While I was at home, I may not have had the energy or excitement to work on Call True, in fact at that point it drained me of energy, I did work on a little side project. While in Cincy, I read an article in Business 2.0 about what I would later call adwords arbitrage. Basically this author was making some good money at Christmas time by running keyword ads (keyword ad meaning he would pick a keyword, say “red toy truck” and whenever you searched google for “red toy truck,” his ad would show up, if you clicked on it he had to pay google and you went to his website), in little niche spaces and directing people through affiliate links (basically he was sending people to Amazon.com for the product they searched for, but Amazon paid him a commission for any sales he generated for them). This is a remarkably simple business model, and really reminded me a lot of daytrading. If you could “buy” leads on google for say $1 but were paid a $8 commission on that product, as long as I sold a product every 7 people I would make money. And because of the power of the internet, I could do this a lot of times for a lot of products, and even if I was making 5 cents per item, it could really add up.
I went to work learning the ins and outs of affiliate networks, adwords, and started buying ads in late November. I quickly blew through $150 without making a dime, and learned that as simple as this model sounds, it’s not easy to execute. But I didn’t really feel like working on Call True, so this was a nice distraction. I went back to work, tweaking my ads, my bids for keywords, and about a week in I finally started to see some commissions coming in. By the following Friday I made my first profit, $25 and knew I could make it work from then on out. I continually refined my approach, constantly improving my margins and sales numbers ramping up until mid December where I hit record daily profits of $400, $600, and even a $1100. Unfortunately, I had maxed out all of my available credit and had to settle for the money made at that point. I won’t say how much money I ultimately made, but it was enough to pay off all Engenius related debts, as well as keep me on my feet financially really all year. I will also say that the company I did the affiliate work for loved the $198,000 in sales I generated for them in a month. It opened the doors for quite a few local consulting gigs because people had no clue about online advertising, and were eager to tap into it (it really is amazing). The truth is though, I wasn’t all that excited about what I had accomplished simply because of what was going on at that time. I ended up losing one of the most important people in my life, my amazing mother a week before Christmas.
I came back up to Columbus at the end of January, and despite the difficulties I had to deal with, I actually felt pretty energized. I think I was really hoping things would feel “normal,” again and I thought coming back to Columbus would make that happen. The truth is, it did feel normal for awhile. It was so much easier to pretend things hadn’t really changed, and I tried to resume my Call True activities. We still had a few customers, but we really needed to rebuild the program and at that point we didn’t have anyone available to do the work. Jeff was far too busy to work on it, and I was constantly struggling to put effort forth into Call True. Brian was very patient in dealing with my issues at that time, and Jeff’s complete disappearance and I continued to reassure I’d get this thing back on course. I didn’t. We are now in the works to sell the company, or what’s left of it, to a few interested party. Ideally I’d like to put it into the hands of someone who can put the passion behind it, and keep Brian involved as I know with the right team behind it (mainly programmers) he could sell it to success.