Justin Ferriman

entrepreneurship

If you are like most people, then at some point in your life you have considered owning real estate.

Even people who don’t consider themselves to be entrepreneurs find real estate an attractive concept because it’s an easy business model to wrap your head around. Own a couple of low-maintenance residential rentals and let that other person pay off the mortgage while building equity.

Sounds great on paper, but as anyone who does this will tell you, things don’t always run smoothly.

I just need to look to my parents. During the recession of 2008, they purchase a few foreclosed condos. They are in a nice area with low crime and good schools. Even still, there is constantly something to be taken care of. Like the time their renter was literally stabbed by their crazy ass ex-husband, and was late on the rent by a few months because of the whole ordeal. I mean, there isn’t a book that can teach you how to deal with that.

When you peel back the onion, the reality is that real estate is not for the faint of heart. While it’s a great way to build wealth, it is not passive by any means. Depending on your property and the person renting, you may end up sinking insane amounts of time and money into the property to the point where you barely break-even.

I want to build wealth in real estate, but I prefer not to deal with the bullsh*t of having renters.

Upgrading appliances, fixing sinks, evicting squatters… I don’t have time for this. Okay, scratch that. I have time, but I want to spend my time dealing with it.

Still, the idea of real estate is very appealing to me, especially as I am completely burnt out from anything to do with the software industry, especially WordPress. As someone who started and sold a software business, there is something therapeutic about owning physical real estate. Like, you can touch it. It’s real. You can actually see the asset. Most importantly, it’s proven as the world’s oldest way to generate wealth – be it for a side income or a financial empire.

So, for me, it’s land > rental properties.

That’s not to say it’s all rainbows and butterflies. Land has its ups and downs, like any industry. But what I find refreshing is that the business model is straight-forward, with less complexity than other profitable industries.

Also, land is less impacted by the housing market. It is a little as you can imagine, but seeing as banks don’t generally provide loans for land in the first place, it creates additional opportunity for seller financing of deals (which has an added benefit of spacing out capital gains tax on a short-term flip).

I have already got the wheels in motion for this journey. I started off by getting the legal entities set-up and the business presence. All the software I am going to use initially has been configured and is ready to go. I’m also taking courses and getting up-to-speed with the basics because I don’t have a background in this business. Though honestly, that’s never stopped me in the past.

If I know anything about my learning style, I am a “ready-fire-aim” kind of guy. Give me the basics, and let me start working it. I know that I’ll make mistakes along the way, but I don’t sweat those as I know it’s a learning opportunity (I made a crap-ton of mistakes when running a software company, and everything worked out just fine).

Want to learn how to make money from land investing?

If you find the concept of land investing interesting, and you don’t want to worry about renters or fixing sinks, then I encourage you to follow along as I share what I learn!

I won’t be writing about it here too much, as this is my personal site and I use it to write about a variety of topics.

I started a newsletter where I document my journey in building a land investment business from scratch – with no prior experience. Think of it as my online journal of lessons learned, from “hell yes” to “oh sh*t”, and everything in between. Things like…

  • The strategies I use to find deals
  • Business set-up & tools
  • Marketing strategies
  • Growing a team
  • Automation of tasks
  • Making money buying & selling land

I hope you follow along with me, I promise you will learn something along the way!

#entrepreneurship


👋 Did you like this?

Get future posts emailed to you.

RSS feed

I have been a blogger for a long time. Even before I started LearnDash, I wrote a blog while in college as I first became familiar with WordPress. Expressing myself through blogging has been a major part of my life.

So, when I first heard about artificial intelligence (AI) written blog posts, I sort of rolled my eyes. Many of you can remember the days of “article spinners” and the garbage output – half of the time they didn’t even make sense. I assumed the same for AI written blog posts and never gave them a second glance.

Until recently, and I must say, AI blogging is damn impressive.

I have spent a number of days the past week experimenting with a variety of AI content platforms to see the type of quality they would produce (finally landing on WriteSonic). My assessment is by no means scientific, but my best estimate is that most of the AI articles I created were about 60-90% complete. Meaning, most of the content is ready to be published without any updates.

