Case Study: How did this circus trainer go from $0 to $60 per hour? (Part 1)

Ramit Sethi

Here are some “classic” ideas for earning income on the side:

  • business consultant (like Megha, who went from $0 to $2000 per month in 3 weeks)
  • web designer (like Robert, who used my Briefcase Technique to increase his income from $42,000 to $90,200 per year)
  • internet marketer (like Kentaro who built a $250,000/year business using Earn1K’s qualification theory)

And here are some more novel ones.

  • selling original artwork online (like Ben, who made $28,139 selling art on Etsy)
  • martial arts lessons (like Johnny, who raised his rates from $40 to $80 per hour and got BETTER clients)
  • drawing caricatures (like Julia who used the skill that made her $8/hour at her day job to earn $125 per hour on the side)

I’m excited to add a new title to the list of jobs my Earn1K graduates have done: circus performer.

You might not think being a circus performer has anything in common with a web designer, but the same principles apply for verifying its earning potential, generating leads and growing your business.

Today, part 1 of a 2-part series on how one of my students, Ben, turned his life around twice using my material.

First, learn how Ben went from earning exactly $0 in side income to $300 to $400 a week using tactics in my Earn1K course.

“I’m pretty sure this is a scam, but nobody has to know.”

A couple years back, Ben found I Will Teach You To be Rich via Tim Ferriss’ blog. “I picked up Ramit’s book and read through it. Applied what I could. I kind of liked not having to pay bank fees and having a savings account with ING.”

Ben had been trying to supplement his income as a circus performer by teaching his skills to private clients, but wasn’t getting anywhere. “Literally $0, nobody wanted to work with me.”

When he got to the sales page for Earn1K, Ben thought it could help him but he had a major hesitation. “The financial difficulty of taking the program. I thought if anyone finds out I spent this much on a guy with a book titled I Will Teach You To Be Rich, I’m pretty sure I’ll be ostracized from all social circles.”

He thought it over and signed up. “I knew I could return it if necessary, but I wanted to at least try it out. I’d give it a test run rather than trying to invalidate it based on the sales page alone.”

From $0 to $60 per hour.

Ben told me how he tried to sell before Earn1K. See if you can figure out why it wasn’t working: “I wrote this paragraph, trying to do a personal training bootcamp. The whole thing was composed of ‘I, me and my’. It was ‘I am X. I have trained with so-and-so. I have trained in this modality and that modality. In retrospect it was stuff that no one would give a damn about. It was language and jargon that was irrelevant to what their needs were.”

What’s really interesting is why he did it that way.

“It just seemed like the norm. That’s how you did it. You impressed people with fancy language, and they’ll be like ‘oh wow, this person knows what they are talking about. I will work with them.’ That was my basic assumption.”

Then Ben watched the video for Module 2: Lesson 1 of Earn1K (How to get inside your clients’ heads) and completely changed his approach. “That totally shifted my mindset from ‘what are my credentials and how can I prove to people I’m very capable’ to what it is now, ‘forget yourself for a moment and think about the potential client. What do they really want?’ That forever changed how I approached potential clients.”

Instead of selling himself, Ben started listening to people he met. “I’d talk with them and get a sense of what they wanted. Sometimes I’d approach people without the intent to work with them, and they’d end up asking me to train them. So it was less trying to sell them. Instead I’d see if we were a good fit for each other, and if not I could refer them to someone else.”

It worked.

“That made a dramatic difference in how people responded to me. I was making $0 before hand, and afterward it varied. In the beginning $200 per week, and depending how many clients I had it would peak at $300 or $400.” Ben started making $60 per hour, enough to supplement his performance income and live comfortably.

How to work less and travel more.

Once you learn how to earn more money, you unlock options in your life. For Ben, that meant travel. “The private clients I had were the backbone of my income. It was how I made money, was able to survive in Seattle, afford a trip to France, Germany, Sweden, and move to Montreal.”

It was in Montreal that Ben decided to end his career in the circus. But he had another debilitating script, “How does a circus performer go out and get a real job?” (Spoiler: Not only did Ben tear down this barrier and change industries, he is now making more money than he ever has before.) I’ll post the second half of Ben’s story in a couple of days.


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  1. Sunil @ CPA Coach

    excellent story. shows how approaching situations with genuine interest in learning and relationship building can lead to opportunities down the road.

    deliberately “working” new relationships, which they work sometimes, in my opinion is not the best way approach to establishing solid, long term and sustainable networks. on the other hand, genuine interest and desire are exactly the ingredients needed.

    interested in reading how this story ends up

  2. Caelan Huntress

    As a fire juggler and ex-acrobat, I’m really happy to see another clown making it in the world.

  3. Ken Tan

    Great story post, Remit. Ultimately, it is passion that drives a person to success.