On Failure and Bouncing Back

success_through_failure(Warning: at just over 3,200 words, this is easily the longest article I’ve ever written. Future articles won’t be nearly this long and tedious, but this is an important part of the story of this site, and needs to be told in its entirety.)

I recently read an excellent article on failure, and it helped me to resolve how I was going to explain something that not a whole lot of people have gone through online.

You see, the first question I asked myself when I started this project was:

How are you going to help others build their businesses when your own online business failed…twice?

And indeed it’s a tricky question, until you dig a little deeper. It’s also a question I want to answer publicly, since my intention is to be as transparent as possible.

So here it is, a very public failure, and the learning that has come along with that failure…

As I mentioned in my last post, I made my first $1.60 online in April 2003. Throughout 2003 and early 2004, I built a collection of sites that were similar to my original site. They weren’t as successful as that first site, but combined they made a few hundred dollars a month.

By early 2004, I was cruising along, earning several hundred dollars a month, occasionally hitting $1,000. My goal was to keep building these little passive niche sites until I was earning enough to leave my job, which was predicted to end in the spring of 2005. My early sites were monetized by affiliate programs, while later ones were monetized by this brand new invention called Google Adsense.

Adsense was an amazing thing when it first came out. No one had to buy anything, and you could still make money! I loved it right from the start. I saw Adsense as easy money. In a sense, falling in love with “easier” money was the first subtle step off of the golden path.

Little did I know that the Emperor from Star Wars was lurking behind the shadows, waiting to draw me in.

Traveling the Path to the Dark (Black Hat) Side

In the spring of 2004, a truly amazing new piece of software was released. It was called Traffic Equalizer, and what it did (at the time) was sheer genius.

Though Google had introduced the “Florida Update” in November 2003, keywords still mostly ruled the search kingdom, and keyword stuffing still worked fairly well.

emperor

Knowing this, a software developer by the name of Jeff Alderson figured out that the ultimate way to build a keyword-rich web page was to build a page full of search engine listings. After all, it made sense that a top 10 page of keyword results would be full of that specific keyword, right?

He then created a program that accepted any keyword you entered, scraped the top 10 results from a search engine, and built a web page on your site covering that keyword.

His software allowed you to literally build a 10,000 page site in less than an hour if you had 10,000 keywords to give to it.

The search engines, having not seen anything like this before, were ill-equipped to do anything about it. Traffic Equalizer pages shot to the top of the rankings for almost any mid-level keyword you could throw at it. Those who had the requisite business knowledge and could quickly scale out became almost overnight millionaires.

The temptation was too great to resist. I jumped in with both feet.

The Rise and Fall of an Internet Marketer – Part I

While I didn’t become an “instant millionaire” as some others did, my income did climb very quickly – to the point that when my job ended earlier than expected on December 15, 2004, I joined what was (at the time) a very small group of people who were making a full time living on the internet.

I did manage to have my first 6-figure income year in 2005 (with a still best-ever $390 Adsense day in July 2005), but by fall, the writing was on the wall – Google was wise to our game, and our sites were starting to sag in the rankings and make less and less each month.

success-failureI knew that the ship was sinking, and that I needed to get off of it. This would have been the perfect time to go back to building my little passive niche sites (which were still chugging along, though ignored, and making several hundred a month).

But as I was preparing to do that, I stumbled upon a little website of a guy who was writing groups of 10 articles at a time, and selling them to people to re-use. This gave me an idea. I contacted him and asked for permission to use his idea (which he granted). I then determined that I could write 250 articles each month, and sell them to a limited membership of people (300 was the number I settled on) for $47/month.

So I set about building my first-ever sales page, and tried to find some launch partners. This wasn’t too difficult, as the internet marketing world was so small at the time. I was fortunate enough to have Allan Gardyne and Andre Chaperon as my primary launch partners. Article Lightning launched to the public on October 25, 2005. Within 24 hours I had filled almost half the memberships.

Allan And Andre launched the site to their readers on October 28th.

I went to bed that night, and woke up the next morning to 339 subscribers.

