La Comédie Humaine 2011 (modified) © Christopher Dombres – license CC BY 2.0

Reading entrepreneur blogs is like watching porn… Sometimes

Watching porn, you watch other people do something you’d probably like to be doing yourself. You fantasize and feel stimulated. You might imagine it’s you on the screen, build up scenarios in which you’re the main character, recognized for their prowess.

How many people do you know who watch porn, go through the whole “it’s me on the screen” thing, probably orgasm at some point, and then decide “I’m going to leave my couch and find me someone to do it for real”?

Probably none. You watch porn, you let your imagination go wild for a bit and then go back to your usual life. The life in which you don’t have the characteristics and/or skills required to do what they do on screen.

According to Google, one way to define porn is:

Television programs, magazine, books, etc. that are regarded as emphasizing the sensuous or sensational aspects of a nonsexual subject and stimulating a compulsive interest in their audience.Google Define:porn

Well…

It’s a bit the same when reading successful entrepreneur blogs.

Making it all sound so easy

Seriously, between you and I, how many articles do you read every day that explain a way to get more traffic, truly engaged followers, and better conversion rates?

Of all those articles, how many promise an easy-ish way to do it?

If you and I live on the same planet, I would say probably most of them (not all though.)

Here’s an example by Neil Patel from QuickSprout.com titled How to Increase Your Website’s Traffic Without Any Marketing.

Neil Patel is an expert. He is an awesome writer, an extremely successful entrepreneur and marketer, and someone who knows what he’s talking about.

Sometimes though he presents things as if it was a porn movie: if pizza delivery girl comes to your door she’ll be hot and as soon as you open your door with your big package showing she’ll be all over you. I like this scenario because it works both ways with a pizza delivery guy and a female customer. But I digress…

So what Neil Patel says in this article is extremely well summarized in the introduction:

What if I told you that you can increase your traffic without any marketing? That’s right… even if you don’t have a marketing bone in your body, you can generate more traffic and sales.

“How?” you may ask. All you have to do is follow this long tail strategy…Neil Patel for QuickSprout: How to Increase Your Website’s Traffic Without Any Marketing

He then presents a simple way to find long tail keywords and unveils some impressive results. In January 2013, he received 120,365 search visitors and in December of the same year he was at 174,496 visitors.

What? All I have to do is wave my long tail at the hot girl and we’ll be in business? And she’ll scream in delight the whole time asking for more? And I don’t even need to really be a professional porn actor?

Is it going to be a problem if the girl is not that into me after all, or that my “assets” are just average? How about the fact that it’s hard to keep it up for so long at that kind of pace?

Most of all, is it going to be a problem that I don’t already have 120,365 search visitors gracing me with their presence?

In other words, how easy is this long tail strategy going to be if:

  • I am a beginner with almost no traffic
  • I don’t have much content yet although I’m working on it
  • I don’t have much much of a list either
  • All my competitors have read Neil Patel’s article and are already long tailing everything they can

Short answer: the strategy will still probably be easy-ish. Getting impressive results, on the other hand, not so much.

The fallacy of the quick fix

I must be honest: when faced with a problem I sometimes (often) look for a quick fix.

Apparently it’s human nature. It’s misguided, bears very little long term results, and doesn’t speak much for my personality, but it’s also pretty common.

Just do a search for conversion rate optimization or building your list and you will notice a series of words and expressions that keep coming back. Most of them from entrepreneur blogs.

Some will emphasize how easy and fast it is:

  • Quick tips or tricks (4 Quick Conversion Rate Tips That Increased Online Sales by $500,000)
  • Right now (13 Ways to Increase Your Conversion Rate Right Now)
  • Simple or easy (Five easy steps to increase your website’s conversion rate and win more business)

Others will promise unfathomably good results:

  • Alluring percentages (How we increased the conversion rate of Voices.com by over 400%)
  • Insane (conversion optimization and SEO are a force that can lead to insane levels of success and prosperity)

And finally we need to demonstrate seriousness and reliability:

  • Proven (10 Proven Ways to Increase Website Conversion Rate)
  • Scientifically (The Scientifically Proven Best Time to Think and Write Creatively)
  • Actually (7 Proactive Ways to Get Backlinks That’ll Actually Boost Your Traffic)

How about this one: 10 scientifically proven simple tips to make love like a pornstar right now!?

So are all these guys full of it?

Don’t get me wrong, some of these articles are actually pretty good and full of great advice and actually time-tested strategies. What’s wrong is that they promote the idea that there is such a thing as a quick fix or an overnight success.

I am not a prude, I am not going to start screaming thieves, murderers, or burn the witch. I know these titles are written like that for a reason, a very good one. Well, 2 actually: too much noise and short attention span.

The internet reader is now facing so many sources of information that he has trouble distinguishing the worthy from the shitty (noise). Because our time is limited, scanning is what we do and each article has but a few seconds to convince us to read on.

Once again, I highly respect some of these writers and to take Neil Patel as an example again, you should just read most of his articles and his guides. Once you put aside the titles and the feeling that it is all so easy, you get gems that will actually help you from an expert that I for one know I can’t afford.

You also have some scammers and other types of &#!#@’!§ that I won’t name but I wouldn’t say that’s the majority.

 What the hell is your point then?

Before we can actually use these simple tricks, there is so much to be done with patience, sweat, hard work, and a few failures…

My point is that too often people start a business with the wrong idea. They start with brains filled with ideas of how easy it’s going to be thanks to genius—but incredibly simple—ideas, easy SEO tricks, and marketing strategies laid out for them as 10 bullet-points lists.

And that’s actually the good ones. Most will keep on reading and dreaming, and when they’re done dream-banging the virtual lover on their TV screen, they’ll just go to bed until the next day.

Do you know why?

Because despite all the easiness and the insane-growthiness, we always end up with unanswered questions as to where and how to start. And because it was made to look so easy we are happy to pretend there’s no hurry and use it as an excuse for procrastinating.

We spend days after days reading blog post after post about the 7 ways to do incredible stuff to our—still non-existent—conversion rate, or the simple yet proven best tricks to be the next best thing fast. And there’s always the need for one more and then another one, just in case we missed the ultimate trick, even more ultimate and scientifically proven and easy than the previous one.

But the time for action, the time where all this knowledge gets put to good use, so often never comes because before we can actually use these simple tricks, there is so much to be done with patience, sweat, hard work, and a few failures….

I know porn is not reality. I also know that if it were reality, we would endlessly go from one easy shag to the other, always hoping to get more out of it this time but never satisfied. When everybody is a pornstar, nobody is a pornstar.

That is why when I need to get back to the reality I read people like Rob Walling.

I strongly suggest you read his post Why Startup Founders Should Stop Reading Business Books and most of all his book Start Small, Stay Small: a Developer’s Guide to Launching a Startup:

Suffice to say that being an entrepreneur can be fun, but the fun parts come only with hundreds of hours of hard work.Rob Walling: Start Small, Stay Small: a Developer’s Guide to Launching a Startup