3 Reasons Why Most People Will Never Earn More Money — And What You Can Do About It!

This is a guest post by best-selling author and blogger Ramit Sethi.

For years, the most requested topic on my site, I Will Teach You To Be Rich, has been earning more money. Yet I intentionally stayed away because it’s almost always sleazy, attracting a ton of losers who simply want a silver bullet instead of actually working hard to earn money.

But if you’ve read my stuff, you know that I don’t spend much time on frugality, which I mostly consider a waste of time. Instead, I encourage people to focus on the Big Wins — automation, investing, negotiating, and understanding the psychology of money.

I’ve always said that you can’t out-frugal your way to being rich. So after nonstop requests for posts addressing earning more, I decided to make 2010 the Year of Earning More. The past 7 months have been dedicated to helping people earn more money by earning more on the side, and the response so far has been massive. Hundreds of thousands of people read, commented, and Tweeted and otherwise chimed in on earning more. Everyone wants to make more money.

Great enthusiasm — but there’s just one thing wrong with this…

Most people who say they WANT to earn more… never will.

Many of the same people who say they want to earn more also say they want to lose weight…only they focus on the “I wish I could lose weight” part instead of the “I’m going to go the gym 3x/week and eat 25% fewer calories.” They’re delusionally goal-oriented, focusing on the end result instead of how to actually get there.

As much as everyone says they want to earn more — and sure, they’d try it if only they could — most people will never earn a single dollar beyond their regular 9-to-5 paycheck. Fewer still will ramp that one dollar up to $1,000, or more, in side income. The pattern is always the same:

  • ‘Earning more’ is sexy, so they get motivated, “$1,000 extra dollars on the side? I want that!”
  • They get started with the actual work of generating an idea, and figuring out their target market, but quickly realize things aren’t as easy as they thought, “How come nobody wants to pay me $500 a month to manage their Twitter account??” (The worst is: ‘I’m good at writing grants. Maybe non-profits will pay me to write grants for them!’ No, they won’t.)
  • They alternate between chasing a million things, and taking no action at all.
  • They eventually give up, putting off earning more until they have “the right idea” (i.e. never).

Enthusiasm and motivation are VERY powerful ways to get started, but they don’t carry you through to your first $1,000.

What does? A system that helps you identify ideas, test them for profitability, and then scale up your marketing. Compare this to most people, who think that earning more is about finding a magical idea that will somehow urinate money on them from heaven.

Why so much emphasis on that first $1,000? In my experience helping people to earn their first rounds of side income, I’ve noticed that $1,000 is the key earning threshold. Earning $100 is good, but it could be a fluke. Earning $500 is a better signal that you’re on the right track. After you hit $1,000, you know that you’re doing something right. After that, you can implement something I call The Tuner Strategy to “tune” your revenue up as much as you want — from $1,000 to $3,000 to $5,000/month, and more.

Interestingly, for many people who do reach the key-earning threshold, going from $0 on the side to $1,000 is harder than going from $1,000 to $5,000. But the biggest hurdle to get past is that first $1,000.

3 reasons why MOST people never get past the $1,000 hurdle

…and how you CAN earn more money.

Excuse #1. “But my situation is different.” Maybe their skillset (“But I’m not a programmer!”) or their background (“But I didn’t go to STANFORD!”) or the other demands in their lives (“But I have a full time job and a partner/kids!”) or ANYTHING (“But I have special motivation problems because my parents didn’t push me hard enough,” “But I get sick easily,” “I’m too young, too old, not smart enough, etc.”) It goes on and on, and it always starts with a “But…” and ends with the person doing nothing.

It’s natural to make excuses about our circumstances because it’s usually far easier than actually doing something about them.

The truth is, our problems are almost never unique. There are a litany of excuses we use to justify not earning more, but every day, someone is out there solving the same problems you’re facing now. So the next time you’re tempted to make an excuse, try an exercise I call Be the Adviser. ALL of the most successful CEOs and leaders around the world have key advisers helping them to problem-solve their way out of the toughest situations. Today, you are your own adviser. What is the first thing you say? What are the specific takeaways that you want your client (in this case, yourself) to walk away with? What are the results that would mean you did your job well as an adviser?

Excuses are us looking at our barriers from one standpoint — ours. Being your own adviser is a way of looking at — and tearing down — our barriers from an alternate standpoint.

