How A $1295 Gambling Debt Turned Me Into An Online Marketer

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The first bet I ever made on a football game was like a shot of liquid cocaine…

It was my senior year of high school, and I put $20 on the #1 ranked Miami Hurricanes to cover the 17 point spread at Boston College.  Looking back it was a terrible bet, but that first bet was all I needed to get hooked.

Fast forward a few years and I had done pretty well making a part-time income with my sports bets.  Not alot, but it was enough to keep me from having to get a real job when I was in college.  However, like anything with gambling, you’ll have some major ups and downs. I had a particularly bad stretch of games in 2004 and before I knew it, I owed a bookie $1295 that I didn’t have.

I really didn’t know the bookie very well, but he was the kind of guy you don’t want to owe money to.

I was in a real pinch and had to scramble to find a way to quickly come up with the money.  I grabbed a part-time job valeting cars in downtown Columbus over Christmas break – and also got the bright idea to try and sell my gambling picks on the internet.

The funny thing was, I lost money on my own but my picks were doing really well, so all of my friends were making some nice money betting on my picks.  So I decided to setup a website and see if I could sell my picks every weekend for football season.  I’ll be the first to tell you, this website was god awful.  I cant believe anyone thought it was a legit.  It looked like one of those sites that you designed in 6th grade in a beginner’s computer class.

My first UGLY website

Anyways, on December 20th of that year my site was up, and I had a bunch of packages up for sale.  I logged into my email account and saw I had a Paypal notice – I checked Paypal and instantly my eyes lit up.  There was an order for our biggest package for $147!

I still remember that first sale.  There’s really nothing else like it.

I’ve had $5,000 dollar days since then, and even those don’t get me as excited as the first sale I made online.

My “Secret” To Being Successful Online…

After that first sale, I continued to work on my website and try and make money with it.  I think I made around $1000 in my first year online.  But that was all I needed to get me started.

Throughout college I kept working on my online business and after I graduated, I decided to try and make this a full time gig.  I won’t lie to you and say it’s been easy.  In fact it’s been a VERY rough ride.  There were times in the beginning when I went from making $15,000 per month to just a few months later considering moving back in with my parents or having to find a real job.

Hell, just last summer my business came upon VERY hard times. My big consulting client decided to change his business, and he really didn’t need me anymore. And to make things even worse, my girlfriend of 3 years broke up with me just a few days after that.   So within a span of a few days, I lost 90% of my income and got dumped my girlfriend.

I was an absolute wreck.

I contemplated giving up on the whole damn thing and just slaving away in the 9-5 world.  I honestly wasn’t sure if it was worth it to keep going.

But I didn’t.

I scraped by doing copywriting jobs and freelance consulting while I worked on my fitness site. I made it an initial goal of mine to make $100 a day within 30 days of starting the 31DayFatLossCure.com.  I didn’t hit that initial goal in 30 days, but when I eventually did I could see the massive potential that was ahead.

Things started to turn around, and quickly ramped up once I dialed in a bunch of our Facebook advertising and blog advertising.  Fast forward a few months , and in December of 2010 we did over $110,000 in sales from the 31 Day Fat Loss Cure alone!

I now have one of the top weight loss products on Clickbank and because of that I’m also one of the highest paid copywriters and Facebook Ad consultants around.  I literally have to turn down 3-4 jobs every week because I can’t handle most of them.

I didn’t write this post to brag about my success, there’s a very valid point here.  So read on…

Here’s The Real “Meat” Of The Story…

If you’re struggling right now to make money online, I can guarantee you are closer than you think.

I’ve seen more than a handful of people go from “rags to riches” in less than 2 months.  I’ve seen people who were SOOOO close to making big money, just throw it all away and quit.

Now the point of my story is this – bad shit happens to successful people all of the time.  We just have a different way of looking at it.

Getting $1200 in debt didn’t look like a good thing at the time, but it ended up giving me the life I have now.  Getting fired from my consulting gig last year looked like the end of me online, but it ended up lighting a fire under my ass to get The 31 Day Fat Loss Cure rolling. Without being fired, I probably never would be where I’m at now.

Remember:  Bad shit happens to everyone.  It’s how you deal with it that determines whether or not you’ll be successful.

- Justin

P.S. – Feel free to share a story of you overcoming a bad situation in the comments below.  I’d like to hear them…

82 thoughts on “How A $1295 Gambling Debt Turned Me Into An Online Marketer

    1. Bryan Jake T

      Good read. Bad things happen all the time. We’ll never really know when it’ll hit us, right? It’s up to us how to deal with it.

