Exclusive Content For Membership Sites and Agencies

At the end of last year Donna wrote “Some Days I Wish This Blog Were Private So I Could Share More” giving some vague but interesting hints as to how certain links can give a site a boost, and how the benefit of those links decreases if they are removed at a later date.

This was especially significant for me at the time, because I was struggling with a problem which I couldn’t solve.

A few days later 5ubliminal posted, “If I Told You… I’d Have To Kill You” – a simlar idea, again specific to SEO techniques but with a few hints to how you can work out what others are up to… without them telling you.

My End Of year Problem

Lots of sites were publishing their year end stats, showing which were their most popular posts for the year, traffic numbers etc, and many of them were missing one, and in many cases many important statistics that can be used to determine the success of a particular post.

I didn’t post a yearly roundup – it would have been a lie

I know which are my most successful posts based upon various metrics, and the metrics I use are in many cases different to the metrics other people use, and I can use them for competitive intelligence

I wasn’t prepared to write a post highlighting my most popular posts for the year, or the ones I wanted to highlight, if I couldn’t be 100% honest about my methods.


The changes Scribd made after the revealing Stompernet videos were really the straw that broke the camel’s back. If you release information without a great deal of restraint on how that information should be used, it can cause problems, and sometimes various tactics and methods stop working, or are prevented from working.

Release The Information In Private?

This is one option I have considered – it would be easy to set up a membership site, or use a report such as this just for list building, or even give it to a number of membership sites I am a member of as a bonus, but that introduces secondary problems.

I am not a programmer

I have worked with programming teams for years, but I can only tinker with code these days. If I released the information to just a few hundred, or possibly a few thousand, there would be 2 very specific problems.

  • Only about 10% of the people receiving the information would be able to do anything useful with it – this stuff is a little bit technical, and even once I have all my data together it takes time playing around in excel to really benefit from it, and realise the significance.
  • My limited use of these methods flies under the radar – if you have a few 100, or 1000 people mining the same data, it would throw up a huge red flag, quite needlessly, as many would be looking for data on exactly the same websites.

If I make the information available, the ideal solution would be

  • A 20 page report
  • A viable proxy based extraction and storage system for compiling data
  • Various tools, possibly in Excel, to make manipulating the data relatively easy for less technical folk

Oh, Andy Is Going To Sell An Ebook?

Ebooks work for newbie stuff and basic training, or techniques that get hyped but are not necessarily for your average users (even if they are effective)

This isn’t something I want to hype about, and it certainly isn’t basic training

The financial model just wouldn’t cover the development costs

I could also include it in a membership site of my own, but it isn’t something that would stand on its own, I need a lot more time to get together complimentary materials.

With the new year people are planning their course of action for 2008, and this would prove a benefit for their content planning strategy.

Content For Your Membership Site or Agency

Do you remember the days before the junk peddlers of private label rights and bundled master resale rights products when content really had value?

These days the people who create exceptional content only provide it via higher end membership sites, and most, but not all of the ebooks are beginners guides – they can still be good value, but that isn’t the kind of content I want to create.

Over the last year writing this blog I have received a number of proposals of various kinds from membership site owners looking for specialist content, which is why I am considering a slight return to the old ways of providing content to a limited number of partners for a fee that is just a “drop in the ocean” compared to the fees members pay for access to great content, and certainly much better value than retaining me on a permanent basis.

Price – contact me by email for details – I expect to spend up to $5000 on development of the scripts and tools, though depending on the way they are designed, I might also have to provide hosting. I would much prefer to have a comfortable budget for development than to be scraping the barrel.
On top of that I will also be offering support if you provide me access to your member area – there is certainly some 2-way benefit

Initially I am not going to set a specific limit on numbers, but ideally I would like to have the report and tools made available to between 10 and 20 membership sites or agencies

I am including search marketing agencies, because they often have lots of people working with clients with whom they want to share tools and reports. Hopefully a few of the more popular SEO membership sites will pick this up anyway, so small agencies can benefit from their existing memberships, but for larger corporations it would probably be best to purchase your own license.

For further details and possibly a few examples those who have my email can just email me, or you can just use my contact form

I am going to be selective about where this information and tools will be made available

To finish, just one example:-

Which one post was my most successful in 2007? This isn’t 100% accurate because like with all statistical measures there can be extenuating circumstances that mess with the data, and using this method there are frequent occurances within the top10, in much the same way a front page Digg can make a blog seem more popular than it really is.

