But Whose Opinion Matters?

One of my biggest business flaws was perhaps starting off with a fairly low self-esteem. Because of that, I catered toward people who were whiny, wanted free stuff, and never had any intent of buying anything. Being naive, and wanting to be liked too much, I catered to such worthless people, and probably cut my income short over the years by millions of dollars. Over the course of the last year I decided that I was going to change directions on that front, and I have never had a problem with being blunt.

Entitlement: People do Not Respect Free

A couple days ago I got this gem.

The data provided by this tool makes it useless. I had over 10k DMOZ entries, over 35k delicious bookmarks, over 300k .edu bookmarks, etc. if this was true, Google would ban me and my first three children plus 100 yrs, and i would be slapped so hard, my cousins would feel it. why provide this tool when it gives insanely data that makes it useless?

I told the person how to update the extension, and yet they were too stupid to read, and kept spamming up my site with progressively nastier comments until I banned them. The software they were complaining about getting for free is better than lots of stuff that sells for $100 or more, but free means dealing with idiots from time to time.

Twitter is soooo Cool

The latest style of cool is Twitter. Where you can look hip by complaining about something being garbage, even if it is something you have personally gained value from. I get blowback every week or 2 on Twitter about someone who feels embarassed to Tweet a link to our great content because this site has a pop up on it.

But if someone really believes in this site (and what we offer) then they wouldn't feel embarassed about an advertisement offering a free introductory course to SEO. If they respected our opinion they would be recommending our work.

The moment of clarity which inspired this post was this tweet

It was quickly countered with

But those people are not non-customers who could be converted to customers. Why? If they are turned off by giving away free information and would rather bitch about it on Twitter than click the "don't show again" link then they were never going to become a customer, and frankly I would not want them as a customer.

If they are too lazy to click the "don't show again" link then they are too lazy to participate in the site or business in a more meaningful way.

The Sales Process

As Peter highlighted, the people who are non-customers that can be converted to customers are people who are typically concerned that the topic is too complex or confusing. And those ***are*** the type of people who would subscribe to our autoresponder, get a lot of value for free, and then decide to...gasp...become paying customers.

Perry Marshall understands the sales process much better than I do, and explains it much more susinctly than I can:

Sales and marketing is a sequential process. Which means that everything that happens between the introduction and the sale is 100% important. Anything that interrupts this process can be fatal to your business.

Sales and marketing are the most hazardous parts of a business to outsource. Things like payroll and bookkeeping and manufacturing, easy to outsource. Your voice and your identity, almost impossible.


  • Sales and marketing is worthy of your passion, devotion and dedication. It is typically the highest leverage activity in any business. And despite the fact that many "academic types" sneer at it, it's still true: Nothing happens until somebody sells something.
  • You MUST master two things: ONE way of getting traffic, and ONE way of converting it. If you achieve mastery, it will be perfectly OK to be merely "competent" at the other things and your business will still flourish.

The autoresponder (and the pop up that promotes it) are part of that sequential sales process. Remove them and something like 50% of the non-customers that can be converted to customers never convert. It's not worth throwing away half your sales because some whiner on Twitter bitches about free not being good enough for their tastes, and they are too lazy to click the "don't show" link.

Popularity Does Not = Sales

Cater to those who want free free free and suffer a life of misery. Just ask the guy who spent 1,000 hours of work building dofollow blog lists:

We have put in over 1000 hours of work on the project. Is it too much to ask you to leave a useful comment? I am also tired of marketing gurus that sell products that direct their users to our lists. They have made lots of money and they claim to support leaving useful comments. However, the response from these visitors. Is about only about .3%. Yes, that less than 1%. I will rejoice when these niche products never send anymore traffic here. I regret that our efforts caused others blogs to switch back to No Follow. I truly regret what this good idea became.

And then you feel embarassed for all the comment spammers that comment spam nofollowed links (and even links that are not seen by Google). Check out Google's cache of this Work.com page and then look at how many SEOs there are who are too stupid or too lazy to view the source code or Google cache before comment spamming a page about SEO, and looking like an embarassement in front of their peers.

Catering primarily to the crowd with a $0 budget is rarely a business building strategy for a media business built on selling. Yes the people who waste hours daily chatting on social sites all day can help shift the perception of your product, but those same people who are out there bad mouthing your site were not going to give you very good word-of-mouth-marketing...it certainly would not lead to many sales. To that class of people everything is overpriced (except whatever they sell).

