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Is Your Work Worth Nothing?

Posted by on May 29, 2011

There’s an interesting discussion going on over at Ileane’s blog, Basic Blog Tips. The article in question is titled 5 SEO Scams You Should Avoid At All Costs.

Mitchell name

It was written by a guest blogger, and 4 of the 5 points aren’t bad. It’s #4 that I, and almost everyone else, has a problem with. That fourth point states that people who do SEO shouldn’t be paid until some results are seen, and that a quality SEO person will wait for their money, hoping to get other projects based on their performance of the first. By the way, this person also states that this isn’t work they do.

How many of you do work without any type of pay? How many of you that do freelance work base your payment more on performance than on the project?

Truthfully, I only know one person that works in such a manner, and it has nothing to do with SEO or computing. His company is called Price Reduction Partners, and what they do is go into companies, do evaluations of their technology, then offer ways for the company to save money on expenses. They take a percentage of the projected savings initially, then for two years they get a percentage of actual savings when compared to previous costs. The payouts from these contracts can end up being hundreds of thousands of dollars, but he doesn’t take on any projects where he feels the savings will be minimal; after all he has to eat like the rest of us.

So in his business, after 20 years or so, he’s comfortable with the business model of waiting for payment. In a way, one could say the same about real estate agents I suppose, since they get paid when a house is sold. Okay, there’s two professions; can anyone think of more?

No one at this point should be naive enough to know that SEO can be dicey for some people. If you’re in a crowded market you can do the best you can do, but you may never reach the first page of Google; sorry to tell you that. Or if you have a site that’s heavily laden with flash and all sorts of other “pretty” things such as music and images, but no real content, SEO is going to be problematic. And I helped to warn people about certain SEO scams as well.

But in general, with most businesses, you get what you pay for. If you’re not willing to pay someone before performance sometimes, it’s just not going to work out. You pay plumbers the minute they walk in the door. You pay doctors whether or not they’re able to totally cure you or not. Payment for some services might be delayed, but you’re going to pay or you’re going to be sued; that’s just how it works in the United States.

As an independent, I don’t undertake any project (especially after this happened to me) without getting at least a deposit of some kind up front. People can always say they don’t like your work, even after you’ve put hours into it, and then turn around and use it. That’s one reason why I stopped sending any company my full outline of a presentation or training session I’m planning on doing for them; I’ve had two instances where those people ended up taking my outline and doing the training themselves.

Just as some people who hire you might not trust you, as a worker you can’t always afford to trust those people who say they want to hire you; at least not fully. A deposit is a bond between consumer and contractor, and if that bond is broken, the consumer hasn’t lost much and the contractor will actually lose more in the long run because word gets out.

Your work is worth as much as your name; hence, the reason for today’s image. By the way, sidebar training, it seems that with some blogs you have to click on the image a second time if you want to see the larger version of it, and that’s the case with my blog. So, if you want to read what the plaque says, you have to click in it, wait until you’re at the next page, then click on it a second time. I have no idea why WordPress is making you do that but in this case if you want to see what it says that’s what you have to do.

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44 Comments »

I couldn’t agree with you more. You certainly do get what you pay for, and if you aren’t willing to pay, you should get nothing. I don’t pay for a dress AFTER wearing it and getting flattering compliments.

Thanks for bringing this to the front of discussion.

Kathy

May 29th, 2011 | 3:42 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

Thanks Kathy, and you’re right, we don’t all get to wear something and then pay for it later; heck, we have to pay for tuxes up front.

May 29th, 2011 | 6:07 PM

I’d come down somewhere in the middle. I believe that how SEO works can easily be explained to a client in layman’s terms and so it should be possible to tell them exactly what they are getting for their money, and use your expertise to advise on how much of an improvement certain changes are likely to make. The client can then at least know if their expenditure is a sensible investment.

The thing is, I see a lot of SEOs do awful on-site work based on hearsay not rationality (often making pointless monthly changes) which will usually make no difference to ranking, and will often damage a site’s accessibility and usability in the process.

Paying on results would at least be one way of getting rid of such cowboys from the industry.

May 29th, 2011 | 6:20 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

The problem, Rick, is that most of the work is done upfront, and of course it also depends on just how much the client wants a SEO professional to do. For instance I always recommend having something on the site that allows for consistent new content, such as a blog. If the client decides against it, then the CEO benefits will be minimal; one will get a boost, but it won’t be sustaining. Yet I’ve put 10 to 20 hours into it and someone then gets to say what I did wasn’t worth it because they didn’t get the results they hoped for because they didn’t listen to me?

