Who is this “Chancer”?
How I Stumbled into the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Place that is the Internet Marketing Industry
Almost overnight, everything changed…
Sure, I had been working on tiny websites and managing blogs since 2005 as a way to earn some extra money to help pay for my new house. But my real career was as an IT computer support technician at a high-end law firm in my hometown.
But then as 2008 rolled around and the economy crashed everything in my life changed.
I was kicked to the curb like millions of others (and no – I don’t think the dreadlocks or the tropical shirt had anything to do with me getting the boot…do you?)
I was left without a regular paying job and was living off my skimpy unemployment checks trying to to support a new home mortgage geared for better times.
This was when I got my first real taste of the dark and confusing world of professional internet marketing.
You see, I hired myself out as a freelance ‘SEO article writer’ or ‘ghostwriter’ to various website publishers and bloggers, to make end meet.
How I Became an Article Writing ‘Ho’
Once a upon a time there was a thing called “SEO Copywriting”.
During the heyday of “article marketing” or the “Bum Marketing” craze, TONS and TONS of SEO agencies and internet marketers wanted to hire anyone who could write to churn out 1,000’s of articles.
Big companies like Demand Media, an American content and social media company (which owned online sites such as eHow, LiveStrong and Cracked), purchased tens of thousands of SEO articles from low-paid freelancers to use on its network of websites to attract advertisers, like Google’s AdSense.
In fact, Demand was one of the largest buyers of articles and videos on the Internet.
In its heyday Demand produced (bought) as many as “4,000 videos and articles every day“.
This was HUGE since at that time the average Google AdSense marketer usually had only 20 or so articles (or pages) on any one little site!
To be successful online back then all you had to do is write some half-ass articles for the product you were promoting, heavily sprinkle in the hot keywords of the day then published it online with web links.
If you wanted more traffic then you just stuffed in more keywords and links.
While I never worked for Demand (although several people I know personally who did) during the next 2 years (2008 -2010), I wrote over 500+ SEO articles (enough content for 25 small websites), plus I worked on a couple of recurring blog writing gigs (I wrote anything for money: from motorcycles, and investing in mineral mining in Colorado).
I wrote ‘personal travel’ pieces on scuba diving, hiking and trekking to the Mt. Everest base camp (all from the comfort and security of my living room – thank you!)
I created a 50 piece series on how to win at roulette and poker, not to mention several how-to pieces on curing/dealing with baby colic plus online sales copy to sell used construction equipment in Vegas and golf condos in South Carolina.
I even developed a 12-month e-learning course (along with a 200 page training manual) how to start up a stock photography business.
Basically I was a SEO copywriting whore (hence the ‘HO).
If you wanted articles – I would write them.
But I still had some morals – I tried to stay away from pills, porn/adult entertainment sites, pump and dump stock “investments” and the health industry (i.e. no diet, weight loss or fitness supplements).
However due to the anonymous nature of the freelance job boards, I ended up working for everyone from honest, hard-working small business owners to liars and cheats (who never paid me), borderline con artists (who sold expensive but very glitchy software) and other shady dealers.
I got writing projects from every continent in the world except for parts of Asia, South America and the Antarctica (probably because there are no internet marketers there?).
From Ho to Spammer?
By 2010 I had few doubts left as to the shady nature of the average internet marketer.
Still I thought this industry might still have some ethics, especially if the company was local, right?
But any such hopes were permanently vaporized, when I was hired as a ‘website manager’ for a local affiliate marketing/SEO company, right here in Western North Carolina.
When I went to work for J.J. (the “Jersey Jackass”… not his real name), he owned and operated over 256 websites. These little sites made as little as $100 a month, to as much as $500 a day.
Using the 80/20 rule you can kind of figure out how much cash he was hauling in a month.
During the nearly 2 years that I worked at the hellhole known as the ‘Digital Dungeon’, I learned a lot of different techniques:
- How to make fake user accounts on social media,
- Use black hat SEO (search engine optimization) tactics,
- Using fake website links to push other websites up in Google’s ranking,
- And creating PBNs (Private Blog Networks) plus lots of other shady online tricks.
Here’s how it worked…
J.J. ran two teams of people. The “home office crew” which included himself, his “COO”, a couple of web designers, 4 “article posters” and me.
The outside crew consisted of over 12 – 16 people as “article posters”. These people worked from home using their own computers, to better “fool” Google. They lived everywhere from right here in North Carolina, to Florida, to Thailand and the Philippines.
The “article posters” got paid just to post links, i.e. create fake user accounts on various social media and free blog sites (up to 10-15 a day) so they could upload and publish fake “articles” with backlinks to J.J.’s money-making sites — that pointed to an affiliate company sales page.
Sound familiar? But remember this was back in 2010.
Now my job was to…
- Maintain/update those 256 company websites (mostly just the top 20),
- Do remote tech support for the article posters,
- Manage our Proxy internet service accounts (to further hide the posters from Google),
- Using software and keyword research to “spin” a single article into 100’s (for the posters)
- Build out Private Blog Networks. A PBN is a massive network of free sites & paid blogs used to embed links that go to your main sales or “money” website.
- And in my free time, help the COO install whatever new cockamanny software or black hat application, J.J. had got from some internet guru he met while attending an overpriced conference or a private – for spammers only – training workshop.
