Justin Ferriman

Justin Ferriman

It has been roughly six months since I started the GapScout project, and I will admit, the delays in the progress have started to get to me a little.

On one hand, I get it. I am no stranger to software development delays. I don’t think I ever had a project finish on schedule if I’m honest. But at the same time, it is frustrating. This is particularly true because the current progress (as of this blog post) prevents me from really going hard with a pre-launch strategy.

Building (another) business on a blog.

To date, all I have been doing is focusing on content marketing with blog posts. In 2012, I built LearnDash from a blog, so I guess I am just going back to my roots. I’ll admit, though, getting results from blogging today is a lot more challenging than it was back then.

From August through December, I made sure that two blog posts were being published per week. Each article is 1,500-2,500 words. The tone used is informative and the goal is to teach or help someone understand a business related concept.

At the end of the day, helpful content builds trust, and that’s my goal with the content created on the blog. It’s a simple formula, but one that I know can help drive revenue.

I have been using a “Pillar & Spoke” strategy that was first told to me by my good friend, Ross Johnson. The concept is fairly simple:

  • Pick “pillar” keywords that are broader in nature (i.e. “Market Research”).
  • Find related, longer-tailed keywords for that topic, called “spokes”.
  • Link the spokes together, and point the spokes back to the pillar. The pillar then links out to the spokes.

Google likes this kind of linking, and it adds some extra “weight” to your posts in the eyes of the search engine. Well, that’s what we believe, anyway. Who really knows?

Upping to three articles per week in 2023.

Posting twice per week was working, but I wasn’t satisfied with the results. I felt as if the site should be getting more visitors and sign-ups for the beta release (which is currently the “goal” of the website that exists today).

So, starting in January 2023, I have increased the publishing schedule to three posts per week. It’s still early, but current signs show that just increasing to three times per week is having a positive effect. Traffic is up, and impressions are up as well. Just have a look at the upward trajectory that starts in the new year.

I will continue with this plan going forward, and I expect to see these positive results continue to snowball over time.

Key takeaways for your business.

Look, I’m not an SEO expert. Anything I know is because people way smarter than me have helped me out. With that in mind, here are some tips that I live by with the GapScout blog that, I think, will help you as well.

  • Publish three articles per week.
  • Write articles that are a minimum of 1,200 words.
  • Use the pillar & spoke strategy outlined earlier.
  • Share articles on social media (Twitter is quite effective).
  • Use an SEO tool to optimize your articles (I use Yoast).
  • Reach out to other related blogs for contextual mentions.*
  • Be consistent, and patient!

*From what I have noticed, getting backlinks is still very much an important factor for building your presence in Google. Just a few mentions on reputable domains can really help boost your visibility!

This is my strategy. Nothing fancy. It’s working, but admittedly, there are probably things I could be doing that would make this more effective.

I will be sure to report back again this year on how things are going with the three posts per week. So far, I’m very optimistic with the impact that will have for the business.

Until next time!

#entrepreneurship


👋 Did you like this?

Get future posts emailed to you.

RSS feed

I use this blog for a variety of topics, one of which being a way to document my progress learning Spanish. Today is another one of those posts!

Recently, Lorena’s good friend from North Carolina came to visit us with her fiancé. We will be going to their wedding in March, and they were kind enough to come out to California for a weekend visit.

They were both incredibly kind and fun people, and I can see us having a strong friendship for many years to come. We are already planning a trip to go out and visit them.

They are both from Mexico, so as you would expect, they are bilingual.

Something that is important to me is that I don’t want other people to automatically switch to English simply because I am in the room. This is why I bust my ass learning Spanish – so that I can be part of Lorena’s culture, including the friendships she formed before we met.

As such, we spent the entire weekend speaking a mix of Spanish and English. I’d probably say it was about 50/50. It was a surreal experience for me, participating in deep conversations in Spanish, jokes and all. Yes, I sometimes screwed up conjugations, genders, and word order – but that didn’t matter. What mattered is that I got to know them better in their native language. It made it fun and easy for them.

A highlight for me was the last night when we went out to dinner. At one point I realized that we had all been speaking Spanish for the majority of dinner, and it wasn’t a struggle at all. Maybe it was the glass of wine that loosened me up a bit more, but everything was flowing easily.

