Aye aye aye. Sheesh. This is about to be a real dose of real.
But what’s the point of having a voice or building a brand if you don’t use them for what matters?
Today, I will endeavor to explain something that I hope truly, truly, truly helps you. Something that will likely provide some clarity and much needed truth about a sometimes confusing world.
It’s all about how not to get sucked in by this six-figure blogger “trend” going around.
And yes, I’m gonna lose some friends (correction: “friends”), upset some people, and remove the chance to ever collaborate with certain people after this . . . but zero flips are given about that because I’m not here for them, I’m here for you and this post may help someone, hopefully, avoid a business-draining, fund-draining, attitude-deflating decision in the future.
To be clear before we begin, not all bloggers who make 6-figures fit the things I’m about to say. Some of us have brands, and friends, and audiences, and content that are really important to us and the income was a natural progression of that plus a lot of hard work.
The “6-figure suck-in” really refers to the super annoying trend to publish income reports that are misleading, to title your courses and resources in a way that implies an unrealistic promise, and the wave of people caught feeling like they NEED to make 6-figures or NEED to reach a certain income amount in a certain time or else they’re failures.
Here are 7 characteristics of brand owners to keep in mind as you make purchasing decisions and as you process how you’re feeling about your own business.
Again, not all 6- or 7- or 8-figure bloggers are bad and out to get you, but the bloggers who want to suck you in share a few things in common . . .
1. They put VERY misleading numbers + words in the titles of their courses, workshops, and other resources.
How to Go from Zero to $10K in 30 Days
Create 6-Figure Webinars
How to Build Your 6-Figure Coaching Business
It’s all a sneaky/chill form of an implied promise. It is my #1 pet peeve and I get so many emails from others who hate it too.
Can the average motivated person really go from $0 to $10K in the 30 days they take your course? How many people have created 6-figure webinars after implementing the tips in your class? Are people truly going to learn all they need to in your “6-figure” coaching business webinar that lasts 45 minutes and is just a sales attempt for your $2,200 offering?
Like. Really. I’m truly asking you this question dear brand owner.
How about telling us how YOU created $100K in income from a webinar after 10 years in business and 55 other webinars? That’s a course I might take.
Or how about “How 5 Years and a $20K Investment Helped Me Make 6-Figures” . . .? That sounds more believable.
When you read these titles and tweets, try not to get sucked in or feel a certain way about your business. Honestly, there are so many other factors that play into people’s success than the facts and figures they fit onto their sales pages and opt-in advertisements.
Were you urgently searching for a resource on creating 6-figure webinars before you found that one guy’s course? If not, keep moving . . . don’t make a purchasing decision in that moment. Sign up for some of his free stuff . . . stuff where he doesn’t try to sell you a $1,000 offering.
2. They seemingly ignore the fact that they do not blog about anything close to what you do . . . all while making implied promises about your results.
And now, let’s talk about how even if they titled their course “How I Made 7-Figures from a Blog” . . . they blog about marketing through webinars, not the power of a whole food lifestyle, or parenting twins, or getting in shape, or whatever it is you care about and blog about.
I have had three blogs in my time on the Internet that I’ve monetized successfully . . . a writing blog, a design blog, and this creative business and infopreneurship blog. I do believe that I can help people with other interests than these, but I’m not going to title my course $0 to $100K Blogging.
Check out the outline and modules of the courses you are considering . . . are they unintentionally teaching things that only make sense for their industry and not yours? Try to judge their ability to truly help you before being caught up in the magic of the statistics they publish.
3. They don’t accurately represent how much work is required.
Just to make sure I’m not crazy, I’ve had a secret project going on. I’ve been establishing another, separate, secret blog based on all the principles I learned after building hundreds of sites for customers, running 10+ blogs of my own, and monetizing 3 of my blogs.
It’s STILLLLLLLL hard work. It is STILL hard to write the number of posts I wanted to before launching. It’s still a lot of work to create custom images for every resource. It still takes energy to write good stuff. And you know what? It’s still fun.
I don’t want to trade in the hard work for some super magical unreal formula for success. Hahahahahaha. The concept of a formula for success is ridiculous. Maybe math works the same way every time, maybe a science experiment always has the same results, but a life, content that comes from your heart, the Internet, they don’t play out the same way for everyone. They just don’t.
4. They don’t accurately report their income.
Y’all. It’s most likely because they really don’t know any better, so I don’t say this to be rude, but . . .
Some people are literally using made up accounting methods in their income reports. There are two generally accepted accounting methods: cash-based accounting and accrual-based accounting (a.k.a. the cash method and the accrual method). I’ll explain them briefly.
Cash-based accounting is where you record expenses and income when money “changes hands.” If you buy a printer, the day the money actually comes out of your account is the day you record that expense. If a customer signs up for a $3000 project, the month you receive the deposit of $1500, you made $1500. If the customer pays the balance the next month, that’s when you make and record the other $1500.
In cash accounting, if that customer only pays their first invoice, then you never make and record a full $3000. You simply don’t have it.
Accrual-based accounting is where you record income and expenses when they are actually accrued or earned.
Here’s what I mean: If you contract with a customer on January 28th for a $3000 website, and they pay their full invoice that same day, but you don’t deliver the final site until March 2nd . . . guess when you record the $3000 in income . . . it’s recorded in March when you actually earned it.
Accrual accounting basically says that the money is not real until you’ve delivered the product. It also says that the money is real even if you’ve delivered the product but haven’t gotten paid. So if you finish the $3000 website in January, and the customer doesn’t pay until May (or doesn’t pay at all), you’ve recorded $3000 in income in January because that’s when you did the work that “earned” it.
