This is a long response to the comments on a previous lifestyle design blog post for the few who aren’t yet passed out from drinking.

An economy based on selling ebooks to each other or advertising each others blogs is really no different from a service economy based on cutting each others hair. Both are unsustainable on their own. They require a “parasitic feed” from what could be called “the real economy” which really is the industrial part of economy. On the other hand, with technological advances, the industrial economy can get smaller and smaller relative to the service economy even though the industrial economy is still growing.

(Note that economists frequently conclude that this means that the economy is getting less resource intensive as more money is being made based on the same input. However, in reality, the economy is growing even faster, so now more resources than ever are used.)

I think we can agree that problogging provide some value. SEO optimizing, for example, has value, specifically it has value to whoever uses it and yet it decreases values for whoever uses search engines because SEO is essentially gaming the system … like advertising with a special dictionary. Similar to products, you don’t find what you really want or need by looking at TV ads, but for many that is what they do. Personal finance blogs have value in the sense that they tell people stuff they don’t know. Travel blogging has value, but I don’t know what it is because I don’t like travel 😀

Travel blogging is like travel journalism without the sponsorship of a magazine. It is obvious that only a few people can make a living at it just like only a few people can make a living blogging about any other subject. I like that some have made it work without going the traditional route.

However, saying or giving the impression that everybody can win in a highly competitive winner takes all business like blogging is dishonest. I am somewhat proud that at least the “ERE”-method is robust in the sense that it does not require direct competition with me or other “retirement bloggers” to succeed. You don’t need to start a blog about retiring early to retire early and in particular this is NOT how I did it.

Now, what I don’t like is 1) The language hyperbole, but I accept that this is because I am an old geezer (the last of generation X) who can not accept the loose use of the word “awesome” despite having no issues with the word “cool”; more importantly, though is 2) The way some of these things are marketed. For instance, I am currently reading the 4HWW for the first time. Now, the author suggests an approach to work which in many ways are uncommonly good common sense in terms of optimizing and efficiency (you can find this stuff in many other books though) and then some other suggestions which conflict with what I think as ethics101(*)(**), but that’s just me. I have issues, as in, a moral sense. However, more importantly … if we look at the dust jacket, the wording is

“How Tim went from 40k per year and 80 hours per week to 40k per month and 4 hours per week”

whereas from what I understand, a more accurate description would be

“How Tim made 40k per year but then worked 100 hours a week to build a business making 40k per month and eventually set it up so it could be run with 4 hours per week.”

Big difference! And just by not mentioning a few intermediate steps, namely the hard ones. This is my main issue with coaching and marketing and lifestyle design and so on. It is made to look too easy. Now, being supportive is nice, but leaving out the hard parts, that’s just not useful to the costumers. It is only useful to make the customers buy the book, the ebook, the coaching classes, or whatever.

(*) The most famous example is “winning” some kickboxing tournament by dehydrating enough to compete three weight classes lower than himself and simply pushing his opponents out of the ring and winning on a technicality. Now, some think that’s very clever and some think it’s bordering on shameful. I’m leaning closer to the latter. Then again, guess which attitude makes it easier to get rich. (I suspect that the rules where changed immediately after that so it will never happen again.)

(**) Another example is pestering your professor/instructor with a 3 hour question session any time you get anything less than an “A” using the theory that they will be wary to give you anything less than an “A” in the future. Ha! You just try that one on me, Mr. Student, and it is _you_ who will never come back.

Maybe it comes down to the fact that I don’t like marketing (which is all about selling things to people which they don’t need), and I have to admit that the main reason I don’t like it is probably that I suck at it.

Originally posted 2010-03-25 08:32:17.