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Examples from the field: How to stand out

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In the last 12 months, I’ve turned down around $200,000 of business from people I didn’t feel were right for my programs.

I’ve also doubled the guarantee period of my Earn1k program for no good reason. I just thought it was the right thing to do.

And I’ve made some decisions about the upcoming launch of Earn1k 2.0.

Each of these moves are unusual — but they’re extremely unusual for people in the information product world (e.g., ebooks, online courses, etc), who typically try to make as much money as quickly as they can.

We’ve been talking about hustling this month — or working extraordinarily hard to get disproportionate results. That means if you work on the right things, you can make 2x, 4x, or even 100x as much as average people.

And it’s not just money. You can hit your goals faster, worry less, and accomplish more by working harder, and working on the right things.

Today, some behind-the-scenes examples from the field (my business) — and a twisted challenge for you at the end of the post. I love it!

Follow along and see you how you can use these same techniques for your own goals.

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Turning down $200,000 in 12 months

I give away most of my material free — 99% of it. To generate revenue, I sell information products as well as a New York Times best-selling book. Occasionally, I charge to speak at companies or conferences.

Now, I could make a pretty respectable living by doing nothing and letting my business run itself automatically. But I find it intellectually challenging to run this business as a laboratory, constantly tweaking, testing, and tinkering to see what results I can get. As I’ve always said, testing is critical.

But I exist in an extremely odd market: information products, which is largely a weird combination of circus freaks, scammers, and a very few highly credible people selling top-quality products.

How do I distinguish myself from all the nutcases?

How can you stand out from the other 50,000 people trying to do what you’re doing? Let’s take some examples.

Results matter more than anything. I never call myself an expert. Only you can do that — once my material gets you concrete results.

I focus obsessively on getting my readers results…and I track everything.

For example, here’s an email I got THIS MORNING from an Earn1k student, Pam M.:

“Anyway, just from the first lesson of “get inside your customer’s head” I was able to get a freelance writing assignment that gets me an extra $300-$500 per month.”

Here’s another one from IWT reader Martin, who recently left this insightful comment:

“I think anyone who’s been paying attention (and listened to the webcast with BJ Fogg) knows exactly what you’re doing:

Baby steps.

How much more likely are any of us to sign up for Earn1k 2.0 now? Only a few months ago I wouldn’t have, and now I’m seriously considering it. By digesting your free material, we’re all taking baby steps towards paying for your material.

You’re applying the exact techniques you’re teaching all of us. Baller…This has all been incredibly useful information for me.”

Precisely. Once you use my free material to see that you can actually get a meeting with a VIP, negotiate your rent or cellphone or cable, set up automatic transfers in 3 days, create a plan to pay off debt, or even earn $500/month…you know it’s real.

How this applies to you: Anyone can talk a big game about what they’re going to do. DO IT FIRST — FREE — and watch your business skyrocket. When someone emails me promising me the world for PPC, or SEO, or whatever, I just laugh. I get 50 of those emails/week. Do it first, send over a completed result, and we’ll talk. And remember, this is true of virtually every hiring manager. You can make yourself irresistible by doing the work first. And track everything.

Make ridiculously over-the-top offers.

A 30-day free course on hustling.

Earn1k, which costs more than virtually any other product in the market, but gets you more results than anything else you could get for free — or pay for.

Scrooge Strategy, perhaps the only information product on saving money that costs nearly $50/month — and saves you more than 2x (usually 10x) that amount each month.

How do I charge so much for my material — and get thousands of customers who are delighted to pay — when most people give away free material and mop up the leftover ad revenue?

People pay attention when your material is the best, you know it, and you offer crazy proof of how good it is.

Let me give you an example.

I recently doubled the guarantee period of Earn1k for no good reason. You see, virtually every person in the information-product business offers generous guarantees and has to live up to their product’s hype…or they go out of business. This is an extremely competitive area.

