Common Autoresponder Campaign Mistakes

Here are some of the biggest mistakes marketers make when setting up their autoresponder campaigns.

• Providing too much free information – You started an internet business to make money, not to provide every one with a continuous stream of free information. If all you send is free information, you are conditioning your subscribers to be freebie seekers and they will not respond favorably to any promotions you send them in the future.

So don't send multiple autoresponder messages with really good content without including a promotion within the series. You need to send a promotional email soon after they join your list but not too soon. Demonstrate value first before sending any promotions.

The autoresponder campaign I shared previously is a good one to follow as it is a good ratio between content and promotions.

• Not sending messages often enough – Although you do not want to overwhelm your subscriber with emails, you need to send messages on a routine basis with the longest interval between messages being two days at the most. If you only send out a message rarely, even once a week, your subscriber will not only forget who you are and that they did actually subscribed to your list, they may also report you as spamming them.

Send out a message every day or every other day. Do not take any longer between messages. If you know you are going to be busy, spend a day writing multiple messages and then load them into your autoresponder's message series feature.

PLEASE NOTE: Even if you are not busy right now, you should always have multiple messages ready to be sent out by your autoresponder. You never know when you might have an emergency and will be unable to write and send a message.

• Being too aggressive or too soft in your promotions – While it's important to promote to your list, don't start bombarding your subscribers with promotion after promotion after promotion. Otherwise, you will alienate your subscribers. If you are too aggressive, the open and conversion rates of your messages will decline. Plus many subscribers will opt-out of your list.

On the other hand, you do need to send promotions if you are to succeed. So don't always just say something like ‘If you want to learn more about YOUR NICHE, click on this link'. You will want your promotional email to actually promote a product to your subscriber, not be just a suggestion.

EVERY message you send out should include a link to something you are promoting, even if that is just a link after your goodbye and name.

• Not sending high quality, free information to your subscribers – You need to build a relationship with your subscribers so you want to achieve a reputation of only sending high quality, free information. The better your reputation is, the easier it will be to gain the trust of your subscribers. And that of course will translate into more sales.

If you absolutely cannot write, outsource your article writing. However, only accept high quality, original articles from your ghost writer. On occasion, you may want to use a guest article. However, you should only do this occasionally as you want to build your reputation, not the reputation of another marketer.

• Not following email regulations – Email marketing is governed by strict privacy and compliance policies in every country. Make sure you know and follow them.

The Importance of Setting and Meeting Expectations In Email Marketing

Have you ever been so excited about an email that you couldn't wait for it to hit your inbox? You end up checking your email every 15 minutes to make sure you didn't miss it. That kind of excitement is wonderful and it is something to strive for in your own email marketing.

While you may not be able to create that amount of excitement and interest with all your emails, there are some things you can do to create a little buzz and get your subscribers looking for your emails. Part of it is of course to deliver great content and share things they are very interested in. Part of it is creating buzz and anticipation by using foreshadowing in your emails. This simply means that you tease them about what's coming in the next email from you.

By far, the most important thing you can do to ensure your readers are looking for your emails is to set and then meet expectations in your email marketing. You want your readers to get an idea for how often you'll be emailing them. If you are sending your emails out newsletter style, tell them what day of the week they should look for your next issue. If you're setting up auto-responder messages, let them know you'll share a new tip with them every day for the next week. Then at the end of that email series, share what they can expect to happen next. For example, you can let them know that you'll be emailing about once a week. That's setting email delivery expectations.

You can also set expectations for the type of content they can expect in emails from you. This can be very helpful in training your readers on what to look for from you. Ideally you want to share a mix of helpful content and offers for products and services your readers may be interested in. Letting them know that you will mix the two and will only promote products you've tried yourself for example, or have made sure are of high quality and will be helpful to them, can go a long way towards building trust and not sounding pushy or “salesy”.

Once you've set those expectations, your most important job will then be to meet and even exceed them. If you've promised your readers a new email every Wednesday morning, make sure that happens. If you promised to share a case study for using a particular product the following week, make sure that happens. Yes, life will get in the way, and yes, there will be times when you can't keep your promise… But do what you can to meet and exceed the expectations you've set with your readers. Really think of it as a promise you made them that you don't want to break unless absolutely necessary.

Doing this will create a lot of trust, and loyalty with your readers. If they learn that you're a trustworthy person and they can take your word at face value, they will be that much more likely to take you up on any product offers and will go from subscribers to happy customers who will buy from you again and again… and that my friend is the key to email marketing success.

