Mar 20 2008

Blogging — Who’s Really Making The Money?

Years ago, I received some deep wisdom from an extraordinary, modern-day Vietnamese philosopher. Oddly enough, this philosopher appeared on late-night television, surrounded by bikini-clad women, and was aggressively hawking his real estate seminars.

Nevertheless, I learned several important lessons from him, the most prominent among them (for me, at least) being the following (reproduced from memory):

“So I come to the United States, I tell people I want to be rich. They look at me and say ‘You crazy! You poor guy, you poor immigrant, you barely speak English, lots of other people smarter than you, they not rich, how you think you going to get rich? You crazy!'”

“You know what I say to these people? I say ‘You are a loser! Get out of my way! I make it somehow!‘”

And there, my friends, is the essence of one of the most extraordinarily useful belief systems ever promulgated on late-night infomercials — that of Tom Vu, Real Estate Millionaire.

I had no need to attend Mr. Vu’s seminars; I had already acquired, for free, more value than I could possibly derive from a dubious real-estate investment/flipping scheme.

Granted, those testimonials by poorly-dressed people mumbling about how Tom Vu’s real estate seminars had changed their lives while holding difficult-to-see checks with their thumbs over important parts (like the dollar amount of the check, for example) were hauntingly intriguing, but I was nevertheless somehow able to resist the siren call of Mr. Vu’s invitation to his two-hour free seminar. Plus I was also concerned that I would be unable to withstand the nuclear-powered ego contained within that 5′ 5″ Vietnamese body and thereby succumb meekly to his blandishments to sign up for the $2000 full seminar.

But of course, the obvious question is, if Mr. Vu was making millions of dollars in real estate, why was he running around giving seminars? Especially when it was clear from the brief glimpses we got of his seminars that the women attending them (50-something hausfraus, typically) were nowhere near as attractive as the swimsuit models he apparently lounged around with at his mansion all the time (“Hmm…hausfrau…swimsuit model…hausfrau…swimsuit model…I decide! Hausfrau!”).

I discounted the possibility that he was doing it out of the goodness of his heart, since he was also not in the charity business. No, the obvious answer was that he was giving these seminars because there was way more money in them than in the real estate market in which he supposedly made his millions.

Which brings me to the blogging scene.

Now, for me, blogging is a hobby; my main activity is, of course, plotting global domination. (Subliminal message here: Click on the ads! Click on the ads! Please, I beg you, click on the ads!). But in wandering around the blogging scene, it becomes clear that the individuals who are deriving Serious Revenue from blogging are . . . (wait for it) . . . people who blog about making money from blogging!

I’m not going to point fingers at individual blogs. First of all, my negative page rank would probably drive them out of business immediately, thus contributing to the global economic meltdown. Granted, I started the global economic meltdown deliberately, but even I want something more than rubble to take over when I decant my fanatically loyal super-soldiers from their vats. Second, if I even mention their URLs here, they could crush me like a bug (blog-wise, at least — in reality, I’m freakishly strong). Third, who am I to interfere in an economic perpetual motion machine?

But what is clear is that the waves of new internet-based technologies function much like other gold rushes — the first-to-market advantage (see, e.g., Amazon.com) is almost total, and the ones who then make serious and steady money are the ones who provide services for the people who rush to follow.

In other words, the best business to be in, in the California gold rush days, was actually not the prospecting/gold mining business — it was the pickaxe and pan sales business. And the “gold-panning seminar” business also.

And so it is with blogging — if you want to make money blogging, the surest way to do it (aside from developing something like LOLCatz) is to start a blog that teaches other people how to make money blogging. (The second-surest way to millions, obviously, is to start a humor-based blog. That’s why stand-up comedians all drive Bentleys. Aside: Did you know that Carrot Top has an entire theater dedicated to his show in Las Vegas? There are dozens of billboards advertising him throughout the whole city. Carrot Top. Can we all just pause for a collective WTF? Okay, that’s better.).

So, to bring this all full circle, I still do have a soft spot in my heart for good old Tom Vu. His lesson stayed with me ever since that first infomercial, and a quick search shows there are many people who feel the same way. Since beginning this post, I actually found the spot where he expounds on his philosophy; I am pleased to note that although I didn’t get it word-for-word, my memory was pretty darned close.

So let us all pause for a moment and appreciate the Tao of Vu, as set forth in the video below; if this does not change your life, you are either 1) already a thoroughly integrated person and therefore generally not fun at parties; or 2) a completely lost cause.

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Tom, for all I know, you might have been busted for a pyramid scheme or fraud (or, more likely, taken down by the Secret Cabal of Self-Help Book Publishers, because if more people listened to you, they’d be out of business), but I have to say, I love you, man.

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