It's hard to see the struggle and the setbacks a successful online marketer might have...
With all of the success in front of them, it might be hard to see the failures and setbacks that they had behind them.
No one is given opportunities, nor is there magical fairy dust that can help us succeed online.
Making money promoting products is not easy...
But when you put in determination and confidence into your business, you will have more of a chance succeeding.
You're probably wondering how a person can be so successful without any luck.
Well you don't have any to look any further.
In this post, we'll get to learn first-hand on what steps to take to see results.
You'll learn how Niche Hacks tribe member Howie J went from zero to $2,000 per week and without advertising.
Read on and you'll the steps that you can easily replicate...
Introduction To Your Success Story
What is up!?
I am honored and humbled to be asked to share my story and truly hope that at least one of you can pull some inspiration, knowledge, idea, and/or gain some sort of valuable insight from it.
Everything else would just be icing on the cake.
I also create my own niche marketing websites (Learn how to make a price comparison site here) and continue to invest and build online real estate to create consistent passive income streams.
My main and officially registered company is called, Brainiactive, LLC. and the niche marketing website that allowed me to learn, grow and move into position to expand and grow my business is a site called, Focus Here and Now.
Brainiactive is so fresh and has been so busy, I am just getting around to building the official one-pager front page for it.
Focus Here and Now has some awesome new updates and changes on the way, too.
Folks can also feel free to follow me on twitter at: @focushereandnow
(P.S. If you'd like to download a free list of 1,781 profitable niches click here or the image below)
Q: How did you get started with online marketing and how far have you come since then?
Back in 2002, I developed an e-commerce designer clothing business called, Designer Styles, which breaks my heart to see as a dead domain these days(Sold it a long time ago).
My whole business plan was based around one main website that provided drop-shipping services to my customers.
It started out great, but ended up being a disaster and a learning experience all at the same time.
I regret giving up at the time, but the process was exhausting and I was young and didn't know what I know now.
The backbone of the business relied heavily (too heavily) on the company that drop-shipped items for me.
Eventually, I decided to branch out a little further on my own to boost earnings a little higher because the drop-ship percentage was a little lower than I wanted it to be.
I went ahead and picked up the phone and started directly contacting some of the top designer clothing companies of products I was offering.
I hit emails and phones and went through various people until I spoke to the right one.
At first, it was great.
At 22 years old, I managed to work out wholesale deals with some of the biggest designer clothing companies that were in heavy demand online.
This included French Connection, Diesel, Hugo Boss, Armani Exchange and others.
They were selling me their clothes at up to 80% off the retail price and I was making a killing.
However, it also caused a major problem.
I was still relying heavily on my drop-shipper to provide far too much inventory on the site.
In order to make the site into a full-scale shop that offered everything you could imagine, I always carried the majority of the same items carried on the entire site of my drop shipper.
As I grew the business and started destroying them in the search engine rankings, they turned around and cut me loose.
They noticed that I was buying wholesale from some of the vendors and even though I wasn't offering the same products as they were, they still claimed it was against some rule that didn’t exist before that day.
I was mad at the time, but the bottom line is that I had become too competitive for them.
When I look back on it, I don’t know if I blame them.
Basically, even though they were still making money, they decided that they wanted to keep it all and figured they could just make all the sales and sit alone at the top.
So I sold off the rest of what I had in house and I sold the website for $15,000, chalked it up as a learning experience and focused my attention back to the corporate world and figured I would just climb the ladder the way so many people said you are “supposed” to do it.
Q: You run a blog in the ADHD niche that is making you a full time living, can you tell us a little about how that came about?
When I decided to give online marketing a try again, my approach was MUCH different.
The only piece of knowledge I took from the past that helped pave the way for the direction I would go now was that I needed to K.I.S.S. - Keep it Simple Stupid.
I knew I needed hosting, a domain, a website and a platform to build it on that didn’t require too much technical knowledge or coding.
When I was contemplating a niche market to get into, I went back and forth a lot about it at first.
I was over thinking and under-doing. I decided to change gears altogether and write about something I knew about.
I decided that the best approach, especially during a time that I was learning all over again was to just get started and do it by talking about things I knew about and try to actually help people.
I kept the idea of providing something unique and valuable to my readers at the forefront of my goals.
I also made a very conscience effort to be as candid as possible.
