Wednesday, March 23, 2011

How to Make a Legitimate Online Presence Without Being a Sleazy Marketing Guy

Last week I asked my readers to take 2 minutes and complete a survey for me. One of the questions I asked was what would you like to see me write about in this blog? I received many great suggestions, all of which I am going to do my best to write about...but one answer really stuck out. One reader suggested I write "how to make a legitimate presence online without being a sleazy marketing guy". Whomever that reader is, I want to thank them for suggesting that I have a legitimate online presence. I seriously don't feel that I do--but I can see why it is presumed that I do.

Being no expert on the matter; I am going to explain how to establish a presence without coming across as a sleazy marketing guy only out to make some money. I am a advocate of making money online or any other venue---that's  why I sell video products and books. So this is not an attack on anyone who sells or capitalizes on the Internet marketplace. In a very simple way, I'm going to explain to you what I have done over the last 5 years.

Many of you don't know, but I started a website back in 2005 called standAPARTfitness.com. The reason I created this website is because I felt that many personal trainers were losing their sense of direction with the profession and concentrating more on making millions and concentrating less on refining their skills. My goal was to develop a  website that contained useful information and articles for coaches, trainers, and exercisers to learn from. The website caught some attention but eventually fizzled out once I discovered blogging. My main website, IZZOSTRENGTHtraining.com houses many articles of mine and many interviews I have conducted over the years with coaches I wholly respect in the industry. Some of my favorite interviews were with JC Santana, Eric Cressey, and Alwyn Cosgrove.

There are numerous experts in the field today. The Internet allows people to become "virtual experts"; however, I feel that most readers and enthusiasts are beginning to learn more in terms of who they can trust and who is simply selling them something that doesn't exist or simply unimpressive.
Rather than trying to talk about something I have no prior training about, I'm simply going to list what I have done over the years:

1.) Be transparent. There is nothing that is going to beat this. Being honest and genuine with your readers is the single most important aspect of becoming an online presence. Many online experts try to create a online persona that does not match reality. In this case, they really have to work hard at feeding this "exterior" because it comprises 99% of their business. In an event that their persona is attacked online, they are quick to remove any character damaging posts, remove friendships on social networks, or 'disappear' for a while until things cool down. Again, being transparent is a stress-free way of living and cultivates trustworthiness with readers and customers. It may not win you popularity votes, but it wins you respect.


2.) Do what you talk about. I don't understand why many exercisers actually listen to people that simply don't train others. Training yourself and training others are ENTIRELY different animals. There is a difference between providing advice and coaching. Many internet gurus make tons of money selling advice that has worked well for them, but hasn't been coached to others. There is a difference when you apply a program to someone that doesn't fit your ability and fitness level--yet still wants to try the program. 
The product loses value the more and more it has to be modified because it loses its authenticity and effectiveness. So the actual product cannot be tested for effectiveness because once it is sold to the public, it is not used in a controlled environment. The consumer is simply trying something new--not something  that necessarily may work for them. The product should come from someone that knows how to instruct it with modifications and still make it effective. In my opinion,  that is accomplished through good real-world coaching.

3.) Write good content and shop it around. I can't tell you that this tip is easy to do because it is not. I began writing articles 6 years ago. My first article was submitted and published for NASM (and other sites since then) and it fed my hunger to share information. If you want to write articles, they really need to be good. Different websites look for different things in articles submitted by authors. In my experience, editors look for articles that fit the theme of the website:

a.) Article should be entertaining, yet informative
b.) Article should be comprehensive--backed by studies and research
c.) Article should fit a specific theme to draw in a specific reader-base or be product specific
d.) Or all the above

I can't begin to tell you how many articles I have had returned to me because they simply didn't fit one of the criteria listed above. Articles that I have spent hours putting in thought and writing were being returned to me simply because they just weren't what the editors were looking for. It's hard not to take it personally, but I received advice from Lou Shuler that helped me cope with the rejections. Soon enough, articles were being published online because I focused on the quality of the content. I suggest you write for some online publications to simply get some feedback. One website I started writing articles for is EZineArticles.com. It helped me to diversify my subject matter and approach writing with the intent of capturing different readers.

4.) Create products that contain solid content. I can't tell you how many times I have purchased a product online and was disappointed. The sales page was great--it pulled me into the product--hook, line, and sinker. Once I paid the $119 for the product, I was sorely disappointed with the content. Most products are simply recycled products made to be "version 2.0" or simply rehashed content. Most experts put out products to make a quick buck. If you are going to put out products, make sure you create a transparent model and put out good free content first. My products are not best sellers, but they do the job. And their job is to educate trainers or exercise enthusiasts. And when I receive emails and feedback praising the content of the products---that makes me smile and makes me feel all fuzzy inside!

5.) Put out good FREE stuff. You have to pay your dues and that begins by earning people's trust. If you are not camera-shy,  than I suggest making QUALITY videos and posting them on YouTube or other websites. Contribute to QUALITY forums and conduct yourself in a professional manner. There is a time to be silly, but its not over the Internet when you are a nobody. Readers only see 'snap-shots' of you online--so you have to gradually build a transparent persona and don't be afraid to provide quality free products or information.


6.) Just be nice. Sounds simple right? This goes along with putting out free stuff. I receive tons of emails everyday from readers asking me for advice. You know what? As a manager, I have learned to reply to phone calls and emails within a 24 hour period. It's simply professional. I reply to every one of my emails within a 24-36 hour period. And I am friendly and nice. If you want to win readers over and be a legitimate online presence, than you have to pay your dues and project courtesy. According to Patrick Swayze in Roadhouse, there is always a time to not be nice.



7.) Admit that there are experts better than you in the field. Its funny, what the Internet does to some people. It paints people into a corner that they cannot get out of sometimes. If you want to be an online presence, you have to accept the fact that there are coaches, trainers, or exercisers that are simply better...or different. And this has to be okay with you. If you follow good program design fundamentals and reach success with a majority of your clients, than you should be content with that. Online, we all try to be the 'best'.  This desire isolates us from networking and we become an island onto ourselves. In reality, we should just be the best at what we do for our clients and simply share how we did it for informational purposes.

8.) Don't endorse to make a quick affiliate dollar. It's hard to compromise making a dollar for keeping your character intact--but it happens all the time. Truth is,  there are many marketers out there that are promoting products from colleagues and have never even reviewed the product fully. I am asked occasionally to endorse products and most of the time I turn them down or never put them high on my priority list. I'm sure this will not win me points with fellow online professionals, but I really do believe in attaching my name to something I truly believe in. There are some products out there that are created by some really smart guys and I endorse them through an email or Facebook post; but I never look to hide a Clickbank affiliate link simply to make a few bucks off a product I don't know much about or a developer I am not too familiar (or comfortable) with. Ultimately, if you believe a product is really valuable and believe it will benefit your readers or others, endorse it with all your might.

That's it for now on this topic. I am sure there will be more I can add to this; but we'll save that for another post!!

1 comment:

  1. John,

    Some excellent points.

    Solid targeted content is important and you do that.

    Rick Kaselj of http://ExercisesForInjuries.com

    .

    ReplyDelete

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