Focusing on Real Customers

Plenty of people enjoy our site, and profit from our advice. We have many subscribers who have been with us ever since we started our business model...hundreds that have been subscribers for over a year. Their opinions matter, but the feedback from the free whiners is worth less than nothing. Why? If I listened to them I would promote my site less aggressively and less effectively, while ignoring the fact that the complaining "me first" free-loaders are the type of people who complain about carpet stains while they take a shit in my virtual livingroom.

That same email course is being recommended by people across the web. In the forums Anita Campbell told me she was talking to a friend who out of the blue mentioned our autoresponder and that they thought it was the best autoresponder sequence they ever subscribed to. And Deseriee Sanchez, the single kind Twitter user, liked it as well ;)

Not that all Twitter users are bad...just the ones that whine about a marketing site using effective, honest, and wholesome marketing techniques.

That same pop up that is offensive to the non-customer who is too cheap to ever be a customer is getting free media exposure and word of mouth marketing by people who ***are*** using the advice to build their businesses. Just last week I got this via email:

Hi Aaron. I am a reporter at the New York Daily News. I plan to mention seobook.com in an article running on Monday re SEO for small business owners.

A source I spoke to recommended seobook.com as a good resource for business owners who might want to do seo themselves and are on a limited budget. I wanted to confirm that you offer a free email course. Is that correct?

Chasing Popularity Distracts You from Profit

Worse yet, while I spent years catering to this guy...

DON'T BUY ANYTHING, just visit his site and bitch about all the years of hard work he has done and the millions of dollars worth of information and software he shares for free.

...others were re-wrapping my work in hype and aggressive marketing, outselling me on my own work 5:1 and 10:1 because they sold that same info in a way that was obvious. Aggressive hyped up launch with super-basic how to videos. Clean formatting, limited information, rarely updated, and a linear prescriptive layout.

Focusing on Profit

Some of those guys (who became multi-millionaires from being good at sales and repackaging) lifted lines out of my ebook and went so far as asking for free updates to my ebook to help base their next competing product off of.

I have seen the other side of many of the $1,997 guru online membership websites. Sometimes they don't protect their member areas, and then when they launch they link to our site. So that tool the guy was whining about in my comment section is the same one other internet marketers tell you to go use after you give them a couple thousand dollars.

Many of those guys offer 0 interaction when you buy their stuff, and they plan for a high refund rate...hoping that the initial price point and hyped launch (built off of affiliate marketing) are still enough to make it worthwhile. Based on their clickthroughs to this site, some of these guys make a decent number of sales.

We don't do bad, but we offer a more interactive learning environment at a compelling price-point and we shouldn't cede customers to other sites reselling access to free parts of our site so we can cater to penny-less Twitter users - who are unhappy getting for free what others gladly pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for. If that makes me less popular I guess that is the way it is going to be.

Published: May 10, 2009 by Aaron Wall in marketing


May 10, 2009 - 3:03am

I am that guy who spent over 1,000 hours on our Do Follow lists only to remove what was left of them a year later. I had just launched our SEO blog and thought it was a great idea to give back to the SEO community.

I learned SEO on blogs like Aaron's and I felt obligated to give back. However, all I ended up doing was helping to drive Do Follow blogs back to No Follow. This is something that I truly regret.

I now teach what I call "Scratch My Back Marketing." Where you scratch the blogs back by leaving useful and relevant comments. The blog returns the favor by providing you with a useful Do Follow backlinks. Of course these posts get much less attention than the lists did.

Everyday since the lists were removed I get 3 or 4 comments thanking me for the great lists that are no longer there.

Thanks for bringing this to the attention of a much larger audience...

May 10, 2009 - 4:03am

Aaron. These twitter users just dont deserve your attention. You are 101% on the right track and if this pisses of people, i think they need to get themselves examined. Just IGNORE. I know it is difficult for people with self-respect but such people are just not worth your time and attention. As for the results of their bad mouthing; By the grace of Allah Taalah, your brand and reputation is much much more to get REAL customers affected by such comments. I just hope such comments make ur site more popular as people try to check it out more and find how valuable it is. As for the bitchers, they r going to bitch no matter what.
Cheers And Have A Nice Time.

May 10, 2009 - 4:13am

Hmm, just to be fair, I'd have to say I'm far far away from anything anyone could label as "lazy". But honestly, I never noticed that the popup had a "dont show again" link. I purposely looked for it since it was mentioned here, and saw it, but that popup has been shown to me at least 100 times, and I never knew that link was on it until now. So it might be a little unfair to consider people lazy because they don't click it. Maybe, like me, they never saw it.

