How Not To Get Rich On The Internet

Today I was asked by two friends to accompany them to an “Internet Marketing Workshop” to give my opinion on what they taught. This was an all day workshop put on by storesonline.com. Had I known that was the company putting on the workshop I could have done a Google on it and saved us a lot of time but my friends didn’t know who they were so we went and checked it out. We didn’t have anything to do anyway and there was lunch included.

The event was held at the Hyatt Regency hotel in downtown Vancouver. There were over 200 people signed up for this workshop. Unlike me, most of them were here because they attended an earlier 90 minute free workshop and were told that in order to get the full picture they need to spend $20 and attend this full day workshop. I did some mental calculation in my head – 200 people times $20 = $4,000.00. Not bad at all.

Now I don’t have any problems paying $20 for an all day workshop, if the workshop was good. However, this wasn’t really a workshop at all. This was a nicely disguise internet marketing scam. Storesonline.com didn’t teach anything that you can’t find for free with a bit of Googling. What they offer was to set you up with your own online store and help you make money from it. Again, there really isn’t anything wrong with this, if you get value for your money. However, this is not the case.

The cost for this service is $2,500 for them to build you three sites. However, they recommend you start with six sites and as an incentive they’ll give you the next three for “only” $2,200. But wait, there’s more. Since these are eCommerce sites, you’ll need SSL. No problem, they can supply that for “only” $999.00 plus 2.75% cut of credit card sales, plus 25 cents per transaction, plus $25 per month processing fee. And you haven’t even set up your store yet. Assuming you do set up a store you’ll have to pay $150 to cover hosting of your site for one year. After the first year, it’s $24.95 per month. Keep in mind this is per site. So that comes to $900.00 for six sites. Then there is the backlink service, where they will link to your site from 50 other sites. That cost $500.00. They never told us the page rank of the sites linking back to you. All total, the “investment” works out to $7,099 to have an online store that looks like this.

According to Stores Online, that site has sold $120,000 worth of shoes. Ya right. If anyone believes that I have the Loins Gate Bridge for sale. The site has a page rank of two and only six backlinks. Not to mention the broken image links. If it gets more than 100 page views per day I would be shocked. Would you buy anything from a site like that? Do you believe it sold $120K in shoes?

The all day workshop was really nothing more than a high pressure sale scam to get people to sign up for the Stores Online overpriced and no value program. The reason it was all day was so the sale people could have time to work you over. People were asked to fill out their name on a sheet of paper to get personal one on one consultation. You can pretty much guess the one on one was all sales and no consulting.

The main speaker, who doesn’t work for Stores Online, but was actually someone who signed up for the program many years back and claims to be very successful at it. He demoed the Stores Online backend to show how easy it was to use and he outlined some marketing scheme you can use to drive traffic to your site. Only problem was he doesn’t practice what he preached. I loved his section about search engine and his promise to show us how to get to #1 in Google. Of the two examples he showed, one site was on page 8 of Yahoo for its search term. He made it look like it was on page 2 by clicking the page 8 link and hoping no one noticed. The other site he showed was his. On MSN he is ranked number 2 for the search term “2”. He then notes that there are 2,106,428,559 results for “2” and he is number 2! What he doesn’t tell you was that his number 2 spot was a sponsored link. In other words, he has to pay for it.

I did a bit more digging on the speaker’s website. He has a page rank of four, 36 back links (I guess he didn’t pay the $500 for 50 backlinks) and gets an average of 279 visitors per day. I know this because he showed us his stats. The stats came from Sitemeter but he made it sound like it was all part of the Stores Online package.

Let’s step back and take a look. The speaker, considered an amazing success story, has a site that gets less than 300 visitors per day. And he is paying for those visitors because the only way he can get on page one of the search engines is to buy sponsored links. I don’t know about you but if I pay $7,000, the site you create for me better get a hell lot more than 300 visitors per day (for comparison, The TechZone gets 30,000 visitors per day)! I feel sorry for all the people in the workshop. They all have a dream of making money on the net but if they think Stores Online is the answer, they are sadly mistaken.

Then again, what do I know? I’m only a dot com mogul.


13 thoughts on “How Not To Get Rich On The Internet”

  1. Marco Polo says:

    Fantastic review! I couldn’t have said it better myself.

    This topic about storesonline was actually one of my first posts in Digital Point – http://forums.digitalpoint.com/showthread.php?t=14441&highlight=storesonline

    It was actually how I was introduced to the whole world of ecommerce. Even though I am in my young twenties and actively surfed – at that time I was oblivious to all the internet businesses springing up.

    Luckily I didn’t buy or sign anything that day. I don’t like high pressure sales systems. Only the REAL services know that their products will sell themselves through reputation and referrrals. And a simple google search (as you said) would reveal that StoresOnline was such a shoddy company. At the conference in Sydney, Australia I remember they trying to give credibility by stating their head company was a listed company on the stock exchange. Its still a load of bull as their subsidiary – StoresOnline has had a few name changes in its lifetime… The sad thing is that their company is still selling this scam worldwide from Australia to South Africa to New Zealand.

