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March 18, 2009


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I don't know anything about this author or his book but I LOVE THIS POST!!!

It is very no non-sense and to the point. And in my experience, so right on the money accurate. I LOVE IT!

Best advice I've read! As a freelance writer getting back into that career after more than 12 years, this is especailly helpful because "back then" the Inernet and digital marketng were hardly being talked about, much less being used.

I just wrote a colleague about this very subject a few days ago -- because I know how easy it is to fall into the trap of spending more time networking for business than DOING business, and I'm falling fast into that trap. This post is a great start to moving in a new direction -- THANKS!


Sometimes I feel the same way. I can spend hours trying to find a good deal and end up only saving a few dollars. I'm thrilled that I was able to save money, but how much is my time worth?

Same goes for blogging. Just starting out, I was focused on building content and networking out for exposure. Now, a lot of my time is being spent on a site redesign. Many hours were spent, but really no value in return. Not that I'm doing this for a living, but there are hosting costs to at least pay for.

Stupidly Yours,


I've read his blog before. I must admit, I didn't like it as much as I like this one, but this post is really top notch. Outstanding advice.

I just finished reading a book called "The Goal" for an MBA class and this post goes along with the book greatly. Basically, you need to find out what your goal is and state it in a clear, concise manner. Then you do nothing but work toward that goal, throwing out any outdated pre-conceptions that don't really align with this singular goal. Great post, great advice.

I'm looking forward to the book and agree with just about everything in the post. In particular, the know-it-all crowd that says you need ______ are a bunch of never-done-a-damn-thing types or bankers. You do need to have some type of a plan, but it need not be formalized. Essentially, you can do whatever you want until you involve others in your venture. The advice to start with the big picture and evaluate what is actually working is some of the best you can come by. If you focus on the long-term, it will help you take the needed small steps to get to goal. So often we get sucked into the day to day grind and minutia that we forget to evaluate the comprehensive effort underway. Great post and I'll be looking for the book.

Offering to do work for free — especially if she's done work for that she's been paid for in the past — seems like a risky strategy. Why would anyone want to pay (later) when she's already suggested her value is $0?

I spent 6 years working as an editor, and if someone offered their services to me for free, I'd think that they were an amateur — and that I was going to get exactly what I paid for.

(This is Ramit, the author of the article.)

Great comments everybody -- thanks.

Erin, that's always a risk, but the potential rewards are much higher than a traditional job. Doing free work has been the single-most effective strategy for me to get amazing positions that others couldn't. It's more risky than taking a standard salaried job, but if you choose wisely (and get a little lucky), you can end up getting jobs that are never announced.

For Nicole, she picked me and made it very clear that her goal was to get paid down the line -- if she outperformed expectations. And because she's good, I've started paying her, and expect to pay more over time.

If she isn't hitting her goals, she should move on to find someone else who will help. You're exactly right: The risk is higher, but so is the potential reward.

This is classic Ramit. In your face and right. Ramit helped me refocus last year on my business and the results have been great. At any rate, I'm reminded of my friend's cousin. He started a business.

For the first three weeks they designed their logo.

Great post - the KISS principle - keep it simple stupid - lay out a clear concise goal and work towards obtaining it!

This was a timely post for me, Ramit. I'm a freelace illustrator/designer and just came off my best earnings year yet. With other freelance friends suggesting I get a website and/or blog, plus a new round of postcard mailings...I was tempted but have kept putting it off. (the added expense, the time, the new software, my laziness or lack of time to do it)What did i really need those things for? I still had continuing clients, I still reached out to new ones I chose specifically...and I just picked up a new client through a referral. So far, I have just been putting in 'that' time to pushing out more artwork. That's where my bread and butter really lay. With my clients teetering between buying, buying less or waiting to buy...I can't slow down on my output. In my niche, the more spaghetti I throw at the wall, the more that will stick. And spaghetti tastes pretty good.
Many thanks!

There are 2 different types of advice out there. There is the "focus on doing these handful of things" advice and the "47 tips to X" advice. Focusing on the two or three or perhaps even just one thing that matters is always better than getting 47 new ideas to scatter your brain and send you running in a bunch of different directions.

