The Gurus Don’t Know It All

This is an updated post from many years ago. It’s still a legitimate topic and I’ve updated it a bit. So yes, there are some old comments on it, but the updates I’ve made have freshened it up a bit; at least that’s my story. 🙂


Not a guru… but know some things…

In the years that I’ve been on Twitter I’ve had the opportunity to talk to a few of the top internet marketers in the world. I’ve read their blog posts, seen some of their videos, and even caught an occasional podcast or two. I think it’s a good thing to have the opportunity to cull from a vast amount of sources who’ve found a way to make a great living via their online presence. I’ve learned a few things from some of them, and I hope that some of those lessons I’ve learned will work very well later on… because they haven’t yet.

Why not? What I’ve found over the years is that not even a guru has all the answers. Years ago I got lucky to have a conversation with one of the gurus, whose name I’m not going to mention here. It started on Twitter, then moved to email.

I began by saying that there’s a lot of information on the internet and a lot of programs that talk about this and that as it relates to internet marketing, but that I had yet to find one that could answer specific questions I had. He asked me what I meant, so I laid out a few things.

At one point he said he’d have to see the types of things I’d tried, and I shared a few things with him. I doubt he ever followed through on it, but I don’t have a problem with that because people get busy. You wouldn’t believe how many people told me they were going to read my latest book if I sent them a free copy… I think the number, not counting me, was 3 (one of those people actually bought the book; yay!)

That wasn’t really what I was looking for, and I told him so. I then said that there was one big question that no one has ever answered, and he asked what that was. I told him this; “the big question was what’s the very first thing that someone should do to build a list.”

he thought he was a guru

For instance, everyone says to build a website or a blog, put something on there for people to subscribe to you so you can build up your email subscription list, and you’re good to go. Well, no you’re not; if you build it, they WON’T necessarily come. This isn’t Field Of Dreams after all. If you’re not already well known, you’ll have to figure out how to drive traffic to your site.

At the start, most of us don’t have a reputation, so people don’t know if they can trust us to buy from us. Sometimes even after a few years, if you haven’t found a way to break through and learned how to drive a lot of traffic to your site (and the search engines aren’t holding you back) you might still be struggling.

You can visit a lot of blogs, leave good comments and get traffic that way, but that takes time. You can write on forums and maybe some of those people will follow you, but that takes time. Not that taking time is such a bad thing, but when you read all this stuff or listen to audio or watch the videos, almost all of them seem to promise more immediacy than that.

I specifically wrote this:

My point is that there’s probably a lot of good advice, but it doesn’t start low enough for beginners. It’s easy to say ‘build a list’; it’s much harder for someone to give point by point, realistic advice on how to do it. “Build it and it will come” doesn’t equate well in the marketplace, even if you can get to number one on Google for your specific search terms.

In the words of Ramon from Happy Feet, I’ve done everything ‘penguinely possible’ (if you know the movie, this line makes sense) to generate online sales, as far as I know, and haven’t broken even (well, I had a moment when I did, but it was fleeting). It’s a good thing I’m a pretty good consultant in my field otherwise.”

His response: “I’ll have to think about it.

Mom’s an ice cream guru

That’s not a condemnation by the way, just a reality. Even some of the gurus don’t remember how they started. Or maybe they do; maybe they were in on that early wave of spammers, who weren’t known as spammers at the time because that’s just how everyone else sold their products (my friend Mitchell Allen sometimes names names lol). I remember in the early 2000’s reading about buying mailing lists, which was a much bigger business than it is today, and I wouldn’t doubt that many folks bought these lists and just started pounding the emails without any remorse.

That doesn’t work for me, and I doubt it works for most of the rest of you. All of us get pounded by a ton of emails, mainly from people we don’t know, almost never with our name being a part of it. How many of you actually check out those sites, let alone buy from them?

Have you ever signed up for a free report? If you gave your email address, it’s given to everyone in that person’s realm, sometimes sold, and you’re a mark because you’ve shown that you’re open to being pitched to. It’s one reason I’ve created multiple email addresses, so that all those things I sign up for go to other places, unless I know who I’m dealing with. That’s a good tip to use because it helps you to segregate what you’re getting.

The overall point is that sometimes you just have to take your shot at doing what you think may be the right way to go, and not expect someone to be able to tell you point by point how to get there. The best information doesn’t work for everyone, but that doesn’t invalidate what you do learn.

