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The Art of Money Getting by PT Barnum

Updated on July 15, 2016

PT Barnum lived 200 years ago, but during his lifetime he wrote "The Art of Money Getting" and its lessons are still valid today. Wikipedia says of him:

Phineas Taylor Barnum (July 5, 1810 – April 7, 1891) was an American showman, businessman, and entertainer, remembered for promoting celebrated hoaxes and for founding the circus that became the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.(His successes may have made him the first "show business" millionaire. Although Barnum was also an author, publisher, philanthropist, and for some time a politician, he said of himself, "I am a showman by profession...and all the gilding shall make nothing else of me," and his personal aims were "to put money in his own coffers".

As I was reading the book, I reflected on how these lessons in the art of money getting can apply to my work with Hubpages - and I've added my thoughts so you can see that the art of money getting is applicable no matter how you wish to make money.... I hope these thoughts help you.

Even though it was written nearly 200 years ago, it contains amazingly contemporary advice as to how to make (and keep) money.

If you've done so already, why not Join Hubpages here then use these lessons in the art of money getting to bring yourself a nice part-time or full-time income.

Don't Mistake Your Vocation

The Art of Money Getting is available as a free audio book, or a free etext - or you can buy/download them online from many sources. There are also, more modern, derivatives from the book. I've just read it and thought some of you might enjoy a quick precis, which I've given below!

Don't Mistake Your Vocation

It's important, if you're going to make money, that you pick the vocation, profession or job that's right for you. You can't simply skim down a list of high earners and pick one at random. In the modern world you can see that premiership footballers and pop stars make millions every year - but no matter how hard I try I won't ever be a footballer or a pop star. Neither is right for me.

So firstly, think about your talents, your strengths, your enjoyments and the things you are good at and like doing - herein lies the start of your journey.

The Art of Money Getting.  PT Barnum  Image:
The Art of Money Getting. PT Barnum Image:

Select The Right Location

It might be that you need to move from where you are now - that might be a few miles, or across the country - or even across the world. Discover where your talents and interests can best be pursued and see how you can get yourself into the right location.

A small shop down a back street might have 3 callers/day - yet the same shop in a modern shopping mall might find themselves having 3 callers/minute. Location, location, location - you can't beat location for making things easier for yourself.

Relevance to Hubpages: Depending on the subjects you write, your local environment can make you more, or less, successful. Compare, for example, how many readers a list of things to do on a Sunday in your village would have, -v- a list of free things to do in New York City. Within Hubpages, the location you base your writing on can help make you more successful. Even if you're writing about cookery, you should think about your 'location', are you writing recipes for single people with their own allotment, or vegan families. You can spend the same amount of effort, yet get less traffic.

Avoid Debt

PT Barnum points out to us how somebody in debt is losing money while they sleep - as interest racks up. A creditor, on the other hand, sleeps easy as the money he has lent out is making him money in his sleep as the interest racks up.

Not all debt is bad, the book suggests buying land is one thing that's worth getting into debt for - but we must remember that this book was written in a bygone age, when you could simply buy land then build a house on it and grow your own food. Today things don't work like that, so not all land would be worth getting into debt for at all!

PT Barnum says that money is like fire: it makes an excellent servant, but a very bad master.

Relevance to Hubpages: There are many ways to make money online, Hubpages is one of these and costs you nothing. It therefore meets the criteria of avoiding debt. There is nothing to pay to join or participate in Hubpages ever - compared to other programs which might require a payment from you.


Perseverance is something that is essential. Take hubpages for example... if you write just one hub and never return, you'll not make money. You must persevere - if you write one hub per day, then you'll make money.

Persevering, alone, can help - of course it's not the whole story... but without perseverance you'll stay in bed the first day it rains and never reach your goal.

There is a proverb of Solomon: "He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand; but the hand of the diligent maketh rich."

Relevance to Hubpages: The relevance is exceedingly high here, you must persevere, write more hubs, improve your writing, learn your craft by visiting the forums. Persevere.

Whatever You Do, Do It With All Your Might

You do need to work hard at whatever you choose. Immerse yourself in your work - work early or work late if you need to. The hard work will pay off in the end. You must put your heart and soul into the work you do, then trust luck to the remainder. You can't trust luck alone.

