Is The Barefoot Writer a Scam? Here’s My Review

The Barefoot Writer, part of American Writers & Artists Inc. (or AWAI), is a subscription magazine online that claims to help people like you to become a highly-paid and sought-after writer.

Their goal is to help people break free from the “starving artist” mentality, and to live the laptop lifestyle writing for cash.

But is it just another scam, or is it indeed legit? Let’s dive in!

My Review of Barefoot Writer


 Barefoot Writer website homepageWebsite: www.thebarefootwriter.com

Owner: Paul Hollingshead

Price: $49/year + upsells

Rating: 36/100

 

What is the Barefoot Writer and How Does It Work?


The Barefoot Writer is a website and magazine that helps anyone with a passion for writing become a professional writer.

The website is essentially just a sales pitch for the magazine subscription and the official Barefoot Writer’s Club, which costs $49 per year to join.

Also heavily advertised is a free report on 9 Ways to Make a VERY Good Living as a Writer.

Their free report requires your email address and name before you can access it.

Barefoot Writer's free eBook

Highly recommended:

This is the best alternative to the Barefoot Writer I’ve found: check it out.

My Experience with Barefoot Writer


Here’s my full disclosure: I am not a paying member at Barefoot Writer. However, I have dug through their free resources a bit and have done a ton of research on them.

Since their report on the 9 ways to make a very good living as a writer is free, I decided to download it to uncover the secrets inside.

Here’s what I found:

The report contained everything it promised. It showed 9 good ways to make money as a writer. However, all it did was explain what you’d be doing in each scenario, and then tell you how much money you could expect to make.

No guidance was given for actually getting into each line of work. That’s to be expected though. After all, it was a free resource intended to get you to sign up as a paying member of The Barefoot Writer’s Club.

Unfortunately, none of the 9 ways to make money as a writer were anything to write home about. There are MUCH better guides out there, including this one which lists 103 ways to make money as a writer. (You may want to check it out – lots of awesome ideas).

Barefoot Writer’s Club Complaints


There are a TON of Barefoot Writer complaints online, but real testimonials of people living the laptop lifestyle because of Barefoot Writer are hard to come by, and the ones that exist seem strangely fishy.

Let’s take a dive and see what people have to say about Barefoot Writer:

Reviews of Barefoot Writer

One user's positive experience with Barefoot Writer

Review and opinion of Barefoot Writer

Negative user review of Barefoot Writer

Barefoot Writer review

Barefoot Writer review

Critical review of Barefoot Writer

I don’t know about you, but I would definitely avoid this opportunity and spend my valuable time doing other things like…blogging!

This works great for making money online, and is a great alternative to the Barefoot Writer. I like blogging because you don’t get a set salary, rather you can essentially decide your pay by the quantity and quality of the content you put out.

Anyway, let me try to break down the Pros and Cons of Barefoot Writer so we can visualize what they’re about a little better.

Barefoot Writer Pros vs. Cons


Pros

  • They have some okay free resources available for people who want to make money writing – however, they’re not much help if you want to know exactly how to go about doing it.
  • With their hyped-up sales video and casual claims that you can make THOUSANDS with just one article, they are quite the inspiration. (Not sure this counts as a pro? lol)
  • They do offer a 12 month, 100% money back guarantee now – definitely a pro.

Cons

  • Too much hype and too many false claims
  • You can’t get any useful information without being a paid member which costs $49
  • Apparently, you’ll be hit with up-sells to the tune of $150 after paying the initial price.
  • They are selling the dream, and therefore getting a lot of attention from innocent people who just want to make a living writing. Why is this a con? Because there is absolutely no conclusive evidence that anyone has become successful and been able to live the dream due to Barefoot Writer.

Final Thoughts and My Recommendation


Barefoot Writer just looks like another one of those hyped-up products claiming you can easily make outlandish sums for rather simple writing tasks. Only the gifted writers can ever hope to be paid the amounts they claim anyone can earn.

Barefoot Writer hyped-up ad

Hype much? This is a screenshot of one of Barefoot Writer’s ads.