By the way, this isn’t only about internet marketing; it’s pretty much for everything across the board. I could tell you step by step how to write a good blog post, but if you don’t have a good grasp of language or you hate writing in general it’ll never work that well for you.

Starting is half the battle; learning is half the fun. The traffic and sales… well, hopefully that’ll come with whatever passion you’re able to show on your website or via your blog.

We earn what the market will bear; we just have to be willing to take some chances and try a few things, as long as we don’t hurt our comfort zone. Regardless, keep trying to learn how to be better; just don’t expect the same results someone else got. Aim for better; that’s my motto (actually it’s not, but I think I’m going to make it mine lol).

33 thoughts on “The Gurus Don’t Know It All”

  1. I think you’re right that a lot of the “gurus” assume people are already at a certain point in their online business, so they’re not really talking to those who are at the very beginning of the curve. Document everything that you do and when you hit it big you can create an info product for real beginners 🙂

  2. hi Mitch,
    Great post, especially your last paragraph. While there are a lot of smart people (i.e gurus) out there, not all those that call themselves gurus deserve the title, especially when it comes to “internet gurus.” A lot of people claim to have the secret to ranking well or selling lots of stuff, but I take it all with a grain of salt.
    I think you hit the nail on the head. It’s often hard work and believing in yourself, and trying what you think will work even when everyone around you is telling you it won’t. Sometimes you’ve just got to do it, and a lot of times it isn’t any “guru’s secret” that leads to success, it’s just hard work and common sense.
    ~ Steve (aka the trade show guru)

    Trade Show Guru´s last blog post..Trade Show Zen

    1. Thanks for your comment, Steve, and I’m glad we agree on it. There’s still a lot to learn from these guys, though, but not every single step. But it would be nice to see some of it here and there.

  3. Mitch, I’ve heard that one way these ‘gurus’ get a mailing list is by building what they call a ‘squeeze page’. This page generally has a sales pitch and will usually give something away for nothing and the way to get it is that you have to opt in by supplying an email address. It sort of gets the ball rolling.

    Sire´s last blog post..Blogging! It’s All About Presentation

    1. You’re right, Sire, and I know whenever I’m signing up for a free report that it’s not exactly “free”. Still, sometimes there’s a bit of good information in there, and luckily I speed read, so I can absorb a heck of a lot. With audio and video, though, well, that takes a lot of time, and I don’t always get to it. But you’re right, it is a way to get those addresses.

      1. You speed read too? Damn, your good, and there I am reading it all word for word and a lot of the times it still doesn’t sink in 😉

      2. I studied speed reading in 8th grade, and I’ve fine tuned it over the years. But things like lists slow me down; that and bad writing.

      3. Nah, you’re fine, Sire. Now, if you wrote an 100-page book and had lots of errors, I might be on you.

    1. It was interesting reading, to be sure. I’d actually missed the joke initially also; humor can be lost across cultures.

  4. That’s a good thing for you, Dennis, but every once in awhile I’ll still get sucked into something new, depending on where my mind is. But only for a very short period of time.

  5. Everyone wants the “I Dream of Jeannie” solution and it doesn’t exist.

    I can have 10 entrepreneur coaching clients whose journey will be different and unique to them based on -who- they are, learning style, behavior style, level of hunger, beliefs, moxy, etc.

    Mitch, I agree it’s about starting and learning. Many are afraid to begin. Many others aren’t interested in learning, especially about themselves and who they must become to pull off their endgame.

    1. Steve, I’ve seen a lot of advice from people who say “just follow what someone else did and you’ll be successful”, and it almost never works. Circumstances change, and not everyone is equipped to do exactly what someone else did. True, they might end up being better than they originally were, which is a plus (since I do seminars on different things I have to believe that lol), but I’m not always sure that every person I meet could get away with everything I do; a lot of it maybe, but not all of it.

    1. I had to go look him up. I’m not sure how much his marketing tactics work in today’s world but they feel solid for what I used to see back in the days when I watched a lot of TV and read magazines more often.

  6. Hi Mitch,

    Excellent post. I am fairly new in this blogging field so I can relate to lot of things which you have discussed in this post. I have read so many blogs and articles about different things related to blogging. And I can tell you at times it gets pretty confusing. I am glad I landed in your post.

    Thanks for sharing, have a good day. 🙂

    1. Glad to help. To be more helpful though, I checked out your site & your blog. The only real comment you got was from Moss; all the rest are spam. 🙂 However, at least you’ve started; good luck!

