Changing Business Models

Apr 17th

So I am starting to be a bit more honest with myself about the lack of value of my current business model. My price point puts myself rather low on the value chain. As the field of SEO has grown and my share of voice has grown I have attracted far too many wankers. Many of my customers are amazing people (I have met, became friends with, and learned from many of them), but it only takes a few bad ones to sour my mood. And it isn't fair for my girlfriend to have to put up with me being pissed off at wankers. For example, in the last 5 minutes I just got the following:

a blog comment from Whaterver@hotmail.com, stating

Not the only SEO book on the planet, just check out Chapters. If your SEO book were so good, why would I have to drill down four pages in a Google search to find it? Crap

a phone call about from a customer (not my customer, someone else's) asking me about why her site designer and SEO were fighting and if there was some independent ethics verification body

a refund request complaining that my book was too good

and this comment from a prospective customer

if this book doesn't help me the way i want it (= dramatic increase in traffic as determined at my discretion --- what is my guarantee i'll get my money back?

This wanker exposure is not uncommon either. In spite of making my phone number and email address less accessible I typically get to enjoy about 10 to 20 wankers a day. Some I ignore, but even when I try to do that, these people still make my outlook on humanity and the human race a bit bleak.

The people buying PPC stuff are already looking to spend money, but many of the people who are attracted to SEO are attracted to it because they are lazy, want a free ride, and refuse to add any value to the world around them. This is exactly why the target market for a PPC book is so much nicer than the target market for an SEO Book.

As search gets more complex and changes faster (you could write a 500 page book on just AdWords, let alone organic search) my job is to push traditional marketing principals rather than SEO loopholes because that is less risky and delivers more real tangible long-term value. Also, it is hard to write a book that is fairly comprehensive, up to date, applicable to the spectrum of readers, and easy to understand. I am thinking I need to change my business model. Potential changes may include any of the following

  • selling nothing on this site (though I would still update my ebook for a while if I did this)

  • increasing price point to $299 to filter out many of the wankers
  • charging recurring fees to new customers
  • selling a recurring newsletter instead of an ebook

Not sure when I will change my business model, but the sooner the better. What would you do?

Published: April 17, 2007

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Comments

Ed Welch
April 22, 2007 - 4:04am

Hello Aaron:

Wankers are everywhere. I'm not sure if you'll be able to lose the wankers with a simple change in business models? You might lose a certain class of them - but I'm thinking you'll have an entirely new level of wankers. However, being a big fan of the content you provide - I hate to see that lovely brain of yours occupied with anything but SEO. It's clear you need to make some sort of change - but I'm thinking you might take another look at how you react to these wankers. I just don't think someone such as yourself should allow a wanker to have that much of an effect.

Dave Haygarth
April 22, 2007 - 10:21pm

Thanks for that. Hearing you describe wankers as wankers instills me with great faith. Thanks for lightening my Sunday eve. I tend to agree about the free ride bit, but as Ed said above, they're everywhere.

Chris Garrett
April 17, 2007 - 9:54pm

Well I have always said the ebook was priced too low, I would do the last three bullets (subscription product AND intro ebook) and diversify into a less problematic topic. You have a lot to offer outside of just SEO even though that is where you made your name.

Glenn Wallace
April 17, 2007 - 10:13pm

I agree wholeheartedly with your change of strategy. It seems the more I raise prices myself, the happy I become and the less grief I get from others.

Andrew Buonocore
April 17, 2007 - 10:19pm

I think you priced the ebook at a price that people were willing to pay without much consideration, which is a totally valid idea.

But think what value people get from the ebook. Does it exceed the current cost?

If so, it is underpriced.

You seem a decent guy. We have had some discussion recently over a rather negative theme so if this is giving you grief then take another look at things.

Do you have a business mentor you can go to for advice?

No price is too high to get rid of wankers!

Sander
April 17, 2007 - 10:20pm

Totally agree, the price for the seobook is too low. I've learned alot from the book and if the price would be 299us$ I'd still buy it and recommend it to every serious seo webmaster.

Shane
April 17, 2007 - 10:22pm

Elite Retreat was the final straw in convincing me to get out of anything that required me to have customers. I just don't need the headache that comes with clients and customers. I work for myself now and am immeasurably happier. It's unbelievable. What's the point of getting filthy rich if you're miserable all along the way?

Some people love dealing with them, though, and maybe you just want to whittle it down to only the best clients. So what I would do is not necessarily what you or anybody else should.

Clarke Henning
April 17, 2007 - 10:25pm

I agree that your book is priced too low and after reading it I would have paid $299 just because of the overall value it offers.

I think these are all great ideas to make your life easier. Keep up the good work!

Shawn
April 17, 2007 - 10:27pm

Hey Aaron,

I've learned that even the average webmaster who has enough cash to buy into a market can make a killing online. So paying $299 for your book is still almost too low. Anyway, you could also think of bundling it with other services. For example (most would need a higher price point): 1) a phone consultation with each one specifically about their site; 2) Including x number of directory submissions; 3) An email review of their website and a quick paragraph of what they can do 'onpage' to see better results. The options are endless. But, you've earned the respect and the follow ship to demand more than you currently do for your book. Anway, jmo..

mad4
April 17, 2007 - 10:27pm

Make your book only available by application. People have to fill in a form explaining why they want the book and you only give it to people who sound like they will make use of it.

The wankers will all no doubt say something like "I earn $2 per day on Adsense and want to know how to make $500 per day like other people". These are the people who will complain when the book fails to make them rich.

If you use Google Checkout to process payments it should be easy to only charge the successful applicants.

Blackbeard
April 17, 2007 - 10:33pm

Aaron, I've been reading your blog for over a year now and I think that while you've constantly worked to increase the value you provide, you haven't done much to increase the price of what you're selling. While that's admirable, I think you should pick a model that compensates you for the value you create over time. SEO Blackhat's forums cost $100 a month, but that creates a value for both the serious Blackhat guys as well as Quadzilla himself.

Creating yet another search forum might be a huge wast of your time, but you could consider creating a premium community(not just a forum) where it's $100 a month and that gives you access to better tools, exclusive content, the book, etc...

$100 a month would be enough that you could harvest the value your knowledge creates over time and not just get a one-time payment.

Gopi
April 17, 2007 - 10:35pm

I am always puzzled why seemingly talented guys like you, do consulting, sell conferences or worst work for others!.

Anyway back to the topic, i would suggest to maintain the price and as a tradeoff offer no customer service.

Richard
April 17, 2007 - 10:40pm

Aaron, you're a genius in many ways i.e. you have something to offer in a specific field that many others can't / won't. I love reading this blog for your new and different outlooks, and it would be tragic for me to have to go and read all the other comparitive second raters.

That said, SEObook was a little doomed from the title alone. Too narrow a remit. But you're not the only one to discover that. Most of the old-timers before you either got lumped with defunct domain names and by implication business models or hastily changed their busines models to include various aspects of marketing.

So ... business. In E-myths Revisited the author writes that a business is a means to an end. Decide what that end is, and figure out a business that will help you achieve it. A girlfriend, family, hobbies, free time, money or other resources are all good goals to want. And a really good business should free you up to do what you want. You certainly shouldn't be working 16 hrs. a day.

I'm guessing you're getting a bit pissed off with the blog / book and that there are far more intersting things that you want to be doing. Why not? There are people out there (e.g. NW) who move from project to project quite happily. I'm guessing you have enough resources behind you to try your hand at a few different ideas.

