There are two reasons people get involved in a shithole industry: because they don’t know it’s a shithole, or because they don’t care.
Once you find out it’s a shithole, you’re stuck with a decision to make.
Do you care?
Hardly any industry starts out a shithole. It happens as people fuck with it and try to cheat the system. Initially, the industry was honest people doing honest business.
And then along came someone less-honest.
“You know what? I could cheat.”
And they do, and it makes them money. And then someone finds out about it, and that someone says “you know, I should probably report that person to the authorities, but I could also just cheat and make money instead.”
The single biggest weapon in the cheater’s arsenal is “let’s do it to someone else.”
Greed, sloth, vanity, pride, lust, gluttony, wrath.
Marketers leverage sin, not because they’re horrible people, but because WE are horrible people. Make more money. Do less work. Look better naked. Have the life you deserve. Have more sex. Lose weight without dieting. Get those damn gurus back for all their lies. We don’t fall for these pitches because that bastard marketer made the pitch. We fall for them because deep down, we are selfish and lazy and ignorant and mean.
Nobody has to work at making us terrible people. That’s who we are by default, just like we’re all born dirt-poor without a cent to our names. People are always concerned about what makes people bad and what makes people poor, but nothing makes them that way.
That’s just who people are.
Don’t get me wrong here – I’m not saying to embrace your inner dick and just lie, cheat, and steal with impunity. I’m saying that if you do not actively try to be a good person, you’re not a good person. Just like if you don’t actively try to be successful, you probably won’t.
Life is work. In and of itself, just getting from one day to the next is work. You are working all day, every day for something. Even if it’s just living through another day. And if you don’t know what you’re working for, you’re almost certainly investing that work on something selfish, lazy, ignorant, and mean which isn’t going to make you any better off in the long run.
And here’s where we really come down to the crux of it all.
If you are hanging around with a bunch of people working toward the same thing, you will want to work toward that thing too.
Humans are naturally social. If you hang around with a lot of people who crochet, or who play Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, you will want to crochet or play CoD:MW3 yourself. Because every time those people go off to do the thing they do, you don’t go do it with them, which has two effects:
1. You feel left out, like you’re not really part of the group.
2. The group feels like you’re not really one of them after all.
It should go without saying that this is a vicious circle. When both you and the group agree you’re not really part of that group, guess what? You’re not. And you start not getting invited to hang out with them. At first, it’s not getting invited to the thing they do which you don’t. Then it starts being other stuff. And eventually, it starts being everything.
Human beings hate to be alone. They hate to be the odd one out. No matter how despicable a group is, people would rather be a part of it than be all by themselves. So when there’s something your group does that you don’t, you’ve a powerful drive – ingrained in your human psychology – to start doing it yourself.
So guess what happens when you hang out with lying, cheating, stealing fuckwads who will do anything for a buck?
That’s why places become shitholes. Shitholery becomes the norm, and everyone in it starts to get all shitaholic. And that’s why you need to get the fuck out of those places.
So I’ve been kind of introspective today, which as you read this is last week (I drip-feed my posts), and I got to thinking about the whole shithole of an industry we have and why it’s such a shithole.
And it’s mostly because self-righteous fuckwads talk about it being a shithole.
(Yes, I’m aware there’s a great deal of irony here. That doesn’t change my conclusions.)
See, what happens is people write these articles about “oh dear Lord, look what these people are doing, it’s scandalous.” And for all their condemnation, we all know what the cool kids do, right?
So along comes the Verge with this article about how terrible the internet marketing crowd is. They start with a nice, well-rounded condemnation of the whole industry:
The term Internet Marketing in this context describes both a particular business model used to sell fraudulent products and services online, and the community or subculture that embraces it.
Notice in particular the word “fraudulent.” That’s the one and only inaccurate thing in that sentence – a single word that makes all the difference. And then they give you the road map.
The path to internet riches begins with an introductory product, such as a book or DVD. This is often a loss leader: the real value for the Internet Marketer is that it allows him to capture your contact information. Once you’re in the system, your inbox will be flooded with offers for software, DVD sets, and coaching programs costing several hundreds or thousands of dollars.
Now, if you’re struggling and have no money… guess what?
That doesn’t look like such a bad idea.
After all, everyone is doing it.
So what do you need to get started?
You need an introductory product, and then some software and DVD sets and coaching programs.
