Currently over $2 million in annual revenue and how I got here.

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So I'm new to the board but love it so far. Thanks again for the invite.

So a few things really quickly!

I get you guys. Where most of you are now, I've been there. I think there is a pretty predictable path to success online that often looks like something like this. Not everyone follows this path, but it's something that I've seen over and over again and it ran true for me. Here's how things play out:

1) Learning Websites: Learning to build websites or figuring out the process of getting them built.
2) Making money building websites for other people for money.
3) Learning SEO/internet marketing.
4) Making money offering SEO/internet marketing to other people.
5) Learning Affiliate marketing/branding/conversion optimization techniques
6) Making money as an affiliate marketer by essentially offering all the skills you've picked up in the previous steps.

Number 6 is where most of you are at now. I've been there. Some of you make good money, some of you make enough to keep the lights on, and some of you haven't made your first dollar yet. And that's fine, there has to be a bellcurve somewhere. Not everyone can win.

Unfortunately though, many of you guys stop at 6. There is a #7.

Using all these skills to market your own company!!!

So instead of being a marketer for some brand, you become the brand and use all of the skills you've picked up so far to build your own businesses.

That's what I did. And that's how I got from a few hundred per month in affiliate marketing to well over $2 million per year and that number is still growing. (obligatory screenshot)
https://www.dropbox.com/s/mik1utv40851qoj/Screenshot 2014-12-27 11.41.42.png?dl=0

My thought process was like this: Why compete with all of these affiliate marketers who are sophisticated, understand internet marketing, understand branding, understand conversion optimization, understand traffic building, etc. Why compete with these folks for crumbs when I can go compete with folks that don't know what the hell they're doing?

So I started going after building my own brands primarily in local services 3 years ago. Competition does not get any weaker than this, so I dominate immediately. So in the last 3 years:

Home cleaning: Over 3 million in revenue.
Lawncare: $25K in the first 4 months of business.
Launch27: Saas app for local businesses: $15K per month in revenue so far.

Getting ready to launch carpet cleaning and a moving service in the new years. Site mockups are ready to go:
http://www.branddesignz.com/hellocarpets/hellocarpets/
http://verycreative.info/marian_h/backpacks/wp/

And for shits and giggles I started wet shave club in May 2014 and we did $60K in December alone.

The point of all of this is to say: Affiliate marketing is awesome. It's how I got my start. But remember that you can your own brand at any time, and it's not as difficult as it sounds. I'm partial to local services because they are by far the easiest foray into entrepreneurship. Weakest competition you'll find. Homejoy launched a home cleaning service a few years back and became the fastest growing Ycombinator company of all time.

https://twitter.com/paulg/status/341229908078501890

I shared my story on reddit 2 1/2 years ago and a lot of folks started companies. Since then the top 50 companies are now doing combined $1 million per MONTH in revenue.

This is no coincidence.

Here's the case study I shared on there describing how I attack local industries: http://www.reddit.com/r/EntrepreneurRideAlong/comments/tltuy/day_26_from_zero_to_website_launcha_recap_of/

Here's the one I did on Wet Shave Club: http://www.reddit.com/r/Entrepreneur/comments/2h1mlt/the_inner_workings_of_a_subscription_box_company/

Let me know if I can answer any questions.
 
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Damn, dude. You're killin' it.

For these local service sites, are you hiring out employees to actually do the work? Or is it sort of the Uber/Task Rabbit model where you're building the site, marketing it, and people who want to work can sign up to do so? Or are you working with other local businesses to complete the service? I can't quite tell, but I can understand if you don't want to give that detail away.
 
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I remember reading your post on reddit a couple years ago and thinking how awesome it was. Great to see you're still killing it.

Why compete with all of these affiliate marketers who are sophisticated, understand internet marketing, understand branding, understand conversion optimization, understand traffic building, etc. Why compete with these folks for crumbs when I can go compete with folks that don't know what the hell they're doing?
Love this mindset too. You take your online marketing knowledge for granted when you're surrounded by sharks all the time, you forget that most people don't even know how to swim.
 
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I gave the whole shebang away in those links man...so no worries haha.

We use the homejoy, exec, handy model. We build brands and make the work available to contractors/small businesses to do the work. Overtime you can parlay them into employees as well (some folks do this). What folks end up doing on this end isn't the main point, they can attack it any way they like. The main challenge is building the brand and finding clients. When you find clients, finding people to do the work is a walk in the park. Who says no to more money? : -)
 
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I remember reading your post on reddit a couple years ago and thinking how awesome it was. Great to see you're still killing it.



Love this mindset too. You take your online marketing knowledge for granted when you're surrounded by sharks all the time, you forget that most people don't even know how to swim.
Thanks man, yeah things are still moving along nicely. And agreed totally. There is a whole world of folks that aren't sharks, don't know how to swim, or have never even been to the beach. lol
 
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I gave the whole shebang away in those links man...so no worries haha.

