What I’ve learned going through 20 of the most popular course-selling courses

I think I’m going to throw up.

The number of people selling courses on how to sell a course is mind-boggling.

And I’ve forced myself to go through about 20 of the most popular ones to see what they’re doing.

Here’s what I’ve learned, if you’re curious:

+ 95% of this is hype designed to make you salivate– like dangling a steak in front of a stray dog that hasn’t eaten a full meal in weeks.

+ The endless Lambos, exotic travel vids, and “freedom” is a total lie– yes, there is a lot of money to be made, but you still have to work and invest, like any other real business.

+ The people selling the courses don’t have experience in producing actual results other than claims of how much money they’ve made in getting people to buy their course on how to sell a course.

+ I could offer a course on how to make $1,000,000….. Interested? The price is $1,000,000, of course, lol.

+ I’ve sat through the 90 minute “live” webinars, waiting patiently though the “struggle”, “lifestyle breakthrough to riches”, mindset motivation (I’m an ordinary guy who did it, so you can, too)… to eventually get to real value. But alas– it never comes.

+ There is a shred of truth to the “$375 million a day of online revenue being made per day– claim your slice” argument. But this is just another flavor of the “make money online” bizopp. Same clown, different circus– sucker born every minute.

+ The reason you only hear from the sole figurehead and nobody else is because their students aren’t winning. I’ve Googled to find their reviews and it’s not pretty.

+ But if I get you excited enough, you’ll not do the due diligence– since you’re panting about what you’d do with that extra $57,383 a month. You need to buy TODAY to get the 3 bonuses and 50% off the price. Would you buy heart surgery from the self-proclaimed surgeon offering it at 50% off, today only?

+ Yes, imposter syndrome is real– that the pros feel they aren’t really experts. But for the 99% of people who feel they don’t know enough to be competently able to dispense advice– you’re right! You could watch as many “motivational” videos to pump yourself up as a newly minted surgeon– but that extra confidence won’t stop you from killing your patients.

+ Would you trust someone who says they can teach you how to start a heart surgery business in just 6 modules you watch over the weekend– so you can start operating tomorrow? $2,000 is a great price if you can make $500,000 or even $700,000 a month, while actually healing patients.

+ And when you look over the course outline, what you find is 90% of the content is more “mindset” and teaching you how to sell the very same way you were just sold– instead of actually teaching you the practice. This is called a PONZI scheme. And many of these folks will go to jail– you watch.

Thus, they’re just repackaging our Facebook ads course + PLF + perfect webinar for their particular niche– 5,000 people all selling the same thing– hope.

So why not skip past all that expensive, heart-breaking fluff to get to the actual meat– to go to the source?

You don’t have to drop $2,500 to attend yet another seminar (unless you enjoy feeling perpetually “motivated”), since the information is already online and almost all of it free.

I want to see YOU actually win, so I provide most of our methods free– in the same way you can go to the library to read medical textbooks and journals.

The surgeons aren’t gasping at HEART SURGERY SECRETS taught only at midnight in a medical school.

I want to teach you the fundamentals from my 23 years and 70,000 hours of digital marketing experience– and I was running million dollar a day teams before these children were even born.

The folks who actually are making money online– we all know one another and we have actual teams, processes, customers, overhead, and stuff you’d find in any type of real business– online or not.

Does any of this resonate with you?

Google’s search share went from 79% to 75%– why that doesn’t matter

So much quibbling among the SEOs of how Bing is stealing traffic from Google or how Yahoo! isn’t what it once was.
Ten years ago, I worked at Yahoo!. And while I’d be tempted to chime in on this tempest in a teapot, they’re missing the point.

That’s me with Jerry and David, who co-founded Yahoo!

People are increasingly spending their time in apps and in closed gardens.
Facebook kicked out Bing, which powered their search, in favor of their own search.
Do you think Amazon is going to let Google ever power their search results?
How about letting Google into your very personal Snapchat experience?

The search game as we know it is over– Google has won with a dominant monopoly position.
The old-timers will argue that Yandex’s 55% share in Russia or Baidu in China at 56% means there’s still competition.
Or maybe they’ll point at how search is still strong and getting more personalized.

But what they miss is that personalization technology, no matter how awesome, is only as good as the amount and quality of the underlying data.
The social network and app economy has far more data than the search engine does– they have no incentive to share it.

In the long-run, whoever has the most robust data about users will do a better job personalizing.

That creates ad revenue, which allows the network to invest in more features (things like gmail or driving cars) and better ad tech.

It’s not that Google is going to be dead or that search is going the way of the print yellow pages.
It’s that search has reached maturity, so Google is having to do things like invest in wearables and Uber.
It’s less about buggy whips and more about Innovator’s Dilemma.

