Get my insider newsletter, sent every few days to 275,000+ people:

Case Study: How Melanie jumped from $10/hour to $40/hour

Ramit Sethi

One of the objections I regularly hear for why some people don’t sign up for Earn1K is that they don’t know a high-paying skill like web design or programming.

Assumption 1: “I need a technical skill”

First of all, get the hell out of here. That’s the perfect excuse to do nothing.

You don’t have to have a technical skill that takes years of practice to start earning money on the side. In fact, here are some of my non-conventional students who are doing quite well:

John M.
Security/Combat Instructor (Knife/ Stick fighting)
Total earned since joining Earn1K: $2500+

Sophia C.
Group tutor
Total earned since joining Earn1K: $9000

Justin J.
Event DJ
Total earned since joining Earn1K: $4500

Emmanuel G.
Traditional organic cooking
Total earned since joining Earn1K: $4000

Assumption 2: “I need an idea”

You don’t need to know HOW you’re going to make $1,000 a month on the side. That’s one of the first lessons we cover in Earn1K — 4 weeks of techniques on how to generate, narrow, and test ideas for profitability. You will learn how.

In fact, rather than talking about how it works, let me show you how it’s done.

Today, a story about one of my students, Melanie, who said the same thing: “I can’t sign up for Earn1K because I don’t have a technical skill.”

But she decided to test that assumption and signed up anyway. Since then, she’s quadrupled her freelance rates and is going strong.

Here’s how she did it.

“Spending a couple thousand dollars for anything besides a car was tough.”

“I’m an avid reader of professional development material. That’s how I found Tim Ferriss. And it was through Tim that I found you,” Melanie recalled. “I liked you from the start. You were a little snarky.”

Melanie found a lot of information about how to earn more money and take control of her career. When the first launch of Earn1K was announced, Melanie added her name to the email list to learn more.

“It looked good, but I wasn’t sure I’d ever spend that much. I’d never done a course like this. Spending a couple thousand dollars for anything besides a car was tough. Especially since I didn’t have a concrete skill in mind. I didn’t think the course applied to me. I hit a mental barrier.”

Melanie let the opportunity pass. She went on with her life, still very much enjoying her job.

But she kept an eye on my blog. She read my emails and listened to the audiobook version of I Will Teach You To Be Rich.

“I was impressed with the book. And you narrated your own audiobook. After hearing you, I felt like I knew you enough to trust you, to take you seriously. When I got emails, I felt like you added a lot of value to my life.”

When Earn1K 2.0 arrived, Melanie took a leap of faith and signed up.

“The first three weeks were scary.”

“Going into the course, my goal was to get this info and make it profitable for me. So make back the price of the course plus $1. That’s my first goal.”

Melanie had a larger goal of learning how to build and scale a business, but to keep herself from getting overwhelmed, she stayed focused on landing her first three clients and getting into the black.

“To be honest, the first three weeks were scary. Starting out, the hardest thing was figuring out what one simple thing I could do to earn money on the side. In my job, I do a lot of soft skills. Not social media. I don’t play an instrument. For three weeks I said ‘okay, this is good information, but it doesn’t apply to me because I don’t build websites.’”

By week four, Melanie was too busy to keep studying. She took a break. This is more common than you’d think, and we discovered this in our customer research. So Earn1K now comes with lifetime access, and as a result, she was able to go back and continue the course when her schedule calmed down.

Melanie dove back into the first three lessons, particularly a 20-minute video all about how to identify a profitable skill you have that you can use to start making money.

Melanie realized that she’d always been good at public speaking and writing. And with her experience as a teacher, she knew about lessons plans. And with her experience at the non-profit, she knew something about marketing. Put together, these might work as a unique and valuable skill set.

Now, to test it.

From $10/hour to $40/hour

“I remember one Master Class. It was Mike Williams. He said whatever you do, don’t just sit around. Do something. So I did. I had heard about and I went on Elance and started bidding on projects.”

Underbidding, actually. But Melanie was okay with that, and she was doing it strategically. (One of the modules in Earn1K goes in depth on pricing, and we discuss when to charge sky-high rates, when to charge industry-standard rates, and when to work for free.) In Melanie’s case, she knew she was inexperienced, and finding some initial clients was more important than optimizing her rates.

Sure enough, her hodge-podge collection of soft skills was valuable. She quickly landed her first client.

“The guy had a coaching program for middle and high school kids. He wanted to create lesson plans and ebooks to give the kids. I thought, ‘I used to teach. I know how to do that!’ I sent him a proposal. It was just four paragraphs and said, basically, that I was a former teacher and that I market to teachers in my current job. I know how to communicate to this group and speak to their needs.”

Melanie wrapped up the $480 project quickly. Then she upsold the client on an additional $100 worth of work to create more learning materials for the kids.

“I found out I could do it. I could start earning back the cost of the course and get into the black. That was awesome!”

For her next client, Melanie underbid again. She found a wealth-building coach looking for someone to turn his motivational videos into user-friendly manuals.

“I bid $100 per module. The first one was a test. It took 10 hours to do because the guy was all over the place. It took a lot of time to find the structure. But they liked it.”

In fact, they liked it so much they asked Melanie to do another. She agreed and spent eight hours on the project. When they asked her to do a third, Melanie told them she wasn’t doing it for that price. The client doubled the rate on the spot.

“I have templates now,” Melanie said. “I can do it in five hours. That’s $200 per manual. And I did six of them at that price.” A jump from $10/hour to $40/hour.

And that’s just the beginning. Her second client asked her about building a higher-priced group coaching course. Melanie is already thinking about how she can help him structure his videos. She knows that his customers will pay more for a high-quality video and that she can help him deliver that. When she does, she’ll be raising her prices again.

“Earn1K gave me confidence that I can do more than my current job.”

Melanie is still committed to her current career, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t looking down the road.

“I found I wanted to help people develop and market Christian information courses,” she said. “Contrary to your material, lots of coaches don’t really have good frameworks for their lessons. Lots of people are fluffy and vague. I can help these coaches really understand how to better serve their customers and how to create great information products.”

For now, Melanie is enjoying the process and learning as much as she can. Each new client gives her another opportunity to make money and get a behind-the-scenes look at where she wants to go. All because she had the courage to test her assumptions.

Melanie saw Earn1K as an INVESTMENT rather than a cost.


Do you know your earning potential?

Take my earning potential quiz and get a custom report based on your unique strengths, and discover how to start making extra money — in as little as an hour.

Start The Quiz


  1. avatar
    Sunil from The Extra Money Blog

    Congratulations to Melanie on a nice 300% pay raise. This further reinforces the fact that there is all kinds of money out there. If you want it, find out who has it and then provide a service they need to them in exchange for it.

  2. avatar

    It is great to see another success story, congratulations Melanie! I took the course and at first was discouraged when everyone else was making hundreds, thousands in the first few weeks. I’ve since earned thousands from contract projects, and have another upcoming project in the works, but I was a little slower getting started. I’m posting here to give hope to those who didn’t have instant results, and to those who are not web or tech based in skills. Just because it doesn’t happen in the first month or 2 doesn’t mean you can’t make it work. The concepts from the course also helped me negotiate dream terms for a new job that I love. As Ramit says, it is less about “tactics” and more about understanding the needs/wants of the parties involved. I didn’t have a scheme or agenda when I built my contract, I worked hard to meet the needs of the company and they returned the favor by meeting my requests. We both won. If you go into a negotiation with an adversarial attitude, you’ll likely get one back. When you go into it with a collaborative mentality, doors open.

  3. avatar

    This is really great. Well done, Melanie! A 300% raise is really a lot. Keep it up!


  4. avatar
    Brian Carr

    Awesome to read this success story. It definitely gives me motivation to get off my butt and give this program a try. My only fear is I have lost lots of money to “internet gurus” in the past, so the idea of buying another program has me feeling a bit jaded.

    • avatar
      James Lett

      If you’re still skeptical, read through more of his free material – I was impressed by that alone. It’s better than 99% of what I’ve read on money from other “experts” and that alone convinced me the investment is worth it. Oh, I’ve also bought his book, which only strengthened my above decision.