This is like when you listen to a radio show and you hear a girl call in, saying her boyfriend has no job, is a slob, and drinks with his friends all day. “LEAVE HIM!!” we all scream. But when it happens to us, we’re not sure what to do.

We’re not unique.

Be The Adviser to yourself and see what concrete steps you could take today to change your situation, or simply ignore it long enough to earn more.

Excuse #2. “I’m still working on the perfect idea.” Are you really ‘working’ on it? Or are you waiting around with no plan, simply hoping that you’ll stumble across a magical idea?

Here’s an easy way to tell: In the last week, what have you done to find and refine your idea? If the answer is nothing, you’re not “working” on an idea, you’re being lazy and doing nothing.

Yes, your idea is important — to an extent. It enables you to get started, but the most successful people — the ones earning incomes to dwarf even fat corporate paychecks — NEVER stop at their first idea. Instead, that first idea is just a tiny launch-point for an ongoing process of refining and improving their service offerings, understanding and marketing to their audience, and scaling up their business. This is how you turn your skills into income.

Your goal is to make it to that initial $1,000 — NOT start the next Google.

Here’s a quick exercise that should get you going in about 10 minutes: Brainstorm a list of ideas, pick your favorite and start with that. If it doesn’t work, either improve it, or cross it off the list and move on to the next one.

If you don’t have any ideas at all, look around at the marketplace. You don’t need to be unique to make money, and you don’t even need to be the best (another HUGE misconception about freelancing and earning more). You do, however, need to be consistent and persistent, and laser-focused on just one goal…

Your only goal with freelancing and earning more is to get 3 paying clients. With freelancing, 3 is the magic number — you’ll know it’s not a fluke, and you’ll have a client base that’s significant enough to show you what you need to do to improve your offering for maximum impact. Even if the rates aren’t high (don’t worry about that just yet), you’ll learn invaluable insights that you’d never otherwise have gained.

It’s not sexy to say, but it only takes an average idea with above-average execution to win.

Excuse #3. “Should I set up a Facebook page??” and other worthless tasks that replace making money. People tend to treat starting a business like they’re packing for a vacation — you pick out all the fun (or unchallenging) stuff first. “Social media profiles, check. Business cards with fancy logo, check. SEO-optimized blog, check.” What ends up happening is they spend all their energy STARTING a business and never actually DOING business.

YOU DO NOT NEED SOCIAL MEDIA TO EARN MONEY ON THE SIDE. Let me say that again. I recently paid someone over $50,000 for a few months of work. He has no website. He has no significant social-media profile. What he IS good at is understanding my problems and solving them. He makes over $10k/month from me now.

Please listen closely because this is one of the most pernicious myths around right now. Virtually every “expert” is telling you you MUST have a full complement of social media profiles, including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, blog, etc. That’s complete BS.

How will Twitter get you paying clients? This is when people start hedging and coming up with ridiculous answers like “It will help me engage…and be a brand.” Your goal isn’t to build a brand. It’s to get 3 paying clients. Anything else is a waste of time.

There’s absolutely nothing inherently wrong with business cards or starting a blog or managing a Facebook profile, but be honest with yourself. Is that task mission-critical, or are you using it as a stand-in for talking to a real, potentially paying, client?

Key Takeaway: When you’re starting to earn money on the side, you only have one goal — get 3 paying clients. If you can do that, then you’ve proven not only your idea, but your execution, and you’ll be thousands of dollars ahead of today.

* * *

Baker’s Note: Hey gang, it’s Baker.  I’m stoked to be able to feature this post today.  From the very first week I started blogging, I’ve modeled Ramit’s approach to writing, branding, and business. These days, Ramit is constantly pushing me to focus my efforts on the key elements of my business that’ll enable me to earn more.  Most importantly, he’s one of the only people online who is willing to call me out when I make excuses.  He’s played a big part in helping me generate a couple thousand dollars of online income… and will be an even bigger part of my ability to make many more times than in the coming months.

Ramit’s recently launched a video course with step-by-step videos, case studies, worksheets, and live training on how to earn your first $1,000….and then grow it into more.  It’s one of the most compelling and impactful courses I’ve seen anywhere.  And in case you’re wondering, I’m not making a single penny for referring you.  Ramit doesn’t need to pay me anything… he’s already directly contributed to me earning thousands of dollars more in my business.  If you’re interested in doing the same, you can get a free preview of the course here.]

