A few months ago I was offered a chance to moderate a tiny part of the Dollar Stretcher community in Military Family Finances. I highly recommend Dollar Stretcher’s weekly e-mail, and their website is a treasure trove of personal financial tips.
One of the perks of being a Dollar Stretcher moderator is the opportunity to review new books. I’ve highly enjoyed the privilege (“Will write for chance to read free books”) and I’ve been passing on the best ones in this blog.
Today, however, I’m going to review a book that’s a bit less than the best.
Here’s the problem: People are getting rich off the Internet, but it’s not easy. It takes time and effort to duplicate their success. The advantage of global connectivity is that we only need to earn a penny or two from each sale, and then scale it up. The cost of starting a Web business is lower than ever, there’s very little penalty for failure, and it’s easy to start over. However the same bandwidth that’s connected us has also spawned a gigantic gold-rush industry of spam, fraud, and just plain useless advice. It all seems too good to be true: enriching yourself from the Internet still requires dedication, hard work, and a little luck.
Business advisers have multiplied a thousand-fold over the Internet, and they all have to deal with a credibility issue: “If you’re so smart, then why aren’t you rich? And if you’re so rich, then why do we have to pay you to read your advice?”
Marc Ostrofsky has already been smart enough to get rich, but I wouldn’t pay for his book. If you must read it, then ask your local library to buy it. (My review copy has been donated to our Hawaii library.) While you’re waiting for the library, go to GetRichClick.com and start learning.
The book is full of useful references for Internet profits. Ostrofsky shows that bandwidth helps a Web entrepreneur exploit the many inefficiencies in the bricks & mortar business world. Not only are these profitable opportunities, but they can scale worldwide and perpetually. He then cites the stories of people who have done precisely that.
The problem with a hardcopy book is that history doesn’t translate into reader action. We’re nearly two-thirds into 2011, and this book has been in editing and printing since mid-2010. That’s a generation at Internet speed. The gold rush in domain names ended years ago. There’s no mention of ICANN’s newly created generic top-level domain names or their expensive registration requirements. Even casual tech readers know that Google recently changed their search-ranking algorithm, eBay has raised their fees (again), and that Facebook is facing serious competition and backlash. Some of the advice in “Get Rich Click!” is already out of date, and most of it will be obsolete before 2012.
The author tries to compress the entire world of online sales and marketing into 240 pages. Unfortunately most of the subjects are limited to a page of introduction, a success story or two, another paragraph of advice, and then the reader is referred to the website. Why not just skip the book and start with the website?
I’m a voracious reader, and even I think that the book’s formatting is annoyingly distracting. There’s very little white space at the margins. The layout uses two ink colors and several font sizes. There’s a trademarked phrase on nearly every page. Cartoon panels are sprinkled through the text but they don’t always relate to the subject, and two of them have the same punchline. QR codes are used on many pages for websites that you’d never want to read on a smartphone. Text includes disclaimers like “I’m not an expert” or “Try consulting a friend.” Ostrofsky is a relentless name-dropper, even when names are irrelevant to the point of the story. The book is blatantly padded with five-page lists and “top 25” summaries. Maybe they’re good brainstorming tools, but mostly they’re history.
Ostrofsky will help you figure out how to get rich if you’re willing to work for it. (It’s not quick or just “Click.”) But if you want relevant advice in a readable format, start with his website.
Book review: Eric Tyson’s “Personal Finance in Your 20s For Dummies”
Book review: “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Social Security and Medicare“
Book Review: Liz Weston’s “The 10 Commandments of Money”
Hawaii newspaper review of “The Military Guide” (scroll to bottom)
Does this post help? Sign up for more free military retirement tips via e-mail, Facebook, or Twitter!