I guess I’m writing this point for one good reason: I just want to make sure it’s written down somewhere, so that I don’t have to keep repeating myself (because I will, and that gets old for me and for you). It’s easier to just refer folks to a single spot if they want to read more.

For me, this whole “make money online” thing is growing a bit old. I think that’s mostly due to the same reason that most music and TV bore me these days: People are so busy reinventing the wheel that we only rarely see anything new, much less anything new that’s worth seeing. I have a degree of respect for the scrappy, creative thinkers who not only think outside the lines, but invest the energy to study what they’re doing and pass along some of the results (i.e., Shoemoney and John Chow), but even moreso for those who seem to have made it their mission to instill some ethics and conscience in an industry that’s sorely lacking (i.e., Darren Rowse, Rand Fishkin, John Reese).

After all, the online money-making/marketing industry has been dominated for so long by the double-talking, JV-backscratching, let-me-score-quick-and-get-out-of-here types, that it reminds me of an illustration I once heard about the difference between a traveling evangelist and a pastor. The traveling evangelist was often a flashy dresser, but ALWAYS had the quick tongue, the drama and the promise of drastic life changes (“if you’d just give you heart to JEEE-sus!”…this was the church equivalent of the one-page sales letter). On the other hand, the pastor was the workaday guy. He needed to not only work unlimited hours, and try to keep his family together (lest it affect his credibility…and we ALL know how those preacher’s kids are!)… but he also was still around after the evangelist had moved on…he was the guy who had to clean up the mess.

I think it’s great that we have some good teachers as part of this industry as well. Guys like Ralph Wilson and Eric Giguere…who have taken the time to study what’s realistic and what’s not…and made it their mission to patiently lay out the facts, even in the face of outrageous new claims that come flowing out every week or two (cup of Rich Jerk, anyone?)

So I’d like to talk briefly about the ONLY reason that I see to build web sites. I have no great credentials on which to stand, and I’m often accused of overstating my point. So feel free to take what I say and glean whatever you can from it. I try to live by it myself…but not everyone is like me (thank God!).

I believe that the web has become a vast wasteland of crappy sites, with a few diamonds sticking out here and there. I’m always excited to see a great new online resource… whether they are blogs on how to live more efficiently or with more of a sense of a higher purpose…or some simple video instruction on how to get that stupid screen door unstuck once and for all…or some great new concept in social networking and content creation. I especially like it when these resources are free. More and more web developers are finding ways to monetize without the need for an admission fee. That’s excellent. But, great sites don’t just fall off trees. They need one factor behind them above all else: HEART

By “heart”, I mean a sense of passion. “There’s a legitimate need here. And I can offer something that’s not available elsewhere…or, if the idea exists, it’s not well-done, and I can clearly top it.” In other words, if you’re going to do it…you have a definite sense of how you can provide TRUE VALUE, and that it’s not already being done just as well elsewhere (UNIQUENESS).

What’s NOT involved in a site built from the heart? Hmmm…scraped content, a bunch of syndicated articles that already exist elsewhere, and a satchel full of your affiliate links…that’s what (sound familiar?). WHAT IN THE WORLD is someone thinking in building that kind of site? Clearly, they’re not thinking beyond the end of their nose. It’s all about “the score”, isn’t it? Take what you can grab, whether or not you did anything to earn it…and then move on. Sorry, but that just makes my skin crawl. There’s a great saying (although I have no clue where it originated): “Just because you CAN do something, doesn’t mean you should do it.” Since when has that been a justification for anything anyway?

Why does Google have to crack down on MFA (Made for Adsense) sites? Because those who built them are displaying the ethics of email spammers. Email SHOULD HAVE BEEN one of the greatest opportunities ever to directly reach people. Almost completely free. Goes to them instead of making them remember and come find you. Instead, it’s costing U.S. corporations tens of BILLIONS of dollars just to filter it out (because NO ONE wants it), and it’s making all our online lives much harder. What makes you think that the same stuff won’t result from spamming the web with junk sites filled with crap content, spamming article directories with duplicate content, and…the latest approach…filling up blog comments with fine contributions like: “Great post!” and a link back to your site.

IS IT NOT POSSIBLE that we all consider the relevant issues and take a stand…taking the initiative to speak up and say “Not me…I won’t participate in that stuff!” I know there will always be Nigerian email scammers, teams of overseas fraudulent clickers, and yes…even those that promise that you, too, can make a million dollars online IF YOU JUST BUY THIS E-BOOK!

Stuff I do:

  • I am trying to be consistent in asking myself: “Am I adding value and uniqueness?” before I move into any new venture
  • I believe in linking to and supporting those whose work I admire
  • I take time to share cool things with my friends
  • I make time to comment on blogs who I feel are doing something unique enough to warrant my contribution

To me, THAT’s what this whole “web thing” should be about. Connectedness, encouragement, admonishment, support.

I hope you’ll tear yourself away from the gurus long enough to ask yourself how you would teach your children or grandchildren to behave in this regard. What are we teaching by example? What are we passing on to future generations? We can’t just preach it. We have to live it, too. And, in my opinion, the time for that is now.