I recently wrote a post on Yahoo telling people to stop wasting time with business cards and social media. Predictably, they hated me.
I believe it’s important to spend our limited time and attention on the things that work, rather than trying a little bit of everything. When people say, “Yeah! I’ll try it! It couldn’t hurt,” they don’t realize that trying everything actually could hurt — because by trying everything and focusing on nothing, we become increasingly discouraged when nothing works.
As a result, you get a bunch of people who try a little of everything, then burn out when nothing works, complaining that “the game is rigged” and “it’s about who you know, not what you know.” In fact, if “what you know” involves reading exactly 0 books, courses, or sites on marketing or psychology, you don’t know much.
It doesn’t help that the advice from so-called “experts” about growing a business or earning more usually looks something like this:
- Start a blog and write at least 5 posts a week! Blog it!
- Get on Twitter! Join the social conversation!
- Go to networking events! Build relationships!
- And of course, print those business cards! Wouldn’t want people to forget you!
This advice is terrible on two levels. First, it doesn’t work. Second, it makes you feel like you’re being productive — but in reality, you’re only “playing” business.
Here’s how it happens…
Naive Nancy wants to become a personal organizer. Instead of developing a system to qualify leads and pitch prospects — which sounds complicated — she starts a blog about organizing — which sounds fun. Then she creates a Facebook page, starts tweeting organization tips and goes to networking events.
After wasting tens if not hundreds of hours, she has exactly 0 paying clients.
One of my Earn1K students, a graphic designer, didn’t want to end up like this. Instead, he deleted his Facebook and Twitter accounts, niched down, and built a system that earned him $5,000 in the first two weeks. Full results: He’s landed $90,200+ in work this year and quit his full time job.
Read on for the details on how he did it.
Making $42,000/year and feeling the financial pressure
Robert is a 23-year-old graphic designer living in Southern California. Since graduating from college, he’d worked in-house at a nursery, building their website and creating marketing materials. “I was earning $42,000, so it was okay, but I felt a lot of financial pressure.” He had been trying to freelance since high school, but nothing consistent.
“I was doing Craigslist. I was looking in my area and kind of doing it generally, how a normal person would.” [Note from Ramit: Notice the code words.]
Occasionally, one of Robert’s friends would have extra clients and give him the work. “I was posting snapshots of my work online on dribbble. I was on Twitter a lot, thinking people would be reading my tweets. Whenever I had updates about my work I’d post it on Facebook.”
An occasional client. “But they were really demanding and paid slowly. Never more than $1,000.”
While searching around for a new job, Robert stumbled on this site. “This digital agency had done some work for Ramit and there was a testimonial from him. I signed up for the free stuff, and got into the newsletter. I liked his writing and all that. Once Earn1K rolled around, I mulled it over a couple of days.”
“The content in Ramit’s newsletter was a big change from a lot of what I was getting from other blogs or whatever with generic advice. I decided to buy because of how specific Ramit got, and he was realistic about how much work you have to do.”
$5,000 in 2 weeks
Robert already knew how he wanted to earn money on the side — building websites — but he needed a system to qualify leads and convert them into paying clients.
“With Earn1K, you want to dive right in, but the first couple lessons give you a base.” Step one was niching down his service. He decided to become a web designer for pediatric dentists — a niche specific enough to build a great system around.
When he reached the module on generating leads, Robert realized he needed to quit wasting time on “general” activities and focus on things that actually brought paying clients in the door. “I deleted Twitter and focused on reaching prospects in my niche. I got a list of industry contacts from a family member, and with Google I can lookup practices in my area for their contact information. I do the RSS Craigslist thing, too.”
Knowing exactly who to reach out to and putting in the work made a big difference in Robert’s results. “I have a pitch that I prepared with Ramit’s Briefcase Technique. Within two weeks of starting Earn1K I had landed two clients, one for $1,500 and the second for $3,500.”
Now that he has a working system — just like he learned from Earn1K — Robert can turn it on when he wants to earn more money.
“I got another client for $2,000 – and here’s the big one: I used the Briefcase Technique to negotiate a full-time contract with a freelance design agency. I’m earning $40 per hour, 40 hours a week — double my old wage.”
Having increased his income 115% — from $42,000 to $90,200 — Robert isn’t worried about money anymore.
Think about the differences in earning $42K and $90K. It’s an entirely different way of living.
“Money’s just not as much of a concern. I’m saving for all the normal things like a wedding, down payment on a house, emergencies and making larger payments on my student loans which will end up saving me tons of money. I’ve also been able to work on a few personal projects, which could lead to higher exposure and income generation.”
(All this while Naive Nancy is still trying to choose the right photo for her Twitter profile.)
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