This has encouraged to keep up with my studying, and to practice the more advanced structures as I work towards the C1 level of fluency (as of writing this, I am at B2).

#personal


👋 Did you like this?

Get future posts emailed to you.

RSS feed

Another eventful year is in the books, and I’m starting to think more about the coming year and what to expect.

If I’m honest, the past few years have been a whirlwind of activity for me and Lorena, with some huge life events. This coming year feels like an opportunity to slow down slightly and just enjoy life.

I am not one for making hard-set resolutions for a new year, but I do have general goals that I wish to achieve (or continue working towards) from a personal and professional standpoint.

The year of GapScout.

Since August of last year, I have been working on building GapScout. My goal for 2023 is to launch and grow the initial user base, ending the year in profit.

It’s hard to pinpoint a dollar figure for the business because there are still so many factors that I don’t know yet. That said, I think my first goal is making the first $100,000 in revenue for the business.

The beginning of the year will be quite eventful as I anticipate the release of the beta version, and finally getting real-world feedback from people. The one thing I am struggling with currently is pricing, so hopefully that will become more clear during that time.

Oh, and I want to do is stay small for as long as possible. I plan to use contractors to do this, and will likely do this all through 2023. To achieve this, I have been focusing on creating simplified processes that don’t depend on me specifically. Ultimately, I want GapScout to be a useful little tool that isn’t resource heavy.

A little side hobby.

While I am energized by GapScout, I don’t want to burn out from focusing on it every day, all the time. I like to learn new things regarding online business, and so this year I’m giving myself permission to pursue small side projects. For example, I enjoy building websites. Years ago (in my early 20s), I had success selling them too.

What is nice about this kind of hobby is that it’s not so technical. I can enjoy the process without the complications of building and selling software. I love that too, but sometimes my mind needs a break.

Paying it forward.

This is something that I have been thinking about quite a bit lately. When I was running LearnDash, I felt like I didn’t have the headspace to do anything else. I had obligations with employees, customers, and getting more customers. Then, I had to work on the sale of the business (which took about a year).

At the end of it all, I was burnt out – and I still had to help with the transition.

I started to reflect more on what I wanted to do with my time, and something that I have always enjoyed was teaching. I used to give presentations at conferences about areas of entrepreneurship, and I always felt energized by them afterward.

I have travelled a path that many wish to travel, but don’t know how. I have learned so much along my entrepreneurial journey, and I wish to share these lessons learned.

I am looking into ways to teach formally, starting by looking at adjunct professor openings at the local universities in my area. That said, I am open to bringing the world of entrepreneurship to children as well.

I am still working through what any of this will look like, but I do know I am feeling a calling to teaching, and I intend to explore that further.

Finally taking the time to travel just for ourselves.

Lorena and I first met just before the pandemic started. In a way, the lockdown significantly progressed our relationship, as we were isolated with one another without any of the typical distractions.

During the first couple of years, we couldn’t do much travel. Our trips always involved going to see family. I enjoyed the prolonged stays, but now that the worst of the pandemic is behind us, we finally feel that we are in a position to take trips for just us.

It’s not that we haven’t had some vacations. We have, but they have been more local to the U.S. or Mexico. We are excited to explore Europe, specifically Portugal and Italy. We also have an interest in going to Japan, as neither of us have been to Asia.

In addition to some of these longer trips, we intend to travel more around California, and the West Coast in general, such as to Portland, Seattle, Vancouver, and Salt Lake City.

We have the time and the ability to travel this year, and we intend to do so. Of course, we are also looking forward to seeing family as well in Mexico, Michigan, Illinois, and Connecticut this year as well.

My Spanish journey to C1 fluency.

I think last year will always be the year of my biggest progression in Spanish, and I won’t lose sight of that. It was the year that I finally reached fluency!

But fluency is not perfection – and I am far from perfect. I need to learn more vocabulary, get more comfortable and quicker with certain verb conjugations, and improve my general conversational understanding.

The point is, I do well today, but I could get better. I sometimes fall into a habit of saying the easier thing than what I really want to say because the grammatical structure is more complex than what I am used to.

This year, I plan to work with my online tutor four days a week. I started this process in the middle of last year, and it really helped me get to that next level. I reached the B2 level, and now my eyes are set on C1. I think realistically, being a strong C1 is the best I can hope for in the language. I am aiming to reach this level within one to three years. My tutor thinks that by the end I’ll be in the early C1 phases. We’ll see!

