It could save you years of frustration. It could save you tens of thousands of dollars.
Yet, it will be a hard pill to swallow for some.
This short clip from the movie Fargo illustrates how I feel about the ‘make money online' niche and some of the characters creating products and claiming to be experts:
I might play that for all the scummy marketers and change the first part to this:
“So those were the customers that you sold your ‘get rich quick' product to.. The man with $30k of debt that you said just needed your software to take his business to the next level.. The lady that said she was on anti-depressants and is prone to making rash decisions you denied a refund.. The guy who lost his job and just needed to put another meal on the table.”
Look, I believe whole-heartedly in building an internet-based business. It set me free. I've had insane health challenges and had to find a way to make it and I did. I created a course around the exact strategy that finally clicked for me. I didn't leave anything out. I put it all in there. I believe in what I created even though it's not perfect. And I know that if you believe in yourself, follow what I teach, and you don't give up, you CAN make money just like I have. And it's not the only way. I've made money a lot of different ways online.
But f you're going to do it, you have to cut through the crap. You can't face it with a weak mindset. You can't start ANY business from a position of lack. You have to believe in yourself and you have to have confidence in what you are doing and who you are learning from. I'm not saying you can't do it if you don't have a job or if you're in debt. I know you can because that's exactly what I did. Sometimes that helps quite a lot because you if it's a MUST for you, and you have no other option, you don't accept failure and you work harder. But again, if you're listening to the wrong people you're already at a disadvantage.
See, I have a different philosophy than a lot of the people that are selling products to people who are looking for financial freedom. I don't promote offer after offer just to make a dime. Honestly I didn't want to sell to the ‘business opportunity seekers' AT ALL initially, but the fact of the matter is that people are hungry for good training and the veteran marketers aren't selling to the beginners anymore, which means a lot of fake experts are doing it now. And people aren't stupid. They catch on eventually. YOU aren't stupid. But sometimes it takes time to figure out who is genuine and who isn't. Sometimes it's after you bought the product already. And it's even harder if you're just reading emails.
This post is written to try to help you tell the real from the fake. It's a quick guide pointing out some of the red flags I've seen that led me to discovering for certain that a marketer is a lying scoundrel.
This post might get me blacklisted. I don't care. I've been around internet marketing for 6 years and I feel that people need to hear this.
If you're ever feeling overwhelmed, confused, or just plain frustrated, then you've probably been led astray by someone with the qualities below.
These are not hard and fast rules. They are red flags. Together they paint a picture of someone who you're probably better off staying away from. And sometimes the person is not just an outright sociopath. Sometimes they believe what they are doing is good. Sometimes they might even know a thing or two and have something worth listening to. But that doesn't mean you should! So here's a few things to watch closely….
1. Deceitful numbers.
When I first started learning online marketing, I just took people at their word. The guys I was learning from taught me a lot of great strategies. I was making money with their strategies. So I just assumed when they said they made $30,000 in a month with a recent software or method, I should believe them. Turns out that most of the time this means gross revenue. Their profit can range from $10k to ZERO. Yeah. Turns out a lot of these guys had less freedom in their lives then I did, but that's exactly what they were selling me: more freedom. 7 figure lifestyle. They didn't put that money in their pockets.
Watch out for the way they say things. The ones that feel bad about outright scamming will sort of tell the truth. They are deceiving themselves as much as you. For instance, they will say things like “on track” to make $100,000 this year. Or “on track” to 7 figures. This means nothing to you. It's completely made up and based on what they believe they can make this year. Many times they did the math in about 5 seconds in their head and it's impossible for them to make that much money.
Keep in mind also.. they sometimes create fake screenshots or blur or mark out things that would change the perspective. They don't talk about how high their refund rates are either. Sometimes this makes a huge difference.
The truth: The people making the most money, who have real and ethical businesses, usually do one of two things:
- They do not reveal how much they make because they value privacy and know that income claims can be faked anyway.
- The honest ones that do reveal their income give you the complete break-down. Gross, expenses, net. Etc.
