In the last 12 months, I’ve turned down around $200,000 of business from people I didn’t feel were right for my programs.
I’ve also doubled the guarantee period of my Earn1k program for no good reason. I just thought it was the right thing to do.
And I’ve made some decisions about the upcoming launch of Earn1k 2.0.
Each of these moves are unusual — but they’re extremely unusual for people in the information product world (e.g., ebooks, online courses, etc), who typically try to make as much money as quickly as they can.
We’ve been talking about hustling this month — or working extraordinarily hard to get disproportionate results. That means if you work on the right things, you can make 2x, 4x, or even 100x as much as average people.
And it’s not just money. You can hit your goals faster, worry less, and accomplish more by working harder, and working on the right things.
Today, some behind-the-scenes examples from the field (my business) — and a twisted challenge for you at the end of the post. I love it!
Follow along and see you how you can use these same techniques for your own goals.
* * *
Turning down $200,000 in 12 months
I give away most of my material free — 99% of it. To generate revenue, I sell information products as well as a New York Times best-selling book. Occasionally, I charge to speak at companies or conferences.
Now, I could make a pretty respectable living by doing nothing and letting my business run itself automatically. But I find it intellectually challenging to run this business as a laboratory, constantly tweaking, testing, and tinkering to see what results I can get. As I’ve always said, testing is critical.
But I exist in an extremely odd market: information products, which is largely a weird combination of circus freaks, scammers, and a very few highly credible people selling top-quality products.
How do I distinguish myself from all the nutcases?
How can you stand out from the other 50,000 people trying to do what you’re doing? Let’s take some examples on how to stand out.
Results matter more than anything. I never call myself an expert. Only you can do that — once my material gets you concrete results.
I focus obsessively on getting my readers results…and I track everything.
For example, here’s an email I got THIS MORNING from an Earn1k student, Pam M.:
“Anyway, just from the first lesson of “get inside your customer’s head” I was able to get a freelance writing assignment that gets me an extra $300-$500 per month.”
Here’s another one from IWT reader Martin, who recently left this insightful comment:
“I think anyone who’s been paying attention (and listened to the webcast with BJ Fogg) knows exactly what you’re doing:
How much more likely are any of us to sign up for Earn1k 2.0 now? Only a few months ago I wouldn’t have, and now I’m seriously considering it. By digesting your free material, we’re all taking baby steps towards paying for your material.
You’re applying the exact techniques you’re teaching all of us. Baller…This has all been incredibly useful information for me.”
Precisely. Once you use my free material to see that you can actually get a meeting with a VIP, negotiate your rent or cellphone or cable, set up automatic transfers in 3 days, create a plan to pay off debt, or even earn $500/month…you know it’s real.
How this applies to you: Anyone can talk a big game about what they’re going to do. DO IT FIRST — FREE — and watch your business skyrocket. When someone emails me promising me the world for PPC, or SEO, or whatever, I just laugh. I get 50 of those emails/week. Do it first, send over a completed result, and we’ll talk. And remember, this is true of virtually every hiring manager. You can make yourself irresistible by doing the work first. And track everything.
Make ridiculously over-the-top offers.
A 30-day free course on hustling.
Earn1k, which costs more than virtually any other product in the market, but gets you more results than anything else you could get for free — or pay for.
How do I charge so much for my material — and get thousands of customers who are delighted to pay — when most people give away free material and mop up the leftover ad revenue?
People pay attention when your material is the best, you know it, and you offer crazy proof of how good it is.
Let me give you an example.
I recently doubled the guarantee period of Earn1k for no good reason. You see, virtually every person in the information-product business offers generous guarantees and has to live up to their product’s hype…or they go out of business. This is an extremely competitive area.
That means previously, you could take half my 8-week Earn1k course and ask for a full refund. After doubling the guarantee period, it means you can take the full course and ask for a refund if you don’t love it. I even eat the credit-card processing costs.
Because in a world of scammy info-products, I want to go ridiculously over-the-top to show you how valuable my material is.
That’s why I give away 99% of my free material — which I believe is better than most paid products.
That’s why I give money-back guarantees for my products. (And by the way, I carefully tracked certain metrics once I doubled the guarantee period. Don’t just make crazy offers. Track everything.)
That’s why instead of launching product after product, I do a few key products each year, spending heavily to build the best — and then charging accordingly for results.
How this applies to you: Be careful about doing what everyone else is doing. Do you think running a blog for ad revenue will be highly profitable? Probably not. Do you think you should target EVERYONE for your freelance business? No. Do you think you should be sending out 100 resumes to get your next job? If you’re sending out 100 resumes, you’re doing it wrong.
Quality is extraordinarily rare
@ramit Hustlin harder than any other blogger. Amazing quality multiple times a week, how much caffeine do you consume?
In this world of people making a quick buck, quality is rare.
I study customer service obsessively. I read biographies and histories of companies like Leica, The Four Seasons, and Apple.
I’m obsessed with quality. And every day, I have to make the decision of long-term quality or short-term revenue.
For example, I could actually make a lot more money launching 20 products per year. Or doing shady affiliate deals. Or trading my email subscribers’ to less scrupulous people. The amount of money being left on the table? Millions.
But I want your success. Because once my students see that my material works, they stick with me forever. It’s funny — this happens a lot. People pick up my book, think it’s a scam, and try the first chapter (negotiation scripts). Once they do that, they’re IWT students forever.
Because there’s nothing like results.
And that’s how you get disproportionate rewards.
Another example: I send out weekly emails to Earn1k students who’ve already paid and graduated. I get nothing out of it. I don’t charge anything for it. But if it takes me 1-2 hours per week and my students stay happy — if these show them I’m in it for the long term — then that further distinguishes me as someone who cares about THEM, not someone who’s just in it to make a quick buck.
That’s why I don’t accept Earn1k students who have credit card debt. They need to fix their debt first, not invest in more courses. That cost me over $100k last year. But it’s the right thing to do.
That’s why I recently shut down a highly profitable program because it wasn’t providing disproportionate results to my students.
That’s why I turned down $100k of revenue in my first Earn1k launch just so we could maintain an extraordinary level of personalized quality for my top-tier students.
All of this sounds expensive. But I actually think it’s expensive to focus on short-term results.
When my students — or even free readers — see how day after day, I focus on giving you the best material out there, you start to say, “Hey, this guy is actually giving me pretty good stuff.”
And our relationship becomes far less like some dude trying to sell you on his expensive products. It becomes about being your advisor, someone who cares about the results you get — whether in your career, or personal finances, or even health and fitness.
How many people do you know who focus obsessively on your results? Who track and respond to thousands of emails every week without charging a cent?
Notice how frequently I keep mentioning results. That’s because when people lob skepticism at you, you can argue back…or you can simply point to insane results on it. How can anyone argue with that?
“My rate increased by 55% and I paid off $7k CC debit last year.” – Angelo
“Used some of the techniques to negotiate a $6k higher salary at the new job I started. Freelancing has suffered as a result, but the new job is worth it.” – Steve G
“I fired the custumers that were not the right ones and just kept the right ones. This made me go from R$ 50/hr to R$ 70/hr.” – João G
“Turned freelancing into a 50% higher base salary.” – Eva
“I almost doubled my rate from $35/hr to $50/hr. I would not have had the confidence to do that, if it wasn’t for E1K.” – Kaushlesh B
“I went from $0 per month to $2600 per month.” – Owen O
“I got my first completely new paying client (no friend, or friend of a friend) within 4 weeks of the course and made $1700 with that deal.”- Christina
“Increased my salary by 20k and made 1k a month on the side.” – Uy T
That kind of obsession lets me deeply understand exactly what the problems are when I go write my next blog post…or create my next product. It’s also what also allows me to run a business where I can create the best products on the market — and make disproportionate revenues from them — because I use all this research to craft the perfect product for you.
(I’m now working on several new products…some to launch in months, some as far out as a year from now.)
How this applies to you: TRACK RESULTS LIKE A MAD MAN. The next time you apply for a job, use my Briefcase Technique to whip out a 10-page, single-spaced document of results you’ve gotten. What are they going to say? “Oh my dear god. How much do you want to make? Name a price. I’ll pay you anything.” That’s when you spit your watermelon seed onto their desk, put your fedora hat on, and as you’re walking through their office door, look back and — calmly — say, “I’ll take $150k. $500/month in monthly training, no questions asked. And I want a frappuccino on my desk every morning.”
YOU CAN’T LOSE.
Look, it’s easy to be average. It’s the default position. But when you can invest in others — when you can get them SPECIFIC, MEASURABLE results before asking for anything — you will get disproportionate returns easily. Think about this with your co-workers. Think about this with your partner. Invest in others before expecting something back. But when you get something back…it will blow you away.
Separate the winners from the losers.
Last year, during the first Earn1k launch, I made 80% of my revenues from a small list of a few thousand.
This year, I’ve decided to only launch Earn1k to the people on my Earn1k Insider list. Earn1k will not be launched through this blog. It will only be available if you’re on the list.
That’s because I’m constantly looking for ways to speak more to the people who have already taken action, instead of trying to convince people to take action in the first place.
This month, during the course on hustling, every post has had an easy opt-in form. I’ve offered incentives, bonuses, free interviews, and all kinds of exclusive material to join (free). For those who have taken the trivial action of entering their name and email, they’ll get a week of free material on hustling, psychology, and earning more after this Friday. Those who didn’t, won’t.
(If earning money on the side isn’t for you, that’s no problem. I hope to have other material that’s better for you. But my motto is — if you trust someone, why not try it out?)
“But Ramit,” you might say, “why don’t you just give away the free material and launch Earn1k publicly? Not everyone wants to sign up for your stupid list.”
Good question, hypothetical question-asker. I do this because when I invest in you by giving away free material and exclusive interviews, I expect people to invest in themselves — by taking action — and to invest in me. I don’t ask much, but joining a free list is the bare minimum I ask for giving away even more information. If you don’t want to buy one of my courses, that’s cool. But I don’t just give away free material for nothing. I expect my readers to take action.
How this applies to you: Don’t try to serve everyone. Have you ever had the experience of trying to convince a lame friend to go out night after night? There’s ALWAYS an excuse. Instead, spend your time on friends who already want to go out…and making new friends. Same for business: Focus on people who already get it — or have the potential to get it — instead of everyone.
3 ways top performers stand out
Top performers play an entirely different game.
When they decide to find a different job, they don’t start googling around to “see what’s out there.” They already know about jobs that are not even public yet, thanks to their networks.
They can send a few emails and bypass the entire hiring apparatus — designed to keep losers out — and get a meeting with a hiring manager.
Their friends will vouch for them, saying “You really need to talk to this person,” which profoundly changes the tenor of the conversation. Imagine being introduced as someone who the hiring manager “needs to talk to” rather than a random applicant desperate for a job.
They are not commodities. They cannot be substituted for another body to “meet headcount goals.” They have developed unique skills, and they communicate those skills to convince the hiring manager that they deserve special treatment.
STOP! Stop right there. It’s easy to say, “Yeah, maybe that works if you have ____ (elite college, 15 years’ experience, the deep baritone voice of Ramit). Don’t put up your own psychological barrier of why these people are different than you (the barrier here is the Shrug Effect). Yes, maybe 5%-10% of these top performers were born with rich parents or they’re naturally gifted. The rest of them worked their asses off.
Here are 3 ways that top performers de-commoditize themselves.
1. Use specificity to stand out. This is one of the first lessons that led me to develop the “Nod and Shrug Fallacy.” When you say “get specific,” everyone nods and shrugs — yeah yeah Ramit, I got it — but nobody actually does it.
For example, if I asked you right now, “What’s your Dream Job?” what would you say? 95% of us would say something like this: “I’m looking for a job that’s challenging and rewarding…something that lets me really make an impact…I like to work with people.” Yes, I like to breathe oxygen too.
A top performer will say:
- “I’m looking for a position as an Inside Sales Associate at a social networking company in San Francisco.”
- “I’m interested in becoming a Development Manager at a women’s issues nonprofit in Washington DC.
See the difference? When you get specific, you don’t make the busy person do your work for you. YOU do the work — you don’t wait for someone else to find your Dream Job for you. This is how to stand out. And once you can be this specific, you can go to your network and ask for their help in locating connections to these companies. In other words, if someone comes to me and says “I don’t know what I want to do with my life,” that’s a long discussion. If they say, “Do you know any sales managers at B2C tech companies in Silicon Valley?” I will introduce them to 3 within 10 minutes.
I’ll cover more of HOW to get specific on the Dream Job launch list. Interestingly, note that many of the things that people believe are important — for example, # of hours required at the job — turn out to be totally uncorrelated with how happy people are at their jobs. It’s like Moneyball for Dream Jobs. More on this in the course.
2. Master the art of preparation. Another “Nod and Shrug” area where people say, “Yeah yeah, I know I need to prepare.”
Yet think back to the last time you went in for a job interview. How did you prepare?
- AVERAGE PERFORMER: “I spent an hour browsing their website and Googling around for news about them. I also talked to my friend on the phone for 5 minutes about what kind of questions he thought I should expect.”
- TOP PERFORMER: “I’d already met with 3 people on the team before the interview, so I knew exactly what their challenges were, and even the words they used to describe them. I wrote all those notes down, then compared them with what I found on the web. Then I crafted my narrative. I invited a friend over — he’s a management consultant so he knows how to ask tough questions — and he came over to mock-interview me for 2 hours. I recorded the video and stopped every 15 minutes to calibrate.”
Sound hard? Good. Losers and whiners won’t do the hard work because, by definition, they are not top performers. That means people who spend 2x the time can get 5x the results — which is exactly what disproportionate results are all about. Yes, you will have to work harder, but you’ll get the first pick of jobs, while other people fight over the scraps.
3. Get referred — by ANYONE. People love to talk about how they don’t have a network. I ask them, “Really? Who have you tried to reach out to?” They respond with a blank look and a shrug. They will die unhappy.
- AVERAGE PERFORMERS: “I tried but I just don’t know anyone! I emailed a couple of friends but they’re in the same boat as I am. It’s frustrating when it’s all about WHO you know. How can they expect me to know all these people when I’m just starting my career?”
- TOP PERFORMER: “First, I checked my LinkedIn profile and sent out some emails. I tested 3 emails and the third is performing best — I’m getting a 50% response rate. I set up 3 coffee meetings for next week. Then I went into my college alumni database. I also mentioned exactly who I’m looking for when I was hanging out with friends, and one of them knew a director at the company I want to work for! So we are having coffee tomorrow.”
By the way, this isn’t hypothetical. Here’s one of my Dream Job Elite students sharing how he thought about networks differently.
”When I started, I was only applying to one company, my #1 dream company. Now I’m applying to a targeted group of employers to tighten up my application and interviewing skills so that when I do apply to my #1 company, I’ll be in top shape and have other offers in hand for negotiation. I had no portfolio for applying to my Dream Job. After getting quick, specific advice from several experts though, I know exactly what to focus on in that portfolio now and it’s underway. I started with a weak resume’ and no cover letter, now I have a tailored theme for these materials and numerous stories to back that theme up. I initially had 0 contacts at my #1 company. Now I have 7 with whom I’m talking to regularly there.”
–Logan, Dream Job Elite graduate
Notice that Logan has used the Dream Job material to create a SYSTEMATIC WAY of standing out. That means he analyzes what areas need to be different and tests them accordingly. This means that if something is working — if the emails you’re sending out are getting you an 80% response rate — you don’t need to waste time changing that. But if something is NOT working, you have a bird’s-eye view to know exactly where to focus your time…and how to change it.
”I used to stay inwards, trying to acquire more skills in a vacuum and waiting for the perfect moment. Now, I’m completely the opposite. DJE trained me to have an almost knee-jerk reaction of talking to experts and testing in the marketplace.”
–Chris, Dream Job Elite graduate
There are several areas of the Dream Job search that we’ve found to be very effective in de-commoditizing and how to stand out:
- The companies you target
- The emails you send
- The questions you ask
- Your cover letter/resume
- Your interview performance, including questions, answers, body language
- First 100 days on the job
I’ll cover each of these in turn. But don’t wait for me for the answers — you should be thinking of these on your own. Ask yourself:
“For my resume/cover letter, what do AVERAGE performers do? What should a TOP performer do?” Repeat throughout your job search.
Note that if you are submitting 10 resumes per week, the first thing you can do is ask: Is this producing any results? For most people, submitting resume after resume is worthless. So is working with a recruiter. So is trying to apply broadly to as many jobs as possible.
But this requires being brutally honest with yourself about what’s working and what’s not. Only then can you make tactical changes to improve your results.
This week’s challenge:
This week, I put together a twisted challenge for you.
You know how I keep saying, “Skepticism is not a strategy?” That’s because so many people are skeptical in this world. “There’s no way that can work!” “I could find all that stuff for free.” “That sounds scammy.”
It’s funny — at the beginning of this month, there were a few skeptical comments from people. Most of them have faded away. It’s hard to stay skeptical when everyone else is passing you by getting results.
So here’s the challenge: Help 1 friend save $500 using IWT material by this Wednesday.
It sounds simple, but you are about to experience the FASCINATING psychological phenomenon of skepticism. Get ready for people to say things like:
- “This book sounds scammy”
- “There’s no way that could work”
- “Yeah yeah…I’ll do it later”
Why this challenge? First, because when you teach something, you get better at it yourself. Second, because we’ve been largely internally focused this month. But third, and most importantly, when you see how skeptical other people are, it will shock you — and make you question yourself. Are you that skeptical about other things?
There’s no better way to do that than trying to show your FRIENDS how to do something and watching them be extraordinarily skeptical/disbelieving. For example, I LOVE mixergy.com, Andrew Warner’s site where he interviews entrepreneurs in extreme detail. But when I’ve recommended it, THREE people were skeptical. “What’s the catch?” one asked. “Yeah, I should really watch that…” another said. This site, which has literally changed the way I think about my business.
This exercise is very revealing because it will show you how skeptical many of you are about things. Even when you patiently explain that no, you did this yourself and it ACTUALLY WORKED, many people will not believe you. But it will be your job to find a way to get friends to save $500 in the next 48 hours using my material.
You’ll be applying your best persuasion learning’s from the interview with Stanford psychologist and persuasion expert, BJ Fogg and all the other material I’ve put together.
And in exchange, I’ll award a terrific prize to the best result.
To do this week:
Leave your results of the challenge in the comments section of this post with the heading “WEEK 4 RESULTS” by Wednesday at 11:59pm PST.
Note: Be respectful when you talk to your friends about this. Remember how hard it was for you to take action during this course? Nobody wants a know-it-all.
The person who gets the best results from their friends this week can choose between…
1) Airfare for the SXSW conference on March 11-20 in Austin TX from wherever you are in the continental United States. You’ll also get 3 tickets to Andrew Warner (of Mixergy fame)’s sold-out SXSW party with awesome people. That’s 1 for you, and 2 for anyone you want to take (to provide value FIRST).
2) A 30-minute conference call with me and 3 of your friends to talk about whatever topics interest you the most, like the psychology of persuasion, negotiation, time management, etc.
What’s coming the rest of the week
This is the final week of my free 30-day course on hustling. This week, we’re covering the difference between the best and the rest.
- Monday: The top 2 things that separate the winners and the those left behind
- Tuesday: Earn1K case studies on Hustling –> Getting people to pay YOU to hustle.
- Wednesday: Special webcast with Tim Ferriss (details to come tomorrow)
- Thursday: Winner of “Take Action” award for this week + details on the bonus 5th week on earning more
- Friday: The 30-day course ends… and the private bonus week on getting paid to hustle begins
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.