So don’t be like the old geezers sitting on the front porch swapping war stories.

Make sure you know who your customers are, independent of the keywords they search, social networks they hang out on, apps they use, videos they play, brands they like, or places they visit.
The sites/apps/things that they frequent will be the ones providing self-serve ad interfaces allowing you to target exactly these people.

Right now, Facebook has the most profile information and user activity, so they’re the current winner in targeted personalization.
But you know that Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and even Apple have released their own targeted ad platforms, fueled by their user behavior.

A keyword is not a user

The search engine doesn’t remember what you’ve done last time– you get the same answer each time.
When you set up your marketing automation properly, you’re able to snipe the demand well before it ever becomes a search.

So when we start to see search decline, you’ll know why– it’s like an ounce of prevention versus a pound of cure.
And the cost to both acquire and keep customers via inbound marketing is much cheaper than paying full price at the last minute when the customer finally needs it.

All Your Data Are Belong to Us

My hat is off to Kara and Walt for warning readers of All Things Digital about tracking cookies on their site. Today, it seems that surfing the web is akin to wading naked into a mosquito infested swamp.  You can’t avoid getting stung, but you have no choice– your home is in the middle of this swamp.  And it wasn’t because you decided to build your house in the swamp– the mosquitos saw where you lived and decided to locate where you are for convenience.

Not all tracking cookies are evil, but how is the consumer to know who is doing what with your data and where you’ve been?  Usually, it’s a good thing, such as remembering that you’ve come to a place before.  Sometimes it’s questionable, such as retargeting or remarketing, where you are followed around the web just because you went to a particular site. And sometimes it just outright unethical, such as flash cookies (which aren’t even cookies) and are nearly impossible to be removed. With new technology comes new opportunity for advertising in ways that even industry pioneers haven’t considered yet– and certainly not regulators.  Check out what Roger McNamee has to say, for example. If you’re an advertiser, what are you doing about this?  If you’re a consumer, what do you think, given there isn’t much you can do?

Google Analytics can predict the future

My best friend is a stay at home dad. Last Halloween, he blogged about funny pumpkin carvings and quickly started ranking on that term.  His traffic went from a few dozen visits a day in late October to a couple thousand daily uniques right at Halloween.  It’s now one year later, the content is unchanged, and we see traffic building up. Here’s the traffic trend through October 8th, just 3 weeks away from Halloween.

As you can see, it’s gone from a couple visits a day to about 80 visits a day.  I’d estimate that by the time Halloween hits, we’ll be up to 2,000 visits a day on this term, which would be slightly more than last year.  He’s already ranking #2 on this term, as well as a number of other Halloween keywords.


Consider what posts you’ve written that have season value.  Got something on your favorite Christmas stories?  You get another shot this year around to get a multiple of what you did last time.  This time, you’re already ranking and have had a chance to evaluate what keywords drove you traffic. Thus, you know now how to send linkjuice to this post and what terms are valuable.  It’s like watching re-runs of a game show you’ve already seen– you already know the answers. So if you can’t win, something is wrong.


Maybe you have a winning egg nog recipe.  Now create one on hot spiced cinnamon cider or related topics and link these articles together.  Get your friends to link to you on these new articles.  You already know Google likes you for a certain set of terms, so as long as you stay close to those, you’ll be able to expand out and get more traffic on similar terms.

If you have some high resolution pictures, that will help you in image search. Integrate Facebook Connect as Keith has done, and you get another multiplier of traffic, since Google is indexing Facebook pages.  Getting more comments to your post will also help you get more traffic– there’s more content to index, plus Google sees that your site is heavily visited and commented.

Love to hear your experiences here.

Alexa, Quantcast, ComScore, Compete, etc… Are they accurate?

We get this question all the time, so I’m going to answer it here and then point people back to this post.

Alexa is the most well-known of the traffic measurement services, but also the least accurate. Let me explain why. Alexa rankings are based on the behavior of the folks who have downloaded the toolbar. No wonder that tech-heavy and venture capitalist sites have fantastic Alexa ratings– the tech people are disproportionately represented as Alexa users. The Alexa on this blog fluctuates between 50,000 and 250,000, which is better than the 30 million plus sites being tracked. Though my blog gets only a few hundred folks a day, it has an Alexa rank better than many sites that get 10,000 uniques a day, such as some of our clients.

What you need to know about Alexa is this:

  • If the Alexa rank of a site you’re looking at is not under 100,000, then the odds are the traffic is low.  And if your traffic is low, then the activity of just a few users can make your number bounce from 2 million to 20 million– it’s just noise.  Remember, Alexa estimates your popularity by extrapolating the behavior of a few users up to the entire web. But the Alexa userbase (those who use the toolbar) is highly skewed.  
  • You can game the Alexa toolbar by having your friends visit your site or employing a bot service– seems silly to go to that effort just to better your rank.  I suppose geeks can have their boob jobs, too.
  • You CAN compare Alexa figures between sites in the same category– so one daddy blogger versus another daddy blogger is fine, since they’re likely to have the same mix of Alexa users.  But a tech blogger versus a kids’ site?  Nope.

