How To Become A Spammer (as a programmer) Regardless Of People Following You On Twitter

spam I saw a post by Max Klein today, How to become rich even if nobody is following you on twitter, it made me sad. Go have a read – I’ll wait…

Do you know why I am sad? Because, there is a name for what he is advocating, it’s called spam! I’ve been interested in marketing (the regular kind and the online kind) for almost 2 years now and nothing Max said is a revelation. The shadier parts of the online marketing world have been doing it for years, it’s got many names, micro-niche blogging, micro-niche sites, made-for-adsense sites etc. It’s not new, but it has hung around for years, because it works. You heard me, it works, which doesn’t make it any nobler.

I know he is not just advocating building made-for-adsense sites, it’s not the method, it’s the attitude that goes with it, that is the real issue. Lets not care about providing any kind of value, lets not worry about any sort of professionalism, all we want to do is scam some suckers out of $1 a day and believe you me there are plenty of suckers on the web. Let’s turn our craft into a factory that produces cheap, low-value crap, but can churn it out in hundreds and thousands. And maybe after a little while we start calling ourselves a ‘guru’, no ‘junior vice guru’; oh hell, let’s not mince words – ‘marketing consultant’. We’ll branch out into SEO and ‘brand management’. We’re no longer in the code business, we’re in the making $1 a day business.

There are hundreds of these ‘marketers’ lurking around the internet. Releasing “product” after useless “product” specifically designed to sucker poor shlubs into parting with their hard-earned cash. It’s a self-perpetuating meta-industry which makes money, from selling people products, on how to make money. It’s sickening, but also in a strange way seductive, maybe those poor suckers deserve to be taken for a ride, cause that would make you feel like less of a sucker yourself.

Thousands of people follow these spammers on twitter and everywhere else, they want to emulate these guys, I’d like to think that we programmers are better than that as a community. Not just each individual developer, but all of us together. Let’s face it, we’re smarter than your average sucker, more aware, capable of making a difference. It doesn’t matter where we live, we have the tools, drive and ability to succeed without having to resort to producing rubbish (but doing it quick) and spammy tactics.

And if you do happen to live in a country that is not considered part of the first world, think what this kind of attitude will do not just to your reputation, but your nation’s. Many countries in Eastern Europe and Asia are already considered havens for spam, hackers and porn. Whether rightly or not, do you want to perpetuate those beliefs and make life that much harder for the developers that follow you?

Surely if you can create even a marginally worthwhile product that can make you $1 a day, then a little bit of extra effort can turn that $1 into $2. A couple more features can turn that $2 into $4; some sensible promotion can turn that $4 into $40. If anyone (even one person a month) is willing to part with $29.95 to buy an app, then there surely are many others who will consider it (more than 12 people a year), I refuse to believe otherwise. All it needs is a little bit more work, maybe better documentation, maybe finding more people to spread the word. Abandoning it in a half-done state and moving on to build half of another crappy app is certainly not the answer.

I’ve got no problem with people trying to make some cash. But, as a developer you surely have enough skill and brains that you can do so and still maintain at least a semblance of respect for yourself, your craft and the people who use your products.

I really do hope that if you go down the path of creating a $1 a day empire of crap, nobody follows you on twitter, the world has enough make-money-online ‘experts’ we don’t need any more.

Image by chotda

  • Jay

    Max’s piece was satire, I got it the first time I read it. Your post must be better satire. I have reread it three times and I still don’t get it.

    • Hehe, it was more of an opportunity for me to have a rant against the online marketing world I guess, like I said I am interested in marketing and it is such a pain and time-sink to wade through all the spam to find the good bits :).

  • hi! it is a good post. but i have some questions.

    I created a VIDEO BOOK named “My First Interaction with C programming language”. This video book is for the beginners of c programming. In INDIA specially in North-India students like to prefer study in hindi. I made my book in hinglish. Everyday i am receiving comments on it that it is very good and will help us. But Still nobody is ready to purchase it. According to them the price is very high. it is 1000/- Rs. ($20) only and lower then the coaching institutes. they charge 1000/- to 4500/- but not provide enough services and hardly a student will be able to learn from coachings.

    My point is that I have a great product that i am offering with the great services still I am not able to sale it. According to you a developer should not use spammers services. So there will be some on your mind please let me know so that i can start selling without spams.


    • Your community has spoken, your product is too expensive, lower the price. It is basic marketing, would you rather have some sales at $5 or no sales at $20?

      Find a place which is a community for your target market, become a member, give away some review copies. If the product is good, the people there will promote it for you by word-of-mouth.

      There are many other tactics that are basic marketing but not spammy.

      • Thanks for your comments I will try your idea.

    • @Yogendra

      I am no ‘guru’ but I can easily see the flaw in your app price. You see when they pay a thousand or a couple of thousands to a person they are paying a real…”physical” person. They expect to see him everyday and learn from him by interaction and not by just watching. Well you and I know that they will not get any of those things from that “physical person” but not every average indian student can learn from watching videos (if they could there are plenty of free options, but they are in english).

      In my personal opinion you should have a “sale”. For a week drop your prices by half. I know you may think that thats ridiculous, but something is better than nothing.