A Brutally Effective Way To Build Trust And Respect Amongst Your Email List

Too many business people look to sell their products and services before their prospects respect and trust them.

This is a very poor strategy. Because after all, people need to know that you're someone with plenty of integrity. They want to feel confident that if they buy your product or service, they're going to get a great return on their investment in terms of the value they get from it.

So what is the number one way to make sure you gain the trust and respect of your prospects?

Yep, you guessed it…

Email marketing.

Your whole email marketing strategy should be based around getting the people on your email list to trust you. You do this by sending daily emails which provide both value and entertainment. (After all, nobody on your email list wants to read a boring email.)

Look, that's not to say you shouldn't pitch your products and services in every single email you send, because you absolutely should. But you should only do this after you've already provided value and entertainment. This way, people on your email list won't mind at all that you've offered them the chance to buy from you.

In fact, by this stage, they should be eager to see what you're actually selling.

So my advice to you is this:

Instead of sending cold traffic straight to your sales page, send them to a squeeze page where you can capture their email address instead. You do this by offering what's called an “ethical bribe”. What this is, is something you give away for free in exchange for them giving you their email address. For example, it could be a free report which provides a solution to a problem currently facing your target market.

And the same applies when selling, or simply networking, on social media.

I get a lot of people messaging me on forums, LinkedIn and Twitter. Yet instead of trying to build rapport with me, or trying to build a relationship, they just try to get me to buy from them.

They give me literally no value in return.

So I don't even bother replying.

Instead, they should offer to give me their own “ethical bribe” in exchange for me giving them my email address. They could then proceed to send me daily emails.

Anyway my friend, if you're going to use social media to network, make sure you provide value before you “sell” your products and services. Just like you would with your email list.

E-Mail Marketing Is a God-Sent Commerce Implement for Businesses

With businesses being more competitive nowadays, it seems like the target group of purchasers or “users ” has flinch. But in this advent to new technologies, email sell has wide the closing boundaries of “users ” as the masses can be reached easily.

It is a common point that almost everybody has a computer or two, either at home or at the power. iPods and Blackberries or exactly an regular cell phone with Internet abilities suffice for any business to keep contact with its clientele. Even the young is not be given from a company's aggressive market as their inboxes are spammed with sale offers and commodity/ service information. It is indeed a borderless sell in today's electronic world.

Marketing is acquired so much simpler for business through the purposes of applying electronic mailing, or E-mail. Numerous business have resorted to E-mail marketing which is a direct structure of marketing squandering technology to convey their companies' products and services to anyone who has an email address that can be reached. Hence, even children are exposed to second-hand electronic media offerings.

E-mails are an easy way to mass mail the companies' promotional items or update the clients about the company's status. E-mail marketing serves to establish or enhance the relationship between the merchant and its purchasers, which heartens loyalty and echoed business from the customers.

E-mail marketing is also very effective in proliferating the company's customer database as the more patrons you have on hand, the greater your chances of selling something to person sometimes. This has proven to be an effective marketing tool in announce to the masses, as its effectiveness can be tracked and evaluated for betterment. Feedback from customers can also be obtained easily as clients prefer to feedback from the comfort of their residence or place instead of making a expedition to the broker or through snail mail. Clients are more inclined to provide suggestions and positive critique via e-mail for responding to a marketing give received who are beneficiaries the company in its research and improvement of products and services, as feedback from clients manifest an opportunity to secure the customer's buy power.

E-mail marketing tools have advanced so greatly that there are options for the broker and the customer to liaise with each other freely and readily; as in, the seller can target certain groups of potential purchasers depending on the products or services relevant to the customers without spamming and overflowing “the consumers “‘ inbox, which can feeling and rile up the customer. This helps to establish a good reputation for the merchant who is seen as ethical and professional that is worthy of transacting business with.

E-mail marketing is very fast as e-mails can be sent within minutes. This chips down the downtime of the company to improve productivity which should translate into increased revenue for the company.

How to get rich quick in Silicon Valley | Corey Pein

The long read: Corey Pein took his half-baked startup idea to Americas hottest billionaire factory and found a wasteland of techie hustlers and con men

The most desirable career of the 21st century, with numerous advantages over other fast-growing occupations such as hospice carer and rickshaw driver, is being a billionaire. Prior to the incorporation of US Steel in 1901, the world didnt have a single billion-dollar company, much less a billion-dollar individual. Today, more people than ever are becoming billionaires 2,000 and counting have made the great leap upward, according to the global wealth team at Forbes. And the USs hottest billionaire factory is located in the most hyped yet least understood swath of suburban sprawl in the world: Silicon Valley.