    Also the last time I did a google search for their company you would notice that they’ve tried to fill up the first page of serps with their own URLs. This is so people who do try to search about their company will have a tougher time trying to find out the true story behind the scam.

  2. Marco says:

    I dugg a similar piece about storesonline here: Digg it

  3. Kenric says:

    I bet they hate it when an expert or someone in the industry actually attends one of their workshops. Too bad you couldn’t point out those flaws during the question and answer session, if they even had one.

  4. Cory says:

    I’m in complete agreement with the what’s already been written.

    I went to the 90min “intro” session mostly for the free food and daytimer. Also I was interested in checking it out just to see what they had to say. I WAS NOT IMPRESSED.

    The crowd that was in attendace seemed mostly to be seniors and people with little or no computer knowledge. Basically, “easy targets” who don’t know that they’re being taken for a ride. It was rather sad actually. Here are these people looking to get ahead but will likely end up destitute when Stores Online is thru with them.

    They had some “sucsessful” outside consultant doing the soft sell to attend the major all day function after paying $20. I felt like I was listening to Tim Robins when he said stuff like “it’s easy to make tonnes of money online” and “you too can be part of this success.”

    He showed a video (from a DVD included in the $20 entrance fee package to the all day presenation) and I couldn’t help but notice the subtitles that would flash on the bottom of the screen occasionally … “RESULTS MAY VARY.” That never fills me with confidence.

    The DVD itself was an hour long or so info-mercial about Stores Online. I could only stomach 10 minutes of fast forwarding before I started using it as a coaster (much the same as the AOL disks I get sent to me).

    There was a Q&A portion to the evening but it was so short that he didn’t get to my questions (or carefully avoided them).

    The questions I asked:
    1) Can I take a look at the Stores Online business plan and annual reports?
    2) What is the percentage people who renew their sites for a second and third year?
    3) How does Stores Online help it’s clients get more visibility in an already over saturated arena?

    I wrangled myself tickets to the all day session (to be honest, I stole them as I really didn’t think it would be worth $20 dollars) and asked my wife to attend the function since I had to work that day. She’s at the same (and probably better) level of technical expertise as most of the people at the all day session. Not surprisingly she also thought that the day was a waste and nothing more than a hard sell to buy into this over-priced product.

    The really sad part about this is, the people who are going to get caught in this scam will probably never see these comments until they gain more computer experience.

    So … BUYER BEWARE. STORES ONLINE IS A SCAM.

    PS My background: I’m a programer. I work with PHP, HTML, Oracle, MySQL, MS SQL among other things. I designed and created websites and database applications of all kinds. When I attended the 90 minute session I said I was a truck driver with no computer experience when asked.

  5. Andy says:

    Very Informative – yet another great post

  6. Oh dear that sounds similar to a seminar that a friend in Australia did come to think of it. She was telling me eagerly that she’d been advised by them that the secret to marketing successfully in Google was to copy/paste the keywords of the site ranked number one in Google – then the money would come rolling in.

    I politely set her straight on that.

    I couldn’t handle going to something like that – even if they were paying ME to sit through it! 😉

  7. HMTKSteve says:

    How the heck did I miss this post? Why if you weren’t banned from Digg I’d submit this one!

    One of the things I notice right away as a sign of a scam is that they are telling 200 people they can get them a number one ranking on Google for their store. How can you get 200 people the same #1 ranking? There can be only one!

    I’ve seen these sorts of scam before. Often they take open source software and use that as the basis of their on-line offering.

    If you want to have an online store it is so easy these days. When I used to webmaster for http://www.kenzerco.com I set them up with a very easy to use webstore package based on oscommerce.

    I would aim to build some sort of affiliate search/shop type of site where a visitor comes to my page, searches for an item and then they are displayed a listing of where to buy that item on multiple webstores, all with affilite links of course!

    There are many ignorant people in the world who see the net as the way to make easy money. The only people making the “easy” money are the scammers (such as these folks) and the ones who due thier research ahead of time.

    Thanks for the great read.

  8. Alex Becker says:

    Yea I try to avoid any type of workshop or seminar since I believe they are all scams.

  9. Ryan says:

    Oh wow this is a hidden treasure. Thanks for linking this one. I too feel sorry for people that think it’s that easy. I think my dog could setup a site that gets more visitors per day.

  10. Jane says:

    I’m constantly hearing of “seminars” such as this and wondered…can this be true? Obviously if I’m saying the, a lot more people with less web experience are jumping at the opportunity if they have extra cash to spend…

    Good piece, I appreciate the “blast from the past.”

  11. Hawaii SEO says:

    Ouch! I don’t think I would have been able to keep myself from speaking up. It gives internet marketers a bad name whenever this type of thing happens.

  12. John says:

    I probably would have walked out of that seminar as soon as it turned into a sales pitch… I think we could learn a lot more about making money online based on how they operate… earn $4000 giving a seminar trying to sell people $7000 website packages… probably works out great for whoever owns that business, but probably not so well for the clients.

  13. Michael Zhao says:

    That’s good to know.

    Michael Zhao’s last blog post: Time…is not on any bodies side.

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