The abbreviated playbook for becoming a fake course millionaire

There was a discussion on Reddit last week about a certain freelancer’s claims of making a wild income on Fiverr.

I decided it would be a good launching-off point to write something I’d be meaning to for ages explaining why I think that most freelance writing courses (and freelance courses, and digital nomad courses) are snake oil coaching products for the gullible and the desperate (of which there are many).

In the process of doing so, while banging brain cells together, I created a diagram that I propose does a decent job of explaining how these operations work in practice. Creating it was kind of fun. And I have to admit: in a perverse way, I sort of admire the course hucksters’ ingenuity.

Here it is again:

Why am so I anti these freelance writing courses (for the most part)?

  1. They rip people off and enrich people that (often) don’t actually have anything useful to teach. The wiki and this sub are great examples of places people can find almost everything they need to know about freelancing for zero cents. Nobody sharing info is making money from helping others out here. I also don’t like aspiring freelancers being swindled.
  2. I think they sully our “profession” if you want to call it that. If we’re a collective at all, then I think the battles we need to be fighting are getting fairer legislation for freelancers worldwide (see: the debate currently taking place in the US). As freelancer writers we need to be advocating (IMO) for fairer rates and standardization within markets. The more freelance courses mushroom, the more we’re all going to get sidetracked into believing that teaching other freelancers how to freelance is the ultimate aim of what we do. I think a huge mistake.

And now, dear readers, the playbook.

How To Become A Freelance Course Huckster / Fake Fiverr Millionaire — In 6 Easy Steps!

  1. Freelance for a token period of time. You want to do this for the minimum possible time and as soon as enough gullible people start buying your course you can pretty much drop the sweaty work of making active income altogether. You want to freelance write / graphic design etc just long enough to gather some war stories and success stories and (ideally) testimonials to give your future course social proof. You also want to be able to say “after 5 long and hard years freelancing, I’m lifting the lid on my freelancing success” and “THIS happened to me. But if you buy my course, I can show you how to avoid such a fate.” Don’t forget to include lots of emojis and red ink and gifs in your course landing page because for whatever reason this seems to be what desperate and gullible people go in for.
  2. Start flaunting your wealth. The next step is to be begin flaunting your supposed “wealth” in the most egregious and relentless way possible. Visually oriented social networks like Instagram and Tik Tok are PERFECT for this which is why I think we see so many fake millionaires drawn to these platforms like moths to a flame. A picture speaks louder than words and showing yourself lounging in a business jet with champagne is more effective than saying “I’m rich!!!” If you’re not actually getting wealthy through the hard graft of actually working then no need to sweat it. You can rent out time in a fake biz jet interior. Rent a suit. Get creative. Now’s the time to start saying (or rather tweeting) things like “I’m Daniel, the six figure freelance writer. Off to Ibiza for the weekend #freelancelife”
  3. Have a moment of reckoning. This part’s key. Somewhere along the line you’re going to want to have some kind of epiphany during which you realize that we’re all in this together. Why deprive the world of this fantastic knowledge you’re accruing that has helped you become fabulously wealthy, you may ask yourself? Again (like step two) you want to do this very publicly. Creating digital breadcrumbs is key here. When a hostile interviewer in a few months says “but Daniel, aren’t you kinda the latest course huckster?” you want to have a tweet that you can screenshot and say “no, I’m here to help people!”
  4. Launch your course: With all the legwork in place we’re finally ready to launch our course How To Become A Freelance Writer in 90 Days! We need the usual aggressive sales and marketing to support its launch that snake oil people go in for. As I said they LOVE their emojis. Red ink. Lots of photos from Instagram. A landing page.
  5. Start actually becoming wealthy: When I said that I sort of perversely admire their playbook this is what I meant. I believe that many of the fake course “millionaires” don’t actually start making a significant income until the point at which they convince people that they’re rich and THEN start making bank from the course signups by all the 18 year old wannabees who want to become rich too. Again, I think it’s crappy and don’t condone it and the very reason I’m writing this post is to try help people see this stuff for what it is. But …. you gotta kinda hand it to them. It’s darkly clever if nothing else.
  6. Return to step 2 and repeat cycle. The “genius” part of this whole scam formula is that it’s self-perpetuating. Remember that we’re actually getting wealthy for real now through all those desperate people who want to know how to become as super successful as we are. So now we have ACTUAL money to show off. And guess what? The more we Instagram and Tik Tok it the more people are going to sign up for our course about how to get rich,. Beautiful eh?

I can’t say that every dubious course person follows the above formula. But I believe that a substantial percentage of them do. Seeing through the ruse is the first step in calling this activity out for what it is.




Daytime: writing for other people. Nighttime: writing for me. Or the other way round. Enjoys: Linux, tech, beer, random things.

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Daniel Rosehill

Daniel Rosehill

Daytime: writing for other people. Nighttime: writing for me. Or the other way round. Enjoys: Linux, tech, beer, random things.

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