Interview With 6 Figure Blogger J Monee Who Blogs For A Living At BudgetsAreSexy.com

As I mentioned in my last post on How I Made Over $300K These Past 2 Years With An Email Autoresponder, MyWifeQuitHerJob.com made more than my day job salary this past year.

And as a result, a seed has been planted in my mind. Would I ever give up my tech career to blog full time? What does blogging for a living really feel like? Is blogging something that could keep me happy in the long run?

Jay MoneeUnfortunately I don’t have all of the answers to these questions but luckily I do know many people who blog for a living that I can ask.

So to get some perspective on the life of a full time blogger, I decided to bring my friend J in today for an interview.

J is someone I met at the Financial Blogging conference and he runs the popular blog BudgetsAreSexy.com.

Now I’ll be straight up honest here. When I first met J, I never would have thought that we’d be friends.

First of all, I was a bit taken aback by his appearance. The dude rocks a mohawk and comes across (looks-wise) as a bit intimidating. He’s definitely not someone my parents would have approved of when I was growing up:)

But as soon as he opened his mouth, I quickly realized that he was a total goofball (in a good way) and very approachable. Anyways, J was nice enough to come by today provide his perspective on blogging for a living. I hope you all find his story inspiring and relatable.

budgets are sexy

You’ve had over 35+ jobs. How the heck did you settle on blogging for a living? What’s the story behind BudgetsAreSexy and why did you start this blog?

Oh man, it was all kinda by accident to be honest with you. I was literally just trying to make myself useful years ago instead of wasting more time on Myspace like all my co-workers were (remember that site?) and I kinda fell in love with it and randomly started making some money.

I had no idea that was even possible at the time, but as my community grew and the stats kept ticking higher, the opportunities to make a living kept inching closer and closer until one day I got laid off and blogging took over as my new “real” job ;) And now here we are, almost 6 years later from the day I published my first post.

How did tracking your budget ultimately lead you to your financial success today?

Writing down where all my money went was probably the best thing I could have ever done with my finances (the second being a “no spend” challenge I took on for 40 days straight).

My perception of how “good” I was doing, and where all my money was going, was completely off-base when I actually looked at the cold hard facts I had been tracking.

I literally thought I was saving $200 a month back then, when the reality was that I was LOSING almost $200 a month – that’s a $400 discrepancy! So my first tip to people is always to just *track stuff* for a good month or two FIRST, and then consider creating a budget afterwards.

You’ve got to know what you’re dealing with before you can wrap goals around it! How’d that saying go from back in the G.I. Joe days? “Knowing is half the battle?”

Did getting fired make you a better entrepreneur? Looking back was getting fired a good thing?

Hell yes. Getting fired was one of the best things that ever happened to me, and the timing couldn’t have been better as I was literally in the process of putting in my two weeks notice anyways, but couldn’t quite pull the trigger yet.

I’m one of those people who always gets stuck in that “what if” scenario and I was constantly doubting myself with what I should or shouldn’t be doing. So when I got called into that office and was told the news they were letting me go, it felt like all the weight was lifted off my shoulders and there was no more pussyfooting around – it was time to be a full-time blogger!

Why didn’t you look for another job after you got fired? After all, you loved your job didn’t you?

I did love customer service and graphic design (I was at a startup so naturally we all wore different hats), but I had been wanting to give blogging a REAL go for a while there, so I made a deal with my wife that I was going to give it my all before I went back to the 9-5 life again.

She was certainly worried at the time, considering we were living mainly on just my income, but I promised her if it didn’t work out that I’d start looking for a job after 6 months of trying. She agreed, and I haven’t applied to one since :)

When did you realize that you could run a blog full time for a living?

When I started seeing all the *OTHER* opportunities pop up outside of the blog. I was starting to make a nice chunk of money as the months/years went by, but it was really all the other opportunities that were coming up when I realized this could be more of a career than just a blog.

Things like getting interviewed from larger media outlets, requests to freelance write or even come out with my own book (that one was cool!), buying up other income-producing finance blogs, and more recently starting my one-on-one blog consulting gig.

Blogging really opens up the doors to so many other things out there you wouldn’t expect, and as crazy as it sounds, all my best friends and business partners have since come from the online world as well. It’s pretty amazing.

How exactly do you make money with your blog?

Via advertising, affiliates, consulting, owning multiple blogs (which then increases your reach w/ advertising and converting more deals), starting other projects, blog consulting, and so on.

I’m not the best at monetizing my sites, so to make up for it I end up creating more of them to help make up the difference :) You gotta run with what your personality and passion takes you.

How long did it take before you started making significant money with your blog?

It took me about 6 months to make my first $100, and then maybe 4 months later to hit my first $1,000, and then around $10,000 the next year and has been growing since.

But with anything in business you have up months and you have down months (for example, I was making double my income this time last year than I am presently).

So you squirrel away the money when times are good, and you brace yourself and up the hustle when times are the opposite ;) It’s not for the faint of heart, but it does get pretty adventurous. You just never know what any given day can bring.

What’s the biggest challenge in making a living this way?