I would have liked to see them be a little more up-front about how exactly they operate, because as a consumer I found it a bit too confusing for my liking.

Nothing was explained very well – it was mostly just vague descriptions and bold claims.

And, I just want to put this out there:

If you have been, or you know of, someone who’s become a successful full-time writer because of Barefoot Writer, then PLEASE for the good of everyone with a slight interest in joining Barefoot Writer, write up a detailed explanation/case study with real FACTS explaining your story. I’m sure we’d all appreciate something like that!

Have you ever used Barefoot Writer? What are your thoughts on it? Feel free to leave a comment below, and if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask.

My Recommendation (The Alternative)….

I’ve done a lot of research and written many reviews of different make money online opportunities, and every single time I’ve come to the conclusion that none of them outdoes my number 1 recommendation for working from home (that’s why it’s my number 1 recommendation!).

If you want to learn how to build a successful online business and work entirely from home, definitely check it out.

Tons of people have had success following the training, but here are just a few success stories from real members (click to view their whole story):

$3000 Dollar Sale

SharaSale January success

$40,000 in One Weekend - Wealthy Affiliate Success Story

Learn More and Get Started Here

60 thoughts on “Is The Barefoot Writer a Scam? Here’s My Review”

  1. I’ve been to AWAI-sponsored events. I’ve met face-to-face the people that are giving testimonials. The reason why their names are not famous (except some in the copywriting world) is that they are copywriters, not novelists or journalists. Copywriters write the words on everything you see, from advertising to packaging to white papers to radio spots etc etc. There are assiduously tracked numbers behind their way of writing. They made mistakes along the way and yes, like any mentor, they charge for their words of wisdom to help you save time in your career. It’s a career that you get out of it what you put into it.

  2. I’ve tried it and it took my money. Don’t know how to unsubscribe. Should I cancel the card? I was thinking if it’s only a year… I have time to cancel or move on but… I can’t afford this kind of inconvenience.

  3. Signed up to get Barefoot Writer emails and all I got was constant advertising and push to have paid membership. I finally clicked the link to have them stop sending me these annoying emails. What broke the camels back as they say. Well the latest email was titled “I’m Slamming the Club Doors Shut”. That to me is a very rude message to send at a time like this – massive unemployment so who wants to pay even $49 when they’re out of work and worrying about paying rent and for food etc. The owners of this email site say they’ll tell you how to write winning emails and such. Well that was certainly not a winning email message.

  4. About to join ,but the fact that we have seen successful people in there,i choose to focus on the positive and see what i will get out of it.

  5. Cynthia Hawkins Legorreta

    Before there was the Internet, there was something called FAMOUS WRITERS SCHOOL in Westport, Conn. I took their ‘writing test’, and received a letter a few weeks later informing me I ‘possessed an excellent gift of narrative.” I still remember being 18 years old (legally unable to sign any binding contracts). Thus, when the salesman actually drove up to our house in Tucson, and talked with my father, he never even bothered to speak to me. He simply stepped back into the car and, drove away. I am now 71 years of age. I majored in English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University,. My studies included core courses such as Rhetoric/University Writing 101. Nothing can ever substitute for academic training which shapes the intellect, develops an individual’s authentic voice, and command of language in a disciplined, rigorous manner. Additionally I have had several short stories published, over the years.
    That said: it pains me to see how many poorly-schooled naive hopefuls willingly plunk down money, for ‘hints and tips’ they believe will bring them success. I remember being merely curious about BAREFOOT WRITER some years ago; it took forever to get their persistent, aggressive e.adverts off my SPAM pages.

    1. Yes, for many years before widespread internet there was a constant parade of courses on writing for children. I signed up for one and sent them a sample story page per their instructions, and was subsequently told I have a special gift for writing for children and would benefit greatly from their course. Can’t recall the price, but I suspected a scam; in the end it is buyer beware — the folks behind these great ‘opportunities’ are profiting from the sales of vaporware products and services. Imagine 20,000 folks forking over $49.00, and maybe a fifth of them or so forking over an additional $150. And the ‘company’ might consist of a couple of people living in a two-bedroom apartment with a mailbox rental.