Despite what you may have heard, hard work in your chosen trade is absolutely the stupidest way to join the billionaires club. In Silicon Valley, the worlds most brilliant MBAs and IT professionals discovered a shortcutto fabulous riches. Ambitious Ivy Leaguers who once flocked to Wall Street are now packing up and heading west. The Valleys startup founders, investors, equity-holding executives and fee-taking middlemen have thrived above all. Inspired by their success, my idea was to move to Silicon Valley, pitch a startup and become obscenely rich. I left home with some homemade business cards showing my new emailaddress, futurebillionaire@aol.com, and a bunchof half-baked ideas.

The first thing I needed was a place to stay. The best deal I could find on short notice was a place I called Hacker Condo. Like most Bay Area newcomers, I was relying on the short-term apartment rental app Airbnb. At $85 (59) per night, the place cost less than the marketaverage, but was still more than I could afford.On the upside, it was in what the real estate hucksters called SoMa a trendy San Francisco neighbourhood well suited to my journalistic and entrepreneurial purposes. Once a low-rent manufacturing district, the south of Market Street area had become the go-to place for startups seeking industrial-chic open-plan offices, although the poor and homeless had not yet been fully purged.

The ad for Hacker Condo stated an express preferencefor techies: We would like to welcome motivated and serious entrepreneurs who are looking to expand their network, it said. Perfect. The best part: No bunk beds. I told the hosts that I was an embryo-stage startup founder and author. The hosts didnt own the place. I looked it up: the mortgage was held by some European guy who seemed to spend most of his time surfing at a resort and dabbled in the tech business as a hobby. The legal status of this rental arrangement was, lets say, unclear.

I rang the buzzer for a unit labelled TENANT. A man answered right away. He had been waiting. After a moment, the door opened, and I met my new roommate, a gangly Kiwi. We took the elevator three floors up and entered a silent, beige-carpeted hallway. Our unit was No 16. The first thing I noticed inside was a small mountain of mens shoes. Hacker Condo was modern and more spacious than seemed possible from the outside. The unit was spread over three floors. The furniture consisted of a picnic bench and a sectional sofa spanning the width of the living room. I counted five other short-term tenants. The Kiwi told me that soon, some Norwegian guys a whole startup team would be moving in. We calculated that Hacker Condo would soon have three more guests than it had beds.

Whats the key situation? I asked.

Theres one key, the Kiwi said.

One key? I said. For everybody?

There were more tricks to learn, as a consequence of the possibly illicit nature of this type of rental arrangement and the evident stinginess of our Airbnb hosts. The Condo Hackers never came in through the front door. It was too conspicuous. I followed the Kiwi down to the ground-floor garage, then outside to the rear of the building. He showed me how to slide my hand along a grate to locate the tiny combination safe that contained the exterior door key. It was best to do this when no one was looking.

I knew not to spend too much time getting to know my flatmates, for we were all rootless high-tech transients, our relationships temporary, our status revocable.

The room I had booked was available for only two weeks. As soon as I connected to the wifi network, Iwould need to start looking for another place. My room had five beds in it. Ithought I had paid for a private space. I double-checked. The listing clearly stated no bunk beds, but down in the fine print I finally found the words shared room.

Two weeks was not enough time to find an apartment in San Francisco. Not on my budget. Rents were higher than in New York or London. One-beds were running at about $3,000 per month; studios, about $2,500; shares, $1,500; and illegal crap shares, $1,000. It was the same deal across the bay to the east in Oakland and Berkeley, as well as to the south in the Silicon suburbs of Redwood City, Palo Alto and Mountain View. Whatever I might save in rent by living on the periphery I would lose in transportation costs and time.

These hacker houses were the products of disruptive innovation in the urban property market. The city was once riddled with small apartments and single-family homes that sheltered trifling handfuls of obsolete labourers and their unproductive children, often for decades at a stretch. But the tech boom let such so-called family homes reach their full potential as investment properties. Some hacker houses were attached to startup investment incubators or shared workspaces. Others amounted to little more than flimsy bunks in a windowless room. A number of trend-savvy investors purchased or leased dozens of residential properties around the Bay Area to rent out in this fashion.

