The internet is crowded with gurus and programs selling digital success. But they may divert your path to digital stardom.
I’ve paid thousands of dollars over almost three decades to learn the secrets of various gurus – who usually promote their own methods, programs, and systems as the only path to riches and happiness.
But the promises are often deeply flawed. And usually predatory.
Most successful digital entrepreneurs start by mastering relevant subject matter as paid knowledge workers. But becoming a highly skilled knowledge worker is a challenging endeavor – becoming respected, sought out, able to apply specialized knowledge with ease.
Cracking that code can take an entire career.
Then transferring those abilities to becoming a Digital Entrepreneur or an Intellectual Capitalist is another complicated, demanding venture. I’ve tried it repeatedly.
Many people try and most fail to make that transition. My results are mixed.
The gurus want you to believe that it’s easy, so they can sell you their programs and systems.
But the opportunity is almost always disturbingly distorted by them because they:
- Exaggerate the size of the opportunity and market,
- Leave out the number of would-be digital venturers and how many have failed,
- Take credit for the few that succeed.
Let’s unpack all three of these illusions —
On inflating the size of the opportunity:
As an example, one set of gurus that I follow sell a writing and content authoring program. To promote the promise of digital wealth and success, they use a case study about a medical knowledge worker, a successful surgeon, who has invented a highly specialized form of spinal surgery.
They make the tired case of how that surgeon’s time, as a knowledge worker, when actually performing that procedure is limited and cannot be scaled. So he could create digital content and an online course to teach thousands of other surgeons how to do the procedure, thereby making millions of dollars more than he would laboring repeatedly in operating rooms.
But the number of people needing that specialized procedure is tiny, maybe a few hundred worldwide. Those surgeries could all be accomplished by a few tens of surgeons at most.
On deflating the extent of those struggling:
Is it possible to count the number of people with side gigs? These days, post-Covid, with the Big Resignation, a coming recession, and the decades-old dream and promise of becoming independently wealthy through digital side gigs, it seems there are more people trying to join the creator economy than not.
Forbes estimates the creator economy at $500 billion worldwide, with 50 million individual would-be creators. The vast majority of that market is money spent by creators on the gurus and their programs, as they try to develop and launch businesses, and is not the income from those ventures.
This is like the gold rushes of the 1800s and early 1900s, when most of the money was made selling shovels, gold pans, Levis, liquor, and prostitution. That revenue far exceeded the value of the ore removed from the mountains.
But the gurus point to the few who make it big. They leave out the millions of the rest of us.
On taking credit for the limited successes:
I’ve studied this at length, first-hand, through the thousands that I’ve invested in the get-rich programs and systems.
My findings? Most of the people who succeed with any paid digital success program were already on their way and would have succeeded anyway, or were already succeeding.
Some simple numbers: If 100 people sign up for a virtual course creation system and platform, about 10% of them will ever earn their money back. Of those 10, 7 or 8 of them were already well on their way. So maybe 2 or 3 people of those 100 learned enough from the program to recoup their investment in it. Maybe.
And don’t forget, there’s a lot of distance between earning your money back and making a decent living.
My lessons from all this, from decades of experience:
- Digital success is possible.
- Enter the fray with your eyes wide open.
- Understand the true size of the opportunity, the market, based on the specific need you plan to address. Be very suspicious of generic market size guesses.
- Learn the extent of the efforts required to address the opportunity and your chances of doing better than the norm. How many others have tried and failed, and why?
- Examine closely the chances that a given paid program will make it happen for you. Be brutal. Your future, your finances, your dream, and your sanity depend on it.
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