That the ‘net is always changing. And, more specifically, Google!. You can be doing just fine one month, and then the next for whatever reason your traffic starts plummeting and you have to figure out how to get things back to normal again – it can get pretty wild. And usually traffic equates to money, for better or for worse…

Do you enjoy blogging for a living better than your day jobs? If so why?

I do, for sure. Mainly because you get to work on whatever it is you really *want* to work on so it’s not actually “work” in the given sense of things. On the flip side I end up working a ton more hours than I normally would at a 9-5, and it can get pretty lonely working out of your own home too, but at the end of the day all that sweat and blood goes to growing the business of YOU.

Which is always better than the business of someone else’s :) But I have to point out that working for yourself is certainly not for everyone – as much as we like to promote it at times.

It takes a certain personality (and risk) to be able to pull it off, and there’s nothing wrong with rockin’ a great 9-5 either. Both avenues have the potential to make people happy, so you just do your best to figure out which it is and then push “go” from that point.

Are you ever worried about income stability especially with a little one?

Just about every week :) And even more so now that we’re actually expecting our 2nd! But I do my best to keep hustling and building out new income streams as best I can, and if the $hit ever hits the fan I have no qualms going back into the job market and doing what I have to in order to tide us over for a while.

I think of life as different phases strung together to create an entire picture, and some of those phases are going to suck balls while the others are going to be the best a guy can ask for.

So no matter what the tide happens to bring, I’ll just do my best to ride those waves and keep in the back of my mind that nothing’s ever permanent.

What are some of the pros and cons of your lifestyle?

The biggest pro is that I can wake up and work whenever, and wherever, I wish. And be able to rock a mohawk while doing so ;) But you really have to watch out when you don’t have a boss or punch clock to hit because ultimately it’s 100% up to YOU on how successful your business/salary gets at the end.

If you only work a few hours a day, you’re not going to make much money. But on the flip side, you can easily sink 50, 60, even 70 hours a week on your stuff and just totally get consumed with everything since there’s no “off” switch.

So it’s a fine balance between working “enough” and working like you’re obsessed. And usually it skews to the latter, for better or for worse….

BudgetsAreSexy has been an extremely popular and successful blog but there must have been some obstacles along the way. What are some things that you wished someone had told you when you first started?

To just be completely *yourself* and not mimic the other bloggers out there. Everyone comes to our sites to read *our* thoughts on a subject, so it’s always good to give them that and create your own identity online rather than trying to be like someone else.

And blogging gives you incredible potential to be able to do this since it’s pretty much a diary on YOUR thoughts! Haha… We don’t need to be all corporate like and strip away the human side ;)

What are some of the top mistakes that new bloggers make in your opinion?

When they talk about blogging itself, over whatever topic they’re blogging *about* ;) It’s okay to mention stuff in our blogging worlds of course – it’s only natural we want to talk about it since we work so hard on them – but your general audience could care less.

They’re not there to learn/talk about blogging – they’re there to read about your topic! Which for us, is money. It took me a couple of years to learn that myself, and now I cringe when I see finance bloggers blog all day long about their stats or new plugins they’re using/etc/etc.

Again, cool to do every now and then (like maybe during milestones – “Our blog hit 1 year old – thanks so much for reading!”) but for the most part it’s better to stick with the subject matter.

Another mistake (in my opinion) is not responding to any of your comments people leave too. Engaging your community is one of the best things you can do to keep growing it, and if your readers took the time to leave some messages, or even questions, it’s always nice to acknowledge them and answer where appropriate.

Doesn’t mean you have to answer every single one of them, but it does show you care and appreciate them taking the time to share their thoughts :)

What other exciting projects do you have in the pipeline and what’s your end goal with the JMoney empire?

My favorite new thing I’m working on right now is my “curation” site, RockstarFinance.com. Where I scan the blogosphere for the best articles on money I come across, and then try and promote the hell out of them to help both the readers out there, and those bloggers pouring their hearts onto their sites.

It’s been launched a little over 2 months ago and has really taken off. Sites like Lifehacker and Consumerist are now watching the articles on there and picking them up as well – which means even more exposure for all those great bloggers out there!

That’s the kinda stuff I see myself doing long term since it keeps me connected to this community I love so much. And it’s nice break from always promoting *yourself* all the time too ;)

So check it out when you get a chance! And thanks for having me here, Steve – if any of your readers have any questions/comments they want to send my way, I’m happy to answer them.

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How I Made Over $300K These Past 2 Years With An Email Autoresponder

While our online store has been the main cash cow in our family, over the years MyWifeQuitHerJob.com has also become a significant portion of our household revenue.

2 years ago, I reached my first major blogging milestone by finally breaking the six figure income barrier after 4 long years of slogging away.

That’s right. It took me 4 painful years of writing consistently to reach that point and I often questioned whether it was worth the effort in my post on How Much Money Do I Make Blogging And Is It Worth My Time?

Email Autoresponder
The good news is that cracking the 6 figure mark was not a fluke and the blog did even better this past year. In fact, I finally made more with my blog than with my day job which was an even bigger milestone for me.

And if you consider that I only spend roughly 5 hours a week for my blog and online store course, the dollars per hour is almost an order of magnitude better than working for the man.

