The Dark Side of Internet Marketing

Posted on February 1, 2010 8:57 AM by Joel Comm

WARNING: Today's post is going to rattle cages and put a spotlight on a potentially dark side of Internet marketing. Yeah, I'm probably going to tick some people off. That's life. I'm more concerned with speaking the truth.

This is #2 in a series called The Truth About Internet Marketing. Part one was called "The Long Form Sales Letter.

For some time it has been suspected that there is a "secret cabal" of Internet marketers who seek to do nothing more than drain money from unsuspecting customers who will buy their stuff. This group is accused of interacting with each other in a way that would exclude others from their circle.

Having written my first ebook in 2005 and having enjoyed a certain degree of success in the information marketing space, I believe I can honestly and openly speak to what I have observed.

First of all it is important to note that Internet marketing is a term we use to describe the people who sell training materials, software tools, templates, private label rights and other products related more directly to the "make money online" space.

My ebook on making money with AdSense falls into this category.

However, Internet marketing is really a method of marketing any kind of product or service on the Internet. So perhaps a more appropriate term would be infoproduct marketing. (Even that is not completely accurate as there are thousands of infoproducts that have absolutely nothing to do with the "make money online" space.)

So is there a secret group that exists to create products and sell them to people at exhorbitant prices knowing that others can not succeed with these products?

No, there isn't.

But is there a group of marketers who have built relationships with each other over the years that tend to work together on projects?

Of course. People tend to befriend others with common interests. It's just human nature.

But here's the problem.

Just like any other group of people it is easy to lump everyone together and stick a label on them.

For example, all politicians are crooks. Is that really true? I'm sure there are some reputable, ethical politicians working on our behalf. (Just don't ask me to name one...)

How about, all lawyers are scumbags. True, there are scumbag ambulance-chasing attorneys out there, but I have met some very nice ethical lawyers in my time.

The point is that we have to be very careful in lumping people together.

We are all individuals.

I didn't set out to network with people in "the circle." It just happened when I wrote an ebook that people wanted to buy. When it became a hit people naturally gravitated towards me. After all, success attracts the interest of others. (That's the REAL law of attraction... not that mumbo-jumbo "the universe is your genie" crap.)

Others desperately want IN the so-called circle because they believe having relationships with other successful people will be the key to their success. I get emails all the time asking me to promote other people's products because, and I kid you not, "I have a big list." Gee, that's a way to win someone over...

It's important to understand that there ARE great products out there that bring value. I wouldn't have sold thousands of copies of my AdSense ebooks if they didn't bring value. Word of mouth and legitimate testimonials go a long way. I have always attempted to create products that bring value and will always continue to do so.

That doesn't mean that you can't make a lot of money with a worthless product, though. I've seen it happen time and again. All it takes is a carefully crafted sales letter, a well thought-out product launch strategy and a group of affiliates who will promote it on launch day for a commission.

I believe it is morally wrong to sell products that don't bring real value. If you are going to provide training, make sure the training is valid. If you are going to sell a software product, the software needs to do what you say it does.

There is, however, nothing evil or even unethical about crafting a good sales letter, preparing a launch strategy and recruiting affiliates to promote your product.. As I've discussed before, it is important to write a persuasive sales letter (as long as persuasion doesn't become manipulation.) It is essential to have a product launch strategy. And affiliate marketing is nothing new. It's critical that others are eager to share your product or service with their members. New FTC regulations require that affiliates are forthcoming with their relationship with the product they are promoting, but there's nothing wrong with doing a promotion.

So where is the problem?

Well, there actually is a series of problems that I have observed over the years. I'm not going to name any names because that's not the purpose of this post. The point is to make you aware of what is broken in the industry. It's then up to you to find out who the people are that have made it this way. Hopefully, you'll also be able to discern who the good guys are.

With that said, these are three areas that I find disturbing in the Internet marketing space.

1) Back-scratching.

I understand the "if you promote this for me I'll promote that for you" mentality. I have encountered it all too often.

In the earlier days of Internet marketing, many of the products were fresh and original. Entrepreneurs were coming up with great solutions and many of them worked quite well.

Things have changed. With so many people in the "make money online" space, many are creating products just to enter the niche. As I've written before, a number of them have no credibility and some of them outright copy others to make a buck.

Now there's nothing wrong with asking for reciprocation, but I have a problem endorsing something I don't think will serve the customer. Over the years I've presented numerous products and services. I've only regretted endorsing a small handful because I turn away from promoting MANY offers that I don't believe bring real value.

That's not the case with everyone.

I've seen some Internet marketers promote everything and anything that comes their way, all in the name of reciprocation.

I can't do it and I won't do it just to do it. I will only reciprocally promote an offer if I believe it is worthy to promote.

2) Unhealthy attitudes towards customers

This one may make you angry and it probably should.

I have spoken at a number of Internet marketing, online business and personal development conferences. I will go more in depth on these events in another entry, but for now I want to focus on an experience that I had.

I was at an event a couple years ago and was accompanied by one of my employees.

The event was such that the people attending paid very little to be there. The speakers were to deliver quality content and end their presentation with an opportunity for the attendees to purchase their product or service.

There is nothing wrong with this model. It allows people to learn something new and consider if they want to learn more. It allows speakers an opportunity to get in front of an audience and present valuable content. Of course, it also allows the speaker to sell his or her product.

Anyhow, at this one particular conference I was outside the room with my associate. We were speaking to the promoter of the event and asked him how things were going in the room. That kind of question means "how is the content and are people investing in product." In order for a conference like this to be a win/win for all both need to occur.

My associate and I were stunned when the promoter told us that the attendees to his event were always looking for the next big thing and that it was like he was selling crack to them... providing their next fix. He made it clear that he didn't expect them ever to make any money and he was fine with that.

I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I lost a lot of respect for this person that day.

This attitude can be found in spots throughout the Internet marketing space. I'm not saying it is everywhere. It is rare. But it does exist.

3) Bonus offers to make more sales as an affiliate

It is common for marketers to have affiliates compete to see who can make the most sales during their product launch. They will frequently rank the affiliates each day so everyone can see who is winning and prizes will be awarded based on final standings.

I think healthy competition is a good thing and I see nothing wrong with having a sales contest. Corporations have contests among their sales teams all the time. I've offered prizes to affiliates in the past. It provides them with incentive to promote my product.

But I draw the line at affiliate bonus offers.

The merchant selling the product will ask affiliates to provide a bonus for customers who purchase their product through the affiliates link. The idea is that more people will buy through my affiliate link if I offer them an attractive bonus, thereby earning me more affiliate commissions.

I think I did this for another marketer's promotion one time, several years ago. I gave away a free copy of one of my ebooks for customers who purchased through my link.

But many marketers will offer bonuses with high perceived value. I've seen people give away their high-end products to incentivize customers to purchase through their link.

I have found this puzzling because some people are willing to completely devalue their own products in order to make more sales of someone else's product.

I have refused to play this game.

Essentially, it means that when I promote a product I feel adds value and choose not to add a bonus I will make fewer sales. After all, if a customer can purchase through Affiliates X's link and get two-thousand dollars worth of bonuses, why would they purchase through my link?

And I'm ok with that.

