No Real Shortcuts

I read an interesting article about WordPress Direct on last night titled WordPress Direct: Like Blogging Without The Blogging. The article was fairly short - what was most interesting were the 100+ comments that followed.

I shared the link to the article on Twitter which - in usual form - turned into an interesting conversation from both sides of the fence. That conversation ended abruptly with a link to a freshly written blog post titled Foot in Mouth Disease...

The blog post was written anonymously by someone that goes by "IM Bitchin", and yes it was directed at me. You can read it here. According to that post, I should be "fishing a stiletto from my tonsils" for sharing the link and having an open discussion on the topic.

For the record, I dont enjoy controversy. But I did have a point to my comments about the article, and a reason for bringing it up in relation to a Warning that I published back in September. Let me back up and explain what this controversy is all about, and how it just might affect you...

The Controversy -

The controversy is over an automated blogging system called WordPress Direct which allows you to "Create SEO-Optimized, Content-Stuffed Websites Instantly". That quote is taken from their headline at

The service is based on a great concept: helping complete newbies get up and running with their own blog, requiring very little technical skill or knowledge.

The problem is in the way that it is marketed, as a hands-off means of creating optimized authority sites that the search engines will love. "Sit Back And Relax", "Simply click a few buttons and WordPress Direct will update your site as often or as rarely as you'd like." Again, quoting the sales copy on their main page.

The extremes on either side of the fence in this controversy seem to be Blogging Purists vs Spammers. Spamming defined as: spinning out automated sites or blogs to get good search engine rankings and make affiliate sales... with very little work (just click a button).

Marty Rozmanith, creator of WordPress Direct, agreed that their marketing material was not a true reflection of the product or its best use:

I will have to immediately re-cast the marketing material since it is obviously causing way too much heartburn to be useful. The service has it’s unique value points, and the material stresses the wrong ones.

Of course we hype the marketing - we are trying to sell it. But please do not confuse marketing with the truth, LOL. -source

That comment was made on November 24th, one day after the post was published on This seems to be where I've caught a little heat, both on Twitter and on the anonymous blog post I mentioned earlier.

Related Posts:

Even Innocent Users (Like YOU) Could Get Slapped -

As I mentioned before, I dont have a problem with the platform. In fact, I think its a great concept. But this is not the first platform of it's kind - one that promises to automate this, or make that happen faster, or do all your work for you with the click of a button.

Let's ask an honest question:

If you take away all of the auto-content posting and auto-optimization, how is WordPress Direct really that much easier or better than setting up your blog on And what is the real reason that someone would choose WordPress Direct over Blogger? For the auto-content and auto-optimization, of course.

This leaves you with a certain breed of "marketer" being the majority that use the service. It's marketed to them, it's being used by them, and anyone else will be branded by association.

Branded by who? Not by me, or by you, or by the "Blogging Purists" - but by Google. Programs like this leave a digital footprint, which makes it very easy for Google to pluck them right out of the SERPs. To get a better understanding of this, see: Social Media Marketing (A Warning).

But I should warn you, I wrote that in September (a little over 4 months ago) so its now considered "outdated" 🙄 ...

(Sadly, "real spammers" know better than to use something so easily detected and ultimately filtered out - so these types of programs are generally targeting complete newbies that dont know better...)

Past, Present, Future -

It is said that history repeats itself, and to know the future you only have to look at the past. Let's take a quick look at the history of similar programs & methods and their demise at the hands of Google:

  • The fall of the James Martell method - 2004
  • Google Cash Crash - 2005
  • PayPerPost Slap - 2007
  • Text Link Ads Slap - 2007
  • Squidoo Slap - 2007
  • The ban of BANS - 2008

All of these methods and programs were developed as shortcuts to help you make money online, faster and easier. They all worked at some point, some of them very well. AND they all resulted in thousands and thousands of low-quality websites and pages and campaigns - or "thin affiliate sites".

Google says:
"We differentiate between affiliates that produce extra service, value, or content, and those that simply are duplicates of other sites, set up to boost traffic to other sites and earn a commission for it..." -source

Just take a look at BANS for example, which is a script to help you easily set up an online store that is automatically populated with eBay affiliate links. How is that so different from WordPress Direct, which helps you set up a blog that is automatically populated with other people's content?

