Welcome to the Eventual Millionaire podcast. I’m Jaime Tardy and today we have Billy Murphy on the show. Billy owns a company called Blue Fire Poker and they’re an online poker training company, which is super cool. He also has ecommerce stores and is launching a new site that I want to talk to him about today. Thank you so much for coming on today, Billy.
BILLY MURPHY: Thanks for having me.
JAIME TARDY: So poker. How did you first get into poker and then how did you start a whole company based around poker?
BM: Basically I started playing when I was in college and just kind of, was making maybe a dollar or so a day and I was really excited that you could actually make money at it. So I started figuring out people were making real money at it and thought I could kind of make a decent amount of money, started hiring coaches, started getting pretty serious about it and then it just kind of took off. By the time I was out of college, I was already making decent side income and then shortly after college I decided to play professionally.
JT: I read your stuff and I know poker is a skill, right, because I have no poker skills. I have a poker night and I am so bad at poker, it’s horrible. How did you sort of get into going from playing on your own to this is something I am going to do as my job?
BM: I played a lot of hands so I got a decent sample size. I knew it wasn’t just short-term luck and I was getting lucky doing it. I talked to a lot of other people who were doing it for a long time and kind of got an idea of what I needed to know, what books I needed to read, what forums I needed to be on. I just kind of got serious. Every day I wrote down what I won or lost, was studying hands, was going over hands with coaches. Did I mess up on this hand? Did I do this wrong? You can go so deep into all the logic behind the plays you’re making that I knew there was a lot of skill to it and just kind of kept asking questions, kept hiring people. I just kind of progressed from there.
JT: That’s crazy. How much time did you spend training to get to professional level?
BM: I think it was my junior year, I think junior year of college. I would play in any downtime. My school didn’t have a lot going on. We were kind of in the boonies. There wasn’t a lot going on there so it was school and poker.
JT: You know, typical school and poker.
BM: I spent a lot of time just kind of in between classes or just at night just playing poker. Probably several hours a day and after, when I started playing professionally it was, for awhile, it was pretty much all day every day. When I wasn’t playing, I was studying or asking coaches questions. There is a lot of work that goes into it. It just isn’t playing cards and making some money. It’s a little harder than that.
JT: What is it like? How much does a professional poker player on average make?
BM: It varies. There is a huge range. For the most part, if you’re a pretty good professional poker player and you’re putting in the hours you need to, most players are making six figures. It’s a benchmark. It varies though because obviously if you’re happy making $50,000 and you want to put in that amount of work, that’s fine too. Most of the guys that I hung out with in poker circles were all making six figures.
JT: So how long did you do that before you were like okay I am going to build a business instead? To me, does it get boring after awhile playing cards, especially for a long period of time.
BM: Yeah, totally bored and that’s why I got out of it. You can only get certain hands so many times before you’re just like all right.
JT: Can I have someone else just do it? Can I outsource this?
BM: I wanted to train a team of guys and all that stuff. I did it full time for about three or four years and then I was done with it.
JT: What made you decide to actually start a business?
BM: I’ve been wanting to start a business for a long time. I had little tiny businesses when I was kid and that was always the route I was going and poker was kind of the opportunity to kind of build a bunch of capital to be able to get into business or invest it or whatever I wanted to do. That was always the route I was planning and it was just a matter of finding something I really wanted to do. Poker was fun and it was awesome. I mean I traveled around, just hung out, worked for home, but it was still a job. It was still a grind pretty much. Any time you wanted to make money you had to sit down and you had to work. In poker, if you’re not focused in your work, you’re going to lose money.
JT: No looking at Facebook later?
BM: Then I just found, you know, found what I thought was a good opportunity and just decided to change paths I guess.
JT: So tell me about what that’s like. You had small businesses when you were a kid but starting an online poker place, how did you even start that? You told me before this you’re not very technical and I was helping you technically wise and I’m going you have an online, you have more than one online business, how do you do this?