I would put my own face and name on the website, I would personally answer all emails and I would really let people in on who I was and what I was trying to do.
I remember that incredible feeling of waking up one morning, less than 3 months after launching the site and seeing that I profited $350 overnight.
The next day, same thing and same the next and same the next. Before I knew it, I was turning a profit consistently.
Sure, there have been some ups and downs and learning through all of it, but I was consistently turning a profit of $2,000 or more per week without spending ONE dime on advertising.
I have never generated a ton of traffic with Focus Here and Now. I can’t wait to see what happens as it continues to grow because it is converting so well over the past year with a fraction of the traffic I know it is capable of generating.
There are endless opportunities to create passive income streams and if I could turn a little ADHD site into a full time income, I could turn plenty of others into additional passive income. (Check out how to make a price comparison site)
I am not special and I have not even achieved a fraction of the goals that I have set out to accomplish.
Q. You mentioned to me that your new business Brainiactive, LLC is expanding fast?
What is this business and how did you get into it? Is this something that someone reading this could also do for themselves?
I had been running Focus Here and Now as my main priority and have treated it as a learning tool for the majority of 6-7 months. However, during that time, I continued to network with people both online and offline.
I started doing website design, SEO, site maintenance and management, social media management, etc. for a few businesses.
When a company just wants a design and basic optimization, its a set price.
When they want design, maintenance, ongoing SEO and more, I put them on a set upfront price and a monthly retainer.
This creates nice immediate income opportunities that can quickly grow through referral.
This can also expand into many other areas. I did this with one of the company owners of a product that I am reviewing on the site soon.
We arranged for a collaboration of marketing for the product on Focus Here and Now and an extra unique marketing package that I put together to go beyond affiliate for them.
I am earning a set amount for the marketing services AND earning income for every sign up of a trial for their product.
The point is that all it takes is building one niche website and putting the time, efforts, and passion into treating that one site like a business in and of itself.
You will gain far more knowledge and be far more valuable than you may even know.
I don’t consider myself any sort of expert, guru, or anyone special.
I am simply utilizing the knowledge in front of me.
Q: Often friends and family don't "get" this whole online marketing thing. How do yours feel about it and how did they react when you first told them your plans?
I had some mixed reactions, but I was very fortunate that I got a TON of support from the person who mattered most.
Less than two months before I had been let go from my job, I got engaged and my fiance and now wife as of a month ago has been incredibly supportive.
I can’t say that she fully understood everything that I was trying to do, but she definitely saw the passion and quickly saw that I was achieving real results and most importantly, she saw that the passion equaled happiness.
Q. What was your first ever website or niche?
The first website that I created was the designer clothing website.
I didn’t really understand affiliate marketing and other business models at that time were also more limited so I was mainly focused on drop-shipping and wholesale business.
This was a far more stressful and difficult way to operate.
Between that time, I had gone through periods of time doing my fair share of “shiny object” chasing.
I built out little crappy niche websites with loose content, played in the Google cash game for a little while, and ultimately went nowhere.
I spent more time trying to read and implement these shiny objects than I did learning how to build a sustainable business and I was just spinning my wheels.
Too many people are looking for shortcuts and have a misunderstanding about “automation” and don’t realize that if they put half that amount of time into building something substantial and following a real blueprint as they did into looking for shortcuts and implementing black hat marketing strategies, they would be far more successful, far more quickly.
When I decided to enter into things again this time, my entire attitude and approach was different.
Money was not the only or even the main motivation behind starting my business.
Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to make a living doing it, but I knew that if I simply chased dollar signs, I would end up falling short.
I wanted to learn the right way and felt that the only way to do that would be by building a site around a topic that I knew, something I was passionate about and decided to keep my intentions positive to provide real quality content and information that could help others.
I felt that if I was genuine and passionate, it would come across to my readers and the money would follow.
Essentially, it did.
NicheHacks was one of the very few resources I followed for information outside a fairly straight and narrow path to build a website and market it properly following the basics first and foremost.
Q: If you had to give 1 piece of advice to someone new to the online marketing world what would it be?
A lot of online marketers will tell you that the most important piece of advice they would give is to get out there and TAKE ACTION. That is 100% correct.
