Aaron Wall has announced that after midnight tomorrow (February 20th) he will no longer be selling his hugely successful SEO Book as a standalone product. Instead he will be pre-bundling it with his new project, an SEO Training Program. Aaron explains the reasons behind this shift in his business model in a long and impassioned blog post and, for the main, I go along with his thinking.
I could drastically increase the price but use the same format. That would create fewer customers and make the average customer perceive greater value, and give me more time to spend on each customer, but that alone may not necessarily deliver greater value.
There is no doubt that Aaron is one of the nicest guys in SEO and he has an insane depth of knowledge on search, PPC and Internet marketing. However there’s a big difference between people forking out a one-off $79 for the eBook and committing to a $100 per month training program. In addition I am concerned about the quality of input to the SEO Book blog. I am a regular reader of the blog and pore over the information Aaron puts out there but will there be a temptation to keep all the good stuff back for his $100 per month subscribers and just drip feed information to the non-paying readers?
Brian Clark over at Copyblogger launched his own subscription based program last year and since then I’ve found the content on his site less compelling. Half of the posts this year have been by guest writers who, with all due respect, aren’t Brian. I subscribed to his site to read his content but I suspect that running Teaching Sells is taking up more of his time and, let’s face it, understandably so because he’s making money with Teaching Sells and he’s not directly with Copyblogger.
Yaro Starak is someone that I’ve read for some time and have recommended in the past. His free eBook Blog Profits Blueprint is something that I still refer to 8 months after reading. However I’ve found his blog less appealing since he launched his Blog Mastermind mentoring project. Again is this down to his increased work load as a result of running the program or is it about wanting to keep the golden nuggets back for his paying customers?
I just hope that Aaron doesn’t go the same way. His blog is an outstanding resource for anyone who has an interest in search or Internet marketing and he also offers a vast number of free SEO tools. With this change of focus, though, my concern is that the information he puts out into the public domain will become more sizzle than steak and that his free tools will become bundled into the training program in the same way that the guys at We Build Pages did when they launched their Internet Marketing Ninjas program.
Now don’t get me wrong. I believe that people should be paid for providing a service and, let’s face it, Aaron provides an awesome free service with his blog so maybe I’m being a bit of a tight arse for expecting to continue to get the same level of content for free that other people are paying $100 a month for but I just wonder how many people will take up the SEO training program without the same high quality blog posts as an appetiser?
To my mind, and Aaron will probably correct me if I’m wrong, purchases of SEO Book are not impulse buys. Even though it’s only $79 and is regarded as being the best of its type, it’s not the kind of thing you rush into buying on the spur of the moment. I would imagine that a lot of people would follow the advertising banners, read the sales letter and then go off to read the blog before purchasing the book at a later point in time.
Now how will the new business model affect that kind of sales process if the blog content isn’t of as high a quality as it currently is?
Aaron is looking to commit more of his time to the training program in order to provide a better level of service to his customers. Good on him. I have no doubt that the program will be worth every cent of the $100 per month. However I only come to that conclusion having read everything he has written on his blog for the last two years. Without that level of quality in the free content, would I be so likely to believe that?
As his wife Giovanna points out in the comments section of Aaron’s post, the shift is all about prioritising commitments.
..But like everyone else, we only get 24 hours in a day…The ultimate goal here is to prioritize our time so we can give out and pour the best, most useful tips to our members…
I can’t imagine that with running the training program, continuing with his research and development of new ideas, providing consultancy and appearing on various search panels that Aaron is going to have the time to continue to provide free content of the quality he has in the past.
The whole paid vs free content deserves a post of it’s own so I’ll finish today by just saying that I wish Aaron well with the new venture and that I sincerely hope that the extra expectation levels from his subscribers doesn’t lead to a down turn in the quality and frequency of his posts on his blog. Personally I would miss out on my daily dose of Mr Wall.