I entered the online marketing space 15+ years ago now – first running a non profit website and then falling into the commercial side of things in the early 2000’s via affiliate marketing.

While I was solely an affiliate until 2009, I tended to hang more in the search engine marketing space – because that was how I promoted my affiliate sites.

Over the years I’ve made a lot of mistakes, wasted a lot of time and saw plenty of mistakes made by others that I didn’t personally make – but witnessed them being made – and the fallout and negative results that came from them. I don’t claim to have learned everything I need to in life and I’m sure I have hundreds of mistakes left to make in my future. That said, there’s a lot I know now after 15+ years as an entrepreneur in this business that I wish I knew when I was starting out.

  • Never mistake people you hang out with at conferences for “friends” – I’m not saying the two can’t be one in the same, but never assume the that the former is automatically the latter.
  • Money doesn’t change who a person is, it just shows you who they always were at their real core.
  • Never, ever feed the trolls.
  • If you’re an affiliate marketer, you’ll never be doing anything but “playing on the computer” until you quit your day job as far as your non internet friends are concerned – and even then, they’ll secretly wonder how you’re paying your bills
  • If you want the to be in the “industry limelight” understand that the more visible you are, the more haters you’ll get. Either grow a thick skin or you’ll constantly allow complete bullshit to distract you from your end goal.
  • If you ever get to a point where you’re pissed someone “doesn’t know who you are” punch yourself in the face – repeatedly.
  • Know that there is always, ALWAYS, someone out there better at what you do than you are – and keep striving to surpass them.
  • Never be satisfied. The bar always gets raised. If what you’re doing is working, do more of it, as fast as you can, as much as you can.
  • Never forget where you came from.
  • Don’t step on the people who helped in the early days on your way up, because it will make it hard as hell if you ever have to come back down – and even harder to ever move back up.
  • If you ever catch yourself refreshing a comment stream or message board post over and over waiting to argue – they’ve already won.
  • If you need to refer to someones gender, political beliefs, race or educational background in an argument – you’ve already lost.
  • Industry relationships may seem like a great idea until you have to see the person 8 times a year at conferences after you split. Proceed with caution.
  • Never let anyone intimidate you. That VP of Marketing for that big corporation with that Ivy league degree got drunk last week and sang the worst rendition of Meatloaf karaoke ever. He’s just like you.
  • Never confuse book smarts with street smarts.
  • You don’t know everything. No one expects you to know everything. Don’t ever pretend to know everything.
  • When you’re at a conference, always talk like everyone is listening. Because you never know who actually is.
  • Your “image” is never more important than putting food on your table. If you hit a low point, don’t be afraid to ask for help. You might be surprised at how quickly your colleagues will rally (privately) to assist you.
  • Be kind to anyone you ever meet, regardless of “what they can do for you” – today’s newbie can quickly become tomorrow’s powerhouse.
  • Don’t obsess over why one client didn’t choose to go with you. It makes you look desperate. Obsess when ten clients choose not to go with you.
  • No amount of “Internet fame” will make up for low self esteem. See someone. Fix the problem. Don’t look to online popularity as the solution. Because you’ll forever be looking.
  • If you’re lucky enough to get “Internet fame” or Internet fortune, remember to put some of it to unselfish use. Pick a charity or cause. Support it. Use “fame” and fortune for something other than personal gain. Karma has an amazing ROI.
  • Most people don’t even know what SEO, affiliate marketing, social media (in marketing terms) or PPC is. We’re not fucking famous.
  • Never drink your own Kool-Aid.
  • Always get the details of any business relationship – no matter how formal or informal – on paper.
  • If they don’t sit around your Thanksgiving table, then their opinion of you, your latest post or your latest presentation doesn’t mean JACK SHIT in the grand scheme of things.
  • When you figure out an employee is Cancer, get them out immediately – before it spreads through your entire company.
  • If you’re viewing the Twitter, Facebook, website, blog or whatever of someone you don’t talk to because you can’t stand them, you’re wasting productivity. Go set some dollar bills on fire instead. It will be cheaper.
  • It’s much more profitable to be cordial with people you may not adore for whatever reason than to be confrontational. I’m not saying pretend to like someone. But don’t go out of your way to make it apparent you dislike someone.
  • The opposite of love is not hate – it’s apathy. Learn to be more apathetic when the issue at hand won’t be one you think of on your death bed.
  • You are going to get fucked over – at some point – by someone you trust. The best revenge is being the biggest success you can fucking be. Let karma handle the rest.
  • Don’t spend like you’ve got a blank check once you achieve success. Pay off your mortgage, stack your kids college funds and your own personal savings. This game (and the revenue you make from it) can change at any time.
  • Kindly decline to speak, lecture or blog on topics you don’t believe are your A-game. Another opportunity will come along if you don’t make an ass out of yourself by being an authority on something you don’t know.
  • Don’t sleep around at conferences, married or not. It does get around. It does change peoples opinions of you. It does affect your career. Guy or girl.
  • When your gut tells you to get out of a business relationship – be it a client or a partner, listen to it. No matter how big the check is or time commitment has been.
  • If it looks to good to be true, it definitely is.
  • Sometimes people won’t understand your dedication to living the life most people won’t live now to live the life most people can’t live later. Fuck em. You answer to you (and your immediate family).
  • Keep your mouth shut. Exposing something you were told in confidence or overheard may get you 236 comments today, but it will cost you tens of thousands of dollars in business later.
  • You don’t “know” someone you’ve never seen outside of a conference, blog or social media.
  • Never friend a client on Facebook.
  • Don’t buy sensational “make money while you sleep” courses – take online business classes, online programming classes, online marketing classes. Tons of online schools offer them. Self knowledge you can actually use is power.
  • Work from home? Get up, get dressed. You’ll feel better. You’ll be more productive. Your spouse will remember why they married you more.
  • Always be real. Being fake is transparent. People want to help real. They want to avoid fake.
  • Don’t buy a new business book if that last one you purchased is still sitting on your shelf unread. Pick up the unread book and read it.
  • Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.
  • They say no press is “bad” press. In my opinion, that’s bullshit. Be remarkable without being an asshole.
  • If you make a mistake, own up to it – quickly and humbly. The mistake will eventually be forgotten – your reaction to it won’t be.
  • Bad shit happens. In the face of any crisis, ask yourself “will I give a shit in two years?” – 99% of the time I’ve looked back after two years in hindsight, the answer has been no and a lot of my time, emotion and energy went wasted.

I’ve still got a shitload to learn. You do too. So does Warren Buffet. None of us are a “finished piece” and never will be.

“You live and learn. At any rate, you live.” ~ Douglas Adams

Cheers.

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