Tag Archives: entrepreneurialism

To make money online, don’t write about weight loss; write about physics

It makes sense – right? – to make money online, you must write about popular, high-paying subjects. But actually, especially since 2013, it’s the opposite: blogs, websites that cater a savvy, high-IQ demographic have seen the most rapid organic (non-paid) growth and viralnnes.

To succeed at online publishing (which including blogging, copywriting, and Amazon self-publishing), you must be cognizant of how internet journalism, reader tastes change and evolve; otherwise, your efforts will be wasted on stuff that is ineffective.

You can write about fitness or cooking (two topics that are very popular as measured by broad appeal. A lot of people cook and a lot of people are looking for fitness advance.) Or you can write about data visualizations, science, or ‘shared narrative‘ topics – and boom – tons of viralness, links, and traffic – despite the fact common sense dictates to write about cooking and fitness, because those two things are more popular. Yes, tens of millions of people are looking for cooking and fitness advice, but you’re also competing with huge brands with multi-million dollar marketing budgets and decades of branding, and articles about those topics almost never go viral or get links unless you pay a lot of money for advertising (astroturfing).

However, the market for complicated, esoteric stuff, as well as introspective stuff, is booming by leaps and bounds. Just look at the traffic stats for Medium (a phenomenally popular social blogging platform lunched in 2013 that caters especially to high-IQ, introspective topics), meaningness.com (a philosophy blog that is surprisingly popular despite the complicated content), SlateStarCodex (anther good example of a blog that caters to a very smart readership and generates very good traffic), Priceonomics (a site that combines data visualizations with high-IQ topics and a smart writing style to generate a ton of traffic and viralness), SMBC and XKCD (two web comics that have seen rapid growth over the past two years catering to a high-IQ readership that habitually shares the comics on sites like Reddit), and WaitButWhy (mentioned too many times here, but it’s a good example). Then there are the many popular physics and math blogs: baez, Sean Carroll, and Woit (not even wrong), etc. I can easily name more, but I struggle to find any examples of popular, newly-launched blogs and websites that cater to high-paying subjects. Most popular sites in high-paying niches are quite old and have a lot of branding behind them. You can write about popular topics and get 0% of a hundred-million people. Or you can write about niche, high-IQ topics and get maybe 30% of a couple million people. The choice seems obvious.

To have a popular blog, don’t write about weight loss; write about physics.

The biggest mistake entrepreneurs make is the assumption that to succeed you must sell something, and that is completely false. That’s the biggest way to waste time and piss away money on marketing…much better to get viralness (free traffic and links) and then monetize later, as the successes of Snapchat, Pinterest, and Facebook have shown. WaitButWhy does not sell anything, but they have huge traffic and a huge mailing list, and you can be sure that if the writers wanted to cash in they could, and maybe already are. Uber, Airbnb do not sell anything – they are middlemen – and are massively successful companies. Although Disney, Apple, McDonald’s, and Nike make billions selling physical products, the failure rate and initial start-up costs are much higher for tangible products than viral sites, and also the profit margins are lower. It costs maybe $5-10k to create a viral news site (to pay for writers, graphics, hosting, web design, etc.), vs. $100-300k for a store or to build a physical product. Also, affiliate marketing, ads, and mailing lists can turn the viral site profitable from day one, whereas tangible businesses often take much longer to become profitable – if they ever do.

But what if you have a STEM blog but have no traffic? It’s probably because you either didn’t promote it (you need to post a few links on Reddit or on Hacker News, where it should easily go viral), the blog is too new (it takes at least a few months to get a blog going), or you’re using an obsolete template like Blogger (ideally, the template should resemble Medium.com, with its large font and large header images).

Once you get some traffic, making money should be easy. If you’re blogging about physics, put some Amazon affiliate links for physics textbooks, ideally books you have used and reviewed. Maybe also offer consulting and put some google adsense ads up too.

