How An Ambitious 22-Year-Old Got His Startup Into The Wall Street Journal.

Imagine how your credibility and audience would shoot up if you got into The Wall Street Journal. At 22, Ramit Sethi craved that coverage for his business, but he didn’t want to sit back and hope that someday a reporter might find him. So he found a way to get press and you can use his method for your business.

(I ran this interview before, but I’m re-posting it to highlight this important point.)

 

Ramit is the best-selling author of the book “I Will Teach You To Be Rich,” and a blogger at IWillTeachYouToBeRich.com

 

Text excerpt:

I was a cocky, 22-year-old. I found a few personal finance journalists at the Wall Street Journal. I wrote them and I said, “You guys need somebody to write for young people. I’ll do it, and I’ll do it for free.”

They ignored me. And they blew me off.

What I would do is send them an email every few weeks or months, and say, “hey, just FYI, I posted this new blog post and got covered in these places.” I was NOT covered anywhere major. These were little web sites. But that’s all I had.

I went on and on and on. They finally passed me to an editor. The editor said, “Look, we’re not interested, but thanks. I’ll keep you in mind.”

So I kept on pinging him. It took me months.

Finally, I was about to take off to Japan. I was giving a talk for a college research project. And I get a call right before I go to the airport. They say, “We want to do an interview with you.”

I said, “Well I’m going to Japan, what are we going to do?” I ended up doing the interview from Japan. And when I came back, it was featured in the Wall Street Journal online. Which was huge.

After that day, traffic never went down to where it was before. And that always happens when you get great traffic from great sites. That really helped put me on the map.

Three to four months of being completely ignored, but to me it was just a game. It was like, “Look, I think what I offer is good. I think you guys need this. You’re ignoring me. That’s fine, because I’m just going to wear you down because I know I can.”

That’s how I did it.

After I was in the Wall Street Journal and a few other places, I started realizing the power of journalists. They are huge gatekeepers and the thing that I didn’t get at first was, that they need you as much as you need them–assuming you’re good and you have something valuable to offer.

So now what I do with journalists is make friends with them and show them stuff that they haven’t seen before. And I always say, “If you’re looking for stories, numbers, stats, come to me. I can get you stats within 24 hours.”

So for example, I have a reporter friend at the San Francisco Chronical. He said, “Ramit, I’m writing a story, I need some data.”

I put a Survey up on my site, and that same day, I had 1,000 responses, and that same data ran on the front page of the Chronicle.

The full program includes:

  • How to negotiate anything.
  • How to promote your site online.
  • How to build a passionate audience.
  • Andrew asking Ramit how rich he is.

26 thoughts on “How An Ambitious 22-Year-Old Got His Startup Into The Wall Street Journal. – With Ramit Sethi

  1. frankaye says:

    Persevering, insistent, whatever you want to call it, Ramit really stuck to it and is inspiring.

    Thanks again for a great interview Andrew!

    Great motivational quote – “If you're going through hell, keep going.” – Winston Churchill

  2. I feel as if every personal finance book/column is written through the lens of someone who, in spite of financial troubles, has a job with a steady income. What do you do when you're out of work, or suffering through a less-than-predictable freelance lifestyle?

  3. AndrewWarner says:

    I know. It's amazing how many times I hear that in my interviews with
    successful entrepreneurs. They just keep going and going. It's like
    rejection fuels them.

  4. SteveWa says:

    you kick it in the ass and work twice as hard to generate income. jobs are bad, they limit your income. your only limit is your mind. so reboot your mind and make some money by thinking differently. think you can and you will be some much better than if you think you can't.

  5. AndrewWarner says:

    Working twice as hard is good. I wonder who I can interview to help us work
    twice as smart too. I'll keep looking for those smart interviews.

  6. Jeff Lee says:

    I listened to this interview before, and I still enjoyed it the second time around.
    Ramit is actually my favorite blogger. I really enjoy his writing style and personality. When I think about his attitude towards all things (financial or not), I keep thinking to myself, “how could this guy NOT succeed?” Awesome stuff.

  7. Andrew,

    Working smarter is definitely a transformative things which takes time because you're reshaping parts of you little at a time. The main point is to recognize and identify the aspect of your life that you want to change, and understand the reasons why you want to do it. If you say you want to have a million dollars just for the sake of having a million dollars you will most likely not get there because there's no underlying reason which will keep you going.

    But — if you're doing it to become a role model, show others, change peoples lives it will be much easier since you'll naturally gravitate towards others who can help you.

