14 Habits I Avoid to Become Highly Productive

Author : denidodo2
Publish Date : 2021-03-30 03:20:44
14 Habits I Avoid to Become Highly Productive

A video is currently doing the rounds on online writing communities.
The video is a clip from CNBC which features Alex Fasulo.
It is described thusly:

CNBC video description.
I’ve received the video from no less than three freelancing contacts over the past 24 hours (ETA: make that five now, including a family member!). The coverage has also kicked off an interesting thread on Reddit. I’m told by contacts in the US that the story is “all over” major TV networks.
Much has been written online about Fasulo by both her fans and by her detractors.
Disclosure: as an outspoken opponent of often worthless freelance writing “courses” (effectively just get-rich-quick attempts by their operators aggressively marketed through inflated promises of massive wealth) I trend towards the latter camp.
The abbreviated playbook for becoming a fake course millionaire
6 Easy Steps To Cash In On Your Claimed Huge Income
danielrosehill.medium.com

I’m also something of a dogged investigator with a degree in journalism that I should probably put to more use.
So the following are reasons why — having watched the CNBC video and scrutinized her online footprint — I am skeptical (make that disbelieving) about Fasulo’s claimed Fiverr income.
That’s an income which the CNBC video intimates neared $400,000, is made solely by Fasulo, and is made solely through Fiverr.
🤨
Let’s do a little digging.
1. Making Money on Fiverr Is Hard Work. Fasulo Intimates That She Makes An Outsized Income There Single-Handedly.
Firstly — and I’m starting with my weakest reason — the marketplace on which Fasulo claims to be making a vast annual fortune is not exactly known as a place overflowing with dough.
At the very outset of the CNBC interview, Fasulo boldly states:
“My name is Alex Fasulo. I’m 28 years old. And I make $378,000 per year as a freelance writer on Fiverr.com”
This simple but powerful fact immediately raised my suspicions about the claim.
As a freelance writer with five years’ experience — and more than 10 in writing — I prefer to maintain my own clients. My per-word rates (typically $0.30-$0.50) would appear to be a multiple of what Fasulo charges. At the time of writing, I don’t outsource. And though people like Fasulo would almost convince me otherwise, I’m not ashamed to say that I’ve yet to broach even the six figure mark.
Is “six figure” culture income-shaming ordinary earners into depression?
Is is time for five figure earners to rally around a hashtag to show their pride?
danielrosehill.medium.com

While I don’t doubt that there are freelancers who do make handsome incomes on both Upwork and Fiverr, Fasulo claims to be making a particularly extraordinary one — not a vast distance from half a million dollars per year.
Don’t get me wrong. Experienced writers that have accrued years of experience can and do breach the vaunted “six figure” threshold.
But claiming to be closer to half a million in gross revenue — before hitting one’s thirtieth birthday and doing it all via a predominantly low-end marketplace— is a claim that just struck me as a little outlandish.
Fiverr started as a marketplace for buying up $5 gigs. The majority of high-earning freelance writers in my personal network have made their money through working directly with clients — or they have gone on to larger pursuits than freelance writing.
Making this much money through freelance writing on Fiverr by oneself just seems …. incredibly far-fetched.
But let’s dig deeper.
(Edited to add: since this piece was first published, Fasulo has admitted to using “co-writers” on her Fiverr profile. More on that later).
2. The Writing Gigs Fasulo Mentions Aren’t Typically High Paying; Her Rate Appears Suspiciously Low Given The Massive Income She Claims

