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Free Money Experiment

by Ryan Yates

Blog vs. Business

Over the past month or so I’ve been conducting an experiment on the blog.  I’ve been trying to figure out if I want to use DeliverAwayDebt as a vehicle to launch a Financial Coaching Business.  I’ve wrestled with the thought that it would be great to offer help directly to my readers because we all have a common interest, getting out of debt.  The question I kept coming back to is whether or not this is the right place to do it.

Why start a Financial Coaching business?  Because I would like to help others discover that they can get out of debt too.  Debt isn’t just something we have to except and live with every day.  With the right planning and motivation, anyone can get out and stay out of debt.  I’ve learned a ton during my journey and I can help others who are struggling.

The Experiment

I added a “Debt Help Line” phone number and e-mail address into the upper right sidebar over a month ago in an effort to see if 1) anyone noticed it and 2) if anyone would use it.  I had read a post from a popular Productivity Blogger who once put his personal phone number on his blog to see if he could get anyone to call it.  He was going to give anyone who called a free year of coaching, but nobody ever called.  He continued to get emails from people wanting to hire him (and pay him), but nobody ever called.

Without a single call or email during my test period I decided to step it up a notch and see if I could entice people to call my phone number.  I decided to offer a $50 gift card at the bottom of my 1 year anniversary post to see if that would get someone to call.  Now I didn’t come out at say I wanted people to call, but I did give a good hint to the action required.  The line from the post was; p.s. there is something on this blog that nobody has done yet.  If you are the first person to do it I will send you a $50 gift card to Amazon.com.  I received two comments from people who knew that they needed to call the phone number in order to get the $50, but neither took the time to call.

During the day the post went live, I received over 237 visitors with 847 different page views.  167 visitors saw or read the anniversary post and all 847 page views included the phone number in the upper right sidebar, which is above the fold so it was visible each time the page loaded.

The next day I thought I would step up my efforts a bit and make things a bit more obvious.  I changed the title in the call box from “Debt Help Line” to “Free Money”.  I thought for sure this would get someone to take action.  As the day progressed I still did not get any reaction from the readers.

I thought I would try one more trick to get the word out.  I tried avoiding the “Call me to get free money” line, because that wasn’t really what I was testing.  I was seeing if people would take action with little hints.  I posted a tweet on twitter that stated, “Free Money (link to my homepage)”.  Remember I had changed the callbox to include the “Free Money” title so people clicking the link would see it.  20 people clicked the link within 5 minutes and still no calls.  Frustrated, I tweeted that I was amazed at how hard it was to give away free money.  Within 2 minutes of sending that tweet out, I received a phone call.  While on the phone with the winner, I received another call and then a third one within 5 more minutes.  I also received a few tweets about the money.

What have I learned?

  1. If you want someone to do something, you need to be extremely clear with your call to action.
  2. People on the internet would rather comment, email, or connect through social media, than to pick a phone and talk with you.
  3. You could put your SS number on a blog and nobody would steal it (ok maybe not J )
  4. Talking with people on the phone is fun and it’s really cool to put a voice to all the text we read.

Call to Action

Here’s my question to you.  Should I use DeliverAwayDebt to begin my adventures in coaching, or should I build a business site/blog for the coaching business? Oh yeah, I’ll be very clear with this one.  If you would like to get any help with setting up a budget, building a financial plan, or constructing a debt elimination plan, or help with changing your behaviors, contact me and I will work with you for free.  I’m offering this to anyone who would like it, at least until November 2010.  Other Financial Coaches offer this service for $500-$1,000 but you can get even better service for free, all it takes is an email to jeff@deliverawaydebt.com or a phone call to 734-743-1517 to set up your first session.

{ 17 comments }

Money Beagle October 6, 2010 at

My vote is to create an offshoot site for it. I like the current focus of the site as it is, where it’s your stories and your personal voice. I think if you shifted that away too much you’d risk losing the interest and the momentum you’ve built here.

