The Olympics Rule to Recognize a Scam

100mdashThe concept I have for you today is actually really simple and talks about the issue of recognizing a scam when it’s being offered to you.

These days, there are a lot of different products and services targeted towards people who are looking for new ways to make money online.

“Making money online” is actually a huge niche. There are hundreds of different approaches at it. Some require more work, others less. Some revolve around freelancing, others have a more passive income driven nature. Some feature tangible products sold online, others just simple digital products.

And every one of those approaches is a possible, genuine path to making money.


Some people – marketers – like to play on our emotions and offer crappy products that have no possible chance of making us any money whatsoever. And at the same time they try to say that if we fail, it’s only our fault.

I have two main methods of finding out if I’m dealing with a scam or a genuine product.

Rule #1: The Olympics Rule

“Is someone saying that you can win the Olympics tomorrow?”

Basically, nothing happens overnight. A rule as valid in internet marketing as anywhere else.

Winning the Olympics is a metaphor for achieving extraordinary result in a relatively short span of time.

When it comes to the Olympics, we all know that winning any competition is not possible without a lifetime of training.

So why aren’t we equally as connected with the reality in other aspects of life? Why do we believe that becoming rich overnight, for some reason, is possible to everyone?

That is why I advise you to ask the above question every time you get presented with a sales pitch of any kind.

If the marketer promises you “the gold medal” overnight then they’re probably not being very honest.

Rule #2: The “It’s Your Fault” Rule

“If you fail, it’s your fault because you didn’t put enough effort.”

Marketers don’t usually say it openly like that, but they can say something like this, for example:

“My product is not the magic pill solution, and it won’t do wonders for you if you don’t take sufficient action putting my advice in practice.”

Notice the “is not the magic pill” part. What it does is actually makes them even more credible because they’re answering the main objection you – the customer – might have.

However, the crown bullshit phrase is this: “won’t do wonders for you if you don’t take sufficient action.” What it actually means is “it’s your fault if you fail.”

I’m sorry, but this is not the case in the normal people’s world. If I buy an iPad and the thing breaks down a week later just like that then it’s most certainly not my fault. It’s the product’s fault.

This is something I talked about in one of my recent posts (the so-called quality product creation). The basic rule is that the main task of a quality product is to deliver the average result to everyone. And if the average customer fails to get any worthwhile results then the product is simply crap (not the other way around).

That’s why there’s no genuine “get rich” product. If it were, the majority of the people who bought it would be rich.

What about non-scams?

Sure, there are genuine products, but they’re a lot less popular due to their realistic promises.

Basically, the Olympics rule applies here too. As I said, if someone promises that you can win it overnight then they’re trying to trick you.

But if they promise that you can start your training tomorrow and then after years of dedicated work make it into the Olympics and maybe win the gold then it’s a completely different story.

In other words, focus on products that teach how to make the next step (or the first step, if you’re just starting out with something), and avoid products that talk about achieving the end result overnight.

Why am I even writing this? Because I’m kind of tired of seeing yet another big thing meant to make online business owners more successful when in fact it only makes them spend money on something they don’t need and won’t ever use.

The Olympics Rule to Recognize a Scam |

So-Called Quality Product Creation – The Art of Polishing a Turd

Sorry for sounding kind of negative right from the get-go, but I just wanted to talk about something that’s really frustrating about the online business education niche – the niche catering to people who want to learn how to run a successful online business.


If you’ve been around for any amount of time then you’ve surely encountered multiple pieces of advice that go something along the lines of: “You have to create a quality product and offer it to your audience.”

Well, the idea itself is great. Surely. But most of the time the execution is very poor.

Just to explain what I mean here’s an example: Samsung Galaxy S3 is a quality product. The iPad is a quality product. is a quality product in itself. Angry Birds is a quality product.


A 15-page PDF e-book with some advice on how to make money online IS NOT a quality product. It’s just a polished turd.

The main characteristic of a quality product

Yeah, I know, dozens of marketers all over the internet keep telling you that all you need is an e-book and you can take over the world. Not if you want to be an honest business owner you can’t.

And this is something the FTC decided to put an end to a couple of years ago. Back in the day, you could promote anything, tell people that they’re going to make millions of dollars, and then at the end of the page place a small disclaimer: “results not typical” … and everything was fine.

Not anymore. Now you have to present the typical results, or else your marketing message is fraudulent. Thank God for this regulation.

Now, if we look closely at this rule, it doesn’t put the truly quality products in any kind of trouble. For instance, what’s the typical experience of an iPad buyer? They simply have a great time with it. What’s the typical experience of Angry Birds buyer? Same thing.

On the other hand, what’s the typical experience of someone buying a “make money online e-book?” Absolutely no results at all.