Compete and Quantcast are usually far more accurate.  Quantcast allows you to be “quantified” by placing a tracking pixel, so it’s the most accurate.  Yet I don’t see benefit in sharing your stats with the world– but then again, I don’t understand why some people share some of their most personal details in public forums.  When we do analysis, we use multiple third party traffic sources– and typically, Compete and Quantcast go together, while Alexa deviates.  Some thoughts about these two services:

  • Compete is great if you want to compare multiple sites at the same time– hence, the name “compete”.  I haven’t personally paid the cash to use the Pro service, but can’t imagine that any paid service is really worthwhile, given how many free tools are available.
  • Quantcast is great for individual site demographics and to tell you what other sites are in the same category.  I’d ignore the education and income measures– no way they can accurately determine that.  A neat trick is to take the related sites spit out by Quantcast (your competitors, I’m assuming) and then paste those domains into a spyfu.com or other keyword research tool to get their keywords.

ComScore is for big companies that have a lot of money to spend on reporting, although the unwritten rule is that if you pay ComScore for their reporting, you might somehow rank better in their various reports.  ComScore doesn’t matter to you unless you’re VC funded or a big company that is depending upon who ComScore says is top in a particular category for your valuation or ad rates.  There is a minor conflict of interest here, but not much more so than the fact that automobile review magazines accept ads from car dealerships, or that Yelp takes ads from restaurants that have reviews in their directory.

But the most important tool to use in grading your site is your own analytics– and you should be using Google Analytics here unless you are an enterprise client that can afford a custom clickstream tool to do click level attribution, or are perhaps doing some crazy form of lead generation.

The question is what your goal is with these 3rd party traffic tools. And there are different tools for different jobs depending on whether your aim is keyword research on competitors, exploring new demographics for a product you want to launch, researching the other players to demonstrate where you’ve kicked ass over the last year (to get a raise), or perhaps it’s just a nice stat to consistently track each month over time.

So what tools do you prefer to use for assessing popularity on the web?  My favorite is still Alexa because it’s easy to use and commonly understood.

Why some technology companies fail and others succeed

Many folks speculate why Google has overtaken Yahoo! in search or why Facebook has dominated in social networking, versus Friendster. I believe there’s one key factor— if you’re running a technology company, you need a technologist at the helm.  Larry and Sergey of Google were Ph Ds (or about to be) in Computer Science.  The last few folks who have run Yahoo! were anything but technology people– one was a film executive, one was a financial analyst, and another is a professional manager.  Running a technology company requires a deep understanding of what’s coming next in a rapidly changing world.  And to not have a keen pulse is to drive in a dangerous fog.

Facebook was founded by Mark Zuckerberg, a young computer science genius– not a 55 year old male who is good at manipulating spreadsheets.  If you see a social networking start-up being founded by 55 year old males who are probably not even on Facebook– run the other direction as fast as you can.  The folks who can best guide a company are those who connect deeply with their customer base.  How can you start and manage a company if you don’t use the product yourself?  Even the guy who runs Hair Club for Men is also a client, so the commercial goes.

Of the technology companies we see fail, it’s not just age.  Often it’s also a lack of having a balanced core team.  Salespeople hire salespeople.  Engineers tend to like to hang out with other engineers.  It just works that way somehow, as people hire folks who are like them.  But to operate a technology firm, you need folks who are experts in sales, engineering, marketing, finance, and other disciplines.  And the technologist should be king in the technology company, in the same way that Nike was started and run by a star athlete, Phil Knight.   Does Frito Lay have a technologist at the helm?  No, they have a marketing person, since that’s the firm’s core expertise.

So watch out for technology companies that don’t have any engineers in sight or believe that engineers are commodity products that can be contracted out or hired offshore.  If you are a business person and are thinking of starting a company in the Internet space, my advice to you is to quickly find a technical co-founder.  You’ll thank me later for this advice.  

A great entrepreneur knows what he knows- and more importantly, knows what he doesn’t know– finding someone to complement him or her.  If you’re an engineer, find a strong marketing/sales ally and make him a business partner.  Your freelancer will give you great results for a couple months, maybe longer– but eventually will flake out on you, which is why they’re freelancing.  

Are you a technologist— and if not, do you have a technologist that is part of your founding team or is at least a CTO level person?  If you are one of these companies that’s lacking a technologist, but wondering why you may be having trouble executing, I hope this article helps shed some light on why.