As the book is a good revenue stream and a fallback if things go wrong I'd keep the book going for a transitional period. I'd raise the price point to kill the wankers, and charge for updates. That would motivate me to write the updates. I'd also cut back on all the time absorbing areas that were burdensome, perhaps forum commitments and the like.

When business hours were down to 5-8 a day I'd know I was doing something right.

David Kubicka
April 17, 2007 - 10:40pm

Time to charge more! Perceived value is important, your ebook has the most value of any other SEO publication out there, only serious people will invest more.

Also, I hope you fire wanker customers on a regular basis, you'll be way happier. I've had to do that numerous times, and at first I didn't want to do it. But sometimes these poeple aren't happy unless they sink their claws in you and make you squirm. The funny thing is, almost every single client I've fired or turned down, comes back a few months later asking to work with you again. It's not about being a dick, it's about keeping your sanity and working with the type of people who understand the value and will pay for it without complaint.

bwb
April 17, 2007 - 10:51pm

What about doing a monthly fee and releasing new info to subscribers monthly on changing tactics and so on?

soul-healer
April 17, 2007 - 10:57pm

For a person like who lives in Pakistan and where average salary is $120/month i wont get a chance to learn if the price was way too high.

I learned alot form your book (thanks for some donation i receviced to have my hands on the book)

I am one of the person who wants to live a life of his own i dont participate in social activities and hardly few people know i am doing SEO.

By Reading your book. Now my 6 Sites are ranking in Top.10 (3 Rank No.1) for competitive Keywords The reason they are ranking because the path you showed me plus the hard work in put to develope sites.

I daily spend at least 2 hours reading blogs/forums finding information.

The value i gave to this book is priceless if you work hard. And it is useless for those who want to get rich quick.

I think you should filter your clients and accpet only those who are willing to work hard.

By setting a new price to ebook kindly keep this point in mind.

Adam Audette
April 17, 2007 - 10:58pm

You really like the word wankers, huh? ;)

Dunno if I can add a whole lot to what's been said here. I like the idea of recurring fees / subscription model for your ebook. It could be packaged in different ways to facilitate that (Eric Ward's insider thing comes to mind). Increase the price - yes that will help filter some punters - but at the same time raise the stakes for problematic customers-to-be. So if Joe Punter raises a stink about your ebook "not performing" for him or something, he's going to be more of a hassle to deal with at $327 than currently.

You need someone to get in front of these people for you. Hire a manager who can field email and phone calls. Customer service is built into your business model, whether you like it or not. And unfortunately there are a ton of wankers as potential customers.

Doing a print book would be cool, in a different model than seobook and more general marketing principles. That would widen your net to new audiences. I also think you have a good knack for eyeing trends and calling BS on the status quo. Got it - search column for NY Times! haha "Against the Wall - Aaron on Search" oh snap!

Eric Itzkowitz
April 17, 2007 - 10:58pm

First and foremost, all consultants and companies have "problem children." Don't change your business model thinking you'll be rid of them once and for all. Problem children are a part of all business. Figuring out how to minimize their impact, however, is crucial. Obviously, your current business model has had success, now it's time to re-evaluate, make changes and move forward (just like SEO).

Perhaps, you can bucketize your problem children? For example, if you find that you are having to do too much hand holding for your clients having contracts with you for under $5,000/mo, and/or are causing you too much grief, stop selling to that group.

Keep up the good work and don't let the "problem children" ruin your gig.

p.s. Make sure you find your ideal balance of work and pleasure. Doing so will allow you to be happier, but ensure you can still pay the bills. If you aren't waking up most mornings feeling stoked to start your day, BLAAAAH!

Ron Jones
April 17, 2007 - 11:01pm

Aaron, I have found your SEObook to be a tremendous value. However, as you alluded to in your post, SEO is merely a subset of Search Engine Marketing. Which, itself is a subset of a total marketing effort.

Since you began the learning process, you've no doubt learned a great deal about the parent themes of Search Marketing and Marketing as a whole.

Having said that, my suggestion would be to make the SEObook part of a larger package that covers a much broader field. How broad?... only you can answer that.

Price it in the $750 - $1200 range and include Camtasia videos that walk through some of the more technical steps.

Of course, a membership site that allows for learning and collaboration between serious students has the potential to challenge your mind and accelerate the pace of your learning more than a product which you alone maintain.

But then again...free advice is often worth what you pay for it ;)

Dominic
April 17, 2007 - 11:02pm

I reckon your ebook is priced too low too.

Al Davies
April 17, 2007 - 11:03pm

Raise that price bruddah! Also, remove the customer service and maybe just include an extensive FAQ. Check it this way boss... when someone buys an instructional book from Borders they don't read and then say... "lemme call the author and be a pain in his ass this weekend"

Patrick
April 17, 2007 - 11:11pm

I would do something/all/a combination of(?) 2-4.
Why shut your e-book down? It's a great product, after all and it allows you to make money in a very righteous way (it's a true win/win situation). You've already created it so why stop selling it, just because of 'wankers' if you can filter them out, as you said.

I have another idea, you could use in combination with the higher price (I saw something similar elsewhere):

Eliminate the refund and tell people in your copy straight up, that you don't give a refund, because you only want to deal with people who are serious about SEO and dont consider it a get-rich-quick-thing.

Potential Clients can already read the PPC chapter for free. I think, that should make up for not offering a refund (might lower the conversion rate, but if your primary goal is weeding out sh...heads, why not?).

Just try to attract a more serious audience.

I really really agree with chris, btw: Diversify into a less problematic topic.

Funny coincidence, but yesterday I was wondering, if you plan on writing another e-book/other e-books on other topics of Internet Marketing..after gaining so much (positive) mindshare through your SEO Book.

I wanted to get only into SEO in the beginning - thinking it's all about getting traffic, traffic, traffic, but you..the SEO guy ;-)..taught me through your e-book and blog, that it's best to have a more solid skillset, not just SEO. Which really got me hooked on other areas of online/general marketing.

I bet you could be successful with an e-book on general internet marketing/e-commerce..something, that's more about the business side. I mean..despite all the 'wankers' you do seem to have a loyal customer base who realizes, that your e-book is truly useful and who do think highly of you.

That is..unless I'm the only one who thinks so and all the positive (almost cheesy ;-)) comments, I read on here almost daily from people saying how much they loved your e-book are really just one person! JUST KIDDING LOL. Seriously, though you seem to have TONS of decent clients, too..just look at your blog comments.

Don't tell me you're not itching to get involved in the business/marketing side more and maybe get rid of the 'SEO (only)' image. I remember reading something along the lines 'SEO helped me get my foot in the door, but now I have bigger goals/dreams' in your e-book ;-).

I also wouldn't mind learning more about PPC from you (search-wise I've focussed on SEO so far..and I think other clients might have done the same. Actually, I got to know a guy on searchguild who had read your book, too and was looking for PPC advice on the web, too).

I used to think PPC was less exciting than SEO, but after reading your interviews with AussieWebmaster (hope I got the nick right?) and something, I was told by another SEW moderator, I can't wait to get into PPC.

Maybe as an e-book in combination with more general marketing/business stuff..? The fact, that you didn't only give advice on SEO, but also on a lot of other more generic marketing/web-stuff is maybe even what I liked most about your SEO Book.

Phheeww...hope this helps a bit.

Patrick
April 17, 2007 - 11:28pm

'Aaron, I have found your SEObook to be a tremendous value. However, as you alluded to in your post, SEO is merely a subset of Search Engine Marketing. Which, itself is a subset of a total marketing effort.

