This SpeakWrite review is for anyone looking for freelance transcription jobs that you can do in the comfort of your own home.
Is SpeakWrite legit? If it is, is it worth your time?
Can you do it from home?
Are there full-time positions? Or just side gigs?
How much does it pay?
All these questions answered in a bit, so read on to learn all about SpeakWrite and other ways you could earn transcribing from home.
History of SpeakWrite
Out of the many transcription companies (both scam and legitimate) that have introduced themselves to work-from-home people like you and I, SpeakWrite is different. It’s been around since 1997.
Just let that sink in for a minute – this company has been around a year BEFORE Google was founded.
SpeakWrite launched its company offering typing and legal transcription services mostly for law firms, insurance companies and government agencies.
Unlike transcription companies in recent years that offer online gigs, but never publish company information, SpeakWrite has always been transparent. They are based in Texas and has plenty of contact information available on the website.
SpeakWrite’s founder Richard Jackson worked as a commercial litigator for 30+ years and employed over 50 people within his own law practice. SpeakWrite was born from his company’s own needs – to produce legal documents as fast and as accurate as possible.
From its launch until today, SpeakWrite has been one of the go-to transcription service provider to the FBI, American Bar Association, and other legal and law enforcement agencies.
As a legal transcriber, you’ll be working on projects as varied as court documents to police reports. The information you deal with can be quite sensitive, so this type of work involves more requirements than general transcription.
General transcription work is perfect for beginners – those who want to try and dip their toes in the world of freelance transcription jobs. As a general transcriber, you might be involved in projects like listening to podcasts, minutes of meetings, speeches, and so on.
Spanish transcribers (and other bilingual transcribers) can be assigned general and legal transcription projects, except the output required is in the language they are assigned with.
SpeakWrite doesn’t hire just anybody. Only applicants living in Canada and the United States are accepted.
In general, transcribers must be able to type at least 60 words per minute with 90% accuracy.
General and bilingual transcribers must have at least 1 year of transcribing experience within 12 months before your application.
Legal transcribers are required to have 2 or more years of experience within a law firm.
General transcribers should know how to transcribe specific projects such as interviews, speeches, and so on.
Bilingual transcribers must be expert in the language that they were hired to do, on top of knowing the dos and don’ts of transcription.
Legal transcribers are required to know legal terminology and how to transcribe court hearings and other types of legal proceedings.
SpeakWrite jobs are work-from-home positions, but the company isn’t providing for computers for you to work on. As such, you should have the following hardware before applying for a job:
A computer (laptop or desktop) with licensed Windows 7 OS (or newer), at least 1GB RAM and sound card. Unfortunately, the SpeakWrite software isn’t compatible with Apple iOS.
Licensed version of Microsoft Word (2007+), Adobe Reader (8.0 or newer), Windows Media Player
Good-quality headphones, printer, and a comfortable chair
Background checks are a part of the application process, especially if you’re seeking a legal transcriber position.
Before we talk about how much you can earn transcribing for SpeakWrite, consider these first:
Contract basis: Transcribers hired work as a contractor. You won’t have benefits and you basically work for yourself. This means you are in control of your schedule and fit other transcription or online jobs if you like. As an independent contractor, you’d also need to file and pay for your own taxes.
Work hours: There is no set schedule given, but you can choose when/how to spread the work hours you can commit to. SpeakWrite requires at least 15 audio hours per month. You can only schedule up to 12 hours in a day.
Not hourly payment: SpeakWrite doesn’t pay on an hourly basis, but based on output. This means you shouldn’t expect the traditional hourly wage. Good news though for those who could type quickly, since transcription often pays per word, or per audio hour completed.
Probably a good thing about Speakwrite is that they never promise you riches when you join the company as a transcriber. But it may disappoint you to learn that you’d only earn around $.005 to $.006 per word, which totals $5 or $6 for every 1000 words transcribed.
For experienced transcribers, an average $15/hour is possible, but beginners may find it hard to make $10 an hour. Like in data entry work, as your skills improve, so does your output and average pay-per-audio hour.
Transcribers who can pick up the slack during peak hours, or take on urgent projects get a 10% bonus on top of the pay, but no specifics were mentioned on the website.
Payments are made twice a month via PayPal, direct deposit, or check. Canadian transcribers are only paid via mailed check.
If you’re thinking about applying to SpeakWrite, be sure to weigh these pros and cons first:
SpeakWrite is legitimate, and has been around for over 20 years, so you’re sure not to run out of projects to do.
The hiring process is long and shoos away those who aren’t serious. This means that once you are hired, there are less competition for transcription work.
SpeakWrite provides better opportunities (and more work hours) for transcribers who last longer than 1 year as an independent contractor for the company.
Flexible work schedules means you can work as much or as little as you want, from your home, at the beach, or wherever your feet takes you. Just be sure you have the hardware and internet to do the job.
This job isn’t for beginners. You’d be lucky to earn $5 an hour if you’re new to transcribing. Imagine getting a job with bad dictation, noisy backgrounds, and other audio issues, which all could make the job twice as hard.
Not available for applicants outside Canada or US.
Not available for applicants using Mac (Windows PC users only)
Take SpeakWrite Reviews with a Grain of Salt
If this isn’t the first SpeakWrite review you’ve read, I’d understand you completely. Like many transcription companies, the feedback of past transcribers are often a mix of good and bad.
Here’s why you should take these reviews with a grain of salt and try the job yourself:
Transcribing is not easy. If you’re new to this job and you think you’ll just be entering data and typing, you’ll soon realize how wrong you are.
It’s not all about skills. Sometimes, even if you’ve had 10 years of legal transcription experience and you receive a project that involves someone “eating his words,” with dogs barking as background noise, or the weakest voice you’ve ever heard, the job would be harder and longer than your normal transcriptions.
Proofreaders are the yang to the transcribers’ yin. After you’ve submitted the transcribed material, a proofreader checks your work for accuracy. The level of proofing will vary between proofreaders, so expect varying feedback to your work as well.
Lastly, the “uncaring management” problem could be 100% true, but it could also be exaggerated. Sometimes, folks who haven’t worked from home are not used to the impersonal vibe of having no boss looming around their shoulders.
Wrapping Up this Speakwrite Review
SpeakWrite is not a scam – this I’m pretty sure since people have been paid for their work in the past 2 decades. But there are worrying signs not to waste your precious time working for the company as well.
If you’re currently between jobs or have a lot of free time, I recommend you try SpeakWrite yourself and see if the issues are worth the benefits.
If you have a knack for writing and you are exceptionally knowledgeable with a particular topic, program, or anything under the sun, one interesting work-from-home opportunity is to create an educational course and sell it on Udemy.
Udemy launched in 2010 by Turkey-based, self-taught International Math Olympiad Erin Bali. It’s a marketplace where teachers sell courses that students from all over the world could purchase and learn from. There’s no teaching requirement needed, as long as you’re offering something educational, your course would likely be accepted.
Benefits of Using Udemy
Many critics of Udemy claim that you can earn more from selling a course on your own website. Many site owners have done it with free eBooks, so why can’t you?
Here’s why Udemy would be useful:
• You don’t have your own website. • You want to sell courses as soon as you’ve finished writing them. • Your name isn’t recognized in your field. • You don’t have a following on social media. • You’re not financially capable of marketing your course. • Udemy’s Affiliate marketing program (via LinkShare) adds traffic to your course.
Udemy gained 250k users in its first 3 years since launching. Today, the Udemy site is home to 42,000+ courses and receives 500,000+ unique visitors every month. With this in mind, Udemy is worth a look if you’re not sure how to sell your course online. Plus, the course gets free traffic (without investing a cent for marketing), or building a reputation (and following) online.
How Much Can a Course Author Earn from Udemy?
Udemy doesn’t ask teachers a fee for creating a course. Selling the course, however, is a different matter.
Since April 2016, all Udemy courses are required to have a price tag of $20 to $50 each. However, don’t expect the entire $20 for your $20 course whenever a copy is sold. Udemy is known to run promotions for students that discount courses for up to 50% off. Plus, Udemy also takes a cut on the sale, depending on various scenarios wherein the course was sold.
As you can see from the chart above, depending on how a student found out about your course that led to him/her buying it from Udemy, revenues will vary from 25% to 97%.
It’s important to note that every course can be sold multiple times, so if you make a career into crafting and selling courses (that you know would sell like hotcakes), Udemy can really provide passive income.
However, if you’re planning to release just one course, Udemy may not be the best platform for you.
How to Take Advantage of Udemy’s System
If you’re a researcher, writer, teacher, internet marketer, or any similar professional who would want to earn up to a whopping $1.6 million a year like the 10 teachers described by Udemy’s VP of Marketing Dinesh Thirupuvanam, here’s how:
1. Market Research
What’s cool about Udemy is that as soon as you reach the website, you’ll get to check out the top-selling courses, and highest-rated instructors. Perform market research from the data provided there. What categories do students choose the most? Which topics are in-demand? List all of the highest-selling courses from Udemy and indicate which categories they’re under.