A blog post gig that Fasulo is selling on Fiverr. The rate starts at just $100 per blog. Screenshot 17/03/21, Fiverr.com
During the CNBC interview, Fasulo divulged several insights about her freelance writing business that made me immediately suspicious about how she could have reached the level of scale that would generate almost $400K in revenue doing what she says she is doing.
Firstly, Fasulo says that she “mostly ghostwriters blogs and ebooks.” (We’ll get to the kind of ebooks she is writing later.)
But here’s what jumped out to me more than that: blogs and ebooks don’t tend to be the most profitable writing formats to work in, particularly when you’re charging rates as low as $100 for the former.
With volume of course anything is possible (sell a million one dollar t-shirts and you’re a millionaire).
But Fasulo doesn’t mention that she outsources — remember that she says that she makes her extraordinary income as “a freelance writer” (in the singular). Which leads to another big loud ‘HOW!?’?
As a general rule of thumb, copywriting pays more than content. And things like landing pages and UX copy tend to be more lucrative than blogs, which are sort of a beginner-friendly format at the bottom of the writing ladder (not putting them down; I work on plenty for my own clients).
If I were trying to make an astronomical income on Fiverr, firstly I probably wouldn’t even attempt to do it through writing. As a brain-intensive activity, it’s just too hard to scale, at least without outsourcing. And I definitely wouldn’t choose these formats or price at these rates.

Fasulo’s Fiverr handle — Faswaldo — has a blog post gig listed with rates that start at just $100 for a “500 word SEO-optimized blog post with keywords included.”

Speaking of which, here’s one of the negative reviews from her Fiverr handle (to be fair, her overall rating remains positive; 4.7/5 at the time of writing).
A few of the negative reviews allege that Fasulo is using some kind of automation software which would be one explanation for her apparently superhuman work volume. This is one of the few possible explanations that make sense to me if her income is truly what she claims it to be.


Fasulo’s turnaround times also seem suspiciously fast, particularly for one person who would need to be churning out projects at Herculean volume to organically make the type of income she claims to.
Check out her Fiverr profile and you will witness an almost constant stream of deliveries. It almost seems like the freelance writing version of a factory production line.

A random screenshot showing delivery two hours’ ago
During the interview with CNBC Alexandra Fasulo claimed to put out a 10,000 word ebooks in two days.
To me, this signals a very high probability that she is writing low quality fluff kind of work, which — and here’s the problem — also tends to pay poorly.
Writing 5,000 words of quality material per day is almost impossible if you’re working with a continuously changing marketplace clientele such as the one that Fasulo is presumably working with.
According to a title during the video “she [Fasulo] charges $1,000 for a 10,000 word e-book.”
But here’s the problem with that: $1,000 for a 10,000 word e-book works out to just ten cents per word.
That’s a pretty dismal per-word rate that would be more typical of rookie freelancers. Per-word rates can range as high as $2/word.
For context: the Editorial Freelancers’ Association (EFA) lists a recommended per-word rate for business/sales writing of $0.16-$0.20 per word. Even against this very low bar, Fasulo is undercutting the market rate (a worthy bone of contention in its own right).
So again we come back to the volume hypothesis. And again have to ask: how?

The EFA’s recommended rates chart
During the CNBC interview Fasulo mentions that she has written “ebooks for quite a few dogs.”
Call me suspicious, but writing ebooks for dogs on a freelancing marketplace doesn’t seem like the logical way to me to scale your annual income to close on half a million dollars.
All these details together make me very — nay extremely — suspicious about who Fasulo is working for, and how these kind of projects at these kind of rates could possibly add up to an almost $400K yearly income.
4. She Talks Incessantly About Her Income. She Also Conveniently Has A Vested Interest For Doing So — She’s Selling A Course
In yesterday’s Medium post I shared what I termed the Self Perpetuating Income Cycle of Freelance Course “Gurus”.
The almost totally secret to getting FILTHY RICH as a freelance writer
Sports cars, Rolexes, and private jets. Follow my guide and they can be yours. Yes — even as a freelance writer!
danielrosehill.medium.com

Have a look at what I propose the typical dynamic to look like:

How fake course gurus make and maintain their money
Let me be clear here: I am not alleging that Ms. Fasulo is a fake online course guru.
I am merely saying that the behavior she displays fits with the typical pattern that these individuals (shall we call them hucksters?) display.
Therefore, I argue that there are reasons to be suspicious about taking her claimed income at face value.
The almost totally secret to getting FILTHY RICH as a freelance writer
Sports cars, Rolexes, and private jets. Follow my guide and they can be yours. Yes — even as a freelance writer!
danielrosehill.medium.com