And you know what, I don’t believe that it’s the customer’s fault… It’s the product’s fault.

Good products can deliver results regardless of the buyer’s attitude. Good products deliver the same benefits to everyone. For instance, you’re going to have a great time with Angry Birds no matter if you’re sad, lazy, full of energy, or even totally drunk at the moment … it’s still an enjoyable game.

What this means is that the FTC regulation about “results not typical” hits only the crappy products out there. Because if the marketers are forced to advertise only the typical results then they basically have nothing to advertise at all.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that a quality product is one that doesn’t depend on the customer to posses any kind of special abilities in order to be able to enjoy it.

And the most challenging thing about it is that creating such a product takes time. In plain English, if you’ve been thinking about making your first product a 15-page e-book on [BLANK] then just forget about it.

How not to take part in the art of polishing a turd

What I mean by polishing a turd is taking some general information, some used ideas (things that can be found on the internet for free), spinning it in some way, putting it together, saving it as a PDF, saying that it’s the best thing since ever, and offering it to the public for $47 saying that it’s actually worth $97.

… Just look at the above paragraph and reflect for a minute. Can a product created in such a way really be a quality one?

Now, I’m not an expert when it comes to product creation, but from my perspective, if you want to create something truly great, you should consider looking into the following steps:

1. Get ready to spend time and money

Sorry, but this is just the way it is. You can’t create a quality product overnight. And you can’t do it for free either.

If you don’t have the time, nor the money then this isn’t probably a good moment for you to enter the product creation space.

2. Focus on the typical result

Start your planning by defining what typical result you want to deliver to your average customer.

For instance, if you still want to create an e-book on making money on the internet, can you guarantee that at least 80% of your customers will be able to make a fulltime income implementing your advice? If not, you’re not creating a quality product.

(Remember the Angry Birds example. I’m pretty sure that at least 80% of people who have download it have a good time with it.)

3. Plan the creation process with the typical result in mind

This is the part where you have to do the main work – the actual creation process of your product. Up to you to handle this one in the best manner possible.

4. Start testing with a small group of people

This is the moment when you get to test if your product is successful at delivering the typical result to a small group of people.

You can pick that group individually or share beta access keys online on forums (if it’s an app or some other digital product).

Once you determine that the product indeed delivers the expected results then release it to the public.


Unfortunately, I don’t think there are any… Product creation always requires money, time, dedication, user testing, and a lot of work. You can’t skip any of these stages and still end up with a quality result.

To be honest, I too was guilty of believing that there’s an easy way. That you only needed an e-book, and that you could create it with minimal effort…

Well, you can create such a thing, and you can even sell it successfully, but it’s not going to be a quality product, and your customers will call you out on this sooner or later.

In a sentence: Polishing a turd is not a good product creation approach.

So-Called Quality Product Creation – The Art of Polishing a Turd |

How to Write a Properly Usable Review

reviewReviews are like flyers in your local travel agency – some have no impact on you whatsoever, but some make you want to visit a certain place so bad that you literally can’t wait to reserve a flight and a hotel.

Now, let me clarify one thing. Writing a review is not about convincing anyone to do anything. It’s about giving some honest opinions about a given product and listing its pros and cons. In the end, whatever you write should only provide new knowledge to your readers so they can have an easier time making their own decision.

That being said, reviews can have a tremendous impact on our product-buying decisions. Reviews create massive social proof. Let me give you an example, which coffee grinder are you more likely to buy: one that has no reviews, or one that has 20 reviews, 17 of which being positive and 3 negative?

If you’re like most people you will go for the second one despite the fact that 3 people consider it a bad product.

So at least this one thing’s clear – reviews are powerful. But what’s in it for us – online entrepreneurs, and for our online businesses?

Reviews and online businesses

Reviews are a great way of selling affiliate products. This is a practice well known in the affiliate space.

There are basically three stages of buying a product (at least for most people):

  1. Looking for a solution. This is where people start googling their problem and searching for possible solutions. An example: “how to learn guitar chords.” As a result of such a query one will probably stumble upon some guitar playing products, guides or books. That’s where they move to the second stage.
  2. Reviewing available solutions. This is where the reviews come into play. Once someone becomes interested in a given product, they will probably start searching for reviews and opinions to make sure that the product is indeed a quality one.
  3. Buying. In this last stage someone simply makes the final move and buys the product.

Now, a smart affiliate will completely take over the stages #2 and #3.

If someone is in the stage #2, they are at least considering spending some money. This is a very good moment to provide some insights about the product they’re considering and either lead them towards buying it or listing a range of alternatives.

If after reading your review the person becomes convinced to buy the product, you can capitalize on this by providing an affiliate link. This way, the person doesn’t have to leave your site to move to the stage #3 because it’s all in one place.

