How to Create & Unlock $100 of Value Per Word

Seth Godin referenced a Steven Berlin Johnson post analyzing the word usage of various authors. Writers using short words and short sentences tend to sell more.

It is easy to think that if you just do more and add more value that you will make more money, but sometimes doing more just means simplifying and clarifying your words, or publishing in a more friendly format. If you want people to take action, to believe they can afford it, making them feel confident and comfortable works. More does not always mean better.

Some of the posts I write about the macroeconomic trends of online publishing and the search economy take 5 hours to write, get few or no comments, get few or no citations, and probably scare off potential customers. Those posts do not cater to people looking to buy SEO information. The short SEO videos I recently made are easier to create and easy to consume. Daily sales are near my all time high.

Published: October 26, 2007 by Aaron Wall in marketing publishing & media


October 26, 2007 - 8:41am

And they take as much time to digest :)

I can see why they probably aren't getting you much direct results but you ought ask if they have any effect on your reputation and the way other top bloggers look at you, and their willingness to point readers to you. I think it has.

October 26, 2007 - 10:59am

really interesting point. I also have thought about creating videos for the german market, but in the past there was a low relation between something like publishing a free video and selling a service.

October 26, 2007 - 11:28am

Well it is not that any one video, any one image, any one speech, any one blog post, etc etc etc does anything knowingly tangible and trackable ahead of time.

It is more about the concept of cumulative advantage. The more people you can appeal to (and have resonance with) the better the follow on will be.

People tend to ignore the stuff they are not interested in and remember the stuff that helped them. We are more receptive toward messages that reinforce our worldviews and our best modes of learning.

Since different people learn in different ways, internet based text is a saturated market, video has limited competition, and video tends to have higher perceived value, it seems obvious that in saturated markets (like SEO) that the ROI of video should beat that of text, at least in present time, in industries like SEO.

October 26, 2007 - 1:15pm

I agree with your points, Aaron. One further questition:
What do you think is the best way to get money out of the videos?
1. Uses them to help sell the paid services/products
2. Use paid advertisements
3. Use as paid content / memberships
In which case do you think that version 1 is not the perfect solution?

Best regards

October 26, 2007 - 8:47pm

How you sell and what you sell depends largely on your personal brand, the audience it attracts, and how much effort you put into anything.

I think advertising is generally a low value service unless you are attracting brand advertisers (who are willing to pay beyond immediate conversions), so if possible it is best to sell something that is either more directly related to you and/or something that is a hybrid ad that also has an editorial review. When you put an ad up don't just put an ad up, but also look for ways to editorialize it...why was the product being advertised important to you?

As your brand and traffic stream grows it is easier to sell your own products / services / membership stuff.

I believe you could learn a good bit about the selling of membership stuff and information products by looking at Brian Clark's Teaching Sells.

October 26, 2007 - 2:33pm

Remember the 80/20 rule for business: 80% of your results depend only on 20% of your efforts.

Jeremy Luebke
October 26, 2007 - 3:15pm

Those posts about macroeconomic trends may get less comments, but they are seriously some of the best information in the industry. It truly sets SEO Book in a whole other league from the average marketing blog.

So many Internet marketers can't see past the computer screen and don't realize how much old world rules actually do apply to the new virtual economy. You are helping the blind to see.

I know you are wanting the long tail of users, anyone interested in SEO, but definitely keep up the posts that make us all re-examine how we are approaching our business.

October 26, 2007 - 6:43pm

Jay-Z dumbed down his rapping for the same reason, dude.

October 27, 2007 - 6:08pm

I find it interesting that in most industries creating products that are specifically targeted to those most likely to purchase is considered good marketing (i.e. Aaron putting out videos about more basic SEO tactics to engage those most likely to purchase his book) but in the music industry it is considered selling out. I was thinking about this recently when I heard intricate rhymes from a hip hop artist who I had previously dismissed as unskilled and a "pop-rapper." It then got me to thinking about how those popular 'dumbed down' songs on the radio are not in fact targeted to me, but to other listeners in parallel markets (pop music, R&B) who may not be interested in his other material.

October 27, 2007 - 7:44pm

Music is supposed to be art. Marketing

If a marketer is irrelevant to his core consumers then he isn't a real marketer, is ignorant to his market, is a masochist, and/or wants to go lose money in the hopes of ging bankrupt.

The point of my post was more that quality is based on perception, and that accessibility is an important criteria in perception.

October 26, 2007 - 7:08pm

There's a reason traditional journalists are taught to write at the 7th grade level. Sales spike when you "dumb it down" because there are just more dumb people than smart people. The lowest common denominator in full effect.

Couple that with online scanning habits and conversions will improve with simple language most every time. Dumb sells.

The bell curve goes


October 26, 2007 - 8:49pm

Hi Adam
I am not advocating writing stupid per say, but formatting in a more accessible way. If I think back to when I first started learning SEO I was ignorant to just about everything in the field, but realistically that didn't mean I was stupid, just that I was new to the field and in need of accessible learning sources.

October 27, 2007 - 5:13am

Good points. I guess the bigger picture is who is your audience? Always important to keep that in mind. In the case of seobook, you're kinda split between two general groups: the experienced marketers and the inexperienced. Speaking for myself, I want to read your stuff because it's always sophisticated and interesting, and you really bring the whole competitive webmastering thing into perspective. For the inexperienced, they find you and want the basics covered.

The current stuff you've done lately on title tags, meta descriptions, etc, is good foundational stuff. And probably good bread and butter for book sales. But don't forget to keep that balance with all the great competitive webmastering info that you publish, which is really unique and gets lots of attention from the industry.

Keep it basic, but strike a balance with the advanced stuff. Different audiences here for different needs (I wonder if the advanced stuff just doesn't "pay" though? That seems to be what you're saying, and your biz model definitely takes precedence here.)

October 30, 2007 - 4:54pm

I tend to write long posts also. I have been trying to trim them down, but sometimes you just can't unless you break them up in parts.

October 30, 2007 - 5:27pm

And I think you may want to call it something other than a blog post... a feature, or an essay, or a report, or a guide, something... if you want people to pay attention to something that takes more than a few minutes of their time.

In many industries blog posts are too common, too saturated, and too low effort consumption. If you put a lot of work into something then sometimes it is better if it is named something other than a blog post.

Add new comment

(If you're a human, don't change the following field)
Your first name.
(If you're a human, don't change the following field)
Your first name.
(If you're a human, don't change the following field)
Your first name.