Saturday, March 15, 2008

Why You Will Never Be John Chow

There’s no way I can run a “Make Money Online” blog without referencing the big-daddy of this little subculture of get-rich-quick – John Chow. For those who don’t know him, he’s a 40-something web-entrepreneur based out of Vancouver, Canada, and he shares his “tips and tricks” on his blog at Truth be told, I check his blog at least once a day, though its actually rare that he shares anything truly insightful about making money online. Most of his posts are either about restaurants he’s eaten at, or boastful videos or pictures of himself at various blogger conferences, or reviews of uninteresting sites that have paid him $500 to be featured on his blog… in fact, lately, at least half, if not more, of the posts on his site aren’t even written by him, but rather by “guest bloggers” who submit content for him to post.

But all that said, you can’t argue with results. As of April 2008 John Chow claims to be making roughly $30,000 a month just from his blog alone. By any measurement, that’s impressive. (And that number seems to grow with every passing month…)

This guy obviously knows his stuff when it comes to monetizing a web site. The problem is, he’s championing a business model that very few, if any, other bloggers will actually ever be able to pull off. John Chow is a phenomenon – he’s practically an Internet meme. In my view, he’s like that UK kid who put up the Million Dollar Homepage. Was it a brilliant idea? No. It’s a dumb idea that, by sheer dumb luck and a little hard work, just happened to succeed. There are now thousands and thousands of Million Dollar Homepage knockoffs polluting the Internet, and I’ve yet to hear of a single one pulling in significant money. It was a one-off.

Just like John Chow is a one-off. There are thousands of wanna-be copies, but none have (and none will) achieve the same level of success that he has.

John Chow doesn’t make insane money off his blog because he’s a marketing genius. He makes insane money off his blog because he’s convinced others that’s he’s a marketing genius. If you read his posts – and if you haven’t already swallowed the kool-aid – you’ll see that he offers very little by way of original insight. But that doesn’t matter. He’s got a captive audience full of middle-class schmos who think they’re going to strike it rich just by following his advice, and that’s a goldmine for predatory advertisers. Just look at the folks who advertise on his blog – “Make $93,128 a week on Adsense!” or “Beach Bum makes $231,982 with his laptop!” Its all just empty promises, foisted on a readership that is eager to earn money but too caught up in the frenzy to realize that its all a house of cards.

I don’t hold anything against John Chow – he’s making oodles of money, and as far as I can tell he pumps a fair percentage of it into charity concerns – but I do get worried when I see so many folks eagerly swallowing whatever they’re told by so-called make-money-online gurus. I have a much bigger problem with the advertisers he allows on his site who promise insanely huge returns for little or no initial investment. Like I tell everyone… if someone were really making $100k a month from their get-rich-quick “system,” why on earth would they want to share their secret with any schmuck off the street for a measly $14.99?

Think about it.