      I haven’t made it yet myself due to being unemployed, but I think I can use the material provided for free to generate enough income (or job opportunities) to afford the full program.

  5. avatar
    Steve O

    Great case study. Solid post!

  6. avatar
    Make Money - Case Study: How Melanie jumped from $10/hour to $40/hour

    […] Case Study: How Melanie jumped from $10/hour to $40/hour […]

  7. avatar
    Michael P (@PizSez)

    Excellent! Very helpful.

  8. avatar

    Great case study. Well done Melanie!

    Tracey 🙂

  9. avatar

    Awesome stuff 🙂

    I love hearing about people who are inspired by Tim Ferris and go on to make a huge difference in their lives! Love it!

  10. avatar

    very cool article, but is Melanie working too hard???

  11. avatar

    More to the point, is she being exploited?

    If she is building “group coaching courses,” then she is creating content. It’s like any writer, singer, actor, graphic designer — if the customer wants complete buyout of the copyrighted material, then they should pay her a handsome sum. Or a percentage of sales.

    When someone creates something, the creator retains the copyright unless it is explicitly signed away. That means a contract which stipulates the buyout terms. These courses (and videos which she is helping to structure) are not done for charity, they are done for a profit, and she should be paid for her original content.

    I’m not missing the point — this approach is similar to an internship. I’ve done it myself. But she and others in her situation need to transition from being exploited to being paid appropriately, otherwise we undermine the industry in which we want to make a living.

  12. avatar
    Ramit Sethi

    That’s a good question for an ethics class, but I need to be blunt and tell you that someone making $10/hour doesn’t get to decide those questions. The best thing she can do for herself is provide incredible value to her clients, help them succeed, and get compensated accordingly.

    Once you are swimming in business — so much that you can’t handle it — you can begin tackling the questions you raise.

  13. avatar
    Stephanie Taylor Christensen

    @Phil, @Ramit. Phil…I hear the validity and intent of your question, but there’s a fine line between being confident in your skills, and naive to your value, or experience level. Like you said about an internship–it’s about paying your dues to build credibility. Whether you’re worth it or not, you have to sometimes to take it on the chin, to build forward. God knows I have in my career transition from well-paid marketer to freelance writer, and as Ramit said, he wrote this blog for a long time, with no compensation at all. Yes, at some point, you get to say, “absolutely not” to an offensive compensation level (and by the way, it feels great when you can). But sometimes, you just have to suck it up and recognize the value provided in the long-term pay off. Let’s be honest. $10 an hour to $40 an hour is the equivalent of making less than $24,000, to more than $80,000. In a corporate gig, you would toil away for at least a decade to make that leap–if you ever could. I used to manage creative teams in an ad agency and the industry is swimming with talented people who can’t see the forest through the trees. They get so caught up in “creative control” and money that they become their own roadblock to the success and freedom they seek.

  14. avatar

    Can anyone get me in touch with Melanie? I’m working on marketing flamenco dance assemblies to area schools, and would love to have Melanie retool my pitch letter. (Tried to find her on, but with no luck.)

    • avatar
      Ramit Sethi

      Getting in touch with my students is not the way to go about this.

      You can get the very same material they did by joining the Earn1K course.

      The reason this rubs me the wrong way is I have had students complain that DOZENS of people were reaching out to them — via phone and email — to “pick their brains,” and they actually asked me to remove them from my site.

      This hurt them as well as my business. When they share their success stories, they don’t agree to be volunteer instructors to teach what they paid a lot of money to learn.

      So please respect them. The same material they used is available to you if you’d like to use it.

    • avatar

      Hi Ramit:

      My intent was not to pick her brains for your material, but to hire her as a freelancer because of her experience as a school teacher and a writer. Sorry that you misunderstood, and I understand your desire to protect the privacy of your clients.

    • avatar
      Ramit Sethi

      Thanks, I appreciate that. Sorry for assuming — you are right that I do want to protect my students.

  15. avatar

    I am a freelance photographer and find Melanie’s story very inspiring and motivational. I know there’s a bunch of content that you, Ramit, have written. Is there a basic starting point for this? I am already reading your book.



  16. avatar

    Wow, that’s really inspirational! Congrats Melanie!