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165 | Ask More Questions: Avoiding Scams + Pay to Play + Other Cruddy Things

The Pro Organizer Studio Podcast

Release Date: 10/11/2023

182 | 182 | "We are not all the same!" - Attracting Organizing Clients by Being The REAL You

The Pro Organizer Studio Podcast

Sarah Brent of Practical Harmony in Illinois is talking to us about something she (and I!) are equally passionate about. Here's a little sneak peek: "Clients need to hear about you and your uniqueness. They need to hear your story, why you do what you do, why you're different from other organizers. Not everybody wants to hire the type A minimalist organizer who's been organizing since they were in diapers. A lot of clients are looking for organizers who have had firsthand experience with hoarding, chronic disorganization, downsizing, relocating, therapy, recovery, blending families, aging...

181 | Reflections & Transformations with Jen Kilbourne, Founder of Pro Organizer Studio show art 181 | Reflections & Transformations with Jen Kilbourne, Founder of Pro Organizer Studio

The Pro Organizer Studio Podcast

While I am calling her a guest today, it is her podcast! Jen Kilbourne is on the pod today. She is the founder of Pro Organizer Studio, and she is the visionary behind everything that we do here. If you are a longtime podcast listener, you have heard Jen's voice on the podcast so many times--she began all of this magic. She started the Inspired Organizer® program, which has helped 900 women across the globe on five different continents start or grow their organizing businesses. Everything you see at Pro Organizer Studio was her vision. As I was trying to think about how I could introduce...

Bonus Mini-Sode | Bonus Mini-Sode | "Don't Mess With Eyeballs!" and A Heartwarming Message From Mom

The Pro Organizer Studio Podcast

We finish up our series with Kim with a cautionary safety tale AND a wonderful story about her mom. Enjoy this bonus to wrap up our series! 

180 | Couldn't Imagine Where I Would Be: 2 Years in my Professional Organizing Business with Kim of Rustic Home Organizing show art 180 | Couldn't Imagine Where I Would Be: 2 Years in my Professional Organizing Business with Kim of Rustic Home Organizing

The Pro Organizer Studio Podcast

If you have been here for more than two seconds, you know I've been interviewing Kim of Rustic Home Organizing in Portland, Oregon, every year, since she brand new in starting her professional organizing business out. This is her year two recap what she has learned.  Kim has so much wisdom to share. And one of the things that I love is that Kim has stayed really flexible about her business. She has changed when she needed to. She has pivoted when she needed to, she has admitted her mistakes. She has a lot of great lessons for people, whether you are brand new, starting out, or...

179 | From getting paid in eggs to $10,000+ months: 2 years in business with Kim of Rustic Home Organizing show art 179 | From getting paid in eggs to $10,000+ months: 2 years in business with Kim of Rustic Home Organizing

The Pro Organizer Studio Podcast

I first interviewed Kim two years ago when her business was BRRAAANNNDD new. In her first year, once she got paid by a client with a dozen eggs. Fast forward two years later--and she had her first (and second, and third) $10,000 month in her business, Rustic Home Organizing.  Kim is giving us all the details on her second year in business--and no matter where you are in your organizing business, there is so much to learn here!  LINKS FOR LISTENERS: Get connected with Kim: Join our Organizing Essentials course, open until Valentine's Day:  

178 | 365 Days of Organizing: Rewind of My First Year In Business with Kim of Rustic Home Organizing show art 178 | 365 Days of Organizing: Rewind of My First Year In Business with Kim of Rustic Home Organizing

The Pro Organizer Studio Podcast

This is our second episode in our rewind series of Kim Snodgrass of Rustic Home Organizing growing your organizing business--if you missed the last episode, check it out (episode 177 right before this). Then check out next up, which are two brand new epsiodes which will be a 2024 real time update on what Kim learned in her second full year of organizing--and her first $10,000 month.  LINKS FOR LISTENERS Connect with Melissa at Pro Organizer Studio: Learn more about Pro Organizer Studio programs and resources:

177 | My Brand New Organizing Business: Rewind with Kim of Rustic Home Organizing show art 177 | My Brand New Organizing Business: Rewind with Kim of Rustic Home Organizing

The Pro Organizer Studio Podcast

Time capsule for organizers--open! It's a little bit of a rewind week but here's why! I started something a couple of years ago, with someone in our Inspired Organizer® group who was brand new--she had just started her business and I wanted to interview her about taking the leap into organizing. And then almost exactly a year later, I interviewed her again and learned about what the reality of that first year was--what are some things that went great? What are some things that you wish you had done differently? And then the other day, I interviewed her at the end of her second year,...

176 | Pitch Yourself + Your Business to the Press with Rachel Rosenthal (part 2) show art 176 | Pitch Yourself + Your Business to the Press with Rachel Rosenthal (part 2)

The Pro Organizer Studio Podcast

This is the second epsiode in our 2 part series with Rachel Rosenthal, a professional organizer in Washington DC who has used the media to propel her business to serve over 8000 clients. In this ep we get down to business learning how to pitch potential outlets like TV, podcasts, and print media to grow your organizing business.  LINKS FOR LISTENERS Use code POS for Rachel's course The Power of Press for $100 off: Learn more about Rachel's organizing business, Rachel & Company: Connect with me at Pro Organizer Studio:  

175 | The Power of Press for Professional Organizers (p 1) with Rachel Rosenthal show art 175 | The Power of Press for Professional Organizers (p 1) with Rachel Rosenthal

The Pro Organizer Studio Podcast

Today we are demystifying the process of putting your organizing business out in the world by doing press--print, TV, online, podcasts and more! Rachel Rosenthal, who has served over 8000 clients in her Washington, DC organizing business Rachel & Company, has skyrocketed her client list by actively participating in press opportunities.  LINKS FOR LISTENERS: Learn more about Rachel and her business Rachel & Company: Rachel's course The Power of Press Playbook--USE CODE POS FOR $100 OFF!: Connect with Melissa and Pro Organizer Studio:

174 | 2024 Word of the Year show art 174 | 2024 Word of the Year

The Pro Organizer Studio Podcast

For the last couple of years, instead of New Year's Resolutions or large scale yearly goals, I have picked a word of the year. I pick one word at the start of the year and then I use that as my guiding light, my North Star for the year. So over the holidays, I spent time reflecting and thinking and trying to decide what that word was, that magical word that was going to guide me through the year for my businesses, and for Pro Organizer Studio. Today's podcast brings you the word of the year--and why I picked it! 

More Episodes

As professional organizing entrepreneurs, unfortunately one thing we have to watch out for are straight up scams at the worst, and things that are sketchy and unhelpful opportunities at the least. I want you to have a healthy level of skepticism for opportunities that come your way--and today I am talking about some specifics on things to be on the lookout for! 

1:00 It's ok to be a little cynical in your professional organizing business to find scams
4:00 Listen to your gut to avoid being preyed upon by scammers
7:00 Scams camouflaged as "opportunities"
10:00 Pay to Play options
14:00 Ask a lot of questions before you hire a coach or other business
15:30 Moving scam to avoid
19:00 I don't want you to have regrets!


Learn more about our Inspired Organizer program: www.inspiredorganizer.com 

Our 24/7 on demand workshop, The Pro Organizer's Profit Plan: www.poroadmap.com


 Hey, pro organizers, it's your podcast host, Melissa. And of course, just right as I press record, the neighbor's dog started going absolutely bananas. So hopefully you guys can hear this. This is just shows you this is real life here when I'm recording the podcast. But. I am on here today because sometimes I have podcasts planned out for a long time and there's something that I've thought about for a while and I want to get out 

and sometimes there will be things that happen in a given day or week or month and I go, this is like, I was going to say an emergency podcast. There's no such thing as an emergency podcast, but like a breaking news, organizing breaking news podcast type of thing. I don't know. And that's kind of what today is.

