Blogging His Way To $9M in Cash - Ramon Van Meer
My First Million

Full episode transcript -


At this point, it's a money printer.


I was very lucky that content you with a very small team, very low overhead. We're talking monthly. You're pulling in between four or 500,000 revenue.


What's up, guys? Shawn here. I'm doing a special little introduction to this episode from my phone because we got some good news. We broke into the top 10 on the Apple iTunes rankings, which is really crazy, and I thank everybody who downloaded the episode. Subscribed. Left review. Ben Mode Me a dollar. Everybody who supported the show, Thank you very much. You know, the rankings don't really mean much. I'm gonna do the show anyways, because I just like having conversations with smart people. But damn,

it does feel good when something actually works and when people like listening to it. And I really appreciate that, So that's good news. The other good news is that we're bringing on our first sponsor. You'll hear me talk about them a little bit of midway through the episode, but I just think it's cool where the money podcast. We talk to people about how they made their money, and it's only right that would make a little money ourselves. I think that helps keep the show going and makes it sustainable for everybody. So big. Shout out to monday dot com. Who's coming on as our for sponsor? I also like that it's actually product that I use. In fact, like last week, I started using monday dot com toe organize the podcast because there was so much stuff going on.

I got a book. Guess I gotta send stuff to the editor. I got to do this and that Any project is it starts getting super busy. And so monday dot com was a really good place to just organize everything. Have my list. It's in a good spot, and it's got really nice design. And I'm a sucker for design and so sounds like an ad. Now this is not the ad. The ad comes later, but I really do use the product. And I'm glad that sponsor or something that I actually use, like, so shout out to them for coming on board. This week's conversation was with Ramon Van Meer, and Ramon is a really interesting dude,

and this episode is gonna be different than most episodes. I would say that majority of the guests. When I have them on, they are intimidatingly smart when they're talking to me. It's pretty obvious within five minutes that I'm the dumbest person in the room, and I just try to ask questions so that let them talk and let them tell their story. And I just do my best to keep up. But Ramon is not a genius, and that's what I'll say. Our buddy Sam, who introduced us. He says it differently. He calls Ramon like he's just tells him, you're so dumb. You're the dumbest smart guy I know. And he means it with love,

because what Ramon does is he doesn't over complicate things. And you're gonna hear that in his story, for example, the essence of his story. And he'll tell you better than I will. But it's, you know, wanted to start a blawg. He just looked at what was already popular, and then he started a blawg. In that little niche, he bought a $49 WordPress template cause he doesn't have a code. He outsourced the writing to some freelancers because he doesn't know how to write, and somehow, some way just did. Those simple things and built the most popular blogger about a subject that he doesn't really know.

It's a soap opera Blawg like, you know, Days of Our Lives, Young and the Restless. That's like soap operas. And he has never even seen an episode of a soap opera on. And so somehow this guy who can't code can't write, never watch soap operas built a blawg filled with daily daily stories about soap operas. And you know the business started printing money, generating hundreds of thousands dollars month before selling for about $9 million. And so remote is one of the most humble guys I've ever met in Silicon Valley. Very good at just keeping things simple. And if you take nothing away from this, it's to remember that you don't have to be a genius, and you don't have to have some super complicated high tech business plan to make it work. Sometimes if you just find a niche that has a lot of passion around it,

you could build a very simple business, and he's gonna tell you about that. I hope you enjoy the episode. If you do leave a review shot me out on Twitter, do some things that I hear you guys. That's what gets me excited to keep making this show happen. I don't have to do the show. I do it because I love it. And I really appreciate everything that happened after the first episode. All right, enjoy. Okay, let's do this right.


Sometimes I get asked to do a podcast or an interview, and I'm a shy person in groups, so I don't really like to do TV or interviews. I don't like to talk too much about myself. It's just I don't know why, So sometimes it gets awkward. Friend of mine asked me to do a TV segment for him was not a TV like national TV. Nobody would really see it. But as soon as he hit the record on the camera, then I started mumbling,


and for us I froze eso. We'll try to do my best with China to freeze. This wins informal without even doing an interest. I'm doing a podcast. Podcast is called My 1st 1,000,000 the idea is I want to talk to different founders. Entrepreneurs like you, who have hit their 1st $1,000,000 million.1,000,000 downloads 1,000,000 subscribers, something some huge milestone, and I want to find out how they did it. And so I wanted you to come on because you have a wild a wild story about how you hit your 1st 1,000,000 Very unorthodox, very different than you know. Even most of the Silicon Valley success stories. Years is totally different. So let's start with the very simple question, Yes. How did you make your 1st 1,000,000?


All right. Nobody will guess this. And nobody believes that when I tell them I started a block about soap operas. It's a noose news block that will write about the running soap operas. And


we're talking like Days of our lives Young and the Restless. Exactly. And


first question people always ask, Oh, they are your soap opera watcher. Because especially when they see me, you know, then they cannot believe it. Up to now, I have not watched more episodes off any soap opera, but yeah, that was the website. I build it and sold it in three years later.


Wow. So Okay, so So the story is gonna be you decide to make a soap opera, Blawg. God knows why you somehow were able to make a soap opera block Successful despite never watching a soap opera. And you sold it. How long ago?


