I’m really keen on today’s interview – we’ve got a full and frank discussion with Markco Polo, veteran writer of ebook guides to making gold on the Auction House in WoW.
Markco’s a pretty controversial guy, as a gold guide writer, someone who profits off his work in WoW (to the tune of over $100,000 in a single year by his estimate), and someone who has recommended products which in turn have been fairly controversial. As such, this interview’s more hard-hitting than usual for a gaming interview, and I’d like to thank Marcko for participating and answering some pretty darn rude questions! With a subject like this, the questions are going to be tough.
For those who don’t already know him, Markco’s probably best known for the blog Just My Two Copper and the 20K levelling gold-making guide, although he subsequently sold both the blog and the rights to use the “Markco” name in connection with World of Warcraft, and is currently working on his Diablo III gold blog .
Full Disclosure: None of the links in this interview are affiliate links, and MMO Melting Pot has no financial relationship with Markco or Just My Two Copper.
Are you a scammer?
Hugh Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed! Your line of work’s a controversial one, and I find the entire subject really interesting, so I’m looking forward to hearing your side of things!
Let’s be honest, to a lot of people your products look pretty scammy. They’ve got the long sales page with the hyped-up writing like a dodgy “MAKE $$$ FAST ON THE INTERNET” deal. Why don’t you present your products in a less dodgy-looking way, and do you expect people to reliably achieve the kind of figures you quote, like “40k gold per week in 15 mins a day”?
Markco Well, let me start off by saying that it is a real honor to be interviewed by the MMO-Melting Pot. Especially after having watched your site grow from nothing to the successful collection of excellent writers that it is today. Thanks for having me on.
Alright, long pitch pages do look dodgy to two groups of people: the No’s and the Yes’s. These two sections of people reading the page have already made up their minds before they read two words about the product. For them, they are going to think the site is dodgy and either buy or not buy based on previous bias. Those that hate the idea of buying something from me were going to say no regardless of the dodgy-ness of the pitch. Those that love the idea of buying my products will buy regardless of what the pitch page looks like. See how the pitch page really doesn’t matter for these two groups of people?
Now, for the reason we slimy marketers use those bold, red text with yellow highlighting and obnoxiously long pitch pages: for the Maybe’s. The Maybe’s are people who want to be convinced, one way or another, regarding the product’s value to them. They are interested usually in buying something before they even click to view the page, so the more information you can place on one long page, the better. A Maybe doesn’t care if they scroll for a half hour reading about this new, exciting product. At the end of the day, a Maybe just wants to be reassured that they are buying something of value. The more hype, value, and social proof on this long page the better.
So yes, you will not see the value of a long pitch page because you are either a No or Yes to begin with.
With regards to any claims on my pitches, they are meant to draw attention to the absolute best scenario for the product. Actually, that 40k gold in 15 minutes per day has been crushed by other auctioneers using the guide due to inflation. But that being said, I spent two months using the guide 15 minutes a day and making 40k per week before I made that claim. So no, that isn’t a lie, and Maybe’s love to read that sort of truthful hype. It’s exactly what they are looking for to help them make a decision.
Hugh You recommended a for-pay addon called Tycoon a couple of months ago, which not only appears to infringe the World of Warcraft Terms Of Service, but also makes some pretty unbelievable claims. Various people criticised you pretty harshly for that – Greedy Blogger Bullshit Sells Scams was the post I saw.
How do you feel about that situation two months on, and do you still stand behind Tycoon as a worthwhile purchase?
Markco Now, you’re going to have to excuse my poor memory with regards to the events leading up to and after that post. I scheduled it probably a week or two before it actually went live, and I did some research on it beforehand. When the post actually did go live on JMTC, I was in the middle of selling the website and didn’t pay any attention to the feedback/reactions. The little bit that I did respond to was on that link, and I probably should have just ignored it. Unfortunately, I was stressed out from getting the sale together (just think about how worried you’d be about $50,000), and gave a half-assed defense of why I chose to sell the addon/guide known as Tycoon.
The research I did revealed two things: First, Tycoon sold its addon in a very similar fashion to Duggy and Zygor’s addons. Second, I knew my audience like the back of my hand and I knew they would absolutely eat this product up. That first day the review post went live there were $1600 in affiliate sales. So yeah, I was pretty much spot on in terms of how I promoted it and the research I had conducted. What’s more, the guide continued to make about $30 a day for the site due to it being a part of the auto-responder.
I actually never received any of that money, due to the fact that the new owner had control of the site after it finally came through (I receive clickbank deposits every week, but they come two weeks after the sale occurs). Do I still stand behind the product? I have no way to give a valuable response to your question, especially because I no longer play wow and haven’t looked at the updates for Tycoon since I sold the site. I also stopped communicating with the addon’s creator.