2. Competition Research
From the list you gathered, choose at least 5 courses you find interesting. If you can, purchase some of the courses and see why they’re so popular. Is the instructor a reputable name within his/her niche? Identify what makes the course special. Did it reveal a unique idea? Did it teach a highly-technical subject? Determine what parts of the course lack information, and how it could generally be improved.
3. Out-Teach Them With Your Course
Once you’ve identified the category you want to attack, find a sub-niche of the course you took inspiration from, and create an entirely different course with better information, a more interesting method of teaching (either through stories, visuals, or more), and out-teach the highest-selling course with your own version. Of course, your goal is to ultimately provide a better learning experience to students who will purchase your course.
4. Market Your Course
While Udemy already has a significant amount of organic traffic, you should rely on this alone. Spend time and effort in marketing your course via social media, word-of-mouth, e-mail campaigns, your own website/blog, or even paid ads.
5. Keep the Momentum Going
If your course lands the front page, and sales begin to dwindle, offer promotions or discounts to keep the momentum going.
The Bottom Line
Udemy’s revenue-sharing model can be frustrating some people, but if you’re planning to create two or more courses within in-demand niches, the effort might be worth the sale revenues you’ll receive.
Udemy can be a useful platform to people who want their courses published or sold. Even big-named celebrities like “Eat, Pray, Love” author Elizabeth Gilbert and New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof are selling courses on Udemy. But what’s great about Udemy is that it lets even the small guys take a piece of the learning pie, share their knowledge to other people, and earn passive income in return.
Cash Finder System starts out by stating that it offers work from home opportunities for people interested in becoming “Professional Finders.” As a finder, you can be paid big fees of $5,000, $10,000, or $15,000. One example mentions making $5,420.58 for just “a couple hours of work.”
The usual eyebrow-raising claims are made, including the following:
There’s very little work required.
You don’t need any kind of training or education.
The checks are delivered right to your door.
You can work from home.
You don’t need to create a new product.
You don’t need to sell anything.
What are professional finders?
The first clue you get is the following:
The second clue states that all you’ll need are “a telephone and access to the Internet.”
Finally, about a third of the way down the sales page, the professional finder is defined as follows:
Lee Gilmore is introduced as one such finder.
Apparently, in the case of Cash Finder System, you’ll become a real estate finder.
Here’s Lee, by the way, who gives you a summary of the vast amounts of money you stand to earn by finding real estate for buyers. The video cuts off midstream, but you hear enough of his message to know that being a real estate finder is the ticket to big bucks and little work.
Lee then encourages you to purchase his Cash Finder System so that you can get trained to become a real estate finder.
The Cash Finder System offers the following items:
Self-paced training videos and their transcripts.
Resource center with tools to help you find real estate in your own geographic area.
Pre-generated scripts, postcards, and an amazing “one page letter” that generates leads.
Information on when to present investors-buyers with your real estate finds.
Lee assures you that you need no specialized training to become a real estate finder. You don’t even need a realtor’s license.
Sounds good so far…
How much does Cash Finder System cost?
It costs $99 to purchase Cash Finder System; however, if you are one of the first 50 persons to purchase the system, you get your membership fee back. How do you get your money back?
Lee says that once you close on your first real estate assignment, you need to take a picture of yourself holding your finder’s check and send that photo to him. He’ll then reimburse your membership costs.
Does Cash Finder System work as advertised?
Real estate finders, also often called property locators, do exist. It’s also possible to make money as a real estate finder/property locator. However, it’s not quite as easy as advertised. Here are some reasons why.
You’ll face competition.
At least 75% of realtors are also in the business of being real estate finders. In fact, it’s their job. If a realtor beats you to the punch and finds a good property to sell to his buyer, you won’t be seeing your finder’s fee.
Realtors have more experience and more training than a “regular” person at finding and assessing properties. They also have access to a wide network of other realtors and realty companies that you don’t.
You will be travelling.
Many real estate finders scope out foreclosed properties or properties about to be foreclosed upon and approach the current owners about selling beforehand. If you have a thick skin and don’t mind being viewed as a vulcher, then being a real estate finder could be a good fit for you.
However, you better not mind hearing ‘no’ again and again. Also, unlike what Lee promises in his sales videos and page, you will indeed be getting in your car and traveling to real estate locations. You will also be selling- as in, you’ll be selling the idea of selling to various homeowners who are behind on their mortgages.
You need rehab expertise.
If you are a building contractor or builder, you have much of the needed expertise already in place to quickly assess how much a property will cost to fix up and sell at profit. If you don’t have much experience as a contractor and/or have never rehabbed a property, you’re going to be in for a sharp learning curve.
Can you spot an undervalued home that would make a 50% or higher return on investment following a few inexpensive updates? This is, in essence, what many of your investors-buyers will want to know from you.
This isn’t for newbies.
Don’t expect to get investors-buyers lining up to work with you by simply sending out a few postcards and sales letters, like Lee claims.
You’ll need to get on the ground floor and rub shoulders with contractors, auction agents, and real estate brokers. You’ll need to physically attend real estate auctions because, by the time a property is listed online, it’s already spoken for by another realtor or property finder.
You’ll need to learn the legal ramifications of finding a house that is behind on tax payments, or has expensive update clauses (e.g., connection to city water) as conditions of its sale.
Should you pass on Cash Finder System?
While the Cash Finder System proposes a legitimate career opportunity, it vastly underestimates the amount of time and effort you’ll need to invest in order to make this career pay off for you.
Unless you’re prepared to go “all in” with becoming a real estate finder and traveling to various properties and investment possibilities, you won’t discover many hidden gems by just working from home. Likewise, you’ll need to sell your realty proposals to both your investors-buyers and to current homeowners.
If you’ve taken an online survey or two, you’ve probably come across the work-at-home program ‘Take Surveys for Cash,’ which is presented by Jason White. On this website, Jason claims that he will help you “discover a weird trick” to make a full-time income by taking online surveys.
I think that 2013 was the single biggest year for “this one weird trick” online advertising. I saw just about everything advertised through the ‘weird trick formula,’ from belly fat reducers to miracle eye creams.
Apparently, Take Surveys for Cash is stuck in 2013 (although the site’s been around since 2010).
In any case, Jason shows you a video, supposedly of himself opening up a check from Survey Savvy, for the amount of $500. Jason claims that this is a check he received “just for taking a two hour survey.” Jason also shows you his Paypal account of $31,381.90 as yet more proof that he is earning big bucks with online surveys.
If you input your information on the program’s sales page, you are directed to a second sales page. Here, Jason claims that he has helped his family and friends earn over $1 million.
Meet the “king” of online paid surveys
Jason White, whom we never really see, is motivated to help you earn a good living by taking online surveys. How? Jason has, as he puts it, a “secret trick” that helps you locate high-paying surveys that you pre-qualify for.
In exchange for helping you out, the Take Surveys for Cash program merely asks that you pay a $39 one time fee. Even better, if you try to leave the checkout page, your fee is eventually reduced to just $12. I’ve even heard of some crazy promotions where members sign up for just $1.99.
Is the Take Surveys for Cash program worth your time and money? Here is what I learned about this program:
Red Flag #1: The ‘weird trick’ is publicly available information.
When you purchase access to the Take Surveys for Cash program, you are given a list of survey sites that are already available online. Survey Savvy is just one example, but other survey sites include Inbox Dollars.
There is absolutely nothing secret or tricky to finding these online survey sites. The only thing that the Take Surveys for Cash program has done for you is compile a bunch of survey sites on a single destination page.
What else do you get with your payment of $12?
The first checkbox denoted here is a joke. You won’t get better paying surveys simply because you suddenly pre-qualify as a U.S. resident. To qualify for lucrative survey assignments, you need to do far more than be a resident of a certain country.
The second checkbox simply provides a database of publicly available information.
Those “step by step instructions” involve Jason telling you how to input your personal information into the forms, which is not difficult or tricky (unless you can’t see the form, like on your mobile phone).
Finally, the “free gifts” that Jason notes at the bottom is a common tactic used by survey companies to have you input your personal information so they can contact you about buying their products and services. In exchange for making those purchases, you are given “free gifts.”
Red Flag #2: There are up-sells and cross-sells.
Once you enter the Take Surveys for Cash members area, you are inundated with up-sells and cross-sells. That’s doesn’t mean that you have to buy anything, but it does mean you should be aware of these sales offers. Luckily, the Terms & Privacy area of the program informs you to expects up-sells and cross-sells:
The Take Surveys for Cash affiliate program also gives away key pieces of information regarding what’s actually in this program- and how much those additional products pay out to motivated affiliates:
When a work-at-home program offers affiliate commissions, you can bet that some affiliates will be out there promoting it. Sure enough, I found several “review” sites promoting the Take Surveys for Cash program- yet not a single traceable member review of this survey.
Red Flag #3: Limited time left until…dooms day.
The Take Surveys for Cash website has existed since 2010. Back then, Wayback Machine shows that this program had “limited” spaces available to new members:
Interestingly, when you go to the program’s 2016 page, there is the same exact message about how Jason has “room for only a few more people.” Is it possible that, in the space of six years, Jason still hasn’t filled his quota? Or is this message a more likely attempt to create the illusion of scarcity?
The Bottom Line
Filling out online surveys can make you money; however, that money will never be in the amounts that Jason advertises, nor will you receive it every week like clockwork.
