How to Be Invaluable

March 12, 2012 , 28 Comments

In many ways, marketing is about making yourself, your product or your brand noticeable. If you can stand out from the crowd and offer something unique or superior, half your marketing is already done.

The good news is that there is one simple factor that will contribute to you standing out from the crowd more than anything else and in this post, I’ll tell you exactly what it is.

Watch the video below to see what I mean:

What if You Just Don’t Feel Like It?

One thing about drive is that you can’t really force it. If a project or niche is unappealing to you, it can be difficult to get any kind of real ambition going.

If you are involved in work that you cannot get yourself to feel a personal drive for, then it’s a sign that you need to start doing something else.

I used to be very attracted to the idea of “uninvolved” income streams, like building up small niche sites that generate affiliate income, while I myself would remain anonymous and behind the scenes. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this business model and I think you can be truly ambitious and passionate about something like this: becoming better and better and building up and optimizing these sites, targeting them for very specific keywords and niches and seeing them generate income can be quite a rush.

I discovered, however, that this particular model doesn’t really do it for me, in the long term. It doesn’t keep me interested and in most cases, I just don’t have the ambition to deliver a truly fantastic website on the topic of competitive speed knitting or whatever the niche may be.

If you choose something like niche site building because you hope it to be an “easy way out”, you’ll end up wasting your time. The real shortcut is to find something that you can turn into a viable business, but that you’re also ambitious about.

It’s Not a Money Issue

Whenever I look for a freelancer to hire for a job, I’m always surprised at how many people offer their work for extremely low wages. Of course, these contractors usually work from countries with relatively weak currencies and low living costs, but even taking that into account, it seems to me like most people are caught up in a race to the bottom, as Seth Godin calls it.

I’ve found that the old adage of “you get what you pay for” often holds true and people who are competent and ambitious will usually charge a lot more than people who aren’t. Personally, I’d much rather pay a high rate for someone who insists on doing high quality work only, even though that increases costs, than buy cheap, mediocre work.

If you are offering any kind of service or selling your own product (which you should be), realize that from the perspective of your customers and clients, it’s often not a money issue. Sure, some of them will be looking for the cheapest possible solution, but they’ll get burnt soon enough and will then come back looking for quality, instead. The priority for you should always be offering an excellent service, not keeping prices as low as possible.

Invaluable Marketing

The bottom line is that if you are competent and driven, you become a rare exception and people will seek you out.

Among all the projects I’ve been involved in, the most ambitious ones have always been the easiest to promote, the easiest to generate more traffic to and the ones most often leading to new opportunities.

From the perspective of an employer, it’s very unfortunate that so few people are ambitious and self-motivated. From the perspective of an entrepreneur, service-provider or freelancer, you can rejoice: the fact that most people are setting the bar so low just makes it easier for you to stand out and stand out further from the crowd.

About ​Shane Melaugh

I'm the founder of ActiveGrowth and Thrive Themes and over the last years, I've created and marketed a dozen different software, information and SaaS products. Apart from running my business, I spend most of my time reading, learning, developing skills and helping other people develop theirs. On ActiveGrowth, I want to help you become a better entrepreneur and product creator. Read more about my story here.

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  • Well said, as always you have great subject to talk about, and have help me do even better because of what you said. thanks again. looking forward to your next update..

  • Hi Shane,

    Your absolutely right, lack of ambition in the self employed landscape is completely unsustainable. On-line marketers can learn a lot from a good quality local tradesman, who, in my opinion, are rarely short of work.

    keep up the video’s, they’re really engaging.


    • Hi Duncan,

      That’s a very good point. The same rules apply offline and I bet that quality trades-people who take real pride in their work are a rare commodity as well.

  • Hi Shane,

    Nice video. Napoleon Hill has a formula similar to what you are talking about. It’s Q + Q + MA = Success

    Quality + Quantity + (Positive) Mental Attitude = Success

    Appreciate the info!

  • Shane, you are not the only one that feels this way. I can really related to what you are saying, especially to this part:

    “I discovered, however, that this particular model doesn’t really do it for me, in the long term. It doesn’t keep me interested and in most cases, I just don’t have the ambition to deliver a truly fantastic website on the topic of competitive speed knitting or whatever the niche may be.”

    So true. I have been thinking about this for the past few weeks and can’t agree more that The real shortcut is to find something that you can turn into a viable business, but that you’re also ambitious about. That is really the only true way to be truly successful in the long term instead of taking advantage of what is working right now.

    You need to look at things from the top instead of looking at them from the ground floor which is what iv’e been doing for quite a while.