I quickly put up a waiting list page, and pondered what to do next. I had just launched what would become the forerunner to the PLR article market, and I was in way over my head.

Death

Things got off to a great start the first few months. Members were happy and I was supplying them with good content.

On December 20, 2005, I got a call that my grandfather had very little time to live. I got on a plane to see him one last time, but he passed away while my plane was in the air.

I was devastated. We were very close, and it hit me like a ton of bricks. The combination of his passing and just missing out on an opportunity to see him alive one final time drove me to the depths of depression.

By mid-2006, it was clear that Article Lightning was in trouble. The quality of articles had slipped, my depression meant that I had zero interest in promoting the site and finding new members as some drifted away, and most importantly, better funded and more experienced businessmen were entering what was now known as the “PLR article” space.

 

These people were marketing machines, and took the concept in directions I had dark_pathnever dreamed of. Though I finally woke up in late 2006 and attempted to rebuild, the damage was done. In April 2007, I announced to my remaining 75 members that I was shutting the site down.

By this time, I had sold most of my little passive niche income sites, deeming them “too small” for a guy who had found two different ways to earn 5-figures a month. In the spring of 2007, my bad breath affiliate asked for full control of their site back.

(Originally in early 2003, they had offered to let me use the site, which they owned, to see if I could make some money with it. But the agreement was that at some point in time, they would ask for the site back. They did this in January 2007. I can’t complain. I was able to make almost $20,000 from “their” site over the course of nearly 4 years.)

Without many options and with most of my income gone, I took a job with my affiliate partner as the Affiliate Account Manager. I thought my previous experiences would lend themselves well to the job.

I was wrong.

After 6 months, it was clear to both of us that it just wasn’t a good match, and I ended my time with them in early 2008.

I wasn’t sure what to do next. I thought about getting a job, or maybe going back and building some of those little passive niche sites (in the summer of 2007, I built a new bad breath site to replace the one I had to give back to the affiliate partner, and it was making about $400 a month by this time.)

But far more interesting to me was this little loophole I’d just found in Google Adwords…

The Rise and Fall of an Internet Marketer – Part II

I had long been amazed at the amount of money some internet marketers brought in in certain industries. But my biggest fascination at the time was in the area of anti-spyware software. Stories of people earning 6-figures per month were rampant, and I decided that I wanted to take a shot at it.

Google-AdwordsAt first, I tried some of the typical lead-in, presell techniques and had zero success. Then one day on a whim, I decided to clone the vendor’s site and run it as my own on the Content Network in Google Adwords.

Like the Article Lightning project before it, I had accidentally tapped into something that I didn’t fully understand, but all of a sudden it was 2005 all over again. I had my first $1,000 day on April 11, 2008 (my 38th birthday) and it resulted in my second 6-figure earning year (after doing it the first time  in 2005, my income had drifted to about $40,000 in 2006 and 2007).

I still remember exactly what was going on when it all came crashing down. It was November 2008, election day in the U.S. My dad was at the VA hospital recovering from surgery, and we were watching the Presidential vote tally on TV. I hopped onto my laptop to check my income for the day. What had been $300-$400 a day on a consistent basis was only showing $65 that day.

I knew immediately that the jig was up. Just like in 2005, I had used a loophole in Google’s system to earn a living, and that loophole was now closing.

By February 2009, my income from that venture dropped to zero.

With about 6 months worth of living expenses in the bank, I knew I had a little time to rebuild, so off I went. I took a look at that little passive niche website that continued to chug along, earning me $400-$500 a month despite having been totally neglected for well over a year, and thought about expanding it or building more like it.

But I’d always wanted to write and sell my own ebook, and that seemed like a more interesting opportunity at the time, so off I went. (I hope by now that you’re picking up the common thread that has woven itself throughout this story!)

The Article Bully Domination System

I’m very proud of the Article Bully project, and wish it were still mine. I learned a lot and would do so many things differently now.

(Full disclosure – though my name is still on the product, I no longer own it. This has been a source of contention between myself and current owner for some time now. I link to it here for the sake of being transparent and offering the complete story.)

