Illogical Overinvestment and Attachment to a Topic

Dec 31st

Outside of Danny Sullivan few people have probably read and wrote about SEO as much as I have the past couple years, but I think I am going to tune it back a bit.

I like reading the feed reader maybe once or twice a week, and just get bored / burned out if I do it much more frequently than that. I also find that trying to be the first with the news ends up meaning that I end up not reading as many books and it surely crosses beyond the point of diminishing returns.

I plan to post less often, but on average it should be better or less shitty, depending on how critical you are of my posts.

Lots0, one of my true mentors in this field, recently announced he is stopping publicly discussing SEO:

I wonder why some people think that they should receive premium service when they contact a "well known SEO" out of the blue and then ask for "FREE" advice and help.

Then, if you do give them "free" advice, then they always want to argue with you about your findings and how whatever you found can not be the problem (see above posts in this thread).

Time should have a price and a value on it. You can only help people so much before it starts to be at your own expense. Want an example?

I get pissed off when I know that people who were once friends write sales letters full of sleaze and lies to sell more bullshit, even if they are hurting the people buying their products. I have not thought of how I am going to change my sales letter yet, but it says this:

I have spent thousands of dollars developing free custom made SEO tools which are better than tools other people sell for $150 to $300 - saving you way more than the price of the book.

In SEO the tools are as important as the methodology. I hold nothing back. You get access to every SEO Tool I use and all my SEO tips and tricks.

Up until the middle of December that statement was entirely true. I spent well over $10,000 dollars creating tools that I give away. I get feature requests and lots of questions, but at least personally I can create better value for me if I don't make EVERYTHING entirely open. Some ideas just don't scale. Does that make me a bad person? No. It just means I may need to rewrite my sales letter. The only thing that is pure is ignorance.

While supporting open source and helping newbies get up to gear is cool, I am nothing but an asshole if I teach people how to make 6 or 7 figures a year and then consume all my time learning how to teach the topic without stocking away a large large nest egg myself.

I am not all about money per say, but I want it to not matter. If a sleazy company sues me I want to have enough money to be able to do nothing but laugh at them. Being as opinionated and honest as I am means that likely many sleazy or dishonest companies will end up suing me throughout the next couple years.

I may start selling SEO services to high end clients soon. I may also spend a bit more time working with friends on creating content sites. So far I have only completed two content related joint ventures, and the second one was so beautiful that it well paid beyond the losses created by the first one.

EGOL recently stated that SEO has limited value for most people:

SEO by itself is not worth a pile of beans. To have an effecive website you must have more, and that "more" is content, product, salesmanship, etc. SEO has zero value without these things.

I see SEO as a single course in a larger program such as "internet marketing". At present there are very few of these programs but the importance of them is enormous to many businesses.

I have had the chance to speak at an internet marketing MBA class, and SEO was nothing more than part of a larger course. Could it be extended? Sure. But the reality is that as search technology advances, it will get better at displaying various versions of exceptionally popular or exceptionally unpopular opinions in the results. Most people will not need to learn what will eventually become the uber complex SEO field. It will become far easier to directly manipulate people rather than trying to manipulate the algorithms.

Over at Gapingvoid Hugh recently posted tell the truth and the brand builds itself and in that spirit I thought I would post why I perhaps have overinvested so much into SEO. When I first started SEO I was:

  • nearly bankrupt

  • unemployed
  • told that I deserved to be a failure for life by the largest US employer, which even ripped up some of my work records
  • spiritually empty

After a while I got another real job, and while I liked my boss and many of the co workers there I realized that the way I am programmed means that whatever I did I was going to do far beyond what most people would consider normal, and that eventually overworking myself was going to lead to an early death due to wreckless living.

Having said all that, SEO was (and perhaps still is) my escape from all of that. But it does not make sense for me to hold onto something for too long.

If I wanted to paint a more accurate picture of reality blogging has probably made me more money than being an SEO has. I still plan on regularly updating my ebook and posting to this site, but would love to shift more toward posting what I find interesting when I feel like looking instead of trying to catch almost everything and read ALL the news.

Need an example of why knowing SEO may not be as important as some of the other things we pick up along the way?

NickW ran what was my favorite SEO site. While he did he frequently posted about how bad the blogpuppy fucktwits were. He later launched another site about blogging and sold his original site. If you look at the growth of Performancing I would guess that it will probably end up being far more successful than Threadwatch was for him because there are far more bloggers than SEOs, blogging is far more viral, and they will be easier to monetize than some of the members of ThreadWatch are.

I am going to launch a few free open source beginer level SEO tools soon. I also am going to start answering many questions I get via email publicly so that I create value for myself when I answer email questions. I am not certain if I should make a separate answers feed for that or if it should be part of the original SEO Book feed.

While some of the readers will tell you that they don't want certain things sometimes the things that are quickly rejected grow to be the most popular, so answering SEO questions right in the main feed may not be adding any noise to the SEO Book brand.

Wishing you a happy-safe-warm-fun new year full of friendship and joy,
Aaron

Published: December 31, 2005

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Comments

December 31, 2005 - 11:55am

I just want to tell you this is an excellent blog entry.

