The Unhelpful Desk

As I’ve gotten more and more into blogging in an attempt to be of use to folks with the pain points they approach me begging for help with every day, I’ve noticed a lot more the posts of other people who, on the surface, seem to be trying to do the same thing I am: help people. However, when you actually open their articles and read them, you realize that 93% (yes, I have counted and done the math for the ones I have looked at, which numbers 303 as of this moment) suffer from one of two things. Either:

  1. They’re telling people what the “right” or “wrong” thing, mindset, characteristic or technique is but they’re not actually HELPING their reader by explaining what to do to “fix” whatever the thing is, or
  2. They’re sharing largely useless information for the sole purpose of getting people to buy their product/course/whatever-they’re-selling OR to sign up for their email list which they will then funnel people through to sell them something at some point.

In the interest of transparency, do I have something to sell you? Yes, of course I do. However, I’m not blogging to sell my book series, I’m blogging to help people. I offer my tips and tricks free of charge, and if you feel like you might want to check out my books, well, then, that’s up to you!

In the interest of further transparency, do I want you to sign up to my email list? Yes, of course I do. I share a lot of helpful tips and tricks. Real life stories and case studies. Useful information, not sketched articles with a BUY MY THING plea at the end (or in the middle of) of a spiel. Will I one day be sharing with you a “sales funnel” and ask you to purchase my course? Yep. I definitely will, if you are on my email list. But you can hit the Delete button if you don’t wanna, and I won’t kick you off my list. I will still send you helpful – actually helpful – information because aside from wanting to make money like pretty much everyone does, my biggest goal is to HELP PEOPLE. Period. I want to help others be successful, defeat overwhelm, manage themselves, understand they’re not alone, the list goes on.

And at this moment I am getting NOTHING out of this blog or out of my email subscribers other than the hope and knowledge, when they tell me so, that I am providing assistance to people who need it. *time for some warm fuzzies in the heart*

SO…all that transparency out of the way now, let me get down to explaining numbers 1 and 2 above.

THING 1

(This sounds like it might wind up being a Dr. Seuss poem with Thing 1 and Thing 2, but no, sorry, it isn’t!)

They’re telling people what the “right” or “wrong” thing, mindset, characteristic or technique is but they’re not actually HELPING their reader by explaining what to do to “fix” whatever the thing is.

I spent two weeks being annoyed about an article in which someone told their readers what confident people did or didn’t do, but didn’t actually then go on to try to help people figure out how to change if they were “doing the wrong thing” according to his assessment. What wound up happening as I attempted to go through to give people How To’s to go with the article in a post I was writing u, is that I disagreed with a good number of what he felt were characteristics of confident people. But what that really taught me (beyond the fact that a lot of these people use blanket statements as though they are gods-given facts that are true for all human beings) is that all he was trying to do was get you to believe he knew everything so you’d buy his book and thus learn everything. Which starts straying into Thing 2 but guess what? THEY ARE HEAVILY RELATED.

THING 2

They’re sharing largely useless information for the sole purpose of getting people to buy their product/course/whatever-they’re-selling OR to sign up for their email list which they will then funnel people through to sell them something at some point.

This happens over and over and over again. Even if what someone says in their post/article resonates with me, I get immediately disgusted by the frequent, repeated attempts to get me to buy their whatever, either via interspersing BUY NOW in the middle of the post, with a popup that hits me at some point while I’m on their site or at the very top with a HUGE “BUY IT NOW” thing that’s difficult to scroll past in order to actually get to the article. I don’t mind if they throw it in at the end, because by then I might like and trust them enough to have a look. But it was after about the 100th post that had ads for their book after nearly every paragraph in the article that I finally understood just how related Thing 1 and Thing 2 really are. The reason people give you sketchy or bare bones information in their article/post is because they are hoping you’ll buy their book/course/whatever believing that they’ll give you the actual information that would help you with the pain point they’re talking-but-not-really-talking-about. And to their credit, their product very well may be the best thing that ever happened to your life.

But call me overly practical or any other words you can think of here…my problem with all of that is this – especially for people who are facing Overwhelm due to things or people already usurping their time – is that these supposed helpers with potentially kick-ass solutions to your problems have just wasted however much of your time it took you to read their article. And they have given you nothing in return except a link to spend money with them. YES, their “thing” might help one or more of the readers of the article they just used as a sales pitch. But if the reader is not solvent, has no credit card with an available balance, is desperate or doesn’t even have the time to pee let alone take a whole course or read a whole book, then the supposed helper has given you nothing in exchange for the 5, 10 or 15 minutes you’ve just spent on and with their words. I’m presuming that you as a reader saw a headline and were praying it would help you with a quick idea about how to address a pain point of yours. But it didn’t, and that makes me sad. (I also know how negatively I will think of someone when I thought their article was going to share something valuable and it just turned out to be a sales pitch…chances are I will ignore them from that point on even if another thing they post sounds useful.)

To me, what many people today are doing is no different from the old direct marketing letters we used to get via snail mail where all the big, bold print blared that THIS LETTER WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE. So you spent time reading it only to find out that while asking the right questions or correctly identifying the pain points, it was all only to then make you buy “the thing” at the end of it. Those letters never did anything to actually assist you. These blog posts and articles today – many of them, not all! – are really the same. How frustrating. Why not just go back to those old sales letters, in that case?

Now, of course, if everyone gave away all their knowledge up front then they wouldn’t have anything to sell in a product, is the thought. Well, yes and no. As a very smart guru I listen to has said repeatedly, giving away your knowledge doesn’t make you less likely to sell whatever your product is. On the contrary, people will see you as providing content that is valuable to them and they will then trust that you really DO care about them and if you’re giving them awesome stuff now, imagine the even more awesome stuff available later on, right? But if all I do is write articles that tell you everything “this kind of person” does wrong, only to then say “but spend all your dough with me to find out the right things” then all I am is a car salesman. I personally avoid those folks like the plague, so I presume others do as well.

I truly want to HELP. And I want to make money. Those things are not mutually exclusive. But I don’t think that telling people “these are the 10 things all productive people do” without then also sharing thoughts about how to change themselves if they’re not one of those people is going to get me anywhere other than ignored by folks who might one day become my clients if I show them I really and truly wish to help, not just sell.

There is my rant and here is my promise: I want to help everyone who faces life’s various challenges. I focus on defeating Overwhelm and what is (laughingly) called Time Management, but if you check out my diverse blog posts you’ll see I talk about other stuff too, like Control Freaks and how to tell if you’re one, how to deal with them, how to handle spotlight stealers and a bunch of other things that I hope people are finding useful. So I promise you that I won’t stop being helpful just because I have a book series out, or am developing an online course to go with it…nor will I ditch you if you stay on my email list or stick with my blog without buying from me.

Because to coin a catch phrase that I usually detest, ‘at the end of the day’ my wealth comes from knowing there is one person out there that I helped by making a suggestion that worked for them. (Just like I’ve been helping friends and family members for years without getting paid for it.)

Nothing is a one size fits all solution. Not everything that everyone suggests or shares will work for all people. But at least I’m actively trying to help, without charging for my life experience. I really wish more of my peers would feel the love and contemplate doing the same.

Sign up on my blog, or don’t. Sign up on my email list, or don’t. It’s up to where you want to spend your time. I want to be a Help Desk, not The Unhelpful Desk. 🙂

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