I spent four months planning, outlining, and writing The Article Bully Domination System. It was a product born of what I knew to work, and had seen work in my own limited testing. But mostly it was written about the website of my closest friend online, who had stayed focused and built up a huge authority website over the course of (at the time) 8+ years.

 

I knew his system inside and out, and since he had no interest in writing about his methods, I vertical-book-1chose to do so. Amazingly, he was completely fine with this. His attitude was, his material was good enough to stand on its own and withstand the potential onslaught of competitors. (An attitude that eventually took a strong hold inside of me as well.)

I released the book in June 2009 to very good reviews. First month sales were over 5-figures. It helped a lot of people, and I derived more joy from that than anything else I’d ever done online (a bit of foreshadowing for the future).

Oddly enough, the only negative review I received was from Chris Knight – the owner of EZineArticles.com. I thought this odd, as the process laid out in the book was exactly what Chris proclaimed that he wanted – submitting only quality, focused content to article marketing sites to receive quality backlinks in return. The great Panda update of 2011 revealed that EZineArticles had developed ulterior motives as the years went by. Like many of us, they became overly focused on higher levels of income, to the detriment of nearly everything else.

In fact, by mid-2009 it seemed like everything in internet marketing had become all about the almighty dollar. The landscape was changing. Internet Marketing was hitting the mainstream, and new products were flooding the market. My sales tailed off dramatically in July, more so in August, and by September I was in panic mode. My customer base wan’t large enough to support a funnel of products, and I was struggling to bring new people in.

It was also about this time that the FTC actually got involved with setting guidelines around what internet marketers could and could not “promise”. It all began to feel like a circus to me, and I wanted out. I didn’t want to be involved with what was quickly becoming the 21st century version of snake oil.

So I sold Article Bully to another internet marketer in September 2009.

Flailing, Resignation and Change

By this point, the only income I had left was – you guessed it – that little passive niche site, still humming along with no love from me. It finally dawned on me that the answer to my long-term, stable income problem had been right in front of me all along, and that I should have just kept on building those little sites for all those years instead of chasing the “next big thing”.

Unfortunately, this realization came too late.

I had run out of money, and I had also run out of time to rebuild my online income. I had to go find a job. But by late 2009 the economy had completely tanked, and unemployment in my area was at 13.5%. I had also been out of the workforce for 5 years. I sent out over 150 resumes, and didn’t receive a response from a single employer.

Had bad was it? Until now, only my wife knew this. I applied to In ‘n Out Burger (a west-coast fast food burger chain) at nearly 40 years old, and begged them to let me sweep the floors.

No one there returned my calls or responded to me either.

To pay the rent, I had to do the one thing I didn’t want to do. It still breaks my heart to this day.

I sold my beloved little passive niche website.

 

925oclock_largeThe proceeds from the sale meant I had enough to pay the rent through April 2010. However, by this time I was so jaded from my online experiences that instead of thinking about rebuilding yet again, I was totally focused on landing a job.

I found one on April 26, 2010 – just as the last of my money ran out.

For 18 months, I worked (fairly) happily as a Human Resources Generalist. But several things were eating away at me.

I knew the right way to earn a long-term income online. I had done it consistently since 2003, and didn’t fully realize it’s power until it was too late.

I also truly loved the helping/teaching experiences that I had (briefly) through the Article Bully project. I had long dreamed of starting a blog to help others, but between a lack of self-confidence (“why would anyone want to listen to me?”) and a fascination for the latest “shiny new super-secret Ninja technique”, I could never get anything off the ground.

The social web 2.0 revolution also caught me off guard, and being fairly introverted, I fought it for the longest time.

As time rolled on though, and as my mind cleared from the years of chasing “easy” online money, I started to see the whole period of time with greater clarity. My successes, both short and long term, were easy to see. The mistakes and missteps were glaring. I had learned SO much over that time, and had experiences to share that few others could possibly know.

I knew I had to come back, one more time.

“Today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.”

That brings us to today. It is Wednesday, February 22, 2012 as I write this. For the previous 6 months, I’ve been dabbling in a few passive niche websites in my (very) limited spare time. Between my work schedule and commute, my job takes 55 hours a week of my time.

