Blog Archive

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

My newest project – Internet Marketing

Well, kind of, anyway.

If you found a link to this post somewhere (and if you did, PLEASE tell me where) and followed it hoping I could tell you How I Made 17 Bajillion Dollars Online In Just One Week And You Can Too No Really, then I'm sorry.  I don't really make any money online as far as I know.  I do henna for people at parties and such, and have a great time doing it.  My phone number is over there in the sidebar, which is pretty much the entirety of my "online" marketing.  My "offline" marketing being pretty much my business cards, and word of mouth.

So, no: not a marketer.  No articles here.  Certainly nothing to buy for $237 197 127 57 only $27.

No, what I've been doing is reading stuff online about how to become an internet marketer, and now that I've gone wallowing in the smelly end, I'm here to pass along my newly attained wisdom – mainly because I wouldn't want anyone I care about to go getting themselves smelly, either.

Gem O'Wisdom #1: Internet Marketing itself isn't actually dirty.

The phrase itself – Internet Marketing – has become associated with people yelling at you to Buy Their Stuff So You Yes YOU Can Become Wealthy.  But look at the words, and you just have "internet" – the online world and all its joys – and "marketing" – selling stuff.

And yes, anybody really can sell things online.  Have you ever run or been to a garage sale?  You don't have to be an entrepreneur to sort through your stuff, put price tags on the stuff you don't want anymore, put an ad in the paper, and open up your front yard to people so they can come shop.

Internet marketing – selling stuff online – is the exact same thing.  There are ways to go about it that anyone can follow.  You can sell potted plants online, and people do.  The one major difference between selling stuff online and selling it in the real world is that there is ONE product that is easier to get online than off.  That one product - the one big thing that you (yes, you) can give people online, that they can't necessarily get from you in the regular world – is your knowledge.

You can put together little articles where you tell people what you know about growing orchids, or knitting baby booties, or grilling the perfect steak, and you can put that out there for people to buy.  Or you can review other people's products and maybe earn a commission for that; or maybe you set up shop as an affiliate, which is simply selling other people's stuff for them and getting a commission from those sales.

See? That's not so hard.

The loud noise you're hearing about Internet Marketing is simply coming from people who are trying to sell you their product – and their product is information in how to go about making money online.

You can't really blame them – but you have to admit that people selling orchids are a lot quieter.

Gem O'Wisdom #2:  Good lord there are a lot of scams out there.

Since the biggest market for selling things online is actually in How To Sell Things Online, it's only natural that a: there's plenty of room for con artists to hide, and b: sooner or later someone will try to make a quick buck by promising you that you can make a quick buck – 'cause who doesn't want to make money without having to sweat over it?

Laws are changing, finally, so the ones that don't will eventually become harder to trip over, but the fact remains that there are a lot of offers out there that are worthless.  A really great place to hit in order to look up potential scams is I've Tried That where, as they say themselves, "we lose money so you don't have to".  They sign up for everything, run through the programs, look for customer support, try to clarify what the heck it is you're supposed to be doing for the various Great Opportunities out there, and then tell you which ones work and which ones don't.  Then they write their reviews with clarity, which I respect, and a sense of humor, which I really really respect.

My personal favorite is the one where you make money by selling products to other people telling them how to make money by selling products to other people telling them how to…. are you noticing a pattern here?  The advice actually sucks, but people pay you for it because they don't have any way to look inside the cover or listen to a sample track, the way you can with books or CDs in any reputable business, online or otherwise.  So you buy the garbage and then the only way to recover your loss is to turn around and try to sell the garbage yourself.  And maybe you do manage to sell some, so it's not a true scam because after all you did make money… but it's not ethical, that's for sure.

Gem O'Wisdom #3: The marketers have largely fallen victim to their own press.

If you ever watch The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, you've probably seen one of the ways he likes to make fun of the major news networks.  For those of you who haven't seen it, it goes like this:

Major news networks try very hard to stand out from one another and convince viewers that they are the most trustworthy source for information.  And then they turn around and all latch onto the exact same sound-bites and catch-phrases… which The Daily Show puts together into a glorious montage where you get to actually see just how thoroughly the news anchors all mimic one another.


Internet marketers do this too.  If I have to read the word "guru" or see any of the other funky acronyms like SEO, PPC, CPA, or all the rest of the vocabulary, I want to be paid for it.  Seriously.  Send me a nickel every time you make me look at one of these words in your Next Big Thing Of Internet Marketing.

