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Freelancing: Why a penny saved is a penny earned

Ben Franklin said it succinctly: A penny saved is a penny earned.

This concept is totally absent in the realm of online information marketing to freelancers and other entrepreneurs.

When it’s about building your business, the experts say it’s all about “investing.” It’s about spending money. “Source” believes you mean business if you spend money.

And you believe you mean business because you feel pressured to recoup the money you have spent. Therefore, you are motivated to follow the program, they say.

My Executive Vice President of IT, who coincidentally, is also my husband Wayne, sees things much differently. To him, a dollar saved is a dollar earned; a dollar invested is a dollar that must be earned back to keep finances in the black.

When I am about to spend money on my business, husband Wayne asks me the likelihood that this specific investment can be earned back by using the product or service I am purchasing.

Simply because I doubt I will directly earn back the money does not mean I won’t buy it. However, I am more cautious about proceeding and I clarify the difference between “this will bring in the bucks” and “this looks interesting.”

Here are some more tips to help decide what—and when—to buy expensive products and coaching programs:

Buy when you will use the product or service right now.

For myself, I have determined that I only invest when I will utilize the resource immediately or at least within a week of purchase.

The information products I find most appealing are explicit how-to directions on a certain technology or marketing project. Facebook, Google, LinkedIn and such evolve so quickly that the products are soon out of date. No use buying to get a general sense of how to use certain features. Instead, why not buy the most recent information when you are ready to proceed?

If I am not ready to use it now but I am interested, I add the sales website, product title and other information to a list I maintain. This is in case my interest endures till the time is right, but in practice, that never happens. I have never returned to the list to make an actual purchase months later. (And if I did, I’d research customer evaluations via Google first.)

Buy when you will read the product before the guarantee expires.

It is widely known that many info products are never opened. This is especially critical when the product can be returned in 30 days if you are not satisfied.

I seldom return a product. If I have gained anything useful, I retain it. Seems fair to the producer.

However, if there’s nothing there worth keeping, I return it.

When I make an expensive purchase, I note on my calendar the deadline by which it can be returned.

Buy when you will complete all assignments.

When you purchase a course that provides for expert critiquing, do you resolve to complete all assignments by deadline?

I may not complete the course if I see that for some reason I will not use the skill I am developing or otherwise change my mind. But almost always I am conscientious about follow through.

Some say there is value in attending teleseminars and reading class materials even if you are not ready to do the work. I disagree.

Free internet content and inexpensive books suffice if you are not going to engage fully.

Buy when you see the steak, not just the sizzle.

Sure, six figures or even seven sounds great. Sign me up.

But if I don’t know exactly what I will do to make the big bucks, I suspect—after some disappointing life experiences—that it won’t be something I both can do and want to do.

Some sales pages and sales teleseminars paint beautiful dreams of a huge income or a steady stream of customers but are vague about how this will be achieved.

I never buy an expensive product that does not explain how the result will be accomplished.

For instance, there are courses on how to gain coaching clients for expensive private sessions when you don’t have a list.

Be suspicious. Be very suspicious.

You may discover later on that the way to do this is to make sales call to friends and family to offer them costly consults. Ask yourself if you will really call up a friend whom you have advised for free and now charge them thousands of dollars for the same advice.

Buy when you are not manipulated into the purchase.

Some teleseminars will prod immediate sign-up by claiming The Universe rewards fast decisions. In particular, audiences that are primarily female are goaded to decide on the spot, probably so their husbands won’t talk them out of it before they plunk down the ol’ credit card.

Are their husbands like mine? (See above.)

Buy when you have the right elements in place to benefit from the investment.

For years I spent $100 a month on an automated email marketing program to maintain my newsletter list. This service has advanced features that enable sophisticated list segmentation by products purchased, specific interests, etc.

I didn’t have a way to utilize these capabilities and after years of throwing away money, I switched to their competitor’s free program. I still don’t have a business model that sufficiently exploits these capabilities.

Over the years I have tightened my standards in evaluating information products and coaching programs for purchase. Ben Franklin would be proud.

Originally posted 1-6-17

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