I’m not entirely sure why, but there has been a huge number of people finding me on Etsy and contacting me and a few friends trying to sell me either web marketing services, web design services, or all of the above.
Personally speaking, I have about 12 years of web/graphic design and programming experience and have been doing the internet marketing thing since 2005. It’s funny sometimes when I get these unsolicited emails. But at this point, I am getting so many, its starting to get really frustrating.
A few of these unsolicited emails have offered free services in exchange for a blog review. If you were approached for something similar, please, please, please ask them for examples, references, and make sure they know that you will only write a review if you see any noticeable changes (e.g. more traffic, more sales) as a result of their work. If they were the real deal, they’d anticipate this and actually know who to track these things. You are doing them a favor and you shouldn’t be giving away links for nothing.
These people tend to throw out buzzwords like SEO and SEM and other words that laymen may have heard of, but do not understand that well. They are just hoping to cash in on ignorance.
“I can get you to #1 on Google”
For the SEO/Web marketing service sellers, these people claim that they’re “#1 ranked in Google!” and can do the same for me. When I hear this, I know that it means that they can get to #1 for an obscure long tail word that barely gives them any traffic. Anyone can do that. Its not difficult to rank well for words no one cares about.
If I’m lucky, they provide me with some examples where I’m able to determine that their links come from comment/forum spam, directory submissions, blog/site farms, or some other equally shady source. Its not easy getting real (good) links, but its very easy to get crappy links and then get penalized by the search engines for being a link spammer.
I really hate these people and how they effect the industry. Businesses will fall for their tricks, get jaded by SEO and internet marketing, and then view all internet marketers as the same. Its not very easy trying to convince people that your business is honest when they’ve been ripped off for thousands of dollars by someone offering the “same” service.
“You need your own website in order to survive”
This tickled me when I read that. They clearly got my email address from my website and then sent an email to tell me that I needed a website to survive. DOH! I’m assuming they just copy and pasted a canned message and sent it off blindly. Good job.
Generally, the web designers trying to sell to me seem to be a bit more honest and usually provide examples of their web design work (since its expected after all). However, most of the time, their examples are just souped up WordPress blogs with some garishly designed theme and is stuffed with a ton of flashy plugins (that bog the site down).
I know my site design is very simple, minimalist, and dare I say plain, but that’s exactly the look I was going for. If you haven’t already noticed, I take a lot of pictures and I would much rather have my content stand out and be efficiently consumed than distract people with some funky, incoherent design.
To date, there has only been one person that I would actually pay real money for. She knew her target market (e.g. micro craft businesses on Etsy) and was priced accordingly and her work was not bad. The rest of the decent ones wanted (at least) $1k for their design work. I do agree that it is a fair price for web design, but that’s way too much for small time crafters.
Tip: If you are a newbie and you want your own blog or website, you can get it for FREE from Blogger.com, Tumblr.com, or WordPress.com. These platform do also provide free themes to make your site look more professional. On the other hand, if you have your own hosting and you don’t know what you’re doing… well, it is sort of beyond the scope of this blog post, but I recommend using the support forum of your hosting provider and ask them for help on how to get started. (Or just ask them how to use Fantastico and install a CMS of your choice by yourself)
If you get unsolicited convos from these people on Etsy, remember that its against Etsy guidelines and you should report them.
If you get personal emails from them, always be wary! Ask for examples and references. You don’t owe them anything so never promise something for nothing.