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Case studies: Getting paid to hustle

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I’m sure you’re tired of hearing me talk this month, so today I want to turn it over to 3 of my students.

Watch how they hustled — and got paid for it.

1) Ben D.: Marketing/business development

“I approached the owner of a restaurant/pub that I frequent. I simply walked in and asked to speak to the owner. I talked to him for a few minutes, put together a quote, and got a $90 check (after material costs) for about 1.5 hours of work after our conversation. Amazingly simple process – I was sort of stunned afterward thinking, ‘Did that really just happen?’”

2) Daniel C.: Advanced sailing instructor

Daniel started teaching advanced sailing instruction and he wasn’t sure how to get leads for his business.

Over the past month he used Earn1K scripts to pitch the most prestigious yacht brokerage in his area. He struck a deal with them to co-host classes with him — taking all the risk. Not only that, they’re paying him for the classes! In exchange, he’s getting access to their customer base.

He now has more leads than he can handle.

3) João G.: Web developer

“My first client was a friend of mine that is a Director on a big company that needed to develop a website using Drupal. I sent a proposal to develop the website, but the company decided to do it with a Canadian firm (much bigger then I). When I didn’t got the job I wasn’t upset. Actually I helped my friend to ask the right questions and I kept checking how I could help him. When the site was done he called me and hired me as a retainer to maintain the site. This contract was small, but this led me do other projects that I could charge 14K+ and I could also met other Drupal developers that hired me to do more jobs!”

What do you notice about these examples?

1. They’re all hustling…and getting paid to do it
2. Each of them are Earn1k students

Now that you’ve learned some of the fundamentals of hustling — like focusing on disproportionate results, negotiating, and building your own network — you can apply them to earning money on the side.

It’s not just theoretical. Those examples above are just a few of hundreds of people now earning money on the side. They invested in themselves, took action, and now are continuing to hustle — but earning thousands on the side each month.

This is precisely what I teach in my Earn1k course on earning money on the side. After this free 30-day hustling course completes tomorrow, I’m giving away an additional week of free, never-before-released case studies, examples, and even a live webcast on earning money on the side.

But to get it, you have to be on the Earn1k Insider’s List.

I hope you sign up before I close it down.

TODAY: To do

This week’s challenge was to convince a friend to save $500 using my material. This is a test rife with psychological implications and ramifications, since (1) money is taboo, (2) your friends — and most people — are skeptical of anything relating to money, and (3) most people find applied persuasion very difficult.

Because the challenge is so difficult, I offered airfare to SXSW and 3 tickets to a sold-out party — or 30 minutes of strategy discussion with me.

Unfortunately, all of the results this week sucked. Sorry, but nobody wins.

It’s incredibly difficult to change behavior, so I expected this challenge to be harder than before. Indeed, some of the responses showed promise, like this one:

“Told another friend that I was helping this friend save a few hundred. Lesson that I learned? A few hundred is too vague and/or too little. Next time I’m going to test two responses: $500 and $1000 to see if they bite”

Very good insight on future testing. But ultimately, I care about results. And none stood out for pure hustle and notable outcomes.

FORTUNATELY, I’m offering a second chance at the prize.

Here’s how: Leave a comment here by Friday at 12pm PST describing the results you got with this 30-day hustling course. Not your friends — just your own results this month reading IWT.

(Hint: Winners will use SPECIFIC numbers and measures to describe the results they got, not just “I feel confident now!”) Tell me what you tried. Tell me what worked and what failed. Tell me why you weren’t doing it before, what clicked to change your behavior, and what you’re doing next.

If you win, you’ll be able to choose between…

1) Airfare for the SXSW conference on March 11-20 in Austin TX from wherever you are in the continental United States. You’ll also get 3 tickets to Andrew Warner (of Mixergy fame)’s sold-out SXSW party with awesome people. That’s 1 for you, and 2 for anyone you want to take (to provide value FIRST).


2) A 30-minute conference call with me and 3 of your friends to talk about whatever topics interest you the most, like the psychology of persuasion, negotiation, time management, etc.

Leave a comment below by Friday, 2/4 at 12pm Pacific with your results from this month. Looking forward to choosing a winner.

(Can’t see the above form? Click here to sign up.)

By the way, I just released a new case study: “From $0 to $1,500/month of side income in 2 weeks.” Sign up above to get it. Only available for the next 24 hours.

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  1. The sailing example is brilliant because it totally crushes the I-don’t-know-anyone/ I-don’t-have-the-right-people-in-my-network/ I-didn’t-go-to-the-right-school myth. He didn’t know how to get in touch with any of his clients at first.