To be clear, there were times when the articles were quite poor. This is most often the result of targeting a very specific industry topic that requires in-depth knowledge in order to write about it effectively. But I found that if I took it “up a level” to a more general topic, the quality of the content improved.

Herein lies the opportunity, and the method, in which you can use AI for your own content.

What you can expect with AI blogging.

If you rely on blogging as a core part of your business, then it can be challenging to come up with ideas and post structures regularly. This is where AI can help. When I use WriteSonic, I’m able to whip up outlines in about 30 seconds for any topic by just giving a few prompts.

For example, I put in the prompt Types of Mortgages, and got this outline:

Not bad, right? Honestly, this feature alone provides enough value for most bloggers. I should note that this is just one outline of about six that were presented after I gave my prompt.

This is just scratching the surface of AI content generation. Let’s say you wanted the intro written for you (just to kick things off). Well, that’s possible. Using the same prompt, I was presented with six intro paragraphs. Here is one:

Again, not bad at all! There are definitely some things I would change, but for the most part, it’s good to go and is a great intro to my article.

AI content is best when you keep the topics rather broad (in this example, “mortgages” is a pretty generic topic). If you drill down into a subject further, then you will find that the content isn’t as robust, with sentences that don’t really say anything. For example, I tried Paying off a Mortgage Early as the prompt, and the blocks of text weren’t so impressive.

This was the shortest of the six options presented. The longer ones weren’t any better. They all were essentially just a few sentences being repeated in different ways.

How you can use AI-generated content.

Undoubtedly, there will be people out there that use AI to write their entire blog posts, and without making any changes. It has to be said that the articles that are purely AI written are not the greatest. Even the best ones need a little massaging to sound more natural.

And that’s really the point. A natural sounding article is a good user experience that reflects well on you and your brand. If you are interested in using articles written using AI, then you owe it to the reader to do a little proofreading before you press publish.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll be impressed with the quality of your articles (and how quickly you’re able to complete them), making it tempting to just publish them as-is. But as my friend Jack points out in the tweet below, you’ll want to be approach this strategy with a bit of caution. Google doesn’t like this kind of content, and if they can figure out how to accurately detect it, they’ll penalize sites with AI content.

So if Google will potentially punish sites using AI-generated content, how can you use it?

Well, one option is to just ignore the threat. There are some major outlets using AI content right now (and they have been for years) – such as the Associated Press. Make some intelligent modifications to the core content, and you’re in the clear (…hopefully).

I am testing this “intelligent modification of AI content” method for my real estate investment business, but admittedly, content marketing is not a primary customer acquisition strategy. If the content was flagged in any capacity, then the business would still function fine. That said, I will admit that it would really suck to lose a potential passive marketing channel.

Another option would be to use AI to help you create an outline for your article, and then you write all the content. This is a conservative approach that should leave you sleeping worry-free at night, and is probably the best way to get started using AI. It’s especially powerful for helping you come up with a good sales page, or product description. Granted, it’s more time-consuming, but it will help you get through writer’s block, which will help you write more efficiently.

Finally, you can just avoid AI content creation altogether. That’s certainly a valid approach. If your business is 100% online, and you really rely upon content marketing for customer acquisition, then not using it is the safest way to avoid any potential penalty. Either write the content yourself, or hire someone to do it for you.

AI content will only get better.

Something that we all know about AI and machine learning is it continues to improve over time. I think this may start to create a cat and mouse game between purely AI-generated content and Google.

If I have learned one thing in my career, it’s that you don’t want to try to beat Google at their own game. So, while AI content will improve, I highly recommend that you don’t just use the content “as-is”. Humanize it with your own voice and expertise.

#entrepreneurship


👋 Did you like this?

Get future posts emailed to you.

RSS feed

One of the first times I was inspired to make money online was in the early 2000s, when I came across The Million Dollar Homepage.

The concept was simple: there were 1,000,000 pixels available for purchase at $1 per pixel. You could purchase a block of pixels and put your digital advertisement in that location. This kind of thing took-off in the early years of the internet, and as you can imagine, it was sold-out pretty quickly as it also garnered a lot of attention internationally.