BM: I’m horrible at anything technical. I can’t do anything. I had friends help me out with a lot of that stuff starting up. That was the scary part and when I was thinking about going into business, any ideas I had it was all a lot easier to do online. That probably made me wait an extra year or two before doing it because I was like I don’t know how to run an online company. I don’t know, I couldn’t start a blog, if I wanted to. I still can’t start a blog. I have somebody help me do that. That was the barrier for me is hey I have no idea what to do. I just ended up outsourcing the development and things like that on eLance and just kind of started putting things together and realized that there’s people who do what I can’t do and you can just outsource it and hire.
JT: So you started that in 2009, right?
BM: January 2009.
JT: So that wasn’t even that long ago that you started that. So tell me about what that process was like. How long did it take you to go from contacting developers on eLance to actually a profitable company and what did that look like?
BM: The development was horrible. We hired an Indian development company. Communication was very hard. Just working with them in general, I’m sure you know if you tell them one thing and then they give you something back word for word, in their minds, what it should be and it’s just totally wrong. If you say put a button on the page, the whole page is a button. That’s a random example, but it was very hard working with them and I didn’t know what I was asking for really. It was even harder because I had no idea. I said I need a website, I need it to do this, this and this. They’d give you back something crazy.
It was basically nine months with a big break in between where they were frustrated and they wanted more money and all that. It was not fun. I mean it’s a website that probably took two maybe three months to launch and I waited for nine. In terms of the profitability, within 24 hours we were profitable after launching.
JT: What? Let’s talk about that some more. So tell me, was it a big planned launch craziness to go for that first 24 hours?
BM: No, not at all. So we kind of went against the internet marketer, like pre-launch and pre-sale people and build a list. We had no list. We had no pre marketing. I was our strategy actually to basically not tell anyone that we were doing it because we wanted to come out and basically have people be like oh my gosh we can’t believe they’re offering this stuff and just sign up right then. I don’t really know if it helped more or less. It seems like from all the studies in internet marketing that it probably would have been better to build the list but at the time it seemed like a good idea. I had never done internet marketing stuff.
JT: What you don’t know didn’t hurt you and hey you’re profitable in 24 hours so we’re not going to tweak that. That was really good. Like usually, you’re not typical let’s make sure we say this, usually people launch a website and they hear crickets. Were you already a big name in poker? Was there already sort of something that got people to go to your website that first day?
BM: Basically I didn’t make any of the videos for the site. I signed a lot of the pros. So, for anyone listening, we basically train people how to make more money playing poker, play better and we do screen captures of professional poker players’ screens. We mike them up and basically it’s like you’re looking over their shoulder and they’re leading you through their thought process and why they’re making the plays they do. All the guys that were doing that for us each were well known in the games they played and were big winners.
They made a lot of money so people wanted to hire these guys and they wanted to get access to them and they didn’t really, most guys can’t afford to hire these guys and/or they just don’t have time in between playing and traveling and doing whatever else they do. So we put together a team of guys we knew people wanted to learn from and just kind of basically offered it.
JT: So how did you get those guys? It sounds like you were like okay celebrities will start to pull in our people. So how did you get them? Did you have to pay them large sums of money for this and that sort of thing?
BM: I knew a couple of the guys just from being a poker player. Then I approached the other guys with the idea of launching the site and I think at least three or four of them, I gave equity, gave shares in the company to and that was something I think other companies hadn’t offered them to get them onboard and I think that helped. I kind of look at it as we almost act in some degree as a broker for the poker player that wants to learn, the poker player wants to teach and the site is kind of just the middle man. So the poker players, they have to charge a certain hourly rate for coaching but we can actually pay them more because we can serve more customers. Customers can get access substantially cheaper because we’re serving so many customers. So it kind of works as a win, win, win for everybody.
JT: Are you one of the first that did this? Was there a competition around there?
JT: Oh really?
BM: It was actually a crowded market. I don’t think it was saturated because people were doing it. The reason why we came in is we kind of saw the need of higher quality. There was a lot of people teaching poker. There’s a lot kind of doing the same type of model. I think when we got in, I can’t remember, but it was probably somewhere from 20 to 30 people doing this on different sites. Obviously there was only a couple main players and we thought we could get in and become one of the major players.
