20 Affiliate Programs for Business Owners - Marketing Solved

Expert opinion request. I need creative ways to build an affiliate program for my business. My client portal and shopping cart do not integrate with any 3rd party affiliate software.

I run an online language tutoring service.
Face-to-face teachestudent video-calls.
My offer is a complimentary Skype consultation with the prospective student.
I’m manually paying affiliates for getting people who wish to book (and attend) a consultation AND additional money should these new students sign up for paid lessons. The problem I have is that my third-party software I use to register new students and have them pay for lessons will not integrate with any third-party affiliate programs.
(My affiliates will be making YouTube videos sending traffic to my site hoping the book a free consultation and in turn pay for lessons)
Any ideas? I can explain further if necessary. Thanks!
submitted by thatonecooldood to EntrepreneurRideAlong [link] [comments]

10 Affiliate and Referral Programs Software for Your Business


In 2016, American retailers spent $4.7 billion on affiliate marketing. And it’s expected to increase to nearly $7 billion by 2020.

By building your affiliate marketing or referral campaign, you can boost your sales exponentially. Imagine having a team of 50 promoters who are great at what they do.

Let me know what you think :) 👇

https://www.poptin.com/blog/10-affiliate-referral-programs-software-business/
submitted by tomeraharon to Affiliatemarketing [link] [comments]

My business develops+sells niche software. I'd like to start an affiliate program but they often look so 'cheap' and scammy. Any advice for how to do it right?

I've seen plenty of examples of affiliate marketing done poorly but not many where it's done well. More often than not I see people + sites who are trying to profit AS affiliates and they just come across as publishing vapid fluff on a crappy blog to try and earn a few bucks.
My company develops and sells (exclusively) a type of niche software related to 3D modeling. We're pretty small, customer base is around 20k people, and we're creating a premium + specialized product. I feel like most people LOOKING for affiliate programs are not the kind of people who would understand this software, since it's made for a limited audience.
Another thing is that this kind of software is very driven by word-of-mouth... people most often hear about and purchase our stuff via referral and recommendation. Which I guess could be a good thing for affiliate marketing, but on the other hand, almost nobody is Google searching for general terms related to the software. It's almost ALL WOM.
Does anyone have any tips on how to do an affiliate program properly when you're dealing with a niche product like this?
submitted by wideawakened to Entrepreneur [link] [comments]

Converge files for largest IPO in Philippine history (Monday, July 6)

Happy Monday, Barkada --

The PSE closed up 9 points to 6373 ▲0.13%.

Daily meme

COVID Update

WW: 11375043 PH: 41830 

Top 3 MB indices:

 #COVID-19 ▲1.14% POGO Prop. ▲0.84% Power Gen. ▲0.39% 

Bottom 3 MB indices:

 MiddleClass ▼1.53% Media ▼1.06% 2019 IPOs ▼0.97% 

Main stories covered:

  1. Converge ICT files for largest IPO in PSE history
BARKADA BOTTOM-LINE
Now that is a spicy meatball. The timing is right for this kind of play, as there is so much capital sloshing around that is looking for a home with massive growth prospects. Home broadband is that kind of market. But, if the opportunity were so great, why are the lead shareholders selling their own shares so substantially, instead of going with a primary-heavy offering to assault the nation with an aggressive campaign of unrelenting capex? Perhaps The Other Dennis is looking for a massive/immediate lifestyle upgrade, and is content with the majority ownership that he will still enjoy even after closing the largest IPO in Philippine history. Then there’s also the matter of this whole “70% of the deal aimed at foreign investors” thing; what’s that about? Stay tuned, this is going to be a fantastic voyage.

About Merkado Barkada

Merkado Barkada is a daily email newsletter covering all the stocks, bonds, companies, characters, and issues that make up the Philippine Stock Exchange. I don't make any money from MB, I don't use affiliate links or anything to trick people, and I don't sell email addresses for quick pesos. I simply like researching news and writing about current events in a way that helps my friends, family, and barkada to understand more easily what is happening.

Join our Barkada here

Read today's full email here

submitted by DuncnIdahosBandurria to phinvest [link] [comments]

Stream Guide for Beginners - Updated for 2020!

Hey Everyone,
I decided to update my previous guide on beginning on Twitch. Hopefully this is helpful!
It'll cover a large variety of topics, with a lot of suggestions based on my observations and professional experience streaming for my game studio. It is for anyone who plans to use OBS (or OBS variants), Xsplit is a different beast and I am unfamiliar with it. So before we begin, buckle up, put on your helmet, and get your travel mug cause we're going for a rip!

Creating Your Channel

  1. Coming Up With A Name: Like any product, you want something that is catchy, simple, and memorable. Also, for those who really want to roll with it, you can have a theme! Your name is important because it really sets you up for having solid branding for your channel. Some people just make a channel, and their username is something unoriginal or unattractive "Jdawg2245" or "bigchonkyboi22" or something along those lines. You are trying to diversify yourself in this highly competitive market, so give thought to your channel name because it sets the stage for a lot of future decisions. Think up something that rolls off the tongue and is easy for someone to remember if recommend. For example "JackDavies" or "PapaSmurf". Those are easy to remember and don't require memorizing what numbers or symbols were in there.
  2. Catch Phrases: It may sound silly, but catch phrases are pretty common for content creators. They create branding, and they create a sense of familiarity for fans/viewers to recognize a channel. CohhCarnage for example has his "Good Show!!" when he receives a sub, or for Ezekiel_III, he not only has a whole spiel, he also has a thing he does that is a unique fist bump for when he gets a new sub. When I sign off, I say "Catch ya on the flipside". It feels good to say and is distinctly me. Catch phrases aren't required, but it can build a sense of consistency and fun.
  3. Schedule: Before you stream, know when you plan to stream. This is important in order to provide a concrete, cut and dry, timeline of when you'll be online. This is important for viewer retention. Stream consistently for generating regular viewers as they can't come to watch, if there's nothing to watch! On the flip side, don't stream too much, or you'll burn yourself out, or have no new content. Keep it healthy, and keep it consistent. There are exceptions to this like Bikeman. He didn't have a schedule, he streamed when he streamed, and people would show up. That's an exception, not the norm.

Hardware

This is the most discussed part of streaming, each persons setup is unique, and it's difficult to say there is a perfect setup. What I'm going to do instead is explain to you the necessity of each component, and how it's critical to the stream and your viewers experience.
  1. CPU: The CPU (or Processor) is one of the most important aspects regarding the technical side of streaming. If you are using a 1 PC streaming setup, not only is it running the game, it is encoding your content as it broadcasts to Twitch (if using CPU b. What is Encoding? Encoding is the process of converting the media content that you are uploading (In this case audio-visual content) and converting it into a standard that Twitch will receive. Encoding is CPU intensive (uses a lot of CPU power) and this means you need a fairly decent CPU. I recommend some of the higher end CPUs in order to give yourself both sufficient processing power, and also some longevity. Buying an introductory processor will only mean you get a short time frame of which to utilize it. Higher end AMD/Intel processors will allow you to get the most for your money because even though it's $100 more, it may last another 2 years until needing to upgrade.
  2. GPU: Your GPU (or video card) is essential in running the games that you are playing. The two major players are AMD and nVidia. The better your GPU, the better your graphics will be, and the higher quality your stream will be because of how the game looks. Unless you're using the nVidia nvenc encoder, the GPU isn't super critical on the stream technical side of things, mainly just on the game side. If you are using NVENC, then your CPU doesn't have as much of a load which means more balanced. If you are playing via capture card and on a console, this will mean you can use either without concerns on how it impacts your
  3. RAM: Your RAM (or memory) is all about "short term memory", and the ABSOLUTE minimum I would recommend is 8GB, but I realistically, I recommend 16GB or more as Open World games and Battle Royale games are utilizing more RAM since they are temporarily storing data from servers in your RAM client side in order to display it on your machine as well as all of the visual assets you see. RAM significantly helps with multitasking as you start to run a few applications at the same time while you stream to help boost the quality of it.
  4. HDD/SSD: Your HDD (Hard Drive Disk) or SSD (Solid State Drive) are all about storage. SSD's are great for storing all your main programs and OS on, and running from there, and using a HDD for storing data is handy. HDD utilize mechanical components in order to run, therefore increasing the odds of fairly, so if your data is important to you, have a backup that is typically a bit larger than your current hard drive, in order to make sure ALL your content is backed up. SSD's use flash memory (the same as Thumb Drives, and this allows them to be faster, and more reliable, as the odds of mechanical failure are slim to none. If you are looking to edit your content on your computer, make sure to have a decent sized HDD so that you can record your stream as you stream it!
  5. Monitors: Monitors become your best friend as your stream grows. I currently use 2 monitors, although in the past I used to use three. I know right? I was insane! This allowed me to have the center monitor act as my main action monitor (the game I'm playing), my left monitor is my OBS screen so I can check my frames, uptime, and see any alerts that are broadcast (more on this later ;]), finally my right monitor was for my third party bot/chat which I now use Stream Elements for in OBS).
  6. Webcam: If you are deciding to use a webcam (some people stream without one, but it can help), it's worth getting a decent one right off the bat. A nice logitech webcam is around $100, but should last you for a couple years! The models I'd recommend are the Logitech C920/922 or the Logitech Brio (a 4k webcam). There are cheaper webcam, but you will notice changes in quality. I highly recommend at least something with 1080p and 30fps. A lot of the differences will be FoV (how wide of a shot it takes).
  7. Microphone: This is a more difficult decision. Each person has a different way they want to broadcast their audio to their viewers. Many just use a headset, and eventually upgrade to something else once they've established themselves. Others will use something with more umph right from the get go like a Razer Seiren, or a Blue Micophones - Yeti Mic. And even higher end people will use a digital audio input, a high end studio XLR microphone, and a scissor stand, to record professional quality sound, with more options for effects and the like. As a note, audio quality is a big deal. No one wants to listen to a rough sounding mic that sounds like it was bought for 10 bucks at the dollar store, so this is a good place to focus.
  8. Network: It is important that you have ~5mbps upload speed. This will allow you to upload at the recommended encoding bitrate of 2000kbps or higher. If you are playing an online game, while streaming, it's helpful to have a bit more speed to run. In a perfect world, a higher upload speeds means better quality for your stream if you can afford to increase the bit rate.
  9. Capture Card: for those of you who want to stream console games, a capture card is important. There are a variety of capture cards for old connections and for HDMI. You also have the option of internal or external capture devices. This will reduce the load on your PC as the processor or graphics card is being used just for encoding as the game is being played on the console. Search for the right capture card for you, and see how it goes! Elgato is a great brand for capture cards, as is AverMedia.
  10. Peripheral: This includes mice, keyboard, etc. This doesn't have a major impact on the stream, just get what you like and makes game-play more comfortable for you!

