I want to tell you a short story about how I beat impossible odds and ended up a thought leader with a fair amount of brand fame… and how you and your company can do that too.
Back in 2004, I was like a lot of people: just an untrained guy who wanted to have his own business doing something he was good at that would help other people. I wanted to get enough consulting clients to get paid and do my part bringing home the bacon.
But I struggled because there were so many blogs and competitors out there. I just couldn’t get enough attention or leads or clients to make it. It was hard. I was frustrated! Have you felt like that?
Now, I’ve always believed in and been grateful for freedom, for the American dream of being in control of my own business, and for the opportunities we have with capitalism and to decide on our own career. I didn’t want to work for somebody else. I wanted to be “the man”, not work for the man!
I just wanted to build something special that helped other people, something they appreciated. Isn’t that what we all want?
And then I saw opportunity: the Internet. This was it. A huge phenomenon that suddenly gave us all the opportunity to easily do business with people all over the country- even the world!
I was excited because it seemed like the Internet would change everything in business- and I wanted to get in on that! Wouldn’t you?
But the odds were stacked against me because I had no schooling in internet marketing, I had no savings to bank on, and there was no reason for people to come to my website or business instead of anyone else’s.
I had done a lot of different types of work in my life, but I wanted to focus and get good at one thing. I was married and my wife had been the bigger breadwinner and I wanted to make more money to help her out and feel better about myself.
The internet was growing and people were making lots of money, but not me. Ever felt left out like that?
I was going up against much bigger companies, like training companies that had dozens of bloggers, and internet marketing teachers with a 3-4 year head start on me. I didn’t know anybody who had succeeded at this. I had no connections at all.
I had to get trained. So I got on the Internet and took some online courses. I went and had coffee with the marketing guy in my local San Diego networking group. I read tons and tons of blogs.
And at first, I made A LOT of mistakes. I was super-excited to make some money with Google AdSense, putting their ads on my alternative medicine site, but then the Google search algorithm changed and I lost most of my traffic. That was depressing. Don’t you wish Google was easier?
I started an AdWords consulting business but I couldn’t get enough clients.
Feeling a bit beaten, I took a job as an eCommerce manager for an outdoor store and spent a year building their online store, only for them to tell me, “Brian, we just don’t want to invest in buying enough inventory for the online store to succeed.”
Back to square one, dang it.
Again I went into solo consulting but I wasn’t getting enough clients, and my wife said, more or less, “Get a job or else maybe we should separate for a while.” Wow, that hurt!
So I took a risk on a job where I would build the internet marketing part of a regional agency in South Carolina. I had to move and be away from my wife for a couple years, which was tough, but I worked super hard.
I was initially not very smooth with clients, but my coworkers taught me a lot about account management and successful business relationships.
I was getting better at the Internet business:
- I got results for our clients.
- I started blogging and got attention.
- I got to speak at a conference, then two more conferences.
- I got a column writing for a big search engine blog.
- We built the internet marketing part of the agency from $100k revenue to $650k revenue in less than two years.
- I brought them in new clients from other parts of the country.
Then, to my surprise, the company laid me off!
It turns out I had TOO good a compensation deal with them. I was making too much money. And they didn’t want to expand beyond their region, so they didn’t much value my national networking and speaking.
But by now, I had become an industry thought-leader. I was known and read as a blogger on search marketing and social media. People enjoyed the talks I gave. By traveling and networking, I had made solid friends in the industry. And I had found a professional speaking mentor.
Wouldn’t you love to have a successful mentor in what you’re pursuing?
Because of all that I was able to write a Facebook marketing book, which quickly turned into two published books, and I started getting paid to keynote speak for companies. I and my small new agency got to work with great companies like Carl’s Jr, Universal Studios and The World Health Organization.
Next thing I knew I was on Bloomberg TV in New York City, and getting to work with companies like Microsoft, NBC, Salesforce, GoToMeeting, Dramamine, PrideStaff and others.
Wouldn’t you love to have more opportunities and clients?
It felt amazing to be an author, to be a respected authority, to be someone companies would pay thousands of dollars to come and speak or give consulting opinions. It’s flattering to repeatedly show up on lists like “The Top 50 Marketing Experts in the World”.
Oh and by the way, now I bring home ALL the bacon and my wife works for me, and she’s a brilliant Facebook advertiser. :-)
During that journey I learned a ton about what does and doesn’t work for building brand fame and awareness.
All the best,
Brian Carter is a popular business expert and keynote speaker with Fortune 500 clients like NBC, Microsoft and Humana as well as small businesses. He delivers motivational keynotes with practical takeaways with the comedic flair of his stand up comedy background. His agency, The Brian Carter Group, creates marketing that excites customers and increases brand visibility, sales and loyalty. Brian is a bestselling author you’ve probably seen on Bloomberg TV or in Inc, Entrepreneur, The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times. He has over 250,000 online fans and reaches over 3 million people per year.