Do you have it in you to take advantage of something which you don’t fully believe in? Surely the people who work for weapons manufacturers and oil companies don’t drag around their job title as a deeply held belief. It’s a job to most people, from the lowly exotic dancer to the scumbag CEO of a vitamin company. They might sell sugar pills and snake oil, but they also make a profit and sometimes that all that matters.
That’s where the story of Trevor McKendrick comes in. He’s not passively killing folks or selling his body, but he is betraying his beliefs in the name of making money. At least according to him he is. That’s because McKendrick is an atheist who is making a ton of cash by selling Bibles.
Now McKendrick isn’t going door to door with a cart full of Bibles. That’d be too funny and far too interesting of a story. He’s doing the 21st century equivalent and selling them on Apple’s app store. The best part is how good his idea actually turned out to be, netting him over $100,000 a year. He’s laid his whole odyssey out on his personal blog, explaining how he got the idea to jimp into the Bible game:
In February of 2012 I went to a family dinner where I learned a relative was doing $8k to $10k a month in the App Store. The crazy part was that he wasn’t a developer or a designer. I’d read that most devs/designers were struggling to make money in the App Store, so seeing a business guy be successful was a surprise, and a little weird.
But I figured if he could do it so could I…
It turns out that most of the Spanish Bible apps out there are really bad. (I should point out there are a few exceptions to this from competitors that I admire. Their “problem” is trying to be everything to everyone, so Spanish speakers don’t get as much support.)
My hypothesis was three fold: (1) Whoever was making Spanish Bibles right now was making decent money, (2) I could make a better Spanish Bible app relatively cheaply, and (3) the competition wasn’t too heavy so I’d still be able to be found.
With that small amount of competition and the right amount of know-how, McKendrick was able to thrust himself to the top of the sales charts, showing an increase in profits every day. Soon his original $500 investment (give or take a few bucks) was pulling in thousands. From SFGate:
According to McKendrick’s blog, the app made $73,034 in net revenue in its first year. In the second year, that number grew to $100,134.
McKendrick told Blumberg he remembered exactly where he was when he first realized how much money he was making.
He turned to his wife and said, “Holy crap, honey, look at this money.”
McKendrick told Blumberg the income “doesn’t feel like real money because so little work is involved.
“Dude, I spend maybe an hour a month on this thing.”
McKendrick says the money has “changed our lives because I don’t have to worry about our income.”
The problem is the guilt that comes with it. It would seem that McKendrick isn’t like his fellow salesman of the gospel. The Pat Robertsons and Jim Bakkers of the world with their nice suits and high production values. Apparently there’s that feeling inside that he’s selling out his beliefs with bill of goods that he doesn’t actually think is true, effectively giving people false hope:
“What if you sold ‘Harry Potter’ books or ‘Lord of the Rings’ books, but you told people it was real? And you told people if they would just learn how to write spells themselves, they could heal their children? And if you sold that as a real thing? I would feel terrible about that. But that’s really the situation I am in selling the Bible. I am selling this thing I truly believe is fiction.”
Blumberg says he sometimes gets emails from users asking him to pray for them or interpret the Bible for them. “They think I’m a preacher,” he says.
“If you’re emailing the maker of an app to get help for your son, you’re probably not a in a great spot. Trading that for profit weighs on me a little bit.”(via)
He won’t stop, though. I wouldn’t either. It isn’t the same as creating your own religion, buying a ship, and sailing on some sort of fugitive sex binge while people beg you for answers to their existence. That’s far too west coast. This is more along the lines of taking advantage of an existing line of funds and giving people a product they already want. If they weren’t buying his Bible app, they’d be buying somebody else’s.
Folks have been doing this for years, all the way back to the Dark Ages, and the fact that McKendrick feels guilt proves that he’s as good as the people in that book he’s shilling. He’s not out there spewing lies about God wanting him to dress in fine linens and gold, instead he’s supporting a family. I can’t really knock that that or say that I wouldn’t do a lot worse if in the same situation. A can of pomade and a cheap suit could do a guy like me wonders.