* * *

Ramit Sethi is the author of the best-selling personal finance book I Will Teach You To Be Rich. His new program is designed to help you earn more money on the side.

75 thoughts on “3 Reasons Why Most People Will Never Earn More Money — And What You Can Do About It!”

  1. I have one word for people who say they want to start a business, but never do: wantreprenuers. This is a very succinct and accurate assessment that everyone should read and follow. If you cannot follow this advice, then stop complaining and stick to your day job.

  2. I think I started writing blogs in 2005 on Xanga & myspace. The xanga site only had a couple blogs posted (and no followers) before I had to give it up. I probably started writing my 2nd blog on blogger in 2007, and in 3 years I only have about 5 followers…and absolutely no idea how to make money with blogging even though I bought a dozen books from amazon on the subject.

    I have now recently started a 3rd blog on blogger (which this messege should link to) The first blog was so old that I have not found it in years.

    1. Like Ramit pointed out, unfortunately it’s hard to get traction just by writing… even if your content is great.

      In this case, “getting new clients” is simply acquiring new opportunities for exposure or creating great connections with an influencer. By making these connections you can have your best work features to waaaaay more people to spur growth!

    2. I feel your pain.

      I think there’s a real difference between writing as a mental exercise and writing as a means of generating income.

      If you want to earn money from a blog it has to be a business. Sadly.

  3. #3 struck me. I’d like to add checking stats constantly to the list of worthless things that don’t make money. I feel like it’s great information to see I had 20 visitor from new york to my new website. But seriously now. How does reviewing this on a daily basis help make money. Not at all.

    I need to focus on giving people from new york value, information or service they’d be willing to pay for.

    1. Agree, checking your stats is busy work that doesn’t bring you money. It’s what you due that does, action trumps activity every time.

      I’m guilty of that bad habit myself …

    2. Yep, completely. Checking stats is fine as long as you can ensure it takes up less than 15 minutes a day AND you can remove yourself emotionally from the process.

      Checking your stats and seeing good news can help with momentum, but if you are going to get down on off days (there are TONS of off days), it’s better to not check them AT ALL!

  4. I have a quote posted by my monitor that I constantly refer to to push me back to productivity:
    “The thought that leads to no action is not a thought – it is dreaming.”

    Stop dreaming and start acting on your thoughts and ideas and you will be paid back, maybe not dramatically at first, but every extra $1 gets you closer to that $1000 goal.

    1. I once read a stat that 95% of people who attempt to make money online will never make even a single $1. That’s crazy, but I think it’s true.

      I’m a firm believer in Ramit’s $1000 benchmark. I know hundreds of people who’ve made a couple hundred here or there in various efforts. But MOST of the people who’ve broken $1000 seem to be headed for bigger and better things!

      1. I’ve read the same stat and always thought it was crazy. I can’t think of any site I’ve started that didn’t make at least $1. In fact, my wife just started a new blog last month (check it if you like Thai food -> http://www.awesomethaifood.com) and she has already made her first $1!

        Whether or not $1000 is the right benchmark is irrelevant. I think people just need to have some kind of benchmark and keep raising the bar. When I started the “magic” number was $100. Once I hit that it was $250, then $500…$1000…$2000 and now I’m working towards $3000. One thing I can say for sure is that getting from $1000 to $2000 was significantly quicker than $0 to $1000. I won’t say that it’s easier because it’s not; the work is still the same, things just happen quicker.

  5. I could relate to point #3 100%. I have been guilty of this for the longest time. It wasn’t until I took the Earn1K course that I realized how foolish it was to be allocating my limited energy and attention to setting up “fan pages” and twitter updates.

    After I took the course I tried to help my friend launch his guitar lessons business. He’s one of the few guitar players that has an education in the field, real world experience, and a strong social circle. He just couldn’t get the business off the ground. Why?

    Because his web designer friend was super busy. He used this as an barrier. He figured that without a website he simply couldn’t promote his business or gain any real traction at all. Then one day he picked up 2 paying clients. What did he do? He played at the wedding of a relative. At this wedding he displayed hsi ability to play the guitar exceptionally. As a result, he picked up a few clients from the visitors at the reception/

    1. Awesome example, man. Everyone seems to think that “branding” is how you twitter or facebook background appears. It’s not. It’s how you approach clients. It’s how you represent yourself in public situations. It’s how much value you deliver and how consistently you do it!