That means previously, you could take half my 8-week Earn1k course and ask for a full refund. After doubling the guarantee period, it means you can take the full course and ask for a refund if you don’t love it.  I even eat the credit-card processing costs.

Why?

Because in a world of scammy info-products, I want to go ridiculously over-the-top to show you how valuable my material is.

That’s why I give away 99% of my free material — which I believe is better than most paid products.

That’s why I give money-back guarantees for my products. (And by the way, I carefully tracked certain metrics once I doubled the guarantee period. Don’t just make crazy offers. Track everything.)

That’s why instead of launching product after product, I do a few key products each year, spending heavily to build the best — and then charging accordingly for results.

How this applies to you: Be careful about doing what everyone else is doing. Do you think running a blog for ad revenue will be highly profitable? Probably not. Do you think you should target EVERYONE for your freelance business? No. Do you think you should be sending out 100 resumes to get your next job? If you’re sending out 100 resumes, you’re doing it wrong.

Quality is extraordinarily rare


@ramit Hustlin harder than any other blogger. Amazing quality multiple times a week, how much caffeine do you consume?less than a minute ago via web

In this world of people making a quick buck, quality is rare.

I study customer service obsessively. I read biographies and histories of companies like Leica, The Four Seasons, and Apple.

I’m obsessed with quality. And every day, I have to make the decision of long-term quality or short-term revenue.

For example, I could actually make a lot more money launching 20 products per year. Or doing shady affiliate deals. Or trading my email subscribers’ to less scrupulous people. The amount of money being left on the table? Millions.

But I want your success. Because once my students see that my material works, they stick with me forever. It’s funny — this happens a lot. People pick up my book, think it’s a scam, and try the first chapter (negotiation scripts). Once they do that, they’re IWT students forever.

Because there’s nothing like results.

And that’s how you get disproportionate rewards.

Another example: I send out weekly emails to Earn1k students who’ve already paid and graduated. I get nothing out of it. I don’t charge anything for it. But if it takes me 1-2 hours per week and my students stay happy — if these show them I’m in it for the long term — then that further distinguishes me as someone who cares about THEM, not someone who’s just in it to make a quick buck.

That’s why I don’t accept Earn1k students who have credit card debt. They need to fix their debt first, not invest in more courses. That cost me over $100k last year. But it’s the right thing to do.

That’s why I recently shut down a highly profitable program because it wasn’t providing disproportionate results to my students. Here’s the actual email I sent that cost me $75,000.

That’s why I turned down $100k of revenue in my first Earn1k launch just so we could maintain an extraordinary level of personalized quality for my top-tier students.

All of this sounds expensive. But I actually think it’s expensive to focus on short-term results.

When my students — or even free readers — see how day after day, I focus on giving you the best material out there, you start to say, “Hey, this guy is actually giving me pretty good stuff.”

And our relationship becomes far less like some dude trying to sell you on his expensive products. It becomes about being your advisor, someone who cares about the results you get — whether in your career, or personal finances, or even health and fitness.

How many people do you know who focus obsessively on your results? Who track and respond to thousands of emails every week without charging a cent?

Notice how frequently I keep mentioning results. That’s because when people lob skepticism at you, you can argue back…or you can simply point to insane results on it. How can anyone argue with that?

“My rate increased by 55% and I paid off $7k CC debit last year.” – Angelo

“Used some of the techniques to negotiate a $6k higher salary at the new job I started. Freelancing has suffered as a result, but the new job is worth it.” – Steve G

“I fired the custumers that were not the right ones and just kept the right ones. This made me go from R$ 50/hr to R$ 70/hr.” – João G

“Turned freelancing into a 50% higher base salary.” – Eva

“I almost doubled my rate from $35/hr to $50/hr. I would not have had the confidence to do that, if it wasn’t for E1K.” – Kaushlesh B

“I went from $0 per month to $2600 per month.” – Owen O

“I got my first completely new paying client (no friend, or friend of a friend) within 4 weeks of the course and made $1700 with that deal.”- Christina

“Increased my salary by 20k and made 1k a month on the side.” – Uy T

That kind of obsession lets me deeply understand exactly what the problems are when I go write my next blog post…or create my next product. It’s also what also allows me to run a business where I can create the  best products on the market — and make disproportionate revenues from them — because I use all this research to craft the perfect product for you.