In case you are wondering why I still work at my day job, it’s because I really enjoy the field of engineering. And one of the main reasons I go to work is to prevent myself from becoming obsolete.

The world of computer hardware moves fast and if you stop and take a break, you might get left behind. That being said, I’m proud to say that I now go to work because I want to go to work and not because of the money!

How To Make 6 Figures With Fewer Hours


Anyways in case you are curious as to how I’ve been able to scale my blog and my income while simultaneously working a day job, running an online store and hanging out with 2 kids, the answer is simple. The only way to make a large sum of money without devoting a large number of hours is to leverage technology and automation in some way.

So today, I’m going to show you how to use an email auto responder to gather leads and monetize your blog or website on autopilot. For all of you who do not know what an email auto responder is, it is a means of automatically delivering emails to your recipients at set intervals.

The only requirement to make this work is that you need to sign up for an email marketing provider. You also need to start or have a blog.

For my email needs, I use Aweber which the email provider that I recommend. For blogging and affiliate marketing, I believe that it is the best email marketing solution out there.

But don’t take my word for it, give it a try for just a buck. Once you sign up, you are now ready to follow my video tutorial below.

How I Made Over $300K With An Email Autoresponder

The following video is a recording of a talk that I gave at the Financial Blogging Conference this past October. It was my very first time speaking and it was one hell of a rush being up there on stage. I had an absolute blast!

Anyways, the talk was well attended and PT (the founder of the conference) told me that it was one of the most popular talks at the entire conference. If you are reading this PT, thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak at your conference. It was an honor.

The other thing I want to do is to thank all of you for sticking with me all of these years. You have made all of this possible and I really appreciate it.

Key Takeaways

The moral of the story here is that you can’t just write posts for your blog and expect the money to just roll in. For every blog in existence, there are only going to be a handful of money posts.

And unless you manage to steer your readers to these posts, you will never be able to make more than just spending cash with your blog unless you have a gigantic audience.

In any case, I hope you enjoyed the video. I will be at the Financial Blogging Conference again next year and will most likely be speaking for a second time. If you do plan on attending, send me an email and look me up.

I would love to be able to meet you face to face.

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Income Report: How Did Our Online Store Do In 2013 And Are We Still Growing?

In my mid year income report that I published in July, I mentioned that the first half of 2013 was extremely challenging for our online store.

Google traffic was down. We had a bad month of February due to inclement weather. Our year over year revenues ending in July were only only up by 12%. But you know what? Facing some adversity turned out to be a good thing for my wife and I because it woke us up from our complacent slumber.

Bumblebee Linens Banner

We stopped coasting along and became determined to find new ways to extract profits from our online store. Therefore the theme for 2013 became the year of revenue diversification.

Not only that, but we also put more infrastructure in place to further remove ourselves from the day to day operations and to focus more on customer acquisition.

New Traffic Sources

As I mentioned in our mid year report, we expanded our reach internationally by shipping to Canada, United Kingdom and Australia in the beginning of 2013.

We also maxed out on all of the major Comparison Shopping Engines which further expanded our marketing reach.

In June, I also completely redesigned our online store website which improved our conversion rate and site speed.

remarketing

During the latter half of 2013, we added a few new traffic sources to the mix as well. For one thing we started using remarketing more heavily. For all of you who are unfamiliar with remarketing, remarketing is the act of reaching out and targeting specific customers who have already visited your online store.

In fact, if you’ve ever noticed advertisements mysteriously following you across the web, you’ve probably already seen remarketing in action. Anyways, remarketing is based on the premise that customers who have already been to your website are far more likely to buy from you.

As a result, if you can tag your existing customers with cookies, then you can show these customers special advertisements that tend to convert at a very high percentage.

So in the second half of 2013, we increased our investment in our search, display and dynamic remarketing campaigns that ended up converting very well for us.

We Revived Our Email Marketing List

email marketing

While we’ve been continuously gathering emails for our online store, we’ve also been neglecting our email list by not sending out emails regularly. As you probably know, an email list is completely useless unless you actually keep in contact with your customers and we hadn’t sent out an email in a very long time.

As a result, our list started getting a bit stale. Now I could give you 100 reasons why we stopped emailing people, but there was really no excuse other than laziness. (Un)Fortunately, a less than stellar first half of the year made us realize that we needed to be firing on all cylinders in order to maintain growth.

So towards the end of 2013, I re-established contact with our customers and promptly launched several very successful email campaigns. Our open rate ended up being on the order of 32% with a 12.6% click through rate which is pretty darn good for a semi-stale list.

In 2014, email marketing will be a more integral part of our revenue stream.

Infrastructure, Infrastructure, Infrastructure

2013 was also about putting together more infrastructure to outsource more of the day to day work. Even though we have 2 employees, for the longest time my wife was hesitant to hand off any task that involved sales or financial data.

For example, she didn’t want our employees to see the actual invoices for orders coming in. And for a while, she was even a bit hesitant to hand over the task of printing shipping labels. And the main reason for this was because we didn’t have 2 separate logins for our online store.

At the time, there was only a single “admin” login which provided 100% access to every aspect of our website. So one of the tasks I performed in 2013 was to design a special “staff” interface for our employees that matched my wife’s specifications.