10. 11 months


ago. Right. So 11 months ago you sell it for I want to say 9.5 1,000,000.


Little bit below nine million. 8.757


five million cash. Cash? Yes. And this isn't like a silicon Valley like you own 4% of the company. This was your company you own? There's no outside


investors. I know investors. I bootstrapped it. I had some advisers. I think I owned, like, 98% still on. Then I gave, you know, some shares or some profit to employees, but yeah,


OK, love. It's OK, so we're gonna go in. So how does this start? Why even create a soap opera blawg to begin


with? Yeah, I started this and I called the golden age of Facebook, where you can basically create offend page about any topic and very cheap and fast could build a huge fan page. And back then, the news feed algorithm was still in favor for publishers. So whatever you posted, a lot of your fans will see it.


So are we talking like the buzzfeed up were the days when they were getting a ton of traffic. Facebook.


Yeah, so I knew. OK, how to drive traffic from Facebook? Teoh. A website. I just didn't know what the topic. So is it a student? Should I sell product or service or content if a content What kind of content? So I


just take me back? Are you just at home alone in a room thinking about this? You just brainstorming on a white


board, 800 square feet apartment me and my son together and just bring storming


ideas. And what was your son's ideas? What was he? What was he thinking? Actually, he has actually


has a good idea is actually, But it's more games, but he always comes with these really interesting thoughts that I never think of. And then, hey, he has a good point. But going back to the Facebook I started 10 11 12 I forgot different fan pages about different topics. So one of us about pets, Martorana, soaps, politics and I will just drive some traffic to it or build some likes pate and post some random pictures and then see the engagement. So some fan pages. Really bomb. I had 10,000 fans. I post a picture and I got to likes or whatever. Right? Okay,

horrible engaged. But there were two topics that really stood out. One was soap star. One was politics. And this was even before the craziness. That's, you know, before Trump. Yes, Big VT Away before Trump politics, I really didn't like because especially, you know, one side waas mawr engaged and everything against what I believe in. So I dropped out, actually, after two weeks,

and then I saw the soap opera fan page doing, you know, a lot of people sharing and commenting and liking, even though I made a lot of mistakes posting the wrong actors. Like I posted pictures off people that were not in the show and things like that. But engagement


was crazy. The engagement was probably higher than people get outraged. Yes, exactly.


So I built a simple WordPress site. I bought a team from Team Forest. Put it on WordPress, use photo.


Are you a technical guy? I mean, what's your Because a lot of people get stuck, right? You know? Hey, I want to build this website. Yeah, I can't code do I go learn python the hard way? Do I go by this course and try to become a developer? Do I try to outsource? It might try, you know, WordPress theme.


So I think that's why we live in such a great time, right? Like you don't actually need to know a lot to get stuff you know, built WordPress. It's so or Shopify. If you want to start selling something Shopify eyes very easy. And if you want to build content side ward prices also. So I am technical, but I didn't code anything to like this website. I building a couple hours was a WordPress a team of every simple logo. Because I'm I'm just a believer, like trying a lot of different things fast, fast, and then see if something works. Danu, you know, optimized or make it better or make it look better or faster,

things like that. But, you know, I try to prevent spending too much time in the pre launch face where, like, I made those mistakes to when I was younger, I had a business idea, and then I you know, I took weeks to design a business card, and you know and a website and eventually, after months of hard working and didn't the idea in work, right? So now I'm the opposite just quick. So a couple hours very ugly sight. Now I had the problem. I don't know anything about soaps.

And as you can hear, I have an accent. English is not my first language. So writing is also not my strong point. So went on up work back then was called


Oh, desk. So this breaks all the rules. By the way, it's yeah, founder market fit zero passion, passion zero Exactly. Skill, skill set zero. Can't write. Decided to start a block. Exactly. But you knew one thing. So if we're recapping the kind of what you had, what you didn't have All right, that's the stuff you didn't have. Sounds like what you had was.

You knew that at least for this time period, there was a cheap way to buy likes on a Facebook page. And then whatever that Facebook pages and you try 20 of them dummy w and pets and whatever and then take that traffic on the take. The likes on the Facebook page turned it into website traffic and So you do. They're testing, period. You decide. Soaps is with one I'm gonna do because the engagements high using the data, it's all good. And now you got your blawg up. But you don't have the content wheel going.


Yeah, So when on a website called Ode Ask is where you can hire freelancers from riders to video editors to anything you can imagine. Put an ad out. Hey, I'm starting a soap opera Blawg, looking for a writer and very lucky. I found on editor Writer that used to write for in Print soap opera magazine 20 years ago. She watch all the shows sees in the industry for many, many years, so she knows


the story. That's how people used to solve this problem. They would buy the magazine, I would say talk about that weeks drama in the soap and then magazines just were too slow for the


New World. Yes, exactly. So that was also a luck that there were competitors, but it's like the old school media competitors. It was like these magazines that have been around for 2040


years. What's like a big magazine


that cover soaps? The biggest one is called soap Opera Digest. Okay, It's been around, I think 40 50 years straight to the point that they have a website. But their main focus up to the last couple years was always there magazine. So


we love that. Because you see this incumbent who's there from the print world. They have a website. Websites Like a pdf, basically. Exactly. So you know, when you see that the website reminds you, Pdf it's like this is a good market


is a good market. So found her started with one article day and just test out and see how it works up to now. Actually see, still working with the new owners of valuable. Yeah.


