One of the best things about advertising and working online is that if something isn’t working, you can change it pretty easily. Testing can take some time, but it’s less expensive than printing $10,000 worth of material, mailing it out to thousands of people, getting nothing in return and having to do it all again.
One of the worst things about advertising and working online is when you get things so screwed up that you lose any business credibility you might have had. Sure, many times you’ll get another shot at making a go of things, but you’ll probably never get any of those people back that stopped by, disapproved of what you did, left and talked about it later on.
One Sunday last year I did a Google Hangout with my Hot Blog Tips crew on the topic of writing paid posts and blogging credibility, which I’m sharing below. It’s my position that if people do things that are unethical just to make money that eventually it will kill them and their business prospects. There are a lot of bloggers who write paid posts, or put up posts with someone else’s words, and say a lot of glowing stuff about something they’re not familiar with. Some will be promoting a product using an affiliate link that they know nothing about and writing something overly positive without knowing if it is or not.
When it comes to your business and advertising it online, I feel that what you don’t want to do is say you can do things that you can’t do. At the same time, overstating your capabilities doesn’t do you many favors either. I remember having a conversation with someone a couple of years ago where he said that if you’re asked if you can do something or provide something you always answer “yes”, then you go out and find the person who can really do it. To me, it might be true that you can find someone who can do the work, but if you don’t know that person and they do the work badly, you’re the one who’s going to suffer.
There’s nothing wrong with self promotion. There’s really nothing wrong with a bit of hyperbole, although if you say you’re the #1 whatever in your market I tend to believe you’d better be ready to prove it by showing me something, since I might not even allow you to work with me unless I get testimonials. These days people are more savvy than ever, and they can check everything online. Try to fool someone and it will come back at you eventually. Nothing disappears online; remember that.
By the way, you need to know that if you happen to use words that aren’t your own, sent to you by a marketer that they believe will help you sell their product, that it’s a violation of FCC rules and it could result in both fines and losing your domain; just thought I’d mention that.
Check out the video below, as it addresses this topic with a few more ideas on the subject than just mine:
A few posts ago, I wrote about Lynn Terry and some of her tips on making money online. Well, a month ago, I had the opportunity to participate in one of her weekly marketing sessions, and I got to ask her a couple of questions during that time.
The first question was what she thought about writing articles to put on article marketing sites. The second question was what how she felt in advertising products that one hasn’t really used. She gave me some interesting answers, and I’d like to talk about those answers.
On the first question, she answered that she thought writing articles and posting them at article marketing sites was a great idea. She felt that the traffic one could get from one of those sites could be important traffic; that you’d get links from those sites; and, if someone else decided to pick up one of your articles for repost, with the caveat that they give you attribution, your articles have a chance to give you a lot of publicity in other ways, possibly driving traffic to your site.
I’ve given this one a lot of thought, and though I don’t disagree with her assessment on the topic, I decided that I would check my own statistics on this one. I couldn’t do it for this blog, though, so I did it for my business website. For that site, I have about 20 articles posted in various places, but on two specific sites I’ve got maybe 16 articles posted. Maybe it takes more than that, but hey, it’s a sample. What I see doesn’t give me much encouragement to post any articles to any of these sites. Checking Google Analytics over a 60 day period, my site shows that I haven’t driven a single person to my site via any of these sites. And, before anyone asks, yes, one of those sites is Ezine Articles. Now, some of those articles have been picked up and are in other places on the web (it’s amazing where you’ll find your stuff on the internet), and I’ve verified that none of those places has driven any traffic to my site in the last 60 days either. Now, I’m not going to claim that this is overly scientific, but it’s not quite a catalyst in making me think that article marketing is going to help me much. I’m not saying not to do it; I’m just saying I don’t see it working for me.
On the second question, she said that one doesn’t have to use everything that they market, but that it helps with credibility if you’re writing about products that you’ve at least used some of them or have tested some of them, or that you know something about the people you’re pushing at least some of the time. On this one, I wholeheartedly agree. Building credibility is a big deal; as a matter of fact, my new friend Dennis Edell of Direct Web Sales Marketing also just addressed this issue ((though Dennis won’t believe this, I hadn’t read the article until just now, but I’d seen that he had written an article on it via CommentLuv). And, since he’s linking to another article, it’s obviously a subject many people are thinking about, and works well with my post on sales, to a degree.
I decided to take a look back at some of my posts, things I’ve recommended, items I have on my sidebars, to see how balanced I’ve been. When I first started this blog, I wrote posts on affiliate ads that I was marketing via Commission Junction, which shares most of the bottom ads I put on this blog with the Google Affiliate Network. I talked about Ultra Diamonds with “CJ”, but I’ve never bought a product from them. I also talked about and posted links to the Harry Potter series of books and movies, which I have read and seen all the movies for. Not quite balanced, but it was the first month.
As time has gone by, I’ve gotten more into talking about things I’ve given some type of thought to, and have fully participated in them. The last five products I’ve endorsed, not including the latest, Startup Rebel, which I just started looking at a day or so ago, are eHealth Insurance, Tweet My Blog, Recover My Data, Error Doctor, and FreeCreditReport.com, I’ve used or still use four of those, with the only one I don’t use being eHealth Insurance, but since that was more about an opinion on why people should have health insurance if they don’t, I don’t count that one against me.
And, as a further extension, with the ads I have on the side, which I’m not going to list here again, not including the Text Link Ads (which I may still remove at the end of the month), I’ve used or read every link that’s over there (at the top, since, by this time, we’ve gone down the list a little bit), especially the book I wrote, Embrace The Lead (run over and buy that one now! :-)), and of course Joel’s book, which has helped my website and Adsense revenue jump almost 400%.
As for the individual ads I put at the end of each post, I’m not going to claim that I’ve used or purchased most of them, because it wouldn’t be true. I have visited every website that I put up, though, just to see what it’s like, something I like to do before I decide to market them unless I’m already familiar with the product or company. And, of course, everyone’s familiar with Adsense. Goodness, as I’ve gone back through some pages of my blog to research this post, I realize I haven’t really spent a lot of time marketing as much as reviewing things and giving my opinion; that’s somewhat enlightening to me, so I’ve learned something about myself writing this post.
Anyway, I believe I’ve shown some balance in my recommendations of products through my blog, actually leaning more towards someone who has used, or at least tried, many of the things I talk about. Now, does that boost my credibility? I think so, but only you, the reader, can tell me so for sure. I feel fairly secure in what I’ve written about on this blog, and how I write this blog as honestly as possible, and in my own way addressed the issue I’ve been discussing with another online friend Rich regarding a post he directed me to regarding his belief that if one accepted ads on their site that it would make them less likely to speak their minds honestly. He may be right in general; at least, in my mind, he’s not right as it pertains to me. By the way, he writes some pretty good and heady stuff, so check him out.
So, there you go. How credible am I to you? Trust me, I care. How credible are you to your readers? I hope that, many decades down the line, that I remember how I felt when writing this post, and how I felt while writing this blog. Can one be too old to dream? I hope not, but if so, well, then take this little bitty video with you on that subject (y’all do remember that I’ve said before how much I love the Muppets, right?):