Update: I’m sure you must have read earlier version of this post in 2018, and I’m just updating it for 2019 with few additional pointers – I’m back to blogging mode after a long time to create a Sat morning motivation post once again.
I’ve already seen enough dirt in blogosphere, with people posting fake screenshots, claiming too much of “pro status”, seeking eyeballs, and in the end, just making a few bucks selling shitty courses and e-books, but I wanted to share the transformation I’ve gone through over past 10+ years, and 7 mistakes of my life and life lessons from 2006 to 2019 (and every passing day is a new learning of course).
My Journey since 2005
For those of you, who still don’t know me well, I started my journey as a freelance writer cum blogger in 2005, and for first 4 years, mostly made money selling content, to those who made 10x via Adsense, and eventually started coding WordPress sites, and learnt SEO.
Lesson 1: Work on achieving your dreams, otherwise someone else will hire you to help them achieve theirs!
I also briefly worked with an IT giant, and developed 40% of Qatar Airways ERP system, only to be paid Rs 16,231 salary for a project that was billed over a crore in 8 months, and figured I’d rather do better in life, fulfilling my own dreams, rather than letting someone hire me for fulfilling theirs! (and it had happened quite literally)
I call it my first mistake, but then i guess it was more of learning, and there was no harm done. I invested 11 months of my life, which I could have invested on my own startup, and gotten a “1 year” push ahead of competition, rather than spending sleepless nights.
When I realised there was no point doing that anymore, I launched Webfosys Networks on March 27, 2009 but the problem was that all the money came 100% via Adsense, though we did well, and we went to the level of $100k+ a month revenues!
I had sites like Latestautoreviews (which I’m rebuilding now), Hottestbollywoodnews, and many others that fetched me $500-2000/month from Adsense, and that was some sense of achievement for me.
And, i was on cloud 9, I went on a spending spree, bought my first luxury car, and I was young and naive, and you can guess what followed next… Before that happened, this is how my Adsense panel looked like in April/May 2011
The Adsense Madness
On May 18, 2011 I had a very very bad day in my life when i lost like 93% of my revenues overnight, because it was all built via 366 Made for Adsense thin content (mostly) blogs, which tumbled like house of cards on a windy day.
Then I saw where the real money is coming from, and saw brands spend a lot on website/portal development, so-called digital marketing, SEO and we focused on services portfolio, and over the period started working with big brands like Sarovar Hotels, and even developed websites for biggies like mSupply.com, a $40M funded e-commerce giant, Audi Pune, Bangalore, Mangalore, Chennai, Country Inn (part of Radisson Hotels now), Edify School, and so on.
To my horror, I soon discovered these so-called big brands DON’T really pay advances – in fact not even monthly, sometimes not even quarterly, and some of them have dues well past one year mark too.
Lesson 3: Depending upon only client servicing projects for cash flow can be disastrous!
The Affiliate Stint
In June 2013, I entered affiliate industry with full force, and from June 2013 to July 2015 we clocked $1M+ in affiliate revenues (here’s a small proof again)
But it was quite late that I figured out that affiliate managers are the worst creatures who keep shaving your commissions, and cutting deep into your profits when they know you’re making good money.
Luckily in the major campaign that ran well, I was blessed with two awesome guys, who supported me well, but Aug 2015 was another turning point as two of my big affiliate campaigns went down south, a large advertiser defaulted 6 figure payment, and I took a hit of almost $35-40k/month revenues, and had to find ways to rebuild my empire once again.
Then as I started exploring other options, I came across opportunities in Middle East, and started expanded internationally once again, because i realised Indian clients DONT pay on-time, and don’t pay well.
I tried other countries, and partnered up with people, only to discover that things are good so long as I’m actively monitoring things, and when I’m busy travelling, something else goes behind my back.
I decided to go aggressive with international expansion, and explored few more countries, but again had a similar bitter experience with partnerships overseas.
Moreover, while I was busy travelling, I discovered some of my own employee were trying some stupid things behind my back. And, now I’m hiring people very selectively, and I’m scaling down services business, and getting rid of all kinds of unproductive people in my life.
Lesson 4: Don’t Expand Internationally Unless Really Needed, Especially NOT in Countries Where You Need to Give 50.1% Holding
In 2017, I finally decided to scale down most of low-paying campaigns, and let go of so-called partnerships when i’ve to be at someone else’s mercy, because i realised ROI is highest when i keep things 100% under my control, and it isn’t worth my time to make/take countless phone calls, Skype calls, emails for a petty $400-500/mo contract – I’d rather just a good campaign and earn it in 5 hours instead!