Which is actually a pretty accurate progression: here is your book about keyword research. Would you like to buy this $47 keyword research tool now? How about a $497 video walkthrough of exactly how to use it in the design and construction of a website? You know, I can personally coach you for $1,997 a month if you really need it.
Which is where the Verge article kind of sits in a perfect little place of saying all the right things and being right on the same page as the industry… except for that word “fraudulent.”
What they’ve done is told everyone that the internet marketing community embraces fraudulent products – an outright lie; most internet marketers hate them – and then gone on to explain precisely how the system works. Well, if it weren’t fraudulent products.
And it’s that assumption that fucks everything up. People get involved, and they come in asking questions, and it all adds up just like the article said. So they’re left with the very strong impression that the “fraudulent” part is probably true, as well.
So when you come up against someone who actually does sell complete shit, well, that’s okay. After all, internet marketers “embrace” that culture. Every time you buy a piece of utter garbage, that doesn’t mean you’re a shitty customer who can’t make good decisions, it just means the industry really does accept and approve the deliberate selling of bullshit.
I’ll examine this further tomorrow, which is to say “this post is now over 500 words and I’m going to start a new one.”
A lot of people give the Warrior Forum hell for being a crappy place, and honestly, there’s a lot of crappiness there.
Because, you know, there’s a lot of shit going on in general.
Walk into any mall, and most of the stores are bullshit. Here’s a dollar store next to a dollar store. The only difference is that one is owned by the Koreans who also own the “exotic imports” shop down this way, and the other is owned by the Vietnamese who also run the nail salon down that way.
Yeah, yeah, I know. “That’s a stereotype!” Most stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason.
Personally, I enjoy looking for things in the “exotic imports” shop which are also in the dollar store. There were some faux jade Buddha statues in there for $12 each once. Walk a few storefronts down, and you could buy the same statues for a buck. Remind you of anything?
“My customers don’t know! They’re stupid.”
But the real issue there isn’t that some jackhole shopkeeper is selling the same thing at two different prices. It’s that he understands positioning. Surround a dozen of these statues with other Buddha figurines at varying sizes and price points, your customers will happily pay $12.
Stick a few hundred in a plastic jar on a white formica countertop, and they’ll only pay $1 on an ill-founded impulse.
And that’s what’s going on in the Warrior Forum. The place is still full of quality marketers with quality products, but what’s happened is the WSO forum has gotten overrun by cheap shitty products from cheap shitty people.
People complain that about a hundred WSOs are posted every day, but put that in perspective: it’s pretty much the same two or three hundred people doing it. And while that might seem like a lot, there are about half a million people on the Warrior Forum.
Plus, about a dozen of the WSOs posted on any given day are actually good. And before you say “but that’s only a tiny fraction of the WSOs being posted,” ask yourself this: where else can you find a dozen quality products posted every single day?
So yeah, I know I’m categorising this under “This Shithole of an Industry,” because face it… the industry is a shithole, and the Warrior Forum’s right down in the valley where the shit rolls downhill and collects.
But stop bitching about the shithole for a moment, and marvel just a little at the many quality people who hang out there. Some posting, some lurking, some just putting out the dozen or so quality WSOs that hit the forum on any given day.
They don’t have to hang out in the shithole. Indeed, they could hang out anywhere they wanted. But there they are, being badass right in the middle of all the shit.
That kind of, you know, doesn’t suck at all.
Here’s a fun one I ran across once.
A friend of mine asked me if I had PLR to a product I could let him use as a bonus to his own new product. I dug through my PLR stuff, found something that actually didn’t suck and went well with his product, then passed it over to him in return for a copy of his new product.
Basically, we did a little “PayPal dance” where he gave me the $27 price of his product, I sent him the bonus product, and then I used the money he sent me to buy a copy of his product. He thought it was silly, but just shrugged and went along with it.
I was less than impressed with his new product, so I emailed him a couple hours later to let him know I didn’t think it was particularly good.
“I know!” he said. “That PLR thing you sent me was much better. So I’m making that the main product and using my own as the bonus, so I can sell it for a higher price. Here, look at my sales page.”
I looked at the sales page and found that he’d taken the sales page included with the PLR product, raised the price to $47, and wired it up to his existing buy button.