Setting Up OBS

  1. First, download OBS, this is the application that this guide is based off of, and while allow you to broad cast your stream to your twitch channel. There are some alternative OBS versions such as Streamlabs OBS, StreamElements has an addon for OBS, and Twitch has their BETA software, Twitch Studio.
  2. Second, follow the instructions to install OBS on your computer.
  3. Third, go to your Twitch Dashboard, go to Stream Key, and show your stream key. This is important for OBS to broadcast to your Twitch channel. Go to your OBS Settings-Broadcast Settings and input your stream key into the Play Path/Stream Key section, when you've set Mode to Live Stream, and Streaming Service to Twitch.
  4. Fourth, set your encoding bitrate. The golden rule for a non-partnered streamer is around 2000kbps for your Bitrate, but you can go higher, although without transcoding, you run the risk of some viewers having buffering issues. There are two encoding types, x264 (CPU Intensive) and NVENC (GPU intensive). Try testing both to see if you have any bottlenecks. I recently have switched to NVENC since I have been playing switch games, which means my GPU has more wiggle room and it's a bit higher end than my CPU.
  5. Fifth, set your video settings. The golden rule is 1280x720 (720P) with an FPS of 30. As your stream grows, you'll more likely get transcoding when capacity is available. If you are an affiliate, you will get priority access to transcoding for your viewers (the ability to set the resolution lower) as capacity is available, and as a partner, you will always have it.
  6. Sixth, set your Audio settings to how you like them (desktop audio device and what you want your default microphone to be). I personally have a higher quality, stereo microphone, so I force my Microphone to Mono.
  7. Seventh, start creating your scenes. There are two different squares you'll see. Scenes and Sources. Scenes are the unique scenes for say "Stream Starting", "Main Overlay", "BRB", "Stream Ending". Sources are the things that are added together to make a scene. This includes images for overlays, graphics, Browser Sources for alerts/notifications, Text, Webcam, etc. Scenes are very specific to each person, but I recommend checking other streams to see what is aesthetically pleasing to you. From there, you can either make them yourself, commission them, or you can use third party sources for scenes. As mentioned elsewhere, there are groups like Nerd or Die and Own3d.tv that sell overlays. Nerd or Die does have some pay what you want.
  8. Eighth, do a test stream. This is important for you to gauge if your quality settings are at the right place for you, and allows you to fine tune them.

Branding

  1. Logo: Your logo is your face. Find something professional, but at the same time catches the eye and helps draw a theme for you! You can check out certain sites like Fiverr to get a cheap starter logo without breaking the bank.
  2. Overlays: Whether you buy them online, have someone make them, or make them yourself, overlays help enhance your stream scene. Keep it simple, while still adding flair. Recently I removed some stuff from mine so there was more game space for what I am playing, while still displaying the same information for viewers regarding latest follower, donation, etc. There's a lot of Overlay sites such as Nerd or Die, Own3d.tv, and fiverr to get custom overlays. Find what works best for you.
  3. Information Panels: On your channel, you have information panels at the bottom. Use them to your advantage. I highly recommend having a schedule panel, links to your various social media, etc. Creating your own panels, that match your general theme, are worth it to create that Branding we are aiming for. You are the product, you don't want crappy packaging.
  4. Social Media: Try and match all your social media to your channel name. This breeds familiarity with all the folks you are networking with. They will recognize the name across all different social media platforms. Reddit, Twitch, Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, etc. I use PhazePyre for everything.

Streaming! The Good Part!

This is going to be general tips to help you on your path to becoming a great entertainer. There's ALWAYS room for improvement, even the best streamers and entertainers have room for improvement
  1. Don't be quiet: Talk to your viewers, whether it's 0 or 100. Talk to yourself, talk about what your doing, talk about the song, it's awkward at first but as you do it more often, you'll get used to it. Not only will this provide content and dialogue, it'll help you workout your vocal cords so that you can talk for extended periods. The big thing is you don't want to come across as boring. One way to help with this is to add very light background music to the stream. It helps fill the silence a bit in quieter games.
  2. Minimize off screen time: Try and minimize the amount of AFK time that you have. If you are younger, let your parents know you are streaming. Explain to them what you're doing, and hopefully they understand. Let them know how long you'll usually stream for, and if they absolutely need something, to let you know before hand, or via a text message. Nothing is worse than Mom busting in telling you to take your underwear out of the bathroom.
  3. Don't play oversaturated games: Try to avoid what I call the "Top 4", LoL, Dota2, CS:GO, Hearthstone, unless you are REALLY good at those games. They are competitive games, and you are competing with professionals of those games and giant tournaments. This is tough though, as it can be tricky to be found. You'll have viewers coming in and out of your stream, and depending on how you're packaged yourself, they may opt to chat and become a follower. Additionally, there's no perfect game to play. Find something that you know you can play regularly and it'll help you build
  4. Don't call out lurkers: Don't even get your bots to do it. It's tacky, and WILL make most people leave. Some people just want to sit back and see how you are. Lurkers are especially great as they'll help build your viewer count so you can break above the 90% of streams that are under 5-10 viewers.
  5. Don't ask for donations: i don't think I need to really explain why.
  6. Be Confident!: People like seeing someone who's comfortable, confident, and knows what they are doing, or, if you don't, "Fake it 'til you make it!"
  7. Network, Network, Network: The best way to network imo, is to support other streamers, and organically support their endeavours. What do I mean by "organic"? I mean don't force it. Find streamers you actually like and enjoy, who are around your size, and show your support because you care about THEIR stream, not just yours. It's tough though as you don't want to come across as only wanting to interact for their viewership.
  8. Create Channel Competitions: These can breed fan loyalty and help turn people from lurkers to regulars and super engaged community members! Don't worry if you can't afford it though.

Bots (The Good Kind)

I'm only gonna list the major three free bots
  1. Nightbot: A free, web based bot, that provides moderation capabilities, song requests, and custom commands.
  2. MooBot: Similar to NightBot in that it is cloud based. Includes song requests and more.
  3. Streamlabs' Cloud Bot: If you are using StreamLabs OBS, this will be optional to enable while using it. Definitely worth it so all of your settings are in one client. Offers many options like moderation, commands, timers, giveaways, and more.

Security

Doxxing, Swatting, etc, are all bad things that trolls will do to cause trouble. These are some ways to reduce the risk of having your personal information leaked, and to help keep you safe. You may not be worried, which is fine, but I know many people are concerned about their identity and safety, and these are a few tips to help
  1. Create a separate email, that doesn't include your name anywhere. This will create a divide between you and your online persona. Batman doesn't go around telling everyone he's [REDACTED] does he?
  2. If creating a PayPal, upgrade to a business account, and make sure all your information is kept private. Your address may be displayed when you purchase things, but this will protect you when users pay you money and it displays your information. I recommend using the Name of "YOUR CHANNEL NAME's Twitch Channel".
  3. DON'T USE SKYPE WITH VIEWERS, heck unless you 100% trust random viewers, don't even use TeamSpeak. Discord is is a new app that secures your ip to prevents users from obtaining your ip address and causing problems.
  4. Don't give too many details out about your location, and if you invite friends/family (I recommend not doing that so that you create an independent identity) make sure they don't address you by your name. Get a PO Box if you'd like to send things to viewers without worrying about them get your personal details.
  5. Ensure your Steam Profile is changed to your new channel specific email. If you send a game to someone for a giveaway, it will show your personal email unless you change it.

How to grow your channel

  1. Make content on other platforms outside of Twitch. YouTube, TikTok, and other forms of content based social media are great ways to passively grow your audience. Find out your specialty and put that out there. YouTube content should try and be unique compared to what you do on stream in order
  2. Build a community. Get to know the people coming to your streams. If you value them, they will value you and feel wanted in your community. As a smaller streamer this is your strongest tool. I highly recommend making a discord and inviting people to join it. If you integrate Mee6 as your Discord bot, it will notify people when you go live if you'd like, and that can help build retention and viewership.
  3. Roll with the punches. You make get trolls, the best way to deal with them is don't take the bait. Although not super valuable, I've had some trolls follow because of how I rolled with their attempts to troll me. I never saw them again, but the less serious to take them, the better a time you'll have.

DO NOT DO THESE

  1. Don't do Follow for Follow. Followers doesn't mean much. You want a high conversion rate, and these bloat your followers and don't typically result in extra views. The goal is to have as many followers be viewers as possible, a 1:1 ratio. That person following you isn't likely to watch your stream. What do I mean by have as close to a 1:1 ratio as possible? You want to try and have every follow be a viewer. Is it realistic that if you have 25k followers, that you'll have 25k viewers? No, it's not. but what's realistic is to focus on converting every follower into a repeat viewer. Tools like Discord can help bring them into your fold. Some people will follow and only come back infrequently, but over time, you can work to have them become a regular. But if you do Follow 4 Follow, you'll have a bunch of followers who just want you to watch them, and aren't likely to be a regular viewer.
  2. Don't pay for viewers (view bots). It's bad, Twitch will find out, and you'll be hooped.
  3. SupportSmallStreamers, FollowForFollow, and other "growth" hashtags really aren't that great. Everyone is out for themselves. Rather, find like minded streamers and become friends with them. When you care about others, they'll care about you.
  4. Be wary of Affiliate programs (outside of Twitch) as they aren't super beneficial for anyone. Focus on growth to build your influence and viewership, from there revenue will naturally come and you can prepare via agents/agencies, and the like. For now, dedicate your time to building a community. Rather than affiliate programs, use things like Amazon Blacksmith and personally recommend what you want and get some kick back.
  5. Some small streamef4f groups can cause problems for you long term. Studios and companies will blacklist people that aren't focused on quality content creation, and instead are looking for instant fame. Usually it means the quality of your content isn't great, and your influence is not equal to your numbers.