It's always great to have a refocusing influence when things start to feel overwhelming.

Wow just awesome! A writer probably still needs a website and/or a blog first in order to showcase their talent, right?

I love this article's get-off-your-ass attitude, but he doesn't mention insecurity here, which I think is huge.

Starting up my site, I kept thinking, "Look at that webcomic, they had 200 readers in the first month" or "That blog has 3000 people subscribed to the RSS feed." Especially starting out, it's hard but important to ignore the voice saying "you'll never be that successful, it'll be embarassing try."

Hey Ramit, I’m a long time listener, first time caller.
Can't remember how I came across you or how long ago, but you impressed me enough the first time to sign up to your mailing list. Must have been the picture of you on your blog, such a nice Indian boy.
Anywho, glad I did; You've doled out some sound advice, none of which I’ve actually used mind you, but inherently knew was probably useful and right. 
All this to say that you've generated a lot of interest from me in your method. I don’t know if it’s the constant barrage of emails I keep getting from you or your annoying passive-aggressive style, but you’ve got me agitated enough to write you and to tell you that I'm taking on your implied challenge. I am going to buy your book. And if in six months after reading your book and employing your method I think you are full of shit, I am going to tell you so.
I will be honest; I will record and keep relevant data journals to chart my progress. If I may have sabotaged myself to lay blame on you, you will know so.

But more than that, I’m looking for some solid, concrete advice on getting my ambitions off the ground and creating some serious financial freedom for me. I like your straight talk, I hear you and understand you. If your method and book can help like you say it can, then I’m willing to invest the time and effort to read it and apply it.

Great post - but how do you figure out the one or two things that bring measurable and consistent results?

Janna, talk to other people who have done it before. Take experienced business people out to lunch -- they don't have to be doing the exact thing you are. I've written more about that in another guest post called "The Best $20 You'll Ever Spend":


While I agree with the general theory of stripping away things that aren't important, and freelancers can easily fill their day with the unimportant, I find it a bit amusing that the example trivializes items like business cards and posting content to your website/blog as if they don't matter, both to potential clients and marketing.

I've worked freelance for over 2 years, and it was embarrassing when I didn't have a business card, people aren't sure if they can rely on you and that you're not just a hobbiest trying to get their project. Business cards are a simple achievement.

Ramit, I've followed your blog for I'd have to think at least 3 years, I bought your first PDF book when it came out in 2006, thanks to your blog. I don't think your goal is/was to be big time blogger, but how instrumental was posting to your blog, even when it got less than 1,000 hits, to where you are today and in getting your new book published?

My blog was instrumental -- for me. But the vast majority of freelancers don't get clients through their blog. Their portfolio, maybe. But a blog?

If a blog is your business, then great -- you probably know that, and know how to convert readers into business.

But for most freelancers, I'd just analyze the channels to see which works the best. Maybe it's a blog (I doubt it), maybe conferences (no), maybe effective emails and referrals (YES!). Just be conscious about what works and what doesn't.

And btw, thanks for buying my ebook!

Ramit, be generous. Toss in a link to Nicole. Those of us reading for the human interest side of the story want to see the web site and the work product.

She knows about this! If she wants to reveal herself here, I'll ask FMF to add a link.

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Ramit - Fantastic post. You really cut to the heart of the matter and it makes sense. Great advice. Looking forward to trying this out with my business. Thanks.

so true. why am i reading this blog again? shouldn't i be doing something?

Excellent post by Ramit. I read his blog and I am continually impressed with his insight. His book is to the point, also.

It would be nice if we had a link to Nicole's site.

Thank you. Very helpful post.

Ramit, been reading your stuff for a while - good and meaty material.

But let me get this straight - The subject was starting a business and doing so successfully. And it focused only on one business type, though 'some' of the comments could be transferred to other businesses. The business of a Freelance Writer/Researcher. Correct?

Some of the things that you say are a waste of time for a Freelancer are necessary to start other types of businesses, correct?

Take networking opportunities. I hate those too. But I can see where in some businesses it could be very critical to belong to, lets say, an Industry Association that is active and provides Meeting Events and also provides Services to its members.

