The “Get Rich Quick” Scam Formula

Photo Credit: Michael Holden via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Michael Holden via Compfight cc

Over on The Verge, there is an interesting article entitled Scamworld: ‘Get rich quick’ schemes mutate into an online┬ámonster.

What made it really interesting is that the author of the article, Joseph L. Flatley, took on some of the biggest names in the Internet Marketing world, including the (in)famous foul-mouth Frank Kern, and the somewhat better-spoken (and even likeable) Andy Jenkins and Mike Filsaime.

The article resonated with me on several levels. I never really liked Kern at all (being potty-mouthed just doesn’t impress me, or perhaps more accurately, it does impress me, just not in a good way), and although Jenkins & Filsaime were much more likeable, there was always a warning bell that prevented me from buying any of their products. One Jenkins & Filsaime product which I actually considered for a brief moment was his add-on for G+ Hangouts, which was actually pitched by Sarah Staar as an affiliate (although she never pitched it really hard). I remarked to Sarah on one of her conference calls that I did not think that WebinarJam was worth anywhere near what Jenkins and Filsaime were charging — I had a gut feeling that anybody with about $5K, maybe less, could build a competing (and possibly) better product — completely outsourced, and probably in less than 3 months.

It wasn’t long after my remark that I noticed that Sarah had quietly gone back to the much-more-expensive GoToWebinar service. Turns out the lag-time for getting “interactive” comments from attendees was so long that it had a serious negative impact on the user experience. I also suspect that WebinarJam was not completely stable. My thought was that the veneer of the WebinarJam product made the G+ Hangout latency substantially worse, and that with a bit of training, G+ Hangout is perfectly usable by itself for doing webinars. Even interactive “live” webinars. Not to mention that Google can and will change APIs any time it pleases, which means that Jenkins and Filsaime have taken on the burden of constant support. For a product that appears to be far less popular than they had hoped.

But, I ramble…

Back to the topic at hand; I have been studying (and trying various things in) Internet Marketing for several years, with mixed results. In part, my mixed results have been due to my extreme skepticism and unwillingness to spend money on shiny objects. One of the things that I have noticed many times now is the “Get Rich Quick” pitch formula. It goes like this:

  1. I was a poor schmuck who got laid off from my minimum-wage job at a time when I was already $15,000 in maxed-out credit-card debt.
  2. I tried, but failed, to get any traction in Internet Marketing for a while.
  3. Then I hit rock-bottom and found myself on the street in the cold.
  4. But in my desperation, I discovered this miraculous secret that enabled to overcome all that.
  5. Here are pictures of my new car/house/trophy-wife/etc. Oh, but I’m not really bragging, you see — I’m just showing you what is possible.
  6. For only $x,xxx.xx, I’m going to let you in on this wonderful secret so that you can get rich without having to go through all the bad parts.

That’s the formula in nearly every Internet Marketing Get-Rich-Quick pitch I have ever seen. I can only assume that the reason it is used nearly everywhere with only slight variations is because it works. P.T. Barnum nailed that one.

Now that I’ve seen it so many times, I consider it to be the red flag that alerts me to a possible scam, although I have seen similar pitches used in at least two cases where I don’t believe it is a scam. One is Martin Avis, who was “made redundant” from his big-company advertising job, and took a while to get traction with his newsletter. The other is Sarah Staar, who talks about her difficulties and setbacks and how she overcame them. Neither one goes into a bunch of malarkey about being homeless and discovering the secret formula for getting rich. In fact, both of them talk about the fact that success in Internet Marketing follows some intelligent work. They share the outline of that process with anybody — for free.

What they sell is products which help with getting your own traction faster. And they both do a good job of that.

It was with some hesitation that I entered the niche of Internet Marketing, since I don’t fit into the Get-Rich-Quick formula at all. For the last 3+ decades, I’ve made a quite comfortable living writing software, a pursuit I still find quite enjoyable. I still do contract software development, and plan to continue doing so for a while. Between contracts, I do freelancing. Plus, I have two other very enjoyable side-business which are currently on hold, but I plan to resume when my current contract is over.

I do see a time coming when I really would like to have sources of income that are both more portable and more passive than doing contract software development — and I have found a few of them. I’m having some success with them. I have one which has almost replaced my “day job” income — but not quite. Deep down, I realize that some day I’m going to have to quit trading time for money.

There are a few things which hold me back right now. One is that I like my work and the people I work with, and have no desire to “fire my boss,” which seems to be the popular meme for Internet Marketing. The other is that the type of software development I do pays quite well, which means that my motivation for doing Internet Marketing is somewhat muted.

All that said, I’m getting ready to release a course on the basics of Internet Marketing. A lot of the content is stuff that I’ve already written about in this blog. I won’t be selling it with a huge “Get Rich Quick” price-tag, nor will I be using high-pressure tactics like artificial scarcity. And I won’t be attaching it to a sob-story about how I went hungry for weeks or was homeless on the streets — simply because I didn’t (actually, there was a brief period about 40 years ago that I subsisted with the generous help from friends, but that was only a brief period, and I arranged my life so that I overcame it — and it has nothing to do with my foray into Internet Marketing).

Plus, I’m not inclined to load it up with a bunch of fake “social proof.” It’s what I’ve learned about what works for me, and what doesn’t. Period.

As a result, I probably won’t sell many copies. But I’ll bet I sell enough to make it worthwhile. I plan to follow the Jim Cockrum model, and continuously update the product and give the updates to all the customers who bought it — for free. As I learn new stuff, so will my customers.

Oh, another thing… I’m way overdue for working on my mailing list here (I have some successful mailing lists in other niches). You can expect both of those developments early in 2015.

Wow! Can you believe that Christmas is only 8 weeks away?

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