How to Recognize and Avoid “Newbie Traps”

August 24, 2010 ​- 48 Comments

Here's a quick video I recorded ages ago and updated more recently, about how to avoid Newbie Traps.

What is a Newbie Trap? Watch the video to find out!

Hint: if you're just starting out and you dream of being a digital nomad or making money with your own website, you need to see this.


Why This Matters

My days of calling out online marketing "gurus" for their bullshit are far behind me, but since this post was still getting some traffic, I decided to update the video.

My hope is that this will save someone from wasting their time and money on all the "make money online" crap that is still being peddled in many corners of the Internet.

One reason this is important to me is because I believe that entrepreneurship is a force for good in the world. When someone builds a value based business, they're creating a living for themselves, their family and maybe some employees. That's a good thing. And in addition, it means there's one more useful solution, product or service that people in some niche can use to improve their lives. Double good.

This is true on both large and small scales. In fact, the argument can be made that especially small scale entrepreneurship is good for the world.

These Newbie Traps target people who are completely new to the idea of entrepreneurship. If they fall for a Newbie Trap, they might waste their time and money and end up discouraged. If they don't and go down a true entrepreneurial path instead, they may eventually succeed. That's better for everyone (except the scammers selling the Newbie Traps).

So, if you know someone who's susceptible to the "hopes and dreams" marketing, send them this way. Maybe together, we can change their mind.

Shane's Signature

About ​Shane Melaugh

I'm the founder of ActiveGrowth and Thrive Themes and over the last years, I've created and marketed a dozen different software, information and SaaS products. Apart from running my business, I spend most of my time reading, learning, developing skills and helping other people develop theirs. On ActiveGrowth, I want to help you become a better entrepreneur and product creator. Read more about my story here.

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  • Good points Shane,

    It seems that the last month is filled with such products and the biggest one in my opinion was Turbo Profit Sniper. I don’t understand how Clickbank allows product owners to provide guarantees such as if you don’t make $1000 within one week I will give you all the money back.

    Isn’t that against some FCC rules or something?

    I also don’t know what’s going on with Clickbank Gravity rating but several product have broken the 1000 points barrier within 3 weeks… I suspect they made some changes to the formula.

    P.S – didn’t see no report… did I miss it?

    • Yeah, I sometimes wonder the same thing. Seems like you can still get away with pretty much anything on a sales-page.

      Good point about CB gravity. There have been several record-breakers lately. Perhaps it really has more to do with an internal change than with the actual products.

      Report: Good point. I only linked it on the YT video, not here.
      I’ll add the link right away.


      • Got the report, thanks.

        Another amazing thing with some of the latest launches is the ridiculous scarcity factor they are using.

        Auto Blog X claims to only sell 250 copies and that product went to 1200 plus gravity. That basically means that 1200 affiliate made at least one sale over the past 8 weeks… how does that sit with the 250 mark?

        As if someone really believes that anyone would launch a product only to make a little more than $9,000 (250×37) without even thinking about paying affiliate commissions and prizes.

        One thing I learn from these launches is which interment marketers to avoid at all costs. Both the creators of these products and any one that recommends to buy it… Who said that only bad things can come from these type of products?

      • Yeah, fake scarcity is pretty stupid, IMO.
        Sure, scarcity works, but how about using real scarcity, if any?

        Good strategy for weeding out the bad apples, though. :)

      • Yes, the creators of Turbo Profit Sniper and Auto Blog X are both liars who are guilty of false advertising. If Clickbank had any integrity they would both be serving some time in jail. But so should owners of Clickbank.

        Don’t expect Clickbank to care about its scam products; they are corrupt to the core now too.

        I couldn’t find a way to contact them unless I had a specific product purchase to reference. So I used a recent purchase and stated in the first sentence of my email that I was NOT asking for a refund, but wanted only to clarify their refund policy which has changed. They refused to answer my questions and just issued the refund anyway.

        Clickbank is quickly dropping in quality because it allows many of the products it sells to scam its customers, and they have changed their refund policy so they do NOT have to issue a refund within 60 days should they decide not to.

        Yet many of their sellers are still advertising a refund guaranteed by Clickbank for 60 days, which is another falsehood.

        Beware of Clickbank. It grows sleazier by the day.

      • Not the biggest fan of CB, either. The problem is that they are so established. With RAPbank and PaySpree there are a few very interesting alternatives and they are gaining ground. But I think it will be a long time before they get anywhere near the traction that CB has…

  • Well said…could use your video a few weeks back when i was trying out a product also a newbie trap! Anyways better now then never. Thanks Shane for the video, i will share this.

    • Thanks for your comment, degmar! Better late than never, I guess.
      It’s a bit unfortunate to know that this video will probably not nearly reach as many people as most launches of big newbie-trap products…

  • excellent points, and if just one person learns from the short video and avoids the new newbie trap, then this video is a huge success!