Just thought I'd show another side that hadn't been mentioned.

May 10, 2009 - 4:29am

But the people who were complaining to me about it said they were aware of the "don't show" link. ;)

Maybe I can find a way to make that link more obvious?

May 10, 2009 - 4:19am

The nickel and dimers are barely worth nickels or dimes. Copyright Chris Hooley 2009.

People who know how to make money know how to spend it. And that's why you hear few complaints about your paid services. Who cares about complainers who come to your web property looking for a handout man. You're doing well because you know what you're doing.

Twitter is mostly noise man, I should know, I probably post about farting at least twice a week and I tweet about something I ate almost every day.

May 10, 2009 - 9:25am

Interesting post!

As long as people are talking about you... It is all good. Not everybody is dumb asses and actually listen to the negative comments or take it seriously.

It is impossible to make everybody happy no matter how hard you try though.

Every biz gets a few charge backs here and there, a few clients with bad experiences, etc... You know --- "shit happens"

Don't pay too much attention to those bloodsuckers though.

Keep going at it.. :)

Cha ching $$$

May 10, 2009 - 11:54am

I've been through the mill myself with cheap idiots (no point in mincing with my words). I sold my own product very cheaply at one point and I got nothing but trouble - speculators and idiots. I raised my price considerably, had a much more productive working day, quieter life, bigger profits, and much more discerning, serious customers who were "on the level" - even if they didn't know stuff, they were autodidacts - self-teachers, people with motivation, people who'd already invested their money. In short, people I can work with.

People who are cheap bring with them all sorts of problems - they expect a disproportionate amount of service for the money they are willing to pay. They are unappreciative and treat every company, no matter how small, as if it were a huge company. Seriously, they treat one-man bands as if they're Coca-Cola in order to portray anything you do as a "corporate failing". Never mind if you're a self-employed plumber or web developer. They portray you as "sinister/evil" if you don't meet their demands, no matter how unreasonable.

Seth Godin mentioned in one of his articles about "firing bad customers" - he basically said you have to do it as soon as possible. They're dangerous. I also think you need to get rid of potential bad customers too - if you see the signs, drop them and move on.

May 10, 2009 - 11:58am

I have to say Aaron it’s very disappointing that somebody of your reputation could so blatantly misquote the communication we had on Twitter, not only completely ignoring (and removing) the original nature of my enquiry, but using my profile in such a manner to further your own rant. Moreover, I find your complete disregard to my reputation, as well as the light manner to which you dismiss users of the Twitter platform, quite saddening.

For anyone who is interested, I have detailed the specifics of our discourse, which includes my initial polite approach, on my blog, which you can read here.

May 10, 2009 - 1:19pm

I replied to your blog post Sheamus. :)

I will also post the comment here...

I don’t understand the bit about my pop up’s “don’t show me this again” link not working for you. I have multiple computers and use 5 different browsers (Firefox, Google Chrome, Opera, Internet Explorer, & Safari), and it ***always*** works for me. I have tested it dozens of times.

I think the last person who bitched about my pop up was a person who was begging me for coverage on my blog (that I gave them) only a day prior to them making a nasty comment about the pop up, which seemed like an ahole thing to do.

I probably was still frustrated at that person when I wrote that blog post.

I was not trying to harm your reputation (I was pointing out that I thought the people whining to you were worthless in my eyes - and I still think that BTW). You didn’t say you were embarassed or frustrated at me, but you brought the opinion of generally worthless people to me, so I responded in a way that I hoped they would likely see it. And I bet they will, particularly after this blog post ;)

My point was that if you think the content is good you shouldn’t have to justify the pop up. Who cares if a site offering tons of valuable content for free has editorially controlled ethical advertising on it (as opposed to some AdSense ads for colon cleanse and Acai Berry Diets and Obama tax stimulus grants propped up through reverse billing fraud)? What makes the sleazy ads delivered by Google legitimate and a great site marketing itself not ok?

People need to get over themselves and realize that people who have an online business are there to do business…not to please freeloaders who bitch at the price of free.

If you would like me to edit the image to remove your name from the quotes that is cool by me. I just wanted those people to know that I thought they were aholes, and since you pinged me instead of them I guess that sorta got placed onto you a bit. I meant no harm to you (particularly now that I saw you were a former bouncer and bond trader…hehehe).

