Why People Hate Marketers


Hey everyone, I’m reporting live from Rarotonga in the South Pacific. It’s a nice place! Details on Monday. But first, I have an important message from our sponsor.

(Yes, that would be me. There are no sponsors.)

The Important Message

The title of this post is deliberately provocative. First of all, I know that marketers are people too, and most people are marketers of one kind or another.

But when I talk about hating marketers, you probably know what kind of marketers I’m talking about. I’m talking about car salesmen marketers who play on our emotions to get our money.

Anyway, here’s the deal. I’m proud to say that 279 Days is still kicking ass. It’s going all over the world, literally – a Chinese and Spanish translation are both on the way from two volunteers. I’ve lost track of all the people who have told me about the new blogs they’ve started by following the model. I wish them a huge hard-working success, and I’m tremendously excited for everyone who has applied some of the lessons.

However, during the big launch week, I received an email that I found profoundly disturbing.

It’s not what you’re thinking – the message wasn’t from a vampire. The writer wasn’t criticizing me, at least not directly. He even said I was “awesome” – but instead of feeling happy, I felt sad in a way that I couldn’t precisely identify… at first.

Here it is:


I don’t mean to sound silly, coy, or to pry, but why do you not have people opt-in to receive your manifesto?

You’d be building an email list of followers who’ll eventually turn into customers, clients, etc.

You are sitting on a goldmine here far beyond what’s being tapped now. Why not make this a monthly membership program with a call-to-action, $49 or $97 a month.

And your income will probably be 10x what you estimate for 2009 if you play your cards right…

You are doing awesomely great dude!

Where do you want to take this?


P.S. The value is in that list of followers. And not just on twitter but your email list which you have cleverly disguised as “small army”.

Make the email opt-in obvious. Put it in the upper right like everyone else. Even if you just use it to gift ideas… But eventually you can use it to sell your stuff and the stuff of others.

Because we are all so busy with information EVERY FREAKING DAY you need a strategy to stay in touch with folks if they don’t buy the first time…

I know I’m not telling you anything you don’t know – but do this stuff man – do it now.

OK, I’m out…

It took me a while to figure out why I was so disturbed by John’s message. As I said, it wasn’t a direct criticism, and if you’re not familiar with internet marketing, you might miss some of the nuance in what John is writing about. Later that night as I went for a run in the park before dinner, though, I realized why I was so troubled.

The way that John sees the world is all about manipulating people.

See, the approach outlined in John’s email is defined by scarcity. According to the scarcity perspective, you all are my prospects. I’m trying to convert you to customers. If I get your money, I win. If not, either I’m doing something wrong or you suck.

Well — that is precisely the OPPOSITE of what I believe.

As John alludes to in the end, I do know how internet marketing works. I know where you are supposed to put the email form; I know how to use scarcity to increase sales.

I just prefer to operate from a perspective of abundance. Freely give, freely receive. Why force people to join a list before reading my work? Some of them would resent that, and the commitment level of the others would be pretty weak. Why inspire people with something and then tell them that they need to pay me each month to “really” get what I have to say?

Yes, I call my network a small army – but this is not a “clever disguise.” It’s the real deal. I spend hours every day building relationships with people. Many of them are in India or Africa and will never give me a dime. That’s OK with me.

The Money-Making Side of Things

I’m sorry to pick on John – he is far from alone in thinking this way. The problem is that this attitude runs directly counter to what I believe and why I started this project to begin with.

Ironically (or not), I actually have a pretty high conversion rate when I sell products. With the Working for Yourself guide, it’s about 4-5%. If you’re in marketing, you know how high that is – if not, 1% is usually a base number.

But even with a high conversion rate, that still means 95% of people don’t buy. I don’t view this wide majority as “prospects” who have failed to convert into customers. They are doing cool stuff, probably don’t need anything I sell, and I am honored for the chance to connect with them.

That’s what disturbed me so much about the message – realizing that to many people like John, building a community is all about building a cash machine.

I’m not an evangelist, and I realize that I probably can’t change anyone’s mind about anything. Someone asked recently, “How can you convince someone that your opinion is right?” I’ll write more about this later, but there’s an easy answer: you don’t. If your business model relies on convincing, I think you have a uphill battle ahead of you. Instead of convincing people who are opposed to your message, spend your time finding people who are already predisposed to it.

Trust and Money

By the way, you want to know something? I think I’ll do just fine without John’s tactics. Here’s another email I really enjoyed. This one came from Joel, in New Zealand by way of Canada. Joel had just bought something from me, and here’s what he had to say:

Thanks Chris!

This is the first information product I have ever purchased. It took a step of faith to make the purchase:

A) my grandmother wasted a fortune on mail-in sweepstakes, so I’ve been raised to be thrifty and suspicious of being suckered by strangers. (And your pitch is the opposite of smarmy. Here I am.)

B) I’ve already quit the job and flown from my home in Canada to stay with family in New Zealand. There ain’t no money coming in for the time being. So this expense is an investment in a new life.

I don’t need to tell you that the future looks bright. It’s nice to know it.


Check out Joel’s second paragraph:

“It took a step of faith…”

This was a highly emotional decision for Joel. To earn $39 is relatively easy. To earn someone’s trust, well, that takes some work.

“This is the first information product I have ever purchased…”

Obviously he had been pitched before. I’m not the only guy on the block. But when he read about this offer, something clicked.

Product Launch Update

Speaking of products and salesmanship in general, I’m coming out with two new products over the next month. I’m excited about them, and I know they will help many people. The first one is called the Unconventional Guide to Art and Money. After a few delays to make it better, the launch is coming up very soon. (Yikes – we have a lot to do to get ready! Time to wrap this up.)

But first, I had to talk about marketing and explain where I stand. My stance is, treat people with dignity and respect. Take the high road and give up money if necessary. In some circles, sorry to say, this is an unconventional perspective.

Then, of course, do the good kind of marketing that people don’t hate at all.

This kind of marketing provides clear solutions to stated needs. According to this perspective, if you have a need I can meet, I don’t need to force you to join my list (you’d join on your own); I don’t need to auto-bill you each month (you’d be happy to pay).

I don’t like to debate by email, and besides, I get a lot of mail. I wrote back to John, short and sweet:

Hi John,

Freely give, freely receive.



John wrote me back with more things I was doing wrong. He told me to save his email address and write him in 10 years to let him know what happened. I guess the implication is that I’ll be sorry then, he’ll have been proved right, whatever. (Yeah, I know – at that point I just hit the archive button. Life’s too short.)

No thanks, man. Who knows what will be happening in 10 years, but I suspect in some form I’ll be busy keeping up with everyone else out there. Every day I hear from more great people all over the world, including plenty of places where PayPal is not accepted. Good things are on the way; the future is bright.

Most importantly, wherever you are, I’m honored that you care about what I have to say. No cash machine, auto-billing, or email opt-in required.

Thanks for reading.


Used Car Salesman Image by TexasEagle

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  • Jack says:


    Thank you for existing man.

    The above article touched me deeply. You remind me almost every day that there is more to life and work than how much money you make or how “successful” you are.


  • Dave Navarro says:

    Chris –

    This was beautiful.

    Trust is more important than opt-ins any day.


  • brian, franklin TN says:

    Thanks for maintaining your perspective on marketing – it’s pretty refreshing…

  • Sheila says:

    Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU.

    You have nailed what makes me uncomfortable about a lot of ‘internet marketing’ out there. I have a gmail address that’s set aside for ‘opt-in’ marketing to snag free stuff on the internets. (Yes, I’m one of those horrible people who grab the free stuff and then ignore the sales pitches for the paid stuff.) I rarely read much of what I’m sent and when I do I find myself picking apart the manipulation tactics that are used to get me to buy.

    I was worried that if I wanted to make a living in a similar capacity, I’d have to reduce myself to doing that. Thank you for the reminder that it isn’t necessary to be successful.

    The question I always try to live by–do you want to be a rich person, or do you want to live a rich life?

  • Baker @ ManVsDebt says:


    Enough Said

  • Sue says:

    Hi Chris,

    Good for you for taking the high road with the marketing. I suspect that you will have probably won over more new readers with this stance than by seeing us as mere opportunities to earn some passive income. I certainly do believe that bloggers who are also producing books or providing other services such as coaching, or consulting should naturally charge for them, but asking people for a subscription fee just to receive updates from a site via email or rss feeds is a little much and–dare I say it–a little arrogant.

    I can understand that it’s easy to get caught up in the idea of generating passive income so as to theoretically/ideally free up more time to do what one wants (especially if one is trying to find quick ways to generate enough money to support an imminent exit from a work place that has become unbearable or hellish), but getting into the mind-set of charging for anything and everything “because you can” is probably not going to win a person a lot of loyal readers over the long run! It may also exclude a lot of people who could really benefit from the thoughts and suggestions of a blogger and his/her community (or small army) of readers/supporters but really cannot spare almost $50 or $100 a month to subscribe to a blog site. That adds up over a year! I’d be wary of paying between $600 and $1,000 a year for membership in a professional organization let alone as a “subscription” for updates on a blog site!–even really excellent sites such as yours. If I were going to pay that much, I’ll be the first to admit that I’d have some very high expectations about what that site delivers!