Mistakes made and lessons learnt along the way are part of the necessary experience you need to build up along the way. If you're cheated, you learn to not be cheated that way again!

Become an expert in your field - the more you learn, the more you work, the better you become - and the more success you'll enjoy. Experience means you make less mistakes, not giving up easily means you gain more experience. The two work together in your favour.

PT Barnum also points out that there is no such thing as luck that you can keep. You can go out and find a purse full of coins one day, but you can't do that every day. You can have luck one day, but never again. It therefore cannot be relied upon. He explains this with a small explanation:

"There is no such thing in the world as luck. There never was a man who could go out in the morning and find a purse full of gold in the street to-day, and another to-morrow, and so on, day after day: He may do so once in his life; but so far as mere luck is concerned, he is as liable to lose it as to find it. "Like causes produce like effects." If a man adopts the proper methods to be successful, "luck" will not prevent him. If he does not succeed, there are reasons for it, although, perhaps, he may not be able to see them."

Relevance to Hubpages: You can't simply write 1-2 hubpages and sit back and hope for luck that what you wrote will be the most visited webpage in the history of the Internet - you must keep writing more. This message is very relevant.

Use the Best Tools

Sometimes, if you're trying to make money, you're not keen to invest in the best tools. This is a false economy - the best tools for the job make your job easier to do, you can do it quicker, which means you can do more of it - and it's less arduous!

If you buy cheap tools, you're forever having to replace them - and get to know the new tools. If you buy the best tools you can at the start, you get the benefit of knowing them inside out. I find this advice is important in my online money making - you can waste days searching for something for free that'd have cost you just 2-3 hours' income! The wrong/cheap tools slow you down and cost you more money than you can imagine.

Relevance to Hubpages: There are many tools for writing online. Hubpages has shown itself to be continually improving, providing hub writers with better tools for making an income. Using Hubpages as your tool of choice to make money online is therefore a good move as it grows with you and over-delivers its promise. You'll always have new uses it can be used for, new opportunities to earn more money, or deliver a better article.

Don't Get Above Your Business

It's important that you don't become arrogant and lazy. If you work hard for your money you understand the value of it, if the money's come to you easily then you'll have no respect for it - and you can lose it faster than you got it. Don't become conceited. Be a gentleman in all your dealings.

You should aim to be better at what you do than anybody else.

Barnum finishes this section with the paragraph "No profession, trade, or calling, is overcrowded in the upper story. Wherever you find the most honest and intelligent merchant or banker, or the best lawyer, the best doctor, the best clergyman, the best shoemaker, carpenter, or anything else, that man is most sought for, and has always enough to do. As a nation, Americans are too superficial—they are striving to get rich quickly, and do not generally do their business as substantially and thoroughly as they should, but whoever excels all others in his own line, if his habits are good and his integrity undoubted, cannot fail to secure abundant patronage, and the wealth that naturally follows. Let your motto then always be "Excelsior," for by living up to it there is no such word as fail."

Relevance to Hubpages: It's important for successful writers to remember they were new once too, they had to learn. Successful writers should be kindly to newer members and encourage their work, this can be done by leaving a comment, marking an article up, or posting gems of wisdom in the forums. There's no need to put somebody else down, or to act uppity. Gain the respect of others by being a gentleman - if you're respected and admired for your kindliness, you'll gain more followers and more people will read your hubpages and mark them up. People are more likely to link to your articles from other sites if they like you or if you've helped them. Karma.

Learn Something Useful

You always need to have something to fall back on. If you have a trade or profession first, then you can go off to explore other things - and if hard times are encountered you can always fall back on your trade or profession.

Somebody who works in a shop cannot work if all the shops are closed down - but if you have a trade then you have something to 'sell' to others directly.

Relevance to Hubpages: If you can write, you can earn money. It's a skill and a profession - and it's something you can do, especially if you follow the lessons in the Art of Money Making, which means perseverance! Hubpages can be the profession you make money with full-time, or you can keep it running in the background as your fallback plan. You choose, it's there for you!