Since you began the learning process, you've no doubt learned a great deal about the parent themes of Search Marketing and Marketing as a whole.'

That's pretty much what I was saying (when I started typing there were just 2 posts LOL).

I also agree, that you shouldn't be working your behind off that much, if you don't need to do it. You seem to be making a whole lot of money from your passive income streams and this site. So why are you still working day & night (you are - or aren't you?;-)). Im like that, too sometimes..but silly as it sounds Ive learned to control my ambitions a bit..what's the point of working and making a lot of cash, if you dont have much free time left. Or to use your own expression: social rat race...

jordan
April 17, 2007 - 11:35pm

Aaron,

I would suggest hiring someone (possibly part time) to deal with all your “wankers”. That way you can address what is important in your business and someone else can deal with the “crap”. Why do you think top executives have personal assistances? It’s not to be cool but to have someone deal with the crap!

You will see many effects from doing this. The most important is building (growing) your business. This is just an element of growth in my eyes. Bring someone into your organization thus making yourself and your business more efficient. Efficiency = Growth and it seems like your at a stand still due to limited time and resources dealing with customers, products, price and so forth! This is not an element of a poor business model but an element of expansion.

P.S. I am looking for a new job!

Aviva
April 17, 2007 - 11:51pm

I think you're WAY over-reacting. It's simple:

1. Don't publish your phone number. No reason why it should be there. Email support is sufficient for your product.

2. The delete button in your email is your best friend. You probably know by now from reading the first sentence of an email whether it's from a wanker.

3. Make clear that you provide no follow up advice by email; you only provide the book.

There's no reason why customer support should take you more than half an hour per day. Only email communication and Delete. Delete. Delete. Delete.

Sands
April 17, 2007 - 11:54pm

Wankers are.

If you found a cure for Cancer they’d complain the pill tastes badly or the shot hurts.

You offer something positive and harmless in a world full of the opposite.

Ignore them and help us, we want to make peaceful , positive and fun living!

The Fresh Guy
April 17, 2007 - 11:55pm

Aaron

I must admit to not having bought your book although others rate it very highly, As for the wankers, you will always get them, they are just hazards of the trade, jealously has a lot to do with it, I know, been there and wore the T Shirt.
May be you should adopt the old saying to your book, Pay peanuts, get Monkeys, if it is as good as most say, make it more expensive, keeps the idiots and fast buck merchants away while the serious people who want to get on will still buy it.

Drop me line sometime, you have my address
Keep up the good work

Best

Joshua
April 18, 2007 - 12:14am

I agree with Adam and jordon (though he may be biased)...a decent wanker filter in the form of a secretary or customer service person should do the trick.

That, in addition to raising the price, will make headaches fade and the ones that persist, not so bad to deal with.

Matt Honeycutt
April 18, 2007 - 12:44am

I can certainly sympathize with your pain. As others have noted, you are likely to run in to "wankers" no matter what business you're in. Changing your price point is probably just going to change the names of your wankers, but there are other reasons to consider raising your price. A completely valid business goal is to maximize profit. Whatever you decide, I hope you know that there are many of us who appreciate the knowledge you share (both in the book, which I just purchased, and on your blog).

Red5
April 18, 2007 - 12:55am

Hi Aaron,

I too have read your blog for a while now and really appreciate your commentary. Thank you! My two pence: why not offer a PPC book for $ and give the SEO one away as public domain for promotional reasons? If it's free them people cannot moan, and it's a very valuable addition to the SEO library. Hey, it's just an off-the-cuff idea. Regardless, I hope you find a remedy for the wanker problem. :-)

Matthew Shuff
April 18, 2007 - 1:27am

I found your site a couple of months ago and bought your eBook for $79 because a couple of your posts were helpful, and your keyword tool was great. I found the blog to be honest and valuable, so paying $79 for the book was no big deal even though there are tons of free information and cheaper books (typically inferior). It is definitely worth the money.

You could charge more for the book I guess. I probably wouldn't have paid much more for it at the time, but it was a great book, and now I read and post in your blog. It is helpful to me, and I don't believe I'm a wanker, and I've never asked anything from you. In hindsight it is impossible for me to figure out what I would have paid before knowing how it good it was. Now, it is irrelevant because I already bought it, and you'd only be selling to new people. To get $300 for a book, I'd think you'd have to do something like Marketing Sherpa and come out with annual benchmark guides with more research. Your book is great, but there is a lot of it that is standard internet marketing theory.

Sounds to me like you're just burned out on this in particular. Money doesn't solve that problem. Either you want to sell the book or you don't. If you want to be more like Michael Gerber and show up somewhere to mass genuflection for $10,000 an hour, then...yes...you'll want to change your business model.

I don't personally care for newsletters but that's just me. Recurring fees - I don't see where that really helps you, but I'd be willing to pay for an annual update or something. I don't know, bud...I'm sure a lot of people would wish they had your problems.

I also find I get incredibly disgusted and overwhelmed by this industry. It seems like everybody is an SEO, everybody is putting one over, every company is coming up with something, and the only place they can't put ads YET is on the inside of your eyelids.

It is also interesting to note that we all (myself included) are growing ever more intolerant of customers - the people who give us money, so we can do the things we want to do. That's a pretty poor outlook on humanity as well, and I wonder if it is uniquely American.

rick gregory
April 18, 2007 - 1:50am

Hmm.. time to buy the book I guess!

You say on the bottom of this page "I offer personal advice and a 90 day unconditional 100% money back guarantee with each order."

Wow. I just would not do that. You pack information into a book AND offer consulting? For $79?

Look, all $299 will do is weed out the wankers who don't want to or cannot spend that much. You'll be left with well-off wankers. Here's what I'd do:

Leave the book at $79. No refund policy - refunds are fine for physical books where I'm giving the book back to the store in return for my money, but that's not the case here. No personal advice. Make it very clear what is in the book, what's not and what the reader should expect.

Remove your phone number. Have an email address so that people can contact you if they got a corrupted download, etc.

In other words, the book should be a product - you sell the product as is after being very upfront about the product is and what it is not.

I agree with the folks above who suggested to be ruthless with the delete button and/or hire someone to deal with this. That will be a lot easier when you promise less (no refund or personal advice) than it is now.

Finally, think about these questions - what purpose does your business serve? What's success to you? If you're making $N is that enough? More than enough? Just barely enough? Dump the stuff you don't like, replace it with stuff that you do like.

Brendan McPhillips
April 18, 2007 - 2:03am

Keep the book at a reasonable price and follow John Reed's advice:

http://www.johntreed.com/Orderform.html

Andrew Johnson
April 18, 2007 - 2:16am

Paid forum plus tools. The best way to avoid wankers is to filter them out. Put an employee between you and the customer.

Chris
April 18, 2007 - 2:25am

LOL, everybody who already bought a copy wants you to raise the price. Please wait 48 hours so I can order my copy, then increase it to $7995 so that nobody else will learn the secrets ;)

April 18, 2007 - 2:28am

P.S. You didn't completely disable the URL field? :)

jonah stein
April 18, 2007 - 2:48am

Aaron:

1. Kill off the free support, hire someone to triage the wankers and charge your normal $500/hour for anyone with questions.

Occasionally answer the good ones in your blog, like you always do.

2. Kill off the support and offer a monthly class/workshop for $999.00 for anyone who wants to get more information from you.