  • David says:

    Thanks again. This is a universal message and thanks for sharing it. Thanks for being so brave to recognise it’s not about the money but relationships and celebrating gifts we all are to eachother.

    A friend of mine says, “Love wins, join the revolution.”

    Peace to you,


  • Sean says:

    Everything you stand for is so contrary to what we are taught, and what business is “supposed” to be about. But here you are, proving that you can create a lifestyle not by trying to con your readers into giving you money, but by making them feel like they are a part of something meaningful. Thanks for being awesome


  • Chris says:

    Thanks guys, you are all very kind. Thanks for sharing.

    I’m on my way home now and reading your comments in LAX Terminal 7.

  • Niel Nielsen says:

    Thanks for giving of yourself and not just trying to sell me something Chris. Integrating your life and your work sometimes means that maximizing profits will not be your top priority.


    PS even though you didn’t try too hard to sell it to me, I bought the Unconventional Guide to Working for Yourself and am enjoying it.

  • Mike Stankavich says:

    Chris, what I really appreciate about you and your philosophy is that you put delivering value first. Most people living in today’s world have by necessity developed exceptionally sensitive bullshit detectors. It won’t take too long for it to become apparent if you focus on income first and only delivering enough value to drive the income. I don’t believe that money will automatically fall in your lap for doing what you love, but I do believe that people will recognize the difference between putting the core focus on delivering value over maximizing income.

  • Annette says:

    I UNDERSTAND HOW YOU FEEL. This same sort of thing happened to me just a couple weeks ago, although the person making the comments was not quite as nice about it. There were no compliments given and his public message (yes, it was publicly typed online) sort of slammed me on a personal level. This guy has no clue who I am as a person, nor does he get how many people I have helped.

    I was feeling upset and disturbed by the guy’s comments. My conclusion at the time was precisely what you had just mentioned- scarcity thinking, poverty mentality, trust issues!! He views the world as a scary place where you cannot trust people and they just want to get you.
    Thanks for printing and sharing this.

  • Lise says:

    You should write a book: “Marketing for Nice People.”

  • Shadia says:

    This is absolutely right. It reminds me of the dust-up with week with Suze Orman saying that teachers are stupid and not to be trusted because they chose a profession that pays so poorly. The point that poor Suze (and your John) fail to realize is that when people are doing good and loving it, they’ve already won – and in spades. Keep it up, Chris.

  • MagsMac says:

    Awesome post Chris! You are one of the only blogs I have delivered to my email and I always look forward to it.


  • Heather says:

    Amen and AMEN! I work in fundraising/communication (for an amazing international development organization) and I refuse to be manipulative in how I market. If people believe in what we do, and we operate from a place of integrity, donations will come in – and they do. (I once went to a professional fundraisers conference in Dallas and walked away absolutely disgusted with the manipulative techniques people were talking about, and I became even more determined to be a different kind of fundraiser.)

    Thanks. This is just what I needed to read in affirmation of my own philosophy.

    If you haven’t already, you might enjoy reading “The Gift” by Lewis Hyde.

  • Brad says:

    Rock on Chris. No one likes to be lied to, being the sucker, or resenting a purchase. Previews are fine, but honesty is always better. To be honest, I wouldn’t pay a monthly fee to belong to a website. Not for information that I am too busy to read all of anyway. Now a nice PDF with targeted information – that I will pay for.

    Ignore the dumb.

  • Christine says:

    very inspiring

    thanks Chris!

  • heidi2524 says:

    Thank you for this post. The POV of scarcity is everywhere, but rarely called out as such. Reading a direct refutation of it is refreshing, inspiring and reinforcing.

    Looking forward to your new Unconventional Guide!

  • John says:

    Awesome Chris. I’m new to your site (though I did download 279 days) and just read this post. I have always believed and have experience to show that when you have a product that solves a customer’s needs, no fancy marketing or play on words is required. Its when you have to do a lot of convincing (because you know yourself that the product or strategy is flawed) that the marketing evil starts to rear its devil-ish head.

  • Kathleen says:

    Right on, Chris! Stay true to your values and you’ll always succeed.

  • Paul Dunn says:

    As Meat Loaf once sang ‘You took the words right out of my mouth’. And I’m not just referring to you, Chris, but to all the people who commented above. Just magnificent stuff. Resonating with total integrity. We see YOU in everything you write. And we trust and admire what we see. Inspiring. Needing to be said. Thank you.

  • Britta says:

    Hi Chris,

    I have wanted to write (first time) anyway, and feel like now is the time to respond to what you’re doing.
    I think you are very much standing out of the huge crowd with your believes and attitude. Wonder how many more people are out there who think and act as you do…

    It is a big relieve to have the chance to experience you and your ideas on “how to make a living in a fair way”. Yes, I did buy a product of yours too (The Unconventional Guide…) after I was inspired to find out more on what you have to say after reading your “279 days…” manifesto.

    I haven’t read all of your “business” stuff yet, but when I do, I am always amazed how open you are and giving marketing insights of your “success story” and advice. I always think that it takes some guts to do that. And this is what got me. I was convinced that you are honest and I wanted to purchase something from you. And I found some really profound, good, helpful pieces of work. Thanks for this.

    Eversince I read your manifesto, I was convinced to have found a very good source to lead me to where I want to be in 1 or 2 years from today. I want to switch “lives” too and your stuff is very inspiring to me. But I also try to “cover up” with more people like you and more stuff I can find and learn and the total of this will bring me closer to my goal.

    I truely believe that an attitude like yours gets you very far (hopefully furher than anything), but only when it is authentic.

    Whatever the John Doe’s in this world think is right, the philosophy I go by is:
    Everyone Gets What One Deserves (that includes quantity and quality for me).
    And I like that. 🙂

    Good night from Germany.
    – Brit

  • Tara Joyce says:

    What can I say? You expressed perfectly the trouble with internet marketing. Dare I even expand that comment to say the trouble with business? Yes, I dare.

    With so many experts telling business owners to find every way to “snag” the customer, it’s always refreshing to read those that remember the true path to a sustainable business is building authentic relationships and creating value in those relationships.

    I can always look to you, Chris, to make my crazy ideas seem a little more sane.

    Thanks for shining a light on the beautiful art of giving,

    Tara Joyce

  • Evan says:

    Thanks Chris. Well said.

    For me its come down to a blog for free stuff and a website for what I sell. Like you I don’t really like the hard sell.

    Naomi Dunford and Sonia Simone have a course called Marketing for Nice People that is along these lines. I like it (though they are more to the make money end of things – but a good way from what they call sleazy marketing).

    It’s good to know that people like you are making it, it gives me inspiration to continue. I hope to find lots more people doing things this way to. If I find more I’ll let you know who they are.

    Thanks again.

  • Kristina says:

    You’ve said what I think, Chris. Only more articulately and gracefully.If you haven’t read it, Yvon Chouinard’s Let My People Go Surfing is a great read about mindful consuming, mindful marketing, and success.

  • Sean says:

    I NEVER reply to blog posts….NEVER….Yet I read many blogs each and every day.

    This is my first reply to any of the blog posts I read daily because what you have touched upon goes deep for me and I felt compelled to comment.

    I certainly understand that any viable business requires customers to create revenue to sustain and grow themselves but the concept of “holding hostage” information for the sole purpose to build a LIST is naive– and worse–insulting to any potential customer.

    Naive, because nearly all reputable email marketing services such as Aweber/Constant Contact etc. all clearly provide a very easy unsubscribe link. So you “arm wrestle” or trick the email addy away from your potential customer to build your list, they download your stuff and after your 4th annoying-as-hell-hard-sell-email the potential customer unsubscribes–never to see the emails/website/content again. In fact, you actually instigated your potential customer to DISLIKE you and to unsubscribe. This isn’t Seth’s “permission marketing”, it is “dismissive marketing”. Hmmmm, let’s see how many people I will force to dismiss me in the hopes I can convert 1-3% of the lemmings that will most likely “lemming away” to the next squeeze page opportunity. Yep, long standing relationships you are building there John.

    Insulting because internet relationships are (or should be) no different than real world relationships. Consider the business owner at a chamber of commerce event that tries to hand out as many business cards as he can during the networking event. Sure, he got his info into a bunch of hands but how many of those hands promptly deposited the card into the nearest round file? I can tell you as a long time chamber of commerce business member that those people are dismissed as rude– and if not selfish– certainly misguided. Contrast that with the business owner who makes an authentic effort to connect individually and be themselves while taking the time to show the value of what they represent or sell.

    I look forward to the days when internet marketers no longer have the “low hanging fruit” of net newbies to exploit and will instead be authentic and and proud to stand behind what they do/sell without the need to “trick” or “hard spam sell”.