Let Hope Predominate, but Be Not Too Visionary

Some people will always be poor because they keep getting bigger and grander ideas. Rather than committing to one thing and doing it well, they're always chasing after the next big thing.

Relevance to Hubpages: Online you will be inundated with ways to make money online, ways to become rich, be an overnight success .... and if you chase them all you'll end up staying poor. Commit to Hubpages, write hubs, enjoy your time, improve your writing - and keep writing ... and you'll see results. You can then build on that success. You can make an income - even a full-time income - with Hubpages, but only if you act now and not keep chasing after the next big thing.

Do Not Scatter Your Powers

PT Barnum says "Engage in one kind of business only, and stick to it faithfully until you succeed, or until your experience shows that you should abandon it.". Too many people make a half-hearted attempt at something, appear to fail, then try the next thing.

Many people try delivering catalogues and picking up orders as a way to make money. On day one they deliver the catalogues, on day three they collect the catalogues and the orders - yet they are surprised there are 0 orders, or just one order. So they give up and try the next big thing. Statistics show that those that persevere with this start to have significant orders when they deliver their 6th or 7th catalogues as it takes the householders a while to get used to the catalogues arriving before they order from them. The time builds up their desire to order. But many catalogue delivery people have given up by the time they've delivered the catalogues twice or three times.

Relevance to Hubpages: I started by writing 4-6 hubs and didn't see instant money so stopped. Over the next year I suddenly realised I was earning money from them - I did the maths and realised it was possible to earn a full-time income from Hubpages, so I started again and now have over 150 hubpages. I'll admit I am not overly good at writing every day (or I'd have 1000 hubs by now), but I don't dilute my efforts by writing for other sites. There is nothing wrong with writing for other sites too, but if you do it too early then you'll simply dilute your efforts.

Be Systematic

Becoming organised enables you to achieve a lot more than if you work in a haphazard manner. By being systematic in everything you do, you'll get a lot more done - and it'll be done sooner, freeing up your time and making life more pleasant.

It's also important to not become so system-focussed that you become machine-like and incapable of switching off!

Relevance to Hubpages: It is possible to take a systematic approach to writing hubs. Over time you will learn what you need to put into your hubs - the image locations you prefer, writing the summary, adding the tags, linking to other hubs. You can write a short list by your PC to remind you to do all these things. For writing hubs, a systematic approach might be to commit to writing a hub every day, based on an action you perform - e.g. at 1pm, in your lunchtime, you might choose to write a lunch recipe, or to write an article based on the lead question/answer in your daily newspaper's Agony Aunt column.

Read the Newspapers

It's important to know what's going on in the world - newspapers give you these new horizons and viewpoints. You can see how the world is changing - and think how you can generate more business, or change what you do slightly. You can predict future trends, or spot rising trends. If your business is in designing dresses, for example, you might see whether hemlines are predicted to be up or down this spring; if you start a car sales company you might like to keep abreast of fuel efficiency or safety features in emerging models.

Relevance to Hubpages: Newspapers are a great source for inspiration for articles; there will be 2-3 sections within any newspaper towards which you are drawn. You can take inspiration from these, let them lead you in the direction of what's popular right now. Alternatively, you can use newspapers to summarise key points in topics that you aren't particularly keen on, but which you know will make you more money than just sticking to the things that interest you!

Beware of "Outside Operations"

Many people become bankrupt overnight due to speculative investment, or even gambling. They're encouraged into these high risk ventures by outsiders telling them how lucky they are, or how brilliantly they're doing - and are encouraged to throw caution to the winds and believe everything they touch will turn to gold. We've seen a lot of this recently with the housing bubble, with people losing fortunes and empires overnight when house prices fell. These people believed they could do no wrong, they were encouraged to borrow more/buy more - house prices only ever go up ... except they didn't, house prices fell and suddenly the investments became huge liabilities that couldn't be covered from the person's other incomes.

One should invest moderately - as much as you can afford - and spread the risk across several ventures. Don't put all your money into one asset class.