A good survey might pay you $50 for an hour of your time- and that’s only after you spend another half hour successfully filling out the pre-qualification survey. Other well-paying surveys might require that you participate in an online or in-person opinion forum.
One recent online survey paid me $125 for 4 days of logging into an online forum and spending 30 minutes/day answering questions about my shopping habits. Another online survey has led to me participating in an in-person, in-town “class.” In exchange for my two-hour participation, I will earn $50.
Such money is great, but it’s not going to replace my day job.
Copywriting is by far the most lucrative form of writing there is. Aside from authoring a best-selling novel, your best bet for making money with writing and becoming a six-figure writer is to become adept at copywriting.
And it’s not just professional copywriters who copywrite. If you’ve ever written a letter to a friend inviting him to dinner, or if you’ve ever written your boss her asking for a raise, you’ve engaged in copywriting.
In a nutshell, copywriting attempts to exchange one object of value for another- and that object need not necessarily be money. The process of selling, which is what copywriting attempts to do, can involve physical objects, services or time. You can even sell people- consider how the profile pages of online dating sites are essentially sales pages for the advertised good (i.e., the person).
However, just because you know how to write doesn’t mean you know how to copywrite. That’s because copywriting follows a defined pattern of presentation and persuasion, and so the most talented copywriters often require years of training and on-the-job experience.
Luckily, you can quickly advance in the field of copywriting if you understand its principles and train with recognized leaders in the field.
Enter Ray Edwards, an accomplished copywriter with years of experience in the field of effective copywriting. Ray has recently launched Copywriting Academy, which promises to train novice and even advanced copywriters in the art of writing successful copy.
Ray had granted I’ve Tried That complimentary access to the program. I recently went through and reviewed Ray’s course, which is divided into eight lessons as well as additional bonuses and coaching calls. As an established copywriter myself, I still found Ray’s material to be educational and informative. I provide a synopsis of each of his lessons below.
Copywriting Academy- Writing Words that Sell
Module 1: The Quickstart
Lesson 1: Objectives for this Module
What is copywriting? Why is copywriting so important? How do you structure a sales message? These are the questions that Ray asks in this initial video. He also prepares you to write your first sales page- and one that’ll actually make you money from the get-go.
Lesson 2: Why is Copywriting so Important?
Selling is all around us, whether we’re aware of it or not. There’s always a sale taking place, whether it’s your kids trying to convince you to stay up later or your spouse convincing you to take a vacation at a particular destination. Even if no money changes hands, selling is everywhere.
Copywriting isn’t just about selling stuff; it’s about the art of persuasion. Writing to sell just takes the art of persuasion and puts it into words.
Lesson 3: How to Structure a Sales Message
Ray introduces the P.A.S.T.O.R. acronym, which stands for the following phases of creating a sales message:
P= Problem (identify the customer’s problem/pain) A= Amplify (the consequences of not solving the problem) S= Story (descriptor of how you came upon the problem’s solution) T= Testimony (how your solution worked for others) O= Offer (focus on the promised transformation, not deliverables) R= Response (how to order or buy)
Ray also shows a worksheet that takes you through the process of creating a PASTOR sales page. He provides an example of how one might structure a sales page to sell a copywriting workshop.
Lesson 4: Structure a Sales Message
Ray provides a second example of how one might sell a smoothie recipe book using the PASTOR template. He starts with the problem, amplifies it, then provides the solution (the smoothie), and finally wraps up his second example with a way to sell this product.
Module 2: Irresistible Offers
Lesson 1: Session Objectives
‘Making an offer you can’t refuse’ is key to creating an offer that sells. What an offer really is, why offers are so important, and how to structure an offer are the key concepts that Ray presents.
Ray follows up with several examples of how accomplished copywriters created irresistible offers.
Lesson 2: The 9 Kinds of Offers
Ray introduces the advantages and disadvantages of the nine main types of sales offers. They are the following:
The hard offer (Here’s what we offer; buy now.)
The soft offer (e.g., Send no money now.)
The charter offer (first-time product is offered at special/reduced rate)
Limited supply offer (keep your word)
Limited time offer (again, keep your word)
Application offer (an elite offer where customers must first apply to obtain offer)
Payment plan offer (makes the high price more palatable)
One-time offer (often an up-sell or cross-sell)
Negative option offer (i.e., subscription plan and controversial)
Ray then discusses which offer to present to customers based on their level of awareness. There are four levels of awareness, and each one requires a different offer.
Lesson 3: The 6-Step System for Writing an Offer
There are six steps involved in writing an effective offer. They are Who, What, When, Where, Why and How.
Who: Who is your buyer, and who are you that you qualify to present this offer to your customer? What: What are you actually selling, and what will the product do for the customer? When: When will the copy run, and when will prospects be most likely to buy? Where: Where will prospects come from to your copy- from an email, webinar, etc.? Where will your copy live, and where will your product be located? Why: Why is this product a good fit for your customers? How: How will your product transform the lives of your customers? And how will they pay you?
Ray presents the three power moves for a stronger offers: Clear offer, clear copy, clear results. He also advises proofreading your copy by actually reading it out loud, and preferably, to another human being.
Lesson 4: Write Your Offer!
It’s homework time: Ray provides you with Your Powerful Offer Checklist in Pages format for Mac, PDF, and MS Word. Herein, you assess your offer and its transformational benefit, the awareness stage of your customer, and which offer you plan to use. Ray’s checklist also has you go through the 6-step system for writing an offer.
Before you become too intimidated by the homework, Ray fills out his own checklist using the example of debt reduction. He provides short and sweet fill-in-the-blank answers and shows you exactly how you might fill out this form.
Module 3: Persuasion Blueprint
Lesson 1: The PASTOR Framework
Ray goes into greater detail regarding the PASTOR framework introduced in Module 1. He discusses how every sellable item, even art, fashion or a vacation, solves a problem. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is introduced as the psychological basis of selling even “luxury” goods.
Ray also discusses how helping consumers avoid undesirable consequences can also be viewed as satisfying their needs.
Lesson 2: The Buyer’s Journey
Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero’s Journey” is used as the backdrop for explaining how a copywriter must create a universal story and temporarily suspend (customer) disbelief. Ray presents several examples of universal stories portraying a hero and his journey (e.g., Batman, The Lord of the Rings). One such hero is Luke Skywalker, who is helped by his wise guide, Yoda. Ray emphasizes that copywriters often envision themselves as the hero of their story; however, this is incorrect.
Obviously, if your customer views herself as the hero, she will more likely heed your wise advice and buy your product.
Ray offers all the stages of the buyer’s journey as a downloadable and printable poster in the members’ area.
Lesson 3: How PASTOR and The “Buyer’s Journey” Work Together
Ray describes how the PASTOR format and the Buyer’s Journey fit each other using this illustration:
Lesson 4: The Sales Copy Template
Ray presents his long-awaited sales copy template, which he states can be “used to sell a product where people aspire to an outcome that so far has escaped them.” Ray then spends roughly 15 minutes going over his template and filling it in with example copy.
This lesson concludes with homework wherein you are asked to go over this lesson a second time and fill in the template using your own copy for your own product. Ray also asks that you take a break (for a day, or even a week) and later re-write your copy in order to see it with a fresh eye.
Lesson 5: The Sales Copy Checklist
Before you head off to do your homework, Ray offers a 21-point checklist for you to use so that you don’t forget any critical features of your message. Here are just some of these points:
Module 4: Headlines and Subheads
Lesson 1: The Importance of Headlines and Subheads
Ray emphasizes that a good sales page has both effective headlines and subheads (sub-headlines). A good headline (and subhead) not only grabs the reader’s attention, it also gets him to read the next sentence. Good headlines are on target, emotional, novel, and unexpected.
Lesson 2: Different Kinds of Headlines and Subheads
Headlines introduce the overall topic of the copy, and the subheads stop the reader from getting lost in the copy by segmenting it. Ray advises keeping headlines short yet emotional, and to make sure they cultivate curiosity in the reader. He also notes that the best headlines seduce the reader and ask leading questions. Several different examples of excellent headlines are provided.
Lesson 3: 21 Proven Headline Templates
As advertised, Ray provides 21 different headline templates that you can take and run with while creating your own copy. Some example headline templates include the “How to,” the “Top 10 Reasons,” the “Amazing Secrets,” the “Which Mistakes,” and the “Hidden Truth” headlines.
Lesson 4: Cool Tools & One Ninja Trick
If you’re still at a loss about how to create good headlines, there are online tools to help you out. Ray first takes you to HubSpot’s Blog Topic Generator and shows you how to use it to generate “blog topicy” headline ideas.
Other headline generators include Portent’s Content Idea Generator. Ray also shows you how to locate magazine covers and adapt their headlines to your marketing purposes.
Homework for this lesson includes creating 100 headlines using the provided templates.
Module 5: Fascination Factor
Lesson 1: The Magnetic Selling Power of Persuasion Points
Persuasion points that compel people to buy your product are an absolute necessity in successful copywriting and are termed fascination factors by Ray. They also often appear as bullet point copy. Some example fascination factors include the following:
What never to eat on an airplane.
Should you give up your web page in exchange for a Facebook fan page?
