6 Reasons I Shouldn't Blog (and Sell an ebook)

Many people are promoting a meme on why they blog and why you should blog. I thought I would cover it from the other angle.

What are the downsides of running a popular blog and selling an information product?

  1. Some people like my site design so much that they steal it. getnorthstar.com looks sharp. I have seen many other derivatives that were a bit more creative, derivatives of everything from my sales copy to graphics, to whole design.

  2. My sales letter states clearly that my ebook is an ebook. And my mini sales letter says available for your immediate download. Yet daily I get asked when it will ship.
  3. Some people wonder why I don't allow them to resell my ebook on their site for less than I sell it for on mine (commoditizing my perceived product value), and why I don't permit selling it on eBay (because people would just do it over and over again).
  4. Affiliates scrape friends content, and post it without attribution, then wrap it in affiliate banners for my site, then want to give me crap when I disable their accounts, as though they weren't doing something illegal or sketchy. Do I need terms of service that state "don't steal?"
  5. So much manual comment spam that I probably assumed some legitimate comments to have ill intent, and ended up having to remove the URL box.
  6. Public relations spam. No personalization. No originality. No value. Just pushing garbage. Daily.

I love SEO and I love marketing. But there are a couple different types of people who are drawn toward it.

  1. Those who are curious, probe and test, want to create real value and leverage the value they create.

  2. Those who want a free ride. The people who will buy your ebook and not read it, email spam you asking for links, comment spam your blog and blow up when you stop them, request feedback on how to improve their site, and then reverse charge their credit card.

The first group is where I have met so many friends and business partners, and the reason I continue to work on this site. I wish I could automatically detect members of that second group and 301 redirect them to another site.

Published: April 10, 2007 by Aaron Wall in blogs


Nate Moller
April 16, 2007 - 6:56am

I can't believe getNorthstar.com - what a joke! I can't imagine the crazy requests you must get from visitors who are trying to get something for nothing - not wanting to really do anything and make the kind of money you make. I love affiliate marketing but feel it's the MLM of the internet sometimes - people want a get rich quick scheme and when it doesn't happen, they blame you instead of taking responsibility.

Thanks for all the great information you share. I read your stuff like SI (never thought I'd being saying that 2 years ago!)

April 11, 2007 - 12:44am

you are highly regarded and very well known in the seo field (and soon, beyond) and it is almost automatic that you will come across greedy people who want to waste your time for their self interests. this issue affects me as well because the wankers upset you. regardless, you are doing a great job with the site.

April 11, 2007 - 1:25am

Concerning #6, this is why I like hittail so much. It brings honesty back into SEO.

April 11, 2007 - 1:48am

With #6 the issue is not about SEO and honesty, it is about public relations firms spamming one to bits.

April 11, 2007 - 2:51am

awesome - I aspire to one day suffer a similar fate

April 11, 2007 - 3:05am

It is difficult dealin* wit* poparatsie w*en you are famous. I want to *ave t*at problem soon.

I am still tryin to *et my * & * key fixed.

You provide excellent info so linkin* s*ould be a *ift. I am sure no link will weed t*ose people out.

April 11, 2007 - 3:17am

Just wanted to say thanks for blogging on despite all those reasons not too. I'm sure there is so much BS you encounter that it can all be a drag at times.

It's hard to imagine, when you offer so much value each week for free, and such a great deal on the book that you have so many people in that second group to deal with..

(also, I am really shocked that people are so brazen as to rip your design and copy... Pissing off a top-notch SEO is probably not such a smart idea...)

cecilia mtz
April 11, 2007 - 3:30am

Hope you don't get discouraged by all the hassle it means to maintain your site & blog. Though I never comment, I am a regular reader, I even have the google gadget on my homepage to see your newest posts. Your e-book is the best SEO tool I've ever seen and it has helped me a lot.