I’ll need to know more words (vocab will never stop), practice advanced grammar, and ultimate expose myself more to the language via television, books, and conversation.

Most importantly, I will try to embrace every moment.

As I approach 40, I am starting to better understand that every single moment in my life is a blessing. Nothing is guaranteed, and time is so precious.

I am more patient than I have ever been in my life. I am now taking the time to appreciate the small moments that I have with Lorena, my parents, her parents, and our friends. I want to grow in this outlook. Like many people, I sometimes have trouble keeping the small things small – but I am aware of this, and I am trying to improve.

Overall, I am optimistic and excited to live life in 2023. I anticipate that it will be a year full of memories, laughs, and love.

#personal


👋 Did you like this?

Get future posts emailed to you.

RSS feed

Last year was a great year regarding my Spanish learning, finally reaching fluency in the language. Today, I reached another achievement that I never would have thought possible only a few years back.

In January 2020, I didn’t know any Spanish besides the very basics. In February 2020, I started my one-on-one lessons on iTalki, which led me to study more relevant vocabulary lists and to practice reading using books designed for language learners.

It’s January 2023, and I just had my first business meeting completely in Spanish!

It was a conversation with the designer working on the GapScout website redesign. He is from Spain and needed clarification on my feedback, and requested a meeting in Spanish, since he knew that I could speak it.

We ended the meeting with more clarity on the direction going forward. That was great, but more importantly, I felt extremely accomplished.

I’m far from perfect, and I still have a lot to learn. But it’s these little victories that both encourage and motivate me to keep up with my vigorous Spanish study schedule.

#personal


👋 Did you like this?

Get future posts emailed to you.

RSS feed

I don’t write much about WordPress anymore now that I’m working on GapScout. That said, I enjoy the industry, but now merely as a user of the software rather than a product creator.

Still, I can’t help but always have my business mind turned-on as I witness the emerging trends.

There is a lot of chatter about blocks, and the theme space dying (as it has traditionally been defined). Some folks seem excited, as the feeling resembles the early days of plugins.

I don’t think blocks will become the “new” plugins. Not initially, anyhow. Some maturity needs to happen first. Specifically, with how these solutions are marketed on a wider scale to the average user.

More on that shortly, but for the moment, let’s look at how we got here.

2012-2016: Plugins emerge as viable money-makers.

My entrepreneurial stint in WordPress was from 2012-2021, in what I would say was the golden era of WordPress plugins. Prior to these years, it was all about themes. But developers started to get creative with the introduction of custom post types.

The WordPress plugin landscape in 2012 was a different beast altogether. It was young, innovative, and very grassroots. There were very few “big players” at the time. Off the top of my mind, we had WooThemes, iThemes, GravityForms, and Easy Digital Downloads.

The years of 2012-2016 marked the emergence and maturation of WordPress plugins as a business endeavor. Plugins transitioned from being donation-based, to one-time payment, to recurring license fees.

In my mind, WooThemes was the biggest proponent in pushing the industry in this direction. I have them to thank for giving me the confidence to start charging yearly for LearnDash. WooThemes normalized this business model, and it was further validated when they were bought out by Automattic in 2015.

Shortly after the acquisition of WooThemes, the plugin market exploded in growth.

Whether it was Automattic validating the plugin approach, or the overall growth of WordPress as a CMS via hosting companies doubling-down on WordPress, 2016 marked the beginning of the upswing in the plugin market.

Each vertical became flooded again with a new wave of players. From memberships, to forms, to learning management systems, and more – there were always five or six viable options available to users.

With more options in the space across the board, we saw a larger range of pricing. From the “buy me a coffee” donation schemes, to hundreds of dollars, and everything in between. WordPress plugins started to compete directly with popular SaaS solutions.

Some people didn’t like this. They felt that the WordPress industry was getting too greedy and losing touch of its original intent. The reality though was WordPress was growing up. Big players, and big money, were now entering the ecosystem.

This expansion continued through the next four years, until…

The pandemic over-accelerates growth, exits begin to occur.

The pandemic resulted in a surge of revenue for LearnDash. Like, in a very significant way, and my company wasn’t the only one. Everyone who I talked to in my network experienced the same.