The playbook which those who are fake course gurus adhere to can be summarized as follows (at least as I observe it):
1. Aggressively flaunt wealth (whether real or apparent)
2. Develop a sycophantic following on social media. Instagram and Tik Tok are the classic platforms for attracting this kind of follower with vacuous surface-level content.
3. Announce a course promising to help sycophantic followers share in the narrative being portrayed
4. Monetize sycophantic following through aforementioned course
5. Start becoming actually wealthy through passive income from course that sells the vision being marketed
The cycle repeats
Thus these individuals are often (deservedly) derided as “fake millionaires” or “Fiverr millionaires.” If their income isn’t ill-gotten, it’s the product of exploiting the ambition of desperate people.
The “Six Figure” Branding She Sows Everywhere Online Seems Highly Coordinated. Could There Be An Ulterior Motive?
I ran an “exact match” search for Fasulo’s name in order to dry dredge up as much information as I could about her online before writing this.
The results contained almost nothing but iterations of her branding as a “six figure freelancer,” or “$300,000 freelancer.”
The messaging appeared to me to be extremely consistent which, I suggest, raises a suspicion that it may have been coordinated. If not professionally then at least through a concerted attempt at creating a personal brand which spinrs around the fulcrum of high income.
This looks very much to me like a premeditated attempt to spin a narrative for an ulterior motive — which I suggest might be selling courses teaching others how to become rich.

Vanity SERP 1
Even Fasulo’s podcast appearances all focus on her “six figure freelancer” status that she repeats ad nauseam.
As I went through the SERP, the “six figure” results went on and on….

Vanity SERP 2
And on…..

Vanity SERP 3
And the publicity machine just marches on and on:

5. …. Oh, And Guess What? She’s Selling A Freelance Success Course (Plus Some Other Stuff)
But wait, there’s more!
Although Fasulo claims to be nearing the $400K mark on Fiverr — surely a vastly comfortable income in Florida! — she nevertheless has chosen to run a “freelance crash course” promising to teach other freelancers how to “earn real money from home using just your laptop.”
Whenever somebody claims to be making an extraordinarily high income and then also attempts to monetize their method for teaching others how to achieve that vaunted income I suggest that ….. people should be very suspicious.

MentorCamp - Alex Fasulo Freelancer
Real-world education for the new generation
study.mentorcamp.io

The course retails at the time of writing for $47 (of course, the landing page claims that it’s grossly marked down — another favorite tactic of the high pressure get-rich-quick dream-sellers)

The course which Fasulo is selling raises the obvious suspicion that the course creator is using exaggerated claims of wealth to lure fans into paying for courses — which generate the real income that in turn drives the cycle described above.
I also regard — until proven otherwise — any course that teaches one how to freelance as a shakedown. The information is freely available for free online. Those who truly want to help other people become better freelancers tend to share some of that information for free and not be so obsessed with monetizing that “knowledge.”
One final detail here: Fasulo also sells Amazon books.

Her latest one is called Freelancing On Fiverr? Any guess what the subtitle is?
If you guessed “how I made six figures in six months” then — you would be right!
Conclusion: Fasulo probably has other income streams beyond Fiverr. But if she’s truly making such a ginormous income there, why is she bothering? She’s also an income braggart who also happens to sell a course…
6. Mathematically, Her Claimed Fiverr Order History Seems Difficult Or Almost Impossible To Achieve, At Least Without Outsourcing At Volume
On her personal website — amidst the relentless repetition of her status as a “six figure freelancer” — Fasulo claims to have completed 11,000 orders on Fiverr:

Screenshot from Fasulo’s website 17/03/21
Faulo’s LinkedIn — and her byline at the time of writing was “online course creator at MentorCamp” — states that she graduated high school in ‘’11.