This new interface restricted access to just the bare minimum amount of information necessary to pack and ship orders and perform basic customer support.

Now that this new staff interface is in place, all of the day to day tasks can now be handed off without fear of exposing our financials or any sensitive website data.

In addition, my wife also asked me to code up some new special reports in the backend to help speed up order processing and accounting. Basically, I was her own personal code monkey and wrote up whatever feature she wanted to see. The results? Operations became much more streamlined in the latter half of the year.

The Numbers

Ok, now let’s cut to the chase. How did we do in 2013? Below are some highlights.

  • Year over year revenue grew 18%
  • Year over year profit grew 16%
  • SG&A went up as a percentage of revenue
  • Our average order size increased by $2 and the average number of orders per day went up as well
  • Our overall conversion rate increased by 29%
  • Our average value per visitor increased by 36%

Highlights For The Year


The biggest highlight and thrill ride of the year was making the Today Show! In fact, I wrote an article entitled, How 12 Seconds On The NBC Today Show Blew Up Sales And How We Prepared For The Traffic, which you should checkout if you have a free moment.

In a nutshell, 12 seconds of exposure on national television led us to our highest grossing day of sales ever! About a week later, we were also featured on a radio show (Star 94 FM) which further boosted our reach.

In addition to television and radio, we continued to be featured in popular magazines and blogs. We got a full page in Country Living and had numerous wedding and craft blogs cover our products as well.

Overall, it was a great year in terms of media exposure.

Lowlights For The Year

The one lowlight for the year was that overall Google traffic dropped year over year as a result of the various algorithm changes. Things have stabilized now but for a while, I was worried that the big box stores were going to take over.

Bumblebee Linens Blog
That being said, the new Google changes have lit a fire under my butt and we plan on going full force with our company blog next year. By putting out great craft content on a regular basis and doing the same blogger outreach that made MyWifeQuitHerJob.com popular, we plan on increasing our domain strength in 2014.

Another thing that adversely affected revenue was the fact that we closed the shop during the latter half of September so that my wife and I could travel to Italy for our 10 year wedding anniversary.

While we probably didn’t need to shut down the shop, we didn’t want to deal with anything remotely customer related while we were away. Traveling to Italy was not a lowlight per se but it did reduce sales that month.

Overall, the only other lowlight I can think of is that running our business is starting to incur more and more overhead as we continue to grow but that is to be expected. Gone are the days when we could run our business for only 80 bucks a month.

What’s In Store For Next Year?

The theme for 2014 is going to be conversion optimization. I know for a fact that we aren’t eeking out every last ounce of sales from our existing products so running more split tests is going to be a major goal for the year.

The hardest part about testing is coming up with different variations of copy to try, setting up the test correctly and figuring out what aspects of the site to change. The good thing is that I’ve run many split tests in the past and it’s something that I enjoy doing.

In terms of product, we plan on introducing a few new high end product lines which should help boost our margins. We also have a content strategy in place to attract a loyal following which should hopefully bolster our search rankings. Should be an exciting 2014!

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The Top 10 Entrepreneurship Posts Of 2013 On MyWifeQuitHerJob.com

2013 is over and I’m pleased to announce that both my blog and my online store had another record year in terms of revenue.

While I’ll be publishing the year end income reports for both sites in the coming weeks, today I wanted to focus on some of my favorite content that I published in 2013.

top 10 posts
In case you haven’t noticed, I made a decision in the middle of 2013 to post less often but personally write all of my articles. As a result, I ended the relationship with my staff writers and made a conscious effort to make my blog more personal.

This decision was motivated by several factors. For one thing, I noticed that the posts that I personally wrote always attracted more engagement than the posts written by my staff writers.

Now that’s not to say that my writers put out poor quality content. But I’ve come to realize that the majority of you visit my blog because we share a mutual connection that goes beyond just the content.

Thanks to this blog, I’ve gotten to know many of you on a personal level which is something that I truly cherish.

The second reason I decided to write all of my own posts is because Google has drastically changed their search algorithms in the past year. Today, Google tends to favor posts that have more engagement so it was in my best interests to post longer, more in depth articles.

The Best Posts Of 2013

Anyways without further ado, here are the top 10 posts for 2013 in no particular order. Note: I didn’t select any of my more technical posts in this roundup because well…my wife says they are not that interesting:) Enjoy!

What A Six Pack Taught Me About Starting A Successful Online Business – My humbling and self-deprecating journey to six pack abs and how it relates to running a successful online business.

My Thoughts On Making Money And Planting Money Seeds – My philosophy on building wealth nicely summarized in one post.

My Secret To Learning And The Rules To Follow When Outsourcing – My philosophy when it comes to learning and outsourcing different parts of your business. You might be surprised by my outlook.

How To Set Prices For Your Info Product: Some Tips And Lessons Learned – Some big time mistakes that I made when I first launched my online store course.

An Inside Look At How My Online Store Redesign Has Increased Sales – A deep dive into my online store website redesign.

Your Habits And How One Simple Change Can Lead To Long Term Success – One startling change that I made that has lead to success in both my personal and professional life.