The three items you should never include in a book proposal.
Lesson 2: Styles of Persuasion Points
In this lesson, Ray introduces three types of persuasion points, namely:
Blind persuasion fascination (completely hides the secret)
Giveaway fascination (gives the reader something that immediately helps)
Hybrid fascination (gives a partial explanation)
Lesson 3: 21 Persuasion Point Templates
If you’re lost on how to create your own “fascinations,” Ray has 21 templates that you can follow. This uses the same template approach as that seen for generating headlines in Module 4. Here is just one sample of Ray’s fascination templates:
Module 6: Resistance Removal
Lesson 1: The Importance of Guarantees
It’s not enough that you understand your customers, have fully illustrated your product and its benefits, generated powerful fascinations, and wrote magnetic headings and subheads.
No, it’s not enough if you don’t remove the buyer’s fears.
After all, it’s in the buyer’s best interest to not believe your claims and your story. The buyer risks losing his money, feeling hassled and/or stressed, looking foolish, etc.
How do you overcome fear in your buyer? By taking on as much of the risk as possible. This is the reason why X-day money-back guarantees exist.
However, Ray goes way beyond the basic money-back guarantee by describing his unique “Ray’s Way” 10-part guarantee and how you can implement it when selling your own goods and services.
Lesson 2: How to Transform a Weak Guarantee
Ray shows you, step-by-step, how to create a strong guarantee designed to close deals. Or, as he calls it:
Ray goes through an example of a very weak cosmetic dentistry guarantee and changes it into a very bold statement of confidence via “Ray’s Way” 10-part guarantee.
Lesson 3: How to Create “Tipping Point” Bonuses
Psychologically, tipping point bonuses exist to motivate people to buy. In Ray’s words, “Bonuses serve as hesitation busters.”
What makes a good bonus?
It’s related to the main product(s).
It makes the rest of the product easier (or even unnecessary).
Is valuable enough in its own right.
Module 7: Closing the Deal
Lesson 1: Closing Copy: What It Is and Is Not
The purpose of the close is to ask for the sale, obviously. Here is where you recap the offer, repeat why the customer needs to make the purchase, and to remind the customer of the guarantee and the bonuses. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, you want to obtain a yes or no answer.
You must also ask for the sale. This is very important and one of the biggest failures of a good majority of sales copy.
Lesson 2: Closing Templates
Ray presents five closing templates that help generate the final step of the process- the sale. Here is one such template:
Ray then assigns homework, asking that you draft your own closing copy for your already (and mostly complete) draft sales letter.
Module 8: Inbox Magic
Lesson 1: The Power of Email Copy
Email is not dead. In fact, email is still the #1 way to sell online.
Why does email work even in the era of social media and apps? Because it’s personal, it’s ever-present, and because it’s easy to use. Ray emphasizes that, even in today’s world of social media and mobile apps, there is no substitute for tried-and-tested email copy.
Lesson 2: 21 Keys to Emails that Sell
Ray goes over the 21 basics of email marketing, including obtaining subscriber permission when building a list, using a reputable email delivery service, giving people a reason to opt-in, and so on. These keys are intended as an introductory approach to selling via email and not being considered a spammer.
Lesson 3: Email Sequences for Maximum Sales
What sequence of emails should you send? Which sequences are the best? Ray introduces the 3 main types of email campaigns, including live campaign sequences (written as the event is happening), automated campaign sequences (sent via auto-responder), and general broadcasts (one-off emails sent to all).
Major differences between each email campaign are noted, and several resources are noted for additional information. Ray says it goes beyond the scope of this course to talk more about how each email campaign should be set up and run.
But wait…there are bonuses!
It wouldn’t be right if Ray didn’t offer some bonuses to Copywriting Academy members after talking at length about bonuses and how they can create a tipping point for a purchase. So, the following bonuses are offered, but they are by no means the only bonuses available in Copywriting Academy.
Bonus Module 1: The Six Figure Second Income
Ray spends over an hour going over how you can prepare yourself psychologically and otherwise for a career in copywriting. He summarizes the difficulties inherent in being a freelance copywriter and how to overcome them using Ray’s 7 pillars of success.
Bonus Module 2: License to Steal
Swipe files provide an easy-to-follow template for creating copy quickly and easily. Ray goes over how you can successfully implement swipe files to generate great copy. He also provides you with six of his own swipe files for your personal use and repurposing.
Bonus Module 3: Rapid Copywriting
Ray demonstrates how to perform rapid copywriting in real-time via the Dictate software using an example swipe file.
Bonus Module 4: The Ultimate Copy Templates
You are presented with a 200+ page “Ultimate Copywriting Templates Workbook,” which Ray was going to release on its own but decided to include as yet another bonus in the Copywriting Academy course.
Ray provides at least 15 Q&A/coaching call recordings where members ask a range of questions, including the following:
Will the course cover how to get clients if we choose to do freelance work?
How can I improve my headlines/persuasion points (individual examples follow)?
How to know when your copy is good versus average or bad (by % response rate).
The most recent recorded coaching call was published last month, and I suspect that additional calls will be posted as they occur.
What I liked about Copywriting Academy
Several learning styles. The course is offered in several formats- audio, video, slides and transcript. In the video component of this course, you’re not stuck looking at Ray’s face the entire time (if ever); no, Ray provides notes and examples in his video files, which help you take effective notes.
Lots of real-world examples. Ray presents several examples from copywriters who nailed their sales letters and offers. These examples are explained in detail so you can easily imitate them, if need be.
Professional format. You won’t find any hastily edited video clips or transcripts filled with spelling/grammar errors here. No, Ray takes the time and makes the effort to create a professionally produced and presented set of lessons, bonuses, and coaching calls. Ray also presents his videos via a fluid, smooth and at times humorous voice.
Beyond the basics training. I’ve been copywriting for many years now, yet I still learned a lot of stuff from this course.
What I didn’t like about Copywriting Academy
One-off structure. The course goes into great detail about creating a sales page but not how to string a set of sales pages together to create an ongoing story. If you are running an email campaign, you need more than just one sales letter or email to get your customers to buy your product. Ray briefly touches on email sequences in his last module, but this subject matter needs a lot more material and examples.
Geared towards B2C selling. If you’re focused on business-to-business (B2B) and not business-to-consumer (B2C) copywriting, Copywriting Academy will not answer all your questions about creating effective copy. In fact, all the sales letters and other examples that Ray provides are only appropriate for B2C commerce. B2B commerce involves a longer sales cycle and the generation of technical reports, white papers, and customer testimonials as guarantees. B2B copywriting also takes a more objective to illustrating a product’s benefits and would rarely use personal stories or discuss feelings.
Successful authors know that writing a book is only half the battle. There is also the marketing and selling of that book, a process that can take longer than the book-writing itself, and which can be fraught with frustration.
First-time authors with no name recognition and few resources often see their books make few if any sales. Brick-and-mortar and online bookstores are glutted with people trying to push their novels and how-to tomes. Frankly, without a marketing and/or PR agent, it’s next to impossible to get noticed.
Because of these challenges facing new and even seasoned authors, Nick Stephenson developed a training program and community called “Your First 10,000 Readers.”
This program includes a core training that consists of six video modules as follows:
Module 1: Rule the retailers
Video 1:Rule the retailers
Amazon, iTunes, Nook and Kobo operate more like search engines than traditional bookstores. To achieve top positioning for your book with these sites, you’ll need to understand algorithms, SEO and using metadata strategically.
Video 2: Merchandising
Sales channels outside of Amazon don’t implement search algorithms and metadata as much as Amazon does; instead, they promote books based on merchandising deals (e.g., “Deal of the day”). Non-Amazon retailers include Kobo and Nook; there are also distributors like Smashwords and Draft2digital. Nick explains how to reach out to these entities and establish “win-win” relationships with them so that you and they can mutually benefit from merchandising opportunities.
Video 3: Exclusivity vs broad reach
Amazon offers an exclusivity program called “KDP Select (Kindle Direct Publishing)” which features unique promotions including countdown deals, 5-day free book promos, and access to Kindle Unlimited. The hitch to using KDP is you cannot work with other sales channels (e.g., iTunes). Nick goes over what points you should consider with using KDP versus selling on numerous platforms.
Video 4: Pricing strategies
Pricing your book can be intimidating- do you price high for better profitability per book, or do you price low for high volume sales? Nick explains pricing strategies for Amazon, taking into consideration book royalties, sales volume, popularity and achieving bestseller status.
Module 2: Drive endless traffic
Video 1: Keywords & categories
Nick covers the processes of keyword and metadata selection that you should be using to narrow down your book’s audience. There are free and paid methods for accomplishing this objective, and Nick goes over both approaches. The free method takes more time to accomplish because you’re picking out suitable keywords, while the paid way takes advantage of KindleSpy and Kindle Samurai for more automated keyword selection and testing.
Video 2: Boost your traffic with Permafree
If you choose to give your book away for free, you can really take advantage of the extra traffic by working with top advertisers like Bookbub, Booksends, etc. to convert those customers to your paid books, or a paid version of your original book, following the promo. Nick discusses several ways of capturing the freebie traffic and converting it on a set schedule into customers that end up paying money for your book.
