Am I on candid camera?

An actual, abridged email conversation I have been having for weeks now:

Him: Dear thebloggess, our client enjoy your post on travel. We will create guest content for you. We will pay 25 dollar for do-follow link. Please confirm within 24 hours. We are very busy.

me: Sorry, we don’t do that. Please remove me from your list.

Him: We will create more important content for you. We will pay 30 dollars. For 30 dollars you will publish our guest post with do-follow link.

me: For $30 I will go outside and yell out your link to the squirrels in my yard.

Him: Our travel posts will be enjoy by your audience. We will pay 20 dollars for two do-follow links.

me: Did you just go *down* in price? This is not how negotiating works. The squirrels will not be pleased. Seriously, please remove me from your list. I don’t even write a travel blog. Thanks.

Him: We will provide the travel content. 2 posts for 20 dollars is 40 dollars. Please confirm today.

Him: You have not responded. Please confirm our agreement.

Him: You have not responded. This is a valuable service for you and your audience. Here is good content for you and your audience. Please respond.

me: Here is a photo of Wil Wheaton collating for you and your client. Please do not respond.

Him: I am busy man. Let’s get this done today. We will pay you 35 dollars for one do-follow link in archived post. Please send invoice.

me: I will charge you $1,00,000 for a video of me explaining what “no” means. I will yell your link at the squirrels for free. Please see invoice attached: $1,00,000 for wasting both of our time. Squirrel fee waived. Payable immediately.

Him: I have receive permission to raise link price to 37 dollars.

me: Am I on a prank show? Because it’s sort of gone from annoying to entertaining at this point. You are winning me over. Price dropped to $50,000 for video of me explaining what “no” means.

Him: Let us be serious. 37 dollars is fair price. If client is happy we will continue campaign for future.

me: You’ll continue the campaign I’ve already said no to eleventy times? Marvelous! Wait, no, I mean…insane. And now it’s moved from entertaining back to annoying. This was fun but I’m blocking you. Good luck. The squirrel say hi.


Slightly related: Once or twice a year I open up my sidebar ads for people or small businesses who want to advertise their book or art or blog or instagram or whatever else you love. It’s just $100 a month for a text ad on my right-hand sidebar and they’re first-come first-served until I run out of spaces, which go fast. Email me at if you want in. Graphic ads like the ones underneath the text ads start at $300 a month depending on size and location. Go visit the people currently advertising on my sidebar because they are awesome (for real) and they keep the servers running and I adore them.

And if you have a shop or product or want to advertise something you love but don’t have the cash to do it right now then just leave a shout-out in the comments for whatever you think could do with more eyes on it. We’re all in this together, y’all.


67 thoughts on “Am I on candid camera?

Read comments below or add one.

  1. Thank you for the laugh. It’s been a shit day. I just want to curl up with my cat and make it go away. But I’m going to go out anyways and go to the pool even with my tear stained eyes. Because staying home means the person who made me feel this way wins. Going out means i win.

    (Sending you so much love. ~ Jenny)

  2. I’ve been healing from some rough dream career burnout (you know — where you finally achieve what you’ve worked for for a decade and then your mental illness gets … worse?!). One of the things I’m trying to return to cultivating is something called the Queer Grace Encyclopedia, which is designed to curate accessible, compassionate, smart, and affirming resources from all around the internet (and print books too!) on LGBTQIA+ life and Christian faith. I finally sat down last week and updated all the Indiebound links to Bookshop, so please clap for that, but I’m still slogging through 2+ years of unattended website backups, dead links, and articles not yet finished…

  3. For just $10.00, I go outside and read one of your books to the squirrels. Real good bargain. Give the money to your squirrels. It will get to me.

    You are most awesome.

  4. Last week I fire danced for some actual Travel Bloggers in town for a conference. If you had been there as a travel blogger, I would have dressed as a squirrel for you.

  5. Something I love, and you will, too, if you love really smart and funny (although a little sweary) podcasts about vampires (season 1!), fairy tales (season 2 and my favorite), and mythology (season 3!). It’s Ether & Ichor: A podcast about the stories behind stories in folklore, fairytales, mythology, and the gothic. Join us as we delve into our favourite stories and see what lurks in the shadows.

    (Right up my alley. ~ Jenny)

  6. I went from annoyed to Entertaining to annoyed right along with you, and thought those things, just as I read your comments on that!
    Never stop reading my mind Jenny. Or talking to Squirrels no matter who does/doesn’t pay you 🥰

  7. Sometimes “bite me” works like a charm. Thank you to David Letterman. I will give you 25 bucks for…. lemme think of something…..

  8. 😂😂😂 I can just imagine how disappointed you were when you realized you’d been scammed! That $30/$25 would have come in really handy!

  9. That made my day, Jenny! ❤️❤️❤️🤪🤪🤪🤪🤪🤪🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

  10. I did not go to Entertaining ^^. I went to “entertained”. Now I’ve got all the way to embarrassed, with a grammatical error in a comment to my favourite author! EEK.

