In 2011, after 12 years of work that I hated, I decided to self-publish a book I had been thinking about for a long time. Up to that point, I hadn’t touched computers and knew nothing about Internet marketing. I heard social media was the definitive way to sell books, so I signed up for every social site at the time.
It didn't play out well. I “promoted” my book multiple times every day on social media, sold five copies in six months and lost more friends than I had sales. Then I turned to Google to figure out how author's sold books.
My research led me to some popular, but wrong advice. What’s scary is that the advice was passed around as fact. Since I stopped listening to that advice I've sold more than 100,000 copies of my two self-published books and built a six-figure a year online business.
1. “Connect with an influencer.”
One of the oldest and most common pieces of advice is to connect with someone at the top of your industry. We're told to be persistent and find a way to add value to them somehow, which means be willing to give away your value for free to impress them. This advice may have worked at some point but it’s terrible advice today.
Influencers get hundreds of emails and more social media notifications than they can keep up with. When you are persistent, you came off like a spammer or stalker. More than that, we live in a time when we can build our business without the help of an influencer. Stop chasing and spend your time building.
2. “Get website traffic through SEO.”
I listened to a podcast recently from someone I greatly respect. He was asked how to build traffic to a website. His response, “Write long form articles loaded with keywords.” Basically, SEO will bring you traffic. While SEO can bring you traffic over time, it’s not the best way, and it’s not a quick way to build traffic.
The simplest and quickest way to get website traffic is by getting exposure. You can become a guest on a podcast; write guest posts and articles on large websites. Large publications share content, which means your business gets featured in mainstream media. My last Entrepreneur article was picked up by Yahoo and Fox News and brought thousands of visitors to my website the first day. The traffic continues to come. And, because of the links, I get the SEO juice. It’s a great 20 percent strategy.
3. “Build a large social media following.”
Social media was great in 2011. Today, all the major social media companies are publicly traded, which means they have to generate profits for their shareholders. To do that, they make you pay to reach your audience. The organic reach of social media is close to zero. For those without a huge budget, building a large social media following won’t do much for your business. The sad reality is that some marketers end up buying their following to look popular.
4. “Pay for a course from a well-known Internet marketer.”
Spending money on your business can leapfrog your progress, if it makes sense. Internet marketers are great at making courses look appealing. You have probably opted into a “free'' three-video series at some point and gotten sold on a course. The biggest downside of courses is that they don’t come with Q&A access. As you implement, you will have specific questions that need to be answered. Think about what you’ll need before you spend money on a course.
5. “Become an expert.”
With everyone claiming to be some kind of expert these days, “expert” status has lost its relevance. People don’t connect with experts. They connect with, buy from someone, people they know, like and trust. They’ll never get to that place in their mind if you’re on a pedestal as an “expert.”
Today, we have unparalleled access to information. If you own a smartphone, you have the data wealth of the world in your pocket. When you want to figure out how to build an online business, you can spend weeks and even months going through the results. It’s too much information and many entrepreneurs are paralyzed with information overload.
Don’t follow popular advice unless it makes sense to your business and goals. What worked for someone else doesn’t mean it will work for you. Test what’s best for your business and research your next steps. Don’t believe the hype.