The truth of Twitter (to me) is that generally I think for most smaller companies it does pull away link equity and link diversity because of their bogus use of nofollow. In the long run I still see it as being a fad because it is so temporal and people quickly get burned out on it.

I used to get lots of coverage from bloggers which would have lots of recommendations in them and direct links. Both of which helped lead to direct and indirect sales, while establishing a lasting footprint on the web. But twitter coverage is pretty useless because 1 week later there is no traffic and (since there is nofollow) no links. Its much more like pay per click than SEO, but also less focused, less targeted, and of much lower value. It is generally more akin to StumbleUpon than traffic that has any real value.

Many of my sites have a variety strong competitive advantages. I put Twitter on that list exactly 0 times. From a long-term marketing perspective I still see Twitter as being quite worthless. It is more of an entertainment channel than a real marketing channel.

May 10, 2009 - 1:46pm

Thanks for your amicable response, Aaron. :) I've replied on my blog but will also replicate my comment here, and generally consider the matter now resolved. Cheers. :)

To clarify, any issue I had was not with the use of the pop-up window – as stated in my article it’s a very common and generally accepted way to market one’s content – but simply that I couldn’t get rid of it! It seems the “Don’t ask” link works for the day in which you click it but is forgotten on the next. I’m going to leave myself logged in to SeoBook and see if that rectifies the problem, but even if this works, it would not be a solution for a visitor who is returning without registration. My concern was that if the option to remove a pop-up is not honoured, it can begin to look like spam. Hence my initial message to you on Twitter.

I’m not going to debate with you the finer points of traffic value because you know a heck of a lot more than I ever will, although I do think you might be underestimating the value and lasting impact of Twitter. Time will of course tell whether it is a fad or the beginnings of the next era of information distribution, but as I said thousands of visitors is thousands of visitors – some of these must have value for any website.

Moreover, I don’t actually disagree with the overall stance of your article – it’s quite well-documented (by Tim Ferriss and others) how applicable something like the Pareto principle is to the customers of most businesses, how about 20% always pay on time without hassle and are responsible for about 80% of your profits, whereas the other 80% have to always be re-invoiced and chased up, and do all the complaining and fault-finding, while only accounting for about 20% of the pot. You’ll get no argument from me here – I’ve experienced it myself as a City analyst. Those that pay the least – assuming they pay at all – often demand the most.

I suppose it was simply the nature of your response that threw me off-guard; to be honest, I would have forgotten about it entirely without your follow-up blog piece. :)

I would be very appreciative if you could remove my name from your article, certainly if it isn’t going to impact the tone of your piece and the general purpose. As you will be well aware online reputation is increasingly important, and I’d hate for the many visitors to SeoBook to consider me little more than a schleb. :)

Again, thanks for your thoughtful follow-up,

May 10, 2009 - 1:57pm

I wish I could replicate the pop up issue not working because then I could likely fix it!

Your pic was removed from the post, and the links to your tweets were removed as well (since I was guessing the URL showed your name there too).

No hard feelings on my end Sheamus. Hopefully there aren't any back ;)

May 10, 2009 - 4:27pm

No, we're all good. Thanks for making those edits. :)

May 10, 2009 - 1:52pm


You're right on the money, literally. There are tons of tire-kicking, freebie seekers out there that will never spend a dime but will cause you the most grief. (80/20 rule?)

Case in point, I got an email from a "subscriber" the other day admonishing me for trying to sell them something and that they were "blocking" me. Apparently they didn't see the "unsubscribe" link on the bottom of the CAN-SPAM compliant messages. Now, I didn't receive a spam complaint but I thought that it was funny that this person was too lazy to read to the bottom and click a link but not lazy enough to write an email to "bitch" at me and go one step further to "block" my emails. Funny, huh? Maybe they should call their TV provider and have them block all the commercials or even email Billy Mays (oxy clean guy) and bitch at him for trying to "sell me something".

Point is, they got their free information from me but shame on me for trying to get a little something back in return.

Since, of course everything on the internet should be free.

Oh, and by the way, the pop up stopped for me when I did "eventually" hit the "Don't show again" link. It took me a while to finally hit the link, not because I was lazy (ok, maybe a little), but because it really didn't really bother me. It didn't ruin my day that you were trying to "sell me something".

Maybe I should have said, "Shame on you Aaron for trying to sell me your life's work, the very information that will add to my bottom line and help me to serve my clients better". LOL

Cheers Man!