Only people new into the industry would even entertain such a thing because they wouldn’t have learned yet that waiting for your money means you don’t eat and you don’t pay bills because you’re at the whim of someone else. After 10 years, that kind of thing isn’t happening to me.

May 29th, 2011 | 7:14 PM
Dennis Edell@ Direct Sales Marketing:

The problem being it’s getting harder and harder for s legit SEO, It has to be one of the biggest scams running in the IM world.

May 29th, 2011 | 9:42 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

Dennis, like most things, people can open themselves up to being scammed in almost any area of life. Heck, I wrote about the topic of people being scammed by SEO promises, what, a week or two ago? But it happens with cars, with foods, with plumbers and electricians and other people you allow into your house… on and on. Big promises need to be clarified and reviewed, and people need to remain vigilant. Still, not saying that a professional deserves to be paid unless you get the results you want is, well, idiocy. Say that to any doctor in America and see what kind of health care you get. Actually, did you know that 61% of all people that apply for bankruptcy have at least one medical related debt on their record? Something to think about.

May 30th, 2011 | 11:50 AM
Carl:

No offense to any company, but most of SEO scams are coming from 3rd world countries. In USA or UK most companies have money back guarantee policy, but generally if proper SEO is performed, first results appear in less than 2 weeks. I usually work on 15 days trial and only twice for 12 year customer completely disappear. Only once I returned money to customer, but not because the was not done, but because company was going to bankrupt through credit crunch and market recession in UK.

May 29th, 2011 | 11:41 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

Carl, the only promise I’ve ever made anyone is that I will help their site improve and give them a chance to compete with others in their market online. I’ve yet to have any SEO client that’s totally listened to me and added continuing content to their site, so they’ve had upward bounces, then things have sidled off. I mean, no one can do miracles without being allowed to do what’s needed, right?

May 30th, 2011 | 11:52 AM

Honestly, you are right, I have customers that have not touch or add any content for more than a year which gives me a headache. Many people think that after development of website job is done.

May 31st, 2011 | 8:01 AM
Dennis Edell@ Direct Sales Marketing:

Unfortunately Carl, even money back guarantees are only worth what the giver is worth. I’ve seen too many sellers default on such guarantees to fully trust them anymore either.

May 30th, 2011 | 12:23 PM
Carl:

I would disagree with you Dennis, probably you have some experience with untrusted SEO companies, but you are right, as I mentioned in the first comment 99% of companies are giving bad reputation to the word SEO and it is going on forever. With hand on my heart I am sure that huge percent of SEO practitioners do not have deep knowledge and understanding of SEO. Let say it in simple way, SEO requires a lot of work and different approach diversifying links and on-page optimization.

May 31st, 2011 | 8:12 AM

Hey Mitch I do some work online not really in the same market that you speak of but I write and such so I still end up with some of the same issues.

May 30th, 2011 | 1:09 AM

Hi Mitch,

Honestly, because I was so curious, I have built a site and use a SEO company to try lol

The result was amazing for a few weeks, but then after that I can’t see my site anywhere, although it was not banned.

One experience and I learnt good from it 🙂

I prefer steady, slow but sure.

May 30th, 2011 | 5:37 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

Kimi, a well SEO’d site can reap some nice benefits, but it’s having continual content of some type that helps a site stay in the public’s eye. For instance, even my SEO site isn’t ranked as well as it should be because I have never added a blog to that site. I really should, but I tend to write those articles here instead. One day I might follow my own advice for that site, since I’ve done it with my business site.

May 30th, 2011 | 11:54 AM

Hey Mitch! Thanks for the link luv and the spirited comments on the post called “5 SEO Scams You Should Avoid At All Cost!”

The funniest reaction to the post, was in the form of a tweet I got from @remarkablogger who said

“Don’t you think we should avoid ALL SEO scams? ;)”

I retweeted back to let him know that he is absolutely right! My point is this – it’s so important for us to choose our words carefully especially when writing this type of post. I didn’t anticipate that the comments on this post prove to be part of a fantastic learning experience that goes way beyond the post itself.

I’m really proud of reactions and level of respect that the author Wong Chendong has maintained. I think that being scammed is a very emotional thing and I just hate to see folks being taken advantage of. It’s good to put it out there so that others don’t fall for your mistakes.