The Real Reason Why Your Online Business Is Not Making Progress – Common pitfalls that I see people make when they start a business.

An Online Business Or A Day Job: Which Income Source Is More Stable? – A deep dive into what I think is more stable from a financial perspective, working a day job or running a business.

How To Suck Less At Business, Sales And Marketing – How to get over your fear of sales and marketing if you are not wired that way.

How 12 Seconds On The NBC Today Show Blew Up Sales And How We Prepared For The Traffic – How our online store made it on television and what we did to prepare for the surge in traffic.

Looking Forward To 2014

This might sound odd but I don’t plan on doing anything drastically different for 2014. In terms of my blog, I will continue to post the same great quality content that I did in 2013.

However I do plan on doing a complete redesign of MyWifeQuitHerJob.com, something that has been way overdue. Did you know that I’ve had the same blog theme for almost 4 years now?

The other big thing on my list is that I’m finally going to put together a podcast. One of the keys to success online is increasing your audience and the podcasting world is a place that I’ve yet to tap into.

My online store course will continue to be one of my main focuses and I’m as committed as ever to putting out quality video content on a regular basis for my students. For those of you in my class, your success brings me a tremendous sense of pride and I promise to do whatever I can to help you succeed.

As for my online store, I will continue to find new ways to expand our little handkerchief store. Thus far, we’ve had double and triple digit growth every year since we started and I plan on continuing that trend.

Overall, I have a lot of things that I want to do and not nearly enough time to do them. At some point, I will have to decide whether to run my businesses on the side or quit my day job and make it a full time gig. Who knows what the future will bring:)

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The One Thing You Must Realize Before Your Business Will Succeed

It’s human nature. Whenever you want to learn a new skill or achieve an important goal in your life, your first instinct is to look for the easiest way out and the quickest way to get there.

failUnfortunately, this mentality is embedded in our DNA and I’m not immune to it either. Sometimes I still find myself looking for the “get rich quick” solution even though I’m fully aware that change requires hard work and dedication.

For example when I was going for six pack abs, I spent a lot of time researching magical “muscle shakes” and “secret exercises” designed to burn fat.

When I first launched this blog, I thought that I could leverage social media, sign up for a few ad networks, slap some ads in the sidebar and instantly make passive income.

With our store, I thought that paying for a “directory submission service” would instantly bring traffic to our website.

But guess what? All of that was a waste of time. After spending countless hours trying to find the easy way out, I’d always come back to the same conclusion. The path to success requires consistent work and dedication over a long period of time.

A Personal Story

making moneyMost of you are aware that I teach a class on how to start an online store. And one of the benefits of being a student in my class is that I will personally critique your website when it goes live.

Anyways, the other day I was browsing the course forums when I saw this message thread that caught my eye. Basically, one of the newer students wanted to know what the “success rate” was for the students in the class and how long it took to get there.

And this question was immediately followed by a comment from another student who noticed that a few of the sites that I had critiqued in the past were no longer open.

Here was my response…

As for the websites that have shut down, unfortunately it’s a fact of life that not everyone is going to be successful. For a while I debated whether to take those critiques down but I ultimately decided to leave them up because there are lessons to be learned from them.

Anyways, I don’t want to sugar coat things for you. Your chances of success or failure largely depend on you. I will be there to answer your questions and help guide you along but there are no guarantees:)

Here’s the thing. It doesn’t matter how long it takes “other people” to succeed. You are your own person and you are in control of your own destiny. There is no magical formula for success. I can only show you the process and the right way to do things but I can’t act on your behalf.

Wanting to know “how long it takes other people” is completely natural, but it implies that success is based on a formula when in fact there are many other variables at stake. The biggest variable is how much time and dedication you are willing to devote to your business. How willing are you to learn and execute what I’m teaching you?

Getting Past Get Rich Quick

money seedsSince launching my class back in March of 2011, I still often get asked the same old “get rich quick” type of questions…

So Steve, how long do you think it would take for the average person to make $50,000.

How soon will the money start rolling in after I launch my shop?

How many hours am I going to have spend working on this? Can I do it in just 4 hours a week?

Some of these people eventually sign up for my class and then get frustrated when they find out that gosh darn….it actually takes work to make money. What’s this??? I have to learn a new skill that is completely new to me? Imagine that!

But here’s the thing. The students that stick it out and persevere through all of the material and hard work eventually discover that the the skills they have gained go way beyond just creating websites.

The students that make it past the “get rich quick” stage often take on a completely different mindset. They start thinking longer term about creating businesses that are built to last. They start believing in their own abilities as opposed to following a bogus recipe. They start realizing that it’s ok to experiment, fail and learn from the process.

Here’s an example of one such student who has gotten past the get rich quick phase.

We have failed at three prior attempts to open and operate an online business. In hindsight, the short and simple reason for this is that we didn’t have enough guidance from competent sources. We have operated a very successful “brick and mortar” business for ten years, but the transition to a successful online business was elusive…until we found this site.

I started planning our online business almost two years ago, when I started looking for guidance. My priority? I wanted to get the guidance from someone who was already operating a successful business, and was honest and ethical.

I got my money’s worth on the first day I logged on to this site, almost a year ago.

