Results from the book giveaway

Ramit Sethi · October 5th, 2006

I got a bunch of ideas from the book giveaway, but unfortunately nothing stood out, so I’m just giving the books away to 2 random people who comment in the next 7 days.

Update: No, comments that say “here’s a random comment” don’t count. Come on, guys.

Update #2: Done! I’ve picked the winners: comment #22 from Kimber here, and comment #21 from MyNameIsMatt here. Thanks to everyone. Kim and Matt, you have emails in your inbox with some more details.

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  1. Rob Drimmie

    I wasn’t able to think of a good idea to sell the site, but a random comment? That I can do!

  2. random comments indeed

  3. Sheridan

    So, are you going to share any of the ideas you did get? Or have they become your Trade Secrets?


    How random is random? Did you ever hear the one about the chicken and the frog?!

    The chicken had just come out of the library, book in hand, and in the street bumped into his best friend the frog.

    The chicken said ‘Book book book book book?’

    The frog said, ‘Reddit!’

    I apologise unreservedly for the above post! Keep up the good work 🙂

  5. Probably because you’re acting as the spider here. 😉

  6. thatedeguy

    That’s very nice of you Ramit, but shouldn’t you just randomly select from the people who tried? They did try and as such they maybe deserve the books more than some of us other random bloggers.

  7. Ben Schell

    Same here!

  8. Well, I’m about as random as a gal can get so I reckon I have a good shot at winning.

    Been on vacation the last month, I’ll take a look at your challenge.

  9. Ramit Sethi

    Sheridan: No, they’re not secrets. Most of the comments said start a podcast, put videos on youtube, write more, add archives to your site, make a bobblehead doll, get a better logo, tell people to tell other people about the site, etc. There weren’t really any secret ideas that I hadn’t thought of before.

  10. noah kagan

    Ramit is cute but you are being a tad rude. Podcasts are the next wave. If you haven’t embraced it in your life then you are missing out brother.


  11. Hey I just started reading your blog. I’m a big fan. Have a good one.

  12. Rob Drimmie

    I think Sheridan’s right. Even if the comments weren’t original and no one put together a page that drove traffic to your site or whatever, at least those people did try to help you out.

    Also, just something to consider: You had to clarify details for what you wanted, and you had to clarify, with an exasperated “come on guys” that you meant some sort of meaningful comment. Maybe the problem isn’t in the deadbeats reading your site looking for freebies and hand outs, the ones you’ve spent a few posts complaining about now, but maybe the problem is in your expectations or your ability to define exactly what sort of magic bullet you’re looking for here.

    Obviously whatever it is you’re looking for isn’t forthcoming. So, maybe the problem is that it’s not very well defined. Figure out what it is you want, and then start rewarding people for trying.

    You know, and you’ve said as much in many posts here, that poorly described projects are pretty much destined to failure, be they budgets that consit of “I’m going to save money by spending less on lunch!” or be they business plans that consist of “I’m going to start a company that is going to revolutionise networking by changing the shape of data packets” or be they competitions that consist of “Come up with an original and amazing way to drive traffic to a web site.”

    Maybe you should try it again instead of us.

    And of course, maybe all of this is just a pile of bs to bypass the “no random comments” restrictions.

  13. Ramit Sethi

    Rob, I completely agree. When I first asked for “ideas” on my newsletter, I didn’t get very good results. I amended my request for this post but still didn’t get anything very interesting.

    So clearly something isn’t working, and it’s not everyone else’s fault–it’s mine for not being able to describe my ideal outcome.

    But after it not working twice, I’m going to move on and give the books away to people who leave valuable comments (as most people do).

    Thanks. I really appreciate your comment.

  14. Ramit,

    I believe the best way of getting people to your blog is through advertisement in finance magazines. Who else would take the time to actually sit down and read about personal finance, but the people who are already purchasing such types of articles. Myspace and those types of social websites are full of people who really don’t care about their money, so networking through there really wouldn’t help. As always people who have a legitimate interest in their own finances will always go out and seek the information, aswell as put it to the test. The rest will sit around, read a few things, get hyped up, but never do anything about it.

  15. Well, I’m not sure if there is a real “secret” idea out there for you to use. Marketing is usually composed of many simple concepts or a combination of them.

    It’s more up to how you prefer to market it be based on your resources (which we no nothing about).

  16. I liked the idea of the book giveaway, but I had no ideas. Now that it’s only a random comment to enter – suddenly I came up with an idea. Why not stamp dollar bills with the URL. I think the URL speaks for itself, so no other words are necessary. Or is defacing a bill like that illegal?