3. Stop trying to make other people happy (except your girlfriend and yourself).

4. Help other self-help and business guru's replicate your ebook model and make money off them.

Ask your girlfriend if she wants to join us for some drinks...

Patrick
April 18, 2007 - 3:21am

I think the reason, why Aaron is offering his phone number + some consulting, etc. is because he realized all SEO books on the market were outdated and thus wanted to pack the branding message into his e-book in as many ways as possible (I think I got that from this site's about section?).

But, I agree you dont need to do that anymore, so why not stop it..

Peter Davis
April 18, 2007 - 3:36am

I don't think it's so much your business model that needs changing as the type of "customer" you focus your energy on. Your attitude on the blog seems very different than what I saw in person.

Of course, I can't really be sure if you're really focusing on the "wankers" so much as this post (and other similar ones) seem to indicate, or if this is just another clever linkbaiting attempt.

Dave Starr --- ...
April 18, 2007 - 3:46am

I biught a $70 book in another field ... nothing to do with the Internet. It was so good I emailed the author a testimonial ... which he asked (and I granted) permission to use in his next book. Adn he added a URL for one of my web sites.

Even as just one of 6 or 8 testimonal providers you could not believe the number and tone of calls I got (contact number on my site) .... well golly I don't know if I should spend that much ... well try it and see, he offers a money back guarantee ... ok, but it's still a lot of money .... on and on. I knew then and there that writing any kind of a tech book, paper or ebook was never gonna be one of my business efforts. There are some really, really dumb (and damn rude) people out there.

Now, as to your business model, Aaron ... if you truly have the SEO talent everyone seems to credit you with .. and I have no reason to doubt it ... you are already wasting your time selling books to "wankers".

As just 0one example. lok at John Chow's rise to the Google first page .. he doesn't sell any books or take any phone calls ... he just (by more otr less brute force) put his blog at the top of Google and $7,000 plus per month rolls in ... selling retail is not where it is at.

mblair
April 18, 2007 - 3:55am

Since it sounds like the wankers (like the spammers last week) are the impetus for what's been getting you down, why not start by hiring a part-time personal assistant as several have mentioned above? It seems that you could script the responses to those kind of problems pretty easily and get someone to help you out.

An assistant helping with the more mundane stuff can make a big difference.

Then once that's under control, you can take a fresh look at your business model and decide what you really want to do with it when you have a clear head. I personally would want to get to a point of some peace before I retooled my business model.

From the outside looking in, I would probably drop the refund policy though :-) I'm sure that helped a lot starting out, but your reputation is solid enough now that you don't need it. Personally, I look at your book and can't imagine someone wanting a refund unless they intended to ask for one in the first place...

Mitchell Harper
April 18, 2007 - 5:09am

Awesome post Aaron. I agree with a lot of the comments here - mainly about bundling your eBook with other value-added products/services such as a phone call or related eBooks.

I've shared my extended opinion (as usual) over on my blog - feel free to tell me what you think:

http://www.harpzon.com/articles/201/1/Monetizing-a-Blog-Without-Using-Ad...

Cheers mate :)

Alex
April 18, 2007 - 5:10am

Hi Aaron,
Having spent a little time with you at the Elite Retreat, and just knowing how people on the internet work, I completely understand what you are saying about wankers.

But I want to point something out to you. We bought your SEOBook, and your advertisement specifically states the following:

"P.S. Remember, you will receive free ongoing updates as the search engine algorithms continue to evolve, including the very latest developments for 2007 and beyond. Don’t waste your time and money on anything less, get SEO Book today!"

As long as all customers that have paid (including myself) continue to get free updates as promised, I applaud you in your move and will support you 100% in doing so.

The only way to get rid of all the wankers is to stop doing business on the internet or only accept high profile clients (i.e. filter out the riff raff with your price point, like a $299 point would do).

Another idea - What about just hiring a personal assistant to deal with them?

Cygnus
April 18, 2007 - 5:29am

On one hand I feel for you, and on the other I'm excited that you get the opportunity to reinvent yourself a bit.

You touched upon two pieces that I think you could probably do, simultaneously increasing revenue and cutting down on the demands for your time [since you can easily charge $500/hr, allow that to factor in to your decision on how much time you want to deal with the wankage more than the duty you likely feel given your history with this site]:
1. Increase the price of the ebook (is $299 too high, too low...gotta test); for purchasers of the ebook, #2 would be free.
2. Build that newsletter from your existing customer base and invite people to join at a reasonable rate, like $29.99/mo -- if you posted information to the newsletter rather than this site, the newsletter would be worth it to a lot of your readership. You could use the domain itself to fuel sales of the ebook itself.

I'm going to be in San Fran next week for Adtech if you want to chat a bit about directions you could take...lots of fun stuff I could see you doing.

Take care.
Cygnus

WShealy
April 18, 2007 - 5:51am

Aaron:
Sounds like today would be a good day for a little guy to say thank you. I just gladly paid for your book knowing it will help my small site. I have been reading your post here and recently elsewhere especially problogger. I really appreciate your work. Maybe offer other services or packages. I would hope you would always have something the little site can afford. I could never afford to pay you what your work is really worth. Your book is priceless. Thank you!!!
W

Kirby
April 18, 2007 - 6:42am

Hi Aaron,

Some great points in this thread, but none better than "...a business is a means to an end. Decide what that end is, and figure out a business that will help you achieve it."

At the very least, drop the refund and support to eliminate a few of the wankers while you figure out what works for you.

Best of luck.

Brent Crouch
April 18, 2007 - 8:04am

Glad to hear that wankers are interested in SEO products. I sell a dvd wholesale list at http://www.jillianentertainment.com. I don't have near the volume of visitors / customers as you do, but I still deal with at least 2 - 3 wankers a day.

The most memorable was last July 4th. Like most of America, I took off work to be with my family. I did take the time to check my email that night and found about 10 angry emails from a wanker in about a 30 minute time frame.

She had purchased my list and decided to write a question. Granted, if she would have read the material, she would have easily found the answer.

Instead, she writes a second email about 5 mintues laters explaining how she had written a prior email that was not responded to.

A few minutes later, she sent a third email demanding a response.

30 minutes later she is at email number 10 and is demanding a refund from me the scam artist and plans to have me arrested and thrown away for the rest of my life.

Saffron
April 18, 2007 - 11:26am

Hey Aaron,

45 comments, most of which are a testament to the value you and your knowledge provide. Many industry's charge high prices in line with their ego but in some instances price is also an indicator of value added.

I think upping the price is a necessary test of people who value their business and it's longevity, if they are prepared to invest in it, they will put their money where their mouth is and those that don't, well... Even those that don't have the means by saving up the means is a test of their commitment to their end goal.

I've said it before, your voice in the SEO world is original and you put a unique slant on things using a different approach which for me is priceless (not literally;)).

Life is full of wankers, they are a part of it's fabric, your present disillusion is coming through your posts at the moment, not necessarily a bad thing because being positive all the time is not realistic.

I agree wholeheartedly with the need to decide what you want from your life, time, hobbies, travel; your work is a means to that end but also needs to keep you fulfilled and alert.

As they say here in the UK, cheer up mate, things could be worse.

Saffron

barrybudden
April 18, 2007 - 12:07pm

As Saffron says, this many comments is pure testament to the value that you have added over time, myself included.

I bought your book maybe 2 years ago now and it inspired me to learn more. 2 years on (with a lot of reading and experimenting) I'm now working for a top London SEM agency as an SEO specialist. To this day i still find myself where i started, reading this blog, looking for the next set of tips and comments that get me thinking.

