Disclaimer: I'm all over the place. Please forgive me for the sporadic answers.
1. Can you tell a bit about yourself? What do you do and how did you get started in internet marketing?
1. I got into IM in 2009. I was about 14. Lived in a rural area so there wasn't much to do - no distractions. So it led to me spending a lot of time on the computer and then eventually internet marketing. Micro niche websites were popular then, so I made them for people. I realized the only two keyword research tools at the time (Micro Niche Finder and Market Samurai) sucked so I started making my own. Exec VIP member meathead1234 told me I ought to sell licenses and not just keep it for myself. hitman247, another exec VIP on here, saw me talking about it on the forum and came in as one of my first customers. He's now a very close friend of mine - we chat daily and visit each other often.
After that, the company blew up on BHW and WF. I got WSO of the day and week. First day I ever made 5 figures was then, when I was 16. PayPal came along Feb 1, 2012 and did what they do, limited my account, held 5 figures and cancelled all my recurring subscriptions. This basically forced my company to a slow and painful death. More about that here.
Then I founded another tool called SerpClix (credit goes to BTB and Taktical for their advice on this project), and had some exciting times with that. Learned old school sales. One day I was on the call with an older man, he was an agency owner down south and had a few big contracts. I think it was Victoria's Secret and Hilton Hotels for each around $500k/mo. He wanted to try SerpClix. On the other end of the call is me, a kid in college, sitting in my apartment at a desk, half dressed, bed head, about 2:00 in the afternoon, excited and anxious with every answer I gave back. He said he wanted to try it for $500. I confidently replied "add a zero" - and he's said "okay, $5000?" - and that was basically one of my first sales calls ever. His young female assistance PayPal'd that money over to me right away. I got another few hundred agencies signed up and then one agency just bought the company outright and I've been enjoying life ever since.
So, to answer your question, what do I do - I sell software. Mainly.
2. Tell us a bit of your current projects, what are you working on?
2. Right now I moved to San Diego for the winter. I just graduated college 11 months ago so I'm kind of living my life on the money I earned while in college. SD is supposed to be one of the best places in North America, so I got a nice place downtown. I don't even call what I do "work" - like I wake up in the morning and just do whatever I want to do. But after I exercise, clean up and clean my apartment, I fill my empty time with problem solving. I've been coding all sorts of stuff lately but my main venture is my influencer search engine Shout. Everyone in the IM/ecom space is pretty familiar with success stories like Quay Australia so I won't recap much but there's a lot of money to be made in influencer marketing, so I just have a tool that helps do that.
I'm also into ecommerce, and we've been doing well with that.
3. You have successfully built 3 6-7 figure companies, and sold one. What are the processes to achieve something like that for someone who only does SEO?
3. Everyone makes money in a different way on here. There's no real process that's true for all of us. As humans we try to find patterns in situations where patterns may not exist.
I guess the first thing is to decide what your goals are. If you're good at SEO, the easiest way to make money is to sell links in the BST forum. Everyone does it. Issue is, you're going to struggle to become a millionaire from that. If you're like me, you're looking for something that can grow and be massive, not capped. So you could rank your own money sites. Sure, less capped, but the issue is then, your income is super unstable. Rankings jump around. They're like your mentally unstable ex - you never know what they're going to do next and you can't have that shit in your life.
So that's why I like PPC. You can spend $50/day and mess around with campaigns and when you get a good campaign, you just scale it. You find guys who can bank roll a $250k/mo ad spend, you show the numbers/ROI for your trial campaigns and you decide what kind color your Lambo is gonna be (joking about the Lambo, no one gives a shit what kind of car you drive).
However, to answer your question, easiest and most reliable money in SEO is being an agency. A friend of mine, Ilan, owns a very successful agency. He doesn't take on clients under $3k/mo. We talked 2 weeks ago when he called me about some ecom stuff. But he mentioned his competition was under offer for $35 million. He says he doesn't know how they get an offer because no one in the agency space wants more clients. They're all busy. If you have discipline and can open an office in a city, there's good money to be made.
As for my own process - I'm kind of old school. Also I wouldn't say I'm in the SEO space, but I'm just an entrepreneur. I basically prove my worth to as many people as possible and opportunities present themselves. So I try to keep an open schedule for when something lucrative appears, I can take it on and it won't affect my other projects. I also try to provide value to every customer, at every opportunity. People like what I put out.
4. What do you think the future has prepared for SEO?
4. I don't have anything surprising here. Google will push more ads, embed more answers in the results and click-throughs will continue to drop. It's not that great of a future.
