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Is this the right course for me?
Good question. My courses are NOT for everyone. You need to be a good fit. This is the prefect course for you if you check any of the following boxes:
- You like having a business card that says I’m CEO bitch
- You dream of petting elephants in a Southeast asian monarchy with a questionable human rights record
- doTerra didn’t work out
- You have $100 to spare
Basics first. What is a Ponzi scheme?
Say I managed to save $500 from my day job. I find 5 people who begrudgingly agree to give me $100 because I told them I can turn it into $200 in a month. I give them $200 each at the end of the month.
Now, I am out of savings but I have 5 people who doubled their money in a month with no hard work at all.
I use their story as an example to show people that my idea works. Now it’s easier to find people who pay me. I take $100 from 10 more people, wait for a month, and use the proceeds ($1,000) to give $200 each to 5 of those people.
Now I have a proven business model, and a good number of people who will vouch for my method. I use the proceeds from each successive group to pay the previous cohort of people.
But this is a tech community. Not Wall Street.
A Ponzi scheme can be used in any part of your life. Let’s see how we can use this around us today:
Example 1: Sell a Course
Create a twitter account and manage to get 100 followers through a combination of spamming famous people, dad jokes, and paid followers. Write this blog post and share it:
How I got 100 followers in my first week with no hard work at all.
Over the next week 50 people will read your tweet / post and start following you. These people are curious, and it costs them nothing to follow you. 50 followers isn’t much but you get to write another exciting post:
How I increased my twitter following by 50% in less than 3 days.
Now people are intrigued, and you have 500 more followers. Write another post.
How I got 500 followers overnight
Does it remind you of something – like a for loop? When iteration = 5, sell a course on Gumroad.
Example 2: Become a Digital Nomad
Quit your job in Colorado and move to Thailand because a long-haired guy and his hot girlfriend shared a beach selfie telling you how they are living the digital nomad life, and how you can do it too. Best $100 you ever spent.
Except, it didn’t work out (teaching English in Thailand only pays so much), and now you’re stuck in Koh Samui running out of money and ideas. Go to the nearest beach, take a picture of your laptop with sunset in the background and write this blog post:
How quitting my 9-5 job and moving to Thailand was the best thing I ever did.
Congrats, now people are listening. Create a course, somehow manage to make $1,000. Now use that $1,000 to buy some food, rent a moped, and share more selfies about your perfect life. It’s a massive market – these regular folks working boring jobs in rich white countries who believe in the good intentions of strangers on the internet. Exploit them.
Example 3: No Code, Only Money
Aren’t you sick of all these I’m-so-smart programmers with their statically-typed-languages-are-fast on HackerNews? When you came across this priceless No Code directory of tools you realized it was the next big thing. You spend $100 on the site, and use the knowledge to create a form (using a form builder) and a Zapier hook that emails people on new responses. Genius idea. You try to sell it for $500. No buyers. It’s all your fault.
Time to pivot. You create a No Code website to teach people how to make money using No Code tools (like you did, haha) such as Airtable and Zapier.
Note: the lesson here is NOT that you can make money by creating a valuable tool like Airtable using code. No.
Between your No Code website and No Code podcast you manage to make $500. You take a screenshot of your Stripe dashboard and share it with the world. Now you are hot shit. Going from 0 to $500 was the hard bit; going from $500 to $5,000 is easier.
Are places like Indiehacker and Gumroad and just enablers of Ponzi schemes?
Of course not. There are some amazing people there working on cool new ideas. They write comments here and there, and make a post once in a while, but mostly it’s busy work building something. Most such communities are started by a group of well-intentioned people, who slowly become the minority.
Not all courses are scams. I bought one on Gumroad yesterday. Except it wasn’t teaching me how to grow my twitter following; it was teaching me a cool programming language that I’ve been meaning to learn for a while.
Will I be sharing fake milestones and fake Stripe dashboards?
You didn’t read anything, did you? No, you will actually get 500 new followers, and actually make $5,000. The ones who won’t are the suckers who buy your course.
Won’t people call me out when they buy my course and fail to become rich?
That is the best part – they will blame themselves. You made money. The people who gave you Twitter testimonials apparently made money. If people fail they will think it’s them. In fact, sell them your Advanced Course.
How do I convince people I am legit?
Tell people you are open to speaking engagements. Talk about the number of trees you planted this month. Tell them someone else forced you to post on IH or HN because of how great your content is. Talk about failure so you seem relatable. Act quirky on Twitter.
Wait, are you writing this just to make me a part of your Ponzi scheme?
Do you really think I am going to spend half a Sunday writing and formatting this long-ass post (instead of using my magic formula to make money for myself) for any reason other than the goodness of my heart?
Of course not. I swear. I just want to share my success with the world, help the little guy, Build in Public™, like every other ‘How I Made $5,000’ post. Pinky promise.
I am sold. So, how DO I run a Ponzi scheme?
You see, my goal in sharing my success here is to see YOU grow. Just like the guy who sold me into his Ponzi scheme – I am only paying it forward 🙏🏼.
I do like to charge $100 JUST to ensure that only serious people become a part of my Ponzi-family. We call it an investment.
Enough talk. Signup here:
How do I NOT run a Ponzi scheme?
- Look around you for problems people would pay to resolve.
- Create something of value.
- Have fun while you do it.
Discuss on HN.