I find it fascinating what you can find on youtube these days.
People are selling you shortcuts to your dreams and a secret that only they know!
You know the guy in front of an expensive car that was a multi-millionaire in his 20ths and now wants to help you to become also a multi-millionaire!
It is so easy that everybody can do it! Yes, you and you can do it! Even a baby could do it!
You just need to give him or her 3000 or 10000 or 300 Zelda rupees!
It is that easy! You will make that money back in no time!
Let's go over some tactics used by these kinds of scam artists and how you can spot them.
One thing we have to understand those scam artists, in general, are good storytellers. I mean excellent storytellers. Keep this in mind for the rest of this post.
This is how most of there "sell pitches" because this is what they are, will start.
The first thing they will do they will target the right audience. They do that on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. So you will see a short ad before the actual coding video you wanted to watch.
That video has a formula.
1) A hook. This hook can be something like
- "Don't push skip because ..."
- "Don't you want to be ...? here is how."
- etc. etc. etc...
You can see a pattern. This is on purpose and designed to make you think that if you skip, you will not hear some crucial and life-changing information.
It is a psychology trick. It is the same trick as with endless scrolling on Facebook or Instagram. "Maybe when I just scroll long enough, I will find something that I really need". We all know we will just end up in some viral videos that don't make any sense, or you will watch some cats.
Okay, now that you are listing to them. We come into phase two.
2) Getting to know each other
- "Hey, I'm ... I'm a freelance developer making 1 Million when I was 21 years old."
- "Hey, I'm ... I'm an ex-googler, ex-facebook, and ex-Netflix employe."
- "Hey, I'm ... <Insert something that is either too good to be true or something that looks amazing but isn't"
The intent of this is to do at least two things to you. The first one is to establish a connection with you. We as humans trust people more the more we know the other person. This is why influencer marketing works better than dull old commercials because, in your brain, a friend is selling something to you and not a strange guy from the TV.
The second one is to show you what that scam artist has achieved and why you should listen to him/her. "1 Million when I was 21 years". Would you ever introduce yourself to strangers on the streets like that? "Hey, I'm Warren Buffett, and I'm the richest man on earth." Please say that you would not do that.
So now you want to become like that person, right? I mean, who does not want to be 21 and have 1 Million Zelda rupees?
If someone is telling you, "Hey, I worked at a big company, look at me!" what does it mean? You have to question that. That person could be anything at that company, and just because you worked at a big company does not mean that you are good at what you are doing. I know brilliant people that work at small startups. This sentence is just there to make their next claims heavier so they can hit you harder!
Keep in mind you don't know that person. You only know a produced and scripted video of that person. So yeah, don't forget to question everything, and yes, question this blog post!
3) Showing some random charts/numbers
Now that you and the scam artist know each other, it is time to show you some numbers!
This is where they will either show you some whiteboard and draw random numbers on it, or they will show you some charts. Even if they show you a screenshot of some online bank interface, should you blindly believe in that? I think by now, you know the answer.
If it is a website, it is super easy to change such numbers on a website without even using photoshop. Just open the dev tools and find the right HTML element and just change it! Here I have 100, 000 000 followers, on dev.to!
All of these numbers are fake! But don't they look great? This took me 2 minutes!
So yeah, to keep this short. Don't trust any chart you haven't faked yourself!
But why is this added? To make you want to see how that guy or girl made it! It is just there to hook you even more in! Like people are making 120k at google pfff, this guy is making a million!
They are catering to your desires, and this works best on people how are already in a bad situation in their lives. So be very careful with random numbers that people are showing to you!
4) Buzzwords overkill!
Now the "how" parts will start. Since the goal is to sell you 'education'.
This sentence is a real sentence from a video that is selling some online course:
Again this comes down to make you feel familiar with that scam artist. "Oh, he/she is using and teaching the same things I want to learn".
Why is "DOM" on that list? I have no clue. Even if you learn ReactJS or VueJS or angular, it still comes down to the DOM. 🤷♀️
Let's get back to the topic.
4) The course information
So now usually you will get a very little info about what is actually in that course. Just to have a real example again. In the Video with the buzzwords, you would get 15 modules with 30+ hours of video content. This means around 2 hours of content for each module.
I mean 30+, and you will be a profitable developer? This must be the best teacher in the world! From knowing nothing about development to becoming a millionaire in 30+ hours.
Sorry but that is not reasonable for 99% of people. You will probably learn something, but you will only learn things that are already for free on the internet. You will get more like an introduction to web development.
Also, this part is usually the shortest because if they would stay too long on that part, you would also see the flaws of it!
5) "We have proof that it works."
Fake testimonials! Now the scam artist will show you some random guy/girl that made it with there course! Don't believe in a single one of them!
Why? It is so easy to get fake testimonials even if it is a video!
You can buy them for 5 dollars at fiverr.com. Or just go to the 'Spokespersons Videos' section. Or just google "buy testimonials". This is another rabbit hole I would love to dig into.
I mean, you don't even need to buy a fake testimonial. Just ask someone that is right now taking that course how he/she likes it and boom. Fake testimonial for free! Or just ask a random friend. 🤷♀️
Also, one thing you have to keep in mind: Even if they a real, these people don't get these jobs or money just because of one online course. Usually, they already have some experience or have a University degree in something similar to computer science.
Also, keep in mind they are usually showing between 1 and 3 people, and yeah, you can say its because of the length of the video they don't want to show more. If they have like 10 000 people taking there courses, then three people are not very significant? If you take 10 000 random people, then yeah, some of them will have more success then others. It is nothing special, and just how the world works.
What they could do is now show a chart with statistics, right? Yes! But you will never see that because it would look bad. Then again, they could also fake that.
6) Money-back guarantee!
You can get your money back until the last second of the online course! Yes, even at the last minute! Just with 1 sec to go! This sounds amazing, right?
No, and here is why: You not even finished the course and probably did not make any money and you don't know if you will earn any money, but what was the promise to you? That you will be rich in X months, right?
So why do I not have that guarantee for X months after the course ends? Or why not pay after you made X amount of money?
I have seen both possibilities on some other online courses!
I mean, it is straightforward why: because the claims they make will not be reached by 99% of the people attending in the time they promise you would!
7) The sell
Now that you have listened to pumping music and all these "benefits" you should feel hyped and highly motivated to make that money!
Now they will ask you if they can be your mentor, and you need to be quick because the registration is limited in some way either by time or by places or by both.
The scam artist will say how much his life has changed and how much your life will change after that course.
So yeah, have you ever seen a youtube video that will go offline after X hours, and if that video reaches 500 views, it will delete itself?
Usually, what you want is the opposite, right? You want the video to stay as long online as it can and to have millions of viewers?
Have you ever seen a "Limited Edition" of something? Like a limited edition of a bottle of coke? Is inside still the same coke as before?
"Supreme" is entirely based on that strategy. They will produce X amount of clothes and then never again.
Here it is the same. It is called "Scarcity marketing". If you want to know more about that, just google it. You will find plenty of examples.
The end of the video!
Now you either saying: okay that was rediculous
or you will buy it!
Just to make some points clear:
- Not all online courses are bad
- You should inform yourself before taking them
- Usually, you can get all the necessary content for free. One of those websites is freecodecamp.org
- I don't want to name any of these tech YouTubers by name. I want you to see the general scam.
I hope you liked that post! If you want a follow up, please comment, like and share. So I can know that you are interested in content like that!