- Remove storage (hdd/ssd) and memory modules
- Drill a hole in them
- Break the ram modules in half
- Microwave RAM modules
If you prefer something less violent and destructive, make sure (as mentioned in the post) to install your OS with disk encryption enabled. A lot of Linux distros offer this and it's not difficult to set up. Then, all you have to do is just to boot into a live USB and wipe out your disk. This option is not as safe as destroying your disk. It's really best if you have something that does not store data on disk (See temporary sessions). Mobile phone data
You can factory reset your phone and pray to god that your data wasn't sent to a server. You can also remove your phone's storage and memory but that's way more difficult than a computer. You could also just drill a hole in your phone's storage and memory! Temporary Sessions
This is when you need a medium that's temporary and that doesn't store data. Live OS are great at this, but they're only as good as your hardware.
Tails Linux is great. Put it in a USB, boot into it and you can carry on browsing. It also has Tor built into it as an added bonus.
See more: https://www.privacytools.io/operating-systems/#live_os
See also: https://www.privacytools.io/ https://ssd.eff.org/
- Thanks LecheKaFlan
Edit 1: Added links
Edit 2: Added reference links
Edit 3: Added search engine
Edit 4: Added explanation for why Tor + VPN is not a good idea, and what you can do to encrypt your Tor traffic.
Edit 5: Added section for mobile phones and desktop operating systems. Thanks boywithapplesauce
Edit 6: Added social media alternatives and data deletion. Thanks Yssl
Edit 7: Added mobile browsers. Thanks r4iv3n
Edit 8: Added more FOSS operating systems and smartphone hardening resource. Thanks doppelbot
CASE STUDY: Transitioning my niche site to ecommerce using Shopify
Disclaimer submitted by Mark-JST to juststart [link] [comments]
: My site is very small and I don't purport this to be a gamechanger for, well, anyone. I just wanted to share something that is seeming to work well for me.
I started my niche site in 2018 -- it is focused around a particular type of vehicle that has a hobbyist following. Initially the site was monetized through a combination of Google Adsense and the Amazon Associates program. At some point, I started trying to diversify the income as much as possible. For me, this meant adding the eBay Partner Network for some items and applying for Ezoic as soon as I met the requirements.
I also experimented with some small affiliate programs but didn't have much success -- I had to get very creative to find them as most of the stores I really wanted to refer sales for did not offer an affiliate program. I reached out to them multiple times seeing if there was something we could arrange. I even offered to just sell display ads to them, but no dice. The result was signing up for a couple small affiliate programs with low commissions and low sales volume proructs. This frustration was the start of my desire to curate my own store of products I genuinely want to sell.
Shopify and subdomaining
I use Shopify to host my online store. I am a software engineer by profession so I generally don't consider ease-of-use and setup to be the most important factors when choosing software -- I just want whatever is the most effective. There are other options like WooCommerce that I have heard great things about.
However, for me, Shopify is almost magically easy to use and offers everything I have needed or wanted so far. Following Warren Buffet's advice to "buy what you like" I actually bought as much stock in the company as I could after using it for a month. Everything just works exactly how I expect it to. I have never struggled to find any answers or documentation about anything. The support is phenomenal.
It's just a great product -- to me I think they could be a bigger company then Amazon in a few years because it allows anyone to create to sell online and maintain a lot of control, something retailers lose with Amazon. I signed up for the Shopify affiliate program because I want
to refer people to it, not to
refer people to it. I helped my cousin set one up for his beef jerky business and it took 20 minutes before he was online and it has been a gamechanger. The small independent grocery store across the street from me is surviving (probably thriving) through COVID-19 because they allow online orders through Shopify and window pickup. But most importantly, it's great to get the little notification when you make a sale, especially when the margins are so much higher than affiliate, but I'll get to that later.
For me, I used a shop.mydomain.com
subdomain for my Shopify site. It's great because there are no conflicts with your Wordpress site and it's a very clean looking link. Shopify has some documentation
on this if you would like to try it.
Selling items yourself is great mainly because you get to choose and experiment with your profit margins. Want to experiment with razor-thin margins because you know your visitors will shop around a lot? Try it. Want to raise the price so any one sale is $80 in profit but you don't have to pack and ship as much? Might work, try it! Between Google Analytics and Shopify's analytics stats, you can measure anything you need to.
Here's a concrete example of one item from my site. I sell a particular type of spark plug that is used on a vehicle that my site is partly focused on. This is an item I have sold/referred in one way or another since the beginning of my site in 2018:
- Amazon Associates commission: $0.84 (before commission slashing!)
- Average Amazon Associates sales/month: 3
- Shopify profit margin: $14.06
- Average sales/month: 4
This is a small item that is extremely easy to buy in bulk and pack/ship quickly.
I actually averaged more clicks to this item when the destination was Amazon, so my conversion rate actually went up
when I moved away from Amazon. I charge a few dollars more than Amazon and many other online retailers for this item. I could probably do some experimenting to find the optimal price/sales ratio, but I think those numbers speak for themselves.
One of my early fears was that the trust people have for Amazon and their affinity towards Prime is hard to challenge, but my opinion is that the trust you gain by writing well-researched, meaningful articles and being an active participant in the niche you serve makes people want to support you.
Dropshipping has negative connotations because of the bastardized "buy cheap small items from overseas and make 4000% profit while the user doesn't know that the item wont arrive for 2 months" format that is shown by YouTube influencers and the like. However, dropshipping is simply collecting a sale yourself while having an underlying price agreement with a supplier who will pack and ship the item for you. The first item I sold through my Shopify store I actually sold on a dropshipping basis.
This was a line of products within the $200-300 price range, and I also sold these through the Amazon Associates program before. It was nice to make $10-17 for one sale, but I felt like I should be making more. I called the company that produces this item and asked to buy 3 or 4 to sell myself, but he suggested dropshipping instead which I was interested in as these items are rather large. I agreed to buy the items for around $160-200 and now I profit around $60 per sale -- the only effort required on my end is sending an email (gave them a card to have on file) and adding the tracking number to Shopify when it is available. The credit card points are nice too!