If all you do is look for the next “shiny object” or keep going in a million different directions, downloading more eBooks, watching more videos and buying more products every five seconds, you will not only have trouble actually getting started, but you are not going to have the first clue about which path to take.
You literally just made things a hundred times harder on yourself.
There is more than one way to take your approach to making money online.
There is even more than one way to successfully create and market a niche website.
My first piece of advice is to follow a system and path of someone you trust and stay on that path and not go dipping your feet in the waters of ten other programs.
Q: When choosing a niche follow passion or money?
Perhaps one day I will be so good at all of this that I can simply cherry pick for the money and still produce a high quality site that makes great money.
However, my experience right now has been to follow passion on at least some level and the money will follow.
If you don’t have passion, at least have a strong drive to research and learn the information or I feel like you are not maximizing your profits.
You may still earn money, but people respond more often to passionate, energy, and honesty.
That passion and energy comes across to your readers.
You should know something about the topic you are building a site around and care to some degree.
I find the more passionate I have been about the sites that I have built, the more overall success I have achieved.
Q: One of the most common questions I'm asked by my audience is "How do I get started?" What would you advise them?
STOP overthinking it! Just get out there and get started.
Write yourself a small list of potential niche markets and ask yourself a few questions.
- How passionate or knowledgeable are you about each subject?
- Can you see yourself writing good quality content about that subject enough to build and update a website?
- Is the niche profitable? Again, don’t over think it, but make sure there are products, services, and a market seeking what you are about to write about.
- Do a little research and find out if there are some unique products or services that not everyone else is offering, but that are out there.
- Passion is important, but if there is no market and there isn’t a high enough demand, you can’t expect to make tons of money in it either.
- Start writing and start building your site. Get into the important aspects of your site. It doesn't have to be the prettiest thing in the world in the beginning because you are just learning and just building up your site and getting established.
I will break the news to you now so you don’t waste too much time in the beginning.
Not a little…but a lot!
You will be the first one to admit it when you go back in a couple months and bring that terrible content back to life when you fix it.
As you build out your content, you will find yourself getting better and learning more and more along the way.
Don’t let your fear or “writer’s block” stop you.
Just get out there and write. Build your foundation and do!
The longer you wait, the further your goals get away from you. This does not have to be the only site and only topic you build a site about. There is no guarantee it will be wildly successful.
However, if you don’t get started and you don’t give everything you have to building out your site and learning and creating content, you will never get better.
Stop wasting time and stop reading about the “next big thing” and hop on WordPress, grab a free theme and start creating your site.
Q: If you lost everything (money, contacts, traffic, websites etc) and had to start over from scratch knowing what you know now with a $100 budget what would your plan be?
Quite simply, I would take the money and build a new site from scratch.
Choose my niche, get a domain, find formidable hosting, utilize as many free tools as possible and start writing content.
Building niche websites can and does work when it is done correctly.
Put your money into SEO and building links to help with ranking, but focus the majority of that time creating content and building the site from the ground.
You can be up and running sooner than you may think.
Sure, I could build an LP and a mailing list and try to essentially establish a business with no website at all.
However, I would go with what worked for me already.
The 5th post and only 2nd product review that I wrote for my site resulted in thousands of dollars in commissions.
I believe it was because I didn’t promote the same products everyone else was promoting, I took a different approach, I connected with my readers almost immediately and I optimized the review around the actual product first and foremost.
Those that were specifically seeking information about that product, found me in the top 5 results within a couple weeks of posting.
I paid attention to the advertising that company was doing and the complete lack of information and reviews for that product when people were searching for information.
These were people actively seeking information about the subject and about the product and the demand was a lot higher than the supply.
So I simply targeted some of those “low hanging fruit” keywords and instead of fighting for the most competitive ones for weeks just trying to break into the top 50, I was ranking high and fast for less competitive ones.
That doesn’t mean you should never go for more competitive terms, but why not take the easy ones?
I would rather aim to rank on the first page of Google in a short period of time for multiple keywords that may only generate a few hundred searches a month, over the one super highly competitive word that generates 7,000 searches a month and have me buried in the results.
Do the math and get yourself in front of the people that everyone else is missing.
(P.S. If you'd like to download a free list of 1,781 profitable niches click here or the image below)
Q: What would be your best tips for finding a profitable niche, creating the site and content, getting traffic and getting sales?