Maybe you’d like to come over and submit a guest post about 5 customer scams to avoid at all costs. 🙂 (I’m just kidding about the title but not about the invitation to guest post) 🙂

May 30th, 2011 | 7:23 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

Ileane, just say the word and I’ll write you a guest post; oh yeah, you just did! lol I’ll say that it’s amazing that he’s been able to withstand the onslaught of people who have disagreed with his 4th point, but at the same time I’m also surprised he hasn’t once said “heck, maybe I should rethink this idea since not one person has agreed with it.” Then again, do I expect everyone to agree with everything I say? Actually, yes! 😉

May 30th, 2011 | 11:57 AM

I am not feeling uncomfortable in my company asking deposit payments when a contract is signed. I know perfectly well some parts of our work are based on trust on the client’s side, but results speak louder than words. If we end up sucking bad, it will cost us money, since we work with large companies.
SEO is the same I believe. If a SEO company grants you first position on Google, I think there’s something wrong. A SEO contract should be moderately vague on results because results cannot be guaranteed, no matter what. Your previous case history and portfolio are all the guarantees a potential client should ever need.

May 30th, 2011 | 10:40 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

Exactly Gabriele. I’m with you on wanting deposits, and I rarely work any other way. I say that because there are those few times when you decide to go a different route and, to date, I’ve only been burned a couple of times over all these years. But I’ve never guaranteed anything except that the work will be done to the best of my ability; anything else wouldn’t be prudent.

May 30th, 2011 | 11:59 AM

Mitch,

Since I don’t totally understand the whole SEO thing, I would be of the opinion that I need to see some results BEFORE I pay you. If you’re as good as you say you are (not you specifically) and GUARANTEE results within a certain period of time, then I should have the right to see those results before I pay you. For all I know, it really could be a scam and if I paid up front, I’d be out of several hundred dollars. That ain’t right!

May 30th, 2011 | 12:09 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

Beverly, you’d be a good person to ask then. For all the clients you had, you’re saying you didn’t require a deposit from any of them, ever? And if you didn’t do everything a SEO person told you to do and didn’t get the results, are you saying that they still don’t deserve to get paid? Nope, it wouldn’t be me.

May 30th, 2011 | 12:16 PM

Mitch,
It can be difficult especially if you have been ripped off in the past. I know when I am freelancing I quite frequently ask for some money upfront in fear of completing the work and not getting paid for it. Thank you for sharing.

May 30th, 2011 | 3:21 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

Thanks for your contribution, Lynda. I actually see the other side worried about being ripped off but people aren’t seeing our side as much either. I’ve written things for some folks & not been paid; worked on people’s websites and not been paid. It’s not pretty; I need to pay bills and eat as well as other people. Just because you don’t understand something is no excuse for deciding someone has to prove themselves to you before you pay them. Of course, we could just jack up our fees drastically to weed people out, but that’s dicey as well.

May 31st, 2011 | 7:25 AM

Scam becomes a very serious problem in this SEO world. How could we solve this scammers issue? I don’t really agree with Carl. I am not advocating the 3rd world countries but is there any evidence?

May 30th, 2011 | 11:54 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

Andrew, I’m not sure about the 3rd world countries thing either, but Carl has seen a heck of a lot more of this type of thing than I have. I think we all get offers through email about doing our websites. To me, I market my SEO services locally, and if anyone contacts me from outside it’s because they’ve either seen my website or my blog. That way, people kind of know me and hopefully trust me to a degree.

May 31st, 2011 | 7:27 AM

Actually I agree with you Mitch, no-one should do a job without getting paid for it. In regards to SEO I would say one could always strike a deal that a certain amount be paid upon completion of the job with a bonus once the site as reached page one or whatever they had decided on.

May 31st, 2011 | 1:51 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

See Sire, I don’t disagree with that. A deposit amount should be paid, and both sides should discuss what the expectation is, as well as what needs to happen once an assessment has been made. It’s amazing how I’ll do seminars and tell people things they need to do for continual success and all they do is complain “I don’t have the time.” Hey, one can’t do everything.

May 31st, 2011 | 7:29 AM

It’s not that they don’t have the time Mitch it’s just that they couldn’t be bothered.

May 31st, 2011 | 9:40 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

It may be the second, Sire, but they always say the first.

May 31st, 2011 | 9:51 AM

Hi Mitch,

I agree with you. For SEO specialists, that would be very risky and unfair. Their employers can point out any discrepancies, tell any reasons, or worse, never communicate with them. So I think the #4 on 5 SEO Scams You Should Avoid At All Costs was a not-so-good and pointless advise. Even if I am the employer, I wouldn’t base it on the keyword or site performance but on their work performance. There are a lot of factors that could determine the performance of your site on Search Engine rankings and some of them are beyond our control.