    And yet… Shit happens, right? Dictating mistakes you don’t catch are OK right? We’re in this together? GULP #HandOverFace, #It’sSuchAMonday

  11. WTH is a do-follow link?

    (I DON’T KNOW. But this guy was obsessed with them. ~ Jenny)

  12. I dont run a business, but I foster homeless guinea pigs for the knoxville guinea pig rescue in Tennessee. Many people don’t know it exists, so I’m spreading the word. Adopt, don’t shop.

  13. I just sent a friend the column when you first “met” Copernicus and there was haggling in that too. Your face ;looks delicious!

  14. I know I’m bad at maths, but this person is really bad at maths!

  15. In this economy? I’d at least charge the squirrels a dollar.

    Love romance? Check out my client Abby Jimenez’s books!

  16. My husband’s artwork can be seen on Instagram: @justin_elliot_poole If you could give it a like it would be greatly appreciated. But only if you actually like it of course 😊 Thanks!

    (He’s crazy talented! ~ Jenny)

  17. You could have saved a Nigerian prince AND made millions, but you had to be difficult…

  18. Such fun! Had an hilarious back and forth with a scammer once BEFORE the internet, using real stamps and everything. Received a letter from them about how I’d won $, and all I had to do to collect it was to send THEM money. Ah. Those were the days.
    i have an etsy shop for plant litter for hermit crabs, which believe it or not is a real thing — but not a real way to make very much money. making your hermies happy, not crabby!

  19. When my grandmother died, I had her phone forwarded to me so I could personally tell people she was gone. Mostly I got people trying to sell my 80-something grandmother aluminum siding for a stucco house (in the time before robo calls). Our calls were very similar to this.

    Finally, I just decided to pretend to be an old woman and I’d say, “You’re calling to buy one of my crocheted blankets? Thank you!” and no matter how they responded and tried to steer me back, I’d talk about crocheting, blankets, did they think the first blankets were fur or wool? Probably fur because sheep weren’t domesticated yet or maybe they were? Did they know any songs about sheep? I could do it in their favorite colors but right now I had pink and purple, green and beige, or chartreuse by itself. If they could tell me their astrology sign, I could match it to that though.

    They stopped calling.

    (Love this. ~ Jenny)

  20. oh, shout out in comments. great paying attention, Em!

    I’ll be doing mostly textile art on a new blog so it’s very shiny and unused and looks like no one lives there yet, but I promise I do! I’m a long time blogger who took a bunch of time off and now I’m back because blogging is the best of social media.

    it’s and I don’t know why it’s not being a link BUT if you click my name up there it will send you there.

  21. cracking up hard core. every time i have to call any company including my work tech support i have almost the same conversation.

  22. Hysterical as usual, and thank you for the opportunity to get my blog out to more readers. It is about living, (and loving) your best life after 60.

  23. I just heard a podcast about something like this. They’re called Yahoo boys and it’s very sad. It’s the only way they can make money. Mostly it’s catfish romance but ads too.

  24. My bestie is a fledgling glass artist, and I’m super proud of her, especially since she said for years “I’m not an artist!” and I’d just laugh internally because I knew she was, she just hadn’t found her thing yet! But now she has!

    Each piece is unique and made with love (and cursing). It’s called Second Act Glass because this is her, well, second act!

  25. I’m one of those side-bar people. But I sense new opportunity.

    I happy be to pay $41 for guest post on bloggess. Much higher pay than travel deal. Good we have deal. Busy, very busy. So please post blog today. I send 3rd party, post-dated check that draws on crypto account later.

    (Ha! Are you sure you wouldn’t like me to yell at the squirrels? For you I’ll go it for free. ~ Jenny)

  26. Each time you open up ads I am sorely tempted to list my husband’s book. Then I think about the amount of time I spend each year on taxes to account for the $10 in royalties we get from smile box and sob gently into my whiskey.
    On Both Banks
    His writing can also be found at the website of the completely fictional town of Leverite, Oregon.
    Expect weirdness, you will not be disappointed!

  27. Tell them that for $37, I’ll go tell the squirrels in my yard all about them and throw in a shout-out to the opossums for free! But not the skunks. Skunks cost extra.

  28. Wow, clearly I’m not do marketing correctly. How on earth can I reach the all-important squirrel market?

    I don’t have the money for advertising right now, but I have an Etsy shop for the Disney-inspired clothing I design. Goes up to size 5X with no extra charge for larger sizes, and THE DRESSES ALL HAVE POCKETS.

  29. Sounds like your scamner was using the same grammar check version as the Vampire Brotherhood. Are they stalking you in disguise? Or is it Brad Dingleman being a nuisance again?

