A hero's journey, a villain's journey. (Cheesy SW metaphor trigger warning!)

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In our digital age, everything is marketing. From our social posts looking for likes and comments, to cable news that tries to manipulate our emotions - it feels like everyone wants to sell us something.

And there's two sides in this marketing onslaught. There's the side that uplifts and makes us strive for our better selves, and the side that plays on our fears and insecurities.

The thing is, I've participated in both, usually at the same time.

My not-so secret double life

I've been marketing online for 10 years. And in that time I've worked on both the Light and Dark Side of the marketing Force.

(You OK with the occasional Star Wars metaphor? Good stuff.)

Here's what I'm talking about...

If you know me at all you probably know that I have both a day job and a 'side-hustle'.

What I do at my day job, I'm truly proud of. In 2012 I transitioned from working in an employment centre resource room to a full-time content marketer and social media manager for the same company.

Five days a week for the last 6 years, I've written blog posts, filmed and cut videos, shared content on social media, built newsletter lists, advertised, and driven traffic (web and foot) to our centres across the province of British Columbia.

It's been a lot of fun, and I've been able to help a lot of people find our centres, access our services, and get jobs.

This year, our province achieved a record low 4.3% unemployment rate. Now, I was only a teeny tiny part of that improvement. But in that job, my work as a marketer makes a positive difference in people's lives. That feels good.

OK, now for the Dark Side.

Since before I started the content marketing job, I've been trying to use internet marketing tactics to 'make money online'. It's a common dream, and one I fell for hard.

The desire to earn income from my computer has led me into places I regret - doing things that, in hindsight, I'd rather not have done.

Things like:
  • Teaching people how to spam Instagram
  • Stealing ideas from Black Hat forums to turn them into products for sale
  • Ignoring Google Adwords' Terms of Service, running disallowed ads anyway, and getting my account banned (I still don't have it back)
  • Driving tens of thousands junk traffic hits to junk Blogger blogs to cash in on Adsense revenue.... and getting my Adsense account banned (I still don't have that one back either)
  • Creating fake female dating profiles in order to lead unwitting men to complete CPA offers or buy things I'd earn a commission from
  • Promoting 'easy cash systems' (no such thing) that usually involved a direct sales/network marketing/quasi-pyramid/ponzi business model
  • Using other marketers' 'review' testimonials on my sales pages - instead of real customers who bought and used the product
  • Promoting low-ticket, low-value, low-content affiliate offers I knew would never actually help anyone... because I'd make a commission
  • Putting the needs of affiliates over the needs of customers, including lying on sales copy in order to make more sales

And I'm sure I could think of more, but you get the idea.

A pain in the brain, a bite in the butt

Now, you could think some of what I've done is dodgy, even borderline unethical. Or even outright scammy, shitty behaviour. And I agree. It was.

So why did I keep doing it?

Because even though I was building a real marketing infrastructure every weekday for my job, I still thought I could 'get away' with shortcuts and cheap marketing tactics every night in my side-hustle.

But my brain, and soul, finally told me differently. And at this point, you may have already guessed the end of the story.

See, there's this psychological state, a thing called cognitive dissonance. It's what that happens when you regularly do or say something that goes against a deeply held value.

You become very.... uncomfortable.

Basically, acute cognitive dissonance causes 'brain pain.' For me, I ended up wracked with self-doubt, second guessing myself, even bouts of low-grade depression.

I put myself through nearly 10 years of cognitive dissonance trying to make money online with borderline scammy tricks and business models.

Why? Because I struggle with feelings of self-worth, and I thought making more money would cure it. And when those two things are pitched against each other, you'll never be able to earn enough.

So basically, I spent my day building up internet marketing skills, only to abuse them in the evening, chasing a false dream that would never be satisfied.

But that wasn't the only reason for my cognitive dissonance.

The other reason, probably the part that caused the most distress, is I'm a very emotional and empathic person.

See, it didn't matter the level of shady behaviour - if I knew I was being dishonest in my marketing, even a little bit, I felt it. I imagined the disappointment my customers would feel, or how frustrated they'd get when I broke their trust... and it really bugged me.

So what to do? Well it took me 10 years of frustration and pain before I woke up, before I let myself see what was in front of me all along.

Luke, I am my own father

It took me a decade to get it. That what needed to change was ME.

Because I can already 'do' internet marketing. I can help people with their problems. At my job, I've built a good sized online marketing business.

So why not stop selling out, honour my true feelings, and build my own?

Why not take my skills, stories, experience, values, and personality - and show others how to do what I've done?

And best of all, show people that they don't have to go to the Dark Side to have success?

