Scott Pape – The $4 million dollar year?


You know that feeling you get when someone who by all means is not particularly more intelligent than you, probably hasn’t worked that much harder, may be better looking, but is just killing it in business?

They don’t have any more knowledge or education, probably less experience than some of you, but they’ve worked it out.

You dismiss it as “they have good connections”, “they just got lucky”, “they just over promise to get people in the door”.

But when you look into their history further, there is substance, proof, and a substantial amount of real reviews from their audience.  They must be doing something right.

Our latest in-depth research article and book review covers Scott Pape, who is the “#1 bestselling author of The Barefoot Investor”.  He writes and speaks on how to “save money, grow wealth, and become financially independent.”

“Unlike many financial ‘experts’, who may not have your best interests at heart, my goal is simple: to help you keep your family safe… by giving you the same simple, fiercely independent financial advice I’d give my own mum.” (Barefoot Investor, Image: Book cover)

Scott Pape


Results for the Year – Physical Book Sales

Unless you’ve been living under a rock (for Australian’s) you would have seen the book or at least had someone ask what do you think of “The Barefoot Investor”?

Having sold over 500,000 books last year, coming in at the number one position of books sold in Australia, Scott Pape has done some things right to say the least.

Australian book sales 2017

Source: Nielsen Book Scan

500K Book Sales
(Christmas sales look to have bumped this figure up.)

First, the book.

I’ve read it, and it’s a good book.

If someone asked you for financial advice and had little money it’s a good recommendation.

Common sense, simple, straightforward, easy to implement advice.

A lot of other people think so too.

Source: Amazon Ratings

Source: Apple iBook Ratings

Source: Booktopia Ratings

It is rare to see consistent five-star reviews like this for any book with a decent sales volume.

If you’re topping the list of all books sales for the year, particularly if the book is about finance, you must be doing something right!

Let’s take a look at some numbers.

Using a publisher (John Wiley & Sons), Scott would receive between $2-$4 per book. Let’s say he’s negotiated an alright deal and receives $2.85 per book sold. (15% Source)

Over 500,000 book sales for the year, $1,425,000 to him personally. (Estimated)

Damn, Scott has gone and bought himself some fine shoes now!

1,370 books sold per day for the year.

Imagine that for awareness of what you do.

That’s not visits to a website, that’s people who have put their hand up and said I want to pay for and read your advice.

Most Advisors would be lucky to get 1,370 visits to their website a month! Go check your analytics. That’s probably how many visits you get in a whole year!

$3,905 per day, his cut.

As any publisher or seasoned author will tell you Scott is a Unicorn.

Very few authors will ever sell this many copies of a book, particularly in finance.

He had the brains, the talent, worked hard, developed the right promotional strategies and had the right timing.

But the results don’t stop just there….

Results for the Year – Digital Book Sales

And, and …. this doesn’t include Amazon Book Sales, Kindle, Audible, and Apple iBooks. (Sales data is not published)

Digital book sales over the last few years have surpassed physical book sales, although there was a trend to declining ebook sales starting in 2016.

The book tops many of the Amazon Bestsellers Rankings:

Royalties range from 35-70% of digital sales, probably closer to the 70% given the volume of sales and price point of the book.

Publishers will generally give you a larger portion of the digital products sales that they receive from the online sellers.

The book is selling on Amazon Kindle $17.99, Amazon Paperback $19, Audible $23, and Apple iBooks $19.99.

Let’s assume conservative sales of 150,000 in digital versions.

150,000 @ $18 x 70% = $1,890,000 for the publisher. (Estimated)

Scott would receive around 25%, possibly more of the digital sales, coming to $472,500.

Results for the Year – Total Physical & Digital Book Sales

Total authors cut of physical and digital book sales estimated at $1,897,500.

It’s been a nice year for Scott!

The holy grail of Scott’s Business

But we haven’t even got to the best part.

The best part…!?$@

The holy grail… a membership site.

A product where you don’t have to share any cut of the sale with publishers.

You build it on a platform that you own.

No-one can take it away from you.

