The Future of Copyblogger

Copyblogger

What a wild three-and-a-half years, huh?

Copyblogger started out as a way for me to demonstrate what I knew and could do in order to collaborate on new media projects with others.

Now it’s the hub of a business enterprise that supports three families, two single guys, one single mom, and a host of domesticated animals.

And we’re just getting started. Of course, that means having a clear picture of where we want to go is pretty essential.

Guidance from the Wise Bald One

I’m not going to pretend that Seth Godin and I are best buddies who hang out on weekends and major holidays. But if there’s anyone I’d point to as a mentor, it’s him.

For years that came solely from his books, which in many cases was more than enough. In the last couple of years, however, Seth has been very generous with his time and wisdom when I needed guidance.

A couple of months ago, an email from Seth arrived with some unsolicited advice. Actually, it wasn’t advice, but a question:

What kind of tribe are you building?

Over the last 8 months, we’ve been experimenting with stretching the bounds of what Copyblogger covered, reviewed, and recommended. I think Seth thought we had gone off track, or lost the path. In hindsight, maybe he was right.

At first, I was annoyed. Then, I started giving it a great deal of thought. Finally, Sonia and I started to talk about it . . . a lot.

The result was what’s become known as the Two Tribes post. And that turned out to be a defining moment.

The Intersection of Pragmatism and Progress

Sonia and I are both students of online marketing. Not any one particular kind of online marketing, mind you, other than marketing that works.

That doesn’t mean we adopt things as is. The key to effective marketing is to be context appropriate, regardless of the tactic or strategy. So we’re very good at creative adaptation when it comes to taking, for example, an effective tactic that is being used in a sleazy manner, and making it non-sleazy. Or seeing a touchy-feely social media concept that makes sense, and tweaking it so it can actually convert prospects into customers.

To put this in context, Copyblogger has always been extremely selective about what we recommend to you in terms of paid offers. We had to be convinced through our own direct experience with the product or service that it had value and worked.

Products or tools have needed to be extremely useful. We’ve only recommended products that made it easy to make your money back, within a realistic timeframe and with skills that we are confident you already possess.

We didn’t necessarily care how those products or tools were marketed. We figured you’d just creatively adapt the tactics or strategies in a context-appropriate way.

That’s not enough any more. From this point forward, we’re only going to recommend and promote products that truly embody what we stand for.

It’s all about the Third Tribe.

What Does the Third Tribe Stand For?

We seek to combine the practical, solid techniques of the Internet Marketing so-called “gurus” and the ethical, content-focused, high-quality approach of the blogging world. It’s what we call the Third Tribe, and you’re going to be hearing a lot more about it in the coming months.

In practical terms, it means you’ll be seeing many more Copyblogger products, and far fewer from other people. My greatest satisfaction comes from knowing that we strive to make our in-house projects like Teaching Sells and Thesis not just good enough . . . but as good as we possibly can (and that’s an ongoing process).

One of the best ways to ensure that standard is to do more product development ourselves. So that’s what we’ll do.

If we do make an outside recommendation, it will be for someone who “gets it.” They may not be household names . . . yet. But they’re creating solid tools that work for real people, without hype and nonsense.

Copyblogger products will be created for smart businesspeople (even if you’re not too sure of your business skills yet), not naive “business opportunity” seekers who are constantly looking for the newest magic pill.

They’ll be products for people who take action, not dreamers who think about making millions overnight. The money really does roll in while you sleep with the right online business model . . . but only after you put in the time and hard work to get to that point.

Anyone who tells you differently can’t be trusted.

Over the past few years, Copyblogger has grown thanks to a very high standard for the free content we produce, and that’s not going to change. It’s just that we feel that an even higher standard applies to things you pay for.

Thought you might like to know. Especially since without you, there’d be no reason for us.

Thanks for everything: past, present, and future.

About the Author: Brian Clark is founder of Copyblogger and co-founder of DIY Themes, creator of the innovative Thesis Theme for WordPress. Get more from Brian on Twitter.

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Comments

  1. Sounds like a good choice of direction, Brian. I’m looking forward to seeing what y’all come up with!

  2. Great going Brian. I believe CopyBlogger is one of the most polished blog that we read in this field. Three and a half years ! I dont remember from when I am reading this but it seems this has just started and will definitely follow for long… Hope to see Seth too ;)

    Keep going you are an inspiration and a great source to motivate for our perseverance to go on….