    1. Hey Max, I noticed that nowhere in your review did you mention the fact that AWAI offers a 100 percent money back guarantee for a full year if you decide the course is not for you. I know WA doesn’t do that as I was a member there. I don’t have a bad thing to say about WA but if your going to plug WA using this review you shouldn’t leave out an important fact such as the guarantee AWAI offers.

  6. Hey Max – is it ethical to write a review when you clearly have a stake in the company you’re recommending as the alternative? Do you work for them? Because honestly, it reads like an ad for the Wealthy Affiliate. I’ve learned quite a bit from AWAI’s programs and at a reasonable price compared to the dividends it pays. Some people who take the course will NOT be successful and some will always expect everything to be free and all will complain or cry scam the moment things don’t go their way. So, take these complaints with a grain of salt as I will this review.

    1. Hi Mike,

      No course will make you successful unless you put in the required work. However, every course is not created equal. I’m blessed to have become quite successful following Wealthy Affiliate, and I know of many others who became successful following WA’s training. I’ve done a lot of research and have heard from many people about AWAI, and while you can definitely be successful following their training, it’s significantly more expensive (with all the upsells) and I tend to hear more negative complaints about their training than I do positive experiences.

      So, based both on my own experience with Wealthy Affiliate and all the research I’ve done, WA in my opinion is the better alternative. Of course, people are free to join whichever program they desire. I’m just trying to help point people in the right direction based on my research and experience.

      Hope this makes sense. Have a great day!

  7. I saw their cheesy ads full of tacky clip art from the 90s and ran the other way when I first came across their ads. There are many less expensive courses out there that are not as cheesy and dated and are short and to-the-point. The graphics have always turned me off and the name “artists and writers” makes no sense.

    I did end up taking one course through them because Gordon Graham, “the white paper guy” teachers an in-depth white paper course and he is the real deal.

    It’s a mixed bag. The inexpensive membership is there to draw you in and get you to sign up for in-depth courses. They have had a lot of reputable teachers who have taught courses for them, Ed Gandia, Jon Morrow, etc. I think they cater to an older audience who grew up with copywriting and advertizing from the Mad Men era.

    Their image is dated and romanticized to draw in the older crowd. It seems like a lot of the people I found on the Facebook group for the white paper course just keep signing up for more and more of these long drawn out AWAI courses and never really get going with freelancing.

  8. Hello,
    I just joined AWAI for their trial month of $1 and $49 thereafter. I had missed the introductory offer by a couple of days, but their customer service team responded back promptly extending the offer for me. I paid the $1 and have a full month to look around, take some of the courses and decide if I want to continue or not. I was impressed by the young woman who got back to me immediately, and I will at least give it the FREE month trial. I will bookmark your blog and keep you apprised of my progress (or lack thereof).

    I also tried “Wealthy Affiliate” and found it was not for me. WA turned out to be extremely confusing for me, but it did not appear to be a scam.

  9. Thanks, Max. I’ve been ‘watching’ my inbox for some time without subscrbing or purchasing from AWAI… Your review confirms my suspicions and provides the tipping point that ‘its not for me’, at least not at this time. One thing the emails and ads did accomplish is to make me curious about writing copy, or copywriting… whichever. I would like to know more about how to investigate both the craft and the marketing of those skills to potential clients. I’m hopingto build an income stream that will transition into retirement from my current professional career, and also provide enough income I can devote time to writing short stories and novels. Any thoughts on reputable resources?

    1. If blogging is of any interest to you, that is what I would recommend. You can earn pretty decent money through ads and affiliate marketing. If you are interested in learning more, I would recommend checking out this article.

  10. I need to thank you for writing this review. The day after I purchased the Barefoot writer package for 1 year 108$ I woke up to do some reasearch if I made the right choice.
    Soon after I discovered for myself that the information is outdated, might still work for some and doesnt give any writing training, as I hoped.
    There are millions of hours of reading material on their site, but nothing to guide a beginner in their process.
    That’s why I am so glad I clicked your link and joined WA, where they take you by the hand from start to finish.