In recent times Facebook Groups have been popular to build out memberships.  Don’t leave it in the hands of Facebook to control your members – they will change the rules on you.

People join a membership to get more content, get results from a little more accountability, and keep renewing their membership because they are part of the community.

The sales page alone just to sell his membership is 7,500 words long!

That’s 3 times this article.

It’s a great example of copywriting for a sales page.

Why does he need so many words?

It has been proven that long-form sales copy will get a higher conversion rate.

Scott seems to be a student of another well know finance blogger, Ramit Sethi (US), who has very similar sales pages.

“My sales letter for Earn $1k is 47 pages long, but it converts very well. And when people read it, they will do things like this, they will nod their heads as they are reading the entire thing. We’ll see them stopping and we’ll see them resuming again. They’re really thinking about it.” (Ramit Sethi via Mixergy)



Do you need a long form sales page to sell your financial advisory services? No – there are better ways to sell services.

Is it the best way to sell a $200-$1,000 information product without having someone talk to a salesperson – Yes.

Do yourself a favour and go and read it. (Link at the end of this article.)

Let’s break down the numbers.

$397 per year to get access to the membership – more content, a newsletter and forum.

He looks to have started the membership around 2012 and it was then priced at $297.

Just based on the book sales for the year of 500,000…

1% is a reasonably conservative conversion rate to the next step.

5,000 x $397


Pick that jaw up!

$1,897,500 for the book sales.

And on the back end:

$1,985,000 in membership sales

Total Revenue: $3,882,500

Expenses – very little, no office, minimal staff – most work remotely.

Why has the book been such a success?

The book has been a hit for a number of reasons:

> A large majority of people are confused about finance and don’t know where to turn for advice – the book provides a low-cost option to get some clarity.
> The content is simple, straightforward and contains step by step instructions.
> The conversational tone is laid back with a few jokes thrown in which makes it entertaining.
> Scott knows how to market

The Referral Element

Part of the spread the book received was due to people buying it as a gift for their friends and family.

People love to refer a good product because it feels good and makes them look good.

Who wouldn’t want to be responsible for helping someone improve their finances by giving them a book?

You just need to look through the online reviews to get an understanding of why the book is so popular.

The common themes are: “simple”, “easy”, “step-by-step”, “entertaining”.

A lot of reviews even state “they are buying copies for friends and family”.

Take something from these reviews. Go and read some more of them.

Even if your target client is more sophisticated, how can you make things simpler, easier to understand, step by step and the big one… entertaining?

The PR Machine

One of the keys to his sales success was knowing how to work the media and get free publicity.

He has written regular columns for The Courier Mail, Herald Sun, Adelaide Advertiser, Hobart Mercury, Sunday Perth Times, Yahoo 7 and The Daily Telegraph.

Been a radio commentator on Triple M, SYN Radio and ABC Radio.

Regular TV appearances on Seven News, SBS, The Project and had his own show on CNBC for a period.  Source: Wikipedia

Ten years worth of connections meant it was a lot easier to get the book out through the media.

You can do the same if you’re prepared to do the hard slog, make connections and produce content for these types of outlets.

The Barefoot Funnel

Here’s how it goes:

> Target the largest portion of the population who aren’t getting financial advice.
> Help solve a painful problem they have.
> Write an easy to read and implement book ($19) that is also somewhat entertaining (not so easy).
> Drive awareness through free content across TV, Radio, Newspapers, Email Newsletter, Facebook and your blog.
> Create a hook that the press will love – go anti-establishment and bag all competitors – ie. Financial Advisors.
> Funnel those who want more info into a paid recurring membership ($397/year). Cha Ching!
> Don’t provide any “personal advice” whatsoever – getting around compliance, admin, paperwork, plans, staff, office.  (Classing yourself as a “Financial Publisher” should skirt most compliance issues it seems – check with your lawyer!)
> Anyone who joins the membership and still needs advice refer to a Financial Advisor who you bagged anyway.


Yes, that rendition was a little tongue in cheek.

Is this Genius?

Kind of …

Is Scott just a modern-day Noel Whittaker?

The Godfather of finance books sold over 2 million!