Patrick Sexton
April 11, 2007 - 3:42am

Howdy, Aaron, this is Pat from feedthebot.com.
One reason to consider continuing your blogging is because it inspires people. It certainly inspired me, I have posted a long overdue thank you to you on my "about" page. I am sorry I haven't kept up much, I am not always able to be on a computer.

There is a news story about to happen about me in the upcoming week or two, so my secret is about to be out. I will share it with you first.

I am a homeless guy. As in I live in a field. I do not and have not owned a computer for ten years. Much of my guideline descriptions have been written in 15 minute intervals at public libraries.

Image the chuckle I get when I receive requests from major companies asking me to consult them. (this happens once or twice a week for me).

In any case, I was introduceed to your website about the same time that I discovered several others in different fields that gave away information free and somewhere in the course of reading your blogs and enjoying other websites who put quality effort into their ventures I decided I would write a website exclusively about the webmaster guidelines. Since then, Matt Cutts, Search Engine land, and several other big hitters have linked to my site and complimented my efforts. Some have criticized me for not writing and creating more quickly. I do not own a computer, nor do I have electricity or even a roof (I have a wonderful tent though) yet I have written a website that only falls behind Google itself when a search for "Google webmaster guidelines" is performed.

Long story short, what I am saying is "shit in - shit out" can also be seen as "good in - good out" and you are the "good" that is in this wacky field of SEO and as a result of that good you are putting in, a massive amount of good is coming out.

So, thank you for that.

April 11, 2007 - 4:09am

About #6:
It's really funny how most pr companies are way worse in approaching people via email than the average site owner who has a medium sized mailing list.

Oh, and what pr companies write becomes extremely funny when they send you content for sites in a "cool" niche. "Here speaks the street!" ;)

Paris Roussos
April 11, 2007 - 4:11am

Hi Aaron,

Your talents are well beyond SEO and marketing. I am glad to see that your curiosity leads you often into other subjects. SEO helps keep you in the market and the market of ideas. Guard your heart so that you perceive well. You are in a unique position to effect positive change in many areas. Keep blogging. Paris

Hawaii SEO
April 11, 2007 - 4:24am

Hey Patrick... You need to put some ads on that website & get yourself a laptop.

No shame in living in a tent. One of my SEO friends out here in Hawaii lives in a Tree House. I think it's great.

Patrick Sexton
April 11, 2007 - 4:26am

Hello Hawaii, I used to live in Hawaii. I lived out in kalaulau on Kauai, and in Paia on Maui, and also in Honolulu for a couple of years. I saw your site and remember wondering if I knew you or not.

Mitchell Harper...
April 11, 2007 - 5:09am

I know how you feel Aaron. If it helps I've sold about 5 copies of your eBook through my affiliate link in the last few weeks using nothing but free marketing advice from my blog :)

April 11, 2007 - 8:05am

Oh get the sand out of your vagina man. I swear you have probably cultivated a pearl in there by now. You know you wouldn't trade any of it to be back on my side of the fence and broke off your @$$!

Nothing but love, and crude comments, and insults... and yea.

April 11, 2007 - 8:47am

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery...it IS a good design!

April 11, 2007 - 12:39pm

It's interesting with blogs. You put stuff out there for free and people abuse it. My blogs haven't been up for 5 minutes and already I'm swimming in a sea of pharma comment spam, plus stuff I've said has already been quoted in the press by someone far more established than me, without me getting any credit (I thought that one was quite funny).
Someone from an entirely different industry told me once that he used to feel bad about giving away information for free, because then people passed it off as their own, but then he realised that doing that meant he had to keep improving himself and keep coming up with new things nobody else had taught of before. In the end, sharing his skills made him far better at his job than he ever would have been otherwise. Obviously you don't want to give away all your secrets, but I think you manage to strike a good balance by blogging stuff that makes people think about stuff, rather than shoot yourself in the foot by giving away all your SEO knowledge for free.

