Note: Despite the hyped up title, what you’re about to read is the true story of my many failures and my little bit success in online business. I hope it will provide some value to those of you who are trying to make a living online. Thanks for taking the time to read it.
I’m your average guy. I grew up poor.. like serious trailer park poor. I dropped out of college before I got a degree, but not before I met the love of my life. Before (and after) I was married I bounced from job to job until finally deciding that I wanted to be… (drum roll please)… a millionaire.
Seriously. No joke. At 26 years old I wrote down that I was going to be a millionaire by the time I was 30 years old. Which looking back, was probably not the most sensible goal. However, knowing what I know now it’s definitely possible. But I digress.
So in February of 2006 I quit my day job to pursue my dream of building a lifestyle business that would provide passive income and financial freedom. Along the way we went through foreclosure, bankruptcy, and being on welfare. My dream had turned into a nightmare. I can’t remember where I was on my 30th birthday, but I know I felt like a failure.
I gave up and went back to work. Yet again I felt like I let myself and my family down. The first job I could find was on an assembly line, but finally I landed a job managing a group of e-commerce sites for an automotive parts company.
It was a steady paycheck, but I couldn’t stand working for someone else. It was miserable.
Maybe it was getting chewed out for being 5 minutes late, or the fact that I knew I could be making 10x my salary on my own, but I found new motivation to build my own online business. Things started to click.
I found a great expired domain for auction and asked my wife to use our last $1000 in savings to buy it to launch another website. I guaranteed her I would succeed. She reluctantly agreed. The next month I made the $1000 back and within a year I was making $10k/month from my websites. On my 33rd birthday I quit my job for the last time and never looked back.
I continued to grow and scale things beyond what I thought was possible. Last year I sold my websites and domains to a larger company for several million dollars.
Now we’re retired, living comfortably on the interest from our investments.
Part 1: Failure and What You Can Learn from My Mistakes
You read about people’s successes, but their failures are usually glossed over. Like the story of Thomas Edison failing thousands of times at inventing the lightbulb and his famous quote “I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” It’s inspirational for sure, but rarely do you get a sense of the real struggle to create something life changing. My own story might be looked at the same way.. if I let it be.
The thing about massive failure, and success for that matter, is that it doesn’t just happen. It builds up over days, weeks, months, even years. Small consistent actions compound over time – for better or for worse. For years the only thing I was consistent at was being inconsistent. I jumped from one shiny project to another until I was spread thin and overwhelmed, having nothing to show for my years of work. So in early 2012 when my wife and I walked out of bankruptcy court with barely a penny to our name, I wasn’t surprised.
In 2006 I quit my $12/hr bookkeeping job to start a real estate business, which was an utter disaster. Partially because of the real estate market crash, but mainly because I wasn’t built to run a real estate business. Flipping houses requires excellent project management skills and a keen attention to detail. Neither of which I possess.
So I did what all the fancy startups do when they’re struggling – I pivoted.
I was already dabbling in web design (which was atrocious), but I decided to figure out how to build websites that make money passively. Not just a little side money, but enough passive income to never have to work again. I wanted the freedom to work when and where I wanted, to have the ability to travel whenever I felt like it, and to no longer feel the stress and burden of living paycheck-to-paycheck.
I read countless books, articles, and sites to try and learn how to make a living online. My biggest problem, and the biggest problem most people have, is taking action. It felt good to learn new things like SEO and play around in Photoshop on a logo for hours. But it was hard to write good content, build links, test different ways to convert traffic, and negotiate better deals. So I avoided it. Guess what happened? Nothing. For years I made little or no money because I was scared. Fear of success. Fear of failure. I had all the fears covered.
Then there was the breaking point. My wife and I agreed that if I didn’t make $x,xxx/mth by a certain date, that I would have to sell my sites and domains for what I could get and get a job. I tried everything from local marketing to consulting in order to not have to go back to work. Nonetheless I failed.
I sold everything for a couple thousand dollars. Enough to pay rent and buy groceries for a month, but nothing compared to the time and energy I spent on them.
I applied all over for work in online marketing departments. Nothing. Then a friend helped me land a part-time job on an assembly line, making barely enough to get by. But it was better than nothing. Still, this was one of the low points of my life. To feel like your have all the skills and knowledge needed to have a successful online business, but you’ve failed and have missed your chance. That hurts.
After a few months of applications, resumes, and follow-ups (sometimes bordering on harassment), I landed a job as an Online Marketing Assistant for a local company. The job started out laid back, but the harder I worked, the more responsibility I was given. It didn’t take long for me to be the lead guy for their 7 e-commerce sites and several magazine-style sites. I went from enjoying a steady paycheck to feeling overworked and underpaid.
In the past 10 years I’ve had more failures than successes. I’ve wanted to give up more times than I’d like to admit. And right when I was about to give up on the idea of making money online, things started to click. I jokingly tell people who seem amazed by my story, “it only took 6 years to become an overnight success”.
Okay, So What are You Selling?
This site is completely free. I have no plans to sell books, courses, or to make this a membership site. Because frankly, that sounds like too much work. I’d much rather write at my leisure and leave the upsells to the gurus.
What you may find is the occasional affiliate link. Like a link to (what I consider to be) the best web hosting service, or this cool new solar keyboard I bought on Amazon. There are two reasons why I’m monetizing this site with affiliate links.
First and foremost, these earn me a small commission when someone clicks the link and then buys the product or service. It helps cover the cost of running this site and the time I’m investing in developing content. You won’t find many though, because I only link to products and services I use and can strongly recommend.
Secondly, it’s what I’ll be teaching you to do (affiliate marketing that is). It will help you indirectly learn about driving traffic to products and services you promote.
Okay Mr. Smartypants Moola, If You’re so Successful, Why Are You Teaching Instead of Doing?
I’ve always loved teaching and motivating others. When I first started my online business pursuits in 2007, I really wanted to have a blog (like this one) to teach others what I was learning. The problem was, I wasn’t making any money. So I felt like a poser, a fake, a fraud.
Since then I’ve paid my dues. Over the last 10 years I’ve built dozens of sites in profitable and competitive industries. Last year I sold the majority of my portfolio several million dollars.
Early retirement is fun, but it gets boring fast. So I decided to revisit my dream of having my own blog. Only this time, I actually know what I’m talking about.