In spite of that, I’ve still managed to build 3 little websites that have averaged about $150-$200 a month over the past several months – using methods that are 95% the same as the ones I used in early 2003.

After nearly a decade, these same old time tested methods still work. Nothing fancy. No secret techniques. Just a few select tools and a plan – a plan that I will be sharing with you here. I will present a site building plan that I will also be using in real-time during the months ahead.

But instead of following someone who has never done it, you will be following the plan of an Oogway-whiteinternet marketing veteran who has had both success and failure, been lauded and bloodied along the way, who understands both the joys and the pitfalls of “living the dream”, and who has a story to tell, lessons to teach, and a plan to (freely) share.

At its best, internet marketing led me to having a beautiful home in the hills over looking Las Vegas, with a brand new Harley-Davidson motorcycle in my garage. At it’s worst, I was begging for a job at a burger joint.

Difficult as it many have been at times, I would not trade my experiences for anything in the world. Without them, I would not be standing (err….sitting) here in front of you today. I would not be able to offer what I plan to offer to all of you.

This site will be 100% free. Nothing will be for sale here. The only item I will ever “sell” will be a free ebook for the price of an email address. Expect to see that in late April 2012. I will eventually list 4-6 products that I use in my own business on a regular basis with affiliate links. If you choose to purchase these products, I will receive a commission payment that will help facilitate my continuing efforts on this website, and I will be forever grateful.

I will also transparently track and release my income every month – not only from my passive niche sites, but from this blog as well. I want to be another example in a (happily) growing cadre of people who freely give their best to their readers, expecting nothing directly in return.

I hope my story (and this site) will resonate with you for many years to come.

Okay, enough of the autobiographical stuff. Let’s get started!

53 thoughts on “On Failure and Bouncing Back

  1. John says:

    Great story, Mike – thanks for sharing it. I see an awful lot of similarities with my own internet marketing “evolution.” Not only the black hat stuff taking me off track, but I was even one of the early members of Article Lightning.

    In fact, I think I still have all those articles filed away on a hard drive somewhere :-)

    It’s interesting how the stuff that worked a lifetime ago in internet years still works more or less the same today, isn’t it? It’s too bad we didn’t understand that a lot sooner and just stay focused.

    As for the In-N-Out Burger “confession” don’t let that bother you. Speaking as a major Double Double fanatic for whom the nearest In-N-Out is a 12-15 hour drive, I can think of much worse things to be doing than working where they serve the best burgers ever ;-)

    • Mike says:

      Hi John,

      That’s true! But I don’t know if I could have kept up with those kids half my age working at In ‘n Out. They work their tails off!

      One of the biggest things that hasn’t changed over the past decade is the desire of people “live the dream”. Having lived it and lost it, I’m hoping to accomplish two things:

      1. Get people excited about the fact that the dream is possible, achievable, and well worth the work!

      2. Put in people’s minds that achieving the dream is not easy, requires continual work once you’ve “made it”, and is full of pitfalls and traps if you don’t know what to look out for.

      I see signs of this industry starting to mature, (or at least splitting into two camps – the sellers and the teachers). I very much want to be one of the teachers, if enough people feel that what I have to share is relevant and useful. :)

  2. Tom Ewer says:

    Mike,

    This is one of (if not THE) the most fascinating IM stories I have ever read. What a ride. I can’t wait to read more content!

    Cheers,

    Tom

    • Mike says:

      Thank you Tom!

      What a long, strange trip it’s been – full of the kinds of things you never hear about in those “get rich quick” late night infomercials!

      I know it will take me a little time to “find my voice” on this project, but I know I’m finally in the right place, and doing the right things. I can’t wait for the weeks and months ahead.

  3. Rita says:

    That’s quite a history. Thanks for the share. I look forward to following your blog.

