The worst mistake when trying to earn more…
March 10th, 2013 - 226 Comments
This week I have an example of the worst mistake I see people making when trying to earn money on the side.
This is subtle, but profoundly important. You could have the greatest idea, and if you fail to pay attention to this (I’ll show you below), you will never make money.
Ok, check this email back-and-forth out. This is from a real email I recently received.
I got a 1,231-word email the other day. 99% of it was irrelevant (which is already a red flag), but here’s the main paragraph:
I’d actually be very proud to work for and with you on your newsletter and web content, proofreading your work. NYC is very competitive and with no degree as of yet…I have no way to enter the bustling magazine industry. I’m highly intelligent and learn things immediately, often intuiting them for myself, even coding and mathematical principles taught to me on dates (say, for example, the bare bones of the power of 72!). If you’re interested in someone motivated, perceptive, honest, usually able to rewrite sentences or concepts that are intrinsically flawed…I’d love to heighten the impact of your messages. What prompted me to take this leap?
Ok, so this is already very odd. Why do I care about your power of 72 or math principles? IWT readers will be sighing out loud at how convoluted and confusing this pitch email is. Anyway, my response:
Thanks for the kind words.
I appreciate it but I’m going to pass. And here’s why: Editing typos is just not that important to me.
I’ve been teaching my E1k students that a lot. Many of them go in with ideas about stuff that seems important to them…but is just not important to their potential clients. I write a LOT. And once in awhile, I have a typo. If this hurt my business or reputation, I would care.
But even when I send out an email to 50,000+ people, hardly anyone notices. And hardly anyone cares. It’s just not important to me.
So my advice (and this is stuff I cover in much greater detail in Earn1k) is to find out what you are good at…that your prospects have the ABILITY and WILLINGNESS to pay for. THAT is what will help you get hired.
so you think no one would ever hire me as a proofreader?
And I said:
i dont know about “no one” but it would be difficult
This was her final response:
doubt it…once i have the proper degrees =D or the business acumen to start the writing services biz my friends have been asking me to start for deaf people since 2003.
anyway, sorry to take up your time =D
am actually an amazingly talented poet, jewelry designer and illustrator. just zero business know-how!
have a great weekmainder…no worries, the tor(m)rent ends now.
She then went onto Twitter and accused me of audism (discrimination against deaf people) for suggesting that getting paid for proofreading might be difficult.
Not only did she ask me for my opinion, then reject it and insult me, but she genuinely believes that a “degree” or mysterious “business acumen” will help her make money as a proofreader.
Here’s the thing that Beth missed:
If your service isn’t important to your target market, you could be the best in the world and you will still get zero clients.
I just don’t care that much about proofreading. I catch 99% of my own errors, and even when I publish something that has mistakes, nobody cares.
Why would I spend money on a proofreader? Or time? It is simply not a problem for me. I JUST DON’T CARE.
Unfortunately, Beth displays one of the classic mistakes that first-time entrepreneurs do: She’s obsessed with her idea instead of what the market actually cares about.
I see this a lot.
For those of you who have graduated from Earn1k, you know how hard we drill this concept into you, using case studies, exercises, examples, and simple examples like the STHU Technique to listen to your market.
For those of you who haven’t joined Earn1k yet, be very careful when you start thinking that you’re looking for a “magical idea” that will help you earn money. Your idea matters, but what matters far more is the techniques you use to validate your idea. In other words, you want to figure out if your idea will ever make money before you invest tons of time in it.
This is what distinguishes some of my extremely successful Earn1k graduates, who are earning thousands/month on the side, versus people like Beth, who are unfortunately obsessed with a futile idea that will never pay.
Use customer-research techniques you’ve learned to validate your idea and test for profitability before you spend hundreds of hours on it. Doing this work up front is counter-intuitive, but that’s how you can earn significant amounts of money.
P.S. I’m gearing up for a massive writing spree. What do you want to know more about? Just leave a comment — I read every one.
My friend, a perpetual Manhattan bachelor, just got into a relationship with a sweet girl. So naturally, we invited them ...Read More
One of my students asked this amazing question, and I loved it so much that I want to share it ...Read More