The following post is rated PG-13 for adult language.

I went looking for some decent affiliate marketing blogs to read and subscribe to this morning. Being the Googling sort, I searched for affiliate marketing blogs and popped open the top 20 results in a series of tabs to see what I’d found.

Of the top 20 sites that came back in my search, 2 didn’t load, one was flagged by Google as containing malware harmful to my computer, and 11 of the sites, before any content could load, popped up a whole-page, content-obscuring ad. Some of the ads were for newsletters, blogs, or other “freebies”, while others promoted the author’s latest books, DVDs, webinars, seminars, and other swill.

Useless stuff

The very thing that would convince me to buy your book, CD, DVD, etc. is your content. How helpful is your blog? After all, if I quickly scan the first five posts of your blog and I learn something just from a quick scan, you can bet that I’ll think you’ve got even more stuff to offer. You taught me something in 30 seconds, and I’ll stick around much longer to see what else I can learn. I’ll bookmark your site. I’ll tag it and store it for future reference. I’ll subscribe and opt-in, because I love learning, and I love any site, blog, or outlet that helps me learn more.

However, when you obscure your content with piles and piles of ads, guess what? The value you present to me is absolutely zero, and you get put in the bin of perpetual ignorage. I don’t care how well ranked your book is on Amazon or that your book is on the Peoria TImes Bestseller List for the 213th week in a row. Endorsements don’t mean anything to me. Reputation matters very little to me. What does matter is the content, the goods, and if you block my ability to read your content with your ads, then you’ve effectively decided I don’t need to get any sense of your value.

Here’s the ultimate irony, you Internet marketing masters. (yes, one pompous jackass billed himself as such) One of the areas we cover less well in our Marketing Over Coffee podcast is affiliate marketing (with the quality of the blogs I surfed this morning, there’s little wonder why), so I was doing some homework, putting together a list of actually useful affiliate marketing blogs for our master blog list that we’ll be distributing in the next Marketing Over Coffee newsletter.

If you hadn’t blocked your entire site with tons of useless shit, you might have made the cut and had your blog included in a list that will be distributed and subscribed to by thousands and thousands of marketing professionals. Instead, you lose out on me, you lose out on someone willing to voluntarily endorse your writing, and you lose out on a ton of exposure, all in the hope that you could scrape up a buck with your ineffective ads.

We’ve all been beating this meme to death recently, but for good reason: be helpful. Be helpful in what you do and your work will practically market for you. Be helpful and useful in your writing, in your blogging, in your content production, and you’ll have won me over immediately, made me subscribe, and made me mention you to the folks who enjoy seeing what’s on my nightstand and in my blog reader.

Go take a look at your top five blog posts right now on your personal or professional site. If at least one of your blog posts doesn’t contain something helpful, something actionable, something useful, fix that. If you do have something that I can learn, take away, and make useful right away, then I congratulate and salute you, and know that your audience deeply appreciates what you do.

Updated: I posted the counterpoint perspective with data over on Marketing Over Coffee.

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