In concept, neither of those scripts are "bad". It's the thousands of "thin pages" that clutter up the search results all of a sudden that Google doesnt like.

All they have to do is find an identifying factor accross all of those pages - a digital footprint, a snippet of code common on every page generated by the script - and filter them out. And that's what they do.

Here's the real kicker...

It doesnt matter if you're one of the good guys, using any of these programs or methods "correctly". If your work contains the same digital footprint as the work of thousands of spammers (or even "lazy affiliates"), then your work could suffer the same fate as theirs with one simple filter.

And there goes all your hard work.

I've been 'slapped' a couple of times myself. Once to the tune of losing more than $30k in annual income overnight. Its no fun - and you certainly dont want to have all your eggs in a basket like that.

The bottom line is: be cautious about using automation, scripts, programs or even datafeeds. Particularly if you are counting on free search engine traffic.

3 Points to Consider -

1. I am not going to lie to you and tell you that "creating a stable, unique online business model at your own domain name" is the only way to make money online.

Some people are in it for the short term, turning tricks while they're hot. Some are in it for the long term - building a profitable business, and passive streams of income. I fall in the latter group.

To me the short-term methods are like renting a house, and dumping all of your savings into it. You dont own that property, and you can get evicted at any time. If you use these tactics, know upfront that you're using them at your own risk.

2. I dont agree that a blog post written 8 weeks ago is outdated simply by date stamp alone. Content is either relevant and accurate, or it's not, and the date stamp is not always the determining factor.

I have web pages and blog posts written years ago that are still as relevant today as they were the day that I wrote them.

I have put much consideration into removing the time stamps from posts here at my own blog for that very reason. Its interesting how the blogging platform has conditioned us to make assumptions based on dates.

3. There is a reason that there are no real shortcuts to creating a blog or website that will rank well in the major search engines, or that these automation scripts & methods only work for a short time.

Google would be a worthless search junk engine if stuff like that actually worked.

That doesnt mean you cant use those methods, and create websites. You just need to be prepared to pay for your advertising, and work harder and longer than people who create their own sites. (They dont mention that in the sales copy, do they?)

It's not that hard to set up a WordPress blog on your own hosting account, on your own domain. If you use HostGator, they have an installer in the control panel and toll free phone support.

Of course the set-up isnt that hard. There are some people that would like you to think that it is. That you cant do it yourself, and that you're not smart enough to do it the right way: by setting up a blog or site on an interesting topic, with interesting content.

The decision is yours: spend countless nights and more money trying to find the perfect solution to do it all for you, for short-lived results. Or save money, learn how to set up your blog or site, invest your time upfront, and then sit back and enjoy long-term passive income as a result.

You're still going to have to work. We all do. Some more than others. You just need to put some thought into whether you want to go the potential "crash & burn" methods, or build a real business that yields some financial security.

And if you dont want to write every day or every week, then dont set up a blog. Go set up a traditional website. You can still get good search engine rankings and makes sales that way too. I am.


About Lynn Terry

Lynn Terry is a full-time Internet Marketer with over 17 years experience in online business. Subscribe to ClickNewz for the latest Internet Marketing trends & strategies, Lynn's unique case studies, creative marketing ideas, and candid reviews...more»


  1. Allison Reynolds says

    WPD is a good idea that, in my opinion, has been poorly executed and poorly marketed. It certainly has a lot of potential and if they get themselves together, or another group comes along that offers better service, there will be money to be made.

    I was a WPD gold member but withdrew after some terrible customer service from Marty R which demonstrated to me a lack of business maturity.

    Alas spammers will use ANY tool available to do their dirty work, and I would be surprised that spammers will pay for this service when they can quite easily replicate the stuff that WPD does for free.

    It concerns me that telling people to stop using the service on twitter using only that Mashable article as a reference will cause confusion and fear within those new people who are using the service who should not be fearful.

    Also I read through that other blog post that you referenced and they aren't pointing out anything about the WPD service (or any of the points made in this post). They appear to be pointing out that you called out something Ed Dale supports and uses in his 30DC program in which he is VERY firm on how the tool should be used. Do you believe the 30DC is training spammers?