    Thanks for the post took guts to throw that out there as it does fly in the face of most of the guru marketers that are hawking their stuff these days.

    AONC is the “small army” THAT I CHOSE…..and THAT John, is THE VERY big difference.


  • Tyler Hayes says:

    You’re awesome. This post is awesome. This site is awesome.

    Someday, I’m going to do something similar what you’re doing, and I can’t wait!

    All the best man,

  • Chris says:


    Really, really awesome post!

  • jason griese says:

    Nicely put, while attending a franchise convention on the arm of my marketing girlfriend we were approached by a fellow offering franchise legal advice when we corrected him several times on his legal knowledge he assured us we would go far with our information ,sarcastically of course. He moved on to others we crossed paths again and I asked for several business cards , he said I see you are rethinking I said no just don’t want to make any foolish decisions and wanted to remember your name ,this was said in front of others he was selling to ,when he gave me his card I asked as I wrote on the card how do you spell incompetent? He moved on. Oh me I’m just a Structural Ironworker having fun with sales men.

    Be Well

  • Joel Corriveau says:

    Thank you, Chris. This has given me a lot to think about. (Not just about smarmy marketing, my mind was already made on that.) It reminds me to consider an abundance mentality about remarkable encounters.

    What is to stop us from having daily remarkable encounters?

    It’s all about the feedback loop.

  • Astor Gravelle says:

    John is the reason why I hate 99% of marketers. Especially those who say their stuff is free. Join E-Harmony and see your “free” matches. Only if you give them your credit card first. People become suspicious because “Free” is not free.

    John is a huckster, plain and simple and he’s part of the reason why the Internet is becoming so polluted. Why does everything have to be about getting unsuspecting people to part with their money?

    Why does everything have to be about cash-cows? We’re entering a post-materialistic world. We’re TIRED of schemes trying to make us part with our money. On average, I get 35-40 spams a day. I am SICK of them.

    Most of all, we are all tired of spending beyond our means and having nothing to show for it. John’s way, it would be spending money for a pig in a poke.

    It’s like subscribing to Flexjobs. All that money spent and no worthwhile job offers.

    The feeling of being ripped off is a VERY BAD FEELING.


  • Kathryn - Collage Diva says:

    Excellent post! Your comments here echo my own core values. Keep moving from a place of strength and you can’t go wrong.

    All the best to you.

  • Ashwin says:

    Hey Chris,
    I admire people like you and I have a similar personality and will be doing business in a similar way when I have my own websites up.

    But I was wondering how you run your other businesses. I’ve read on your articles that you were an entrepreneur from a long time. So did you ever use any traditional sort of marketing techniques? Not perhaps like John but something where you made more of a sales effort than you are doing with AONC?


  • blogjunkie says:

    Great post Chris. It’s hard to find people like you who are so honest and so real. your integrity is inspiring.

  • MoneyEnergy says:

    I agree with a lot of these points. In the end I think it has to do just with the vision of life that a given person holds. Like attracts like, and people are attracted to confidence. Intelligence that doesn’t get marketed anywhere won’t necessarily go anywhere at all – it doesn’t happen automatically, otherwise all the bright people in the world would have everything they need. So marketing is necessary, and comes in many forms.

  • Matthew Ray Scott says:

    Chris, I thought this post rocked.

    My first time to comment on one of your blog posts, but certainly not the last.

    I’m glad to be your Portland neighbor-when you are in Portland:)

    Also glad to share a mutual friend in Pam Slim.

    You are really excellent and I can see how you will continue to serve so many of us.


  • S.Miracle says:

    I was intrigued by your unconventional guide to art and money before, but I do have to say you almost have roped me into it by sharing your personal approach.

    I am really looking forward to learning an unconventional way for internet marketing that isn’t so spammy. I’ve reluctantly tried it and felt disgusted because it felt so wrong, but I didn’t know what was else there.

  • Brennon says:

    Brilliantly said. I learned a lot.



  • Kevin says:

    Chris, I have to disagree with you.

    You have obviously done all of this to make a living, which is why you are selling things, which is cool. I sell stuff, too.

    If you are selling stuff as a hobby, that’s fine, too.

    But if you are looking at building a business that is as successful as possible, without compromising your core values, you might want to take another look at John’s comments.

    Marketing isn’t evil. Only if it’s used to make promises that are never delivered, and/or you fail to stand behind them 100%, and put your money where your mouth is.

    I found this post interesting. I’d be interested in knowing how many of the “nay-sayers” sell stuff (have their own business) versus working for someone else.

    You’ve got a cool vibe here, for sure, but offering people more for more isn’t evil, it’s smart. Just be yourself, be clear, and be legit.

    You’ll make more money because of it.

    And if you’re not in it for the money, then I’d be interested in hearing why you don’t give everything away for free.

    Again, I’m a supporter. Just one that seems something you might be missing.


  • Jonathan "Not the cookie ladie's son" Fields says:

    I had this same discussion with David Meerman Scott before I released my manifesto last year and also decided to make it completely ungated (no e-mail), as did he. Interestingly enough, even if you want to wear John’s marketer hat (not that you do), you’d still likely come out ahead, plus impact exponentially more lives by removing the e-mail requirement.

    The reason is, by offering something genuine and compelling and making it completely ungated, you remove a huge barrier to consumption and distribution. People don’t like to pony up their e-mails, especially before they know if it’s “worth” it. I know I don’t.

    Estimates say that simply removing the e-mail requirement will lead anywhere from 20 to 50 times more people to read and share your document. So, by making the manifesto completely ungated, you end up with 20 to 50 times more people reading it. So, 1,000 people would read it if e-mails were required, but 20-50,000 would read it if e-mail wasn’t required. And, they’d all be more willing to share it.

    Which lets you impact 20 to 50 times more lives and, in the end, if you’re really giving value, you know a solid chunk of those folks will subscribe to read more of what you have to say anyway. Not because their e-mail was required, but out of a sense of genuine interest and gratitude.

    And, I’d rather build a community based on interest and gratitude than momentary tit-for-tat compulsion any day.

  • Etsuko says:


    Great post as always! Chris, I already knew that you are coming from abundance mentality. The thing is, most of the people who read your post, and especially those who leave comments here already knew that too, before reading your post. I am curious – did this John guy’s suggestion really get to you and you felt like you need to explain yourself? Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed reading your post (as always) but I also felt like, your action speaks louder than anything, so it wasn’t even necessary. Those who continue to read anything and everything you write already know what you are about, and even the new readers will find out really quickly that you are different from those marketers that people hate!

  • Kelly says:

    Hey Chris,

    I work in Marketing, so of course this post piqued my interest. I wanted to send along my thanks along with the other commenters.

    What I wanted to say is that if you believe in your message and you believe in your product, so little marketing is necessary. Word gets out. As you’ve said, you don’t have to constantly email people or get them to opt-in. You don’t have to force bill them. They want what you have to say because it has merit. It has value.

    Being clear about who you are and what you stand for in any business can only help. Thank you for having so much integrity.

  • Evan says:

    Hi Kevin,

    To see what I’m selling, go to my website!

  • Melinda says:

    …and thank you for writing…

  • Colin Wright says:

    I’m SO glad that someone else feels this way, because I was starting to think I might be a marketing pariah after reading half the eBooks out there.

    Very well said. eBookable, even 🙂

  • David Cain says:

    * Standing ovation*

    Ever since I was a kid, I always felt like anybody selling me something was almost some sort of *adversary*, like they were trying to deny me as much value as possible yet still make money for themselves. Something useful for free? Never!

    Scarcity has been the general model for marketing pretty much forever; it’s good to see the opposite approach gaining steam in the 21st century. I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that the emergence of abundance as a marketing philosophy is human evolution at work. Good for you for being on the leading edge!

  • Chris says:


    Thanks, wow, you’re awesome.


    Yes, I’ve done opt-in required marketing before. I think it’s old-school and wouldn’t do it in this community, which is what the post is about.


    I think we’re talking about a different kind of marketing (read to the bottom), but no worries, you’re welcome to disagree.


    Great handle!


    OK – I’m getting on the plane to go up to PDX. Catch you all later.

  • Gail says:

    Dear Chris

    You are a breathe of fresh air!! What a delight! Good luck with all of your endeavors.

    Gail Cassidy

  • Vicky McLaurin says:

    Hi Chris, thanks so much for sharing John’s e-mail. It certainly was inspiring and I think you’ve got the right idea. Vicky

  • Richard says:


    You have said it well.

    If the reward is merely (mostly) money, your cave will be cold and your mattress lumpy. You have found a reward much more durable and effective.

    One thing that was not mentioned in all the responses is that by providing open access to ideas they multiply. Though you haven’t said it, I suspect that you have received ideas in return–ideas that build upon your foundations and enhance them–ideas returned for “free.”

    At the risk of generating a groan, I think what you do could be called bread-casting.

    I enjoy your postings.