JT: So did you do a lot of competition research? Find out what they had? What these people had tried to figure out? Was there a lot of research involved beforehand?
BM: Yes, I had never, even though I was a poker player and this is the perfect service for me to sign up for, I had actually never signed up to another one of the sites. I basically, if you want to hear a story about how the idea came about in the research, I was at my buddy’s in Scottsdale and basically I got, I don’t even know what happened. I got really sick where I couldn’t, like a huge pain in my stomach. I couldn’t move and I was on his couch for three or four days and just laid there and had nothing. We had been to an entrepreneur conference out there so I had ideas going on of things I wanted to maybe do and I couldn’t do anything.
JT: And you were couch bound so all you had to do was think.
BM: I tried playing poker and even like moving my arm around like moving the mouse it hurt. I literally just sat there. I got a piece of paper and just wrote down ideas that I wanted to do. I was familiar with the poker training industry. I wanted to do that. Basically I still have them, pages of the yellow binder paper, whatever it is.
JT: Old school paper.
BM: Pages of like all the things the other people were doing, all the things we could do, all the players that were not making videos for sites that people wanted to see. Roughly how many customers I thought we could get based on the market size, based on what I knew other people were doing and it’s literally like five to ten pages filled of all this broken out and actually I looked at it a year later, I guess two years later probably, the year after we had launched for projections for what I thought we would make and I think we were in within like five to ten percent of what it was. Obviously that was a lot of luck. I mean it was just kind of random.
JT: I don’t know. You had it written down. It’s kind of funny how that works, you know what I mean? That’s super cool. That’s awesome. So you did do a lot of research and apparently it came to fruition. How did it go from there? So 24 hours you’re profitable, this is sort of your first company, right? So how did it go from what it is then within the first couple weeks of launching to what it is now and if you don’t mind talking about numbers of either how many people you have on the site or how much money you’re making or anything like that, just throw some numbers at us too.
BM: So basically the startup cost of the site, a couple extra costs, basically I think it was $20,000 or a little less to start the whole thing up. I think within the first 24 hours we had already made, it was probably less than 24 hours I think because we had launched in the morning and by the end of the day we brought in $30,000 our first day.
JT: Seriously? That is wholly impressive.
BM: That’s with no, in the internet marketing world, there’s no affiliates, no PBC, no nothing. It’s straight word of mouth and viral marketing. That was it.
JT: And 2009 it wasn’t like a crazy huge Facebook, Twitter kind of a thing. So that’s even more impressive. Do you know, this is quite awhile ago, but if you were to look at your analytics, where did they call come from? Was it people telling other people and that was it?
BM: Yes, it was all poker community. It was all poker blogs, poker forums, poker news outlets. All we did was I would send emails to people who ran poker sites when it came out and said hey we just launched this and it was kind of the reaction I was hoping for like holy crap this is awesome. You have all these guys making these videos. It was kind of we knew people wanted to see them and to get them all kind of on the same team was big.
JT: So did you know or were you scared that this wasn’t going to work? I mean you just dropped $20,000, the day before you launched, of course the day after you were fine, but the day before you launched were you like oh crap I could lose 20 grand or were you so sure of this idea that you knew it wasn’t going to fail?
BM: I was pretty sure because it was I felt our team was better than the others out there. I felt our marketing edge was going to be a lot better. Those two things, it was just I kind of compared, you know, this comparison of even the pros on the other sites were making videos. Our pros, I looked at the marketing and what they were doing, just comparing those two things. I had an idea of how much money some of them were making so I knew the upside was insane and the downside was almost nothing.
JT: Not too bad. Now you sent me a video, which I think was super cool that was, you can probably explain it a little bit better because it was an amazing press getting marketing thing. So go ahead and tell me the sort of thoughts that you had before you did this so that way we sort of know the thought process you went through to get it.
BM: Basically I guess within a week or two before there was a lot of talk in the news about the regulation of poker, whether it should be legal and a lot of the debate came around whether it is a skill game or a luck game, game of luck. There was already a lot of chatter and I said maybe we could get in the news for basically kind of jumping in and arguing it’s a game of skill and kind of proving it. I had the idea of challenging Obama to a game of poker and offering him a million dollars if he could beat one of our pros and we would donate it to the charity of his choice and basically as a way to prove if it’s a game of luck then you’ll gladly take a 50/50 shot at a million dollars for the charity of your choice and if it is a game of skill you’ll easily be able to see it.
