[R]ecently I posted this picture on my Google+ account, Tweeted it and said I’d talk about it Monday. What inspired me taking the picture? Do I really make $50k a week on Clickbank?
My Clickbank “Money Shot”
Holy KAW! You’re KILLIN’ IT MAN!
I am SO killin’ it – killing the B.S. and hype.
Let me come clean here: I don’t make $50k a week.
Not sure I ever will, I’m not losing sleep over it, trust me. I do make a fully passive income (the details of which I no longer share), but it’s nothing like $50k a week, or a month.
Clickbank isn’t even my best performer. The only sales I make there are the random tool here and there for IMers, but my living isn’t earned by selling to the internet marketing niche.
That’s what finally got through my thick head this past week (forgive me for being so dense): the Warrior Forum is chock-full of people who live off the internet marketing niche. How’s that for a “revelation?”
But it’s deeper than that. I learned a bit when I saw what they wanted to ban, in addition to how these Warrior Special Offers are normally pitched.
What IS A WSO?
Here I am assuming you know – but not everyone goes to the Warrior Forum so let me define it. A “WSO” is a Warrior Special Offer, a discount given on a product that sells elsewhere for more money.
The WSO section of the forum isn’t only about making money online or SEO products, but that’s the majority of the products there: making money online, traffic generation, SEO, etc.
If You Can’t Prove It, Fake It
Fake testimonials and screenshots are instant credibility, just like plastic surgery: looks good from here, but it’s unreal. No, really: it’s NOT real.
Why I Doctored That Screenshot
…And what does this have to do with a banned post on the Warrior Forum?
Spend 2 minutes in the “Warrior Special Offers” section (WSO’s), and you’ll see tons of money-shots like the one I just showed you. Plenty of people already know how to doctor it up good and make it look real.
I did it in 3 minutes using free tools, it’s not hard but don’t ask me how to do it – I’m not keen on showing how to become a fraud.
On top of the screenshots, you’ll see tons of testimonials from other Warriors singing your praises when you sell a WSO (wait: those are “real,” right?)…
I hate to burst your bubble, but don’t be so easily impressed by all that “proof.”
The Warrior Forum seems a wee bit fishy when they delete a post like mine (of course I’m biased, I wrote the thing – will post it later this week), but they accept my WSO which I paid $40 to publish.
I published both within minutes of each other. Once my WSO went live, the cockroaches came out in droves.
What? You posted a WSO there? Are you a hypocrite or what?
Yes: I did. No: not a hypocrite.
I have a book I’d like to sell and get more exposure for, so I figured I’d go where people could use it most: where new people come in droves and look for a resource to get their websites ranking.
My thinking was and still is that if you get my book (if you’re new especially) it can save you lots of money on tools and services you don’t really need – so it’s a good fit, right? I thought so anyway…
And I figured writing an open letter addressed to my target market would be a way to give a little back to the forum, which would coincide with releasing my WSO.
Curiously, the post was banned, but my WSO was accepted. Maybe it’s not so much “curious” as it is “obvious.” You don’t have to pay to post a thread, but you do have to pay to post a WSO.
What made this whole thing worse, the admins didn’t reply to my inquiries as to why this thread was deleted. Why not?
(By the way, I put up Duct Tape SEO as a WSO through the 10th of October as part of my launch process, but after stunts like deleting my thread and thinking of why they’d do so, I’m not so sure it was a good business decision. Correct me if I’m wrong…)
What Does a Faked Clickbank Shot Have to Do With a Banned Thread?
When I posted the WSO, I received a few private messages from fellow “Warriors” telling me they’d had a history of helping others by giving a testimonial in exchange for a freebie. They asked for a review copy and showed me a number of WSO’s they had left glowing comments on…
OK, that’s smart of them to do so, but it’s also a bit fishy to say the least.
It got me thinking how “legit” (read: illegitimate) all those testimonials are: you scratch my back…
Problem: my book is nearly 300 pages long.
A person couldn’t possibly review it in time for me to benefit for the WSO I’d published – unless of course they planned to just fake the review.
It also got me thinking about the types of evidence we accept without question. Granted, when I put up that picture on my G+ stream, I’m sure that Brankica Underwood, Matthew Cox, Benny Hsu and Kevin Douglas responded with anticipation because they trust me.
One of the things I’m not known for is slinging a bunch of fake money-shots, or swindling people into buying what they don’t need, etc. Granted, when someone you trusts posts a picture like that Clickbank shot, you stand at attention and think,
OH! EM! GEE!
But is it much different when you go to some place like the Warrior Forum and see tons of “testimonials” and “proof of earnings” shots instead? The game is the same: earn trust and you can sell to the crowd.
“Proof” of earnings builds trust. Problem: they’re easy to fake.