And so she starts cranking out content and give me your mindset. I mean, are you You're pretty certain that this is gonna work? How are you paying the bills that this year? Like, take me back to? Because I know it works, right? The spoiler of this podcast shit worked out, sold the company. You know, that worked. So But I think it's important to go back when it wasn't clear that it was gonna work. You have some belief, but like again, I want to know. How are you paying the bills? And then what was your certainty level on this? Or were you still hedging your bets with


other things? Yeah, it's always easy to look backwards like, you know, Of course, it's, you know, it's works. In my case, every person I told his idea to told me, You know, you're crazy. Like this is never gonna work soaps like who


watches that? Why didn't you listen to them? You're just a stubborn guy or what? Yeah. And because,


you know, I like to keep trying things until I see it doesn't work in, and I go to the next idea. I saw the engagement so going back, it took 45 months before I really started seeing good amount of traffic to the site. Because the problem with contents, you need a lot of traffic to really make money. You know, back Dana was just using only Google ATS. So the banners on my website, even after a couple weeks, I made, like, $2 a day and then $4. I couldn't You know, I paid more for the article than right turn. But what kept me going waas That the engagement on the fan page.

Like the fan page. I only had to pay the first couple weeks. You know, I think to 20 or 30,000 likes. After that. Defend pages grew organically. Whatever I posted got so many shares, and I did see on opportunity. Okay, there's not a lot of competition. The fence is our super engaged. Its content that is every day, like soap operas are aired every single day for 52 weeks straight. They have some blackout dates, but


basically it's and he says,


new episodes, new episodes, every so apparently they records a bunch of them on the same day. Like 56 It's very, very basic meaning, like their sets. It's just actors like, I think even the directors are in a in a boof upstairs. And then they just crank out, You know, with all the respect of the soap opera. You know, actors. It's not like a Hollywood, you


know, it sets on game of Thrones we're talking about exactly,


so it's a lot of content, and when you write about the topic or think about, you know, starting a content site, you will also want to think okay, Is there going to be enough content to write about? So, for example, if you do a game of Thrones block, you're kind of limited because it only heirs to three months. I don't know. Actually, year this season was six episodes. It's done, and it's done right. So doesn't six Sundays. Yeah, so that's not a lot off content.


To be fair, you're game of Thrones fan. No. OK, so to be fair, you could write an infinite amount of content. Just complaining now. Yeah, the ending And the last season. So start a petition started petition. Exactly. So soap operas had this unique property. Ailey content new content every day. I mean, what is your article about? Is it? Here's the recap of what happened in case you missed it. Was it like speculation of what's gonna happen? What was the content like? Or is it just pure Clickbait on Facebook of like, see which character you are on this quiz?


Yeah. So because I didn't know anything about the audience, I had to learn. Like, what did they like? What they did read. So I tried everything, but it was very obvious. People like to read what's gonna happen tomorrow or the next day or next week. So


theory or spoiler? Yeah. Really? Exporters. And just like the answer, this is what's going to get


like, Oh, Jake is gonna, you know, leave marry tomorrow. You know, that kind of articles. Really? Well, did well, like, I think 80% of our traffic came from spoiler or spoiler related articles. Unbelievable. Then of course we did, you know, to get more content out because the more contents you put out, the more traffic you get.

More traffic, more revenue. So we did. We wrote about recaps for the people that missed an episode. We did. You know what days of our lives character are you? But it was more quiz to capture e mails. I really used that as an email. This building to that did really well. Like we built over 300 I think close to 3 53 50,000 emails we collected with ease, you know, silly


quizzes, right? You said the first few months you're trying to get traffic 1st 45 months, Not very much traffic, two bucks a day and AdSense type of thing. Yeah, but you keep going because you see the engagement? And did you have a day job at the time? I mean, how did you live? You know, it's you and your son at home. How are you paying


the bills? Yes. So I had an online travel agency company before with my previous business partner, and I sold half of my shares. And the new buyer that's bought my shares paid a year long every month. So that was exactly what I needed to pay my bills. So that was it was my luck that, you know, I could Then, you know, just do other.


Are you the type? Where did your mind ever go? I should just get a job Or were you just bullheaded of like, No, I need to create these websites and own them and make a business out of


that. Yeah, I've been an infant. Or, like, I've been so many different businesses. Like I had some jobs when I was 18 19 but basically always had my own companies, so it was never a fought off. Okay, The soaps doesn't work. I'm going to go get a job. It was actually If so doesn't work. I'm gonna figure out something


else. I'll try pets. Try politics. I'll try something else. Okay, So let's go back into your you're building up the traffic and what's the what color was the inflection point? Why did things go from a little bit of traffic? A little bit of ad revenue To give me a sense. Where do the traffic get to overtime? What was like the peak of it? Of traffic.


