Sam Harrelson



Sam Harrelson

I’m Quitting Marketing



I stumbled into the affiliate marketing world years ago.

I’m walking out of it today.

My experiences in the affiliate marketing world have been incredibly positive when it comes to interpersonal relationships. However, it’s time for me to move on. I’m not happy.

Why am I not happy?

Mainly because I don’t like the way online marketing continues to debase the human factor of interaction in attempts to “monetize” and find cracks in the sidewalks to plant sour seeds.

It’s not you, it’s me.

I’m just not interested in the day-to-day minutia of being a marketing professional anymore. I’m sure I’ll always keep up with the main trends and I’ll certainly keep up with the space in terms of how it affects social media, etc.

But these questions just don’t turn me on anymore…

“Why doesn’t tinyurl allow for better cookie tracking so that I can make affiliate sales from Twitter links?”

“Why does Google punish me for selling links when TechCrunch does the same thing?”

“How much should I invest in my StumbleUpon account in order to drive 1,000 pageviews a day?”

“Can you help me tweak my Twitter account so that I can drive sales thru my landing page?”

“How can I get more fans to join my (self-created) Facebook page?”

“Who do I need to pay to add outbound links to the affiliate marketing page on Wikipedia?”

“Is FriendFeed worth it? Yeah, I know you say it’s neat for finding out information and learning about new things, but will it make me money?”

And It is these sorts of things that have slowly driven a wedge between my own idealism and (what I see as) the current trajectory of online marketing. Beyond a growing distaste around such issues, I generally find myself on the wrong side of the fence for effective marketing. And I’ve been on all sides of that online marketing fence… publisher, affiliate, CPA network, email marketer, agency, vendor, OPM, and God knows whatever else… I’m coming to grips with my own realization that it’s not for me.

For me, the expectations have never met the promises. These days, I’m only feeling more alienated. As a result, I’m choosing to opt-out rather than becoming a constant nay-sayer or voice of doom and gloom.

To quote Lennon, “I don’t want to spoil the party, so I’ll go.”

On top of all that, I just don’t see myself as an “online” or even “affiliate” marketer anymore. I’m not saying I’ve grown beyond those labels. I just don’t feel that those pairs of socks go with my outfits now.

PLEASE do not get me wrong. I respect, admire and love so many people in the affiliate and online marketing space (and will continue to do so, of course). This is not a personal affront to anyone in the space or the space itself, but more of a realization that I have to move on.

As a result, I’ll be shutting down CostPerNews (or (fire) selling it if someone is interested) and doing my posting over on my personal site.

I’m also going to be working on the podcast network I’m developing (Thinking.fm) around issues I am excited about these days (science, religion, Nascar, parenting, tech, politics… the site is still being developed, so excuse the mess… will be up and going by February). I’m really excited about those sites.

And hopefully, the gang will still allow me to take part in GeekCast even though I’m turning in my affiliate hard card. I hope so (check out the site redesign, btw).

I’m also doing more work in the non-profit world (Hunger Initiative) and continuing my journey towards whatever end awaits me at seminary.

Yes, of course it is my hyperbole than anything to say I’m “quitting” marketing since we are all marketers in whatever we do. I should rephrase that and say “I’m quitting the professional guise of being an online marketer.” There, that feels better.

Two and a half years ago, I wrote this and my career only exploded afterwards:

So, with these realizations and my own skewed since of lefty politics and social views I’m embarking on a mission to do better… to make things good… to connect people to good things they might not have known about… to form community… and to use my skills to leave the internet a better place than it was when I found it (way back in the Prodigy Bulletin Board days).

Lofty goals often mean periods of worry, anxiety and joblessness in terms of “career” but sticking to my flower-guns has got to be a better policy than being miserable knowing that I’m not using my full potential.

So, who knows what’s next, but it will be shiny, rusty, exciting, boring, profitable, unprofitable and creative. I will make this work (whatever in the hell this is).

So, who knows what’s next? I will make it work. I will make it worthwhile.

Thank you all so much for the incredible dedication of readership as well as the inspiration you’ve provided me in the comments and emails.

Here’s to a new beginning and learning from the past.



Posted: 01.20.2009

Email Sam