    A year ago I started the blog I current write. I do it in addition to working a full-time job and working 70 – 80 hrs/week is a usual occurrence. Now many would say that isn't working smarter but here's the thing. The skills I'm acquiring in SEO, buzz marketing, affiliate marketing and networking will help me for the rest of my life. In the meantime I get paid for the sale I drive through my site which isn't bad either.

    Last April, I couldn't get 10 people to come to my site – now it drive over 30,000 page views. It took me 3 months to make my first sale, now I drive about 4-5 per day.

    There are over 50 million results for the search “tv parts” on Google and I frequently see my site on the first page; sometimes even as high as fourth position.

    I'm not bragging, but showing that if you are willing to be vulnerable enough to gradual changes, you'll get a result you could never imagine.

    The interview was immensely enlightening and I look forward to having a product/service I can discuss with people and share as well.

  8. AndrewWarner says:

    I only got major press once in my life. I started a company called Grab and offered the world's largest jackpot ever: a billion dollars. I did it because most of the businesses I ran till that point were under the radar and I wanted to (finally) get some attention.

    Well it worked. I got into USA Today and Good Morning America and a bunch of other places.

    I wish I could get a copy of my appearance on Good Morning America. I've tried calling ABC, but their digital records don't go as far back as 2001.

  9. AndrewWarner says:

    I keep posting clips from our interview because he's just THAT good.

  10. AndrewWarner says:

    Chance, I love this comment!

    It's it amazing how you can work for months and then BAM you start to see
    results?

  11. Ryan says:

    Andrew,
    Great interview, especially the 'consumer to producer' transition Ramit espouses, and you support.

    Also of great value is your suggestion to reach out and connect with individuals who operate successful ventures you admire. I've found you and others to be extremely accessible, thoughtful, and willing to provide honest inputs into your proposed ventures.

    All the best!
    Ryan

  12. AndrewWarner says:

    I get disgusted with myself when all I do is consume.

    Ramit is right. It's so easy to be a producer now, even if it's just a
    simple blog or forum.

  13. Phil Bundy says:

    In the mid-1990's after earning my MBA at the Dingman center for Entrepreneurship at the Robert H. Smith Scool of Business at the University of Maryland, I took a new golf bag rain cover to market working on a bootstrap budget.

    I sent press releases to every golf publication. One day, an assistant equipment editor from Golf Magazine in New York City called to request a sample for editorial review. Instead of shipping the sample, I told her that I was scheduled to be in Manhattan on the very next day, which was, of course, a white lie. I suggested that I deliver the sample, which offered me with the opportunity to personally meet her and demonstrate the product.

    On the next morning, took the Amtrak train from Baltimore to NYC. As I walked with my golf bag down the sidewalks in Times Square, I received a few surprised glances and wanted to just yell, “Fore!”

    Finally, I arrived at the Golf Magazines office tower. The assistant editor and I became fast friends, talking for about 30 minutes about golf and life before I finally realized that I had yet to demonstrate the product. The demo went smoothly, and we said our goodbyes.

    A few months later, the telephone started ringing off the hook. She and her editor had rated the rain cover as the best available with 4 1/2 out of 5 stars. The shelf life of the issue was amazing as we continued to receive call due to the editorial coverage for a few years after printing. In the end, we sold over 20,000 units at the retail price of $20 as a result of the free publicity. My cost was my time and a round trip train ticket on Amtrak!

  14. AndrewWarner says:

    Phil, I love this story!

    I'm going to Tweet a link to this comment. This is great!

  15. Andrew –

    When we started IMSafer, we knew that we had to get to the parents in order to get uptake, and knew that not many of them were reading blogs. Further, you can only buy as much traffic as is searching for your product, so that makes SEO and ad buys difficult as well. We needed some ideas for off line buzz generation to get onto the morning shows.

    The first thing we did was create “free” account cards, much like the AOL CDs of yesteryear. We modeled the cards on the prepaid calling cards you see hanging in most convenience stores. We found a printer, designed up some cards, and got them made at an astonishing 2 cents per. We then took these cards to locations where we knew parents were going to be. The cards had our top 5 online safety tips on the front, with our logo and the words “Free Offer.” Very simple. The back had the marketing speak. At a cost of $20CPM, we carpet bombed malls in our area. When we handed them to parents directly, we gave them more than one. The big sell here wasn't that we were giving them something of value (our software), but topical information as well (our safety tips). We also got lucky that the “To Catch a Predator” series was running, so this was top of mind.