    2. dotCOMreport

      A good pep talk can get a person through a rough patch and for a lot of people, the past couple of years have been really tough. But I sincerely believe that when it gets darkest is when the big break is closest. At least it’s been that way for me.

  1. TrafficColeman

    Justin I tell people life is about making the right choices and it seems that you made the ones that you thought were going to make you the next break out story. Sometime we juts have to go through things to get where we want to be.

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

    1. enajyram00

      A lot of successful people that I know of have gone through some really tough times. But they never gave up. I guess that’s what makes them what they are.

    1. MVZP_01

      This couldn’t have come at a better time. The past few weeks have been rough. It makes me look at my own problems now with a different perspective.

  2. Tim@Internet Income Rant

    Hi Justin,
    Your story is impressive and this type of stories go ahead and give the push that people need. Mine is similar to yours, the only difference being that I’m just starting to hit. I’ve not really hit hard but that first dollar was really something. I’m working hard and also reporting my income because I know I’ll get there. Thanks for that beautiful one. Enjoy your day.

  3. Brandon Hansen

    It is funny to look back and see what circumstances have brought us to our current position in life and business. Even if the experiences that got us there were painful at the time,they are part of the learning and growing experiences.

    I have also had rough patches in my business and life, but wouldn’t trade them if I did it all over again because they are part of who I am and are instrumental in the experience and knowledge I have gained.

    Great post.

    Brandon

    1. spameater

      Bad times don’t last but tough people do. Inspiring story, Justin! Looking forward to more of your posts.

  4. Jason P

    I struggled for years to make money online. I first found Shoemoney’s blog in 2006, and it motivated me to make money online. I struggled and struggled, and just out of left field, last september I started doing CPA marketing. Now I make anywhere from 10-20k a month consistently using facebook viral apps. I’ve gotten a new house, new cars, and my family’s quality of life has greatly improved. Good to hear your story.

    1. WhoSaysWhat01

      I’ve only recently started exploring online marketing and I’d say it hasn’t been easy for me. Made me wonder if I’m cut for this. I realized after reading your post that I can’t give up. If I want my venture to succeed I can’t quit, ever. I just have to find more ways to make it work.

  5. Jeremy Enke

    Justin,

    I remember working with you back in 2004, and even then it was obvious you had the drive to be successful. You’re an inspiration to many affiliates out there and a model of why people should never give up, and should diversify into various markets. Congratulations dude!

    Jeremy Enke

  6. Jan Teilhof

    Congratulations on your success Justin. I went full time as a webmaster myself a few weeks ago, and i look forward to doing a post like this sometime next year (no rush) :D I´ve been very very close to giving up myself and have also seen many give up who were very close, but now im just happy i sucked it up and went all in instead. If everything else fails, there is always 9-5 right.

    Jan

  7. Bryan Hauer

    Hey Justin,

    Have to agree with Jeremy. I remember meeting you back about 5 years ago in Vegas at a conference and noticed you had the drive for success, the ability to learn from your mistakes and take in as much info from other successful people as possible.

    Nice to see how well you’re doing now and also see that others have fought through the ups and downs of entrepreneurship and affiliate marketing and had the determination to succeed even if that means thinking it’s all over. I believe we’ve all been there a time or two.

    I too have had a similar experience, changed industries, lost my girlfriend and thought how the hell am I gonna come back from this. Sometimes those changes force you to explore other industries which may be more in line with your passion anyways and allow you to be more creative and passionate about your work. Looks like you’ve found that in the fitness/nutrition industry.

    Funny thing is when you find your passionate niche (which over time there may be multiples of) you’ll not only work harder, but your passion will shine through to your customers/readers which in turn will take care of all those things we constantly worry about… like financial success and those damn girlfriends;)

    Congrats and look forward to watching what other projects you have in store in the near future.

    Bryan

  8. Hotdogman

    Hmmm. Betting on a BC game- I thought that never happened anymore…..

    Two years ago I nearly lost my life to a pulmonary embolism. To compound things, I also got Lyme Disease and broke my knee. I was layed up for nearly a year and I pretty much lost interest in maintaining my blogs for a good six months.

    A funny thing happened though; my page views went up while I ignored my sites! Unable to work at my old business due to my injuries, I re-dedicated myself to working on my sites on a consistent basis and I am making money. Right now I am very close (or as you said “SOOOOO close) to the point where I believe I will be a six figure blogger and it would never have happened if I had not had the health problems.

    Many times adversity forces us or motivates us to do things we may not have done. Necessity is indeed the mother of invention.

