Trading Time For MoneyHave you taken a long hard look at what your costs really are?

I wonder if you, like me, have started out in the world of internet marketing thinking that you will be able to build your business by spending little or no money.

In fact, I wonder seriously if you have even slightly managed to avoid all of the messages that proclaim you can create a fortune with just free tool (oh, and buy my report to tell you which ones!  🙂 ).

If you have, then I can only congratulate you, because I believe that you are likely to be in a far stronger position as you progress than all your free-technique seeking competitors.

It All Starts With a Search Engine.

We fall, like lambs going to the slaughter, into the abbatoir of SEO riches reports. “It’s simple,” they say, “just follow these 34 guaranteed steps and you will dodge the Google carnival of the animals”.

The promise is there. A first page entry and traffic, fame, fortune and maybe even wealth will all be ours and it’s all free! (You have to read that sentence with a slightly crazed voice – think “Doc” from Back to the Future – “Great Scott, Marty, it’s all free!”)

The only problem is the huge, performing troop of elephants in the room that no-one talks about.

If you truly want to make all this stuff work for free (that is, you don’t pay anyone anything to get it done), then you are trading your time for the money you save. I know, I’ve  done this.

It is something I wholeheartedly regret…..there  I’ve said it!

If you believe that this method is “free” then you have placed absolutely NO value on your own life – and I’ve come to realize that this is the only thing I’m never going to get back.

How much are you worth?

Let’s do a quick calculation.

Say there are 52 lots of 5 days work in a week…..let’s take off 6 weeks holiday – we are internet marketers living the “lifestyle” after all.

That gives 46 x 5 = 230 days of work a year.

Now let’s chop off some sleeping, eating and fun time, but still leave an 8 hour working day to start with (you didn’t think the 4-hour work week came straight away, did you?)

So now we have 230 x 8 = 1840 hours of work in your first year.

Now let me ask you a personal question…..what do you want to earn? Or, how much do you have to replace from your day job? Many people have a $100K figure in mind when asked this – everyone wants  “Six-figures”.

So now a quick division

100,000/1,840 = $54 an hour (ish)

THAT is how much your time is worth! You can adjust the calculation for yourself, but the numbers always come out higher than you might imagine.

Work Out Your “Spent” Time

Now all you have to do is multiply your hours of free SEO work by $54 and you have an idea of how committed you are to this model of making money.

The scary thing after doing all this is that you are completely at the mercy of the Search Engine owners when it comes to turning your efforts into cash……and not only that, but another update could wipe you off the planet….

…and then what have you spent? Well, there’s all that theoretical money but more importantly, you’ve spent a load of your precious days on this planet that you will never get back.

The High Cost of Social Interaction

No, I’m not talking of the time-wasting or some nasty skin condition that you can get from all that “interacting” – this is more serious than that.

Some of you may have jumped ship to the mighty Facebook, looking for traffic in other places. How’s that going?

Have you got such an awesome crowd-pleaser that your page likes have grown without any money spent on FB ads?

If you have spent a load on ads to get your likes, have you seen how Facebook are now altering the way that your fans actually get to see your updates? Now that they have shareholders to please, they have altered updates so they only show to 15% of your fans and you have to pay for the other 85% to get your information.

Check out the details in this comprehensive article and be prepared to splutter! So now, Facebook will now charge you to talk to folks you have already paid them for in the first place (through your ads).

Planning A Real Business

The common factor in all these examples is that you thought you were getting something for nothing, but you were still dealing with other companies that have to make money themselves.

In the case of Goofle (that was a mis-type, but I rather like it!) and Facebook, these companies now have to produce reports every quarter that show ever-increasing profits – or they get their share price slapped on the stock market. In those circumstances, they are pretty much driven to do anything they can – and your “free” services will be bent to their purpose no matter how much you hurt.

None of this makes it any easier to spend money in your earlier days – especially money that you feel you don’t have to spare – but if you are going to survive all of the changes in the marketing industry in the near future, adding paid traffic to your skillset is starting to look like a necessary evil.

You’ll still be able to get your business going for much less than it used to cost for a bricks-and-mortar company, but realizing that you will have to spend money is the first step along the path to freedom from slavery to the mad Gods of free marketing.




Don’t ever use your name on the Internet!

Actually I should explain that comment…..

Now that the dust has settled from the latest adjustments in Google’s ranking formula, I thought I’d spend a little time looking at what it means for the small(er) marketer….with a cautionary tale of my own.

You may have been hit by the beak of the Penguin when your awesome RoastedGreenPeanuts site got penalized for having too many exact match anchor links pointing to it, and I’m willing to bet that for many of you the Exact Match Domain update hasn’t helped at all in that regard.

Google has now helpfully provided us with a way to “disavow” any links that we feel may be harming out sites, ostensibly so we can protect ourselves from malicious linking. What this says about Google’s historic denial of black-hat anti-SEO techniques is neither here nor there, but it’s just one more way for us all to “shop” others in the SEO world. You can find a great analysis of some of the factors on Lisa Parmley’s site and watch out for the first sign of others disavowing all your main links.

Lisa talks explicitly about the way that a company like CNN will have a ton of natural links that spread the cloud of anchor names across their whole site and this is obviously one of the great lessons that we all need to learn with respect to our own blogs. Even just posting your updates to Facebook and Twitter with a pointer to the post (not the home page) will start to get you better (un)optimised.

The biggest lesson for me has been that I now need to be some kind of “cipher” on the internet, particularly with regard to this site. Google has decided, rightly or wrongly, that if I tell you who I am too often and in too many places, that I am somehow trying to cheat their results for my site.

Like many of you, I like to comment on other blogs. I like to say who I am (it feels polite) and so I use my name and my site in that little blog comment box at the bottom of the post. I feel it makes it personal – I’m obviously not spamming the internet with the keywords “Best Internet Marketing Course” or some such tosh.

Unfortunately, if we look behind the scenes, it turns out that I am doing exactly that. With every comment I leave, I put my name as the anchor, pointing back to a site with my as the url, and before you know it Google have decided that my evil plans for world domination of my own name – that oh so valuable keyword – have gone too far.They feel it necessary to nuke my rankings and award the whole front page to 10 entries from another site, as if that is going to help the searching public in some way.

How can I get out of this hole? I obviously need to completely change the mix of anchor links coming back to my site, but you know what, none of the originals are bad in any way, so I’m buggered if I’m going to report myself for normal activity. That does mean that I will just have to build more links with other anchors and that will be super-slow to achieve properly, but it feels like a better solution in the long run.

What does it mean for you? Don’t Use Your Name in Comments!

Don’t be tempted to blindly use your “name” as the only thing you ever put in the name field of comments boxes…..especially if you also have your name as the domain name you are pointing to. I’m now using the full URL and just my first name as alternative ways to mix things up a bit….at least they still give a feel for who I am without all being the same.

The other thing is to try to link back to posts throughout your blog more. Sites always gain more links to the home page, but interesting articles should be getting links too, and so make sure that you include them in your linking strategy – even if it’s only to use the social sites to announce them (guess where I’m going after I publish this!).

The nice thing is if you have already chosen to build a brand name rather than your own. In that case, you are probably already linking back with specific page pointers – there are only so many ways you can use Nergglr (or whatever your awesome brand is called) in a link – and it’s quite likely you’ve just signed comments as yourself, rather then as your brand, so your safe from the EMD/Penguin one-two punch. In that case, just keep up the good work!

Let me know what you think about all the recent shenanigans by Google (and don’t forget to tweak your name!).