5. Do you do any other businesses besides the online world? How important do you consider having something on the side?
5. Most of my work is online, but I do get into some fun projects offline. E-commerce brands for example, once they prove successful, you can start expanding offline which is exciting. I also flip things offline. More in the next answers.
6. How close are you to your goal - https://twitter.com/JoshMacDonald19/status/1039929493165617152 ? Can you share a bit more for the journey?
6. So goal-wise apparel is done. Automotive is almost there. I just need to offload inventory. Software, for this calendar year, I haven't passed into 6 figures yet but the winter is young.
The most interesting thing about the journey is the automotive aspect. I buy insurance write-off units from auctions. So when someone smashes up their vehicle, the insurance company appraises the damage and if it's too much to fix, they replace it for the customer and send that unit to the auction. Then someone like me goes "ya I can fix that for X amount, sell it for Y amount, so I should pay at most Z amount". Success rate when you're starting is about 50%. You'll lose money on half the stuff you buy, unless you have experts in the space that can help. Eventually, you can get to 90% success rate where only 1 out of 10 units you'll lose money on.
So the first step for me was learning engine mechanics. I always wanted to learn as there's nothing worse than engine issues, especially when you're with friends or on a date. I spent the summer hanging around with friends who are not internet-savvy by any means, but they can fix anything with an engine, and damn quickly. We fixes ATVs, trucks, jet skis, etc. So I learned a lot about appraising damage and learning what it takes to fix something. So I bought a Malibu Wakesetter, a Polaris RZR 1000 and a SeaDoo RXP 215. All insurance write-offs. I fixed all of them. The Malibu (boat) was more complicated so I offered friends cash deals to fix certain things where I couldn't. I fixed the Polaris myself, and I fixed most of the Sea-Doo myself. The Sea-Doo was simple. It sunk off the New Jersey shore.
If you want a technical run down: I pulled the plugs, drained the cylinders, drained the oil, replaced the battery and it would only click when I fired it. So I jumped the starter solenoid and it started to crank so I bought a new solenoid on Ebay for $22 and boom, put some oil in it and it runs (that's half the battle), but with low voltage. So then I swapped the voltage regulator with one that works, same thing. So then I traced the wiring back to the stator, and that seemed solid. Issue is the stator. It's not putting out enough voltage. Issue is, that stator is at the bottom of the engine. Engine has to be pulled and the stator had to be rebuilt so I sent that out to a friend who specializes in those and that's good to go.
So basically all 3 units are ready to be sold when the weather warms up as these toys have no demand in the winter, but I'll make out good with them.
I think the take-away here is that someone who wants to make money, will make money - online or off. Internet money isn't easier, nor is offline money. Just do what you like. If you like ripping jet skis all summer for basically free, then flip jet skis. Fix 2-3 a week at $2-4k profit each. If you have a bad knee and can't stand for a long time, then work online. There are options for everyone. Just go make some damn money - life's better that way.
7. You also do Ecom as part of your online businesses. Could you elaborate on how important the SEO skills are for an Ecom store?
7. Not important at all. You can make more than enough money from PPC. You could use SEO as a traffic channel but that takes months to rank and personally I don't like to wait on my money. I like making money fast, so I don't go the SEO route in ecom.
8. What’s been your biggest regret since starting out and your biggest lesson?
8. Good question. Choosing PayPal as a payment provider for my first software company was awful. If I wouldn't have got shut down, I probably would have been a millionaire in high school given I was making insane amounts of money up to the date they shut me down.
Biggest lesson - how about a few as none stand out. 1- When it comes to selling an asset, your first offer is usually your best offer - don't get greedy. 2- Build trust in your relationships - be known as a person everyone can count on to keep a secret, or the person with the highest integrity. This is true in business, friends and your dating life. It's amazing how you get treated when everyone knows when they can truly trust you. 3- When you're starting out, treat everyone fairly. You never know who's going to be making $100k/day 3 years from now, so touch base with your original group of marketing friends often. 4- This is a public black hat forum, there are all kinds of people out there, so when you find people you can trust, stay in touch. Treasure them.
9. Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
9. Probably in Las Vegas, enjoying my youth. Partying harder in a bigger house.
10. If you could give some advice to people that are just starting out, what would it be?
10. Kind of answered above but we all come from different situations and backgrounds. Some have education, some have none. Some come from upper class and some come from the projects. If I had to try to manufacture some arbitrary person into success: delete social media, wake up at 6am every day, work 40+ hours a week at your desk while maintaining a 40 hr/week job/schooling and do this for several years. And when someone smarter than you talks or gives you advice on your situation, just stfu and listen, don't annoy them, just take notes. You'll eventually hit success.