How Do You Make Money?

A few years ago on a rainy and gloomy night, I was approached by some guy as I was hurrying home.

“Hey, listen, lemme tell you something. Do you want to know how to make money?”

I was pretty hungry in those days, but I was badly cynical too. As I walked on, he followed up and stopped me. Under the streetlight I could see him better and he looked friendly enough. And he was getting as wet as I was, so I listened to him.

“I have here one of the last copies of my book. This very book is all you will ever need to make money. Lots of it, if you want to. Everything is in there, this is your manual to make bucks. You want it? Only twenty Dollars.”

To be honest, it wasn’t expensive. And he seemed honest enough.  Actually, I quite liked him.

I was getting very chilly and I was already soaked to the bone, so I just handed him the money, said goodbye and scurried off.

The next day, I picked up the book and opened it somewhere randomly. Two blank pages. I opened it again. More of the same. I thumbed through the entire book, back to front, and there was nothing in it, except a few lines on page two.

Here is what it read:

How to Make Money

Print at least 10 copies of this book. You can get it done for ten Dollars at MisPrinters on the corner of Sleazebag and Vine.

Sell it to people on the street for 20 Dollars.


He hadn’t lied. In my hands I had a manual for making money.

Does this sound familiar to you at all? Does any of that seem like the products that are sold online, all the frikking time?

It seems nowadays that every second blog you come across is aimed at doing nothing but selling you something that will teach you to make money.

Not that there’s something wrong with that in itself, mind you. In fact, if you can teach people how to make money, you are doing them a big favour.

Now it has been mentioned a while back that a lot of people are teaching people how to make money, by teaching others how to make money. Again, there’s nothing wrong with that. You do one person a favour, he does ten people a favour and so on and so forth.

Happy world. Rich people.

But here’s something I don’t get: where is the end to it? When will the last person on earth (read: the market) buy the last book?

Isn’t there something weird about an entire industry built around teaching people how to make money by teaching other people how to make money?

I’m not judging anyone with this, mind you. I’m honestly simply confused about this thing.

Is this ‘right’?

Is it ethical?

Is there more to life?

I’d love to hear your opinions. Please share them in the comments.


  1. OK that story had me laughing my ass off on a day when I really needed a chuckle. Too funny.

    But unfortunately you’re absolutely correct, it’s THE perfect analogy for what’s going on in online marketing today.

    So many of my clients are stuck in a never-ending pursuit to find the magic bullet. They pay the SAME people over and over again as each time those “gurus” promise that their new product reveals the secret their other ones left out. Some of these snake oil salesmen get away with this every couple of months. And these products range from $1000 – $10000!

    This is akin to you running into that man on the street again, only this time he has an encyclopedia on how to make money to sell you for 10X what you paid for the “manual.” AND YOU BUY IT.

    As marketers, it is absolutely not right or ethical to approach our businesses in this manner. It’s a shallow, empty and utterly unfulfilling way to run a business both for the owner and the customers. You can see it in the eyes of those selling the snake oil.

    Thanks for this, Martin. And I won’t even call you a show-off for getting it posted today…or I guess I just did lol :P Great stuff!

  2. Sounds like the countless MLM people I constantly run into at networking events.

  3. Jenny: That’s a really strong point of view there, but it’s true that it happens a lot.

    Then again: What if you go to University? Costs a bundle and teaches you how to make money, right?

    Now, what if you don’t USE that knowledge? Were you still ripped off? Should they have also taught you how to get off your ass and do something?

    Often, the products I mentioned above fail only because we buy them and put them on the shelf…

    Still confused… any more thoughts, anyone?

  4. Is it ethical? mmm, maybe, maybe not. Regardless of the marketing approach, every marketer has the dollar signs in his/her sight. Marketing is words and all words, both oral or written, are subject to individual perception and open to various interpretations. If the intended audience perceives the product to be worthwhile then maybe that can deem the marketing approach as ethical. Generally,if you can sense the beat of a human heart behind those dollar signs, the marketer truly believes in his/her product.If you’re being guaranteed success and fortune in a short period of time, well, nothing is that simple and it’s wise to be wary. A product will only perform as well as the user, customer, consumer (sucker) permits. We see teachers teaching about teaching, writers writing about writing, bloggers blogging about blogging; so, an industry built around teaching people how to make money by teaching other people how to make money is maybe not so weird. Is there more to life? Probably!

  5. That’s pretty to the point, Nikki. It IS up to the buyer to make good use of whatever he buys, but that is again a tricky thing: Everybody knows that most people will buy a product and never use it.

    So obviously, it’s up to the sucker/client to use it or not, right? But wait, what if the marketer knows it won’t be used and still sells it hard? Is that right?

    Isn’t it the responsibility of the vendor to make sure that his product actually improves someones life? Shouldn’t he make sure that only those people who will put it to use will buy it?

    I know that’s difficult to establish – how well do we know who our clients are? Still I don’t like the idea that someone is persuaded to buy a product when the seller knows full well that the hard sales pitches convince also the people who will not use the product to buy in anyway.

  6. “Shouldn’t he make sure that only those people who will put it to use will buy it?”

    A good vendor will refuse to sell anything to his client if he knows that the product he is selling will not help the client in achieving the desired result.
    But I don’t think this trend is going to be adopted any sooner with all the automated tools that are set on autopilot.

    One observation though: I subscribed to a good number of Internet Marketing product launches, not to buy products (because I simply can’t buy anything from northern Africa) but because I want to see how people are selling, what they are selling, and which tools they are using. My observation is that I sometimes stumble upon a hidden gem, rare people that you come across, who are genuinely sharing 100% not only legitimate and complete ethical methods to make money, but they don’t ask anything in return!
    Did you come across such people? They are pretty rare, but they exist. Curious about knowing more about it? Just send me a Twit @SuperSimpleGuy and I will share at least one reference.

    The question that I have been asking myself is this: are we conscious about what we should concentrate on in the era we are living in? Are we missing the train right now on something huge, only to be told we should have done this or that some years from now? How to be years ahead of anyone else, sure it is not an easy question to answer.
    What do you think Martin?

  7. What do I think? Man, there’s so much information fired at me that I don’t even know what to think?

    Yes, there are true gems out there. Copyblogger, Seth Godin, Menwithpens, to name but a few.

    But they are rare.

    I find that it pays to limit the amount of lists I subscribe to. Nowadays, only those that really mean something to me get my attention.

  8. Can I confess? I am afraid of reading Copyblogger lol, I cannot avoid reading the comments, and their number is too big, I know it sounds stupid but, I cannot afford yet to come back to reading it, maybe later but not right now ^^”

  9. Oy, it’s not stupid at all, but you’re surely missing out on lots of totally free goodies and amazingly effective advice if you don’t read copyblogger. Those people are writing laws, you know?

  10. I used to read Copyblogger in the past… and you are right: it contains amazing effective advice, but will I be able to avoid being sucked inside the hundred of comments? LOL, I really wonder.

    Alright Martin, you win ^^, I’ll keep an eye on the tittles, and I will try to resist reading the comments at this moment (it’s not that I don’t like to read, at the contrary, It’s just that I need to execute project plans and I must avoid anything that takes too much time, and reading takes too much time for me, I am really slow.)


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Liz Strauss and Martin Stellar. Martin Stellar said: How Do You Make Money? […]

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