Although I envied them from my dark and squalid quarters, the San Francisco long-timers who lived in rent-controlled apartments were in situations nearly asprecarious as my own. I met a musician who lived in a$600 rent-controlled apartment in the Mission. WhenImet her, she was terrified that her landlord would evict her and sell the building so that it could be rented out at six times the price to white techie colonisers such as myself.

With landlords eager to cash in, formal evictions had increased 55% in five years. More often, though, landlords simply bullied their tenants into packing up. Tenants are getting evicted for having cups in their cupboards. The landlords say its clutter. Theyll say anything. Eventually the tenants just give up, a lawyer for a tenants rights organisation told me. His employer, the Eviction Defense Collaborative, was itself getting evicted from its offices so that the landlord could rent the space to a tech startup.


My earnings potential had plummeted when I stopped writing software and started writing for newspapers. I now looked with envy at the techies, the winners, the pioneers. They had ideas. They had momentum. Most important, they had money. Why not me?

I wasnt just changing careers and jumping on the learn to code bandwagon. I was being steadily indoctrinated in a specious ideology. As proud as I was of having learned new skills, I didnt understand that the only way to turn those skills into a livelihood was to embrace the economy of the digital world, where giant corporations wrote the rules.

My idea was to pitch a tech startup and get obscenely rich while writing a book about how to pitch a tech startup and get obscenely rich the Silicon Valley way.

To save money, I took to cooking my own meals most of the time. This was when I discovered that it was much easier to launch a tech startup if you could afford to always have food delivered and never had to deal with mundane chores such as doing laundry, washing dishes or buying groceries. As one Twitter wag observed, San Franciscos tech culture is focused on solving one problem: what is my mother no longer doing for me?

I never felt older nor crankier than when watching these digital natives stumble through the daily rituals of adulthood. One of the kids, an overachieving Ivy Leaguer whose Google internship demanded an advanced understanding of high-level mathematics, was completely baffled when it came to using a simple rice cooker. I explained the process: put in rice, add water, press the button labelled cook. He grew increasingly flustered, and I suspected he wanted me to make the rice for him. He managed to saut a boneless, skinless chicken breast, but only by following the instructions on the package to the letter.

How did it turn out? I asked.

Its terrible. Bland, he said. Im full, thats allthatmatters. I dont care how it tastes.

When I first heard about Soylent, the startup selling a gooey meal replacement beverage powder with a determinedly neutral flavour, I wondered what sort of miserable insensates would choose to subsist on such glop. Now I knew.

It may have been better for everyone when the overpaid nerds stayed home. Theyre importing children to destroy the culture, one bar owner told me.

Airbnb
Airbnb employees at work in San Francisco. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

Indeed, to overhear the baby-faced billionaire wannabes exchanging boastful inanities in public could be enraging. Their inevitable first question was: Whats your space? Not Hows it going? Not Where are you from? But: Whats your space?

This was perhaps the most insufferable bit of tech jargon I heard. Whats your space? meant What does your company do? This was not quite the same as asking: What do you do for a living? because ones company may well produce no living at all. A space had an aspirational quality a day job never would. If you were a writer, you would never say Im a writer. You would say Im in the content space, or, if you were more ambitious, Im in the media space. But if you were really ambitious you would know that media was out and platforms were in, and that the measure excuse me, the metric that investors used to judge platform companies was attention, because this ephemeral thing, attention, could be sold to advertisers for cash. So if someone asked Whats your space? and you had a deeply unfashionable job like, say, writer, it behooved you to say I deliver eyeballs like a fucking ninja.

In my former life I would have sooner gouged out my own eyeballs than describe myself in such a way, but in post-recession, post-boom, post-work, post-shame San Francisco, we all did what we had to do to survive.


I was beginning to become acquainted with the infinite solipsism of my new milieu. We were grown men who lived like captive gerbils, pressing one lever to make food appear and another for some fleeting entertainment everything on demand. Airbnb and Foodpanda served the flesh, Netflix and Lifehacker nourished the soul.

I relied on sites such as EventBrite and Meetup to keep my social calendar full and my expenses down. I went to a party at the Yelp office like most of the freebies around town, it was advertised online. The venue was a forbidding art deco tower the old PacBell building, constructed for the California branch of the national telephone monopoly in its heyday. Now the towers largest tenant was a website that allows anonymous semi-literates to post critiques of local establishments. Most of the crowd seemed to work at Yelp, and felt obliged to stick around for the event. But there was something else keeping these people here an overriding anxiety about unfamiliar spaces.

