Fear and loathing in digital marketing



renched, head to toe in sweat I could feel my shirt clinging to my back.. the heat was relentless during that scorching summer.. and I was running on empty..




My Confusion Level


y internal dialogue shouted, it screamed obscenities as I read the sales page that tried to convince me to give it what little money I had.

After becoming a lone father a few years earlier, things got tough with a baby to feed… as you can imagine.

And even if I wanted to buy, I didn’t have the money to invest in online courses anyway…



My mind raged…

…But the sad truth; even though I was only one year away from hitting.. hmm… what I considered to be a home-run, and taking a major step towards… that ever-elusive, just out of reach, so close you can almost taste it.. ah.. there it is, yes! ‘Success’.. but..

..I hate to admit this.. but at the time I was completely broke… and I felt.. well.. to put it frankly, I felt ashamed, embarrassed.. I felt like a total failure.


That was kinda hard for me to admit just now.

The fact is, I was tired of trying to stay cool and calm on the surface.. all for the sake of others while I was secretly panicking on the inside.. it was beginning to make me cynical… and now the cracks were beginning to show..

I carried on reading the sales page…

“How DARE they insult my intelligence
with claims of overnight riches and lavish lifestyles!
How stupid do they think I am?!?”

So I told myself it was all a big conspiracy designed to steal money.

Or.. maybe it was just down to sheer luck.

Of course looking back, I now understand how wrong I was, it was neither of those things.

It was much worse.

OK, that eBook could have been a total scam.. lots of them are..

But I painfully discovered that it didn’t matter either way; because I was limited.
I didn’t believe something like that was possible, so I didn’t even try.

I was allowing other people, other situations.. do dictate how my life should be lived.

In effect, I was handing responsibility over to others instead of deciding for myself what my true worth should be.

I was trapped in a little pigeonhole all so that other people could label my existence as ‘normal’.

Look.. this isn’t about mindset.. but I will quickly say this..

…And you probably already know, we are limited by our beliefs.

Our beliefs define what we can achieve,
beliefs often decide the areas that we spend our time and energy on.


And that all changed for me.

What happened? Mike happened.

The thing is, I only gave Mike more time than I normally would have because we share the same name, kind of.. we’re both Michael’s… Hey, it’s just a cool name, right?

So anyway, the first time we met.. it was at a film screening I had organised – my website – in the independent news niche, arranged offline events to promote documentaries that were made by activist..

Mike was interested in my site.. and asked all kinds of questions about it.. when I told him that it was receiving about 10,000 unique visitors a day, he beamed: “So you should be making around $30,000 per month from that website, right?”

BS Detector

Stop Press! Sorry to interrupt, but let me remind you – as I’ve said many, many times before – if anyone on the Internet, or anywhere else for that matter, promises you that you can make X amount from buying something, don’t walk – run, because they’re talking utter nonsense. Carry on.

My jaw dropped. What? How much? Get out you crazy person.

I realise now that he was an entrepreneur just looking for another opportunity…

You see, he also had a website… so naturally we compared notes.

My website was barely making a measly $500 per month. Hardly enough to live on, right? And the real kicker was that I typically spent 10 hours a day chained to that website, 7 days a week.

I literally didn’t take a day off for the first 4 years.

That’s not an exaggeration. But before we get the violins out, check this..

Over a few beers Mike told me that his entire income was made completely online, and with a fraction of the traffic I was receiving.

Obviously I was sceptical, but I reluctantly exchanged contact details with him and left the conversation feeling confused and wary of what this man was trying to achieve.

…”Was he a scammer? A thief? A liar?”…

Over the coming weeks I occasionally thought about Mike and his rags-to-riches story, until one day Mike phoned me and came clean..

My site was receiving lots of visitors, and to most people, including Mike, lots of visitors meant lots of money.

But I hadn’t figured out the formula to convert them from visitors into paying customers.

I didn’t even know there was a formula.

Mike knew how to do just that, and he would teach me how – in exchange for a percentage of the profits.


But I made a real stupid and costly mistake.

Because I didn’t see results fast enough, I gave up working on the project. I expected instant results. D’oh.

And so I carried on struggling to get by for a while longer, but my thoughts always drifted back to what might be possible..

And over time, on my own, I started to experiment.. I couldn’t even tell if a niche was profitable, everything I did was complete guesswork.

And most of my ‘guesses’ sucked. I failed. Over and over again I failed.

But after meeting Mike, seeing his luxurious lifestyle for myself, his carefree attitude, the confidence he had in himself, the cars he drove and the other expensive toys he could buy without giving any of it a second thought… I knew I wanted that for myself and my son. I knew I deserved it too, and I knew I had the potential to achieve it.

Who wouldn’t right?

So I refused to give up, and one day my persistence actually paid off…

That day is still up there, as one of my proudest moments.

I woke up.. blurry eyed.. to see well over $1,000 had rushed into my Paypal account overnight.

Pinching myself, dry mouth, almost panicking that I had done something terrible to receive all this money from strangers… I stared at the computer screen in disbelief.

How the heck did this happen?

A few weeks earlier I had a small taste of success… I spent an afternoon writing a very basic ‘how-to’ SEO guide.. explaining a few of the techniques I used to propel my measly $500-a-month website to the front page of Google.. it was solid info that worked (at the time), and would take me approx 20 minutes each day to do.

The 8-page report was called ’20 Minutes to Success’, and I gave it away for free. The response was unexpected… People loved it.

I immediately started work on a follow up product, but this time I would go into much greater detail and record step-by-step instructions that took students from complete newbie to professional level SEO.

It took me two weeks to produce and I ended up with over 30 videos.

Back in 2009 when I created it, it was one of the hottest SEO course around, and you can have it for free here (link coming soon) but some of the information is probably out of date now.

But anyway… I still hadn’t really learnt the most important lesson – to build an email list of subscribers who might become customers.

Literally thousands of people were buying my product and I still wasn’t capturing a single email address.

What a waste, right?

Another stupid and costly mistake.

Then it hit me.

Imagine if I collected their email addresses (with permission of course) and then every time I needed instant traffic.. or wanted people to buy my stuff… BOOM they would just be there.

The penny dropped.. and that phrase suddenly made sense… ‘the money is in the list’.. you’ve probably heard it too right?

It’s one of those funny sayings that everyone repeats… like ‘95% of people who buy your stuff will never use it’… now who on earth dug up that statistic and how?

I’ve actually researched this.. OK, I spent like.. what.. 5 minutes Googling it about 5 years ago.. and couldn’t find a single credible source to support that claim. I’m talking facts and figures, not opinion…

Anyway.. It hit me, start building an email list.

But what to say to these people?

What should I send them?

How often?

It suddenly felt like a lot of responsibility. Like I had the means to communicate directly into people’s brains..

Well no, not exactly like that.. but you get the idea..

To be continued…

About the Author Mick

Mick is the founder of Profit Copilot, a webmaster and digital marketer who builds online businesses. Follow him on Twitter: https://twitter.com/profitcopilot

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