    Our big coup was getting into the Wall St. Journal a scant 14 days after launching. The reason? I had identified the writers at the major pubs many months prior, and, like Ramit, came to them with information, and letting them know that I was a resource available to them. I was always courteous, and usually found a connection. Jessica Vascellaro was at the Wall St. Journal, and we had a tenuous school connection. That was my in. She pinged me back a few months later and we were one of the featured companies in her article on online safety.

    http://moreresults.factiva.com/results/index/in

    We also were lucky to get picked up by Techcrunch right around our launch. I wish I could tell you how Marshall Kirkpatrick found us. The coverage sent a good bit of traffic, but it was fleeting. However, the combination of the WSJ and TechCrunch articles allowed us to be proactive in contacting television stations around the country whenever a story hit about child predators. You would be surprised how easy it is to get them on the phone when they have a story and they need an “industry” expert. As long as there is a current hook, the assignments editor will talk to you. Those calls got myself on TV in many markets. Some of those pieces, as luck would have it, got rerun as sister stations, so they had staying power.

    http://www.youtube.com/results?search_type=&sea

    Hope this helps people.

  16. AndrewWarner says:

    Wow Brandon.

    I just linked to you and this comment from the post so that people could
    learn from you.

    Brandon, this is awesome.

    Great getting to know you yesterday. I'm looking forward to telling everyone
    here about your upcoming project.

  17. PhilBundy says:

    In the mid-1990's after earning my MBA at the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, I took a new golf bag rain cover to market, working on a bootstrap budget.

    I sent press releases to every golf publication. One day, an assistant equipment editor from Golf Magazine in New York City called to request a sample for editorial review. Instead of shipping the sample, I told her that I was scheduled to be in Manhattan on the very next day, which, of course, was a little white lie. I suggested that I deliver the sample, which provided me with the opportunity to personally meet her and demonstrate the product.

    On the next morning, took the Amtrak train from Baltimore to NYC. As I walked with my golf bag down the sidewalks in Times Square, I received a number of interesting glances, and I wanted to just yell, “Fore!”

    Finally, I arrived at the Golf Magazines office tower. The assistant editor and I became fast friends, talking for about 30 minutes about golf and life before I finally realized that I had yet to demonstrate the product. The demo went smoothly, and we said our goodbyes.

    A few months later, the telephone started ringing off the hook. She and her editor had rated the rain cover as the best available with 4 1/2 out of 5 stars. The shelf life of the issue was amazing as we continued to receive call due to the editorial coverage for a few years after printing. In the end, we sold over 20,000 units at the retail price of $20 as a result of the free publicity. My cost was my time and a round trip train ticket!

  18. Pek Pongpaet says:

    Andrew, your comment about being producers and NOT consumers very much resonates with me. Only recently have I been really conscious of all the things I consume and it really opens your eyes to the mentality of people who do all the producing. Keep up the good work. I really enjoy it.

  19. AndrewWarner says:

    I love that people have heard this interview to the end so they could pick
    up that point. It's one of my favorites.

    I know I feel a sense of satisfaction when I come home with new equipment
    from the Apple store. But as hard as these interviews are to research, edit
    and post, the sense of satisfaction that comes after I created them is
    unmatched.

    I'm sure you've had similar experiences Pek.

  20. Top 5 interview dude.That was really inspiring to listen to on an early morning hike.

    There really was loads in that interview, the pinging persistence, the spend as much time marketing as producing thing, take people you admire for lunch,.. I better start producing! No time like the present.

  21. AndrewWarner says:

    I know. Didn't he come on with a ton of useful information?

    If I could make all my interviews this useful, I'd consider myself a
    success.

    Frankly, that's my goal right now. Getting my interviewees to be as helpful
    and articulate as him. It's a bigger goal than audience size. Or revenue. Or
    anything else.

  22. christi32 says:

    Another tactic to use to attract people, besides saying that it is not about you, is to build a business and go after the target market that is more like you. If you are a 20-something year old college student that love to travel, then start a business that go after that group. Plus, it is easier for you to express your passion for this business, and your audience will “get it”…they will get what you are saying, what you are doing, and they will join in a lot faster because you are “one of them”, and are there to serve them…but, you will also be serving yourself because you are part of the “pack”.

  23. AndrewWarner says:

    I do that here on Mixergy. It's a lot more fun to run a business that you'd
    be a customer of than one that tries to satisfy people you can't relate to.

  24. RedBoy1 says:

    Great interview. I thought Ramit's video testemonials were fantastic. Linked to what Chance Barnett was saying about building trust prior to the purchase decision.

  25. elramirez says:

    Thank you Andrew. This has helped me to work harder to be a producer.

  26. elramirez says:

    Thank you Andrew. This has helped me to work harder to be a producer.

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