There is something that's been on my mind based on some conversations that I've seen in the past few days. And then combined with a podcast that I am listening to, and I think it's important for organizers to talk about and think about, and it was on my mind so much that I'm like, this is, I have to make this into a podcast.

This is going to be a pretty stream of consciousness, like free flowing it's, it's what's in Melissa's head. So hopefully you guys are all good with that. I just wanted to give you kind of my off the cuff thoughts because I think that this is really important and when I originally started thinking about this, I will be honest, the only word that kept coming to my mind or the only phrase that I could think of to describe this was the phrase like Be cynical.

And I don't think that being cynical in general is a good trade for professional organizers. I think it's the exact opposite of what we need to be, especially with clients. But what I do want to do is turn that word cynical into I guess what I would phrase it as 

I want you to be a careful and thoughtful consumer, and I want you to ask a lot of questions when you're presented with something. So let me just tell you a little bit about how I got here and what's going on. So first of all, there is a podcast called The Dream, which I've listened to for a long time. I can't remember when it first came out, but it's had a few seasons.

And the first couple of seasons, they did a really well researched dive on MLMs, which is a subject that fascinates me. But then the current season that they're on, they've like kind of shifted a little bit and they're talking about the life coaching industry, particularly, and it's just, it's been really fascinating to listen to, and it's really hit on something that is kind of the combination of something that I've seen in our Inspired Organizer group, and then this podcast just got me going, I've got to talk about this.

So I was listening to an episode of The Dream while I got ready to go to an organizing client last week, and they were talking about how people, even very famous people sometimes can just like literally just make things up and say, you should do X, Y, Z. And then they get people to pay for X, Y, Z when they don't have any actual training.

They don't have any actual expertise. You can say anything you want to on the internet and no one will ever fact check you, right?

So, they were talking about this guy who wrote a book that has sold 100 million copies worldwide. People really bought into it. And essentially, he is a complete 100 percent con man, okay? But  was thinking about that book and  then in the past few days There have been a couple things that have come up in our inspired organizer coaching group Which by the way you guys I would absolutely love for you to get into our community It is so lovely and people bring up so many things in that group that one of my main goals as a coach is to prevent People from making decisions that they will regret later sometimes very expensive Mistakes.

And there were people that come to this group and just say, Hey, I had this opportunity to come up and give me a gut check or tell me about your experience with this.  A couple of things that have come up in the group that things that were brought to us. And basically it was presented of like, I have like a fishy feeling about this basically.

And they were doing a gut check because in our business we are sometimes presented with opportunities or presented with things and we're like, oh my gosh, it sounds so exciting. Like this person wants to interview me or they want to do this or they want to do that. And then you start to get a little voice in the back of your head and said, but.

Is it, is it really real? Is it too good to be true? We start to doubt ourselves. We doubt our voices sometimes. And, and one of the things that I am going to always tell you all the time, if you listen to this podcast ever, or if I coach you, I always say go with your gut and trust your gut because if your gut is telling you that something feels fishy, it probably is fishy, right?

And there were a couple of things that came up and they were both in the category of what I term unsolicited media opportunities, okay?  One of them was an organizing company that was featuring other organizers in a blog post and they were chosen for this out of the blue. And then the other one was a podcast that had called and said, we want to feature you on our business podcast.

And both of these organizers were very excited by this because they were opportunities that just came out of the blue, right? But then they also wanted to ask the question, is there anything that I need to be watching out for? First of all, I know what it's like to be in business and you sometimes get opportunities that come your way and you're excited about it because you're like, Oh my gosh, this is a great opportunity for me.

I want you to be excited about opportunities that come your way. But I also want you to ask the appropriate questions because extremely unfortunately, and this is what bothers me about business probably more than anything else, unfortunately, there are a lot of people out there, not in the organizing industry, but just the bigger industry who are out there honestly just preying on entrepreneurs and they're trying to build their own businesses.

Right. But sometimes they're doing it in a way that. is not really on the up and up. And when we as organizers get an opportunity presented I want you to be appropriately excited, but I want you to ask the questions and make sure that it's not an opportunity that you're being preyed upon. And I want to be clear, this has nothing to do with your level of experience.

