In this market, some people think we’re supposed to have magical powers. Some kind of rags to riches story where I discovered some “secret” and today I’m making millions.
That’s the guru story pattern, but unfortunately I’d be bullshitting you if I tried to walk you down that road.
The typical story pattern would have you believe that everything I did was strategic. That it happened in some kind of order. Nice and linear – and all based on some magical power to grow blogs into big businesses.
But, those linear storylines are usually grade-A bullshit.
My story isn’t one of magical powers, but one of tenacity. It isn’t about rags-to-riches… it is just an average American kid who takes an untraditional path to making a living.
I’m not boasting big houses. I’m not driving some $75K car. I’m an average American who decided I didn’t want to go down the path most traveled. My choice of college degree would have me sitting in some cubicle somewhere if I chose to follow it. But, THAT PATH WAS UNACCEPTABLE to me. That’s all there is to it.
I’m a guy who makes a living online. I am married and have two beautiful kids. We live in a decent home. I drive an Acura. I get up in the morning, feed the kids and take them to daycare. I then work from home on my online business during the day – then quit and hang with the family once the kids are back home.
That’s my life. That’s who I am.
But, there is a backstory. And there was some kind of path that took me to where I am.
From Pushing Carts To Online Entrepreneur – My Story
My first job was as janitor to a hydraulics shop, cleaning everything from the kitchen to the toilets. I even had to clean the metal shavings from all the hydraulic machines. Then, I “upgraded” to a job at McDonalds. Yeah, I was the guy who took your hamburger order.
In school, I was basically a loner. You know, the “smart kid” who had no fashion sense whatsoever. Once I graduated, I guess I came out of my shell and came to be comfortable with people. I had always had a love of computers – perhaps partly out of a discomfort with people.
That hobby intersected with a twist of fate when I read an article in Yahoo Internet Life about how to build a website in 20 minutes or less. Before long, I was a webmaster of a beautifully horrible little website, complete with blinking text and animated icons. It was, however, the beginning of what would end up being my life’s mission.
Funny how it is often the small things which end up defining you.
College, Beer, And The “Cart Jockey” Life
I went to college and got a degree in Information Systems Management from the University of South Florida. During this time, I worked a college job at Sam’s Club. I started out as the “cart jockey”. You know, the dude who goes out into the parking lot to fetch your cart and bring it back into the store. Lovely, I must say.
Eventually, I moved “up” to cashier, then supervisor. During this whole time, I was working on my online business. I had started PCMech.com, a hobbyist technology site and had managed to get it up to a point where it was actually making me some side money. So, college, for me, was basically being a mediocre student, working at Sam’s, and shooting a lot of pool with my buddies and drinking beer by the pitcher.
I actually got to be pretty good at the game of pool. Of all things.
By 2001, it was coming time to graduate and get started with a real life. I was making enough money online to make Sam’s Club seem like a colossal waste of time. I had stayed with it for the social life, but eventually grew a brain, put in my two weeks notice, and quit.
I have not had a “real job” since.
But, Could Blogging Actually Sustain A Lifestyle?
That’s the question I was asking myself in August 2001 as I graduated from USF.
Most people I knew were looking for jobs. And, my degree would have had me being some kind of IT administrator, a coder or a database nerd. Probably sitting in a cubicle. Thing is, my friends were actively LOOKING for this because… well, looking for a job was what people were supposed to do when they graduated.
But, I didn’t want to sit in a freakin’ cubicle. And I was seeing some success with this side hobby of mine – blogging about tech. The question was… could it make me enough to live on?
I decided not to look for a job. I decided to pursue online business full-time. Of course, it helped that I could live in my parents’ house a little while longer. (See, I told you my story wasn’t exactly the usual guru story.)
The “Sale” of PCMech.com For $1 Million!
(and the HUGE reality check)
Now, imagine this. I’m still living in my parents’ house and I’m running this blog. Then, all of a sudden, I got an offer to BUY my tech site for a sum of a little over a million bucks.
This was in the midst of the dot-com boom and people thought that anything you did online was a pile of gold. And this company wanted to buy me out. Oh, HELL yah! So, I signed. You float a 7-figure number in front of a 21-year old kid and shit happens.
And… shit did happen. And it was called reality.
The dot-com bubble burst. The company that bought my site started to fold up and get into all kinds of hanky panky. They weren’t paying me what was contractually obligated and things basically… sucked.
But… I still controlled my site (even though I didn’t technically own it). So, I had a bright idea…
What if I sold something on this site?
And so, while I worked on taking my site back from this company, I created and sold my first product online. It was a CD with some ebooks on it (back when CD-ROM was still a big deal). I burned and labeled the CD right in my home office, took the things down to the post office myself. The postage workers got to see me as a regular.
I got my site back from the grips of this sinking company, learned a lesson about buy-outs (hint: stock options aren’t worth shit from a non-public company), then proceeded to expand my business once more.
The Turning Point for PCMech.com
Like any business owner, I wanted to make more money. And, like a lot of people, this eventually led me into the world of internet marketing. I started learning the art and practice of online marketing. What makes people tick. Conversions. Copywriting. All the things which bloggers usually don’t pay attention to.
… and I applied that stuff to my technology blog.
Rather than depend exclusively on advertising, I started to introduce products to my site, starting with that first CD-ROM.
I bought a ton of internet marketing training. And I applied it. And I saw results. It wasn’t million-dollar results, but it was results. Eventually, this little tech blog I was still running from a bedroom in my house was generating a six figure income all by itself.
By this time, I had a desire to scratch a new itch. To talk about something other than technology.
I had come to find online business and marketing to be fascinating. I was a student of it myself. I applied it. I went through a whole lot of trial and error. And I felt I had something to offer to the world of blogging (which still seemed stuck mostly in the world of banner ads as the main source of revenue).
So, in 2008, I expanded.
My Next Phase
Through all of this time, I was expanding on other fronts as well.
I met my wife, Malika, on EHarmony.com (we still have yet to be contacted for that commercial, guys ) We got married in 2007 and had our first child by the end of that year.
The birth of my daughter, Elyana, was a major turning point for me. See, I had already proven that blogging could sustain MY life, but now I had a family. So, my next trick: Could blogging sustain an entire family?
So, I turned that new itch into a new website. It came to be known as DavidRisley.com. I began actively blogging about blogging and internet marketing. Only, this time, I applied all of my lessons learned from 10 years of running a tech site into this new site. I did things right from the get-go. And the site grew a lot faster.
I also immediately went into product creation mode. After all, blogs don’t make money – businesses do.
I launched 3DayMoney, Blog Masters Club, Master Your List, the Inner Circle, and Time Master Formula. It didn’t take long for this side of my business to overtake my tech blogging financially, even with less traffic than my tech site.
Today, and Blog Marketing Academy
In 2012, I re-branded DavidRisley.com as the Blog Marketing Academy. I did this primarily to allow for expansion. I wasn’t interested, necessarily, in building up all this stuff around me and my name. I’m just a guy who decided to make a living in a non-traditional way – and I don’t proclaim to be any more than that.
I want to help others do the same.
Back in college, I decided that the 9-5 and the life in a cubicle wasn’t for me. Not everybody is cut out for it. There are people in this world who want to make the world better by fulfilling their own passions and following their own rules.
I’m here for those people. Blog Marketing Academy is here for those people. And to the extent that people choose the particular path that I have, that’s my mission.
I’m glad you’re here, and I look forward to traveling the road ahead along with you.