Exploiting Passion for Profit

Buying Attention & Building Trust

With content that you freely distribute you are primarily trying to build relationships with people who don't know you and have never bought from you. Since attention is limited you have to make your content accessible to gain market attention.

Highbrow = Low Readership

Most potential buyers can not distinguish between great information and average information, but most people...

  • can distinguish between well formatted information that is easy to read and information that appears too complexFormatting plays a big roll in selling content.
  • follow the crowd and look for signs of trust from others (recommendations, on site comments, etc.)
  • care about enthusiasm and topic selection (why read a site that is not unique and/or too negative?)

Some of My Errors

One of my biggest problems from a conversion standpoint is that I often write copy that does not sell...content that speaks well to some, but not to the buying market. Many posts exhibit the following traits:

People want to feel the comfort and accessibility of reading a for dummies guide one page at a time while being told they are becoming gurus / experts in the process. Which creates an interesting problem for anyone trying to sell how to information. Do you aim to make it as accessible as possible? Or do you aim further along the learning cycle and write at a higher level?

Where to Aim if You Are Looking for Profit

There are more people at the bottom of the pyramid, and if you capture their attention that will likely make you considered an expert to most outsiders looking to your field. As the online experience improves hobbiests use the web much more frequently. Yahoo! and MediaVest have done research about hobbyists, calling them Passionistas:

Passionistas heavily engage with communities of like-minded consumers who use email, text messaging, and instant messaging significantly more than typical users, and are more likely to create and share user-generated content online such as photos, blog posts or videos about their passions.

Because of their intense engagement around sharing information, Passionistas are 52% more likely than typical users to recommend or influence others about brands aligning with them.

In the SEO market (and probably most business related markets) it seems passionate hobbyists new to a field are much more likely to exuberantly promote brands than those who have been in the field for a great deal of time. I am not sure how well that translates to other fields though.

How Can I Use This Post to Help Market My Site?

Become a Platform for Passion

If top rated competing sites lack passion you can own your market in well under a year. If they are passionate then to stay competitive you have to raise your game and become a platform for passion.

Microsoft recently held a search event for SEOs to show they are serious about search. Google gives passionate charities free services to promote YouTube and Google Checkout. Cater to the passionate and create purpose driven media - use the same marketing techniques that Microsoft and Google use.

Make Your Site Look Alive

You can always add interactive features to build community interest. When you do so people are more likely to participate (fueling more people to participate) and they are more likely to market your site because they feel a sense of ownership.

My designer place the recent comments and this week top 5 sections on this site before I ever saw it. And I love it because it gives the sense that the site is dynamic, alive, and active. If you receive awards or have many feed subscribers publishing those signs of validation help improve your credibility and bring in new visitors.

Virtual Demand is Becoming Real Demand

Amazon tapped some of their top reviewers to review transcripts for a book publishing contest. How long until publishers are no longer required? You can look at the success of shows like American Idol to see how much people want to be engaged with what they consume. Also look to the stats about how often passionate hobbyists turn to the web to fulfill their wants. Deep profit margins exist in deep pools of passion.

Eventually consumers will go from hell to create the markets THEY want. The businesses with passionate communities will grow while the remaining businesses go to hell. Look for new ways to track demand and get feedback to create what people want. You don't even need a product off the start...just an audience willing to give you honest feedback.

Published: October 1, 2007 by Aaron Wall in marketing


Steven Bradley
October 2, 2007 - 6:46am

Interesting post Aaron. I've been reading here for close to two years now so I might not be the best judge if things aren't working here.

There have been times when I sensed some negativity, but for me those times were never because you were being blunt and honest. Honesty to me isn't negative. It isn't necessarily positive either. It just is.

When I've sensed negativity it's been more that Ive felt like you didn't feel as though something was working here or on another site and posted a few times with a hint of it going on. It's hard for me to put a finger on it and sure some of the posts where I could feel that negativity were blunt and honest posts, but it wasn't the bluntness or honesty that made the post seem negative.

I hope that made some sense. An example of when I felt it was either just before or just after New Years 2006/2007. I think it was just before. I remember you talking about raising prices on the book in one post. The posts around that time had something in them that made me sense negativity.

I've always felt your passion for the things you blog about and that passion along with some very insightful posts are what brings me back every day.

The new top 5 and recent comments are great. I noticed them before I got to this post and thought both a welcome addition.

October 2, 2007 - 9:36am

Nice post. I've certainly noticed the change in your blogging behavior. I think you're definitely on to something.

One thing though:

"* try to convey too many different ideas"

I think that's perfectly fine, since the page is more likely to get bookmarked or shared on social media websites. It's probably a matter of finding a balance between these posts.

Looking forward to reading more about the subject!


October 2, 2007 - 12:30pm

I bought your book because of your blunt, honest posts. I prefer the higher level thinking to the basic how to articles for dummies. But I guess you have to go where the money is.

October 2, 2007 - 6:50pm

This is one of very few SEO blogs I read anymore, and but very few times the only one which give information new to me or new ideas.

But I share the problems you pointed out myself. So..

October 2, 2007 - 7:40pm

On your self criticism:

I am one of those "bottom pyramid" people, who knew absolutely nothing about SEO before I read your book. And now having read your book and put many of the techniques and suggestions to work - seven months later I now rank for many of my keywords!

Having said that, the reason I come here is to learn more and further enhance my understanding of online marketing.

I think one area for improvement would be to offer more "how to" type posts where people can take specific suggestions on how to improve their SEO practices and put them to work immediately. The "Big Picture" posts are also interesting, however the main reason I come here is to learn more techniques to enhance SEO on my sites.

On being negative:

I think your negative posts/rants are also educational, however they need to be in balance with the other types of posts and should be the least frequent. There was a time when Google burned you, and you spent a good part of a couple months ranting about how Google does indeed to bad things. This is educational and good, however it just needs to be balanced with the other types of posts.

On covering too many topics in a post:

I agree with you, and for example in this post, it probably should have been broken down into three separate posts1) Highbrow 2) Errors 3) How to better market my site.

Cheers and keep up the great work!

And by the way if anyone is reading this who hasn't bought SEO Book yet - DO SO IMMEDIATELY!

October 3, 2007 - 6:25am

Thanks for the kind feedback, and I totally agree that I need to do more how to posts.

October 4, 2007 - 6:06pm

Hey Aaron,

Granted, there's always room for improvement. And I can see where your coming from in terms of "conversion". However ...

I read your blog because you present broad ideas, sociological - not just 'seological' - insight, and because you're blunt and honest. Negative is a value judgment. I wouldn't call you negative at all. Opinionated, interesting ... but not negative. There are so many seo blogs out there and this one is without doubt one of the best. If conversion is an issue, I'd suggest trying to come up with other ways to tackle that one other than compromising your voice on this blog.

And, btw, I did purchase your e-book in the past.


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