  17. MyNameIsMatt

    I had an idea when you first posted the question, but I was turned off when you said you wanted people to produce the idea (and I wasn’t inspired enough to do something, call me lazy). Of course, no one has a problem sharing their thoughts, as those are free, but feel valuable. I understand that you wanted to cut out some of the lame ideas by asking people to do something (creating a barrier of entry that would hopefully remove the crap). However, the barrier of execution is possibly the greatest barrier of all – ideas are free, but action has a cost – and I think that’s what you ran up against because people may not have seen the return for themselves (we’re selfish bastards at times, I know).

    The best way that I can think of to grow this blog is by growing the community (duh!). How do you do that? I believe there is a critical mass point where if you really want your community to grow, then you need to let them plant seeds. Users need to be able to dig their dirty little claws into your brand or whatever you want to call it. Comments is the first step in doing that, but that will only allow a certain critical mass level. Users need more ways to dig their claws in, and feel a part of the brand itself.

    Someone who’s been great at doing this is ze frank with “The Show with ze frank” vlog. He’s created a place for his community, and brought them into the show itself (having them send in video of themselves introducing the show, fun photo task, etc.). What he’s done with that is found a way to cross that execution barrier that builds value for both him and his community, and that is how I believe you should focus yourself. I know that’s very vague and general, and I could possibly be more specific, but it’s time I get back to my own work right now.

  18. Unfortunately no great ideas here, just started reading the site recently and, so far – so good.

  19. One more thing, I’m sure you’ve thought of it, but adding a “Digg This” to posts automatically (below them, not part of the text) couldn’t hurt to get more people reading…

  20. Hm, I think I can spare a random comment! Yes! Yes I can!

  21. MyNameIsMatt

    Ok, work is kinda slow and boring right now, so I’m back.

    Specific idea #1: User submitted testimonials + Ramit Ratings.

    You’ve asked for people to tell you how this site has helped them before, and you liked a number of the replies. We also love your stories about your stupid friends (and smart ones) and their financial decisions or reasoning. Why not add a section to this blog where users can submit The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly about their personal or their friends financial decisions?

    You filter out the ones that are actually worth posting, and stamp a Ramit Rating on it like “5 Ramits – I wanted to hit them over the head, and jump off a bridge myself” or “1 Ramit – I wish I had thought of this, and I’m richer for knowing it.” Also, people shouldn’t be giving out too much personal information, but I’d love to see posters’ pictures attached to the testimonies too, or something more visual to this site (but that might be my specific idea #2. We’ll see if I post that too).

    This gives a portion of this blog/brand/site to the community in a way that could be fun for them. This would partially put this site into the community’s hands, yet you’d still remain in primary control, but it expands the value for people coming here. Win, win.

  22. Chris Sanders

    I would buy a Ramit Sethi bobblehead. In all honesty. An idea I had however, although not that original, is to put out some excel spreadsheets or some simple things like that for helping manage various aspects of finance. I know you are working on a web based solution for this but that would be a nice supplement until that is done. You would be suprised how fast things like that spread. Just make sure to put your name on it somewhere and password protect the cells.

  23. I really enjoy reading the stuff you’ve written. It’s actually interesting and written in a way I find engaging. And you’re brutally honest.

    I dont have many ideas, kinda stuck in my own creative rut. but the book giveaway is a really nice idea.

  24. Ramit,
    I thought one of the main benefits of this site (for you) is to meet people and get speaking jobs. Couldn’t you slash the site marketing aspect and focus more on giving your talks?

  25. Payara-Confessor

    This is both a random thought and a random comment:
    Rather than ask for ideas why don’t you ask for people to publicise your site in somekind of verifiable way. That way you may (or may not – usual disclaimers apply) stumble across effective (easy to measure) and cheap (presumably people won’t spend more time on this than the expected value of the book to them – assuming rational investors 🙂 ) ways. If someone has a killer idea then they can show you the result rather than the method outright and you can help them turn it into a money generating venture perhaps…

  26. c'mon, guys

    What will you change next? I expect a post in the next week or so saying

    ‘C’mon guys, there wasn’t enough random people commenting. Furthermore, to the people who did comment, none of the comments really stood out….so I’m keeping the books for myself.’

    Quit changing things and give the books away. You’re ruining your credibility.

  27. Once upon a time there was a contest… and nobody won.

  28. How about prizes (or premium link love) to your most prolific posters. With quality taken into account, of course, as judged by you. You have pretty good reach and could offer a pretty tempting avenue for “worthy” participants. Bringing more voices offering legitimately useful perspectives couldn’t help but bring more exposure. Of course, if you feel this idea is ridiculous, just consider it random!

  29. I thought my idea wasn’t half bad, although you had already thought of it (which must mean it’s a good idea).

    Anyway, enter me in the drawing.

