Been cleaning up my makeshift office in our spare room in 170 Carr Place and I found the 50 unsent envelopes. Also, a notepad full of notes on marketing and how to build an agency. These represent the 2 years I took out of my career when I moved to Australia. This also represents the few times I went broke too for this life lesson. Lucky for me I had Martina support me through it and I did make some money on the way but just not consistently.
The 50 sealed envelopes are from a course I was doing but never followed through with. The course recommended to niche down, create a state of industry report and then starting contacting people via the lumpy mail method. The niche I choose was home improvement. I bought 100 small trophies and was going to send them out with a place number of where they came in my industry report and a link for them to access the report and set up a call to talk to me about it. I even went to the Pool Spa & Outdoor Living Expo in Perth with copies of the report.
I sent 10 envelopes couldn’t afford to send anymore, only spoke to 4 people at that conference and didn’t follow-up with any of them after spending weeks doing the course and preparing. 1 month later I started my new job as a Product Owner and forgot all about that depressing time. The reason I’m blogging about this epic failure is that I’m ready to give it one more go!
Firstly, I started building WordPress websites at night time for friends and families just as a natural interest in learning local online marketing and WordPress. I was obsessed with WordPress since for my final year project I built a website from scratch coding every line myself and never knew anything about content management systems so I learned everything about it. Built an online blog pm-training and started shanedrumm.com
When I built my first eCommerce website with WooCommerce and realized the end-user doesn’t care what the website is built with only the experience it should of all clicked. Instead, I have spent two years obsessing with learning and chasing silver bullets.
Failure After Failure
The envelopes are only the last string of failed attempts at starting an agency. Most of the attempts correspond to an online course to build an agency, which I was equally excited and confident this was it every time. I left them in the corner of my office next to a copy of the state of industry report so it would remind me of that failure.
I have spent months going through the material to never get anywhere. Always doubting myself and looking for a silver bullet to success, moving from thing to thing. It’s funny I make money from building a website and then used that money to invest in something else that could teach me how to make easier money. Rinse Repeat. Strange I know.
But first lets recap on my failures:
(1) webservices.shanedrumm.com – 1 Shopify Website, 1 eCommerce, 1 WordPress
When I moved to Australia my first job was building an eCommerce website using WordPress but I was more interested in learning everything about content marketing for my pm-training blog cause I was going to make money doing affiliate marketing. I remember getting a mentor and humming and hawing about freelancing as it wouldn’t make me 100k per year and that was one of my goals. This underlying factor probably played a big role in me never really properly committing.
(2) thewebsitemanager.com.au – 1 SEO Client. 2 Websites. Marketing Manager 6 Months Contract.
Wanted to be more professional so built a new brand and put up some ads. I landed a marketing manager after building a website for a company. Then when I was a marketing manager I spent my time learning about being a Growth Marketer. From looking through my notes it was pretty obsessive.
(3) brandauthority.services – 2 SEO Clients.
After an abrupt end as marketing manager, I spent that summer obsessing with SEO via the Semantic Mastery Course. It seemed productive at the time but I forgot to actually use it to sell. Made friends with other SEO people in Perth who were building PBNs and I was built a few 3 tier syndication networks.
(4) TheHigherMix – Freelancing for 6 Months
I joined a joint venture from meeting another digital marketer at a charity weekend event. We went through a huge rebrand and website restructure, trained up interns very exciting times. It coincided with some freelancing in an innovation hub and I got time to try numerous things from building websites to marketing all great experience.
(5) ShaneDrumm.com – 2 months mapping out my State of Industry Report and strategy. Zero Clients
The joint venture just didn’t work out as we had different visions and I felt it was best to leave it be. Then shortly after the freelancing gig came to an end as they shutdown my product in the hub to refocus on a different area. The entire hub was going through a change in management too and things were a bit up in the air. Started a new course that was highly anticipated but the big difference from the other times I downloaded the course and didn’t pay $1000+. (I would recommend everyone to do this, lookup wso downloads or downarchive).
This was when I niched down to home improvement, attempted the envelopes and attended the expo. At this time it was probably at my lowest in morale and flat broke.
I didn’t give up yet though. fyi. One good thing from this was that I updated shanedrumm.com to a level I’m still pretty happy with the website as it really is my current online portfolio highlighting some accomplishments.
(6) eCommercegrowth.solutions – A Chabot. Few Emails. Zero Clients
New course. New me. Niche down is what they said so I did to eCommerce Business. Obsessed with eCommerce Marketing this time round. Built a chatbot. Created a State of Industry Report. Sent a few emails. No real success to talk about besides a lot of learning.
At this time our Australian Permanent Residency got approved and I could apply for fulltime jobs again (My PR got approved a year earlier but recruiters didn’t give me the time of day till it was approved so I continued freelancing and probably needed that extra year to finish trying out lots of different things). I immediately was getting interviews again, started applying for growth marketing jobs but I quickly realized the money was in agile project management so focused in on them and landed a job as Product Owner in Vix about 2 months after getting PR. Game changer.
After a few months in the job, I said I would follow my dream of setting an eCommerce business which leads me to Amazon FBA and yet another $5k course (which I downloaded for free). At the time I had enough of chasing the agency dream and need to finish trying the one last thing on my career to-do list. Lots of new learnings though; from product manufacturing, logistics to launching and selling on Amazon.
(7) ShaneDrumm.com – 3 Websites
It’s probably the 1 constant from the 2 years of attempts; I have always been able to build awesome websites and enjoy doing it. Got these clients from a networking event, running club and an old friend. Those 3 websites paid for my FBA experience.
(8) Websiteandleads.co – Zero Clients
Not much of a failure as I just bought the domain while working on Amazon FBA adventure of selling bike seats. One day I just realized I enjoyed more the building of websites and evening launching the AMazon FBA store more than the optimization part. The repetitiveness of optimization bores me compared to deep diving into an industry to see customer behaviour and building a site around it. I started a new course which I was going to use this domain with to sell WordPress websites but have been waiting till I finished selling bike seats and just needed a break from everything so focused on another goal of completing a marathon.
(9) Applying to Work in Digital Agencies
There are 6 distinct agency jobs I applied for. Reasons for not getting the job:
- Over qualified
- I would be too distracted doing my own thing
- Payment expectations completely different
- Not strong enough presence or leadership skills
- Not assertive, passionate and energised
Seems like I probably should give up at this stage but I’m backing myself to succeed. Why?
Because during all those experiences I have been learning what works and doesn’t and most importantly every time I have spoken to a business owner I have been able to sell them a website. Where I have really failed is not selling enough cause I only wanted to sell to people who wanted my skills not to push them onto them. I also had a strange complex where I presumed I need to work in an agency to know what they do so I can do it myself, I don’t now.
In my opinion, it’s their loss if they couldn’t see my potential and figure something out. Failure makes me stronger.
Another key difference this time round I have a secure job behind me so I don’t have to go chasing work and I know that I get paid more being a Product Owner than any growth marketer or marketing manager with my experience.
What’s Different This Time
So as I mentioned I had started this new course and went through like always watching all the videos but I know now there is no magic bullet and actually been looking up the people that they reference and found that more interesting than the course.
The core principles are:
- Position myself so people want to work with me and I don’t have to chase them.
- Having a clear vision of what I want to achieve when setting up an agency
- Set goals, setting myself up for small wins to gain confidence. Simple SELL, SELL, SELL.
Let’s see what happens and hopefully, this post will be an inspiration for others after I have sold my agency for 1M+.