May 10, 2009 - 2:17pm

Great article and straight to the point. Free can bring some links and noise (not at all that much as it used to), but is often bringing too much headache. I have to deal with a similar problem now with people who bitch about not liking a free thing given to them. I guess "ignore" is the best tactic (I'd listen to the few of them who actually give some input that can help us improve the product).

I love your style. Most bloggers care so much to be moderate and not hurt anyone, that their posts sound like a statesman speech.

May 10, 2009 - 2:42pm

We need to get hard on that horrible 20%. They need to be fired at the earliest instance. They have no business wasting our time.

If you work hard, are skilled, have ethics, you are motivated, and willing to help people, and you get some idiot on the phone expecting the Earth but "I want it cheap", FIRE THIS IDIOT RIGHT NOW. Seriously. That pang of guilt as you consider firing him? That self-doubt is misinformed. Fire him. This guy does not deserve one second of your time. Tell him you cannot help him. Simple. Do not waste your time and resources. These people are an obstruction to your everyday business. They are in your way. You have to fire them. Do not feel bad. Please do it.

May 10, 2009 - 3:32pm

i don't know the details, but i find it odd that someone says he "clears cookies regularly" and expects his "don't show again" preference to remain.

as usual, you are entirely enlightening.

May 10, 2009 - 9:21pm

Re that "Don't show again" link, I'm with Donna: until I read your mention of it here, I hadn't seen it before either. My bad, ok, but making it a bit more obvious shouldn't hurt, either, I'd say.

As for the cheapo tire kickers, I'm not generally given to trumpet some celeb marketers' agendas but I'll make one exception here: the one thing I like the most about Jacques Werth's High Probability Selling is his concept of "disqualifying your customers" to separate the wheat from the chaff. I.e. rather than concentrate on hard selling by trying to convince your prospects that your product's the next best thing after sliced bread (not that I'm saying that this is what you're doing - merely generalizing here), try to focus on weeding out those who simply won't fit your product, your service and your business model (which, obviously, includes support infrastructure). Do they need your stuff? Do they know they need it? Can they afford it? And just as important: do YOU actually want to have to deal with them?

This will help in dramatically leveraging resources by fending off the "everything should be for free - at least, for me" crowd of time wasters. Essentially, it's very much the power of the pre-sell you'll see at work here.

Also, if possibe don't go "free", go "trial" - entirely different ballgame. (Yes, I know this won't always pan out, depending on what you're specifically offering or doing, but by way of a rule of thumb I find it's a priceless approach.)

Regarding Twitter, I'm not sure I entirely agree with you there: a fad it may yet turn out to be, but the traffic's anything but worthless in our experience if you play it right. Making appr. $350 a day in customer lifetime value on one of our sites isn't anything to be scoffed at these days IMO. Whether it'll hold in the long run is, of course, another matter - this still remains to be seen, as with all social network and bookmarking sites.

Link sculpting via Twitter is actually quite an interesting exercise going way beyond the mere "links are nofollowed, hence useless" contention in my experience (some links actually aren't, after all), but that, of course, is an entirely different topic in its own right.

May 11, 2009 - 12:45am

I was afraid of a lower priced trial adding a lot of noise to our community, and that is sorta why I avoided the strategy thusfar. Perhaps I need to come up with another info-product (or some such strategy) that further automates the filtering.

Interesting and creative uses of Twitter you are doing Fantomaster :)

May 10, 2009 - 8:01pm

With all the "Private Browsing" functionality employed in new browsers, relying on the cookie for suppression isn't going to be 100% effective for every user. Sadly, its' the simplest and most common solution to user preferences on the web, so what can you do...

As an SEObook training member, if I saw any kind of persistent popup in the member's area, that would be a different story, but you can do whatever you want with your free content.

May 10, 2009 - 11:23pm

Aaron said in a comment: "People need to get over themselves and realize that people who have an online business are there to do business…not to please freeloaders who bitch at the price of free."

I love that comment, because it's so true.

I can't get my head around people who expect to build great incomes on FREE information. I send out a free weekly writers' ezine, in PDF format, with around 16 pages of great information.

Most subscribers love it, and send appreciative comments. But there are always a few who want everything to be free. And these people want to make money online...??!

While I'd love to write back and ask them HOW they're going to make money with their "everything I want should be free" philosophy, I wouldn't waste my energy. Maybe one day they'll grow up.

May 11, 2009 - 12:51am

It is absurd, but what is even worse than that is when someone tells you they bought some scammy product (sold by some scammer, not someone like us) and since it didn't work, they feel that they should have all your stuff for free.