      Sometimes I need that lesson repeated, too! (O.k., so I *often* need it repeated)

  6. #2 says to get 3 paying clients…I can’t even get 1 paying client on any of my blogs, and I’ve been blogging over 5 years.
    I also have a site on zazzle.com for the last few years and have never had a client buy anything there either.

    When you wrote-
    “Most people who say they WANT to earn more… never will.”
    I guess you were totally right there and for me it’s because I am totally clueless on how to do this. Basically I guess, all my blogs, and zazzle account and my account on etsy are just for myself.

    So I guess I will stay at my “day job” making minimum wage, bringing home about $550 a month, because that’s all I seem to be good at.

    1. I can’t relate to your specific situation (I don’t have all the details), but I can tell you that your mental barriers are likely the issue. Whenever I get in the phase you are, it’s almost always because I’m internally limiting my view of what’s possible.

      It’s easy to generate excuses and barriers to keep you where you are at. I’ve been there, done that. Luckily, people like Ramit have helped shatter my expectation for what I can really do and really earn. It’s no longer just (that’s nice for him), but (I can really do this myself).

      I’m sure you are “good” at more than your day job. But thoughts like that only will ensure you stay there! (Tough love!)

      1. First~yesterday was a bad day, so thanks for letting me rant.

        This morning I signed up with “bloggingtothebank.com”. Its supposedly a team of people that will walk me through every step of making $$ with a blog. Obviously after 5 years of getting nowhere on my own, I needed someone right by my side to tell me how to do this and to stay with me for as long as it takes for me to figure out how to do it on my own.
        Course now that I already paid the $24 this morning for the service, I haven’t heard back from them.

        ok, I might be good at something besides my “day job”. My co-workers always say they love my photography and I would love to get paid to travel and sell photos, but so far I have not sold anything on my zazzle site, so for now that dream aint turning into reality anytime soon.

        I guess I wasn’t born to be a salesman….years ago I didn’t do very good selling avon door-to-door either. I even tried a job as a telemarketer selling vacations and didn’t sell much then either. Which is kind of funny, because I now live and work at one of the vacation spots I had to sell. The Grand Canyon.

        1. “I guess I wasn’t born to be a salesman…”

          More mental barriers. I will call you out on this one. NO ONE is “born to be a salesman.” Good salesmanship comes from listening and understanding what others want, and then not being afraid to deliver it to them at a price that beats the value they will receive.

          Good for you for taking action and signing up for a course. Work on your beliefs, too. The biggest obstacle to making real money is in your own mind.

          Plenty of free books to help you… “The Science of Getting Rich” and “Think and Grow Rich” are two free ones I’d recommend. Both are out of copyright and can be found in full online or at your local library.


          1. I already bought about a dozen books about blogging & making money online from Amazon, lost count now on how many e-books I have downloaded to my laptop and I spend tons of time reading blogs written by blogging “experts”. I probably have more books on this subject then our little 1-room library.
            (if you have ever been to the Grand Canyon National Park, you would understand our library)

          2. Sunshine Conkey

            I paid $24 this morning for something that’s advertized as “free” and now they want me to pay $295 for blogcoaching.
            I don’t even have $295 to my name…my biggest obstacle might be in my wallet.

          3. Well I’m beginning to think the “bloggingtothebank” site that I signed up with is a big money making scam. Rob, who I assume is in charge of that site has sent me a bunch of new emails to buy more stuff…but he has not helped start up any new blog for me like orginally promised.

            So, it didn’t do me any good to sign up with them. I paid $24.95 for nothing.

        2. Sunshine Conkey, why don’t you open a blog and write reviews on all the things that don’t work out if you think bloggingtothebank is a scam write about your experience , so make a blog about a “process of elimination” now thats a great niche,


          1. Thanks Marios,
            I’m not totally sure what you had in mind when you told to write reviews on things that don’t work with what I call “money-making scam sites”, but your comment did get me thinking and writing a new blog post this morning.
            And seeing as your blog site is blocked, I knew of no other way to leave you a messege then here.

  7. I’m also stoked to see Ramit’s guest post on your blog, which I find you to be very assertive about spilling out the unpleasant facts about finance and debt. This is very practical for the people who legitimately want and have a plan to make a lot more side income.