Hugh So, are there any favorite bits of praise you’ve had? Obviously, skeptics are going to argue that we’ve only got your word that people are loving your guides – anything (on an independent site and without affiliate links, for maximum reliability) you could point to as proof people are finding your guide as great as you say?
Markco I used to save all those emails I got in a folder under the title “Praise Basket.” When it got to around 1,000+ I just stopped doing it. You can go anywhere from podcasts to blog posts and find information about the work I’ve done and who likes or doesn’t like it. My favorite praises though were the ones from private emails. Tell you what, I’ll search thanks in my gmail for “Thanks” and “20kLeveling” and pluck the first one that comes up for you… one moment…
Hey Markco, thought I’d drop you an email and check in. How was your weekend? Here in the US we had Columbus day. For me that is Auction House Day!!
Had a great holiday weekend. 45k for the week. We had an issue with an ore shortage on my server but thanks to you and your guide I rocked the AH with all my backstock of ore and gems. Referring to the tip on ‘buy all the ore available at your price point no matter if its 1 stack or 1000 stacks.’
I decided to finally take the plunge into TSM but lost my connection to the 20kleveling guide. Specifically the TSM guide videos by the guy with the heavy accent. I’ve talked to him on the friday night Teamspeak meetings a couple months ago. But can’t for the life of me remember his website… Ughhh. Any chance you could help me out? Just need the link to his website.
Thanks for everything. My guildies thank you too. We had an impromptu meeting in the Valley of Wisdom this weekend and I got to hand out 2k gold each to 6 guildies just because I could. [I can’t seem to hold on to much gold, lol]
We ran 25OS3d with 12 people this weekend to get the drake for our GM. We needed to repair so instead of flying upstairs, I had a mage port me to Dal and I just bought a repair mount. I BLAME YOU MARKCO!!! It feels good to be able to do what I want in the game because gold is no longer a problem.
This is starting to sound like an ad for a gold guide. Thanks again Markco.
And my absolute favorite public appearance was actually my first for the How I Wow podcast [Episode link – Hugh]. Those hosts were the ones who discovered that for Markco gold/money wasn’t the goal, but rather success was the goal. I had never thought about that before, and I was grateful for the insight behind what makes my own mind tick. Success really is the driving factor behind everything I do, and because of this fact, I’ll probably work on this stuff for the rest of my life. I really don’t think it’s a bad thing.
In order to succeed, I’ve learned that you need to truly help others solve a problem. In this case it was making gold in a video game, who knows what tomorrow will be? Regardless of the genre, my goal will always be success through helping others achieve their own success. I guess I could have summed that up by saying I like coaching… but I digress.
Why does Marcko do it?
Hugh So, you’re a pretty controversial guy, and that’s got to translate into getting some pretty serious verbal abuse. Why do you keep doing what you do in spite of that, and how do the responses you get affect you?
Markco Let me rephrase the question to reflect the other side of it before giving you a proper answer: “So you’re a pretty controversial guy who goes out his way for his buyers, and that’s got to translate into getting some pretty amazing praise from your loyal fans.”
I must say, the negativity can drag me down if I let it. I’ve been known to brawl in comments (even on small blogs like the one you linked) over stuff that I probably should have ignored. But I care a great deal about my work, websites, readers, buyers, etc. So much so that I’ll go to bat for any of them at the drop of a hat. There are people who just can’t seem to take a hint, and they continue to take shots at me even long after the argument has “ended.” There’s even this one guy, real pathetic sap, who tweets people I interact with on Twitter with nasty links and comments about me. I mean who has the time… I digress.
Does the negativity, the verbal abuse, affect me? As much as I allow it, and I fare better when I ignore it. There are weeks where I focus only on the positive aspects of this business, i.e. the emails, product creation, guest posts, interviews, etc. And yet there are also weeks where I focus on the negative, and those weeks are usually my least productive. Since I sold the website, bought a house, and moved on with my life, I like to think that the pettiness is pretty much over.
I’ve learned so much from reacting both maturely and immaturely to the criticisms of the internet, both good and bad. I wasn’t exactly bred for online celebrity status, which is definitely something I was thrown into during my stint as owner of JMTC. That being said, I think I’m more equipped now than ever to manage my next community(ies) online, as well as the drama that is bound to occur over time. I’ve realized what is worth focusing on and what simply isn’t. One general rule of thumb that I’ve stuck to recently is this: “If it’s not fun, don’t participate.” So if some bozo is making ridiculous accusations, like running around selling my ebooks while also discrediting them, I merely have to realize that wasting time dealing with that kind of person is not fun and therefore not worth the effort.