  3. Exciting news!

  4. Brian, Sonia, and gang: congrats on your well-deserved success, and here’s to many years more of it.

  5. When I saw the title to this post, my heart almost stopped. I was afraid you were going to give us some bad news. Like you were shutting Copyblogger down. Thank god I was being a dumbbutt with that thought.

    Brian, Copyblogger has been one of the blogs I read daily. And I have to say, your blog and other projects have been a huge influencer on my own blogging and online presence. In additional, Teaching Sells and Profitable Partners has been a must have for us in the projects we are involved in.

    Thanks for a great three years and I look forward to many, many more.

  6. I don’t use a ton of channel markers when it comes to navigating the waters of online marketing. Copyblogger and a few others, that’s it. This post is why. Brian just gets it.

  7. Thanks for keeping the content standards high, Brian. I’ve been enjoying my subscription for over two years now.

  8. Having a very clear sense of where you want to go is definitely essential. I’m happy to keep reading all of your posts. And thanks for keeping the standards high.

  9. You continue to set the standard for integrity and focus, and I feel privileged to be a subscriber. I have learned so much from your practical, info-packed posts, and Teaching Sells was so much more than promised. Keep modeling for the rest of ‘em how it’s supposed to be done! (including giving credit where credit is due!)

  10. Brian;

    I stand up and applaud you my friend!

    Decisions like this are precisely why I recommend you content so whole-heatedly.

    Looking forward for more great work from you and your team!

    Mike

  11. Always good to hear about new directions, and no doubt your collective minds have made a great decision.

    Look forward to seeing the result.

  12. Thanks, I’ve learned a lot about how to write by reading your blog, and will continue to follow you. I’ve unsubscribed from most of the gurus. I just got tired of “my good buddy this” and “my good buddy that.” And I feel most of the gurus’ products are way too expensive for the average entrepreneur.

  13. Good luck with this “strategy”-or your intensification of an existing philosophy.
    Internet Marketing and Blogging needs more people with integrity.

  14. Brian:

    I read most CB posts and often feel compelled to respond, but this one in particular really did the trick.

    There’s a lot of talk about transparency in marketing — but only a small percentage of it rings true. I put your posts (and the CB team) squarely in that category and, just as Mike noted, it’s why I recommend this site so highly. Your straight talk about where CB is going makes us as readers feel even more a part of the site.

    Thanks for complementing the excellent writing and insights here with a peek behind the curtain. I look forward to seeing how the Third Tribe develops.

  15. Brian, what does this actually translate to in action? What, materially, should we come to expect on your site? What kinds of products and services are you developing?

  16. Thanks for providing so much leadership for such a long time. The plan sounds great.

    Looking forward to years 4, 5, and 6.

  17. Thanks everyone for the kind words. It’s not surprising that many of those we feel “get it” showed up in response to this post.

    Jonathan, we’ve got one software product and two training courses in development right now. We’ll start talking about specifics as soon as possible for each project (the first will be this summer).

  18. Richard Barratt :

    I want to take this opportunity to thank you and your team for the truly great content you serve up each and every day.

    I had the pleaure to speak with Jon for almost an hour today and would like to say to anyone reading that the team behind Copyblogger not only know their stuff really well but also have a real understanding of their audience (us) and the hurdles we face.

    As always, I will look forward to tomorrows post!

    P.s. Thanks again Jon

  19. Just so. Hm…no echo chamber here… More like a nice strong structure of a song for us to play…improvise upon…:)

  20. There are a lot of emails that come in to my inbox everyday, and without exception, I always read yours. You even have your own file! Keep up the great work.

  21. Tantalizing … and (for a guy new to your site) woah!

    The third tribe … marketing and content. Of late you have been swimming a wide stream, garnered a wide audience, and now you want to select only the fastest flowing cross-section of an audience within that stream.

    You want a narrowly targeted audience, give premier service to them, charge a premier fee to them, and forget the mass $19.95 sales and 12 cent clicks to the left & right of center stream. OK, maybe I’m exaggerating a little.

    But is that what you are saying?

  22. Looking forward to this, guys, definitely.

  23. 3 and a half years already?

    Good luck to you, Brian, in all your ventures. If you ever want to try reaching the real estate tribes, drop me an email.

  24. Brian,

    Thanks! I assume we should “watch this space” for details. Good luck!

  25. Makes total sense. Looking forward to even better content. Thanks!

  26. Great infomation, as usual, Brian: Even when you’re writing about the future of your enterprises, you’re teaching us!

    I think that your blog and Darren’s (Problogger) are the best out there, because you guys want to help us succeed but you’re both real about what works and what doesn’t.

    Definitely linking you guys’ posts on my new blog!

