Comparing different roles among WordPress “expert” influencers, and how their opinions should be weighed carefully.
I was inspired to write this guide after seeing many new WordPress review sites pop-up lately. This corona lockdown left many people scheming to make money someway somehow from the
comforts confinements of their home.
And while I applaud the hustle, it’s made a complete mess out of our WordPress eco-system. We have a blind-leading-the-blind situation where inexperienced people are teaching or selling to other inexperienced people. And also WordPress review sites stealing/recycling content from other review sites that were also written by some inexperienced people.
It seems no one can tell the difference between an honest expert… and a shady, lying, sack of affiliate-crap selling conman.
I’ll help you sniff out the difference.
Affiliate Marketer vs Product Advisor vs Web Developer
These are the 3 most common influencer roles among WordPress review sites today. I’ll go over their distinct traits, values, and how they operate.
Affiliate marketer STRENGTHS & TRAITS:
- They follow trends and the latest “cool” things on the market.
- Detailed comparisons like “this product can do this” and “that product can do that” that most developers never pay attention to since devs can do anything with any product.
- Usually have coupons and other promotional discounts.
- Have many help guides and starting references for beginners.
- Guides and reviews are usually extremely thorough, and also for SEO rankings.
- Cater to a mostly beginner market as “that’s where the money’s at”.
Good affiliate marketers are the ones with actual experience with the products they review and genuine desire to help people with unbiased information. Perhaps even former experience working in those companies/industries. They also make really detailed and clear guides to help you choose between similar ones. The last thing you want is a “everything is good” kind of list.
Affiliate marketer WEAKNESSES & BIAS
- Motivated by affiliate commissions.
- Spend most of their interactions with prospective buyers, and marketing people from companies they’re partnered with. (Not so much with clients/users.)
- Their opinions tend to be overly-accepting towards all brands. It seems nearly every brand/product is good to them. They’ll even have multiple “best” products when in fact, only one is worth using (or worth mentioning).
Bad affiliate marketers are like politicians; promoting whichever company pays them the best commissions. And don’t even know or use the products they promote, or knowingly dismiss better products for you.
MY THOUGHTS on affiliate marketers
You should follow affiliate marketers to keep a pulse on what’s new and what’s popular, get discounts and beginner tips, but watch out for dishonest promotion. Affiliate marketers tend to be biased towards whoever pays them more. Other than for the most basic newbie guides, you’ll have to look elsewhere for truly expert information.
Product advisor STRENGTHS & TRAITS:
- They know certain companies intimately. Not only the ones they work with personally but direct competitors as well.
- Privy to new features and products in the works.
- Can tell you what other people love and hate most about a product.
- Can show you advanced ways to use a product.
- Can influence product development due to have close (respected) relationship with product devs.
- Motivated by testing (playing with) products and providing feedback to developers.
Good product advisors know the entire market well and especially familiar with the top brands and product features. Some were end clients themselves or have developer experience. Ideally, a product advisor should be neutral and objective. What’s good is good. What’s bad will be talked about and hopefully rectified. Top product advisors are usually consulting for popular dev teams.
Product advisor WEAKNESSES & BIAS:
- Paid by and mostly cater only to the companies they consult for.
- Sometimes blind to products outside of their narrowed focus.
- Sometimes unable to criticize products or dev team they work with.
Bad product advisors are biased or lack industry intuition. Or simply blind by their personal involvement in products. The most flagrant ones for me are simply salesman or hired spokesman, making gimmicky promises to the public instead of provide a bridge of truth to development progress.
MY THOUGHTS on product advisors
You should follow product advisors to keep tabs on your favorite products, learn about new features, decide whether they align with your future. But always watch out for other companies and alternative options. You might also want to keep an eye on other users of this product to know if it’s really for you or not.
Developer STRENGTHS & TRAITS:
- They actually do the work and have the highest technical knowledge.
- Can tell you what they personally love and hate most about products.
- Can tell you about upcoming features, or even build it themselves.
- Motivated by providing solutions for end clients.
- Their earning comes from client work. (Not affiliate commission.)
- Cater to themselves more than anything as they are the ones doing the work.
- Spend most of their time with clients and developers involved.
- Most qualified to advise the best possible product for your use case.
Good developers find good solutions for clients. Most preferably a quality job using time and budget effectively. Developers can spot quality because they know the inner workings of different products than anyone else. They spend lots of time setting things up and also fixing them. So you can be assured that a good developer is always picking the best products because it’s in their best interest.
Developer WEAKNESSES & BIAS:
- Sometimes too busy and don’t have time to write detailed guides.
- Their opinions tend to be biased to their own workflow. Anything that doesn’t fit the way they like to work is immediately casted off as “bad”.
- Almost always preferring pricier tools or products that aren’t as user-friendly for end clients.
- Can be biased when reviewing their own products (obviously).
Bad developers are limited in skills, ethics, or open-mindedness. Relying too much on outdated/poor development practices or a one-size-fits-all attitude. Not all “developers” should be trusted! A good way to be safe, is by following a developer that’s respected by other developers. (Ask around and you’ll know.)
MY THOUGHTS on developers:
Follow developers to know the nitty gritty about different products, how they perform in real-world conditions, and pro-tips on doing things…but watch out for extreme developers’ bias that may or may not apply to your use case. Unfortunately, the best developers are ALWAYS busy and never have time to talk to regular people. They aren’t motivated to write in-depth guides to teach newbies, when they can be building cool new features for the future. But still…their advice is valuable if you can get it.
So who should you trust?
I say…trust the person who represents your best interests. One with a lot of technical knowledge, already did the things you’re trying to do, and can best guide you to success. When in doubt, cross-check your information with other trusted experts. Having more vantage-points allows you more context. Otherwise…you’re stuck being the marketing hype an affiliate-marketer, personal bias of a product advisor, and overly technical implementation of a developer.