Now Scammers Are Selling Influence

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The latest wave of SEO spammers are now selling “influence”– to get your articles on high power sites, create that content for you, grow your followers, and drive high levels of fake engagement.

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See this chart as an example of what it costs for a posting on each site.

“TAT” is turnaround time. We write for most of these sites and know the content standards. Charging someone per post, as this consultant is offering, is against the rules and unethical.

Do you see this trend of selling influence ruining journalistic integrity, that it’s already happened, or that it’s selectively happening among publishers? Here’s what Leonard Kim of InfluenceTree thinks:

image04As a contributor to multiple publications including Inc., Entrepreneur, Huffington Post and more, it makes no sense for me to risk my columns to earn a few hundred dollars to place someone’s link or article onto the platform.

Why in the world would I go out of my way to risk getting outcasted from a network that significantly adds to my own personal credibility?

It just doesn’t make sense to me.

As a contributor to my columns, my duty is to provide value to the reader, not to the person who wants me to write about them.

That’s why I designed a course at InfluenceTree that teaches people how to build their personal brand, growth hack their social media following and get featured in publications. I’ve helped multiple people get their own columns in The Huffington Post and earn features in other publications by having them refocus their message away from ‘me me me’ to ‘how can I provide value?’.

If I’m teaching people all the inside secrets to get their own content up themselves and earn their own media wins, why do I need to do it for them?

Media companies that don’t allow this behavior, whether intentional or not, will gain trust by vetting potential contributors who are trying to make income on the side.

Quite a temptation, since most journalists make a pittance for their work– freelance contributors make only a couple hundred dollars per article. 

Credit:Venngage

Credit:Venngage

Selling your influence is no different from lip syncing. You can give anyone the stage and a microphone, but without someone else’s voice, the show is over.

The very idea of monetizing a following or authority undercuts the core of what a personal brand is– a representation of a person that’s built over time, driven by experience and proven results.

Mark Lack is a thought leader aimed at helping young adults with their success. He’s shared the stage with the likes of Tony Robbins, Arianna Huffington, and Deepak Chopra– and he’s only 25.

His success in the industry and development into an authority figure at such a young age didn’t come from buying spots on various publications – it was hard work:

image00As an influencer who’s invested hundreds of thousands of dollars and years of my life to building my personal brand…I can tell you that it’s not easy, but it is a science. It doesn’t happen by accident.

It’s unfortunate that nowadays anyone can appear to be an influencer with fake likes, followers and engagement but true influence takes years and in some cases decades…true influence is measured by impact.

In order to have major impact, you must start with and continue working on yourself, so that you are the shining example of whatever your message of influence embodies and stands for. Influence starts with you.

Phonies won’t last for long on bought authority when they’re found out for not having any real expertise. Unfortunately, there are no promises that the market will close on people peddling influence any time soon.

Rest assured that BlitzMetrics will never sell influence, since integrity is the most valuable thing you have.

We will help folks who have a compelling message tune it, get it out there and drive leads, but will never sell placements.

How do you feel about the peddling of influence? Let me know in the comments below.

Dennis Yu

About the Author

Dennis Yu

Dennis Yu is the Chief Executive Officer of BlitzMetrics, a digital marketing company that partners with schools to train young adults. Dennis’s program centers around mentorship, helping students grow their expertise to manage social campaigns for enterprise clients like the Golden State Warriors, Nike, and Rosetta Stone.


He’s an internationally recognized lecturer in Facebook Marketing and has spoken in 17 countries, spanning 5 continents, including keynotes at L2E, Gultaggen, and Marketo Summit. Dennis has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, LA Times, National Public Radio, TechCrunch, CNN, Fox News, and CBS Evening News.


He’s a regular contributor for Adweek’s SocialTimes column and has published in Social Media Examiner, Social Media Club, Tweak Your Biz, B2C, Social Fresh, and Heyo. He held leadership positions at Yahoo! and American Airlines and studied Finance and Economics at Southern Methodist University as well as the London School of Economics. He ran collegiate cross-country at SMU and has competed in over 20 marathons including a 70-mile ultramarathon.


Besides being a Facebook data and ad geek, you can find him eating chicken wings or playing Ultimate Frisbee in a city near you.


You can contact him at dennis@blitzmetrics.com