Dear Blogger – Are You Trying To Sell To The Faithless?

March 3, 2009

Are your blog readers mean when it comes to buying your stuff? I read plenty of blogs that get a decent amount of traffic.

Some of them offer their own products or services and they even manage to attract readers who are looking for what they’re offering. So why can’t they sell a damn thing to them?

Maybe Your Readers Have No Faith In Your Capabilities?

If you were depressed, you probably wouldn’t buy counselling services from someone who wrote constantly about their suicidal thoughts.

You might be interested in reading what they had to say but you probably wouldn’t have a whole heap of faith in their ability to help you.

Trouble is, a lot of people do this. They’ll try to sell a product or service but almost every single word they write on their blog screams – “I TOTALLY SUCK AT WHAT I’M TRYING TO SELL”.

You may have seen some of these yourself:

They’re trying to sell a life coaching service but they’re always writing about how their own life sucks.

They’re trying to sell a weight loss plan but they’re always banging on about their binge eating problem.

They offer relationship counselling but they do nothing but complain about their failed relationships.

Their time management program is the best – but they write about their disorganised, chaotic world.

How on earth can these people sell their stuff to anyone when they’re telling the world they totally fail at what they do?

It’s Human To Share Your Mistakes

Sharing your mistakes is fine, to a point. I’ve done it plenty myself. Folk love to hear how you went from sucking at something, to totally transforming your life. It gives them hope – because if you managed to do it, they can do it too.

But constantly telling your readers that you’re a complete failure at what you’re trying to sell them, is just plain stupid.

The sad thing is, some of these people don’t really suck at what they’re selling at all. Often they just excel at beating themselves up up all the time.

If this sounds like you and you get some sort of sadistic pleasure out of writing crap about yourself – write it somewhere else. Don’t share it with potential customers, if you want them to buy your stuff.

But What If You Really Do Suck?

Some people start a blog as therapy. Or some choose to write about a topic that they’re only beginning to learn. And others decide to tackle a problem area in their lives and write about their experience.

Trouble is, a lot of those people never do get any good at what they’re writing about. Their “how to” products are re-hashed copies of other peoples stuff – they don’t know if they work because they’ve never tried them. Or worse still, they tried them and they didn’t work.

Does This Mean It’s Time To Pull The Plug?

Not necessarily, you still have a few options:

  • If you don’t have the necessary skills in your field – learn them.
  • If you’re getting there but you’re still at the amateur stage, find an expert to join forces with and come up with a great product you can promote together.

  • If you’re beginning to hate the topic you write about it’s probably best to ditch it now and move on to something you do enjoy.

  • If you’re just struggling to reach out to your readers and you just don’t know what to write, check out The Secret To Writing A Successful & Outstanding Blog

Did you ever buy anything off someone who told you how much they suck at what they’re selling? Or are you guilty of doing yourself down on your blog to the point where your readers might question your competence? Please share your thoughts and opinions in the comments section.

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Why You’re Not Making Lots Of Money

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24 Responses to “Dear Blogger – Are You Trying To Sell To The Faithless?”

  1. Brad Shorr on March 3rd, 2009 3:43 pm

    Hi Cath, If you aren’t confident about what you’re selling, nobody else will be. That’s maybe the main reason why sales is so darn difficult. It’s hard to be “up” when you’re getting rejected 80 or 90% of the time. If you can accept that fact and not take it personally, you’ll be more positive and sell more. If you telegraph weakness, you’ll sell nothing. Pity sales are few and far between, especially when the economy forces every buying decision to be justified six ways from Sunday.

    Brad Shorr’s last blog post..7-1/2 Reasons Why I Won’t Follow Someone on Twitter

  2. cathlawson on March 3rd, 2009 4:02 pm

    Hi Brad – That is so true. You really have to have a product you truly believe in, or you will never be able to sell it.

    I guess when folk are selling a product they created themselves; or a service which they provide personally – it must be harder to deal with rejection.

  3. Vered - MomGrind on March 3rd, 2009 5:53 pm

    “Did you ever buy anything off someone who told you how much they suck at what they’re selling?” Of course not. I think bloggers need to decide if their blog is an outlet for their feelings, or if it’s a business. If it’s a business, they should never let their weaknesses show. They need to establish themselves as experts.

    Vered – MomGrind’s last blog post..Parenthood Has Turned Me Into A Better Person

  4. Kathy | Virtual Impax on March 3rd, 2009 6:43 pm

    Cath -

    I know from experience that most bloggers don’t realize how “transparent” they are when they’re blogging.

    I had one blogging client that TRULY didn’t realize the message he was delivering via his blog.

    He was blogging about how DEPRESSED he was – as was evidenced when he shared the lyrics to “So You’ve Had a Bad Day” instead of what he could do for his potential clients. He was supposed to be an expert at holistic healing and his blog was NOT supposed to take the place of therapy!!!

    It’s a PERFECT example of what you’re talking about here and yet he truly wasn’t aware of the picture he was painting – even when I called him on it!!!