  4. hey mike

    i love reading about peoples journeys through failure and success because it shows the enormus amount of determination you have to see things through

    these days i think people give up way to easily, becaus as soon as the slightest bump in the road comes up most people get de-railed and give up

    ive always believed in the saying “if something is easy to learn then its not worth learning”

    especially when it comes to things about improving ones life

    as you well know mike failure will and does happen but its how you react to it is what is important. when all the smoke clears it all comes down to one thing really and thats how bad someone wants it. if they want it that bad then they will succeed and do what ever it takes

    your failures are very valuable mike as you probably know that yourself now as your now a lot more experienced as to what works, what doesnt and where you should be focusing your efforts

    good stuff mate and keep at it :-)

    paul

  5. George says:

    That’s some journey, Mike!

    I was really ‘feeling it’ as I read your post.

    They say that all learning is good learning and that we learn the most from bad experiences. There are many stories of people making it then losing it … Donald Trump for one … it’s great to hear that you have the attitude required to succeed once again in the very near future.

    Be lucky,

    G.

  6. jjhealy says:

    Thanks for sharing Mike, your story and honest is a revelation, look forward to your further posts

  7. I enjoyed reading this, Mike. I’m in a very similar situation. I was making six figures in 2007 and 2008 through a loophole and then it crashed down on me. I’m now making niche sites, which seems like the most solid way to build a stable living these days online.

    I look forward to following your progress.

  8. Mike, Superb thought provoking article, I really do believe that blogs like this are the way forward In Internet Marketing.
    Honesty, Transparency and Accountability are the 3 thinks good marketers need and you have them.

    Good luck….

    • Mike says:

      Thank you Mark!

      I know that we’ve followed similar roads over similar periods of time. The difference is that you were smarter than me and figured it out much faster than I did! ;)

      I believe that honesty, transparency and accountability are the way forward. At least I certainly hope that’s the case, because that’s who I am at my core, and I don’t want to do this any other way.

  9. meiling says:

    Mike

    I applaud you for your honesty but more importantly for the courage to never give up. I know for one that I am fed up of the hype and therefore your story is a refreshing touch of reality. Great piece of writing…and oh yes I am a subscriber!
    Best wishes
    Meiling

    • Mike says:

      Thanks Meiling!

      For a period of time, it was starting to look like the “hucksters” were going to overrun the internet. It’s fantastic to see that strong, ethical voices are finally being heard in this industry. I will be proud and honored if I can ultimately become another one of those strong voices truly helping others.

  10. [...] I have just read a blog post by Mike Long who is someone who I have known online for a long time, and I really want to draw attention to the [...]

  11. Tiffany says:

    Thanks for sharing your story. I always find it interesting when other online business people share their stories and most of the time you see that it is an up and down journey. Glad you are back to “working online” and going back to something you know you are successful at.

  12. HaroldF says:

    Interesting story Mike …
    If there’s one thing I’ve learned from you (or about you), it’s that you’re NOT a person that stays down for long!
    I think it’s going to be very interesting and inspiring, to follow someone who’s walked the walk, through the up and down “valley of hills” in IM ..

  13. Todd says:

    Mike,

    This is one truly inspiring journey you have shared. Thank you very much and I can’t wait to see what you have planned for the future!

    Todd

    • Mike says:

      Thanks Todd!

      It’s funny…for years I always worried about whether or not I would have enough material to keep a blog going. Yet at the moment, I’m struggling to write down all the ideas I have quickly enough!

      I hope the content I have planned will be valuable and useful to you. :)
      Mike recently posted..On Failure and Bouncing BackMy Profile

  14. Hi Mike, Great article here. It does remind us all really that the fundamentals are much the same as they have always been…

    And indeed reminds me a little of Aesop’s fable about the Tortoise and the Hare, which is one of my brother’s favourites.

    It is all so easy with Internet Marketing to get sidetracked with the next big thing and I think that is probably the one thing that makes the road to internet marketing success so littered with failure.

    Taking us back to Aesop build your business slowly but surely and you will soon be overtaking the hare!