  27. I’m new to the online marketing world and have come to rely on both yours and Sonia’s excellent offerings. Hating sleaze and appreciating authenticity, I know I can’t go wrong when reading one of your posts. Thanks for the great guidance – looking forward to more.

  28. @Peter, I can’t quite make heads or tails of your question. :) It sounds like you’re asking if we’re moving to a paid content model for the Copyblogger blog, and the answer is no, we don’t currently have any plans to do that.

    We’ve always presented reviews and recommendations for products that will help you build on what you learn here at Copyblogger. Today we’re announcing that we’re going to start offering more products created by the Copyblogger team, and by a small number of content creators who we really feel “get” the Third Tribe.

    It’s really about narrowing what we recommend, focusing on the Pragmatism/Progress intersection that Brian talked about in this post.

    Does that answer your question, or did I miss the point entirely?

  29. Hello, Brian!

    Copyblogger and Seth’s Blog … the TWO blogs that I look forward to every time I open my IN Box. In the short time that I have been subscribing to both blogs, I am so amazed at what I am learning and I truly appreciate your POV’s and the way you both do business.

    I want to thank you and your team (and Seth Godin) for your ongoing willingness to share your expertise and for setting standards that I aspire to achieve in my own niche.

    Your Best is Yet to Come!!

    Have a delightful day!

  30. I am very “particular” about the quality of content that I allow into my ‘social sphere’ for not wanting to be bombarded by worthless marketing-ploys promoting meaningless dribble.
    In contrast, the information and knowledge that I have gleaned from your posts over the last few months are quickly stacking up to be worth their weight in gold.
    I want to wish you luck with your new-found direction and I will continue to be an avid follower.

  31. I’ve been walking the third tribe road ever since business school 3 decades ago. I’m so happy to have found a well run blog that empowers those of us who want to bring those same business values to the web.

    Enjoying life 25 miles from the nearest stoplight.

  32. I certainly “get” Tribe #3. Ever since the Two Tribes post I’ve been more engaged by Copyblogger than ever.

    I’m glad to see you’re refining your focus and product offerings, and look forward to seeing what you rollout in the next year.

  33. I’m looking forward to the future of this venture. I like the idea of seeing more products from you all and I wish you great success as you continue to hone your focus and sharpen your mission.

  34. I only discovered Copyblogger a couple months ago. But it has quickly become one of my “trusted sources.” Your decision to pursue your own products or those that are fully aligned with your values will pay off in spades. You’ve got the trust factor to pull it off.

    Cheers,
    Adam

  35. I’ve loved reading Copyblogger right from the start, for me that’s only been about 8 months. I’ve learned that your recommendations can be trusted. I look forward to more products being developed by Copyblogger. Congrats and good luck

  36. So does this mean that promoting other people’s products (like when you pimped Frank Kern’s products) wasn’t worth it in the end?

  37. Brian,

    Thanks for the insight into what is going on behind the scenes. It is really tough to take an offer and make it sound less sleazy, but you are the king of doing it and I applaud that. I understand the desire to make more products, and although I have no idea how you’ll find the time for it, I look forward to seeing them.

    Btw, when are you going to re-open Teaching Sells?

  38. Nice to hear your philosophy and committed integrity. Looking forward to what the next 3 ½ years will bring. I enjoy Copyblogger and wish you nothing but success. I think you make us all think or rethink about what and how we are doing things. Thanks!

  39. Lawton chiles :

    Brian. Words cannot express the encouragement I have received from the Copyblogger team- and from you.

    Thank you

  40. I just came across your blog about two months ago, but I really love your posts, especially the writing tips. I was also inspired by the creativity post, and I am excited to see what the future holds for Copyblogger.

  41. Sonia:

    Thanks for attempting to respond to my attempts at garnering clarification.

    I understand that you reiterated some of the post for me, but I still feel as if in some respects we are ships passing in the night. Perhaps my previous metaphor doesn’t work for some reason.

    I understand you are narrowing your focus a bit more, and thus filtering tribal members more. In time, the third tribe may look and feel new in some respects for you. Ideally you and the future tribe will become a closer fit to each other.

    At this point, perhaps it would be best for me to putter around more in your site and watch for forthcoming examples of what you announce here.

  42. Eagerly waiting. :)

  43. I’m so excited to hear, that you’re going to take on this mission.

    Working as a marketer in small business it seems to me, that a lot of problems with marketing come from mixed feelings about belonging to one or the other tribe. Sometimes I feel like some kind of therapist telling people, that it’s okay to ask for the sale, and you don’t have to go with the yellow highlighter and fake bonuses too – before we actually get to do some marketing :)

    I look forward to hearing more on that topic, and keep enjoying my daily kick to improve my writing.

