Make Money Online: The Economic Incentives of ‘Easy’ Money
Anything that is Successful Eventually Gets Coppied
Here are 3 different site designs*
* Well, to be technically correct, we could call that 3 different sites all using roughly the same design. I paid for the design & the others used it without permission.
In January of 2011 we updated our site design to a new one, but the same thing will happen again. Human nature doesn’t change quickly!
After we changed over our site design I decided to give the above one away as a free WordPress theme. I figure if dishonest folks are already benefiting from it then I may as well let everyone else benefit too!
Creativity is Lacking Amongst Theives
There are probably a half-dozen sites in the SEO space which basically stole our website design and/or created some slightly different derivative of it.
Some of our other successful sites suffer from the same fate.
People not only copy design, but they copy keyword strategy, site structure, content, backlink sources, etc.
Thus anything which is truly “easy” and “scalable” is not something you would ever want to go out of your way to highlight.
When you give people ideas of how to apply successful concepts you might think that many people would take your concepts and apply them in unique and original ways to different marketplaces. However creativity involves a greater perceived risk and a willingness to be wrong. So what is *far* more common is people to try to exactly clone whatever you do.
The big problem with that is 2-fold. Most market opportunities are finite, so:
If people are successful exactly copying what you do then they will cut your income. The only way it makes sense to share it is if you think it would be exceptionally hard to clone and/or if the site was not as successful as you claimed it to be and/or to share a technique that worked in
the past, but no longer works.
Those who are not successful at exactly copying your work will be pissed at you for wasting their time and think you are a liar (it is easier to outsource blame for one’s faults than it is to accept responsibility for them…which is why ‘weight loss’ is a multi-billion Dollar market).
If you are successful then you won’t win by being obscure. However, if you have something that is producing serious revenues on little to no effort then you are best off keeping market competitors ignorant of your performance until you build strong network effects which provide a lasting competitive advantage. The story of Markus Frind has been told many times. He created Plenty of Fish, an online dating website, and scaled it to making $10 million a year working at home and only using a couple of computers. Part of how he was able to come out of nowhere was that he actually supressed his ratings on traffic monitoring services until his site was exceptionally powerful.
I am the first major site owner to ever use Counter Intelligence, and in competitive markets I believe it is a MUST. To stop alexa simply don’t allow any user with “alexa” in the useragent visit your site or signup. You can block most other tracking systems but i’ll let you figure out how to do that
When he was first gaining momentum he was secretive. But once his site was in a powerful position that would be hard to compete against he shared his story in the media to further build the trust and authority of his website.
The more transparent you are the greater the likelihood of someone copying your strategy.