Ramit Sethi is one of my current idols for a few reasons. First off, his book, I Will Teach You to be Rich, has really helped me turn my finances around by changing how I think of them (hint: as little as possible). Second, through his blog and his email lists, he gives solid advice from keeping your finances healthy to helping you focus on earning more and not just saving more. When I see a new blog post or email show up with his name attached to it, I almost always devour it completely.
I had written about Ramit Sethi and how some of his ideas apply to writing, but I thought I would mention him again after what hit my Inbox the other day. It was nothing short of an epic email. 4,355 words, taking a total of six hours to write, and another good 15+ minutes to read through. The other thing is he isn’t publishing it to his blog. You have to sign up for the email list in order to receive it. Because it is only available to email subscribers, and I want people to actually sign up for his list, I won’t get into a lot of detail about the content he included in the email, but instead touch on some ideas that sprung to life after seeing it.
Layers of Content
Ramit Sethi operates his blog, as well as, another site titled Earn 1K, which is a paid course to help you earn more money. Each site also includes an email subscription list that compliments the content available on those sites. The key word being compliments. The content available through the email lists rarely duplicates what is available on the sites, although it sometimes gives advance looks at the content about to be published on the website. As I was reading through his massive email, I began to think about his layers of content and how in order to maximize the knowledge gained through Ramit’s writings, you have to commit to more than following through a RSS subscription or Twitter feed.
Having the different layers of content available is a strength for Ramit’s subscribers. You can engage as much or as little with his writings as you would like. If you want to learn even more, you sign up for the emails and the Twitter feed. If you want less, follow the blog only. His strategy is a different line of thought compared to how the majority of bloggers operate, and one of the biggest criticisms of Google Buzz as it tries to build a following. For most of us, we start with a blog and then pump the same content (mainly links to the blog posts) to our Twitter feeds, Facebook streams, Digg, Reddit, etc. With our Twitter feeds, the additional information we provide there is usually a duplicate of the content found within our posts. For example, a direct quote or a summary of a key paragraph.
There is value in making sure everyone reads our content and spread the word as far out as we possibly can, but there is more value in having people commit further to the content you are creating. A reader changes and becomes more of a follower and treats you, the writer, as a guru or pseudo-mentor. You still have to create content to keep people interested, but the more you limit who can see the content, the more valuable the content will become.
I think this is a key reason why people like Ramit Sethi, Steve Pavlina, Erica Douglas, Mark Sisson and so on have been so successful. Each of them has a core means of distributing their content, but also developed layers on top that allowed people to consume extra content through an email subscription, or to connect directly to the writers and the community through the forums hosted on the site. The more people have to work at attaining knowledge, the more we value it. Spending an hour devouring a National Geographic issue gives us a sense of accomplishment after we get through it, whereas I doubt people feel that same sense of having finished something significant after an hour of Discovery Channel.
We may not all be at a good point to create a deep layer of content like an email subscription or a forum, but we can rethink how we use the tools available to us. Is it more important to republish the links to our blog posts on Twitter, or should we be searching to publish information available only to those who follow the Twitter stream? A lot of people publish eBooks for people to download, but it is not a recurring source of content – read it once and then wait for the next eBook. A better idea may be using a mini-blog tool like Tumblr which allows you to create another layer of content. I currently use it to publish quick quotes or videos that I find interesting, but I could easily use it to provide secondary content more directly related to this blog.
There are other lessons to be learned from Ramit Sethi after you subscribe to his email list. He wrote a summary of the reactions to his monster email on his blog. The key point he raises in that post is that not everything he publishes should be free. He wants to:
[share his] best content with people who’ve taken some action to get it. Taking action” could be joining one of my premium courses. Or it could simply be trusting me with your email address. Either way, people who take action are worth more to me (in every way — not just financially) than someone who simply consumes material. I’m not in this game for people to simply read my stuff, think to themselves “That was good!!” and then go on chewing their bagel.
I want behavioral change — and people who take some kind of action are qualitatively and quantitatively more likely to take action to live a richer life.
I agree with him. Take action, visit his website, enter your email address, and be ready to consume more ideas about blogging and progressing in life. Afterwards, take a moment to consider some of the ideas I presented here and think about how you can add a new layer of content to your blog or website.