  • Benedict says:

    One word


    Every day I deal with people thinking that success is about manipulation. They expect that I am manipulating them and should be trying to help them manipulate others. That is just too hard. I am lazy, so truth is far easier.

    I guess if anything I am guilty of trying to sell them on the idea that long-term success is natural and cannot be forced or connived.



  • Laurice Gilbert says:

    Like many of the others, I’ve never responded to a blog post before, but this one was the shot in the arm I needed. I run a poetry society (there’s no money in poetry, right?) which lost its Government Arts funding recently. I bit the bullet and have kept going without pay, making my (working) husband a de facto Patron of the Arts. It’s a leap of faith like I’ve never leapt before. And it’s totally liberating. I make decisions based on what I want to do for the Society, not on how much I’m being paid to do it. My hours have increased, for goodness’ sake – I’m so determined to make this organisation work. How do I get new members to part with their hard-earned cash in a recession? By being nice, by supporting their own poetic efforts, by making it the best Poetry Society ever. Thanks Chris for reminding me that it’s OK to do it just because it’s worth doing.

    And Joel, welcome to New Zealand. I’m sure you’ll be very happy here.

  • Richard Eldridge says:

    Every day I get these silly things that offer to tell me the “five stocks that will make me a millionaire”, or “The amazing secret that will triple my investments in a year”, and it always turns out that all I find out when I click on this is some dude that claims that his amazing schemes are in his book or on his website, which is normally $300, but today and just to me available for only $29.95.

    The secrets are, I suspect, formulas for real estate scams, options trading, or Forex trades.

    I have never bought such a book from a website. I doubt that many do.

    There are a few suckers who do, I am sure. But I think your approach is by far better, and your adventures are always worth reading.

  • Diana says:

    How timely. I’ve been resisting the idea of using “mailing list marketing” on my readers. I’m so glad you put this in perspective for me today.

    I was just telling my husband about your blog (again) and everything I get out of following you around the world and how I bet that you could be walking down any street in the world and have someone say “Hey, Chris, the travel guy!” And they would take you home and feed you and house you and send you on your way with a goodie bag.

    What this John guy doesn’t get is… we like you.

  • Paula says:

    All I can say Chris is Amen!

  • Andrea says:

    Smarmy is the *perfect* word to describe the world of Internet marketing.

    I really appreciate your approach of information sharing! It’s how I run my life, and really enjoy when others do the same.

  • CoCreatr says:

    Thank you Chris. This is profpoundly touching me, and I am not hating marketers, rather snake oil sellers, and most of us can tell them apart.

    I benefited a lot from your manifestos – and I won’t say which I have read already and which are in the queue, maybe for another 297 days to overnight success.

    To sum up, John Marketer’s view is so 20th century:

    “Give and ye shall receive. Take and be sure of it.” 1988 BBS tagline

  • Kevin says:


    Thx for the reply, man.

    I did read your post, carefully. Like I said, I’m a fan, and a supporter. And I think I can learn a lot from you.

    Choosing to describe things like encouraged opt-ins and auto-billing as “bad” and stuff, is a little strange to me. Forced opt-ins for regular content? No, I don’t believe in that, either. But once I like what you’re saying, for sure, give me a chance that’s big, bold, and obvious to sign up. Don’t force me, but don’t feel bad about making it super easy and obvious to let me.

    With regards to the membership thing: Would it be bad marketing to offering me a chance to tap your brain on a more personal, relevant, actionable level, as part of an exclusive membership program?

    That would certainly be filling my needs, and solving my problems, as you said. That’s all I was trying to say.

    But alas, perhaps through the magic of the commenting thread, my point is becoming more indistinct 🙂

    I enjoyed your post, and I agree with you for the most part.

    I just don’t feel bad manipulating people to pay me for what they want, and promising that if they’re not happy, they can have their money back, and then following up by keeping my word.

    That definitely is manipulation, and also a good business model for CG (you). If I may, lemme offer you one last super quick analogy…

    If you guarantee me that your watermelons are the juiciest and tastiest, and you push all my buttons, without lying to me, to get me to spend 5 times the going rate, and then promise that if I’m not 100% happy then I won’t have to pay a dime, are you manipulating me?

    You bet you are, but I don’t resent it one bit, and you shouldn’t feel bad taking my money, as long as you honor your word.

    Thx for reading. I don’t even know why I’ve responded twice, you just got my marketing mind working…

    I’m off to bed now, too 🙂

    Thx again for these posts. I enjoy them.


  • Edwin Crozier says:

    Thanks for this, Chris. Just today I was reading a sales pitch about public speaking and wishing I could find some good examples of the guys stuff to know if I wanted to buy it. Nope. Instead all I got to do was to read a great sales letter for his multi-hundred dollar stuff. Didn’t buy. Not to mention, I am getting totally sick of Twitter folks whose only reason for typing is to suggest I buy their new product. I don’t mind marketing. I do it myself. But I used to follow one guy and I promise you 90% of his tweets were “Why haven’t you checked out … yet?”

    Anyway, thanks for respecting me.

  • paulette Rees-Denis says:

    damn, i think about this all the time in my line of business meets pleasure meets friendship…well said, fellow portlandian!
    thank you…

  • Nate says:

    You have a beautiful thing going on here.

  • Shannon says:

    I’m one of the many who have created a blog because of you. Great post and definitely helps continue to guide me along the way.

    Anybody else hoping for “John” to stop by and chime in with more of his thoughts? I’d be interested to hear more but ultimately agree that his approach is kind of old school and not especially good for building relationships.

  • Eric Tsai says:

    You totally nailed it on scarcity perspective of marketing, enough said.

    I view ‘fee’ giving similar to the freemium ‘business’ model. It is a way to get attention, to show value in order to gain value for its audience. This is why Google is benefiting from giving Gmail away for free with all the values and the users aren’t too concern about the displayed ads (at lease not many I know). On the other hand, Microsoft is cannibalizing its own products.

    As high value continues to become available and ubiquitous like every piece of knowledge in marketing, it becomes low value. I see 100s of eBooks and paid membership sites daily from Twitter spam, that’s how I know value is getting commoditized.

    A new standard for higher value is emerging as we speak, the real value-providers will move on while the mid-low tier providers will be eliminated.

  • Duff says:

    You totally could have had the first part of this article be for free and the second part only available to those who sign up. And why didn’t you use a “Big Red Headline in Quotes” as all the experts know is the most effective way to persuade readers! *kidding!*

    Thanks for your perspective on the matter. My view is probably even more towards the end of creating very long-term value (e.g. taking 2-3 years to write a book and selling it for $20), but you are still taking a sensible middle-ground.

    The problem affects us all. There is incredible economic pressure to see all people as mere objects, to liquidate all of our social capital, to squeeze every last dime out of our relationships.

    I just saw that your Working For Yourself program has a goal of making $200 a month. Now that is much more down to earth than just about anything I’ve seen promised from “freedom” programs. I personally find 99% of internet business shady as all hell, but I suppose it’s theoretically possible one could make money online and not sell their soul completely.

    Keep on fighting the good fight,

  • Todd Borst says:

    What an awesome wake up call. My blog is still new and I haven’t made any product to sell yet. So far I’ve read a lot of “John” type advices. It is so refreshing and encouraging to read your perspective.

    I definitely plan to take your open and honest approach. Thank you Chris.

  • John K. Lunde says:

    I agree with your take on marketing as an indivdual – nothing bugs me more than people trying to manipulate me.

    To understand the other side though, I’ve found it extremely fascinating to live on the other side of the marketing chain as a small business owner for the past few years. Trying to find clear, simple ways to communicate what we do and why people should buy without being manipulative (and thereby offending my own sensibilities) is truly a massive undertaking.

    It’s likely a lot harder since our target market is so small (reasonably successful reverse mortgage companies in the US – there’s only about 300 or so that fit our profile). So while I still consider manipulation to be dishonest and unethical, I think in many ways humanity is incredibly un-motivated as a natural state of things.

    In that context, the line between motivation and manipulation is a fine one indeed, and no surprise that most people, intentionally or simply through ignorance of how to do motivate without manipulation, cross it pretty freely. Lots of motivation/incentive to cross that line for the marketer/business owner.

  • Juliet Austin says:

    Thank you, Chris for providing an alternative voice.

  • Kangai says:

    Hey Chris.

    I’m one of those people who can’t pay via PayPal (Kenya’s out of the e-commerce loop), but it doesn’t stop me.

    I wire money to my sister in the States, she buys it and emails it right back to me (and swears by the hairs on her bottom that she doesn’t email anyone else).

    To me, it’s worth more than $39 (literally).

    Keep doing what you’re doing. Kenya’s got your back!


  • ieishah says:

    especially when it come to ‘travelers’, ‘travel writers’ or people who make any kind of claim to be an expert in the field of ‘the globe’, i HATE hearing crap like,

    ‘you’ll have to wait for the book!’