Summary

All in all, streaming is a fun time. It's worth getting into especially if you're charismatic and love to entertain. Charisma is hard to develop for some people, and you may not succeed, that's the reality of things. Do what you can and don't burn yourself out. Additionally, find what makes you stand out in the crowd. Twitch continues to grow for streamers, so you need to stand out in a good way. A solid way to grow is by creating content on other platforms and pushing people to Twitch. Twitch doesn't have great passive growth opportunities, but other platforms do. Funnel those followers to Twitch and you'll see better growth.
This guide isn't all inclusive and covers everything. There is SO MUCH to cover, but this is a beginners guide and enough to give you some tips, hot takes, and instructions to start your journey on Twitch. I have made a previous post about 4 years ago that won some awards, and this is just updated a bit to make it more relevant to 2020 as I still see people reading my post and sending me emails. So here's something freshened up.

Suggestions?

Feel free to pm me, or leave a comment with any additional content you'd like added to this guide, or feel free to comment if you have additional questions and I'll add to the guide! You can DM if you have any questions regarding streaming or any additional inquiries specific to you and not in general! If you were paying attention to my guide, you should be able to find me on social pretty easy as well ;)
Good luck streamers, and have fun!
submitted by PhazePyre to Twitch [link] [comments]

Beyond Ghislaine: The Maxwell Octopus

Robert Maxwell (born Ján Ludvík Hyman Binyamin Hoch) was born into a poor yiddish-speaking Jewish community in Czechoslovakia in 1923. When Nazi Germany invaded Czechoslovakia during the Second World War, Maxwell fled to France as part of an underground organization ferrying youth out of his homeland. Still a teenager, this would be his first taste of the world of spycraft, an occupation which would define the remainder of his inscrutable life. After several years spent engaged in underground resistance activities which saw him shuttled across Eastern Europe and the Middle East he eventually found himself back in France, now a member of the French Foreign Legion and an active participant in the French Resistance, utilizing the newly acquired pseudonym of Ivan du Maurier.
After participating in the Allied invasion of Normandy, Maxwell (soon to adopt the name of Leslie Johnson) was shortly recruited by British Intelligence. Already a seasoned veteran of international espionage, the young man's multilingualism and underground connections made him a valuable asset to the British government. He continued to work for Britain in the years leading up to the end of the war and in its immediate aftermath, ostensibly as a press attache to the foreign office in Berlin. His actual assignment was to interrogate captured German scientists, work likely done in conjunction with the Alsos Mission, a branch of the American Manhattan Project which cooperated with British forces to collect and classify information on Germany's atomic weapons program. Though the goal of Alsos was primarily to prevent sensitive information from falling into Soviet hands, Maxwell soon also became affiliated with Soviet intelligence due to his desire to seek out surviving relatives who still resided in his homeland, now under Soviet jurisdiction.
He changed his name for the last time in 1945, and as the newly-christened Captain Robert Maxwell married Elisabeth Meynard, a native of France and the future mother of all nine of his children. Still working for allied intelligence, Maxwell began to anticipate the value his work could have on the private market. He started to gather German and Russian scientific documents and research papers which were unknown in the English-speaking world, with the intention of later selling or publishing them for profit.
Meanwhile, in America, a young scientist and child of Czech immigrants by the name of Frank Malina was establishing an international reputation for himself in the field of rocketry and aeronautics. As a graduate student at Caltech, Malina and his longtime friend Jack Parsons founded the research center that would later become the Jet Propulsion Lab. Parsons, himself a brilliant young rocket scientist, was also an avid follower of notorious British occultist Aleister Crowley. Parsons' involvement with Crowley's Thelema movement was so deep that he would eventually become the leader of the California branch of the Ordo Templi Orientis, a Thelemite initiatory organization whose practices included ritualistic sex magic and the summoning of supernatural beings. Thelemites shunned traditional religion and morality in favor of a belief in the supreme power of the will, an echo of Hitler's Nazi philosophy which was itself rooted in the same spiritualist and theosophist ideas as Crowley's. The supreme goal of Thelema, as with all occult practices, is the ultimate union of mind and matter, the combination of the disciplines of science, art, philosophy and religion into a single comprehensible whole. While continuing to work closely with Malina at this time, Parsons also became closely affiliated with Scientology founder and fellow occultist L. Ron Hubbard.
Malina and Parsons went on to form the Aerojet Corporation, a rocket and missile manufacturer from which Parsons was ousted in 1944. In early 1945, Aerojet was purchased by General Tire, a company whose business included contracts with the U.S. military during the second World War. Later in 1945, Malina's research facility was moved to the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico where the first Atomic Bomb was detonated that same year.
Leaving the British Army in 1947, Robert Maxwell utilized his military and intelligence connections to go into business as the British and US distributor for Springer Verlag, a Berlin-based publisher of scientific texts which had been taken over by Allied forces after the war. Maxwell soon purchased a majority share of the company, which he re-dubbed Pergamon Press, a reference to the ancient Greek city and center of pagan worship of the same name. During this time, Maxwell also became heavily involved with the newly-designated Israeli intelligence service Mossad, a connection which would arguably remain his primary allegiance throughout the remainder of his life.
In 1947 Frank Malina left rocketry and his native country behind to move to France, ostensibly because he had grown disenchanted with the military applications of his research, although at this time he was also being investigated by the FBI for his undisclosed involvement with American communist organizations in his youth (an ideology Parsons had also toyed with before moving onto more esoteric concerns). Malina took a job in Paris as Secretariat of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), where he worked under famed English eugenicist Julian Huxley, the father of mysticist author Aldous Huxley.
Back in America, Parsons was also increasingly hounded by the FBI. He devised a plan to flee to Israel after he was offered a job working for the infant Israeli rocket program, but a suspicious transfer of documents led to allegations of espionage from the FBI (later dismissed in court). Parsons remained in America until his 1952 death in a mysterious laboratory explosion, the cause of which would never be sufficiently explained.
After his stint with UNESCO, Malina left the organization to pursue his interest in art. In 1968, while still living in Paris, he founded 'Leonardo', an academic journal published by MIT Press which covered the application of science to the arts. The journal remained his primary concern until his death from natural causes in 1981, at which point control of Leonardo turned over to his son Roger Malina.
Maxwell, meanwhile, was busy building his publishing and media empire, amassing a variety of subsidiaries including newspapers, television networks and tech companies. He spent six years as a Member of British Parliament in the 1960s before being defeated in the election of 1970. Though nominally a British citizen, all of his children were born in the wealthy suburbs of Paris, their mother's native land. As his wealth and influence rose, Maxwell remained deeply entangled with MI6, the KGB, the CIA and Mossad.
In the 1970s Maxwell became involved in an intelligence operation centered around PROMIS, a database management software program that could be described as a forerunner to modern internet search engines. PROMIS was groundbreaking in its time, allowing the user to aggregate disparate databases into a single accessible interface. Though initially designed to help prosecutor's offices track and share data, the program quickly caught the attention of intelligence agencies who foresaw its potential for monitoring and compiling information in a variety of fields. In a sense, their plan could be viewed as a nascent version of the information gathering activities which would be exposed by Edward Snowden decades later.
The U.S. Department of Justice hired two men with connections to the Israeli defense forces to infiltrate Inslaw, the company which had produced PROMIS, under the pretense of being potential buyers for the Israeli Public Prosecutor's office. In reality, the men were sent to steal PROMIS and bring it back to their clients in U.S. and Israeli intelligence without Inslaw's knowledge. Their mission accomplished, the thieves soon devised bigger plans for the software than its application to their own systems. They hatched a scheme to sell the software to foreign intelligence agencies with covert back doors, thus obtaining a worldwide database of the intelligence activities of all the major powers in the world. In order to enact this plan they needed a middle-man with deep connections in the global intelligence community, someone who would be trusted as a known quantity by all. Naturally, they turned to Robert Maxwell.
Maxwell used his corporate empire (he had quietly purchased several fledgling Israeli tech companies which served as fronts for the sales) to broker deals with China, the KGB, and anyone else who would be interested in the ground-breaking software. Before long he even began to double-cross his own handlers, helping create new backdoors for China and Israel so that they in turn could spy on the Americans. The software began to find its way into banking systems and government databases worldwide, growing into a vast interconnected network which came to be dubbed "The Octopus". At the head of this Octopus was not any particular state government or intelligence agency, but Robert Maxwell himself, the only man who had been able to game the technology to his own advantage without being taken advantage of in turn.
When Inslaw discovered how their technology was being used they filed a series of lawsuits against the DOJ alleging that PROMIS was illegally stolen from their company. Without these lawsuits, it is unlikely that any of the information regarding PROMIS would have ever come to light. The lawsuits were predictably ruled in favor of the US Government, bankrupting Inslaw in the process. Danny Casolaro, a journalist who was covering the story (the man who coined the term 'The Octopus') was found dead in a hotel room in 1991, his wrists slashed several times in an apparent suicide. Casolaro had complained of threatening phone calls in the days leading up to his death, and his family have long asserted that he was murdered.
Eventually, Maxwell's double-dealing caught up with him. At the behest of China's Secret Service he sold a compromised version of PROMIS to Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, birthplace of the American atomic bomb. This modified version of PROMIS installed at the Los Alamos facility was designed to give Chinese Intelligence access to America's nuclear secrets. The affair became the subject of several FBI investigations regarding Maxwell's conduct, documents regarding which have never been made publicly available except in a prohibitively redacted form. Western intelligence agencies, Israel in particular, were incensed at Maxwell's dealings with China, which they saw as a betrayal of his allegiance. For the first time, serious discussion of Maxwell as a potential liability began to take place.
In 1991, while travelling aboard his yacht 'The Lady Ghislaine' (named after his youngest and favorite daughter) Maxwell fell overboard into the Atlantic ocean. His body was recovered the next morning and the cause of his death was officially ruled as a heart attack which led to an accidental drowning. Rumors of his murder continue to persist to this day, occassionally spurred on by daughter Ghislaine herself. Robert Maxwell was buried on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, at a funeral attended by several Israeli government officials and known intelligence operatives.
In the aftermath of his death, Maxwell's empire fell apart. Financial improprieties were discovered and the Maxwell companies were soon bankrupt. The stage was set for a new generation of Maxwells to assume his position.
Twin sisters Isabel and Christine Maxwell moved to Silicon Valley in the 1980s, and despite having no apparent formal training in technology, founded the early internet search engine and e-mail provider Magellan. After selling this company, Christine would go on to form Chiliad, a data analysis company with its headquarters in the Washington D.C. suburb of Herndon, VA. An announcement on the appointment of Christine as the company's interim CEO in 2013 boasts
"The company’s Discovery/Alert big data search tool – operationally proven by the US law enforcement community – reaches across information stored in incompatible databases, documents and applications held in separate departments and organizations to provide the proactive, real-time situational awareness necessary for protection and preparedness."
-A perfectly accurate description of the PROMIS software co-opted by her father a few decades earlier. A 2008 article in Business Wire quotes Chiliad CEO Dan Ferranti as saying "In just a few years, Chiliad will be known as principal arms supplier to the information age."
In 1986 Christine married Roger Malina, the MIT-educated son of Frank Malina, and current editor of his father's 'Leonardo' journal. While it is unclear where and when the couple first met, it would seem that there was no shortage of opportunities for the two to cross paths considering their long shared family histories of involvement in Parisian society, technology, government service, and science publishing.
After two failed early marriages, Christine's twin sister Isabel would herself find love with a man named Al Seckel. Seckel was an avid atheist activist and collector of optical illusions, a self-styled intellectual whose academic credentials were overstated at best and non-existent at worst. The source of Seckel's finances were never entirely clear. He described himself as a dealer of rare books, but those who dealt with him in this capacity described him as a con artist and swindler. Seckel ingratiated himself with the academic society around Caltech and was well known for the lavish parties he threw, often packed with celebrities of academia and entertainment. His primary academic concern seemed to be the field of cognitive psychology, specifically the psychology of perception. It was a subject which surely overlapped with the interests of his brother-in-law, editor of the 'Leonardo' Roger Malina.
Many of Seckel and Malina's interests would also be shared by the longtime companion of their wives' younger sister Ghislaine, the namesake of the boat from which their father fell to his death. This man, Jeffrey Epstein, is likely already well-known to the reader. Ghislaine allegedly met Epstein in the early 1990s, a time when she was still heavily involved in her father's business dealings. Suffice it to say that Epstein would seem to fit right in with the Maxwell archetype- a shady cosmopolite of mysterious origins with unaccountable finances, questionable morality and deep ties to the worlds of scientific academia (especially at Caltech and MIT), technology, finance, French society, and, perhaps most importantly, international intelligence- specifically as related to the state of Israel. In 2010, two years after Epstein's conviction on charges of soliciting a child for prostitution, Al Seckel hosted a "private scientific conference" on Epstein's island which was attended by numerous superstars of scientific academia. As a side note, Epstein's island is known to contain a mysterious temple, the design of which makes use of optical illusions, labyrinthine motifs, a statue of Poseidon and twin golden owls, figures associated with occult and pagan symbolism. The purpose of the temple has never been fully explained.
Al Seckel would eventually be found dead in 2015 near his home in France after having apparently fallen off a cliff. After his death it was discovered that his marriage to Isabel Maxwell was never legitimate, as Seckel had still been legally married to a previous wife. In the last years of his life Seckel was reported as having been trying to sell the personal papers of his late father-in-law Robert Maxwell.
With Epstein apparently dead (typically, under mysterious circumstances) and Ghislaine Maxwell arrested, one might be tempted to feel a sense of closure regarding their crimes. The truth, as outlined here, is far more complicated. In all likelihood, the activities of the youngest Maxwell and her notorious associate were actually just a small branch of a much larger story, one with deep roots in the history of post-WWII academia, society, international espionage, and perhaps even the occult. It is difficult to draw conclusions from such disparate facts, and it is unlikely that the questions which arise can be easily answered. At a bare minimum, it seems fair to suggest that there is far more to the story of Robert Maxwell and his extended family than meets the eye.
submitted by evil_pope to Epstein [link] [comments]