But going back to the original point, writing about high-paying subjects (and then using SEO to boost rankings) would have been great advice and a viable strategy before 2008, and what’s what I and many others did, but it just doesn’t work as well anymore. Too much competition from big brands, competition from major content sites like Forbes and Fortune that dominate good keywords, as well as competition from social media (Facebook, Twitter) and competition other high-authority sites such as Yelp, IMDB, and Wikipedia. Better to write about smart stuff, to actually see results.

Bold, Determined, But Somewhat Wrong

From Victor Pride’s Bold & Determined: 33 Ways To Be The Greatest

There is a schism between the Objectivist faction of millennials, who embody the ethos of self-determination and ‘hustle’, and the empiricists and rationalists on the right and neo-liberal left, who also tend to also be pro-capitalist, but are more skeptical of the ‘pull yourself up by your bootstraps’ mentality. The rationalists believe (and I think this is the correct explanation based on the empirical evidence) that all else being equal, human biology plays a dominant role in individual success or failure, not environment or determination.

As I explain in the Terry Pratchet essay, practice and hard work will allow one to live to their cognitive potential, but not exceed it.

Steven Pinker in his writings is critical of Communism, but he is also ghostwritingessays.net critical of pop-psychologists, like Gladwell, who use shoddy research and cherry picked examples to downplay IQ and HBD as it pertains to individual life outcomes and wealth of nations, crafting a ‘schmaltzy’ message that appeals to readers, even if it’s scientifically dubious or just plain wrong.

Anyone who has a minimum IQ of 100 (very low!) can succeed with undivided obsession.

An IQ of 100 is not low; it’s average. It is low if you aspire to work at Google or create the next app sensation. But I imagine that an IQ of 100 is probably good enough to be a low-tech entrepreneur.

Work, work, work, work, work, work, and work some more. Get used to working!

If you want more success than everyone else then all you ever have to do is more than anyone else.

Hard work is important, but intelligence determines how much of a ‘return’ you get from your work, or if your goals are even possible. The best may do more than the rest, but they also tend to be smarter than the rest, too.

We need sober realism. No amount of practice and determination will ever allow me (or anyone else in the world) to dunk a 20-foot basket. It’s just too high. That’s an obvious example of how biology supersedes free will, but there are more subtle ones. A person with an IQ of 130 stands a much better chance of being a coder than someone with an IQ of 90, in which for the later it’s probably impossible. Since wealth and IQ (and its proxy, the SAT) tend to be highly correlated, it’s not unreasonable to assume that smarter people are also more successful at their entrepreneurial endeavors, too.

With a 9-5 job you will only ever scrape by.

You will never get rich, you will never have enough money to make a difference in the world, you will never not worry about bills, you will never have enough money in a catastrophic emergency, and your stupid family will start to despise you.

Hmm…but I think the 9-5ers who work at Goldman Sachs, Blackstone, Google or Facebook make good money, or at least some of the higher ranking employees. I think the executives of fortune 500 companies, who work 9-5, do alright. Same for doctors, high profile lawyers, etc. If you’re making more money with a 9-5 job than an entrepreneur who slaves away 12-20 hours a day for months and years, taking on debt for little in return, you’re winning. If the goal is to make money, which is a good goal, entrepreneurship may not always be the best approach. It’s one of many.

Even if Victor makes more money than the executives for Fortune 500 companies, he the exception rather than the norm. The data shows that the vast majority of entrepreneurs (those who don’t fail) make a middle-class income, which is good, but earning tens of millions as take-home profit as an entrepreneur is rare.

A study from American Express OPEN revealed that while more than half of small business owners pay themselves a regular salary, they are receiving an average salary of $68,000 annually, down from $72,000 a year ago.

There is no competition if you’re ahead of the game. If you’re ahead of the game competition simply cannot exist.

But there is no guarantee anyone will ever want what you have to offer. You may be ahead of the game, but that doesn’t do you much good if you have expenses to pay now.