    Thanks for a great post!

    • Thanks for your comment!

      I think it’s a bit of a balancing act. You need to have done some “from the ground up” work before you can really appreciate the big picture. It’s a process, for most people and there’s nothing wrong with doing what’s not right for you for long enough to realize there’s something else that’s right for you.

  • It’s the old, but still valuable and true axiom, expressed in different ways:

    What you send out there is what you receive in return.

    Or, more in the vernacular, “garbage in, garbage out.”

  • I think you are right Shane. It all comes down to the quality of the work. Although it takes longer to produce higher quality work, the ‘return’ of that investment in your time pays off. For example, this IM Impact site is obviously one of the sites that you really care about and that shows in the quality of the material.

  • Hello Shane,

    The last time we spoke it was about an interview you did with a successful fellow, pretty much on this same topic. I stated that everything was there for success except for the “secret ingredient.”

    You have just given us that which was lacking.

    There isn’t much you can do when the party on the other end is imperceptive, no matter how hard you try. But perceptive people pick up on extra motivation, and will act on it. They make the best customers anyway.

    As always your excellent and motivational video hello serves as a timely reminder to those of us who know these things, and a life lesson to those who don’t.

    Your fan in Alabama,

    • Hi Norm,

      Yes, this might be that missing puzzle piece.
      The thing is that just being motivated and ambitious won’t get you anywhere on it’s own, either. But having a real product or service and having that ambition serves as the basis for a business. Now, mix in SEO and other online marketing stuff and that’s how you get results.

  • Andy Iskandar says:

    Hey Shane,

    I agree a 100%. That is why I believe the “google sniper” model of doing niche marketing is going the way of the dinosaur soon, if not later.

    Being an authority in a particular field is going to be necessary for success in the online marketing world. And there’s no way you can be an authority if you are not driven, ambitious and passionate about your field. And it is hard to be that if you are in many different fields at the same time.

  • I have a friend who paints houses. He has been working by himself for the last 20 years. When I ask why he does not hire a helper, he says “Anyone who will give the attention I give to the job and has quality skills, soon leaves and starts their own business.”

    Many marketers complain about the quality of an article that they pay a penny or two per word. They want a high quality, well researched article for $15 or $20 (or less). I suppose that in some parts of the world you can get someone to do this for this amount. But high quality for this price is rare indeed.

    Craft and pride of work is important. It provides great satisfaction. But, getting paid fairly is important too.

    From a recent short story “..if the zombies ever get organized we are all finished..”.

    I guess that the best people to hire are those with great pride and dedication to their work but lacking in ambition. Otherwise, they will become your competitor (or your partner).

    • Hi Martin,

      Thanks for your comment!
      Yes, when you find someone truly driven, they might become your partner. And that’s a good thing!
      Someone turning into your competitor is something I haven’t seen, myself. I’m sure it’s not impossible, but in most cases, it makes more sense to partner up than to go separate ways. You have the product ideas, the developer has the programming skills. You have niche knowledge, the designer knows how to make your website look better than all the rest. Your partner is great at building products, you’re great at marketing them.
      In every case, the two are not worth much on their own, but working together is where the magic happens.

      In short: I don’t think you have to worry about highly ambitious people running away with your ideas.

  • Shane, I have no words, just: Yes, you are right! Right! Right! Right! Right! Right!…. no words… Right!!!


    All the best

  • Hiya Shane

    Once again – you’re the right guy at the right time with the right insight – for me anyway.

    I have ambition and drive in abundance – but the passion has eluded me.

    Over the past 18 months of full-time online-something-or-other I continue to increase my skills in creating WP sites, SEO, mobile, video, social media, outsourcing… the list goes on and is a familiar one. And did I mention I’ve loved learning every single bit of this!

    I bolt that together with my years as a technical writer and information systems analyst and it seems I’ve got the makings of a scalable business!

    Persistent problem: Something dies in me when I offer these services, or create my own niche sites. (I abandoned small niche sites because I couldn’t become expert enough in the topic to satisfy myself and I couldn’t do the false-face “good enough” websites with lots of heavy strategy in behind to propel dollars into the bank.)

    I don’t lack the capacity for intelligent self-promotion at all – I have got some clients, and I have done some quality work that has led to more clients.

    But my passion/motivation for this work doesn’t just fade – it almost never shows up! Neither, as a consequence does enough money. Nor does joy and satisfaction.

    Last week I pulled out my flip-chart and wrote the BIG QUESTION “What business am I truly in???” and lived in a stuck, uncertain (mildly terrified) place for days.