    Another anoying thing was the emails I got from AWAI, which is actually what you buy into when you opt in for Barefoot writers. This company is one big vague, sales commercial, that ultimately don’t deliver.
    I’m going to opt-out (they have that 1 year guarantee – no questions asked policy)
    I do know I want to be a writer and improve my copywriterskills. Just not with AWAI. Waste of time…

  11. My issue is don’t lie to me to get me in the door…. don’t tell me all I have to do is pay $50 dollars if that isn’t the case. I know that nothing comes for free and a lot of people aren’t looking for free, we just want the truth. We want to know how to get started….. I need to know what I really need and if that’s $5000 dollars tell me that, so I can go on if I can’t afford it. Don’t take my last two dollars and crush my dreams. It’s wrong to do that to people, some people are looking for a way to make real money for themselves and their families, some people are using their last to make something happen and then they see that their last wasn’t enough.
    Maybe this company does work for people who have a 500 dollars to invest right away, but some of us don’t have that and we were looking for away to make a little money to invest some money and build. I’m disappointed because they aren’t honest and upfront.

    1. Yeah, sadly that’s how a lot of businesses operate…legit opportunities are often drowned out.

      Have you heard of Wealthy Affiliate? It’s what I recommend for people interested in making money online. I’ve been a member there for almost 3 years and can vouch for it’s legitimacy/honesty.

      1. Wealthy affiliate is straight up! I was a member for the last two years and will be again asap. They have great content as well as so much camaraderie amongst the members. I unfortunately did not spend as much time doing the courses (not even close) as I should have as it is amazing training. Thank you for sharing that Max as the owners of that business are two young fathers, and husbands that grabbed the bull by the horns and are helping others on a level that I have not seen before.

        Kimann

  12. Joined tbwc yesterday morning, and my payment went through immediately. However, to date I have not received any of the materials promised. Perhaps there was a posting glitch but somehow I doubt that in light of the payment clearing instantly. Am following up but may have to cancel out.

    1. That doesn’t sound good. They should deliver it to you right away as it’s a digital product…the fact that they don’t is truly concerning. Do let us know if/when you hear back!

  13. I agree with the comment made earlier that some people defending this program exhibit grammar that makes me cringe. You “didn’t understood”? That’s only one example. Apparently this program allows anyone to call oneself a writer.

    1. Mary,
      I don’t generally get involved in any forums(Ever) unless I have first hand knowledge of the actual product offered etc… However, I was researching this as I use to be pretty darn good at writing, (Decades ago) and my punctuation was perfect (need a refresher on that). Long story short… I saw the exact grammar issue that you did, but did you notice how the second paragraph was absolutely perfect? Having that particular grammar, and transforming it into perfect grammar and punctuation in the next paragraph…. Hmmmm????

  14. I agree with so much of what the others say. The sales pitch goes on and on and on. I just started and I’m by no means a professional writer so when others said that AWAI was yammering about nothing, I had to laugh to myself. I’ll try it and see what happens, but I’ll be wary. Thanks.
    Terri

  15. Do people still read?Since audio books hit, it appears that reading may be something people might do if extremely bored or in prison.
    I used to write on a site that got quite a few comments (between 10 and 85) but even that fell off and no one, except my close fans, bothered to leave feedback. Thanks for the interesting article.My head is hurting from so much reading……

  16. Thank you for the first HONEST REVIEW on AWAI!!! I paid the $49 to join, have been SPAMMED every day 3 to 5 times from day 1!! I tried this other sales pitch to get better info and it was nothing more then a yammering on and on and on SALES PITCH!!! One ad they went on about was actually written in 1995!!! Doctor Christina Northrop was on the cover…the story was not about her but the funny part was I FOLLOW HER BLOG!!! So when I saw her photo from 25 years ago, red flags went up. Then the more I research their copy the more I saw how out dated much of it was. After this blog post, I had to say something…I am asking for a FULL REFUND now THANK YOU!!!!