    Plus, talking with a yacht brokerage (or any business with access to lots of quality leads) is a super high-value activity. Think about how much time he could have wasted posting ads on Craigslist or putting up flyers or building a website about sailing… when all he really needed to do was develop a good pitch to address people that already have access to his market.

  2. While I’m not part of the 30-day course, I started reading your site just 2 weeks ago and applying some of the things I’ve learned it’s already netted me over $200 (in 2 weeks!). As a freelance writer one of the hardest aspects of freelancing for me has always been price-setting. I work with a lot of small businesses–recently a client who I’ve worked for before approached me about a new project. I severely undercharged him the first time we worked together. I had just started doing freelance work and I was scared that he wouldn’t hire me if I asked for too much. This time, I quoted him what I thought the project was worth. I was VERY nervous, but prepared a response in case he came back to me asking why there was such a big jump in price. He didn’t–instead, he hired me, has been treating me with a lot more respect than he did on our first project together and has mentioned that he has another project he’d like to work together on after this one is finished.
    I also pitched a social media expert who I happened to know was working on an ebook to see if she’d be interested in hiring me to edit. Originally, I was hoping to make 25% of the profits (we set up a profit sharing agreement) but managed to negotiate 50% instead. While the book isn’t out yet, so I don’t know how much money this will bring in in the end, I’m expecting it to be to the turn of a few thousand dollars.

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Ramit Sethi, Belinda Fuchs, jslade, CollegeDegreeHelper, Robin Gerhart and others. Robin Gerhart said: RT @ramit: Case studies: Getting paid to hustle — […]

  4. Ramit,

    Thanks for this inspiring 30 days of information on testing assumptions, trying new tactics, testing, retesting, and above all else, hustling and making stuff happen. You teach that it’s not luck, it’s concrete, hard work and careful analysis that gets you to where you want to be – and that’s the kind of stuff we should all be doing. Taking the time to learn, test, explore, and practice new things. As you’ve said in your post, ‘the best indicator of future action is past action,’ and the people who take the time to try these techniques are going to be the people who are on the foreground of testing new businesses, technologies, and leadership methodologies in the near future.

    This month, I tested 4 assumptions (which I emailed to you) and one of them you actually featured in your post during week 2 – thanks, not for the feature, but for the wisdom. All 4 of the assumptions were tested and proven false. My work happiness, if it can be quantified, has increased at least 400%.

    Next, in the last month – ALONE – I nailed an additional freelance client at double the rate I previously charged, and I approached 3 more potential clients and outlined the type of work I can do for them and landed new gigs with a very small effort:output result (disproportionate rewards).

    In fact, I even convinced a colleague at my work to watch your live webinar with Tim Ferriss (after explaining the deadweight trick, which I love) and also, to buy your book. In about 15 minutes, I roughly explained to them about automation and 401K maximization pre-paycheck – and gave them the HR forms for automation and had them sign up. I’m only sorry I didn’t put it in the comments previously to win the SXSW prize, because not only did they act, but I’m certain that it’s beyond $500 of savings (more in the range of $10K) through implementing your material. Plus, they don’t have to think about it anymore – the beauty of automation. I must admit, the reason I didn’t comment on your post earlier this week is because I was spending time hustling – time on things that produce results (for me), which happened to be not commenting on your blog.

    Another example: focusing on disporportionate rewards. I am also a writer, and I went for the big guns – so I submitted guest posts to several of the top blogs in the country. I spent an incredible amount of time pouring over the content of the blog, the writing style, understanding what made previously successful posts, and outlined areas of topics that were missing. Within 2 weeks, two of the posts were accepted and will be featured in the next month.

    Next (and I could go on, so this will be the last example). I put together a diagram and outline of the structure of one division of the company I currently work for, and then outlined a completely different organization structure and potential workflow as I envisioned it, and described where the holes in the practice were. I pin-pointed two new areas of specialty needed for our company. (To be fair, this took about 2-3 months of time and diligent research and thought in advance). I presented the diagrams to our CFO in early Jan and by the end of Jan, had a new job description, a new job title, and negotiated a 10% increase in pay relative to the market value of the work I would be providing for the company. Every single time I made a pitch, I researched the hell out of it, put together comprehensive documentation and analytical summaries based on data, and inserted my opinion in a respectful, courteous manner.

    In short, I’m now doing what I want, getting paid more to do it, making more money on the side, and obliterating assumptions.

    To be fair, there were a lot of things that failed, as well. So goes the story of trying. But with results like these, I’m okay with the times when it doesn’t work out. That tells me how to get better (and what to do differently next time.)