The most important advice that I could give to anyone starting out is to go through this entire course and keep a dictionary handy for any terms that are not understood. Everything you need to succeed is here in this course. If you skip videos or cruise past things you don’t understand, you are selling yourself short, and you are setting yourself up to not succeed. There is a LOT to get through on this course, and a lot of it is not easy to understand.

Steve is right; some students will succeed and some will fail. There are no guarantees that someone else can give you. The only guarantee that makes sense is the one you give yourself. If you persist, you will succeed.

Trying To Get Rick Quick Will Only Waste Your Time

time
The sooner you realize that success really depends on your internal drive and persistence, the sooner you will start making forward progress.

I have wasted countless hours of time on get rich quick schemes in the past and they have never ever worked. If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.

So quit looking for “external” ways to get things done and starting looking “internally” at yourself. You should be asking yourself…

What can I learn to help me create value with a business?

What skills do I need to take me to the next level?

How can I avoid stupid mistakes that may hinder my progress?

Anyways, I just wanted to end this post with a fantastic quote that Mike, a student in my class, left on my course forums. I really love my students and they make me proud. Anyways, his quote below pretty much sums everything up quite nicely so I’ll let him take the podium. Thanks for the awesome post Mike!

I think it is a little funny, that some people actually believe someone else can guarantee them success. They want some “magical turnkey formula”. And you know what? A lot of scam artist out there know this is exactly what many people are looking for. So they promise to give it to them, for a fee of course.

People can end up paying hundreds and thousands of dollars, chasing the “formula”. The formula where everything is set up for you, and you don’t have to do any work. I know, because I used to think it existed.

At some point, I don’t remember exactly when, but at some point, I finally realized those kinds of people were playing on my emotions.

They were saying things like, “all you have to do is PLUG into the system”. A lot of language like that was being thrown around all over the internet. Many scammers are still making false promises they knew are lies.

Some of these people are making tens of millions of dollars, selling bogus internet marketing courses. I once paid $500 for such a course. Looking back, and thinking about what I know now about internet marketing now, I know that it was a total scam.

But they were making all kinds of guarantees and promising me the moon, with statements like, make $10,000 a month with just 10 minuets of work per day”. This implies that you don’t really have to do any work. It will be almost effortless!

Even large corporations push myths like that on people. Like for example trying to make them believe that if they buy a franchise, they are guaranteed to succeed with a “turnkey system”.

I am here to tell you it is all a bunch of BS. It is not the system that makes you succeed, it is YOU. A system can only facilitate your success, but only if you have to QUALITIES that it takes to be successful. Success is more a state of mind.

It is really very simple. What many are failing to see, is that successful business owners are smart people, who actually apply themselves, ON A CONSISTENT BASIS. They have the right attitude and work ethic.

They figure out what they need to learn for the business, and they do the work to learn it. They have a certain mindset that many people just don’t have. I think you have to be willing to consistently do the hard and/or boring work, that most people are just not willing to do.

That is what sets successful people apart from those who fail. Many people who have always worked for someone else, don’t really take these things into consideration when they are thinking about owning their own business.

What if you pick the wrong niche and you fail? Many people would just give up, and say that’s it, I can’t do it. With that attitude, they will never be able to own a business. My belief, is that you have to fail to succeed.

When we fail, we can look back and then analyze what we did wrong. We can learn from the mistakes and apply that knowledge in our future endeavors. Sooner or later, we will stop making so many mistakes, because we learned what not to do.

So experience is a major factor. The way I see it is, the smarter you are, the less experience you need. If you are less smart, you can still succeed, but you need to fail more, in order to learn what not to do.

An Open Invitation

In closing, I wanted to extend an open invitation for anyone to ask me questions about ecommerce in the comments below. And also, I’m always looking for motivated students to join my class. If you are ready to work hard and put in the work, then I will do whatever it takes to help you succeed. Get rich quick customers need not apply:)

photo credit: Tax Credits 401(K) 2013 BramstonePhotography

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How 12 Seconds On The NBC Today Show Blew Up Sales And How We Prepared For The Traffic

12 seconds….That’s all it took… 12 minuscule seconds of being on television and the traffic and order volume for our online store completely blew up!

This past week, our online store Bumblebee Linens was featured on NBC’s Today Show and it was quite possibly the most exhilarating 12 seconds that I’ve ever experienced as long as we’ve been running our business. In fact, the photo below very accurately describes our emotions that day.

today show

The Today Show Clip



Anyways, my wife and I weren’t sure exactly how many visitors we were going to get from being on television. In fact, I was quite skeptical that being on tv was going to generate any significant traffic at all. After all, a viewer not only has to remember your store name but they also have to physically go to a computer and place an order.

What I didn’t realize is that many things have changed in the past decade in terms of technology. For one thing, Google allows you to find any business almost instantly. And two, the advent of smart phones and tablets means that most people are by a computer practically 24/7.

Anyways to play it safe, we battened down the hatches and made extra preparations just in case our traffic and order volume blew up.

Watch the clip above and tell me what you think and read on to find out what we did to prepare for our first television appearance. At the end of the post, I’ll have some numbers to share with you.