One other thing about this that I think is important -- It's really nice to have personal relationships that this kind of business offers. The guy that answered the phone was the owner of the small business and he's the nicest guy, great to deal with and it feels good to get him some sales, especially during a crisis like this. I actually met up with him at an industry event and we talked for a long time. He's an older guy and at some point I want to get him setup with a better online presence especially as he sells a lot of other products over the phone that I can't necessarily refer in my niche, but could definitely benefit from a real online store and web presence. I am building similar relationships with other suppliers and personally I love it.
If you go the route of stocking and shipping items yourself, the scope of products you can monetize through your site broadens drastically. For me, there was always a certain type of item that I wanted to sell, but I could never find a good version of this item on Amazon or anywhere that offered an affiliate program. This was actually one of the retailers I reached out to asking for an affiliate program to no avail. Then I asked for a dropshipping agreement -- the answer was still no. However, it's a lot easier when you ask to buy 50x of one item. They processed my distributor account in a day and had my items to me by the end of the week. It is now my best selling item!
Shipping Logistics and Tools
One of the things that I think could be a dealbreaker for people is something I personally really enjoy -- stocking, packing, and shipping items. My inventory is small enough to fit in a walk-in closet in my apartment. I love the process of getting the Shopfiy "ca-ching" notification, packing the order, and dropping it off at the mailbox. Here are some tools I have used to make this process more efficient:
- Label printer: I initially bought the cheapest option on Amazon. This was a mistake. That thing was absolute garbage. Then I bought a Brother QL-1100 and I love it. It's nearly $200 but worth every penny. The driver worked immediately, a stark contrast to the earlier printer. Prints quickly in very high quality. You can get away with using a regular printer, cutting out the label, and taping it on your package, but the presentation value is much better with a good label printer.
- Standard printer: Use for leaving a packing slip, order receipt, etc.
- Computer: Definitely not important, but I like to have a dedicated laptop for my "ship station" right next to my label printer and regular printer.
Here is part of my dedicated "ship-station" where I manage my store and print labels/packing slips. https://i.imgur.com/TdRfvEK.jpg
I would probably wait to receive the items you're selling before selecting the packaging you're going to use. That way you can take exact measurements and consider alternative sizes/types of packages. One of my items is a collection of smaller items. I throw away the box that my supplier ships it in, and put it in a bag that goes inside my small mailer box. I use a particular size of bubble wrap which was also specifically chosen to protect the item, while also taking up all of the surrounding space. It's much easier to make all of these choices when you have the item in front of you.
Here's the previously mentioned item (spark plugs) in the box I chose (bubble wrap not shown!) There is no wasted space when it is packed. https://i.imgur.com/IXgTxm0.jpg
For me, I use USPS for nearly all of my orders. It's usually the cheapest option and very fast for the size of item I have. I live in an apartment complex and I can just drop my packages in the mailroom and they get picked up daily. Shopify will show you all of the available shipping options with speed and price. For international orders, it's only a few dollars more, and I think it goes from USPS and gets picked up by DHL.
Another benefit of this approach is that you have infinitely more opportunity to make a good impression on your customers which is huge if your items are the kind that might be reordered, or if the customer may be interested in other items you sell. For me, item presentation is also important because as I said, I am operating out of a spare closet in my apartment, so I want to look as professional as possible.
Here are some ways you can do this:
- Light box: You definitely don't want to just pick pictures from Google Images. Take your own pictures. I bought a decent sized light box from Amazon for around $70 and it makes a massive difference. I would link it here but it seems like it's no longer available. I have an iPhone SE which is worlds away from most good cameras these days, but with the light box my pictures look extremely professional. This is not an item I sell (it's my beard comb) but I did a quick comparison of using the light box vs. my initial approach: using printer paper with an overhead lamp.
- Custom packaging: As discussed before, get your measurements and then choose the package you want to ship in. For me, I wanted to have some custom packaging with my logo on it. I didn't buy in huge bulk so it cost me about $3 per mailer box for the first order of packaging. It's a lot when my margins are mostly $20-40, but to me it is important. For companies to consider, I strongly recommend UPrinting or Packwire.
- EDIT: I originally noted issues I had with Packwire here but Phil from Packwire spotted it and he is sending me a new shipment free of charge that we expect will solve the issue I had. Thank you Phil! Based on this experience alone I would recommend trying them out if you need custom packages.
- Packing slips/notes: All of my orders contain a thank you note to the customer with my name and email. I thank them for the order and ask them to reach out if they have any questions or concerns. I also ask them to reach out if there's any item they would be interested in that they do not currently see on my store. I haven't had any responses recommending products customers would be interested in, but I did have one customer ask about using the item. I sent him my number and he gave me a call and I explained everything to him. I think my store will be his first stop if he ever needs anything else.
- Dual use of label printer: Use your label printer to look more professional. On the item that I put into a bag and then into my mailer box, I have item label stickers that I put on the bag. It has my logo and the item title and ID number of the item within my store. It is a nice added touch and I think it looks very official.
I have not yet started experimenting with any form of ads. All of my sales thus far have been the result of organic traffic from the content on my website funneled through to my store. This month I am going to experiment with Facebook and Google Ads. Obviously this may not work but if there is a decent enough margin after the increased customer acquisition cost I will continue. I will report these results later!
Legality and Relationship to Affiliate Marketing
Keeping in mind that we in this business typically operate as affiliates, the golden rule is to make sure you are recommending the absolute best products to your site visitors. Thinking back to the Casper mattress affiliate drama
, there should be research and thought behind your recommendations. Selling the items yourself does complicate this. I have used all of the items I sell on my store. When I moved my links over from Amazon, I kept the notes indicating that I have used the item, but I also added a link to an explanation of my store.
I think it ends up being an extra vote of confidence when I explain to users: I have tried the items I sell and think they are the best in their category. I used to sell these items as an affiliate and would receive a commission, but I believe in them strongly enough that I now stock and sell them myself. I am not the only one who sells them and you can certainly buy from others if you find a better price/shipping speed.
I'll restate what I said before because I think it is extremely illuminating: My conversion rates went up when I moved items from Amazon to my own store!
The bottom line is that you need to be explicit about these things to be safe and honest. I think my niche works particularly well for this as people are looking for a.) What exact version of the item do I need? and b.) How do I use it? I know many niche sites are focused around "Top 10 X" type content and this may become a lot more difficult within the honesty/legality context. Something to think about.
As a final note, I still operate this as a sole proprietorship. Eventually I want to get an LLC for it. I have been upfront about this with all of my suppliers and none of them have required this for a distributor agreement.