An interview with AuthorsUnite pegged her at 26:
Examining the source HTML shows that the page was published this year:

Extract from the HTML for the Authors Unite piece
Now get ready for some number-crunching. Roll out your calculators if you feel like checking my workings:
At 26, Fasulo has been alive for roughly 26 x 365 days = 9490 days.This means that if she were fulfilling the orders single-handedly, she would have to have completed 1 Fiverr order per day every day since she was born (11000/9490 = 1.16).
But there’s only one problem: Fiverr was only founded in 2010.
Roughly 11 years have elapsed since that point, or 4015 days (11 x 365).
11000/4015 = 2.74.
Assuming, therefore, that Fasulo joined the marketplace the moment it was launched and never took a single day off since — not even a single one, remember! — she would have had to produce on average 2.74 gigs per day every single day of the calendar year.
I suggest that this is suspicious — particularly if Fasulo says that she does not outsource the work.
And if she does outsource or subcontract, is she really a “writer” or just a manager or — more harshly — a digital sweatshop owner?
Something — whether income or its provenance — simply doesn’t add up here.
(ETA: Skip to point eight. Fasulo clarified on Tik Tok that she has a “writing team” and that it’s her and two other writers fulfilling gigs on Fiverr.)
7. Fasulo Produces Shallow Clickbait Content Again … About Making Money. Could She Just Be Trying To Monetize Her Course?
Fasulo recently produced an eight second YouTube video entitled “You Can Make $1,000+ Per Day Writing Blogs.”

The clip features nothing of substance other than her slapping the camera and ends with a prompt “I make $1,100+ day per on Fiverr. Ask me how :)”. Fiverr was missing a capital ‘F’ — surely an error that would be uncharacteristic from a writer of such prodigious accomplishment.
Here again I rely upon my intuition. This kind of clickbait content just isn’t the kind of thing that legitimate marketers use to sell themselves.
In addition to the micro dancing clip, Fasulo also recently released a 15 second video entitled “You Can Make 3K+ Your First Month Freelancing” which consisted of her gyrating for the camera.
At the time of writing, I believe it’s fair to say that Fasulo hasn’t made any attempt to share earnest and helpful advice with her fans.
Without any “preview” available it’s impossible to gauge the quality of the content up for sale. But wouldn’t somebody who stood by the value of what they were selling be prepared to share some of it for free?
Instead, she’s sharing clickbait content that I believe is designed only to drive hype for her courses which again makes me question her motives.
Fasulo is most active on TikTok — a social network that centers around sharing short videos. This screenshot is representative of her typical output, which frequently features her syncing to a music background.

Again I ask: If Fasulo is the real deal and truly an expert on freelancing, then why doesn’t she share more substantial information with her fans?
8. Fasulo Outsources. But Why Did She Not Divulge That Until After This Piece Was Published?
If you want to check out Fasulo’s activities on social media then Tik Tok and Instagram are apparently the places to follow her.
Yesterday — four days after this article was published — Fasulo released a Tik Tok video in which she divulged that she is not the only one doing the writing on Fiverr.
In a Tik Tok video entitled “How I Manage My Writing And VA Team Today” Fasulo states:
“For the first 4 years of freelancing I did everything by myself … [now] I currently work with 2 other writers. At this point, for anybody who orders me on Fiverr, it’s me and two other writers. I’ve been very transparent about this. I don’t want anybody to think that I’m doing all of this by myself”
Here are my questions in return:
Why didn’t you mention this to CNBC?
Why did you mislead the media and your followers?
How can you possibly call that transparency?
And Finally: Here’s Why I Don’t Like Dubious Course Promoters
I have an issue with people aggrandizing claims of wealth in order to sell freelance writing courses for the following reasons:
It makes freelancers as a whole look bad. Freelance writers are not digital snake oil salesmen. By and large we’re hard workers who pull off a difficult job under tough industry conditions. Many course promoters unfortunately are. Call them the outliers of the industry, but I believe they make us all look of dubious integrity.
It wastes the energy and money of desperate freelancers who in almost all cases do not need the material that these course sellers are selling. I find the whole self-perpetuating income cycle I described above cynical and exploitative.
Sadly, there are many gullible people who cannot see through all the above which is why I dedicated two hours of my week to writing this post.
Here’s an example of what I’m talking about.
There are hundreds of comments like it on YouTube and even reaction videos from credulous followers, many of whom appear to be shy of their thirtieth birthday.

