How I Made $3000 This Week and You Can Too!

Actually, I didn’t. And that’s why this post matters.

MoneyMoney shot by Tracy O.

If you’ve been around the internet marketing sphere for any extended period of time you’ve seen one of these hypey, outrageous headlines. They suck you in by telling you half the story, but when you read the content, you find out one of two things:

  • You’re at a Getrichquickbank-run one page sales letter landing page. Some guru will unveil the “the secrets” of how he/she/they made $3000 each and every week, while sitting in their pyjamas reading the newspaper and eating croissants. Or drinking their coffee, rather, as these people aren’t usually sophisticated enough to appreciate French pastry. When I was at Andy Beard’s (who is a truly bright guy), I saw a badge for Rich Schefren’s crap, featuring something about a $580,000 video. Puh-leaze.
  • You’re reading a post by some legitimate author, in which case, they’re disguising the fact that they actually worked long, hard hours building up to the point where they can make $3k+ a week. Skellie (for whom I have a lot of respect for, just to be clear) wrote a post like this, albeit relating to subscribers: How To Get 1100 Subscribers in 5 Days. Here’s an excerpt:

“I had decided to be optimistic and hope for 100 subscribers in the first week. Clearly, I had underestimated the value of three factors:

  1. A loyal audience.
  2. A profile in your new niche.
  3. Connections with other bloggers.”

So if it took you a while to build up the audience, profile and connections, why did you say that it can be done in 5 days? Because sensationalism sells, and when so many people are suffering from information overload, titles like that obviously help break through the clutter.

But sensationalism is also really annoying, and a time-waster. Frequently, it can hurt your brand too, as with a certain goofball’s repeated exclamations that SEOs suck. Likewise with the search conference that, as per their website magazine ad, is inviting him to speak again (I’m pleased to say that it’s not the search conference I’ll be at). Does Jason Calacanis have anything to say that could be worth an SEO’s time?

Personally, I’m extremely turned off by these titles because I know that they’re misleading. The only reason Skellie’s got a link is because there’s some decent content there. But as part of my frustration with this tactic, the link is nofollowed. (@ Skellie: Since you regularly write quality content, let it stand on its own two feet. Your readers will appreciate it more.)

I’m speaking about my own frustration with sensationalism and similar tactics. But I’m sure many other people are sick ofCroissant seeing flamewars and ignore them too. And if my experience/opinion is at all a bellwether – and as far as calling trends, I suggested to my college economics prof that a recession was looming for 2008 back in mid-07, and I called Google’s stock dropping under $500 – many others are tired of this too.

Think about that next time you make $7538 in a day. Drink some more coffee before you click publish. Maybe even eat a croissant.

Update: Rishi gets a link to Treatment Search, and Mike Tekula gets another link for his Web Design & SEO shop.

As always, your thoughts and insights are welcome (likewise social media votes ;D), and the better ones are rewarded with dofollow links here in the post. Also, if you liked this post, check out my friend Charlie’s blog on why trust matters, and my earlier post on credibility and linkworthiness.

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Comments

  1. Amen brother.

    Comment by Matthew Peters - February 18, 2008 @ 5:15pm
  2. lol gab - down to the point against self help online snake oil sellers? The fact is that some of these strategies DO work, as much as I hate to admit it. You can sell to some people some of the time, some people all of the time, but you cant sell to all people all of the time. It’s the first two that make these tactics worth while. And the funny thing is that sometimes the strategies (including the sensationalism) are ignored in the mainstream. Take for example the SEOmoz landing page contest – the winner was surprisingly formatted in the long winded style, typical of the “ I made $$$$$ in x days” type of tactics… (http://www.seomoz.org/landing_pages/9.html)

    Comment by Rishil - February 19, 2008 @ 11:15am
  3. Gab, Rishil's right in that these strategies do work, as much as I don't care for them myself. When I see one of those long-winded, "How I made fifty bagillion dollars in a week" pages, always complete with the picture of the guy in front of his new mansion, I gag just as much as you do. The sad thing is that there is a good percentage of people out there who'll see something like this and be turned on immediately. I think the only thing we can do as honest SEOs is educate our clients and anyone else who'll listen about the realities of online promotion and money-making through a tool like a blog. It's hard work, and only those with the skill and the true belief in the information they're providing, beyond its utility as a monetizing agent, are going to see true success. It's a hard-fought uphill battle. Great post. -Mike

    Comment by Mike Tekula - February 20, 2008 @ 2:36pm
  4. This from Gab (Mike commenting for him due to technical difficulties): Hey Mike, Glad you enjoyed the post. You make a good point, and we agree on part of the solution. I think we'd do better if the industry as a whole shamed these types of things, and in particular from the legitimate people. We can't stop scammers from trying to rip people off - those folks will continue to try their luck despite whatever the community does - but we can peer pressure people like Skellie not to use these crappy headlines. ps @Rishil: Gab read and appreciates your comment, he's just having technical difficulties right now and can't comment back at the moment.

    Comment by Gabriel Goldenberg - February 20, 2008 @ 9:42pm
  5. Gab, I agree that we should freely discuss what we perceive to be misleading headlines or content as published by other bloggers. The best thing I think we can do is exactly what you've done: call out these tactics, point out what is wrong with the sort of sensational ideas and "get rich quick" methods that are being published. In short, we should publically ridicule these techniques. Skellie knows that headline is going to grab a lot of people - mainly people who haven't yet a lot of experience with blogging. The inexperienced and uninformed are out there looking for quick and easy ways to gain lots of traffic/subscribers. Skellie is filling that demand. Now, will the content following that baity headline truly deliver? That's another story. But to newcomers to the blogosphere it might seem that way, and that is who Skellie is aiming for with a headline like that. It doesn't lend much to credibility, but this kind of content simply works to attract plenty of eager readers. As long as that traffic can be monetized we're going to see this kind of headline. -Mike

    Comment by Mike Tekula - February 20, 2008 @ 11:13pm
  6. Mike, I wish I had thought of that - as long as that traffic can be monetized. I think I'm going to write something targeting those people that advertise on sites like that to have them think twice about what kind of traffic they're targeting with their CPM banners and such... Rishi, it's true that sometimes this writing works. And we agree that legit people use the style of long-ass sales letters (though SEOmoz's headline wasn't so hypey, if I remember correctly). But it's got so little value-added that it's noxious and annoying to the rest of us. Bottom line: If it's not traffic that converts into a sale (and I don't mean page views, even if you're a publisher; because the PVs are lower quality from a more newbish audience) you should not be writing this garbage.

    Comment by Gabriel Goldenberg - February 21, 2008 @ 12:49am
  7. LOL Gab I'm going to write a new book called "How You Too Can Make Just Enough Money to Pay Your Bills With My New Working-Superhard-and-Putting-Up-with- Lots-of-Grief-from-Your-Clients-and-Boss System!". Think Rich Schefren will do a JV deal with me? ;-)

    Comment by Brian - June 25, 2008 @ 8:18am

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