Here are my income sources over time. I apologize for the colors used in the line charts of individual sources, I could not figure out how to configure those. https://i.imgur.com/bkeK6PJ.jpg https://i.imgur.com/8ES9cG5.jpg
As you can see, my site is very small. However, the relationship between the decline these past few months in display advertising revenue (Ezoic literally sent an email saying to expect lower rates) and the Amazon Associates rate cut charted against my growing Shopify revenue really opened my eyes to the benefit I gained from diversifying towards ecommerce/Shopify. I still keep the older sources of revenue, but I actually think I will consider eliminating them in the future, especially display ads. Diversification is necessary when the revenue source lacks control -- Amazon Associates can slash rates willy-nilly, eBay Partner Network can apparently just decide to not pay me for a large sale I made, who even knows what these display ad networks are actually getting paid for our clicks or if every click is considered, etc.
Selling the items yourself gives you a lot more responsibility, but a lot more control. One of the primary reasons I'm so excited about this is that my inventory is still VERY small. I am working to add new items and it's wonderful because even if I only sell a few, the profit margins make it so much easier to spend the time to create the content and stock/ship the item -- a luxury I never had with Amazon.
Please feel free to ask any questions! I'd love to help if I can.
[Cosplay/Conventions] UPDATE POST - Warped Con refuses to pay competition winning cosplayer for reasons not in the rules. Streisand effect ensues.
submitted by _River_Song_ to HobbyDrama [link] [comments]
Hey Hobby Drama! A few months ago a situation of mine ended up on here https://www.reddit.com/HobbyDrama/comments/du1nd5/cosplayconventions_warped_con_revokes_first_place/
and I just wanted to correct some of the errors/fill some holes AND give an update to the situation!
SO here’s what happened and how i caused a scandal haha.
I’m a cosplayer from the UK. I entered my Cersei Lannister costume into the contest at Warped Con, which had an advertised prize of £750. It was a first time event, so having a prize this high in the uk (rare) had me all *cash eyes* haha. My costume took me two years to make from hand (it has blacksmithing and over 500 hours of hand embroidery! https://www.instagram.com/p/B16WLy2DyOH/
) This costume is the complete love of my life. So I attended the event with my friend, and I was lucky enough to win 1st place! My friend I attended with won 3rd place. Happy days.
Fast forward 3 months. The terms and conditions of the contest stated that we would receive our prizes within 12 weeks of the competition. I had not had any communication from the convention since the event. I had had a couple of emails and received my certificate from the team who had been externally hired in to coordinate the contest, however they informed me that Warped Con had decided to pay all the winners directly instead of through their company, so there was nothing more they could do. I knew this company already, as I had been brought in to judge a convention contest for them in April, however I was not and am not an employee of this company. ANYWAY.
Its the week of the final week of the payment deadline. I email the con. I attempt to call them. I instagram message them. I facebook message them. I do not get a response to a single one of my messages asking very politely when I will be paid. The day the deadline passes (halloween funnily enough) I message them to say that if i didn't get a response, I would be seeking legal action to claim my money. They responded early in the morning as you can see, https://i.imgur.com/JIRrKZN.jpg
threatening me, but very clearly stating that I will be paid my money and they acknowledge that I am owed this. From the language theyre using, I totally got the gist that these two middle ages white male conservatives didnt enjoy that a little girl in a dress was telling them off.
As you can see from their message, 20 minutes after their message to me stating that I am owed the money, they make a facebook status.
Status can be seen in the other post. Basically they’re ‘apologising for the delay in paying the competition winners’ and state that this was because they were ‘investigating’ me as they conveniently received reports that I had colluded with the judges to win, and they had decided now to disqualify me for breaching their rules for being associated with the competition organisation (their evidence for this rested on the fact that i was facebook friends with the organiser of the comp, because yknow, thats how us cosplayers do our marketing. sigh) and would be bumping up the other winners (with them somehow magically producing a 4th place winner out of their ass that DEFINITELY wasn’t a friend of theirs. Anyway there are 4 major issues with this:
- I had never met the judges before that day and to this day cannot even remember who they were
- Twenty minutes before the status they said in black and white they would be paying me my money.
- NOWHERE in the rules of the competition does it state that you may not have any association with the organisation or judges. If this was a rule, noone in the uk cosplay scene would be allowed to compete. I archived the page of their website and downloaded the dated pdf of the rules so they couldnt try and retroactively change it, and yeah. This isnt a rule they had. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1HlMWdLaBttcaJgBvmSZ19LY_4dRL8vR9/view?usp=sharing
- My friend who won 3rd place in the competition, who they were still planning to award the prize, had judged an event for said organisational company, ONE WEEK BEFORE WARPED CON, showing that their ‘investigation’ was completely fabricated.
SO THEN I make a facebook post about the situation, and all hell breaks loose. Warped ban me from their facebook page so I’m unable to defend myself in the comments. Hundreds and hundreds of people, friends and strangers, proceed to meme the shit out of warped con. The post gets hundreds of shares from all over the world, everyone supporting me. Its great and funny but I just remember how I rang my friend up after seeing their post in floods of tears. Its stupid, but I put so much passion and love into that costume, so to be basically told that it isn’t possible for me to win with it unless I cheated? That fucking stung.
Eventually they delete that post after being sufficiently dunked on. They then make a second post, doubling down, and delete all the comments. A couple of days later comes a THIRD post and things don’t get any better. During all this I’m still not able to defend myself publically to their slander of me as I’m banned from commenting on their page. Eventually they end up deleting all their social media. Their website was quite comedically changed to just read ‘nope’ https://warpedcon.com/
About 3 weeks after this whole disaster, they eventually pay the new winners. So 2nd place got my £750, 3rd got 2nd’s £425 and the ‘4th’ got 3rd’s £275.
In the meantime while all this was going on, (besides me doing an interview with bbc news?!) I was preparing a legal claim through small claims court. You see, with just the basic ‘i entered competition, they didn’t pay, i want my money’ I already had a case. However what they then did on their social media, increased my likelihood of winning a case TENFOLD. It’s like they were collecting my evidence for me. Their poorly thought out responses gave me comments such as them contradicting themselves and stating they don’t think the judges were biased at all for example. My personal favourite is them admitting that no, this wasn’t in the published terms and conditions of the competition however they decided to make ‘cant be affiliated with the organisation’ an INTERNAL rule for them. Because yknow, thats totally a legally binding rule.