(I’m now working on several new products…some to launch in months, some as far out as a year from now.)

How this applies to you: TRACK RESULTS LIKE A MAD MAN. The next time you apply for a job, use my Briefcase Technique to whip out a 10-page, single-spaced document of results you’ve gotten. What are they going to say? “Oh my dear god. How much do you want to make? Name a price. I’ll pay you anything.” That’s when you spit your watermelon seed onto their desk, put your fedora hat on, and as you’re walking through their office door, look back and — calmly — say, “I’ll take $150k. $500/month in monthly training, no questions asked. And I want a frappuccino on my desk every morning.”

YOU CAN’T LOSE.

Look, it’s easy to be average. It’s the default position. But when you can invest in others — when you can get them SPECIFIC, MEASURABLE results before asking for anything — you will get disproportionate returns easily. Think about this with your co-workers. Think about this with your partner. Invest in others before expecting something back. But when you get something back…it will blow you away.

Separate the winners from the losers.

Last year, during the first Earn1k launch, I made 80% of my revenues from a small list of a few thousand.

This year, I’ve decided to only launch Earn1k to the people on my Earn1k Insider list. Earn1k will not be launched through this blog. It will only be available if you’re on the list.

That’s because I’m constantly looking for ways to speak more to the people who have already taken action, instead of trying to convince people to take action in the first place.

This month, during the course on hustling, every post has had an easy opt-in form. I’ve offered incentives, bonuses, free interviews, and all kinds of exclusive material to join (free). For those who have taken the trivial action of entering their name and email, they’ll get a week of free material on hustling, psychology, and earning more after this Friday. Those who didn’t, won’t.

(If earning money on the side isn’t for you, that’s no problem. I hope to have other material that’s better for you. But my motto is — if you trust someone, why not try it out?)

“But Ramit,” you might say, “why don’t you just give away the free material and launch Earn1k publicly? Not everyone wants to sign up for your stupid list.”

Good question, hypothetical question-asker. I do this because when I invest in you by giving away free material and exclusive interviews, I expect people to invest in themselves — by taking action — and to invest in me. I don’t ask much, but joining a free list is the bare minimum I ask for giving away even more information. If you don’t want to buy one of my courses, that’s cool. But I don’t just give away free material for nothing. I expect my readers to take action.

How this applies to you: Don’t try to serve everyone. Have you ever had the experience of trying to convince a lame friend to go out night after night? There’s ALWAYS an excuse. Instead, spend your time on friends who already want to go out…and making new friends. Same for business: Focus on people who already get it — or have the potential to get it — instead of everyone.

This week’s challenge:

This week, I put together a twisted challenge for you.

You know how I keep saying, “Skepticism is not a strategy?” That’s because so many people are skeptical in this world. “There’s no way that can work!” “I could find all that stuff for free.” “That sounds scammy.”

It’s funny — at the beginning of this month, there were a few skeptical comments from people. Most of them have faded away. It’s hard to stay skeptical when everyone else is passing you by getting results.

So here’s the challenge: Help 1 friend save $500 using IWT material by this Wednesday.

It sounds simple, but you are about to experience the FASCINATING psychological phenomenon of skepticism. Get ready for people to say things like:

  • “This book sounds scammy”
  • “There’s no way that could work”
  • “Yeah yeah…I’ll do it later”

Why this challenge? First, because when you teach something, you get better at it yourself. Second, because we’ve been largely internally focused this month. But third, and most importantly, when you see how skeptical other people are, it will shock you — and make you question yourself. Are you that skeptical about other things?

