Do You Seek Influence or Income?


Sonia Simone at Copyblogger describes two types of people on the web: thought leaders and marketers. Thought leaders (she calls them the “Cool Kids”) constantly push the boundaries of conversation, attention and influence, while the Internet Marketers chase the cash through quick, aggressive, black hat tactics.

Then she poses the question: which tribe is lame and which one is smart?

Aaron Wall similarly examines the dynamics between salesmanship and competent expertise. He claims people who desire to be experts have trouble being effective sales people:

The truth rarely ends up in marketing copy, so we discount much of what we read, assuming some of it to be false or over-stated. A person that is mostly driven by being an expert will likely have sales copy that sounds wishy-washy, especially when compared against a person who does nothing but write sales copy (or spin public relations) for a living.

I could not agree with him more. How many of you bloggers out there have trouble connecting the purity of your ideas with the profits of your dreams? Or should that read connecting the ideas of your dreams with the purity of your profits?

The first hard knock of blogging is that it’s very difficult to translate good ideas into cash. That’s why we see so much more scumbag marketing on the web than genuine evolutionary ideas — because making money is easy if you don’t care about value.

Sensational sales copywriting is a great example of this. How many times do we get to a sales copy webpage that within the first two seconds has you clicking the back button? Aaron goes on:

The lies baked into sales copy and public relations make sales harder than it needs to be because they teach consumers to be distrusting, and what marketers are selling is hope.

The best way for bloggers to move forward in this dilemma is to adapt a balanced and ethical approach to thought leadership and marketing. Most of us are not as polarized as Simone theorizes, nor more leaning towards salesmanship as Aaron Wall assumes.

Bloggers just mostly want to be noticed and praised by the crowd.

The first action towards being succeesful has nothing to do with success. Why not approach our content the same way an artist approaches her subject: with a purity of intent to create something true and beautiful and great (or at least genuine and useful)?

Then we can nurture and cultivate our “original ideas” so they can eventually outgrow us into something much bigger, something awesome and worth paying for.

Only then, with a rhythm of genius established, can we make the effort to sell our ideas.

True wealth creation comes from having both a great product and great marketing. Go down one path too far and you’ll end up with either no money or no legacy, or both.

2 Replies

  1. John Bardos Reply

    This post outlines the problem that most of us are struggling with online. We don’t want to degrade the quality of our content with a snake oil salesman’s pitch, but at the same time we want or need to make some money online.

    Promoting ourselves on our own blog and on sites like Twitter, can make many people uncomfortable. We don’t want to feel like we are hawking some pyramid marketing scheme to defraud people out of money. Yet, we need to sell.

    I think the main problem is that we are selling ideas, and that basically means we are selling ourselves. Few would have a problem selling a table or cup we made. Physically things have tangible and clear value. Ideas on the other hand are relative. We expect to pay around $20 for a physical copy of a book, that comes with massive amounts of editorial influence, design, and promotion plus all the countless hours the author has spent writing and editing.

    At the same time we frequently come across self-published ebooks that can sell for prices at many multiples of a typical book. There are essentially no publishing costs and the content has faced much less editorial scrutiny, yet we charge more than a professionally published book. It feels like we are abusing the relationship with our blog readers even if the content is top notch.