    ‘i’ll tell you the rest if you…’

    not okay! if you’re really someone on a journey, having new experiences everyday, learning and assimilating new stuff everyday–not to mention, have presumably been doing so for *years* before your site went up or your business jumped off— how in the h-e- double hockey sticks do you run out of information for people??

    in this year alone, living between barcelona and belgrade, traveling through all of northern spain, i have so many stories that i haven’t told. insights i’ve yet to articulate and disseminate.

    i always think of people who hoard information as people who simply don’t have that much information or that many stories to share. that scarcity mindset–the opposite of an abundance mindset– makes me think perhaps these people are just sitting on their a$$es coming up with schemes to make money. not at all getting out there and swashbuckling. if you were, you’d realize you don’t have to make money on every single idea you ever had. unless you only have, like 2 ideas… well then, you’d better get to manipulating, then.

  • Lilly says:

    Great post Chris!

    Another small step to change the world!!!

  • Tineke says:

    Hi Chris

    I used to think like this. It’s people like you – and Seth Godin – that have changed my perceptions.

    Now, I believe if you have to SELL something it’s probably missing something – too expensive, not good enough, etc. When everything clicks, when you have a solution for someone’s problem, then marketing works. That, at the end of the day, is what marketing is all about. You’ve embodied this – so anyone telling you how to ‘do marketing’ is a fool. Amen.


  • Alison says:

    Chris, this is only the second time I’ve commented on your site. Your response to John is WHY your blog is one of only a handful that I read CONSISTENTLY. Bravo on your response!! It is definitely the true art of non-conformity!!!

  • Charles says:

    Thank you for really summing up the difference between ‘internet marketing’ and what marketing is supposed to be about. There really needs to be another more descriptive term for ‘internet marketing’.

    In case you wonder why RSS subscribers sign up, this is the post that made me add you to my Google Reader.

  • H says:

    Hi Chris,

    Last night I was invited to my friend’s place. he is recently married and his wife’s father is a rich doc. The house was full of things, expensive furniture, and sophisticated decoration material that I got dizzy looking at all those stuff – the TV set itself was around 2000 USD.

    Another friend of mine said: “Hey! This is life! Me and you cannot afford these in 100 years.”

    “Oh OK! But you know I have a fiance I love to death and I prefer to sit on bare floor and kiss her with all my love instead of being here, fuck on this 4000 dollars sofa and suspect that she has some weird affair with that jewelry dealer next door” I replied.

    I think you made the same decision. Of course you do not sit on the bare floor or hardly earn 200 USD a month like me – forget that for God’s sake I’m a mathematics theorist or I know web design, C++ OOP, or I knew how to read Persian poetry of 1000 years ago when I was five or started to learn Russian when I was 8 by myself and been marked as some exceptional talent by official authorities all to earn 200 USD a month!! – yes! Forget all that jazz!

    You love your readers and that’s all and I’m happy to see there still exist some people out there who do not sell what they cannot afford to buy again!

    With all my best wishes for you from Iran,


  • Vijay Narayanan says:

    Your perspective on marketing is refreshing! I am inspired by both your ideas and your writing. Relationships are the very heart of how we as humans feel fulfilled, loved, and provides us a sense of belonging. Needless to say your post rocks and its right on target.


  • Hilary Jones says:

    In my 10 years as an innkeeper, I’ve always believed that getting and retaining guests is all about building relationships. Too often nowadays, the marketers are on at us about how we should be “selling” the guest, which personally puts a bad taste in my mouth. I’m not quite comfortable with it. It was so great to hear that someone else thinks that way too. Refreshing Chris, thanks!

  • Ann Victor says:

    As always, a great inspiring post.

    I suggest that the difference between your attitude of abundance and John’s attitude of poverty consciousness (scarciity thinking) is that yours is a vision of a positive future world, while John’s is hooked into a negative world that we as humanity are hopefully leaving behind us.

    Keep walking your walk and a lot of people will learn to walk beside you with the same values, hopes and dreams.

  • Ann Victor says:

    As always, a great inspiring post.

    I suggest that the difference between your attitude of abundance and John’s attitude of poverty consciousness (scarciity thinking) is that yours is a vision of a positive future world, while John’s is hooked into a negative world that we, as an evolving humanity, are hopefully leaving behind us.

    Keep walking your walk and a lot of people will learn to walk beside you with the same values, hopes and dreams.

  • David Meerman Scott says:

    Great post. Succinct. Interesting. Brilliant.

    What the “building a list” people forget is that you can have followers in many different ways — this blog for example and it’s (so far) 63 comments on this post.

    Keep it real.


  • Mark Silver says:

    Hi Chris-

    I want to be a lone voice of dissent here. I don’t have any dissent about your intentions, and the majority of what you’ve written. I agree whole-heartedly that relationships and trust are the essence of heart-centered business. For me, marketing is about creating safety, not about attraction, and it has to do with a true connection with people.

    So, I’m total agreement with you, except on one point.

    Email opt-in is not ALWAYS manipulation. My reply is going to be a little long for a comment, so I’m going to write a post on my blog in response.

    Thank you for doing this great work- and I still hope we get to hang out soon, here in PDX, whenever you return for a moment from your far-flung travels.


  • David Bressler says:


    Well spoken. Keep up the good fight!


  • Andrew says:

    hey chris,

    just wanted to give you some additional hope.

    when i found your blog through the seth effect a few weeks ago, i knew very little about blogging, and internet marketing. yours was my first exposure to this world.

    so, since i’ve learned the most from you and you were the first, (279 days) then most of my beliefs are based upon the concepts you practice.

    meaning: you can change minds, you just have to be the first one we experience. (ie: college students and young people like myself)

    besides, you are challenging the conformed norms of the internet marketing world and isnt that what its all about? 😉

  • Sonia Simone says:

    Love this conversation!

    I feel like John’s getting a bit of a bad rap here. He has somewhat limited ideas about how to make money online. (His tone, IMO, is that of a passionate newbie. But I don’t know John, so that’s just a guess.)

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong or bad about having an opt-in list and a system for communicating with new people and letting ’em know what you’ve got.

    My guess is that John is a student of the more traditional Internet marketing guys, and those guys (most of the better known ones, anyway) aren’t evil or wrong. They have a path they lay out. It’s not the only path.

    If you demonize John, you can’t learn from people like John. Everything he’s talking about can be done with respect, a big heart, and transparency.

    Now they’re not the only techniques, not by a long shot. John’s seeing this in a limited way, he doesn’t have a full range of tools. For an amazing piece like Chris’s manifesto (or Jon Fields’), it’s incredibly smart to let it roam free and bring the right folks back to you. It’s generous and it’s good business.

    But I think it would be a shame for people to become convinced that the techniques John’s mentioning can’t be used ethically and well. Tools are just tools. It’s how we use them, and to what ends, that make them “good” or “bad.”

    That’s how I see it. You may see it differently. 🙂

  • Jenny Ryan says:

    Thank you. You do not know how much I needed to hear this today. Or maybe you did, and that’s why you wrote it 🙂

  • Chad says:

    Such a refreshing perspective Chris! You have certainly earned all of our trust, something you’d have never earned if you were simply driving us into some sales funnel to buy your products.

    I was on the fence about purchasing your info products, but now I just want to give you the money because you’re so upfront! (I also do a lot of traveling, so the Fly More and Travel Ninja products will be of great use)

  • Daniel Edlen says:

    “perspective of abundance” indeed. It’s so cool how much you inspire people to be inspiring.


  • Aximilation says:

    Darn moneygrubbers…
    …and I always knew you were out for my money 😉
    It’s a breath of fresh air. It’s great to make money off a blog/website, and I don’t see anything wrong with ones designed with that in mind – tactfully – BUT I have a problem when they’re all “money money money” before they will give anything of value. Provide the value, earn the trust. That’s why I bought one of your ebooks. (still in planning process btw)

    Keep it up.

  • Merijn says:

    As some others have pointed out already, it’s all about sustainability and durability. If someone is a swindler, he wants a relation that lasts as long as it takes to grab a bit of somones cash.
    But if, like you, you are a clever tradesman in the information age, you need durable, long relations with people, and (as can be seen here) money flows.
    People agree to pay for downloadable content, despite the fact that copying and illegal spread would be very easy. If people like you, they show respect. And freeloaders? They’ll freeload anyway, you may just as well give them something useful.

    In my opinion, trying to build a network only to do hardselling is old-fashioned
    building up (trust-)relations is the businessplan of the 21st century.

  • Broderick says:

    Chris, this is the kind of marketer I want to be.

    My belief is that by keeping to the high road – even though it’s a painfully slow start – in the long run, positive action and pure motives will prosper and continue to do so after the sharks have all discredited themselves and fallen.

    Thanks for writing.

  • Ari Herzog says:

    Is email spam the same worldwide, Chris? How does Rarotongan spam arrive?

  • Ozzybeef says:

    Hey I am one guy that started a blog after reading your manifestos and I am having a lot of fun doing it. Thank you.