It doesn't matter if you are a newer organizer or an experienced organizer, all of us can have things that we fall for. I know an experienced organizer who unfortunately lost a ton of money in an organizing scam and that was not someone who was brand new. And so we can all be susceptible to these.

In these two circumstances that I'm talking about, these were not traditional scams. There are scams in organizing. Okay. And I'll talk about those in a couple minutes.

But I want you to ask questions about some of these opportunities that come your way, because sometimes, even if they're not a scam, they are something that is really not going to help your business, or they are something that is trying to lead you into something that could be bigger or something that you are going to be trying to force to make a very expensive decision about.

 A couple examples. One of them that has come up lately, And I'm guessing that a lot of you on listening to this podcast have gotten this call. There is a podcast that they say it's a business podcast. They really want to feature you. It's a five minute interview. They want to feature you in this promotion and they want to give you an article and all this stuff.

 It's not a scam. They really do interview you. for five minutes and they put that up, but there's always a catch. So it might not be a scam, but there's a catch. Then they're going to call you back and try to sell you a huge advertising package which one of our organizers said they were asking for about 5, 000 for an advertising package, which I can promise you is not going to lead you to ideal organizing clients.


There are so many other things out there that you are going to be presented with as opportunities and all of us are trying to build our businesses. And so we do the natural thing, which is we get excited and we go, maybe this will be the thing that will lead me to, you know, this, this treasure trove of clients. A few examples are golf courses that will call you and want you to be in a book that they give to all golfers. They present it as this amazing opportunity. It's going to be transformative for your business. 

As a great entrepreneur and all of these opportunities, you guys are pay to play. And so what's going to happen is they, they bait you with like, Oh, we have chosen you for the super special opportunity. And then they're going to say, Oh, but we need you to pay X, Y, Z. And it's usually a decent amount of money.

We're not talking about a couple of hundred dollars. We're talking about, in most cases, thousands of dollars so that you can really promote this opportunity. And. While again, these are not necessarily traditional scams, they are not something in general that is going to help your business. So this includes print ads for local magazines.

This includes a lot of those different things. And in a lot of cases too, you're going to get pressured, like really pressured with a sales pitch. And that should be your spidey sense number one going off of, wait a minute, why are they pitching me so hard on this? If they are pitching you that hard, it's something that's a little bit fishy.

Okay. It's, it's not really, really legit.  

The second one was I think it was just someone being very creative about seo and their backlinks it was an organizing company that was featuring other organizing companies And I think the goal is they just want to get a backlink on someone else's site, which is an SEO tactic for their own websites, right?

So this is not a nefarious scam. Neither of these are nefarious scams, but it's like, as I say, it's a little bit sketch.  In this SEO one, they randomly pick 10 organizing companies, several of which are people in our inspired organizer group. And they said they want to focus on them. And the idea is the person gets really excited to be featured and then they post the story everywhere.

And then that backlink helps that other company. So it helps their SEO.  It's very enterprising, honestly, but here's what I want to do. I want you to get backlinks for your website, which is a whole thing that I am happy to teach you, but I want you to do it by connecting with other organizers that you actually know, other organizers that you actually want to be connected with, who you guys can mutually help each other.

Okay. And I will tell you as pro organizer studio, I get pitched. Please do not think I'm exaggerating seven or eight times a day. Sometimes more pitched on things people want us to buy  things that people want me to write an article about for our blog, things that people want to feature on the podcast.

It's nonstop. And I really, I'm going to tell you, I hope for you, for your business life, it doesn't include that because it is extremely annoying to manage, but partner with people on things that you know about and trust that are in our industry or in analogous industries.  You can give and get backlinks from other organizers in ways that aren't like scammy and blah.

Another thing that's going to happen to you a lot is you are going to be pitched that you are an amazing entrepreneur and you have been chosen to be featured in XYZ magazine.