I'm not going to devalue my own product in promotion of someone else's. It doesn't make any sense to me.

I've got more to say about Internet marketing and will be posting another entry shortly.

I want to conclude on an up-note.

There is hope that the industry is changing.

New FTC regulations attempting to reel in fake and unreasonable testimonials as well as a crackdown in the merchant services sector are forcing marketers to take a long hard look at what they are dong.

I believe this is going to serve to weed out more of the scam artists and provide opportunity for those willing and eager to do business the right way.

Assuming you have an idea for a product or service of value, I would encourage you to see it through and bring your dream to fruition.

So what are your thoughts on the topic? I'd love to hear your comments below.

See Also

Sharing the Secret - Aug 20, 2006
Enough is Enough - Jun 05, 2007

73 Comments For This Post

  1. James Grandstaff Says:

    Hey Joel,

    Great post and I agree 100% with all 3 points. I too have offered my product as a bonus for a few affiliate promotions. BUT... I made sure my "reason why" preserved the value of my own product. Last year was just ridiculous for this sort of thing.

    Best to you and yours,
    James Grandstaff

  2. Lasse Rouhiainen Says:

    Great reflection Joel, I agree with you.

    Since Internet Marketing in growing so much its
    good time to "clean" the scam artist and start to
    give space for people who work with transparency
    and honesty.

    Once thing you did not mention: interaction between
    customers will be huge this year, and if you dont deliver
    killer customer service, everyone will know about it
    in facebook, Twitter, and other social networks.

    Thanks, Lasse

  3. Nimit Kashyap Says:

    I totally agree with you and i am very happy with FTC guidelines and recent credit card regulations.

  4. Nancy Says:

    Great Article -- by trial and error I pretty much figured what you've said out over the past 8 years of providing PPC services. My goal in subscribing has never been to necessarily make more money, but to make sure i am keeping up with the changes to properly serve my clients, plus take advantage of good tools that are recommended by someone I can trust. You saved the day for me in promoting XSitePro2...Love it!

  5. Kristi Sayles Says:

    I couldn't agree with you more, Joel. I especially like that you won't offer your subscribers products you don't believe will benefit them. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." It's more than the Good Word-it should be good business sense.
    Kristi Sayles

  6. Debra Matthews Says:

    Well said Joel!

    There is so much misinformation being hawked on the internet. People starting out with an online business can learn a lot from people who have already invented, or at least researched the design of the wheel. It is important to be selective in who you follow, trust and share your wealth with though - either by buying their products or buying their hype.

    Your books are always top of my recommended reading for clients, because of their readability [for non geeks] combined with clear easy actionable steps and they contain invaluable information that I cannot provide in the time I have available, but it's all info I know they will need.

    Just like any business or service, provide value - no snake oil required!

  7. Tami Stodghill Says:

    I agree completely. I write a blog that focuses on the importance of people and customer service in any business. But it's especially essential in internet marketing. People want--and need--to be able to trust what is being "sold". That said, I look forward to your posts.

    Thanks for your info!

  8. Paul Klein Says:

    Hi Joel,

    Once more, you hit some key points that many need to read and heed.

    I agree with what you point out, and I have only offered bonuses a couple of times when promoting a launch for a partner. These were due to the add on bonuses enhancing the use of the product offered, not some junk add on, or devaluation of my or someone else's high end product just to boost some sales.

    We either offer something that is going to serve the customer to learn or get ahead, or why offer it at all?

    As for the FTC issues and other cleaning up, it is good to see that some work is being done to rid the scams. I believe that those of us in the marketing and internet services arena need to help police each other as well, somewhat to do more than the "back scratch". I think you know what I mean.

    Keep up the great work!

    Paul Klein

  9. Neil McPherson Says:

    Thanks for a full and comprehensive post which at times gorans jsu a fraction as its little sails billow with "balanced air". Rarely does one see such handed-ness in a milieu wracked with hyperbole and very little care for atribution. Gee why not let a bit of bile spray on thee golf-clubbing cronies? The ones who charge just about anything (certainly more than my heart surgeon or skin doctor do) for broken glass and mirrors.

    Several of them are lawyers and three years ago charged $4000 a pop to give one an hour of his time to teach how to avoid legal errors online becaue of the extet of FFC jurisdiction claimed across the Net. His old sound tapes are still online.

    The sad thing for me at this time of banks and scoundrels resurfacing after a temporary lull, is: how little so many of these guys and gals contribute to the sum toatal of human experience. And the damage they do to the language (even the American version)is melting the linguistic ice cap.

    Oh, that feels better! Thanks. One chap hit my screen three times this last week, after being correctly expunged twice already. FCC FCSCHMEE a joke.

  10. Del Williams Says:

    Thanks Joel for saying what most would never admit. I do think the brush paints too wide on the bad rep, but the reality is the problems seems to have a spotlight on them, instead of the credible people who really want to help people, and still make a living. I do hope the new laws will weed out the bad seed.

  11. D S Says:


    couldn't have pulled the same words from my head any better and I've thought these same thoughts for many years now.

    Amen brother...amen and you are a brave soul for preaching the truth.

    You won't see any hype up affiliate offers ever from us over at Northwest Arkansas even if it means never making a huge amount of money!

    A man has to be able to sleep at night...right?


  12. Andrew Stark Says:

    Hi Joel

    A lot of these bad habits come from the best selling $47 clickbank products about "How To Make Money" where the target audience is the same suckers that you saw at the offline event.

    As the credit crunch kicks in these people no longer have the access to buy, and I hope that we've reached the tipping point where products will dissapear and the unethical people think of another way to generate cash - have you noticed all the adverts on the TV to buy gold at a fraction of it's actual value!


  13. Steve Winship Says:

    Hi Joel,

    Excellent article! Thank you for all your insight.


    You said " long as persuasion doesn't become manipulation..."

    Do you consider "today only," "100 copies only," " could disappear at any moment," and other such pressure phrases to be persuasion or manipulation?


  14. Adrienne Says:

    Glad someone is finally saying it like it is!!!
    I get sick of having marketers trip over themselves trying to sell me the next hottest and best product! I don't even think most marketers look into what they are selling.. just marketing "the next best thing"
    I have what I believe are quality products that fill in a lot of gaps that I see in the marketer's plight to succeed.
    I am so glad the FTC is cracking down on bogus claims.
    I want to stand behind a quality product without the hype.
    Now maybe some folks will get a chance to really learn something of value that they can use in their biz..
    Thanks Joel,

  15. Jeffrey Hardwick Says:


    Doesn't it really come down to integrity and motives?

    It seems to me that one of the greatest motives is love. If you truly love people then you there is no need to be dishonest with them.

  16. John Ritz Says:

    Great post! A lot of people are doing some soul searching these days with respect to the older affiliate and JV promotion models.

    My friends Ryan Healy and Michel and Sylvie Fortin are good examples of this.

    Thanks for putting in your observations and "entering the conversation" already going on in a lot of folks' minds!



  17. David Says:

    It's worse. "Results may not be the same" comes to mind.

    If someone advertises "results", then the Mean, Median and Modal values should be stated.

  18. Paul Easton Says:

    I agree and disagree

    Many marketerers should the work "work" to every sales letter, presentation and video. The person on the otehr end, things that its "step by step" plan- words you have used as well, to make it look easy....