    The best part about trying new things is that it becomes addictive – and also easier – the more that you practice. Testing assumptions, negotiating, learning, hustling, growing – these become habits when you put them to use and understand how they work.

    Thanks, Ramit. I hope everyone takes the time to do a little self-analysis and hustling as soon as possible.

  5. Hey Ramit,

    Just wanted to let you know that I took your lessons on hustling and the craigslist penis effect to heart. I had an interview for a job, and I really wanted to dominate. So I set up FOUR practice interviews. (which doesn’t sound like much, but everyone I talked to was impressed with the effort I put forth) The first was just with a friend. The second a friend who is in the HR business. Then another two, one each week before my actual interview with the career center at my alma mater. Found out that my second interview at the career center was with someone who had worked at the company I was interviewing, and she gave me terrific tips!

    Well, it paid off because I just got the call that they’re extending me an offer! Considering how much extra I’ll get paid at this new job (at LEAST $15K more per year based on the minimum range I was quoted in the interview- I was asked my salary, but turned it around to ask what they were looking to offer) It was definitely worth the extra time! (4 hours for the practice interviews and probably another hour or two of preparing for the practice interviews. 6 hours total, max) Yay disproportionate results!

    I’m going to go practice my negotiating skills now, and I’ll update you on how that goes later!

    Thanks so much!

    • Just as a follow up, I managed to negotiate a $3000 pay raise over the initial offer they quoted!

      (they ended up hiring me for a different position which pays less, but it’s still $13,000 more than I make now, with the potential to move up in 9-12 months. Yes, I got that in writing!)

  6. I saved my friend ~$2,285, I hardly think that result “sucks” when the goal was only $500. Also included a pretty comprehensive analysis of how the money was saved, as well as the assumptions which were fairly conservative.

    But I also know that my week 4 results are still pending moderation since I included two links to online calculators I used, and I know comments with links are not automatically approved. I also knew that was a risk going in, and chose to go ahead and include those links anyways. Gotta stick to your guns sometimes, right?

    Anyways, time to tackle Week 4B results 😉

  7. I’ve been kicking ass with my design consulting business, and have more work than I can handle.

    Yesterday someone hit me up with a side job that I just didn’t have time for. But instead of saying “no”, I called a friend who is out of work and asked if he would like to do some ghost-writing for me. Then called my new client back and said “YES!”

    I charge the client $100/hr and will do a few hours of heavy lifting each week, while compensating my friend $30/hr for his content contribution.

    End result: I expect to have a satisfied client, a friend who is very happy to make $800-1000 (through me) from an exclusive client he normally could never touch. And I make several thousand dollars of arbitrage.


  8. I’m the kind of person who always wants to better myself. I always feel like there is something new to learn so I can be better. After stumbling across your blog mid-January, I wasn’t sure of the value it would add to my life – there are so many personal finance blogs and advice out there. I read a couple of your entries, and especially the credit card one stood out to me – I didn’t know a lot of the tips you mentioned (credit card companies extending warranties on electronics? say what!), so I decided to give you a chance. And low and behold, your blog has added value to my life.

    I’ve been working with a nonprofit doing social media for about a year now, and it’s a really great job. I’m leaving though, at the end of the month, because they are going through some staff structural changes, and well, it’s just time for me to move on to the next thing. I always read about social media consultants, but never really considered that to be an option for me – too young (I’m 22), and I don’t have enough experience.

    After reading more of your blog posts, I’ve come to realize that hey, why not take that first step? I’ve been working for a great, big nonprofit for a year now, so yes, I do have the experience! I got up the courage, wrote out a page of metrics from the nonprofit’s social media sites that I helped to grow over the last year, and talked to the ED – BOOM. Landed my first consulting gig – continuing their social media after I leave and WHILE I’M TRAVELING.

    Okay, so I got up some courage from the first. Couple nights later, I was perusing my favorite yoga place’s website, and realized that a Groupon-like deal they were trying to promote wasn’t hitting ANY of their followers. ‘This is lame’, I thought, ‘They seriously need to work with their social media to get this out to their fellow yogis.’ LIGHTBULB: I would pitch me to their owner! Why not, right? Walked in the next day with a proposal and a smile, and walked out with a small contract and unlimited free yoga for just working on their social media!

    Wow, I thought – I think I’m on to something here. 2 ‘clients’ already, and I’m only on the job for a week. I needed a change not only mentally, but financially, and I think I’m on the right course. Next week I’m pitching again to a related nonprofit that also needs help with their social media, and I was connected to them through the nonprofit I’m working for now. Nonprofits tend to stick together – they recommend and connect people to each other all the time here in Seattle. Seems like I hustled myself into a pretty good niche, huh?

