It’s no secret that the survival community has seen some hard times in recent months. During the last few years of the Obama administration, he was seen by many as the best firearms salesman ever. NICS background checks set record after record, especially after the anti-gun measures called for by the Democratic party.
A Cycle of Slump and Recovery
After President Trump’s election, the firearms industry suffered from a terrible slump in sales, as many felt a bit of relief from the doomsday predictions and the resulting oversupply of weapons on the market. The survival community as a whole tracked this same record with amazing correlation. Of course, any survivalist/prepper worth their salt understands that this isn’t a time to slack off on preps, but it’s time to pick up the pace because our Dollar goes further and we can snap up sweet deals on our equipment. We saw the same thing back around the turn of the century. In December of 1999, you were hard pressed to find a generator anywhere on the market. but in January of 2000, you could pick them up for a song as people had second thoughts about ownership and then flooded the market with “never-used” hardware.
Spikes in Survival/Prepper Market
Prior to both of these spikes in the survival/prepper market, it was nothing more than a niche market with a few die-hards keeping it alive. There were few companies that specialized in sales to us, and most of us were looked at as “crazy” by friends and neighbors. Once the general public picked up and ran with the idea though, things changed radically. Now, with the war drums beating with North Korea, the escalated conflict in the Middle East that Obama left as his legacy, and the growing domestic unrest here at home, the industry is picking up again as the economy starts to come to life under Trump.
Hot Market Attracts Hucksters
Anytime a market becomes “hot”, it is not only flooded by those who can put their expertise to use but also by those who are only interested in making a buck any way they can. While it’s up to the individual survivalists to recognize and avoid most of these hucksters, there is one area that survivalist and prepping blogs bear a significant responsibility to guard against.
SurvivalBlog is known for its editorial integrity. We maintain a high standard in all aspects for the articles that we print on our blog, and we don’t mix editorial content with advertising. If we editorialize about any particular product, it’s because we have used that product and we believe in it. You can’t just pay us to print a favorable product review. If it’s a favorable review, then it’s because the product was reviewed honestly and stood up to our expectations.
Writer Personal Experience and Knowledge
If an author writes for us, we expect that writing to be from the person’s personal experience and knowledge base. That is one of the criteria that we look at when we select the winners for the writing contests that we run.
Fake News in Survival Community
Just as with the mainstream media, the survival community has its share of “fake news”. Most of the time, we are able to catch these things before they get printed in the blog, but in the rare instance where something makes it through the editorial vetting process, our readers are usually quick to let us know and we will correct it. This is one of the reasons that SurvivalBlog readers repeatedly come to our blog for information; they know that it isn’t just some Nobody writing about something that they really have no idea about. These are real people with real experience sharing their successes and sometimes their failures to help you in your prepping journey.
In addition to the writing contest posts that we routinely publish, we are often inundated with “paid posts” requests. These are typically writers working for a company (or contracted by the company) that produces a particular product, and they are seeking exposure for that product. While a company can gain exposure by advertising, a product review is much more likely to be read (and responded to) than just an advertising banner or blurb.
SurvivalBlog is not opposed to writing genuine editorial content about products, but we never accept payment or free products in exchange for the product exposure. This is true whether it is financial payment or payment-in-kind (such as a “donation” of products to the editors.) Those product reviews that we run must be objectively reviewed, and many companies back out of the review process during the vetting procedure. Pat Cascio has often mentioned to me that if you submit a bullet resistant vest for review, he is going to shoot live rounds into it. How else can you review it? It seems rather silly to just mention how stylish it looks when its primary purpose is just assumed and never tested.
Sometimes companies are rather persistent in their pursuit of these “paid product reviews.” Here is an example of an e-mail from one writer:
I reached out last week but haven’t heard back so I wanted to try one last time. Is there an opportunity to sponsor a post on Survival Blog? Please see my initial email below. Best wishes, [deleted]
On Thu, Nov 30, 2017 at 9:04 AM, [deleted] wrote:
I reached out last week but haven’t heard back. I wanted to see if there was an opportunity to sponsor a post on Survival Blog. Please see my initial email below. Best wishes, [name deleted]
On Fri, Nov 24, 2017 at 7:50 AM, [deleted] wrote:
I came across Survival Blog while looking for resources for our next blog and I knew I had to reach out immediately, kudos on a fantastic blog. My name is Arthur, and I’m reaching out on behalf of a leading healthcare provider.
This month, we’re looking to secure sponsorship placements with five prominent blogs and Survival Blog jumped straight to the top of our list. Please let me know if this is something you’re interested in discussing further. We would be willing to offer you somewhere in the region of $30 for a sponsored post.
Let me know your thoughts.
One of my personal favorites is where they “recognize” how busy I am:
Just a quick follow up in case you’ve missed my email. If you’re short on time right now — no worries. I won’t bug you about it again.
I Won’t Bug You Again
Of course, it is not unusual to get five or six of those “I won’t bug you again” e-mails on succeeding days or weeks from the same person. Then there is the one where the person can’t figure out who they are:
From: Lisa [address deleted]
I wrote to you some time ago regarding an article that I wrote about [whatever]. I still haven’t heard back from you; we are all very busy 🙂 I have therefore re-copied for you the link to the article titled: [deleted]
Can you please share it on your website? I know you are busy so I won’t bother you again.