It was, like very slow, like flat, almost, but very little bit uphill. Like And then suddenly, yeah, we started growing much faster because it was starting to collect emails. Starting when a person came to my website, I asked, Hey, do you want to get a push? Notification. I started to diversify my traffic sources, not just Facebook. And then you have 45 months into it. Then it started doubling every day. And then the growth went really fast, actually


awesome. And you were you're buying traffic at this point still or at some point, did you just stop buying and you just start making the content people shared? Yeah, So I only


bought 30. The 1st 30 40,000 likes at below one cent for like, so it was very cheap after that was organic. Wow. Yeah. And then I only started boosting posts on Facebook. Like buying, you know, like paying for traffic year after.


So we're talking like you spent hundreds in the hundreds of dollars. Matt's not great, but I think that one penny, something like that you spent under $1000 total. Yeah, unpaid for this website built that asset up into something that you were able to sell for almost nine million bucks. So that's a tremendous, tremendous type of return. Is that what you thought was possible? Or where you thinking? This will make me 10 k a month. Then I'll figure something else out.


Yeah, when I started, I thought because I was in, you know, I sold my shares. Okay, we're going to do next. I know I like Internet marketing, and I was always, you know, doing marketing stuff. We're buying some small websites selling them or building them from scratch. And so I thought Okay, this would could be a fun project that maybe makes me, you know, 20 k a month. And,

you know, there will be I I didn't know, like, you know, my first goal was $100 a day and then very quickly was $1000. And an NFL? Oh, man, this is $1000 a day. This is amazing. And but it kept growing


Today sponsor is monday dot com. Need help making your 1st 1,000,000 be direct? Our sponsor monday dot com is here to help with weekly dose of the monday dot com motivation. See, the thing is, you know what you want, so you gotta ditch the fluff and state your goals straight up. Sandy emails Make phone calls network. Being able to communicate your goal directly makes achieving it that much easier. Check out monday dot com to see how their color coordinated dashboards improve Communication for your team can increase your workflow, manage workloads and get you one step closer to getting that money. Monday dot com All right, and the thing I love about you is you're so different than all my other friends here, where a lot of people you live in Silicon Valley. There's a lot of people who love self promotion. I'm one of the start of podcasts, but a lot of people who love Twitter they love talking to people they love meeting people that go to networking events.

They host dinners. You don't do any of that shit. You're like a you know, so low guy who just make should happen. And that's really all you're interested in. It's just that that very singular laser focus. So when this is happening, my question is, how do you celebrate? How do you get idea? So when you're hitting these milestones, is it just kind of you doing a fist pump in a room? Are you talking to somebody just telling your son? What? How did you celebrate? And then I also want to know How did you get your ideas of Hey, I should do pushing for construction, do these next things. So tell


me a little bit about both those. So once we started making money, I know one thing that I learned is that reinvesting right away back in the business like I was only making maybe five grand a month. And then I hired a full time person because I knew OK, even though business wise, it's probably not smart, like you don't make enough to afford dead. But I just did it because I knew I couldn't focus on Grove, and then that person can focus on the day to day things. So after probably 6 to 9 months, you know, I got a small office and then got for his employees. I got some freelance remote people writing and helping out some freelancers. The audience is so passionate that it was very easy for me to find, you know, people that just want toe. Yeah,

like, you know, help but post stuff on Facebook and things like that. But it's that's the journey of the entrepreneurs. It is often like lonely, especially if you're still in the phase off working from home. Because, yeah, you have no people around to celebrate ideas I got from, you know, because I love doing is like it is a super cliche. But, you know, I don't see this work right. Like it's my hobby. I'm not,

you know, I love reading. I love, you know, coming up with growth like hacks and, you know, ideas on how to Dr More trafficking.


If this might be the entrepreneur test, right, if you're listening to this right now and you're like, you know those like Viagra commercials where it's like they describe 50 symptoms at the half a second. It's like, if you know, if any of these plenty and please go see your doctor. The way I see what you're describing is the if any of these apply to you, please become an entrepreneur, which is like most people, that you meet the work. They're sort of 95 the objective is to turn off their brain and turn off the work part of their brain. So I can't wait to go home. Get off that you know, the weekend is here. All right, Fantastic.

Oh, no. Monday's Monday is back. Now I have to go apply my brain to this thing that I don't necessarily want to be thinking about. Whereas it seems like for an entrepreneur, there's a certain level of curiosity and obsession that just makes it where you can't turn that part of the brain off. You're always thinking of ideas, and so that's the you know, If those apply to you, please go see. Please go to your doctor. You will see your investor and go get a checked it to start your business.


It's true, and it's a blessing and a curse at the same time because I cannot. I was this morning talking with somebody and I said, Even if I want to, I cannot turn off the switch Right? So it's very hard for me and for my family. Actually, for me to go on vacation


like you know, you're not a great date,


No, even on vacation. I you know, I work. Of course, I will combine it with doing stuff. You know, I have to do that for my son. It's always spinning sort of speak. So it's It's a blessing. Onda curse.


So you were saying That's how you're getting ideas. You were just constantly think of different things to try. Were you looking at competitors? Were you talking to advisers or what was your method to get new ideas?


