Most online marketers privy to social media and SEO tactics as a way to make money online know the terms "White Hat" "Gray Hat" and "Black Hat." If you've never heard of these, essentially it's a spectrum of marketing ideas for businesses with "White Hat" being the most above board and "Black Hat" being, well, let's say "more creative."
Some marketers will turn their nose up at places like blackhatworld.com, which is one of the largest hubs of Black Hat marketing ideas on the internet, as they think it's nothing but bot tactics and scams. Let me tell you, after spending a few days there I can say those marketers are missing out.
Yes, bot apps are available and advertised there, but the best reason for using sites like BlackHatWorld is the one that's rarely mentioned outside of the site: The community of online marketers in the forums.
The amount of information, reviews, and tips is staggering. Lately, I've been on an Instagram growth kick so I figured this might be a good way to test the usefulness of the site for someone just looking for information and not to buy followers or likes. I went through a few posts on Instagram marketing and spent way more time there than expected, learning about tactics other Instagram marketers were using to ensure their posts were reaching the right people, how they were engaging their community, and where they were finding the best sponsorships for paid posts.
Their marketplace is also impressive, where freelancers offer their services that run the gamut from copywriting, graphics, SEO, and more (plus, yes, some apps that would make Instagram's admin team have a meltdown).
But the site is what you make of it. After playing around in their forums, I don't see BlackHatWorld as a Silk Road-esque place of ethically flexible marketing behaviors. Instead, I think of it as a resource of peer-to-peer reviews, tips, and feedback. Their community seems welcoming to people of all skill levels (I was really blown away at the lack of troll replies to threads that were obviously started by someone that had no experience in marketing whatsoever) and seems to have no problem answering the same questions over and over again. There also don't seem to be many trade secrets, at least in the threads I read. Most commenters there seem ready and willing to give out their playbook and offer advice.
If you're looking to up your online marketing game, check out the site and go in with an open mind. White hat, gray hat, and black hat options are all available there, and it's up to you how you choose to use them, if at all. But don't discount the value of the community and the vast amount of knowledge available there for free, because you'll get left behind.