I guess I agree with the general thought of increasing the price to weed out w*nkers - the information within is worth a whole lot more than you currently price it, in my case it was the beginnings of career!

I'd love to see some more stuff from you under the SEM or even Marketing umbrella. You've gained a lot of trust along the way so I'm sure even if you're the 'seo guy' now, if you brought out PPCBook, AffiliateBook or any other book it would be widely accepted.

Edmunds
April 18, 2007 - 12:41pm

If you think you are going to get away from trouble customers by changing business models... NO WAY!! The only way to get rid of trouble customers is to get rid of ALL customers.

Remember that increasing prices also increases customer expectations.

Subscription fees are really the way to go. Not charging subscription fees when users get constant updates doesn't seem very bright, IMO. $99 for 6 months would probably work best.

Kyle M Brown
April 18, 2007 - 2:26pm

I agree with the last post. Expectations will increase along with the price. Refund rate could also increase.

Personally I don't think I would have been willing to pay 299 for anyones eBook.

However, after reading the "SEOBOOK" I feel it is under priced but for 299 some that are new to SEO may never find out how good it is.

Customers come with every business. Good ones and bad ones.

Force them through a FAQ before reaching you. Hang a voice message on you public number referencing that FAQ.

Try different things to filter these people out before you change prices. My two cents.

Brian Turner
April 18, 2007 - 2:50pm

Genuinely sorry to see the sort of crap you're having to put up with, Aaron.

Because of the increasing diversification of SEO (SMM, local, etc) I think the biggest value is where you've identified - PPC. Working that with a subscription model sounds very interesting.

Anyway, hope you have less trouble from wankers in future. :)

massa
April 18, 2007 - 4:03pm

First of all, don't listen to me,(or anyone else for that matter), in regards to this topic. I don't have the same pressures to deal with as you and everyone handles pressure differently. So while we may share a LOT of common problems from seemingly common wankers, The bottom line is, only you can decide what feels right to you.

So, that said, my opinion is that telling you your book is worth more than I paid AFTER I bought it is not a good way to decide your book is worth more. It's easy to tell you how much you SHOULD have charged knowing it won't cost me anymore.

I think it makes more sense to take your own advice and look at it from a strictly marketing perspective. What is the value proposition you are selling and what resources does that force you to spend? What will the market bear and is that enough to make it worth delivering that value proposition?

Another thing, I think your decision would be much easier for you if you had a specific objective. If you said I want to make a million dollars selling the book in the next 3 months, NOW what you have to charge? In my opinion, that would be a much better reason for altering your price or value than being pissed off at wnker customers.

If the objective is getting rid of wankers, that is different than what would it take to make it worth dealing with wankers?

I will say that I believe you hit the nail on the head when you identified your market.

>but many of the people who are attracted to SEO are attracted to it because they are lazy, want a free ride, and refuse to add any value to the world around them.<

THAT is a fact jack. That is your target market with SEObook.

Jake Matthews
April 18, 2007 - 4:06pm

Hi Aaron,

Raise the price of your book significantly and hire an admin. (if you don't already have one)

Then, go to hawaii and surf for a couple of days.

Then, when you get back from your surfing trip, create a paid forum or go with the option of as you say

"selling a recurring newsletter instead of an ebook"

massa
April 18, 2007 - 4:14pm

First of all, don't listen to me,(or anyone else for that matter), in regards to this topic. I don't have the same pressures to deal with as you and everyone handles pressure differently. So while we may share a LOT of common problems from seemingly common wankers, The bottom line is, only you can decide what feels right to you.

So, that said, my opinion is that telling you your book is worth more than I paid AFTER I bought it is not a good way to decide your book is worth more. It's easy to tell you how much you SHOULD have charged knowing it won't cost me anymore.

I think it makes more sense to take your own advice and look at it from a strictly marketing perspective. What is the value proposition you are selling and what resources does that force you to spend? What will the market bear and is that enough to make it worth delivering that value proposition?

Another thing, I think your decision would be much easier for you if you had a specific objective. If you said I want to make a million dollars selling the book in the next 3 months, NOW what you have to charge? In my opinion, that would be a much better reason for altering your price or value than being pissed off at wnker customers.

If the objective is getting rid of wankers, that is different than what would it take to make it worth dealing with wankers?

I will say that I believe you hit the nail on the head when you identified your market.

>but many of the people who are attracted to SEO are attracted to it because they are lazy, want a free ride, and refuse to add any value to the world around them.First of all, don't listen to me,(or anyone else for that matter), in regards to this topic. I don't have the same pressures to deal with as you and everyone handles pressure differently. So while we may share a LOT of common problems from seemingly common wankers, The bottom line is, only you can decide what feels right to you.

So, that said, my opinion is that telling you your book is worth more than I paid AFTER I bought it is not a good way to decide your book is worth more. It's easy to tell you how much you SHOULD have charged knowing it won't cost me anymore.

I think it makes more sense to take your own advice and look at it from a strictly marketing perspective. What is the value proposition you are selling and what resources does that force you to spend? What will the market bear and is that enough to make it worth delivering that value proposition?

Another thing, I think your decision would be much easier for you if you had a specific objective. If you said I want to make a million dollars selling the book in the next 3 months, NOW what you have to charge? In my opinion, that would be a much better reason for altering your price or value than being pissed off at wnker customers.

If the objective is getting rid of wankers, that is different than what would it take to make it worth dealing with wankers?

I will say that I believe you hit the nail on the head when you identified your market.

>but many of the people who are attracted to SEO are attracted to it because they are lazy, want a free ride, and refuse to add any value to the world around them.<

THAT is a fact jack. That is your target market with SEObook.

For what it's worth, I also think you are soooo on the right track with shifting focus from SEO, (worthless), to marketing, (worth a LOT!). There are a LOT of places to get traffic and traffic is NOT a solution it is only a means to an end. The end is sales, conversions, money in your pocket.

The perception that SEO is a solution is what attracts all the wankers in the first place. In my opinion, the sooner smart guys like you start promoting the fact that all SEO can do is generate traffic, (if you're lucky), AND that traffic is an expense not revenue, AND that there are a LOT of ways of getting traffic AND that traffic without conversions is the epitome of futility, the more money you will make, the more your customers will make and the better off the world will be.

Mindaugas
April 18, 2007 - 4:14pm

I agree - $300 is too high for wankers to be interested in :) And for those who're really interested in, price isn't main factor.

P.S. Seems I was among last lucky ones - purchased last Friday :)

David Saunders
April 18, 2007 - 4:15pm

Love the adoption of "wankers" here - when I first moved to the US from the UK no one seemed to understand me when I called them a wanker LOL - even the "wanker sign" got me smiled and waved at in San Francisco???

Don't let them wind you up Aaron delete the wankers and move on. Life's too short to even think about wankers. Tell them to Get F@@@@d and get some linkbait going.

I tell you what guys I've been doing this SEO (or whatever) for nearly a decade now - I started in my bedroom in downtown SF. I did go low price once and get everyone and their mother whining and moaning and pi$$ing me off.

Just yesterday I sent a quote out and was accepted immediately by a large finance company - it was my highest accepted quote yet. I'm fed up with the cheap tossers out there that spend a boat load on newspaper ads and then expect me to take crap for trying hard.

Up the price, forget the wankers and enjoy life.