So I like Teoh. Reverse engineer shipped right? So I always look at first at the direct competitors. So if you want to do something, look at the market, the competitors that are out there and then see what they're doing right and what are they not doing so well and just pick ideas from that? Then I looked at, you know, sites that were not competitors, but are doing great in content in general and then just had, you know. Oh, they you know, they building a list with push notifications are Let me try that. Oh, I see her in quiz. You know,

figure out what kind of dog you're right. Maybe we can, you know, changes into a soap opera actor quiz, right? Right. Stuff like that. And


then you're not trying to be a genius. You're trying to get the result. Yes. If somebody else has an idea that's getting good results. Yeah, you'll try it. Yeah. Reverse engineer. And you told me. I think maybe the first time we went out to dinner because I was like, it was something around. Why? So why did you even try soaps to begin with? And you had said something like, Tell the story where you said you saw somebody selling a website like this and he you know, the guy was asking for $100,000 you were like, I mean, I don't even have I don't even have $100 to give you for this. But if you're selling if 100,000 that means there must be some value here is how it went down for that.


So still to now, I always like to look at marketplaces where people buy and so websites I think you can learn a lot. They ride a whole summary and give access to the P


nails. And it is an example. Where would I go if I wanted to find websites that are for sale


Quite like brokers is actually one of the biggest one. That's a I see it as a real estate broker where they have a couple of Web site listings and then you can buy or so


I was there this morning. Actually, yes, we went to quite cause. I hadn't heard of quiet light. I had seen some of the different Shopify. Yeah, I sell ones and I went to quite line. You're right when you just see Hey, I have a business. I sell leather products and I'm doing two million a year in sales. Yeah, that's kind of interesting. Let me see. You know, whether you want to buy it or you want to take inspiration and sort of come up with similar businesses. Exact strategy?


Yeah, it's a really good way to get inspiration and then see So maybe you look at the summary. You look at the website, you look at the numbers there, Pinnell and he said, Wow, they're already doing two million. But the site is shitty and you know, like


opportunities to yeah,


value add value, Then you can needed to sigh. OK, maybe I see if I can buy it or you start from scratch. I had no money. So in that same period, when I was building those fan pages, I saw a listing on Flipper about soap operas and right to summary. And I know this is interesting and, you know, but the price was way too high was $100,000. So I said, OK, let's just, you know, see, and just build it from scratch


yourself, right? It's like real estate, right? You go. You see these listings, your head, go raise the rent. But sometimes you have no money. The beauty of the Internet is it's like you can go build building just like that in the real world. OK, why can't go build my own building? But what you were able to do and maybe 6 to 8 months, was you built your own building. Hey, I can't buy that one. But I could build my own. And so what point did you realize this is gonna work? This is gonna be successful at a scale that even bigger than I originally thought. Yeah. What was the turning point?


I still remember. It was December, I think. 27. It was when I was testing different articles in different times to pose and different things. And But that day was the first day we made $100 But it was really calculate. Okay. With Post on this time, this kind of article and off sort of found the


place. So you made 100 bucks, But you knew you would make the 100 bucks. It was It was not luck. No. You had a system.


Yeah, you got now. Got. Finally. I was working on the system, and it was kind of working out, kind of working, and but now it was like it fell in place. Okay, now, the strategy, the blueprint, it's working. And then now it's just a matter off scaling, you know, getting more fans to defend pages building, you know, find different ways to get traffic and, you know, more content. So now was more a matter off scaling,


so to speak. What worked with scaling? What were some of the moves? Some of the techniques that


really worked the biggest was building the email list. That was also a huge hedge for because back then, this was before Facebook, you know, started screwing up the newsfeed sort of speak algorithm. So once Facebook was student, that's every publisher, including me. We saw a huge drop in reach, so less and less people would go to our sites from Facebook. So I had the hatch that risk, so to speak, by building minimalists and also Facebook groups. So up to today, actually, Facebook groups still really, really powerful.


And did you see that coming or was this a reaction? Oh, shit. Facebook turned off the traffic. We better do something. Or did you sort of anticipate


that the first time around was on this like I nobody really knew. And, you know, the news came out and then suddenly the trafficking now. But the second time, the big update. By the time I had a couple advisers, one Sam par runs the hustle and another advice. Er, that used to work at Facebook. So, you know, he told me, You know, like in big lines, like, you know?

Okay, I don't know exactly how or what or when, but I know you know, Mark Zuckerberg's vision is really not pro publisher. Sort of speak, you know, he really wants people, you know, So make sure you hedge, like, you know, focus on Facebook groups and focus on getting into, you know, Google, Google News and things like that.


So a little birdie told you a little. Yes, you should. You should Look at this. Yes, I strongly emphasize, Just


look it. Don't put all your eggs in one basket and still to today. Like when I buy or so or by start aside, he's like, I want at the first traffic traffic. Yeah. I don't want to be 100% depending on Google. 100% even email or 100% You know, a push notification from all these emails. Still the best bet. But, you know, even Google can make any change tomorrow and then, you know you don't get traffic.


You used to get right. And so you you know, you you're going down this path and in different businesses. There's a moment. And there's this guy Ben Horowitz, whose a venture capitalists in the city for Andris and Horowitz. And he has this term that he likes to use. Wf via we foe. And what that stands for is where eft it's over, meaning something goes so horribly wrong that you're unsure if you can really recover from it. Were there any of those moments? It sounds like the Facebook traffic thing could have been one of those moments, but you're a very calm, cool collected guy, so I don't know. Did you ever have that panic? Did you ever hit the panic button and say, Yeah, this is it. Where were after it might be over.