There’s no better way to do that than trying to show your FRIENDS how to do something and  watching them be extraordinarily skeptical/disbelieving. For example, I LOVE mixergy.com, Andrew Warner’s site where he interviews entrepreneurs in extreme detail. But when I’ve recommended it, THREE people were skeptical. “What’s the catch?” one asked. “Yeah, I should really watch that…” another said. This site, which has literally changed the way I think about my business.

This exercise is very revealing because it will show you how skeptical many of you are about things. Even when you patiently explain that no, you did this yourself and it ACTUALLY WORKED, many people will not believe you.  But it will be your job to find a way to get friends to save $500 in the next 48 hours using my material.

You’ll be applying your best persuasion learning’s from the interview with Stanford psychologist and persuasion expert, BJ Fogg and all the other material I’ve put together.

And in exchange, I’ll award a terrific prize to the best result.

To do this week:

Leave your results of the challenge in the comments section of this post with the heading “WEEK 4 RESULTS” by Wednesday at 11:59pm PST.

Note: Be respectful when you talk to your friends about this. Remember how hard it was for you to take action during this course?  Nobody wants a know-it-all.

The person who gets the best results from their friends this week can 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).

-or-

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.

Note: This week, since the awards are so large, you must be a member of my private Earn1k Insider list to be eligible.

What’s coming the rest of the week

This is the final week of my free 30-day course on hustling. This week, we’re covering the difference between the best and the rest.

  • Monday: The top 2 things that separate the winners and the those left behind
  • Tuesday: Earn1K case studies on Hustling –> Getting people to pay YOU to hustle.
  • Wednesday: Special webcast with Tim Ferriss (details to come tomorrow)
  • Thursday: Winner of “Take Action” award for this week + details on the bonus 5th week on earning more
  • Friday: The 30-day course ends… and the private bonus week on getting paid to hustle begins

Enter your info below to sign up to be eligible for this week’s prize and get access to all the bonus material I’ve released during this 30-day course – which is available to you in the private insiders’ area of earn1k.com.


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

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Ramit Sethi, Bud Hennekes, Nico Schweinzer, Belinda Fuchs, Chris Anastasio and others. Chris Anastasio said: RT @ramit: Ok guys, just wrote a monster post revealing lots of behind-the-scenes details about my biz: http://bit.ly/fgTYYN […]

  2. I paid for Earn1K last year, and admittedly didn’t finish the program (yet). However, it did (and is) helping me to achieve other goals in my life however. Even though I’m not making $1K on the side right now I don’t feel like I got ripped off, for a few reasons:

    1. Its my own fault-I didn’t take action.
    2. While I’m not using it as intended, the material is helping me achieve results in other areas of my life that are important to me right now (volunteering, graduate school, helping my brother with his start-up.
    3.Because Ramit stays engaged and continues to send e-mails after the course is completed, I felt like he was committed to his students, and that actually carried weight with me.
    4. If I’m not mistaken, Ramit is letting his former Earn1K students in on Earn1K 2.0.

    So, while I don’t worship the ground Ramit walks on, I do think he takes care with his students, readers, customers and his image. I would recommend Earn 1K to friends if they were serious about freelancing and I thought they would make good use of the product.

  3. The SXSW prize is awesome! Too bad I’m way too busy with clients to even think about this (snaps to Earn1K for helping me get into this predicament).

    I like this challenge a lot. I’ve been using the earn1k free material to try and convert some friends into self-employed happy people rather than corporate slaves and it is very very very very very very very hard to get them to even try a few hours on the side, despite the fact that they complain endlessly about wanting to work on their own. sigh.

  4. You’re great man!
    I am starting to get really specific and get results. The first “days” are pretty tough, but I persevere.

    I have used your Earn1K techniques and email scripts to get in touch with photos agents: I have spent hours making these emails not just OK, but GREAT!!! Plus, I have NOT included any visuals/photos I have done, neither my website address, which is strange for a photographer, but I wanted it this way to see their reactions.