As long as I’m having fun helping others then I don’t care if I piss a few irritable people off in the mean time.
Hugh Interesting! I like the “if it’s not fun, don’t participate” rule – I’ve ended up going down the rabbit-hole of internet arguments too in the past, and it’s an easy one to get wrong.
So, given this is a for-profit venture, unlike most of my interviewees – is blogging and guide writing a full-time income for you? If so, can you give us some details on how you managed to achieve that? Making a living from playing the WoW AH is pretty impressive, no matter how you slice it!
Markco At one time it was my full time job. I went back to work as a defense contractor though for the security of the position and because I felt that it was the right move to make at this point in my life. I’m getting married, hoping to start a family by 2013, and moving into a new house. So putting everything on a somewhat transient business (i.e. blogging) was a little too risky for me. As I’ve written on The Traffic Blogger in the past, there’s nothing wrong with being an entrepreneur who still works a day job. Could blogging be my full time job? Yes, absolutely, especially since I’ve grossed over $100,000 for the second year in a row from blogging alone. But one of my greatest weaknesses is that I struggle to work on identical tasks. Unless my job is changing and requiring me to adapt then I quickly lose interest. I lost interest with JMTC not because it was making less money, but because it was no longer challenging. When WoW became easy, then I outsourced the blog and prepared it for being sold six months prior to the actual sale.
The How I Wow interview revealed something amazing that I had never realized until the hosts said it:
“For Markco gold isn’t the goal, but rather, success is the goal…” and I’m the same way with money.
Botting and buying gold
Hugh Many people would equate gold guides like yours with botting, buying gold, or even account hacking. What do you think about those practises? Would you suggest botting or buying gold, and if not, why not?
Markco Well, I must say that equating a gold guide to botting, buying gold, or account hacking was how people thought BEFORE they read my guides. What I created was something different, and in many ways my method for teaching players was revolutionary to the niche. Instead of hiding in the shadows of a semi-black market, I roared straight into the public eye with my real name, real opinions, and real gold guides. These weren’t scams, but rather, transparent pieces of intellectual art work.
To say that a gold guide is like botting, buying gold, or account hacking shows a level of ignorance in how those things actually work. The three negative activities you mentioned all indirectly work towards improving your account at the expense of someone else in some way. That could mean directly supporting hackers who ruin wow accounts or simply by taking away from the experience of others on the same server. Gold guides are different, mainly because they are blueprints. Ever heard the saying: “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, but teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime?” Well, gold guides are fishing poles and bots, purchased gold, or account hacking are just fish. So no, I don’t recommend them at all.
Why do some people have gold and others not?
Hugh I must admit, I’ve achieved similar figures to the “40k a week” number you quoted, using the WoW Auction House (without your guide, ahem ), and I know other people who have – Fox Van Allen achieved 1 million gold in 3 months over on WoW Insider, for example, which works out at approximately 70k per week. But to a lot of WoW players, the idea of making that much gold that easily sounds ridiculous – so why do you think there’s such a gap in WoW between those of us who don’t see 5k a day as a big deal, and those who struggle to find money for gems?
Markco Why? Because some people just want to play the game, have fun, and walk away. It wasn’t too long ago when that’s all playing video games was after all. For others, the idea of being poor in a game is unacceptable, and in fact, takes away from their fun. It’s all a matter of your priorities as to whether you even want to make that 40k per week.
I’ve addressed countless reasons for why players can’t seem to find success in the past, and it was one of the driving factors behind creating a guide. One of the biggest faults I discovered was all the people spending too much of their gold. It’s a video game and people want to be gratified instantly. They do not want to save up gold and purchase things over the course of a week… ie play like a smart auctioneer. They don’t want to waste time building up professions when they can just pay someone to craft something for them. Saving gold is actually the number one problem for players stuck at low amounts. It’s not that they cannot physically make gold, as even dailies are pretty profitable these days, but that they spend more than they take in.
It’s all about the mindset behind why people play. For many, WoW is their first MMO, and they really don’t know how to transition from typical gaming to this style of interactive environments and rich economies.
The sale of Just My Two Copper
Hugh I understand that the Marcko who’s blogging at JTMC these days isn’t you any more! I’m confused – how did that come to pass, and is anyone else a bit confused that the number of Marckos seems to have gone up?
Markco Well I’m sorry for the confusion. Perhaps I didn’t handle the sale of the site as cleanly as I could have. One of the requests of the new owner was to have full rights to the Markco brand with regards to World of Warcraft. He would be the Markco of WoW and I would retain control over the Markco of Diablo 3. In my excitement, I sort of didn’t consider the confusion that was inevitable. If you see something come from JMTC, it’s the new Markco, and anywhere else, that’s me!