We use the homejoy, exec, handy model. We build brands and make the work available to contractors/small businesses to do the work. Overtime you can parlay them into employees as well (some folks do this). What folks end up doing on this end isn't the main point, they can attack it any way they like. The main challenge is building the brand and finding clients. When you find clients, finding people to do the work is a walk in the park. Who says no to more money? : -)
haha so you did. My day is going to be reading your Day 26 post.

Also agreed about the main focus being building the brand/finding clients..but I feel like, considering how important reviews are for these types of services, that making sure the little details, like who is doing the work/securing those contractors, is pretty important. That said, it is still a minor blip on the big scale.

Thanks for sharing!
 

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1. Do you do any offline promotions for your SAAS for local businesses? We've got a campaign about to get started focusing 80% on offline initiative targeting local business in their specialized niches. If so, you have any tips or pointers on coordinating online and offline campaigns for maximum effectiveness?

2. One thing I've noticed during my non-lurker career is most people simply don't take action on ideas they have - what do you recommend for them in those situations?

3. Going with a business you are passionate about or profitable - What's your take?

4. Figuring that most people don't start cause they just haven't 'saved up enough' - If you were starting all over and had nothing in terms of finances - what are some method you would employ to generate revenue for a new project?

5. If you had to do it again - what in your mind is the most lucrative business models? I partially love the SAAS model, or a subscription based - but I would love to hear your thoughts on businesses you've seen and ideas you wished you would have gotten into.
 

eliquid

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Your wetshaveclub reddit got me inspired again to think about a monthly box sub I've wanted to do a for a few months when I was introduced to the method via Sumo Jerky when Noah was running it and I was one of his early beta customers for it.

I'm a bit too busy to really start the company as I got my hands in a big enough pie already, but I wanted to say thanks for the reddit ( i just found it a week ago ) and telling everyone every piece of it.

I would have never known about Uline, CreateJoy, the box company you use ( I reached out to them about the same box you used ) or that if the box was under 13 ounces, I could ship it so cheaply with USPS for under $4.

The idea I have for a monthly box sub, no one else is doing at all atm and the market is not served in this way. These people are pretty eager and they have a demand and are easily targeted on Facebook and Google Display
 
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Hi to answer your questions:
1. Do you do any offline promotions for your SAAS for local businesses?

No offline promotions at all for anything. Never saw the ROI.

2. One thing I've noticed during my non-lurker career is most people simply don't take action on ideas they have - what do you recommend for them in those situations?

Remember that they're dying. The world doesn't care about you. And 100 years from now no one will remember or care if you failed at this or won at that. The only thing that matters is the NOW. And how you use that time. Want to waste time being too pussy to pursue your dreams? That's on them. Me, I get to work like I'm on the clock. Because we all are.

3. Going with a business you are passionate about or profitable - What's your take?

I talk about this in the wetshaveclub link. Here's the excerpt:

"Find something you’re passionate about: Nah son. Find something that is viable. I’m passionate about table tennis, but I’m not looking to turn that passion into a business. When it comes to business, I’m far more passionate about providing a good product/service that has good margins, than about being able to marry that business to any hobby or other exciting pursuit I may have in my regular life. This way, I’m free to work on the best opportunity that arises without limitation. And honestly, quite often the least sexy industries are where the big money is being made. So while most of the brainpower is busy chasing sexy mobile apps and such, you can make bank by selling ugly widgets or providing basic services. It’s tough to pay bills with app downloads."

4. Figuring that most people don't start cause they just haven't 'saved up enough'...

I think this premise is flawed. Most people don't start because of FEAR. Fear of failure, fear of success...fear in some form or the other.

To generate revenue for a project I would simply cut cost: Turn off cellphone/cable for 3 months. That's $1,000 there, and that's all you need to get a site up. But most people don't want it enough to do things like this imo.

5. If you had to do it again - what in your mind is the most lucrative business models?

Anything with recurring revenue is great: So that's saas, home cleaning (recurring bookings), subscription box. And as you see, those are the projects I pursued out of the gate. Recurring revenue is key because your customer acquisition cost can be much higher and you can still win. I'll say though, from experience, cash flow is much easier to handle with service (you get paid first then pay for your "product") vs a product company (you pay for your product first, and get paid after).
 
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Your wetshaveclub reddit got me inspired again to think about a monthly box sub I've wanted to do a for a few months when I was introduced to the method via Sumo Jerky when Noah was running it and I was one of his early beta customers for it.

I'm a bit too busy to really start the company as I got my hands in a big enough pie already, but I wanted to say thanks for the reddit ( i just found it a week ago ) and telling everyone every piece of it.

