This story is the journey of a college dropout that started an online business in his college dorm room from scratch and grew it to a business generating over $100,000 yearly…
Hey guys, my name is Kevin and Tyler has given me the opportunity to tell my story about how I’ve built an online business from scratch starting out in my college dorm room with no experience.
It all started in 2004 when I was 16 years old. My friend had been making a couple thousand dollars per month as a poker affiliate (referring real money players to poker sites). To a teenager, as you can imagine, “a couple thousand dollars” monthly was a huge deal and I was wondering how I could do the same.
He gave me a little bit of background info on how he got started and he referred to a forum that would help. I did some research but at 16 I had no background in running websites and didn’t even have a clue how to get started. I eventually gave up and continued on with my life.
3 years later I was in university in my hometown and one of the business classes I had to take was Computer Science. This was basic computer science that included created basic html websites that we would upload onto the university server. I had created my first very basic and very ugly html website and learned how to use an FTP program to upload a website.
While creating my first website in class I remembered about my buddy who was making money online back a few years. I went back to my college dorm room where I was living for the school year and searched for that forum I had signed up for in the past. My account was still around from when I was 16 and signed up – “Poker69” – what a great forum name.
Anyways I started doing a bunch of research on the forum and almost right away starting asking a bunch of very basic questions on how to get a website online and running. Luckily for me there were some very great people posting on the forums and they didn’t shut me out of their community, like I notice a lot of forums will do these days. Instead I got a ton of help and advice and figured out the basics, including buying a domain and getting a hosting account so that I could have my first website online.
I created my first two websites, which were both poker related. The first was one directed towards my university and the other was just a general poker site. I kept asking questions and doing my own research about SEO so that I could have my websites found by people in Google. I remember spending like 5-6 hours a night with my dorm room door shut just working away. I became hooked when my first website went live.
Making My First Dollar Online
Almost right away I made about $200-$300 on my first site, but the catch is that it was all from friends signing up for poker sites through my referral links. The second site would take a couple months to make it’s first dollar, but when it did I remember being ecstatic. Someone in the world actually searched in Google, found my site, read my content, and signed up for real money under my referral link. The first $100 felt like a million bucks.
I had been reading blogs with people claiming to make a couple thousand, even $10,000+ per month online with their websites. At that time I felt like it would be nearly impossible for someone like me to make that much money, and I would be happy with even $500/month.
My first website I created targeted my universities name and they didn’t like that, so they had me shut it down. It didn’t make any money outside of the few friends I referred so that wasn’t a big deal. I continued to work hard on my second website and ended up making a couple hundred dollars for two or three months in a row.
Then something else happened that I remember thinking was insane. Someone contacted me through the forum I would post on and asked if they could purchase advertising on my website. I had known that people bought ads from other sites, but I didn’t think anyone would be interested in my site. And at the time I was thinking they were going to offer me maybe $50-$100. They ended up offering me $800 for a handful of ads on my websites pages and again I was ecstatic. Of course I accepted right away.
This just made me more excited to work on my websites and I would continue logging 5-6 hours straight on my computer reading, writing, creating, and asking questions. The only problem with this is that I wasn’t putting much time into my school work, and it was showing with my grades. I did enough to just get through the first year of university and by that time I was making about $500/month.
A Bold Move
Instead of getting a summer job that year I decided that I would work on my own websites, and then also do some writing work for others to earn some extra money. My full time summer job the year before had me earning about $400 per week, and I figured I could write about 15 articles at $20 a piece each week and make just as much money after adding in my own website’s earnings.
I remember people would always ask me if I’m getting a “real” job (which continued for a few years as well). In my mind this was a real job. I was making just as much money as I would have doing any other summer job, and my websites were making more and more money each month. By the end of the summer I had created a few new websites, and they were earning over $1000/month combined.
I decided to take the year off of school and continue to build my online business. That ended up being one of the best decisions I’ve made in my young life. Throughout that year off I grew my websites and was making probably $3,000/month on average. I figured it would be smart to go back to school for an easier college business marketing class. I would learn marketing and business and have something to fall back on in case my income disappeared.
While in my first year of that two year program I continued to work hours at a time on my websites in my room. At the time I was living with three good friends so it was tough to choose work over stuff like watching sports or playing Xbox, but I was so focused on my websites and making a living working online that I buckled down and continued to put in the hours. I had my poker websites going and started to create sports betting sites as well.
A Game Changer
Another game changer for me. I had an offer on my network of poker websites. One of the big time affiliates had contacted me via email asking me if I was interested in selling any of my sites. After some negotiation I ended up selling my network of websites for $80,000 (it worked out to $79,472 after fees). The decision was tough as those websites were generating a lot of revenue, but I had lost my passion for poker and started getting really interested in sports betting.
