Does it sometimes feel like you’re doing everything you’re being taught, but you can’t see progress? There are good reasons for that.


You’re a doer. You’re not just reading all the advice about adding subscribers, building an audience, making thousands or millions in sales, but you’re actually putting in the elbow grease. And yet…you’re only up to 275 followers after six months of posting to Medium every day.

Maybe you’re just not good at this.

Or maybe…you’re not getting the full picture and you’re measuring your results against the results of people with unadvertised advantages.

1. Mentors and previous work experience

Many of the really successful online entrepreneurs come from careers in marketing and sales.

Moreover, many of them have gotten their start with even bigger names in the personal development/coaching/consulting space.

This isn’t true for everybody, but it’s true for a substantial number. And it makes a huge difference in results.

Just like someone who’s studied the piano with a renowned teacher for a decade will be at a different level than someone who took a semester of piano in high school, a professional marketer with a renowned mentor will run circles around someone who doesn’t have that background.

Why? Because nothing works as well as experiential learning. You gotta take your lumps and know failure to have breakthroughs.

2. Current posse and how one gets into it

If you pay attention, you’ll notice that gurus rove in bands. If one of them has a launch, a number of them will be affiliates for that launch. This amplifies the launch by anywhere from 10X to 100X.

But how do these bands come together? How do you gain entry into them?

Some of them are by natural circumstance — you meet through mutual friends or at a few events, you work together incorporate first and then you stay in touch, etc.

Some bands are formed through masterminds, which vary in price from the pricy to the stratospheric. While many of these masterminds require one to already be at a certain level to get in, others are only interested in whether you can cover the fee.

If you don’t belong to such a band, you don’t get the rocket fuel of having high-powered affiliates. That’s one of the reasons why your course may enroll 15 people but a similar course by a guru enrolls 3000.

3. Paid advertising

If you spend $10/day on FB advertising, you get a certain result. If you have the budget to spend $1000/day on FB advertising, your results are in a different universe.

This is not just because you can buy more clicks. This is also because you can engage people who know what they’re doing, and therefore, you’re not (hopefully) wasting money on sub-optimal targeting.

And note that just about all the gurus advertise. Which means that their organic growth is not sufficient for the results they want. If the gurus, with their massive reach, find that their organic growth is not sufficient, it’s very likely that the rate of your organic growth is going to be even slower because your reach is a minuscule fraction of theirs.

4. Are you getting the straight story or are you getting spin?

What if I told you that a friend recently launched a course and had a 25% conversion rate in his first day of sales — a practically unheard of stat! Would you be amazed? Jealous?

But what if I told you that his list has only 8 people on it, including his best friend and his cousin, and that he made two sales — both to people he knew offline. Are you still amazed and jealous?

It is true that we can see follower counts on social media (and let’s assume that these counts are not enhanced with bought followers). What we don’t see is how those numbers convert behind the scenes. For example, I have around 8,000 followers on Twitter, but there’s no way for you to extrapolate that number to the numbers I see in my bank account.

Numbers and data are easily manipulated. But it’s not just numbers and data — it’s stories, too.

I once observed in real time how a brilliant marketer worked on turning a ho-hum evening into a fascinating tale of adventure. Her final version of the story would have made me green with envy at what an amazing evening it was, had I not been along for the ride that evening and known the truth.

But the plain truth was that we went to a bar. It was too loud. Then we went to another bar. We spoke to a couple of guys who made passes at us. Then we went to a coffee shop, had donuts and coffee, then went home.

My friend did not lie about any of this. But she skillfully omitted certain details, thus hinting at mystery and intrigue. She made it sound like you had to be someone special to get into the bars we went to. She described the guys we spoke to in a way that made them sound like incognito A-list celebrities.

A skilled marketer’s stock-in-trade is to tell compelling stories and to find the gloss that makes something exciting and desirable. And as we’ve discussed, some of the biggest gurus come from the world of sales and marketing.

So are you getting the straight story or a story that was spun just so to make you think the teller has better results than s/he actually has?

Why are they doing this?

In many instances, Internet marketers monetize their expertise by selling some kind of information product or service. In essence, they’re offering the following: “I was once just like you but I figured it out. If you give me your money and your time, I’ll help you get to where I am now.”

The success of this offer relies on the first part: I was just like you. This is essential because it carries an implicit promise: “if I can do it, you can do it.”

This implicit promise doesn’t quite work if the truth is “I apprenticed with [giant of the industry], and I have accumulated $100,000 in savings that I’m now using to advertise my [course, book, service], and I didn’t see my sales skyrocket until I got into a mastermind with people with huge followings.”

The pitch will also fall flat if it acknowledges that you can’t substitute an 8-week course for 10 years of professional marketing experience.

The pitch will similarly not lead to sales if it doesn’t promise a big enough result. And that’s why some people spin their successes. The unvarnished truth may not be appealing enough.

But don’t blame the gurus for this. They are only selling what we want to buy. We want to believe in unbelievable results. Not many people (if any) will buy a course that claims “here’s all the information I know, but you’ll probably only get so-so results from it because you don’t have my background in marketing (and truth be told, I’m getting so-so results myself).”

So what’s the point of writing all this?

The point is to remind you (and me) to run your own race. It may be true that some gurus aren’t telling you the whole truth, but they’re still giving you valuable information.

The trick is to take that information, apply it to your own situation, and not get discouraged if progress is slow.

If you don’t have the money to invest in FB advertising, or can’t even figure out where the damn pixel goes on your website, that’s OK. You can still learn the principles behind persuasive copy, and apply it to other channels.

If your day job is not in marketing, you can still learn and apply effective marketing techniques. You may not be as quick at recognizing a profitable niche as someone with marketing experience, but you will still find one eventually.

To paraphrase an Internet meme (erroneously attributed to Oscar Wilde):

Run your own race. Everybody else’s is already taken.