Relevance to Hubpages: Writing for Hubpages is a way to make money, but you have to be aware of the outside forces that might mean the rules change overnight, or the company/site is sold at some future point. It's important, therefore, to ensure you have a backup of all your hubs, so you can instantly transfer them to another site. It's also a good plan to re-use your hub articles materal. Write one hub, then use that as the basis for re-writing it in a different style and posting it on a similar site. Hubpages is good - but always beware of outside opeations and influences. This recently reared its head when Google did their Panda update and overnight Hubpages (along with dozens of other popular sites) lost a lot of their traffic overnight. Always have a Plan B ready to go!

Don't Indorse Without Security

No matter how successful somebody appears to be - and no matter how close your relationship to them - never lend them money unless you have absolute security for your money, or can genuinely afford to completely write off the debt. Every time you lend money, it becomes easier for them to come back and borrow again. At first you'll draw up a proper agreement, but over time, when the money's paid back you'll stop bothering and will simply put your hand in your pocket and ask "how much?" - until one day they lose everything and you suddenly find you've lent them a lot of money this time. People need to learn to earn the money they need.

Relevance to Hubpages: Money doesn't change hands with hubpages, so this at first seems irrelevant... except to say that if somebody sees your hubpages success and tries to borrow money from you that you've earnt, you would be better off spending time with them showing them how to make money with hubpages themselves, so that they might earn their own money from it for when they next need funds!

Advertise Your Business

It's essential that every business advertises what they have to sell - if you don't advertise, then you won't gain new customers so easily as you might. Advertising isn't something you do once, or a few times, but something you must do continually. Many people start in business and place a small advert in their local paper - then cancel the advert when they see no increase in business. In order for advertising to succeed you need to keep advertising. If you place an advert in the local paper, let it run for always.

A French writer says that "The reader of a newspaper does not see the first mention of an ordinary advertisement; the second insertion he sees, but does not read; the third insertion he reads; the fourth insertion, he looks at the price; the fifth insertion, he speaks of it to his wife; the sixth insertion, he is ready to purchase, and the seventh insertion, he purchases."

Relevance to Hubpages: For businesses, hubpages enables business to advertise their goods or services for sale, with a couple of simple caveats. As a business owner, you can advertise by writing informative hubs. Treat your hub articles as if they were a weekly magazine and you had to fill half a page. Write an article about how a product can be used, create a video to demonstrate a technique, give hints and tips. You're allowed up to two links back to your website. The key here is to write engaging, informative hubpages - don't see it as a full page list of products, but select your best products and write informatively about them, then provide a link where they might purchase the goods from you. This is also true for affiliate, if you're an affiliate marketer, you can use this technique to help promote products. Simply describe and explain the product and what it actually does, how that can help people, then put in your affiliate link (except Clickbank, which is not accepted).

Don't Read the Other Side

There are many ways to advertise your business, some of them will be unique to you - so think outside the box. Barnum tells the story of Genin the Hatter - he went to auction and purchased a ticket for $225 and when asked by the auctioneer who he was he proclaimed loudly across the room "Genin the Hatter". As this was a lot of money to pay for a ticket word spread fast about Genin the Hatter - and people sought out his business and hats - and he sold thousands of hats and gained lifelong customers through this unique method of advertising.

Many businesses these days will sponsor big events or charities so their name might be seen in newspapers or on television. But within everybody's ability and budget there will be innovative ways to advertise for free.

Relevance to Hubpages: It costs nothing to advertise and promote a business through Hubpages. There are some simple rules to follow and you can provide up to two links back to your website. The best advice I can give is for people to write informative articles and let their readers discover the website through the links, which they will do if you write a compelling article, or something that helps them to solve a problem.

Be Polite and Kind to Your Customers

The customer is always right - and it's important in business to keep smiling even when the customer is rude or wrong. You won't gain more business by being rude to them - and if you're rude they'll tell their friends and word will get round, so you'll lose a lot more customers.