2. Ridiculous claims. Example: ‘You can become an expert at anything in 24 hours'
This one is so freaking stupid. I've heard it from a few different people. But one time on a call this young guy I was going to do a launch with, and create the product myself, told me to just go find something people want to learn about and create a product. This is not a new concept to me. And I'm not against doing it if it's something I'm already pretty familiar with. Here's where we butted heads. He told me “you can become an expert at anything in 24 hours”.
This is the stupidest, guru-crap ever. This just makes me mad. These are the people creating most of the ‘make money online' products. They think that knowing a little bit about a topic makes them an expert because the person buying knows little to nothing about the topic. No, that makes you a FAKE EXPERT. A con-man. You cannot become an expert at much of anything in 24 hours. You can know more than the average person in that timeframe. You can learn enough to show someone else a tip. But I promise you one thing, there is nothing about making money on the internet that you can become an expert at in 24 hours. The guy told me “you just need to share a few tips”. Really? People want to pay me a couple hundred bucks for a few tips that make them feel warm and fuzzy? No thanks.
As an example, testing a quick traffic method idea and making $50 real quick doesn't mean you're an expert at that method. It means you might be on to something, or you got lucky. But many times these guys will take that one idea and sell it to you as if it's a complete business model.
Think about it. Somebody that tells you that “you can become an expert at anything in 24 hours” probably took less than 24 hours to learn the very thing they are selling and teaching YOU.
How's that for perspective?
3. Not in business or niche long.
There are a lot of up and comers that have been in marketing for 2-3 years or less. Yet they are teaching people online marketing as if they are experts. It takes years and years of work to become an expert at marketing. I've been in marketing for 6 years and I still don't feel like an expert sometimes. I am an expert at a few things, and those are the only things I will advise people on.
Most of the time these guys will pretend to know things that they don't know. They will advise you to do things that they heard were a good idea. They have no actual experience doing them. It might be a good idea or it might not, depending on your situation. True marketers with experience know there's not really a cookie cutter approach to anything. Most of the time you just have to test to see if something will work.
Here's a little secret. Some of these “experts” paid people over $10,000 to launch products with them. They are not experts. They paid to get in the expert club. Where did they get that money? Who knows. A lot of them are young enough to still be living with their parents. They might not know what it's like to be poor or struggle financially. To work hard to put food on the table. They might be spoiled. It's one thing to build a business with hard work, blood, sweat, and tears, while trying to take care of your family and get out of debt. It's another to do it with a safety net while living with your wealthy parents.
The truth. If you're a beginner, don't learn from anyone with less than 5 years experience, and only if they've cycled once or twice. Meaning, they've made a lot of money and lost it all once or twice (I got that idea from Russell Bruson, who got it from someone else… wisdom). These people who lost it all and built it back have the right perspective. They are humble. And they know it takes more than themselves to be successful. Most of the ones still on the way up the first time have big egos and think they are invincible. Not all of them. But many of them I've met are like this.
This doesn't mean you can't learn something from these young guys. In fact I've been very impressed with some of them. They have qualities I can learn from. But I have the experience it takes to learn from them, to know whether their strategy or product is right for me and my business, and whether they are BS'ing me or not. So just keep that in mind. I learned some stuff from a young guy once and he was lying to me about quite a bit. He thought I was a beginner or stupid, not sure which, but I still learned some good stuff from him a lot cheaper than I would have from a veteran marketer (he paid someone 4x as much for the same info and relayed it to me, basically). But had I been a complete beginner (and non-techie) he would have fooled me and probably caused me to lost a lot of money.
4. Always pitching or launching new ‘unrelated' products and framing them, without any clear mission path.
This one is tricky to explain.. it's a fine line. On one hand, if you're in the experimental phase, trying to figure out what you like and what you want to do, you might like to get a lot of different offers, and check out various strategies and tools. My recommendation is to make sure whoever you are listening to and reading their emails, make sure they are providing value as well as presenting offers.
