Stay safe as a growing YouTuber and a Content Creator

 A lot of people nowadays are actually following their passion instead of getting 9-5 jobs. That's because there are various options to earn online doing what you love. 

You love writing? You can start a blog.

You love dancing/singing/gaming? You can start YouTube/Tiktok/Reels.

There are multiple ways of monetizing your hobby/talent today. But with that many options, risk of getting scammed is also getting higher. 

If you are a smaller creator, you may have noticed that getting monetized is step 1 of the long term grind. Getting enough traffic to generate sustainable income is the next challenge. Even this blog doesn't generate enough revenue from AdSense to depend on it as the primary income source. So the creator looks into other ways of making money and the top 3 options are

  1. Affiliate links
  2. Sponsorship
  3. Collaboration
Out of these three, Affiliate links are the safest option as you simply apply for a affiliate program, if you match the company criteria, you'll get accepted into the program.
Now the remaining two are the tricky option. I'm not discouraging you from using these options, I just want you to know how scammers operate so that you can avoid getting scammed. So first, let's see what these terms mean. There is very thin line between sponsorship and collaboration, but I'll try to differentiate as best as I can.

Sponsorship: A company will pay you to promote their products/services. You'll receive script/pointers, photos, videos. etc from the sponsor to use in your video/article. Now how much you should be charging for a sponsorship is a topic of an entire discussion. 

Collaboration: You will feature another creator or a company in your content, often in exchange of money. Sounds similar to sponsorship, doesn't it? Because it is similar. There isn't a fixed definition to differentiate the two. However, you can say that a collaborator doesn't necessarily have to pay you. For example, another tech blogger can collaborate with me to provide articles for by website in exchange of backlinks to his blog/website. Since they are paying me with content for my website, I may or may not ask for monetary payment. So this is collaboration in a nutshell. 

Now coming to the topic of this article:

How do smaller and growing creators get scammed?

When your content starts to get exposure, you catch eyes of the potential sponsors/collaborators. Bigger sponsors like a name brand will approach you only if you can gather well over 50,000 views per piece(post/article/video) of content. But the smaller sponsors, like a new store/business in your locality, can sponsor you even for 5,000-10,000 views per piece(although the fee would be much less). 

And right in between the both criteria, is the favourite target of the scammers. The creators getting 10,000-30,000 views are typically aware that they can get sponsors and collaborators. In fact, they're actively looking for one, because typical monetization options like AdSense don't pay enough for such low traffic. So the scammers approach these people, specially the creators who add email in about/contact section. 

Here are the top 3 ways that I personally encountered such scammers

  1. They will pretend to be a known company, saying they want to promote their latest product(they'll actually use the name of an actual product) and they'll attach a zip folder saying it contains all the promotional material to use. The zip folder will contain a script to install a virus, keylogger or even ransomware. 
  2. They will offer an entire script or article for you to use, but on the condition that you will include their hyperlinks, which may lead your audience to a sketchy site. Or sometimes the url will be targeted at you, assuming that you'd want to check the url before posting. 
  3. They'll ask you to review a digital product(sometimes a premium software). They'll provide you a link to download "reviewer copy" and you'll get paid when you publish the review. Upon clicking the link, you'll be taken to a fake website that is an identical copy of the original product. You can download the software, which will be the actual software but they'll hide the malware inside the installer. 

How can you identify these scammers?

You can easily identify when someone is pretending to be a big company. Check the sender email address. All employees of a big company use email ID registered with company domain name. In simple words, official emails won't be from someone's gmail, yahoo or rediffmail account. They would look like these:

Even MSI warned about such scammers on their social media

So if you receive email from someone's personal account, think very hard before opening any links or files. 


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