  30. Hi Emmy, please excuse my ignorance, I have Gay, Lesbian, Bi, and Trans friends, but don’t know what the rest of the initials are. And it’s not just those, any initials for anything throw me. It’s a glitch in the amazing thing I call my warped, bipolar, depressed, and anxiety-ridden brain I have the joy of using daily. I would love to read anything you have – website, blog, articles, Bookshop (what and where is Bookshop?) and whatever else you’ve written and compiled. I’m 67, female since birth, 68 in a few days.hope you will write back

  31. My inner chaosdragon approves your scammer-handling tactics, and wonders how difficult it would be to send scammers a package of live and healthy wild squirrels…
    My website is still in progress, but includes a pic of my judgmental cat. Also a description of the story I plan to serial post starting this August (dear gods, let the fam-drama and medical-ish pause long enough for me to finish getting things set up)

  32. Oh my my! I love messing with the scammers. Well played. Shout out to Responder #36: Rabecca – I just read Jenny’s chapter on Brad Dingelman and the Vampire Brotherhood a few hours ago. I was dying laughing (not really dying as in Vampire death nor human death because vampires don’t even die…) Thanks for the laughs.

  33. I have several comments/questions.
    1) How do you know this is a “him”? History is on your side, but do you really know it’s a “him” or are you guessing?

    2) How much money is $1,00,000. This is very important. Me being rich or not hinges on your answer. Please confirm today.

    3) You will yell things at your squirrels for $30? If you film it you’ve basically got the makings of an OnlyFans account. You could earn at least $1,00,000 per y,ear. Let’s both be serious.

  34. I would like to read more of this, but it’s ninety o’clock and I have to go to bed. As I’ve said eleventy times, mommy is so very tired. The squirrels say night-night, too.

  35. You make me laugh out loud when I need it most! Hysterical!! xoxoxoxoxo

  36. Hey Jen (and everybody!) ! I’ve been reading your blog for years! Always loved your posts. Started blogging myself, not really new to this, but I’m true to this ;). Check out my new blog, give her some much needed traffic y’all, you know how it is when you’re first starting out. Help stop the flow of tumbleweeds ;)… here’s a link to my first post:
    have a great week/weekend peoples!!

  37. This is fabulous. Popehat blog used to get those requests and he denied them using ponies. There is no “NO” in those bots vocabularies. Be well.

  38. Knowing the superstitious nature of various people I would have volleyed him with cusses/curses/hexes. Nyuk! Nyuk!

  39. Hi! I am not affiliated with The Yamac House or Rescuers Without Borders, but their situation weighs heavy on my heart. They are located in Texas. The Yamac House takes in special needs dogs and senior dogs, many are paralyzed and have other health issues. They are having an issue with a neighbor who poisoned their dogs and need funding to build a fence to keep the pups safe. They are also involved in Rescuers Without Borders, which help bring food and water to over a thousand pups that have been abandoned in a landfill and are struggling to survive. Some are mama dogs with her pups and some have serious health issues. They ask for donations through Cuddly, which vets all of the participants. If any of your readers could donate or help spread the word through social media, I know they could use the help. The people who run this organization are heroes. Any mention on social media would help. A quick google search will take you to their website. Thank you!

  40. What does it cost to leave a reply nobody reads with a link to my blog that nobody reads?

    (Very expensive in squirrel screaming. ~ Jenny)

  41. This made me laugh! I get these emails every day, wanting to add do-follow links into my content or provide me with “quality free content,” but pitched in appallingly bad English. I send a form letter back, stating my prices (high) and my rules (strict), including that I never sell do-follow links and always disclose. It’s amazing how often they come back with something like “But this is a free article! And we’ll send more free articles for you! And can’t it be a do-follow link.” No, I said no. My form letter even says it’s non-negotiable, but still …
    Anyway, here’s my self-promotion: Rachel’s Ruminations is a travel blog about independent travel to historical sites at and my other site is eventually going to have travel information for every single World Heritage site in the world:

  42. Love it! I usually just delete these emails – I think it;’s hilarious that you replied!

  43. Last offer. I will do 7 dollar for a do-follow link. Also, I have receive permission to approve big squirrel campaign. Lots future business. Please send invoice. We will send big cardboard check. Very big.

  44. This is hilarious,Jenny (as are many of the comments)! And I love checking out everyone’s Etsy shops & whatnot. I am recently retired, and so I guess my jewelry side hustle has become my main hustle. (“Hustle” might be an overly ambitious word there. It’s more like a slow meander.)

  45. How much for you to stand in my driveway and eyeball the people arriving at the airBnB I now live beside? I might consider and additional $37 if you are willing to yell random things at them.

  46. My husband had a similar interaction! A photo he shared was gaining attention and someone said he should submit to XYZ site. He did, and then was subjected to the whole “we can partner with you and grow your audience” and he was all, “I don’t pay for audience, thanks.” and finally had to block them.


  47. I’m at Decade, a coffee shop In Lawrence, KS. There is a woman working at her laptop across from me. She looks so much like you. I don’t think she is actually you. But if she is was!!!… I’d leave you alone. 😉 I love your work so much! Thank you for being the most wonderful one and only you!

    (It’s not me but I love this. ~ Jenny)

  48. I charge $12.99 to yell advertisements at squirrels. Your free squirrel advertisement yelling offers are undermining my business! I will blame my impending bankruptcy on this blog. Thank goodness my business investment was extremely low. The class to learn to speak squirrel was only $37 after I negotiated them down from $20.

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