Jeffrey Kosola October 6, 2010 at

@Beagle thanks for the input. I have an site started called The Money Coach. I’ve also got the domains of DaveRamsey.co; howtomakeabudget.co; thebudgetcoach.co any other these sound good to you??

Mysti October 6, 2010 at

Being one of those who knew to call and didn’t….here are my thoughts.

1) For me, phone calls are very very hard. I have to do it late in the afternoon, and the kids are home from school. It is hard to have a productive phone call when you have to interupt it 40 times to tell children to stop hitting, kicking, bothering, etc.

2) I do better on a schedule…so for me personally, I like to set up an “appointment” to talk to someone.

3) I think phone calls are hard because it makes you more vulnerable. You are now a REAL person. Not just a name on a screen.

All of that said….I think if you are trying to launch a business….a separate domain would be better, with links back here (and vice versa).

Also (wow….I had alot to say!) I am guilty of not always looking at sidebars on blogs. I read the articles….but may not pay as much attention to the side stuff.

Jeffrey Kosola October 6, 2010 at

@Mysti Thank you for your thoughts, now here are mine

1) You’ve read the blog for a while and know I have little monsters too so I understand how the interuptions go. I’ve also tried my best to share myself with you and the other readers in hopes of developing a relationship with everyone. That means my door is always open 🙂

2) What’s better than free money to put a smile on your face. How do you schedule an appointment to win free money???

3) Yes phone calls are hard for some people. Wasn’t hard to post your financial information on your blog? It was for me, but like everything I believe it’s made us more aware of our surroundings and has opened up new friendships that would never have happened. Not doing something because it’s hard is not the correct answer. We get stronger by doing the hard work. Not doing something because we just don’t want to do it a whole other ball game.

I’m in agreement with you and others so far, separate site.

Don’t take my comments the wrong way. I just want you to kick some debt butt and the reasons you listed just seem like excuses. Debt and life will kick our butts unless we kick it right back.

Mysti October 6, 2010 at

1) Yep, you got those little monsters too….but I also respect your time. It would be rude of me to take your time, and interupt it because I can’t deal with my kids.

2) Touche.

3) Posting my info on line wasn’t hard for me at all. And I readily talk about my financial life with friends. I am about as open as it gets! But when you are faced with hearing somethings that you know you need to hear….it does humble you.

Check your e-mail. 😉

Wojo October 6, 2010 at

I noticed that number last time I had visited the site and was wondering if anyone had used it. Now we know! 🙂

If it was me, I would use the blog to spring-launch your coaching business and keep it here. I think your audience is already here and waiting!

If people don’t like to call, why not have live chat or some other form of online help you can offer at certain times, too?

Jeffrey Kosola October 6, 2010 at

@Wojo good idea about the other forms. I would normally let people know what it do with a number posted on the blog, but like I said I wanted to see what happened. Thanks for the feed back, fyi I’m loving the newletter.

Jolyn@Budgets are the New Black October 6, 2010 at

What a fun, interesting experiment.

I wish you sound success in your new business venture: remember, when you’re doing something you love, you never work another day in your life. 🙂 I really see your life changing dramatically in the next few years, when your snowball is GONE and your money coaching is taking off. I can’t wait to see how it all develops.

Jeffrey Kosola October 6, 2010 at

@Jolyn it was a fun experiment. One I probably won’t try to do again. We’ll see how the coaching goes. I’ve already be contacted by a few people this morning 🙂

Jesse October 6, 2010 at

I saw the number when you first put it up but thought the number went to an actual debt help line, like a federally created one I wasn’t aware of…I didn’t even notice your email there!

Anyway, I think the best way for your potential clients and for you to continue to grow both here, and in your new business would be to create an offshoot. Personally, I would avoid using anything with Dave Ramsey in it if you plan on making your own business. He’s an extremist and while many love him and his teachers, the other spectrum don’t. You don’t want to limit yourself, and you also want to be able to create your own cult following. I want to start seeing the Jeff Kosola Financial Freedom Course!

