The Rollercoaster That Is My Life

Many people aren’t cut out for the dot-com lifestyle. My wife is the perfect example. She works a regular 9-5 job, gets a paycheck every week, and she contributes to her 401K. But she works in an industry that has been absolutely ROCKED by the economy over the last year, and job security is a major concern. (Her company has already had 4 rounds of layoffs, and there’s no end in sight!)

This keeps her up at night. Me, I don’t really care. If she loses her job, I’ll put her to work on the affiliate marketing front, and she’ll quickly exceed her earnings from her old job. She thinks I’m nuts.

But I’ve been through a lot. In college, I started a dot-com company. While all of my classmates accepted jobs with good companies after graduation, I took the road less travelled and forged ahead with my business. In the end, some unfortunate circumstances that were out of my control spelled the end for the business. But in those few years, I learned WAY more than I ever would have working in the regular sector.

In the interim, I tried the regular 9-5 job, and I HATED it. But as luck would have it, I came across a job that was very different, and I ended up being the perfect fit. So here we are, 2000-2001, making a TON of money, but working extremely long hours and traveling like you wouldn’t believe.

And then it happened, the 1-2 punch. First, the stock market bubble burst, and I lost my shirt.. Close to $50K just GONE! Fast forward a few months, and I buy my first house. (Hey, real estate is the way to go, just ask Donald Trump!) But then 9/11 hits, and the company I work for is directly affected. By late October, I’m getting the call that I feared the most. I was laid off.

Shoemoney asked if you’ve ever lost it all.. At that point in my life, it sure felt like it. The job market after 9/11 was BAD. When I finally did get a job (10 months later), it was at 50% of my old salary, and I was working overnights. It sucked. But what choice did I have? Unemployment ran out, and I had a mortgage payment to make!

About a year later, I was laid off again! It was at this point where I realized that job security didn’t exist, and that the only way to protect yourself was to create your own destiny. I had the skill set, I just needed a direction. I initially tried my hand at affiliate marketing, but had limited success. (It took me months to get my first $100 Google Adsense check, and I was making only a few bucks here and there promoting other products..)

In retrospect, my downfall was that I was in the wrong market. My niche was automotive (a topic near and dear to my heart, but one that doesn’t pay worth a damn on the affiliate front!).. I learned a bit from those first experiences, and moved on to create an e-commerce site. Fast forward 6 years later, and I’m still running the site. It’s actually my primary source of income, even though I’ve since diversified and now have about 40 websites under my belt.

Affiliate marketing has been very good to me over the past year, and I’ve also earned quite a bit of money from direct ad sales. In addition, we recently started working with a CPM network, and that’s brining in decent cash each month.. CPM is a flawed model in my opinion, but if you’re working in a niche that doesn’t work well with affiliate marketing, it’s a decent alternative.

The key is to diversify.. If you’re relying on a single source of income, and something comes along to disrupt that, you’re screwed! I’ve been down that road before, and it’s not fun! 😀

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