    Reminds me to go back and spend a bit more effort on my niche sites! And thanks so much for sharing your story, and indeed Mark for pointing me in the direction of it!
    Justin Wheeler recently posted..My Kindle BookMy Profile

  15. nico says:

    Reading your stuff on wpgm is always an education mike. Thanks for posting this-you can certainly have my e-mail address becaues you are one of the good guys. I have no doubt that a year down the line you will be in a great postion once again and this time with a sustainable model.
    Nick

  16. Sandra says:

    Wow! You are a really good writer. This was a great story even if not so great for you to live through.

    I look forward to reading more here. I’m definitely signing up for your list.

    • Mike says:

      Thank you Sandra!

      I’ve always loved to write, but for years was worried that I would run out of things to say. Fortunately, I seem to have a list list of topics this time. I hope you find some information here that is useful to you!
      Mike recently posted..On Failure and Bouncing BackMy Profile

  17. Tess says:

    Bravo, Mike, that was a brave post!

    I’m looking forward to your ebook and future inspiring posts.

    Best wishes
    Tess

  18. [...] I have just read a blog post by Mike Long who is someone who I have known online for a long time, and I really want to draw attention to the [...]

  19. Rich Russell says:

    Except for the success part, this sounds scarily familiar.

    I discovered that people were making money online at a time when I really shouldn’t have gotten involved in it. ( But that’s a whole other story and you don’t need to hear about my problems).

    The fact is that I did get involved and I was an opportunity seeker on steroids. I just couldn’t focus on any one thing.

    There was a time when I had some sites with Adsense on them. My monthly earnings were like an unsuccessful persons daily earnings but… they were on an upward trend.

    I failed to notice what was working and then I read about some guru saying that Adsense was dead. I believed him and went off to chase the next shiny object.

    This led to me spending a couple of years wasting a ton of money on one thing after another and getting nowhere.

    If I had built more sites and learned how to do it better, I could have spent that time making a profit every month and been much further forward than I am.

    IM is an amazing opportunity to take control of your life, especially at a time when a lot of people are finding that their safe job is not as safe as they thought.

    Unfortunately, it is tainted by scum and scammers. It needs more of us to tell the truth about it and help those people in need to avoid the pitfalls.

    I am happy to have my “story” and I wouldn’t change anything, but why go through that if you don’t have to.

    This is a blog that I will be reading and recommending.

    Rich
    Rich Russell recently posted..Outside And Slightly ElevatedMy Profile

  20. Jeff B. says:

    Mike, I too was directed here from Mark T’s blog.
    Your story is enlightening, and for myself, a newcomer, very motivating. I have had the impression that the rules of IM are always changing, primarily due to Google’s updates and influence on the internet. A lot of marketers come out with the latest work-around to gain first page status, then the rules change again. A lot of shiny, work-around, products get sold, and then can become obsolete within months or weeks. Your experiences prove that honest, ethical and value-filled content can survive the test of time. Thanks, Jeff.

  21. Maris says:

    It is comforting to know that you can get to where you want to be by doing what actually works (imagine that). Your story is a great inspiring lesson and reiterates (to me at least) that slow and steady wins the race. Looking forward to more content….

  22. Justin says:

    Hey Mike,

    I’m liking the site and this post is PHENOMENAL…really interested to see where you take this. Reading this I see that we share similar views on transparency and you obviously have a real talent for writing and getting your points across.
    Justin recently posted..Episode 11 AdSense Flippers Podcast: Maximizing Efficiency As Internet EntrepreneursMy Profile

    • Mike says:

      Thanks Justin!

      There’s been a confluence of influences that have brought this site into existence, and the work you and Joe are doing at Adsense Flippers has been a big part of that. I love what you guys are all about. It’s been fascinating to watch you take something that was more of a curiosity and side business to you, and turn it into something really special. I hope I’m able to provide the same kind of help to my readers that you have been able to bring to yours.

  23. [...] I have just read a blog post by Mike Long who is someone who I have known online for a long time, and I really want to draw attention to the [...]

  24. Darren says:

    Mike,
    Thanks for taking the time to write that post. Its an amazing story, You obviously have the skill set, to make it happen all over again.

    I look forward to learning how your going to do it.