May 10, 2009 - 11:36pm

Aaron, since you wrote this article I have already received 7 trackbacks from blogs that stolen the entire article. Wow, how do you deal which such a high volume of content theft?

On another point I agree with you that Twitter is entertainment and not for productive marketing. I can't see how anyone thinks that the ROI produced through using Twitter is worth while. I measure everything based on my return on investment. It amazes me that so many go blindly down this Twitter path without ever measuring the time on the site against the results produced.

May 11, 2009 - 12:38am

I don't mind sites that recycle our blog feed. The more the merrier, because whatever I link at gets more links that way :)

And this site should have enough authority to rank #1 for its own content most of the time...particularly because we get links into most of our posts in addition to having a strong domain authority, and frequently linking back to our own older content in the new posts.

May 11, 2009 - 3:49am

We've experimented with FREE as a marketing tool on Earth Day for the last two years. Each time we gave away about 60 free products to the first 60 people to put them in their shopping cart. The first attempt wasn't so bad. We received a lot of decent links from our press release about our free Earth Day promotion. However, after reviewing accounts for those "customers" who took the free product after the first promotion we noticed that not one of them ever returned and bought anything. Because we decided that the value of the links we received was worth the value of the free product we decided to do it again this year despite the fact that we didn't gain any paying customers from the first attempt. This time it was an absolute nightmare. Our press release was picked up by several high traffic blogs and was also published on the front page of green.yahoo.com. Our site was down for most of the day. Things eventually calmed down and we got the site back up by about 5pm on the same day. All of the free sets were taken in a matter of seconds. For the rest of the week we received an unbelievable number of complaints from people who "wasted all day" trying to get the free lights. They accused us of false advertising, fraud, and generally just whined because they weren't able to get one of 60 free products that 10's of thousands of people were after. Obviously this person was not a statictician. One guy said that he was going to report us to the USPS. Not sure why but he was really upset that he had spent 7 hours trying to get the free product.

Look what happened to KFC when they tried to give away free chicken? I believe there were reports of riots and threats of class action law suits. I saw lines at all our local KFC's backing up into the street. What kind of person wastes hours and goes through all that hassle to get something that costs less a few dollars? Not anyone you want as a customer.

In any case, Aaron's post is right on point. In our experience people that want FREE are not likely to ever become customers so don't waste your time with them. The only value of free is that it can be good for generating some links but in some cases it is not worth suffering all the whining. I know I don't want to deal with these people again so we are done with our free give aways.

May 11, 2009 - 7:11am

Good points filkertus! I just saw this quote from the Gawker blog:

I went over to our nearest KFC a few minutes ago (this was around 42nd and Park)and chaos ensued. Despite the very visible grilled chicken behind the register, the manager told everyone with coupons to leave and that the promotion was over for the day. The people there are currently holding a sit-in and refusing to leave until they get their free chicken...or the cops are called. Racial epithets were being spewed, people who actually wanted to pay for chicken were facing a potential beatdown, and the manager ran from the screaming horde.

And that point about "at least getting the links" that is a great strategy for many sites, but with Twitter nofollowing many mentions, it negates even that benefit.

May 11, 2009 - 5:44am

"Not anyone you want as a customer."

@filkertus, I agree, ESPECIALLY in a professional service industry like SEO or website development. Some people do not really know what they want, but somehow it has to end up with them making lots of cash. These people have no direction, no specific goals, but they want you to "make it happen" for them and that we should bear in mind they're on a very tight budget.

They give you the runaround, distract you, then they walk away and you wasted your time on them. So one of the best ways to avoid such people is put up a barrier to entry : a fee. People who are serious and are sold on your service will pay the fee knowing it's a good investment.

May 11, 2009 - 5:47am

People don't value free stuff...totally.

I am doing some programming for my stepmom's vacation rental site.

Now she just asked me to create a whole new website that will take me many hours.

She asked me to do this like she was asking me to pick her up milk at the store...wtf!

May 11, 2009 - 6:56am

I actually got a site set up for my step-dad recently, but they were totally cool and appreciative about it.

A few years back I gave my brother a site that was making hundreds a month in AdSense, and helped him set up another site by registering a domain name and buying a bunch of links for it. Rather than writing unique content he snagged content from 3rd party sites, changed his domain name against my advice, and then publicly flamed me on web forums about how I ruined the site of my own brother.