    Some people in sales say “I won a sale/order/job”, meaning that the other person lost. Really it should always be a win / win. I sold something and that got something (hopefully a lot more). Thats what I got from your manifesto, which was not only free but also very generous.

  • Marko Saric says:

    I am glad other bloggers have the same opinion on the monetization thing as me. The general advice is to collect e-mails and spam the readers as much as possible with different affiliate programs until they either buy something or get enough of you and unsubscribe.

    I never really subscribed to that opinion and have blogged on this subject several times…

  • Brooke Thomas says:

    Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous! Thank you for writing this post. I teach wellness providers how to grow their practices, and I’m always fighting gravity with the dreaded “M” word (we need a new word!). Posts like these go a loooong way to dismantling some of the ‘used car salesman’ icky-ness that follows the word around.

    I just discovered your site a month ago and I’ve been so joyful to find someone working with such integrity and transparency. Thank you.


  • Beth says:

    Your post obviously has stirred up an interesting number of viewpoints. “Different strokes for different folks” is my opinion of it. I have no problem at all with the way John chooses to do internet marketing, or the way you choose to do it either. (The Can-Spam Act is one reason people use John’s way.) Relationship marketing, building “small armies or tribes”, and soft-sell techniques all have their place, whereas shove it down their throats,pushy, unethical ones do not ever belong .

    One of the things that I want to add to this conversation is that there is no shame in wanting to earn an honest living on the internet by building a list of loyal people who appreciate what you do. Many people who use John’s techniques offer a lot of valuable free content in addition to what they have available for purchase. “Free tastes” or samples have always been a great marketing technique. Following your passion to share your expertise with others is a wonderful thing, and should bring not only fulfillment, but monetary and other rewards and recognition as well. Wealthy people are most often the ones who can make the most difference in this world! They have the time to volunteer, are the most able to provide free services to help those less fortunate, employ people in our world’s struggling economy, can finance the “dreams of others”, improve the quality of life of so many others, donate money to causes and people, and so much more.

    Money is just paper. It’s what it is used for which makes the difference. Lack of money causes so many problems in this world. All this response is coming from myself as someone who is in the process of radically changing their life from being overwhelmed by debt to making plans to create great wealth in both monetary and other ways. I am about to start an online and offline business in which I can help as many people as possible, create the lifestyle I choose, and earn as much as possible so I can donate my time,talents, and assets to others in numerous ways.

    The internet is probably the greatest invention in my lifetime. What we do with it has the power to transcend lives. There is no “correct way” to market products and run a business on the internet- there is room for people with all styles, just as our planet is full of people of all races and personalities. I am so blessed and grateful by the diversity of it all, and thrilled to be alive at such an exciting time. Thank you for reading and pondering what I have written.

  • Kirsten says:

    I was just reading about Value Pricing on Rise of the Innerpreneur, then I went to follow that author, Tara Joyce, on Twitter and I saw that she was recommending this article. So much to think about.

    I struggle with selling and pricing – thinking about it is something I have to force myself to do. I am beginning to understand that these struggles are the product of scarcity thinking. The idea of abundance (in and of itself – not just around business) is a paradigm shift – and not just for me or the discussion here wouldn’t be nearly as much fun as it is.

    Thanks for stirring things up! Swirling in a sea of business models, paradigms, and hard-wired mental/cultural programming.

  • Janet Goldstein says:

    Lots of great food for thought, that inspires this long response:

    1) We all need income and I’ve found that thinking about money and where it’s coming from can make our work, projects, and creative energies much clearer and more exciting. Am I really doing this for the creative passion… for getting the word out… for building a tribe/list… Is it what my people need and is it better than other offerings available? The more passionate I feel about a project or idea (or a friend’s project or idea) the more I want to shout about it, promote it, sell it. (And it’s OK to tell people how they can–easily–buy or engage with that thing, idea, or service!)

    2. I think of marketing as planful, organized outreach, or amplified outreach. One approach is the closed-kimono, black-box direct selling (Sonia’s Two Tribes post on Copyblogger–and see her response above which I almost missed); another is orchestrated launching of ideas (that often starts with the seeding and soft pitch of an idea); another is a speaking tour; etc. etc. Email lists, like corporations, are neither good or bad, positive or negative. It’s all about the choices of human beings. (And for publishers it’s a shorthand they understand for a person’s following.)

    3. FYI, As a book person, my biggest buggaboo, successful as it sometimes is, is the “Amazon book launch” model with tons and tons of free give-aways” if you order the book. I hate to think of books as medicine that people swallow in order to get all the other downloads and freebies.

    Thanks, j

  • Annie Infinite says:

    You could have spoken words directly out of my mouth and heart. I totally agree with you, marketing is not about grabbing onto people with a scarcity mindset. It is all about giving value, creating trust and relationships so that people will be your friends in business. This is our marketing model and boy is it working!

  • Eric S. Mueller says:

    Chris, I finally got around to reading this post. I have to admit up front that before commenting, I don’t have time to read most of the 102 comments in front of mine so I’m sorry if I echo or repeat anything already said.

    I stumbled across your blog by accident. I’ve been following for several weeks now. I can’t say you have any more money directly in your pocket because of me, but I also want to say that your blog and life are interesting and I eagerly follow your details and try to learn from the experiences that you share. I think that my mind is just a little bit richer because of your perspective and your free giving. I really do appreciate it.

    I highly doubt I would follow if you started charging. There are tons of blogs that are interesting that run on memberships. I have no idea if any of them are worth it, but to me, $45 or more a month just isn’t worth it to follow a blog. I’m especially distrustful of those that give a “taste” for free of the paid content. I’ve paid for memberships before and found that I could have pieced together most of the paid content without a whole lot of work from what was freely available. Even those that don’t give free samples I still wonder if the value of the membership really is worth it to me.

    I’ll be happy to see you keep doing what you’re doing. I’m a firm believer in abundance mentality as well. Life is not a zero sum pie, where if you get a bigger slice there’s less for me. Giving creates giving and everybody is better off for it. Thanks for what you’ve done. You have no idea what seeds you could be planting now that will sprout later.

  • Mayapearl says:

    I love what you have to say about marketing, I am very new at all this and it is refreshing to see that someone is not just in to make us all into suckers. I subscribe to a few newsletters and my inbox is flooded with offers to “buy now”, “exclusive deals” and various pricey and not always very helpful ways to learn about marketing.
    One marketeer, in frustration at not selling even posted a twitter comment calling all of us non buyers “time wasters”, needless to say I unsubscribed! It is just like going to the shops and browsing, eventually you find what you want but you are more likely to buy from a friendly face.
    Thank you

  • Kelly says:

    I just subscribed to your updates and this was the 2nd that arrived in my email, but the 1st I actually read!

    It couldn’t have come at a better time. My sister and I have been attending personal and business development courses over the past year and although we agree with their principles and their strategies we found it hard to maintain our integrity when looking to put some affiliate links on our blog.

    I understand their point of view from a business perspective and a money making perspective, but where’s the love and abundance in that. Yes, by having more money you can help more people, but at what cost to your integrity, sanity, health, lifestyle?

    I’m a pretty big believer in the idea of ‘BEING’ rather than ‘DOING’. ‘Be’ who you are 100% and take appropriate steps towards continual growth and the rest will fall in place. Success is only what you percieve it to be individually…not what the mainstream has indicated for us.

    Thank you for sharing your conversations.

    Much love,

  • Lisa Sellman says:

    Again, I find such enlightenment from your writings. I have found with my own two businesses that I run, when I focus too much energy on only making money, it is almost as if I am not serving the energy of the Universe and what happens to me is a struggle putting the correct words together, or plan in action, or both. When I focus on the enlightenment and the gifts of service I can give other people, the abundance the universe sends back to me is immeasurable. Yes we need an income to live but that income varies for every human. I have found in life, we adjust to whatever income we receive to where often we think, I need to make more money. Remember the first job you had? You thought it was so much money, you could not believe how rich you were. It was an amazing feeling. My first job was in 1985 at a grocery store in Dell Rapids, South Dakota. I was 14 at the time and was working as a cashier on Saturday afternoons when I did not have volleyball tournaments. I made $3.50/hour. I was wealthier than the Queen of England, Oprah, and everyone on the Forbes List of the Richest People in the World. I have had many jobs since then. I am now 37 and have earned up to $80 in certain career positions in an hour but it no longer matters to me that number which is a logical, human, left brain concept. The feeling of gratitude, abundance, love and greatfulness is the only identity I now have. When I meet a new person in my life, I do not ask how can I make money off this person. I have to admit, I have thought that way at certain low points of my life. Now, any person that comes into my life, I open my heart with heart cohesiveness, smile of their essense, send out my love to them, give them eternal blessings, and with all the intention of my soul pass to them my essense of being. I say to myself, and only to myself the words that they will never hear, but only feel from me in every sense of my being, “I love you. You are a perfect being. Every moment I have been in this form has lead me up to the greatest experience the universe has prepared me for which is to meet you. I honor you with your wisdom. How may I serve you?”