Beyond Ghislaine: The Maxwell Octopus

Robert Maxwell (born Ján Ludvík Hyman Binyamin Hoch) was born into a poor yiddish-speaking Jewish community in Czechoslovakia in 1923. When Nazi Germany invaded Czechoslovakia during the Second World War, Maxwell fled to France as part of an underground organization ferrying youth out of his homeland. Still a teenager, this would be his first taste of the world of spycraft, an occupation which would define the remainder of his inscrutable life. After several years spent engaged in underground resistance activities which saw him shuttled across Eastern Europe and the Middle East he eventually found himself back in France, now a member of the French Foreign Legion and an active participant in the French Resistance, utilizing the newly acquired pseudonym of Ivan du Maurier.
After participating in the Allied invasion of Normandy, Maxwell (soon to adopt the name of Leslie Johnson) was shortly recruited by British Intelligence. Already a seasoned veteran of international espionage, the young man's multilingualism and underground connections made him a valuable asset to the British government. He continued to work for Britain in the years leading up to the end of the war and in its immediate aftermath, ostensibly as a press attache to the foreign office in Berlin. His actual assignment was the interrogation of captured German scientists, work likely done in conjunction with the Alsos Mission, a branch of the American Manhattan Project which cooperated with British forces to collect and classify information on Germany's atomic weapons program. Though the goal of Alsos was primarily to prevent sensitive information from falling into Soviet hands, Maxwell soon also became affiliated with Soviet intelligence due to his desire to seek out surviving relatives who still resided in his homeland, now under Soviet jurisdiction.
He changed his name for the last time in 1945, and as the newly-christened Captain Robert Maxwell married Elisabeth Meynard, a native of France and the future mother of all nine of his children. Still working for allied intelligence, Maxwell began to anticipate the value his work could have on the private market. He started to gather German and Russian scientific documents and research papers which were unknown in the English-speaking world, with the intention of later selling or publishing them for profit.
Meanwhile, in America, a young scientist and child of Czech immigrants by the name of Frank Malina was establishing an international reputation for himself in the field of rocketry and aeronautics. As a graduate student at Caltech, Malina and his longtime friend Jack Parsons founded the research center that would later become the Jet Propulsion Lab. Parsons, himself a brilliant young rocket scientist, was also an avid follower of notorious British occultist Aleister Crowley. Parsons' involvement with Crowley's Thelema movement was so deep that he would eventually become the leader of the California branch of the Ordo Templi Orientis, a Thelemite initiatory organization whose practices included ritualistic sex magic and the summoning of supernatural beings. Thelemites shunned traditional religion and morality in favor of a belief in the supreme power of the will, an echo of Hitler's Nazi philosophy which was itself rooted in the same spiritualist and theosophist ideas as Crowley's. The supreme goal of Thelema, as with all occult practices, is the ultimate union of mind and matter, the combination of the disciplines of science, art, philosophy and religion into a single comprehensible whole. While continuing to work closely with Malina at this time, Parsons also became closely affiliated with Scientology founder and fellow occultist L. Ron Hubbard.
Malina and Parsons went on to form the Aerojet Corporation, a rocket and missile manufacturer from which Parsons was ousted in 1944. In early 1945, Aerojet was purchased by General Tire, a company whose business included contracts with the U.S. military during the second World War. Later in 1945, Malina's research facility was moved to the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico where the first Atomic Bomb was detonated that same year.
Leaving the British Army in 1947, Robert Maxwell utilized his military and intelligence connections to go into business as the British and US distributor for Springer Verlag, a Berlin-based publisher of scientific texts which had been taken over by Allied forces after the war. Maxwell soon purchased a majority share of the company, which he re-dubbed Pergamon Press, a reference to the ancient Greek city and center of pagan worship of the same name. During this time, Maxwell also became heavily involved with the newly-designated Israeli intelligence service Mossad, a connection which would arguably remain his primary allegiance throughout the remainder of his life.
In 1947 Frank Malina left rocketry and his native country behind to move to France, ostensibly because he had grown disenchanted with the military applications of his research, although at this time he was also being investigated by the FBI for his undisclosed involvement with American communist organizations in his youth (an ideology Parsons had also toyed with before moving onto more esoteric concerns). Malina took a job in Paris as Secretariat of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), where he worked under famed English eugenicist Julian Huxley, the father of mysticist author Aldous Huxley.
Back in America, Parsons was also increasingly hounded by the FBI. He devised a plan to flee to Israel after he was offered a job working for the infant Israeli rocket program, but a suspicious transfer of documents led to allegations of espionage from the FBI (later dismissed in court). Parsons remained in America until his 1952 death in a mysterious laboratory explosion, the cause of which would never be sufficiently explained.
After his stint with UNESCO, Malina left the organization to pursue his interest in art. In 1968, while still living in Paris, he founded 'Leonardo', an academic journal published by MIT Press which covered the application of science to the arts. The journal remained his primary concern until his death from natural causes in 1981, at which point control of Leonardo turned over to his son Roger Malina.
Maxwell, meanwhile, was busy building his publishing and media empire, amassing a variety of subsidiaries including newspapers, television networks and tech companies. He spent six years as a Member of British Parliament in the 1960s before being defeated in the election of 1970. Though nominally a British citizen, all of his children were born in the wealthy suburbs of Paris, their mother's native land. As his wealth and influence rose, Maxwell remained deeply entangled with MI6, the KGB, the CIA and Mossad.
In the 1970s Maxwell became involved in an intelligence operation centered around PROMIS, a database management software program that could be described as a forerunner to modern internet search engines. PROMIS was groundbreaking in its time, allowing the user to aggregate disparate databases into a single accessible interface. Though initially designed to help prosecutor's offices track and share data, the program quickly caught the attention of intelligence agencies who foresaw its potential for monitoring and compiling information in a variety of fields. In a sense, their plan could be viewed as a nascent version of the information gathering activities which would be exposed by Edward Snowden decades later.
The U.S. Department of Justice hired two men with connections to the Isreali defense forces to infiltrate Inslaw, the company which had produced PROMIS, under the pretense of being potential buyers for the Isreali Public Prosecutor's office. In reality, the men were sent to steal PROMIS and bring it back to their clients in U.S. and Israeli intelligence without Inslaw's knowledge. Their mission accomplished, the thieves soon devised bigger plans for the software than its application to their own systems. They hatched a scheme to sell the software to foreign intelligence agencies with covert back doors, thus obtaining a worldwide database of the intelligence activities of all the major powers in the world. In order to enact this plan they needed a middle-man with deep connections in the global intelligence community, someone who would be trusted as a known quantity by all. Naturally, they turned to Robert Maxwell.
Maxwell used his corporate empire (he had quietly purchased several fledgling Israeli tech companies which served as fronts for the sales) to broker deals with China, the KGB, and anyone else who would be interested in the ground-breaking software. Before long he even began to double-cross his own handlers, helping create new backdoors for China and Israel so that they in turn could spy on the Americans. The software began to find its way into banking systems and government databases worldwide, growing into a vast interconnected network which came to be dubbed "The Octopus". At the head of this Octopus was not any particular state government or intelligence agency, but Robert Maxwell himself, the only man who had been able to game the technology to his own advantage without being taken advantage of in turn.
When Inslaw discovered how their technology was being used they filed a series of lawsuits against the DOJ alleging that PROMIS was illegally stolen from their company. Without these lawsuits, it is unlikely that any of the information regarding PROMIS would have ever come to light. The lawsuits were predictably ruled in favor of the US Government, bankrupting Inslaw in the process. Danny Casolaro, a journalist who was covering the story (the man who coined the term 'The Octopus') was found dead in a hotel room in 1991, his wrists slashed several times in an apparent suicide. Casolaro had complained of threatening phone calls in the days leading up to his death, and his family have long asserted that he was murdered.
Eventually, Maxwell's double-dealing caught up with him. At the behest of China's Secret Service he sold a compromised version of PROMIS to Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, birthplace of the American atomic bomb. This modified version of PROMIS installed at the Los Alamos facility was designed to give Chinese Intelligence access to America's nuclear secrets. The affair became the subject of several FBI investigations regarding Maxwell's conduct, documents regarding which have never been made publicly available except in a prohibitively redacted form. Western intelligence agencies, Israel in particular, were incensed at Maxwell's dealings with China, which they saw as a betrayal of his allegiance. For the first time, serious discussion of Maxwell as a potential liability began to take place.
In 1991, while travelling aboard his yacht 'The Lady Ghislaine' (named after his youngest and favorite daughter) Maxwell fell overboard into the Atlantic ocean. His body was recovered the next morning and the cause of his death was officially ruled as a heart attack which led to an accidental drowning. Rumors of his murder continue to persist to this day, occasionally spurred on by daughter Ghislaine herself. Robert Maxwell was buried on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, at a funeral attended by several Israeli government officials and known intelligence operatives.
In the aftermath of his death, Maxwell's empire fell apart. Financial improprieties were discovered and the Maxwell companies were soon bankrupt. The stage was set for a new generation of Maxwells to assume his position.
Twin sisters Isabel and Christine Maxwell moved to Silicon Valley in the 1980s, and despite having no apparent formal training in technology, founded the early internet search engine and e-mail provider Magellan. After selling this company, Christine would go on to form Chiliad, a data analysis company with its headquarters in the Washington D.C. suburb of Herndon, VA. An announcement on the appointment of Christine as the company's interim CEO in 2013 boasts:
"The company’s Discovery/Alert big data search tool – operationally proven by the US law enforcement community – reaches across information stored in incompatible databases, documents and applications held in separate departments and organizations to provide the proactive, real-time situational awareness necessary for protection and preparedness."
-A perfectly accurate description of the PROMIS software co-opted by her father a few decades earlier. A 2008 article in Business Wire quotes Chiliad CEO Dan Ferranti as saying "In just a few years, Chiliad will be known as principal arms supplier to the information age."
In 1986 Christine married Roger Malina, the MIT-educated son of Frank Malina, and current editor of his father's 'Leonardo' journal. While it is unclear where and when the couple first met, it would seem that there was no shortage of opportunities for the two to cross paths considering their long shared family histories of involvement in Parisian society, technology, government service, and science publishing.
After two failed early marriages, Christine's twin sister Isabel would herself find love with a man named Al Seckel. Seckel was an avid atheist activist and collector of optical illusions, a self-styled intellectual whose academic credentials were overstated at best and non-existent at worst. The source of Seckel's finances were never entirely clear. He described himself as a dealer of rare books, but those who dealt with him in this capacity described him as a con artist and swindler. Seckel ingratiated himself with the academic society around Caltech and was well known for the lavish parties he threw, often packed with celebrities of academia and entertainment. His primary academic concern seemed to be the field of cognitive psychology, specifically the psychology of perception. It was a subject which surely overlapped with the interests of his brother-in-law, editor of the 'Leonardo' Roger Malina.
Many of Seckel and Malina's interests would also be shared by the longtime companion of their wives' younger sister Ghislaine, the namesake of the boat from which their father fell to his death. This man, Jeffrey Epstein, is likely already well-known to the reader. Ghislaine allegedly met Epstein in the early 1990s, a time when she was still heavily involved in her father's business dealings. Suffice it to say that Epstein would seem to fit right in with the Maxwell archetype- a shady cosmopolite of mysterious origins with unaccountable finances, questionable morality and deep ties to the worlds of scientific academia (especially at Caltech and MIT), technology, finance, French society, and, perhaps most importantly, international intelligence- specifically as related to the state of Israel. In 2010, two years after Epstein's conviction on charges of soliciting a child for prostitution, Al Seckel hosted a "private scientific conference" on Epstein's island which was attended by numerous superstars of scientific academia. As a side note, Epstein's island is known to contain a mysterious temple, the design of which makes use of optical illusions, labyrinthine motifs, a statue of Poseidon and twin golden owls, figures associated with occult and pagan symbolism. The purpose of the temple has never been fully explained.
Al Seckel would eventually be found dead in 2015 near his home in France after having apparently fallen off a cliff. After his death it was discovered that his marriage to Isabel Maxwell was never legitimate, as Seckel had still been legally married to a previous wife. In the last years of his life Seckel was reported as attempting to sell the personal papers of his late father-in-law Robert Maxwell.
With Epstein apparently dead (under typically mysterious circumstances) and Ghislaine Maxwell arrested, one might be tempted to feel a sense of closure regarding their crimes. The truth, as outlined here, is far more complicated. In all likelihood, the activities of the youngest Maxwell and her notorious associate were actually just a small branch of a much larger story, one with deep roots in the history of post-WWII academia, society, international espionage, and perhaps even the occult. It is difficult to draw conclusions from such disparate facts, and it is unlikely that the questions which arise can be easily answered. At a bare minimum, it seems fair to suggest that there is far more to the story of Robert Maxwell and his extended family than meets the eye.
submitted by evil_pope to conspiracy [link] [comments]

Our own step-by-step startup/project launch checklist

Hey guys! So my co-founder and I launched several projects/businesses over the past 2 years (incl. our marketing agency, local tour agency, and a bunch of other stuff). We usually go through the exact same process for every project launch, so we decided to turn it into a checklist, both for ourselves & the internet people on Reddit.
You can check out the complete checklist here, and here's a Reddit-format-friendly post:

Step #1 - Research Phase

Before you start planning your launch, you need to figure out your overall product and marketing strategy. Here’s what you need to think about:

Step #2 - Slap Together a Website

Time to get things rolling. The next step is to create a website & lay the foundation for your marketing.

Step #3 - Do Some Pre-Launch Marketing

If you have the extra time and resources, you can start marketing your product way before you’ve even launched. Usually, this involves:

Step #4 - Get Some Initial Traction

Once you have an MVP, you want to validate 2 things: that your product works, and that it can drive conversions (and hence, revenue). Here’s how to do it lean:

Step #5 - Prep For Launch

Every startup gets one “launch” in its lifetime. Here’s how to make sure you get it right:

Step #6 - LAUNCH!

Time to hit that big, shiny red button and LAUNCH!
submitted by DrJigsaw to startups [link] [comments]

CASE STUDY: Transitioning my niche site to ecommerce using Shopify

Disclaimer: 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.

Profit Margins
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:
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
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.

Item Selection
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:
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.

Item Presentation
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:

Advertising
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.

My Stats
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.
submitted by Mark-JST to juststart [link] [comments]