    It’s SCARY how transparent we can be when we’re blogging and why we’d better be prepared for that kind of transparency!

    Kathy | Virtual Impax’s last blog post..When Someone Steals Your Branding

  5. Kim Woodbridge on March 3rd, 2009 8:06 pm

    I don’t know. Sometimes when I’m writing a tutorial I will discuss a way I used to do the same thing that wasn’t very efficient or problems I’ve had implementing code. I supposed I want to be seen as an expert but I’m also human – and I want people to know that we all make mistakes. I guess I want my tutorials to make people feel like they can implement the same things on their own site because even someone who knows what she has doing has made big mistakes. As long as we learn from them. And I know I have a tendency toward self-deprecation …

    Kim Woodbridge’s last blog post..How to Disable Post Revisions in WordPress

  6. Ruth on March 3rd, 2009 8:09 pm

    That’s one reason I’ve kept the blog on my consulting site strictly about consulting issues. If anything, it gives most people who’d need my help the impression that I have a very good idea what I’m doing. Experts might see places where I propose suboptimal fixes or display only a partial (though right, I’m careful about what I post there and post rarely) understanding of the deeper issue.

    But for people who know nothing about running a website, the posts are impressive. And for people who know a bit about running a website, they’re actually useful.

    Thinking about whether or not I’d buy from someone whose product didn’t seem to work for them…I’d be willing to go to a depressed psychologist, but only if they’d learned to manage their depression in a healthy way that lets them enjoy life. For me, that would be encouraging. I can see how it might not work for everyone.

  7. cathlawson on March 3rd, 2009 8:21 pm

    Hi Vered – that’s true. I guess the trouble is that many bloggers start out not really knowing what they want to achieve.

    Hi Kathy – That was a bad move. I guess readers would be thinking that if his holistic healing really worked – he wouldn’t be feeling so depressed.

    Hi Kim – I think that type of info is useful. You’re helping your readers by showing them what to avoid. But you’re not telling them that you totally fail at WordPress.

    Hi Ruth – That’s a really good point. A psychologist who suffers from depression but shows that they are able to manage it well, would be far more encouraging than one who just couldn’t cope with it.

  8. Jim Gaudet on March 3rd, 2009 8:46 pm

    I think, besides AdSense, I wouldn’t sell anything unless it were a review..

    Jim Gaudet’s last blog post..Facebook Worm, Facebook Virus, Koobface

  9. cathlawson on March 3rd, 2009 9:03 pm

    LMAO Jim – I’m just thinking about one of your old blog posts. Maybe you could persuade Durex to advertise on your blog?

  10. Kelvin Kao on March 3rd, 2009 10:12 pm

    It’s definitely OK to show the failures and problems, but you’ve got to show the solutions. Imagine a Superman movie, but instead of Superman beating the bad guy, the movie cut from Superman being beat up to Superman complaining to a journalist about how much his day sucked. That will immediately disqualify him from superhero status and the city will no longer wants his service. Not that he charges.

    Kelvin Kao’s last blog post..A Muppet Christmas: Letters to Santa

  11. Laurie on March 4th, 2009 1:40 am

    Hi Cath! I found that I have bought things from the bloggers with less hesitation than other sellers. I think it is because I have gotten to know them through their blog and like their take on things. I also want to support the folks I am reading. I have no blog of my own and like it because I can say what I really feel on blogs without worry of turning away potential readers.

    Oh and I have tried to email you a couple of times and it bounces back. I copied the address off of your site here. Is it right?

  12. Davina on March 4th, 2009 1:58 am

    Hi Cath. I think it depends on what you mean when you say a person’s life sucks. Does it mean they have no job? Bad health? A dysfunctional family? Or is it because they “believe” their life sucks because they have or don’t have these things? Is it their personal life that sucks? Or their actual business skills that suck? One sucking doesn’t mean the other sucks.

    Beethoven was deaf, but look at the music he composed. Who would have thought?

    It’s all in the eye of the beholder. Life has it’s ups and downs. It’s part of being human. If a person is blind to their problems and blames the whole world, then yes I would say their life sucks because they don’t believe they have any ability to do anything about it.

    There is a lot of information out there that makes people look like “experts” but how do we know? Really? Just because they write about it on their blog or website, doesn’t mean they are an expert.

    My life does suck… by society’s standards. And yes, some days I think it sucks too. But that doesn’t mean my service sucks. I don’t bring my problems “to the office”. I learn from them and I bring THAT to the office.

    Davina’s last blog post..Take This To Heart

  13. Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome on March 4th, 2009 7:01 am

    Great post Cath – there is such a fine line between sharing the journey and showing incompetence.

    For example, I’m the first to admit that Someday Syndrome can slide into my life at any time, but I focus on how I stay vigilant and how I nip it in the bud any time it starts. So while showing my vulnerability and connecting with readers, I also demonstrate my coaching skills at the same time.

    Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome’s last blog post..At a crossroads with no signposts: Introducing Lab Rat Cat

  14. cathlawson on March 4th, 2009 11:05 am

    LMAO Kelvin – That’s a really good example. It’s also a reminder of how ungrateful people can be.

    Hi Laurie – It is nice that people are thinking like you do. And I’m sorry you can’t reach me via email. My email from that address re-directs to another account but I’m guessing I maybe didn’t set it up properly when I changed hosts.

    Here’s another address – have put spaces in to avoid spam:
    lawson.cath7 at

    Hi Davina – I guess you’re meaning the life coach example. I hate using the professions of folk I know as examples, incase they think I mean them. Sorry if you thought I meant you. I didn’t – these are just examples. Had you already been doing this, I would have told you.

    In the case of a life coach – having some kind of disability or a problem wouldn’t put folk off using their services. What I meant was – if they were complaining about how bad different aspects of their lives were, in every single blog post. And they didn’t seem to be able to resolve any of their own problems, then people would question their competence.

    Re: The “expert” thing – I hear you. Some bloggers can make themselves look like “experts” simply by re-writing other people’s work on their topic.

    But I don’t think an individual could pull it off so easily if they were writing on a daily basis. I know this because most of my posts are written directly from experience. Researching each one first would take a whole lot longer.

    Hi Alex – Thank you. I think you have a good balance on your blog. And you do show your competence in your field through your achievements too.

    The fact that you completed your novel already proves that you know what you’re talking about. Anyone who has attempted this already, knows how difficult it is to achieve – me included.

  15. Andrew on March 4th, 2009 2:07 pm


    “Often they just excel at beating themselves up at something.”

    I’m glad to hear that I excel at something! (just kidding).

    I would never buy something from someone who did not project any confidence during the sales process. If you display any lack of confidence in your abilities, your readers and prospective customers pick up on that, as you say. And, they start to suspect that there might be a reason why you don’t believe in yourself.

    That said, sharing a few of your blunders probably doesn’t hurt, and can probably help you to come across in a humble fashion (I mean in a positive way), especially if you also share what you learned from those blunders.

    Andrew’s last blog post..Employee rights and responsibilities part 11: How big is the gender based pay gap?

  16. Barbara Ling, Virtual Coach on March 4th, 2009 4:47 pm

    Love this topic!

    This is one reason now why I have several blogs and not just one – I’m now focusing for my business, for my fitness ideas, etc.etc.etc. It helps keep various sections of “me” separated.

    That being said, if I was having problems with losing weight, I’d probably NOT try to sell in that arena…instead, I’d choose something at which I was a master. People always want to buy from someone perceived as knowledgeable AND successful.

    Data points, Barbara

    Barbara Ling, Virtual Coach’s last blog post..Mastering the Pullup

  17. Jim Gaudet on March 4th, 2009 8:47 pm

    That’s funny, I know which post you are talking about. I unfortunately have never tried it though, maybe I could get them to send me some samples…

    Jim Gaudet’s last blog post..Facebook Worm, Facebook Virus, Koobface

  18. cathlawson on March 4th, 2009 9:22 pm

    Hi Andrew – Good point, if you don’t seem confident – maybe there’s something wrong with what you’re trying to sell.

    I agree, sharing a few blunders is not harmful, especially if they help your readers and come across in a positive way.

    Hi Barbara – I don’t know where you get all your energy from. I have a hard time trying to keep up with your main blog. You put out around the same number of posts as Liz Strauss.

    Jim – If that post doesn’t encourage durex sponsorship, nothing will.

  19. Barbara Swafford on March 5th, 2009 8:49 am

    Hi Catherine – I hear what you’re saying, but I also think a lot of bloggers are not buyers. When I see ebooks I often wonder if it’s just the posts on the blog rehashed and put into book form, or if it’s new material. Granted it’s nice to have it all in one spot, but, I usually can’t justify the cost.

    I think we have to stop thinking bloggers are our only audience and realize the general public is reading our blogs. It’s them who are our target market, and not fellow bloggers. However, with that being said, our fellow bloggers are often our best advocates and are great for promoting our products, especially if there’s an incentive (like an affiliate program).

    Barbara Swafford’s last blog post..In Their Own Words

  20. cathlawson on March 5th, 2009 12:51 pm

    Hi Barbara.

    Some people do sell copies of what they’ve already written, on their blogs. And like you, I have a hard time justifying the cost.

    I do buy some things off bloggers. And many of them bring out interesting books etc. But some of them are so expensive, compared to what I could get in a bookstore and a lot shorter too. So usually, unless they give me a compelling reason to buy right now, I don’t.

    But as you say other bloggers will promote your stuff, so it’s important to have them in our network.

  21. wilhb81 on March 6th, 2009 5:36 am

    In this case, I think I’ve learned the lesson, after reading through your article, Cath! Thanks for all the great tips…

    wilhb81′s last blog post..The Reasons Why You Should Host Your Site on Web Hosting Company!

  22. cathlawson on March 6th, 2009 8:51 am

    Hi Wihlb – Thanks. I’m glad it helped.

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