It's filled with lots of emotion and I think most of us can relate with what you're saying.

It's posts like these that got me started following blogs in the first place (is that a good or bad thing?).

Awesome!

rob
December 31, 2005 - 1:14pm

A rolling stone gathers no moss.

Nice post Aaron, loved the honesty.

Dazzlindonna
December 31, 2005 - 2:48pm

I can relate to many of the things you mentioned, Aaron, and I know that what I experience is on a smaller scale than it is for you. When what one loves becomes a burden, it is time to step back a little and find the fun again. Even if that means doing less of the things we love. Happy to see you taking care of you. Here's hoping 2006 is the best year yet for you.

December 31, 2005 - 2:52pm

Great post Aaron. SEO is certainly both fascinating and too limiting at the same time. And there is something in SEO that can stifle creativity if we let it.

I like the idea of you answering emailed questions on the blog, it gives others the opportunity to learn.

December 31, 2005 - 7:14pm

It's a bit of a bitter sweet day. I hope you earn that money so as you said, it becomes a "non-issue". I am constantly amazed by the amount you have invested into this industry on a personal level Aaron. I think your open-ness and honesty has been a draw for some of the best and some of the worst newer folks.

I definitely know how tough it is to keep from suffering burnout, and wanting to balance creating a substantial living that will allow for a comfortable future vs. helping people and giving back to the community.

The biggest frustration is definitely when you put a lot of work in and recieve zero gratitude or even attitude from someone you've given some of your time and knowledge.

I know you'll still be at it for the same reason as most of us (you love this business), but it's good to re-evaluate your goals. If you make some money, get to travel...or read outside of SEO, it inspires your creative thinking and makes your work that much better.

I don't think I've ever talked to anyone who didn't wish they'd read your book sooner, and I don't think that can be said of too much other SEO information out there.

Happy New Year, and best of luck in all your future endeavors.

December 31, 2005 - 9:53pm

Aaron, I hope you find the right balance in 2006. I've enjoyed reading your blog posts in 2005. Ironically, one of my resolutions for 2006 is to get more involved with blogging. Keep up the open source work. Your information is just as much "open source" as software tools are. Sounds like you're burning out just a little bit. If that's the case, get outside a bit more. >8-)

Blog when you want to, not because you feel you have to. People will still be interested in what you have to say, even if it's less frequent. Happy New Year!

Damjanovich Nebojsa
January 1, 2006 - 2:44pm

Thanks for sincerity! It helped my soul too.
Nebojsa

January 1, 2006 - 7:37pm

It all makes sense to me Aaron. I'm sure you're doing the right thing.

mom
January 2, 2006 - 10:03am

You are wise beyond your years. I know I am a real test of your patience when it comes to learning. Thanks with your patience. I'm so proud of you.

Louis
January 2, 2006 - 12:27pm

Hi Aaron,

FWIW, IMO:

Don't let the pest, parasites and newbies who just don't know any better rob you of your joy.

Often, it's not that we have to stop doing something -- and thus get away from certian people by doing so.

Rather it's that we need to firmly say "no" and "no more", letting the soul suckers find another host. Don't worry, they will! And don't fall prey to their ploys of trying to get you to explain yourself, justify yourself, feel guilty or whatever. F 'em. Forget 'em. And go forward without the crummy people weighing you down.

The most important factor in being able to do so is to focus on the positive stuff you like and are moving towards, not the crummy stuff in your past (i.e. stop remembering and reliving bad memories, etc.) or robbing yourself of the present by worrying when you are going to get pestered or aggravated by some pest yet again.

Eyes -- and mind -- straight ahead...then just put one foot in front of the other as you move towards a better and more enjoyable place.

Best wishes,

Louis

January 2, 2006 - 7:51pm

I am now convinced that you must be living my life.

"I wonder why some people think that they should receive premium service when they contact a "well known SEO" out of the blue and then ask for "FREE" advice and help."

This page has given me inspiration! I have come to realize that when you are at the bottom, you can only go up!

January 3, 2006 - 8:25pm

Happy New Year Aaron!

I think your strategy of focusing on SEO only has been a good one. What you need to do now is to take your brand and hire some inhouse drones as well as some good SEO's so that you can capitalise on your brand while continuing to do research and SEO speaking engagements.

If you don't have the internal wherewithal to set up such an organisation yourself, you should contract yourself out to one of your friends who does have such an organisation into a long-term joint venture where you become a partner in the company and they are able to monetise your fame and good reputation.

You are doing the right thing. You are just no capitalising on it. Stop flirting with the dark side again. There is nothing wrong with trying to make the world a better place everyday. Lots of us give you a great deal of respect for that.

Cheers, Alec

January 4, 2006 - 11:00pm

Hi Aaron,

I just wanted to say i for one, always have enjoyed the info you share with us. I havent been to your blog for over a week now and just spent the last hour catching up with all the valuable info you provide. i really liked the posing of the Q&A, very beneficial.

as i stated in a previous email, i appreciate your honesty and sincerity and always doing the right thing. thats a rarity in the internet marketing industry.

Keep up the good work,

Chris Bradley

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