A step-by-step guide of how I would build a SaaS company right now - part 2

This is part 2 of 5.
Part 1
LET'S DO THIS!
Big thank you to everyone that upvoted and commented on the last post.
I’m pumped, this is part 2 of 5 for those keeping track at home.
  1. Start with your revenue and monetization plan (are you targeting a sector that has money and can/will pay - Part 1)
  2. Align yourself with others in your space (cheapest way to get traction/credibility)
  3. Work on road mapping your product to align with what complements your partnerships (cheapest distribution)
  4. Work on building a marketing strategy that can help expose and align your brand while strengthening its recognition with your partners (will this make us both look good)
  5. Build customer advocates along the way, tell their stories (lead with examples)
Early traction, everyone wants it, very few people know how to do it effectively. Hell I’ve seen it all, run all the experiments, all the tests and I can tell you from experience if you have the patience, slow, steady, and surgical is the way to grow. Especially in the beginning.
In part one we spent a lot of time asking some basic fundamental business questions. Including, an exercise in the importance of being able to niche down.
We’re going to expand on the niching down because it’s how you gain clarity and find people to align yourself with early on.
The goal of this will be to understand:
  1. How to niche down
  2. How to use this to target a market and recognize opportunity
  3. How to position within that market
  4. How to give yourself the biggest chance of success
I’ve chosen to outline these in all our steps for niching down.
You’re going to see these steps move from research to market evaluation to list building stopping just short of outreach. We’ll touch on this in part 3.
Last week I took a call where someone told me their target market is males 25-45 that like sports.
This is the most important part of your entire business. I’m serious.
Let’s rock through this together so we can get you super focused and know where and how to spend your time and money.
(The below was laid out in part 1 and was the layered niching exercise)
LEVEL 1: We’re a helpdesk product.
How to niche down
The big question is “for who”?
So you’ve picked the type of product you are building and a use case, the problem is there are lots of people like you out there and this doesn’t tell me much about your market, it’s too broad.
How to use this to target a market and recognize opportunity
Because this is so broad, it’s impossible to actually target a market and without being able to do that, it’s not possible to recognize opportunities, there’s just too many of them.
How to position within that market
Competition is good and bad, but it’s always better to be a big fish in a little pond, the best way to reduce the size of your pond is to niche down as much as possible while still understanding a large enough TAM (total addressable market).
How to give yourself the biggest chance of success
No wasted effort. Every idea, concept, must have a small goal attached to it.
It’s too expensive to try to be everything for everyone and when you take this approach you end up failing at doing any one thing well enough for people to switch.
Let’s build on this.
LEVEL 2: We’re a helpdesk product for eCommerce companies.
How to niche down
Pick an industry or trend that is on the rise - look towards a shift or something that relates to changes people are making in their daily routine.
In this case we picked eCommerce because it’s on track to hit over $7 Trillion worldwide this year and has steadily been increasing across all brands. So we have an industry with a large enough economic driver to let us start niching down.
How to use this to target a market and recognize opportunity
We now buy things online that we never would have thought to do so even just a few years ago. Amazon is selling Tiny Homes now, seriously, if you can buy it, odds are you can do it online. There are massive opportunities to bring goods and services to people through convenient online shopping. And with that increase they will all need a help desk platform to provide the best experience for their customers.
Customers today don’t want to speak with people, they want answers quickly and easily. It’s all about reducing friction.
How to position within that market
Narrow down within the market. eCommerce is a good starting point, there are different industries, subsets, and categories. Go narrower. Start thinking about where the friction exists in the industry and for what subsets.
How to give yourself the biggest chance of success
In the beginning, it’s going to be an uphill battle, picking the right trending industry will give you the best chance of success. Something that is rising up to the right in popularity is way easier to sell into than a trend that is declining.
Know your competitive landscape.
Everyone has a competitor, whether direct, partial, or mildly related. Spend a lot of time on understanding this and knowing that your product is part of a very large landscape or landscape of potential competitors. Any one of the existing partial or mildly related competitors may be building something to more directly compete with you down the road.
Practical advice
Most companies stop here and hope for the best.
Unfortunately, this isn’t a go to market plan or a sustainable business model.
There’s an important bit worth mentioning here as it will become a theme of this entire post.
Great products enhance workflows through features, the focus isn’t on the product but what the product enables people to do. Success in the software business is all about understanding existing workflows and simplifying the experience.
As you do this exercise to niche down ask yourself:
What does the current workflow look like?
What are they currently using?
How are they currently using it?
Where are the gaps?
What are the best practices for creating workflows?
Always seek to understand how your product works in a workflow - what role it plays, how it best optimizes - this is the data play referred to in Part 1.
What are the things that matter most to people in the eCommerce space?
That’s a lot of questions with even more answers, when you peel everything back it becomes very clear that it’s not possible to answer all of them without going deeper.
Too many people to talk to, too many industries, too much everything.
Let’s take a different approach - how I got to Shopify in the next niche down.
No successful new SaaS company today launches without an integration.
So let’s find an eCommerce platform to integrate with.
We have to look for a stable player that has an app store and is a market leader.
As a starting point, my goal is to be a help desk for ecommerce companies.
  1. I need a list of all eCommerce platforms
  2. I need to understand which help desks they already integrate with
  3. I need to understand what people like and don’t like about them
  4. I need to find out which platform is going to be the best fit for my product
There are lots of sources for this and even more articles, google and read.
If you’re looking for numbers though and data, use BuiltWith and run a search on the platforms after you have your list to figure out which is the most popular.
Ok so we have our list of eCommerce platforms, we’ve analyzed the data, made sure they tick all the boxes and we’ve run our reports and found that Shopify powers 1.2 million stores.
Let’s lock it in as our next step in niching down.
LEVEL 3: We’re a helpdesk product for eCommerce companies using Shopify.
How to niche down
It’s more than just market size. Going with a market leader is always a safe bet but it also provides the most competition. Sometimes going with a smaller platform that doesn’t get all the attention is a worthwhile research project.
How to use this to target a market and recognize opportunity
There are two sides of the opportunity and this is something that I didn’t touch on in the original niching down. Shopify and BuiltWith categorize the types of stores that are on the platform, so you can niche down to a certain type of store, for example just cosmetics or just apparel.
The other side of the opportunity is putting together your list of companies currently operating in the ecosystem.
How to position within that market
Smart people are really good at collecting data and interpreting it.
Let’s get some data.
  1. Go to the shopify app store
  2. Type in “Support”
  3. Click paid on the left margin and click the “Support Category”
  4. Use something like Simple Scraper ( a great chrome plugin, no affiliation)
  5. Get your scrape on, this shows 87
  6. Time to get busy - categorize them
  7. Pick the ones most similar to your offerings
  8. Click on them, look at their reviews - all of them on shopify Scrape them
  9. Go to G2 and Capterra and look through all those reviews as well
  10. Put them all in a spreadsheet, read them all, highlight those that stand out
  11. Find the ones that are popular, others that have features people like etc.
  12. Document, and integrate the baseline features into a trello board on your product roadmap
  13. Take all the bad reviews and complaints - look for gaps that you can fill
How to give yourself the biggest chance of success
So take a look above, we went from a bunch of questions to being able to do a ton of market research to do product research and understand the current market offerings and where we might be able to gain some ground and offer something people might be interested in and ARE PAYING FOR.
How do you stand out?
You need to have a workflow that is 10x better than a current competitor in the market with a strong roadmap that lays out how you intend on optimizing this workflow. Features are built to augment the workflow and simplify the work of your clients employees, less work, more data, better understanding.
Ok so we’ve narrowed it down to eCommerce and Shopify and we have a list of other products that are currently playing in the space. We’re now looking at workflow - let’s figure this bit out.
LEVEL 4: We’re a helpdesk product for eCommerce companies using Shopify and Shipstation.
How to niche down
Add another variable - it doesn’t have to be Shipstation, but it’s a good example as for eCommerce you’re likely shipping products places. By adding another variable, we’re shrinking our population to target.
How to use this to target a market and recognize opportunity
The biggest problem for all companies these days is combining different one off services and getting them to play nicely together. Stand alone products usually outclass all in one products as stated above because the focus is better. This is generally always going to be where you can find a gap in the market as the integrating of products is an afterthought rather than something contemplated in the very beginning.
How do you decide on the technologies you want to work with?
How to position within that market
Don’t guess. Understand the workflow of an eCommerce company and how it relates to support. For instance, most support tickets relate to order status, tracking, and returns. These all involve the store, transaction, the service desk, and the shipping carrier. Look for ways to streamline the experience for the service rep - for instance if refunds require approval, build a system that allows for all those tickets to be queued up with an easy interface for approvals or different color tagging to allow for them to be easily sorted by type.
By focusing on two technologies you can start by creating a better visual collaboration between tools to improve overall experience.
How to give yourself the biggest chance of success
Stack the deck in your favor.
Focus on where you can drive early alignment between your product offering and the audiences of your now two products. When you reach out to both companies especially the smaller ones like a Shipstation, you can collect more information about who they are catering to, volumes etc.
Most companies have a partner program - look into connecting with the lead.
When the time is right you might even get a shoutout on their social or blog or you can decide to co-publish some research report together. Lots of options.
Let’s double down on what being niche allows us to do:
  1. Know our audience
  2. Research with purpose
  3. Personalize outreach with early feelers
  4. Better understand a realistic TAM (total addressable market)
  5. Understand overlap between products
  6. Early alignment with bigger names
This whole topic is about alignment, alignment with partners, customers, and your product.
We have a list of potential customers now, but we need to segment them down further.
LEVEL 5: We’re a helpdesk product for eCommerce companies using Shopify and Shipstation that have less than 100 skus.
How to niche down
Why less than 100 skus?
This means they are small enough to try a new product. It also means you can see what works and what doesn’t work on a potentially smaller store. When you’re managing a store with more than 100 skus, things get a little complicated, it’s an arbitrary number but changing internal processes and workflows when you get to that level means that your staff is coming from a place of having used a system before that could handle the volume and trying out something newer or unproven is a tall order.
This process can be applied to anything, if your product does better project management look for people that run less than 20 projects at a time or projects that are less than 6 months, whatever it may be. We’re starting small.
Always default to the path of least resistance. Work smarter, not harder.
How to use this to target a market and recognize opportunity
I’m sure this could be automated, but in lieu of it being automated, you should start by manually figuring this out for yourself.
That list you have from BuiltWith that has urls, yeah we’re going to use that one.
Put the websites in the spreadsheet you downloaded, then create a new column and add “products” to the url - so you have the website in cell A, the word “products” in cell B then in blank cell C write “=CONCATENATE(A:B)” congratulations now you have cell C that will take you straight to the product page to see how many skus they have.
Update this hack doesn’t work on all shopify websites like I had hoped and after some research it seems like this is a bit of a struggle point for others as well.
I’m sure someone could write a script to scrape this information.
Go find an intern or hire someone to do all the lookups for you or find someone to write a script to automate the results - remember always work smart.
Run this and you’ll come up with your go to target list.
How to position within that market
The best helpdesk for stores on Shopify using shipstation with less than 100 skus - all of a sudden this starts to sound like something someone would almost search for. That’s the point.
We’re working our way down where it becomes a simple checklist if someone was searching for things.
Shopify - check
Shipstation - check
Built for smaller stores - check
How to give yourself the biggest chance of success