I think you never lose that as an entrepreneur is that you don't know what's gonna happen, right? Like, what is the right decision? So several times I was thinking, Okay, should I sell now or should I wait if I don't want a way too long? Because maybe things change and in my traffic goes down, and then the value off my company is much less. I cannot sell it anymore where nobody wants to buy it right, Or I was also because I was only writing about soap operas and soap operas are the only four airing, like holding four in the United States. 10 12 years ago. There were, like, 12 or 13 like, you know,

the soap opera get canceled. So I was also, you know, thinking, Oh, man, what happens if two So Barbara's get cancelled, then I don't have content to write about or less content, right? And then nobody will buy it. So I was That was like, you know when, for example, the soap uprise would re sign the contract with the networks Like those were the times, man. Shit.

Should I sell? It said I know it's like trying to get information, you know, trying to get inside information from the networks, you know?


So did you talk to any of the soap opera folks? Do they know who you are? Yes. And did you have to pretend where you like? I'm a huge fan. Oh, so sorry. So not


me Personally. I didn't I didn't talk to them. But our riders are right. A team? Yes. So after I hide the 1st 1 she already had connections with networks in that soap opera actors and then some of our other writers. One that lived in L. A. He knows all the publishes and the networks. And so we got also, you know, interviews, exclusive interviews with soap opera actors. We got the spoilers for two weeks out, you know? So we dried Maura about, Like,

what's gonna happen tomorrow, right? All that stuff. So we had some, but I didn't do it. And But even if you didn't have to pretend and I would not


do that, you would have pretended You told him. Hey. Yeah, I I never watched an episode.


I don't watch it, you know? I'm sorry. It's but, you know, I I love the audience I love, you know?


Yeah, I like the traffic. So the fan base is amazing. And so when you advise people, if somebody who came to you for advice are you one of those people who says Listen to what I say, not what I do as in follow your passion. Hey, I'm not I'm not doing that necessarily. With the topics I'm writing about are the company's kind of the customers I'm serving? I'm not want not scratching my own itch. I'm not a super passionate about that space, but you do it anyways. You think that's a good strategy, or it's just a strategy that works for you and maybe not advisable for others to follow. Yeah, so that's also


I think, one thing Why don't really like? Because nowadays, in the news in your Facebook, you see so many of these so claimed gurus and let the six steps to this and the forceps to that, you know, it makes me cringe because what works for me doesn't work for somebody else. I think you really you know, every person is different. I think what worked for me would will not work for a lot of other people. It's but in my case, I think my passion is not so much the content doesn't really matter. My passion is the entrepreneurship, the you know, the journey off, starting something, not knowing what the outcome is in trying to find creative ways to make it happen.

So for me, I like you have a product service or contents, soap opera, content side, whatever it is, and then you have traffic that you need to drive there. So for me is like freaking out. Okay, how can we get this much traffic for us? Cheapest possible from point A to point B. Right? And that's for me. The game


that I like to If you were selling paper clips or cardboard cups exact


doesn't matter. It doesn't matter. Is the game off driving traffic customers wherever you see it, from point A to point B as cheapest possible? So that's that's a little bit


my get to the get to the end. What? Why did you decide to sell? Why not keep going? Because at this point, it's a money printer.


Yes, I was very lucky that in content you with a very small team, every low overhead, you can make


good revenue and we're talking monthly. You're pulling in


between four or 500,000 in revenue and overhead Waas 100 something, you know, depending on the month. But we were every small team in a house. Were was me and three others and then a handful of writers. So there was a very small team, whether person doing the ads, a day to day person that runs everything and then a video host and editor.


Love it. So you got You have this cash cow wide. Why


sell? Because you don't get often. You know, Milton $1,000,000 offerings, you know, like so I thought, it's It's a life changing.


So somebody just came to Or did you know that you go out in market, So first


I wanted to see Hey, can I cannot even sell it. So initially I went Teoh, ask one of the advisers, David M. It's one of the founders of Bleacher Report. Hey, how much do you think I could sell this? Right? Like, And he brought me in touch with an M. A merchant Inquisition person or guy. However, you said and I hide him and he shopped it around. And, you know, I got some meetings with some companies that were interested in buying it.

I got horrible offers, like, you know, like, one time my revenue, for example, in one X revenue one X revenue. And then maybe with a little bit of cash and then the rest of the money I had to wait, like, four years. Every month I will get a little bit


trying to drip you your money. Yes, It's


like the, you know, the private equity playing right where they try to repay or paved with the cash flow from the business. So that was not worth it. Then I reach out to the broker. I used to work with quiet life brokers. I bought and sold a couple of their smaller sites through them. But I always fought. Oh, this is too big of a website. I don't know. A lot of people that can afford, you know, come by.


You know, did you go in with a number in mind? Do you think that's hard for entrepreneurs, right? It says, Well, what would you sell it for? Yeah, you should if I know. You know, some days I wake up, this is worth 100 million, and some days I wake up and I said, Take this off my hands, you know? So did you have a number in mind? How did how did you think about it?


