Discussion in 'My Journey Discussions' started by zen19, Aug 13, 2012.
Its 7.30am - I wake early these days - i've got a bigass whiteboard in front of me with a load of fresh code ideas that I want to implement today before the east coast of the USA wakes up. It wasn't always this way.....
Back around the time I left off this journal, life had become a bit chaotic; divorce, deaths, and brutal hedonism defined my days, all facilitated and greased by the easy and quick money that was arriving faster than I could spend it. For me it was the last days of the blackhat world. Before we even cover that we need to dive a little bit further back.
One of the greatest things about someone starting out in IM a decade ago - was the free traffic, mountains of the stuff. The monetization methods were run by shady CPA networks and clueless CPC agencies. It was the glory days of CC rebills, pin submits, zip submits; the wild west of marketing.
To this day one of the most amusing methods back then was the car insurance bait and switch. You take popular classified sites, scrape everyone selling a car, and mail them as a silly female saying that she couldn't manage to get an insurance quote for the car being sold via the portal her husbands job mandated they use. 'Can you try and see if it works for you.... I must be having a 'blonde' moment.....'. 10k people selling a car on an average day.... $2-3 zip submit offers... and BLAM you just made $3k in the space of a few hours. Sure you would burn offers, but a big % of the earnings were paid. I was hooked.
Now methods like the one above weren't stable and you always had to be developing a new method - 'thinking outside of the box'. Around seven years ago this type of method ceased working as companies advertising did random call backs to people filling in forms to question sources, classifieds took mailing and posting increasingly seriously and using third party sites in this manner changed from a breech of their terms and conditions, to 'unauthorized access of a computer system'. The wild west days of free traffic at volume had come to an end - many continued, but they did so in an increasingly illegal manner - this wasn't a long term game... better to move onto something new......
I wish to god I wasn't such a skid back then. All the hours I aimlessly put into hacking when I could and should've been doing IM. I jumped on the bus a bit late but I hope to make some sort of an impact. Threads like this will only help to motivate. Thanks for coming back and sharing the ride Zen!
Heh wait till i write up the next post, its filled with decadence and completely lost opportunities, due to my own hubris. Its easy to fall into a trap doing whats fun rather than productive. Most times especially in my case - it was an excuse.
inspiring to say the least, waiting for your next post
Oh nice to see you back my friend @zen19 last time you joined BHW out of nowhere, people thought you were hacked lmao.
WELCOME BACK !
I hope you open another 40M thread and achieve it , GL !
Not to be a duck, but did you really thought that you could achieve 40 million usd with that method above ?
Oh my buddy i was missing your avatar really.
Lol. Dont be a duck, but if you must... be a Peking duck with some hoi sin
The method above was the hook that made me fall in love with IM. It was simple, quick, and made what was then a months income in hours. As you correctly point out... it was never going to be a 40m method. It was however the 'ohhhhhhh IM is godlike' moment, and one that caused an inevitable drive to much bigger systems.
So as I understand from your post the easy and fast money fucked you up?
Happy to see you back! This was an inspiring thread for me early in IM.
So after a series of these smaller methods that burned fast and bright, I was frustrated and felt inauthentic. I was able to generate a comfortable month and now had money and some resources which were starting to build up - but I was only able to come up with and deploy a couple of these a month and as soon as I had them working they invariably failed. I've always held that your daily highscore [earnings] is not your single best day, but rather all the days profits in a month added and divided. If you don't make 30k profit a month - you arent a 1k/d IMer, and are not in the elite club.
RULE1: Be wary of the IM person who claims they make $xxxxxx a day - likely thats a single day and the result of weeks of planning and its non-sustainable.
Around this time I had started to make a few good contacts on BHW, and during a brain storming session, one had mentioned that he had a blog that linked to video streams of shows and movies. A few hours later BHWP was conceived. I had no real interest in 'blogging', what caught my attention was the possibility to automate a blogging system and sit back to a regular income stream that would last longer than the flash and crash IM methods I had run till that point. Over the next month I wrote a scraper that pulled links and sources from other blogs, wrapped this information into a database, and developed a remote publishing and commenting engine. Now I had the ability to rapidly - within 5 minutes - deploy blogs with thousands of pages of content and ongoing comments. Back in these days linking to content hosted elsewhere was a grey area untested by law in most countries. This system was eventually bundled up into a product/service, hey if it made us money.... for sure it would make everyone money. MISTAKE!
RULE2: If you want to make money - offering a service is about the worst way you can go about it. Its a pain in the ass dealing with customers, and a sizeable percentage of people in this world will have problems following the instructions to boil an egg.
