REVIEW: Nothing's Changed But My Change: The ShoeMoney Story
Serial entrepreneur, affiliate marketer and rule breaker Jeremy Schoemaker is a compelling storyteller.
His surprisingly frank book, Nothing's Changed But My Change: The ShoeMoney Story, is a blunt, rollicking tale of how a fat kid voted most likely to fail ended up creating several multi-million-dollar companies.
After he sold one of his companies – for a rumored $17 million – only four months after creating it, he had people flying into Lincoln, Nebraska, paying $25,000 to spend two hours with him.
This Amazon-best-seller is a real page-turner.
Full of hilarious, funny, crazy, sad, painful, and heart-warming stories, it would make an awesome movie.
It's all about the pursuit of happiness, learning to believe in yourself, learning to like yourself, acquiring confidence, taking control of your life, gaining skills, overcoming huge obstacles, and turning your life around.
It's also about seeing angles, breaking rules and taking action quickly and aggressively. It's about cheating and the occasional theft. And it's about awesome marketing.
At times he's awesome. At other times, he's awful.
At school, Jeremy Schoemaker was the fat kid ridiculed and humiliated by classmates and teachers. When he was supposed to be listening in class, he fantasized about being a superhero.
(Years later, he created the superhero Shoemoney for his business.)
Jeremy invites you right inside his crazy head. The results are entertaining but not always pretty.
I have a hobby of trying to understand what makes people tick, so I like it when he opens up about his anxiety and depression. I like his cheerful “ADD side notes” where he explains why he's ignoring his editors' advice and leaving in sections they want deleted or rewritten.
Parts of his book are likely to offend – and I'm not talking just about the bad grammar and swearing.
I understand an insecure, humiliated kid making dumb mistakes as a teenager, such as drunken vandalism, stealing liquor, and swindling kids over baseball trading cards in the 10th grade. All kids make mistakes, and these are entertaining stories.
But Jeremy Schoemaker hasn't grown up. As an adult, he looks back on his “great insurance graft” involving stolen stereo equipment when he was 14, and says it was “so simple and fearless I am still proud of it today”.
Proud of a simple and fearless swindle?
(Inside the insurance swindle anecdote, there's a powerful marketing lesson – and you don't have to do illegal things to take advantage of it.)
In one of Jeremy's many surprisingly frank sections, he says:
“…it's not a good time to become
an affiliate marketer …”
This is from a man who is selling his own affiliate marketing how-to course (a good one).
I suppose I'm a gullible optimist, but throughout the book I kept expecting to see a chapter in which Jeremy tells us how he's changed, how he's seen the light, turned his life around and gone straight. I didn't find it.
Instead, he tells us it's impossible for him to stay on the path. He's always looking for angles and “blurring the lines of that path – morally, ethically, and legally”.
How's he going to explain that to his two little daughters when they're old enough to read his book?
My guess is he'll tell them it's all part of his public persona – he's positioning himself as the incredibly successful “ShoeMoney”, the brutally honest guy who's different from all the fake gurus. Even if he is being honest about dishonesty.
After school, the life of this future millionaire follows a sad, recurring theme: He gets a job, gets bored, goofs off, looks for “angles”, gets fired.
In one “angle”, he figures out how to cheat in an online game, winning rewards and selling them on eBay for thousands of dollars a week.
Sacked again, in his mid-twenties, he hits rock bottom. He's unemployed, heavily in debt, depressed – and still a virgin. He's sitting in the dark in a one-bedroom apartment playing video games, for eight months. He's now morbidly obese, weighing more than 420 pounds. (LEFT: Jeremy in 2003.)
But you know this story has to get better…
Chapter 13 is the truly heart-warming bit, where he talks emotionally about the love of his life, the “beautiful and ridiculously smart” woman who becomes his wife. Even then, he messes things up and nearly loses her.
While still in debt, he borrows money, buys thousands of second-hand computers, works endless hours until 2am or 3am dismantling them and selling the parts on eBay for huge markups. His warehouse is his girlfriend's house.
One thing he gets right before being sacked from each job is that he's alert enough to acquire useful new skills, including computer programming.
This comes in useful for his next venture, which begins as a hobby. He experiments with his new Nextel phone, hacks into the software and figures out how to “pimp” the phone with a photo of his girlfriend.
As well as finding angles, another recurring theme in the life of our flawed hero is giving away stuff – lots of stuff.
At one stage, he writes hacks and cracks and gives away pirated software.
Instead of trying to sell his phone-pimping discovery, he creates a complete how-to guide, and posts it on a forum. Soon, he's a one-man free helpdesk, answering emails and helping people with their phones until he gets swamped by 50 to 100 emails a day.
So he figures out how to automate the process and creates a ringtones website, called NextPimp, providing the service free.
NextPimp grows into THE site for anyone who wants to customize their phone. It grows like wildfire. A year and a half later, it hasn't made a single dime. Jeremy the geek is just taking pride in providing a useful service and watching his crazy traffic grow. (It eventually reaches 135,000 unique visits a day.)
Google phones him, persuades him to place AdSense ads on his site – and he receives a now famous AdSense check for $132,994.97 – for one month.
He follows the money trail, learns how to do affiliate marketing and, in the right place at the right time, his profits skyrocket to several hundred thousand dollars a month. His daily revenue hits $10,000 to $14,000 a DAY.
He goes on to create new businesses.
Throughout Nothing's Changed But My Change, The Shoemoney Story, he generously scatters canny marketing tips, including his Three P's process (Chapter 11) that he uses to sell millions of dollars worth of products online.
He's brilliant at getting inside the head of a buyer and knowing exactly the right words to say to achieve a sale.
He tells you, for example, a cunning thing he did to drive NextPimp's profits higher, even after it was already making “obscene” amounts of money.
I agree with “Shoe” that Nothing's Changed But My Change would make a great movie.
After all, don't all movie-goers love a flawed hero who battles successfully against overwhelming odds?
That's my take on Shoemoney's book. If you've read it, I'd love to know what YOU think. Please comment below.
If you haven't read it, think about this…
People have paid $25,000 to spend two hours with “Shoe”. You can get his autobiography and canny marketing tips for a few bucks at Amazon.