Now. Here’s where the fictional accounting comes in.
1. In a single reporting period (let’s say a month—like many people’s income reports are), you can’t report both cash-basis money and accrual-basis money to arrive at an income amount. You can report one or the other, or, if you want to, you can create two separate reports.
2. If you haven’t delivered a course/service yet and you have people on payment plans (let’s say 5 payments of $200) and they just made their first payment, then you have either made $200 from their first payment (in the cash method) or $0 since you haven’t delivered the course yet (in the accrual method). So, to say you made $1000 that month from that customer is not real accounting. It’s misleading. That person may never make another payment by the way.
And trust me, I only say all these things because I had to sit through and test out of 4 (yes FOUR) mandatory accounting classes in college and one in high school. I hated them until I loved them.
I do not at all blame people for not using real accounting methods in this moment, I simply share this to help you read these income reports more clearly. The person who just reported $250K in income that month, might have received $30K in cash. The person who published a $10K course launch, may only have $500 in their bank account. We simply can’t judge our own success based on other people’s REAL accounting, let alone FAKE accounting.
At some point, certain income reports become about belonging to a special Internet club . . . the club of super ballers. They no longer have useful tips, they no longer present anything new, they just provide the person reporting their numbers with an opportunity to sound and look and feel good. And you can always tell the difference between amazing people (like my friend Erika Madden) trying to help people and other brand owners who shall remain nameless.
I feel it’s important to note: I’m not saying this as a bitter outsider. I’m saying this as someone (if i can be honest) who has made 6-figures from a single course, who used to publish income reports, who pays out 6-figures worth of salaries in a year, and who decided to stop publishing reports when I started making more than $40k per month (the last one on my site was for $16K). I may do them again when I have some truly new and epic things to say that I think the average ninja reading my blog can benefit from and implement. But for now, I have no income reports to share.
I don’t put my numbers in the titles of my posts right now because I actually want to spend my time helping people reach their goals. And most people, most people I have EVER met in my life that care about owning their own business are like I was, they just want to make a decent living doing something they love. They don’t need to make $83K next month.
Don’t get me wrong, I have tips for days once someone is ready to hop from one level to the next, but I don’t have any false promises or advice for people who want to jump from zero to $100K per month in a year.
Is it possible? Certainly. Do I want teach people who hold that as their primary goal above helping people and/or creating something that matters? Certainly NOT.
I “market to” the people I want to work with—hence my posts and courses all being titled something actionable, something possible, and something achievable to the average motivated person who takes action on the lessons.
6-Figure Suck-in Bloggers (which, one last time, is not all bloggers who make 6-figures) market to the people they want to work with. People who will read a title like How to Make $10K in One Month // 6-Figure Webinars // etc. and buy in because they want extremely un-average and sometimes unreasonable results very quickly.
5. They use pressure tactics and empty phrases and you will sometimes feel less in control than you like.
“Sign up now to reserve one of the limited spots to my webinar” [which is by the way free and the creator typically has no actual way to, or intention of, limiting the registrations on] . . .”
“This price will only be good for 30 minutes.” But like, why? Why would you only give a grown adult with responsibilities 2 seconds to make a $500 decision. Get a life.
6. They don’t spend enough time/content preparing you for what’s coming.
I was in a Muay Thai class the other day. It was my first time in life. My trainer didn’t throw me in with the other students to feel silly. He made me kick styrofoam for an hour and practice my form. He did my hand wraps for me and explained what he was doing.
Some online courses are the equivalent of my trainer putting me in a sparring match on my first day. It’s not logical and most people would get kicked repeatedly and super discouraged.
But the 6-figure suck-in brands seem to feel that how you interact with the content and the results you experience are not actually as important as how many people sign up.
I love when I see entrepreneurs (like Caitlin Bacher) publish reports and talk about what people in her courses accomplish as super important, not just how much money she makes.
7. They use outlandish language (and sometimes charge insane prices).
I mean, if their course is called How to Make 6-Figures from One Book (instead of “how I made 6-figures from one book, one time, after 7 years of trying”) then they’re going to have to use some pretty strong language to sell it. You’re starting with a faulty premise . . . that the majority of the people will accomplish what you did. You gotta follow that with powerful language, a sales-y tone, and super pressure to “make the best decision for your future” in order to suck in people.
If you want people to make a fair decision and real progress, you could name that same class Self-Publishing Demystified and include some language in the headline that lets us know you make 6-figures from one book.
Have you seen some of this stuff around the Internet? How does it make you feel? Do you think I’m way off base to call this out? Please feel free to share with me how you feel in the comments of this post. To be honest, I was afraid of publishing this because it might be too strong for some people, but at the end of the day, I NEED to know that I’ve done what I think is best for the people I care about and work with. However, feel free to give me your real feelings on this!
Let’s wrap up with a few quick points for anyone who wants to establish a meaningful business:
- Buy from people who make you feel good and who focus on action not hype, flash, or self-glorification.
- Consume people’s free content first. Lots of it. All of it if you like it. That way if they come with a limited-time offer, you can confidently take advantage of it because you have a history with them.
- Write a list of your next 3 most important business goals. If a book, course, workshop, etc. comes up that sounds amazing but is not on your list of what you need to do, pass on it. Spend your limited time on what you logically know needs to get done.
Psst. Please let me hear from you in the comments. Also, please consider clicking the image below to share this post with your friends if you related to it. Thank you!
Photo: © BONNINSTUDIO
Graphics and content: Regina Anaejionu