I've been following the internet marketing niche on and off for a while now so maybe thats why I have certain alarms going off in my head when I see words like:
"What’s your biggest fear and frustration?" - Seriously, that is taught in every internet marketing eBook ever made.
And emails with really long pitches that try to be overly friendly and act like we are best friends and mention things like "Tomorrow I’ll be sending you the “Internet Business Toolkit!” and "since we’ve found each other, I’ll be hooking you up with all sorts of cool stuff"
Maybe it works, but to me it just seems so cheesy after seeing the same email format and same tactics from thousands of other wannabe "internet marketing gurus".
You can fit the strategies that Michael is speaking of into a number of other businesses. In fact, I'm always surprised the lack of email strategy by tech companies.
When a user comes to your site, there are methods of introducing him to your product that isn't a hard-sell "You need this product--sign up now." You need to introduce them to your product before you make a sale.
So you can offer a giveaway that entices a user join a newsletter. Then you send interesting emails---emails that a reader appreciates being sent. The kind they actually read till the end, and think it was a good decision to read. This builds trust.
But the next step? You introduce them your product, show them why they will get a benefit from it, and then offer them the product---and because they trust you, and understand where it comes from, the user will be likely to buy it.
I'm working on something similar with RescueTime---introducing users to the product with a more story-telling angle.
Most info products leverage information asymmetry. They aren't really "products" in my mind, much closer to scams than anything else. They find ignorant people, string them along, and then sell them information that is either worthless or available for free with the vague promise of "making money online", whatever that means. In some cases the information actually has negative value because it's so wrong.
Some people DO get large checks at the end of the month running this kind of scam, but those same people also spend thousands per month on paid advertising trying to shovel people into their lead capture system. Adwords, CPM buys on shady networks, whatever works.
I don't know of, and have never seen any evidence that you can, actually make £15-25k per month in profit. They usually leave that part out. If you are selling some worthless ebook for $10, you can push plenty of them through Adwords alone, but it's not going to be free, and worthless info products don't scale well once you deplete the initial pool of ignorance. You'd be much better off with fiction, actually.
The whole of "Internet Marketing" is people pretending like they are making bank, but they have little net worth and they put in insanely long hours to walk away with very little profit. Most of that "4hr work week garbage" is the same thing.
Don't get me wrong, there's a lot of desperate people out there who will buy a $99 PDF with vague promises of "CEO income from home" and all that nonsense, but you still have to buy people. Yes, you can engineer a pyramid scheme into the program, but that only goes so far.
There are a few career people who do this professionally, but they are few and far between and they've spent decades figuring out what scams work and what scams don't. Most of the people on Hacker News want to start real businesses, that sell real products, that do real things. There are other forums out there for career snakeoil salesmen.
I have never seen an "info product" in my life that was honest, or actually added value to society. Ever. I've expensed a number of them for research throughout the years, mostly to try and get a better understanding of the dynamics behind the quasi-viral spread of these things. I've never seen a legitimate one, even successful ones by pro-scam artists, that really struck me as a worth while business venture compared to all other alternatives out there. It's only when you get into straight up fraud that it really starts to "make sense" from a profits standpoint.
What I have seen a lot of is people who look like they are doing well because their cashflow has gotten so massive. $20k, $30k, $40k+/mo is not unreasonable. But the expenses grow as well, and eventually you have to pay out or the scheme collapses. So you have the cash-flow and credit to buy a fancy car or rent a fancy house, but you can't actually ever own anything unless you cross the line and start defrauding people.
Those are the exact sort of scams I'm talking about. Lead gen to get a free PDF that then strings you along and tries to get you to buy "products" that are just fake empowerment nonesense. If you don't buy into it, they sell your info to boiler rooms. Every one of these sites look the same. Same layout, same language. It's all the same. Show me something different.
If any of these so-called products had any value, you'd be able to find them on torrent sites. That's the true test of value for a digital good at the end of the day. If it has value, people will try to steal it and share it. People look to pirate a $0.99 song, but no one looks to pirate an "info product", because the value is literally zero. Or negative.