That’s kind of the point we’re making. If we’re willing to give up a million dollars, we wouldn’t just take a chance on a 50/50 luck shot. There’s obviously skill involved and so Fox news picked us up and put us on the news and I didn’t even know that we were on. I started getting emails and the poker forums were talking. Hey Blue Fire Poker was just on Fox. I was like what? I didn’t even know it was going to air. That was pretty cool.
JT: So first, did he accept the challenge? Second, what did you get from that? Did you get a ton of traffic? What sort of came about?
BM: In terms of traffic we didn’t get a huge spike not directly from the video but I think what it did it gave us, it was almost a second round of kind of media coverage so there was the news that this poker company offers a challenge but there was a second forum of all the poker communities being amazed that a poker training site was on Fox news and so that got us kind of this buzz in the poker community. I think this was like six to eight weeks after we had launched so a lot of people still had no idea who we were. This kind of put us on the map in poker like if you haven’t heard us before now everybody knows about us.
It was kind of like we were on their side, like we’re trying to help the cause of poker and so all these guys kind of got behind us. We were kind of in their corner and they saw that. I think that helped a lot. It wasn’t just a big spike of traffic. It was more of probably a little boost and then a continued boost through the poker forums and poker communities after it happened.
JT: Now how exactly did you do that? Did you email Fox news? How did you get them that information because I know a lot of people ask about how do you actually get press? Like how did you land that?
BM: I emailed, I remember I had no idea how to do it. I spent like days just all day/all night just emailing any email address with a media company and then there was a guy that was helping get in touch and I said, “Hey I have all these ideas.” I had all sorts of other crazy ideas I thought would get picked up by Fox and some of the big ones and they didn’t. I was surprised. Some of our other ones I thought were better and then finally Carol Courtney Freehold wrote back and said this is interesting, send me more details or whatever and then I still had no idea that she was going to run it. A day or two later it was on the air.
JT: That’s awesome. Congratulations too. That’s huge.
BM: Thank you. I’m sure there is way more efficient ways to go about it but I had no idea. Now I know there’s actually, I don’t know if there is books or places you could go to get this contact information but at the time it was just shooting in the dark basically.
JT: Nice, awesome. So let’s talk a little bit about what you’ve learned between now and then. Now the cool thing is that you have a very niched community. Like you said, when you say something, the whole poker community can talk about it. So that’s a really great marketing thing anyway that you already have that a lot of businesses don’t. Give us some ideas, like internet marketing tips that you used to grow this that maybe other businesses could use to grow their online companies too.
BM: It helps to have people kind of with their own followings. You don’t have to build a following. We do have new guys come on that don’t have a following. We’ve done things to help build that. We actually had kind of like this poker media or video company that we did interviews, we ran shows and things like that. When we would have new pros come on, we’d put them on our shows. If they weren’t known, if they didn’t have a following, all of a sudden hey that’s the guy they just had on that, so now guys who weren’t known are now known and they’re known as Blue Fire pro and a guy you can learn from and all that stuff.
So we’ve done things like that. We’re outside the box that our competitors weren’t doing. We’ve done a couple of other viral promotions. But honestly, the biggest thing has been just how can we create more value than anybody else and it’s kind of your own marketing. It’s just people do it for you then because your value is there and it’s just customers saying you’ve got to sign up to this. We charge $30 a month. If you’re a professional poker player and you can’t make that back, it’s crazy. I think that’s the main thing. It’s just so cheap for the value you get and that’s why people, word spread and talking about it.
JT: How big are you? I don’t know if you can talk numbers as far as how many customers you actually have but at $30 a month, you know, it could be a small company, it could be a huge company. If you could give us a range of numbers or something like that, that would be great.
BM: To give you an idea, we do roughly, we’ll say roughly a million dollars a year and we’ve served thousands and thousands of customers. We charge a sign up fee and it’s $30 a month. A lot of people will sign up for a year at a time or six months at time. It has been kind of a good following.
