How An Ex-Floor Installer Went From Living
In Hotels To Developing A Multi-Million Dollar Website
|Listen To Frank Bruno’s Story|
|Listen To Frank Bruno’s Story In This Interview Excerpt
With Kristi Sayles at TalkwithExperts
Excerpt Length- 5:15
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Heres My Story……
Hi, I’m Frank Bruno and I started marketing online in July of 1997 after working in the construction trade as a floor installer.
Here’s how it all started…..
Around April of 1997 I went down to the local library one day to look around at books that interested me and noticed that they had a computer with Internet Access.
I had never been on the Internet before and had only used a computer 1 or 2 times before.
So the librarian showed me how to work things and how to search things online using search engines.
I was completely AMAZED at this Internet thing. There was so much to see and learn with a click of a button!
I was hooked!
Unfortunately I did not have enough money to buy a computer but I CRAVED getting my own…..
So I continued working in the construction trade as a floor installer. The company I was working for sent me out of town on a new job after a local job had been completed at a new Kaiser Hospital that was being built.
I Hated Working Out Of Town
And Living In A Hotel
Well he wasn’t so bad but the whole thing sucked! This was the first time I had done this out of town thing and it wasn’t for me. I would come home on the weekends after spending 2.5 hours driving with 2 other guys. Then when Sunday evening came around it was back to the grind and spending 2.5 hours getting back to the job site in N. California.
When I went out of town to work I would take computer magazines with me to look at in my free time while living in the hotel. Each day I was dreaming about my new computer I would some day get. Only problem was that they were very expensive back then.
Well one weekend that I came back home I discovered that I had accumulated a little pile of cash from working out of town. They were paying me extra to work and live out of town but I was splitting the hotel with another guy to save money.
I had about $1,000 saved (I know whoo hoo not a whole lot of money)
Well $1,000 was a lot of money to me at the time and I was able to buy my first used computer for $750!
I actually had my roommate go with me to look at the computer because I didn’t know squat about computers. He said it was ok and so I bought it.
Only problem was that once we got it home I didn’t know where all the plugs went or how to turn it on. lol
After my roommate showed me how to turn it on I was thrilled! Well 1/2 thrilled….. I still needed Internet access…lol
Ok so I got Internet access and was buzzing around the Internet. I was already interested in Investigations and had checked out a few books from the library. I had booked marked some places in those books to refer to later.
Anyway one of those books were about how to find people and do background checks.
I was so interested, that I started to do some research on how to open up a business finding people and background checks.
I WASN’T thinking about doing this online, only off line. In fact it never even crossed my mind. Probably because it seemed way too technical to me especially being so new to computers and Internet.
One day I went down to the local computer store, I think it was called “Incredible Universe” before it became “Fry’s”. Anyway I needed some accounting software because I was told or read somewhere that you need to keep track of customers.
Well I had no customers yet but it sounded like a good psychological start…..lol
When I was at Fry’s I went to the software area of the store where they keep the accounting software among other kinds. While I was browsing the isle I saw a box that said “Put Your Business Online In 24 Hours!” it also said, “No HTML Experience Needed”. Well I thought that was cool because I had no idea what HTML was anyway! They made it sound so easy to put up a webpage, that I decided to buy it.
What kind of webpage I was going to make I had no idea!
After some thought I decided to try and put that People Search business online….
First, I researched some of the sites that already existed to try and learn how they find people. I finally traced it down to some database sources that I needed access to. Once I got hooked up with the sources I studied the existing sites online doing the similar business I wanted to do, and how they were doing things, as well as how they structured their sites.
So I went to work with my new software….
Well after a few days of killing myself trying to learn this WISYWIG software I finally had a few primitive web pages built.
Then I contacted my ISP and asked them how to get the pages online (the software just told me to contact my ISP). After a few days of some hard core learning I was finally able to get my web pages up online! Whooo hoooo!
Man, I had my own website I thought to myself. Nobody has their own website. Wow Im cool!
My ISP had some neat little copy and paste things I could put on my site. Like a hit counter and some other stuff. I new that the hit counter was suppose to count visitors because I had seen the meters at the bottom of pages on big sites saying your visitor number “xxxxx”
I wanted to be like them so I put it up. After no time I was already getting lots of visitors to my site cause I kept checking the hit meter at the bottom of my page showing new visitors every hour until I realized that the hit counter was actually me visiting my own site! lol
So my next quest was to find out how to get people to visit my website.
At this time in my life I decided to quit that lame ass job working out of town and got with a local contractor who got me jobs to do a few times a week. He paid me by the job which was really good money for me. I was making twice as much working only a few days a week for him now than I was working full time at the other job.
This I think was critical because now I could spend all my free time messing around online. And thats exactly what I did. I locked myself into my room that I was renting from a friend and learned everything I possibly could about how to get people to come to my site.
I learned about keywords and how to put keywords in the meta tags and descriptions in the html head section of my web pages.
I learned about exchanging links as well as about submitting my webages to all the search engines.