Video 3: Smart Promotion Tactics
Nick discusses the psychological tactics you can use to achieve improved book sales. Paid advertising, price drops, and other related promos can be combined to generate longer lasting traffic growth trends. Nick emphasizes how to time your promos so that your book gets at least 7 days of increased online interest, and to build up to your biggest promotion over that timeframe.
Video 4: Build your dream team
In this video, you are introduced to the concept of working with a team of authors within your writing genre to influence how Amazon features your promotions and cross-promotions. Recall that Amazon and other online sites feature “Also bought” lists of books…wouldn’t it be nice if another author’s book linked to yours as an “Also bought”? Nick discusses how to reach out to related genre authors and collaborate with them to cross-promote their and your books.
Module 3: Convert traffic into subscribers
Video 1: Your book funnel
Email marketing is the best way to draw in new readers and future customers. This conversion tactic is essential if you wish to generate sales from committed fans. There are free and paid methods for creating a traffic funnel that results in an email list. The free method involves giving readers a free item (like book) in exchange for an email address. The paid method involves building a self-hosted website and using a subscription service, which may or may not include giving your book away for free.
Video 2: Optimize your author website
The best platform you have for converting visitors to subscribers is your author website. Nick covers different methods you can use to convert your visitors without forcing them to give up their email address. Various online tools are introduced towards this purpose, including DreamHost, WordPress, Mailchimp, and OptimizePress.
Video 3: How I added 16k readers via giveaways
How do you find thousands of readers for your book(s)? Giveaways! Nick talks about how you can structure your giveaways so that your target reader is actually interested in your book, not just the prize. He also describes how you can encourage your subscribers to bring in additional subscribers through viral sharing. Other tips include how to advertise your giveaway and to cross-promote it through other authors.
Video 4: Create an irresistible event
In this video, Nick describes the process he used to sell 300+ books in just one hour. How did he do this? By creating a unique, limited-time-only, and cross-promoted event. Nick talks about the various platforms available for creating and hosting such an event, what incentives you can offer to your attendees, and how to structure the event.
Module 4: Engage your audience
Video 1: Why readers don’t buy
There are four reasons why readers don’t buy: indifference, skepticism, worry and procrastination. Your job is to understand every one of these reasons and how to address/overcome them.
Video 2: Priming the sale
Once your readers are prepared for your book, they will not only expect your book, but will be waiting to buy it. How can you prepare your readers to buy? By offering your freebie item up-front…and gradually telling your readers that you have other items for sale. In a nutshell, you need to take your readers on a journey without being salesy and/or pushing a purchase too soon. And doing that is definitely an art form.
Video 3: Scarcity: the secret sauce
The idea of scarcity was first noted in video 1 as a way of getting reluctant readers to buy your book. Here, the psychological tactic of scarcity is explored in greater detail, and especially as a motivator for procrastinators.
Video 4: Social media mastery
The top 5 social media mistakes are: thinking it’s all about you, being a salesman, forgetting your posts are public, getting sucked into a time-wasting black hole, and not setting realistic goals. Nick’s advice includes focusing more on your email list than on spending excessive time on social media. He also introduces Facebook Ads as one advertising platform that could be quite profitable for you.
Video 5: Getting hundreds of 5 star reviews
Reviews are an essential component of getting readers to trust you and overcome their skepticism. To this end, you need to overcome skeptic and worrier buyers by getting good reviews. Also, reviews help your Amazon SEO. Nick explains how to garner reviews without paying for them or engaging in sleazy strategies.
Video 6: Your automated selling system
How can you automate your selling process so you have more freedom? Nick explains how to set up your autoresponder series using Mailchimp. He also offers up his own emails as a template if you’re not sure what to write to your subscribers.
Module 5: The ultimate launch template
Video 1: Build your launch team
One great way to promote your book release is to do it through a launch team. This team helps generate dozens or even hundreds of reviews for your book on its launch day; lots of good reviews help your book excel at SEO and overall visibility on sites like Amazon. You can assemble a launch team from your email list by offering an incentive and setting expectations. You should treat these superfans with respect and not forget to be grateful for their help.
Video 2: Building buzz
Most authors fail in creating any kind of buzz around their new book. Nick emphasizes that you need to not only create buzz, but you should prepare for your book launch at least three weeks in advance. A key part of successfully building buzz involves preparing your launch team and setting expectations. Nick provides swipe copy for you in case you don’t know what to write.
Video 3: Your launch day template
Your launch day is finally here- so what do you do? Many things. You can lower your book price for a limited time, have a giveaway, offer a book bundle, etc. Should you do a giveaway, you can use it to collect additional emails. Keep in mind that it’s illegal to obligate the participant to purchase your book in order to enter your giveaway (i.e., you must make your giveaway a ‘no purchase necessary’ promo).
Module 6: Facebook: profit on autopilot
Video 1: Intro to Power Editor
Facebook Ads enables you to direct your traffic to customized landing pages and increase conversions (and sales). The platform for this sales engine is Power Editor. Using this platform allows you to control the conversion process and analyze your audience. This beats just paying to boost your posts, and knowing very little about who is converting (and why).
Video 2: How to track results with pixels
Facebook’s pixel helper is a plug-in tool that helps you see exactly who is engaging with your message and who is converting. This is enabled through different individual tracking and conversion pixels. Nick shows you how to use this tool and to set it up for maximum data output.
Video 3: Tweak your ads for better results
How can you maximize the ROI of your Facebook Ads? By tracking your sign-ups via Facebook’s reporting system and using that data to tweak your ads. Nick demonstrates, in incredible detail, how to narrow down your audience and select only those segments that are likely to respond to your offer.
Video 4: Ninja tips
How can you get an email signup and a book sale in one ad? Nick shows you his powerful ninja trick for accomplishing both actions using just one ad. Here’s a clue on how this is accomplished: he uses a promo.
In addition to the core training videos, you also get to listen to in-depth interviews that Nick conducts with published authors. These authors include Mark Dawson, Nick Loper, R.S. Guthrie, Michael Maxwell, Bryan Cohen, Joanna Penn, an Simon Whistler.
In these interrogations, the aforementioned authors go over how they successfully performed their own market research, launched a dream team, built buzz, etc.
Nick provides video tutorials for a variety of marketing activities that you will need to do in order to successfully sell your book. The videos include tutorials on the following topics:
Anatomy of a landing page/How to build perfect landing pages
Automate your emails with Mailchimp
Store and deliver your reader magnets
KindleSpy: get traffic with keywords & categories
Automate Facebook Ads with AdEspresso
Run successful giveaways with KingSumo
Detailed keyword research with Kindle Samurai
The tutorials are quite in-depth and show actual examples of ads. For example, in this tutorial, Nick shows you how Facebook’s Power Editor can be manipulated to create and manage ads:
Another useful bonus that Nick gives you is his swipe files- in essence, these are copies of the emails and marketing messages that he’s used with his own subscribers and which he now hands off to you, to use as you see fit. Plagiarize them all you want- or switch up the messages to suit your tastes. These swipe files are a very useful benefit if you’re suddenly at a loss for (marketing) words.
There are also four group coaching calls that Nick provides for you. In these coaching calls, he does two Q&A sessions with his subscribers only, and two Q&A sessions with other authors and his subscribers.
The Master Classes
There are also two master-level classes that you can listen to and learn from.
Cover design and book page teardown
In this video, several students of the course offer their book covers and pages for critique by cover designer Mark Ecob and editor Rebecca Heymen. Lots of good advice and tips are provided by these two experts.
How to cold email and work with any VIP
You’re going to need a network of fellow authors and other influencers to successfully launch your book. However, you might be more than a little intimidated at the prospect of reaching out to them.
Luckily, Nick provides you with a video showcasing how master networker John Corcoran not only reaches out to VIPs but forms connections and gets results.
Private Facebook Community
Last but not least, Nick offers you the opportunity to join his private Facebook group, where fellow members (last count: 822) act as resources and help each other out. Incidentally, this Facebook group does not replace Nick; he will still offer his help if you email him directly.
I found Nick Stephenson’s “Your First 10,000 Readers” to be jam-packed with useful information and examples from Nick’s own experiences or those of his colleagues. No stone is left unturned when it comes to illustrating the information and then proving its validity.
Nick also provides real world data regarding his own book launches and corresponding sales, revenues, traffic streams, etc. This isn’t some guy who is merely conjecturing which technique or marketing message will work the best- he’s been in the trenches as a published author and has the experience to prove it.
In this e-book, Jeff defines a tribe, explains why every writer needs a tribe, and lays out the process of finding and growing that tribe.
Jeff bases his e-book on his personal journey to find his own tribe, which he succeeded in doing, but only after first quitting his blog of four years and starting a completely new one.
From 100 to 100,000 subscribers in 18 months
Jeff had maybe 100 subscribers when he started his new blog. Yet, within just 18 months, he went from 100 subscribers to 100,000. Six months into his new blog, he was being asked to sign a book contract.
This didn’t happen by accident or sheer luck. Jeff followed a methodical process of getting readers interested in his blog by first having them subscribe to his email list. Once subscribed, his followers received regular content chock full of value. Jeff also involved his subscribers in content critique and editing. This tactic not only provided Jeff with valuable feedback from his readers, it also provided those readers with a sense of pride in and ownership over what was being published.