Life outside the startup bubble was frightening and unpredictable. Inside, it was safe. Fun was mandatory in the Bay Area tech world, and inebriation strongly encouraged. The bar at Yelp, for instance, featured three kegs of high-end craft beer and an array of wines and spirits. This was not a temporary selection for the benefit of us honoured guests, but a permanent fixture of the commissary. Normally open only to employees, the Yelp Cafe had a perfect five-star rating … on Yelp. Well, looks like Im never leaving my office compound! one reviewer wrote.

A corporate recruiter explained to me the forces driving the perks war, an escalating tit-for-tat of such freebies as steak dinners delivered to employees desks, free laundry service, free bikes and bike repair, free concierge service and, of course, free drinks.

They might get a $20 steak, but with the extra time theyve stayed at work, theyve provided an extra $200 in value to their employer, the recruiter said. Thus the seemingly lavish enticements were a way to attract profit-producing programmers, who were in exceedingly high demand, without offering higher salaries. The perks also provided effective cover for the companies slave-driving work schedules.

My flatmates seemed happy with the arrangement, at least at first. Everything they say about Google is true, one intern told me after his orientation at the Googleplex. There are 20 cafeterias, a gym everything. Early each weekday morning, he and the other Googlers in his neighbourhood swiped their ID cards to board a chartered bus parked near the Bart station, then rode 35 miles to Mountain View. They started working onboard the bus, which was equipped with wifi, and didnt leave the campus until about 8pm, when another bus ferried them home after they ate at the company cafeteria. This was a pretty standard deal at the big Silicon Valley companies. Even rinky-dink startups in SoMa warehouses offered free catering. The perks, man! another roommate, a non-Googler, raved after arriving home at 10pm from his first day on the job.

I worked until 9pm because dinner is free if you work that late … And theyll pay for your cab home, he went on. That became his routine, and he never questioned it. Come to think of it, like a lot of his contemporaries, he never questioned anything.


In this milieu, a certain tolerance for phoniness was prerequisite. It was not enough to have the right skills, put in your time and get the job done you had to be fucking pumped about your job. Certain specialities were in more demand than others. Any chump with a humanities degree could talk his or her way into a marketing job, but programmers were harder to come by. One sunny day, I followed the waterfront to the event center at Pier 27 and signed in to the DeveloperWeek conference.

DevWeek, as everyone called it, was basically a week-long recruitment fair sprinkled with slideshows and panel talks. It was jarring to see employers desperate to hire, not the other way around. In 2010s America, the only place that was always hiring, apart from Silicon Valley, was the local US army recruiting centre. Hundreds upon hundreds of people had flocked here to look for a better job and still there were not enough applicants to fill all the openings for Java Legends, Python Badasses, Hadoop Heroes, and other gratingly childish classifications describing various programming specialities. Techies would call themselves just about anything to avoid the stigmatising label of worker. They could only face themselves in the mirror if their business card proved that they were rock stars or ninjas or something romantic and brave and individualistic anything but the truth, anything but a drone.

I had an important realisation at DevWeek: I wasnt the only one bluffing my way through the tech scene. Everyone was doing it, even the much-sought-after engineering talent. I was struck by how many developers were, like myself, not really programmers, but rather this, that and the other. A great number of tech ninjas were not exactly black belts when it came to the actual onerous work of computer programming. So many of the complex, discrete tasks involved in the creation of a website or an app had been automated that it was no longer necessary to possess knowledge of software mechanics. The coders work was rarely a craft. The apps ran on an assembly line, built with open-source, off-the-shelf components. The most important computer commands for the ninja to master were copy and paste.

Employees
Employees at the Square Inc headquarters in San Francisco. Photograph: Bloomberg via Getty Images

Barack Obamas White House had endorsed Silicon Valleys learn to code campaign it was an official government job-creation programme. With the traditional US job market still a smouldering charcoal pitafter the 2008 crash, computer programming skills were promoted as one sure way to attain the sort of prosperity and stability Americans had over many decades come to expect.

