Don’t Be A Pretender

I’m sure this is going to offend some people, but I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t speak my mind once in a while.

At some point you really need to decide whether you are looking to build a business online or just make some money any way you can. It’s important, because it’s the difference between having a 5c lemonade stand and a corporate head office (at home of course – most of us don’t want a ‘real’ corporate head office)!

So let me first get the pretenders out of the way. The pretenders, in my opinion, are the people who send emails out with subject lines like:

  • He turned 5 cents into $173,165?
  • over $1,000 in commissions like clockwork…
  • How Michael Jones Made $64,521 in 4 Weeks With No List…
  • Make $10000 every month
  • How brain-dead, uncreative, lazy people Can copy and paste TO Earn $39000 in 1 month

You’ve probably had plenty of those in your in box and they all have the same message – that you can make big dollars by doing almost nothing. Here’s something to ponder though – why are these people sending out these messages instead of using these products and programs to make the huge dollars they promise in the emails? The simple answer is that those programs don’t work. Seriously, if you could ‘make $10000 every month’ wouldn’t you go do that instead of sending thousands of emails out to other people telling them that THEY can make $10000 per month?

These, my friends, are the pretenders. They are the online marketers who promote programs that promise insane riches but, you guessed it, they don’t actually use these programs themselves because they know the only real income comes from selling the program rather than using it!

So that’s my little rant out of the way. I don’t necessarily dislike the ‘pretenders’ but I sure as heck don’t trust them either!

So that’s why I’m talking lemonade stands versus corporate entities. These get rich quick schemes are mostly here today and gone tomorrow. There’s a fad every now and then that lasts a little longer but, for the most part, the get rich crowd pump out a product, sell as much of it as they can and then move on to the next product. That probably works short term but it certainly isn’t a sustainable long term business model.

If you are happy to be a pretender then that’s fine. If you are looking to create something worthwhile that you can pass on to your kids though, you need to take a more mature approach to online marketing. Online marketing is business and successful business requires a degree of maturity and skill.

Here are a few insights – things that I’ve learned over the past 15 years of offline business and 5 years of online business. I hope they help you to find your way to the online business model that works best for you.


Branding is really important if you want to be an online rock star. You need to put your name and your photo on almost everything you do. If you are doing the right things, people will get to know your name and your face. It takes time though – people like Mike Filsaime and Paul Myers didn’t become well known (or successful for that matter) overnight. They became well known because they provided good advice, good products and took a genuine interest in the people who were interested in what they had to say or to sell. In short, they demonstrated that they were people that anyone could trust.

List Building

You need to learn how to build a list of people who are interested in what YOU have to say. It’s always good to give away a free report to kind of entice people on to your list, but keep in mind that you will get more than a few freebie seekers who are more interested in the report than you. If you have a fairly specialised niche then you may find that it isn’t necessary or even appropriate to give away a report – but that’s something you will need to weight up based on who your audience is.


It’s one of those acronyms that gets used frequently on the internet and it is something you need to know about. SEO is all about getting your website into the search engines (particularly Google). There are many courses out there that teach the basics so I suggest you check those out soon, otherwise your website could be a little oasis out in the internet desert,

Basic Webmastery

The webmaster used to be a lofty title reserved for the handful of geeks who knew about the technological trickery behind html, http and other assorted geeky acronyms. Nowadays anyone can be a webmaster – there are literally thousands of tools and utilities out there to help you maintain a website. I always suggest starting with a CPanel hosting account and a WordPress blog (really easy to install from CPanel). Regardless of what tools you decide to use, it is extremely advantageous to be able to maintain your own website and to do that effectively you will want to know some basic HTML and how to do things like upload images to your site.


You will also need to know how to attract people to your website. A website is just a big digital doorstop if it doesn’t have visitors. SEO will help draw those visitors but you will also need to know how to use social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. The social sites help get your message out there.

So there you have it. If you don’t want to be a pretender then I’m afraid you have a bit of work and study to do! The pay off can be extraordinary though and I guess, for me at least, it’s one of the reasons I live most of my working life online. My goal is financial independence – to have enough income coming in that I don’t have to rely on government handouts at retirement age. If I can do that AND enjoy what I’m doing then I think that’s a pretty good recipe for a wonderful lifestyle.