And we're going to do an article about you and blah, blah, blah. So, in 99. 9 percent of these cases, these are pay to play opportunities,  you're going to get excited that someone wants to feature you and they have chosen you, and then you're going to find out that, unfortunately,  it's really not what you thought it was.

And then, you're going to get a high pressure sales tactic? The example I gave was Brains Magazine, Brains with a Z has been on a tear.  They're not just contacting organizers. They contacted a friend of mine who's a stylist. They're all over the place. So then when you find out they're contacting all these people, you realize it's not special.

They're just contacting a lot of people. There are tons of these magazines out there, entrepreneurial magazines, and it's all pay to play. And they prey on people who don't ask the questions or people who just go, Oh my gosh, this is so exciting. I'm going to be featured in a magazine.

And If you want to be featured in the media, that is a whole other topic and there are ways to do it where you pitch for that media  and there is going to be a whole podcast that I'm going to do on that pretty soon. But those opportunities that reach out for you and they really, really hard sell you, you're going to get multiple emails about it.

You're going to get a lot of stuff  those are. They're just almost never things that are going to be worthwhile for you. And they really are just sales pitches.  This is so random but I'm going to just save you a little bit of time. If you start to get these opportunities presented to you, right.

Via email, via phone call, whatever you are not obligated in any way, shape or form to respond to a person to decline the opportunity to reply to them in any way, if you're getting pitched something and you're not interested in it. You can just delete it. You do not have to spend a single minute of your time.

I know that we all want to be very polite, but what I don't want you to do is, and this is a trap that someone that I know fell into recently, where you respond to some of these things that you should be healthfully skeptical about, and then they know you're a real person, and the sales pitch comes harder and harder.

Just simply delete. and ignore. You can send it to spam. That's what I do. You don't have to respond. The people I want to respond to, you respond to, are potential clients. Other things that are really, really good opportunities, so, please just Delete and move on. 

 The other thing that I want to talk about too, well, there are a lot of things I want to talk about, but  in the time that I have been a coach for professional organizers, I have had a lot of times where people come and they say, I have signed up for XYZ service an SEO service that costs over a thousand dollars a month and you are obligated for a 12 month contract that you didn't really realize was a 12 month contract.

I have seen people sign up for things that they thought were a couple of months and it turns out it was for a year or the services that they were promised are not delivered. Websites that people have paid thousands of dollars for that the person just disappeared with their money. There are so many examples of this and that makes me more sad  than anything, because I know how hard we have to work for the money we get in our business.

And so when you are thinking about making an investment, I want it to be a thoughtful investment that has an ROI attached to it. You know that the person that's providing the service is legit. There are unfortunately so many services out there that you're going to get a hard sales pitch for, and then you're going to feel obligated into it.

And it's not going to be the service that you really, really need. Okay. If you need a website builder, we have one. Her name is Bree Kistler. She is amazing. BK Branding Co. She does websites for so many organizers and so many other people. She is going to actually take your money and actually build you a website, right?

 Again, does it pass the smell test? If it feels fishy, it is fishy. And I want you to read your contracts. What are you signing up for?  What is the outlay of money? How is the person going to get paid?

How are you going to get your services delivered to you? Ask all those questions. A real service provider is going to be able to answer those. The other thing that I want you to do is if you're signing up for coaching with anyone, I want you to ask a lot of questions. If you want to sign up for coaching with me, ask me questions.

Ask me about my organizing business.  Ask me about my credentials. Ask me about all of these things. Ask other people about working with me and what it's like to work with me. Ask the questions because I have seen so many people,  who are promoting coaching, sometimes very expensive coaching services.

And I want you to be able to say, is this someone that I  really want to learn from? Is this someone that has the credentials that I want to learn from? And a good person, and a person who's legit in general is going to be able to answer those questions, right? There is a level to which you have to trust and you have to listen to your gut.

But asking those questions and making sure that you know exactly what you're signing up for, exactly what you're paying for, exactly what you're doing is really important. We've gone through a couple of things that are just things that you need to be on the watch out for.