JT: That’s awesome and it’s an online membership site. So I know you do more than just that though too. You talked a bit about ecommerce sites and stuff like that. Can you tell me a little bit about that and what made you get into that?
BM: I got into that, I have a buddy who was doing really well in ecommerce and early last year just decided I’ll try it out, see what happens and started up one store, bought another one and both of them were doing pretty well so I figured that I would try to keep scaling it, keep growing it and kind of went from one or two to probably by the end of the year and nine months we had 15 to 20 stores out there.
JT: Really, okay?
BM: They are all really tiny. It’s not like they’re big stores. I think we were doing maybe three grand a month in revenue our first month and then maybe we got up to close to 40 by the end of the year a month. So it’s not a massive business. They’re all like pretty tiny stores. Now we’re starting to kind of narrow our focus because we were all over the map and now we have a couple ideas of okay these stores can do really, really well and now we’re looking to maybe go to China to create some of our own brands, get a lot better margin and then we can kind of build a different type of business rather than just drop ship.
We’re doing a lot right now, it’s very tight margins. It’s not something that if you scale it, with tight margins like that, it’s just not the type of business I want to run to do that. So we’re looking at a slightly different route with that now.
JT: First, because there’s probably a lot of people listening going like that’s interesting. He made three grand the first month in an ecommerce store. Is it like a niche site or what sort of, first, what sort of companies are there? I know you probably can’t go head into details or anything like that but if you could give us sort of a general idea and then like some stuff that you’ve learned in trying to grow that because it seems like, I mean if you can take it and now you’ve done it 15 times, you probably have a lot of really good knowledge in there on exactly what to do to grow them. So I’d love to hear some of that; so the niche and then that.
BM: Yes. The first one I got into, we’re into a lot of random ones. So there is not one specific one. The first one I got into was a baby store.
JT: Oh really?
BM: I bought that on Flip Up. I remember thinking about it and saying it’s so cheap it can’t be real and I remember talking to my buddy like hey they’re trying to sell it, I think they were selling it for $6,000 or something. It was making close to $1,000 a month and I was like there’s no way this is real because I would buy everything if you could actually do this. He had never bought anything. He started everything from scratch so I talked to the lady who was selling it and she seemed legitimate. I was like what is wrong with this that she is selling it for that price. Worst case scenario I lose some money. Best case scenario I find out you can do this and just keep scaling and figure out how to do this. Worst case scenario it’s you can kind of paper a lesson.
So basically I got off the phone with her. We agreed to, I think we even got her down to like $4,000 so I bought the site for $4,000. So I am thinking $900 to $1,000 a month and I think within a couple days first sale, second sale I was like wow this is legit. I’m making money on it. I think shortly after I started one from scratch and then that one started making some sales after a couple months and slowly I bought some more, started some more and I was acquiring from, I’d go after people who had a ton of stores and I would email them and I’d say, “Hey do you have any stores you’re not doing anything like with? Like just junk stores and I’ll take them.” So I would take a package of stores that no one was doing anything with and it was funny because you could literally change one or two things on a site and increase the sales a huge amount.
Some people just didn’t have even a phone number or they only had PayPal and couldn’t even take credit cards. Within a day I mean you could increase the value of the site pretty easily just by trying some things and so I had random people give me throw in sites that weren’t doing anything. I had one throw in site in a deal I bought seven stores and there was one store they had bought for $18,000. It wasn’t making sales anymore. I said, “Why isn’t this making sales?” I guess the supplier had cut them off because they weren’t a brick and mortar. For some reason, a lot of ecommerce stores the suppliers want you to have a store front.
I called the supplier. I tried to convince them to let us supply it or supply it for us an online store. They said no. They actually didn’t say that we had to own the store front so I called the store area saying, “Hey we’re looking to get into this business but the supplier is saying that we have to have a store front” and we’d say, “We don’t want to compete with you, will you help us out?” The second lady that we called said, “Yeah, I don’t want any more competitors.” They acted as our store front. We went down there and bought some products. We put one in the store there and we took pictures.