We Prepared Our Site For The Extra Traffic

hold together baby
You’ve probably heard horror stories about sites going down due to excessive press coverage right? Well I was determined that this was not going to happen to us. But here’s what was tricky about our situation.

We weren’t really 100% sure that we were going to even get on TV until several days before. And given that I still work a full time job, I had very little time to prepare our site. Overall, I weighed several options and here were my choices…

  • Set up an upgraded server just for this one day
  • Speed up our site by having our web host enable PHP/SQL caching on the server
  • Reduce the number of MySQL and PHP queries by caching the site myself
  • Use a CDN

Given the time constraints, I decided that I didn’t want to risk moving the site to an upgraded server. In fact, I was reluctant to do anything drastic or out of the ordinary that was outside of my control.

After all, it took me quite a while to configure my existing server when I first launched and I’ve found that whenever I try to add anything new in a short period of time, I always seem to f— something up.

Being in 100% control was the key. If I went the upgraded server route and the server performed poorly, then I would have to depend on a sysadmin to fix the problem which could take hours. But if I made my own optimizations to the site, then I could easily revert to an old version in case of any problems.

Therefore I opted for the third option above which was to optimize the site myself to reduce server load. Option 3 was actually an extension of something that I had already implemented in my last site redesign

We Locked Everything Down On Our Website

In a nutshell, I decided to statically cache the entire website except for the webpages related to the checkout process. Basically, I wrote a script that generated pre-rendered copies of every single page of my online store and saved them away on the server for extremely quick access.

While this made my site lightning fast, it did have the following disadvantage. Since I was saving away static copies of my site, the dynamic elements on the page would no longer work.

So for example, the picture below shows that we have less than 5 left of this particular handkerchief.

dynamic text

However, if we were to sell out of this product, it would still show the same old message. But overall, it was worth the sacrifice for the extra speed.

The second thing that I did was to statically cache all of the configuration parameters for the store. Most online stores have to load up hundreds of configuration parameters from the database whenever a page is loaded up.

For example every time a customer visits a page, my shopping cart needs to know the name of the store, how to display the products, the size of the category images etc… in order to render the page properly.

But loading up all of these parameters from the database takes both time and server resources. Therefore, I simply dumped all of these configuration parameters into a file and essentially hard coded them on our site. While this made configuration changes inconvenient, it made our server that much faster.

How Did Our Server Deal With The Traffic?

In short, our site held up like a champ. Even though I was extremely nervous and second guessed myself whether I should have upgraded our server, it was all good. Traffic started pouring in at around 7am PST (Note: The server clock in the graph below is in a different time zone).

Note: For context, our front page is only 250Kb in size and due to browser caching, repeated loads are only about 16Kb.

Bandwidth

And if you look at our server load during that time, it held up just fine.

Server-Load

We Improved Our Checkout Form For Email Signups

For the longest time, we only allowed newsletter signups for “registered” customers on our site. While this sounds lame, allowing signups for “non-registered” users was not supported by our shopping cart out of the box.

On our site, a “registered” customer is someone who opts to create an account during checkout. By creating an account, we store their address info so that they can order again in the future without having to re-enter their information.

However, the problem is that most customers don’t want to create an account. And as a result, we’ve been losing out on a lot of email newsletter signups from customers who don’t register.

checkout

Anyways, I finally got off of my butt and decided to program in the ability to acquire emails through our express checkout feature. If NBC was going to send a ton of traffic, I absolutely wanted to collect their email addresses for the future.

The other thing that I did was I made the newsletter optin button “checked” by default as shown below.

newsletter

The upshot of all this is that we managed to collect over 150 new email addresses that day. Note: These were from customers who opted for the “guest” checkout.

The Results

today show
Before we knew for sure that we were going to get this opportunity, my wife went ahead and pre-ordered more inventory just in case. We actually had it air shipped which made it very costly but we wanted to be prepared just in case.

As it turns out, my wife called it correctly. Here were the results that day.

  • We had 7 times the average daily order volume. There was a point in the morning where orders were coming in faster than my wife could print out the invoices.
  • Our traffic was over 3 times higher than average. The traffic graph above is a bit deceiving because most of it was heavily clustered around 7am PST when the show aired. When I first checked our traffic, there were over 200 people simultaneously hammering our website.
  • Revenues were roughly 5-6 times higher than average.


Order Volume

Here’s the breakdown in terms of platform

  • 61% of traffic came from desktop/laptop users which resulted in 79% of the orders
  • 21% of traffic came from tablet users which resulted in 16% of the orders
  • 18% of traffic came from smart phone users which resulted in 5% of the orders

Note: I forgot to add that I also locked down our entire mobile website as well so the smart phone experience was lightning fast.

Here are some numbers related to the Nielsen ratings. Unfortunately, I don’t fully comprehend what these numbers exactly mean but perhaps someone in the audience can clarify:)

  • Nielsen Audience: 2,036,955
  • Calculated Ad Equivalency: $158,933
  • Calculated Publicity Value: $476,799
  • 30-Second Ad Equivalency: $16,000

Overall

Overall, our first television was a big time success. The only thing that we could not address quickly was the increased call volume. To get someone trained up and knowledgeable about our products takes some time so we had to make due with the few operators that we had.