There you go. That isn't tons of money, but it is fun.
And no one pirates info products? Seriously? Let us just say that this statement alone demonstrates you have no idea what you are talking about. Not only are info products pirated like crazy, there are even invite only societies that tend to throw money in pools to buy and then rip this kind of stuff. Don't believe me? Research it for yourself.
If you really made a 15x return from reading a couple pages, why are you here? Why don't you do it again and again? When are you buying your private jet?
Now, it's possible you did make $3,000. It's not hard to make $3,000 off of Adsense, or even as an Amazon affiliate. But you probably put in hundreds of hours of time for that 15x return. Because if you could really make $3,000 in a few hours from following some easy steps in a PDF, you'd do it over and over again.
I see plenty of people trying to participate in this stuff and fail to realize that even when they do actually turn a profit, they are making minimum wage when they factor in their own labor costs. Usually they choose not to, because it's just depressing. It's pretty easy to lie to others, but the easiest person to lie to is yourself.
That said if you are time starved (+ "cash rich") and don't want to go through all the available, cheaper resources yourself there can be a lot of value in a condensed course/infoproduct that solve your exact problem. Look at patio11's email course.
But most of these products are still absolute BS to make a quick buck.
You are absolutely right that a lot of the time ppl aren't honest about how much they actually invest into their "passive" business. (and should track it honestly).
And outsourcing to freelance writers get "high quality" content is almost always nonsense.
Just as with health issues people want a magic pill to solve their money problems. Which a lot of scammers are quick to cater to.
But that doesn't mean that there isn't a lot of advice out there, that I and a lot of other people are very happy to pay for. (for example I just bought http://saveyourself.ca/tutorials/tutorials.php (I'm working in health care).
Really, if this stuff actually was worth any amount of money, it would be much more prolific than that.
It's just condensed knowledge to improve your freelancing after all. No magic. I do doubt that # seeds/replies correlates highly with actual value. Just have a look at the top ones.
If what you offer is so vague that you have to do those silly engagement tricks, maybe it doesn't have real value.
It's not "ultimate guide" at all, it's a collection of nearly random and not at all that insightful things that in general would work if you need to execute them well. And the execution is what will make or break your business, not just "knowing" the stuff.
I didn't know they were going to publish this, but I'm impressed that they connected different ideas in my interviews and I'm curious about other ways to do that.
Do you think that 7500 words can constitute an "Ultimate Guide" on anything, let alone a subject as broad and deep as, "Building a Recurring Revenue Business from Scratch"? Do the points featured in the blog post seem to flow naturally from one to the next? If you were to ignore the title of the post and what it claims to be about, what would you think it was about after reading it?
Does it read like an essay, or like an outline?
What kind of recurring revenue businesses will this guide help to build?
I had started to write an objection to this post hours ago after following the link to Maneesh's "first passive business" and doing a little more background research. About halfway through I canceled the comment, deciding that it probably wasn't constructive and probably wasn't worth my time (or a reader's).
(Side note: I was going to go to mixergy.com to try to also make the argument that the usual content from Mixergy is far better than this, but found that I couldn't actually load the site without first signing up with an email address. I look forward to the future messages delivered to my account, firstname.lastname@example.org. I also realize that my argument would have been wrong.)
If Maneesh has been building fame and fortune online by using SEO tools to come up with subjects that $.01/word writers at http://thecontentauthority.com/ will blog about for him (it's "high quality" and "not spam", of course) and then post around the web for him so that he can make passive AdSense revenue from people directed to the ghost-written posts by Google, well ... awesome, I guess. I honestly kind of wish I could give up programming and do something like that; I certainly can't argue with his quality of life or how he's chosen to spend the money he's made exploiting a company that provides both ads and search results.