JT: Store front, yeah!
BM: We had a store front so we took pictures, sent it to them and then I think last month or the month before I think that store that wasn’t making any sales I think we did like $8,000 in sales. So those are like the type of things we were looking for just little things that people were missing and they weren’t paying attention to so we did some thinking and a couple of phone calls.
JT: That’s awesome. Anybody could have done it. It’s a great idea, don’t get me wrong, but anyone could have just solved that one problem and apparently done so much better with it. So tell me though how do these sites get traffic? You said you built some on your own. Are you doing search engine optimization? Are you doing pay per click? What sort of internet marketing stuff are you doing to build the traffic?
BM: It’s 100 percent, I shouldn’t say 100 percent, probably 98 percent SEO. The reason is pay per click we really can’t get profitable on most of the drop ship margins. So it’s too tight and that’s mainly the reason we’re looking to go to China and you basically double up your margins and then you compete. If you’re getting 25 percent margins and your suppliers are getting 50, well you can’t compete against them. You basically have to pay twice as much to bid against anyone with margins. With SEO, I outsourced, I probably hired, when I started I didn’t know SEO at all.
So I basically would hire people off oDesk and I’m talking like I would hire 50 to 100 of them and I would hire them for a couple hour task, even though I didn’t know what I was asking for. I was just like hey I need links. I need to keep going up, right. Then I would have, I would do like rounds of cuts. I had the other people help cancel each other out. I’d give the other guy’s work to the other guy. Is this stuff good? They’d say yes or no and why and I would learn through asking all these oDesk guys who made like $2.00 what we should be doing and what we shouldn’t. I’d track other rankings based on who I was hiring.
JT: I was going to ask – you don’t know about SEO how can you even verify that they did what they did. That’s hilarious that you did that.
BM: Yes, so I had no idea and I slowly started to learn just by asking these guys and then I would start to hire. I’d hire some people off forums who were U.S. based and knew what they were doing and then I would kind of give a map of what we were doing and say hey does this work? What was cool is I don’t know if you, you probably bought packages like SEO packages and stuff from people before. So I would buy a package from someone and every time I wanted to buy a package from someone I’d get them on Skype and I’d also pick their brain for a couple minutes and they’d talk to you because you just bought a package. So I would get a package plus free SEO consulting and call up my oDesk guys. That’s kind of how I scaled up the SEO efforts. We did get crushed by…
JT: That’s what I was going to ask. That’s exactly like Panda last year, Penguin which, for anyone that doesn’t know what this is, Google went ahead and did a ton of new updates where it changed SEO for just about everybody and screwed quite a few things up. The point was to make it better. Google is trying to make the sites be good because some crappy ones are high because of crazy link, especially Black Cat link stuff. To preface so everybody knows what we’re talking about, yeah, go ahead.
BM: So we did get hit pretty hard. I think we went down to maybe like 20 month. We were doing 20k a month in revenue. We basically got chopped in half for the most part. I’m almost glad that it happened to some degree because we were so focused on just kind of growth and scaling and weren’t really focusing on, I kind of went against a lot of my own rules. Like hey I wasn’t really building anything that was insanely valuable. I was beating Google and playing a numbers game because I knew I could spend X, start this site and make money and keep rolling that into new sites.
I’m almost glad it happened, especially I am glad it happened now as opposed to if we were doing 400k a month and we got chopped in half that’s a different thing. So I am glad we are kind of tweaking our direction now as opposed to kind of waiting to get hit later on.
JT: Cool. So what are you doing to sort of, because I know the people that do know about SEO are dealing with Penguin too. Do you have any insights on getting back or are you still working on it or do you have any good info for us?
BM: No, I don’t have any great info. We tried a couple of things. Actually my buddy, he just went or it’s this weekend is going to a post Penguin class with one of the top SEO guys out in Arizona. I may either fly out there if it hasn’t happened yet or I am just going to pick his brain after the session. We’ve tried a couple of things. We’ve done, Erika actually suggested some press release stuff so we tried some press release stuff. We haven’t seen a rebound yet from this stuff but we’re kind of tweaking different stuff. One of the guys that I found on oDesk way back when said he knew how to do it and so I gave them a couple of sites and said, “See what you can do.”