You really have to make sure you know what category people fit into when you do them a favor. Once you establish the price-point of free and the person getting free has no opportunity cost you really put yourself in a situation where many things will turn out badly, even if your intent is pure and you give away thousands of dollars in labor and investment.

Jansie Blom
May 11, 2009 - 6:26am

...ye olde 'justify-why-certain-things-are-the-way-they-are-on-your-site' blog post. hmmm...

seriously aaron, i have a lot of respect for you. you, michael martinez and tim nash. i often read your blog posts, and you're spot on most of the time (99%?). you deserve respect in your field.

this post, however, is sad, to be honest. i hate the pop-up that comes up. i don't have the money to subscribe right now, and that's one of the reasons why i hate it. it is obtrusive, rude, and smells of cheap wordpress pluginatory.

i don't need a KFC rep to come knocking at my door every day. when i have the money, and feel like it, i'll pop over there and buy myself some of that delicious chicken.

and simply saying that people have to deal with your pop-up, or get lost? tsk tsk...

not everyone is cheap because they want everything for free.

May 11, 2009 - 6:51am

You either took it too personally or did not read the post Jansie.

I didn't write that people who do not buy are worthless. What I wrote was that people who do not buy AND complain about what they are getting for free are worthless. There is a big, non-subtle difference between those 2 groups of people.

i don't need a KFC rep to come knocking at my door every day. when i have the money, and feel like it, i'll pop over there and buy myself some of that delicious chicken.

That analogy is poor/inaccurate because people come knocking on my virtual door when they visit this site, not the other way around.

AND to get rid of the pop up for years (or at least until you clear cookies) all you have to do is click 1 link once.

and simply saying that people have to deal with your pop-up, or get lost? tsk tsk...

If they are too lazy to click the "don't show it to me again" link and then complain publicly about it, I think they are worth less than nothing (to my business, and any other businesses they treat that way).

People who consume your bandwith AND time AND then bitch about getting great stuff for free are a negative force on business growth.

May 11, 2009 - 10:08am

Hi Aaron,

Great article! it's common for bad manners to exist online en masse. It does have a name and I believe it's called projection

You should read 'Winning Through Intimidation' by Robert J. Ringer, he relates of his experience and graduation from the college SCREW-U, very apt indeed.

May 11, 2009 - 11:03am

Thanks for pointing that out Jeremy. :)

I never thought of it in that context, but you are spot on. One of the best forms of poor journalism is "some people say..." because invariably it is true, and can't be proven false...if for no other reason than after you create fake news people talk about it :)

May 11, 2009 - 10:30am

Aaron, if I am not wrong it’s about a month or more now that controversial pop-up is there on your site.

Can you look into your stats and let the world know if it really helped increase your subscriptions – paid I mean?

May 11, 2009 - 11:04am

I sorta alluded to that in the post ;) yes we saw a lift in new subscribers per day. :)

May 11, 2009 - 2:02pm

Hey Aaron,

This is the kind of thing that when I read, it truly makes me sick. And I don't walk in your shoes so I can just imagine.

I for one definitely want to get that pop up!

It let's me know that you have something to give me a heads up about...Is there a difference because I'm a paying customer?...may be and only in that I recognize value when I see it...but other than that If i wasn't and I was once, I still wouldn't mind.

Why? ....because seobook.com has always [and I challenge anyone to debate to the contrary] delivered more value than it has received. It did it when you said you had a low self esteem approach and it still doing it now.

But it's all a moot point Aaron, since the dawn of hx there have been whiners, free loaders and carnival riders. I'm guessing your work, as anyone else's, has the best value for those that can appreciate it. Very little to do about the mildew except to scrub it off.

Options you have. Even when giving something away, meaning you are not directly profiting from it. Putting a small, very surmountable entry to barrier such as,

"in order to download this free ebook that will enhance your business and make you RICHER! -please donate to this "charity I'm supporting"

Or something along this line, automatically weeding out the folks that give a shit vs. the folks that don't give a shit.

I better stop now brother :)

Take care

May 11, 2009 - 2:17pm

Thanks for the kind comment ravencross! :)

May 11, 2009 - 3:56pm

Hi Aaron... rant over right =o). I've said this here and many other places the information you offer is above and beyond the norm, well thought out and insightful. I think everyone here agrees they know people similar to the type your mentioning in the post, ungrateful, pennyless, etc etc. I really believe that people are penny less exactly for not being greatful, thankful or whatever you'd like to call it.