The Age of Junk Science
Most of our readers know that you have to look at any and all information with a raised eyebrow today. You can literally find a “scientific” study that will say just about anything you want it to say. The industry and media have become experts at sifting, sorting, ignoring, and even fabricating data to support a pre-conceived idea.
The survival industry is no different. Not only do we have cheap, ineffective products on the market, but we have advertising/marketing that you have to wade through to fully understand the product. Long-term food storage is a prime example. You can certainly buy bulk, long-term food at just about any food store today including Costco and your favorite local supermarket, but have you actually read the label? Sure, it says a year’s worth of food, and the packaging will tell you 720 meals (two meals a day) for one person.
However, most commonly, they cut the calorie count on individual meals. Since when can a person survive for a full year on 500 calories a day or less? The average person needs somewhere north of 1,500 calories in a normal situation. Add to that the physical exertion you will see when having to do most everything all yourself and you can quickly end up with 3,000 to 4,000 calories just to maintain where you are now. That puts that “year’s worth” of food in a new light when you think about it. You are either going to have to supplement the food or buy a whole lot more just to get by.
A Fraudulent Writer Shares His Story
A little over a year ago, Motherboard ran an article where one writer who had spent years defrauding and lying to readers about his “expertise” wrote an expose of his own activities. I highly encourage SurvivalBlog readers to spend the time and read this article. You need to educate yourself on the tactics used by these hucksters. They don’t care about your survival; they only care about making a buck. At best, the information is nothing more than you can get more reliably elsewhere with your own research. At worst, you may get information that will literally kill you when you need the information the most.
I know many blogs fall victim to this. I’m making the assumption that the blogs just haven’t done their due diligence, and that these articles make it past their vetting process. Many times I have received a message offering one of these “paid” articles, which I usually just ignore. But then I see that exact same article from the same e-mail sender pop up on another blog a few days or weeks later.
Another Recent Example
In closing, I’d like to leave our readership with the record of one particular writer of this ilk that I recently corresponded with. (I did so out of amused boredom.) Normally, I send requests like these to the trash bin and never give them a second thought. However, I was bored this particular day. If the typical fake “Microsoft Technical Support” phone call had come through, I probably would have led them on for quite some time. Instead I got this e-mail from a writer using the alias “Angela Williams”. I’ve left the spelling and grammar as-is but removed the hyperlinks. If you want to know where the original articles mentioned were posted, you’ll need to use a search engine or possibly the Wayback Machine.
I’m interested in a guest post on your website. I’m writing to you because I’d love to contribute a guest post. For your reference, Follow [sic] are the 3 recent guest post [sic] by me. Please check them out.
- How to Split Wood for a Campfire
- How to Safely Chop Firewood With the Correct Ax
- How to Split Firewood (Step-By-Step)
I will provide you very high quality and 100% unique content.
Awaiting your reply.
Regards, Angela Williams
Alrighty then. I know it’s one of those requests that I normally just throw away, but, hey, she sent us links.
A Published Survival Writer With No Clue
I clicked on the links and recognized right away that this was a person that had no clue about what they were writing. Shame on these blogs for accepting this drivel and submitting it to their readers. But then again, I was bored. My reply was simple:
Can I ask how many cords of wood you have split using this method?
I really didn’t expect “Angela” to reply. I guess I figured that a question targeted at the person’s experience would warn them off. While waiting for the reply, I inspected the links within the articles. To make the blogs happy, she had included internal links back to the blog she was writing for (a good SEO practice) making it more appealing to the blog. Sure enough, each article contained either a link to the author’s own webstore, which was nothing more than a collection of Amazon affiliate links, or they were a link directly into Amazon using the author’s affiliate tag.
I’m not opposed to blogs or websites linking to an Amazon store to help pay the bills. What I am opposed to is pretending to be something you are not just so you can con people into spending money in your Amazon store. This person wasn’t a prepper or survivalist. This person was merely trying to get people to click through their Amazon links to make money.
Survival Writer Admits to No Personal Experience!
Imagine my surprise when I received a reply only a mere 30 minutes later:
I have no experience split wood. [sic] This type of article was required by website owners.
my new article published here [sic] – 8 Basic Survival Bushcraft Skills That You Ought To Know
Can I write article [sic] for you?
SurvivalBlog Editor’s General Response
No, Miss Broken English “Angela Williams” (or whoever you are), you may not. I like and respect SurvivalBlog’s readers way too much to feed this sort of drivel to them. Go really chop some wood or try out your “bushcraft skills” in the wilderness and then get back to me. – HJL
JWR Adds: I can confirm the details of what Hugh Latimer just posted. On some mornings, I see more than five or six “paid content” requests have arrived in my e-mail In Box. It bears mentioning that the majority of these land in my e-mail In Box between 11 PM and 5 AM. So that is indicative of where these hucksters are located. (Certainly not in the United States or Canada!) It also explains why so many of them have broken English.
One thing that Hugh didn’t mention was that we also get offers to “correct broken links.” This is a clever scam, where hucksters use link checkers to find legitimately broken or expired links. But what they offer as the replacement is… (Drumroll)… a link to the content that they’ve placed in other blogs after making offers of payment. Every time that someone falls for this, it is another back-link that they can bill to their clients. How pathetic.
Beware, folks, beware. Please be discerning about where you get your news and where you gather survival and preparedness information. There is a lot of fakery out there. But you won’t find this sort of nonsense in SurvivalBlog.