If People Respect You They Will Pay You for Your Time

Jun 24th

Every day I still get lots of emails and phone calls asking me to answer SEO questions and how to build their businesses for free. I get far more email than I could possibly answer, but much of it is from people who place a $0 value on my time - which does not scale as a 1 person business, especially after the failure of communism.

There are a couple great things about running a paid members only forum in a marketplace dominated by the cheaper faster free mindset

  • When people pay they value and appreciate what they pay for and are more likely to act upon it. The act of paying for information increases its utility and value.
  • Lots of people dig up scoops and have a wide array of experience that make the forums far more valuable than they could ever be with just the experience of one person or a small group.
  • The pricepoint filters out people who do not value my time or their own time. This has multiple benefits, a couple of which are listed below.
    • Rather than being chuck full of the self promotional hype, affiliate offers, and misinformation that dominate most public forums our private forums have a much higher signal to noise ratio.
    • Rather than rushing through hundreds of emails just to finish them, I can take time and do the best job I can answering the questions of the people who actually value my advice.

There is no such thing as pricing pressure. You just need to focus on the people who care about what you have to offer, and ignore the 99% of the market that does not.

Published: June 24, 2008

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Comments

June 25, 2008 - 4:01am

I would like to add that by posting your wonderful insights and advice on this great blog you answer many questions and you are building an audience that some of it will convert to premium members in the future. You can take me for an example. I am building my seo/sem business in Israel and I use your blog and website as a main source of information. It is clear to me that I will be a premium member in the future.

June 25, 2008 - 4:54am

I get that content is one of the best forms of marketing out there, but the area where I draw the line is not providing free information but free personalized information.

People who want stuff for free just for them are often worse than worthless...they don't value your time because they do not value their own time...so many will waste your time and damage your brand and your view of humanity in the process if you try to help them.

Just say no ;)

June 27, 2008 - 12:59pm

Hi Aaron,

1) is there any limit of the number of questions a premium member can ask in a month on the community forum?

2) as a premium member can i hope to have a personalized email answer from YOU to some of my questions? If yes, is there any limit on number of such questions

( I would be extremely wary to disclose my domain in public forum ....I'm someone who is fairly well versed with SEO and my website ranks in top10 on Google for 20+ keywords with competition ranging up to 20 million pages )

TIA.

June 27, 2008 - 1:39pm

Hi Mitchu
You can use the forums as much as you need to. I try to run almost everything through the forum as that strategy scales, but when I start answering lots of personalized emails 1 question turns into 20 and then I am selling my time for $15 an hour...which is a step in the wrong direction.

June 25, 2008 - 5:42am

I have a another friend who is an SEO person, I was trying to pay him X amount of money per email. He wanted a retainer of 5000 USA, and truthfully I consider myself much better at SEO than him, I just wanted a second opinion, I did not need him, I wanted him.

I have email you questions, I paid to purchase the book in an effort to pay you something.

However, most problems I have are very isolated and one email questions, I am not a corporation that needs babysitting, I chunk down small problems, then proceed search the SEO information to get collaborated information from more than one SEO person, and only the ones I trust.

However, in my opinion, SEO consultants need gates or carts where we email asking question, and for sure the responsibility for getting paid for your time is yours. However, if there was a form to be filled out, a value on questions to be paid, I would be happy to pay, providing the fees are proper and reasonable.

The truth is, I do believe some people have the abilty to so SEO and others do not, the corportation in my opinion should be your clients, normal people are just petty time consuming people.

Maybe somewhere there list of prices of types of services, or an hourly rate, I think yours is 1200 USA Dollars.

Although it always begs the question, if you are good at SEO there is a lot of easy money to be made by owning and operating sites.

95 percent of all people want something for free, and I suppose this is why there are so few comments here.

Maybe you have a Premium account, I do not hang on forums or blogs reading all the information, I scan them hoping to find isolated answers.

Andy of HoboTraveler.com getting on an Airplane to Bangkok, Thailand

June 25, 2008 - 7:07am

Although it always begs the question, if you are good at SEO there is a lot of easy money to be made by owning and operating sites.

We make more from our other sites than we do from consulting and this site combined. This site still exists for sentimental reasons, for income diversity, and because this is still one of the most rapid areas of change on the web...which helps keep me interested in learning about it.

I suppose this is why there are so few comments here.

I also think that has a lot to do with me writing more about what I am interested in rather than writing to sell to newbies. I generally don't attract the demographic that comments publicly much IMHO.

In our forums there are usually over 30 active threads every day, but those are not public and many of the people who participate there were not people who commented much on the blog.

June 25, 2008 - 3:39pm

Being a one person business myself, I completely understand where you're coming from. I enjoyed the trial period, and I only wish I accomplished something in that time to justify maintaining my membership. Unfortunately, my resources are limited. Sorry I didn't say goodbye, I guess I was a little embarrassed to leave...