    Cheers
    Darren recently posted..2 very easy ways to improve your returns in Investment Property in AustraliaMy Profile

  25. Dave Walker says:

    What an inspiring story! I’m still in my comparatively early days of IM, but I can certainly see parallels in my approach in that I’m looking for the ‘Get Rich Quick’ scheme while my small niche sites keep ticking along…
    This article was linked from Acorn Domains but I’m certainly going to take a look at the rest of your site to see if I can pick up any hints and use the benefit of your experience.
    Thanks!
    Dave Walker recently posted..Mobile phone recyclingMy Profile

  26. [...] free on the right. Thanks for visiting!(As much as I’d like to continue in the same vein as Thursday’s post, it’s time for us to get to work. For the next few months, Monday’s posts will [...]

  27. Hi Mike, thanks a ton for sharing your experiences of the past 9 years – thorough fascinating! I’d not be surprised if this one post of yours were enough to make your blog go viral. Looking forward to seeing how things shape up for you – I’ll be following your progress closely.

    Best regards
    Joseph
    Joseph Archibald recently posted..Over 40,000 unique Visitors Within a Few Months to a Site Which is not in the Make Money Online Niche – Gregory CiottiMy Profile

  28. Fantastic blog Mike and a great share that will resonate with many many people too.

    Shiny pennies & magic buttons are being promoted by many people and many are losing all their money by buying into the hype and oftentimes BS programmes promising success and delivering the opposite.

    I don’t class myself as an IM peep and have no idea how to setup or promote a niche site and make money from it – but I do work on the internet everyday sharing mindset magic and marketing secrets with solopreneurs so that they can get unstuck and achieve their visions.

    I am always me, totally authentic and say it as it is and I admire people who are willing to share a real story and use their experiences to help others too, which is what reading your story is going to do, it is so well written and is perhaps one of the first long stories I have read from start to finish without skim reading and thinking – “yeh right!”

    Look forward to seeing more great shares and following your journey Mike and thanks to MarkP for sharing the link to this website with me too.
    Carol
    Better known as the How2Girl

    ps – I am currently looking for interesting and captivating guests for the How2Girl.tv channel about to launch who want to give back, add value and share mindset and/or marketing nuggets with people and would love to chat with you about this if it sounds interesting to you?

    • Mike says:

      Hi Carol,

      Thanks so much for writing!

      I would be thrilled and honored to chat with you on the How2Girl.tv channel. My schedule is crazy right at the moment, but please shoot me an email via the contact form, and we can definitely work something out.

      The interesting thing about being genuine is that most people can tell when you’re being real and when you aren’t – even in the printed word! It’s one thing to be able to get a “sense” about a person when they are standing right next to you, but I’m continually amazed at how good the vast majority of people are at separating the BS from the truth online. I think, in any area of the internet where money is involved, that people are craving real, honest to goodness truth – even if it isn’t always what they want to hear.

      My goal for this site is to simply provide as many “truth’s” as I can about internet marketing, the online business lifestyle, and occasionally about life itself. :)
      Mike recently posted..Google Hates You…Here’s WhyMy Profile

  29. Beep Pocock says:

    Wow, what an interesting article. You really sound sincere and that is difficult to find in the internet game. I will be following your every word to make my blog sites as successful as yours – all the very best to your future.
    Beep Pocock recently posted..How To Grow CarrotsMy Profile

  30. James Hussey says:

    Glad to meet you for the first time (found you through a shared link on FB) – though it sounds like you’ve been to hell and back, meanwhile we have this in common: I started online in that same economic downturn (and if there were any In N Out’s here in Idaho, I’d have applied…).

    Glad to see you’re back in the saddle, hope your immediate future online kicks @$$. Inspiring story.
    James Hussey recently posted..My StoryMy Profile

  31. Jared says:

    What a fascinating story. It’s so hard to be a part of the internet marketing game and not be teased and titillated by all of the “secret techniques” and “loopholes” being promoted on a daily basis. But your story proves what we all know already… quality and determination along a straight and narrow path provides the long-term success we all strive for.

    I look forward to reading more and best of luck!

  32. PAULA says:

    THANKS FOR YOUR HONESTY ABOUT THE UPS AND DOWNS OF THE IM BIZ.