    So Ramit, this is just the beginning – but your hustling course mainly taught me that you’re NEVER too young or inexperienced to hustle. It’s all in the way you present yourself.

  9. In the course of just a few weeks, I’ve essentially BEAT my procrastination habit, which was slowly killing my freelance writing career. I applied for and landed a new gig editing and writing for a well known personality’s website. I earned about $2500 more (AMAZING!) than I usually do simply by accepting more assignments with the confidence that I could complete them. On a slightly smaller scale (though no less satisfying), I cleaned my car, which I’d been telling myself I’d do for about what felt like years. No joke – that was a BIG DEAL for me.

    Bottom line: I was my own worst enemy, and I managed to change that. I always KNEW I was sabotaging myself with bad habits, but it takes more than just a few surges of energy or random “I can do this!” pep talks to get out of that rut. First, I designed a website. Every freelance writer should have one, but I thought that my lack of design skill would prevent me from creating something memorable. Instead of even attempting it, I filed it away in the “maybe someday I’ll do that” category. The website is what got me the job with the aforementioned personality. They loved that all of my published work was right there and that they could quickly absorb my writing style and get a feel for what I’m all about. The website also means I can apply for other jobs much more quickly. No more digging around for links of published articles. I can just shoot them the link to the site – and I can’t tell you how many people have commented on it in a positive way. I’m floored by what a difference this small move made.

    Next, I started my own blog. I have long admired my fellow writers – the ones who, in addition to writing for others, also maintain blogs for themselves. I have wanted to do this for as long as I can remember. Ramit mentioned that his site sucked early on, but the quality of his content was good. I kept this in mind as I launched my bare-bones blog, which is slowly but surely growing, gaining traffic and even earning some limited revenue. It doesn’t look that great, but the content makes up for that.

    The car thing? Possibly the MOST satisfying accomplishment of the month. There is nothing like the feeling of dread that settles into my stomach when I know that I have major cleaning to do. What finally forced me to do it? Well, hustling doesn’t just apply to professional work. I had already earned the major writing gig and seen some of the incredible financial results that my hard work could bring, so I essentially applied that focus to cleaning the car that had been an absolute MESS (I’m talking stuffed trunk, messy floors, the whole lot) since, oh, 2000. Not lying. Felt good, to say the least.

    I have been applying the importance of disproportionate impact to my existing writing jobs, too. I write for a particular client who sends detailed traffic/click-through data at the end of each month. My articles have done decently, but they have by no means been extraordinary, in terms of both content and data. I have been spending an almost inordinate amount of time on these articles for the past couple of weeks and noticed a remarkable change in the data I received a couple of days ago. Traffic: about 10,000 more CLs EACH on seven featured articles, more unique visitors to each page than in ANY month prior and, for me personally, greater pride in the work I’m doing.

    Overall results: No way to put it into words, though I tried above. It’s a continued work in progress and it will keep going in the right direction. Thanks, Ramit.

  10. Since reading your book mid-December, I’ve been focusing on negotiating with phone and internet companies. Easy, quick, and produces results with no tradeoff in quality.

    I’m going to implement the other savings tips once I create more income (launching a website in two weeks to offer LSAT lessons online). I figure making money should be the first priority.

    Here are the results of my “hustling” with phone companies (not all in the past 48 hours).

    1. Called my cellphone provider (owned by Rogers) and cited a better offer with a competing cell phone company (also owned by Rogers). They offered me more services for less money. I pay $28 per months, down from 37$. The list price of the services I now have is $50. So, 528$ over the two years they offered this deal for (and I didn’t have to sign a contract).

    2. My parents were paying $230 per month for internet, cable, and home phone, split over two companies. I called each company and told them my parents were thinking of switching (they would NEVER have actually switched). I saved $55 per month with two half hour phone calls, plus got them more channels, cheaper long distance and faster internet.

    $1320 over the two years the deals are good for. Again, no contract. My Dad bought an HD TV with the savings.

    3. We have a slow internet connection at my apartment, and were paying the advertised rate.

    I called a competing company, saying we would switch if they could match the price we were currently paying. They offered us a service that is 3x faster on download, 7x faster on upload, and with 2.5x more GB of usage, along with a better wireless router, for $5 less per month. $120 over the two years, for MUCH better service, or $648 lower than list price, depending on how you want to look at it. The whole process took about an hour.

    I would have posted this yesterday, but I wanted to finish the internet negotiation first. Total negotiating time was probably no more than 3 hours, so I’m pretty pleased with the savings.

    Keep up the email series, there’s some great stuff. I’m making a list of things to apply once my business gets going in a couple of weeks.