Book Report: Confessions of an Online Hustler by Matt Forney

Book Report: Confessions of an Online Hustler by Matt Forney

In his classic, no holds barred, no shit taken, take or leave it writing style Matt Forney attacks the topic of how to monetize your website with Confessions of an Online Hustler. With thousands of “online get rich quick scheme” promoting charlatans to contend with, Forney quickly differentiates himself with the bluntness of a cudgel:

Making a living as a writer is a hell of a lot less glamorous than it sounds. Anyone who fantasizes about being able to sell millions of copies of their slap-happy memory about their quirky and unique childhood is high on their own supply.

Just because you can start a blog doesn’t mean anyone will care. In my years of blogging and lurking, I’ve watched sites come and go like herpes sores.

Finally, I’m not going to make any guarantees about your probable success. What most self-improvement hucksters will never, ever admit is that self-improvement is a raoadmap, not a guided tour.

I deliberately wrote the book to debunk in part the more fantastical claims made by “lifestyle design” gurus like Tim Ferriss.

While I don’t share Forney’s complete and total loathing of Tim Ferris, I do agree that The Four Hour Work Week is overly optimistic, at times “annoyingly upbeat” (Forney’s words) and at least 50% bullshit. However, I do believe that myself along many others did learn valuable tips, tricks and tools from Ferris’ book. Having just read Confessions of an Online Hustler a couple of days ago, it’s too early to say which book will end up providing more value to my life but I suspect that if I could travel five years into the future, I would weight their value at least evenly. I will say that I prefer reading Forney far more than Ferris; what’s not to love about metaphorical prose like this:

The mean life of a blog is somewhere between one and three months, after which the author gets bored or disgruntled and tosses the whole thing aside in a heap. The desiccated corpses of abandoned blogs litter the landscape like passed out co-eds after a kegger party Ladies’ Night.

The truth is, reading this book is entertaining. Even if you have no predilections toward becoming a professional writer, the entertainment value alone is almost worth the $9.99 price of admission. The fact that this book contains practical, actionable advice that can likely help you to pursue your dreams while making a few bucks doing it puts it in a class far above most of the garbage you will find in book stores and on the Internet. After having had almost a decade of experience with online businesses of various stripes and colors, I’m fairly confident that you would be hard pressed to not make at least some money if you follow Forney’s advice diligently for 3 to 6 months. How much money really depends on your level of dedication and how much you want it. Can you expect to make a full time living within one year? Doubtful, but who knows, maybe if you live in Thailand, your basic needs and desires are modest, and you begin the project with some writing chops, yea sure, why not? You would certainly be in a lucky, elite minority if you did but I think you could pull that off if you really put your mind to it and pump out articles and books like it’s going out of style.

I didn’t find a lot to criticize in this book but there are a few things I can nit pick. First I think some of the technical advice is a little bit dated, but hell who can blame a guy when he’s dealing with a topic that moves at lightning speed like the Internet? Second, I believe that if you’re serious about writing and making money with it you should skip over free blogs altogether. Start with a self-hosted WordPress website right from the get go and set it up on your own virtual private server (VPS). Why?

  1. It’s cheap now, for $5 you can get a starter package at Digital Ocean and you can earn hosting credit by referring your friends and fellow bloggers. That’s $60/year. If you can’t scrape together $60 per year, which by the way you only have to pay out monthly, then you aren’t really serious about this project. Find something you are more passionate about.
  2. It’s not that hard to move your site but it does take time and effort, what if it doesn’t go smoothly and you end up with some down time that totally blows up an article that’s going viral? Just get it right the first time. Plus, unless you live in the third world or something, I don’t think you value your own time highly enough if you are just trying to save $5 per month.
  3. VPSs at Digital Ocean and many other providers can have their CPU and RAM upgraded almost instantaneously. If you’re lucky enough to get an article to go viral you can deal with it on the fly by just temporarily adding CPU and RAM. If you’re on some shitty shared hosting and you reach whatever the totally in-transparent resources are that they’ve assigned you, it may be difficult to deal with in a timely fashion. Better to just click a button, double your server resources and pay an extra $5-10 per month until the traffic dies down to normal levels.
  4. It’s easy, it’s inexpensive and you can find a guide on how to setup as well as how to optimize your new site right here on this website. You should be able to complete this in one to two hours as long as you’re not completely retarded wherever technology is concerned.

I think this book is a excellent read for anyone wants to learn how to make money with their website or to increase what they’re already earning. If you’re dealing in physical products I do think you will need to supplement the knowledge in this book because there are issues that are just simply not dealt with in this book such as the fulfillment and warehousing of physical products. I also think that PayPal is a payment processor to be avoided like the plague but I do acknowledge that there are some companies out there that you want to use that are inseparably joined at the hip with PayPal. Perhaps that is the case with the best of the best eBook sales and distribution platforms out there. I simply have no experience with it and cannot comment. All of that said, for those that do sell physical products, having a blog with quality content that attracts lots of readers is an excellent way to increase sales. Not to mention there are very few endeavors in life that would not benefit from better written communication skills.

Matt Forney sets a golden example for young single dudes who want to escape the corporate prison and free themselves from location dependence and his book Confessions of an Online Hustler is just one of many roadmaps that will show you one of many possible paths to freedom.

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