David

Carsten Cumbrowski
April 18, 2007 - 4:20pm

Ideas to kick around

- Sell the SEO Interviews that come as a freebie separately. People in the industry are the target for the most part, people who either don't buy your book or got it for free (I assume)

- Make resources, like the list with directories and other information that are fluctuating available to subscribers for a monthly/annual fee. It requires that you update it a bit more frequent of course. That subscription model can be extended further depending on your time and motivation. See SEOmoz (premium content) for example. You could also provide tools that are a bit better than the free versions that you already have to subscribers. Maybe even offer the option to ask specific questions to to a subscribers site (can be a bit tricky to make clear that "How do make my site rank for 'xyz blah'?" is not a "specific" question).

- You already add a free PPC guide, extend it a bit and sell the book as two books or a system, throw in some PPC coupons for new customers (you know how to get them) and raise the price (you would not be the first one doing that (you know what I am talking about, the "Kit" that Sitepoint sells)

Something to go on ...

April 18, 2007 - 4:35pm

I find it Hi-Larious that as one who routinely helps people improve their business models are simultaneously complaining about those that want stuff for free while asking for free advice as to what you should do. And people fall for it. Classic.

Richard Kraneis
April 18, 2007 - 4:35pm

Aaron,

I don't have any magical advice for your business model.

Just wanted you to know that I purchased your ebook and found it valuable.

Amazingly, the free ebook you gave away on interviews with top industry online marketers was fascinating. It gave me an introduction to the great names in the business and their thoughts. Wonderful reading.

So hang in there Aaron. "Wanker proofing" your website may be on your mind, but many of us are quietly grateful for your service. You don't hear from us but we read your blog every day.

Richard Kraneis
Best wishes from Chicago, IL USA

Harlem
April 18, 2007 - 4:55pm

Aaron,

I understand how you feel, and it is definitely not limited to your field of interest. On a happier note, I have been a reader of your site for a couple of weeks now and I must say that your site gives the best and most honest advice. $500 for your book? Even that might be too low judging by what you offer on the site.

Chris Martin
April 18, 2007 - 6:45pm

I would definitely lower the price of the ebook. I would imagine that you will have to sooner or later anyways. I can't fathom an ebook consistently selling for over $50 over a lengthy span of time in any industry. Surely sooner or later the market comes around... I think your value is in your updates. I would lower the price in an effort to get customers into a monthly payment model. I would much rather have $20/Month for five or more years than $75 one time. Plus I think that model would match your talents. You really have great insights and communicate those insights quite well. So, you will naturally draw people to keep pulling up your site as you did me.

Also, I think I would place a little form somewhere like a poll and ask (How much would you pay on a monthly basis to access the daily book updates etc) And I would take the recurring payments through paypal since they make sure all of their users have updated credit card information. Otherwise it's an administrative pain to have to get new cc info every time a visitors credit card expires. Good luck man!

Patrick
April 18, 2007 - 6:59pm

'$500 for your book? Even that might be too low judging by what you offer on the site.'

I don't mean to sound like an azz, but some people have said things such as: 'if the value your book gives the readers exceeds the cost, it's still too cheap'. Or '299$?Up it some more - What I got from the book was worth far more!'

Sure the book is useful and the benefit for anybody who reads it thoroughly and plans on pursuing SEO seriously IS far more than 299$, but you have to take into consideration, that Aaron isn't a monopoly.

There's not just Aaron & clients, but there's Aaron, clients & (possible) competition.

Right now, he owns this niche, but I'm sure if he started selling his e-book for 500$ or more, that'd make plenty of room for some other great SEOs, who would create an updated e-book and sell it.

(that being said, I do agree with up'ing the price to attract more serious people)

Sherwood
April 18, 2007 - 7:06pm

I don't think abandoning your market will help avoid these people. Filters and firewalls are the way to go.

How about a book forum, to give people a place to vent at each other instead of you? Let their hot air lift your rankings a bit ;)

Mark
April 18, 2007 - 7:20pm

Aaron,

I bought your book a couple of months ago and found it to be tremendously valuable. I also thought it was probably underpriced. I think you could easily up the price. How high is obviously a business decision. The marketing agency that I work for recently made a decision to kill off the "bottom rung" of work (which often proved to be the most hassle) in favour of better "quality" (and better behaved) clients. We are happier for that decision. However, I think it might be more useful for you to just think about eliminating the support that you provide with your book. Your stature within the SEM community (and your book's reputation) is sufficiently high that you just don't need to do that. If it is causing you grief, I would eliminate it pronto. Generally though (and particularly because I know what it is like to have a bad client day) ... thanks for writing the book and continuing with the site. Most of us still find both to be exceptionally useful.

Rafael
April 18, 2007 - 7:21pm

Hey Aaron,
I am also of the opinion that you should just remove that money back guarantee (or make it one week , not 90 days).
I also think the paid forum and tools idea is a nice one.That way you don´t feel the need to offer personal advice. Which you really dont need to do.

Terry Reeves
April 18, 2007 - 9:06pm

Some advice from someone who has been there.

Ebook sales and customers are easy. Some may be dumb as a rock but they are low maintenance.

Subscription sales are a much better pool of customers and the income will grow like a weed, quickly. Unfortunately, there is a percentage of customers that will want all of their payments back some number of months later. They will claim they never signed up for your service AND the credit card companies will refund every single payment to them UNLESS you can prove they actually signed up for the service. This SUCKS! You can satisfy the credit card requirements by maintaining strict records of each subscription with multiple "check points" to the signup. Ultimately, you will still give some hard earned income back.

Personally, I suggest using PayPal as your processor as they are less forgiving of the excuses and charge smaller fees for the transactions.

You have quality info and could offer a great training opportunity through various live online means and could easily charge up to $300.00 a month for the access. You could realistically be banking 50K a month within a year or so.

Personally, I found $300.00 a month to be the most optimal sales price for monthly recurring of info related service with personal contact. You will weed out the "lookie loos" and deal with solid customers who understand the value of a $300.00 a month service that can exponentially grow their websites.

You will still offer the ebook, of course.

I have helped several get started in subscription sales and can offer assistance and advice should you need.

Go for it!

stokelake
April 18, 2007 - 9:20pm

Hi Aaron.

You are completely right (as usual), seperate yourself from these wankers. Let a book seller sell your book, and use your skill and knowledge to build a new and more profitable business.

Best of luck,

Julian.

TJ
April 18, 2007 - 9:53pm

I think your question is brilliant, have you read Seth Godin's post about Small being the New big? I thnk you have done enough to expand you brand as big and now might be the perfect opportunity for you to start thinking small.

If I where you I might consider raising my price point just as you suggested for your book and offer an even more exclusive video or interactive media mentor program as an secondary product...If you could manage to cut back on some of your projects so you could find the time it might open your model up to attracting the types of clients you want.

That way your blog becomes your front office, giving the opportunity seeker good sound advice while you focus more on you desired clientèle. Just an Idea.

Justin Anderson
April 18, 2007 - 10:04pm

All I have to say is, I'm glad I got the book at the current price, would have still bought it, only done a lot more research before purchasing.

Will the affiliate commission be raised as well?

Edmond
April 18, 2007 - 10:19pm

What a post! You made me bought the book. A quick glance at 4am (my time), worth it :)

Kirby
April 18, 2007 - 10:25pm

Aaron, one thing you haven't said is whether or not you still enjoy doing the ebook. If you could eliminate the wankers from your world, would you still want to do it?

