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Wanna Be a Guru? How it Works… | By: Multiple Speaker(s)

Wanna Be a Guru? How it Works…
By Vena Jones-Cox

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been challenged, directly or indirectly, with the idea that I probably make more money selling courses and seminars than I do in real estate.

And further, I can’t tell you how many times a YEAR I’m approached by some ambitious investor who’s had a taste of real estate success and who’s been asked over and over by folks in his local group to teach a class, and who wants my advice on how to “get on the circuit” and make, one assumes, millions selling courses and seminars.

I kind of get both of these ideas, which are driven by the simple math that people do when they sit in a bootcamp with 50 other people and say to themselves, “Hey, I paid $2,000 to be here, and there are 49 more students, so he made $100,000 for 3 days’ work! I wanna do that too!”

Or, you may have seen speakers come to your real estate association selling homestudy course. In a 90 minute pitch to a large association, a really good sales person might sell as many as 20 courses at $1,000—an apparent $222 per minute payday.

Don’t get me wrong: there are absolutely gurus out there who earn $1 million+ per year in the education business, even in today’s rather moribund real estate market. But most don’t, and the ones who do are, in my experience, usually in the education-sales business full time rather than the real estate market full time.

So before you decide that you want to spend the time creating content, and hit the road selling your brilliant strategy to others, I’d like to share with you the actual math of what this is likely to earn you.

When I speak at REIA associations or for other promoters, there’s a contract about how any sales are split that usually goes something like: I keep the first $500 in sales for my travel costs; the balance, after credit card fees, is split 50/50 with the promoter.

At a decent event, by which I mean the attendees are qualified, by which I mean I’m not speaking to a roomful of people who were dragged in off the street by the promoter for the purpose of making it look full (don’t laugh, it’s happened) or trying to convince a roomful of 90 year old landlords that they not only want to wholesale, but pay me $599 to learn how to do it (again, it’s happened), a typical presenter will sell roughly 10% of the audience a course.

Thus, in a room of 100—a big room, these days—that means that I will sell 10 x $599, or, to make it a round number, $6000 worth of courses.

The split is then based on
$6,000
-$500 travel allowance
$5500
-$192 in credit card processing fees
$5305, split 50/50 between myself and the promoter

This makes “my side” $2,654 + $500 (the travel allowance), or $3,154.

You may already be asking yourself, “why would anyone travel halfway across the country for $3100?” And I’ll answer that, but first, let’s look at what that number REALLY is.

In order to get to the group, any speaker is generally going to have to buy a plane ticket (2 in the case of many female speakers, who travel with assistants), a rental car, and a hotel room (just TRY to get a red-eye flight out of anywhere other than New York or LA these days). Obviously, the prices on these vary greatly (a rental car is about $17/day in podunk, Utah, and about $70 a day in LA), but let’s loosely say it’s

Plane ticket $400
Checked bag $25
Rental car $40
Hotel room $90
Total Travel $555

I won’t count meals out, even though I’d probably be eating at home were I not out of town, or gas for the rental, or the 2nd plane ticket, as not all speakers travel with assistants, but as you can see, the “travel allowance”, which has been the same since the 1980s, doesn’t usually cover travel, as intended.

Then there’s the production and shipping of the courses. You’d be amazed at how expensive that is when your product is physical, rather than online:

Cost per manual to print, bind, cover, produce CDs: $28 * 10=$280
Cost to ship 10 manuals $50
Total production costs: $330


So yes, even being conservative, my “take home pay” from a 90 minute sales session (which, with packing and travel, really takes 2 days) is typically under $2,300.

And yes, there are things that mitigate this: an all-day Saturday seminar following the evening presentation might double or triple the net sales; there might be a small ongoing income from students who join the Inner Circle; some of these customers will eventually become mentoring students at a much higher entry fee.

And sure, I’d make more if I’d raise my prices to the $1000-$2000 level that many “gurus” charge for home study courses today

But bottom line is, I could definitely make more money by staying home and doing real estate, and so could most of my colleagues who actually know HOW to do real estate (isn’t it ironic that the folks who are making the most money selling seminars are the least qualified to teach you how to invest in today’s market?)


So the question is WHY do I, or anyone who makes real estate (rather than real estate education) the focus of their business and activities, EVER pack up and head out to speak at your group, or a weekend seminar, or a convention, or whatever?

The answer for me (and, as I’ve discussed this with other educators, them as well) is threefold.

The love of teaching. Call it ego, call it “giving back”, call it an avocation, call it what you will, but it’s fun to get in front of a room and tell people things they didn’t know before, or hadn’t thought of in that way before, or didn’t realize that they could do it before hearing it laid out in front of them right. There’s a lot of skill and pride in being a good “explainer” (have you ever noticed that more people know their stuff than know how to TEACH their stuff?) and it’s one we don’t get to use much in our day to day real estate businesses. Speaking gives us an outlet for this that we wouldn’t otherwise have in our businesses.

The opportunity to have new experiences in a friendly environment. I love to travel; I love trying new restaurants and going to new museums in new cities. And I’ve learned that group leaders and members are always anxious to recommend their favorite places in their hometowns (and, in fact, sometimes volunteer to be an escort!). Oh, yeah, and the plane ticket is tax-deductible. It’s a great way to see the world.

The opportunity to meet people with whom I can do business. This is where traveling and speaking for a dozen-plus years has REALLY paid off. I’ve met people all over the country who have later become partners in various deals, turn-key rental buyers, an investors in my mortgage fund. I’ve also met people who’ve provided services to ME, from my insurance agent to a former assistant, to folks that I can call when I need information about other markets for my mentoring students.

So, to those of you who may aspire to someday become real estate gurus, let me say this: if you’re in it for the money, it’s not what you think it is. If you’re in it for the connections, the travel, and the love of it, it can be very rewarding in ways OTHER THAN financially.


Reprinted with permission of Vena Jones-Cox. To get more free articles and tips, subscribe at www.TheRealEstateGoddess.com

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