When you publish a blog or YouTube channel or any public web property with your name attached, you need to develop a thick skin or the criticisms will spike your blood pressure.
No matter how good your site is, people will criticize. Some will be polite about it and some crass or rude.
If you sell courses, be prepared for some negative reviews as well. That’s par for the course.
You can’t please all the people all of the time.
I’ve read my share of blogs in the marketing space over the years, but there seems to be an unwritten rule to not publicly criticize or out another blogger by name or URL. There may be the odd exception where feuds developed but for the most part bloggers are civil.
Which is why I found it interesting that Andrew Girardin publicly denounced fatstacksblog.com in a July 3, 2016 blog post saying he “hates” me.
fatstacksblog.com wasn’t the only listed blog he hates.
Here’s a screenshot setting out part of what he says in his July 3, 2016 blog post (screenshot taken July 30, 2019):
It’s astonishing that he says “I HATE YOU for it.” I take it he means me personally otherwise he’d say “…HATE fatstacksblog.com for it”. The swearing adds a nice touch too.
I’ve never met or spoken with Andrew so I’m not really sure how he could hate me. He doesn’t know me. He can dislike my practices, but hating me personally for my blogging practices doesn’t make sense.
Maybe it’s an attempt at being funny. Yeah, that’s it. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.
What could I possibly have done for another blogger to hate me?
I guess I really offended Andrew. You’d think with such language I came out swinging at him like he to me (and others). But it’s nothing so egregious. It’s not my practice to denigrate other sites or bloggers for no reason.
Turns out he hates my use of aggressive opt-in forms such as welcome scroll mats, pop up forms, etc. and Push notifications.
The nerve of me, right? Crime of the century and all that.
Who else does he hate?
Turns out I’m in good company.
He apparently hates the guys behind Authorityhacker.com (a great site BTW… one of the best), Doug Cunnington’s blog (another super-informative blog), SumoMe and others all because of what he deems spammy practices.
On the one hand he says he’s fine with blogs building an email list, but his overarching message is it should not be done in an aggressive or “spammy” manner.
The gentleman that he is, he has a single opt-in form at the bottom of his blog with a polite “sign up” request which states “Please sir, can I have your email address?” with a little note under that saying “See how polite I’m doing this.”
A true gentleman.
He suggests my spammy practices are not worth the .2% increased email sign up conversion rate.
The thing is, the scroll mat alone on this site gets by far the most email sign ups and it’s far higher than a .2% conversion rate.
My sites aren’t charities
I strive to publish helpful and entertaining websites, but they aren’t charities. After all, fatstacksblog.com is primarily about building a financially successful online publishing business. Of course, Fatstacksblog is a commercial enterprise. If I had to hazard a guess, Andrew endeavors to make money with his sites. As do you (if not, you’re in a very small minority of site publishers and hats off to you).
My other niche sites aren’t charities either. They’re very well monetized with ads.
I’m not a trust funder where I can shell out $1,500+ per month for hosting without recouping that cost plus the many other expenses I incur publishing sites.
This site profits primarily via email and so it makes sense that I’d be aggressive in attracting new subscribers. I’d be a fool not to given this is a commercial enterprise.
Heck, Fatstacks forum members have told me to include affiliate links in the forum to help pay for the forum (the forum software and hosting isn’t cheap). Fatstacks readers often email me for my affiliate link when they’re about to buy something I promote. That’s darn nice of them. I don’t expect that but I sure do appreciate it.
What that tells me is some people on my email list and who read this blog like the content. They wouldn’t go out of their way to help me earn more money.
Aggressive opt-in forms aren’t a crime, but tax evasion is
I don’t deploy all the opt-in forms that I could with OptinMonster on this site. I chose the few I use and leave it that. Admittedly, the popup forms are aggressive, but they aren’t criminal.
But do you know what is criminal?
Which is why I find his May 2019 income report card so odd.
His blog publishes “income reports” that he calls “income report cards” which list out anonymous niche sites where he explains generally how they’re doing. There are no income or expense figures or revenue proof screenshots included.
The interesting part that I find bizarre is he prefaces at least one such report with “These report cards tell the story of how my niche websites are performing (in a way that doesn’t get me in hot water with the taxman).”
Here’s a screenshot from his May 2019 income report card (screenshot taken July 30, 2019):
Why on earth would he publicly say such a thing?
I can hazard a guess.
Some people think tax evasion is cool or funny.
I don’t and I explain why below. It’s not some moral superiority nonsense. There’s a financial reason as to why I don’t think tax evasion is funny or cool.
The fact he publishes income reports without revenue figures or screenshots is odd.
The fact he suggests he can’t list revenue because he doesn’t want problems with the taxman is very concerning (as a tax payor) and probably not the smartest move.
His May 2019 income report card suggests one of the following scenarios:
1. He makes nothing or very little from niche sites, hence no published revenue and expenses but makes it sound like he’s a high roller to bolster his credibility.
2. He makes good money but doesn’t report all of his income to the appropriate tax authorities.
3. He makes piles of money from niche sites and pays all taxes owing but insinuates he doesn’t pay all taxes owing as a joke.
I have no way of knowing with any degree of certainty which scenario is the true scenario, but logically it’s one of the above. You decide which one applies based on the facts.
I wouldn’t normally do this
I would never single out anyone like this out of the blue, but I simply couldn’t help myself given Andrew’s unprovoked attack against me and other stand up bloggers/sites.
When a lawyer wrongly accused me of copyright infringement (for embedding his client’s YouTube video) and threatened to sue me for hordes of money, I didn’t publicly set out his name.
When a sketchy link builder accused me of copyright infringement asking for a link for an image I paid in full for from Shutterstock, I didn’t publicly reveal her name.
There have been other instances of wrongdoing against me but I exercised restraint. It’s the small price of being a blogger.
However, Andrew’s post is egregious in intensity, choice of words, and the fact it’s public I have no choice but to reply in kind.
Without ever meeting or talking to me, he publicly announced he “hates” me. I don’t really care. I won’t change my blogging practices, but it’s uncalled for.
He could have easily written his blog post without listing sites as examples or publicly stating he hates me (or hating other esteemed bloggers/sites that really do offer a lot of good info).
He could have tempered the language to “practices he doesn’t like” or similar. “Hate” is a strong word. Maybe it was in jest and he’s trying to be funny… who knows.
At the end of the day, I don’t care. I’m not changing my practices.
However, I loathe tax cheats and do care about the impact they have on me and other people who pay taxes.
Why do I loathe tax cheats?
I loathe tax cheats because the rest of us end up paying more taxes. Governments need a certain amount of money to function and run a country. I have no problem paying taxes and do so gladly.
But I sure as heck don’t wish to pay more taxes to make up for people who don’t pay what they owe.
I doubt you do either.
Jon runs the place around here. He pontificates about launching and growing online publishing businesses, aka blogs that make a few bucks. His pride and joy is the email newsletter he publishes that’s “the best blogging email newsletter around.”
Hyperbole? Maybe, but go check it out to see what some readers say.
In all seriousness, Jon is the founder and owner of a digital media company that publishes a variety of web properties visited and beloved by millions of readers monthly. Fatstacks is where he shares a glimpse into his digital publishing business.