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I can't get rich online and neither can you. Topics include why you won't get rich with your blog, ideas you wish you had thought of, and other Internet phenomena.

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You Won’t Ever Be As Lucky As This Guy

One Red Paperclip

It’s embarrassing to admit, but One Red Paperclip flew right under my radar. I first heard about it a couple of weeks ago while reading The Something Store’s blog, over a year after the whole thing was finished. After reading the wiki article and website, I’m ready to crown this guy the King of lucky bastards.

What he did

As the title suggests, he started with one red paperclip. Then he traded the paperclip for a pen. Then he traded the pen for a door knob. He kept trading, up and up, until he finally traded a movie role for a two-story farmhouse. Then he got his paperclip back and used it to propose to his girlfriend. He went from paperclip to house in 14 trades. That’s pretty amazing.

Why you want it

Who wouldn’t want to trade a paperclip for a house? Ignoring the inevitable tax nightmare, that’s a pretty good deal. Plus, he got to travel all over North America while trading. On top of all that, he was famous, he got a book deal, and he got engaged. He is the very definition of creative success.

Why you’ll never get it

I noticed that his site has a forum encouraging other people to start their own paperclip adventures. Anybody who believes that they can copy his success is just fooling themselves. People just can’t seem to grasp the value of novelty. Not only was this guy creative, he was a marketing genius. He sold his unique idea to the Internet, and the only reason he was successful was because the people he traded with knew that they were part of something big. Really, some of those trades were just ridiculous (a keg for a snowmobile?). He wasn’t just trading items, he was trading fame and publicity.

The bottom line

The guy behind One Red Paperclip is probably the luckiest bastard on the entire Internet. He took an idea and ran with it, and it paid off a million times over. If you want to make it big like him, do what he did: Think of something new.

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