Which is all well and good, you know, except that he was selling personal rights to this PLR product for $47 when anyone could buy the full PLR to it for $1.50 on Tradebit. Which I told him.
“Nah, my list doesn’t know about Tradebit,” he said. “They’re stupid.”
Now, in general, I believe in capitalism. If you buy something for $1.50 and you can sell it for $47, I say more power to you. You can’t knock a man’s hustle.
After all, I myself have hundreds of gigabytes of PLR material and even released a product called Instant Product Copycat about how to legally and ethically “copycat” other people’s products – not ripping them off, but using those products as a guide to follow when creating your own product.
If you get very deeply involved with the music industry, you’ll find that this is also how hit songs are constructed… by reverse-engineering someone else’s hit song.
And you thought it was a lack of imagination that made everything on the radio sound the same. Nope! It’s deliberate. Whenever someone makes a runaway hit, the industry pounces on that song and tears it apart to make hundreds more just like it.
But what’s happening more and more often these days is people aren’t even trying to put their own artistic spin on anything. They just steal the table of contents, rename all the chapters, and type up the same basic information in their own words. Which is perfectly fine, if you’re producing a research paper as homework for your internet marketing class, but that’s not something you should be selling.
And if that’s your entire fucking business model, because people are stupid, you’re a shithead.
I was talking to a marketer earlier today (a couple weeks ago, by the time you read this), and he started trying to teach me how to get more affiliates.
The core of his system was, well, fraud.
Basically, he has a special list. He emails them and says “buy this product.” They all run buy it, and he gets big juicy EPCs (Earnings Per Click – sales revenue divided by number of clicks) to show his affiliates.
Later, he goes and refunds all their purchases, so they get their money back and have the product for free.
I wouldn’t be surprised if these people sent him reviews and shit, too.
When I was appalled at this, he didn’t understand why. He was just mailing a small test list to get EPCs, and the whole “you get your money back in a week” thing was just an ethical bribe to get them on the list.
I expressed my opinion that while it was a bribe, it most certainly was not ethical. And then I had to explain why.
The EPCs for a product are supposed to tell prospective affiliates how much they can expect to make from their list. If I know I can send you 600 clicks, and his EPCs are $2.50, then I should make $1,500 from that mailing.
What he’s doing is lying to these people so they’ll promote his product. The EPCs he’s showing aren’t real. They know next week, they’ll get the money back. They aren’t spending $10 – they’re just loaning him $10. For a week.
So what do you think? Would more or less people want to give him the same $10 to keep? I mean, just hypothetically. When you mail your list, those people don’t get a refund.
And here’s the really crappy part. Think about this.
Joe mails his list, and gets $2.50 EPCs on it. He shows you that, and you mail your list. Unfortunately, your list only generates an EPC of like 33 cents. So what do you think just happened?
Why, you think you have a shitty list, that’s what!
And where are you going to go so you can find out how to build a better list? Aha! You should obviously go to the guy with the $2.50 EPCs, right? He sure knows how to build a good responsive list!
And I’ll bet he’s got a product about listbuilding. Or at least an affiliate link to one.
I used to “bird dog” for a real estate investor – locating properties he would want to buy, then telling him about them for a small finders fee. He always told me he never put a single penny down on a house. And one night, over a few beers, he told me how.
“I have a million dollar line of credit,” he said. “Whenever I want something, I just write a check.”
“But that’s not no money down,” I protested. “That’s paying cash.” And he laughed, explaining that it’s not his cash. It’s the bank’s cash. And by the time they ask for it back, he’ll have sold the house for a profit. So he didn’t use any of his own money – the bank paid for the house, and he only paid them when he sold it.
And that, he explained, was why he never sold or endorsed “no money down” courses like Carlton Sheetz and his ilk sold. Because while “no money down” deals happen all the time, they don’t happen the way people think, and they certainly aren’t done the way these courses teach.
It’s the same way in internet marketing. Million dollar launches, six-figure lists, double-digit conversions… these happen every day.
Just not the way you think they do. And when someone is selling you a product about how to do what they do, don’t ever make the mistake of thinking that’s how they do it.
When I posted my big shit-fit about all the lying cocksuckers in this business, I was pretty surprised by the people who were offended about it, since I was speaking almost exclusively about people who made me a promise and then made some stupid excuse not to keep it.
But I hit a lot of people I regarded as innocent with that salvo.