The question I have is, would you let us know how much increase in sales you've received using the pop up? I'll probably get flamed here for saying this but I too think the pop up is annoying like most other sites, it would never stop me from reading your content as I said it's the best in the Biz. So, in saying that have you lost any readers over it? Increased sales? Thanks Aaron, keep killing 'em.

May 11, 2009 - 5:30pm

Since implementing the slide up and pop up our daily conversions have basically doubled :)

May 11, 2009 - 6:02pm

LOL, well there you go, case closed =o).

May 11, 2009 - 4:54pm

Yipes...it's only a pop-up, not a fork stuck in your eye.
I am a paying member, and when I have had to turn this off (maybe 2-3 times), it never even bothered me a little bit. Especially the one on the bottom of the page - it is so unobtrusive, I hardly even notice it. BFD.
I echo what others said - you have given away a ton for free (I know, I took it all), and if you want to try to harness these visits into revenue, a pop-up makes good business sense. I was definitely a freebie seeker, but the quality of the content and your approachability pulled me in to pay...don't regret it a bit.
I think one of the main problems with blogs and twitter and Facebook and all this stuff is that it allows EVERYONE to talk on the web, and not everyone should be talking so loudly(go look at Yahoo Answers). Idiots are everywhere, but in life they are easier to avoid than they are on the web. It's a cesspool, right? Thank god for altruistic sources like Google to tell us which brands to trust...

Besides, why go on about all this bad stuff when Aaron snuck in this little gem: "the type of people who complain about carpet stains while they take a shit in my virtual livingroom" --I'm crying at that one...

May 11, 2009 - 5:21pm

I've been only mildly annoyed by the pop-up, but it's my own fault for clearing cookies and using multiple machines for my browsing.

I wouldn't put much weight in the opinions of passers-by - the complainers have a way of always being the most vocal. I'd expect you to evaluate that pop-up by the numbers. It's driving more sales so why in the world would you stop it?

May 11, 2009 - 8:38pm


I used SEO for Firefox, but I haven't received any checks or any money yet. I'm confused. I was pretty sure that you said by using seo for firefox, I could make some money.

I lieu of this, please send me your money instead! And can you please direct deposit to my bank account, because I'm too lazy to cash the check :D


All kidding aside, nice post :)

May 11, 2009 - 9:04pm

No problema Nick. I just need an email address to send the funds (and F*RE3 V1a6R@ offers) to :)

May 12, 2009 - 7:16am

I'd like to say I can't believe anyone would complain about a pop up that you can get rid of with a single click...on a FREE site...but unfortunately I can. Ridiculous.

The first time I saw the pop up I clicked "don't show again". I clear my cookies nearly every day, so I end up having to click the "don't show again" link relatively often. SO WHAT!!! It's one click! Man, people are really a pain.

Aaron, if your free advice on this site isn't worth a single click to get rid of a pop up to someone, you DEFINITELY don't want them coming back. Crazy.

May 12, 2009 - 2:35pm

Preach on maxmoritz!

May 13, 2009 - 4:19am

Agree with the post, however I personally didn't notice the "don't show again" option until you mentioned it in the post -- maybe it's placed in such a way that it's in the banner-blind-spot-area for most people

May 14, 2009 - 1:44pm

Aaron, I think your stuff is great and certainly think that you deserve the right to market your services via a pop up when you are giving away excellent free content.

I am one of those people who benefit greatly from your free content. Yes, I know what your thinking. Why am I reading this then? Even though I do not pay for your site, I refer as many people as possible to it as I can. So I hope some of them are converting.

However, as some constructive criticism. I read most of the blogs that I subscribe to including yours at night before I go to bed on my iPhone. <- I know TMI.

And the one thing that would be great is if you made the click here to close link a little bigger for the pop up. Most times I have to scroll around to get to it and sometimes it is difficult to click on it.

As more and more people are moving toward mobile devices, this might be something to consider.

Thanks for all of your hard work.

May 14, 2009 - 4:01pm

Thanks for the feedback. As more people move to mobile devices I will probably make the site more welcoming on that front in the next year or so.

May 19, 2009 - 8:17pm

Hi Aaron,

Yes, your series of emails when someone registers on the site is incredibly valuable -- full of useful substance. My friend was raving about it and trying to emulate it on her site (for a different niche, obviously).

Those who are serious about their businesses will appreciate the value you deliver and your commitment to the community with all the free tools and advice you provide.

Signed -- "a big supporter"


May 19, 2009 - 10:50pm

Thanks Anita :)

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