One of my best tips for finding a profitable niche is a bit unconventional, but it can work when you follow it up with proper research and either have pre-existing knowledge or confidence and enough interest to discover and share it with others.
However, I am not just saying this because it’s Stuart's blog, but he has some of the best concrete information and resources that I have seen to help guide people into profitable niches.
There are a few other unconventional ways to discover popular trends and popular niches.
- Your Facebook Newsfeed.
Facebook advertising is becoming more and more popular and the amount of ads that we are exposed to daily is growing, as it continues to generate unprecedented amounts of revenue each year and gains popularity.
I take time to notice these ads, notice the products being advertised and keep a close eye on a few things associated with these ads.
One of the first things that I look for is engagement.
Is there a particular product or service that you have seen advertised a lot on your newsfeed that is generating a lot of comments?
What types of comments are people leaving?
Are they positive or negative?
Are they general questions about the product or services or feedback about the product or service?
Are people getting excited by the things they are sharing?
Pay attention to those who are doing it well and making money and pay attention to interests that are out there.
Many are right in front of your face.
If you notice that something is generating engagement, causing discussion and has a lot of “likes” or seems to be generating a lot of sales, take it one step further.
Find out how competitive the market is for that niche.
Find out the amount of products and services associated with that niche and identify different groups, forums, and even other sites that are marketing to that niche successfully.
- b) Utilize Google alerts and Buzzsumo.
These are tools I see mentioned often that I feel are still highly underutilized and undervalued.
Set up alerts for specific niche markets, products, trends, and news to determine how often it is being talked about in the media.
Identify sites and forums and find out the wants and needs of that market.
Determine what is missing or what is selling well.
If it is a topic that you either have knowledge about or have the confidence that you can research and write about, go for it.
If you discover a great niche, but find out that if it has heavier competition, if it doesn’t mean that you should ignore it.
Look at the “make money online” niche.
It is HUGE and probably not the first one I would recommend going for but not one that I would eliminate for good.
Learn what you are doing first, but also recognize when a market has an absolute TON to offer and has so many needs.
The “make money online” niche has more products than we know what to do with half the time and more needs than maybe any other niche out there.
The problem is that there are too many people trying to jump into it and provide advice and quality about things they have not experienced or achieved themselves yet.
Start with a niche that has demand, but isn’t overly competitive.
Start with something that you are passionate about or have interest in seeking more information about.
Build up your readership by providing quality content that provides real value.
Constantly over-deliver to your audience and go out of your way to bring them the best deals and the most free offers that you can.
Make them remember your name and your website and start building your list!
Don’t hesitate on DAY ONE to start building that mailing list.
I waited months and months to do this and it was a big mistake.
Finally, I recently started one.
You know what my lead magnet was?
I promised to provide high quality information and free offers and give my readers exclusive deals that they wouldn’t find elsewhere.
I also promised not to inundate them with offers every five minutes.
To my surprise, it worked!
They signed up and I provided value on top of value on top of value, whether it was free information, ebooks, products, whatever.
This allowed me to build a trust and authority for my site.
Within a few months, I had built a list of over 500 subscribers and was literally not giving away anything but a promise. 500 is not too shabby with no lead magnet.
The point is that more people will sign up than you think if you just ask.
You may not build an astronomical list using only this method, but there is no sense in waiting.
Any size list is better than none at all and even that small one helped generate more sales.
As I started offering real lead magnets, which are also easier to create and give away than you may think, the list grew faster and larger.
Always be looking out for the best interest of your audience and try to treat them the way you would want to be treated.
Don’t simply spew offers and ask them to buy everything from you every five seconds.
People HATE to be sold, but BOY do they LOVE to buy! Keep that in mind!
Q: It's clear you are doing big things with your online businesses. What do you think is the key to your success? For someone new out there who's just getting started what should they do to emulate your success?
The key to success is dedication.
There are many valuable components that will contribute to getting where you want to go and continuing on a path to go where you want to be.
However, only those who are truly dedicated and have passion to make their business work and make Internet Marketing work will actually succeed.
I know that may sound weird to some or that it is equivalent to saying well all you need is to “want it” to get it.
That is not what I am saying at all.
Dedication means that you are willing to give everything and be willing to go through anything to succeed because that’s how much it means to you.
There are going to be times you doubt yourself or you have a slow week.