  2. Hi Allison,

    I didnt tell people to stop using the service on Twitter using only that link - the conversation continued and I gave links to my concerns about digital footprints and similar issues in past Google updates.

    I referenced the blog post to keep the discussion connected, since it obviously outgrew Twitter. The main point that connects the 2 posts is their reference of the date stamp on the Mashable article - which I addressed here.

    And no, I dont think 30DC is training spammers.

    Over the last couple of years, a lot of things have come and gone. I've been affected by a few of them personally, and have seen hundreds of my readers bank on a new stream of income (ie quit their day job) only to have it disappear overnight.

    I currently (still) have a (TB)PR0 on an aged authority site for doing a case study on Text Link Ads awhile back - 2007 I believe. I try to review everything I recommend (or dont) personally. That being just one example. So I'm speaking with experience for concern about potential issues in future updates - updates we're likely to see this year.

  3. Hey Lynn; I hope you got over your cold. I have really been enjoying listening to your contribution to Internet marketing this week. That is turning out to be an excellent podcast and I consider you an intelligent balancing contribution to the show.

    I think WordPress Direct is like a lot of things in the world today that can be used for good or evil. The unfortunate truth is that many thousands of spamy junk websites will be created with this tool and tools like it. In my mind, this presents a real risk to the Internet and affiliate marketing in general. WordPress Direct is one of many tools that can be used for nefarious purposes.

    Just before Christmas I was trying to buy a pair of fancy designer shoes for my nephew. I have not been able to find the shoes in a real mall, so I tried to find them online. I was delighted to find pages of results in Google for the shoes are looking for, and then dismayed to learn that each and every one of the pages pointed to the same Commission Junction partner. That kind of result is not good for Google and it's not good for the Internet.

    On the other hand, if you build a very targeted niche website by collecting all the obscure scattered content around the Internet and put it in one helpful place where people can find it, aren't you adding value?

    So I guess the bottom line has something to do with a saying in Texas.

    "Hand guns don't kill people; people kill people."

  4. Jim McDowell says

    Thank you for the article, food for thought.
    The best thing about WPD is it allows beginners to get a feeling of the IM world easily.
    As they gain experience they can move on to more traditional methods

  5. Hi Lynn

    I can't say I understand all the arguments in this debate.. as I am one of the 'newbies' who may very easily have followed this path.. and gone for an easy option.. but I havent.

    I have been playing with online marketing for the last few years but mainly ebay and squidoo. I decided recently that the subject fascinates me so much I want to actually learn what and how to do it best.. So I have a wp blog set up (havent put a link here as that isnt my point.. just to get a link :)) though some would argue that IS the point.. I guess..

    I am interested in your point of view.. I have been reading your page for the last month or so..along with a few others to try to work out who I trust and their depth of knowledge.. plus if I actually understand the language they use?! LOL! As some of the big hitters in this industry are very obviously knowledgeable and successful.. but they dont speak the same language as me.. that is the learning curve.. I am on 🙂 That isnt meant as a criticism to you! I think you explain this business very well.. it is an art to be able to break a subject down into it's constituent parts and explain them.. for those who have no prior knowledge or experience.

    So whatever the details of the argument.. thank you for your frank and honest veiews and opinions of current issues..

    Hope this makes sense.. I just really wanted to say ta. I enjoy your blog.. and your Tweets.. there has to be debate.. that shows maturity of the medium.. doesnt it?

  6. Ian Dunford says

    Hi Lynn

    Hope you are feeling much better today.

    I enjoyed reading this, so much clear good advice, just like the sort of advice a wise mother gives to her children weather they are 4 or 40 years old.

    I'm following wisdom!

    Why build your house on sand when a good rock bed is available that will ensure your house weather's the storms.

    Great Advice!

    Makes complete sense to me and I am a beginner.

    Warmest Regards

    Ian UK

  7. Frank Silvestre says

    Lynn, you can't always please people. Many will love what you do or say as you are always under public scrutiny as many people are following you but that does not mean all of them will love or praise you. Just continue with whatever your doing for there are people who continually gets motivated with what you do like me. 🙂

  8. Nikki Backshall says

    Hi Lynn,

    I followed the debate over on Twitter and the ensuing backlash that it then provoked with interest.

