I started reading about internet marketing around 2000-2001, and built my first real website in 2003. But I’ve been interested in the whole “direct marketing” industry since long before that. And that’s really what most of what we do on the internet is – direct marketing. The principles aren’t that much different than mail order 50+ years ago.
I remember getting what was really just a chain letter back in the 1980′s, promising untold riches if you just mailed it out to X number of people, replacing one of the names on the list with your own.
I tracked down a mailing list company that rented lists, bought 1,000 names and proceeded to print (by the time I was 12 I was already a big computer geek back when that was considered a bad thing) 1,000 copies of the letter, stuff them all in envelopes, stamp them and drop them all in the mailbox down the street.
And went home to wait for the money to start pouring in.
Know how much I made on that little venture? A grand total of nothing. Zip. Nada. In fact, it probably cost me several hundred bucks by the time I bought the list, stamps and so on.
But it got me hooked on the whole idea of direct marketing, even if it didn’t work the way “they” promised. (A promise that I’ve seen many times since, also often not working out quite the way “they” say.)
Over the next 10-15 years, I bought a ton of books about making money in mail order but by the early 1990′s I was working full-time and it was more of a hobby than anything. I never really did anything with all that information I was soaking up.
I started using the internet around 1993, through a dial-up connection and a text-based interface. I still remember the first time I fired up the Mosaic browser, which was the one that led to all the ones we use today – Firefox, Internet Explorer, Chrome, etc.
It was like a whole new world.
Incidentally, I also remember the first time I saw Google (didn’t convince me to give up Hotbot), Napster (helped me rediscover a lot of 80′s music) and when AOL used to send out their CDs almost daily (I still have a box of them in the basement somewhere).
My day job at the time was selling computers, so I kept up with all the latest and greatest technology. But around 1999 or 2000, I started to feel like I needed to find something new to do with my life and I began to read more and more about how to make money on the internet.
At that time, it was still a relatively “wild west” industry, and there weren’t all that many places to find information, unlike we have today.
I found a company called Sitesell which had several products about building websites and making money on the internet at that time. They’re still around, but they’ve pretty much rolled it all into their flagship product – Site Build It, or SBI, now.
That led to my first real website, and I can still remember the first time I got an affiliate commission through that site. I don’t remember how much it was – probably only a couple of dollars – but it might as well have been $1 million, because I was hooked.
In late 2004, I left my day job to go full-time in internet marketing. Since then, I’ve tried many different systems and techniques, some successfully, others not so much.
I’ve seen ups and downs with Google, been through several of their dreaded updates and slaps, I’ve watched GoTo become Overture, Overture become Yahoo Search Marketing and YSM join forces with Microsoft.
I’ve fought with information overload, I’ve struggled to stay focused with new products, techniques and systems coming through my email every day, and I’ve spent way more money on stuff I’ve never used than I care to admit.
Overall, a pretty similar path to many other people in this business.
I’ve settled into a few things that I focus on these days, mainly creating my own products to help other internet marketers learn specific skills. I still have to fight to stay focused, but it gets easier every time I launch a new product and start seeing those sales coming in
I’m not one for a lot of hype and hard selling. Frankly, if I didn’t have a family to feed or was independently wealthy, I’d probably put most of this stuff out for free, but that doesn’t pay the bills. So while I do sell stuff, and don’t apologize for it, it’s highly unlikely you’re going to see the typical product ladder coming from me, with prices all the way up into the thousands of dollars.
I’d much rather provide helpful, actionable information at a price that’s affordable for the average marketer. So I might never be on stage talking about my first million dollar day, but I’m okay with that.
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