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Don't Be Shy: Ask Consumers to Pay Up

Financial consultant Ramit Sethi delivered a talk on how to ask your first customers to pay you.
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There's an unexpected barrier that first-time entrepreneurs might be surprised to hit just before releasing their product to the world. That is gaining the self confidence to actually charge what it's worth.

In a talk recently posted to 99U, financial consultant, and founder of resource site I Will Teach You to Be Rich, Ramit Sethi said he had a knot in his stomach when he decided to charge for his first ebook. 

Up until that point he had been blogging for three years, and readers could access his analysis and research on topics like psychology, entrepreneurship and personal finance for free. "I studied so many aspects of human behavior. I studied social influence, persuasion, seduction, deception, human/computer interaction, and I put this into practice in a site called I Will Teach You to Be Rich," Sethi said.

But soon after college he was ready to turn his hobby into a business. In 2006, Sethi released his first ebook on personal finance and decided to charge $4.95 for it. He was extremely nervous to reveal it -- and it showed. 

"If you look at my sales copy, which is still online, it's the worst sales copy you've ever seen. I actually apologized for charging. I say, 'Oh I know you could probably find stuff like this for free!'" Sethi said.  

And his worst fears came true. Some people hounded him for charging, calling him a sellout. But that was just some people. To Sethi's surprise, lots of others were actually buying the resource and telling him that it was great, he said.

The Root of Fear 

But it wasn't overnight that Sethi's self-esteem issues faded. As a lover of psychology, he wanted to figure out why people have such a deep-seated fear of asking for greater compensation, so he did some research. 

"One of the beliefs I believe we have -- that is so deep it's almost an invisible script -- is this idea of, 'If i just get better. If I just get better at my craft, then the accolades will come," Sethi said.  

That's a tough spot to be in for two reasons. One, it's human nature to always feel that you can do better. And two, getting to that next echelon of quality really does take a huge amount of improvement and prowess. For Sethi, he learned that he not only needed to be better than his competitors but to also be different from them. 

Now, about 7 years after he released his first ebook, Sethi is comfortable charging a variety of prices for his services. They range from the flagship course for $3,000 to the various educational resources for $0. 

 

Last updated: Mar 28, 2014

LAURA MONTINI | Staff Writer

Laura Montini is a reporter at Inc. She previously covered health care technology for Health 2.0 News and has served as an associate editor at The Health Care Blog. She lives in San Francisco.




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