If so, you can leverage your reach by looking at some JV opportunities and offload the wankers to the other party as part of the deal. I would do this in my niche if you are at all interested.

Jayson
April 18, 2007 - 11:12pm

I think everyone I know who broke into 'the industry' whether it was SEO or website design/development ran through similar stages.

Started out giving away the advice, or providing great incite/advice at minimal costs. Pretty soon we all end up discovering that its often more hassle than its worth.

One of the services I was providing through one of my sites was bringing in more work than I could manage Since I didn't have anyone else I could trust to help me out at the time, I simply raised my prices to a level I thought would keep my phone from ringing - no such luck.

Over a 9 week period I doubled my prices 3 times, but instead of discouraging potential buyers, it DOUBLED the amount of leads/sales I brought in EACH TIME I raised the prices.

Not only that but the customers I generated at the higher price-points expected less 'freebie add-ons' and required less 'hand holding'. I had priced myself out of the wanker-crowd.

There is definately something to be said for pricing yourself into percieved value. Too cheap and people doubt the value of the service/item.

Anyways, thats my own little related experience - est of luck.

April 18, 2007 - 11:17pm

Yes Aaron, I buy furniture at going out of business sales too (just got two heavily discounted bedside tables this weekend)!

I've been meaning to buy your book as soon as I got un-busy enough to read it.

I'm not there yet (un-busy enough to read it), but $79.00 today is well worth the advice you've given for free.

... perhaps I can get to it on the beach during my summer vacation (yeah right).

Will

Russell
April 18, 2007 - 11:21pm

I've been where you are now. If you love actually helping decent people, then keep on going. There are a lot of fantastic suggestions so far, like 70 comments. Not to boost your ego or anything like that, but SEO Book is *THE BIBLE* on SEO. I've wasted hundreds (thousands?) of dollars on just SEO info - nothing I've read even approaches the practical, up-to-date, workable usefulness of SEO Book.

A few years ago, I was involved in selling trading info and doing really well. The people - for the most part - were unbelievably wonderful. The few bad eggs just ruined it for me. Took the enjoyment right out of it. Now I trade, but I don't help anyone with that any more because, well, I guess people like playing the game or pretending to play the game and don't much like winning the game. I don't think I'll ever understand that.

The point is that I'm doing what I was teaching and doing really, really well - but I'm not contributing in that field at all. I hate it. It sucks. I'm bored off my ass and I feel like I have no purpose right now. I blog and try to help people in with search engine marketing and analytics stuff, but that just isn't the same. I wish now that I had not cut communication lines with everyone just because of the "wankers," but I did.

I consider getting back into it, but I know the wankers will return and piss me off. I love helping people, and I'm positive that you do, too. Whatever you do, please don't put yourself in the same position I did. It's a constant burning torture, kind of like the "Hell" we read about in so-called holy books.

I know I appreciate what you do on this site, what you communicate to us, and all that. I'm sure almost everybody else does, too. How can I hurry up and get that 15-minutes before you stop it?

Anyway, it doesn't much matter what you do because you ARE seo today. Nobody in the field doesn't know Aaron Wall. Just don't piss everyone who loves you off and you'll still be golden. You very definitely carry the clout and prestige to charge appropriately for the value of your knowlege and contacts and ability to do what you set out to do. So why not actually charge what it's worth? $397 per year is underpriced compared to what's out there and what people are getting for much more.

But don't let the wanks get to you. I know it's difficult, but I let them get to me and today I'm a little more dead than I was just two years ago. Serve who you can, and diplomatically piss on the wanks, to their satisfaction. (You've heard the joke, right? About the bartender pissing on someone and they're all happy about it because of a bet?)

Create a great weekend, Aaron. You Rock.
Russell :)

Tyler Dewitt
April 19, 2007 - 12:01am

Hey Aaron its Tyler Dewitt, you know honestly if I was you, I would up the price of you book, to around $200-240 per pop, add a few additional plug ins to the book, so the buyers will feel more comfortable buying it.

The important thing is though honestly is that you book has become popular, and gained a lot of market, and talked highly upon between bloggers, and seos.

So my suggestion personally from me to you, I would up your price, its well worth it, I've read your book, and its created many ideas for me.

Aaron if you think of it don't up your prices because of the wankers do it because its a good book, and you have gained a lot of market it from it, but hey best of the luck, and its a great book!

Simon
April 19, 2007 - 12:52am

You'll just get phone calls from wankers who are more worried that they'll be "done" out of 299 bucks instead of 79 but are still wankers.

They'll want you to be even more certain their invetsment will pay back, that your book will contain some magic loophole "I don't have to do any work except follow the book" kind of loophole for their site.

They'll just be even more wankerish (horrible word)
because there's more money involved :)

I can appreciate the frustration though :) I just think you'll get it whatever you do.

Paris Roussos
April 19, 2007 - 1:23am

Hi Aaron,

Ok put on my brainstorming cap for you (for free). My algorithm says: Switch to a three-tiered subscription model, monthly. First tier is free, second tier requires registration, third tier is paid. Market this via synergistic websites through clear-termed free 14 day trial in the shopping cart and require passing of the credit card, send a few warnings before billing. I anticipate your take rate to be about 20% and your stick rate to be 15 to 30% Chose high volume partners (monthly order freqency) Get this all on autopilot then come help me with the search engine and will give the big G some pain to keep them semi-honest.

Rian
April 19, 2007 - 2:41am

Your SEOBook is huge. Why not cut up the more basic elements and sell that at a separate price. Then for the more serious, offer the full book at the $299 price. Or you could look into one of those ebook delivery systems that authenticate the book online. This way if someone wants a refund, they can get it, but they'll lose access to the book.

deviantgirl
April 19, 2007 - 3:06am

hi Aarons,
Whoa, you've received a lot of really cool recommendations from this post! I really think you should consider other options :)

Matt Larson
April 19, 2007 - 4:18am

Aaron,

Think you've done well to put up w/ it for this long. Consensus seems to agree you could bump up the price. Here's another idea - get some help. It may be easier to put up w/ the "wankers" when you're paying a local college grad to week out the garbage for ya. Leaves you more time to hang out w/ your girl, at least.

Newsletter would be an interesting thought. It's not like you'd run out of stuff to say ;)

Anyway - good work & thanks for all the great tips & insights over the past year & a half I've been reading.

dmerton
April 19, 2007 - 4:42am

Aaron,

Don't let this get to you. I think you are on the right track buy raising your prices, but this is a fact of business. Retail, ecommerce, selling hosting and web development has taught me that the more price sensative the customer, the more they expect in return. Not a rule, but a damn good guideline.

Jaybong
April 19, 2007 - 4:51am

You should be careful though, at a $299 price you'll create a gap in the market for competitors to move in.

I can see the talk in the forums now:

Q) Should I buy SEO book for $299 or 'generic new competitors' book for $79?

A) It depends on what you can afford. You will find 85% of SEO book's information in the 'generic new competitors' book.

Personally, although its a great book, I wouldn't pay $299 for it. It would obviously be more appealing than a competitors book, but by how much?

Another thing to think about:
I assume a lot of your referrals come from webmaster forums and the like...reducing the amount of owners will also reduce the amount of people recommending your book wouldn't it?

I also think that upon purchasing an ebook, it crosses everyones mind to ask for a refund...I mean they still get to keep the book right. People are looking for a reason to get that refund, won't increasing the price increase that tendency?

Carsten Cumbrowski
April 19, 2007 - 5:31am

Wow, if you you had a bad mood when you posted it, then I bet that it is gone now. Look at all the comments and suggestion. A lot of options to think about.