The Tale of Little Linkalot and Some Blogging Thoughts where I actually linked through to another one of Donna’s posts, “The Tale of Little Linkalot

If you can work out why I regard that (based on this method) as my most successful post, a “cornerstone” or in some ways “tipping point”, bully for you, but don’t go spreading it around too much ;)
Even if you can work it out, you are going to appreciate a 20 page report on how to use this method to share with your members or clients, and the tools to go with it.

I could have just written a short blog post with my top 50 stories of 2007, provided details for compiling the data, and a very rough excel spreadsheet and a few charts, but it would not be very usable for the majority of non-programming geeks, and the method would be burned or limited within a few hours or days.

Why burn a great method just for a few links?

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  1. says

    Very nice Andy. :)

    Let me know if you get stuck on any of the tools, or run into some constraint you can quite figure out a viable workaround for, I’d be happy to try and help if you do.

  2. says

    Great post. I agree with you it can be hard to know how much information to give away, and I respect you for not listing your end of figures, I don’t think I’d do that either!

  3. says

    This is a tough one. I lean towards the either offering it for nothing to your readers or share with friends/colleagues discreetly .
    Nothing makes you feel like more of an outsider than reading a post like “PM me if you are in MY special circle of friends and I will tell you”. It may work one of two ways- encourage the person to return and try and try and become “in with the in crowd” or it may turn them off and they may choose not to play that game.
    If the info is so sensitive an explosive than share it with friends- but to publicly declare ” I know the meaning of life and won’t share unless you are one of my friends” is annoying- unless you are one of the friends. If the idea is to make you loyal reader feel special then it may work but the risk might be not worth it. Those kinds of post in blogs and forums REALLY irritate me and make most people feel small and excluded from “the bog boy” circle. More opportunities available from the 90% of average readers than the 10% inner sanctum types.
    As for an e-book. I love you Andy. I am one of your biggest fans- If I lived in Europe you might be in danger of me stalking you :-)
    I think with an e-book you will have to carefully weigh the benefit of offering information for sale sometimes and changing the way you interact with your readers over open dialogue and absolute trust. Readers- and maybe even you- on a subtle level may see each new post or article as a way to convert readers into e-book sales. Not that there is anything wrong with that .. I have no doubt anything you would publish would be top notch quality and worth every penny.

    However, when the perception changes from giving way information freely to charging for select/best information the dynamic changes.

    I understand the value in both and each have its merits, however it just changes the direction of readership relationship. Making money passively from readers via ad sales, etc. is different from seeing them as direct source of revenue.

    In a bit of a moood today- hope I don’t offend you- not my intent.

    • says

      Lisa I do appreciate such in depth feedback

      I have nothing specifically wrong with ebooks, I have purchased quite a few myself, been given a few to review, and I have promoted some to an extent as an affiliate.
      Part of the reason I do it is because big launches can generate a lot of search volume and bring in subscribers. I have for instance had over 2000 visitors for Day Job Killer – I sold a few copies but wasn’t really trying hard to convert, but I also gained more than 100 subscribers from it.

      Some stuff I promote on the higher end I know that many people can’t afford them, or are probably already signed up under someone else. Part of that is karma, part of it is the insight it gives me when tracking as to the respose rates, and who knows, maybe I will luck out and sell a copy or 2.

      Cheaper membership stuff and useful tools actually converts much better, but then this blog’s primary purpose isn’t making money ;)

      If I can cover the cost of the programming, and make a little for the time I am going to have to invest then releasing this is viable, otherwise it just doesn’t work, even if I keep it to just a few friends – it would only take a few people to raise an alarm and possibly limit access to the data this requires.

  4. says

    Sounds good Andy. This will be a success. And honestly, I think you should have done this for a long time.

    Yaro had a nice blog post on this (he did it as well).


  5. says

    Hey Andy,

    I just wanted to give you a pat on the back for clearly saying that eBooks and ‘regular’ membership sites aren’t the end-all. So many people slap something together, but you’ve actually thought about the best use for what you do and provide.

    If I can ever ask you for a short interview on how you see these differences between just providing content and providing content in the most effective way – let me know.


  6. says

    Do you really need to share that info? I mean, sure, we all want to share great ideas, but if it gives you a competitive advantage, what’s the point in sharing it? I’d give it to friends if anything, and I’d even be cautious about that.