And yet, many programmers who had made it in Silicon Valley were scrambling to promote themselves from coder to founder. There wasnt necessarily more money to be had running a startup, and the increase in status was marginal unless ones startup attracted major investment and the right kind of press coverage. Its because the programmers knew that their own ladder to prosperity was on fire and disintegrating fast. They knew that well-paid programming jobs would also soon turn to smoke and ash, as the proliferation of learn-to-code courses around the world lowered the market value of their skills, and as advances in artificial intelligence allowed for computers to take over more of the mundane work of producing software. The programmers also knewthat the fastest way to win that promotion to founder was to find some new domain that hadnt yet been automated. Every tech industry campaign designedto spur investment in the Next Big Thing at that time, it was the sharing economy concealed a larger programme for the transformation of society, always in a direction that favoured the investor and executive classes.

In the first seven years after the 2008 crash, 16 million people left the US labour force. And in that same period, thanks to Silicon Valleys timely opportunism, the country gained an endless bounty of gigs. Tech startups, backed by Wall Street, swept in to offer displaced workers countless push-button moneymaking schemes what Bloomberg News called entrepreneurialism-in-a-box. Need fast cash? Take out a peer-to-peer loan, or start a crowdfunding campaign. Need a career? Take on odd jobs as a TaskRabbit or pitch corporate swag as a YouTube vlogger. Nine-to-five jobs with benefits and overtime may be in the process of getting disrupted out of existence, but in their place we have the internet, with endless gigs and freelance opportunities, where survival becomes something like a video game a matter of pressing the right buttons to attain instant gratification and meagre rewards.

More than a third of American workers now qualify as freelancers or contingent workers that is, their livelihoods are contingent upon the whims of their managers. Thats because the choice to become entrepreneurs has been made for them. The destruction of social welfare, public education and organised labour has created what might be called the 50 Cent economy, a system structured to offer only two options: Get rich or die trying. George W Bush called it the ownership society. Obama, smitten with his Silicon Valley donors, gave us Startup America. And Donald Trump, historys luckiest winner, reigned over a nation of losers. Under the latest iteration of the American Dream, if you arent a billionaire yet, you havent tried hard enough.


The contemporary equivalent of an entry-level job in the corporate mailroom was a work-from-home service called Mechanical Turk, operated by Amazon, the $136bn online retailer controlled by Jeff Bezos. The idea with Mechanical Turk was to create a digitised assembly line featuring thousands of separate human intelligence tasks, designed to be completed within seconds and paying pennies. Academic surveys found that many Turkers worked more than 30 hours per week for average wages of under $2 per hour. Yet these workers were considered self-employed small business owners. Their work was commissioned by social scientists seeking to cut costs on large-sample surveys, but also by profit-minded companies that hired hundreds of Turkers as needed, instead of a full- or part-time employee.

Another sharing economy upstart called Fiverr was a catalogue of freelance gigs, from illustration to translation, all sold at a fixed cost of $5. Launched in 2010 by two Israelis, Fiverr raised more than $50m in investment within five years, on annual revenue of $15m. Silicon Valley investors praised the founders incredible vision and swooned over the liquidity, velocity and engagement the company brought to the global marketplace.

It was remarkable what people were willing to do for $5, or more like $3.92 after service fees. A lot of ads promised custom website development. Others offered quick-and-dirty logos, proofreading, or rsum writing. I hoped to forge my place in the strange niche of bargain basement flat-fee consulting. Thousands of people were paying $5 to strangers for direction on matters they found too difficult, too stressful or too trivial to face alone. Fiverrs terms of service forbade nonsense and uncool stuff but the service seemed to tolerate ads like one for an Amazon Kindle ghostwriting machine; or another for tools designed to cheat likes on social networks; and still another for a profitable forex cheating strategy an obvious scam that Fiverr marked for a while as recommended. I had entered a murky ethical realm. I scanned gigs methodically. I learned that it paid to over-promise. No matter was too momentous:

I will teach you to make Life and Death Decisions for $5.

This gig was listed by a Fiverr-certified top-rated seller who claimed experience as a broker of precious metals.

I will help you Survive the Fatal Ebola Virus Epidemic for $5.

As far as I knew, there was no cure for Ebola. But who was I to argue with a five-star-rated seller? Could 2,679 customers be wrong?

On the sites discussion boards, sellers swapped stories of unfair competition from scammers, insufficient payments from Fiverr, capricious rules, meagre sales and endless hours. Some sounded genuinely desperate. Fiverr even sent its workers emails about increasing productivity by avoiding depression. Full-time Fiverring took a physical toll, as well, with many slavish gig-peddlers reporting rapid weight gain. I know what you mean! I bought some jeggings this weekend, one woman wrote. Another commenter saw opportunity. If anyone is interested, he wrote, Im putting together a Fiverr gig where I will be offering online fitness coaching.