Try to avoid and unsubscribe from those always pitching a new product to you that seemingly is not related at all to anything they've sold you in the past, or they never provide any value or teaching whatsoever (including motivation and encouragement – that's value). They are probably just trying to milk their email lists for all the affiliate income they can until the customers don't respond anymore.
Many times this happens because they launched a product and affiliates mailed for them if the promised to reciprocate.
Another thing they do is “frame” an offer to “fit” with their email list. This means it's an offer that doesn't really make sense for their subscribers but they frame it in a way that will make their followers want to buy it.
There is ethical framing and unethical framing:
An example of the former is taking a general weight loss product and framing it for ‘brides-to-be'. You might add a bonus that benefits them specifically, but you are framing your marketing to get a specific type of person to buy a general product that will help them. It makes sense. It's what they are looking for.
An example of unethical framing is a little harder to explain. It's kinda like “know it when I see it”. I'll put it to you this way. I had a guy ask me to promote his Ecommerce product to my email list once. And this is how the conversation went:
So it's kinda like this: “I have this product that could make me a lot of money if I can convince my email list to buy it somehow.” Rather than this: “here's a product would help my customers a lot based on what they are doing and want to do in their businesses. It totally makes sense for me to promote it to them. In fact, I would be doing them a disservice if I didn't promote it to them.”
Keep in mind, I was not and am not against promoting an ecommerce product to my subscribers. In my message I said “currently”. I knew at the time that my subscribers had bought my product and promoting something completely unrelated would hurt their focus.
This is also a good lesson if you ever want to be an affiliate marketer and build relationships.
5. Push Button Riches
This is another typical one, but people still fall for it all the time. We want to believe there is a quick way to make all that money. Unfortunately, that's a pipe dream. Don't believe the hype. There's not software that deposit money into your underwear while you sleep most of the day and watch Netflix the rest of the day.
However, it is possible to make money at the push of a button once you have built your business in a certain way. You can build an email list. You can build local websites and collect rent on them. You can build small funnels that run themselves. This is passive income. It exists and you can build assets that give you money with doing very, very little work (and sometimes none at all!). Passive is still passive even if you work only a little, and anywhere in the world! This is one of the points of the Blue Ocean Life…
Back to my original point about these guys who promote ‘push button riches' products that are actually scams – the attitude of most of these guys is this: “somebody is going to sell them this crap because they keep buying it, so it might as well be me.” You have no idea how many times I've heard that excuse. This logic is probably the main reason for most of the problems that exist in the internet marketing community. And business in general. And, well, anything. People find a way to rationalize doing crappy things to other people and erode their integrity until it's gone. You could insert whatever you want in that sentence: “somebody is going to sell meth to teenagers because they keep smoking it, so it might as well be me”.
You are not commodities, numbers, or stats to me. You are real people. And I've been disgusted by how these so-called experts have talked about people just like you behind your backs. Most of you are people looking to find a way to achieve financial freedom through the power and connectivity of the internet. And I've been there. I know what it's like to struggle with ‘shiny object syndrome' and wondering who to trust and learn from. Responsibility works both ways. The product/service creator AND the customer.
So let me ask you…
Who are you learning from?
It doesn't have to be me. But please, take my suggestions here seriously. These are some red flags. If you see them it doesn't necessarily mean the person is a lying scoundrel. But if you notice a red flag, make a mental note and tread lightly.
Catch you on the flip-side…
PS – Remember, if you want to make a living on the internet with a real business, you need focus and consistency more than anything. You need to stop chasing
shiny objects and start building something real. That doesn't mean you don't buy products, it just means you don't chase everything. If you're in the experimental phase, that's fine. Just start developing your filter! Unsubscribe from 99% of email lists, especially if they are inconsistent, just pitching one “make money” product after another, all the time.
If you are not yet making consistent money with your online business, then the next tactic or little piece of cool software will not put money in your pocket.
It will only distract, confuse, and frustrate you further. If you are making money, those things can help you.
PPS – You can do it.