Desi Bloggers World
I started building Desi Bloggers World as i became brand ambassador of Dot Desi Domains and really got pissed off looking at some so-called rockstars, pros, gurus, Patels, comets, NGOs, meteors charging $200 for 1 hour training, some charging $500 for 2 months course, and what not, so we started webinars, but everyone asked me my motive behind this, and nobody believed me when i said I’m just trying to help bloggers and building a brand like Unacademy, just the way Roman Saini did.
I had a fun time building this community of blogging enthusiasts and startup founders, who wanna’ learn and grow. While I’ve equally enjoyed 11 meetups in Bangalore, 4 in Hyderabad, our biggest one in Delhi, I had the best time in Mumbai Bloggers World meet.
And that’s when in March 2017, I met someone who had done an 8 figure in IM (the only 8 figure IMer whose verified success thread with proof i had seen on STM Forum) and he was so silent, didn’t have a big team, he’s been travelling the world, and living a dream life without any baggage, had no head weight, and I immediately fell in love with his approach, and he became my new idol instead of Jordan Belfort, and I asked him whether i should try to scale my affiliate campaigns in ClickDealer or other places, and he told me that if i want to build a $100M business, affiliate isn’t the way to go, nor the petty Indian Client Servicing business, and that’s when I considered all the options, and started exploring profitable ways to make money, with a lean team and almost zero clientele, except a couple of big brands in kitty, just for the heck of portfolio. And, I’m sure my next venture with him would be big, given the kind of experience he brings in (and whatever little experience I have in front of him).
In last 2 years, I’ve learned a lot from him, and I’ve been able to let go of many small projects, and transform my approach towards building an online empire, and I realised I needed to either have my own e-commerce store or a solid digital product – both were time and capital intensive options, so i explored Shopify & Dropshipping model.
The Shopify & Dropshipping World
Once again there’s a lot of dirt in this field – I saw again tons of gurus, showing off their screenshots, some even showing off their cars in videos, and then again selling crap courses, and consulting, and workshops.
I hired a freelancer to build a Woocommerce & Shopify store and wasted 2 months waiting for him to finish his work, and when i tested, the store funnel doesn’t work well, checkout was screwed up, and i ended up doing it myself.
I realised no matter what people say, and what they do, when you take things in your hands, only then good things happen. And, probably over past 2 years i hadn’t been doing that, and suddenly my productivity, and revenues have shot up radically over last 100 days, and I’ve been running the 100 Days $100k Challenge well, and from April changed it to 100 Days 1Cr ($150k) Challenge, and end of 2018 I came out of all small client servicing projects, and be able to scale well in Shopify & Affiliate Marketing, and probably get rid of all my unproductive employees and partners, who don’t add value to Webfosys Group, and take it to greater heights by 2020 with the lean approach.
Lesson 5: It isn’t about Million Dollar Revenues – It’s about Profits Coming to Your Bank – We did about 10 crore revenues from June 2018 to Feb 2019, but it wasn’t really that profitable, because we were bleeding money from many places.
Lesson 6: Take things in your hands & build one thing at a time rather than messing around with 10 simultaneously!
I’ve realised that if we try 10 things at a time, nothing works well – when we decided to build just 1 by hook or by crook, with all out attack, and no backup plans, it somehow works – it has worked for me, and i’m sure it’ll work for you too!
From March 2019, once I decided to focus on Ecom Store and DOTS, it has been profitable, and now scalable to tune of million bucks a month from perhaps beginning of 2020.
The Whole Gaga About Paid Training Programs
The real hustlers are busy building their empire and don’t have time for Tweeting #Hustle, and uploading shit on Facebook. On the other hand, i still see many people still struggling to impress others and selling courses – I don’t want to take any names here, but the math is simple – if someone claims to make $100k a month, he’s making like $3k+ a day working for probably 10 hours, so let’s do the basic math
1 hour = $300
10 hours = $3000
50 hours (1 week) = $15k
Now why would such a person think of NOT scaling $100k to $200k and spend petty time on running FB engagement ads, and launch courses – it’s a no-brainer – he once made lot of money, and now he doesn’t… anymore… so he’s down to selling courses, and sadly when his current tactics aren’t working for him, it’s again a no-brainer that they cant and mostly wont work for you.
Lesson 7 – Empty Vessels Make the Most Noise – I tried taking up even courses, and ebooks (dont want to name any, because i knew it’d be shitty, but just wanted to see the ground reality) and those who claim to be the “gurus” and have spent millions of dollars profitably, can’t even make a basic camp run profitably for you, let alone improving your results – you gotta’ get shit done YOURSELF!