  30. I think that this site has been marketed well already with the mention in the New York Times, and its prevalence in Google. Google Reader includes this site in its finance read bundle so anyone who chooses to follow the RSS feeds of Google’s picks on finance already sees your blog. You were plugged by another personal finance blog today. I was going to suggest that you break things into categories of interest on your website, but you already have that. I think Frat Boy Business Ideas should possibly be its own category because people really liked and discussed that topic extensively. To appeal more to the college crowd, you may want to write about events like College Fest. You are too late this year, but College Fest is an annual event in Boston where college students get freebies and sign up for credit card offers to get free t-shirts. Giving out business cards with coupons for things that college students would want at such an event would definitely be a way of getting out the word. Also discussing the event and letting people know what the best and worst credit card offers that day were. What should people be aware of in the fine print of credit card offers? This would appeal to the college crowd cutting its teeth on its first credit cards.

  31. Travis Reeder

    I got a good idea… do nothing. Let your blog spread because it’s got good content, not some publicity scheme.

  32. Nothing to add, besides a random comment.

  33. Zeshan Usman

    I have found your site useful and appreciate your work.

  34. I know this isn’t going to be terribly useful, but if I had to make a suggestion at this moment, it’d be to darken the text in this comment area by a couple of steps. It’s a little pale, as I write this.

    As a long-time webmaster, if not a long-time blogger, I’d suggest that asking for ideas never works well. I’ve tried it. The best ideas will be yours. The ideas of other people will never resonate with you the same way and will never ‘fit’ in your system well. Don’t try to make big sweeping changes, just tweak as you go, and eventually you get something that fills the needs you’re trying to fill and works the way you want it to work.

    And make sure your text is readable, that goes without saying. 😉

  35. Idea Senator

    It all depends on your personal mapping and the income you target and want to achieve. Only then perhaps I would be able to give my ideas…

  36. Charles Howlett

    The hell?? We spend our time to send you what we think is usefull information and you say *YAWN*. Sigh, so your message is thanks for trying, but your just useful as a random event!!

    BYB, Starbucks, its hot (no pun intended) and i wish the had a DRIP (pun intended)!!

  37. Geez….get on the internet, go to, enter my name, email, and a comment to win a book? Too many barriers! 🙂

    Seriously though, Ramit, I truly enjoy your site and all the work you’ve been putting into it recently. If I was an entrepreneur I’d be banging down your door to get an interview. My brother is thinking about starting his own business and I’ve already told him that he needs to talk to you about his success story (not if, when – that guy is money minded).

    In the meantime though, I’m pointing him and my other brother (still in college) to your site so they too can learn the importance of budgeting, barriers, and all the other interesting and informative posts you’ve provided (and hopefully will continue to provide).

  38. Charles,

    It’s Ramit’s party and he can cry if he wants to. 🙂 haha, i’m just kidding.

  39. I agree with Rob D. So here’s my random comment.

    “If you can’t hear me, it’s because I’m in parentheses.”

  40. Jeremy Welch

    Did you get everything resolved with your publisher?

  41. I agree that asking people to produce the idea created a barrier: in my case, I don’t know enough about web design to implement the idea! But for whatever it’s worth, here’s my thought: add a “share this post” link after each post, similar to what you’d find on a news site where you can “share this photo” or “share this article.” If a reader thinks her friend might appreciate a specific post, she can click the link, enter her friend’s email address, and a link to the post will be sent to the friend. This would bring more traffic to the site, and then it’s up to your content to convince them to stay and read awhile. (Not a problem IMO – I’ve been reading along for a couple months and I think it’s a great site!)

  42. Ramit,

    Did digg, google, slashdot, etc. get big because the had a great publicity campaign?

    If you are now doing this blog for the revenue then you’ve lost sight of what your stated goal for this blog is and need to restate your ‘getting started’ paragraph.

    Like Travis says in #31. Give us more “Teaching us to be Rich” content and a lot less whining.

    The traffic meant for your content will come. Read that again and let it sink in.

  43. Ramit Sethi

    Thanks for the suggestions, everybody. I’ve announced the winners at the top of this post.

  44. Damn, I missed the random commenting… 🙁

  45. I’m way to lazy right now to read all of the comments so this has probably already been said, but how about making T-Shirts with the website on there? Have it say
    .com” on the back with a big $ on the front or something similar. Find out which of your readers are college students and give the shirt to one from each college and have them wear it once a week in visible places.

  46. facebook group and invite all business students in the US.

  47. missed the idea contest, but here’s my two cents anyway.

    it’s time to go mainstream media … i’d bet you have enough contacts to get on to NPR – though the Daily Show would be ideal.

    Barring that, why not try to contact other people on such missions? e.g. the producers of ‘Maxed Out’.