Michael Goldberg
April 11, 2007 - 1:02pm

Excellent post. I did the "why I blog" thing a couple of days ago and one of the people I tagged emailed me and said that he thanked me, but he no longer blogs. He did say that he would consider writing why he did not blog. I think he was kidding, but I responded to him saying he should do that. I was somewhat suprised that he did not blog any more considering who he was. Lets put it this way, he is the co-creator of something thats booming and is directly related to blogs. Very ironic. With regards to the eBay, and price discounts, our company deals with resellers lowering the cost on ebay lower than what we were selling online for, so we basically restricted anyone from selling on eBay if they want to be involved with us.

Kyle M Brown
April 11, 2007 - 2:12pm

There is always going to be that element that is not creative or motivated enough to produce something themselves.

However, I believe that if one is sincerely working toward something productive that the rewards far far outweigh the risk everytime.

April 11, 2007 - 2:41pm

Very beautifully said. I tried to create a company one-liner

" We prioritize Business Ethics in everything we do" to catch Your spirit elsewhere (2006).

For personal immaterial rights Your list looks very promising, if issues are addressed.

Cut / paste generation of people are currently winning, but when legislation and good manners are rapidly raising I also hope those people bringing in good ideas and thinking should be rewarded.

I also know few people that have been put out of their ideas by stealing them and even publishing those ideas as books, software, products..

I support Strong id's and strong ethics ;-)

Peter Davis
April 11, 2007 - 3:29pm

I always thought the #1 reason that anyone shouldn't blog is because of the relatively low return on time invested.

Matt Siltala
April 11, 2007 - 3:38pm

Don't ever stop what you are doing Aaron. You are one of the few worthwhile feeds I actually come back to.

April 11, 2007 - 3:52pm

Peter Davis:

Surely the #1 reason should be not having anything useful and original to say? :)

April 11, 2007 - 3:59pm

The single best reason not to blog is not being very good at it.

It's a democratic medium - but there's a whole subcategory of people who fundamentally can't write for toffee. They either don't get the ethics (endless posts about company special offers - a weird kind of self spamming) can't synthesize a coherent point of view, or simply can't avoid WRITING IN CAPITALS LIKE A MORON. If someone falls into any of those categories (plus a dozen more you think of in two minutes) then they're better off out of the game.

Fortunately, Aaron, you're a first-rate writer who obviously gets a kick out of sharing his knowledge/opinions.

David Saunders
April 11, 2007 - 4:57pm

I just checked the copy of your website Aaron not as crisp as this one.

Having said that I would use this site as a "guideline" for a designer to get ideas from as it is really nice.

Consider the wankers website as flattery

Drew Staufer
April 11, 2007 - 6:07pm

I hate people who steal. It's sad to see your design other places.

April 11, 2007 - 7:20pm

Lol @ getnorthstar.com.

Aji Issac
April 11, 2007 - 8:13pm

A blog post on why I shouldn't blog ????????????? Great

April 11, 2007 - 11:49pm

well, you just ignore the spammers and keep going'

August 18, 2007 - 12:37am

I am reading seo book now and am using the information on my own site i just started www.eruptingmind.com i like how its easy to understand especially for a beginner like me. i am on the links section so i hope you don't mind me putting a link on your site! you did say links were important!

Brian Rants
April 12, 2007 - 8:30pm

Good gosh. Get North Start didn't even try to make it look like they weren't copying. Have they no shame.

April 12, 2007 - 11:08pm

You forgot #7...AOJON will hunt you down.


April 13, 2007 - 3:13pm

There are plenty of people who make a great living online without blogging. That said, it's kind of fun, right?

PS. The "301 redirect them to another site" was very funny!

April 13, 2007 - 6:20pm

Aaron, on #2 - you could buy bunch of cheap memory sticks from offshore, put your ebook on it and ship it to those who want... you can charge more for "shipped" books...

I like your info. Keep it up!


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