    (amybe its more in the mindset of the reader...the easy money)

    And in another matter- you still link to the old version of your adsense code, which is at least 5 years old, and from many of the comments on amazon, many of the links are broken(a lot changes in 5 years online....)

    Wouldnt it be more ethical to point to the new version, which is free?

    Then if they saw value purchase the paid published version?

    Just my 2 cents worth....

  19. Carlos Says:

    Hi Joel,

    Not sure I agree with your 3rd point. I mean if an affiliate wants to offer their high end product as a bonus to make more money from the company or individual of which they are an affiliate...why not?

    I assume they are doing that as a calculated decision that will allow them to make more money by being an affiliate than by offering their high end product directly.

    I mean if they are undercutting themselves and making less overall than they would by offering their product directly at full all means I can see where that would be a bad thing for them.

    But if they are having trouble selling their high end product why not use it as a bonus offer to promote an affiliate offer through which they may make more money as a result?

    This latter use of a high end product that is not selling makes sense to me. Both ethically and from a business standpoint.

    I guess I don't quite understand what you object to regarding affiliate bonus offers.

    Other than that, you bring up some great points as usual Joel. I love watching how you get me to come here and read your stuff. There is real gold in watching you work. Techniques that I hope to learn from as I build my own lists.


  20. Jim Lillig Says:

    Thanks Joel for giving a peek into what I like to call "The Incestium". Those "backscratchers" that continue to gang up for launches and sell ever increasing cost products to theirs and others' lists in a circle jerk of monumental proportions. While not all infoproducts are worthless, you are right that there is a proliferation of products that offer little or no value. The "Serial Information Buyers" (or SIB's) that sign up to learn the next best thing, are in many cases, only buying another book/course so they can delay actually taking action. The most prolific and profitable marketers I have known in 25 years of doing this are the ones who do one or two things very well. Those that hop from one marketing plan to the next are usually the ones who complain they cannot make any money. Earning an income online through affiliate marketing is more about taking an action, even if it is wrong, than sitting and reading and amassing knowledge. I hear it all too often from students, "I don't know enough". The only way you know enough in this business is by taking action and some amount of risk. The courses can help mitigate those risks, but in the end you learn by doing, simple trial and error, and not just by reading about it or watching a few videos.

    The recent FTC re-iteration of its guidelines, as well as recent moves by Transaction Processors to shut down deceptive continuity vendors will go far to thin the herd. Unfortunately the largest ones will survive to sell another day.

    Great post and look forward to more like it.

  21. Michael Penland Says:

    Joel -

    Great post. Accurate info. Nice to hear from one of the "good guys" of Internet Marketing. Keep up the good work.

    --Michael Penland

  22. Burt Says:

    You opened with the claim that your post would "rattle some cages" but your writing comes nowhere near the impact of Ryan Healy's recent Internet Marketing on Life Support:

    He bravely (foolishly?) names names and takes crooks to task for ripping off customers.

    By comparison, your entry is interesting but bland.

    Come on, Joel, you can do much, much better!


  23. Karen Says:

    Dear Joel,

    I have been tempted to buy many of these programs and decided against it. My husband is a chiropractor and we deal with fibromyalgia. It has lots of competition. Many internet marketers have tried to sell us many things and say that it can help our business. We also refuse to use language that creates fear in someone in order to sell them. One copywriter said our sight was bad. He used a darker term. We are able to really help people and do not want to stup to these methods either.

    Thank you for supporting good business.



  24. Anatoly Says:

    Great post, Joel,
    the Internet marketing Space became a Field of Wonders where several people are digging for the gold and the entire army of "wannabes" are bringing their money hoping to get something in return.I will greatly appreciating the FTC if they will create some List of Fair Marketers who are doing things the Fair Way.Unfortunately, there are so many Gurus who teach people "how to sell a BS and wrap it into the candy paper".I was buying 2 products for $497 and $997 where was taught how to do this.Probably, due to this reason I still do not make money online. I can not lie! I can not cheat people the same way somebody was cheating me.
    It's sad, but time is going by and the sly players are winning now.

  25. Nancy Hall Says:

    Hi Joel,

    your post took guts to share, thank you.

    I share your philosophy - it also doesn't sit well with me - to not offer the very best that you can so that people are getting something of value - something they really appreciate having. I certainly like that feeling when I have purchased something - that feeling of having made a good choice, a wise investment. Not all my internet training experiences have been that way, but many of them have been good ones.

    I hope you do blog more on this topic - it's englightening.

    Blessings to you & yours,

  26. Dan Says:

    I'm a little disappointed. I saw the disclaimer at the top about rattling some cages, but I don't think it was controversial.

    You did a good job of explaining how to take the high road and build the right relationships.

  27. Ron Wood ( ronwooduk ) Says:

    I agree with everything you say Joel. It would be nice if everyone shared the same high levels of honesty, integrity, truthfulness. That we were all open and fair with each other. Unfortunately this is not the case. Sometimes one is up against dishonesty and greed. Sometimes people who are ignorant, of low intelligence, or who are themselves poorly trained or misinformed. Sometimes you are dealing with people who are desperate to sell you a product or service at any cost because they themselves under pressure to do so. I have lost many thousands of pounds over the years through dealing with people who I thought I could trust and yet turned out to be rotten eggs. So let the buyer beware! The internet is wide open for dodgy dealings. Its a paradise for people with malicious intent. Building trust and a good reputation are vital.Clearly Internet Marketing is being exploited by unscrupulous people just as are lots of other businesses. Lets hope the new Regs are effective.

  28. greg cryns Says:


    I bought your Adsense book years ago and it served me well, thank you.

    You know, there is some truth in what that IM guy said about IM sales being like selling crack. I am sure you are not recommending that we hold the hands of each and every person who asks us to do that.

    You are one of the good guys.

  29. Sensei J. Richard Kirkham B.Sc. Says:

    Great post once again Joel

    I agree with you about the affiliate bonuses. Tell you the truth I really don't even have time to offer bonuses and keep track of them

  30. Dave Says:


    Thanks for you open and honest comments. I have struggled with what I see many times. I seems hard for credible people to break in to this business and make a living.
    Thanks again
    Dave the How To guy

  31. james richardson Says:

    Joel excellent post. For other viewers here, digg Joel's post like I did. Before I comment on your post I would like to thank you for "The Secret Classroom." My whole perspective for succeeding online has been redefined. You could of charged over $10,000 for one speaker and been justified.

    The inner circle deserves to commingle amongst themselves. Your group of friends have proved themselves to be experts, and high performers. The Internet is a mixture of crap and high caliber products. Usually the high caliber will give you a lot of value even if you don't purchase their product.

    The trend of having obscene amounts of bonuses for affiliate offers is a sign of how competitive the net has become. As a consumer I'm ok with experts scheming to lead me down a dead end road. I refund every single one of their products.

    What do you think of Marcus Campbell? I am looking for a mentor that I can interact with to help me establish myself online. I put so much time and see little money return. Can you suggest a mentoring program?