So I submit my legal claim. I ask for the full amount of money, plus the monetary equivalent of a vip ticket (which was supposed to be part of the prize too), plus the legal fees I had to pay that were £60, plus taxes. Because I was just being SLIGHTLY petty. I provide a full timeline of events, a plethora of evidence, and off it goes. They have 14 days to respond to it and are allowed to request an extension. Surprise surprise, on the 14th day at 4pm, they request an extension. Another 14 days (we’re at the beginning of December now) and they respond, rejecting my claim. Honestly, I wish I could post their response in the legal documents, because it was genuinely hilarious. They had one paragraph of misspelled text, half of which had been copy and pasted from a wikipedia article irrelevant to our situation, and their only piece of ‘evidence’ was, QUOTE ‘beth and the competition organiser are facebook friends’ thats IT. Their ENTIRE case of collusion rides on the fact that we’re friends on facebook. Never mind so are all the other winners that they didn’t disqualify because they didn’t threaten legal action or cause a fuss, nope, just me.
So I’m obviously like pft if thats all their evidence, this will be an easy win. So i reject ther response and we moved forward. I get a call from a mediator, and I speak to her. She asks if i would be willing to set up mediation with them to try and find a solution, and when I explain how they’ve been deliberately waiting till the last hour of the legal deadline, she states she’s going to forward it straight to court. Christmas hits, and I’m asked to submit all my evidence and legal docs etc. I do so. It’s now the second week of January, we’re due to receive our court date in about a week, and I get this email which genuinely made me jump up from my office desk at work. https://i.imgur.com/JHkPn6Q.png
As you can see its entirely bullshit (they blocked me, not them) and their ‘apology’ in the next email is even more bullshit (the £60 is me saying ‘cool i will accept your offer if you’ll cover the legal fees ive paid so far) https://i.imgur.com/qEXyYZe.jpg
However I know that THEY know its bullshit. And I known they would have been SQUIRMING having to write that email. Its obvious they sought legal advice and realised that they were going to lose, badly. One hilarious thing to note, is that because of their tantrum and not paying me in the first place, this whole debacle ended up with them having to pay an extra £1300 ON TOP OF the original prize money for everyone (because they bumped everyone up, THEN paid me hahahaha)
Week goes by, and FINALLY I have the money in my bank account. I preordered the special edition animal crossing nintendo switch, and bought a 3d printer for my cosplays.
Anyway fuck Warped Con, I got my money and will continue to cause a fuss against companies that try and screw cosplayers out of money.
I seem to cause at least 2 international cosplay scandals a year, so feel free to follow my instagram, @ amazoniancos to keep up with them bc they’re always juicy. Also I make cool costumes. Thanks <3
EDIT: Seeing as some fuckwad is accusing me of ommitting information to 'hide my poor behaviour' because I dared to make a joke in a drama subreddit about having had a couple of dramas, despite all these screenshots being in the links in the previous post, heres the messaged I had sent to warped before they sent their message i screenshotted above, along with a tweet I made before it. Not pictured because I can't find scaps, the EXTREMELY professional emails I sent over the 3 months of waiting with no communication, and the phonecall voicemail I left on their answering machine. https://imgur.com/a/ZhFtLKA
The ladders of wealth creation: a step-by-step roadmap to building wealth
submitted by nathanbarry to Entrepreneur [link] [comments]
This summer I wrote a post on growing my software company to $15M ARR (reddit thread
) that you all seemed to enjoy. So I thought I'd share my latest writing.
Back when I did web design people would often pitch me an idea for a business that would be "Uber for X" or "Facebook, but for Y" and I always struggled to explain how what they chose was an insanely difficult business and all the skills they would need to learn in the process.
This article is my first draft of an attempt to lay out the roadmap to building wealth and the pitfalls and principles you'll encounter along the way.
I'd love to hear what you think in the comments!
------------ In college I first heard Jason Fried from Basecamp talk about how making money is a skill—like playing the drums or piano—that you can get better at over time. That resonated with me immediately. I wouldn’t expect to be able to sit down at a piano for the first time and immediately play a concerto.
We could outline the progression to mastering a musical instrument, so we should also be able to do the same with earning a living.
What lessons do you need to learn to go from odd jobs around the neighborhood to owning a real estate empire? From working as a freelancer to selling your own digital products? What about from working at Wendy’s to owning a SaaS company earning over $1 million per month? That last one is my own path.
There’s a reliable progression that anyone can take to earn more and build wealth. In fact, I like to think of it as a series of ladders side by side. Each one can climb to different heights in both the quality of business and potential earnings.
------------------------- Ladders of Wealth Creation Diagram (this is important and explains the concept visually)
In this model the potential earnings increase the higher up each ladder you climb. They also increase as you move left to right to more advanced ladders. But the difficulty increases with each move as well.
Each step requires that you learn new skills to overcome those new challenges. Let’s break down a few of those skills and opportunities at each stage:
TIME FOR MONEY
Our first ladder is trading time for money. This is how most people you know earn a living. It may start with an hourly job working for Starbucks, but then transition into a salaried position working at a company.
At the most basic level you need the skills of:
- Showing up consistently
- Being reliable
- Learning new skills on the job
Every job, even the most entry level, require those three things.
Then in order to take the next step up the ladder you will need to specialize in certain skills (design, copywriting, legal, becoming a nurse, etc) to gain a salaried position.
YOUR OWN SERVICE BUSINESS
If you choose to make the jump to the next ladder of running your own services business there’s an entirely new set of skills you need to learn that build on the last step. Things like:
- Setting up a company
- Finding clients
- Creating proposals
- Pricing services
- Hiring employees
- Establishing an online presence
- Accounting, finance, business operations, etc
Looking back there are so many things that seem easy and intuitive now (such as filing for an LLC with the Secretary of State) that were daunting to me at the time.
This is also where many business owners expand beyond their ability and start to lose the lessons they should have mastered from the previous ladder like being reliable and showing up consistently. Which is how a friend of mine with no plumbing experience bought a small plumbing company and doubled revenue in the first year with two simple changes:
- Following up with customers
- Doing what he said he was going to do
As business owners we underestimate just how much there is to learn so we get overwhelmed and start dropping the ball on the basics.
