Most of you who read this know what I am doing now, but I figured I could do a blog post with how I got here. This is certainly not a celebratory post as it might seem, but more of a recap with a positive undertone. I am more optimistic than ever and just love what I am doing now more than any projects before. This was the fall back plan that turned into the idea with the most promise of anything. In a nutshell, everything went terribly wrong for months, but it ended up creating an opportunity that may end up being the best thing that could have happened.
Throughout late 2009 and into 2010 I was building gaming affiliate sites while writing for other affiliates. I eventually got to a point where I was making pretty good money writing poker strategy (enough to make ~150k/year without all that much work), but I always new that my own projects were where the real potential lied. I continued writing for the steady money, played live poker to supplement this income, and continued building my sites. This worked well in that I always had a good amount of money coming in, had a totally free schedule at all times, and was able to start up some new things. I eventually sold off the “main” gaming site I had been building, held onto a few, and sold off the rest over time. Though I felt like I was improving as a gaming affiliate, it was never really something I had a keen interest in. It was more or less something I just fell into and was intrigued by the money but not so much the work itself.
So I had my sites pretty much all sold by early-mid 2011 and was starting to pick up steam with my new sites that concentrated on gold and silver. I was told in early 2010 about a precious metals retailer that was likely going to launch an affiliate program, so I decided to register about 20 domains just in case and put some pages up on a handful of them. Sure enough the affiliate program launched and I was in a niche that was void of affiliates, though there was certainly plenty of other retail sites ranking quite well. I ended up turning these sites into a steady 4k-6k/month and was also doing OK with some of the gaming sites I had left over. Several months later I ended up joining with a partner on two big domains in the same niche and things were going well.
Just as we were about to add a third partner (literally the day after we negotiated a deal) and expand, the affiliate program we worked with pulled out. They cited spam and weaker affiliates as their reason, despite admitting that our own partnership with them was both sound and profitable. We tried to work with them on a custom deal and had spoken to other retail sites about flat rate advertising, but nothing much came to fruition. In messing around with some other companies, we essentially found that it was a waste of time.
By this point in time my partner and I had two decisions. We could toil and earn nothing off of sites with massive potential or we could figure something out. I plotted an idea where we could form our own retail site and send our existing traffic to said site. It was going to be a sizable undertaking, but we knew that it was both one of our only options and an idea with immeasurable potential. This was in the beginning of September of this year.
We were about a month into development when we got crushed by one of Google’s Panda updates. Some sites were unaffected, but our primary ones got destroyed. At this point we had legal paperwork all but taken care of, bank accounts sorted, and we were not terribly far away from the site itself being coded and ready to go. There was no turning back, but this obviously made us quite unsure.
Fast forward to early November and we had everything taken care of. Endless revisions, fixes, and corrections to the site itself in addition to multiple hurdles involved in the overall development of the company itself were finally completed. Since then, things have been going well and we are rather confident that we can make this incredibly big. It’s a long term project, it’s a lot of work, but I am happy to be doing it.
I still own a handful of gaming sites that make a little bit per month, but nothing worth writing home about. I have a virtually infinite list of ideas I would like to implement in conjunction with our existing brand, and I am more enthused than ever about what I am working on. Many affiliates in the past six months have had things go very wrong; I can think of a number of people off the top of my head. To me, the difference between one person and the next is definitely in their drive to keep going. I have also learned that dependence (on any person, company, or anything) is the worst trait for any business to have. The more that you can diversify, be it within a specific industry, into others, or through varied methods of monetization, the better off you will be.
Like I said, not a celebratory post, but the past week or two really has me excited about the future. Each of the past three years has been better than the one prior, and I have no reason to believe 2012 won’t show exponential growth in the same direction.