The money comes to the first or to the best, so be one of them.

Not quite so. Look how Google overtook Lycos, Webcrawler, Alta Vista, and Yahoo. Look how Facebook overtook Mysapce.

Don’t chase respect and people will respect you, chase respect and people will despise you.

Agree, and this ties in with the importance of authenticity in post-2008 America. Being yourself, even if means being socially awkward, is better than trying to be someone you’re not. The millennials, especially the smart ones on 4chan and on Reddit, have a fine-tuned BS detector, and if you’re faking it, they will know. It’s like passing yourself off as a ‘published’ author, but not from a real publishing house, but from Amazon’s digital landfill of self-published books. The only exception to avoid poseur-dom would be if you sold a lot of books through self-publishing, which would make you cunning and successful and thus authentic, the epitome of cool. Failure to make money is fine if you’re exceptional in other ways (like being successfully published).

Athletes take steroids and businessmen take cognitive enhancers.

Anabolic steroids do work, which is why doctors sometimes prescribe them to treat various hormone disorders, but cognitive enhancers are at best placebos and most likely a scam. Unfortunately, human biology restricts our ability to get smarter much more so than our ability to get stronger. A person can train to get stronger, with definitive results, but training to get smarter (as measured by an IQ test) is much harder, if not impossible.

So you sweat out toxins

The human body does not produce toxins, and waste is not excreted through the skin (except possibly in severe kidney failure, resulting in uremic frost). Detox is another scam.

Dating is an ultimate waste of time.

Agree, and this aligns with the MGTOW philosophy.

Spurn comfort so you know how great comfort is.

Agree…minimalism is one of the fastest growing movements right now…delaying instant gratification for long-term success and abundance. Even if you’re rich, the cool thing to do nowadays is to invest the money in the S&P 500 (or one of the related indexes like the Dow or Nasdaq) instead of pissing it away on crap that depreciates. In the post-2008 world, ostentatious materialism is definitely out of style, but this is juxtaposed with the millennial obsession with personal finance and wealth – another contradiction, but understandable, since millennials tend to be savvier about finance, economics, and money than earlier generations, as well as millennials understanding the importance of self-sufficiency in our hyper-competitive post-2008 world.

26) No one owes you a fucking thing

Agree, and there is an epidemic of net-negative value people who take from the economy instead of contributing it, as alluded by Mitt Romney in his infamous 2012 remarks about the ’47%’ who are takers, dependent on the government for a handout at the cost to the productive taxpayers. One solution is to exclude these net-negative people from the democratic process.

Overall, I agree with about half of the list…especially the parts about not looking for a handout, but so not so much about entrepreneurship.

Related: Reddit Users Eviscerate Entrepreneurship BS

Reddit Users Eviscerate Entrepreneurship BS

Even though I lean Republican on many economic issues, small business, by in large, is for chumps and is a lousy way to make money due to the high start-up costs and high failure rate; furthermore, these ‘success stories’ touted, such as Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg, are the exception and far from being the norm. Millennials, to their credit, see through the BS, as do I, as evidenced by the funny comments in refutation this this small-business/entrepreneurial slide which, like Gladwell Books, is full of hope, cherry-picked examples, survivorship bias, and a complete detachment from empirical and economic reality.

The comments are the best, and I have taken a screenshot of the highest-rated comments, all of which douse cold reality on the warm ‘you-can-do-it’ sentimentality that is pervasive on both sides of the political aisle, which unfortunately includes the right.

Yes, small business does sometimes lead to great innovations, but nowadays large business, with their large R&D budgets, are taking over the role of the small-business tinkerer. And, yes, small business does occasionally lead to great riches for their founders, as in the case Google and Apple, but at the individualistic level using cost/benefit analysis, due to the high rate of failure and high start-ups costs, small business is a bad way to make money, especially compared to buying the S&P 500 and or real estate. You can be comatose and make money with stocks & real estate, versus small business which is a lot of work.