There are things in organizing that are straight up scams. Okay. And I want to talk to you about a couple of those because these are things where you actually lose a ton of money. And I know people who have lost money. And that is that like hurts me more than anything else. So actual scams that you need to be careful of.

I don't care if you're a new organizer or an experienced organizer, I've been an organizer for a long time. And I still get excited when I get an inquiry in my inbox of someone who wants organizing services, right?  It never is not exciting, but this is a very classic scam.

So if someone comes into your inbox and they say, I'm getting ready to move from out of town, I would like you to organize my move. I would like you to hire the movers. I'm going to give you and they cite a very large amount of money and they usually say I'm also going to give you a 20 percent tip. You know, it's a large amount of money so you get excited about it and we're going to send you this by certified check and I want you to coordinate all of this.

 Extremely long story short. This is a full on scam.  I had a friend of mine who played this out because she knew it was a scam, but she wanted to see what the whole thing was.  She had them send her the quote certified check and she took it to her bank and it was fraudulent. So they send you a certified check, you cash it.

It takes a while for your bank to say this isn't legit. And then they ask you to transfer money, usually via Venmo or some other thing to the movers. who aren't really movers and so you are out the money because your bank takes back the certified check and then you have sent the actual money via Venmo and it is gone.

So, the check bounces and I know someone who has lost many thousands of dollars to this and that's just. someone who is willing to admit it. I'm sure there are other people who have lost it that are understandably not willing to share that information because they feel badly that it happened. But the other part of that scam that I want you to be on the lookout for is they will say that they're unable to talk on the phone because they have a hearing disability and that is designed to make you feel like a bad person if you question anything in the email.

 That is also a part of the scam. Please be aware of that. Just in general. If your spidey senses are going off, and I have had a lot of instances like this another one that's going to come to you is you're probably going to get some texts occasionally. I got a text the other day that was just, it felt weird, it just felt off, like the language was kind of stilted, and I just started asking questions and then the person disappeared, okay?

 If your spidey senses are going off, please, I urge you, don't ignore that feeling.  If there's a book that you want to read on this, one of the best books I've ever read in my entire life is called The Gift of Fear by Gavin DeBecker. It's a great book about, it was, it's published many years ago, but still relevant to this day.

It's about personal safety and just like using your intuition for protection. It's such a great book. I totally urge you to read it, but I am a person who, I, I am not generally scared of things. I don't walk through life scared of my own shadow, but it's a great, it's a great reminder that we need to listen to our gut not just on personal safety, but on organizing scams and all sorts of other things.

Okay. So. In general, I want you, I don't want you to be cynical because I want us to go through life and think that most people are out there doing good things, right? I know so many people in the world that are doing amazingly good things, but I want you in your organizing business to ask the questions.

There are unfortunately so many things out there. that are people trying to take advantage of us. Oh, another one really quickly before I forget is if you have your business registered like properly like as an LLC or any other legal entity, you will get a few times a year solicitations in the mail that look very official.

They look like they're from the government and they will say, Hey, you're about to lose your trademark or your LLC or your whatever. They, they scare you into thinking you're about to lose your business entity, if you do not send them 300 so that they can file it for you. And if you read the, the fine print teeny tiny at the bottom, it will say, we are not a government entity.

We're not associated with a government entity, like basically in the email or in the mail that you will get, they will say, we are lying to you. And those are another example though, of we get scared because we don't know any better. 

But please just. Ask questions, trust your gut, use your intuition, and I think you're going to be better off. All right, I feel like I have gone all over the place. I hope that someone is still listening. Totally understand if you don't though, but one of my main goals...  Is I want you to run your business and have it be a great experience.

I don't want you to have these regrets and I don't want you to have bad experiences where you go like, man, this really  took a lot of wind out of my sails. This was a really upsetting situation for me. So please be a good consumer. a thoughtful consumer and I want you to go through and not have those regrets.

Okay. So anyway, that is it for today. That's my mini podcast. And if you are interested in being a part of our community, I would love for you to be a part of it. You can email me hello at pro organizer studio. com and ask me any questions you want to. All right. Have a great day organizers.