Real Gurus in Property Should “Do” as well as “Teach”

Real Gurus in Property Should “Do” as well as “Teach”

It has been four years since I updated my main book, “Successful Property Letting – How to Make Money in Buy to Let”.

The other day I had a quick look at the book. I found that there is not that much that is out of date though, except for the tax chapter, where things inevitably move on fast.

I decided to not update the book anymore four years ago.

I will explain why.

The reasons I am going to give here ought to tell you a lot about where you should get your learnings from, if you are starting out as a residential landlord (or if you are already a landlord and just want to get better at it).

Essentially, updating a book is quite a lot of work. I would estimate that it typically takes the equivalent of about 4 weeks work to fully revise the book. And obviously, you would not do it 9 to 5 every day as you would go nuts. For past editions, I usually had to allow about 12 weeks – spending about a third of each day on a new edition (or revision).

But it is not just the editing of the book that takes work.

Any book that is out there will sink unless it is promoted – especially a book of its kind, which is dedicated to sharing knowledge on a topic, in this case property investing and being a landlord.

To promote it requires going onto landlord websites and adding helpful comments on topics. All editors of sites like content and are happy to have someone who is an expert coming onto their sites and giving helpful advice. They are happy for me, (as that expert), to link back to my own websites and to my book. It raises the profile online.

But it all takes time.

Another way to get visibility is by speaking as an expert at property trade shows and the numerous events for landlords that take place around the UK. I did a fair bit of that in my time.

That takes time too – prepping and delivering speeches. Usually this would be paid, but for bigger events I would speak for free.

Still another way is to be quoted in the media, especially in the mainstream press in their property and personal finance pages. I have done that too. Again, though, it requires being regularly in the eye of the journalists and editors and keeping an up-to-date contact book of who is writing about what on landlord issues.

I have been frequently quoted in the mainstream papers and on mainstream radio and was once on TV.

It is good to be contacted by journalists – and obviously one must know one’s stuff and be fully up to date on any news issues as soon as they emerge. If you make one mis-step and say one thing which is wrong, you won’t be asked to comment again!

It is all great fun, but it too is very time consuming as it requires you to be fully up to speed on every relevant news story as they emerge, in case a journalist contacts you for comment.

So, what is to be gained from all this activity? Where is the money for people like me personally?

Well, it is not from sales of my books, that much is for sure.

For at least ten years after it first came out my book was regularly in the top 2,000 books on Amazon, which is not bad when you think there are about 40 million or so books you could buy then and right now on Amazon. Even after that time, for the next ten years it will have been usually in the top 5,000 ranked books.

But even when the book was flying off the shelves, the royalty rates an author gets will not make him or her a living. I think the most I earned in a year was about £3,500 in royalties. Wake-up call: the money from book sales mostly go to the retailers, especially the online retailers, especially Amazon. Not so much publishers and certainly not authors.

Gurus and Peanuts

So, it is still peanuts for quite a lot of effort.

I once did a special version of my book for Rightmove, suitably edited (so as to not upset letting agents) – and that did earn a lot of money and for relatively little work, but that was a one-off special business opportunity that fell into my lap.

The major spin off for me, was and is, the consultancy work I have done for private clients and for corporations – mainly mortgage lenders and charities as well as some councils.

That is fun to do – especially the work with private clients. I still do about eight to ten sessions a year with private clients. Some of these are with people starting off as landlords, though the more typical client will already have two or three properties and been a landlord for two to three years – and is simply looking for my advice on how they have been doing and where and in what they should invest in next.

These days I don’t do much of the corporate work because I have cut my visibility in this area – and to be honest, I don’t enjoy it as much. Most local authorities are a pain to work with – though credit to Welwyn District Council who were smart and good and to Family Mosaic Housing Association, also good.

All this, made a very modest living, but is not what made me wealthy.

And here is the thing. If one wants to leverage a property advice site to make money, one must go the whole hog as an educator. So one must have a whole all singing all dancing offering – tutoring, courses every week, speakers, mentoring, meet-ups, academy systems for “course graduates”, presence at property shows and a massive online presence.

Essentially, one needs a whole marketing operation.

For me, that just looked like too much hard work.

And for me too, when I realised this way back in 2005 when my book first came out, I decided it was not for me.

And so, my site was then and still is very low key.

Because of my ego and the fact that I liked being the author of a rather highly ranked and respected book, I did however get involved in promoting it in the various ways I described, but I decided the full all-singing, all-dancing offering was too much work. The likes of Simon Zutshi and many, many others have the energy and do it very well. Good luck to them.

But the main sticking point for me was that if I was to go the all-singling, all-dancing route, I would not have had any time for doing all the things I was telling other people to do – making money from buying and letting residential property.

Those that Can “Do” Stuff, Some of Those who Can’t, Just Teach

And so, I have kept my site simple and my personal marketing limited.

This approach turned out to be the right decision, because my property investments have blossomed.

I often wonder at so many of the property gurus with their courses every week, huge mentorship programmes etc.  

And so, a few years ago at the big Property Investor Show in London’s Excel, where I used to go to speak, I button-holed two of the gurus who I respect and who have been around a long time.

I asked them why they did not just focus on making money for themselves as they obviously knew what they were doing. Why all the effort on the courses, the mentorship programmes etc?

They both said they just did it because they liked to help others – and they still apparently found the time to invest for themselves.

Goodness me, I thought, they must never sleep – as these mentoring operations must be pretty much full time.

But there we are, perhaps I am just lazy.

These were two of the good guys – and no, I am not going to name them. I do believe both are genuine, both are quite good. Not better than me, but still good.

But there are many other gurus who I have seen come and go at various property shows. A lot were selling courses because they could not make money by investing in property themselves. They made promises of riches from property to people signing on their courses, but using techniques that were then and are still too risky.

Many of these gurus got found out, went bust, some took a lot of investors money with them, many of the investments they were promoting were crap. Some gurus made a lot of money from gullible clients and got out having made a lot of money, just before the brown stuff hit the fan.

And so, back to me.

I practised what I taught in my books, on my blog posts and in my consulting sessions with clients.

I just did what I taught and I became wealthy in property. Not ludicrously wealthy – and my portfolio is not massive, but it sure works, it is relatively hassle free and it is very profitable.

And so today, I have cut right back on the marketing of my site and my book.

I will not be updating my books in future, but as I say, apart from the tax section, there is not much that is out of date.

You will rarely see me at a property show as a speaker – and you will rarely see me quoted now in the media. (My occasional comments on non-property issues especially in the time of Covid and my comments on the covid “vaccine” have led to me being blacklisted by the mainstream papers).

I also do not promote myself at other property sites.

Life it too short for all that – especially in one’s early 60s.

But I will still write the blog posts and still do private consultancy. Also, my newsletter continues every quarter.

And I have no regrets about not having a full-on all-singing, all-dancing huge mentoring programme with courses galore and much fanfare. No regrets at all, because if I had done that, I would never have been able to nurture and grow my property business, the very thing that I was an expert at!

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