A business that anyone can be proud of.

What if you did that, too? What if you could stop chasing short-term, possibly shady internet marketing tricks and tactics, and build a business you were proud of?

Wouldn't you be super excited - a bit like the Ewoks at that bonfire party?

So that's why I'm here. That's where I've been, and that's where I'm going.

The path ahead is long, but absolutely worth it. I've seen the Dark Side. It's time to commit to the Light.
#cheesy #hero #journey #metaphor #trigger #villain #warning
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  • Profile picture of the author Odahh
    oh so you mean you where trying to get rich in an online business.. trying to be a internet marketer .

    and you where showing others how to build online businesses and how to be internet marketers ..

    I mean you where trying to find that way to make a million dollars fast so you can move to chiang mi thailand for 1100 a month and retire ..
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    • Profile picture of the author NathanZad
      Originally Posted by Odahh View Post

      oh so you mean you where trying to get rich in an online business.. trying to be a internet marketer .

      and you where showing others how to build online businesses and how to be internet marketers ..

      I mean you where trying to find that way to make a million dollars fast so you can move to chiang mi thailand for 1100 a month and retire ..
      Hahaha YES!!!! I'm not sure about Thailand, but you've got the idea.

      Just to clarify, I'm not against building a business teaching others how to build a business. I still do that.

      I just don't go to the Dark Side to do it anymore.
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      • Profile picture of the author Odahh
        Originally Posted by NathanZad View Post

        Hahaha YES!!!! I'm not sure about Thailand, but you've got the idea.

        Just to clarify, I'm not against building a business teaching others how to build a business. I still do that.

        I just don't go to the Dark Side to do it anymore.
        well when your running out of sites to get banned from ... you at least don't do things to get banned ..

        well if you have read my posts .. i have a defined view on short term strategy verse long term strategy.. and much of success culture is about short term ..thinking.. if you can teach people long term business building strategies.. good luck..in a short term minded world
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        • Profile picture of the author NathanZad
          Originally Posted by Odahh View Post

          well when your running out of sites to get banned from ... you at least don't do things to get banned ..

          well if you have read my posts .. i have a defined view on short term strategy verse long term strategy.. and much of success culture is about short term ..thinking.. if you can teach people long term business building strategies.. good luck..in a short term minded world
          I agree, success culture is short-term focused. But that's the masses. I dealt with them for years and I don't give a sh*t about them anymore.

          I'll check your post history and read about your perspectives for sure! And thanks for the well wishes.
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          • Profile picture of the author Odahh
            Originally Posted by NathanZad View Post

            I agree, success culture is short-term focused. But that's the masses. I dealt with them for years and I don't give a sh*t about them anymore.

            I'll check your post history and read about your perspectives for sure! And thanks for the well wishes.
            the masses have generally give up on "success" and many have the false belief it is something that comes from luck or piles of talent ..

            now remember you are still part of the masses you can never truly be apart from them..Jeff bezos has become the or one of the richest man alive.. by make the life's better for masses of people and giving millions of people or tens of million ..ways to make money without a job ..or build big business from the amazon platform ..

            so if you want the path of light how do create/market/sell products that fill both short and long term needs in a positive manner.. or just go with the masses in making money serving short term needs that probably have negative long term life effects..
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            • Profile picture of the author NathanZad
              Originally Posted by Odahh View Post

              the masses have generally give up on "success" and many have the false belief it is something that comes from luck or piles of talent ..

              now remember you are still part of the masses you can never truly be apart from them..Jeff bezos has become the or one of the richest man alive.. by make the life's better for masses of people and giving millions of people or tens of million ..ways to make money without a job ..or build big business from the amazon platform ..

              so if you want the path of light how do create/market/sell products that fill both short and long term needs in a positive manner.. or just go with the masses in making money serving short term needs that probably have negative long term life effects..
              All of that is fine. I don't need to appeal to the masses to have a rich life and successful business. I'm happy where I am and am happy to wait for the right people to come along.
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              • Profile picture of the author yukon
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                Originally Posted by NathanZad View Post

                All of that is fine. I don't need to appeal to the masses to have a rich life and successful business. I'm happy where I am and am happy to wait for the right people to come along.
                So where are you now, other than the job? What are you doing on your own?
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                • Profile picture of the author NathanZad
                  Originally Posted by yukon View Post

                  So where are you now, other than the job? What are you doing on your own?
                  Thanks for asking. I've cut all ties to the "IM Space" save for a few FB friends and have launched a new brand. Like, really new. But I'm confident that what I have to offer will reach the right audience.
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                  • Profile picture of the author yukon
                    Banned
                    Originally Posted by NathanZad View Post

                    Thanks for asking. I've cut all ties to the "IM Space" save for a few FB friends and have launched a new brand. Like, really new. But I'm confident that what I have to offer will reach the right audience.