The site is still available to visit today if you want to take a look, though be careful on which ads you click because who knows where they will take you!

The creator of this website was Alex Tew. He has since moved on to bigger and better, as evident by founding Calm.com, which generates £150-200 Million in revenue per year.

All it takes is one idea to get started.

Alex’s story is not original by any means. He had a “flash-in-the-pan” idea, and leveraged that idea to then fuel future endeavors. In reality, many people would be happy with the results of his original million dollar homepage idea – it’s proof that just one idea can change your life forever.

I remember back in college when I had a few of my friends over for some drinks. We all got pretty buzzed, and one of my friends started talking about how if we could just come up with one idea, we would be set for life. He kept emphasizing how all it would take was one idea. Just one!

Hell, that should be easy, right? So, the rest of the evening, we all brainstormed what were likely terrible ideas before ultimately giving into the alcohol.

I don’t remember any details around the ideas we discussed, but I do remember thinking back on the entire evening for years to come. My friend was oversimplifying things a bit, but he wasn’t entirely wrong. All you need is one idea. So many people have made a fortune by finding an idea they believe in and making it a reality.

Thinking back on that evening with my friends, I see that we were all seeking more than one idea. We were trying to come up with one revolutionary idea. That was never going to happen, especially from us.

You don’t need a revolutionary idea, just a small twist on an already proven one.

Time can be a great teacher if you let it. I have learned a lot over the years about entrepreneurship, creative thinking, and bringing ideas to life. I have started a multitude of businesses that didn’t work out, but they didn’t “fail” because along the way I picked up new skills. Things like:

  • How to communicate value
  • How to use content marketing to build an email list
  • How to position a brand
  • How to sell

Through it all, I started to refine my skills so that the likelihood of my next idea being a success would be just a little higher. And eventually, my skills (and timing) came together when I started LearnDash.

Over the years, I have realized that there are very few original ideas out there. You don’t have to create an entirely new category, like Steve Jobs did with the iPhone. All that is needed is an original take on a concept that is already proven. This is particularly easy to do in software, but can apply to any industry.

How you can find an opportunity for your idea.

Most good ideas come from a point of user research. The easiest way to find a winning idea is to look at reviews of the products you love, and to document the common complaints. Then, create a solution that addresses one of those issues.

If you want to sell physical products, jump to the Amazon reviews to see what people are saying.

If you would like to sell software, go to Capterra or G2Crowd and do the same. In these reviews, you will find the profitable segments of very well established markets. No need to reinvent the wheel, just create a better wheel.

Of course, establishing product-market fit is only a part of the equation. It makes no sense to build something if you can’t get it in front of your intended audience. As such, my advice is to avoid building and start marketing instead!

Create a sales page that calls out the features & benefits of your product based on the research you did, then start creating content. Build an audience first. If your message is resonating, you will get people asking when your product will be available. At this point, you know you have a market, and also initial customers.

Ideas are inherently worthless.

As you probably already know, ideas are worthless. The value comes in execution and bringing that idea to life. If you have done your market research and know that it is viable, then all your energy should be spent in making your mission known.

Your priority in any business is to make money. If you are working on something that isn’t coming to fruition in the way you envision, don’t get discouraged. It’s not a failure by any means. Take your lessons learned and apply it to your next project.

It is only a failure if you stop trying.

#entrepreneurship


👋 Did you like this?

Get future posts emailed to you.

RSS feed

Read more...

I don’t know when it happened, but sometime within the past three to five years, “lifetime deals” (LTD) for software really started to become a thing.

Read more...

LearnDash is now part of the Liquid Web family of brands, I learned a ton along this journey.

Read more...

Affiliate programs can be a huge hassle, but the extra money is worth it in the end.

Read more...

Don't waste your time trying to acquire a new skill. Just amplify what is currently working.

Read more...

That time I forgot to use BCC and blasted an email to over 500 (very angry) people.

Read more...

I get $10 for every $1 spent on Google Ads. Here is how I do it, and it's not as hard as you may think.

Read more...