    I also signed up for WPD direct when it first launched, more out of curiosity than anything else, as I never intended to maintain more than a few blogs, I soon left as the service wasn't something that matched my particular needs, although I would like to mention that I did get great customer service from Marty.

    Whilst I can appreciate the concerns that Allison Reynolds has regarding new Internet Marketers using the system, I do agree that this is a constructive P.O.V and that scaremongering is far from your intentions by bringing this subject to the forefront again.

    The 30DC taught the correct way to use this tool but there are limited controls to the amount of blogs that can be 'thrown up' and this is potentially making life very easy for spammers and possibly encouraging more. And even though the example used in the 30DC was a good example of how WPD can be used, the way that WPD is set up and marketed is going to encourage abuse of the system.

    I imagine that anyone who has completed the 30DC and is using this system is using it correctly - 1 or 2 blogs that are creating value and I don't think that the teachings of the 30DC has ever been in question.

    WPD allows you the option of adding a high number amount of blogs in a fairly short space of time, so if they are standing by the virtue that they are not wanting spammers to use this system, why not just have a system for newbies that allows them the ease of a quick 'push button' install rather than market it to be a 'blog generating machine' that uses automated content?
    I think that this is the main problem that WPD faces in terms of its marketing - the automated content is actually monitored and it states quite clearly on their FAQ's:

    Q Is there any limits on content software when I host with you?

    A Yes. Those who are using WPD hosting are limited to autopost no more than once every two days and no more than 3 posts per keyword.

    For anyone who isn't a spammer, this won't be a problem. Using the automated content function to add the odd post in between adding original content isn't a crime. The content is all linked to the source.

    It's a common misconception of WPD that they host/own your blogs, but in actual fact they don't. You can leave WPD at any time and still keep all of your blogs intact if you have your own hosting and domain name, something that they (WPD) do encourage you to do at the start.

    WPD hasn't been marketed correctly at all. From the start it's been labeled as a 'quick fix' that takes little or no maintenance. If they are allowing/encouraging you to have 100+ blogs that pull content from the Internet then it's never going to be 100+ blogs that are adding valuable content even with the restraints that they have in place. The sheer volume of blogs would be impossible for anyone to maintain.

    (Although Marty has already put his hands up and said that he agrees that WPD does need to redefine it's marketing materials.)

    Another of the attractions of WPD is the fact that when your blog is installed, it has all of the plugins you need for great SEO. Again this is great for someone who is just learning the ropes as this is an important aspect that is all done for them via WPD. It's also very handy for spammers!

    I think that for people who want an Internet presence it's quite a good tool to get them up and running, however, installing a blog via CPanel is easy enough and now with WordPress 2.7's new interface, even adding plugins just involves a couple of clicks - no need to even ftp anymore.
    If you want to carve out a career with longevity online, it takes hard work and commitment. Starting off with a 'quick fix' is giving the false illusion that it's easy to earn a living online. But by learning how to use CPanel and WordPress, you are already equipping yourself with valuable tools. Plus you will care far more about your new blog if you are involved in the building process.

    That being said, there are still many people who find the whole idea of installing a blog quite frightening and this service from WPD does allow them to have their blog without any of the technical worries.

    At the end of the day, we're never going to see the back of spammers but we don't want to make life really easy for them. Perhaps with some tighter rules and constraints, WPD could be a great starting point for anyone who wants to start an online business. If WPD can resolve it's marketing issues and take another look at the amount of blogs it allows people to have along with some constraints on the autoposting features, then I'm sure that it will receive nothing but love (and no slap) from Google and the blogging community in general. There are some truly great minds behind WPD and their aim is to make life easier for people with little or no technical knowledge so it certainly deserves to be acknowledged for the truly great tool I really hope it becomes.