  17. I have downloaded a couple of AWAI’s content pieces. One thing their emails and products remind me of is the way Bob Bly used to write. Early in my career, I bought a couple of Bly’s books about making money writing and they were similar to the way AWAI writes and operates.

    I was turned off by Bly in the end because everything he wrote went on forever. He even said that the longer the piece, the better. That doesn’t fit with today’s ideas about scanning on the internet. AWAI reminds me of this in many ways. All of their emails, ebooks, etc. are extremely padded, in my opinion, and could use a dose of editing to get rid of the flab.

    However, I cannot directly address the value of the course. I have decided not to buy it.

  18. As a published writer and advocate for writers, I have learned one thing along the way – you can subscribe to every site and magazine out there, but it is still ultimately up to you to make things happen. The protocol is changing a little, self-publishing is not quite the stigma it used to be, bad writing gets published, good writing may never see the light of day, but unless you land a great agent, or get picked up by an amazing publishing house, no one holds your hand. I personally don’t think the Barefoot Writer is a scam – it’s another tool to use and make the most of it.

    1. Very true, especially for services such as online training – where quality is variable and objective. Even the best training in the world won’t help if you don’t put in the effort. Everyone will have different tastes. For me, I can’t stand the hype and am always a bit wary when negative reviews prevail and genuine success stories are so hard to find.

  19. I didn’t understood how could someone write an article wondering if (not really wondering, but strongly suggestion) “Barefoot Writer” was scam. But as soon as I read “I am not a paying member at Barefoot Writer. However…” I got it: you’re critisizing a paid service you don’t have ever tried. Nice. Let me tell you my story.

    I joined Barefoot Writer for $49/year a month ago. I could immediatly have access to 9 Bonuses (including Mark Ford’s, aka Mike Masterson, “Archytecture of Persuasion” book and some other +100-pages valuable materials), in addition to all the past issues of that magazine, private Facebook groups and forums and some special offers: for example, being a Barefoot Writer member allowed me to buy AWAI’s Accelerated Six Figure Program (AWAI’s core copywriting course) for $197 instead of $497.

    Scam? Are you serious? There’s something wrong with you, guys.

    1. To each his own. I can’t ignore the many negative reviews of paying members as well. Glad you got some value out of it though, that’s what matters! Thanks for sharing your experience!

  20. I have been an AWAI member for 6 months. Yes it is cheap to join but can get costly as you learn depending on the courses you take. They do have an unsubscribe link that does work. I am an Infinity member which gives me access to a lot of secrets in copywriting that does work and free courses that are valuable in information that is very useable. Once a year you can meet all the other writers at a convention (they are very real indeed). However the more serious they see that you are in learning the more help you will receive. Look, I paid 65,000 for my college degree and no one calls that a scam. Education is not free. I have spent $2800 at AWAI and it has been worth every penny. I have learned a lot and you can very much use this learning to make a good income.

    1. That’s awesome to hear, thanks for sharing you success! As you know, there are a ton of negative reviews as well which can’t easily be discounted. Everyone is different and will therefore by default have different experiences and opinions, even with the same thing. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  21. AWAI Online is a scam. Don’t believe any of the favorable reviews. They were all written by AWAI Online itself. Don’t even subscribe to them because your mailbox will get flooded with ‘Last chance’ offers. And you can’t unsubscribe. I’ve tried 5 times and the email just keep coming and coming.
    I can’t get rid of them.
    No reputable company pesters the public with emails that keep repeating ‘last chance’ offers.

  22. I didn’t join The Barefoot Writer Club, but I have taken some of the courses offered by AWAI and have attended some of their free webinars and here is what I’ve taken away from the experience. AWAI programs give you the copy writing basics, but don’t expect to learn everything you need to start your own freelance copy writing business just by taking a couple of their courses. Their courses require you to create actual writing samples which you submit for review and you do get an actual response from an actual member of their team not a computer. They write comments, offer suggestions, and explain to you where your copy can be improved and how to do it. However, you are going to need to do further reading and research on your own. Also, no matter what they claim about not needing to have any prior experience writing, you do need something. I co-majored in college in Elementary Education and English so it was okay for me, but if you don’t have any kind of writing background, you’re better off taking actual writing courses in an actual school. Bottom line: AWAI and Barefoot Writer can be useful resources when used in conjunction with other material, but you can’t full rely on them to launch a copy writing career.