Sorry, Darrah, but I have a feeling — just a little one — that you’re wrong.
To restore your faith in the intelligence of humanity, here’s somebody a little more circumspect: (also from the comments on the CNBC piece)

I also — as a much more general principle — find relentlessly flaunting one’s wealth distasteful. I suggest that unless individuals have a good reason to do so this is the kind of information better kept to one’s self.
I wrote the above to cast doubts about the veracity and credibility of the income that Alexandra Fasulo claims to derive solely through Fiverr.
The case of Alex Fasulo is — to my mind — a sad indictment of the American obsession with “making six figures” (sorry, Americans) and a demonstration of how readily some audiences will eat up any claims to surpass an arbitrary income threshold.
Is “six figure” culture income-shaming ordinary earners into depression?
Is is time for five figure earners to rally around a hashtag to show their pride?
danielrosehill.medium.com

While industriousness is to be commended, I think that misleading gullible followers certainly isn’t.
I also think that those who are prepared to self-promote aggressive claims of self-generated wealth should have the transparency to back them as openly as possible.
While Fasulo has wasted no time in appraising us of her six figure income, she has not provided the kind of granular insight into her business that would robustly support those numbers.
The internet is rife with misinformation.
As I demonstrated by manipulating my own Upwork dashboard with dev tools, screenshots can be easily doctored. Just about anything involving a computer can be faked.

What’s illegal to doctor (and thus hard): IRS tax returns.
Finally:
The Fiverr website is hosting a press release recounting Fasulo’s prior claims.

A Fiverr press release
If the network wants to use Fasulo as a flagship case to sell others on a likely unrealistic pipe dream of making “six figure” yearly incomes through their network, I encourage them to support this effort for transparency. But real transparency.
Addendum: The Media (And YouTubers) Are Incredibly Credulous And Are Predictably Lapping Up The Story Without Batting An Eyelid
I’m still waiting for anybody else to have the guts to ask questions about how Fasulo is deriving her income.
In lieu of that, here’s a bunch of fawning media coverage which just adds to the narrative that Fasulo is working to spin.
The lack of probity from respectable media outlets is a mixture of astonishing and concerning:

(Yes, that was CNBC really reporting on a private individual’s car purchase).
YouTubers are just as quickly taken in. Here are a bunch of inane reaction videos from other millenials.

Graham Stephan describes himself as a “real estate investor” and had this to say on this reaction vid: “If you’re watching this [Fasulo], I’ll pay you $1,000 to write a book for Ramsey. And I’ll sell it. I bet people would love to hear about his escapades. A day in the life of a cat … Then I could say ‘my cat is a published author’”

The blind following the blind: another YouTube influencer, Graham Stephan, of the Graham Stephan Show, admires Fasulo’s income, and proudly intones: “if you’re watching this right now, I’ll pay you $1,000 to write a book.”
Unsurprisingly Fasulo pitched an interview in response to the glowing “reaction”. She’s also unsurprisingly happy to write an ebook about Stephan’s cat. At the time the screenshot was taken, Stephan pinned the post to the comments section.

Another YouTuber with (apparently) a low BS threshold, Charlie Chang, interviews Fasulo to learn of her “secrets”. Link.
And here’s my reaction vid:

Disclaimer: I’m not responsible for, nor do I necessarily endorse, submissions to the comments section of this post. I’m also not interested in adding hearsay about Ms. Fasulo to this article. This post was intended to kickstart a larger debate on dubious online operatives, income-bragging, and course-selling — particularly the nexus between all three.

https://www.geogebra.org/m/npnpp9aq
https://www.geogebra.org/m/z36bz3vn
https://www.geogebra.org/m/fqvws55b
https://www.geogebra.org/m/vcgecnua
https://www.geogebra.org/m/q9xh7qqg



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