May 31st, 2011 | 2:28 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

Thanks Adam. Search engine stuff is dicey and needs continual positive reinforcement. I think everything depends on the scope of the project, but a deposit amount should always be expected.

May 31st, 2011 | 7:30 AM
Russell@work at home moms:

I have been hopping from blogs to blogs reading whatever I can about blogging. I have also read from the authors that commented above like Ileane and Sire. I have just put up my own blog and I am trying to learn as much SEO as I can cram before I head out to a company. Thanks for sharing!

May 31st, 2011 | 6:40 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

No problem, Russell. I hope you’ve also checked out my series called “Better Blogging” for assistance.

May 31st, 2011 | 7:31 AM

Payment upfront, payment after a project is finished, payment based on results or performance: it all depends on the client and the service provider agreement. Hence, I prefer a 50% payment upfront then 50% upon completion.

And about the “5 SEO Scams You Should Avoid At All Costs” blog post, the number 4 case is a case to case basis in my opinion, depends on the niche and depends on their signed agreement or contract.

May 31st, 2011 | 10:29 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

Ron, I’ll even accept 25% up front; I’m not greedy with things. I tell people what’s going to happen; they don’t always listen. I tell people what my rate is; they don’t always listen. I’m at the point now where I have to just make sure everyone signs a contract so I’ll have a legal recourse if and when they don’t pay me. It looks like I’m about to take someone to court in a couple of weeks as it is; sigh…

June 1st, 2011 | 7:02 AM

Hi, Mitch.

Wow, I haven’t gotten around to reading that post over at Ileane’s blog yet but I totally agree with you about disagreeing on not getting paid before results are seen. Man, if that were the case with my boss, I’d be totally penniless right now.

Thanks for putting this discussion on the table, Mitch. Makes a great point for learning, especially for a newbie like me. 🙂

June 2nd, 2011 | 4:41 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

No problem, Kim. Always get paid for the work you do.

June 2nd, 2011 | 7:46 AM
waterpearls:

Hi Mitch,
It is another nice post.I will also try to avoid point # 4 that people who do SEO shouldn’t be paid until some results are seen and it is quite unfair.

June 2nd, 2011 | 8:14 AM

Hi Mitch,

Definitely agree with you on this. No matter the profession, people have to be paid. Seems to me the only way pay-for-performance works is if you’re working on commission. Even in sales professions, the idea of “working on commission only” has taken a beating, such that salesmen want a base pay, too!

In SEO, business owners have to do due diligence to vet the SEO expert. And like you say, if a business owner is unwilling to follow the advice given, they won’t come close to the results they want. Yep, money up front, money in the middle, and a final payment is the way to go.

June 3rd, 2011 | 1:40 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

Thanks Vernessa. Man, it’s tough trying to make a living sometimes. lol

June 3rd, 2011 | 12:06 PM

I agree with you Mitch. People can have a policy that it’s 100% money back guaranteed if they aren’t happy with your work or product but I believe that if you want a product or service you pay for it. We all need to make a living too!

Thanks for bringing this one to our attention. Great conversations going on for sure.

Adrienne

June 8th, 2011 | 4:11 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

Thanks Adrienne. Trust is a difficult factor, and I’ve certainly been burned a few times here and there with work on my house. But in the end that doesn’t give me the right to not pay people for work I contracted with them. If they mess up, then I’ll fight for the refund or take it to the Attorney General; that actually seems to get pretty good responses out this way.

June 8th, 2011 | 4:55 PM
Terje Sannarnes:

The cost of work depends on quality and the level of professionalism. So, the more you work the more excperience you get in your business field and therefore the higher price of your is. Also, the price of your work depends a lot on the current demand for services you provide.

June 27th, 2011 | 4:54 PM

I know a few people in the SEO field and they all get paid up front for their services. I agree with you in saying it’s unheard of not to get paid for your work. People do, however, expect to see results and hold off on paying you until that happens. Some people also expect miracles for some reason and don’t want to pay if they don’t get exactly that….it’s insanity. Love your writing, btw.

August 11th, 2011 | 5:12 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

Thanks D. The thing about true social media and SEO is that it’s a process, not a one time thing. If the client wants it done properly,. they’ll pay for it and wait for it and of course ask questions and hope that the person they’re talking to has enough knowledge to get it done right and legally.

August 12th, 2011 | 1:41 AM