Friday, October 8, 2010

Startup founders: avoid getting scammed in your quest for coverage

Coverage from highly popular websites and newspapers can be a huge aid when it comes to helping your startup succeed. No matter how good you are, getting traction and grabbing people's attention as a startup is pretty hard. As such, a fair number of startup founders are starved for coverage and would go to great lengths to get it.

It's hardly surprising then that there are some people out there who like to prey on this need. Case in point, here's an email I received last night:

Subject: Hi, I'd like to publish a 600-word feature on your Start-Up

Hello from San Francisco! My name is ****. I hope this message finds you well.

I run a site that features start-ups, ********.com. Our aims are simple:

• Host a thoughtful and creative review of your site on ********.com
• Provide helpful suggestions to improve user's experience
• Provide a keyword focused marketing boost for your site

I found your site on and would like to write a 600-word feature on it. Here are some recent examples.


The feature will be promoted on multiple social media sites including Digg, Reddit, Stumbleupon, LinkedIn, and Buzz Up. We also include multiple links on Yahoo Answers.

Check out what other clients are saying about us: ********/buzz

It costs $65USD to be featured on ********. (Paypal'd to Paypal@********.com).

Let me know if you'd like to be featured or discuss this further.


This week Any New Books? received coverage from sites such as The Next Web, MakeUseOf, KillerStartups, wwwhatsnew, as well as from an Indian newspaper (Mumbai Mirror). They all loved our idea and execution, and decided to give us some exposure. Hundreds of people have signed up with our free new book notification service in the past 48 hours as a result of this exposure. We haven't paid a single cent for such coverage.

Reputable, genuine tech news sites like TechCrunch, ReadWriteWeb, LifeHacker, or the aforementioned ones, do NOT ask you for money to write about your site/startup. It's their job to give coverage to startups that will genuinely interest their readers. (As far as I can tell the site from the email doesn't even disclose that the reviews on it have been paid for.)

While we're bootstrapped at the moment, we could afford to pay $65 for something that we felt was worthwhile. That's not the point. A review for which I have to pay is not a review though, it's an ad.

You may think it's worth paying a relatively small sum of money to get some coverage from this little-known site (according to Alexa), but I recommend that you don't encourage sites like this, which prey on entrepreneurs' desire to succeed. Overall, be mindful of such emails and propositions. Resist the urge to give into the temptation they may pose. Try to get legitimate coverage instead (more on this in future posts.)


Anonymous said...

No brainer! Can't hurt to write about it for those that are confused, though :)

Antonio Cangiano said...

Yeah Anonymous, it's just a friendly warning, nothing revolutionary. :)

Adam said...

I received this same exact email when we got featured on for our new service,

The email text was identical to what you just posted above, so clearly they are just copy and pasting these emails.

I don't think anyone will argue that this is ridiculous, but I imagine it does at least say that if someone is trying to make money in this way, there must be at least a little demand. Which is a small indicator that the startup community is growing enough to spawn up these ridiculous companies trying to bank off of it.

Anyways, I am glad you called them out. I would have posted the domain though ;)

Antonio Cangiano said...

Thanks Adam. I didn't post the domain name because I didn't want to give them further publicity. Yes, it is negative publicity, but I'm sure some would have contacted them.

Anonymous said...

We received same mail when we were trying to promote

This looks like a scam to me.

Steve said...

We received the same email after promoting on killerstartups, I contacted the guy asking about traffic, he tried to say it was more about the writing than the traffic.

This was only one of many we received.

Steve said...

Oh, funny thing, it was only $45 for our. Price already dropping?

Anonymous said...

This is a nice way by the startup company to avoid the scammed in the quest of their employee. I will try also this kind of strategy.


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