By the time Jeff published his first book, he had amassed a loyal audience of over 100,000 readers who were more than happy to refer his work to their friends and family members. This prevented Jeff from experiencing the all-too-common problem of new authors- finding interested readers beyond a handful of close friends and relatives.
After all, the whole point of publishing is to actually publish, or to declare something to a wider audience.
But how does an aspiring author go about gathering this audience, or even declaring something worth hearing?
Welcome to Tribe Writers 2.0
The process of finding and growing a tribe is a bit more involved than what can be summed up in a single blog post- or even 10 blog posts.
To this end, Jeff developed a course called Tribe Writers that illustrates how one can go about finding, growing and nurturing a loyal base of followers.
Tribe Writers was so successful in its first launch that Jeff added even more material to the course and is now launching Tribe Writers 2.0.
I recently had the privilege of looking over this course and its materials. Jeff had granted me with full access behind the scenes and what I discovered has inspired me to pick up where I left off in my own journey to be an author. In brief, Jeff’s course was the kick in the pants I needed to get back in gear and finally publish my novel.
Tribe Writers 2.0 contains four learning modules comprised of the following subjects:
1. Honing Your Voice
In the first module, Honing Your Voice, you learn how your voice fits into the overall scheme of things. You learn that what you say isn’t as important as finding an audience with whom your message will resonate. And there is an audience out there for your message, so don’t worry about that.
Jeff describes how good writing is the kind of writing that some people will get, but not necessarily all. That’s because, in Jeff’s words, “If you’re writing for everybody, you’re writing for nobody.”
Also, good writing is brief and to the point. Finally, all good writing is actually copywriting, which is defined as writing with an outcome in mind.
2. Establishing Your Platform
In this module, Jeff states that you need to establish a platform in order to amplify your voice, communicate regularly with your tribe, and attain a level of legitimacy with your message. To this end, Jeff recommends starting a blog and, by association, a website.
Jeff identifies five different blogging platforms that you can choose from to identify your unique platform personality. After that, he discusses the process of finding your platform’s focus- in other words, what subject are you going to blog about?
The module finishes with Jeff teaching you how to write a blog post and how to craft a great headline.
Before you leave this module, Jeff introduces his course-with-a-course, called Intentional Blog. Here, in a completely separate set of modules, Jeff offers valuable blogging lessons on topics like how to set up your autoresponder, write cornerstone content and guest posts, find and interview experts, and find photos.
This course alone spans five modules and 33 total lessons, plus four recorded coaching calls.
3. Expanding your reach
At this point, the assumption is that you’ve created your blog, chosen its focus, and have written a few posts. Now it’s time to build your email subscriber list.
Jeff goes over the email newsletter services that are available, how much they cost, and how you can use sign up forms on your website and blog to grow your list. He also talks about creating a unique incentive for people to subscribe, such as an e-book.
Granted, creating an incentive such as an e-book is a time-consuming process. Also, you have no guarantee that people will even want your incentive. How do you create demand for your promotional item?
By getting your fans involved in the process of generating it. This way, your fans are emotionally invested in your incentive and have a sense of ownership. Also, because they’ve helped you create this item, you’ve had to do a lot less work as a result.
4. Getting published and paid
The end result of all the time and effort you’ve spent setting up your blog, growing your subscriber list, creating your incentive(s), etc. has been to get published and paid for your book, article or other piece of content.
Jeff provides a process for doing this, including contacting editors at publications (e.g., magazines) and pitching them. If you want to publish a book, such as a novel, Jeff outlines how to create a book outline (i.e., a book proposal).
If you are unclear about whether you should self-publish or go with a traditional publisher, there is a full segment devoted to the pros and cons of either approach. Likewise, Jeff talks at length about literary agents and why having one is a good idea, especially as you start out in book publishing.
That leaves you with the final step- launching your book. However, you should not leave your tribe out of this phase. In fact, going to your tribe and involving it directly in your book launch (which is actually a three-phase process) is one of the best moves you can make in terms of successfully launching your book. Jeff outlines how you can approach your tribe for help- and turn your tribe members into your book’s best advocates.
What else does Tribe Writers 2.0 offer?
In addition to the 4 modules and 34 lessons provided in the Tribe Writers 2.0 course, and the course-within-a-course Intentional Blog, there is yet another meaty bundle here- a complete WordPress 101 course, which is divided into 4 modules and 23 lessons. This WP 101 course teaches you everything you need to know about setting up your WordPress-based blog and even integrating a custom Tribe Theme into it, which Jeff uses on his own website.
Add to this a member forum that is divided into separate discussion areas based on the individual modules provided by Tribe Writers 2.0. And finally, there is a separate resources area packed with interviews, additional lessons, free e-books, and product discounts and offers.
To keep everything straight and measure your progress through all these lessons and exercises, Jeff also provides Tribe Writers members with a downloadable workbook.
The Tribe Writers 2.0 tally
So, what do you get with Jeff Goins’ re-vamped Tribe Writers 2.0? Here’s the final tally:
Tribe Writers 2.0: 4 modules, 34 lessons total
Intentional Blog: 5 modules, 33 lessons total, plus 4 recorded coaching calls
WP 101: 4 modules, 23 lessons total
32-page Tribe Writers Workbook
– Tim Grahl: Results-Driven Tribe-building – Corbett Barr: It All Starts with Passion – Brandon Clements: Using Amazon to Get Found – Daniel Decker: Getting Published — What Does It Take? – Joe Bunting: Living & Working as a Full-time Writer – Marion Roach Smith: How to Get Published in Magazines & Get Featured on NPR – Tor Constantino: How to get 12,000 Likes on Your Facebook Page – Mary DeMuth: Managing a Fiction & Nonfiction Platform – Paul Angone: Self-publishing Like a Pro – Randall Payleitner: An Insider’s Perspective on Publishing – Carol Tice: Freelance Writing & Building a Blog-based Business – Sean Platt: Finding a Fan Base to Support You Bonus interviews with Tim Ferriss, Seth Godin, and Michael Hyatt
Live Chat area
Tribe Writers Forums area
Learn more about Tribe Writers 2.0 here
If you would like to get a taste of Tribe Writers 2.0, Jeff Goins offers his e-book called Every Writer Needs a Tribe. This e-book provides a great introduction to his course. Best of all, it is completely free.
You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by reading this inspirational e-book, which will help you launch your own plans on how to become a successful and published author. Download it here.
If you haven’t heard of Preston Ely before, he is the name behind various real estate investment and other entrepreneurial products including Flip Your Way to Financial Freedom, REO Rockstar, Wake Up Wealthy and Instant Guru. He’s also authored several books including No B.S. Real Estate Investing, Instant Probate Profits, How to Steal Houses From Banks. The guy also has his fingers in fitness, Internet marketing, fantasy sports, gold investment, and personal development.
It goes without saying that this guy is everywhere. But for this review, I’m looking strictly at the real estate side of Preston Ely, and namely, his product called Real Estate Mogul.
What is Real Estate Mogul?
In a nutshell, Real Estate Mogul (REM) is a real estate “school” and member forum that offers daily lessons, spreadsheets, tools, scripts, listings, and member support for people looking to invest in real estate.
In essence, members are taught how to become real estate wholesalers, paying cash on-the-spot for foreclosed or otherwise distressed properties. The purchased properties are then renovated and either rented or sold. If sold, the properties are priced to make a significant profit for the seller.
The plans offered by REM are as follows and range from free to $197/month.
You get quite a bit of quality information even with the free REM plan. Since my signup on May 23rd, I’ve received (roughly) weekly emails like these:
REM offers a large range of helpful products and tutorials in its paid plans. Within its elite plan, members gain access to a number of experts, including those on commercial and multi-family properties, foreclosures and REOs (real estate owned), private money, short sales, and marketing. The plan also offers life coaches and rehab specialists, plus two “market insiders” who have ties to lawmakers in Washington, DC.
These experts regularly publish posts and lessons in categories including deal-getting, funding, investing strategy, market news, etc. One example of an expert-authored post is “As a wholesaler, what’s the best way to handle HUD closings?” Another example is “Private money demystified Part 1: Targeting the right people.”
There are also weekly training calls that are offered through the REM platform.
Another feature of REM is its real estate listing area. Here, you can look up properties that other members own. You may wish to buy these properties, or you can use the area to list your own properties as well.
Finally, REM offers a ton of generated forms, contracts and scripts for members to copy and use. Some of these items include attorney letters, buyer scripts, commission agreements, invoices, and REO cancellation letters. These items help newbie investors ease into the world of real estate negotiating, purchasing, renting and selling without having to hire a lawyer to create every single required document.
Within the REM area, members are awarded “Mogul points” for reading content, watching training videos, etc. These points help the members rise in the ranks of the REM social platform. When sufficient Mogul points have been earned, these new experts can now also create and post lessons and other content.
One such expert is Chris Bruce, who has posted numerous videos on both REM and YouTube about his experiences in real estate buying, selling, assessment, negotiation, etc.
Real Estate Mogul negatives
As with any product, there are some drawbacks with REM. To begin with, there are several concerns about the recommended tactics for buying/selling real estate at wholesale.