Another benefit of splitting the two would be you would have two streams of income if you can monetize both sites ad build them up.

Jeffrey Kosola October 6, 2010 at

Hey Jesse, that was a good point about the number looking like a secret debt collectors phone number. It will be coming down and get replaced with something else. I agree with the Dave Ramsey thing. I personally like Dave and what he stands for but he is quite a polarizing figure. Most coaches have been through his training and get many of their leads through his site. I on the other hand may have to target at the other end of the spectrum. Thanks for all the support you’ve given me along the way.

OdysseusToday October 7, 2010 at

Jeff,

I was in the same boat as you were about 3 months ago. I was on a high sharing stories and working on my blog. I also was thinking, if I can have this big of an impact on my own life imagine if I could monetize this skill set and begin a side job to bring in a bit of extra cash. I was all excited and even designed a hand-out promoting “financial services” for something stupid cheap like $5-$10 for start-up clientele.

Part of this was also to go an talk to some people in the area who had made it their life’s work. And my part time job was smashed. Essentially, the way it was explained is if you do any sort of financial advice or counseling for free there is very little liability, but once you start charging you are opening yourself up to a whole world of potential legal situations. The example he provided is say you help out grandma who is having some debt issues. You design a plan and help her figure out her finances. She croaks (sorry grandma), and her grandkids or kids find out you were helping her. They might hold you accountable for potentially giving her financial advice without any sort of certification. Say you get taken to court, the lawyers first question is going to be why do you feel you are able to give out financial advice, did you go to school, are you credentialed, are you certified? I am a lawyer, I provide Legal Advice, I passed the Bar, and as such I can charge to provide this legal advice to clients.

Now I am not saying don’t follow your dream, just know the risk involved. After talking with that financial planner I backed down from pursuing anything involving money. I still help a few people that I work with, but it is all for free. Life can be at times nothing more than a series of calculated risk, in my case the risk was to high to pursue anything without considering additional education, which does did not make sense for our family at the time.

Just wanted to give you the heads up.

Everyday Tips October 10, 2010 at

Well, I agree with the offshoot site idea.
This post reminded me of my teenage son. He and his friends will all text, facebook, etc but they never call each other. They can talk on xbox live, but cannot dial a phone. The art of conversation is getting lost!

Jeffrey Kosola October 11, 2010 at

@Everyday Tips Thanks for the site input, that seems to be the way most people think right now. I’ve been working on the site and I put a Nov 1st deadline on it. I should have the logo design back today and I’ll share it with everyone for comments.

Yeah, I can’t reminder the last time I saw a teen on the phone.

Financial Samurai October 25, 2010 at

Yo Jeff!

My vote is to leverage what you’ve built up over the year RIGHT HERE! You have a good installed base. You will kill yourself trying to run two sites (trust me… that’s what I’m trying to do now).

Leverage off what you have right here, and focus!

James Dibben November 3, 2010 at

Jeff, I agree with the Samurai!

I’m running two sights right now, one podcasting and one business related. I wish my blog posts and podcasts were on the same site. It would make my life a lot simpler. It’s too late now as I have comments and content I don’t want to lose.

As you can tell it takes some aggressive action to get people to act anyway so you should be able to strategically sell without changing much around here.

Jeffrey Kosola November 4, 2010 at

Hi James,

I’ve looking at it closely and taking a lot into account and I’m going to use this site with a few changes. It’s hard to think about starting over with zero traffic and the time it took to get this far. I’m not one to repeat work so it only makes since to use DAD to sprout out. Every person I’ve talked to who is using two blogs (not sites) says to figure out a way to only run one. Too much unfocused work seems to be the complaint.

Thanks for taking the time to add your thoughts 🙂

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