Up until now each sale has been made by talking to customers or an employer directly in person or over the phone or email. But to truly reach new levels of income you need to learn a different lesson: how to sell without ever talking to the customer.
Our goal is to scale sales to new levels. That means removing every possible bottleneck. On the productized service we’ll remove the sales bottleneck, then on the next ladder we’ll remove the product delivery bottleneck.
A productized service is when we take a set offering (e.g. search engine consulting) and bundle it up as a set offering with a fixed price (an SEO site audit for $1,000).
A few examples include:
- A designer moving from designing websites at $100 per hour to charging a $2,500 for designing a 5 page website.
- A video editor charging $250 per video instead of $50 per hour.
- A handyman charging $50 per visit rather than an hourly rate.
Because the project scope and price are fixed the service provider will make more on some projects than others, but the profits will average out.
On this ladder we need to learn:
- Writing sales copy that can make a sale without talking to the customer
- Designing a sales page (or hiring experts to do it for you)
- Processing online payments
- Standardizing systems to deliver repeatable quality with each service
If you choose to move further up this ladder you can add recurring revenue and employees to scale further and add predictability. For example, my brother-in-law Daniel used to edit any video for $30 per hour, but now he’s launched a recurring productized service to edit up to four vlog episodes per month for $1,000.
First he answered the question, “how many hours will this take?” by moving from hourly to a fixed per video cost. Then he clarified exactly who it is for by specifying vlogs, rather than just any video. And finally he made it recurring by moving to a monthly price, rather than a per video price.
Now he has a predictable income stream from a handful of clients and a waiting list for those who want to sign up when he has more availability.
A productized service works to remove the manual work from making the sale and selling a full product continues that trend by also removing the manual work from delivering the product.
Physical products fall into two categories: handmade and manufactured.
- Handmade – Handmade products are great to get started because you can make a few without spending a ton of money, but then they are closer to productized services in that each one takes time to make, so you can’t scale seamlessly yourself.
- Manufactured – Manufactured products are hard to do at a small scale, but if you can sell enough of them you can make them in bulk and then you can scale an impressive business.
A product takes far more work to create up front, but then each individual sale and the fulfillment of that sale happens without much (or any) additional effort from the business owner.
- An ebook on how to learn a new programming language
- A video course on new cooking techniques
- A new tripod for vloggers
At this stage there are an entirely new set of skills you have to learn in order to sell products in bulk:
- Customer support at scale
- Gathering customers at scale
- Supply chain (if it’s a physical product)
- Fraud as nefarious people use your site for credit card testing and more
That’s just a few of dozens of skills you’ll need. With that intro to the ladders of wealth covered, let’s turn to principles that will help you navigate this new concept.
8 principles to grow your wealth and income over time
- Extra time and money need to be reinvested
- You can skip ahead, but you still have to learn the lessons from each step
- Apply your existing skills in a new way to build wealth
- There’s a difference between working for a better wage and truly building wealth
- Using an earlier rung on the ladder to fund the next one
- Moving between ladders often means a decrease in income
- Each step is easier with an audience
- It takes longer than you think, but the results can be incredible
1. EXTRA TIME AND MONEY NEED TO BE REINVESTED
On a recent trip to Seattle I talked to my Uber driver between SeaTac and downtown Seattle. The conversation ranged from travel, our favorite islands in Hawaii, his love for music and gadgets, what he does for work, and why he’s driving for Uber on the side.
He has a solid career working downtown for the City of Seattle and Uber allows him to earn a little extra on the side driving a couple mornings a week. It’s fantastic that services like Airbnb and Uber allow those on with a set salary to earn more on the side.
So what was he spending this extra money on? Well, he loves gadgets and wants two things:
- To replace a broken speaker in his home theatre system.
- To buy a DJI Mavic drone.
Those are both super fun purchases and it’s great he’s able to work extra to make those happen. But it reminded me of why most people don’t build wealth: increased earnings never go into wealth.
All across society extra money—whether from a raise or working extra—disappears into lifestyle inflation or temporary purchases, when it could be put to work so much more effectively.
The drone would be really fun, but there are so many small parts and fancy electronics that it’s bound to break after a couple years—and that’s if you don’t fly it into a tree before then.
If you want to build wealth that thousand dollars should be spent on new skills or invested in the stock market, retirement accounts, or another business, rather than burned on the latest gadget.
2. YOU CAN SKIP AHEAD, BUT YOU STILL HAVE TO LEARN THE LESSONS FROM EACH STEP
At ConvertKit we run one of the largest affiliate marketing programs of any SaaS company, bringing in nearly half a million dollars in revenue each month. But it’s a pain. None of the software available to manage these systems works well and as a result we spend at least one day a month doing manual work.
My brother-in-law, Philip, saw this manual work and decided to build a better platform for SaaS companies to run affiliate programs. His new tool, called LinkMink
, is gaining traction, but still early. After working on it for nearly two years he can’t help but feel frustrated he and his co-founder are only at a couple thousand a month in revenue.
I can relate to this. 2 years into starting ConvertKit we were at the same level. It sucks how slow SaaS can be.
But then I started thinking about Philip’s path. He’s got a bachelor’s degree in business, has worked as a designer, then as a software developer. Then he started working on LinkMink.
His path has been:
- Hourly work for a company (in a wide range of jobs as anyone joining the workforce has)
- Salaried work at a company (both as a designer early on, then a web developer)
Okay, so far this is great. On our income-earning ladder he has gone from the first rung to the second and done it quite quickly. In just four years going from an entry-level position to a fantastic salary.
Somewhere in there he also did a little bit of contract design work, so he picked up the basics of invoicing, finding clients, and marketing your services.
So let’s look at his next step, which was too… Start LinkMink.
Starting a software-as-a-service app isn’t the next step on the spectrum. Hell, it’s not even in the next 10 steps!
Running a SaaS company is incredibly hard with so many moving pieces: development, servers, customer support, legal, payment processing, etc. No wonder it’s taking a while!
It’s not that he can’t do this or that he even made a poor choice in jumping to this step: simply that he has a lot of lessons to learn and he chose to learn them all here, rather than slowly in incremental steps throughout the journey.
Because of that, he should set his expectations that this will take longer and feel harder than it does for other people.