Fiverr offered a glimpse at the new model worker: a fat, depressed con artist forever scheming against his comrades, egged on by the distant architects of the virtual marketplace the only real winners. The company eventually embraced this image and celebrated it with a subway ad campaign featuring a fatigued-looking model with frizzy hair and circles under her eyes. You eat a coffee for lunch. You follow through on your follow through. Sleep deprivation is your drug of choice, the ad said. You might be a doer, it concluded. When busy-ness became a status symbol, the glamorisation of exhaustion was inevitable.

A
A sign supporting Proposition F to restrict short-term rentals via companies such as Airbnb in San Francisco. Photograph: Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

I found Corey Ferreira through his website, makefiverrmoney.com, which was a marketing vehicle for his ebook, Fiverr Success: $4,000 a Month. 8 Hours of Work a Week. Having made a decent amount on Fiverr, Ferreira had found rates of pay had halved. Faced with slowing business, he had adopted a new approach: he could sell the method. He got the idea from a book called The Laptop Millionaire, which describes a guys journey from being basically homeless to making money online. One of the things he talks about is making information products. Hence Fiverr Success by Corey Ferreira was born, selling hundreds of copies at $17.

The book marked a transition for Ferreira, as he spent less time doing labour-intensive web design and more time searching for the cold fusion of internet marketing: passive income. I remember when eBay started, he told me. I was kinda young. Everybody wastalking about how to make money on eBay. I remember somebody telling me, During a gold rush, you should sell shovels.

I felt he had let me in on some oracular wisdom. Dontdig for gold: sell shovels to all the suckers who think theyll get rich digging for gold. To post an ad on Fiverr was to announce ones status as an easy mark. Tohawk get-rich-quick manuals to all those eager Fiverrers, however, was to join the exalted ranks of the shovel merchants.

My Airbnb landlord, I realised, was a shovel merchant. As was the company that rented me server space for website hosting. As were the startup community organisers selling tickets to conferences and networking parties. As were the startup awards shows and Hacker News and the whole Silicon Valley economic apparatus promoting the ideal of individual achievement. We startup wannabes were not entrepreneurs. We were suckers for the shovel merchants, who were much cleverer than the thick-skulled innovators who did all the work while trading away the rewards.

For a business incompetent such as myself, this concept of selling a method, rather than a straightforward product or service, was revelatory. I understood this lesson as an extension of that old saying about teaching a man to fish instead of just giving him a fish. Now the idea was: you made him pay for fishing lessons, offering student loans if necessary, and failed to mention that you had already depleted the pool. In a late capitalist society with dwindling opportunities for cash-poor workers and few checks on entrepreneurial conduct, what could be better to sell than false hope? This was a smart business.

Unfortunately, the techie hustlers can be a little too clever for their own good and ours. With decades of unwavering support from the military-industrial complex, Congress and Wall Street, the pallid princelings of Silicon Valley rewrote the rules of the global economy in their favour. The public, fooled as it was by the tech industrys slick marketing and lulled by the novelty and convenience of its gadgetry, might be forgiven for missing some early warning signs. (Remember when the Google guys used to rhapsodise about beaming the internet with the attendant targeted advertising directly into peoples brains? It doesnt sound so far-fetched and quirky now, does it?)

If we are feeling generous, the same retrospective clemency could even be shown to politicians who mistook Silicon Valley for just another well-heeled lobby looking for favours, and to the reporters who were suckered by the rapid rise of revolutionary companies such as Theranos and Uber. But the builders of our digital dystopia the tech titans themselves, and their armies of engineers have no such excuses. They will talk about the mistakes they have made. They will express regret for their oversights and make a show of contrition. Dont be fooled.

The dark side of Big Tech, which many consumers are only beginning to come to grips with, is not some byproduct of California-style conscious capitalism an unfortunate misstep in an otherwise heroic effort to change the world. Profit-hunger, philistinism and misanthropy are and always have been at the core of the enterprise. The new breed of Silicon Valley billionaires knew exactly what they were doing. The plan was to take all the money and run to Mars, if necessary.

Adapted from Live Work Work Work Die: A Journey into the Savage Heart of Silicon Valley, published by Metropolitan Books in the US, and forthcoming from Scribe in the UK

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Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/apr/17/get-rich-quick-silicon-valley-startup-billionaire-techie