Some of them were angry, and came to me spitting bile about how I didn’t do my job and tell them about my upcoming launches, so it’s not their fault.
Others were hurt, and came to me plaintively asking if I was sure I didn’t want them as friends anymore just because they didn’t mail for me.
It took me a while to figure out that what was happening here was that these people felt guilty, because even though they didn’t promise me anything… they still felt like they should have done something.
And what absolutely nobody seems to have gotten is that I’m not angry at individual people. I’m angry at this piece of shit industry that has taken good, decent, honest people and made them into dickheaded fucktards who say “I can’t mail for your product because you don’t have any EPCs.” No shit, dumbass, nobody can buy it yet. EPCs are zero and they’re going to stay zero until 1 PM Eastern on Thursday.
And I don’t blame those people, because they started out good people. It’s this Goddamn industry that does it. It’s the relentless pursuit of cash over all things that turns these people into retarded shitheads that say “I’ll help you!” and then say “oh, sorry, I had something else to do that made me more money.”
That’s why I didn’t ask for your help, fuckwad. You had better things to do. Then you offered, and I said “hey, that’s great, thanks!” – except I get jack shit because, gee, you had better things to do. So did I. In fact, I have pretty much always got better things to do than sit around waiting for someone else to do a fucking job that they’re not doing.
If you’re one of the four people who volunteered to do something and then repeatedly said “haha, I’m sorry, I had to go make money” – bear in mind, I’m not angry at you personally. I’m angry at the pattern. I’m angry at the common thread that binds all of this together: this shithole of an industry. I understand and accept that occasionally someone will offer something and not follow through.
But four fucking times?
If it was the same person, this is where you start saying “thanks, but no thanks” when they offer to do shit. But it’s not one person. It’s four people. Four entirely different people doing entirely different jobs for entirely different reasons.
That’s not the people. It’s something else. It’s where you have to stop looking at names, and you start looking at patterns. How are these people alike? What do they have in common? Because it’s not the individuals that are the problem, it’s the class of people they represent.
There’s this old saying that we’ve all heard.
Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day; teach him to fish, and he’ll eat for a lifetime.
Of course, we modify that last bit. Teach him to fish, and he’ll bitch that you didn’t give him that fish you promised. Teach him to fish, and he’ll ask for a refund because you can’t take it back. Teach him to fish, and you can’t sell him fish anymore.
But here’s the blunt reality, okay?
In the info product business, everything is both a fish and fishing.
If you just want a fish, whatever info product you buy is a fish. It’s a thing that you have which provides a certain value. It is something you can read. And they sold it to you by claiming it was a fish; nobody buys fishing lessons on the basis of “become a great fisherman.” They buy fish, on the basis of “have more fish than you will ever need.”
But it’s still an info product, so it’s actually fishing. It’s not really a fish, it’s teaching you how to go out and get a fish. You still have to go out and get the fish yourself. In fact, you probably need to buy some tools and equipment, too. You’ll probably need some practice. And your fish will probably not be as big as the teacher’s.
And anyone learning to fish will look at that and say “okay, sure; I’m cool with that.” Then he’ll go out and spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on rods, reels, line, lures, flies, plugs, hooks, bait, a tackle box, maybe even a Goddamn boat. He’ll spend hours every day practicing, casting a fly into the middle of a hula hoop just to work on his accuracy. On the weekends, he’ll spend eight and ten hours honing his skills. He’ll subscribe to magazines. Read books. Talk to other fishermen. Watch shows on television. Study maps of fishing areas. Research the kind of fish he wants to catch, their habitat, their lifecycle, their routines.
And never once will he come home from a fishing trip saying “the people who sold me all this shit were lying.” He won’t storm into a shop and slam down something he bought last week, pointing at the Rapala logo and demanding his money back because he didn’t catch a fish that big over the weekend.
The same goes for pretty much anything. Horseback riding? You’re going to need a horse, and you’ll need to know how to take care of it, and you’ll need a place to keep it, and it needs to be fed and watered and groomed. And it will be a good long while before you’re any good. Computer programming? You’ll need a computer, the right software, the right training. And again, long time before you’re any good.
So why do people think running a business is going to be any different? It’s not fucking magic, people. It’s work.
That’s the big question, isn’t it? Why even be in an industry that is such a shithole in the first place?