June 25, 2008 - 8:05pm

This is an interesting topic, and one that I needed to hear. I am habitually giving away "free" advice due to my *bleeding heart* and sympathy for the little guy. But, it does take up a lot of time to come up with ideas and explain them to others...

I need to practice your last statement as a mantra "Just Say No." Sounds so simple, but a place that I have a really hard time.

June 25, 2008 - 8:26pm

I also think that has a lot to do with me writing more about what I am interested in rather than writing to sell to newbies. I generally don't attract the demographic that comments publicly much IMHO.

If you were writing only BS, I will not even hesitate to take the time to visit your blog, or even worse reply to this post. Like most, I am always running against the clock to finish what is needed.

I am also sick and tired of marketers trying to sell to marketers the holy grail, when all they’ve got is a freaking rock found in their backyards. Product launches and Affiliate Marketing have gotten out of control in some verticals. Got no choice but to unsubscribe from several email lists and say bye bye. To be quite honest, I haven’t bought any of the super-hyped, over-priced, and one-of-a-kind promotions in a long time. Not because I am cheap, but because some folks provide more value in their freebies than the products or services themselves. Yet I am thankful for that.

Every week a new so called “Guru” is launched with support from his/her peers. Do I see a problem with that? Only when there is lots of bull behind it and no real value. And the worst part is to hear the ones that at some point were respected making the sales pitch. Pathetic to say the least!

I even had to stop following popular people on Twitter, because my BSdometer couldn’t take it any more. The OMG, OMG!, OMG! kinda messages that we all get by email, twitter, IM and other sources are plain annoying. People please, bring value to my life, and of course, share once in a while if you shave your head or not. Aaron, the masses are requesting pictures please 

In our forums there are usually over 30 active threads every day, but those are not public and many of the people who participate there were not people who commented much on the blog.

Perhaps some of us need a more private environment where to share our thoughts and perspectives without worrying too much about being the target of a sales pitch. Think Spa instead of the Rec Center or Farmers Market. Not trying to discriminate though. Just think about the noise.

Or some, like me, enjoy getting to know people from around the world and different walks of life that are willing to share and learn from each other. There are awesome community members that bring a lot to the table. Hats off to them.

I’ve spent several years visiting forums and blogs without dropping a word. Why? Because I needed to listen, observe and learn first. Then, when it came the time to share the little I know, very few places offered what I was looking for. Or I was just waiting for the right time to do it like with this first post. Did I hear welcome to my casa, or mi casa es su casa? ...lol

From my humble perspective, the SEOBook Community Forums are a great place to have in-depth discussion, get honest feedback from your peers, and give back. We are not there to scam on each other, though I think someone tried to be a smart alec, but got taken care of. We are there because of our passion for what we do, our desire to learn, and improve ourselves and our community. Communities are built on respect and understanding of the needs of their members. And you’ve done a good job in creating the proper conditions for that to happen. Kudos to you too!

I get that content is one of the best forms of marketing out there, but the area where I draw the line is not providing free information but free personalized information.

If people are smart to read between the lines, then, they’ll know what is best. I just hope the competition is not at that level yet.

Some folks may call this post a self promotional link bait gear towards your community members. But, hey, we are not kidos to get our arms twisted. Freedom of speech is one of the cornerstones of this society.

If People Respect You They Will Pay You for Your Time

You and I know that this site and its forums go beyond money for you. And for that I have even more respect for what you stand for. So, is this part of your personal vision about the web: building one of the best quality communities?

June 25, 2008 - 11:21pm

Hi GlobalFusion
I think I wrote this post more as a reminder to the 100+ people who want to email me each day for free advice, but odds are they do not read most the blog posts anyhow ;)

I am glad the community has worked out well so far. There are still a lot of things I could do to make the site better...and I suppose I wrote this post more as a reminder to myself of where I need to focus most of my efforts.

June 26, 2008 - 4:26am

Rather than rushing through hundreds of emails just to finish them, I can take time and do the best job I can answering the questions of the people who actually value my advice.

Yeah, one time I emailed you about how my client wasn't listening to my SEO advice for my his site and you told me to "Start transitioning to a new job".

Thanks for that advice.

The ironic thing is, I am about to do every single thing I recommended to that company, but on an affiliate website. I'm gunna eat at least 20% of their revenue.

I really do get the feeling that you take your time to answer each question that needs answering in the forum. That's why I feel my subscription is worth the money.

June 29, 2008 - 8:37pm

Good on you Evan for taking the path of greater profits and least resistance. :)

June 28, 2008 - 3:32pm

Just wanted to add my quick thoughts/comments. I bought SEO Book a while back and have recently purchased the training membership. I've been pleasantly surprised when looking around (and posting on) the forum. It's quite different from any public forums I've seen in the past.

I view it more as an extension of the existing training modules and take the time to read through both when possible.

For me, the same could be said about this blog. I have been reading this for quite some time before purchasing the book but it remains a welcome feed on my reader.

June 28, 2008 - 3:49pm

Thanks for the kind comments Gareth. Glad to have you on board with us. :)

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