    Thank you for a great post Lynn, it's always a pleasure to read them,

    Nikki Backshall


  9. Dennis Edell says

    If I may jump to theside for a moment and mention, BANS is far from dead. Those that have since added content properly (among other small fixes), are very much alive and kicking, both in the SERPS and elsewhere. 🙂

  10. Controversy...there's no controversy here.

    Lynn is just being Lynn and that is a very good thing.
    Lynn is one who learns and applies and is passionate about helping her readers
    avoid her mistakes.
    As one who is a follower of both Lynn and Ed, I was well aware that Lynn was not
    participating in the 30 Day Challenge...
    Why would she be? She earned her first dollars on line 12 years ago.
    I was thrilled when Ed and Lynn finally met as they are two of my favorite people to learn from.
    I have learned more from these two people because they share a willingness to give away
    more good info for free than most would (and do) charge for.
    Neither have anything to apologize for and in fact they are in agreement.
    All of us, including Google, are against thin spammy sites that have been and will always be
    Lynn is absolutely right about footprints.
    If you would build an authority site, you would probably be well advised to not do so with the WPD platform.
    I have a few WPD sites, but have not even added the pluggins for auto posting.

    You can count on Lynn to express her thoughts regardless and I would hope she will never
    change in that regard.
    You might recall her taking her concerns to the Stompernet guys after hearing from her readers.
    When I read Lynn's tweet about WPD it caused me a woah moment and I thought this might get interesting.
    It has, but it what it is not is controversial.

    I don't think you have anything to apologize for Lynn nor any shoes to remove from mouth.

    As for "IM Bitchin" Don't know who that might be but it might be fun to speculate 🙂
    Any guesses?

  11. Alan Petersen says

    It might shock the IM-Bitching anonymous blogger- but for us it's just vintage Lynn. She always looks out for her subscribers/readers first. So it's not case of "foot in mouth" and no surprises here. It's Lynn telling it as it is. Just because she's friends with Ed Dale it doesn't mean they have to be 100% in agreement on everything. A true friend is one that speaks up--good or bad--not a bunch of yes-people. So keep it up Lynn!

  12. DeAnna Troupe says

    Lynn, Lynn, Lynn. You sure are good at stirring the IM pot. I think that's why I try to keep up with what you're doing.

    First of all I don't think you have any reason to put any type of footwear in your mouth for voicing potential problems with a product. Truthfully I get suspicious anytime I see something that says you can make money without work...but I digress. You've brought up some excellent points and I think the detractors are suffering from the "hit dog will holler" syndrome.

    Keep up the good work. I hope you get to feeling better. We can't have you sick when you come to Atlanta, now can we? 😀

  13. Shane Eubanks says

    This sort of reminds me of a saying that "search engines don't buy products"...meaning that it's close to pointless to optimize a site for search engines if the user doesn't get anything out of the site. I haven't looked too deeply into WordPress Direct, but from the surface I can't see it building anything that I'd "believe in". It may work for some people...probably the same people I find stealing my original content and posting on their sites, but it's not my type of business. I guess I just wasn't raised that way. 😉

    Oh, btw, I'm sure they appreciate the "followed" link you provide them in your article!!! 😉

    Thanks, Lynn, for standing up for honest IM once again.

  14. I have diverse comments to make, but all in support of you, Lynn.

    First, personally, I could care less what some anonymous person has to say. I'm not crazy about people hiding behind pseudonyms and then blasting everything and everyone they see, so whatever they have to say that's just negative stuff, I ignore.

    Second, this WP Direct thing may not be what it sounded like the first time I heard it, which was a scrapper company, but even so, the idea of that type of simplicity without any real work or thought just annoys my sensibilities. It's as bad as those commercials on TV that tell everyone that they can easily make money marketing on the internet or easily make money through the stock market; hasn't anyone been paying attention to what's going on? Earlier today on my blog I wrote a post of more than 2,200 words that I cared a lot about. What would be the purpose or encouragement of my continuing along in that vein if some lazy so-and-so is going to pop up and have content that they didn't really write that's suddenly more popular than what I worked hard on?

    And third, except for technology, something a couple of months old is always relevant for conversations. How many of us have had old blog posts that someone decides to write something on? This program is still around; Twitter is still around; Bush is still around (okay, only for two more days, but still,...), so what's old?

    Good stuff, Lynn; thanks for bringing it to our attention.

  15. Lisa Marie Mary says

    Lynn, your handling of this situation really impressed me. And it was so amazing, because, just before this all happened, I had watched Gary Vaynerchuk's Turning Negatives into Positives video. Wow - that's some hardcore foreshadowing. And I'd say you and Gary are SO on the same page!