  7. It would be so much nicer out here on the Internet if all the “gurus” admitted as much, went back to just writing interesting blog posts (or just shut up) and let the rest of us get on with experimenting and learning things.

    The other part of this equation is that “your business” isn’t a one-size-fits-all thing. Your goals and objectives aren’t mine. And I figure most of the “gurus” have “make money from people who want to make money” as their main goal – it’s a bit nebulous, and I’m not particularly motivated to line their coffers. 😉

    “Build a list” is great advice, but they never cover “why” or “how to use the list” or “how to comply with CAN-SPAM laws, or… you know. Kind of like all the blogging tips gurus – they tell you you need a niche, they tell you how to write a post. They’re notoriously light on things like “why?” and what the ROI is or how to measure it. Fluffy, almost.

    1. That’s my biggest issue; what would I do with a list! I guess on my business site I could keep pounding people with my leadership books and products, but what the heck would I promote here with a list? Would I specifically have to have something different in a newsletter than I post on the blog? How long or short should it be? And what about Naomi (let’s see if you remember that one lol)?

  8. Heh, nothing much has changed since 2008, except maybe viewer fatigue. Inbound marketing is a specialty. No one guru has that one-size-fits-all recipe. Heck, no ten gurus can agree on the best course of action.

    Anybody can parrot common marketing buzzwords (“Build your list”, “offer a lead magnet”, “split-test your landing pages”, “blah-blah-oops-blah!”), but digging down past the obvious to get to the core reasons is tough. The reason is that there are so many variables within each core. Buyer psychology alone is a myriad mist of science, art and economics. When you throw in other core issues, such as market analysis, supply chains, support and lifetime value…

    I think you need a strong business foundation, or a partner with one. The gurus don’t want you to know everything and, even if they wanted to claim transparency, their expertise is internalized. They may not even think of all of the steps that must transpire between “build it” and “they will come.”



    1. There’s a guy whose YouTube videos I’ve been listening to for a few days (which I’m probably going to stop listening to) who gives all these tips on how to make a serious income online by doing all this stuff. His is an incredible story, but most of what he’s offering as a way for everyone else to succeed like him is standard stuff that a lot of people are already doing that haven’t reached his heights. He’s also doing some things I’d never think about doing like accepting every friend request he gets on LinkedIn & Twitter (remember the “lion” conversation we were having with Holly last week) as a way to spread influence; I’d have gone crazy years ago if I’d adopted that way of thinking.

      I’m with you on the transparency thing. I think some of them try doing it but don’t realize what they’re holding back. Others hit the market at the right time and succeeded. I’m not sure even Darren Rowse would be as big as it is now if he was starting out new. Still, there are lessons to be learned, and if we can figure out what to modify we might be better… but never as successful doing it the way a guru did it.

  9. To reiterate, or actually to be blunter than your other commenters, I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t even listen to the Gurus and Influencers. Too many times, (all the time), it turns out they’re just sharing stuff so that they can make more money. As Holly said, they just want to, “make money from people who want to make money”

    1. LOL! Interesting point Amanda. I’ll give them a shot when a title catches my fancy, but if they’re not offering much new I probably won’t check them out again. For instance, there are gurus who said that if you put in the time that you will ultimately be successful, but it’s not true. When I first started working for myself I was working between 16 and 18 hours a day… exhausted, tired but certainly not successful. It takes direction and education to even have a chance to be successful, and after that it’s rinse and repeat, and even that might not keep you there.

  10. Such a great post and you explore the reality i know many gurus of different countries who have 00 earning but they are make a course of SEO and sell it on Udemy
    they are play with young generation

  11. Haa Haa you nailed it Mitch. There are many out there in the Digital Marketing industry whom I know and people like these are everywhere and in every industry who claims themselves as a Guru in their field but are struggling to earn anything and then the only way of earning is selling those fake tutorials or courses.

    1. It’s an interesting racket. However, there are also people who’ve made great sums of money yet can’t really explain how they did it. Those are the folks who are more dangerous than others because their advice might be misleading.

  12. An oldie but a goodie hey Mitch? As you know I actually started a list but soon gave it up because I couldn’t bring myself to sell them stuff. It just felt too much like I was invading their privacy.

    Also, I found a typo which must have been in the updated section, specifically, ‘who weren’t know as spammers’.

    1. Yup; that’s a typo. Actually, I changed about 70% of what was originally here while I was expanding and updating it. I remember when you started your list and put out your disclaimer, but I’d wondered if you were still doing it.

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