I can’t recall the exact number, but I’m pretty sure I hired roughly 12-15 more people in about three months. It was a crazy, stressful, and extremely profitable time.

For reasons that I have already discussed, selling became the best way forward – and I wasn’t the only one. A record number of WordPress companies sold, particularly in 2021.

These weren’t small “Flippa”-style sales, either. By way of example, I hired investment bankers to manage the sale of LearnDash and I learned quickly that WordPress was a legitimate investment space for many large VC firms. This was big-time stuff, and I knew that I needed top-tier professionals involved in the process.

The market normalizes, with more competition than ever before.

What no one knew at the time of the pandemic was when (or even if) there would be an end to this “COVID bump”. Today, the consensus is that things have definitely calmed down.

Many established WordPress plugin providers came out the other side of the pandemic with better processes, bigger teams, and bigger pocketbooks. The popular segments (online courses, for example) have seen a surge in competition as everyone tried to get a piece of the pie.

More players, more money, more at stake. No matter which niche you choose today, breaking into the WordPress plugin space is more difficult than ever. The bigger players are part of larger VC portfolios, resulting in more resources and reach. Your best chance is to already have a following (YouTube channel, popular website, etc.) and to sell to your audience.

This has the entrepreneurial-minded folks looking outwards to other opportunities, which brings us to Gutenberg Blocks.

Blocks today are what plugins were in 2010-2012.

There is a lot of hype around blocks, and rightfully so, though I am not yet convinced that we have found the commercial way forward.

People don’t search for blocks, they search for solutions, and currently the market is very “block-focused” with the marketing and terminology. Not only is that boring, it only appeals to the indoctrinated of WordPress.

It reminds me of when everyone was talking about “custom post types”, and describing their plugins in this way, instead of the end-result that they allowed you to accomplish.

Innovation is coming to WordPress in the form of blocks, not plugins. This will lead some to discover some new, profitable segments. Will it be as big of a gold rush as the plugin boom we saw? Maybe – but that hinges on something important.

To be successful, the WordPress community shouldn’t look to Automattic to define the Gutenberg block market.

Plugins grew in popularity because of the third-party players in the space. Full stop. In fact, Automattic’s success with plugins (WooCommerce) was the result of an acquisition, not anything they did. Any other plugin they’ve released is usually a fourth or fifth tier option at best.

This being the case, the community should resist the temptation to look to Automattic for “the path forward”. Objectively, they don’t have a great track record for inherent innovation.

I believe we are seeing community innovation happen, and this is encouraging. From block patterns and frameworks, the transition of themes, and block-powered functionality in popular plugins. The market is starting to innovate and define not only how to use blocks commercially, but why blocks are a good way forward.

So, is this the new gold rush in WordPress? I think it very well could be. It is still in the very early days, which is fun and confusing at the same time. We don’t know how things will play out quite yet because, well, everything is still in flux.

But if you are an entrepreneur and are looking for opportunities in the WordPress space, then you will do well to keep blocks at the top of mind.

#WordPress


👋 Did you like this?

Get future posts emailed to you.

RSS feed

You know how some people like to say that time flies by? Well, that was not the case for 2022. The year was long, and full of big life events for me and Lorena.

Everything from personal to professional changes, this year had a little bit of everything.

Landing in California.

Lorena and I started the year trying to figure out where we wanted to permanently live. While we didn’t know exactly where, we did know that we wanted out of Texas.

Just prior to the start of 2022, we backed out of a deal for a home in Lake Tahoe. After the home inspection, we found that it had some foundational issues (and the owners never disclosed this in their listing, even though they knew about them).

They made life a little difficult for us, which was frustrating, but we knew that backing out was for the best. In the end, we were able to part ways without any major issues.

As we looked at new possible locations, we eventually narrowed it down to Salt Lake City and Southern California. Seeing as we met in San Diego, we were both drawn to SoCal. On a whim, we went there in early Spring, we saw a home that we really liked and ended up putting in an offer. It was official: California was going to be our home.

The rest of the year was spent bouncing between Texas, Mexico, and California, with our primary residence still being in Texas through the end of this year. This made us feel a little bit like nomads, but after the Thanksgiving holiday, we have finally landed in California for good. It becomes our official home in the new year.

