Very often readers ask me for advice about starting an online business — when I started in 1994, there wasn’t anyone to ask, and I’ve learned a lot in the nearly 15 years since. Obviously one can learn some things by watching what I do, but there are others who are in the business of teaching such things, and that’s faster (and more generic).
The problem is, a lot of those in the business are fly-by-night know-nothings who will gladly take a lot of money from you, and may or may not deliver actual value for your investment.
My Own Go-To Guy
One of the guys I’ve known for many years really knows what he’s talking about when it comes to online biz. Well, “know him” isn’t really accurate: he’s an actual friend. We’ve gotten together “in real life” many times. Talked for hours over beers. My last phone call with him lasted about two hours. So I really know Paul Myers.
He used to be a very high-priced copywriter for heavy-hitting marketing types like Jay Abraham (yeah: Jay hires professional writers for those big pitch letters he sends out). Paul’s mostly retired from that now, and is concentrating on his own email newsletter that teaches best practices in online marketing.
His lessons pretty much apply whether you’re wanting to do an email newsletter like me, an e-commerce site, affiliate sales, whatever. And because he cut his teeth as a very successful writer, his stuff makes for very good reading.
I particularly like his rants at the stupid things people do in trying to make money online. I’m not sure if I influenced him, or if he influenced me, or if it’s just that we both delight in the simple joy of taking stupidity apart to show others How It’s Not Done (whatever “it” may be).
The bottom line: you don’t just learn stuff, it’s a fun read, too.
The Best Things in Life Are Free
The best part: he doesn’t charge big bucks: his newsletter is free. He makes money by finding the best products that his readers might be able to use, and offers them for reasonable prices. And, of course, if you try his newsletter out and decide it’s not for you, it’s easy to unsubscribe.
Paul recently added something cool for everyone that signs up for his newsletter: a book that distills what you “Need to Know” to start an online business. The value to someone just starting out is staggering; I even learned a few things from it, and I’ve been doing this gig since the Internet’s Dark Ages. As soon as you sign up, you get a link to download it as a PDF file — for free. Had I been smart in 1994, I would have paid $5,000 for it. Only it didn’t exist then….
Obviously, it’s also valuable to anyone who already has an online biz. The book and newsletter together? They’ll increase your odds of actually being successful online many, many fold. All for free. Tell him Randy sent you: Talkbiz News.
What Sort of Rant?
What prompted my recommendation, which I wrote on Monday for the Premium subscribers, was a great screed Paul published on Monday.
Since you won’t get it if you subscribe to the newsletter now (since it already ran!), Paul gave me permission to publish it here for you, as a sort of sample.
It is a rant, but it has a real business lesson in it. See, Paul likes to make his readers think too! It’s lengthy, but I think it’s worth it.
So with that, I host my blog’s first Guest Post.
by Paul Myers, Talkbiz News
“I hate these email opt-ins”
That is what someone just filled in as their name when signing up for this newsletter. The intent is obvious. They wanted the book they get as an incentive to subscribe, but they didn’t want the newsletter itself.
That’s fine. Hundreds of people have signed up, gotten the freebie, and unsubscribed, just in the past two weeks alone. No surprise there. It’s a known part of the business. It’s part of the cost of finding people who are serious about getting more out of life.
Besides, you never really know why any one of those people in particular chose to do that, unless they tell you. Some may have legitimate reasons.
This guy was different.
This guy told me.
Why should I ask you to spend time reading about this guy?
You’re going to run into him – a lot – as you develop your business online. You need to know how to recognize him, and how to handle him. Otherwise, he will suck time and resources from you that would be better spent doing something productive.
Like watering your driveway, or mowing the dog.
If you haven’t been at this online thing for more than a couple of years, you want to read this. Seriously. Even if you’ve been at it a long time, there’s a chance you’ll find some explanations in it that will help.
So, bear with me. There really is a point to this.
Remember: The name field in the form is clearly marked as optional. If he didn’t want to give his first name, he could have just left it out, or used a fake one. (“Herman Munster” gets this newsletter, and has for years. I’m cool with that.)
This guy was delivering a message. The message wasn’t that he objected to the price, since he paid it, at least for a while.
The message was that he objected to the existence of a price.
The absolute ultimate in scarcity thinking. Not to mention that he outsmarted himself.
In his case, I doubt that takes much.
He’s a sneaky one, this guy.
One person like him wouldn’t really be noteworthy. Certainly not worth an editorial rant.
What’s interesting is that he’s just being explicit about something that a lot of people in this business say in less obvious ways. He’s unhappy about having to “pay” for something, and his unhappiness is somehow the fault of someone else. They’re “bad” for not making him effortlessly happy.
He didn’t “pay” and then decide it wasn’t worth the price. That’s an entirely different issue, and often a legitimate one. He complained because the price existed at all.
I see people on the forums, regularly, whining and griping about having to sign up for a list, or pay actual cash money, or spend time or effort, or whatever… To get something they want.
Their reality checks have bounced.
There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.
Nothing is free.
I give you this newsletter without a financial cost, but that doesn’t mean it’s “free.” You have to spend time to read it. You have to think about the contents and how they fit with your personal goals. And you have to apply what you get from it in your business and your life.
That’s your cost.
You get something from that investment. Real improvements in your profits and lifestyle, more time for the things that matter to you, and the occasional tidbit that applies to more than just business.
Hopefully, those will all be significant returns on your effort.
My investment is the time and experience to learn the things I give you, the effort that goes into writing them, and the financial cost of the servers and miscellaneous software I use to send the emails out and deliver products.
What do I get out of it?
I try to make sure I offer paid products that will actually help you in your business. Some of you will see occasional offers as being good investments and buy them. That pays some bills.
Plus, I enjoy what I do, which pays in other ways.