    I thank you, Chris, for bringing so many people together via your writings. You are creating a phenomenon that is unstoppable! To the history books and beyond – Excelsior!

  • Christine McDougall says:

    Hi Chris,

    I love your thinking and I am right with you. I spent 6 months trolling the internet finding so many snake oil salesmen it made my stomach turn. Seduction of the most covert kind.

    I love your site because of the honesty and refusal to play the small and scarce game. I have always believed it is the only way to live life..hold firm to giving, abundance, integrity.

    Go non conformists and positive deviants…yeh!!

    thanks for creating such a magnificent example,



  • Steve says:


    I truly, truly appreciate your view on this.

    Not all riches are gold. I guess that’s a lesson some learn, and some don’t.

    God bless. Keep it up.

  • Uriah Guilford says:

    Hey Chris,

    Just wanted to shoot you a comment and say that I am a new reader enjoying what you have to say. You have opened me up to some other interesting people as well and for that I wanted to thank you. You are inspiring in a refreshing sort of way. Keep it up.

    Uriah Guilford

  • Kerry Z says:

    Right ON!
    My business partner and I are just getting started and are very sympatico with your writings and values. Keep it up. I look forward to getting your newsletter and updates. I usually end up unsubscribing to most newsletters, but yours, never.

  • Brook says:

    Chris, interesting take on things. I just quit my job to travel around and get into amazing adventures, and have been following your posts. I am also trying to earn enough to support a perpetual journey, but have no desire to harass readers with marketing tactics. I’ll be trying out some different means that leave my subscribers alone!

  • Ken says:

    “Instead of convincing people who are opposed to your message, spend your time finding people who are already predisposed to it.”

    Amen. Some people keep telling me that they don’t think I’ll be able to convince anyone with my new business. And I tell them that there are enough people that see my point and like the concept of what I’m doing that all I need to do is cast my net wide…

  • Nathan Hangen says:

    Wow, what a great post…even the comments are awesome. Quite a few noticeable personalities hanging around these parts!

    I don’t really know how I feel about the actual content of the post, as finding a middle road is something I’ve been struggling with over the past several months.

    There are good things to be said for what Sonia and Naomi are doing and I really admire the “free” approach, but I’m still testing the water on both ends.

    One of the reasons I stopped hanging out in the IM communities is that I continually took a beating for taking this exact stance. I don’t see what the rush to make gobs and gobs of money is really…sure, I like money just as much as the next person, but I’m trying to carefully wade my way to the perfect life, and I can’t get there if I lose sight of what is really important to me.

    Sure, I offer my free eBooks with an email address in exchange, but that is only because I want to try and keep people around. I don’t think collecting email addresses necessarily means you are going to pitch the hell out of them, but I know it happens far too often.

    Information wants to be free, as we all know, so soon this forced opt-in model will lose the effectiveness it has now, if it hasn’t started to already. Luckily, people recognize rock stars when they see them, which is why people keep returning here.

    In this age of relationship marketing, people are looking for people that they can trust time and time again, not just until they hand over their cash. I’m looking forward to being part of this army and someday becoming general of my own.

    Great work Chris.

  • Chris says:

    Hey, it’s me again! Thank you all so much for the feedback; there is so much value in your response. I probably have 50+ additional comments and trackbacks that we haven’t yet gone through.

    @Sonia (WAY up there),

    Thank you for sharing that. I don’t think our views are that far apart – in this post I was far more concerned with the attitude behind the email than the specific tactics he mentioned.

    As others have pointed out, I am a marketer too and have no objection to email lists per se; instead, I object to the concept that a community exists primarily to provide income for its leader.

    Thanks, @Nathan, for providing a good synthesis of the issue thus far.

    And now, I need to write the update for tomorrow. Happy weekend, everyone…

  • chris marx says:

    You’re unique. Stay that way!
    People who are different are going to be challenged and tell you you’re wrong.
    Personally, you’re one of my favorite bloggers to read. I’m learning a lot from the way you do business.

    Thank you!

  • Sonia Simone says:

    Yah, I agree, I think we’re probably pretty similar in how we see things!

  • Carlos Rodriguez says:

    Hey Chris, you have heard it many times already, but that was awesome. We need more people like you out there. By the way, your blog is the only one I have delivered to my mail.

    Keep it up my friend!

  • Deb says:

    Thank you Chris – for sharing that with us. There should be more people out there sharing those stories with the world! Although I am sure you are dragging them out from the wood work. “Success” is NOT measured by how much money you have. I wonder when people “truly” will get this!
    thanks again

  • Benjamin Jenks says:

    I really enjoyed the article. Everytime I read your posts I feel centered again and rejuvenated to continue my mission. Thanks!

  • Michael says:

    Two words. Paradigm Shift.

    Chris, I am not sure if you are inventing something here, or simply in touch, deeply in touch with a a new unfoldment of how us humans connect and create.

    One of the things I have loved, loved, loved is in your “marketing” materials you always write the reasons NOT to buy your product. It adds so much credibility to your offering. In fact, it is so powerful that this morning as I sit beside the Li River in Yangshuo, China drinking coffee and working on the website for the new clinic that will open next month in St Louis (got to love that location independent perspective on life!) I am going to add a section on “reasons you should seek out me out for acupuncture.”

    This is going to be fun!

  • Venus says:

    I am abundantly grateful to you.

    I just started my business (Family Healing Institute) last year. Studied w/all the internet marketing gurus. Then chose to de-program myself and find marketing strategies that reflected my belief in abundance and generosity.

    Between your site, Zen Habits, and Barbara Winter, I finally feel like I’ve found my true marketing gurus. You remind me that I’m okay – that I’m right to base my business on giving more than on getting.

    Thank you a thousand times!

  • Genesis says:

    Excellent post! I like earning money, but not at other people`s expense, so I would never make a good marketer in the traditional sense. My idea has always been to help people and if they like what I offer, they`ll be interested in buying my products. Glad to see I`m not the only one. 🙂

  • miguel_k says:

    I hope to have your work ethics, specially since I’m working with people who just don’t get it. The truth, is so easy to go over to the dark side…

    What’s really ironic it’s that your approach makes more sense. It’s what separates good products form remarkable ones…over and over again.

    By the way, I’m in the 95% that’s not ready to purchase one of your products (yet), so I truly appreciate what you just give away.

  • Luis Jasso says:

    All I have to say is that you rock! and YES the future is bright.

  • Genevieve says:

    Awesome post Chris thanks so much for putting it out there.
    Doing the right thing in regards to people has so many rewards I often wonder why so few people do it! Glad to hear there’s a few who have moved to that way of thinking. Very thought provoking.

  • Neil Matthews says:

    131 comments at this point in time, you really struck a chord, but frankly I am a bit upset there is no yellow highlighted YOU MUST BUY BEFORE 10 PM OR I WON’T sell copy on your site – 🙂

    I found when I cut the cr@p from my services page to, here is what I do and it costs X, sales went up, people don’t need the high pressure, nonsense expoused by internet marketers be a real person behind your website, don’t try to manipulate and provide and excellent service or product and the right people will buy from you.

  • John Chang says:

    There’s a certain irony that the other guy is named “John” because in some ways I’ve bought into some of the same typical Internet Marketing pitch.. about building lists.. sales funnel.. etc., so that you can get them to buy stuff from you.

    My struggle has been that..

    ..on the one hand, like @Sonia Simone points out, there’s some truth to what these guru’s say – i.e. yes, building systems does help you to head in the direction of the Four Hour Work Week (FHWW) – (which to me is about cutting out B.S. and getting down to the essentials of a non-deferred life plan..)

    On the other hand, I totally agree with you that it does come down to 2 basic mindsets – scarcity vs. abundance.

    I seem to be trapped in one of scarcity. Even though I’ve done affirmations & meditations and so on.. in the end our bank account reflects the bottom line of our thoughts, habits, actions.

    Well, I’ve shared a bit about my family background with Chris – how in a lot of ways I’m still a fish out of water and struggling to overcome my environment.

    Meanwhile, it’s been great to connect with Chris and other folks like Nora Dunn, just like my military experiences, reaching out and sharing the journey together helps us to realize that we’re not so alone.

    One of the main ideas that I’ve been reflecting on is how when we try to do things against our nature we stumble again & again..

    The other is “what is my unique offering?” What value do I alone bring to the table? ..or in marketing terms “what is my USP?”

    Recently, I came across Sir Ken Robinson’s The Element. What struck me is how we need to “fail forward fast” – that I’m a product of our education system, which teaches that failure is a fate worse than death.

    When in reality, just like a child has to stumble before it can walk.. the dancer must trip before they fly.. life, too, is “a dance we learn as we go.”

    So, while I don’t subscribe to John’s preachings, I do know where it comes from. Likewise I was told by my last firm that either it was either her way (cold calling) or the highway – and I just couldn’t subject others to treatment that I didn’t like myself. So I left.