      (All this may seem counter intuitive to most of the “first” world country users, but that is how the indian mentality goes).

      • You are right that i have to see the difference by half my products price. I will definetely do it for 7 or 10 days.

        But the point here is that a student is ready to pay to a coaching institute twice for the same course. But not ready to purchase my product once, I am providing a complete package to the students until he finish his graduation.

        That’s because of indian mentality 1 DVD for 1000/- means costly they don’t see that what is there inside the DVD.

        Thanks for your reply and visiting my website.

    • @yogendra: Fellow Indian here. Honestly, I can’t think why anyone would pay Rs 1000 for your video tutes when you can get a copy of K&R for Rs 150. But then, I don’t belong to your target demographic.

      You’re targeting people with little or no programming experience, who hardly have an idea about what programming is. They’d rather pay some lame coaching institute a much higher sum because they’d prefer someone hand holding them through it all. Otherwise they’d just buy a bunch of books and learn by themselves.

      Like Alan suggested, you should run a pilot experiment where you give away a few copies of your product in return for taking a survey and giving you some feedback. That’ll give you some ground to base your pricing decisions on, instead of arbitrarily pricing your product.

      Finally, given the narrow niche you’re targeting, I don’t think spamming would be of any use in your case.

      • K&R is really good for the students without any doubt, same way “Let Us C”, but here I am not competing with books but competing with coaching institutes.
        Books are available in the market but still students learn in Coaching institute. Because students do not want to learn by books it needs higher concentration.

        Problems with the coaching institutes:
        1. Faculty change after every 15 – 20 days
        2. Not available in all cities/town and students need to leave his hometown for coachings.
        3. Higher fees
        4. No support after course completion.

        I am providing solution to all these problems with lower price but still students are not ready to purchase? what’s the reason? I am trying to figuring out.

        Thanks for your post and visit to my site.

    • I’m curious about @Yogendra’s numbers after he offered a sale. Did it work? :)

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  • This is very poor logic in my opinion. You’ve got these two ideas: “make something small every day” and “providing value does not matter”. The two ideas are distinct. Only one of them was in Max’s post and you’re criticizing him for advocating the other one.

    Somewhere in your head, they merged into one. I assume it happened in your head because I never saw it happen in Max’s post and I didn’t see it happen in your post either. There might even be some valid connection, but I have no way of knowing from reading your post.

    Then you go off on these horrible elitist tangents about how programmers are better than regular people and how Western Europeans and Americans should hold themselves to higher standards than Eastern Europeans and Asians. You don’t substantiate the tangents any more than you did the main idea, plus they offend me.

    Your presumption about the allegedly valueless nature of information products is incorrect. I made a tiny bit of money marketing a book on how to lose weight. This book brought my cholesterol down by 100 points in 2 months. It took my father and my uncle ten years to do that, using statin medications as prescribed by their traditional doctors. If I had waited 10 years to get my cholesterol down, I would have probably died. This book saved my life. A woman I showed this book to told me the other day that I changed her life. She looks at me like a prophet. And I’m supposed to take criticism from you for selling that book? When you provide nothing to substantiate your primary idea, except sloppy logic, nationalism, elitism, and a negative attitude which clearly derives from not doing one bit of research?

    The answer is NO WAY.

    • Infact I said that all developers should hold themselves to the same high standard no matter where you’re from.

      What exactly do you mean by ‘regular people’, programmers ARE regular people it just happens that to be in our profession you would mostly likely fit into the top half of the population on the intelligence spectrum. How is that elitist?

      Most informational products are total garbage, I’ve read hundreds, I could put in the links to sales pages or forum threads if that would help you feel like I’ve done some research. Mind you not all info products are like this but 99.99% certainly are. There are many info products that tell you how to make other info products, without needed any knowledge, skill, or time I fail to see how you can follow them and produce anything other than garbage.

      I am happy that you got your cholesterol down and it is unfortunate you took my post as a personal criticism. If your book was so life changing you could have given the info away for free rather than selling it, considering how many people can’t afford even a small price and seeing it is a matter of life and death. I’ve been into fitness and nutrition for over 10 years I know quite a bit, but I am just a dabbling amateur compared to some people I know on the web and in real life. These guys are happy to share their knowledge for FREE (and many do on the web). Just food for thought.

      I am not sure where you found sloppy logic (or any logic) in an opinion piece, and your reference to nationalism is even more baffling. ‘Now way’ to what precisely, there is no call-to-action at the end of the post. But you are of course welcome to your opinion.

  • I am not sure where you found sloppy logic (or any logic) in an opinion piece

    I suppose I should be glad we both agree there’s no logic here, and leave it at that, but to be clear, when I said:

    This is very poor logic in my opinion. You’ve got these two ideas: “make something small every day” and “providing value does not matter”. The two ideas are distinct. Only one of them was in Max’s post and you’re criticizing him for advocating the other one.

    The sentences right after “This is very poor logic” are sentences which point out where, in my opinion, your logic went sloppy: in treating two ideas as if they were the same idea, and in attributing to the original blog post (the one by Max Klein) an idea which was not actually in it, and then criticizing it for advocating a point of view which it did not even contain.

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