Being 21 years old at the time I could have gone a while living off that money and could have bought a lot off stuff for myself and lost motivation in my websites and my business, but I knew even with that money I would continue to be focused. I paid off my car and invested most of the rest of the money back into my sites over the next year.
2010 was my first year making “six figures”, but that included a website network sale that wiped out a lot of my monthly revenue. I knew to get back to six figures in 2011 I would need to keep the daily grind going. I went back to school in September of 2010, but a few months in I decided that with where my business was I needed to put 100% of my efforts into it. I ended up dropping out of my college program in December.
Dropping out of college was a huge decision for me. At the time, I spent hours and hours debating it, asking others for advice, and eventually came to the decision. I drove to the college and filled out the paper work to drop out of my classes. Now looking back I am very confident I made the right decision. After dropping out I immediately got focused on my business and spent all of my focus on building my websites, instead of having to worry about going to class and doing school work.
I started to focus on one sports betting site that would cover all sports and everything sports betting. TheSportsGeek.com has come along way since it first went online, but it is now my biggest website and income generator. It gets roughly 1500-2000 visitors per day with over 50% of those repeat visitors (most which visit daily for betting picks).
Between The Sports Geek and my other smaller niche sports websites I ended up breaking the six figure mark again in 2011.
I think it was near the end of 2011 when I started branching out and creating fitness websites. I was (and still am) really interested in and passionate about sports and working out/fitness, so I decided to focus my efforts in those two areas. I knew of some fitness experts that had been making very good money with their workout related websites and products and thought I could do the same. I launched my first fitness product through Clickbank and tested out paid traffic. I burnt through about $3,000 from my ads and only made about $900. Looking back at it I probably didn’t test enough variations of my sales page, but decided to put that project on hold because it was taking up a lot of my valuable time and I was losing money.
My focus has almost all been on my sports betting websites over the past few years, and I’ve started membership type sites where I provide daily betting picks for three sports I handicap (NFL, NHL, and MLB). I started these as free websites, but again it was taking up a huge chunk of my time and I wasn’t earning enough money to make it worth my time. I had been told I should be charging for my picks because of my success, so I gave it a shot. I enjoy providing my insights to a large number of people so I kept my membership prices low. This has worked out great as I am now getting paid for my time and efforts.
My time and income for 2012 (and so far in 2013) has been split with about 95% of my efforts and revenue coming from my sports betting websites, 2.5% effort and profits from my fitness sites, and 2.5% effort and revenue coming from my personal Internet marketing blog where I test, review and recommend products for internet marketers. 2012 was my third straight year hitting the “six figure” bench mark that so many entrepreneurs look to hit.
I am truly blessed to have come as far as I have come so far with my business, but it hasn’t come without hard work. I will leave you with a few key points from my story that can help you build your online business.
What You Can Learn From My Story…
Work Hard – Like I mentioned a few times throughout my story, I would sit at the computer for 5-6 hours each night (after school and sports) working late into the night on my websites. There were a lot of 12 hour days at my computer where I would work from early in the morning to late at night. I still work almost 7 days per week on my business and although I don’t put in as many hours these days I am always trying to work hard.
Dedication – There have been tons and tons of nights that I’ve turned down stuff like going out drinking with friends so that I could work on my websites, or make sure I’m not hungover so I could work all day Saturday. I’ve got writers helping me now, but I used to spend about 10 hours each Saturday writing and posting NFL picks for my sports site, so I almost used to never go out on a Friday night. Working from home I could easily head downstairs and play Call of Duty, but I’ve continued to keep the dedication needed to grow my business each year.
Get Help – When first starting out I had a few people that would help me out all the time. They probably spent hours over the first year or two helping me with my websites and answering my “stupid” questions. You can’t be afraid to ask for help. Find a mentor and give them something in exchange. It doesn’t have to be money. A lot of people will be willing to help you so just ask – it is good karma for the person helping you (think pay it forward).
Follow Your Dreams – I was lucky enough to be a teenager when I started up my online business. I didn’t have a wife or family to support at all, so it made the decision a lot easier to go “all in” with my business dropping out of school twice. If I had a family I needed to support, or didn’t have the business built up to where I had it I probably would have finished school, but I know I would have went right into working for myself full time afterwards. Everyone has their own unique situations, but at some point you need to make an educated decision on if you should go “all in” yourself with your business.
My advice to others is to work on your online business while working a full time job. Wake up early or stay up late and work on your business. Once you are making more online than you are with your job, and you’ve got a good chunk of emergency money set aside you can decide whether you want to go all in and follow your dreams or keep at it on the side.
If you’d like to continue following my journey as an online marketer you can check out my blog (DropoutGotRich.com) which I linked to above, or follow Kevin on Google+. I hope you enjoyed my story, and good luck to all of you just starting out!