I’ve been blogging on and off since 2008 over at my now-defunct sister site WPContempo since 2008. Like most Internet Marketers and Web Developers, I do have interesting insights to share from time to time, but sometimes trying to force out a blog post leads to shilling products that haven’t been fully vetted, half-assed case studies that don’t amount to anything or sit incomplete, or boilerplate shit that you can read just about anywhere over and over again – how to write a great post title, 10 tips to get more comments on your posts, Why you Need XYZ Bullshit Product, etc.
So basically off and on for the last 5 years, I’ve started blogging, then stopped, then started again, then stopped again.
The way my life has been for the last 5-7 years is basically this: I moved back to Minnesota in 2006/2007 with no money, barely any income and a brand new baby (my second). I had freed myself from the oppression of working a regular 9-5 and had been working freelance for 2 years. I was scared as hell at the proposition of having to crawl back to the workforce just to keep my rent paid and food on the table.
So I got to work. I set up Web Contempo and started slinging websites and making connections. For about 4 months I mostly leveraged Craigslist to pick up new work – via marketing my services and replying to people who posted ads looking for services I could provide. In the 4 months, I spent doing that, I blew up my income and made several valuable connections that to THIS DAY still provide me with ample amounts of work. I also increased my knowledge and skills far beyond what I had been capable of in the previous 5 years.
I no longer had to worry about money, and I was doing what I loved. By pure coincidence, I was working on an AdWords campaign for a guy I contracted for, and a misclick led me to his AdSense Account Overview, where I was shocked to see that he had made around $700 in Adsense in about 14 days. I took a screenshot of that page – as I didn’t think it was right to ever go poking around back in there, and I used that screenshot as motivation for the next 2 years. From that single moment on, I had only one goal – to make my own AdSense account match what I had just witnessed.
2 years later, I had completely blown the $700 figure out of the water with my own properties, and could easily be making that much in a couple of days between AdSense and eBay. I had absorbed a ridiculous amount of marketing knowledge and basically thought I knew it all. I was doing all of this work basically on the side – my consulting biz was paying the bills and I struggled to knock out all my to-do’s so I could get back to what I really cared about – building my Passive Income Empire. This is when I really started to get into blogging, as I was doing all kinds of cool stuff that made for great case studies and talking points, so I already had plenty of things to ramble on about.
The next 2 years would not be nearly as kind to me. Every couple of months it seemed like something new happened. First, I had a bunch of my regular consulting client’s sites gets hacked because my computer was insecure and I had a bunch of shit saved in an old version of Filezilla. It scared the hell out of me – to the point where I thought very hard about giving up working with clients altogether. Then eBay Partner Network changed their affiliate platform, ruining thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours I had invested into a proprietary eBay affiliate site recipe I created and had a ton of success with. Then Google started raining down updates in their expanded efforts to reward “quality” sites. Every time I would take a step forward, I would get knocked back 2.
All the while I was still making good money and living quite comfortably. I made enough money to buy a house, have a couple nice cars, and my wife has never had to work a day since we had our first kid.
I focused on taking my “winners” and improving them, to prevent them from getting destroyed by future algo updates. It worked. In fact, in the process, I even figured out how to make a lot of money off the Amazon affiliate program, something I had not delved deeply into before that.
But sure enough last spring another update came out and I had to deal with another round of my sites that I depended on and put so much effort in to get completely destroyed.
For me, it was the last straw. I spent the summer playing tons of disc golf and spending quality time with my family, not really sure where to go from there.
Finally, one day I had an epiphany.
I realized that after all this time, money and effort I had invested into building an empire of passive income producing websites, most of the income I was currently making was coming from some of those valuable connections I mentioned above that I made during the brief 4 month period when I was actively looking for work on Craigslist – and to top it all off, the income I was making off those connections, for all intents and purposes, was pretty damn passive.
So here I was, for the greater part of 5 years putting all my heart and soul into selling all kinds of random products, mainly chosen due to nothing more than numbers, when I should have been selling… myself.