I would have never known about Uline, CreateJoy, the box company you use ( I reached out to them about the same box you used ) or that if the box was under 13 ounces, I could ship it so cheaply with USPS for under $4.

The idea I have for a monthly box sub, no one else is doing at all atm and the market is not served in this way. These people are pretty eager and they have a demand and are easily targeted on Facebook and Google Display
Awesome man, glad to be an inspiration. Yeah I enjoyed the series of posts Sumo Jerky did as well. It's amazing what a bit of hustle and creativity can get you. Yeah Uline, Cratejoy,Salazar, those folks are the core of our business. Would be lost without them : -) Thanks again man, and good luck with whatever you do next.
 

eliquid

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I would like to ask a question.

If you dont want to answer, I fully understand. Maybe we could talk in private as well.

As i said above, I am looking at the sub monthly box too....

What kind of margin do you think is acceptable in this space? At $29 a month minus $4 shipping, cost of box, cost of goods, etc... what do you need to make per box to make it worthwhile ( generalized )?
 
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@eliquid feel free to ask away : -)

I'd say 30% minimum is what you should be shooting for on subscription. Then if you do like us, you can add a store where you sell higher margin products (those are 100% markups for us).
 

CCarter

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But most people don't want it enough to do things like this imo.
^^ Gold right there. I've stated this several times to people, but it wasn't get through - I thought I was crazy. If people don't really want it, they'll find every excuse in the book to not do it - Staccs like - not a bad guy just not meant for this life.

Thank you for the answers and welcome to Buso!!!

1. Back when you did try the offline campaigns, I assume direct mail - did you hit up the same people multiple times with different messages or do a one-time blast for the non-ROI?
 
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@CCarter You're welcome and thank you!

For offline we just did flyers one time. Never direct mail. And only once. But yeah I'm not an offline type person. If it's not something I can do from my computer, it's probably not going to happen. : -)
 

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Fantastic thread. Thanks for taking the time to post this and answer questions.


I do have one, long winded question, if you don't mind answering?

- What's your general process like for acquiring the items in your sub box? Is there a direct deal with the manufacturers? How did you go about creating this relationship - was it built over time? (Paying retail price initially). Generally what would you recommend for this part of the process?

Thanks
 
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Hi @RomesFall , sure thing man. And thank you.

To acquire items in the box we just reach out to suppliers with this email: https://i.imgur.com/8zOXzZG.png

I know it would seem more complicated than this, but it's really this simple.

Our suppliers are often mom and pop shops, so it's simply, "hey we need this much. What's the best price you can do".

For bigger manufacturers (our razors, for example), it's the same thing. People want to sell their product, so as long as you present a nice brand and reputable front, they will play ball.
 
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Hey @localcasestudy
I've been reading your reddit threads for hours now and the amount of information I've had to digest has been overwhelming. It's got me real fired up.

Currently I run a website that gets close to 1 million unique visitors/month, 95% of this traffic is from Google, and it's solely monetized with adsense, which after reading this thread, I feel is like a giant waste when I could be turning this into my own big brand/company.

The niche is in a way related to your wetshavingclub. Do you mind if I PM you my site just to get your perspective on what I can do with it?
Cheers.
 
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thanks op, you got me thinking about possibilities at the place i live (tbh i was skeptical till this post of doing an internet-related biz in my country)
Any recommendation on how to approach this model (monthly box sub) to a market where there is still little trust towards online commerce?
 

lyannastark

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yeah @Mayhem I know what you mean... I have the same issues in my local space. I guess in third world countries not that many people are willing to use their credit cards online like that, for fear they'll get taken advantage of... So I guess its just one of those things...
 

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yeah @Mayhem I know what you mean... I have the same issues in my local space. I guess in third world countries not that many people are willing to use their credit cards online like that, for fear they'll get taken advantage of... So I guess its just one of those things...
Does an SSL not help with that?
 
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thanks op, you got me thinking about possibilities at the place i live (tbh i was skeptical till this post of doing an internet-related biz in my country)
Any recommendation on how to approach this model (monthly box sub) to a market where there is still little trust towards online commerce?
@Mayhem if people don't already shop online it's going to be tougher. I'm originally from a country where this is the case, so I wouldn't do a subscription box there as yet. I would probably start with regular ecommerce first to reel folks in, and then add a subscription component. That's how I would do it, but I'm not sure if this is the right approach. I do feel though, that subscription is a higher hurdle to cross than a one-off purchase, so if people are already sketchy about ecommerce, subscription might be tough for your initial offering.
 

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Thanks for sharing. I'm about to check out your Reddit threads.

I only have a few related questions:

What's your process for market research? Say you wanted to jump into a local service niche using your business model. What are some of the key things you look for to ensure your service will be viable/profitable in the face of competition? During the market research process, what kind of red flags (competition wise) would potentially turn you off from pursuing that niche?