Meetings would be to dispense information to the members and a time to interact. Find out who is buying and who is selling and for how much. Results are sales and reduced cost of goods yielding greater profit.

Services could be the ability to obtain Group Health Insurance or Workman's Comp Insurance for a lessor cost than if the Individual bought policies on their own?

Of course I am not talking about a Service Industry but rather one that produces Products that other Companies or Consumers buy.

I am looking for new ways to make money as well, but my target audience is an Industry that produces goods. So your article is timely for me and gives me other aspects to chew on.

I look forward to further postings that may more directly apply to those of us going in slightly different directions.

I have many of the building blocks of starting, building and running a business, as I have been successfully Self-Employed, but will have to crack this nut in a different matter to build this new business.

Thanks again

Great post. Lovely to see the 80/20 rule described with examples. Very insightful.

If Nicole is reading this, my biggest piece of advice to her (since she's already got a great start with Ramit's guidance) would be to NOT UNDERVALUE HERSELF.

I work for a PR firm and am constantly hiring freelance writers, graphic designers, etc. If someone's work is great, then my clients will find a way to pay. Right now, we use a very good writer who charges us very little. Since my client is on a budget and I have their best interests at heart, I would never tell our writer this, but she could easily increase her rates by 50 percent (maybe gradually) and we would PAY IT IN A HEARTBEAT.

I've read that women tend to devalue themselves like this, and to bend over backwards and be people-pleasers. (I am one, I should know.) My clients are nonprofits, but they do have budgets and will pay for quality, even if it means doing less projects but doing them better.

We work with a wildly expensive design firm from time to time, and the quality of work is so much better, I recommend them to my nonprofit clients even though I know they could get it for 1/10th the price elsewhere. And, they pay it and are always thrilled with the results. Creativity is not a commodity.

Good luck!

I think this post is mildly helpful. Read it only if you have time.


This is really short-sighted advice...Ramit has only explained the first fraction of the story.

This is great advice, but only for the first few months of freelance work, when you're trying to get to the point where you're paying your bills. Beyond that, things like business cards, blogging, and networking events absolutely do matter. Back when I was freelancing, most of my clients said they hired me over some other guy because they read my blog and felt like they knew me. I met many clients and fellow entrepreneurs at those "worthless" networking events that are still bringing me clients, investors, and other valuable contacts today. And I still remember feeling embarrassed when people would ask me for a card and I would explain that I didn't have any on me.

Get out there and start actually working to make money, but if you actually want to build a *business*, you're going to have to spend some time doing stuff like this.

Great article!

We are looking for a good copy writer - if anyone out there (or Nicole!) is interested please email me at igarcia [at] centraldesktop.com

It seens effective, but i dont like this efficient method to enslave ourselves.

Clearly nicole is not looking for a life where she throw away anything she likes to make a living.

I would hate to have someone proving me that what i hope from life can be dumped in exchange of 1000$ per month.

This story makes me sad.

This is absurd, self-referential advice. A consulting business is a holistic affair.

Cutting out "reading blogs" would be as effective as cutting out "taking showers." While neither directly contribute to the bottom line, they're an important part of the day.

No one will disagree that finding paying clients is the most important part of a business, but you've distilled it too far.

I liked this article - it provides actionable advice for start-ups of any size. Its easy to get caught up in trying to duck-type your business to success.

@john -

This advice is intended for those not reaching their profitability goals, to the point where their business' survival is in peril. You need to focus on being in business before you can focus on developing intangible assets. However, once sustainable I agree its important not to let all pursuits fall on the sword of ROI.

This is a really useful post. While I can't say I've gotten the 80/20 rule nailed, there are times when I'm very productive & times I'm wasting time.

For those that think starting a blog is a waste of time, maybe yes, may be not. It all depends again on "Focus" What do you want your blog/website to do for you?

If you want to to get customers, the make it in such a way that it brings customers. If you want to make money off your site, the you have to write it in such a way that it does. I have both of these types of site & they work to various degree of success.

For Nicole I reckon a review of writing style etc could create some following, but then she needs to know a little about search engines so that her post get noticed, but again the frequency matters. For her kind of service, perhaps an update once a week or fortnightly would be good enough.