Remember you’re not building a product for everyone yet, your goal is to dominate a niche. You can always expand from there.
So we’re about half way through and we have figured out our potential partners and now we’re working on narrowing down this customer list. Before we dive in and start reaching out we need to really understand who we’re targeting and we need to start small.
Let’s narrow this down even further.
LEVEL 6: We’re a helpdesk product for eCommerce companies using Shopify and Shipstation that have less than 100 skus and do less than $10 million in annual revenue.
How to niche down
Why the less than $10 million in annual revenue? The only reason I would say this in the beginning is that they won’t have as much traffic and ticket volume, they make for better early clients, you can learn a lot more from their use cases and improve the product without worrying about something going wrong and a larger client really getting mad and churning. You also usually have greater access to work with their staff to improve your product.
How to use this to target a market and recognize opportunity
Unless you’re currently on the front lines, you need to find some early providers of feedback that are on the front lines. In essence, this is the starting point of a community and information play.
There aren’t a lot of data points available about companies in the early stages. People always have questions and there are limited resources in the early days, even across similar companies.
(Just look at reddit there are tons of repeat answers and questions.)
Someone answering tickets all day is the last person that wants to provide feedback, as much as they would like their job made easier, they don’t have the time.
How to position within that market
“But I need a big logo to let people know that I’m real.” You don’t, not in the beginning. All you need is a few good customers that are open to lending you the feedback you need to get better. A lot of smaller brands do a good job of branding, play the long game, find brands that are growing and try to get in early - grow with them.
Logo hunting has its place but you need to find product market fit before you can really make that happen.
By now you have probably figured out that whenever possible you should automate things. The way you do this is through data collection.
Using logic, math, and a spreadsheet you can do enough to be dangerous.
Use a service to figure out what their unique traffic is, take a look at their products and assume that their cart value is around 2-4 products per order then take the conversion rates by industry - you can find these online they are openly listed.
Your sheet will look something like this:
Company, Traffic, Conversion Percentage, Order Value, Sales Percentage, Revenue
eCommerce blended average is 2.2% - go use a spreadsheet and some formulas and bam you now have the revenue numbers. We’re not looking for exacts here, but more generally a good estimate.
I’ve actually run these numbers, if the products are sold through other channels, Amazon, retail, etc, then a rough estimate would be around ~33% of the revenue will come from the ecommerce store.
Factor in a range based on the size of the brand and it’s channels this should give you a rough estimate of the revenue even if they don’t publish it.
How to give yourself the biggest chance of success
Provide value - the most overhyped phrase but still true - the question then becomes, with something as subjective as “value” rather than just create, instead ask and create. This part is coming up, we’re almost ready to turn this on.
We’ve started to move from who are partners are to who are our potential customers. This is on purpose - my stance is that your first customers are really your partners and you should work on aligning yourself with those that are the best fit for your product.
You want your first clients to buy into your vision and invest the time to help shape it.
Ok on to the next -
LEVEL 7: We’re a helpdesk product for eCommerce companies using Shopify and Shipstation that have less than 100 skus and do less than $10 million in annual revenue with support teams less than 5 people.
How to niche down
So now we’re getting into the easier stuff - this is just a simple LinkedIn Search - small teams are usually before the real deep process point, they are also really good at providing feedback on tools that can actually help them out.
How to use this to target a market and recognize opportunity
If you have less than 5 people on a team, it’s a small enough number to target the entire team - multi prong approach to product awareness.
For customer support they are often the least paid and they have the most stressful jobs - it’s an all around shitty position to be in, so if you can provide them joy, you’re going to make fans quick. Also, they aren’t usually sold into, they are rarely asked their opinion, etc.
How to position within that market
Give them a voice. The same goes for any lower level positions as well by the way. When people are getting started in their careers they are looking to hear about the jobs people have even at the lower levels but the resources just aren’t there. Even for more senior roles, it’s hard to get a beat on what the current status is of their projects, people don’t like sharing - I still don’t know why.
We’re seeing communities around Sales popup SalesHacker, sales, Bravado etc. We don’t see as many for other roles, there is a wide open space in this. I don’t see any places for people to better understand customer support/success which is THE ONLY INBOUND TOUCHPOINT WITH CUSTOMERS POST SALE.
How to give yourself the biggest chance of success
This is part of the philosophy and psychology of understanding human dynamics. Find a persona that you can relate to immediately and build your product around fixing their problems, be obsessed with this.
They get paid nothing, but they’d like less tickets, how do you reduce that ticket count, how do you bring other parts of the business that they may need to have access to more prominently in your support system so they don’t have to have multiple windows open. How do you build something to maximize their efficiency?
Better yet, how do you tag someone in the CRM and flag it over to the sales system to see if they purchase more product as a result of a good interaction with support - this is how you turn a cost center into a revenue generator. This is a killer feature that I’m not aware of out of the box.
This could unlock a commission structure and reward system for what is arguably becoming a dealbreaker for most companies.
Which is a great segway to the next drill down - you should be starting to see how this all really blends together if done correctly.
LEVEL 8: We’re a helpdesk product for eCommerce companies using Shopify and Shipstation that have less than 100 skus and do less than $10 million in annual revenue with support teams less than 5 people who are looking to automate their processes.
How to niche down
They have to be looking to automate their process or improve their workflow. When people find a tech stack that works, oftentimes new technology doesn’t stick around very long, we’re all creatures of habit.
How to use this to target a market and recognize opportunity
You’re only looking for people that are talking about processes or a company that has something related to the pride they take with their process - you can check out BuiltWith and see a list of products they have tried over the last 18 months.
When a company is testing a bunch of different products it means they are looking for a better process. This is your sweet spot.
How to position within that market
You’ve seen me sprinkle “workflow” into this post. This is pretty much a preview of Part 3 and the importance of product design.
Your product must improve someone’s existing workflow. If it doesn’t it’s not a viable product.
There are two parts to this, does your product improve an existing workflow AND how easy can your product be inserted into that workflow?
Remember, this is their business and they need to make a transition as smoothly as possible with as little disruption as possible. This goes for any product you’re selling. Change is hard.
Understanding a company’s process really is everything.
If people aren’t looking to automate or improve their process, there’s a good chance you should change your approach immediately and work towards more of an education campaign and double down on what it would take to let people quickly switch over from an existing platform. Focus on reducing friction.
How to give yourself the biggest chance of success
Looking for people that are interested, not those we need to educate early on.
Data migration and implementation is one of the main reasons people don’t want to switch or entertain new products. There is always a fear of lost productivity.
Everyone is looking to automate right now, but the price has to be right, and that includes not the subscription amount, but the training, the migration, the new workflows, the time to adopt, the willingness to adopt, etc.
During almost any transition, the company will be paying for two systems at the same time during that handoff. This is rough, not enough companies actually address this in a meaningful way.
The argument is that a pure SaaS play doesn’t exist or shouldn’t exist for an early stage company, there should always be a service and consulting component. Hold everyone’s hand, understand their problems and make them feel like you’re building a product just for them.
Ok we’re almost there -
LEVEL 9: We’re a helpdesk product for eCommerce companies using Shopify and Shipstation that have less than 100 skus and do less than $10 million in annual revenue with support teams less than 5 people who are looking to automate their processes who are currently using Zendesk.
How to niche down
Let’s spearfish.
Zendesk - great platform - but has its limits that only show up based on workflows. Zendesk will work great until you have a workflow that incorporates other tools - then it starts to struggle.
This is true of most large legacy platforms. As legacy platforms moved up market to Enterprise for revenue reasons, they usually forget about smaller teams. Instead relying on dev house partners to do customizations.
This is where industry experience really comes into play - knowing the goals of a company or team, their workflows, and where you can create a better solution for those with those workflows for things that the legacy platforms prefer to source out to their dev house partners.
How to use this to target a market and recognize opportunity
Your calls can now go from generic to focused with questions that can hone in on workflows and gaps. For example, Zendesk’s UX/UI sucks for partner integrations, we’ve seen companies like Kustomer, Gorgias, and others become more popular because of a better UX/UI that supports the whole customer experience and journey. This is a fundamental switch in approach.
From one of our earlier research steps we found 87 companies that people were using for support with shopify, we have them in a spreadsheet, we then could take those and put all the competitors in builtwith to run some reports to understand market penetration (you can do this with number of reviews as well by the way if you’re lazy - don’t be lazy).
Download your list - populate your CRM - you now know what people are using, how long they’ve been using them.
Narrow down your list to the top 20 clients - yes only 20.
Even if you have 100 clients or a thousand clients at this point, this process works for every single Sales rep you have - and I’m going on a 95% chance none of them are doing this stuff. And if you tell me they are, I know from the amount of generic ass emails I get regularly spewed out to me they aren’t doing it well and I guarantee you money is being left on the table. (Topic for another day)
How to position within that market
You know what software they are using, you know their tech stack, your goal is to figure out their workflow. If you don’t know, ask. You should understand the general business workflows for the industry - again industry knowledge is required.
Engage them with conversation and find out. Base your questions on conversations you’ve had with other people in the space and be a source of information about how other people are doing it.
The above is completely able to be put into a human measurable process, one based on quality over quantity, relationships over transactions, and geared towards long term growth.
Be about the things that other platforms are not. Focus on changing the narrative from cost center to revenue generator.
The helpdesk for Shopify and Shipstation customers looking to streamline their processes and free up their support teams to become revenue generators in an organic and measurable fashion.
How to give yourself the biggest chance of success
It’s all about workflows, data, and automation.
Niche down, learn from the inside out, follow the trends and work on being able to tie back data to creating more revenue no matter what your product does and you’ll be able to start conversations with people actively looking to create more optimized workflows.
Focusing on a legacy product and small businesses usually allows you to find a sweet spot, they don’t find value in all the features because they won’t use them all. But they do want the more advanced features like automation and workflow help. These are usually cost prohibitive in the platform.
This is why you focus on workflow over features, you’ll never catch up with the big guys in terms of features, but there are always ways to compete on workflows, because everyone has their own independent goals around them. There aren’t standards, only best practices.
Side note - there are entire companies that are hired to implement systems like Zendesk and build integrations on top of it and it’s a market leader. The same goes for any market leader.
LEVEL 10ish: You can add location to the end of our narrowing down. A company physically local to you (at least this was the case prior to COVID-19) can allow for an in person visit which has been massive in building trust with early clients. Makes it easier to have a conversation as well.
That’s it. Go through this process, substitute your values, keep drilling down and recognize opportunity along the way. When you do it correctly you’ll see massive improvements for your initial outreach.
Emails go from:
We’re a new helpdesk company.
To:
We’re a new helpdesk company for customers that use Shopify and Shipstation. We help agile support teams that are looking to better automate their workflows. Our integrations also allows your support team’s interactions to be directly tied into future revenue generation.
___________
I can tell you from experience I’m visiting the url for the second email even if I’m not looking to make a change.
This is a good place to stop, we hit question 2 of 5 and we’re almost at the halfway point.
If you have more specific questions about this part just drop them in the comments and I'll respond to them.
submitted by lickitysplitstyle to startups [link] [comments]