Some people don’t have the money for the products yet, but the information in the newsletter helps them to move forward. Those people get to learn without spending cash, but they still have to put in the effort, or it’s a waste of time.
That’s why I like email publishing, by the way. The more advanced people get the tools to get ahead even faster, and they help make it possible for guys like me to give the information to those who are not as far along in their situations yet.
It democratizes the growth process. It lets everyone get what they need as a base, from which they can earn more, do more, and be more.
Hopefully, everyone who puts something in gets a lot more out.
That works for me.
That is, by the way, where these guys outsmart themselves.
Many of them just do it to feel like they got something over on someone. A few will grab and run, read the book, and feel a little smarter. Almost none of them will do the work of thinking that “Need to Know” requires.
Better than 90% of them will probably never read it.
Plus, they miss the other free stuff.
For instance, for those of you who signed up since the last issue and those who missed it… The 42-page report on creating an effective sales process for an online business.
It’s called, “Why Johnny Can’t Sell.” You can get that here:
Why Johnny Can’t Sell [link removed: no longer available]
That’s good stuff. When you’re done here, go read it.
Back to the Entitlement Kid.
When I mentioned this on a forum, a few people equated this guy with pirates and spammers. That’s a serious mistake.
Yes, there are sometimes overlapping attitudes among the three groups. This guy, though, genuinely believes that complete strangers are somehow responsible for providing him with effortless success and happiness. He believes that anyone who doesn’t give it to him – free, now and perfect – is actively preventing him from being a fulfilled person.
He doesn’t understand the value of your experience, skill and knowledge because he doesn’t have any of his own to compare it with.
He doesn’t value your time because he doesn’t do anything worthwhile with his.
If you don’t give this clown what he wants, he may just wander off in a self-pitying sulk. He may also start to scream and whine, accuse and malign, and generally act like he’s been abused and victimized.
He may even get self-righteous about his ridiculous demands and foolish expectations.
That’s when this guy, who should be renting space from a woodchuck, rears his head and starts to act like he’s conquered the moral high ground.
He’ll prattle on at length, with warm-and-fuzzy sounding slogans and “humanitarian” cliches, in an effort to make the evil people who make him unhappy feel some guilt over their “greed.” If you don’t know what he’s really after, you might even be tempted to feel some sympathy for his position.
He wants you to feel responsible for making him happy.
Don’t bother. This guy is incapable of more than thin, momentary pleasure. Real happiness is beyond him.
The closest he gets to happy is when he’s tearing someone else down.
It makes him feel powerful, which lets him think he’s competent, for just that little while. But then he sees that you’ve survived and are back to building something valuable, and that there are too many people in the world who enjoy life for him to tear them all down.
Most of them give up on a given target after a while. Some get obsessed, and become the virtual equivalent of stalkers. Some hide behind the game of serial-refunder.
Some find more clever ways of masquerading their real motives. They become “scam reporters” and “guru killers.”
Starting to see how this relates to you?
Do any of these guys look familiar?
One of the most common ways to spot these people is to look for any quote or comment that sounds like, “Information wants to be free.” It sounds profound, and most people don’t know how to argue the point.
They don’t know that what he’s saying is only part of the original context, and was stated by Steven Brand at a hacker’s conference some 25 years ago. Here’s the full quote:
“On the one hand information wants to be expensive, because it’s so valuable. The right information in the right place just changes your life. On the other hand, information wants to be free, because the cost of getting it out is getting lower and lower all the time. So you have these two fighting against each other.”
Very different meaning than these intellectually destitute frauds would have you believe.
The tension Brand refers to, by the way, is visible in the process I call commoditization of knowledge. I’ve mentioned it here before, so I won’t get into that again right now.
Understand that Brand doesn’t mean the word “want” literally in his presentation. He’s using it as shorthand for a natural social tendency of valuation.
Despite what the Entitlement Kid believes, information has no desires, any more than his socks do.
When these guys complain, they’re not just venting. They’re actively trying to put pressure on people, and get others to give them some degree of moral sanction.
Do not do it.
Give them nothing.
Unless you’ve got a high tolerance for bull droppings, and a well-developed ability to dismantle spurious logic, just ignore them.
Surprisingly, that is your best defense against these leeches. Don’t ignore them in the sense of not responding. Ignore them in the way that says, “You do not exist, so you have no power in my world.”
If you can’t do that, laugh at them. Or, for fun, do both.
I didn’t bother wasting any time replying to this guy. I just got a chuckle at the idea that he thought he was accomplishing something. That his message was somehow going to convince me of some unstated belief, or annoy me, or whatever.
He’s powerful and clever in his fantasy world. I’m happy to let him play there.
Pleasant dreams, Kid.
There will be times when these ‘people’ will forcibly intrude on your existence. They just don’t always have the brains needed to keep their mouths shut, and they have to announce their idiocy to the world.
This is a small percentage of any group. There are some of them reading this email right now. Some others will have it shoved in their faces in the form of forwards or other reprinting.
This next part is addressed to these tiny creatures.
To every person out there who thinks about price and ignores value, I have some advice:
If you don’t want it bad enough to pay the asked price, or if you just can’t afford it… Learn to do without.
If you’re not willing to put in the effort and investment to have a business of your own… Get a job. Or starve.
If you’re not willing to invest the attention required for healthy relationships… Be alone.
If you’re unwilling to research, read and think to improve your understanding… Remain ignorant.
Those are all valid choices.
Just don’t whine at the rest of us because you don’t have what you’re unwilling to earn.
We don’t owe you a thing.
(©2009 Talkbiz News, Inc., from the 6 April 2009 issue, reprinted with permission.)
Paul’s newsletter is highly recommended. See Talkbiz News and subscribe for free.
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