    Gues what? I got 5 answers back on 7 emails sent (some email back, some call), which is a HIGH response percentage, with 1 appointment to come in February. Some of them are VERY interested but their agency is already full.

    Man, your material get results for sure.
    I’ll keep you updated on more later.

    And I’ll come to SF to buy you a drink. Count on me, I WILL do it.

    David from Paris, Earn1K student.

    • Love it. Another happy Earn1k student. In PARIS! I might be asking for some dining recommendations soon.

    • Well done David! I like the idea of sending great emails without visuals and still getting a great response – seems counter-intuitive, but you can show results!

  5. Ramit, another brilliant post. Now, do I wait for another 18 months until all my credit card debt; or do Earn 1K now and make more money? (I know this has been discussed before; I’m just questioning myself again because the quality of the information is so incredible.)

    • Go for the course. I was in the same predictament. The money I’ve made from the Earn 1K course has more than paid for itself and paid a fair chunk of my debt to boot. It’s definately worth the money as long as you hustle on the work involved.

  6. “My rate increased by 55% and I paid off $7k CC debit last year.” – Angelo

    I’m guessing “debit” is a misspelling of “debt” – my question is, did you just recently make the decision to turn people down with credit card debt, and you used to let more people in? I only ask because it was one of your main talking points.

    PS – The challenge smells like Jean-Pol Martin. :) I like it.

  7. This is too funny… just this morning, I forwarded one of your emails to a friend for the very first time! Oh, and I’m also carrying a cheque in my wallet, but I know that was just a metaphor.

    I think I’d rather help a friend EARN $500 instead of SAVE $500, but I’ll try both.

  8. Great material as always. Undergoing interviews now and the jaw dropped look you get with the briefcase strategy brings a smile to my face every time.

    Thanks Ramit.

  9. Not sure if this counts for the challenge, but why not: saved my boss ~$8000 (assuming his son takes 4 years to finish college.) His son received a better financial aid offer by 2k/yr at a school he didn’t want to attend, but they hadn’t tried to negotiate with the college because he is in running for a separate 2k scholarship for that school that would make the offers equal. I suggested they contact the office of the top choice school with the higher offer without mentioning the additional scholarship on the side. He emailed the other offer over during lunch, put in a quick call to the financial aid office, and they are matching the offer. Now even if his son doesn’t get the other scholarship, he saves 2k per year. Not bad for 10 minutes of work!

  10. I actually started sharing some of your stuff with friends last week before I heard you’re offering the SXSW prize, but thanks for the extra incentive! I got a lot out of the BJ Fogg interview, and felt that my close friends could benefit from it too. I sent them a series of emails (not unlike yours) that tied those concepts to things I have in common with them, like our church’s messages on wisely using one’s time / money, and our mutual friend who went from chain smoker to He-Man lookalike in about 6 months. Some of them have signed up for a Dave Ramsey class that will help them get control of their finances and hopefully save thousands in their lifetime. I can’t claim credit for them signing up, but I may have nudged them towards it. Anyways, I appreciate you sharing interviews like that, as well as your other free content that not only helps people make money, but get a sense of peace and freedom as well.

    • Good stuff. Focus on goals, not just content.

      If you send people random stuff, they’ll barely read it.

      If you say, I WANT YOU AND I TO SAVE $500 IN THE NEXT 48 hours, the material takes on a whole new urgency.

      Goals, not content.

    • I agree, it’s goals that are important because content by itself doesn’t get you anywhere. In my case, I challenged my friends to share their goals and use some of the methods in the BJ Fogg interview to increase their chances of success (specifically the baby steps, changing your environment, accountability and envisioning the outcome). Some of them are financial and others are getting in shape, breaking a bad habit, etc.

      I just sent the “I WANT YOU AND I TO SAVE $500 IN THE NEXT 48 hours” email. Woot!

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