It’s not just this industry. It’s every industry. It doesn’t matter where you go, it’s still full of Slim Jims and you still need to be Fat Jack to get anywhere. I’m not talking about the way people in this industry think right now, I’m talking about the way everyone everywhere thinks all the time.
And you don’t get to live in some special different world where people aren’t people. It doesn’t work that way.
We all have some stupid fantasy that we will separate the world into “us” and “them,” and we will stay over here while they stay over there. But it’s not like that. It’s not just hard to tell the difference – there isn’t one.
That’s right, you are Slim Jim. And so am I. Fat Jack isn’t something we are at the core of our being; it’s a part we play, a mask we wear, so we can ourselves be selfish and lazy and ignorant and mean.
I mean, what do you really want out of life?
Stop right there! “I want…” is how that starts, right?
And you want more leisure time, right?
And this is all based on what you think is true now, right?
That’s ignorant. (You don’t already have this because you’re wrong about something.)
To top it off… you’d like everyone who told you this wasn’t going to happen for you to see it happen and be jealous, right?
We’re all Slim Jim. There is no “us and them.” We are them and they are us and it’s all just arbitrary bullshit.
You can put it away for a while. You can even stop for a while and direct your selfish and lazy and ignorant and mean ways at the same thing someone else would. That’s serendipity for a lot of people; the scraps that fall off your plate land nicely on theirs, and the little work you did means they don’t have to do any themselves, and you both happen to agree on the same ignorant shit, and you’re both being mean to the same people.
But this is a temporary alliance, a truce, which persists only until you have something they want and think they could take from you. Once you’re happy and they’re not, they’ll turn on you and tear you to pieces.
Oh, me? Would I do that? Like, to you?
Nobody will ever say yes.
There’s an old Chinese proverb that no vendor cries “bitter melons, sour wine.” So are my melons bitter? My wine sour? Will I turn on you and tear you apart if it benefits me?
Of course not, he said, exactly as he would if the answer was yes.
Always assume the answer is yes. Don’t even ask. Your friends will turn on you. It is only a question of when and why. If that never happens, hey, you may live your entire life with good friends who don’t turn on you.
But make no mistake – under the right conditions, given the right incentive, they always would.
So here’s the thing you should ought to be doing: get FAT.
There’s a flip side of SLIM fucking Slim Jim that obviously exists, and finding one is like winning the Goddamn lottery. So you can’t really plan to go out and find people like this to work with… you have to just be one yourself.
And that flip side is Fat Jack.
Fat Jack isn’t selfish, lazy, ignorant, or mean. He’s Focused, Active, and Tribal – F.A.T. Which means instead of thinking about what’s in it for him and how he can do less work, he’s thinking about what he does and how he can make it happen… either by himself, or through things other people are already doing.
That’s a key element. You can’t control other people, and other people suck. If you want something from other people, they’re not going to give it to you, because they’re selfish. You can’t expect them to work harder or better, because they’re lazy. If they don’t already understand what they should be doing, you can’t explain it, because they’re ignorant. And even if they don’t need to give you anything or work any harder or learn more about shit, they’ll actively avoid anything that might make your life easier because they’re just plain mean.
So what you do is just throw shit in their path and walk away. Maybe they pick it up, maybe they don’t, but you don’t fucking care because it’s not like they care about you anyway. You can’t say “hey, I know, I will go around putting this in people’s path so they pick it up.” They will only pick it up if they have a reasonable expectation that you don’t give a shit whether they pick it up.
Which means you might drop it in their path, but that’s just a casual thing. You’re going to generate your primary sales and traffic and income on your own. And then they’re going to come in and promote for you because they want some of it. They don’t want to share their traffic unless you get more than they do.
What’s in it for them? If it’s not as much as there is in it for you, then fuck you, buddy. You are getting more benefit. You have to pay extra. I’m sorry, are you new at this? Then you are going to have to pay 100% commission, because without my traffic you have got jack shit. I’ll let you have the customer list, because I’ve already got it, but fuck you if you think I’m letting you have some of the money. That’s my customers’ money.
That attitude is pervasive. Nobody will help you. Nobody will “team up” with you. You’ve got to lead a tribe and let it form behind you. But in the end, they’re not on your side… they’re on their own side. And they will desert you in a second if you show signs of weakness.
You’re the chief. They’re just savages. Never forget that. They will turn on you.