Honest ways don't pay off,
Honest methods of expanding your audience brings in so few people multi-billion dollar corperations know this, that they really are the only ones who can mass-afford to do this and our culture accepts what ever they do. Paid for advertising is the only "Honest" method left, and often ads will be made through "reviews". Reviews are suppose to be informative comsumer-sided points of criticism, pointing out what is good, and why people would want it, they are not suppose to be paid for but often into days world everything from videogames to guns has "reviews" that are underhandedily paid for like a advertisement without any such label, even big scale youtubers, magazines like game informer, and various review sites & articles are paid for, and it is obvious as soon as a consumer picks up the product who listened to said "Review".
Web sharing networks , posting links to partner websites or backlinking, and advertising are just a few honest ways of expanding. Here is why they don't really work.
Web sharing networks would be a network of websites that work together to promote content, this would be like instead of having adspace used by a paid for advertiser they use it for promoting another website that return promotes your website, a similar concept in old youtube days of "SUB 4 SUB" but a lot more honest about it.
Partner websites would be like me hosting this website and promoting it to another popular website I either own or promoting things like this website to my facebook, and what not. There is a underlining to this too where people use bots to post links on a mass scale on various sites such as this one.(Yes it has happened where someone did it in the comments section on various posts I made, yes I delete them). Search engines use to take in the account of backlinking.
Advertising is paid for adspace.
Now that I have explained the terms here is how they don't work:
Web sharing networks depend on a popular website promoting your website, and you promoting their website. Popular websites will only promote more popular websites so it feeds off your audience. Unless paid for advertised.
Partner websites only work if the website and feed you are posting it too is more popular than the other but then you are feeding off that website/feeds audience which is limited. Same thing can happen with magazine companies with promoting subsidies.
Paid for advertising only works so long and how much money you have. Meaning you have to spend more money and you could very well gain nothing from it. Paid for adertising also depends heavily on where your target market is and how to communicate to them, high risk possible of working but more than likely failure.
Underline, underhand methods work till discovered,
Bots are the number one methods for online content from for views, likes, shares, and even clicks.
SEO exploitation is often done this way, when people say SEO they think the description, the page tags, the title, backlinks, and honest ways of doing something but that isn't the truth of SEO often you will find dishonest botsites taking up domain names linking to other websites that mass link to the same site that contain adware, spyware, paid for ads, ransomware, and much much more. Bots are used to promote these websites, adrevenue generated from these views are used to promote these websites, and ransomware deals, and spyware deals are made for profit from these sites, which anti-virus software applications benefit from often them being behind viruses made to scare people into purchasing this software that all could have been avoided by Search engines avoiding exploits and removing links like these.
Underline methods are the darker side of the internet, from scandles to lies and deception to trick people out of their money I will be going over underhanded methods.
Scandles such as what gamergate was attempting to expose with Zoey Quinn having slept with "Gaming Journalists" to promote her text based "adventure game", and the corruption with Antia paying gaming journalists for views in-order to promote herself, and using "femism" exploiting a movement & gaming to lie and deceive inorder to promote her youtube channel. This isn't the first or last. gaming news media outlets knew about Nintendo's price fixing back in the late 80's but didn't report it because it would not only hurt them financially but they were paid off to do so, and it didn't come up until early 90's where Nintendo lost the case, after several meetings with retail store board members meetings with Nintendo exposed price fixing such as Toys'r us and various other stores. These underline deals and scandles all worked until they were exposed.
Popular youtubers have been taken down left and right after being caught using bots to spam click ads falsely which is a form of fraud, various of them now are facing the consequences of that while others continue to use bots for subs, views, likes, and sharing inorder to obtain higher view counts and "internet popularity" because by using those bots, they get real views after use because of how SEO actually works. Bots are used for litterally everything to get popular now on the web.
Gray Area works and doesn't.
Paid for Ad removal
Ad removal is the process that websites offer a ad-free experience, this by itself isn't entirely dishonest, but often what happens with this is it is used as a rail-road system, instead of labeling everything that is ads as ads they will only remove certain ads, misleading those who paid for ads to be removed. It works by misleading, and that is how so many get away with it. You pay $19.99/m||/y to a certain website and it is "ad-freeish" if you pay $59.99/m||/y then the website it all a sudden becomes "Ad-less". Now this is underhanding the adspace purchasers, charging them for adspace, then profiting from the people who would other wise not see ads as well. This is commonly done on popular websites that can afford to do it, or on websites that make so little from the ad revenue it profits them more.
Paid for subscriptions
On their own they are not bad, but often doing premium, premium+ esc.. making people pay for content is ok, but when done wrong such as making them pay for every update, every page, every image, esc... then it becomes a huge issue of underhandedness making people pay to view everything just encourages piracy, and not the paying customer pirates, the "Screw that" piratacy because it is not worth the cost.