Bank Recommendations Needed for Freelancer

Hi,
Hope you all are well & safe. I received my Freelance permit from Dubai Media City (DMC, Gofreelance program) after which I was able to receive my Emirates ID. After getting the Emirates ID, I was able to secure a permanent no. & also open Liv bank account. I plan to use Liv as a personal account, as I am not sure they allow business income.
I have a couple of questions, for somebody who has a freelance permit in the UAE or has some information in this regard:
  1. Which banks do you recommend allow accounts for freelancers / sole traders? My requirement is a bank which allows payment from US-based companies with low charges. I make most of my income in affiliate income on software products & Amazon sales. These companies usually pay in USD. Other than low remittance charges, my other requirement would be online banking & low maintenance charges.
  2. How to get NOC for driving test & also salary certificate if it might be required in the future.
Any help & comments will be much appreciated.
Cheers.
submitted by gofreelance to dubai [link] [comments]

Online proctoring software

I apologize for the length of the post but I hope to provide a perspective to the recent rise of online proctoring software, an issue that I feel more students should pay attention to and stay informed about.
The course outline for Math 2Z03 had this tidbit that many have already seen:
This course may use proctoring software (TBD) for tests/exams. This software may require you to turn on your video camera, present identification and monitor your computer activities during the exam. This software may be required to be installed before the exam begins.