    Thanks for being the 'stand up gal' for us, Lynn. This, of course, makes me happy for me - but, more than that - I think of me seven years ago - and how little I knew and how much hogwash I believed to be true - or forthright - or ethical - or even potentially-lucrative. And for that me - those who are just joining us in this arena ...last week ...last year ....or even in the last few years - because I know they'll hear your voice - that's why I'm so grateful you continue to "Speak your mind, even if your voice shakes." (Maggie Kuhn)

  16. Hi Lynn,
    Thanks for the info. I think I'll give them a miss. Can you comment on these guys:

    Do you think it's another scheme that's waiting for a 'slap'?

  17. Wow Lynn!
    What a fantastic post. I sure do hope that all people that have an online business or want to have one read this. It would save them a lot of headaches, time and money. What a well thought of and balanced position you have.
    As for others who don't "get it" they really should really have a little more humility. Maybe then they would actually learn something from you instead of ranting away like a chicken with her head cut off.
    Definitely stumbling this one!

  18. Hi Lynn,
    This is another great post. I am not up to par on all of this, but stick to your guns.
    I enjoy that you are not doing the "get rich quick method" and that you keep up with the ins and outs of IM. Thank you for watching out for us and keep us in the loop.
    Helps all of us make informative decisions.

  19. Hi Lynn,
    I'm way at the bottom of the stack here, so don't know if my ALARM will get through.
    You mentioned "ban on BANS", but didn't pursue that exact subject. I have a BANS site (really haven't worked it much, and it shows), and the Adsense shows a little trickle. Are you saying that Google won't even look at a site that doesn't continuously update the content on the ebay Category pages? Or that affiliate links have to be changed periodically?
    My questions indicate that ... I'm confused!
    Be well ... it's our spiritual heritage.

    Gene B

  20. parkersrock says

    Love the topic I am new to the IM thing and was a 30 day challenger this year and do have a couple of wpd site's out there. I have learned a little bit about the back end of a hosting site but in the early days I could barely figure out wpd site set up it does make it easy to get up and running.
    I have tried the auto content thing I was ranked about 12 in Google serp when add that feature .Low and behold my wpd blog dropped out of site to the point I could not find it.So I took the auto content thing back off and let it be lost in Google.
    A month later after my hosting expired for old time sack I looked up my keyword and bang there it was back in top 10 so I have never add that thing again.So not sure my future with wpd after reading all this about it Im going to move my domain's to just plan old WordPress thank for keeping us new folks in the loop and not loope thank again Lynn

  21. Hells Bells!
    I'm one of those newbies! Just reading all this and I have a WPD blog and my stomach is churning. I have spent full days researching and writing my blog posts and now this. (maybe I need to learn to read and write faster. 🙂

    I did read Ed's response and it has been a great learning curb for me. Plus in my own defense and other user's I'm sure - I would love to spend the time to learn how to set up a website, but when you work and have kids and other commitments WPD was the way to get started quickly. Though to be brutally honest I'm still no closer to quitting my day job than I was a year ago, so what would I know!

    However all this is now pushing me to really learn how to do it myself. I want a business not a quick buck.

    Someone from the 30DC recommended Lynn to me and I'm been following along and this is my first chance to say "Thank you for all the great content."

    If anybody feels so inclined would you mind explaining to a dumbum here, what the difference is between and
    Also I think I read in Lynn's post that you could move your website from WPD if you wanted to?
    thanks heaps and have a great day.
    Janelle 🙂

  22. Cynthia LaLuna | Perspectives on Freedom says

    Bless your heart, Lynn, for this:

    "Of course the set-up isnt that hard. There are some people that would like you to think that it is. That you cant do it yourself, and that you’re not smart enough to do it the right way: by setting up a blog or site on an interesting topic, with interesting content."

    And THAT is why you are the internet marketer with integrity.

  23. I havent had opportunity yet to read all of your comments here & respond - sorry about that. I've been traveling & came home sick, so just now catching up.

    I wanted to let you guys know that Ed Dale and I discussed this topic on IMTW episode #10, the "Internet Marketing This Week" podcast. If you're not subscribed you can hear it at

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