    Yet, while I’ve gotten quite a bit of business, things still aren’t flowing. Sure, I could blame the economy like so many people, but then that doesn’t address the real cause of the symptom.. finding my niche – what is the deep need that I am best qualified to fulfill?

    Just thought I’d offer some of my own contributions to this conversation..

    The “Other” John

  • Andrew says:

    Thank you.

  • Sinead says:

    Hey Chris

    Have to say that this is the first blog post I have ever left a comment for, but something in your post just moved me and made me run for the comment box … I am building a membership site at the moment and have made Module 1 (out of 6) free so that people can text the material and see if they trust me. Was going to use the standard – opt in – method before people can access the material and then you post made me re-think.

    I am in the business of the arts (the course is about theatre) and the industry is all about reputation and trust – if people like what they see they should come back for more .. food for thought indeed.

    Keep up the fantastic work Chris – never have I enjoyed a site more than yours – you are an inspiration to me and many others.


  • Catherine says:


    One definition google gives the word market is: the customers for a particular product or service. I feel you understand your target market very well (I include myself in it) and is the reason I continue freely receiving what you freely give. I really respect and agree with what you are doing, so, for that reason, I will be more inclined to remember and purchase your products in the future when the need arises.

    Keep it up and thanks for sharing,

    p.s. What was that guy trying to sell you? 😉

  • Lisa Call says:

    Thanks for the post.

    I’ve been told without the big flashy newletter signup page with a freebie on my artist website I’m not converting enough prospects, etc etc.

    Your writing helped clarify my discomfort with that mindset and as I redesign my website I’m going to keep on doing things my way. Much more low key than the stuff that turns me off I see all over the place out there on the web.

    Personally I think I do just fine being authentic and sell a lot of my art via my website/twitter – so pretty sure I don’t need to change that.

    Just bought your art and money info product and it looks great. I’m putting together a community for artists that think big and this will be an excellent resource for them. It’ll be a while before I launch and am excited to already have the first resource to point them to.

    Thanks again,


  • emily-sarah says:

    The thing that’s so disturbing about so many companies is that it’s all about (building) a fake “relationship.” It really isn’t this way with every company (although it seems to affect a lot of the bigger ones), but aggressive/bad/inauthentic marketing practices are a little like the old-fashioned false prophets — you’ve really gotta keep your guard up because if you listen too long, they can charm you … or scare you to death (and then you’ll convert!). Thanks for all you share with us!

  • ace says:

    “I just prefer to operate from a perspective of abundance. Freely give, freely receive.”

    I like that and I wish that more marketers would operate like that.

  • e says:

    Yes! *This* is abundance thinking and it will make you just as rich or more so than the gold-diggers. At least, that is my modus operandus: not only to provide well for myself and others, but to live my belief that there are two ways to heavenly abundance and well-being: through the commercial hell of hardcore gorilla marketing or by adjusting my perspective to basically, as you’ve put it so succinctly: “give freely *and* receive freely”, with gratitude for the opportunity I have to experience BOTH.

    Thanks ( lol, this is funny): for being available to receive my money in exchange for sharing your knowledge base with me from a pure place in the heart. Whew…(huge sigh of relief)! I feel like some sort of evolutionary benchmark has been acheived for mankind.

    May money and love flow into your life from this place of abundance and truth. And thank you.

  • Nicolas says:

    Values are changing, the new world is at the door. Thanks for sharing Chris!


  • Dolores says:

    Chris keep rocking the world!!You really inspire us, help us understand that giving with generosity is the path to receive what you need and even more than you expected. Sharing our thoughts and knowledge we CAN ROCK THE WORLD, build a better one. Step by step.

  • Peter says:

    Great worldview, great path you’ve set your life on… don’t change a thing! I hope we cross paths when I set sail a year from now…

  • patrick christensen says:

    Chris keep on thinking clearly. I am a net marketer, good or bad, but my thinking is closely followed by my mentor. No pressure, nothing to sell unless you ask. We put the “pressure” on those who come to us to “think for yourself”. That kind of thinking is what I see here. Dude, it will change the world. Having people take one small step in the right direction is thinking BIG.

  • David says:

    Hi Chris,

    By giving freely, you are attracting more people to the site who will be turned on by the content so your 5% sales rate will come from a larger number of visitors. It will be a “bigger” 5%.

    Thanks for giving and thanks for a great site, just found it tonight. Loved the Pakistan story!

  • Justin says:

    Hugely refreshing approach in a world bombarded with twitter spam and junk emails. Go Chris… I’d buy from you anyday.

  • Joseph Ratliff says:



    Your 279 Days To Overnight Success ebook was a great read as well.

    Treating people like people, hmmm…who would’a thought 🙂

    I repeat often to my clients “business is about people, people.”

    Keep up the inspirational insights Chris.

  • Jacki Rand says:

    Dear Chris,

    I have only just laid eyes on your site this evening. Two thoughts have occurred to me nearly simultaneously. 1. He’s a scammer in disguise. 2. He’s not a scammer in disguise, who might contribute to rebuilding trust in the world in the long run. So, I’ll stay tuned. I’m hoping for number 2. BTW, just to amplify your point about John’s email, my younger brother (50ish) quit a $100,000 job to create his own business online. When he finally unveiled the “product” to me, I was shocked. It was everything you’ve already discussed about marketers and the opposite of your philosophy. His deal failed, he ran out of money, and I ended up supporting him for over a year on my credit card. He’s always wanted the quick big money. For every person who makes the quick big money there must be gazillions who fail. My brother’s misadventures have created a ton of bad relations all the way around and it will be a long time before he gets back on his feet financially.

    I’ll keep watching. I am hoping that your blog will support my efforts to do something that might make me some money, but more importantly will wrest a neighborhood from the clutches of slumlords composed mainly of small town lawyers and their wives. My friends and I have created a neighborhood association to take back this historic community from the absentee, could-care-less landlords and create a neighborhood full of affordable homes for the working class, including the working poor.


  • Nicole says:

    Thank you for existing.

  • Johannes says:

    Hi Chris,

    This post is absolutely outstanding and so true. By focusing on creating a cash machine (as so many others do) you would completely destroy the purpose of your project. I feel very inspired by your commitment to really add value to other people’s life and making this the top priority while trusting that this will also pay off financially in the long run.

    The world needs more people with this attitude and people’s opinion re marketers would change dramatically.


  • Denise says:

    I have worked in higher education marketing for many years. Today, I can’t even bear the sound of the word. I’ve grown tired of wanting students so the budget could balance and not so they could have a great education. Tired of demands to engineer scenarios that would “create a buzz” on the campus. I learned the hard way that you can’t pretend to be that which you are not, indefinitely. You may think you’re hiding it well but it’s clear for others to see. Marketing has become the art of manipulation, when it could be the means to connect “producer” and “product” in meaningful, mutually beneficial relationships. What’s required is a major paradigm shift from zero-sum thinking to a “there’s-more-than-enough to go around” approach to life. The truth is that there really is more than enough for all!

  • Joana says:

    You continually inspire, and will continue to get my support. (I recently bought your Unconventional Guide to Art and Money). Thank you.

  • Vanessa says:

    Chris – John’s comment doesn’t surprise me. His view is, after all, in line with conventional “marketing” thinking.

    What did surprise me was that it took you more than a nano-second to realize, “Jeeze! He really doesn’t get it!!”

    Presumably he meant well, but – Seriously – it’s like he fired off that email without reading a single word you’ve ever written.

    I don’t think there is anything wrong, per se, with requiring an initial opt-in. But (IMHO) your marketing decisions should depend on the model and the mission. Not on what everyone else is doing.

    What John didn’t “get” is that YOUR decision is perfectly consistent with YOUR marketing model and mission. Instead, he tried to help you to fit into HIS marketing model and mission. Which may work fine for him, but is not at all in line with what you have said you want.

    He wasn’t “listening”. And so he tried to give you directions without first understanding where you want to go.

    Lesson: Epic Marketing FAIL.

  • Steve McAllister says:

    Thanks for the great post. I was referred by Baker at Man vs. Debt and he was right on the money about you.

  • Shannon L. Clark says:

    Thanks Chris!

    I’m glad to hear that there’s another way. I have always felt a little uncomfortable with the manipulation of some internet marketing. I wasn’t sure how to go about doing my own. Thanks for the enlightenment!

  • Anna says:

    This post is absolutely wonderful. I’ve been thinking about setting up some kind of Internet business or blog for some time now, but I was VERY uncomfortable with manipulative tactics. They imply that, in fact, you think you’re cleverer than the other guy, and that people out there are just twats, waiting to fall into your trap. Imagine the consequences of entertaining such a world view when the Internet becomes your workplace and main meeting point with others (and all of your clients): you’d despise the whole human race and think you’re the only smart person around. I.e., you’re ALL ALONE. That would depress me soooo much I’d flee back to the first cubicle…

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