I’ve spoken with the new owner and made the request that the WoW Markco be retired soon, and I believe that in the coming months that will become a reality. It certainly would clear up some of the confusion!
Hugh So essentially you sold the rights to your own name (as you’ve said you’re using your real name when gold blogging)? How does it feel seeing someone else posting things that you have no control over under your own identity?
Markco I do use my real name behind multiple blogging personas, but in this case, I sold the rights to market JMTC as the Markco brand. That brand is limited in scope to World of Warcraft, more specifically 20kleveling and JMTC. If the owner were to try and sell televisions on EBay as Markco then that would be out of the scope of our agreement. I do apologize for the confusion and as I’ve stated already, I’ve talked to him about retiring the Markco brand in the near future, probably before the Panda-Pokemon expansion.
Keep in mind that I stopped blogging on JMTC for about six months leading up to the sale of the site. So the Markco brand literally has existed without the real me for quite some time. It’s a little confusing to the readers and I feel really bad about it, but I think everything will work out in the end. Just one more lesson learned from the experience! By the way, you can read for free (no sign up required) my entire story on how I sold my website here.
A note on the buyer: I took my price down 50% on the site because I am convinced he is going to resurrect the old JMTC. I know you are skeptical, but his WoW Crusher product really is a great guide. I’m also hoping that he will be able to grow the site with the writing staff I started and which he’s now finishing up. So please give the man some time and don’t judge him just yet. Hey! Hey! You’re judging again! I can see you judging!
Diablo III Gold Rush?
Hugh So, Diablo III – a fair number of people have been skeptical about the money-making possibilities there, but I know you’re working on a guide to making real money in it. I must admit, I’ve been curious about it myself as a sometime investor and entrepreneur. So – do you think there’s gold in them thar hills, or is the best way to get rich at Diablo III by doing what you’re doing, and, essentially, selling the picks and shovels rather than looking for the gold?
Markco I love the way you asked the question! It’s full of skepticism, doubt in my motives, and confidence in your own judgment all at the same time. Now I don’t mean to say that to be rude, as you are a gracious host and you’re asking excellent, controversial questions. However, the way you’re asking that question is the same way someone reacts to change. Full of skepticism, doubt, and confidence in the way things used to work.
People are always looking for the motives behind a marketer… “Where’s the money,” is usually what they ask. “How will he profit?” I can taste these questions behind your question. Just to get it out of the way, here’s my exact business model for Diablo 3:
$17 Gold Guide and $7 Monthly Forum/Podcast
It’s a work in progress, as I will probably add an optional leveling guide as an upsale as well. I’ve got an amazing domain for the guide as well, but unfortunately it isn’t ready yet or else I’d be sharing it with you.
You likened the idea of making money in Diablo 3 to the gold rush, lots of tales of riches but few coming back with more than mud in their pans. You’re suggesting that I’ll make more selling the picks and shovels than actually playing the game for keeps myself. I don’t mean to be rude again, but DUH!
Do I think it is going to be as hard as you make it out to be? Absolutely not. But the shovels and picks will sell for a lot if they are proven to work. That’s where we probably disagree the most, actually, on just how many people are going to strike the precious gold with their expensive shovels and picks.
My goal with Diablo 3 is to get people making $25 per hour. That’s going to more than cover the cost of the guide and keep people as customers for as long as they play the game. The time and effort setting that system up and maintaining it every single week (weekly podcast and daily forum moderation is my goal) will be more than worth it. I think it’ll be really fun to have a more private and spam free interaction with buyers in this way.
In order to sell my picks, I’m going to have to actually mix it up daily in the game. I’m going to have to prove my worth, just as I did with JMTC, by showing up every day at my Diablo Gold Tips Blog with interesting content and powerful results. I’ve got to CRUSH the $25 per hour mark if I’m going to sell a guide on how to do it. So in a sense your question is flawed, it’s not a matter of making money by playing the game or selling the picks and shovels. Rather, you have to do one in order to succeed at the other. I think that social proof is the one thing I do that most marketers ignore. Like participating in an interview… when was the last time you saw a real marketer for MMO guides doing something like this?
Love me or hate me, I’m here to help you if you give me the chance. Success through helping is the goal. Now, would you like your shovel in blue or white?
Hugh Great close!
I do definitely agree with your point about interviews – I’ve not seen the guy who wrote Tycoon giving any interviews, for example! (Indeed, I’ll just say – if the guy or girl who wrote Tycoon would like to tell his/her side of the story, we’d love to talk to you!)
Thanks very much, and good luck with Diablo III Gold!
If you’d like more Markco, you can find him – the original Markco, that is – at http://www.diablo3goldguide.net/ .