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Understanding Marketing: 3 Marketing Reality Checks

  • Alden TanAlden Tan

Do you want to make money online?

I do.

I know a lot of us do.

It’s the dream of earning good money via passive-income and then just writing and blogging about what you love every single day.

Now, if you were like me, the start of the journey was really good.

The feeling of inspiration was practically overwhelming! I had my idea and I wanted to bring it to the world – and make tons of money while I was at it.

Heck, I even thought the setbacks I would face would be something I could handle confidently and easily.

Does that sound familiar?

You know it will take some hard work, of course. It’s going to be a tough journey. The road ahead always seems a little foggy as you set out with your online business or your blog. You know you’re on the path to worldwide recognition – maybe you can’t see the edges too clearly, but you have confidence that you’ll figure it out, and achieve even your wildest dreams.

It’s too bad dreams are far from reality.

My Own Reality Check from Danny Iny Himself

I’ve always wanted to make money with my blog. I have huge dreams for it.

This was my plan:

I would keep writing, which is all good since I love to write. I would gather traffic, gain subscribers then just apply a bunch of money-making techniques to start pulling in the big bucks. This was my plan to make money writing online.

That’s what most internet marketers and bloggers say, so what could go wrong?


This was my reality check:

I told the exact same plan to Danny.

He replied, “Alden, it’s a lot more than that. You want to create a sustainable business. What you’re trying to do is a scheme.

That hit me like a truck.

Me? Schemes? That word made me sound like I was out to become one of those sleazy self-proclaimed gurus who wanted to make money through loopholes and manipulating naive people!

No way!

Your Dreams and Your Pride May be Getting in The Way of Your Success

I know mine did.

Now, having dreams and pride are necessary to achieving your goals, but unchecked, they can seriously hinder you.

For example:

Are you trying to make it on your own to the point of being stubborn?

Are you taking it too easy just because you think you have a strong character?

I find that a lot of us have trouble finding success online because we have a skewed understanding of marketing because of a lot of misconceptions about marketing online and even being successful.

Keep reading – I’ll explain more…

3 Marketing Misconceptions and the Reality Checks That Fix Them

Problem #1: Not Being Willing to Learn Age-Old Concepts Because you Feel They Don’t Apply to You.

Do you ever find yourself saying:

I didn’t see why I needed to learn about marketing, advertising, sales or business per se. I mean, what for? Shouldn’t I just learn about blogging-specific things? Or just tactics for my niche? I’m too busy to learn a lot of useless stuff.

Reality check: The timeless concepts are timeless for a reason.

There’re many books and courses out there which are still lauded and used by successful super people today. They may not directly apply to you, but the concepts are there because they work!

So don’t dismiss them just because marketing your business is not just about social media, blogging or the latest tips for Twitter.  Foundational knowledge about human nature and how it responds to stimulus matters!

Solution: Read as much as you can on marketing and business. Whatever free eBooks and courses offered by successful bloggers, “old” books you can borrow from the library, just get them all and absorb. Even though they don’t apply to your field directly, just read.

Bonus: Personally, I was always very reluctant to take certain actions on my blog because I was afraid to fail.

And I always needed someone successful to literally tell me, “Okay, go ahead”.

These books and courses gave me the green light and confidence.

Why? Because after reading so much, they all boil down to the same principles. You will come across the same thing A LOT. Trust me on this. Books are free, virtual mentors.

Problem #2: Wanting to Try Only Methods Which Will Make you Money Quickly

Does it annoy you that successful people teach you things that don’t exactly make you money instantly? These things always seem to be only good in the long run and they kind of make you go, “Well, duh.”

Reality check: You need a strategy, not a bunch of tactics!

You really do.

That’s why successful people emphasize on the importance of “long term” techniques which will help you all the way.

Wanting to learn about quick, money-making tips is trying to be good with schemes and tactics. They will not work out as a successful business.

Solution: Get your system in place first.

Basically, a business, online or not, is where you actually have something to sell or recommend to potential customers.

Without it, you aren’t going to make any money.

Learn and apply all the things successful people teach. Follow what they do even though it seems like it’s not going to make you any money today or tomorrow. It won’t. That’s okay.  And you need to be okay with that.

Once you know how your own system for making money works, you can work out a strategy to execute it! THEN, and only then, you can apply all the tactics you want to polish this system!

A long term strategy will definitely provide you with the clarity you need to create a real business online. Without it, you will be that lost fish which gets attracted to some questionable bait (schemes by “gurus” which promise you to make money fast).

Problem #3: Not Willing to Spend Money Before you Make Money

Since making money is your main aim, why should you spend right?

Tons of successful people out there talk about having low startup costs. So there’s no good reason you should spend more than the absolute minimum to get started yourself.

Guess what? By being penny-wise and pound-foolish in this way, you may end up missing out on valuable opportunities that could make or break your business.

Reality check: Investing even before you make money can provide you with extremely high value.

It really is okay to spend before you make money. Especially if you’ve been trying out different ideas to make money but failing.

I personally only started making real progress when I decided to pay for a Borrow Your Brain session with Danny Iny, who taught me about the importance of getting subscribers. Before that, I was just writing about random crap every day in hopes of getting traffic. That initial investment in training was invaluable.

The same can be true for all kinds of different trainings, as well as for services like designers, split-testers, programmers – you name it! If something isn’t your strongest talent – consider investing in learning more about it, or taking on help doing it.

Solution: Invest in a good program or mentor.

Be willing to spend!

It’s good that you’re hungry for knowledge and always willing to learn, but you could be in danger of learning the wrong things which will set you off course.

So, what’s wrong with spending some money on training that will guide you exactly where you want to go?