I love California. There are just some things that cannot be replicated in any other state. For me, it’s the water. I love the ocean and the beach (hey, I’m a Pisces). The landscapes across the state are stunning, and the sunshine is good for your health.

My professional life changed significantly as well.

This was a transitional year when it came to work.

I started out the year very engaged with LearnDash as an advisor, continuing to help with the transition since the acquisition in September 2021.

A few months into the new year, and I decided that I needed to take a giant step back, accepting that it was no longer my ship to sail. I made myself available when called upon, which turned out to be a pretty rare occasion. The team in place has put the company on a great trajectory from what I can tell.

I realize now that taking a step back was the best thing for me. It freed up my mind to think about other things. I had dabbled in potential activities (like land investing and podcasting), but after some self-reflection and conversations with Lorena, I found myself drawn back into software.

Just prior to when my contractual duties ended at LearnDash, I launched GapScout, and since August, I have been chipping away at building an AI that helps other entrepreneurs to compete (and win) in their respective markets.

Progress is being made, though it hasn’t been without challenges. The beta launch is expected to be in late January, or early February 2023 – and I’m excited about it!

My biggest personal achievement: Spanish fluency!

At the beginning of the year, I set a goal for myself: become fluent in Spanish. I was approaching two years of study, and I could feel that I was so close.

Still, I was frustrated. By April, I was still struggling to get over the hump. I expressed this displeasure with Lorena, who suggested that we extend our stay in Mexico so that I could get some additional immersion. We were already going to Mexico City to become Godparents to our nephew, so an extended stay made sense.

I spoke Spanish whenever I could with the family and friends. When we went out, I always tried my best to have natural conversations. Some nights I would go to bed completely discouraged because I couldn’t understand someone, or with my inability to find the right words – but I always tried again the next day.

By the time we returned to Texas, I felt that I had made significant strides, but I still wouldn’t say I was fluent (but almost). I didn’t want to lose any of my hard work, so I began taking four lessons per week with my tutor, Andrés. I have been taking classes on Zoom with him since February 2020, and we have built a nice friendship. Our lessons can be formal, but also just involve us talking about life – which I find to be incredibly beneficial.

The result? Five to six months of this rigorous schedule, and my ability to both speak and understand Spanish improved significantly. I can now say that I have reached a CEFR B2 level, the first official level of fluency in a language! I really enjoy speaking with my family from Mexico, or just striking up spontaneous Spanish conversations with people that I meet. I can’t get enough of it now!

My next goal is to get to the C1 level, which I hope to achieve within two to three years. It’s a lot harder to get to this level as I’ll need to learn more vocabulary and advanced grammatical structures, as well as a better understanding of colloquial expressions. Still, I’m motivated and know that I can reach it with hard work!

Plans for 2023.

I think I will take the time to document our plans for 2023 in another post, but I can say that Lorena and I intend to travel more (both in the country, in Mexico, and Europe).

Aside from personal travels, I will be focusing exclusively on launching and growing GapScout, and Lorena has plans for a master’s degree. Seeing friends, and simply enjoying our time in California, will also be in our future.

But before any of that happens, we will be closing out 2022 by relaxing with family over the Christmas holiday. A perfect way to end another eventful year.

#personal


👋 Did you like this?

Get future posts emailed to you.

RSS feed

It’s that time of year again: time to make the rounds to visit family for the holiday.

To prepare for the travel, we got our COVID booster and flu vaccination. It had been a year since our last booster, and I keep hearing how bad the flu is this year, so it just made sense to get them both. Symptoms were pretty mild this time, so can’t complain there.

First, Lorena and I went to Connecticut to see her sisters, and her parents also came from Mexico. We spent time celebrating some birthdays and having a “pre-Thanksgiving” meal.

After that trip, we went to Michigan to see my parents for my dad’s birthday and for the holiday. My brother and his family, who live in the Chicago area, came for Thanksgiving as well. It’s always nice to see them.

We also took a trip down to Ohio to see my grandpa, who isn’t doing so great, especially with his memory. He is in his late 80s, so in some ways it is expected now. I just don’t know how much longer he will be able to live independently. This could be the last year before he makes a transition to assisted living. That said, he was pretty good when we saw him.

We are back in California for Christmas, and Lorena’s family will be joining us. It’s our first year not having to travel for Christmas, which is a nice change.

