One of my many odd jobs is web consultant for a real estate company. It’s a part-time gig (I only work there a few hours a quarter) but it pays incredibly well.
The old web consultant charged several thousand dollars to design the site and $150 minimum to make any changes (this includes adding new hyperlinks and uploading images). Since the business had already budgeted for this, they didn’t bother reducing the rate for me.
Doing some quick math, I earn $300 per hour on average from this job.*
Why people “overpay”
Someone reading this post is probably thinking, “Wow you’re ripping those suckers off.” But I’m not. Having pictures and downloadable brochures for an expensive property is well worth the price. The company also saves money by hiring me since they don’t have to waste time training someone else for the job.
Lastly, getting the job done right is more important than getting the job done cheaply. Before I was hired there was a gap where the company didn’t have a consultant. During this time they tried to hire some random guy on the Internet. He managed to break every hyperlink and disconnect several listings from the main page.
It’s cheaper for the company to pay me well for the results they want than it is for them to hire someone off Elance or Fiverr.
A deficit in quality
While many readers are probably familiar with blogging, actual websites are often designed a little differently. The real estate one that I work on requires some basic programming knowledge. You have to use special software to make changes to the site and then upload your design. It isn’t as simple as WordPress or something like that.
While there are a lot of people who know how to make a blog, the number of folks who actually know how to program is a lot smaller. I’m not even a particularly good coder but I’ve practiced enough to understand the basics. During 2013 I practiced coding for one hour a day over the course of three months (you can learn some simple HTML and CSS in about seven days at this rate). After that I scaled my lessons down to about 30 minutes each afternoon.
Could I design an awesome video game or invent a cool app?
Probably not, but I can look at simple web code and figure out where it needs to be fixed.
In contrast, some Google expert (i.e. guy who searched the topic and read five blog posts about it) could never do the same. He won’t have any real experience or know what he’s actually doing. Aside from charging a low rate, there’s nothing he can offer.
When I get paid for a service call the company is paying for my experience. Something they won’t get from a random eBook or virtual assistant.
Google experience is the McDonald’s of business
I’m currently reading How to Write & Sell Simple Information for Fun and Profit. It’s about selling books, articles, seminars, and DVD lectures. The author, Robert W. Bly, is a guy who turned his freelance writing business into a multi-million dollar industry.
One of the interesting things that Bly observed was something that I’d noticed but failed to articulate: The current flood of Internet information has created a drought when it comes to actual advice.
There’s an over-saturation of blogs, shoddy “how to” books, and poorly written articles. This has made it easier for quality material to stand out.
A classic example of this: “How To Get Rich” or “Secrets of Millionaire X” articles you see floating around. Most of them are clickbait rehashes of content that’s been done to death. Unless you are Richard Branson, or are a close associate of his, you can’t write an article titled “How To Think Like Richard Branson.” It’s stupid filler and anyone with half a brain will realize it.
If you want to learn how Richard Branson thinks, you buy his book.
Free low-value content can’t compete with real information.
There are a million shoddy eBooks on Internet business and most of them sell very poorly. It’s not because people aren’t interested in the subject, it’s because the product sucks. Jeff Walker, a man who made his fortune online, has a book called Launch (review here) that’s been in the top 10,000 Amazon books for almost a year now.
Random huckster Joe Schmuck and his eBook, Make $100 A Day Online doesn’t sell because it sucks and even the idiots are smart enough to realize that.
Tricking stupid people
There’s a pretty classic eBook scam that goes as follows:
- The average person never finishes a book (I think only 10% get past the first chapter).
- Hucksters then make a book in which only has one chapter.
- The rest of the book is just nonsense (literally random letters thrown together).
- This way the seller doesn’t have to make a real product and 90% of their buyers will be too dumb to ever find out.
A similar scam is routinely run with knock-off books which are designed to look like bestsellers (i.e. 5.0 Shades of Grey). These books do make money, but the scammers have to constantly find new ways to trick their clients. And, eventually, many of them end up in court or prison.
At some point designing a network of shell corporations to hide behind becomes more work than actually releasing a decent product.
As a general rule of thumb, you can only con someone once. After that they catch on to your shtick. Even books for idiots still offer some kind of perceived value. Rich Dad, Poor Dad sucks, but at least it looks like a real book.
How much value do you deliver?
If you’re plan, like so many other people’s, is to produce the lowest quality product in hopes of conning a few suckers, I have bad news. You probably aren’t going to do too well.
Low-quality content doesn’t sell. A book of nonsense has a very short shelf life. A plagiarized blog won’t be read for long. And a shoddy product isn’t going to be reordered.
The biggest problem, in my opinion, that most people have is their focus on gaining the most without ever having to expand any effort. Get-rich-quick schemes are built around this, “Do nothing and still get paid!”
If you aren’t going to do your research, learn a skill, or perfect your craft, you aren’t going to provide anyone with enough value to warrant your price tag.
* I get paid by the task, not the hour. Most tasks only take 10 to 20 minutes though.