Nothing truly criminal (at least that I saw), since J.J. was terrified of being arrested. I think, he grew up in a Sopranos-like area in New Jersey, so I guess his paranoia about going to jail was justifiable.
Still at lunch one day, when J.J. was at a spammer conference in Las Vegas, we on the home crew discussed having an “escape plan” just in case we ever saw a lot of suspicious SUVs or cop cars trolling around the office.
Despite his fears, J.J. was constantly embroiled in civil legal battles of some kind during the entire time I worked for him.
He kept an amazing sh#t-load of business partners pissed at him and loved to get into bad business deals with crappy affiliate companies and shady characters.
All any deal required was a cashable check proof (show me the money) for him to be all in.
Now to be fair, much of what I learned working for J.J. was good. However a certain amount of what we did were very smarmy and spammy.
Still during that time, I also discovered there were several different marketing models that could be successfully used.
The most popular yet the least profitable for a small, local business is the online only (or the affiliate website) model.
Another no-to good marketing model that has since overtaken the online only model is social media.
The concepts behind this one is that by using free social media sites to build “brand awareness” and a huge fan following, you can auto-magically get people to buy stuff from your small business.
Small Business People as Targets?
Everyone from Internet marketing gurus, to book authors and web designers, to digital consultants and professional bloggers – all have agendas that can leave most local business owners twisting in the wind.
For example, even J.J. hired himself out as a Local SEO services guru.
He promised to push any local website into the top rankings in Google. You just had to pay a couple of thousands in retainer fees every month to make it happen.
Now with a virtual herd of designers to make PBNs, article posters and using every black hat trick in the book, he made his clients’ websites wildly successful.
His clients made money.
Until they got tired of paying all those high monthly fees and bailed — only to find out that this type of SEO tactic (fake link-building) is NOT evergreen and must be maintained (and paid for) on a regular basis.
All SEO services, internet marketers and web design agencies have an agenda: to get paid and make a profit. Hey, it’s the American way.
But they are all pushing different things. Things like a specific marketing tactic, a particular product or a software app.
You need to understand that these folks want you to buy something:
- a high-end custom website,
- an expensive internet marketing course,
- or a book (so they get more speaking engagements and consulting gigs).
Intrinsically there is nothing wrong with any of these things…Except these things probably won’t work for a small business like yours.
Frankly, the average web pro is more interested in growing their own company than they are interested in helping you build yours.
Their motive to sell you is simple: if you willing to pay for it, they are willing to sell it to you…whether it actually helps you or not.
And it may come as no surprise that some of these folks like my former boss J.J. are constantly battling lawsuits, bad reputations (both online and off) and may even have committed crimes that earn real jail time. If you want to learn more the underbelly of this terrible, horrible industry, check out “Scamworld.”
By now you probably have noticed that dealing with that part of the internet marketing industry has left a bad taste in my mouth.
That being said, I have to be honest with you. I have an agenda too.
I have always hated bullies.
Once I got pushed into a blackberry patch because I stepped in between a bully and another, smaller kid. I have tried to stand up for the underdog – the little guy most of my life.
So what does this have to do with promoting your business online?
Well when I left the world of internet marketers, I was pissed to discover that the average web designer is also using a lot of hype, fake facts, misinformation and just plain old fashioned bullsh#t to make money at the expense of local business people.
The web design industry is also littered with scams.
This is probably because getting into the business is so easy that any Joe Schmoe with a laptop and a free ad on Craigslist can start up as a “web designer” in minutes.
I have met more than a few business people who have lost hundreds or thousands of dollars — using the wrong web designer who doesn’t understand how to make a website that produces results – leads and sales.
Okay all talk about scammers and spammer this might seem a little off-putting for some people.
But as a small business owner you DO need to understand the real truth in order to protect yourself, your money and your company.
It’s not all doom and gloom…
So on this website I have decided to show you the truth.
On it I teach other small business people like me, everything I know about creating a powerful, results-driven website.
A website that works for you – without you being screwed over for with difficult to maintain custom web designs, expensive online advertising or high monthly retainer fees.
I truly believe all small businesses should use customer-focused websites – not some 3rd party freebie site or some social media crap that is making others money but a REAL web presence that they own and can control.
A website that will give them the best possible chance to grow your company and become more successful than you ever thought possible from such a small investment.
I admit I’m not a online millionaire, a programming prodigy, or a bestselling author seeking a speaking gig or an internet marketing goo-roo teaching you to strike it rich online.
I’m just an over-educated geek (2.5 college degrees), who grew up in a hard-working, blue-collar family; who accidentally stumbled into the shady world of internet marketing and survived it.
And I have taken what I learned and put it to good use. Now I use my hard-won skills (and knowledge) to help other small people succeed online.
Today, I work solely with budget-conscious, hard-nosed local business owners – people who run REAL stores and restaurants. I either produce sales or cash-money results for them or I don’t get paid. Period.
Life is very simple in my world. No theory, no hype, no BS – just proven formulas that work. Let me rephrase that…Had to Work.
So this is what I have found:
I have taken the very best marketing strategies that I have discovered , researched, tested and perfected them, then condensed them down into a series of practical website marketing services that will work for almost any small business.
“Need to Jumpstart Your Website But You’re Too Busy Earning a Living?”
Call me at 1-828.280.6500 or email me to schedule a free website audit and/or consultation. You can ask me anything.