#personal


👋 Did you like this?

Get future posts emailed to you.

RSS feed

Allow me to paint a scenario…

You have passed the first six-months as a software startup. You have paying customers, and there is some buzz around your product. Your customers are pretty happy, and surprisingly understanding to the fact that your product still lacks some functionality compared to the competition.

Naturally, you want to repay them for their dedication and trust. You want them to know that you are listening to them, so you decide to publicly publish your product’s roadmap, so they can see what you are working towards.

They are happy, and you are energized. Everything is good!

The truth is, product roadmaps can be helpful in the first year of business, but then become a liability.

In the early years of a business, product roadmaps are a good way to get (and keep) people excited about your software, but at the end of the day, they do more harm than good – particularly in competitive markets.

When I was running LearnDash, I used to always look at my competitors roadmaps to see what they were working on. It gave me insight into what they (and their customers) thought was most important.

But here’s the thing. Occasionally, there were times when I would swipe their ideas and get it to market quicker. In the process, snapping up more market share and tempting their users to come over to my product.

Any worthwhile industry will be competitive, and public product roadmaps are the equivalent to showing your competition your cards before you even play, giving them an opportunity to play their hand accordingly.

Public roadmaps can frustrate customers.

I think most entrepreneurs think that having a roadmap available is a way to give customers confidence in the direction of the business. It shows movement and dedication. This is certainly true to a degree.

But what is often overlooked is that the roadmap can also be a source of frustration for customers. This is particularly true if it does not include features that they really want or believe are necessary. Worse, they may disagree with the entire direction and think that you’re out of touch with the market.

I know this to be true because I experienced it first-hand. I once had a roadmap where I shared the development priorities. For a while (during the first year of business) it was a value-add. However, I noticed that people would write into support increasingly frustrated with the roadmap.

From what I recall, the complaints fell into one of the following areas:

  • They wanted a certain feature that was not on it.
  • They thought it was taking too long for features in development.
  • They didn’t think it was being consistently updated.

I noticed that the more vocal critics would often cite the roadmap in their public complaints, which meant that I had to jump in and “defend the roadmap” at times in lengthy back & forth conversations. Both sides getting more and more frustrated.

This experience made me realize that the roadmap had a negative impact on the business and just gave any customer who was already annoyed fuel for their fire.

So, I scrapped it and immediately didn’t have to deal with any of that BS anymore.

Customers hardly noticed its absence.

Product roadmaps are a distraction.

Look, many folks love having a roadmap for customers. If it is working for them, then that’s great.

But they aren’t necessary. In fact, they are more often a distraction for both you and your customers. They also give your competition some incredible insights.

So, if you never had a roadmap and feel like you need to add one, then I’m here to tell you that it’s okay to bypass it and just focus on more important parts of your business.

#entrepreneurship


👋 Did you like this?

Get future posts emailed to you.

RSS feed

Ever since I was around 18-years-old, I have been trying my hand at starting new businesses. I recall coming home after my first semester of college and working over the holiday on a website and info product. I loved every second of it, but I was beyond naive.

As you would expect, nothing came from that effort. I went on to fall for pyramid schemes, bought an endless number of info products on making money online, and started countless other projects that never went anywhere.

I look back fondly on this time because with each effort, I was learning something new that would help me later in my entrepreneurial career. I got practice building a website, honing my sales messages, networking, blogging, and building a brand.

During the summers of those university years, I worked as an intern at a large company creating e-learning, which actually was the beginning of a lucrative career path. I had a cubical and wore the “uniform” (dress shirt & pants with a key badge attached to my hip). I was there to learn the ways of corporate America.

Except, I was hardly doing work.

I would spend my eight, long hours searching the internet for business opportunities and brainstorming ideas. When my boss would walk by, I’d quickly pull up my email or some random Excel document. My dad used to ask me how my days were going, and I would tell him about all the businesses I wanted to start. It drove him crazy!

While I put in the bare minimum regarding the work, my internships did teach me something: I learned that I did not want a corporate career.

Eventually, I had my first taste of success.

None of my projects produced any money. Maybe $5 here or there, but nothing substantial.

That changed when I was in grad school.

I had already secured a job with Accenture, but I still had another semester to go. I was in bed one night. I think it was around the beginning of February. It was dark outside, with snow on the ground. I was about to fall asleep, and it hit me…

Free domain names!