That's true. Like a lot of especially introduces that are married into the idea. They think that companies were way more than than it actually is. By that time, I had, you know, France that are in the same industry. And you kind of get to know, like, what? Standard? Yeah, we're like, Oh, this side sold for X Y Z, and so you can see at different valuations. So I had a number of mines. There was actually way lower than I actually sold it for, and I went to the broker


said, I hope that guy's not listening. Yeah, well,


isn't it interesting story, too? So the broker, how did works with when you go to a broker, they just look at your last 12 months off profit, and then they put a multiple on it. So if you did a $1,000,000 in profit, they can sell it either between two x and five x, depending on the industry, the trends, you know, traffic sources, all kinds of stuff. So when I started the process of selling through the broker, you know, at that time whatever I was doing in profits, it came down to $5 million.

My yeah, multiple Five months says Okay, yeah, I will take five million started to process, but the whole process takes months to so because you have to get all your paperwork's, you know, European Els and all your data room sort of speak, and then a summary in interviews. And then you start talking with potential buyers. In those months that pass by, my revenue just skyrocketed. So I told the broker called I still remember like I felt so bad because I felt, you know, a man this broken worked so hard on my deal. And now I'm gonna call him saying, Hey,

you know, five million is not enough like I want. I want toe delayed. I want to stop, you know, like I don't want to sell it at this moment. Just wait for a couple of months. Then the value is much higher. I called him and I told him the stories and listen, you know, like, just happened and he totally understand it. So what happened by me pulling the listing, whoever was already interested in it. Now, when it's more, even more like, I wish


this was a genius grant in mind. This was


pure, like just happened. So a couple days later, whoever first offered five million to say, OK, I wanna I over six million and then another. So there was a bidding war between initially three bidders and then two. And eventually I had to choose one of


them. Amazing. Yeah. And so by then, you're like, Hey, this is a good deal. Now I'm happy with this deal. You take it, you sell the company Painful process or was was was, you know, standard transaction.


It's ah, it's an emotional roller coaster because it's a lot of money on the line. My biggest issue was like, OK, Candice person really close, like at the end of the day, Like because you go to due diligence, period. So first,


it's not all about price. You also need the certainty that they're gonna deliver


close. Yeah, so once they you agree on a price, you sign in L. A Y letter of intent and then they have X amount of weeks to dig into all your numbers. One big mistake. One of the many mistakes I made was my books were not as clean as I supposed to like I had other websites. I had just one Elsie one bank account, you know, at very


scrappy based Ramones lab of brains of experiments were all on 11


books. So we had to go literally each item off all bank statements. Each line item. Okay. This is not for the soap. Side is It's what, like, we had to go through everything. They're lower. It's my lawyers there. Cp A my C p. A. It was a very painful, long process. And, of course, there's now looking back for it is easy.

But at that moment, I think maybe they're gonna change their minds. Maybe, you know, maybe in between the due diligence period, my traffic, you know, Facebook makes another update, that my traffic goes down and they pulled a deal. You know, like that goes through your mind the whole time, Like, man, let's hurry up. Yeah, I took two months and that the buyer had some issues to that. One of the investors pulled their funding two weeks before closing. And, yeah,


stuff like that, all the adventures s so it ends up closing. Does your life change where this podcast called? My 1st 1,000,000? Yeah, I think I remember. You know, thinking, Hey, find a 1,000,000 bucks in the bank, then my life would be so different then I would feel this way I would act this way. I would spend this. I would do this in reality from doing this podcast talking to people, that doesn't seem to be the case. What was the what was day one? It's that life for you.


It's super on. I always screw up this word. It's anti climax anticlimatic climatic so anticlimatic Because I remember when the money came in the bank and, you know,


we're almost hitting Refresh over and over again that


I did, I was looking for it and of course I took a screenshot. But I you know, I got assumption paying for the office. We did the toast and then literally, like 15 minutes later, we all were back like it was in the next day. At night. I just I had to pick up my son cooked in there, you know, it's just normal life. And then the next day went back to the office and just work, I think.


What did your son say? He was eight years old at the time or something doesn't register in the brain. You know what the nuns know, Doesn't care,


doesn't know he didn't care. I think it's different when you have really no money and then suddenly you hit a you win the lottery and then the next day have a lot of money. This, even, though, was relatively quick to three years, but the website was already doing, you know, really well. So if I wanted to buy something, I most things I was would could already have bought, you know? So it was not something. Oh, if I sell days, I'm gonna buy, you know, days and days and days like I didn't have That was just OK, now on to


the next journeys rest week. And so we can about 10 minutes before the kick us out of here. But the questions, you know what happens then? So you Since then, you've bought a handful of other Web sites. Yes. Again, like a real estate guy. You sort of by you try to build it up, neither run it or resell it from there. Was that a good idea or bad idea? Well, are you happy with how you how you parlayed one thing into the next or would you do differently? I could see that look on your face. Yes, because you know the


answer. All right, but yeah. No, I What? I wanted to set up was sort of like a p e kind of set up like a private equity where I could buy, you know, undervalued into their businesses. You know, make them better, and then resell mistake. What I did was I bought from totally different. There was there's no synergy for the properties I bought, so all the properties are profitable. But I would have been just make more sense. Now, looking backwards, if I had just around one topic or one like industry, so it could be easily I could scale easily. I need less people less headache or


