I’ve been building online businesses since 2006 and I’ve run into some interesting people in circumstances during that time. From the illegal translation of one of my books to the 80-year-old man that threatened to drive to Sioux Falls and beat me up, it’s been a wild ride.
Prefer to read instead of watch? Here’s a rough script I used for this video.
Matt Paulson here. In this video, I want to talk about seven weird things that have happened to me in the course of building my businesses. I don’t have a big message behind this video, but hopefully, you’ll find these experiences emblematic of what can happen when you put yourself out there in the world and begin to develop a brand. There are some, unique, interesting and weird people in the world and when they interact with you and your brand you’ll interact with people’s fears, hopes, insecurities, strengths, greed, and generosity. I’ve had plenty of good experiences with the people I’ve met online. In fact, I hired a guy that I met online. His name’s don. This video is not about the good experiences I’ve had though, it’s just about some of the weird and funny things that have happened to me in the course of building my online businesses though. So, here are seven weird experiences that I’ve had as a result of building my online businesses.
1 – Someone made an illegal translation of Email Marketing Demystified. I got an email offering translation services for my book Email Marketing Demystified once and I ignored it because I thought it was just random spam. The guy emailed again as a lot of spammers do, but it turns out it was just someone who really wanted an Italian version of Email Marketing Demystified to exist. So, he translated the entire book to Italian himself and published it on Amazon under my name. I emailed him after I found it saying, “hey, what the heck? You’re stealing my work”, but also realized I didn’t care that much since more people could benefit from my work. He agreed to split half of the commissions he got from Amazon on the sales of his book with me, which was fine, but of course, I never saw any of those payments. So, that’s weird thing number one.
2 – An old man threatened to beat me up. Last year, there was an older gentleman from Oklahoma City that couldn’t for the life of him unsubscribe from getting push notifications on his web browser for MarketBeat. We sent him the instructions to do it, because we can’t unsubscribe people from push notifications on our end, and he just got meaner and meaner and started leaving threatening voice mails. He said he was going to drive up to come Sioux Falls and pay me a visit. He said it would be unfortunate if I had an accident. He used all kinds of nasty language and threatened me physically. I recorded the voice mails and calls and sent them to my lawyer asking what I should do about it. Once my lawyer called the guy, he became a lot less brave and my lawyer Paul was actually able to talk him down from the ledge.
3 – I was accused of manipulating penny stock trading algorithms. One of the things MarketBeat does for marketing purposes is to create content using natural language generation technology that we developed. When a company announces its quarterly earnings, we don’t write that article, a computer does, then we publish that to our website. So, we end up writing about a lot of small stocks that most people don’t care about, which gets people on our website so they can sign up for our email list and click on some ads. Someone thought we were pumping fake news stories into the internet on these small stocks to manipulate social media news feeds that people that use to feed algorithms to identify stock trades that trading bots can make. The idea behind these bots is that if all of a sudden there’s chatter about a specific small stock on the Internet, maybe it’s going to go up in price, so people have built bots to trade based on social media sentiment. Someone thought we were trying to manipulate these bots into buying penny stocks and they said they reported us to the SEC for it when in reality, we are just trying to get email sign-ups for our newsletter.
4 – I got recognized by a subscriber at Younkers. My wife and I are frequenters of the Empire Mall and one day I had MarketBeat t-shirt on when we were shopping at Younkers. We were checking out and the woman working at the cash register recognized the MarketBeat brand from my t-shirt. She said something along the lines of “Oh, MarketBeat, I love that website. Do you work there?” I told her I ran the company and she said that she loved using the website to research different companies. Typically our audience is a 50-90-year-old male, so I was pretty surprised when the checkout worker at Younkers told me she was a subscriber.
5 – I briefly outsold Donald Trump’s books on Amazon. So, Amazon has a list of best selling authors in each category and I usually rank in the top 100 if I’ve had a book out recently and one time I got up to number eight after one of my books came out, I think it was Online Business from Scartch, but it could have been another book. Anyway, there were all of the usual business authors in the top ten, Seth Godin, Jim Collins, Stephen Covey, Tim Ferris, Dave Ramsey, etc. There I was at number 8 and right behind me was the President of the United States, so I can say my books briefly outsold Donald Trump’s on AMazon.
6 – Someone Impersonated Me on Quora. Most of you know that Quora is a question and answer platform where people type in questions and anyone can answer them with a quasi-professional response. Well, someone wanted to do an experiment to see what kind of engagement they could get using a prolific writer’s ideas on Quora, so he took a lot of my blog posts, grabbed paragraphs from them, and copied in pasted them as answers on Quora in a Matt Paulson twitter account. I think he answered 100’s of questions on a Matt Paulson quora account using my blog posts, so I guess that’s free marketing for me. Anyway, he emailed me after he started the experience and asked if I wanted to take over the Quora account when he was done with his experiment and was very good natured about it, even though he was stealing my content.
7 – I won an award that I wasn’t nominated for and nobody told me about – This actually happened last week. There’s a website called AHrefs that tells you when someone new links to your website and I saw an inbound link from a domain called Global Gurus.org. Apparently they named me one of their top 30 global gurus in the category of startups for 2019. I’m not sure how legit the website is since they just copied and pasted my bio from my LinkedIn profile and the website just didn’t look that well put together, but it’s nice to be recognized even its from a questionable awards site. As far as I know, no one nominated me for this award and I’m really not sure how I was put on this list. I did find one email from the website in my inbox about it, but I think it went to spam or otherwise didn’t make it to the top of my inbox.
So, those are seven weird things that have happened to me in the course of being an online business owner. You just get to have a lot more interesting experiences, some positive, some negative, when a lot of people know who you are, even if you don’t know who they are. I can only imagine celebrities have to deal with stuff like this to a factor of 10. Again, I don’t have a strong message for this video, but hopefully you found these stories entertaining and insightful to some of the stuff you might have to deal with when you begin to build a recognizable brand.