Recently, I was contacted by a fellow Warrior (handle: Toniy) who asked me if I would mind being interviewed about my online business. I agreed to take part and I thought it might also benefit my blog readers, so the transcript is below. I hope you enjoy reading it.
1. Can you please state your name – Will Edwards
2. How would you describe yourself, briefly?
Founder of White Dove Books, I am first and foremost, a writer. In fact, I started White Dove Books primarily as an outlet for my own writing. Once I realised that selling on the web involved much more than writing a book – no matter how good it was – and then putting up a sales page, my diversion into internet marketing began. It has been an interesting 6 years and I think I am now a competent marketer, but I still think of myself as a writer.
3. How long have you been in the business?
Well, I started White Dove Books in 2003. For the first year or so, it was just a bit of a hobby. I really began in earnest after that first year, so I would say that I have been seriously involved in internet marketing for about 6 years now.
4. Where does your primary income stem from?
My primary income comes from the White Dove Books site, although I have about a dozen or so other sites. The main income streams are my own products that I sell through ClickBank, and I also generate revenue thorugh Google’s Adsense program.
5. What other income streams do you have, if any?
At present, Clickbank and Adsense are my main sources of income, however, I intend to address selling my books through Amazon. I have just published my first book to the Kindle platform and I think it looks very promising for the future.
6. What made you want to get into Online Business?
From the moment I realised that it was not only possible to make money online, but also that it was very doable, I saw that it represented the means by which I would be able to reach my goals. I realised that I would not only become financially independent – my first goal – but there would be absolutely no reason that I should not become wealthy.
Don’t get me wrong: I am not completely driven by the business of making money, but nevertheless, it is important to be able to attend to your physiological needs before you can begin to address your higher purpose. These past 6 years, I have been dedicated to building a consistent and reliable passive income in order that I would be able to move on to greater things.
7. How did you get your start?
When I started, there was no Adsense and very little in the way of the income streams that have since opened up. Affiliate programs were in their infancy and services like Constant Content, Kindle Publishing and even fiverr did not exist. So, I decided to just get cracking creating my website without any idea of how I would subsequently monetise the traffic.
When the Adsense program began, I joined, banged the code on the site and then could almost not believe how easy it was to make money. Adsense is not my major source of revenue now, but it is by far the easiest way, in my opinion, to get started making money online.
8. When did you first feel as though ‘you made it’?
It is quite a recent feeling for me. For years, I was wondering what wasn’t working and why the effort I was putting in did not seem to be producing the expected results. What I came to realise is that everything produces results. So that even if I was just making a few thousand dollars on Adsense, the answer to making ten times that amount was staring me in the face i.e. you would need ten times as many pages or ten times the conversion rate or ten times the number of visitors or ten times the click value of the ads. It’s not rocket science – it’s just hard work; something I was never afraid of.
When I stopped looking for other people’s answers to the question of how to make money, I knew I had turned a corner. That was the beginning. I now realise that I was making far more money than some of those people who were actually writing the material I had bought. Last year I bought a second home; a beautiful arts and crafts house by the sea. Later this year we will be moving into it permanently and I will be finally giving up the day job. It’s not any kind of risk at all, because my income is passive and reliable. It’s taken me six years, but I can now say that I feel as if I have finally ‘made it’.
9. Can you name some of your failures?
Now this is a tough question for me because I like to think of all my failures as successes in that each one was a lesson that enabled me to hone my approach and finally achieve success. Having said that, my first project was a kind of Yellow Pages. I made very little out of it, though I learned a lot about web design and development and it enabled me to move on and subsequently design my current site.
10. Can you remember some of the low points?
I would say that a low point for me was when I decided to install a membership script which simultaneously wiped out my forum. Another would be when one of my sites got hacked, a third was when Blogger decided to terminate their ftp facility which had the knock-on effect that the blogging network I had setup no longer worked.
11. Did you have to make any sacrifices?
Well, I have dedicated myself completely to the goal of generating an online income for the past six years. This means that I have spent about 4 hours per day, whilst holding down a responsible day job, plus every weekend on the project. Everything else, apart from my family responsibilities were sacrificed to this end.
12. What have been the high points?
High points include the following. Reaching my first 1 million visitors. We get around 1.5 million visits per year at present, but that first million was a milestone. Hitting the first page of Google for the term ‘personal development’ despite there being 700 million competing sites. We are always on page #1 of the Google UK engine, generally we are on page #2 of the US engine and we are always climbing. But the absolute highest point, for me, was making my first sale. There really is no better feeling that that because it proved to me that I would indeed be able to accomplish what I was setting out to achieve.