If you want to learn from his experiences, it’s a good idea, but if you wanna’ learn what’s working in the market, such people are possibly the worst possible options, not to mention those so-called Digital Marketing Academies that have literally flooded the off-line markets, and there are literally just too many of them out there.
Lesson 8 – A Secret is Meant to be a Secret
If you ask me honestly, I’d NEVER share my secret that’s giving me $10k+ a month, even for a $1000/hour session, let alone sharing anything that fetches me $100k+, and it’s a no-brainer – I just don’t know why people don’t get this!
Nobody will ever SHARE A SECRET, because secrets are meant to be kept SECRET – ROFL!
However, if someone gives you a RUNNING CAMPAIGN, with the complete strategy, ad copies, winning product/camp, and also shows you $1000/day revenue, then I guess such a course is easily worth paying $20-25k.
Lesson 9: Spend on Growing your income until you’ve $1M in your bank.
Don’t blow away your money on bikes, cars, expensive watches etc until you’ve $1M+ in your bank safely, and you can ACTUALLY afford to buy those things without any EMIs – I definitely love my cars and bikes, but I feel I bought them at the wrong times, and if I’d have saved about $300k and reinvested it on my Affiliate campaigns, I’d have made another million bucks from it, and comfortably kept that cash in my bank.
Lesson 10: Do What Makes You Happy & Follow Your Passion!
I met lots of new bloggers over past 6 months, I tried to tell them, just try and work on something, which u can pursue for next 10 years (like cars are passion for me) and success will follow slowly but surely (it took me 11 months to see my first $100) and many of the folks have been a part of this journey, and started tasting success, and i’m really happy to see that.
And, I still see depressed people, who are trying so hard to follow others, and are surrounded by people with wrong mindset, and the bitter truth is that they’ll not be able to progress quickly due to all the negativity around them.
After my recent Hindi interview with Tryootech about my 14 years of life lessons”, which I just recorded casually sitting in my room in Marriott Gurgaon, I realised that I love making videos and engaging with community folks, and I should have started my YouTube channel in 2015/2016 itself
Lesson 11 – Don’t Trust People Blindly – This was a big lesson in 2018 – I was part of Earning Labs from the very beginning, and after the Delhi event, once the community became a little popular, I saw lot of fame-hungry people trying to grab the limelight by trying to become the CHOSEN ONE, and transforming the world with the knowledge!
It really pissed me off seeing the initial founders being very indistinctive about what happened in the community, but i realised it was just waste of my time, so I’ve completely moved out of it, and focusing on building my Bloggers World, Bootstrappers World Marketplace, Dropshippers World, Blr World, Domaineers World and growing my PBN network (aiming to cross 10k by year end).
Over last 2 years, I also realised that I trusted few people blindly with my money, and they turned out to be such bastards that I couldn’t even sleep for few nights in disbelief.
Lesson 12 – Biggest Lesson of My Life: DON’T listen to those who don’t know shit about what you’re doing, be it your parents, teachers, or near and dear ones – take advice only from those who’ve been there and done that, and DON’T TRUST ANYONE blindly – they turn out to be always the biggest assholes!!!
I mean I love my family, and I’d do anything for them, but probably never take advice on building an affiliate empire or anything they’re not competent with. If you’re stuck with a negative environment around you, then simply change the place, break the shackles.
Writing makes me happy, constantly travelling gives me opportunity to network with new people and learn something new each month, and building online businesses gives me the flexibility to work from any corner of the world, and buying a new car/bike every year gives me the kick to progress ahead – so I’d say do whatever makes you feel happy from within, and stop chasing what others are doing!
Now, I’m happy writing an ebook on boostrapping, shooting series of videos for Bloggers World, Bootstrappers World, and growing my YouTube channel every passing day, alongside scaling our e-com stores & agency DOTS – connecting all the ecom dots profitably!
Lesson 13 – Don’t be Afraid to Raise Funds at the Right Time – During last 3 years, I have had multiple opportunities to raise $500k-1M but from traditional investors, and I used them as working capital and hand loans on need basis, rather than raising money against equity, which I feel I should have done in 2015 once I had 5-6 years of stable earning records.
If I had done that, I would never have any baggage, and I’ve ended up paying out several crores of my revenues, which would have been my bank balance, had it been a $500k round, even if I had diluted say 20% in first round.
Note: Now i’m open to raising 700k-1M for a 10% equity dilution, so if you’re interested in being a part of next big thing, with potential to grow to $100M in next 2 years, hit me up!
Always High on Traffic & $$$$$$
Your Host & Dost at Bloggers World
– Om Thoke