I read a lot of blogs. I follow even more people on Social Media. I am very active on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. I spend an average of 2 hours a day on-line, not including e-mail and the cloud based applications I am required to use for my day job.
In short, I spend a lot of time looking at what people are doing and how they are using the internet. Quite honestly I think what a lot of my fellow authors and “social sellers” are doing is about to blow up in their face because they’re doing it wrong and it’s starting to piss me off.
The internet and social media has done a lot to democratize business. Today anyone with an idea and some time can open an on-line store and be in business for free in a matter of hours. My own on-line presence didn’t cost me a dime. After a few months I did decide I needed my own domain name so I pay a few bucks a year for that privilege but really in the grand scheme of things I haven’t paid anything to be on-line. I have 4 active social media feeds, a word press site and an e-commerce page powered by PayPal to sell my books.
And you can do it too.
But here’s the catch. The internet is set up to provide free access to information for anyone willing to take the time to look and learn. The minute you start trying to profit from you presence online you need to be aware of one key thing. Unless you are willing to invest in a physical product, that will carry some production and shipping costs, there is likely someone, somewhere online who is willing to give away what you are trying to sell. So stop hiding your “unique” information based product behind a pay wall. We see what you’re doing and we don’t appreciate it, we’ll just keep looking for a free version somewhere else, thank you very much.
E-books, On-line video courses (especially the ones about how to make more money on-line), live chats with the author etc. Snake oil, every last one of them!
The worst are the bloggers who write about how to become a better blogger. They are constantly trying to sell courses that amount to nothing more than teasers on how to buy more courses. You know what I’m talking about.
Watch this video (only $5.00, pay here), the video says, come to an evening seminar (only $500, pay here), the seminar says come to our weekend course (only $1500, plus airfare, meals and accommodation, pay here). And what do you learn after dropping all those thousands of dollars? The same thing you could have learned at your local bookstore for about $25.00. Or free at the library.
So here’s my advice for how to stop these on-line charlatans:
Number 1 – If after you add someone to your twitter feed the first thing they do is send you a note about how to buy something, especially more followers, un-follow them immediately. They probably aren’t even a real person.
Number 2 – If you go to their blog and they have a pop up about a product behind a pay wall, stop, don’t read any further. Free e-books are okay but pop up adds in general are annoying. We’ll get to your product page eventually if you show us the value of your offering elsewhere. But don’t rush us, that’s just rude.
Number 3 – If they start sending you unsolicited emails about products behind pay walls, stop, delete them immediately and subscribe. This is the equivalent of telemarketers calling you at dinner or sales people following you around the store. Just stop it!
Number 4 – If every post on their blog is really an advertisement for a product behind a pay wall, a video course or seminar, stop, delete them immediately. This is not a blog; this is a store and probably a scammy one at that.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some legitimate marketers and products on line. Almost every serious retailer and author has a web page where they sell their products and services. That’s not the problem. The problem is when you assault your audience with advertising from the start and never let up. It’s like a used car salesman who follows you around the lot chatting in your ear the whole time. This tactic went out with plaid sport coats. It’s not the 1970s anymore we’ll buy when we’re good and ready.
Most people on-line are just looking for information and a little advice, if they want to pay for something they are no different than any other customer. They want value and most of them can spot a scam a mile away.
So give the people what they want. Give them information and show them were they might be able to make a purchase if they want to and then shut the hell up. Otherwise people will leave your store in disgust never to return.