Every Tuesday at 6, all Summer long, we used to meet at the local library, 10, 20 of us or so for a ride 15-20 miles on the TART Trail around Grand Traverse Bay. Summers are short in Traverse City, so the first April evening it's warm enough for a ride, it's time to get out and make the most of the good weather while you can.
For the most part, we were a collection of middle aged has beens, unemployed, divorced guys, doing "as little as we could, as much as we can" - not too worried about earning a small fraction of what other guys our age were earning - we shared a common sensibility that they were all working too hard.
There were typically more women than men who joined in these rides. I think they liked our company. The ladies were mostly all divorced too, but generally had a good bit more financial security than the guys. You might say, they "divorced well".
Combined, we knew ourselves as the Spontaneous Activity Group or "SAG". I didn't like this name. It rhymed with "hag", and just didn't seem to have a good connotation to it. But the group formed around 2005 and really remains somewhat in tact four years later. The bike rides are gone however.
That's kind of sad, but not so much. I learned I get a better work out when I ride solo, and I enjoy the solitude. I can be a loner and do it pretty well - not sure that's a good thing, but given the course my own life has taken, it's surely not bad either.
But the point of this story is more about the friendship I made with one of the guys in the group, mostly on these rides. I didn't know how to take him at first. It seemed he had all the girls in the group eating out of his hand, which was great in itself, but I thought he was a little hard to get to know as another guy.
So one day he rode up beside me and just started talking. He asked me what I did and I asked the same. He started telling me about designing websites and learning about "affiliate marketing", which I had never heard of, and at first I thought it was a hoax.
Later he told me he made a few thousand dollars the first year he did it, and then made about $25,000 the next year - which was the most recent. I didn't think that was too bad, but I knew that wasn't even enough to cover the child support I was paying at the time, so I didn't think a whole lot about it.
Over time we found we had some common interests and got to be better friends. Back then, he was also becoming a bit of a relationship guru, kind of a "Guy Coach", trying to help the losers who were striking out with the girls. I never would admit that was a problem for me, personally, but I had been just overwhelmed by a girl who did things I never expected from a woman before.
So he gave me some good advice, we had some good laughs and talked a lot about his new business. We also shared a common love for good bourbon, bought guitars and started learning about the same time, and pedaled around together from time to time musing about the trouble we could still cause even though we were a couple of pretty old guys.
But the big thing that always kept our conversation going was the internet marketing - affiliate marketing - in his case, TurboTax. That was the big winner. So he'd gone from $5,000 to $25,000 to over $60,000, now things were beginning to take off for him.
At this point, I quit being a casual listener and started paying serious attention. I started employing some of the same tactics for myself. I kept follwoing his progress and it got mroe and more interesting as time went on. Another year passed - now the number had gone up to $250,000 - $250,000! All from simple internet marketing and a good bit of persistence.
Now remember, I wasn't the guy making all this money, I was watching how someone else did it. It was amazing. I give him a lot of credit. He said he did it so he didn't have to work hard. But he did work at it - with dedication, and very single-minded focus. He knew his plan of attack to a tee, and executed it, working at it day by day.
Short, simple articles; references back to the affiliate in each article; posting the article in the best place to get the maximum exposure; bookmarking, bookmarking and bookmarking. If the key to a good real estate investment is location, location, location - he seemed to say that the key to good web strategy is bookmarking, bookmarking and bookmarking.
He did, however, also focus on content. Keywords - what keywords were being searched on waht search engines, what combinations were close, how much competition was there in the same space. etc.
In a few hours each day, he built a platform that reached a point where it almost can't moved. Over about four years, putting in 3-5 hours each day, he made it completely to the top. In the midst of the worst economy in the worst state in a lifetime, he had accomplished what no one, not even the man who did it, would have thought could be achieved.
So what's the end of the story? This past year, earnings of over $1,000,000 - almost $2,000,000. Not bad for a guy who gave up his little woodworking shop a few years back to make less money and take life easy - not bad at all.