Those downsides are balanced by the fact that it can also have an incredible reward because recurring software is one of the greatest business models on the planet, which is why acquiring companies and investors will pay an incredible premium to own them.
3. APPLY YOUR EXISTING SKILLS IN A NEW WAY TO BUILD WEALTH
My friend Patrick bought a house that needed plenty of work and immediately dove into renovating it himself. Since he works construction full-time he was well equipped with the skills to transform this fixer-upper.
But the real magic and value wasn’t in the main house, which he is remodeling for his family, but in a detached 1-car garage that is accessible from the back alley. Originally this building was so run down that you wouldn’t even park a car in it, but after 6 months of work on nights and weekends Patrick renovated it into a beautiful little 300 square foot studio apartment.
Just a couple hours after listing it for rent on Airbnb he had his first booking. His first month booked up immediately generating over $1,800 in revenue. When combined with his job working on a construction crew, this new revenue stream was a 50% increase in his monthly earnings.
Because Airbnb already exists he has a product to sell (a cozy place to stay), in an existing marketplace, to a steady stream of buyers.
The best part is that not only is this making him money while he works construction, and
that the extra work he put in will raise the resale value of his house, but really that for as long as he holds on to it, he has steady cashflow to more than cover his mortgage no matter what job he does.
4. THERE’S A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WORKING FOR A HIGHER WAGE AND TRULY BUILDING WEALTH
While I love working on the computer and creating digitally, often I want an escape from that and to see projects come together in real life. Like many people I’ve been fascinated by tiny houses for years, so this year I decided to pull the trigger and build one myself. While it’s been a lot of learning and quite challenging at times, the break from sitting in front of a computer to start creating in real life has been so rewarding.
Since I’m a complete novice when it comes to home building, I’ve relied on experienced friends like Patrick for the trickier parts, such as installing a double-swing french door.
After finishing his own tiny studio and helping me build my tiny house Patrick said, “Maybe I should quit my construction job”—which is something he’s wanted to do for a long time—”and build tiny houses for other people.”
While it’s a solid idea, and would certainly be more fun than working for a construction company, I talked Patrick out of it. Not because I want to crush someone’s dream, but because it would be a step backwards on our earning a living ladder.
Patrick was on the first ladder of hourly or salaried work for a company. The next logical step would be to start his own company doing similar work. That actually takes him to the next ladder.
Then if he were building tiny houses specifically he could specialize and sell them more as a product—not just labor for x dollars per hour, but actually selling the completed tiny house for a fixed price. Which would mean any efficiencies gained would be his to keep.
Wait, those all sound like good things and steps forward, so why discourage it?
Because Patrick actually has a solid footing on a much more advanced ladder: selling products. His Airbnb is selling a product into an existing marketplace. He’s making money while he sleeps! So instead of using his time and skills to create another hourly or project based income source, he should build a tiny house for himself, put it on Airbnb, and double his product revenue.
5. USE AN EARLIER RUNG ON THE LADDER TO FUND THE NEXT ONE
The one downside to jumping ahead is that it often costs money before you will get money back. Because he did all the work himself, Patrick’s studio renovation only cost about $10,000. While it’s a great return, $10,000 is a lot to come up with!
In the same way Patrick’s biggest obstacle to running another airbnb unit is actually initial capital to get started through buying land and building materials.
That’s where the early rung on the ladders can help. You might stay at your software job longer to stockpile savings to fund your living expenses longer, or you might pick up extra shifts as a bartender to help save for your next set of building materials (which is what Patrick did). Often it requires extra work on one rung of the ladder to fund the jump to the next one.
WHEN IS IT WORTH IT TO WORK FOR A WAGE?
You may have heard the quote, “you shouldn’t trade time for money.” While true that there are better ways to build wealth, early in my career I found that advice quite discouraging. That was the only way I knew how to make money and apparently it was wrong!
trade time for money, especially early in your career when it’s the only option available with your current skill set. So rather than writing off entire methods for earning a living, let’s break down five examples of when you should trade time for money:
- When you are just getting started. Early in your career, the important thing is to make enough to pay rent and buy groceries. Don’t look down on any job that allows you to do that. Once you have a stable foundation you can start to pursue better opportunities.
- When you are learning a new skill. If you can get paid to learn a new skill that will grow your earning potential you absolutely should! Let’s say I want to be a YouTuber and are just getting started. Working as a camera assistant for an ad agency would be a great way to learn more about cameras and video while still paying rent.
- As a step in getting to a higher rung or on to the next ladder. It always takes time, money, or both to move to a higher rung on the ladder. If you spend conservatively and save any extra money you can have enough to buy the tools, training, or time necessary to get to the next level.
- To build relationships and find mentors. The right people will shape your mindset and opportunities. You should absolutely trade time for money if it means expanding your network to people who can help you jump to the next ladder.
- When the work is rewarding and meaningful in its own right. If you found work that you find meaningful and fulfilling, you should do that. Even if some expert says you shouldn’t trade time for money. A lot of money is far from the only kind of wealth.
The most important thing is that you aren’t just treading water as you work for a wage. As much of that money as possible should be saved and invested to help you jump to the next ladder.
6. MOVING BETWEEN LADDERS OFTEN MEANS A DECREASE IN INCOME
I hope this has been helpful and inspiring so far, because I’m about to hit you with some bad news: while income increases as you move up any one ladder, it often decreases when you jump between ladders. Sometimes that drop may be only for a few months, other times it could be a few years. Let me give you an extreme example.
In 2013 I earned over $250,000 from selling books and courses on design. My income head been steadily increasing for the last few years and I was damn proud of my blog and business. But then I decided to make the leap and switch from selling ebooks to starting a software company—one of the most difficult rungs on the product ladder.
My income immediately and substantially dropped as I focused on ConvertKit. So how long do you think it took to set a new one year income record? A year? Two years?
Nope. I didn’t earn over $250,000 in a year again until…2018. 5 years later!
Software can take a long time to get going and for years after we got traction I still reinvested everything. Now, because of the exponential growth of ConvertKit (more on that later), I’m now earning far more than my previous record of $250,000.
As you eye the next ladder to make the leap from a stable job to freelancing, or from a successful freelancing business to your next product, plan for a valley to follow your current revenue peak.