Disclaimer. I really don’t advise to write a fake review just to get someone to buy what you’re promoting. This is not the point of a review. People will see through your intentions immediately, and they will never ever believe another review of yours. In a word: be honest.

Okay, it’s time to talk business. Here are the steps and elements of writing a properly usable product review.

get the product

Get the product

Writing a review without actually having the product can be hard… And by hard I mean impossible.

When it comes to digital products, you can get a downloadable copy of the product (you don’t have to get the DVDs or whatever else the product consists of), but when it comes to physical products you absolutely have to lay your hands on them.

How are you going to review the new iPad without ever holding it in your hand, right?

There are a couple of ways to get a review copy of a product. First of all, you can plainly ask for it. Some companies realize the power of reviews so they tend to respond to such requests. Secondly, you can buy it through your own affiliate link, which can allow you to get it for even 75% off. Thirdly, you can borrow it from someone who already has it.

Be honest

I briefly mentioned this just a minute ago, but I want to stress it out here one more time.

The only good review is an honest review. Building credibility and trust takes time, and you can lose it all with just one fake review.

Always give your honest opinion. Here’s an interesting fact. People will not necessarily give up on buying the product just because you’ve listed some disadvantages of it. But they will surely notice that you’re being honest.

What? Why? For whom?

Essentially, people don’t care. However, if you do a good job at answering these three questions you can make them care.


This is the question you should start your review with. Begin by saying what the product is. You can use some of the sales material provided by the product owner for this.

However, make sure to use a conversational and non-pitchy tone. Talk to your readers like you want to provide genuine information, not like you want to sell them something.


Why is the product useful? Why are you reviewing it? Why someone would consider using it? Essentially, every why that stumbles your mind will most likely also stumble the minds of your readers. If you leave those “whys” unanswered people will simply find another reviewer.

For whom?

Every product has a target group of customers. You need to say who those people are and why they should be particularly interested in the product.

If someone from the target group reads your review, they should feel that it’s been created specifically for them.

Besides, people outside of the target group will rarely end up buying the product anyway.


Include images/videos

Depending on the product you’re reviewing (if it’s a physical product, for example) you can use some images/photos or even videos of the product.

The best approach here is to take the photos yourself, or shoot the videos yourself. This is a big credibility boost and it shows your professionalism like nothing else.

Besides, a picture tells a thousand words, right? People simply like to see the product from different angles.

Additionally, once you have some photos or a video you can share them through social sites like Flickr or YouTube. This will give you additional visibility and probably new traffic to your review. (When you’re uploading the video or the photos make sure to provide a link to the review on your site.)

List the benefits/features

There’s been quite a fierce talk going on online regarding features, benefits and their use for online marketing.

Some people think that listing benefits is crucial for marketing success, others say that features are good enough because people can imagine the benefits on their own.

Essentially, a feature is something the product does. A benefit is something that feature means to the user/customer.

I, personally, think that benefits are a must when constructing any sort of marketing message.

For reviews, you should find a good combination of features and benefits and mention them in a visible part of your review. Don’t focus on benefits or features alone.

List the pros

Every product has those. If no, why are you even bothering to review the damn thing?

When describing the pros focus on what they mean to the customer (list the benefits). Give the reader a reason to be interested in the product. But be careful not to sound pitchy, like a marketer. Instead, go for the conversational and honest (again) tone.

List the cons

Listing cons is what makes your review real. Every product has cons, there’s no perfect stuff.

Make the cons real. If there really is something wrong with the product then you absolutely must mention this in your review. Don’t be afraid that you’re kissing your affiliate commission goodbye. People will only acknowledge you for being honest and treat your review seriously.

Present price points

Some products have different price points and different options a customer can choose.

List the pros and cons of each offer individually and say which one you consider bringing the most value.

Also, mention any bonuses, guarantees or other extra information that might be important to the customer.

Show some alternatives

This is optional, but it might be a good idea in some scenarios, especially if there are a lot of alternatives available. Listing them along with affiliate links can make you some additional money even if the reader decides not to buy the main product.

You don’t even have to describe each alternative. Just the name and a one-sentence description will be enough.

Your verdict

You should always share your final opinion. Tell whether the product is worth its price or not. Of course, this is just your personal opinion, but it’s always good to have one.

However, if you say that the product is not any good then you should reconsider using an affiliate link…


You can simply not review anything you don’t consider valuable.

For me, crafting a good review is more science than art. Reviews are not about being catchy and telling a story, they are about describing the basic characteristics of a given product and telling whether you find it worth its price or not.

What’s your take here? Have you stumbled upon any reviews lately that you knew were fake right away?

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How to Write a Properly Usable Review |