Basically we worked out a deal where if they return them then we pay them a certain amount based on if they can return them or not and they only get money if they do it. I don’t lose anything for them to try a bunch of random stuff on it either. I’m trying to go a couple different ways we’re trying out for different sites and whichever one works then we’ll kind of just do that on every site.
JT: Replicate it. Nice. What I am hearing from everything that I have heard so far is that what you do is you’re in constant learning mode. You find people that know how to do it, you try to learn as much as you can enough to give it to people that know exactly what they’re talking about. Is this something that you sort of do all over? It sounds like every business you’ve had so far you look for people that are really good at what they do and you hire them. Is that pretty much your process every single time?
BM: For the most part. I like to learn enough so that I know what questions to ask. With the SEO stuff, I didn’t want to stay totally dumb in terms of the SEO stuff. I wanted to know just enough so that I could hire and ask good questions to people and know that they’re doing a good job. But yes, I think if I am really good at XYZ I should spend all my time there and I think a lot of people, a lot of aspiring entrepreneurs, they spend all their time doing all these things that don’t make them any money just to either save money or because they think they need to know everything and a lot of people will spend time just programming and just learning SEO, but those are replaceable skill sets that you can get anyone to do and the ability to learn how to execute and make money on an idea or how to market above other people, those are ideas that are much harder to hire for and much hard to, you can’t just hire someone and say, “Hey I have this business idea, go make it money.”
You need those skills. I think when a lot of people are trying to start out they don’t focus on those skills at all and basically anything I get into I just ask a lot of questions and basically do the next round of research. Then I have more questions and then next round of research based on those answers and just kind of keep going until you say trying to get this light bulb and you got to see it all I guess.
JT: Awesome. Now do you have any tips for us? Some people that are listening have VA’s. I mean I have a bunch of VA’s and we’re used to it but some people are sort of scared about even venturing into that water like oDesk and eLance and those sorts of things. Give us three tips that you’ve got for either just starting or the best ways to get the most out of your oDesk people because I am sure you probably found some really crappy oDesk people and you probably have got a lot of really good tips.
BM: The best tips – I would say, in terms of oDesk specifically, if anybody has bad feedback, more than one or two, just don’t even mess with them. I will only even try out people who have almost perfect feedback. The reason is if they have a couple of dings, for the most part, people don’t leave negative feedback because they don’t want negative feedback back and all that. If they have a couple, they probably have a lot more so I only even start out with people who have basically perfect feedback. Give them a test and ask them, be really clear with them because they’re not, English isn’t the first language a lot times so it’s not, if you say I want this you may get something totally different back because it wasn’t clearly explained.
I think that the biggest thing is give them a test because if you know they can do the test and they followed your directions, because I gave a test, I remember when I first started I think I hired like 20 or 30 people and literally only half of them could even do the simplest send me back this and then I’d like to talk to you about the job. Only 15 of them either, randomly 10 guys happened to go on vacation or something and all this stuff happened within like the first day. That’s not someone you want to do with. A lot of people I hired you’ll find out they make a lot of excuses why they’re not around and they’re never around so if they’re making that within the first couple days, it’s not going to change. They are going to do it from then on.
JT: Now do you pay them for that or is that, sometimes I’ve done it where I’m like for a transcriptionist transcribe me this many minutes and they’ll do it for free but it depends. So do you hire them and actually are paying them per hour and then let them go or do you just have them do a test as like part of the job interview kind of a thing?
BM: Yes, lots of times I’ll ask them a certain question about how to do something. If they answer it in a way that makes sense and is what I ask, then I’ll hire them and I’ll usually hire them for I think I was doing five-hour jobs, a specific little job to see if they can do it. In the beginning I would see who got more done. In the beginning when I only knew I needed links, I was just doing it based on how many links they got me, which obviously wasn’t a great way to do it but that’s how I was testing it because some guy will get you ten links, odd comments or something and the other guy will get you 100. Then you realize maybe this guy is doing ten times as much work. It’s probably a bad example.