This is especially hard when you’re used to being successful in one area and then you start over in a new area and lose the signs of progress and forward momentum.
IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE ALL OR NOTHING
You can start your blog while still helping freelance clients. Build the habit of writing while you still have your full-time job. Or do what I did and use book and course revenue to help fund building a software company.
A side project is an incredible way to bridge the gap and cover the dip as you move between ladders. Just one note: I said, “a
side project” not “side projects
It’s so easy to get carried away with dozens of exciting ideas, working on each one as motivation and inspiration are there. But if you keep that cycle going it’s so easy to be spread thin between so many projects that will prevent you from making any one of them actually successful.
7. EACH STEP IS EASIER WITH AN AUDIENCE.
While the dip is always going to be frustrating, imagine that instead of making the leap alone you had dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of people cheering you on at each stage. Each person enjoying hearing about your journey and eager to help you make the next step.
Sound too good to be true?
It’s not. It’s called an audience.
By sharing your journey publicly—and inviting friends, family, and complete strangers along for the ride—you will create your own fan club who are actively rooting for your success.
That’s exactly what I did when I made the jump from selling ebooks about design to starting a software company: I talked about the entire journey through what I called The Web App Challenge. A public challenge to build a customer-funded SaaS product from scratch to $5,000 in recurring revenue in six months.
While I didn’t hit the goal—only achieving just over $2,000 per month—the people who rallied around to support my public journey were incredible.
That next endeavor that you launch, whether it’s creating handcrafted products for the farmers market, starting a new coffee shop, if you share your story and give people a way to follow your journey, they will. Some will buy your products, others will tell their friends, and still more will cheer you on.
An audience is actually easier to build than we make it seem:
- Have a goal. The goal could be to make your first sale at a farmers market, write a book, renovate an airbnb, pay off your debt, landing your first four design clients, or just about anything else. The point is for it to be clear who you are and what you are trying to accomplish.
- Document your progress. This next step is a little harder—not because it’s difficult to document progress, but because it’s difficult to do consistently. Choose a cadence and write updates reminding people of what you are trying to accomplish and sharing your progress, learnings, and challenges on that journey. That could be through a monthly blog post or even just through more regular Instagram posts.
- Ask for help. Finally, understand that everyone wants to help, so let them! If you need advice on how to price your products or how to setup your business, just ask. If someone in your small audience doesn’t know, they most likely know someone who does. Throughout my journey I’ve been blown away by how many people step up with advice, introductions, and support whenever I’ve asked.
So as you plan your next big step to build wealth I encourage you to set a clear goal, share it publicly, and give your community the opportunity to rally behind you and make it happen.
8. IT TAKES LONGER THAN YOU THINK, BUT THE RESULTS CAN BE INCREDIBLE
A few years ago my friend James’ grandmother passed away in her 90’s. She had grown up in the small town of Council in central Idaho. When she was 60 years old her husband, my friend’s grandfather, passed away. Leaving her alone. She was financially secure through two paid off houses, one in Boise, the other in Council, but she still had a long life ahead of her.
She always loved cute little houses and decided to buy one to rent out as a new hobby to fill her time. A couple years later she bought another and rented it out as well. Then another and another.
By the time I met her she was 80 years old and in the 20 years since she started, she had acquired more than 25 cute little homes throughout Southwest Idaho. None were very expensive, probably around $100,000 each, but combined they turned into quite the real estate empire. Each returning a great monthly cashflow that she rolled into buying the next property.
In addition to this she bought a one hundred acre ranch on the Boise river outside of town.
What had started as a hobby to pass her time and distract from loneliness turned into a real estate empire worth over $5 million.
The takeaway is not necessarily to buy more houses (though that has been a great path to wealth for many), but that consistently reinvesting time and money into wealth creation rather than lifestyle inflation can have incredible results if allowed to play out for long enough.
The unique shapes of increasing income
I mentioned earlier that the further to the right on the income ladders you go the more difficult they become, but also the greater the upside. It may be hard to understand exactly why that is, so let’s explain it with three visuals:
- Stair step
STAIR STEP Stair step diagram
Most people will experience a stair step approach to income in their life. As they move from an hourly position to a salary that comes with a raise, which would be a step up in income. Then each additional salary increase will be another step. In some careers these may be small and often, in others they may be spaced out over more time and be quite large (residency to a full doctor or making partner at a law firm).
You can also supplement a salary with an additional project (a rental property, buying an e-commerce site, a recurring consulting agreement) that will result in another stair step in your income.
While this model isn’t the best possible, it is how nearly all wealthy people built their wealth. You won’t have unlimited upside, but over 40+ years it is one of the most reliable paths to wealth.
LINEAR Linear diagram
Enough stair steps that are close together will simply look like a linear growth curve when you zoom out. So while a raise every few years will look like a stair step, a freelancer steadily able to increase her rate will look linear. In the same way that adding a rental property once is a worthwhile stair step, adding one per year is linear.
The most common linear growth that I see in my work is in selling digital products: as traffic increases, so do sales. It isn’t exponential because traffic is still the bottleneck, but each new blog post or search engine ranking brings a few hundred more people to the site each month. Over time that drives more sales and income increases.
EXPONENTIAL Exponential diagram
Exponential growth comes from when each sale of a product truly makes the next sale come more easily. It requires a product that you can sell repeatedly (whether physical or digital) that can be created at a large scale. Meaning you can’t be selling your time.
Exponential growth often starts slowly, taking months or years to reach any kind of meaningful revenue. But fast forward a few years or a decade and the growth can be absolutely astounding.
Software companies, marketplaces, and large e-commerce companies have an incredibly high ceiling and can grow insanely fast in their prime. But that usually takes time, significant skill, and meaningful capital.
My own journey to building wealth
The one thing I can guarantee is that your journey won’t be linear. Mine own journey involved jumping all over the place. Let me show you:
- Woodworking (2003 — 13 years old). The very first way I made money—other than my parents paying me for work around the house—was making wood carvings on a scroll saw a family friend had given me, and selling them around the neighborhood. Each one making between $10-$40, depending on the complexity. While after that it would be a few years before I would revisit products, I still find it interesting that I had such an early foray into products. Most important skill acquired: the courage to knock on a stranger’s door and sell them something.