    Thanks for all the great information.

    • Thanks, Tom.
      You’re right: If it even “saves” one newbie, it was definitely worth the few minutes it took to make the video. :)

  • Nice one Shane.

    You should put up the url here for the product in question mentioned in your email… lol

    Welly Mulia

    • Thanks, Welly.

      I don’t want to send any kind of traffic to that offer, though. I’m worried that someone might get suckered into buying anyway, despite the video…

  • Shane,

    I am glad to see you spreading the word about the charlatans who feed off newbies like a pack of piranhas feasting on a pig.

    It’s time the good guys take back internet marketing. Real professionals with great products full of value such as yourself can help turn the tide against these scam artists.

    Thanks for getting the word out.


    • Thanks, Norma.

      There are a lot of “good guys” at work, also. For newbies, it’s just a bit of a crapshoot, because they can’t really know and if they’re lucky, they end up on the list or with a product from one of the good guys and if they’re unlucky, they end up in a newbie trap…

  • well said Shane,

    It’s just sad that those who are new to Internet marketing, can’t get to see your video before they buy those waste of time products.

    Kind regards


    • Thank you, Kevin.

      Yeah, if I was a h4rdc0re hacker, I would make it so that my video appears as a pop-up whenever someone goes to one of those crappy sales-pages. ^^ As it is, we can just hope that a few people stumble across the video before they make a bad purchasing decision.

  • Really appreciate it, Shane.

    Have you post it on WF? So more people will aware and avoid it.

    • I posted the video on WF but it was removed because I plug that free report at the end…

  • Shane,

    I like the simplicity of what you’re saying. Nice message and I absolutely agree with the ‘steakless-sizzle’ offers out there.


    • Thanks for your comment, Martin.

      IM definitely has too much sizzle and not enough stake…

  • You can also check what others people saying about that product, just type to google: product name + review or product name + scam If it is a good product you will always find a reviews, Most of the people do reviews just to tell how great this product are, go and buy it. What do you need to do is look for forums. A great one is warrior forum. You can join that forum and just ask people about that product.

    • I actually recommend going straight to the forums. Productname + review almost always just brings up tons of promo-sites.

  • Shane
    I’ve come across a product which I’m a bit confused about – “From 0 To Profits” by Vita Vee.

    It seems to tick a lot of the boxes you talk about – picture of $ bills, maserati and big house + make $5,500 in 8 days + hugely discounted price + offer selling out fast, act NOW etc

    The confusion is that I came across it because of an e-mail from Vita Vee linking to his review of your Backlink Battleplan – which he gave a solid thumbs up. So he can’t be all bad can he?

    Have you come accross him and/or “From 0 To Profits”?



    • Hi Tim,

      Yes, I know of Vita Vee and he seems to be one of the good guys. Don’t know about the product, though. I haven’t seen it so I can’t make a call on that. I’d assume that the product is decent, just based on what I’ve seen Vita put out and what his attitude is. But don’t take that as a recommendation. I simply can’t make a judgement about the product because I’ve not tested it.

  • Shane,

    You are so right…I’m embarrassed to say I actually bought TPS and Blog X, now I blog x did have some really good tools and knowledge. But TPS was a total scam! It was more of an experiment than anything, but yes I am very disappointed that clickbank could allow someone to get away with something like this. I just started using RAPBANK and I really like it…

  • Hi Shane,

    Thanks so much for your insights !
    Although I’m not really a newbie, I’ve been tempted by and bought alot of programs and found what you say to be very true and important to be reminded of.
    In fact, you just saved me from falling for another!!!

    All the Best,

  • What catches me are products that tell you what to do, but now how to do it, when I got the impression from the sales page I was buying an A-Z solution.

    Then they upsell me via their email list products that go into more detail, which I felt the main product I purchased should have been responsible for doing.

  • Hi Shane,
    seems like the link to the video “How to avoid crapyy….” is not longer available.
    Can you advise?
    Many thanks.

  • Hi, The video isn’t loading… been waiting for ages now. Like 5 minutes plus… other site videos are fine so I know it’s not my end. Looking forward to viewing. G:)

    • There seems to be a problem with streaming the video from Amazon S3. I’ll see what I can do. Thanks for the notice!

  • Ok, the video did load another time I checked the site. I have sent you a link by email for you to check out and see how scammer types are now using the very things you are talking about to con people into trusting them. Hope you check your email and check it out because I look forward to your comments. Also the link to Andrews site is not working… any ideas? His site maybe down by the looks. To bad I enjoyed reading his article yesterday but wanted to go back there again today….

    OK all the best,
    Graham :)

  • Hi Shane – I’ve tried loading this video in Firefox & Internet explorer without success. I have been able to access all of your videos – just not this one. Any advices appreciated. Really appreciate your website by the way!