I’d strongly encourage you to either a) Invest in a course online which teaches you about marketing or business. Make sure to check if it’s offered by someone who has a strong audience base which can vouch for their reputation. Testimonials alone don’t mean much – look for engaged audiences.

Or b) get a mentor. You just need to know the difference between a mentor and a coach.

A mentor is someone who has been through your exact path and is sincere in wanting you to succeed, whereas a coach is just equipped to teach some skills and techniques which may or may not apply to you directly. The coach, after being paid will just go on his way.

Really, don’t be afraid to spend first. It can save you a lot of time, and prevent you from making common business mistakes, and help you have a better understanding of marketing.

These are marketing misconceptions that affect – if not everyone, then a huge majority of people when they’re first starting out.

I know – I fell victim to all of them, and it took time, self-scrutiny and good mentorship to figure it out.

From one new online business owner to another: this all may seem hard at first, but as you keep learning, things will start to click and it will start to get easier.

Don’t be like me, someone who was reluctant to invest first and also took pride in the fact that I was tenacious enough to try everything and anything …

… and hope something good would happen eventually.

Well, hope is not a strategy.

I had my wake-up call pretty late. Do yourself a favor today by getting your basics right.

Get reality-checked and get a proper understanding of marketing.

19 thoughts on Understanding Marketing: 3 Marketing Reality Checks


Hi Alden

Good article – I recognised all of those stages – and some good advice too, in particular, the advice about getting a mentor. Having a mentor, provided you have chosen well, represents the genuine shortcut that many people are quite naturally searching for.

Best wishes,

Will 🙂


Hey Will,

Yeah man wish I learnt that sooner! I was stubborn that I could do it all on my own and that I should make mistakes to truly learn.

That works, as with life, but a mentor definitely helps makes things more effective.

Sue Tamani

Great article Alden.
Nicely written and doesn’t pull it’s punches.
And I agree with your comments about Danny Iny.
I love his webinars!


Thanks Sue! Danny rocks! Without him I wouldn’t have come this far.


I think it’s true you have to have a little money to make money. Many people fail to note that and don’t succeed because of it. Or they give up too soon. Making money quickly is truly a myth I believe too. Great advice!


Well it isn’t a myth. One can make money quick through gambling or the lottery 😛

But yeah spending to make money isn’t a bad thing like we make it out to be.

Jane Robinson

I like your straight-forward approach to this topic. There are soooo many scharmy self appointed gurus who promise quick and easy success. Great post. Thanks


Thanks Jane!

Straight forward is what I am!

Sophie Lizard

Deep respect for every word of this post, Alden! I made most of these mistakes, too – trying to do everything myself without spending any money was my biggest flaw. Thanks for the reminder, and for your everlasting enthusiasm. 🙂



Thanks for dropping by. I love what you do too.

Nice to know we think alike 🙂

J. Delancy

Spending money to make money is almost spot on, but you have to spend the money on the RIGHT things. An expensive and beautifully designed blog theme but lousy content would be an example spending money but not in the right way.
Books and mentors remind of us what we should be doing and teaches us how to build for the long haul.

Thanks for the post.


Totally agreed. Trying to figure out WHAT exactly to spend money on is one of the most difficult parts for a beginner entrepreneur. I have spent carefully over my business’ 1-year lifespan, and I’ve been pleased with every investment I’ve made – but I’m always wondering where to make the next one and worried about flushing the business’ hard-earned money down the toilet!


Hey Shayna,

Thanks for sharing!

Yeah I agree. Wish I learnt my own lesson sooner.

I actually invested in a fake “mentor” even before I met Danny. He taught me some stuff, but he wasn’t the right guy. In fact, he totally disappeared on me at the end.


Indeed J!

The right stuff is important and it takes real effort to scour through the endless content online to find what works for you. I guess that’s why it can be so hard.


Good stuff Alden!

I completely agree with all the points you made, especially the parts about our continuing education in the fundamentals. I think all too often people get stuck trying to reinvent the wheel when marketing IS still marketing. What has changed is we have such an opportunity to build relationships and networks because of the internet it’s more than amazing!! It’s a paradigm shift.

You made another good point about the importance of having a guide, coach or mentor to get you over the hurdles. Especially if you are talking about a mentor, they can make your life so much easier because they themselves have gone though so much already. HUGE deal for a quick start or getting you past sticking points.

This is such an exciting time to be involved with internet marketing, the mentor relationship is just one aspect of how the mindset is changing to one of collaboration and cooperation versus the old model of keeping secrets. It’s all about the network and building authority now and the faster you embrace your colleagues and find those REAL mentors the faster you will achieve your goals!


Great contribution Ron!

Yeah. I guess some of us, like me think that we can like those one-hit wonders or inspiring people who made it all on their own in a short time.

But I think only a real genius or pure luck can bring that. That’s not to say the rest of us can’t, we can. We all can. And comparing ourselves with the others isn’t the right way to go.

At least not for me.

Terrence Blair

This is an informative article, Alden. Part of the problem is that people don’t seem to want to take the time to read and educate themselves. If you want to be a good writer it’s not enough to just take up your pen, or start typing away, you need to read in the area of interest.

If you want to go into business you must read business and marketing books. And not just the new ones, but the ones that’s stood the test of time.

Getting a mentor and taking courses and putting what you learned to practice is the best way to becoming competent at what you do.


Hey Terrence,

Reading is like free mentorship man. Reading between the lines, now that’s GOLD.

I think the term “internet marketing” make people think it’s too easy, hence we forget about the fundamentals.


Yeah man wish I learnt that sooner! I was stubborn that I could do it all on my own and that I should make mistakes to truly learn.

That works, as with life, but a mentor definitely helps makes things more effective.

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