Being privacy-minded, I had a closer look at some of the popular available proctoring softwares and the results were alarming in the best of cases.
  1. In general, these third-party software require you to download a remote access tool similar to Teamviewer that grant them both monitoring and control.
  2. You will need to provide your ID to the privately-owned company. Some even require official IDs such as a driver's license.
  3. You may be required to use the webcam to show the entirety of your workspace, be it your living room or your bedroom to the proctor, and maintain webcam and mic broadcast throughout the exam
  4. Unlike the proctors at an in-person exam, your proctor can be an unknown and potentially unvetted person located in a different country because of outsourcing, with remote access to your computer and webcam.

Keeping in mind these risks to privacy and security, a reading of the Terms and Conditions of these companies should set off more red flags. ProctorU, one of the largest proctoring software provider, has the following (source: https://www.proctoru.com/terms-of-service )
Examity, another popular proctoring software, contains the following (source: https://examity.com/website-privacy-policy/ )

Other available platforms generally have similar policies that can be summarized as
  1. We will collect all personal information gleamed from both registration and use of our software
  2. We will not guarantee that our service or our stored data of your personal information is secure or safe
  3. We reserve the right to transfer all collected personal information to additional unknown parties under acquisition, merger, or bankruptcy.
  4. Your only recourse against any of these conditions is to refuse our service.
Regardless of whether you have sensitive work or financial data, or just an unusually large stash of cat pictures, we should not be forced to potentially compromise our privacy or security with virtually no guarantee of even basic vetting from these third-party companies. If the courses insist on mandating this practice, perhaps they should provide everyone with a "work computer".
I understand that cheating is an issue in online exams, but other less-draconian measures should be explored. These can include alternative test formats or creating new questions instead of borrowing from existing test banks.
These processes would certainly take more effort to develop but if preserving academic integrity is a high priority, such effort should be made instead of a bandaid solution with costly security and privacy implications. The popularity of "workplace productivity software" already hints of an Orwellian future, we should not normalize what is arguably a more invasive system here in classes.
Given that the use of these software is still TBD (at least in 2Z03), I encourage anyone with similar concerns to voice them to the instructors through email as soon as possible. If they settled on a specific solution now, at least we could confirm details such as the scope of info-collection and privacy policy, and decide whether to stay enrolled.

TLDR version:
Online proctoring softwares collect a ton of personal info and expose computers to potential security risks. The need to curb cheating should not outweigh privacy and security, especially to unknown third-party entities.
submitted by cptbushwookie to McMaster [link] [comments]

State of Dystopia for Spring 2020

Hello cyberpunk. I know this is far from the usual fare here, but I hope you’ll give this type of post a shot.
Like many of you, I more or less believe we are living in cyberpunk times. At the very least, cyberpunk elements have never been more resonant. What’s important to me in this assessment is more the actual thematic elements of cyberpunk than just the aesthetic.
I love the content here as much as the next person. But sometimes I think we could stand to reflect, too. It’s not an attempt at flattery, but the comment sections on this sub are often insightful.
So why am I posting this?
Because a lot of us are on the same page. We're at least on the same chapter. And if we mostly recognize the cyberpunk and otherwise dystopian trends in the present, we should speak frankly about them.
What I’m focusing on in particular here, is something that I’ve seen very little discussion about on Reddit or social media writ-large, at least among ordinary people like us.
And it is my belief that while dystopia in real life has been long in the making, the last few months have put us firmly on a certain timeline. This is my assessment of why. (Note: pretty specific to the United States).

PLUTOCRACY + INEQUALITY

The last few months have seen the defeat of a progressive challenge to corporate domination, and shortly thereafter an enormous transfer of wealth upwards.
To be clear, I’m not an economist, and I still have a limited grasp of all that’s going on. So don’t take it from me: take it from experts.
This is what award-winning journalist Matt Taibbi had to say about the CARES act, the massive stimulus bill passed in response to the coronavirus-induced economic crisis. You can read more of his work, and the original essay this came from, here.
To elaborate on the Fed’s debt-buying program, here are some excerpts from a joint analysis done by The Intercept and the American Prospect.
This giveaway comes as small businesses die to leave only major corporations left. Most of us can see this unfold with common sense: we’re all using a lot of Amazon, Instacart, etc. And if we interface with local restaurants, it’s typically though GrubHub, UberEats, Doordash.
Sure, there was small business aid—a loan program that ran out of funds immediately and counted large chains among its beneficiaries.
By the way, a note on that program. It had to get refilled, because it ran out immediately, bringing the total to over $600 billion in loans for small businesses.
But hey, it’s helping small businesses right? Well, most of them probably are. But the thing is, today (June 11th), we found out that the Small Business Administration backtracked on its promise to disclose the recipient data. So it may be a while before we find out how many large, wealthy businesses got aid supposedly for small businesses—if we ever do.
Anyway, let me shift focus to economic consolidation.
Here’s another expert—another guy named Matt with a Substack, but this time it’s Matt Stoller.
And there have been a few more recent events highlighting this point. In mid-May, Facebook announced its purchase of Giphy. A couple days before that, reports emerged of Uber trying to acquire GrubHub (doing so would give it a dominant 55% market share).
Another point of online ire: Jeff Bezos. A couple weeks ago leftists on Twitter determined Jeff Bezos could be on track to achieve trillionaire status in coming years. To be clear, this is not as assured an outcome as you may have heard: it assumes the rate of Jeff Bezos’ current wealth increases will continue ‘til 2026. If his 34% growth rate continues uninterrupted, he’d be worth a trillion in six years—that may not happen.
But whatever. The point stands even with that detail aside–Bezos is rich as fuck, and he is getting richer through all this because Amazon is becoming more of an essential service than ever. And it’s hard to see that changing in the immediate future.
To an extent, you may not even need all the details provided above to get the gist. Some of the most noticeable aspects of this speak volumes:
The stock market has been soaring with historic gains. The Fed's attempt at stabilizing financial markets has worked for now, and the wealthiest people in the country have regained whatever they lost and then some. As CNN reported last week, American billionaires have gained $565 billion since March 18th. Speaking of Jeff Bezos, he's worth $32 billion more now than he was in March. All of this has happened while we suffer from double-digit unemployment.
To add insult to injury, so much of this disaster came just as progressive challenger Bernie Sanders gets trounced and drops out of the Democratic primary. Do I think Bernie would’ve fixed everything? Of course not. And while you can think you’re a genius for saying “he never would’ve won,” (it’s really not a hot take), the timing of it all still sucks.

POLICE STATE

Compounding the seizure of the economy are events breaking out in Minneapolis and many other cities across the country.
Police have been increasingly militarized. It is no longer uncommon to see tanks in the street, run by local police. But that's been a trend over a decade in the making, and thus not really what I'd care to focus on.
Even more worrying are the newer developments. On May 30th, when unrest first broke out in Minneapolis, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz said he was receiving military intelligence from the Pentagon on protestors. While we are lacking further info on this statement, if it’s true, it would represent a major step forward for the security state. There are countless examples of domestic surveillance, but this is the military monitoring its own citizens as though they were terrorists within days of the unrest starting.
And then, of course, there’s Trump’s decree that antifa will be designated a terrorist organization. It is unclear if he has the authority to do so. But even if his formal legal authority to do this is unclear, it will almost certainly represent at least SOME ramping up of surveillance and crackdown from the executive side. There's already ample infrastructure--physically and legally--for the executive branch of government to pursue domestic anti-terror practices.
Attorney General Barr already said the FBI is working in coordination with most major cities across the countries as part of its anti-terrorism partnerships with local PDs. In other words, we only need to do so much speculation: protests and unrest are almost certainly being treated with the gravity of a domestic terror threat. We’re not at 9/11 levels of hysteria from the feds, but the infrastructure is there and waiting to be used. The first bit of proof of this: The Intercept reported last week that the FBI has been interrogating arrested protestors on their political beliefs. We may well find out in a few years how much high-tech mass-surveillance has been conducted.
With the first week of June now over, there are examples of local governments instituting reforms or at least de-escalating to make peace with protestors. Trump, for now, appears to have backed off the idea of deploying the military, and the National Guard has begun withdrawing from Washington DC.
Still, there’s a fair chance that Trump will campaign on a law-and-order backlash and ramp up law enforcement. There's a fair chance these reforms will be such in name only, or that they will lead to privatized, para-military police forces across the country. Now that would be cyberpunk.
I’ve got one more thing that I just found out about a couple hours ago, from The Intercept. Facebook has been working on its version of Slack, Facebook Workplace, and debuted some features in an internal meeting. If you’ll allow me to quote the article:
A bit random, but that’s yet another bit of insidious Facebook news I wanted to throw out there. Though it does tie into the consolidation argument (Facebook trying to compete with Slack) and the security state analysis (yet another means of surveillance and censorship, even if in private hands for now).

Okay...TO SUM UP:

That's my assessment of the state of dystopia. Anyone off the street could tell you (correctly) that these events have been years in the making. I’m one of those people. Even so, the last few months have taken a particularly dark turn.
I thought those of us who love cyberpunk might benefit from being candid—and even meta—about it. Anyhow, thanks for reading!
submitted by presentpunk to Cyberpunk [link] [comments]

/r/Scams Common Scam Master Post

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 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 are some news articles about this 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.

Phone scams

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.

General resources

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
submitted by EugeneBYMCMB to Scams [link] [comments]

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