  8. I have actually taken the Earn 1K course mentioned in the post. It is informative, directive with valid strategies. The course requires 3-5 hours per week. The thing is, I’ve seen this same phenomenon in network marketing. Folks get excited, plop down some money, sign the distributor application then go no- where because earning money on the side is hard. But more than being hard earning money on the side takes a willingness to fail. CNN just posted a great article about super savers. These folks saved 25-35% of their income. More and more financial planners (and the US government) are coming to terms with the reality that people will have to save at least that much to prepare for a comfortable future. Of note and the reason that I mention the CNN article here is that the person who saved the least (roughly 15% of her salaried income) also had a side business earning $25K per year and she saved 100% of that! Earning money on the side isn’t easy because it takes work and commitment. One of my big worries honestly is that the very people who need to do it to secure their future (those earning under 60K per year) won’t. Don’t shoot me, just check out the NYTimes article that appeared over this past weekend about Social Security. Look at the incomes financial planners are using to plan comfortable retirements.

    1. Luckily my rent & utilities are super cheap and automatically deducted from my paychecks before I get them. Not everyone is lucky enough to have my rent. Only problem is that I live 1 & 1/2 hrours away from a town/city without a car…and my I live in employee housing, so if I quit the “day job” I would be instantly homeless.

      I do not bring home enough income from this day job to save 35%. I would have to work 5-6 years to ever earn 60k.

    2. Ouida, fantastic point. This is true anytime you produce or share ideas/content. People love to have access to an idea or concept, but when they realize that EVERYTHING is work… they rarely will follow up.

      You’ll always going to need to work (and probably always WANT to work), it’s just how you go about approaching that. For me, it’s all still hard, but I enjoy what I do far more than the alternative $12-15 hour job in an office. For some people, the RESERVE is true. They are better spent focusing inside the office to generate more money and are much happier in the process. 🙂

  9. I blog as a way to storehouse my thoughts. Because I am a social media consultant I have a lot of thoughts and opinions on the happenings in the SM business. So I write my blogs, not to get readers and followers, but often as a way to work through some of my own strategy and as a way to “hold on” to my ideas. Often I will send clients links to these blogs to emphasize an element in a business strategy. Don’t get me wrong, I love it when I get re-posted, but that is never what it is about. However, it has led to me doing some guest blogs for others.

    1. Lauren,

      This is a great example of understand the purpose of the medium. You don’t have delusions of what value it adds to your business. You know that it helps you internally and that occasionally you’ll be able to use it as a resource. This is a great alternative to “OMG if I blog everyday clients and money will come to me!”

      Some people CAN use blogs and social media to get clients, but most have to use these as extra additions or support structure for their business. You are a perfect example of doing this right! 🙂

  10. Love this. I can recognise my own sneaky behaviour in the distractions of working on having a web presence etc.

    I love the $1000 theory and getting 3 clients. That’s sound and something I’m putting into action.


  11. I think the theory of $1000 and 3 clients is great but for me, I still don’t have that ‘money mindset’ of what I am worth. I have made the $1000, and have 3 clients and yet I still don’t believe that I am good at what I do yet (writing, building blogs and online communities) I think it has alot to do with my current job – teaching. My $ value as a teacher is far less than what I ‘should’ say my rates are for online work but it is hard to get my head in a mindset that I am worth that much.

    1. Ainslie, you are preaching to the choir (me). I worked through many of those same issues, publicly here sometimes, in the last 6-12 months!

  12. Good stuff guys. I like the 3 paying client goal as well.

    I’m hoping to get the Yakezie members to double and triple their income with the product I’m putting together by end of this year.

    I do believe that anybody with an Alexa ranking below 100,000 can make $1,000/month just from advertising. I’ve never focused on making money on my site, and the money just came. I’ve got no affiliate posts or nothing.

    Why not make a couple K from your blog and then use it as a platform to sell something?

    Win win!



    1. Mostly, because I don’t like advertising as a medium. I’ve talked about it in detail before, but I don’t believe it’s the most genuine way to monetize a readership, especially for me.

      I also believe it encourages smaller and newer blogger to post more frequently, of less quality, and to take steps to “pad” stats and ranking to help them sell more advertising.

      Some people don’t like affiliates, so for them other options may be better. For me, creating my own premium content and having the ability to 100% control whom and what I promote to my community is more important than a couple K per month, at this point in the blog.