  23. Is it not mild ironic that the most positive reviews are also the most poorly written?

    “I you do not understanding marketing”

    ” ‘Peaked’ my interest”

    ….. really?

    Enough said, I think.

  24. Thanks for your post about this company. I think you are right that all they are selling is a dream and a 6 figure one. The writing is terribly long and drawn out. It’s like being honked to death with a hammer and them telling you it’s great ! I have received about 15 emails so far which I find inefficient as well as laborious. I know they copied that template ? . Anyway I’m unsubscribing right now and going to focus on writing. All the best

    1. I have to agree. Their sales page is ridiculously long, and because of that probably doesn’t even convert well. If it is any indication as to how you’ll be learning to do copy writing, I’d steer clear – valuable copy writers can write spectacular sales copy without drawing it out so long. There are much better alternatives.

      I too unsubscribed after receiving tons of emails from them, though I continue to receive their emails in the ad section of my Gmail account….

  25. Well..at first I was excited to give this a go but now I’m back on the fence..so many negative reviews..will need to give it some more thought for sure.. too bad

  26. Well, Like Kim, I am giving it a go… I’ve been doing the research for the past few months trying to decide if I should purchase a program / module that has peaked my interest. And Indeed I have purchased a couple, for under $100 each, so not breaking the bank. Like AWAI has claimed, and is probably true for so many people like me, I’m in a rut at work and would love making another stream of income, eventually turning that into full time (copy writing) because I actually want to give it a go as a barefoot writer. The options that comes with is my hope as well. Hokey or not, I’m going to plug into their free webinars and get some insight to different topics, like how to get your first client(s), how to update your linkedin profile etc.

    I hope this is a little helpful. I love writing and would like, for now, another stream of income, and would like to see where it goes, if anywhere.

    I’m going to do more researching on Blog Writing as well. Thank you for the suggestion.

    My Best! Tracy

  27. In response to your statement that very little info from people who have tried the course, I just recently paid my $49. In the short amount of time that I have been able to access the information available have learned more than I ever thought I could learn about copy writing.
    Sure google searching can answer a lot of the questions, but if you don’t know what questions to ask how are you going to search and get helpful results?
    $49 is a reasonable amount to pay for the guidance and direction that someone who is completely new to the industry might need.
    I find it interesting that the person claiming to be getting treated with no regard is listed as anonymous maybe if he/she would say who they are someone from AWAI might actually look into it and make it right.
    The information and people I have seen and will soon be meeting who are members of AWAI are not the type of individuals who need to scam people for money.
    It’s such a shame that people feel it necessary to bash a company without having all the facts. I you do not understanding marketing or are not willing to put in the work that making money takes, no matter what you choose to do, just don’t, there is no reason for the negativity – isn’t there already enough in the world today?
    KH

    1. Hi Kim,

      Thank you very much for sharing your experience with Barefoot Writer! I’m really glad to hear it’s working out well for you. As you have probably noticed, there are tons of negative reviews of the program online, and some positive ones as well. I think like with anything, it is the perfect fit for some people, and for others it’s not, and something else will work better. My aim with this post was to reveal my findings after a lot of research on the program, and share them with those who were unsure whether Barefoot Writer was worth the money or not. To that end, again, thank you so much for sharing your experience. I am certain many will find it helpful! Wishing you continued success! 🙂

  28. Thanks for the warning. I am sure a lot of people get taken in by sites like this one, and $49 a year doesn’t actually sound like a lot to pay out.

    However, with such a vague video and training, I don’t think they would keep their customers for more than a year anyway.

    1. Yeah, $49/year doesn’t sound bad – but I’m not sure you’re getting your money’s worth based on some of the complaints. At least it’s not $250 like some sites.

      There is very little information from people who have tried the course. It’s difficult to say whether Barefoot Writer remains vague even when you’re a paying member or not.

      Have a great day Michel.

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