Ramit Sethi: Don’t Write For Everybody

There are plenty of other sites for people that want to save on their laundry detergent. This is not one of them.

— Ramit Sethi, iwillteachyoutoberich.com

Ramit Sethi: I Will Teach You To Be Rich

Okay, so you probably like getting traffic right? Of course, it’s nice to know that somebody, anybody, is reading our work. Well here’s a little secret I learned from a top blogger: you’re better off turning traffic away. Read that again. Ramit Sethi says turning people away isn’t just good – it’s essential, and he has the credibility to back that up.

Ramit’s personal finance blog, I Will Teach You To Be Rich (IWTYTBR) welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors every month. Some visitors stay and become regular readers, while others go after just a few minutes. Here’s the kicker, Ramit’s greatest pleasure is the traffic that leaves. Why? Because the people that stay are engaged, committed and ready to take action.

When I did this audio interview with Ramit, I wanted to find out how he segments his audience. I wanted to find out why he makes fun of people. I wanted to find out how he manages the fine line between cocky and confident. After all, with a name like “I Will Teach You To Be Rich”, Ramit has a lot to live up too.

This post summarizes some of the key points from our interview.

Send Them To That Other Blog:

Some people would say ‘that’s so offensive, don’t you know not everyone makes $50,000 right out of college?’, and I’d tell them to go to some other site.

— Ramit Sethi, on the early days

IWTYTBR isn’t like other personal finance blogs, and Ramit knows it. That’s why when people ask him to post more about saving money he directs them to visit one of the many alternative frugality sites. What? Really? If your readers want you to write about something, shouldn’t you just do it?

No.

Ramit doesn’t write about frugality, because that’s not the type of reader he wants. Instead, his writing focuses on topics like the psychology of money, earning more money, and entrepreneurship – to attract people interested in these topics. A high level of interest is important because a successful blog doesn’t happen overnight – it takes commitment. You need to be interested in what you’re writing about, and so do your readers. By defining what that interest is and being consistent, you’ll develop a stronger following.

Create The Right Kind Of Customer:

People that want to save money don’t necessarily want to spend money to save it.

— Ramit Sethi, on creating an audience

But aren’t all visitors the same? Maybe if you’re using adsense. Ramit doesn’t use display ads on his site, instead he monetizes through subscriptions, courses, and his best selling book. There are some people that are ready to invest in these products, and others that aren’t. Here’s an example:

Frugal Fred visits I Will Teach You To Be Rich. He reads a couple of posts, and makes a comment about how he’d like to see more frugality tips: like saving money by skipping on lattes. Then he hears about Ramit’s Earn 1-k course, and his first thought is, “how much does this cost?”.

Compare that to Vicky Value who visits, reads a post about freelancing and gets her first gig that same day. She’s hooked, and when Vicky sees the Earn 1-K course her first question is, “can you show me others who have had success with your course?”

What’s the difference between Fred and Vicky? Fred is obsessed with cost, and Vicky is obsessed with value. Who would you rather have as a customer?

It’s Okay To Offend Someone:

I want to attract the right people, while intentionally repelling the wrong people. I don’t want them, they don’t want me.

— Ramit Sethi, on audience segmentation

Have you ever not posted because you didn’t want to offend a reader? Did you go back and edit a line or two? Is the post still sitting as a draft? Next time, consider posting it. At IWTYTBR, some mockery has become part of Ramit’s brand. For example, he often makes fun of people that are excessively frugal. He’s not malicious. It’s funny. And in a way he has a point: skipping lattes and restarting a budget for the 5th time don’t work.

Here’s something to keep in mind – Ramit says, “I’m not trying to offend unnecessarily, not at all, it’s not a shtick or anything. This is how I talk in real life. In fact, I tone it down for my blog”. By writing like you speak, and like you think, your blog takes on your personality. This is something unique and remarkable, especially in a world full of “me-too” blogs. So, the next time you find yourself hesitating to press that “publish” button, take a deep breath, and take the plunge.

While talking about audience segmentation, Ramit made a statement that really stuck with me. He said, “the number one thing that’s really important to building something of value, is that you’re not going to appeal to everyone. If you do, you’re probably really boring”.

Don’t be boring.

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