Although linking to other sites which in turn linked to video streams was a grey area at the time, it quickly became clear that the the 'powers' would do anything to stop this activity. I was hearing rumblings of sites being taken down and a drive to magically switch copyright infringement from a civil matter to a criminal matter. We made the call to pull the plug. Months later this was proven correct when Megaupload was raided by goons with guns - interestingly DotCom still hasn't been extradited. More interestingly linking and indeed publishing copyrighted material for financial gain is fine if you are google or facebook.
Running this service taught me one very important lesson - never ever do an online business where you have to interact with customers, its painful, time consuming, and doesnt make much money. Sure some people will make it work - but I HATED it. One good thing did happen as a result. One of my clients got in touch when I shut down and was very sad, when I asked him why, it turned out that my $45 subscription service had been making him 5 figures a month. It takes a lot to impress me, and this did exactly that. To this day I still chat with this former client every day, our most recent business has seen us invest 250k over the course of a few months just in data gathering. We would work together on many projects from that moment onwards.
RULE3: Trustworthy partners are hard to find, don't be in a rush to find them. When you do find one, work hard together, its easier to make money online when you have someone you can bounce ideas off that understands the market and business model. IM can be lonely. Don't be lonely.
With the flash and crash methods and the idea of running an online service firmly in the rear view mirror. It was time to do something new. I'd found a real affinity for automation, code, and storing data - something that would become invaluable later on.
The next chapters will see a breakdown of what was really going on from the start of this journal till I went away. The business model behind it, and what the life of a young IM who was making buckets of money looked like.
As I thought, when an old member (from the golden era) comes to talk, it must be a refreshing experience. Easily one of the best articles I have seen in the last few or many (I lost count) years.
I am exactly like you, but without the mistakes part (till now at least). Since, I started IM (2009) I had ONE STRICT RULE. I won't invest my time in any project unless it checks 3 points:-
So, my main focus is always growing my daily income. Creating automated system, close the loop, search for a new project and repeat. I have reject dozens of projects which contains dealing with customers or offering a service. Glad to see I was right as I felt I was a unicorn. It's definitely not for everyone, very time consuming and uncontrollable.
Sustainable seems to be the hardest to control as the nature of internet changes rapidly. However, I always look for filling people need, this, the system interface might develop but the core will always be the same.
Can't wait for the upcoming post...
It was time to go big.
I've always hated SEO; it provides no indication of whats working and whats not working, at-least not in a timely manner. Its constrictive and forces you to buy into the degenerate hive mind of Google. Buying traffic on the other hand - this provides instant results which can be measured, tested, optimized, and profited from.
A key problem with buying traffic from reputable sources is that your super optimized and somewhat shady landers will not get approved. You certainly can't incentivize users to complete actions and make purchases. You will also tend to build up a nasty digital footprint of complaints - and occasionally get the 'internet warrior' [fat neckbeard/catlady in mommys basement] who attempts to locate your hosting and get you shut down.
This can be overcome by fragmenting your interactions with end users. Stage one is a 100% legit site built for capturing name/email address, you can validate at this point. Stage one will also provide you with the broad 'niche' for that user - are they looking for a house to rent, a job, a car to buy, disability information etc etc when they stumbled into our web. You can then use this email to build up a profile across subsequent stage two site interactions... whats their address, their income level, do they have insurance, a car, whats their credit, their education, their experience levels. Each site interaction asked a new related question to build a better picture. All of this is mapped back into a master database.
Stage two sites also contained 'payloads' - we start pushing users to complete sales/offers and because these sites are unrelated to our stage one sites, we can be quite forceful about this.
Some of the older BHW users will be nodding and suspecting that the initial traffic was classifieds. Ask yourself though, what about ALL the sites other than classifieds, can you advertise directly there? During these glory days we were able to squirt adverts over xml apis into a large variety of sites that for the most part never showed up on the IM map. You also might consider, just what exactly is behind all those 'free iphone' email submits.
Over the course of 2 years we gathered around 2.6million users all from the US alone. It cost us around 20c per user captured and on average we earned $1 per user in our system. We probably could have earned much much more - but hubris set in, mistakes were made, and the landscape of IM was changing once again.
More on that in my next post...
Your posts make me sad and have me reminiscing about the early days of cpalead, adscend media, and adultaccessnetwork. Damn you...
@zen19 bro ..
True is your posts made me sad and I really regret about not knowing much/having less resources in early days, life would have been different.
Not a key problem. A key seperator between good and very good players.
I wish I was a bit older back in the days since I was already then with a mind of a IM marketer, just with a less larger scale, lol.
Anyway, I skimmed over your journey and I can say that it really hits deep to read your experience. Waiting for the next post!
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