Hey, Shane here…co-founder and lead instructor with Digital Business Prep. I’d like to share a little bit about my story and how I can help you achieve your biggest personal goals.
Specifically, why I think…and know firsthand!...that building a digital publishing business, (aka "niche website blog" or "authority website") is one of the most exciting and lucrative business models around right now.
But first, let me take a quick step back to provide you with a bit more context on who I am and how I went from crunching numbers as an accountant to building multiple 6-figure digital businesses.
The Start of My Story
It was November 2014 and I was just wasting away at PwC as an accounting consultant to the CFO of the Department of Defense, which sounds 10 times cooler than it was.
I sat at my desk crunching numbers all day, making dozens of power point “decks”, bored with the same old routine, day after day, no excitement, with the same predictable paycheck, always looking forward to the weekend and my meager cost of living raise once a year.
It was a job, and I was grateful for the opportunity, but it was soul-sucking.
Around the end of 2015 I finally started to get fed up. I wanted to earn more money than the traditional 9-5, wait-your-turn, ladder climb can provide. I wanted more freedom to work when I want, where I want. And I wanted to build a valuable asset for myself.
(edit: including the video I did about my story as well for more context!)
But I just didn’t know what that would be… or how I’d accomplish that.
What I DID know is that I didn’t want to quit my job to do it. I'm too risk averse! As much as I wanted to just go all-in and throw caution to the wind, I wanted to be safe and smart about it. I had to be able to build something on the side while still collecting my vital paycheck.
This was key.
With all the constraints and barriers I propped up for myself, I figured the best way to make this happen would be to leverage the internet to make money.
Given the rise of Amazon, Shopify and people just buying more stuff online rather than going to brick-and-mortar stores, I figured there had to be a way for me to make a little side income on the internet, right?
I searched around the internet and eventually landed on the idea to start an E-commerce store and sell something.
What would I sell?
(drum roll please)
Stick with me...
The Bow Tie Failure (kinda)
Out of all the things, why try selling bow ties?
Well, because I was getting into men’s fashion at the time and it just seemed like a good idea to align an interest of mine with a business idea.
I think it’s also possible the Shark Tank episode where an 11-year-old boy sold $50k in bow ties got lodged into my subconscious somewhere.
And, well, I didn’t have any better ideas. So why not just start, right?
Not much more to it honestly.
No validation, no product-market fit, just a gut feeling and the willingness to get started.
Extremely dumb in hindsight, but I'll get into that more later…
So, I took a leap of faith and started digging around for the next steps.
It was like, “Okay so I have a product idea, but what’s next?”.
Well, I needed a logo, a website, and someone to actually make the dang bow ties. All things I didn't know the first thing about.
So what did I do?
I Googled it…. all of it.
I researched every detail from every website from every perspective.
Admittedly, I probably consumed too much information and didn’t take enough action, but I’m an analytical and accountant at heart. So I needed to understand all the forces at play before moving forward.
I think I spent at least 6 months trying to get a logo together, a website, and start designing the bow ties I wanted to manufacture.
I worked with freelancers I found on Upwork to design the products, negotiated with manufacturers in China to get the product made, and contracted with freight forwarders to sort out the logistics to get the bow ties shipped across the Pacific Ocean through customs and to my house in Washington D.C.
Below is a picture of me opening up my first box of brand new bow ties, hurray!
At this point the score is a whopping $0 earned and $30k spent!
It was all financed by my full time salary and a little credit card debt.
Pretty much everyone thought I was crazy, and there were a lot of ‘Oh, Shit’ moments.
A Hard Knocks Lesson In Marketing
At one point I got the not-so-brilliant idea to hire a marketing agency to help with the marketing process.
I figured, “I have some extra money, I can do things right and bring in professionals to help refine the logo, build a decent website, and get started on the right foot.”
Good idea in theory, but in practice this was a giant waste of money and just ended up getting me (and the agency) extremely frustrated.
Given the fact I was a newcomer, the agency didn’t take me very seriously.
Not their fault. I was just inexperienced and didn't know what I needed. I didn’t know…
- Best practices for an e-commerce site
- How to structure the checkout experience to increase conversions
- How cross-sells or up-sells worked
- Where to place email opt-ins
- Branding, design, or product photography
I DIDN’T KNOW ANYTHING!
Needless to say, it was a frustrating experience.
But… I kept pushing through.
The agency ended up building my site on Shopify, which is an e-commerce platform for people who just want to sell stuff online and don’t want to have to worry about code or any infrastructure behind setting up an actual website.
This was good because it allowed me to get my feet wet with internet marketing. But it was also bad because it was extremely difficult to make changes to the site.
After I got a little experience, I realized the site they built me was a hot stinkin’ mess poorly optimized for any type of conversion. Again, my fault for not understanding what I needed at the time.
I will say working with the agency showed me the process of starting with an idea, branding around it, and creating photography to bring the idea to life.
Photography is everything when it comes to e-commerce, and that experience helped crystallize that concept in my head.
So, about an $8,000 marketing lesson learned via the school of hard knocks…
Fast Forward To 2019
Fast forward to today, I've since sold my bow tie brand and pivoted into the pest control niche and a number of other lucrative niches flying under the radar.
Below is a screenshot from my Amazon Associates dashboard to give you a sense of the current levels of success I'm getting through my digital publishing businesses.
I've never had more freedom to do what I want when I want to do it. Specifically, I'm now partnering up with other digital business owners to create new streams of revenue for myself.
Through trial and error I've developed the systems and processes allowing the sites to run themselves without hiring employees. I’m obsessed with efficiency, which makes it EASY for me to build projects up and then let them hum along in the background while I re-focus my energy somewhere else.
Oh, and get this… I even have a great marriage!
Despite all the businesses I’m building, we still have plenty of high-quality time to spend together doing Cross Fit, travelling and just chilling.
In fact, my wife was so amazed by my pivot from day laborer to freewheeling entrepreneur that she asked me to help HER build her own side business.
Her site is now thriving, and I couldn’t be happier having taught someone else (my wife no less) to do exactly what I’m doing.
And that brings me to my role on this website, Digital Business Prep.
How I Can Help You
The mission of DigitalBusinessPrep.com is to be a one-stop internet marketing learning center with active and proven practitioners teaching winning business models and the underlying skills needed to execute those models
I specialize in the digital publishing business model. You may have heard it go by various other names like "niche websites", "niche blogs", "authority sites", or "SEO sites".
To-date I've made almost 7-figures of profits from digital publishing and I currently run 4 different sites and assist in 2 others. Some of my sites make money via lead generation, some ad revenue, some affiliate programs, and some use all three!
This is by far my favorite method of making money online as it requires the least amount of upfront capital (less than $500 usually), can be done alongside a full-time job, and can lead to a big exit.
If making money online sounds interesting to you…if you’re tired of being stuck, then you owe it to yourself to take a quick look at my free training by clicking the button below.
I’ll give you the 3-step blueprint to my success…how I pivoted from bow ties to pest control…and provide more details on how the business model works to make you money.
See you in there…