And if he's now coming up with ways to leverage his skills into enormously popular posts like, "How I quadrupled my productivity by hiring a hiring a woman to slap me", or, "How to learn a language in 90 days", or, "How to Earn $12,840 from a Single Guest Post", then that's awesome too, I guess.
And if he then writes a post that compiles a bunch of tips on building a social-media-newsletter-marketing-recurring-revenue business, then awesome, too. But, I find myself agreeing with handzhiev's sentiment that it's vague and incomplete and not polished, and I also find myself feeling like I should soon expect to see a follow-up post, "How I made $32,768 by having someone else write a guest post on my site and submit it everywhere", followed by the even more popular, "The ultimate guide to getting rich online".
Sorry, but this is really rude and immature. Andrew has put an incredible amount of effort into compiling info at Mixergy.com, apparently with the goal of gasp making money. And you can get most (almost all?) of his content, which exists nowhere else and is hugely valuable, completely free. All he's asking for is a way to contact you in the future. And yes, partly to try and convert you to a customer at some point. God forbid you should actually pay for the value you're receiving, right?
Ugh. We (developers) are the worst market.
Instead the site threw a barrier up in front of me and forbid me from proceeding at all until I gave it an email address. It went a step beyond all of the goddamnproliferatingeverywherenow lightboxes that more and more sites seem to be using lately: there was no close box, no "cancel", no "no thanks not this time". Just, "give me your email address or go away."
The day that that particular tactic is no longer considered rude and inconsiderate and Bad will be the day that I'll be done with the internet.
Believe me when I say that I was way more polite in my comment about it than my initial visceral response to it.
...Or am I not allowed to call him out on a bad move just because he's Andrew Frickin' Warner and "has put an incredible amount of effort into" Mixergy?
I would try a less snarky way to say, "he didn't give me anything", except that I already said that and you ignored it in your personal quest to annoy me.
And there's definitely some great interviews on Mixergy. The most recent one I listened to was with the female CEO of a hardware company that builds spectral analysis devices for the oil & gas industry and US Defence Department. That's worlds away from the online eBook info-product market.
If you don't care to exchange something valuable (an email address) for something worth 10x (the content on a site) - simply hit the back button.
Those same people who complain about "sales tactics" will spend the next 5 years reading about other entrepreneurs on this site, with the excuse "well I don't want to sell 'that' way, that's why no one is buying my product and I am still working a day job on the slow lane"
My background is business and I absolutely loathe those unclosable pop-ups. I love the parts of Andrew's personality I saw come through in his early videos (and the more recent ones) and I gave him my email address long ago. But every time I see that kind of behavior on the site it makes me dislike Mixergy.com just a bit more. I'm all for the sponsorships, I can understand paid content, but if increasingly annoying barriers are going to be constructed between me and the content it will eventually drive me (and whatever spending abilities I have in the future) elsewhere.
Seriously. Bookmark it. Instapaper it. Evernote clip it. However you save it, save it and read it.
Would love to see a section about what to do with your time once your business is covering all your expenses ("filling the void" type stuff)
1. Visited Russian owned Wineries in Mexican wine country (yep they have them - they are amazing)
2. Learned how to Horseback ride
3. Volunteered at an orphanage in Latin America (changed my view on business for ever)
4. Moved to Budapest for a while (amazing opera, kick ass clubs, amazing white wine, great caviar)
5. Went clubbing in Stockholm (Midsommar ftw)
6. Went clubbing in Marbella, visited amazing parts of Southern spain, loved it so much settled there (check out a kick ass co-working spot here: http://www.nidomalaga.com)
7. Went clubbing in London - was supposed to go to falconry school but blacked out - LOL just kidding....
noticed a trend here?
Read a gazillion books, caught up on TV, started writing a book, etc. Actually now I'm back on my 3rd start up 'cause I want to get into movie production - self financed. It costs at least $50 million to produce a good movie and another $50 million to market it so I need a to get to work ;)
I thought about posting some screenshots but meh, too much work.
People discounting the whole 4HWW lifestyle - it's real. But who has time to convince other people of something you know to be true...