    • Thanks for the message!
      I just replaced the video-player as there seems to have been an issue with the previous one. Video should be playing okay again, now.

  • Hi Shane,

    The other ‘no name’ people pushing products are easy to pass because of all the reasons stated, but how are we supposed to view a product presented in the same manner(although more professionally done) by supposed respectable marketers. Case in point-Phillip Mansour’s new launch of Free Money Formula. Now Phil makes the same wild claims as a few push button softwares that hit the market since the beginning of the year , slightly different twist but same message and end result. He’s credible, especially in the CPA arena and is connected to other credible marketers, even though a few have come into question lately like Jani G with ‘Get Free FB Ads’ & ‘Auto Traffic Hijack’. I believe Phillip is putting his reputation on the line with this one, as this is the first product for him of this same blatant nature.So, how should we view these?


    • I treat them all with the same level of mistrust. The biggest problem, in my eyes, is that with a sales-pitch like that, the marketer is treating you like a moron. He’s assuming you will fall for the stupid, overblown pitch and false promises.
      In other words: He’s insulting your intelligence.
      I don’t care what history someone has, if they insult my intelligence, I’m not about to hand them any money.

  • Thanks Shane,
    Loved your topic and it is buzzing news online today with newbie and not-so newbies…

    There are a couple of websites and forums that I have bookmarked (yours will be on my list now)

    1. sometimes, I still feel that before a make a purchase of a specific product I research under the radar to see if it is what it says (which by the way, I came across one of your amazing products and I honestly believe it is a MUST HAVE for my consulting business – Hoorah! There are still some IMers that genuinely care

    2. then I contemplate with myself – is this product a NEED or a MUST, I leave it for a couple of days and try to get my heart and mind to work in conjuction — that my friend, is how I do business :-)

    Love your product and services – and I will most certainly follow your tips, and strategies…

    • Hello Isabel,
      Thanks for your reply!
      Your approach is a very good one for avoiding products/services that would be more of a distraction than a real asset to your business.

  • Shane,

    So you buy a ClickBank product and it turns out to be a dud for you.

    So you just ask for a refund and you get your money back through a credit to your credit card.

    What’s the problem with putting the risk on ClickBank and relying on them to honor their word about 60 day guarantees?

    I’ve done this a couple times with terrible products and have always received a rapid refund.


    • That’s a good point.
      There are two issues that I still see with that, though:
      1) It’s still costing you time. You could spend all day downloading ClickBank garbage products, hoping to find one that “really works” and refunding them if they don’t. In fact, there are probably hundreds, if not thousands of people who do just that.
      2) It’s an ethical issue. People who market this kind of product are predatory and they try to find gullible victims that they can cheat out of their money. Call me a “white knight”, but I’m just not okay with that.

  • Hi Shane. Following on from the above thread what I do with any product that is for sale and getting “great” reviews (and there are many..) is I Google the product followed by the term “WSO”, or “Warriors”. This usually brings up a thread where somebody on the warrior forum discusses the product. Usually it gets torn to be pieces by fairly knowledgable affiliate people in the warrior website, and I find this is a quick way to test if something is a scam or not. Hope this is of use to somebody!

  • What I hate about so much product that we purchase through ClickBank and the like is the fact, that unlike off line purchasing, you can not read it through, turn it over, jump on it, take it for a test ride, open it, see what it actually does…. You know what I mean. So much of online selling is getting you to imagine what could be ‘inside’, getting you to project your dreams on to the product. I wonder how can this be overcome… I know many merchants emphasize the 60 day guarantee (or whatever) for that very reason. Buy it, then see if it’s what you really want. Could we not start a system where the buyer gets the product for 7 days, no charge, and if it’s not returned or paid for after the test period it self destructs – or something along those lines. OK, maybe that is asking the merchant to carry to much of the risk… but are there some other solutions we can look at?

  • Hi Shane,

    Just watched this great video you made …afterward, I opened my email and you won’t believe this:

    Hi Friend,

    One time homeless man becomes rich and
    makes good on promise to help others
    do what he did. *

    It’s never been easier to earn from home
    with his help!


    Matt Bacak


  • I just wanted to thank you for this review! As one of the newbies you speak of I can attest to how easy it is to get scammed. These products are every where and rather overwhelming if you don’t know what you’re doing. I’ll be checking back in with you often before I make another move! Thanks again!

    • Hi Ryan,
      Thanks for your comment! It can be rather difficult to navigate the “swamp” of IM products. Fortunately, they aren’t all bad.

  • Hi Shane,
    Nice video. Glad to see that I’m not the only one to spot this crap.
    Keep up the good work


  • Am not a newbie but finally someone out there say some honest statement without being affiliated to any of the products :-) you are awsome!

    I was trying to find a review for an online marketing which led me to your blog and got what I wanted then kept browsing till I thought to leave you a comment on my way.

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