How to Turn $3,000 into $128,000

My wife and I were chatting the other day about a big new course I’m working on called Traffic School. I mentioned what the course will cost to start with, and she was surprised.

“Isn’t that expensive? Who spends that kind of money on online courses?” she asked.

For the longest time after I first started working online, I didn’t pay for any online business education. It seemed way too expensive to me, like it did to my wife the other day. I assumed I could get everything I needed from free articles.

Eventually I bought Chris Guillebeau’s Unconventional Guide to Working for Yourself (at $59 if I recall) and got a ton out of it. The course put me in the right mindset and made me realize I wasn’t crazy for trying to build a lifestyle business.

I then went on to purchase Cloud Living from Glen Allsopp and ended up creating my first consistently profitable niche-focused website (which still earns passive income today). I’ve earned over $1,100 just from that first site. Glen’s book cost me $37. Not counting my time, just from that first website I profited over $1,063 by purchasing Glen’s book. Not bad, right?

A couple of things clicked after that purchase.

First, spending money on education won’t help you if you’re not going to commit to practicing what you learn. You can’t profit just from the purchase.

Second, the cost of a product is mostly irrelevant. The thing that matters most is how much value a product delivers (i.e. how much profit you can make).

Third, there is no real monetary risk in buying any of these products. They all have pretty lengthy money-back guarantees (from 30 days to forever). If you don’t like or don’t profit from a course you buy, it’s easy to get a refund. (yes, I have asked for refunds on a few products I didn’t think were worth the investment)

Once I had those three realizations, my business finally started to take off. I purchased AffiloBlueprint from Mark Ling, joined the Third Tribe, bought Chris Guillebeau’s Empire Building Kit and a handful of other courses.

I purchased How to Launch the **** Out of Your Ebook when planning the launch of my affiliate course and went on to sell over $11k in 72 hours. I can’t say how much of the revenue was directly due to that course I bought, but there’s no question, I wouldn’t have sold nearly as much without it.

All told, I’ve bought perhaps $3,000 worth of online education over the past 12 months. Is $3,000 a lot of money? Yes, absolutely.

Is $3,000 a lot of money considering my business now regularly earns over $10k a month ($128k total this year), thanks largely to that investment? Are you kidding me? Where else can you get a 4,000% annual return on your money?

Also, keep in mind that in the majority of these education purchases I’ve made, I have also been able to earn affiliate commissions by selling copies of the products after I used them. Just by recommending the courses to friends or on my blogs, most of them have paid for themselves or even earned me a nice profit.

I can go on and on about the importance of educating yourself. Honestly I think the only two “keys to success” you can count on in life are education and hard work. Education that teaches you directly applicable skills (like marketing, writing, business-building in general) is especially important.

People spend upwards of $100k on college only to end up with a job they don’t really like, or with no job at all. A $3k investment has taught me how to create a six-figure business (in just 18 months, by the way), and I intend to take this business to half-a-million a year in the next three to five years. Yes, I’ll spend more on education but the return on that investment will continue to annihilate any return I might earn elsewhere. And this isn’t just a business, this is a business I love working on every day more than I’ve ever loved a day of working for someone else.

College may not be the right target for me to pick on because I still think college is a worthwhile experience for most people, even if it doesn’t teach you how to do what you love for a living.

Consider this instead: how much did you spend on Cable TV last year without batting an eyelash? $1,000? $1,500? You’re voting with your dollars here, and by spending money on cable TV (substitute whatever discretionary spending is keeping you from becoming educated) instead of educating yourself, you’re making a big decision. An extraordinary life might be possible by simply investing that money on learning new things instead.

But I digress.

If you’re serious about building your own business or pursuing your passion without having to earn the consent of gatekeepers, you will be faced with the same problem I faced. Once you learn to focus on value instead of cost you will finally make real progress. That is, once you focus on value AND commit to working as hard on your business as it takes.

It’s not an easy thing to learn or to remember. I still have to remind myself to ask “what value will this thing I’m purchasing bring to my life?” instead of focusing just on price.

I'm Corbett Barr, co-founder of Fizzle and entrepreneur for a decade. Get my weekly curated email of useful things for independent entrepreneurs »

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