  32. Sharon Says:

    Well put, Joel! We have seen all three of the items about which you speak. People who, by their actions, give a bad name to info-marketing also give a bad name to internet marketing. Their actions make it hard for people to trust you and me and other reputable marketers until they have learned that we are not that way.

    We have attended many seminars, and had to deal with people who were only interested in their sale. It is hard to learn who one can trust, but we're getting better at identifying red flags to stay away from, and believe me, we have had some expensive learning experiences, including a coaching program that was a total disaster.

    You didn't mention it, but another thing we have had to deal with is marketers selling their email lists. I know you don't do that, and I respect you, so will not name anyone here, but I'm sure you know who does it. When I see people promoting products from people who sell their email lists, I shy away from the promoters too. My husband spent over ten hours having to change his email address from his name at our main website to get rid of all of the junk he was getting. He has now assigned a different email address to every marketer he gets emails from, so he can easily identify any culprits in the future.

    Anyway, let me end this on a positive note. You and people who treat others the right way will be around for a long, long time. You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all the people all of the time.

  33. Mortgage Guidelines Says:


    I can not agree with your definition of internet marketing. I have been in the mortgage industry for 15 years, ... my husband has been in it for 40 years.

    I had a deep compassion for home buyers that were at the mercy of brokers and lenders because they had no clue of what it took to qualify for a mortgage. I built several web sites that provided mortgage guideline requirements so the consumer would be educated before they applied for a loan. It was total content and I sold nothing. I even set up email so they could contact me with questions. It was a great success and I learned that it was not only the consumer that didn't have a clue, it was also mortgage professionals and UNDERWRITERS!

    To make a long story short, the sites had no return on investment except for personal satisfaction. I had to learn how to make them at least pay for themselves. You taught me how to do that and I am now making quite a bit of $ just from adsence.

    I have followed other internet marketers (according to your difinition). I learned over the years that what you have included in your post is pretty accurate.

    I have been trying to teach or show my husband some of the good stuff but he had a block in his attitude about anyone teaching on line. He had a mind set that all "internet marketers" fall into your first description.

    Here is my point. Jerry was a lender for more years than I can remember and when the internet became a tool, he too built websites and advertised his loans, and people applied for loans on line. That is internet marketing!

    Anyone selling a product or service on line is marketing on the internet (an internet marketer). Once I got that through his head his mind opened and now he too follows your stuff to learn.

    Sometimes it is difficult to tell who is reputable and who is not. It does not matter what you are marketing or what industry you are in.

    Even our Government markets on line. I shouldn't go there!

    Thank you for your Guts and Integrity!


  34. John W. Furst Says:

    Hi Joel,

    May I suggest that you cross-check your definition of Internet marketing before you write your next post. The "make money/biz-op market" is a subset of IM, not IM itself.

    And by the way, you'll find far more shenanigans going on in Health/Fitness/Credit markets. Just check out various CPA offers for example.

    Besides that, of course, being transparent, ethical, customer focused rules. Unfortunately the FTC, Mastercard/VISA had to step in.

    It's certainly good to educate web user. As I said, more shenanigans elsewhere.

    Sylvie Fortin wrote her "sins report" a while back and Ryan Healy addressed the topic on his blog recently too.


    P.S.: Another side effect of bonus offers is added info-overload. It kind of triggers the typical response, "Oh, boy that too (and it goes on the shelf)... so what's the next big thing."

    The best type of bonus offers I have seen are tailored to the main product, not just "I add my top $$$$ course" but personal coaching for example.

    P.P.S.: Yeah, people watch out.

  35. ken Says:

    At last the voice of reason :-)

    I was one of those people who bought products just to get the 'thousand' dollar bonuses. My hard drive was filling up with products I'd never use.

    Now days I buy the occasional product if I think it's good, and usually from the product creator.

    If I receive an email starting 'My good friend' or 'strictly limited offer' it gets deleted straight away, as I know 99% of the time they barely know each other and 'strictly limited' really means 'unlimited'.

    By the way I have read your Twitter book, which I bought when something else of value was offered for free with it.. ;-) I can't even remember what it was...

  36. Ron T Says:

    Joel -- great article. Too bad you can't name names! I purchased a product for $1497 from a well-known "make money" marketer that brags about making over $10,000,000/yr online. The huge package that arrived was nothing but crap! It only had 3 usable tidbits in it -- NOT the complete step-by-step plans that was promised in the hype. Fortunately I had enough sense to go thru it quickly, and sent it back for a refund -- no harm done. I'm a newbie, but could quickly tell that this was over-priced fluff. That's one of the best protections one can have -- go thru a product quickly and make a judgment call. One giveaway clue for me has been: If it's expensive, but time after time still keeps trying to sell you even more expensive crap from the same guru throughout the course, then return it quickly. I could provide quite a list of both "good guys", and plenty of crooks, too. Seems there is a larger % of the good guys that give great value for the money, but not by much.

  37. Jay E. Mattingly, MD Says:

    As an enthusiastic entrant to the affiliate marketplace that launched my website, - Energizing Your Health, less than two months ago, I've been guilty of purchasing first this, then that product; all the while, not harvesting the maximum benefits from each individual product before diving toward the next. In my brief stint, I suspect some lack of value in some of what I've purchased but I haven't fully paid heed to "Buyer Beware." Thanks, Joel, for the reminder to do my part (give the product a fair trial) and then demand accountability from the vendor if it doesn't live up to the hype.

  38. Ralph Says:

    Hi Joel,
    You are a true internet hero. This weekend I was forced to address this issue. A blog was using one of my videos to stimulate this debate. It took me a while, but I wrote a number of posts. Here are excerpts from the posts without the names.

    Post #1
    I will monitor this blog on a daily basis. I want to know the truth about potential role models for high school and college kids. Are there any other blogs I can monitor that provide a heads up on what is going on in the internet industry?

    I do weep and my heart is broken if what you say is true.

    If they are as corrupt as you say, I will consider removing their interviews from the In Search Of Heroes site and the upcoming books I am completing.

    Yes, I have been out of action in the internet community for the last 2 years because of the deaths of both my parents.

    I followed through on my commitment to care for them 24/7 for five years. My mom died in 2007 and my dad in 2008.

    I delayed completing and promoting the heroes program until after they died in their own home, in their own beds with me holding their hand saying goodbye.

    I guess I need to get up to speed on what has happened over the last couple of years. Some of the interviews I completed of people you excoriate contained good advice on life and family.

    I am considering publishing their content because it will help others understand the conflict many have between their personal and public lives.

    The big question over the last 10 years has been, "Does character really matter in business and politics?"

    Napoleon Hill and Earl Nightingale I believe answered that question many years ago. Their wisdom still stands as a model for correct human action and thought. That is why I am incorporating their material into the heroes educational program.

    I like to think the best of people I know but must also confront reality. I will search out the facts and proceed accordingly.

    Do you have any suggestions on who are worthy internet marketers for heroes interviews, that embody honesty, integrity and ethics? I would love to have some suggestions, especially if I discover what you say is true.


    Post #2
    The heroes journey is one that is long and involved. Heroes work through ups and downs. They make major mistakes and wise decisions.

    The good thing is we are all works in progress. God is not finished with us until our last breath. Hopefully, all of us sinners will repent and receive eternal salvation before we die.