    2. “I do believe that anybody with an Alexa ranking below 100,000 can make $1,000/month just from advertising.”


      My Alexa rank: 39,358
      My site is in the top 0.1% of all sites worldwide as far as traffic goes
      Total made from Google AdSense every month: ~$83
      Total made from other ads: $400-$500



  13. Love this post – there are so many ‘shoulda coulda wouldas’ and not enough “dids, do’s and done’s.” There’s a great quote by Edwin Louis Cole: “There are dreamers and there are planners; the planners make their dreams come true.”
    That’s my approach to personal finance and how I plan to (and WILL) get out of this rat race. Excuses are tools of the incompetent!

  14. I just interviewed Ramit the other day (published tomorrow on BlogcastFM), and we spent a good amount of time talking about this. As somebody who has made my first 1000 online, I will say that it is definitely the thing that pushes you over the edge in terms of figuring out how to make things into a real business. I do spent time on twitter, facebook, etc. But I do this stuff to build relationships with other bloggers and it’s not really something I’ve ever used for business. In fact the way I earned my first $1000 was doing freelance work exactly as RAmit suggested. Now I’m actually refocusing my efforts on getting back to that as I’ve realized that is immediate income. I try to limit time that I work to about 3-4 hrs a day , but I aim to be laser focused during that time. Really interesting post

    1. Sweet, can’t wait to listen to the interview. I have trouble only working 3-4 hours a day. Most of the time I either want to work 0 or 12. I definitely need help achieving that “laser” status! 🙂

  15. Baker: While I rarely get or publish non-constructive Anon comments, this is a great example of mentality that prevents people from earning more. And, thus, is worth sharing.

    “Ramit’s recently launched a video course with step-by-step videos, case studies, worksheets, and live training on how to earn your first $1,000….and then grow it into more.”

    Of course he does…this post wouldn’t be here unless he had something to sell!

    Looking at the page now…it looks like he may have purchased Dennis Becker’s old Earn1K idea generator site, which was originated by J.D. Swanson (who ripped people off during the spring of ’07). The familiarity of the name is just too coincidental. Ramit’s focus on just building that first $1000 and earning money on the side are exactly JD and Dennis’s approaches too.

    It’s sad when a blog on a good topic devolves into the make money online hype.

    You don’t need “secrets” people! Just plan your work and work your plan…it will all come together.

    1. Problems with the above mentality:

      Anything that has the words “money” and “online” isn’t hype. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of it out there, but labeling anything and everything that comes along into this category is yet another excuse people use to avoid fixing difficult stuff.

      As a side note, this particular course isn’t only about online income, in fact the article and course are blatantly anti-online in many cases. There is no “set it and forget it” website formulas, templates, or create a blog and it’ll come strategies. It’s the exact opposite.

      The only time “secrets” are mentioned is in the above comment. Unfortunately, just patting someone on the back and saying “plan your work and work your plan… it will all come together” doesn’t cut it. In fact, it may be the worst advice I’ve ever heard on the topic!

  16. Nice to see some action back on the blog Baker =)

    Personally loved this quote –
    “it always starts with a “But…” and ends with the person doing nothing.”

    Above all. Do SOMETHING!

  17. Love this post and especially this section: “What ends up happening is they spend all their energy STARTING a business and never actually DOING business.”

    I would strongly second this (and I wrote something similar in at post at AOM titled “How to Start a Business with Limited Funds”: http://artofmanliness.com/2010/02/18/how-to-start-a-business-with-limited-funds/ )

    It’s so true that many people ask, “Oh, wow – can you show me how to make that kind of money?” – which is then usually closely followed with something like “Oh, wow – that takes a lot of time and hard work… don’t you have any easy tricks that don’t involve so much time/money/me-skipping-watching-4-hours-of-TV-every-night?” 🙂

  18. Nice points, here. I like the laser-like focus on just getting 3 paying clients and making it up to your first $1000. I can definitely relate to that – it’s a significant threshold. Make it easy on yourself and just try to build a $1000/month business – don’t focus on anything bigger than that. Easier said than done, sometimes, perhaps, but just do the things that will get you results. This sounds like it could also be a great formula for starting a second or a third business/project, too.