Last, I totally agree with networking event. You have to know yourself. Like me, I find going up to meet people not my key strength. So rather than waste time & money, I've since long given up on this method.


This article hit me right between the eyes in tandem to another of your articles regarding obstacles.
I had a friend who is succesful selling online to show me how to do it. Since then I have done nothing but give her and others excuses like"since I lost my job I have no ambition" Puhleez Earl!
Thanks for the boot although I will probably be too lazy to follow up on it :)

I think what you said about Networking Events is garbage. And what exactly are you defining as a "networking event"? I just recently attain a very big client via networking (A CEO of a large company in Canada) and I think it`s not an isolated incident either. I had instilled in someones mind what I do, and how well I do it well; Later, someone asked that individual if they knew anyone who does what I do, and they recommended me - simple as that. Networking is good, effective networking is better, not a waste of time..at all!


Reading this post has made me look at what I spend my time with in terms of web promotion. I have to make detailed assessments on which ones are a waste of time and which ones are helping me out. Great post and I'm glad I came across this!

Ryan, You're missing the point. He says to do what works FOR YOU. For him, the blog worked. For Nicole it wasn't so he told her to cut it out because it wasn't helping her. Do what is working the most for you and get rid of the rest thats just wasting time.

Hey Matt:
I think you missed part of the article, he clearly is supporting 'networking' in the sense of effectively getting in touch directly with people who might give you business, just not specifically 'networking events' that take a lot more time with less effective results.

I don't know why everyone is focusing so much on business cards. You can make business cards for free on printing websites, it takes about 15 minutes.

What a great post here Ramit Sethi. As others have mentioned, great job at being very clear and to the point. Simply using the acronym F.O.C.U.S will also aid in helping you to earn more money and stop wasting time.

What's F.O.C.U.S.?

Whether you focus on a number of things or you focus on one, having a strategic plan of action behind it, tracking your results, determining the usefulness of your actions, and sticking it out will lend you greater results in your business.

When we first came up with the idea to create our blog freemoneytactics.com we were told by many that we could not make money offering free money. As logical as it may seem, it is however untrue. Without using any ads on our blog, we are able to bring in an income and we contribute the possibility to focus, strategic planning, and tracking.

Your post really helps to bring awareness about what is important and what isn't. If reading blogs is not done strategically, then why do it? If going to networking events are not done strategically then why go?

Great post Ramit Sethi, SistaWAHMs gives this post 2 thumbs up!

In my opinion, the point Ramit was trying to make is that most people get caught up in being busy creating what the business will be but not DOING the actual business so it generates income. Multi-task and get your business cards, etc., but FOCUS on getting the actual business to generate income, instead of wasting time being busy doing little.

I came here from this page: http://www.iwillteachyoutoberich.com/write-a-guest-post-for-i-will-teach-you-to-be-rich/

Both are exactly what I need. Thank you.

I just quickly glanced over it, but it seems like a lot of ratrace advice. It is well for doing more work to earn more money, but completely skips the quantum leap of leverage. Giving advice NOT to network? Come on, that's like shooting yourself in the foot. This post is good for just working as a freelancer, but it doesn't cover the very important part of marketing yourself as a brand. Just doing that you can increase your $ per hour rate tenfold. I'm not against getting more done in less time, I'm just not okay with doing more at the expense of building a smaller business. One thing is true thoug, we all waste time and there is room for improvement everywhere.

Successful people focus;Unsuccessful people spray.

Like the topic and the insight. It seem to be what keeps most of us from earning more money - wasting time on things that really does not add value to our bottom line.

"She eliminated all the possible things she could do ...and just decided to focus on the tactics that would take her directly to her goal. That's the importance of reducing choices and focusing on the things that matter. " -- RS

My employer significantly eliminated many of the possible things I could have done to start my part-time book selling business by not paying my salary. However, the lack of funds forced me to think of the essentials to start my business. I ended up not wasting so much money on the front end.

[e.g. instead of bemoaning the inability to set up a separate building to house my limited inventory, I converted my personal storage space into my temporary business space until I can afford a larger warehouse. That way, I didn't have to wait so long to get the inventory online and start selling.]

Meanwhile, I still have goals to get the bigger stuff as the sales start rolling in.

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