    Major calamities in life cause many to give up and become failures forever. I admire anyone who becomes successful after going up against the government.

    One of my dear friends had the government come after his $500,000,000 business. All the chargers were trumped up.

    He saved his company but went personally bankrupt because of the aggressive prosecution and lies of the government. They are still working to destroy his life. His finances are already dead.

    He has not made it back but is not giving up. I consider him a hero because he keeps a good attitude despite what is happening in his life.

    Many of the guys you discuss do good things for others. Lets hope that the good they do eventually outweighs the bad in the scheme of life.


    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------Post #3

    Thanks for the online spanking. I deserve it. (-:

    My definition of HEROES is someone who Helps Enthusiastically, Responsibly, Optimistically, Exceptionally, Socially at a moment in their life time. The worst villain can become a hero at a moment in time as well as a hero become a villain. I never met anyone who was a hero who did not fall far short on certain days, especially in their relationships with others.

    No one is all good or all evil. Everyone is a sinner in one way or another. It is wise to know both sides of the human coin.

    I don't want to endorse anyone who is ripping off others in any way. That would be a huge mistake.

    No one is perfect is true. This does not justify wrong doing in any way. It just identifies the human condition thanks to original sin.

    Even the Apostle Paul said he did things he knew he should not do...did not do the things he knew he should. Sin is a constant condition of living in this imperfect world.

    All transgressions of God's Laws in personal life and business eventually reap the rewards they deserve. God holds people personally responsible and punishes or rewards them according to their actions.

    Peoples' live change over the years. Some of the finest and worst people make radical turns during their lives. I don't know many who have not experienced these radical cycles.

    It is my fervent prayer that their is forgiveness for all who seek it and are truly repentant and the restoration that ensues.

    It truly a sad statement on some of the individuals discussed in this blog. If they have forsaken honesty, ethics and integrity their businesses will fail and they will lose their most valuable possession is their reputation.

    Please give me a list of those you have personal experience with, not hearsay, that have violated the laws of ethics, integrity and honesty so I search for the truth.

    As you rightly point out, I cannot in good conscience endorse anyone that does not posses the qualities that would make them role models for young people.

    Since I invested the last 5 years taking care of my dying parents 24/7, the lives of the potential heroes I interviewed have changed or I was totally deluded by my rose colored glasses.

    Any way, I am a seeker of the truth. Please give me a list of the culprits and a list of those worthy to be honored as internet heroes. If you don't want to publish it here, please email it to me at I will keep it in the strictest confidence.

    Post #4

    Thanks for the heads up. I had no idea. Luke 6:43-45 is something I believe with all my heart.

    A Tree and Its Fruit
    43 "No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44 Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thorn bushes, or grapes from briers. 45 The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.

    I will check the links and read all the posts from the beginning. I will also ask some of the internet heroes who demonstrate honesty, integrity and ethics their opinion on this sad situation.


  39. Rupert Mamby Says:

    Thanks for unveiling some of the less than desirable antics of a few Internet Marketers. I've also noticed a practice of affiliates offering huge bonuses as incentives to buy products and not honor their bonus offers. It has happened to me twice while buying from two popular Internet Marketers. These desperate actions will only come back to diminish their reputations. However, there's no way to avoid this deception unless their names are made public.



  40. Troy Says:

    Hi Joel,
    I agree with you except for the product add ons.
    If I have a product that I want to offer as a bonus and make more money by bundeling it as an add on bonus then I see nothing wrong with it.
    As long as it is a product that offers value.
    Also, by giving away a free product as a bonus, it is like a loss leader in a supermarket. It also promotes your main brand. If users are searching on Google for a bonus with a particular product then they can find out about your brand by clicking on the link.
    Anyway, still a good post Joel.

  41. Levada Pendry Says:

    Hi Joel,

    I agree 100% with all your points!

    I recently attended a webinar put on by Henry Gold. He divided Internet Marketers into 2 groups: The Red Ocean and the Blue Ocean. The Red group are the ones who devalue the resell products, and are out to just make a buck anyway, and anyhow they can. The Blue group are the ones who are willing to help others succeed, and thereby succeeding themselves. It sure gave me a new yardstick to measure other marketers by! Something to think about before joining in agreements with other marketers besides "how much money can I make".

    Thanks for having the courage to bring up these "usually swept under the rug" subjects.


    Levada Pendry

  42. Revanto Says:

    "My associate and I were stunned when the promoter told us that the attendees to his event were always looking for the
    next big thing and that it was like he was selling crack to them... providing their next fix. He made it clear that he didn't
    expect them ever to make any money and he was fine with that."

    The really sad thing about this is that it is true. Joel, I think you took what he said the wrong way. The promoter was saying what he observed. It's not his fault that the people were like that. It may have been a bit of a blanket observation but you can't force people to be successful. So if people were 'ingesting' all these products and information and going nowhere then that's the fault of the people themselves. You lost the respect of the promoter partially because of misinterpretation, methinks.

    Psychologically, desperate people desperately seek quick solutions to make them happy. Sometimes they are lazy and are not willing to do the work OR they have tried doing the work in the past and continuously failed which has led to a "need-a-quick-fix" attitude or they feel that they will fail again.

    Yes, perhaps the promoter should have tried to turn the event to encourage strong action to sway the quick fix attitude of the attendees but, again, you can't force people to be successful and what's to say that if he did promote a more positive action orientated atmosphere that it would just give attendees their 'fix' anyway.

    Remember, a beautiful artwork is only as good as the work of the artist and not the tools. A great artist can take the poorest of tools and make the best use of them to make a wonderful piece of imagination.

  43. William Says:


    Great Post! I wish everyone took your attitude toward promoting products. The one thing I have learned by following you is I can count on any product you recommend and have never been disappointed with any of the ones I have purchased because of your recommendation. I can't say that for all of the internet marketers I have come into contact with over the years. Not only do you provide good products that add value, but you are always giving away free information that is beneficial and helpful. I have found the true internet marketers who are experts in what they do follow similar formats. I don't know many, but you are at the top of my list. I am glad I got to know you because someone could throw away a lot of money fast trying to listen to everyone who professes themselves as being a guru in this business. Keep up your good work!

  44. Brad West Says:

    I read the first part about long sales letters, I commented yes I don't like them but they work there is no dispute there.

    I totally understand your post, this e-mail account is on many lists because it is good to keep up on "how things work". You are right I have not seen you in the middle of the guru circle jerk and I respect you for that. I have bought some real crap from a certain large group that do nothing but push whatever for eachother. No More! It's been a long time.

    I think that not wanting to produce an inferior product is why we are having such an issue with creating one. We have been on line for 8 or 9 years and still fighting the good fight for freedom. We have become numb from ingesting so much content it seems like there is nothing left but numbness.

    Try to get a tip or answer from any of these guys for less than a couple thousand dollars. I have recently joined a continuity community, you know the kind that you pay for every month and the make a post or two and don't answer or respond to any of your questions. Sorry I did get an answer twice from the same person for a phone conversation that still never happened.

    How are all these people making money with such inferior products Time after time?

  45. Jason Dinner Says:

    Hey Joel,

    Great talk about the whole "mastermind" principle. It's true that like attracts like and successful people hang around with other successful people.