    But this morning, the answer began to flicker into focus – and sharpened up entirely when I watched your video. Ambition. yes. Drive. yes. But not only mine – I’ve got plenty. No, I mean my clients!

    For years I’ve recognized my talents/gifts were curiously “content free” even though I was quite masterful with other folks’ content.

    I thought online marketing might open doors to a more satisfying way to earn my living by doing “my own thing”…but after 18 months I realize that my passion only shows up when someone else brings their passion and knowledge of a subject to the table.

    I thought I didn’t have a sustainable passion – despite my ambition and drive. I do – but my passion is for structure, infrastructure and business models. It is transparent, so I missed it.

    Of all the clients I’ve taken on this year, only one fuels a sense of passion in me that goes deeper than earning money. We’re building a affiliate marketing niche website for him. This works because he is passionate and knowledgeable about his subject AND, he brings to the process an equal ambition and drive to mine. When his business is built, I’ll move on.

    I may have to remain in the shallow end of the financial pool a while longer. I need my “best” client to be my first serious success story.

    I like that idea. A lot. :)

    Thanks again for sharing, Shane!

  • Kevin Ryan says:

    Thank you for reminding me of this! Sometimes I am tempted by the “dark-side” of internet marketing, thinking I can just push a button and make tons of money. The things I have always been good at, the things that were wildly successful, were always the things that I was obsessed with delivering the absolute best product I could deliver. This is why I like offline consulting because I have a client that I want to impress and do my very best for. Posts like this are the reason I follow you Shane, don’t ever change my brother you are affecting people in a profound way.


  • Hi Shane,

    Love your optin box, how did you do tis, was it designed from scratch?


  • An insight into the psychology of employing outsourcers that leaves me:

    a) Wary of employing them

    b) Grateful that the people I’ve used up to now have been mostly good to exceptional

    I also love the reversal of the fact that most people offer such poor service and quality – that there is a real market for those of us who care about the quality of our work and truly want to serve our customers.

    with kindness,


  • Hi Shane
    What you are saying in the video is absolutely true. We can see this happening in bricks and mortar shops in Australia, you don’t seem to get the quality of service these days. This is making people not return to those shops. The idea of owning a shop or website is that you want your visitors to keep coming back therefore you need to be enthusiastic enough to provide quality service in a shop and a quality website online.
    Best Regards

  • I agree with your comments on being passionate and inspired! Think of successful names in the world today – you mentioned Seth Godin. Do any of them come across as half-ass or uninterested? (Certainly not Godin!) They are passionate about what they are doing! That’s what attracts us.

    Plus if you’re passionate, then you are having fun. Having fun and making money is a great combo :)

    Thanks for voicing this!

  • Shane,
    I do not think that it is necessary to be passionate or ambitious about every project/niche site I build.

    One should though, have a general passion about his profession as a marketer. Ideally a marketer should enjoy supplying quality answers/solutions in different price categories (the quality of the product/service increases of course with the price tag) to people who “desperately” need them.

    A good marketer diversifies (won’t keep his eggs all in one basket) and after he got his projects to the point that they are profitable and particularly if he meddles with 37 different niche projects, he’ll consider outsourcing the “maintenance” part or eventually hire on his own staff for this. Now they are true “uninvolved” income streams.

    Couple of years down the road, he might decide to sell all sites except the ones he likes the most. He’ll keep his favorite staff members or outsources and concentrates on getting his remaining niche projects to become true authority sites and conquer possible main/related/sub niches.

    Should they became truly fantastic websites on their topic. then he’ll be super happy. Should they only produce massive profit with their quality offers without being “truly fantastic” – he can live with that. He’ll and his staff/outsourcers will keep working on it though.

    Selling products at dumping prices? No way. He is a follower of Dan Kennedy in that aspect. Mr. Kennedy is a firm believer in raising prices. He has produced good results for his clients. Sure, they might have lost a few customers, but the bottom line is that their profit drastically increased. Added benefit – less customer = less support hassles.

  • Hey Shane,

    Everyone else has made some excellent replies here and said much of what I would too as I am late catching up with this particular video… but you make such a good point and not just in this video either – all of your recent stuff in particular has been spot on and it feels like you are really hitting your stride, so just wanted to say kudos to you for that! It is both an inspiration and good reminders of central themes it can become all too easy to stray from – especially when dealing with this internet world (let alone internet marketing world) where distraction and seduction towards new opportunities is such a hazard at all times…

    In my own experience quickly in relation to what you are saying here, when i first started out learning IM and affil. marketing – after doing ebay stuff for a couple of years – i was caught up in exactly what you are saying… i was trying to promote clickbank products and put up sites and hired out articles in boring popular niches, acne, panic, relationships… all the usual big obvious ones.