Keep one thing in mind though. Pretty much everybody who commented and said that the price of the book is too low, already have, know its quality and probably got some good stuff for them out of it.

I still remember a bit how it was when I bought it. It was not at all a "no brainer". For $79 can you buy 3-5 books to SEO and SEM at Amazon.com.

Testimonials from well known people in the industry might sound great, the problem is that those well known people are not well known outside of internet marketing very much and just become other webmasters for the prospect.

I don't remember what got me to buy it, but I do remember that I first left and then later decided to buy it and came back to order it.

Just as a reminder.... and remember... several smaller pieces are easier to digest than one big chunk. People that probably have no problem to spent from Friday to Sunday night $40 every night at a bar ($120), might have a problem with spending $100 all at once on one night.

Ivan Cuxeva Jr
April 19, 2007 - 6:38am

Nice comments, but it's sad to hear you are having such problems with theses so called "wankers". The point of buying this e-book (at least for me) was not to become a millionaire from one day to the other but to acquire the proper "education" to understand this field.
Anyhow, the book has some great ideas and I agree with you on the reasons you have about changing your business model.
Let us (non- wankers regular readers) know about your changes ... if you'll go from seobook.com to ppcbook.com that is! (that particular domain is taken though)
Good luck :)

wolfgang
April 19, 2007 - 8:56am

If the book gets more expencive - only people with already enougth mony will be able to buy it. I couldn´t buy it for more than 100$. And i don´t think that there will be less wankes buying the book - the more it costs the more people won´t to get out from it..

i think the book will get less sold - and u will make less mony with it then with the old price .
sorry for my bad english

Werty
April 19, 2007 - 9:53am

I would raise the price to 199.99. That way if your sales fall in half (they won't) you will still make the same profits you were with half the bandwidth.

I would stay away getting into a subscription model or forum... I think it would just bring more work and headaches to you. Plus if you went to a subscription model you would need to stick to schedules updates, and I know how you feel about those.

Also I think part of your overall value is this site. Sure your book may be the best SEO book out there, but your blog contains crazy ass leading edge ideas about the industry. Many sites focus on unproven or old tactics yours focuses on mindset. You cannot get that anywhere else. Don't hide that behind a subscription or login.

Lastly hire someone to do all the dirty work for you. I am guessing you could a fairly skilled work at home person to weed through all the orders, make sure they are fulfilled, and then give canned answers to the lame ass questions you get, and organize all the others...let you answer the ones you want and file them for future use. The cost for that could be one sale a day... and one hell of a lot less headaches for you.

werty
April 19, 2007 - 9:55am

Oh lastly, if you decide to raise the price I am guessing you will use it as a large opportunity to sell a shit load of last minute regular price books to people who have been on the fence, as well as get a bunch of new links...

Olivier
April 19, 2007 - 10:13am

Hi, Olivier from France,

We, in France, have a famous guy doing the same as you: speaking about SEO.

He's so famous that he's called for any conference, meeting, course about SEO taking place all over France.

He's charging a lot, and I think you could do the same.

Bye

Anita
April 19, 2007 - 2:46pm

Ha! From the amount of responce you've got to this post, you can see that quite a lot of us care about what you have to say - and like it :o)

I don't know enough about your current business model so I won't venture any advice in that direction. One thing I did want to say though, is that there will allways be wankers out there, no matter what and how you sell it :o)

Sometimes it seems like people live to piss others off - LOL

I have your book and it is still the best at what it claims to be. Maybe you should rename it SEM Book to cover the fact that it covers PPC too...

You provide so much good value, with all your tools and stuff that you post here. Don't pay too much attention to the wankers - there will always be people that need more, or something different...

Julie
April 19, 2007 - 3:59pm

Do what sites like eMarketer and Marketing Sherpa do - have your blog posts open access for a couple of days and then charge people to access the back posts?

People will be able to see the value of what you provide and you will be able to make money from something you already do everyday.

randfish
April 19, 2007 - 11:25pm

Aaron, clearly nobody in the community likes you or supports you. Just look at all these negative comments from people who received no benefit whatsoever from you or your book.

I should show you some of the crap that gets written about SEOmoz sometime - believe me when I say that you're not alone.

Helene
April 20, 2007 - 12:10am

Irrespective of whether or not you change your business model there will always be "wankers" in the world who want a free ride, are rude, are shameless are _____ [fill in the blank]. Based on my own experience in the world (formerly the litigation/legal world) I recommend learning to ignore or laugh at the wankers and try as you may, not to let them bother you. Venting (when your girlfriend isn't around) is also helpful. I'm particularly fond of using locker room lingo!
Best of luck,
Helene
http://themodernwomansdivorceguide.com
ps. your post is a good marketing tool - I now feel a more pressing need to buy your book before you raise the price!

Helene
April 20, 2007 - 12:12am

ps. that wasn't a spammy attempt for publicity - it is my well trained marketing fingers - "signature should always be followed by web address".
Best regards,
Helene

jaybong
April 20, 2007 - 12:29am

From Werty: "Oh lastly, if you decide to raise the price I am guessing you will use it as a large opportunity to sell a shit load of last minute regular price books to people who have been on the fence, as well as get a bunch of new links..."

I would bet after this post he's already received many more than his usual daily orders. :) Not a bad marketing tactic, even if it wasn't intentional.

Buck
April 20, 2007 - 1:27pm

Your book has helped me tremedously in getting me to the next level of SEO since I bought it a few years ago.

I have also followed your advice in previous blog postings regarding your value and your price which has confirmed my model. My site sells premium coffee and though you can find the generic and decent coffee at your local store, it is not the highest quality coffee and my brand also reflect this higher cache.

I have tested lowering the price which produces more sales, more activity, more headaches and less profit. We always need to look at the value of our time. If what you are doing is not producing your perceived hourly rate, which can either be in immediate sales or long-term brand value, either raise your price or do something else.

In my opinion you are a smart guy and one of the leaders in the SEO field. Don't sell yourself short. Not having said that please don't stop this blog.

September 10, 2007 - 11:22pm

I say raise your price to $299 and filter out all the people looking for hand outs. High prices keep you sane, increases your profit margin, and makes life a lot simpler. I've stuck with this model and life is a lot easier now.

December 17, 2007 - 4:52pm

It seems to me that the value in the equation is Aaron generating new ideas and content, not Aaron dealing with wankers. I know that Tim Ferriss is passe in some circles, but two of his valid points to my way of thinking are:

  • Why do something you don't like and doesn't add value (supporting the wankers) when there are other people who specialize in this and can do it cheaper? Meaning, outsource your support operations. That goes for them handling the b.s. "wanker" email that trigger your buttons. Reading stuff that upsets you makes you not want to generate value, so why do it?
  • The second point--80/20 rule. If 80% of your customers are perfectly happy, making you money and making themselves money, why deal with the 20% that are problem children? Fire the 20% and work on making the 80% happier and buying more of your "stuff". This might mean exclusive content over and above the leader sale of SEOBook to get them in the door. Or it might mean distancing yourself further from the "end-user" and turning your customers (or some portion of your customers) into distributors. Maybe you should consider training a pack of consultants and taking a slice of their consulting fees.

Making these kind of changes are the kinds of things that control freaks have difficulty with, but do you want a business or a just a job (albeit one where you are the boss)? The question to ask yourself--can you go on walk about for 30 days and not worry about the state of your business/income?

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