    I remember hearing a long time ago that you will be where you are in the next 5 years based on the books you read and...

    ...GET THIS


    So I ask your readers... "Who do you hang out with and what are you reading?"

    Another one I heard that stuck with me all this time is

    "your income will be the average of your 5 closest friends"

    Take a look around you people and tell me otherwise.

    Who do you spend the majority of your time with?

    Are they helping you make more money or are they keeping you back?

    Or even worse? Are they keeping you right where you are? Right where you've always been?

    Thanks again Joel for being you and I look forward to hearing more about your adventures as an internet marketer.

    - Jason Dinner

    P.S. Carefully selecting who I spend my time with has increased my income more than 5 fold since I made the decision to align myself
    with people more successful than myself.

    Chose your friends wisely.

  46. Cullen Says:

    Wow man you really suck at the writing... maybe you should break from blogging for a while this is pure garbage.

  47. Suzanne Says:

    Hi Joel - as always awesome content. Nice to see an honest, down to earth, internet marketer out there that we can take real information from. Don't stop writing. Love it

  48. Mike Forty Says:

    Hi Joel
    I like your train of thought Joel. Your ideas hit the spot with me and it is absolutely true that internet marketing is clouded by dodgy characters.

    It has always surprised me that many people wishing to become successful with an interent business do not grasp the concept of providing good content first and foremost. Selling information in one form or another relies on the seller doing exactly as you describe.

    The sellers responsibility is to provide good value for money, and not a broken promise. People who do this are inflicting their own demise - almost like death by a thousand cuts.

    It might not be quick but it could be slow and painful.

    I have found that purchasers of information products like to interact with the sellers. You are a role model here for that thinking and it is often the case as you have indicated that many sellers cash in and run!

    Building a business is a slow process, but a process that does have a beginning, a middle and an end game. Start off wrong and the end becomes the beginning - do it right and the business will become long lived.

    Web sites that build trsut and provide good and expanding content will always win over hastily prepared one page sales letters for the quick buck.

    Keep up the good work - I liked this post especially.


  49. Terry Luffman Says:

    Hi Joel,
    I've found you very trustworthy and always delivered on your promises. These days I try and use those qualities that you have as a yardstick in assessing other marketers.
    It's great that you speak out as you do but I think at the end of the day some of us cannot be told and have to have our own experiences.

    I have an 18yr old daughter whom I am trying to guide via the wealth of my own experience. She sometimes listens to me but most of the time she just says Dad you don't understand.Echo's of my comments to my own parents.

    Most of my emails are offers of the latest gizmo that is going to make me rich and will only take two hours a week to implement.
    I try to weed out these people by deleting them once that pattern is obvious and only put my trust in those that have useful content and something to contribute.I still get caught though.

    I think what might help is if you could tell us from your experience how to recognize these dark side people.

    Anyway thanks again for being a marketer that I can trust.Your products and books have made a difference.

  50. Colin Jones Says:

    Joel , Well said. Its good to see you back on track again I thought you were getting a little lost there at one stage.Please don't be offended by that comment. I would have to admit your 2005 book was the inspiration for me to try and supply quality content to the web and use adsense. Its taken a while and I must admit I am making a modest income now.

    At times like most marketers we wander off course and try new things, this is what marketing is about. Ultimately staying on a pre planned path gives the best results. I find it sad to see so many spend big only to be dissapointed in a market that holds enough for all.Stop looking to others for that path when its right in front of your face.

    Good luck to all and keep it up Joel and inspire other.

  51. Emmanuel Emecheta Says:

    Joel, I've been reading your articles for sometime now and this is my first comment ever. Thanks for your contribution towards internet home based business. The problem however is that newbies will find it very difficult to determine which program to join as there are numerous online business scams everywhere. If this trend is left unchecked, the home based business will suffer greatly in the near future. Should there be a home based business regulatory body?

    Emmanuel Emecheta

  52. Heather Porter Says:

    Wow! You hit the nail on the head. With 50 comments in such a short amount of time you know you have hit a timely topic. I get asked a lot about the long form sales letter and if it should be used in people's sites. Although I hear from others that it works I usually have an unsettled feeling in the pit of my stomach when curiously contemplating using it myself. And I have always leaned towards not using one and relying more on referrals. It seems that the pendulum is swinging back to the old fashioned way of doing business - treat your customer well and give them more value than the expect. Wow - what a concept ;). Thanks Joel for being an advocate for integrity.

  53. Scott Dennison Says:

    Joel, I've experienced many of the situations you describe first hand. But the one that gets under my skin the deepest is the 'fake guarantee'.

    A well-known but unnamed marketer was at a conference that I attended and was talking about his very elite program that if you became a protege, clients in your niche would throw large sums of cash in your direction. At the time I was not offering a high-end coaching program to my clients, but had been thinking about it.

    I enrolled in his very expensive ($5K) program, sat through all 10 sessions and invested more time than in any thing I had ever done previously. The cost (in time and $$) was high, but after all, my results were guaranteed. Learn this material, follow my plan, you'll have success.

    In one session I asked said marketer how to overcome the fact that I had no social proof of having offered such a program to my clients. I had no success stories of anyone whom I'd worked with, that had paid me a high fee and was successful. I was told that this was actually an advantage, because I did not have to overcome the objection of "why'd you raise your rates so high??"

    Long story short, this did not turn out to be an advantage, so I began to exercise my rights under the guarantee. Here's what I was told...

    "I guaranteed you that I would teach you my program with abandon, not that you would obtain results from it. Besides, your guarantee was only for 30 days post sale."

    However there was a two week delay between purchase date and the start of a 10 week program, making it impossible to learn the material and implement it. So I was out $5K and nearly 4 months of time, before finding out that a guarantee has many meanings, including "I guarantee that you'll never see your money again".

    When I threatened to contact the FTC over it, I was threatened with a lawsuit. Finally I had little choice but to focus on what's coming, learn from the mistake, and tell everyone I meet about scammy business practices like his...


  54. Don Mundell Says:

    Joel, I've been studying this internet marketing "stuff" for 4 years now, haven't made a dime, and have lost thousands. Being of simple, naive, and trusting mind, I have made some of the individuals you describe in this post some very good and easy money. I have to say you are one of the few guys remaining that I seriously listen to since your days in OK because I believe you are honest and practice what you preach. Thanks for doing that! This IM gig, to me, is like learning 6 foreign languages at the same time. I would be very interested to know your thoughts on all of these "coaching?" groups that remind me of your described "Unhealthy attitudes towards customers" senario in this post. I have learned the hard way that most of them obviously aren't in the education business.
    Joel, Thanks for your honesty and openly sharing your considerable knowledge and expertise. And I'm still trying to do "good stuff".

  55. Mike Says:

    Hi Joel,
    Thanks for the great info, and your appreciated candor. I tend to agree with the most of what you indicated, however, I would add this...

    The problem with the IM arena is inherent in human nature. It is called "rationalization." Internet marketers can play the "numbers" game, and "hide" behind their computers. They seldom meet customers face to face, or even on the phone. They like it that way.

    From my experience, VERY few marketers actually try a product before they WHOLEHEARTEDLY endorse it. They simply don't have, or take the time. Basically, at best, they are endorsing the reputation of the product owner, or the theory behind the product.