one business model, right? Cause you have a SAS company. Yeah, that's a B two b company. Yeah, and then you have a content site. You have e commerce, you know, pet


site. Yeah, exactly. And you need different skill levels and different kind of people, different models, different ways, how to drive traffic. So it's not that focused when I started to. So one thing was on my mind how to drive more traffic, how to run with African. And now it's like, oh, with a b two B. Like we need a self steam for this. We need, you know, content science. We need different things. So and we will live. Learn. And


now you have a new product. New idea that you're cooking up? Yes, almost back to the roots. A little bit in terms of what you don't Let's talk a little bit of what you're doing I'm super excited. I'm come on as an investor because I think that this thing is gonna be big. So tell us a


little bit about it. Yeah. So very quickly novel. Lee is actually a platform where people can read short romantic stories, short romantic novels, books on the iPhone or tablet. Either read it or listen to it. So it's in a book, but also an audio version. Me and Sam came up with the idea. We're back and forth. We're really good friends we always come up with were than crazy ideas. And we came up with his idea when I still had to Soap opera website and I still have access to all these readers. So we fought out people that like soap operas, probably also reads romantic novel. So same story put a really ugly, simple WordPress site up.

Had somebody write a couple shorts, romantic stories and drove traffic to it. See engagement. See people like it or not. And the engagement was crazy. People were literally like bagging in the comments like, Oh, we loved his chapter with it. When is the next chapter things like that? But then I started process off selling the soap side. So I put this idea on hold, so to speak. Okay, we can figure out later. Yeah, A couple months ago we just revisited,

and now we're building an app and it's going to go live in a couple months. It's, ah, same demographic, you know, like the middle aged woman that like to read Romans. Now I think of thes thes novels that you growing up saw at the supermarket or the gas station with this cheesy book cover. Yeah,


my mom has read, I think, like 55 Danielle Steel. But yes, I think some article came out saying she's written Mawr novels than anyone like she's got like, 300 days on the threat or weeks straight on the best seller list, or something crazy with different books. As you know, she's a machine. Yes, and then there's obviously 50 shades of grey. There's twilight. There's all these kind of franchises that have been built in the same kind of romantic fiction yet genre. And so you see something there? You think that run that romantic stories of romantic fiction is? Yeah,


is big? Well, a the categories huge. There's a huge amount of people reading this kind of books, but it's also people that read romance. Novels are also every frequent readers, meaning on average in America, a person reads five books a year. The average romantic novel reader reads one book every two weeks. Like you said about your mother like See Red. Many write books write, So not a lot of people, but also they read a lot of these kind of. And there's a lot of sub categories you know you have, like from vampire romantic, you know, stories to 50 shades of grey to really cheesy ones, like it's have a lot of sub categories


as well. Remember a za kid? I used to read every sports fiction book I could get my hands on, and I think one day I crossed over into that, and one of the books in the sports fiction was like a sports romantic fiction or something. I remember taking it home reading at 1st 10 pages. I was like, What is this? By the 15th page, I was like, All right, I'm finishing this book. There's a great book. Hasn't eighth grader never. That s Oh, yeah. There are all these sub genres just within it.

And so you know what? What a success look like? What do you think? Where do you want to be with this project with novel E? You know, six months from now, six months, six months is looking every 12 months,


six months. We hopefully will be, you know, launched in and have a good number of downloads. But in a year, we want to be at least 100,000 active users and build a platform not just for readers but also for writers. I think because I had a lot of writers in the soap hub time, I think writers are very undervalued. Nowadays, it's get more, more difficult for them to make money and for different reasons, you know, Mawr competition, Amazon, probably things like that. So we want novelty to also be a really good platform for riders to make more money, have access to their audience, communicate with their audience with their readers and get also more exposure. I think this is


a great idea. I think that the writers getting that opportunity, Yeah, it's very hard to make a living writing now. So knowing that, hey, if I publish here, I'll get readers and I'll get money on the other side for readers. You know, there's a reason Netflix paid, like 100 million bucks for one more year of friends. Or, you know, the office is the number one shows because people love this comfort and familiarity with content. They love that. If they could just push a button and then they will feel a certain way, it's,

I push a button, get an emotion, and that's really what comes of. If you build a platform like this because somebody will be able to push a button, they'll know what they're getting out of it. It's not like opening up Amazon and say, Here's a bookstore. Go find what you want. This is saying, Hey, you want, you know, here's a great story. It's a romantic fiction story and they will be trained to say if I want that feeling if I want that type of entertainment. Yeah. This is the app to go to really think this has a lot of potential excited.

You see what? You can do it. Yeah, we're excited toe and all rights. Great. So we'll wrap it up there. Room has been awesome having you here, you know, I would normally say, Hey, where can people find you? This is your chance to shout out your social media wherever. Self promotion. Yeah, I don't think e I don't think you even have anything there.


If if somebody has, like, I always like to help and advise. Or, you know, if people have a specific question, they can find me a linked. And if you look Ramon Van Miert right, then you can shoot me a message


also. Thank you so much for coming has been awesome hanging with you. And I believe we have a Spartan race this Saturday to go to. So, yes, we'll see you in the mud very


soon. All right, also, thank you so much.

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