Perhaps sales just spiked downwards for a week.
You may lose rankings on a keyword or have an issue with your site.
You may feel capped out on your earnings.
You have to be willing to go through all of those things because you have a vision and understanding for how and why this all works.
If you are dedicated and willing to work this job as hard, if not harder than you would work any other full time job and treat it as a full time job, you can absolutely succeed doing this.
If you are simply trying to supplement your income from your full-time job, you need to put the same dedication and follow the same steps during the time you do have free.
None of this is that hard at all.
It might not be easy, but I think it is a hell of a lot more appealing, easier, and rewarding than working a 9-5 doing something I hate so that I can scrape by living paycheck to paycheck, while I hold my breath that I just may be lucky enough to get a $10,000 raise if I work really hard for the next 7 years.
I would personally rather play to make $10,000 next month.
Get your mindset right, don’t over-complicate this and take action.
Take that first step before you worry about 9 or 10. In fact, don’t even worry about step 2.
Just take the first one, stay straight and narrow and get going.
Like Field of Dreams…if you built it, they will come.
Q: What are you currently working on and what are your plans for the future?
Right now I am working on everything.
I am in the middle of a full-scale redesign of Focus Here and Now and trying to finalize a deal that would allow us to carry our own private line of nootropic brain supplements, which will be private labeled and drop-shipped.
The products will be sold under the regular business name, “Brainiactive.”
I am hoping this is a reality in the next couple of months, but a lot of other cool things planned for Focus Here and Now.
This would add a whole new layer and new income stream to the site and only be one small component of many.
Even more important perhaps is expanding the brand name for Brainiactive, LLC.
I have picked up three clients in totally different industries to do a combination of work from website design to SEO.
One is a fairly large finance company that could result in a lot of future business.
The other is for a company selling t shirt designs with a trademarked slogan and the other is the combination deal with FHAN and Brainiactive.
It is going to be a very busy summer, but I am also trying to reach my next goal as soon as possible.
My goal is to earn 6-figures in less than a year.
July 1st technically represents the start of the first full year in business, but after coming fairly close in the first year in business to earning 6 figures, anything less than 6 figures by the end of my second year would be disappointing.
However, if opportunities continue to spring up and we grow faster than projected, those goals could also still increase before the end of the year, too.
I can’t stress enough to anyone reading this how much of a regular guy I am.
I’m not in the online marketing niche who has made his money from that niche, I don’t plan on contacting all of you for a webinar later, I just sincerely hope that someone can look at a guy like me and have the confidence to realize that he or she can do it, too.
I wasn’t sure how I felt when I was asked these questions because I feel like there is still far more I want to accomplish and that it may be too early to celebrate.
However, its not about celebrating for me as much as I think it would be cool to inspire even one more person to change their lives, too. The sky is truly the limit…
(P.S. If you'd like to download a free list of 1,781 profitable niches click here or the image below)
Stuart here again. The key takeaways from this post are:
- Get started. As Howie has mentioned many times, you need to get started, and take action. The worst thing you can do is simply nothing.
- Dedicate yourself to what you start. Pick a niche/business model and follow it so your audience builds trust in what you have to offer.
- Start building your list from day one. Don't hesitate to do this in the very beginning of your website as you need a list to stay in touch with your audience.
- Take advantage of Google Alert and Buzzsumo. These are undervalued tools that could make a big difference in your business.
- Picking a passion or interest niche that you love and / or know well isn't essential but it certainly makes it easier to keep on working on it for the long term.
- Network, network, network. From going out there and interacting with people in his niche Howie has clients paying him big money for his services and wanting to work with him.
- If Howie can go from zero to $2,000 a week without advertising or any special abilities, you can too. As he mentioned, anyone can replicate his success, it just takes dedication and work.
Wrapping Things Up
I hope this has inspired you to get out there and start taking action yourself. (Maybe you can do a price comparison site)
Howie has had many setbacks and failures but yet he has a lot to show for it as he stayed on track on what he started.
If he can do it then why can't you?
Think about your plan of action, and leave a comment below so you can hold yourself accountable.
It might look something like this...
"I'm going to get into the motivation niche. I'll create an niche site around motivational tools and I'm going to drive massive traffic from guest posting. Within 6 months I WILL be making money"
Leave your comment below...