One example is REM’s recommendation to use bandit signs to advertise real estate buying intent. You’ve probably seen bandit signs at some point- they are the signs on poles that say “We Buy Houses!” or something to that effect.
The problem with using bandit signs is that they are illegal in many states and communities.
Another criticism of REM is that members receive extensive instruction on how to buy distressed properties but not enough information on how to rehab these properties after the sale. This is an issue because home renovations can quickly lead to mushrooming costs for the buyer. Furthermore, it’s not difficult to obtain a loan to purchase property- but it’s a huge hassle to convince a bank or other lender to finance the renovation of property that the buyer has no intention of living in.
Preston Ely, the figure behind REM, has actually bought only a handful of properties, according to other criticisms. One critique even points out that Preston Ely doesn’tlike real estate investment!
Finally, REM does’t offer enough information on actual marketing. For example, what are the best tactics for purchasing a FSBO (for sale by owner) property- flyers, phone calls, business cards? While the REM platform provides many forms, it doesn’t clearly state which forms work best with a particular property sale and when they should be sent.
Should you invest in Real Estate Mogul?
REM is not the cheapest product around; the elite membership will cost you almost $200/month. However, you do get a lot of advice and support from a number of experts. You also get templates to use during your own negotiations with house sellers and buyers.
As a result, REM is a worthwhile product to purchase if you’ve been exploring real estate investment and require sage advice and information. While there are some kinks with the product, it appears that, overall, REM is a sound investment.
What do Jessica Marshall, Kelly Frazier, Alex Cooper and Mark Wilson all have in common?
Work at Home Paycheck: A production with many actors
Jessica, Kelly, Alex and Mark are all promoting a work-at-home system called Work at Home Paycheck, which also goes by WAH Paycheck. Each one of the aforementioned characters plays a unique role:
-Jessica Marshall is the down-on-her-luck single mom who creates a system for making money from home.
-Kelly Frazier is also a down-on-her-luck single mom who tries Jessica Marshall’s system and now makes money from home.
-Alex Cooper is the reporter who interviews Kelly for a big online news organization.
-Mark Wilson is the originator of this money-making system.
Jessica Marshall weaves a wonderful story about how she was freshly divorced, trying to raise her young daughter, and on the verge of a nervous breakdown thanks to a layoff. Here’s Jessica as she weaves her hard luck story:
Luckily, a mysterious (but friendly) guy named Mark Wilson saves the day. Jessica runs into Mark at a coffee shop and he tells Jessica exactly how she can make boatloads of money right at home.
Next, we are shown her wealth growing in real-time in her Paypal account.
How do you make money with Work at Home Paycheck? The details are a bit murky, but Jessica states that, by posting links to products sold by large and well-known companies, you can earn referral commissions.
So, it’s really just affiliate marketing.
How much can you expect to pay to learn about affiliate marketing? The site initially prices the information at $397. However, if you hit your browser’s back button a few times, the system becomes available for the ultra-low price of just $47.
Is Work at Home Paycheck worth its $47 price tag? To answer this question, the system offers a third party testimonial from Kelly Frazier, another single mom who now also makes mountains of cash by working only 10-13 hours/week from home. Her interview is conducted by Alex Cooper and is posted on the news site Consumer Finance Guide.
So far, everything looks legit- and who can argue with making over $7K/month for part-time work, right?
There’s just one problem…
There’s just one small wrinkle in this entire operation. When you scroll down every one of these “news” pages and read their terms of service and privacy statements posted below, you find the following disclaimer:
We are not affiliated in any way with any news organization. This is a advertisement for Work at Home Paycheck.
It is important to note that this site and the stories depicted above is to be used as an illustrative example of what some individuals have achieved with this/these products. This website, and any page on the website, is based loosely off a true story, but have been modified in multiple ways including, but not limited to: the story, the photos, and the comments. Thus, this blog, and any page on this website, are not to be taken literally or as a non-fiction story…I UNDERSTAND THIS WEBSITE IS ONLY ILLUSTRATIVE OF WHAT MIGHT BE ACHIEVABLE FROM USING THIS/THESE PRODUCTS, AND THAT THE STORY DEPICTED ABOVE IS NOT TO BE TAKEN LITERALLY…All photos images on this site are stock photography [my bolded emphasis added].
So, not only are these news pages not actually news pages, but the story, photos and even the comments themselves aren’t completely true. The website itself is “based loosely off a true story.” And all those news photos are stock photography.
In fact, all the “news” about this program is actually published on or through Consumers Finance Guide, a notorious fake news site that is well-known for promoting work-at-home scams.
OK, but what about Jessica Marshall herself? She’s got to be real, right?
Again, the privacy statement tells all. In brief, it runs as follows:
For purposes of privacy, the creator of Work At Home Paycheck is using the pen name Jessica Marshall. This story is based upon the real life adaptation of the parties involved. The Company reserves the rights to the name and any uses of it as affiliated with the product. Any improper uses by unauthorized parties is strictly prohibited.
So, nervous breakdown Jessica Marshall is also fictional. What else about Work at Home Paycheck is make-believe?
Fictional certification courses
When you try to sign up for Work at Home Paycheck, you are presented with the following program guarantees and trainings.
The program promises to make you an instant search engine agent, for starters. What does that even mean- that you know how to use Google?
Next, you are enrolled in a link posting certification program, for which you pay a fee. As far as I’m aware, there is no such certification program in existence.
Additional charges may apply
The next worrisome detail is (again) noted in the terms of service area. Specifically, we have the following statement:
Please Note: Additional Charges May Apply. As with any Internet Business you may need to pay for additional products or services. For example: Hosting costs, domain name costs, advertising costs, internet and broadband costs.
What this tells me is that the $47 enrollment fee into Work at Home Paycheck is just the tip of the iceberg as far as costs are concerned. You’ll end up paying more money down the line for “required” upsell and cross-sell products provided within the system.
In fact, one of the common tactics used by such programs is to reel you in by offering a super low introductory rate. Then, when you find out that the purchased material is insufficient to make you a decent income from home, you’ll call the site asking for a refund. Just before you are issued your refund, however, sales agents experienced in using boiler room tactics will tell you how you just need to purchase additional coaching programs or software in order to start earning lots of cash. This is the standard practice for many work-at-home scams, and it can end up costing you thousands of dollars.
In brief, don’t get sucked into this program, even at its low rate of just $47.
The first thing that struck me about The Instant Cash Generator was a lie.
It said that the price will jump to $47 in 0 seconds, yet I still purchased it for under $10 bucks.
While some people may think that I lucked out with it, to me it screams liar, and that is never a good first impression!
This product states that it will teach you how to make money online in less than one hour, with no skills needed, so let’s see if the lies continue or if it is in fact worthy of your time and money.
Well that was a fail…
The mistrust aside, the sales pitch is classic internet marketing: lots of bold statements in bright text with highlights, unprovable proof of earnings and some testimonials which may actually be partly real or might just be his buddies.
Purchasing The Instant Cash Generator
As mentioned above, what should have been a $47 product was still purchasable at $9.95. The affiliate page states that this is on a 100% commission (so a loss leader) and that there are two upsells.
I never saw an upsell though.
The members’ area is a one page affair with a link to download the product. Be wary if you are on a mobile device or a limited data plan as the download is half a gigabyte (565mb)!
I liked the fact that I get to download the videos instead of being tied to going back to a site again and again, but it is an unexpectedly hefty download.
The product also seems to be a re-launch, so it might be an older method than you would think (the zipped files kindly told me this!).
Inside the zip file you get the following:
Bonuses: 4 e-books and a Swiftly task. According to the sales page I shouldn’t have got these either.
A resource list: a one page Word document with basic websites like Fiverr.com
9 videos: comprising of the training
The training videos are all quite short and bite sized, ranging between 1 and 5 minutes long.
The basic premise of the product is to sell services; the author calls this Service Brokering.
The idea is that you contact likely leads such as businesses and sell them a service such as logo design. You sell then turn around to another service such as Fiverr.com and get them to make the logo for a much cheaper price than you sell it for.
This is a polished, short video that introduces the concept of brokering.
The second video showcases websites where you can outsource people to make the final product that you are selling (logo, website, SEO service, writing, etc).
In fact this video only covers finding outsourcers on Craiglist
This section covers finding people to do work for you on Elance.
This section covers finding people to do work for you on 99designs.
This section covers finding people to do work for you on Fiverr.
Video 6 covers how to find buyers or customers via Craigslist. While this in itself seems simplistic, the narrator does let you know about a nice little website that will search Craigslist for you, as Craigslist’s own search system is infuriating.
Another simplistic video, this time on how to find buyers on Reddit. I have to say using Reddit is a nice touch I wouldn’t have though to f that, but otherwise the video was basic.
The penultimate video also made my eyebrows rise. It covers finding potential buyers on Skype, which is another place I would never have looked for customers.
Here you will earn how to make a website! Well, no. You will earn how to buy hosting and a domain. Then you will get told to go buy a Themeforest theme. Overall this was a really poor training video, and will leave many newbies floundering with a domain and hosting but no idea how to even set up a basic website.