Dave Ramsay (US) has a similar business model … building a financial advice business without technically giving advice.

Writing a book has been a well-chosen path to build a financial advice business.

It builds trust. Gives you authority. Provides PR avenues. Generates leads.

Barefoot has similar advice to Noel Whittaker’s “Making Money Made Simple” and Paul Clitheroe’s “Making Money”.

Scott’s book is maybe a little be more relevant to the current times and a little bit dumbed down?

Australian readers will be familiar with the names in the table below. Ken Fisher and Dave Ramsay have been added for our US readers as a comparison.

They all have regular magazine, press columns or TV gigs.

They have all built successful financial advice businesses.

Noel Whittaker – Whittaker McNaught (Sold Business) (20 Books), Ken Fisher – Fisher Investments (11 Books), Paul Clitheroe – iPac (4 books), Mark Bouris (2 Books) – Yellow Brick Road. Dave Ramsay refers out to a network of recommended Advisors.

(Note: Book sales for Mark Bouris seem to be low as no figures available)

Where Scott seems to stand out right now from the others is his digital media presence through Facebook and Email that is driven by his content (blog).

It is interesting to compare the top 3 posts (last 12 months) by social engagement of Ken Fisher (Fisher Investments) and the Scott Pape (Barefoot Investor).

Similar audience sizes on Facebook.

It is clear that Fisher Investments is sharing very poor content on its social channel with it’s top post getting 228 engagements on Facebook.

Where as Barefoot Investor received 6,900 for it’s top post, followed by 3,200 and 2,500.

Even when you look at Dave Ramsay, who has 20 times the number of fans on Facebook (3,823,468), he only has one post that significantly has more engagement than Scott’s.

You just need to look at the headlines of the articles. Barefoot is much more engaging and intriguing.

Scott’s Facebook fans are increasing at 17,000 per month.

A lot of the increase would be due to the number of books that were given as Christmas presents over this time.


Does the content on Scott’s website help with generating other traffic to the site?

You bet it does!

All of that content on the Barefoot website is producing some nice traffic and rankings from Google’s organic results (SEO).

The barefoot site ranks for 5,185 keywords.

Receives conservatively estimated traffic from those Google searches of 15,010 visits per month.

If you were to use paid ads to drive the same traffic it would cost you around $70,100 each month!

This would put it in the top 50 financial websites in Australia.

All of this free traffic is going through to the blog articles, some will buy the book, and then some will sign up for the membership.

Should you write a book?

If you had 3 weeks free of distractions, locked you in a mountain cabin, and I said write a book for the every day person, in plain English, on how to budget, save, invest, and where to put their retirement funds, leave out the sophisticated strategies, could you do it?

For sure! You may need a crash course in book planning and structure but you could do it.

Am I suggesting you write a book? Maybe? Probably not though.

Not everyone is comfortable trying to get all the press attention that is needed to promote a book.

What’s the point then?

To get you to start thinking outside the box!

This is Scott’s version of a funnel to creating a regular stream of prospects, leads and clients.

Go check out the Fisher Investment funnel if you need some more ideas.

Now it’s over to you.

You’ll say Michael I don’t want to appeal to the masses.

“My ideal client is high net worth, sophisticated, family trust in place, they run a successful business.”

Do they want a $397 yearly membership on how to save $10 in bank fees per month by setting up ING accounts? No, they don’t.

But, they do have problems, probably lot’s of them.

Start working out what those problems are and write an article or ebook with a solution.

Again, check out Fisher Investments, who have a variety of short simple ebooks on a range of topics.

If you decided on a membership model it could be positioned as an exclusive mastermind of like-minded business owners who want to take their business and investments to the next level.

Do they want to network once a month for a scotch tasting night? 10 of the best wines from the 80’s? I’m in.  Now if you don’t know anything about scotch or wine there are companies that will run the event for you.


Check out the Barefoot Sales Page.

(The Cover image for this article was taken of the book on an iPhone 8.)
Disclaimer: All figures in this article have been estimated from available data or industry conversion rates. We have no association with Scott Pape or Barefoot Investor. You should seek your own legal advice for compliance and “financial publisher” usage.

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