15 Responses to Don’t Be A Pretender

  1. Love the post Gary!

    Great info on the basics.


  2. You have hit the nail on the head sir! I too am building something for retirement and also a hedge against what the economy can dish out. Anyone can be without a job at any time.

    The positive thing about pretenders is that for each one of those there are a lot more that are actually making big money in affiliate marketing and no one has ever heard of them. When the pretenders have a product that ‘almost’ works; they have tried unsuccessfully to copy what someone is actually doing. So if it weren’t for the pretenders we may not know of some hot niche we can make money from!

    The other skills come back to time and money – do you have enough time to learn it or enough money to have someone esle do it. Since most people are in the ‘want it now’ place they fall for the ‘everything done for you’ type offers around. Since people also do not realize that a niche is profitable because it isn’t flooded with competition.

    Most of the offers are kinda amusing if you think about them, to those that know better.

    • WorkFromHome says:

      Hi Leonard,

      Yep – I used to get a bit angry at some of the offers I saw and had a dim view of some online marketers. The reality was that at the end of the day it was my decision to take out my credit card and my lack of action that prevented me from earning an online income. Two things changed my attitude. Firstly I took responsibility – where we are today is a result of our past decisions. Secondly I stopped and thought about what I wanted to do and who I wanted to be. These days I have a much clearer vision of where I’m headed. I have a kind of virtual roadmap instead of just wandering aimlessly from one place to the next.

  3. Hi Gary,

    Great post. I am happy to say that based on your post, I am not a pretender! I haven’t made it to the big time yet, but I am definitely taking the steps just as you outlined. Must be why things are starting to come together a bit. I have learned so much from guys like you who are quietly working as Internet Marketers and entrepreneurs. No wannabees.
    Thanks so much for laying it out for the world to see.

    Nina Nestoroff

    • Gary Smith says:

      Thanks for dropping by Nina :). Yep – once you move your focus away from the internet marketing eye candy and start following the right people and programs you can’t really do anything except continually improve.

  4. Brian Baulch says:

    There are pretender programs and systems l see every week on some of the top traffic exchanges, l guess it is very hard to protect the vulnerable for been caught in these spider webs.

  5. Ezekiel Abah says:

    Thanks Gary,
    Your boldness to say these things is a great is very encouraging.
    We need a system in place to these people from coming to the net,
    especially Paid to Read mails. They are the greatest fraud
    on the net.

  6. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Brian & Jenn Baulch and Gary Smith, Henny Goh. Henny Goh said: RT @teckyhead: New blog post: Don't Be A Pretender […]

  7. Very good post! I think this is really serious problem. 80% of online marketers are giving misleading information and those “entrepreneurs” are feeding their wallets with their victims money.
    On the other hand – people are not very keen to learn proper marketing skills and are mainly interested in easy money.
    I wrote an article about similar activities. This is the link:

    Cheers, Maria

  8. Gerhard says:

    Hi Gary

    Nice post. It also took me a long time to sort out the Lemonade stand Pretenders from the Real Thing

    Also cost me a lot of time and $’s but fortunately I found out how to convert my time into money and get paid for spending time on the internet

  9. Hey Gary,

    Great article. It is far too common to see headlines and far fetched claims like you mentioned in your post. This is a huge reason why so many new comers to internet marketing think they are going to be a millionaire in a few days.

    It’s always good to see another IMer who actually helps people create a real business online. That’s the only way to ensure success for the long run.

    Keep up the great work!


    • Gary Smith says:

      Thanks Travis. I think all the hyped up ‘get rich’ products ultimately kill a lot of peoples’ dreams. Mind you, there’s nothing at all wrong with hype provided the product really is *that* good. :)

  10. Salle Hayden says:

    Thanks for recycling this post for those of us who had not taken a step for the first time around. I just recently found a leader I want to follow and his steps are like your steps. Yay! [quietly, but with goal-post arms!)

    Thanks for your articles and this site.

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