    Thank you

  44. Man.. I saw the title in the GReader and for some odd reason I had the “bye bye” wipe from it. Freaked me out. But I’m so happy that was just me and you delivered the good news. Looking at everything done here so far, can’t wait to hear more :)

  45. Was going to wish you the Best of Luck, but you don’t need that for sure, you guys will achieve what ever you desire.

  46. Sounds like a stronger focus that will set a great standard for you and your readers. I know that I’m lined up with you on that and look forward to the evolution of Copyblogger.

  47. Brian & Sonia,
    This is one of the few blogs I read daily. I’m very happy to hear about your renewed commitment to blogging and to seeing what you come up with next. Best wishes to your team.

  48. Usually, when I read a “The future of…” post, it means the blog is shutting down. So glad to read that’s not the case here! I’m looking forward to checking out the CopyBlogger products. Cheers!

  49. Congratulations on everything you’ve done so far. Copyblogger is one of the few blogs whose RSS feed I read religiously. I’m looking forward to seeing what The Third Tribe evolves into.

  50. Congratulations and good luck on your ambitions! I hope this entry helps other people see the value in differentiation even with blogging.

  51. Shawn Christenson :

    Brian, I’ve been reading Copyblogger for what I was almost 4 years because I’ve been in my new house for almost 4 and I could have sworn I subscribed in my old house!

    Anyway, Copyblogger rocks – and I’m VERY happy to hear the decision you’ve made. :)

    Shawn

  52. Reading this article and again the one about the two tribes and I know why I love Copyblogger so much. One of the few sites that I recommend to people all the time.

    Funny how I feel that I am working on the tribe in the middle that Sonia describes in the last paragraphs – putting in the work and getting paid for it without killing yourself. Enjoying the projects that you do for clients, meet people AND spend time with family and friends. Getting rich on experience, knowledge and relationships :)

    Thank you Brian and Sonia for the trip so far, really love to ride with you some more.

  53. Brian and Sonia,
    Thank you, thank you, thank you. I can’t wait to read more about the Third Tribe. Being in the MLM industry, I see a lot of online marketing tactics that are being used in a sleazy way, as well as a lot of dreaming of making millions overnight. I applaud your understanding that it takes a lot of learning and genius to understand how to adapt a tactic to be both useful and non-sleazy, and that not everyone has that ability. Thank you for being willing to offer up pragmatic, realistic products and services as recommendations. Looking forward enthusiastically to being part of that tribe.

  54. It will be interesting to see what Copyblogger, Problogger, SEOBook and other top resource sites look like 10 years from now.

    Hopefully humanity will still be trudging along 10 years from now (as long as overpopulation, nuclear war, global warming, mass disease, running out of fresh water, etc don’t get us by then :D ).

  55. good luck Brian, and the team !

  56. You’re so right about those who run after the overnight-millionaire internet scams–they will always be jumping from opportunity to opportunity, never meeting true success. Thanks for reminding me that we need to take the time to build something in order for it to become profitable.

  57. In case you were wondering, it’s good to hear about the direction of the blog and your business.

    Helps us (me) feel involved and respected.

    Nice!

  58. Once again you (Sonia and Brian) have nailed it. It sounds like the Third Tribe is exactly where so many of us wanna-be-IMers-but-hate-the-sleaze-aspect have been searching for. The Middle Way. Neither fish nor fowl. Or something. Show us the way!

  59. Makes total sense. Looking forward to even better content. Thanks!

  60. I loved the initial post when it came out, and I love this follow-up post. Copyblogger has the reputation it does largely because it has always bridged the gap between the two worlds of internet/direct marketing and blogging. I can’t wait to see your future stuff, Brian, Sonia, and crew.

    Best of luck, Godspeed, and all that,

    - Jeff

  61. I’m new to copyblogger and am interested to see how the direction shifts in the future. The older articles I’ve read thus far have been wonderfully helpful. Thanks.

  62. Wow, awesome. I’m really excited about this. Though I am a new blog with only a few hundred subscribers, I’ve already had to make some tough decisions about product promotion. Essentially I made the same decision as you and opted to focus on my only quality content, since anything less reflects badly on me and my brand.

    Glad to hear I’m not in this alone. Thanks for the inspiration.

  63. | LOVE your blog and the fact that you are always evolving. Thank you !

  64. Thanks for raising the ethical bar of online marketing. Much needed.