Ha, it’s funny to think back on this now, but I was convinced this was a revolutionary idea at the time. I mean, who wants to pay $10 or more for a domain when you can get it for free, right?? 😆

The business model was pretty simple:

  1. Get someone to tell me the domain they want

  2. They sign up for CPA offer

  3. I got paid a commission from the company, and used it to buy their domain name

I found someone to build my website for $300-500, then used Dreamweaver (remember that?) to make edits as needed. On the homepage, I had a field where someone could enter the domain that they wanted. This field would check to see if that domain was available, and if so, a button would appear for them to register.

Sounds basic, but in 2008 this was super slick. It was very “Web 2.0”.

Even though I was pretty familiar with WordPress at that point, I started a blog on Blogger instead.

My blog posts were bad. I mean, terrible. They were mostly all about self-promotion. No images or anything engaging, just short 250-word blog posts.

But the real magic came with… wait for it… MySpace.

Yes, you read that right. MySpace.

There were chat rooms on MySpace for various interests, one of them being business and entrepreneurship. I would participate in those chat room (most of the time, it was people just sharing their MLM programs).

Through the noise, though, there were folks who were looking to set-up their own website. Of course, they needed a domain, so I would chat with them.

My efforts paid off. I made $40-$120 per day with this strategy, and it was only the first month or so!

As you can imagine, I was pretty freaking excited! I had a job waiting for me in consulting after grad school, but I was seriously thinking about going all-in with this new success. Success that I finally achieved after so many years of trial-and-error.

So, I kept doing my thing, making good money by just sharing with people my new business. All was good in the world. I had my taste of success and a ton of confidence.

But I came crashing down from my high when payouts were due.

Reality hit hard when the company that was giving me the commissions nullified about 85% of them, which meant that I actually was operating at a loss after buying the domains for the customers!

Ugh…

It felt like someone punched me in the stomach. I called the CPA network and tried to reason with them, but it was a lost cause. They said the leads I had produced were not “high quality”. So, the business was sinking before it even had a chance to begin. I was only a few months away now from starting my consulting career.

In the end, I configured the site to use another CPA program that would pay me per email lead ($1 per email). It made about $300/mo passively. After three months, I sold it for $3500 on Flippa. A small success, but not the one that I had hoped for.

Reluctantly, I started my consulting career. It paid well and had great benefits, it just wasn’t what I wanted. That said, I was doing e-learning consulting and I did enjoy that industry. Little did I know it would translate to me finally achieving my dream with LearnDash.

Entrepreneurs never fail, they just learn.

I’ll admit, the side hustles that didn’t work out felt like failures at the time, but now that I have more perspective I see that these were not failures but rather lessons learned along the way.

True entrepreneurs never stop. We keep trying. There is a burning desire that cannot be satisfied by a normal 9-5 job. I kept trying, taking the tactics and lessons learned from previous endeavors with me and applying them to new ones until it all came together: my interests, skills, and market timing.

Because that’s the thing… if you never stop, you’re bound to get the timing right eventually. There is not a single entrepreneur out there who found success on their very first attempt. I tried countless times until finally getting it right.

Now that I have had experience with LearnDash at all parts of the business process, I am taking those lessons with me as I start GapScout. Entrepreneurship is about continuous improvement. Learning from past mistakes, and then using those experiences to be better.

#entrepreneurship


👋 Did you like this?

Get future posts emailed to you.

RSS feed

Unlike most folks who move from California to Texas, we are going the other way around. Earlier this year, Lorena and I purchased a new home in California. We are transitioning there this year and beginning in January, it will officially be our primary residence.

I will always have a special place in my heart for Austin, as it’s the place where we got married and officially started our life together. It was our home base as we travelled during the heart of the pandemic to visit family in Mexico, Michigan, Connecticut, and Colorado.

But ultimately, we both really value gorgeous weather, and SoCal has the best weather in the country. The culture is more in line with what we prefer as well. Plus, I mean… you can’t beat the ocean.

I am excited to settle in California and start this next phase of life together.

Seeya, Texas… it’s been real.

Real hot. 👎

#personal


👋 Did you like this?

Get future posts emailed to you.

RSS feed

Enter your email to subscribe to updates.