    The feeling they have is that most people are not going to implement the product, anyway, so it doesn't matter. The only factor that keeps things a LITTLE in check is refunds. They have to temper things a wee bit because refunds are so easy to get.

    In terms of attitudes of customers, most marketers could care less about ONE particular customer. They have a list of 20,000 (or MUCH more), and they become a statistic.

    Now, I can hear the "high sounding" retort about many Marketers really caring about customer service. If some of them do, it is usually to prevent refunds.

    I believe in the 80/20 rule with Internet marketers. 80% are basically glorified "hustlers", who exploit customers and learn to play the "game".
    They rationalize that they have to conduct their business activities in such a fashion to survive. 20% are very bright, shrewd business people. They understand delivering on what is promised, and the importance of reputation in terms of repeat business. Are they great humanitarians?
    Do they "love" their customers? Probably not.

    Of those remaining 20%, a hand full of marketers,(SMALL hand full)are smart business people, very innovative and amazingly disciplined. But here is what differentiates them from ALL the others.

    THEY have been to the "mountain". They understand, that in the end, all you take to the grave is your reputation and credibility. They have great compassion and integrity. They are MUCH more than a series of insincere emails, and a smile on a video.

    "Guru" actually means "teacher,"and they are teachers and mentors first and foremost.

    They CARE.

  56. Vic Boxwell Says:

    Hi Joel,

    I really enjoyed this post. You nailed everything you wrote about. What I noticed mostly is alot of this happens with A-list marketers. When there's a new product launch worth mentioning, my inbox get's flooded from the Top marketers...

    Some of them definitely give the Farm Away with their bonus offers if you buy through their link. Then, I have to wonder well, maybe their product or bonuses weren't that great to start with...

    Then, you get bombed from the lesser known marketers and what their giving away is the "same ole same ole," or what appears to be just pure crap.

    No real Value to help you grow your business, just more stuff to take up space on your computer.

    Thanks Joel,

    Take care,

    Vic Boxwell
    Rockville, MD
    United States

  57. RJ Says:

    Hey Joel..

    good observation..being raised in a Colorado transplant(native) for many many years. I came to this great state seeking a renewed sense honesty filled with plain and simple living in the mountains, for my family and myself..Its been a dream come true...Thanks to the Lord..

    I always put a good plug in for my creator..

    However, we all have to make a living...

    The INTERNET is no different than the streets of any city..There will always be snakes, jerks, ponzi schemes, slicksters, people in cahoots with each other..
    you name its here..alive and gotta learn to dodge..

    I market on INTERNET the old fashion way, I evaluate a site and if I believe it brings me value and truly helps my cause then I buy it and promote it by way of SEO, articles, my blogs, traffic sites,.. and a bunch of other ethical methods..but I don't promote it with a list.

    I myself don't have a list, I don't want one, but I'm on everybody eles's list and I'm sure your are too. Other wise how would one know all this B.S-Freebie-Bonus crap goes on..

    My reason .. it appears that by having a list you now have given Carte Blanche access to bombard your e-mail address with every offer that comes along the pike..
    Permission based spam.. this sickens me..and I refuse to do that..
    Just because I opted in once mostly out of curiosity... these marketers think that they need to send you anything and everything every blessed day...please....who has the time.? My old man always said, never wear out your welcome.

    But its really our fault.. With so many of us who have a quest for financial freedom and rightfully so, we have opened ourselves up for steady doses of this so called snake oil.. or better yet permission based spam..

    I guess because so many people fall prey to this we have created a market for all these slicketers who think their slick..
    Hopefully their getaway train will soon hit a wall and crash..

    I literally get hundreds of so called guru marketers sending me the same offers, same bonues, same free crap every single day. A few times I even asked some of them "do you yourself use these so called wonderful systems" that claim financial freedom and that you'll stand by my side no matter what..! you gotta be kidding me..I never get a response..I wonder why?

    Its a good way to get your name of their list thats for sure..

    Yes I challenge all of these gurus..being from NYC, thats my nature. I really dont want to hear it.

    Theres lots of ways you can make make money
    with out pitching all these mile long sales pages and all these 6 hour long training sessions, these twenty five hundred dollar bullet proof systems, that claim financial freedom.. give me a break..!

    At any rate, your point is well taken..
    Yeah..I'll stay on your list but you don't have to stay on mine unless you wanna buy something..(;>)



  59. The Honest Businessman Says:


    Thanks for the post. After I had been online for a year or two, the idea to bring honesty and integrity to the IM marketplace became my number one goal. That's why I have a blog called The Honest Business Report where I review and comment on products and services.

    I am glad that someone of your influence is saying the same thing. It needs to be said.

    Bryan Jones

  60. CurtD Says:

    Affiliate marketing is all about finding out what people want to buy and finding out if there are enough people selling it. We study search demand/supply trends from around the world to find profitable niches and products, and the main problem with predictions is that no one looks at the "supply" side to these predictions. A niche, or hot predictions, is not just a demand side issue, but a supply/demand curve. If you predict IPHONE apps will take off, and there are already 100,000 aps, then you aren't going to hit that one. If you see that demand for cell phone radiation shields is going nuts and there are only two suppliers, then you can be pretty sure that it will be a good year for those 2 supplies. The software at studies both the demand (search volume) and supply (think "results" in Google). The Google Phone is generating much more buzz right now then say the Apple Ipad.
    Here is a video on what I mean..

  61. Steve Last Says:


    There are a of products out there which preach the attitude that you don't need to be an expert, or have any experience in an area in order to create and sell your own product. While, in my view, it is true that most of us need to be encouraged to push ourselves forward, and get started in any endeavour, in the end you are taking an unhealthy view of your clients if you really don't think you need to be more than just very slightly more knowledgeable of the subject than them...

    Also, as an earlier commenter asked, I'd like to hear your view on when does persuasion become manipulation in connection with the common sales page ruse where a promoter suggests that only a very limited number of copies remain for a product, when this is completely untrue, and the seller has no intention of limiting the number sold.

  62. Jonathan Albrecht Says:

    Hello Joel,
    Great article!
    Let me tell you about value. I met with a local high end dental office that was getting into social marketing about 8 months ago. I brought in to our meeting your book "Twitter Power" (THANK YOU! again by the way).

    We went over 'The art of the Tweet' and 'Building a Following on Twitter' along with a few other great tips from you. These people actually bought in to the value that social media brings to them locally. They implemented it. They did not just talk about it or wish that someone would do it for them. They worked at it.

    Now...their PR firm is asking THEM how they did such a bang up job online. The work that they did on Twitter (and facebook) had a trackable increase in repeat business. They also increased their rankings (Google) and they are beating their competition. The girls that did the work know that they could easily do it now for any other business. They were very confident when I saw them recently. I finally got my copy of 'Twitter Power' back.

    Their are many people in Texas sitting in a dentist office as a direct result of your work Joel. You bring major value. You are not selling crack. You are selling confidence, job security, and better smiles.

    Keep it up!