Relevance to Hubpages: Treat your readers and other hubbers with kindness and respect - even when they're rude. At some point you will have somebody write a rude comment on one of your hubs, either publish it or delete it (your choice), but don't respond unless you have an uncommon gift for turning it into humour. Early in my hubbing days I had a horrid response to one of my recipes, 100 people had said it was great and one practically accused me of ruining their entire life... over a 2 minute microwave sponge pudding recipe that used just one egg, some flour, butter and a squirt of treacle. I think I deleted it and moved on :)

Be Charitable

Being charitable and giving your time or money is a good quality to have. It gives you a goal to bring balance into your life. It's important to not become so self-important that you think you're above others and therefore too good to give. Those who give find others drawn towards them, increasing their business or their wealth; those who are seen to be miserly are avoided.

Relevance to Hubpages: If you're generous with your time and help in hubpages, others will follow you, they'll comment on your articles, they'll tell others of your writing. Ultimately you'll gain more traffic and more income from your writing. If you can respond to comments, people will appreciate that you took the time and vote your hubs up.

Don't Blab

Some people like to blab and tell others how they make their money, they'll tell anybody who cares to listen exactly how they make their money. You shouldn't tell others about your income, your profits, your expectations. One philosopher said you should never write a letter and never destroy one. You should certainly not tell people if you're losing money or they'll lose respect for you.

Relevance to Hubpages: It's important that you spread the word about how people can make money from Hubpages, but if you were to spell out every tiny detail you'd be giving away your secrets as everybody would copy exactly what you do - and you'd create your own competition. On the other hand, you should be as generous as you can with your tips and information.... just don't end up writing a full 100,000 word ebook and giving it away for free. Many hubbers share exactly their processes - and they split it into many hubs, the combination of which earn them an income. The majority of their readers will probably never replicate their success. In this way, with Hubpages, you're not giving away your secrets for free, but sharing them in exchange for the income you gain. Writing helpful articles such as How to Increase Your Author Score to 100 on Hubpages isn't blabbing, it's helping others to achieve success.

Preserve Your Integrity

Above all else, it's important to be honest in your dealings with others. Word gets round if you're dishonest and people stop dealing with you. Be known for your honest and integrity - this will draw more business towards you in the long term. If you're known for being honest, people will be more kindly towards you if you need a favour, or some help - and that favour or help could turn your fortunes around.

Money is gained from commerce - and it's because of honesty and integrity that commerce has enabled civilisation to develop.

Make money honestly.

Relevance to Hubpages: Your writing on hubpages should be unique, you should have written it yourself. A dishonest person might think they can copy 1000 articles they found elsewhere and sit back and earn income from them - but they'll quickly be stopped and their account closed. It's better to write a half-good unique article than to copy somebody else's. Create your own content - it brings inner satisfaction and the feeling of money earnt honestly is 10x greater than the feeling of earning dishonest money.

I hope you've enjoyed my short precis of The Art of Money Getting by PT Barnum - and can draw upon my thoughts of the relevance of his words to Hubpages.

However you make your money, wherever your talents lie, try to keep these good lessons in your mind!


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    • Jlava73 profile image

      Jennifer Vasconcelos 

      8 years ago from Cyberspace and My Own World

      Simply Awesome Hub!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      8 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you for a very interesting read.

    • allexia26 profile image


      8 years ago

      Very good advice, and yes people are always looking for the next best thing I use to be one of them, very useful information Thanks for sharing

    • allexia26 profile image


      8 years ago

      Very good advice, and yes people are always looking for the next best thing I use to be one of them, very useful information Thanks for sharing

    • SilentReed profile image


      8 years ago from Philippines

      With the glut of articles floating around,"How to succeed in business" articles do not really rate high in my reading list. What attracted me was the "PT Barnum" in the title. what kept me reading till the end was how you were able to point out it's relevance to Hubpages. Wise move and good "showmanship". PT Barnum would have been proud :)

    • dearabbysmom profile image


      8 years ago from Indiana

      I agree with Financial Help...providing the hubpages relevance was a big plus. Lots of information here...up, useful and awesome.

    • Financial Help profile image

      Financial Help 

      8 years ago from Florida

      Wow what great information provided. I love how you gave tips that were relevant to hubpages and that you could use in your own business no matter what you do! Voted up and marked useful! Great hub!

    • annmackiemiller profile image


      8 years ago from Bingley Yorkshire England

      all good advice - voted up and stuff


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