    Half the time i dont think i even properly read through the articles i was slapping up… of course it was all part of my learning experience and thats how I look back at it – not regretfully, however was my passion or desire to do something extra special there?? NO of course not.

    Did i see success or sell much? i think the answer is pretty obvious – hardly a thing…

    When i later came across the niche that has been my bread and butter for the last 2.5 years or so, i was already very personally excited and enthusiastic about the whole topic… i was quickly becoming an expert on it and that has never abated. When i started realizing there were affiliate programs in the niche (a physical product area) and began doing some promo almost instantly I started to see results. The reviews I do and sites I build (of which I have many on various sub-niche topics) are much more thorough, helpful and in-depth than competing sites – many other reviews say no more and sometimes less than could be gleaned from the supplier’s own site.

    My real drive and caring about the niche also helped enormously when i went through a very rough patch – about a year in the one company I had poured most of my energy into promoting suddenly killed their affil. program. I was up to making decent earnings of 8k or so monthly and suddenly it was gone. I was faced with the need to rapidly diversify and start from maybe not square one, but close to it. That was a year ago now and I have since built up a collection of better sites than ever and continue to strive to improve them, I even am in the midst of launching a social network site (using the cool socialengine software) which will be a ton of work to maintain but i know people will love it and use it… I still have been ‘marketing anonymously’ more or less which i am about to change – i see the benefits of building up a name for myself (even if it is a partial pen name) in order to help attain that public expert and trusted source of info that I know I already am being, but engaging more with my audience and everything that goes along with it…

    I must say that your excellent site and your Sunday updates, watching your following grow and getting to know you through the ‘conversations’ you instigate and involve yourself in with what i see as a great deal of skill… it is a not insignificant part of why i see the great benefits and appeal of marketing ‘yourself’ and as you put it – ‘being invaluable’

    thanks for all you do Shane, good luck with everything, you have the right attitude and vision and it comes across very well.

    • Thank you very much, James!

      I’ve had some affiliate offers close or not pay out, but not to the tune of 8K/month! That’s harsh!
      Congrats for recovering from that.

      I’m really happy to see that my current vibe is coming across in a positive way. I feel that I’ve been evolving with my own approach and of course, I hope that it only keeps getting better. :)

      • Hi Shane

        James brings up the subject of selling physical products as an affiliate. I’ve found info scarce on this subject with most advice going into selling digital information products.

        I would love to partake of your wisdom in this area and feel that I cannot be the only one.

        with kindness,


  • What a great ‘take’ on this subject. It speaks to the perfectionist in me. Throughout my life I have walked between two opposing forces: the first to deliver 110% in everything I apply myself to; and the second on never really finding my passion.

    I began my career, post University, joining one of the best consultancy practices on the planet. We were the SAS of the consulting world and delivered a minimum of 2.5 days work every day to our client’s 1.

    I have learned to throw myself into everything I do with passion and energy beyond the norm, but it has really only been recently in developing a ‘Romantic’ vacation rental business, that the strands of passion and ambition have merged. It took four and a half years to renovate the properties, and this project on its own now allows me to wake up every morning and be awed by how lucky I am to live where I do.

    But the romantic holiday cottages have succeeded beyond my wildest expectation. And largely it is because my wife and I spent years renting sub-standard holiday accommodation – and given the opportunity – we decided to create what did not then exist yet we had been seeking.

    The result now is enormous feedback from our guests (an embarrassing number of five star reviews on Trip Advisor) – and a thriving business.

    I have purchased your WSO Cash Blueprint just now, not because I want to create products for WSO, but because I want to listen to the interviews and see if I can apply some of the strategies I learn to my new IM business. And also because I want to see how you have structured the product. I am really becoming passionate about delivering local internet marketing products to local businesses – my next business. And I only want to do this for people as passionate and driven about their local business as I am about mine….

    I find it really exciting to be learning and sharing here on your site Shane. I feel as though I have found here a community of outstanding individuals with similar values, drive and passion…… and that is rare.

    With thanks,

    Michael Eccles

  • Hi Shane

    I’m not really sure how I ended up on your site, but I’m glad I did. Unlike most of the junk that I get from other marketers, your updates have a huge amount of value. In particular, your post on the New Traffic Paradigm really resonated with me – it’s very difficult to build a business on Google’s shifting sand.

    Thank you!

    • Thank you for your comment, Sanjeev!
      It’s very motivating to know that my posts are valuable to you. :)

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