  63. Don Jones Says:

    I had an experience once where I purchased a programming product and paid through PayPal. I was not satisfied with the product and made it known to the supplier. When I appealed to PayPal, the fellow lied through and though to PayPal, and I never did get my money back.
    One has to be very careful of the things offered over the internet when you are in internet marketing. Nine out of ten times, there is no problem. It is that one guy that screws it up for the rest of us.

  64. Jeffrey Says:

    Dear Sir,

    Am thinking it through and am getting alot of ideas and also the points you stated out is something personally for me to think about.

    Yes!!! to me I prefer making money by:
    1. Creating and not competing
    2. Not buying but offering

    Thank you


  65. The Real IM Says:

    You are right, Joel. There are many liars in Internet marketing but not all in the market are. The problem is how the beginer will know which one is serious and which one are no...

  66. Renate Schedl Says:

    Thank you for this article, Joel, Which brings everything to the point.

    What I really learned to hate over he last year, was this terrible behaviour about the bonuses. Mostly they are far ahead on financial value than the promoted product. It happend to me sometimes, that I bought a product just to get one special, much more expensive product as a bonus, because that was the one I was really looking for.

    But now it turned out that the bonuses got more and more and more, just to make a sales of a few dollars. It's not enough any more to give 1-3 bonuses... no there have to be 10 to twenty with many hundred dollars value for a product of $40. This is just beyond my understanding.

    And it makes it very difficult for beginners on the market who really need to make their first sales, but cannot, because they cannot offer these kind of bonuses.

    I noticed that myself. as a christmas and newyears present I offered one product out of my shop for free, no matter what the price was. I wanted people to be able to take what really fits their needs. Can you imagine, that I did not even get one single signup to my gift? It was just one product and not 10 or 20. May be the quantity is much more important, even if I do not need them, than the quality to choose what I really need.

    I think we should turn down the bonus quantity again and stay on the ground. Give an incentive, but not bigger or more valuable than the product I want to sell. Keep the value of your product. Convince people to buy because of the high value they get with the promoted product instead of catching them with all those free products.

    Sorry for this long comment, but this subject has been riding my nerves during the whole last year. The year before, it was not that bad.

    Renate Schedl
    DY$AK MyBestMarket
    St. Leon-Rot, Germany

  67. James Schramko Says:

    Most of what you are saying is accurate.

    I think you are really missing the point regarding affiliate bonuses.

    For new affiliates it gives them a real chance to earn the sale. The client gets more bang for buck. You can build a list of qualified buyers using this technique.

    If you can't be bothered to create a valuable bonus you deserve to miss the sale to other affiliates.

  68. Renate Schedl Says:

    James, I partially agree with you. But if the one with the most bonusses will make the sale, then the bonusses will get bigger and bigger and bigger to be better than competition and make the sale. Where does this end and which new affiliate can do that.
    This became reality especially during last year. If this will not stop, it gets endless up the hill and only the big marketers will be able to follow. No chance for beginners any more.

    There should be some regulations about quantity and value of a bonuspage, so that the quality of the bonusproducts will do the job and not the quantity or financial value.

  69. John Schoeman Says:

    Hi Joel

    Can't agree with you more on all your points, except the classification of who real Internet Marketers are.

    Every company or organization who sells a product or service on the Internet is involved in the business model known as an Internet or Online Marketing. Even the largest Internet company (Google) can be classified as an internet marketing company.

    The "Make-Money-Online" crowd (even if they all make millions online each year) represent a small minute fraction (less than 1%) of the total global online marketing economy.

    This is so funny! I have attended some of these "Make-Money-Online" seminars and conferences in the past, and these so-called gurus think they are Gods or Celebrities because they are constantly surounded by dreamy-eyed wannabee Internet marketers.

    But, what these "dreamy-eyed wannabee Internet marketers" don't realize (and no one has ever told them, except for now!), is that the "Make-Money-Online" gurus represent less than 1% of what true Internet Marketing is.

    But, here's the flip-side of he coin: Do yourself a favor. Attend a true Internet marketing seminar, conference or summit that has in attendance 200 of the top Fortune 500 companies who are major players in the Internet marketing space. I'm talking about conferences where the guest speakers are Bill Gates, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Mark Zuckerberg and some of the top names in Internet Marketing.

    The guy selling his $2,000 "77-Figure-Code" course to work-at-home wannabees would not even be given a microphone at these real Internet Marketing seminars.

    The long-haired guru selling his "Mass-Ass Control" course to 2,000 other scheming "Make-Money-Online" wannabees, would not even be given access to the stage at a real Internet Marketing summit.

    And these make-money gurus get on a stage and tell their starry-eyed followers about the millions they make on the Internet. So, the starry-eyed followers buy the course of the make-money guru. And a couple of months later the starry-eyed follower is on a stage somewhere telling his or her audience to buy their make-money course. And so, the cycle repeats itself, ad infinitum (and ad nauseum).

    Here's the take away I want to give you: True Internet Marketing Is A Multi-Billion Dollar industry being conducted by the top Fortune 500 and many emerging (well-financed and under-financed) tech companies.

    The "Make-Money-Online" market is a negligible sub-set of the total global online marketing universe.

    In the real world, the "Make-Money-Online" gurus will never leave a legacy behind. Many years from today, all that will remain of these guys (and gals) will be static images and html, frozen in time at or

    But, at the top of my head, I can name many real Internet marketing entrepreneurs and pioneers who have carved an idelible mark on the way we conduct business on the Internet.

    The choice is yours. . . You decide who you want to align yourself with.

  70. ArcLight Says:


    I'm not sure if this is appropriate, but this is what came to my mind while reading your post. It has been said in times past that in order for evil to prevail, good men must be silent.

    This is not about pointing fingers and calling names, its about defining who we are and where we are.

    I appreciate your speaking it out and NOT being silent.

  71. Bill Whetstone Says:

    Your thoughtful post is an important warning to consumers and to marketers alike. Respect must be earned. It is not a commodity to be cross promoted.
    Earning respect takes honesty, time and hard work.
    You continue to earn my respect.
    All the Best to You

  72. David Cobb Says:

    Hi Joel,
    It is my personal opinion that if you cannot give customer service to the nth degree then you shouldn't be in any kind of marketing.

    Having said that, I believe that you certainly fit the bill. The amount of value in your everyday content is unsurpassed. And then the stuff you give away... Unbelievable.
    (I just read before hitting the submit button...) EEWW I sound like I'm kissing up. I'm not, I just truly appreciate what you do here.


  73. jossef Says:

    I just want to thank you and point out the increase of prices for the internet marketing training products. some products could reach the thousand dollars and i don't think it worth it

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Joel Comm is an Internet entrepreneur who has been online for over 20 years. In 1995, Joel launched, a family-friendly portal to the web which enjoys thousands of visitors each day. Joel is the co-creator of, which was acquired by Yahoo! in 1997, and now goes by the name Yahoo! Games. Since then, Joel's company, InfoMedia, Inc., has launched dozens of web sites which offer online shopping, free stuff, website reviews and more. Joel is the author of many popular books, including the NY Times Best-Seller, The AdSense Code. He regularly makes appearances at Internet marketing conferences and seminars.
FTC Disclaimer: Posts written before December 1st, 2009 may include endorsements of products or services that include a material connection to the author. Readers should assume a material connection for any product or service endorsed prior to December 1, 2009.