The videos are most definitely lifted from previous trainings, for example video 9 in this series is referred to as video 4 by the narrator.
That aside, the videos are quite high quality, both audio and visual. The narrator however is doing the training on the fly it seems, so often stumbles over topics and has to redo things.
Because of that the actual training quality is diminished.
The Bottom Line
Is The Instant Cash Generator a scam? No, but it isn’t great either. While the quality of the videos is high, the quality of the training is poor.
He could have combined several videos and reduced their content (limited as it is) dramatically and added in more information about how to create a website, or how best to word an email to a potential client.
The idea of the product is certainly nothing new, but I did like his choice of sites to find potential customers.
My main concern with this type of marketing is quality. If you sell a $200 dollar logo but you pay $25 bucks for it, it will be crap. As the middleman you will take the flak for that.
It will take time, and money, to find reliable and quality outsourcers so it is likely that a bunch of the first sales you make will be at cost or even a loss.
After finding some decent people, then yes this could work. Just expect to have to invest in other training or purchases (website design, copy writing and email writing, testing outsourcers, etc), especially if you are new to online marketing.
Josh Owens is really living his dreams. He’s got the waterfront property, the Jaguar, the boat, oh, and the money. He’s also got plenty of time to show it all to us over and over again.
This Click Clone Cash review is going to take a look at his “zero click” product that he claims will make you millions by finding and cloning successful online businesses. All you’ll have to do is tell the system where to send the checks.
Ok then. Sounds legit.
Normally when reviewing products I’d go into details of what the product is, then tell you whether or not it really is that. Unfortunately, Josh made me sit through his BS for so long to find out what he’s actually offering, that I’ve just decided to skip to the point.
It’s not going to make you any money.
So What Is Click Clone Cash Supposed To Be?
As I said, Josh has supposedly set up a program that will install software on your computer, then search the Internet for successful online businesses, and clone them for you. You’ll be able to sit back and make millions with this system.
Well, no you won’t.
Let’s take a closer look at the reasons why this is all fabricated.
The Video Shows It All
I’ve seen some pretty outrageous videos in the past with terrible paid actors walking around empty mansions and driving fancy cars, claiming to be millionaires. This one really does go a little far. You don’t need to set the whole thing on a yacht on a river while wearing your Harvard Law School T-shirt unless you are just trying to hype everybody up.
Real products have substance and will focus on the product and what it does. “Questionable” products just show you cars and boats, cars and boats.
Claiming that you’re not doing that doesn’t help. In fact, the homepage even shows that these people are actors:
There are so many holes that I spotted in the video to know that it’s fake. I’m going to show you a few here.
1. When Josh returns home, his kids and wife are surprised to see that he’s got home already and rush to say hi. Well that’s fine, but how did the cameraman get inside without you figuring out your dad was home?
2. When Josh gets suddenly called up on Face-Time by one of his partners, how come she didn’t know already that she was being filmed? There’s a camera right in front of her face!
3. Isn’t it convenient that there happened to be a camera in his old law office (and he looks no younger), 5 years ago when “Aaron” walked in, so he could film the whole conversation? From four different angles?
4. Josh said that if you leave the video, you’ll not be able to return. Well that’s a lie. I’ve left and returned loads of times (I’m addicted to that “OMG girl” at the beginning).
Seriously? Still thinking this is a legitimate video?
The Actual Product
OK, so maybe they staged the video but the product still works right? That’s a stretch based on all the other dodgy products out there doing the exact same thing, but I’ll humor you.
If you manage to get to the end of the video, you’ll see “Josh” telling you that you need to pay for some hosting to set it all up. This is where he gets his money out of you.
In fact, I’ve reviewed another product that does the exact same thing. It’s all designed to convince you to spend money on hosting.
You don’t really think that there’s magic software out there that can just clone successful businesses do you? Successful businesses have security features, and don’t just work on autopilot anyway..without any expenses, or set up.
Take the advice of one of Josh’s supposed partners:
The SFI Marketing group is not a straight forward system. It incorporates all the classic signs of an MLM (Multi Level Marketing or Pyramid scheme) and yet tries to mask it.
A Little Background
There is some history to SFI, one that I can only piece bits of and use conjecture to fill in the rest. You see, their website is sfimg.com and according to their site, it stands for Strong Future Internal Marketing Group. However SFI started off at least as Six Figure Income and the sixfigureincome.com site still redirects there.
I can’t find out much about that product but the name itself doesn’t make it sound like it was anything but a “get rich quick scheme”
It appears then that this business has changed tactic.
SFI Marketing Group also gets an A+ on the BBB website, but honestly, don’t put much trust in that, for $800 anyone can get an A+ rating…
Joining is free, unlike most MLM’s so it is easy to be taken off guard by it. What quickly gives the site away is the SFI Basics:
1. Become an Executive Affiliate (EA) and remain an EA every month.
2. Recruit five affiliates using the methods listed HERE.
3. Teach your five affiliates to do these same three steps.
Any system that strongly suggests from the outset to recruit people under you and get them to recruit people is without a doubt an MLM system.
What complicates the initial view is that SFI uses a sister company and affiliate marketing as well, an effective way for the owners to make more money.
Making Money with SFI
How does this particular system encourage you to make money? There are four ways.
1. Start earning money by accumulating VersaPoints
VersaPoints are SFI’s internal points system. In order to stand a chance of getting a cut of a pot of money each month you need to earn 1500 points as a minimum. No where on the site does it tell you how much the pot of money is currently nor what your slice would be for 1500 points though. It is always worrying when a company isn’t transparent in these things.
The only information available is this:
A huge 40% of the Commission Volume (CV) on EVERY sale at TripleClicks.com goes into the TripleClicks Executive Pool. Share in this big, company wide pool with a minimum of just 1500 VP a month!
Where does this 40% come from? It isn’t clear, from the sales of products it seems, but who foots the bill? I can’t see it being the sellers, they are already losing a lot by selling there.
Not only that but from looking at the ways you can make VersaPoints it looks like your first month will be easy due to large value but simple objectives for example liking SFI on Facebook. After the first month, it looks like it will be much harder to obtain.
In fact one area to be cautious over is that there is some advices from other members to buy Tripleclicks (see below) gift cards, in order to gain 1200 points each month. That’s around $60 a month. Not cheap especially if you cannot make up the extra 300 points and even then there is no guarantee you will get your cash back.
You do get points as well for promoting products on Tripleclicks (per sale).
2. Increase your earnings by generating sales at TripleClicks.com
To obtain some cash you can promote products from Tripleclicks, which is a self proclaimed Ecommerce site. However to me it looks like a poor man’s Ebay. The products are a mixed bag, the sellers even more so, with many of them being from abroad and with poor English skills.
One seller states:
“Find it Here is a online store that sells different stuffs that you need and stuffs that hard to find”
Marketing some of these products will be interesting to say the least, so making money from them may not be that lucrative, however there is of course the possibility.
One thing that upsets me is the Beginner Methods of gaining sales:
Tell your friends and family
Buy gift cards and give them to friends and family
Buy promotional cards and distribute them – “Whenever you take a taxi or ride public transportation, “forget” this TC X-Card on the seat before you exit.”
There are some reasonable methods listed as well, including social network sharing, but the fact that a lot of the beginner ones involves harassing friends or family or purchasing products to promote them is not good.
Tripleclicks earns the owners of SFI “a nominal fee” (genuine quote!) of 15% of all sales, so they have a vested interest in getting you to push these products any way you can.
Now add on to that the fact that you as an affiliate can earn 45% of the sales price. That’s 60%. Very few businesses can afford to provide quality service and products with a 60% loss on the product sale price, especially physical goods.
However, earning that amount is unlikely, as for a start your are automatically given a “sponsor” who will earn a percentage of your commission. On top of that, each item has a different commission rate, some with as high as 65% some low 5%.
3. Maximize your income with sponsoring and duplication
Here is the MLM creeping in again, with members recruited below you having a portion of their earnings sent upline towards you. This matrix, as it is called, is 12 levels deep which is very large. MLM systems are not self supporting, and the FTC is in the firm belief that overall the only people who make money from MLM are the ones at the top, and that is always the business owner and not you.
4. Add supplemental income streams (optional)
This is side work, mainly referring sellers to Tripleclicks and allowing adverts on your site.
Training and Support
Most of the training on site is minimal and revolves around selling Tripleclick products or earning more VersaPoints. There is no real meat to any of the training and nothing that can benefit you in the long run.
The Bottom Line
Is SFI a scam? No. While I have reservations about recommending it, it isn’t as simple as they will take your money and run.
I am not a big fan of MLMs, I don’t believe there is any money to be made in them by a regular joe. From what can be gathered of SFI, it is an MLM crossed with affiliate marketing, and as such thought there is a potential to make money here, though I would strongly caution you from spending money in order to do so, as there are lots of areas in SFI where it is easy to start spending cash to make up your VersaPoints or market SFI.
The quality of the products and sellers is also something that concerns me, how can you sell something at such a low mark-up? I highly doubt many, if any, of these sellers have the weight business wise to get mass purchase deals.
I am also quite concerned they put a lot more focus on getting you to promote SFI to your friends and family than actually teaching you anything on marketing in general.