Part of the reason for this is that a great many of them are hooked together in vast networks of "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours".  Let me 'splain.

Pretend I have a store.  I sell things.  I need customers to buy my things, which means I need customers to come through the door to look at my things.  In the real world I put out signs and welcome you in, show you my things, and hope that my friendliness and quality will convince you to not only buy my things, but to come back later and buy more of my things.

Online, my "store" would be a webpage, blog, or just the blurb over on EBay about the velvet Elvis paintings that I'm trying to get out of the house.  Anybody who surfs the internet could potentially walk through my door and check my things, i.e., visit my website/blog/whatever.  I'm not actually there, since it's likely that people are surfing the web at 3am, so if I'm going to interact with you at ALL, I need your email address so I can talk to you that way.  I'll offer you something free, in exchange for your address, and once I have it, I put you on my mailing list and I send you offers.

Internet marketers worship at the altar of traffic, because visitors mean potential customers, and they do everything they can to build their list of email addresses, under the logic that this means more customers they actually get to talk to.

Unless you're me, in which case you sign up for the free stuff, get the link in your email for the free stuff, download it, and then immediately get the hell off their email lists…

...because if you don't, they will send you offers.  Lots and lots of offers for things that they may or may not have anything to do with.  Offers of free stuff from their sites, offers of pay stuff from their sites, and best of all, offers of free or pay stuff from their "good friend" who just happens to also be an internet marketer.  And if you want to get the free stuff from the good friend, you will also need to sign up to join their list.  Rinse, repeat.

I have a little 5x7 notebook in front of me as I type this.  It has about seven pages of names in it, names of marketers whose lists I signed up for, so as to get their free stuff.  (I admit it, I'm poor, and I'm cheap.) Under each name I wrote down who they're connected to and making offers on behalf of – because once I got up to 300 emails over the course of a weekend, I needed to keep track of whom I was signed up with, whom they were trying to interest me in, and whether or not I had already signed up with those people.

Do you have any idea how many people are "good friends" of the same guy and are offering me the exact same package from, using the exact same wording?  My personal favorite: "I just got off the phone with my good buddy [internet marketer guy], and convinced him to let me offer this to you for free."

Funny, this guy must be really easy to convince when you realize that I got that email from five people, who have ALL just gotten off the phone with him.


The end result of all this is that the internet marketers are largely all offering similar products, with similar vocabulary, and similar assumptions about what is important – namely, traffic, building email lists, and getting noticed in the search engines.

I'm not saying these guys are scammers; in fact I think many of them are probably selling legitimate products that they really  believe in.  I'm only saying that it gets really, really repetitious, and boring, to see the same offers coming to my Inbox from several different lists.  I'm not completely sure these guys are aware themselves of just how intertwined their efforts have become.

Naturally, there are a few exceptions to all this, and if you can find them, they tend to be gems.  (Or scams, but those are getting easier to spot.) The gems are interested in helping you learn how to sell YOUR stuff, not convert you to the worship of traffic.  It's really, really easy to get sidetracked into focusing on all these things that the marketers tell you are important, when for the most part they're only important to the marketers themselves.

Let me put it another way.  If you want to learn how to sell your stuff, you'll make money eventually.  If you want to learn how to make money online, you'll focus on all the methods of selling without necessarily having anything to sell.  The gems will teach you the methods, but will keep the focus on you, and how to help you sell your stuff.

One of them I only just discovered today is a guy named Ian at Conversation Marketing.  His premise is the radical notion that more traffic is not necessarily better traffic, and that dressing up in a yellow jacket and red tie and hollering like Crazy Eddie The Used-Car Salesman may not be the best way for you to actually find a customer who wants to buy your stuff.


I've rattled on long enough about this.  If you like, I'll be happy to throw together another post where I talk about all the other things they have in common – like the wording on their sales pages, or why they all think it's necessary to price their stuff with a "7" in it.

Or, I could give you a list of who all is promoting whom; or maybe breakdown some of the basic options you have for trying to promote and sell your stuff.

Or, I could try and convince you to give me a phone call and book me, so you can buy my stuff.


1 comment:

  1. Also, stay away from the magic chocolate. It's the Tupperware of 2009.