- Wendy’s (2005 — 15 years old). I was in a hurry to grow up and wanted to start taking college classes. I needed money in order to pay tuition. So I picked up the phonebook and started calling businesses asking how old you had to be to work there. Most said 16. Wendy’s was the first to say they’d hire at 15. Working the drive through we would compete with other local stores to set the fastest drive through services times. I worked the cash register and learned to type on it without looking in order to make sure I wasn’t the bottleneck. Most important skill acquired: how to work very fast.
- Freelance web design (2006 — 16 years old). I learned web design in high school and started to make money designing websites and logos. In 2007 I dropped out of college to do it full time. My biggest success was building a web application for $10,000. Most important skill acquired: how to find, work with, and charge clients.
- Lead designer in a startup (2009 — 19 years old). In 2009 I was hired on full time by one of my clients (a 14 person venture backed startup). I stayed for nearly three years, growing to lead their product design team. I spent my time designing in Photoshop, learning to code iOS apps, and working with a large team as the company eventually grew to over 80 team members. Most important skill acquired: an introduction to leading a team.
- Building and selling iOS apps (2011 — 21 years old). While working for the software startup I started building iOS apps on the side. Then I went out on my own to freelance and continue to build my own apps. As my first venture back into products since the days of selling handmade goods door to door, I had to learn to write a sales page, code apps, market products, and launch into the iOS app ecosystem. Most important skill acquired: building a product and selling into an existing marketplace.
- Selling my first book (2012 — 22 years old). After building quite a few iOS apps I turned to writing a blog and then eventually writing a book teaching how to design apps. The book was quite successful, selling nearly $20,000 worth in the first week! This launched my entire journey with building an audience and self-publishing. Most important skill acquired: how to build an audience.
- Building a software company (2013 — 23 years old). My next—and final—venture was to focus on software again and build the email marketing company I wish I had when I started growing an audience. Today ConvertKit earns over $18 million per year. Nearly seven years after starting ConvertKit it is what I’m still doing and plan to do for at least the next decade. Most important skill acquired: how to work relentlessly on one idea for long enough to reach its full potential.
Over the years I’ve done so many different things, but each one was a step towards learning the skills required to earn a living and build wealth.
Considering leveling up your income and wealth?
As you’re considering making the jump to the next level, ask yourself these questions:
- What rung am I on in my journey to build wealth?
- Which ladder is this new idea on?
- How far is it from the rung and ladder I am on currently?
- What new skills would I need to close the gap between where I am now and where I want to go?
- How long will it take to acquire those skills and get initial traction?
- Do I have the runway (both in time and financial security) to make that jump without putting my finances in danger?
These aren’t meant to discourage you from making a move. Instead, the answers to these questions will give you awareness to make you more likely to succeed in the journey ahead.
Let’s close with one final example.
The Patel Motel Cartel
Did you know that 50% of motels in the United States are owned and operated by people of Indian origin? One of my favorite articles I’ve read in the last year was in the New York Times and was actually written back in 1999, it’s titled, A Patel Motel Cartel?
In the 1950s families from India started to immigrate to the United States. Because it was so expensive they often relied on money from family to help them get settled.
Once in the United States they got jobs, earned more, and paid it forward to others in their family to help them make the same move. The money was never repaid, but always paid forward.
But the real magic came with what they did next. Instead of pursuing normal jobs a family would pull together all the money they could (from their own savings and from extended family) and use it as a down payment on a small motel. The family would then move into it and run it full time. Spending their days and weekends working the front desk, cleaning rooms, and making beds.
Over time as it grew into a meaningful business they would have some free capital to pay forward to another relative who would do the same thing.
They worked hard hosting thousands of guests and carefully stockpiling money. Whenever the stockpile grew large enough it didn’t go into increasing their lifestyle, but instead into the next opportunity, which was nearly always another motel.
By 2003, when the article was written, Indian immigrants owned half of all the motels in the United States. Not only were they continue to earn great revenue from each booking, but the land has appreciated over the decades to become incredibly valuable, making these families rich.
My three favorite things are that they:
- Rallied together to make one family succeed, and in doing so raised the tide for everyone.
- Never paid back the money, but instead paid it forward to the next family member to create opportunity for them.
- Always poured the money into the next revenue generating asset (another motel) rather than inflating their lifestyle.
While he doesn’t come from a culture where that kind of assistance and collaboration is common, my friend Patrick is well on his way to creating wealth through following the same model as he leverages his construction skills to build more Airbnbs.
Philip is doing the hard work to launch a SaaS company—learning all the skills necessary to jump 3 ladders in a single move. His company, LinkMink, is now growing quickly and we even switched ConvertKit to their platform a few months ago.
And I’ve used the skills I learned from each ladder to build a company to nearly $20 million in revenue.
No matter where you are in your journey, whether you are searching for a job, living paycheck to paycheck, launching your first business, growing an audience, starting a side project, scaling your company, or looking for the next venture to invest in, I hope this article helps to serve as a roadmap of what’s possible.
Building wealth is a skill. A skill anyone can master given enough time and a relentless desire to learn and work hard.
Editor’s Note: Here’s another installment in our series of coverage from the Affiliate Management Days conference – this one on the new legal landscape of affiliate marketing.This series of articles is on topics of interest to businesses that offer affiliate programs. More coverage of #AMDays.. Gary Kibel (pictured), Partner at Davis & Gilbert LLP, spoke at #AMDays about legal issues in Check out these lucrative legal services affiliate programs! No matter what type of law, legal advice, or legal services your site traffic needs, you can present them with enticing banner ads, text links, and more. Choose from Attorney Services specializing in DUI, criminal defense, injury law, and divorce-related legal services. Affiliate marketing is the practice of promoting the products or services of another person or company in exchange for a commission on the resulting sale. Affiliate marketers join affiliate programs, find reputable affiliate products to promote, and then share those products with their audiences. Accounting, finance, or legal advice (as In the US, if you use affiliate links on your website, you're required by the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) to disclose this. Back in 2009, the FTC started releasing guidelines for websites that use affiliate links. These guidelines and the affiliate disclosure requirement are an attempt by the FTC to protect consumers by letting them know that any endorsements or product recommendations they Affiliate Marketing Lawyers: 7 Law Firms to Consider for Legal Help Leave a Comment / General Discussion / By Geno Prussakov / September 10, 2012 September 10, 2012 Yesterday I’ve received an email the core of which read: