What I think of information addicts

Ramit Sethi

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about giving away free material vs. charging for it. Here’s a recent 1-hour interview where I talk about free vs. paid material, including how I went from charging $4.95 for my first ebook to $12,000 for my most recent course.

I also did another interview on the psychology of monetization, too, where I cover more academic psychological and marketing theory. This is for the true psychology/marketing nerds, so I reveal some gems that only they would appreciate. Based on the kinds of emails I get, I assume about 80% of you are huge huge nerds.

So, let’s talk about monetization and information addicts. Whenever people say “all information should be free,” I laugh. Nonsense. I feel absolutely comfortable charging premium prices for my most valuable courses because they deliver quantifiable results, and I give away so much free material — free material that I aim to make better than anyone else’s paid stuff.

Sometimes, though, I offer something in between. I’ll give away something I could charge hundreds of dollars for for free, like a 4,355-word email. But I always ask for something from you — because if I invest in you, I expect you to invest in yourself by taking action. Sometimes it’s leaving a comment. Sometimes it’s sharing with a friend. Or sometimes it’s joining my email list.

I ask you to take action because I’m not simply giving away information. Anyone can give away information. (Just google Top 10 [anything].) In fact, there’s something far more powerful than information alone.

For example, when I released my interview with Stanford psychologist and persuasion expert BJ Fogg, which took me 16 hours to prepare for, I told my readers that I could charge $1,000 for the material in the interview. (It has easily been worth 1000x that to me.) But I gave it away for free. Instead of charging, I told my readers to treat it like a $1,000 purchase, and to implement the strategies we outlined, in order to effect true behavioral change from it.

And that’s the real goal: behavioral change. It is far more challenging and rewarding to change behavior than to write some crappy pageview-generating post with “information” alone.

All of this is designed to sift the true action-takers from the information addicts — the people who wake up every morning, load their RSS reader/Twitter, and look for that new information to flow over them. “AHHHH! I NEED IT!! GIMME THAT BLOGGY GOODNESS!!!” they cry. I kick their asses to the curb.

I have no interest in information addicts. They use phrases like, “This site jumped the shark! Why don’t you write about investing any more?” When I calmly reply, “Have you read my book?” they say, “No…I should definitely do that….”

When I hear morons like this, I retreat to my happy place, a dream-like state where I am sitting on a behavioral-change throne, dismissively waving off losers and whiners with one hand, while holding a gold scepter in the other. Naturally, I am being fanned with bald-eagle-feathered wands waved by bikini-clad women.

Of course, I have to earn my wayy into your life. Why would you invest your time unless my material actually produces results? To judge for yourself, here’s some of the free material I’ve released this month on finding your Dream Job:

I invite you to compare my free material to anyone else’s paid material to see how it stacks up. I don’t say this to be arrogant, but because I invest years in studying this material so I can offer you the best — and I respect you enough not to pander to the lowest common denominator.

So, for the final week of the Dream Job Boot Camp — starting today — this blog will be quiet. I’m releasing new material only to the people who sign up for my Dream Job launch list. Here’s what you’ll get in the next 7 days:

  • The Dream Job Guide to Finding Your Passion (never before released)
  • How to get paid what you’re worth
  • Specific psychological insights on regret
  • BONUS CONTENT: the 80/20 Guide to Finding Your Dream Job

I’ll also be releasing my new Find Your Dream Job course only to people on my launch list. (Interesting behind-the-scenes note: When I first released Earn1K, I told people I might raise the price down the road. And in fact, just as I promised and based on student feedback, I doubled the price immediately afterwards. IWT readers who didn’t join the first time had to pay 2x what my pioneer students paid.)

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  1. Brent Markus

    Can’t wait! No not for the week of silent Ramit, for action-packed week! Thanks for all this awesome material!

    • jack foley

      Yes I give you credit for the content you put out for free..

      the blog posts where you have a lot of text and a video doesn’t take just 5 minutes to create and its great..

  2. Natalie

    So, chicken or egg question:

    Have I had some amazing results the past few weeks because I’ve been in a mental/emotional place to actually HEAR Ramit’s advice … or is hearing the advice putting me in a better place to accept moving forward and GOING TO GET those results?

    It’s a bit of both. You can’t force folks to do what’s good for them, or to hear another perspective, especially if they’re comfortable in their discomfort. I don’t know if my efforts the past few weeks will pan out, but it’s been great to shock myself out of the “norm” and experience a bit of the Uneasy/Uncertain.

    Today’s result: a contact/mentor I reached out to after the “natural networking” post met with me for a little over two hours … and it turns out that she is thrilled to give me a reference since my working there will allow HER to strengthen her connections with the company. Hmm, who woulda thunk it.

    And she’s not just waiting to get a call from them checking up with my references. She said she prefers to call the Pres/CEO directly tomorrow and recommend that he call me in for the interview (I haven’t even turned in my resume)! So she asked that I send her a reminder email in the morning, since she sometimes “gets so busy that I just forget things, but I don’t want to forget this.”

    Thanks you to the chicken, the egg, and Ramit.

    • Natalie

      Umm, that last “thanks…” was supposed to be “thank…”

  3. Francois B

    Hey Ramit,

    I emailed 10 people this morning for informal interviews, already two positive answers! I also tested 2 different angles to see which works better, and keep improving later. It’s the start of my network right here.

    Also, I’m trying to get around actually testing stuff. But I could use more practical examples. I’m struggling with getting back to work when I do a break. I’m going to read the book recommandations of BJ Fogg in the meantime.

    Thanks for the dream job course!

    Francois B.

    • Francois B

      Make it 3! But all approached with the same angle, interesting…

  4. Alex

    getting up at 4am was really worth it the last time, so i’m looking forward to the next livestream.

    I it really awesome to get this new perspective.

  5. David Siteman Garland

    Thanks again, Ramit for coming on the show. Loved our discussion and I know we could have gone on for about another 10 hours!

  6. Montina Portis

    I am so glad I signed up for the very first Earn1K class. Now, I’m still in my career and earning a few extra “Ks” per month. Don’t delay, sign up!

  7. Tammy

    Umm… I’m actually apart of that e-mail list and I didn’t get that e-mail. I’ve been using the advice to help get better freelance projects. Was I “kicked to the curb?”

  8. Rosa

    Please!!!! I will be in the middle of a microbiology lab during your web cast (which is a requirement for my dream job). This is a legit excuse for why I can’t attend. I was able to attend the last one and I must agree it was fantastic. A gained a lot of insight on why my resume, even though it was tweaked by a career specialist, has rarely resulted in an interview. I need this to be recorded. Please, please, please (to the tune of James Brown)!
    BTW, I gave your book as a high school graduation gift to my nephew and cousin, and my nephew is following your advice with good results. So, please!

  9. L

    I literally just sent a request at Barns & Noble to hold a copy of your book for me- I didn’t want to wait 3-5 business days for Amazon to deliver the goods.

    See you tonight!

  10. Sonja

    I agree about your view on pricing. I agree on your view on getting of your lazy ass to actually get some results, and by not doing exactly the same as everyone else is doing because that’s what’s everyone else is doing.

    But, and this might be cultural, I have trouble reading through your posts because of all your self-promotional text (probably the same thing the lifehackers reacted on). In a third of the text your could give the same message without me getting distracted half way through. I put up with it because I do feel the underlying message is valueble.

    I wonder if this type of writing is also in the paid content? I’d consider buying it just to get rid of all the commercials. Anyone that can give a non-commercial answer to this?

  11. Jorge

    The best material.

    but this night…

    I am in Spain….


  12. Annika

    Very excited, this is one of the first webcasts I don’t have to be at work for or that isn’t at 3am for me 🙂 Looking forward to hearing what you have to say Ramit!

  13. Agota

    I’m currently in Spain and I’m not very good with time zones, so your Spain comment was really helpful,lol.. I’m definitely waking up at 3am to watch your webcast, c’mon people, waking up at 3AM once in a while isn’t that much of a hassle!

  14. Heather

    I’ll be there, but probably lurking this time round. No computer access but fortunately I have android, with a data plan.

    (All the nerds up on their memes that read that should be giggling)

  15. Judith

    Nope, I won’t be attending your webinar. I’m not exactly in Spain, but near enough, and attending a webinar at 3 AM will definitely interfere with my schedule the next day (and I definitely need to get up at 6:30, and four or five hours of interrupted sleep are not an option). I hope you send at least a summary to your mailing list. If not, I’ll need to rely on your other material.

  16. Elaine

    What I wouldn’t give for a Friday/Saturday webinar so I could tune in regardless of sleep/work obligations.

    I made the first one (even though I was at work), but could only catch the tail end of this one. 🙁

  17. Michael Enquist

    How this stuff works:

    By Som
    January 20, 2012 at 10:37 pm
    After reading “Ask the headhunter” [] I become my own recruiter, and that seemed to work for me. Here’s the strategy that got me my last job:

    1) I researched companies that might need skills I have and I’d be interested in providing.

    2) I only looked at jobs on linkedin posted by the person I expect to be my actual boss (not someone with an HR title, a temp agency, or hiring agency or whatever)

    3) I researched as many documents as I can about the company that i can find and are relevant. If I spot a problem I can solve, or identify one they haven’t seen probably, I work on coming up with a solution.

    4) I search for the manager’s email, or piece it together. Most companies have generic email address, like first initial then last name @ , so it’s usually pretty easy.

    5) I apply for the job on linkedin, only because it “satisfies” their hiring process.

    5) I email the manager. subject line almost always starts with something like “I found an issue with the company’s….”

    6) In that email, I bring up the problem I found, present my solution and briefly explain why it works, then say “the reason why I’m telling you this is because I applied for your job posting, and want to show you what I can do instead of expecting you to figure that out” and close with “if you’d like to reach me to talk some more, here’s my number, and here’s my website and links to stuff I’ve done in the past that you might be interested in looking at”

    7) Get a phone call, and talk about the work he wants done for the job. If he thinks I can do it, we meet. If not, I might get a call a month later again with something like “Hey are you still available, because we just opened a position that might better fit your skills”. Yes that actually happened a couple times.