                    You're targeting internet marketers with a grudge?

                    I don't see any change from the OP story. Same song, different dance.

                    Why wouldn't you target real businesses that already exist just like the one you already work for? You did good for them, right?

                    Why mess with pissed off IMers?
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                    • Profile picture of the author NathanZad
                      Originally Posted by yukon View Post

                      You're targeting internet marketers with a grudge?

                      I don't see any change from the OP story. Same song, different dance.

                      Why wouldn't you target real businesses that already exist just like the one you already work for? You did good for them, right?

                      Why mess with pissed off IMers?
                      My audience is a bit more sophisticated than you're describing, but thanks for the feedback.
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                      • Profile picture of the author yukon
                        Banned
                        Originally Posted by NathanZad View Post

                        My audience is a bit more sophisticated than you're describing, but thanks for the feedback.


                        Lol, I kinda doubt it with the sales pitch (below) from your site.

                        Tired of being sold the promise of easy internet riches?
                        A sales pitch like that is targeting people that make poor financial decisions. Hardly sophisticated.

                        I'm not trying to flame, It just looks like you haven't changed anything in the OP story.
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  • Profile picture of the author Odahh
    Feeling into the masses ,, There is an intense amount of boredom.. and the only answer people have been given for the past 50 years .. is to just make as much money as possible and use that money to do things that are exciting .. or look exciting until you do them.. and to ignore a huge amount of things that don't require much money .. that are exciting to do.. and many successful people who build long wealth.. build a high level of personal excitement into the businesses ..even though that is in short bursts it is the caret for putting in the work to get there ..
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    • Profile picture of the author NathanZad
      Originally Posted by Odahh View Post

      Feeling into the masses ,, There is an intense amount of boredom.. and the only answer people have been given for the past 50 years .. is to just make as much money as possible and use that money to do things that are exciting .. or look exciting until you do them.. and to ignore a huge amount of things that don't require much money .. that are exciting to do.. and many successful people who build long wealth.. build a high level of personal excitement into the businesses ..even though that is in short bursts it is the caret for putting in the work to get there ..
      I agree with this. People who pursue money for the sake of money... they may be happier when they get it, but after a while their life will feel just as empty as before.

      I'd rather lead with creativity, fun, and self-expression. That way if it takes longer for the money to come it's still been an amazing journey along the way.
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  • Profile picture of the author JohnVianny
    Good . I have two questions:

    if yo dedicated the night to the "dark" side, are you going to teach people what you did in the morning?

    And if so, working for 3rd parties is quite different than workin for ownself, so you are teaching how to be an independent IMer cause you became like this?
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    • Profile picture of the author NathanZad
      Originally Posted by JohnVianny View Post

      Good . I have two questions:

      if yo dedicated the night to the "dark" side, are you going to teach people what you did in the morning?

      And if so, working for 3rd parties is quite different than workin for ownself, so you are teaching how to be an independent IMer cause you became like this?
      Hey John,

      I actually have no immediate plans to teach anything directly. I'm just building a newsletter audience and waiting to see what people want from me when it gets big enough.

      I figure if I share enough of my story and personal take on internet marketing I'll attract the right people and they'll tell me what they want.

      Cheers.
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  • Profile picture of the author John Durham
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    • Profile picture of the author NathanZad
      Originally Posted by John Durham View Post

      People learn. People change. Time evolves people.

      You want back in. I understand. You screwed up... you learned....

      This post , frankly came across as disingenuous, IMO.

      But I get it... It was just the wrong choice of approaches. Just keep your nose clean and do the right thing from now on. You can obviously succeed.
      Thanks John. Appreciate it.
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  • Profile picture of the author ryanbiddulph
    Good deal Nathan aka Young Padawan I never did the Dark Side thing but when I felt the urge, I figured if I allowed fear to call the shots - driving me to the Dark Side - I'd run into problems all the black hat folks faced. Then I saw the Jedi Knight white hat guys patiently building up, seeing greater and greater success, having fun and avoiding all those black hat nightmares, and I made my blanket decision. More fun, freeing and you can sleep soundly at night on the light side.
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    Ryan Biddulph, Blogger, Author, World Traveling Digital Nomad
    If you want to become a full time blogger you can buy my eBook here
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  • Profile picture of the author Master Blake
    Sometimes it's best to make the leap (to the other side).
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