Here’s how I worked for Ramit Sethi and Neil Patel, two titans in the digital marketing and entrepreneurship world. It’s hard to not know who they are in their fields, but Ramit is a big guy in the personal finance and entrepreneurship space and Neil Patel is a digital marketing expert. Ramit is known for his advice and personal finance and entrepreneurship and career building through his online presence and best-selling book. Neil is all over the Internet, and has a podcast, YouTube channel, and blog dedicated to teaching people about digital marketing. While they have their share of haters, no one can deny that they are some of the most recognizable and most impactful names on the Internet.
These experiences happened a few years ago, and I chose not to share these stories until now. You’ll learn how I successfully worked with these high-hitters who get pitched and cold emailed all the time.
Also, keep in mind that this happened a while ago, so the services and context may be different from right now. But the innate principles remain the same.
Let’s start with Ramit since I had a simple yet effective process. I ended up being paid by to consult for his team on YouTube marketing. The biggest thing I did right was reach out to him purely to help him for free with no intention of monetizing it afterwards. And then, I had a structure to my pitch that works.
I think some of that pure intent probably rubbed through, and he could see it. That probably made my pitch stand out from other people since most people are coming at it from a very selfish ego, asking for stuff from him.
A few years ago, I was very enthusiastic about YouTube marketing since I wanted to be a rich, famous YouTuber. I’d been watching YouTube videos almost since the website began, give or take a couple years. I had spent a good chunk of money learning from the experts on the YouTube search algorithm and recommended algorithm like Darrell Eves and Tim Schmoyer. So, you could say that I have a lot of knowledge in the topic, more so than 99% of people.
So, I couldn’t help but to notice things that could be improved on his YouTube channel. Since I wanted to help out, I emailed him, and his email is easy enough to find if you have a little resourcefulness, and if you provide value … he may just respond positively.
I could tell he was new to YouTube, and so my message delivered the value upfront for free, pointing out things he could fix in a structured manner. What I had in this pitch is important. In addition, I emphasized the power of YouTube’s impact on revenue and reach. I showed how YouTube could improve people’s performance and traffic dramatically, and why my tips would affect the YouTube algorithm. Finally, I left a clear call-to-action and door open if he wanted to continue a partnership with me.
Ramit liked my pitch, was the ultimate compliment. He’s usually complaining about how bad pitches are! Without me having to even ask for it, he passed me over to his head employee to set up a consulting session. I didn’t even consider that as a possibility, so I ended up thinking about it and emailing him back a per dollar per hour rate of $100. I set up a consulting call with one of his team members and I told him everything I knew. The call lasted about an hour and half since this employee was enthusiastic, and I wanted to overdeliver.
I got a check mailed to me, and I can’t believe I had done business with his company that I respected a lot. I had followed him for many years, so it was amazing that I was a small part of it.
Having said that, there is a lot I learned and could’ve done better. At that time, I desperately needed more work, whether full-time or part-time. I wonder if I could’ve leverage that into a more recurring position somehow. But it still would’ve been a stretch. His company has high standards and a tough hiring process. Although it did look like he was looking for a one time consulting service, I should’ve at least tried to follow up afterwards trying to pitch more recurring work.
$100 per hour seems like a lot, but when you’re consulting, the rates should be higher than that because of the preparation or any follow-up time. Plus, only one hour at that rate really isn’t going to pay for rent or anything significant. PI should’ve charge more, especially given the fact that the company did not hesitate at all to pay that rate, which indicates that they were willing to pay more. I’m not too hung up on that or regret it since it was one of my first consulting gigs ever, and it’s natural for beginners to charge low until they have a consistent clientele and an established process so that they can charge higher.
The other big lesson is that I should’ve scaled that up and started pitching many people and turned that into a consistent consulting side gig. Instead, I just stopped after Ramit. Part of it was that I didn’t even consider that as a possibility. And part of it was probably I didn’t really want to become that “YouTube expert guy.”
Long story short, I had dumb luck stumbled into a monetizable consulting channel by just trying to help someone. That doesn’t always happen. Some people will just take the free advice. But it was an interesting situation. Ironically, Ramit sells a course called Earn $1k on exactly how to start something like this and scale it. I should’ve taken the course possibly!
I sent a thank you email after the gig, with some content on the spiciest foods in the world because Ramit loves spicy food. That extra personalized touch was a special gift, and he replied showing his thanks.
Let me know in the comments if you have any tips for me or our community. Have you ever successfully turned something into a consulting gig?
With Neil, I came in with more intention to charge for my services. You could say I learned a bit from my experience with Ramit, but it was also because I thought I had a good chance. I believed it could be a win-win situation where he would be happy to pay because of the value exchange. Part of that is because I knew Neil had the cash flow to spend. He had recently published an article about spending $162,000 on clothing as an experiment. And after listening to hundreds of his podcast episodes, I got the sense that a couple thousand dollars was nothing to him, especially if he spent it on something with a return on investment.
That’s a lesson in attracting and/or reaching out to prospects that have money. If you try to sell to cheap people, you’ll put in twice the work, and they’ll still say no. If you sell to rich people, they’re willing to pay. As a young professional, a couple thousand dollars had a noticeable impact on my life.
I kept the spirit and principles of my Ramit pitch by providing free value upfront to help them, if nothing else.
Also, my idea was that I was a huge follower of Neil’s content, so I knew who he was and could personalize the pitch so it didn’t come off generic.
I saw my opportunity when Neil mentioned a new social media platform that he thought had opportunity, but didn’t have the time to manage. I found his email and sent out a pitch about that platform. This time, I laid out my deep understanding of the platform. I had achieved a lot of views on it myself and knew the ins and outs of it. I pitched working together and a “per piece of content” deal. In the first email, I don’t think you should get into the nitty gritty of exact dollar amounts. Your goal is to get the person to read it and respond only.
Once he responded favorably, I nailed down a deal and got to work. We ended up almost maxing out the various digital marketing categories on the platform. You couldn’t not see Neil’s presence. Once we capped out, my deal with them came to an end. There was only so much more we could do, especially on a smaller platform with posting and spam constraints.
One lesson I learned during this time was that I’m a quantity over quality person, which means I sometimes sacrifice quality. It turns out Ramit’s team had a high standard of excellence, so I had to re-do my content to meet that standard. It made me realize that high quality and high quantity isn’t my zone of genius. That burns me out.
I was able to walk away with four figures!
Looking back, I should’ve pushed harder to see if I could leverage my services into work in some other channel for him. But I figured things were tapped out, and I guess I didn’t have any exciting ideas. I guess I figured he would likely say no since he already had a team, so I didn’t try hard.
I believe if you don’t come to them with a specific service, the person isn’t going to take the energy to come up with an idea or specific piece of work for you. So you have to come in prepared with specific forms of value.
There are things that I could’ve done better, but that’s where you live and learn. I do have to pat myself on the back for these achievements. There’s a ton of things that I could say that are negative, such as the fact that they were tiny projects so they don’t really matter much anyways or that I never turned them into anything recurring. I also never really mentioned, promoted, or marketed those achievements because I didn’t feel the need, didn’t feel it was significant, wanted to keep it private, or some other nonsense.
When you think about it, I work with two big names in the industry. A rare feat! The majority of people have tried and failed. That’s worth celebrating and learning from. I should learn from my mistakes and improve, but not dwell on it in a negative, unproductive way.
I still have a way to go to improve, so I’m still learning from those who have accomplished similar feats (Charlie Hoehn, for instance, has worked for Ramit and Tim Ferriss. He has a more systematic process. I could learn a lot from him.)