    8) When we meet, and after figuring exactly what problem he wants solved, I present a full solution, with ROI and all the important details available.

    9) If he has any objections about my solution or abilities, we discuss them and iron them out. I almost always get introduced to other senior managers and even the CEO. I ask them a bunch of questions, like I’m already doing the project they want me to do.

    10) I say thanks for your time and go home. Usually get called within a week for an offer or rejection. Sometimes I email a thank you note right after interview with some useful article or blog to show off what little knowledge I have.

    And that’s it. This got me my last job, and I have no college degree related to my new career. Surely others can pull this off easier than I can.

  18. Hooker

    Any authority on a subject should be paid for their time and advice. When you go to a medical specialist, you pay high fees because of his expertise. It’s also common for people to equate higher fees with more value.

    If I saw two products on the same shelf that looked exactly the same, I would assume the one that costs more is better somehow. There is nothing wrong with charging for your services. It’s up to your audience to decide how much they value it.

  19. Hitch


    just wanted to thank you for the webinar, I had an interview this week and I used everything you talked about, the recruiters were nodding all the way like you said I stopped talking at one time to take my breath, and one of them leans forward waiting to hear more :), they told me they were impressed, and said they will return to me in a few days, but by the time I went home I found an email asking me to come back for a final interview. this is the first time this happens after over a year of job searching, thank you.

  20. Irene

    I think info addicts are just the digital equivalent of Hoarders, as seen on A&E, but instead of the physical garbage overflowing their homes, its meaningless rote memorization of “facts” which they then so desperately cling to, the pretty shiny THINGS THEY KNOW. When you tell them what they know is useless, its like the cleanup team lit the hoarder’s nest on fire, and they’re so overwhelmed by the shock that all they can do is become angry at you for taking away the shiny precious!!!, when in reality it is the gift of a chance to start over and consider how to address the underlying depression, anxiety, or self esteem issues that caused the hoarding behavior. Information addiction is far worse because no one can see how the person is suffering, infact they seem to be prepared and knowledgeable, because of all their “facts”.

    • Ramit Sethi

      Extremely insightful comment. Thanks, Irene.

  21. Ornella

    Most people feel they do need to have as much information as possible before they begin. They continue to be hungry for information only. Actionable steps are needed. It’s important to know that the “how-to’s” don’t just come along on its own…you need to take the first step. Ramit, it’s great that you offer step by step tips and approaches to effectively help your readers.

  22. zack

    I hope I’m not late to get the info…I just read this today 🙁

  23. Lisa Cash Hanson

    It’s easy to be an information addict with so many people being information pushers. Sometimes I just tune out. Your site is refreshingly different.

    My mom read about you and said “Honey maybe he can help you with your blog ” She doesn’t even know what a blog is I had to explain it to her a few weeks ago after she realized what I had going on. LOL My blog is doing great ( of course anyone can use improvement) but I’m glad she sent the article to me.

    And with statements like this “When I hear morons like this, I retreat to my happy place, a dream-like state where I am sitting on a behavioral-change throne, dismissively waving off losers and whiners with one hand, while holding a gold scepter in the other. Naturally, I am being fanned with bald-eagle-feathered wands waved by bikini-clad women.”
    At least I know I can laugh while I learn. Glad I found your blog.

  24. China vitamin private label OEM

    They continue to be hungry for information only. Actionable steps are needed. It’s important to know that the “how-to’s” don’t just come along on its own…

  25. Alex

    nice post. this is a particular problem in my industry, SEO, since the rules are changing every day. you have to spend a buttload of time keeping up with all the changes, which bites into time spent actually doing stuff.

  26. Kyle Ambrosas

    You just keep saying things that make so much sense! We all know them: The people who sit around reading information all day and never doing anything. Maybe that’s just what street smarts is, the ability to take what you know and do something with it. Book smarts can only take you so far… Especially if your books are just pop top-10 lists with no practical use.

  27. Kanwal Sarai @ Simply Investing

    Keep up the great work Ramit! Your material is always top notch, and has not only saved me money but also allowed me to earn more. Taking action is key.

  28. Investment resources

    It is true that computers can make better decisions with more information.
    Regarding human beings, it is another story.

  29. Usiere

    We have to pay the full price to get the desired results. Nothing worthwhile comes free, even when there is no price tag. Paying for material is a crucial first step in commitment to do.

  30. Maurice

    Ramit, I need this information,like TODAY, I have an interview…today….send me the link.

  31. Vipin Nayar

    Hey Ramit, Thanks to Nile Patel latest blog post that I came to know about you, today I was going through your content on blogs and email. I must say that you are one of the person who inspired me from your free giving concept. I really loved your post and I am looking more information from your side. And I am going to follow your way of giving free knowledge in my field. Thanks again for your help.