13. Did you have to make any big life / personality / character changes? / How did you develop yourself?
My main business is personal development, so I am always looking at how to improve myself; it is a continual process. Perhaps the greatest transition for me, in relation to achieving my financial goals, was to learn how to think like a marketer. I don’t mean the average internet marketer; I mean learning to think like a professional marketer. This means getting deep into the heads of your target market and really understanding their wants and needs. That is a real key to success. When you can truly understand what your customers want and need, and you can dedicate yourself to providing it, then success simply cannot elude you for long.
14. Looking back, What would you do differently?
Again, this question is difficult because, if I were starting again right now, the current climate and circumstances are entirely different. However, with the benefit of hindsight, I would certainly look into developing a service – rather than a product – something that people need and for which they are prepared to pay on a monthly basis. You don’t need too many people paying you $100 per month for you to create an income. It’s a great business model if you can get the service offering right.
15. What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
If there is one thing you need to understand, at a tacit level, it is that success comes to those who persist. Now, many people think they know that truth, but in my experience they only know it in the sense of it being head knowledge. It does not affect their behaviour. The people who succeed are the ones who keep going when the others give up. Despite the discouragement, despite the disappointment, despite the poor results, they are determined enough to persist. They stay in motion and they keep tweaking their approach and eventually, they succeed partly because their competition gives up. Persistence is a vital key, so my advice would be: don’t just know this truth, but act it out – be persistent.
16. How long do you think it takes to succeed?
Definitely, this is a ‘how long is a piece of string’ type question. You can succeed very quickly if you do what I have outlined above. Let me reiterate: identify your target market, determine what it wants and needs and then position yourself as the natural provider. Serve your market well – note: ‘serve’. If you do that well, you can succeed very quickly, definitely in less than one year, for most markets, I would say.
17. Can you give a rough idea of your level of income now?
Sure. I know that people need to know that it can be done, so I don’t mind telling you that I make a consistent 5 figure income from my online business. It is not yet the six figure income I set out to achieve, but it’s definitely coming and I can say that with confidence because I don’t have to work for that 5 figure income. All of my effort is focussed upon growth.
18. How many hours do you work in a week on average?
As I said, I still have a day job, but it’s now part time and I am finishing this year to concentrate on my web business. At present, I am working part time on my internet business for three full days per week plus about three or four hours every ‘normal’ working day I spend in the day job. That amounts to about 33 hours per week. Remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day and that when you have created your income, you can do all the relaxing you want. Just don’t do too much relaxing at the beginning.
19. What is an average day for you?
First off, I check my emails to deal with any customer service issues, JV requests and proposals that have come in overnight. I like to keep right up to date with these. My customers are often very surprised to get their queries answered immediately or at least very quickly and will often comment about how pleased they are.
Next, I like to check all my KPIs (Key Performance Indicators); things like sales, traffic, newsletter sign-ups. I need to know if these figures are going in the right direction because they are the true manifestation and vindication, or otherwise, of my working methods. My approach has always been based upon taking action – Plan, Do, Check, Act. You plan your project, get on with it, measure the results and then do the tweaking. And that little cycle (The Deming Cycle) is something I do continually, so that means I am always tweaking my methods based on what works and what doesn’t.
Next most important thing is to write an article for my main blog. I don’t do this every day because I have a number of blogs that I write for regularly, but I do try to write a 1,000 word article for my main blog every day – that’s the goal. Sometimes, I will spend the entire day writing and then schedule the posts to appear over the next few days. But feeding Google with good quality, original content is an important activity that constantly brings good results.
At this point, I usually want a reward, so I go over to the Warrior Forum to read, interact and enjoy myself for about half an hour. Usually I will be taking coffee around the same time. Although I consider the time spent at the forum to be, largely, recreation, I do also pick up some great ideas there from time to time.
The remainder of the day will be dedicated to whichever project I am currently working on. This could be my next book, my next newsletter, my next site or whatever. By the way, when I start a new site, I am always looking at answering a particular question. I am not operating a rinse and repeat operation, as some people suggest. My main site takes quite enough effort for me to do it justice. New sites, have to take off and run themselves with little input from me or I will simply allow them to die.
At the end of the day, I again check my Adsense revenue and sales figures, for no reason other than that it gives me a great deal of satisfaction. After all, that’s the end result of all the effort I put in.
Well, I hope this post has given you a bit of encouragement; that was, at least, my intention. There are many people trying to make a living online and I believe that we can often draw encouragement by learning that others have achieved what we are trying to do. Just knowing that our goals are achievable can often make a real difference.