“Proof” of peer review and customer’s testimonials builds trust. Problem: go to Fiverr and you can pay some cute college gal or guy to do a video about how screamin’ awesome your product is and you have instant credibility. Go to the WF and you have a boatload of people at the ready, willing to do you a solid and give you instant raving reviews.
“Proof” of rankings with screenshots in Google…Problem: are those REALLY websites owned by the WSO author/developer? Couldn’t you simply do a Google search and put in some highly competitive keyword and claim ownership? Again: it’s easy to fake.
The Only Evidence You Really Have
There is one sort of evidence you can bank on in most cases. It out-performs screenshots of earnings or rankings or testimonials, all of which are easily gamed.
You ready for the biggie?
It’s what makes good people great. Want a list of ‘great’ people? Check out my blogroll for just a few ideas. They have a lot of character, and something to say.
Earning my trust isn’t easy to do, I’m jaded. If you want to know just one reason why, read My Story.
To admit I don’t trust people by default at this point is an unfortunate consequence of hard knocks and learning difficult lessons – and it sticks in my craw every single time I see some signs of abusive marketing going on.
Your reputation is important. Integrity matters. Character counts.
I’m having a hard time finding it in the forum, but that will make more sense after you read the banned thread later.
It reminds me, though…
How are You Building
You’re not building a brand until you’re building trust, they go hand-in-hand. Online and off, whether a transaction is involved or not, are you building trust?
What are you going to be known for?
Call it a reputation. The buzzword lately is your “brand.” What are you known for? A huge Clickbank, PayPal or Commission Junction earnings statement?
Do we really have to pimp out our earning statement to win an audience? (That’s not a cheap-shot against Pat Flynn, by the way, that’s just Pat’s style and I’m not knocking it.)
I took that screenshot of a doctored-up Clickbank earnings report to talk on the larger issue: who do you trust?
Is your “brand” or website trustworthy? This is the heart of marketing, the heart of building an asset versus a website – building a name for yourself or business that’s stellar, a cut above, something to write home about.
I’ve been told people read my blog because I’m authentic (OK, that was my mom, but I like to believe her). Hopefully I don’t lose what trust I’ve won because I like money more than my reputation, and decide to rock faked earnings reports all of a sudden.
Getting back to you: Does your website actually deal in trust? Do people have a reason to trust what you publish?
When I started out, I was using a now infamous AdSense-optimized theme, it won for ugly theme of the year, trust me…but it worked with AdSense. That ugly theme doesn’t get much visits.
Next time you visit Google and do a search, check out the magnifying glass that appears next to every listing – it opens up a preview of your website for the searcher.
Ask yourself: How does your site stack up to its competition?
Does your web design engender trust, or look scammy?
Would you trust your site based on its looks? I don’t have “the right answer” for you, it’s something you need to consider given who you’re competing against. I can guarantee you that people will either intentionally or inadvertently scan the listings for quality web design.
In the very least, they’ll stay away from an over-advertised MFA (made for ads) site if you’re not careful.
Do all your reviews have 5-stars?
I’m assuming you have reviews on your website, maybe you don’t – but it looks fishy when all you have are glowing reviews.
Speaking of reviews – can your customers leave a review?
I don’t have to tell you that Amazon is the #1 most sellingest place online. Customers leave all kinds of reviews: good, bad and indifferent.
There are tons of review plugins for free and for a price, if you’re running WordPress to power your review site, give one of them a look-see. It engenders trust, and it cuts against the typical thinking of most internet marketers (me likey).
Is there a guarantee with the purchase?
If you’re an affiliate like myself of various products – remember to look this up. Clickbank products all have a 60-day money-back guarantee, if you’re selling one, mention it.
If you sell Amazon or Commission Junction products, this guarantee can fluctuate – but look it up and spell it out. Remove the risk from your customers and more will feel at ease to buy.
There’s a number of ways to build (or lose) trust…right now I’m a bit raw after having my post deleted at the Warrior Forum when it was written to be a help to newbies.
No, I don’t trust the place.
I’m not a big player in the IM niche: I don’t pitch a bunch of tools here that you don’t need. If it seemed like that at some point, it’s not the direction I’m going in. What I’d rather have than $50,000 Clickbank weeks is the trust of my readers.
(OK, who am I kidding – $50k a week? Yeah – that wouldn’t be so bad…)
Seriously though, I’d rather “settle” for earning your trust and keeping it. Speaking of which, if you’re on my list, I’m re-writing the auto-responder sequence and will be putting out a few PDF reports for my subscribers. I tell you that because of this change in my thinking – dealing in trust rather than transactions.
Hopefully you’re on the list, I’ll announce when the new changes have taken place. In the meantime, if you haven’t yet:
Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for the “big, bad, banned Warrior Forum thread” that saw 15 minutes of fame. Hopefully you can tell me what was so awful about it…
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