The biggest advantage I have as a professional is that I really have an intimate knowledge and experience with all facets of the web, in addition to a strong business background. So not only can I design a website or a landing page in Photoshop I can code it in perfect CSS, I can write the sales copy, and I can map out and execute a marketing strategy to bring that piece of content to its true potential. Most people can make a great living if they are above average at even one of those things, I am proficient with all of them.
So late last summer, I decided to take a new direction, cut out all the bullshit and start building my reputation.
As a freelance Web Developer/Internet Marketer/Designer/Consultant, there is a myriad of ways to get business. Some people want to go after juicy SEO contracts, some people want to go after local businesses and build a passive income through monthly hosting and subscriptions. Some people prefer a platform like eLance or oDesk. The possibilities are endless and a lot of it just comes down to the type of person you are.
I know exactly who I am. I’m not the type who’s going to go out and wow an Exec with a flashy presentation and big talk. I’m not the type to try to get a local business to pay me a monthly fee for no logical reason, and I’m not the type to oversell something and then spend a ton of time trying to bring it to the level I sold it at so I can get paid.
I like the business to come to me. I like to get in, get it done and get paid, and I don’t care if that means I can’t pad my proposals more. I don’t really like working with clients. I like working with people who know that I know what I’m talking about and are willing to defer to me on issues where they don’t really know what they are talking about. And the reality is, there is plenty of business like that out there, and it isn’t that hard to get.
So with all that in mind, I set out on a new strategy to simply blow up my name, make as many lucrative connections as possible, and establish myself as someone who knows what the hell they are talking about.
I started by creating a creative online resume here: www.lewmaster.com.
I ran a short test replying to some craigslist ads and referring them to Web Contempo (old version) for skills and experience. Well, the old version of this website looked like any old web design company – bullshit services, boilerplate copy, etc. Primarily, it doesn’t make sense because when you respond to someone’s ad with a link to a commercial website, they are probably going to be turned off right away because they could have easily gone out and found a company to work with if that’s what they wanted – but that’s not what they wanted, they wanted to find a person. So I created that online resume to refer them to a Person, not a Company when I reply to a listing.
Another piece of the puzzle was redoing this site. For the past 5 years, I did all my blogging on a separate site, with a similar name, and had this site set up like any old boilerplate web design company. The fact of the matter is, Web Contempo is not a web design company. I AM WEB CONTEMPO. It’s me. And I am not a boilerplate web design company. I am a freelance web developer, consultant, and entrepreneur in Minnesota. So it was very important to me to update my site to reflect that.
This is also where the blogging part comes into play. I may not be the greatest blogger ever, but via my half-assed attempt at blogging over the last 5 years, I have met some people and made some good connections, with a very minimal effort. So I believe that by expanding on that, I can naturally develop some new, great business relationships and JV opportunities – which is really what I am looking for.
Web Contempo is the Center of my business. Everything I do comes through it, and it is important that it is a reflection of me – including the blogging piece of the puzzle.
So I spent last fall getting my core established. It was a long but fun process that required a lot of thinking.
Last November, I began a small-scale attempt to begin developing new business connections. I started back working Craigslist like I had done so many years earlier. I instantly developed 3 new connections that just between those three could probably keep me busy full time for the foreseeable future.
I found out about a crazy business called www.tweaky.com. I filled out an application and got an auto response saying they weren’t taking on new developers. After having it on my mind, I found the email address of the owner of the company and appealed directly to him to hire me on as a developer. He did, and it is an amazing company to work with that always has plenty of work available to fill in the cracks in my schedule.
I also did some messing around on Fiverr which I will elaborate on in the near future.
Between all of that, my initial testing had me going from working 15 hours a week to 15 hours a day within the span of about a week, and making considerably more money than I had been making by sitting on my ass looking at my Adsense earnings 10 times a day.
From here on out it’s just testing and plugging away. I have no shortage of new ideas, and while I don’t have the ample amount of free time now that I did in prior years, I am determined to continue to push the envelope and build my reputation.
It has taken me almost 6 months to rebuild Web Contempo – you probably wouldn’t know based on the fact that it’s only 3 pages and a blog right now, but I’ve been through tons of iterations and blew the whole thing up and started over many times.
Now that it has finally been deployed, with this post being my flagship post for the new site, it’s all downhill from here.