    AND I’M NOT YELLING — I JUST DIDN’T FEEL LIKE TURNING MY CAPS OFF.

    LOOKING FORWARD TO MORE.
    PAULA recently posted..Back on my grind: My new Kindle book, new website, new moneyMy Profile

  33. Tatiana says:

    Don’t give up, Mike! And teach us how to become a millionair! waiting for your e-book!!!

  34. Michelle says:

    A really interesting read! I hope you will be able to resist the pull of the “dark side” this time as you rebuild your online empire and that you can keep your focus on building up your niche sites this time around.

    Although I’m somewhat new to this game (less than three years), I’ve been at it long enough to know that in IM things are often unpredictable (especially if you rely primarily on search engine traffic). Even when you follow all the “rules” (or think you are, at least), you can still be slapped with an unexpected affiliate or advertising program drop or ban, big SERP drops and similar hits. Being able to adapt and rebuild seems essential in this industry. I’ll be following your blog with interest to see how things develop!
    Michelle recently posted..January and February 2012 UpdatesMy Profile

    • Mike says:

      Hi Michelle!

      Thanks for commenting! I really like your blog and I’ve followed you on Twitter. Hope you don’t mind.

      It’s ironic…even though this blog highlights what I’m actually doing while rebuilding my business, I’ve found that’s it’s a bit of a distraction from the site building. Between my full-time job, the niche sites, and this blog, well….there just aren’t enough hours in a day! After about 10 days, I realized it, and as a result, this blog isn’t growing or building up at quite the pace I envisioned.

      It’s frustrating, but I have to keep my priorities in order, and that means that I can’t give as much to this blog as quickly as I’d like. All the material I have planned out in my head is going to take longer than I’d originally hoped to end up here…but it will still end up here!

      The one part of this game that seems to constantly change is backlinking, and that’s where the ebook (when I finish it) will be primarily updated. But all the stuff leading up to that stays pretty much the same. I hope you’ll stick around and keep contributing!

  35. Gary says:

    Mike,

    Thanks for sharing… I see John made the first comment, he may think he has some of the Article Lighting articles around… I know I do! I burned them on a Gold CD and have them framed! just kidding!

    Check your email I attached a TXT file on a conversation(s) we had back in 2003.

    Keep fighting.

    We should all go back and look at the things which have worked for the past decade and do more of it.

    Imagine if we could go back 10 years and only built 1 site per year. No distraction of chasing backlinks, social media, article marketing, just focused on producing good content for our visitors and building a list.

    Where would we be now?

    Every year a go back and look over my “virtual real estate empire” and see that it all comes back to 80/20. 80% of income comes from 20% of the “real estate”… then ask myself why I wasted some much time on the 80% that produced so little.

    Now I keep my head down and focus. You’ve heard that from me a few times.

    Continue to inspire and share… we’re cheering for ya

    All the Best,

    Gary

    • Mike says:

      Thanks Gary!

      You’ve known me almost since the beginning, and it was amazing to read the text file you sent me from 2003. It’s crazy that I was basically preaching the same things back then that I am today. The difference is that you lived them, and I didn’t.

      For anyone who comes along and reads this, Gary is the best content marketer you’ve never heard of. He has been preaching the value of content marketing since at least 2003. He is also the inspiration behind my Article Bully ebook. He’s built one site for over a decade, and as a result it’s a powerhouse in a very competitive arena.

      Focus indeed…it’s probably your single biggest key to success. Thanks Gary….for everything. :)

      • Gary says:

        Mike,

        Flattery will get you no where!

        2003 … you had more hair then… But I still have a face for radio!
        Why we try to reinvent the wheel, I just don’t know.

        Many times when I get cranky I have to say to myself… quit whining… SHUT UP! and write 2 more articles!

        Stay focused.

        Gary

  36. [...] was nearly a year before marketers found an ingenious way to manipulate linking and Page Rank. The next search summer began in mid-2004 and ran until early 2006 (Ed says summer [...]

  37. [...] I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I’ve was fortunate enough to make my living online for a number of years. But I’ve [...]

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