I even did a stint answering the phones at noon so that my wife could grab some lunch. But all in all, it was a fantastic day.

A Special Thanks To Robyn Spizman And A Special Offer

robyn SpizmanI just want to thank Robin Spizman for providing us with this amazing opportunity.

Robyn is a New York Times Bestselling Author, Consumer Advocate and Television Personality. In fact, she is well known as one of the country’s leading gift-giving and how-to experts and she’s a regular guest on the NBC Today Show. You can check out her bio here.

Anyways, you are probably wondering how Robyn and I crossed paths. And the answer was pure luck. Out of the blue, Robyn contacted us about being featured on the Today Show and naturally we jumped at the opportunity.

As I’ve mentioned countless times on this blog, luck always plays a part in any successful business. Sometimes you just have to stick with it long enough and good things will happen.

After working with Robyn, I can tell you that she’s extremely friendly, easy to talk to and she loves helping small business owners. She’s definitely someone who I plan on keeping in touch with in the future and we owe her big time.

In any case, to show our gratitude I’m going to be giving away 3 copies of her award winning book “Make It Memorable: An A-Z Guide to Making Any Event, Gift or
Occasion….Dazzling!”
to 3 lucky MyWifeQuitHerJob.com readers.

Simply leave a comment below this post and I’ll do a random drawing for 3 lucky winners!

Note: MyWifeQuitHerJob.com is not affiliated with Robyn Spizman in any way. So why am I doing this? I figure that if she was kind enough to send millions of eyeballs our way that I could at least send her 100K. Thank you Robyn!

Don’t forget to leave a comment below in order to enter the drawing for Robyn’s book! Thanks for reading.

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Cheapest Way To Start An Online Business | Take Advantage Of These Cyber Monday Sales

While it’s always a good time to start an online business, the least expensive time to do so is on Cyber Monday and this year is no exception. Many tools and services like webhosting, niche research software, vendor tools etc… are being discounted extremely heavily to the point where it’s practically free.

For example, this year is the first year that I can remember where you can literally start an online business for as little as 99 cents which is pretty insane.

So realistically speaking…Do you have a whole dollar to spare on something that could potentially change your life? There really is no excuse not to give it a try. The only thing you have to do is to remember to get up on Monday morning and take advantage of some of these crazy deals.

Find Your Niche

Before you decide to pull the trigger on a business, you first have to figure out what you are going to sell. I’ve written about this topic quite extensively in the past, but a tool that I highly recommend for niche research is the tool Market Samurai

Starting on Monday December 2nd, Market Samurai will be 50% OFF for a very limited time.

Click here to get 50% off of Market Samurai


Once you pick up this extremely valuable tool, then watch the following video below on how to use it.

Note: In the event that you miss this killer deal, you can still use coupon code: hza9104 to get 33% off the retail price by clicking here.

Launch Your Website For A Dollar

bluehostAnother key component to starting an online store is finding the right place to host your website. This year Blue Host is offering webhosting for only 99 cents a month on cyber Monday!

Blue Host is the host that my wife and I used for 2 years for our online store when we first started.

On cyber Monday, December 2nd from 6:00am-12:00pm EST, shared hosting will only cost $0.99/mo for a 12 month term.

Click on this link to redeem this incredible Blue Host discount


Then, follow the step by step video below in order to install your free open source shopping cart.

Start A Blog

Another thing you might need for your business is a blog. Did you know that MyWifeQuitHerJob.com has made over 300K in the past 2 years?

If you want to start a blog using Blue Host, then follow this excellent free tutorial that I put together on how to start a blog in under 5 minutes.

Find Your Vendors

worldwide brandsOnce you’ve decided what you want to sell, it’s time to find vendors for your online store. Whether you are dropshipping or carrying inventory, a great place to start is WorldWide Brands

For all of you who are unfamiliar with WorldWide Brands, they are a service that aggregates product vendors all in one place. As a result, you can use their service to find a vendor for what you want to sell online.

Right now, WorldWide Brands is offering $30 off its lifetime membership fee.

Click here to get $30 off of Worldwide Brands


Then, watch the video below for a quick tutorial on how to use the service.

Accept Credit Cards Online

Finally, the last piece of the puzzle is being able to accept credit cards online and making sure that your site is secure. And in order to do so, you’ll need a merchant account and gateway. This weekend, my merchant provider Merchant Plus is providing a lifetime 20% discount on monthly fees.

Click here to redeem the discount and use coupon code: MYWIFEQUIT during checkout.


If you want to be able to accept Visa, Mastercard and American Express cards online, then check it out. This service integrates nicely with all shopping carts.

Anyways, in case you are confused about the process, I’ve put together a step by step video on how to secure your online store using SSL and how to sign up for credit card processing.

There Are No More Excuses

As part of running this blog, I hear a lot of excuses from people who continue to hesitate to start their own business. Well this weekend, it’s only going to cost you a buck to launch your website. Do you have a dollar to spare?

Even if you aren’t ready to officially launch your website, you should at least sign up and play around with the various services. And once you get comfortable with them, perhaps you’ll get the courage to try. Good luck!

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