From The Problem With Small Business:

The way you get rich is to buy and hold the S&P 500, buy Bay Area real estate, build a website that goes viral, or become an early employee or early investor of a company that becomes very valuable.

Other ways to get rich (or at least comfortably middle class) include:

-attaining a high position at an established company
-getting in early on a future multi-billion dollar start-up either as an employee or investor
-STEM job
-professorship (very hard to get tenure)
-specialized trades (elevator repair, die making, etc)
-specialized in-demand services (doctor, lawyer, accountant, etc)

But this is not the mythical ‘passive income’, which like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is sought but never found. It’s easier to just grind through the cubicle job, or buy & hold the S&P 500, than piss away tons of hours trying to get an online passive income using books, websites, affiliate marketing, blogs, and other time-consuming crap that doesn’t work for 99.9% of people.

The only way I could endorse small business is if the start-up costs are minimal and the profits are extremely high from the onset, or you can dupe a VC to write you ‘blank check’ – but otherwise, the ‘small’ in ‘small business’ belies the large start-up costs, which often requires large loans, leading to financial ruin when the business fails. With web 2.0, it costs little money to create the app and viral marketing can take care of the rest. The greatest web 2.0 successes – from Snapchat, to Facebook, Twitter, Uber, Pinterest, Dropbox, and AiR B&B – all spent very little – if any- on promotion, and most of these companies were already successful by the time they received VC funding.

But what about the success stories? Again, those are cherry-picked among a huge, hidden graveyard of unpublicized failures. Then you have the pesky role of IQ, which keeps popping up again and again, be it writing ability, stock trading, or small business success. What all of these successes have in common – with few exceptions – is that all the founders were brilliant, and not in a figurative sense (like how the word ‘genius’ is constantly being thrown about) but as measured by an IQ test, with these founders being among the smartest people in the world, or as I wrote in an earlier article, Telling Fairy Tales To Spare Our Feelings:

Like I mentioned before in a response to a Techcrunch essay by Jon Evans, the elephant in the room is IQ, and all of the aforementioned individuals, Zuck, Elon, Jobs, Gates.. etc, with the possible exception of Richard Branson, have very high IQs. But a simple search of the Quora page yielded not a single match for IQ among any of the replies. If you want to be as great as those people – while hard work and obsession does help – so to is being in the top .1% of IQ. Bill Gates got a near-perfect SAT score on the ‘hard’ pre-1995 test, corresponding to an IQ of 160 or so. While Woz is often credited as being the ‘brains’ of Apple, Jobs skipped many grades and still found his schoolwork super-easy, giving him time to ponder the wonders of technology. Elon Musk is a physicist/rocket scientist, applying his intellect in his role in Paypal, SpaceX, Solar City, and Tesla. Zuckerberg was a coding prodigy, creating websites as his peers were still struggling with simplifying fractions. Warren Buffett, who isn’t on the list, entered college early and knew more about finance than his professors. And this applies not just to technology, but writing (and a slightly different take), mathematics, trading, chess – any field that requires brain power, but more specifically, memorization and making inferences between disparate pieces of data – skills that IQ tests measure.

Also, although I’m bullish about the US economy and stock market, I’m bullish about the ‘biggest’ aspects of it, as part of the post-2008 ‘bigger is better‘ theme. This means I’m bullish on multinationals like JNJ, Microsoft, Google, Apple, and Facebook which, unlike small businesses, have cheap borrowing costs, wide moats, billions in revenues, and pricing power; I’m bullish on the biggest and most successful web 2.0 companies (Snapchat, Uber) and the most expensive real estate (Palo Alto).

Related:

The Daily View: IQ and Political Affiliation, Small Business, Obama, Healthcare, Women in STEM

Is small business failure & pessimism a sign of proactive economic policy & strong economy?