I’ve been doing this for four years. Thanks to multiple pivots, I’ve been at all levels of the success ladder. I’ve seen the good and the bad qualities of A-Listers and newbies alike.
There are some qualities in most digital business owners that are detrimental to our communities. Many times, we are so focused on the success of our business that we forget to focus on the next generation of bloggers.
We’ve developed habits and processes that, in many ways, do mirror multi-level marketing. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with that. However, we are relying on certain practices despite the evolution of our business models.
In this post, I’ll be talking about a few of the behaviours that really piss me off. I’m not singling out any particular person or group of people. I just believe that we should be doing a better job.
People make recommendations based on the quality of the friendship – not quality of the product.
When people talk up a product, they’ll often talk up the person involved. They’ll share a story about how the person has helped them and hint towards the possibility of you having similar success.
Really, who can blame them?
We always show our best sides to those closest to us. We’ll work with them 1-1 and be brutally honest. However being a good friend does not mean you make a good teacher.
Most people won’t check out a product by a mate. They’ll base their recommendation on blind trust. People I barely know have spoken incredibly highly of me when my product was part of an only72 sale, which freaked me out.
I think being an affiliate of a product that is presold is extremely dangerous. I know of examples where people have just gone AWOL. Where does it leave those that recommended the product?
My belief is that networking, and friendships can make affiliate marketing dangerous. People are focusing on their friends, and bottom line, rather on taking care of their community. And, because of how interconnected everything is, people won’t speak up.
People won’t make negative comments about friends products.
I’ve left two negative reviews on Amazon. In both cases, I got emails from the writer that left me guilt-ridden and upset. The second was justified as I wrote a public post about why I disliked a book.
The reality is that bloggers either have to praise or shut up. I know of someone that wrote a positive review of a product but said that it probably wasn’t right for her audience. She explained why in clear and precise terms. She got an email from the product creator expressing his disappointment.
Negative reviews can be dangerous. If you alienate one person, you risk alienating everyone else in that verticle. Heck, you risk pissing off those in complementary niches. No-one wants to piss off the big kahuna.
People won’t publicly say they’ve been ripped off.
I know of several people who won’t ask for a refund because they don’t want to risk annoying the product creator. Everyone talks, and you don’t want to be ‘that guy.’ I know so many stories, especially when a blogger went AWOL for a while and were slack in customer service. I bore the brunt of many frantic emails but I know that there were many stories left unsaid.
In one case, a (former) popular blogger would publicly bitchslap anyone who sent a nasty email. She’d reframe the situation to make it look like she was the victim. No-one would speak out as they believed they’d be next.
If you publicly speak about it, you risk annoying their fans. They’ll be sympathetic and can be mob-like when pulling people into line. Their friends will contact you privately to justify their behaviour.
Granted, I know very few cases of people directly getting ripped off. Mostly, I see cases of people being disappointed in products who are willing to write off the ‘investment’ as a loss.
The ‘anyone can be a consultant mentality’
This is often spouted by people who really, should be responsible. Yes, anyone can be a consultant. It doesn’t mean that everyone should. Some people make lousy consultants and shouldn’t be charging that much. Others can give advice that is downright irresponsible.
- Some people should have training before even thinking about offering coaching
- If your only ‘business’ has been teaching others how to start a business then you should back right off. You have no right to be teaching other types of businesses unless you have a comprehensive understanding of different business models, markets etc.
The guru effect
People are selling information for success when there only success is selling information to that audience. In many cases, they don’t have the skills to teach people for real business.
Peter Shallard wrote about this in Why being a “How-to” expert will destroy your potential. I wont rehash his advice but I like his emphasis on how it ruins innovation.
I can understand why people do this. There is so much uncertainty and risk associated with creating something new. Being a guru means you get a moderate amount of fame and regular income.
If you are comfortable with this model, fine. Just know that you risk become a one-hit wonder and having to work harder to regain your credibility.
The guru guest posting effect
This little number is a guaranteed way to make me disrespectful. Each year, there are a couple of people who are the guest post darlings. They write at all the A-List blogs and, naturally, increase their audience. They then use this ‘success’ as a selling point for everything else they do.
~Yawn. If that is your selling point, then you suck. It’s so easy to get a post on a top blog. It’s a matter of connections and understanding the audience. Guest posting success doesn’t mean you are talented at other things.
It’s easy to get caught up in the allure surrounding the guest post stars. But you know what? Each year it’s the same tactics on the same blogs. It’s dull, it’s repetitive and only the newbies think that you’re cool. Your peers are just kinda embarrassed for you.
I’m not against guest posting. I think there are a lot of people that are doing it in an intelligent manner. But the wannabe A-Listers that write guest posts about how to write guest posts make me cringe.
The student becomes the teacher
Social proof is everything. If you want to succeed as a coach, then you need examples of people that have achieved something as a result of your training.
Usually, you see a standout person. You give them extra mentoring and access to your connections. This is what people have done with me. You then use them as a case study testifying to your awesome.
The problem with this model is that your success is linked to your coach and his audience. It takes a lot of extra work to break into other verticals, so most people avoid it. People will go for the easy option to boost their success and it becomes this incestuous circle.
Listen – being a student is a great way to network and accelerate your career. I’ve done it and others have done it successfully. But it means you have to learn faster and have a higher calibre of product. If you aren’t ready for the extra work then stay small until you’ve achieved the necessary skillset.
Hyping up a product
There are two main launches going on at the moment. I see people tweeting about them, emphasizing how much the training has helped their business. In many cases, I know that these tweets are inaccurate and that the business owner is struggling.
I’m all for enthusiasm but this is wrong. Ethically, it’s wrong. Don’t do this.
Over to you.
This post may come across as a bit cranky pants but I wrote it because I think we can do better. The friendships that helped our career are the same ones that are stifling it.
We are capable of so much with our businesses. We can help so many people. We can’t if we aren’t doing the due diligence required to protect them from poor quality people and products.