Back then if you change your meta tags and resubmitted your web pages to a search engine it would show the new version of your page online within minutes. Thereby checking to see how you rank. So I did that all day long, if I saw that I had dropped back down I would tweak the page or resubmit it.
Finally my first order came in. I don’t remember how long it was until I got my first order but it wasn’t more than a few weeks.
So I kept doing primitive SEO stuff and asking related sites to put my link on their site. Back then all you had to do was ask.
When I submitted my site to Yahoo (was free then) It got featured in the section of the directory where I submitted to. Well ok, all new links got featured…. I didn’t know this until I started getting a bunch of phone calls and a bunch of orders started coming in.
After only a few months I started making more money than I was at my regular job and I was actually losing money by not being at my computer. I kept my boss in the loop and he was very cool about it when I started turning down jobs that he had for me.
Within a few months I was making more money than I dreamed was possible for me to make because it was out of my comfort zone which was about $10,000 a month.
Back then there was only one 3rd party merchant account provider that I knew of and I had to forward my order to them manually and they would tell me if it was approved or not either the same day or the next day.
Then eventually I got with another merchant account provider from offline that had some limited web capabilities. When orders would be e-mailed to me from my website via a primitive cgi formmail script I would have to manually type in the persons name and credit card numbers into the merchant account system online and it would tell me if the order was approved or not. This was really labor intensive with all the orders each day.
Shortly after I found out about ClickBank and split some of my sites orders using them.
Eventually I new my market really really well and the advantage I had over my competitors was that I don’t think they devoted full time doing marketing. They would just put up a website and get a few links with some offline advertising to get traffic.
I quickly saw that I had more links, better rankings, and probably a more intimate knowledge of Internet Marketing then they did. Only because I had spent every possible free moment online learning how to get people to my website.
I was able to corner the market from buying all my keywords as domain names for traffic rankings and direct type-in traffic.
Within a few days after ICANN allowed longer characters in domain names I quickly snatched up as many domain names as I could think of for keywords in my niche. One of them was appraised at $60,000 7 or 8 years ago.
When Goto.com came out (Goto.com was Overture way back then) I started with PPC and my income went ballistic. So I started using every PPC site out there. I was now netting about $40,000 a month.
My main site eventually became one of the top 10 people search sites in the world with over 5,000 unique visitors each day and it went on to make millions over the years.
This was and still is a niche site that will always have a need. However after running the site for about 8 years by myself I was burned out to the max.
I was doing marketing, customer service, accounting, raising 2 girls all with a one man show. There was no cheap overseas outsourcing at that time. If you did outsource it was within your own state or area and you had to pay regular wages which were extremely high. Also due to the very tight niche with sensitive information I could not just let anybody in to see the intimate parts of my business. All the e-mail correspondence I would receive would require my expertise that would take years to teach someone else unless they understood investigations in my niche. So I was stuck doing everything myself
So I sold the site to an Attorney in Texas in 2005 where it continues to be a success and has never wavered for the top positions for prime niche keywords in the Search Engines for years and years.
With the knowledge I picked up through those years I was able to develop other niche websites during that time which also became nice income producers. Unfortunately I was not able to devote much time to those sites at that time. Well things have changed since 2005 and I have several niche sites that are producing nicely at the moment.
What Can Be Learned?
I often wonder what could be learned from my experience. Maybe you can learn from them too.
Here are my points but not in any particular order…….
- Develop a product/service that has a MASS appeal and a NEED for years to come. Something that people will always need.
- When new hot trends come out jump on them quick and learn everything you can to capitalize
- Don’t keep developing site after site until you have tapped the full potential of the site you already have. Or at least until it is earning you a great income.
- Don’t just use one page sales letters. Use a one page sales letter for each keyword related to a specific product/service
- If you only have one product or service make more until you have a mini “authority” site
- Develop a membership area IN ADDITION to your regular site with unique content and offer your customers a choice of either to get future discounted items at a discount. This alone earned me an extra 4-6k month on auto pilot for years until I sold the site.
- Make a free useful source only available on your site. This will attract free links pointing to your site
- Offer deep discount coupons for people who optin to your stuff and make the coupons redeemable for only 24 hrs. (this tactic really kicks butt when you intigrate the technology!)
- Be persistent with marketing until you have pretty much exhausted all avenues
- Try off-line marketing because I never did
- Do Joint Ventures because I never did
- Outsource because it is dirt cheap now and wasn’t even available until it was time to sell
- Constantly develop new products/services
- “Listen” to your market and your customers, they will “tell” you what you need to do.
- Make free interesting reports not found anywhere else
- Make your site Interactive (I did with simple echo php statements)
- If possible Buy domains for all your keywords and point them back to your site
- Make unique products/services
- Use simple SEO tactics
I may add more later to the list, but right now I can’t think of anymore. But these are the ones that always stick in my head. If you can’t do all these points on the list which is very likely, you may want to use as many as you can.
To Your Success!
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