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  20. I prefer the second idea. “Actions speak louder than words.” Don’t just sitting and dreaming to be as rich as those famous bloggers out there. Your life is in your hand.
    I had been stuck in dreaming for months until I relised that I wouldn’t earn anything if I do nothing but dreaming.

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  22. Ché Ché la Femme

    It has been my experience that entrepreneurial drive can’t be taught. People either have it or they don’t.

    1. Actually, this is another excuse lots of people make: “I’m not wired that way.” Entrepreneurship is a skill that anybody can learn.

  23. I have been realizing this slowly since starting to work on my own. In fact, i think I already knew it, but like Ramit says, did it anyways. In the last six months, here are some of the things I’ve done:

    Twitter profile: check
    Facebook profile: check
    Linked In: check
    Technorati: check
    Brazen Careerist: check
    A Small World: check


    Total income as a result of six months of interaction and “engagement” = 0$
    (ok, ok, so I’ve made a few bucks. In proportion to effort, it’s just not a viable business model.)

    Reaching out to clients personally, and letting the work and results speak for themselves:
    Priceless (but it will get you paid). Do the work. Find out who are the ones who will pay for your expertise and give them a reason to.

    I read an article recently that said not to focus on customers you think you want, focus on the ones you already. Don’t worry about who will pay, take care of the ones who already have. Think it was Dave Navarro.

  24. Great post, and many points well taken. However, I’ve made a good living for several years writing grants for a non-profit (a community health center.)

  25. The image at the start of the post says it all – ‘tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow’. The goal will be achieved tomorrow if action is taken today. Isn’t this the simple psychology of success?

    Great post Ramit.

    – Raz

  26. Thank you Ramit for this great article. It is very well written and you have some good points. I am making my own CMS (Content Management System) to learn PHP5. I know that I am a perfectionist, but it is good to remember to have clients first, before paying attention to detail, or any unnessecary stuff for that matter. Together with the book Rework by 37Signals I think these advices that you gave us are really valuable to help us remember what it is about: start a business. get clients, make money 🙂

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  28. As one who has had multiple side businesses, and has been brought up in a thrifty and entrepreneurial family I’d like to suggest that it isn’t either/or. Either you have a side business, or you are frugal. Both add to your wealth. Watching what you spend and aligning it with your values will both save money and increase contentment. But, never assume anything that’s worth having is “easy and quick.” Like all activities of value, it takes effort to increase your income. But the extra money and confidence makes the effort worth while.

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  30. My $1000 mark is coming soon. I have 3 paying customers and 1 who I trade services with. The blog has convinced people that I am someone they want to train with, but in and of itself, it makes no money. Yet. All customers so far are people who I already knew — looking forward to new “nice to meet you” customers!

  31. Great post Ramit – it definitely speaks to a lot of procrastination type issues I’ve faced during my life, and to a lot of the people I’ve tried to help along the way. The time is always now.

    I’ll be sharing this quite a bit – let’s hope this no-nonsense pep-talk can get a lot of procrastinators into gear.

  32. This is my first day visiting the site, and I’m very excited about taking action. To be honest, I always looked at it as “keep my day job” OR “start a business.” Never really gave much consideration to doing things on the side.

    I’m pretty good about saving strenuously, but I’d like to generate more on the top-line as well. Now off to setting things in motion and finding my first $1,000. Or rather EARNING my first $1,000. Thanks for the kick.

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  34. Hi – thanks for the article and the tips. Been blogging on/off for a year and a bit now and have quite a few articles posted on my old blogger blogs. Recently (2months or so) started a couple of hosted wordpress blogs and while I have lots of ideas on content (almost 200 draft posts waiting tweaks and edits) getting money out of these sites seems like a losing proposition to me! 🙁

    I’m very motivated and positive about it however and spend an hour or more (most days quite a bit more) daily on them adding new posts, linking between my blogs and finding really relevant content out there to comment on (like this post) which I understand is the way to increase your ranking (i have however only really started to focus on this recently) … however I don’t really have anything specific to SELL. All my blogs are based on things that interest me and are more what I would call a “commentary” and information blog.

    What would you advise me to do now to get that first $1000? Should I continue in this vein or focus on building a product (I do have an idea but not sure how lucrative it would be) that I can market?

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  38. Great post, I realised that I am doing everything else instead of the mission critical goal of getting “paying clients”. This is an eye opener for me…..thanks Baker for this excellent article.

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