JT: With links it’s a bad example but I understand exactly what you’re talking about.
BM: So you get an idea of how much work they’re going to do and all that.
JT: Awesome. So now we’re going to move a little bit because you’re actually launching a new site, right, and I want you to tell us a little bit about that because I think everybody listening might be a little bit interested in that too.
BM: Yes, I’m launching a blog. Basically it’s kind of weird to go from a business to a blog I guess.
JT: Yeah, a blog is just a marketing tactic but go ahead.
BM: It’s foreverjobless.com and basically I kind of wanted to, the main goal of it, two main goals is I’d like to kind of help people and help teach them how to make money and I think there’s a lot of make money type of advice maybe I don’t really agree with and it’s more kind of like how to sell an eBook. People will sell eBooks and I see too much of that so I kind of want to get out and say hey there are all these ways to make money that people aren’t really thinking about, people aren’t talking about.
The other goal of it is to basically just meet a lot of other entrepreneurs. I kind stay totally behind the scenes and I don’t know a lot of entrepreneurs on the internet. I think it’s probably a bad idea to stay just working by myself and not talking to a lot of other entrepreneurs. There’s probably a lot of people I want to meet out there and maybe people who will benefit from meeting me or exchanging ideas. Those are the main drivers behind it is just to, there’s a lot of people that I probably would like to know offhand that I don’t know are out there right now.
JT: Awesome. What is it mostly going to be about? Is it about your story or are you just going to be writing articles? What can people expect when they go there, when it launches, it’s not actually, actually when this comes out live it will definitely be launched, right? We’re going to line things up internet wise so it will be ready to go so people can actually probably go right now. But go ahead and tell us what they can expect.
BM: I’ll probably have a lot of in depth stories about the building up of certain businesses. How I did it. I guess a lot deeper than hey we launched and we did X. It’s kind of what led to that happening and kind of all the details about it in different stores and basically a lot of potentially, in talking about some friend’s businesses, how they’re doing stuff and documenting a lot of that and kind of just a lot of articles written on theory of money and why a lot of people are thinking indirectly about how to make money, how to get started and kind of trying to tweak people’s though processes on why they’re not able to make money, a lot of people starting out and what they can do to change that. A lot of it comes down to risk. A lot of people view things as risky and they’re not really. So a lot of things based around that.
JT: That’s awesome. What I love too is that when you emailed me you were like I don’t really know much about blogging but I am starting this blog and it sort of goes through everything you said before. I was like I can help you, I can give you some advice. It’s so funny because it’s that same thing of you’re going I don’t really know how to do this. You’re completely fine with admitting I’m not sure what I am doing but I am starting and people are willing to definitely help you out and that brings you forward too. So that’s super cool that you’ve been able to do that. Awesome. So I wish you the best of luck in your launch definitely.
Since we’re pretty much wrapping up, I want to ask what’s the last question I always ask and that’s what’s one action that listeners can take this week to move them forward towards their goal of a million?
BM: I guess the biggest thing they could do, so I don’t know if this answer will work because it’s maybe not something they can do but I guess maybe really evaluate where their value is. If they’re looking to start up a bus right now, where is your value? If you don’t have a value that’s better than the competition and/or fills a niche that they don’t fill, then you probably need to start over because I think a lot of people are just trying to make money like someone else and you can’t really just kind of copy people and make money. I mean you can but that’s not really, for the long term, it’s not the best strategy. So really sit down and kind of break down your idea.
Is there anything in there that beats the competition? If there is, can you get in front of the customer base that you need to? If you can, those are really the two things to figure out and if not, start over with a new project.
JT: So more or less get a reevaluation. I’d say that’s really important for people even if they already have a business and they’re not really sure if it’s working okay. If it’s not really profitable or if they’re not even making very much money at all, it should be something that they should definitely go through. Awesome, Billy. Thank you so much for coming on. Tell us the website again, how we can get a hold of you if you’re on Facebook or Twitter or anything like that too.
BM: Website is foreverjobless.com and I’ll have that email probably on there.
JT: Nice. So thank you so much for coming on. I really appreciate it.
BM: Thanks a lot for having me.
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