    Adversity

  9. Ridge

    Very good post Justin, Like Jeremy E, I remember when you still were doing gaming and the hit the Elite Retreat and you changed your focus iirc. You hit the nail on the head, I almost gave up my online stuff a couple years back and a long time affiliates said “NO” give it another 6 months and put 1000% into it! I did, and now I’m seeing the rewards of all that work. I almost threw it all away though.

  10. Giorgio

    Hey Justin,

    In some sort of way you have always been inspiring to me. I have followed you since you blogged about your vision board, and it’s great to see what you have accomplished ever since. I guess many online marketeers have been at the point of wanting to give up, but at least I am glad I never did. I might not make millions of dollars (yet), but am making a very decent living, much better than the average 9-5, and the freedom that comes along is well worth it too.

  11. WhoisDoyle

    Great post! A lot of people are always looking for the secret formula to success but it’s actually quite obvious. More than talent, more than skills and abilities, it is the ability to overcome setbacks and carry on that brings any person closer to success.

    1. F2Xsites

      I believe that, too. Sometimes it’s when tough times hit you that you begin to re-evaluate your life. Looking back, the most difficult moments in my life were like wake-up calls for me to embrace changes. I wouldn’t be where I am today, running a small business, if not for the difficult times I’ve been through.

  12. Husher50

    Goes to show that something good comes out of perseverance. Many people quit when things get difficult. The few who don’t are the ones who enjoy the rewards.

  13. WilmaP

    Nice article, Justin! I’ve read all your previous posts as well and they’ve been really helpful to me. I signed up for an affiliate program and I have set up a site that I eventually plan to monetize. I’m not sure if both undertakings will be successful. But they’re worth a shot.

  14. newmediaist12

    Hard times can teach a person that there’s always a way out. Successful people are those first out of the gate.

  15. TheSandMan5050

    Triumph over adversity. It’s when things get difficult for me that I seem to come up with good plans.

  16. GQmeansGeek

    No one’s immune to hard times. It’s what you do when things going your way that would define your future.

  17. Dre

    Making money on the internet does have it’s highs and lows, but never give up and always remain confident in your business venture and you’ll remain successful.

    -Dre

  18. socialanim00

    I plan to be debt free by end of this year. I’ve been working at it for years now. It was only after I started with affiliate marketing though that I’ve made good progress with it.

  19. WhateverWorks

    Just read about your affiliate program. I don’t have much experience in affiliate marketing yet but I’d really like to sign up.

  20. Lakiesha Lauseng

    Howdy, Although I agree with most of what was said in this post there are some I just don’t agree with at all. Even with that said, this was an overall good quality post.

  21. The American Dream

    I really like what you emphasized in the middle of your post. People have to look for what you sell. This seems to be an obvious statement, but it’s surprising how many business owners overlook this detail.

  22. Jona712

    Have you ever considered transforming your life story into a screenplay? This stuff right here could be the next box office hit. (Throw Megan Fox in the mix and we’re definitely good to go.)

  23. moolahmachine

    There are more and more people every day looking to the internet to earn more money. Whether they go into network marketing or choose another home based business, the web business industry is ripe with opportunity — if you’ve got the balls to do it, that is. Great insight, buddy. :P

  24. AnnieP78

    I’ve always thought that implementing a killer site and just promote, promote, and promote is the ultimate strategy to get my online bookshop up and running. Now that I’ve read this, I think I’ll tweak a couple of things. Thanks for the heads up.

  25. Robin Sterling

    The main reason that people use the internet is to get information. And they want it quickly. IMHO, I still have a soft spot for simplistic and minimalist sites that don’t keep me waiting until the intro finishes loading up. What do you think, Justin?

    1. medomoc

      It sounds like the 3 W’s and 1 H of website promotion: 1. What’s on your site 2. Where to find it 3. How to contact you 4. Why they should explore further

  26. KrisM77

    We all know times are tough. Unemployment rates and cost of living are sky high. Today’s economic recession, as it’s politely referred to as, has led many of us needing to find creative new ways to earn extra money just to make ends meet. And you, my friend, did a great job inspiring me to do the same. Kudos!

  27. WanderingMommy

    Can anybody clarify this? Thank you very much in advance. “There is no risk when it comes to affiliate marketing, you only pay after the results are delivered.”

    1. AnnieLouJ12860

      Yep. That’s true. Affiliate marketing is often termed as one of the best online marketing programs that are available to small business. Using an affiliate marketing program you agree to pay your affiliate partners a referral fee for each lead or sale that is generated. Simple as that/

  28. FirenzeZ

    Affiliate marketing is a low-cost way for merchants to build awareness and showcase their products and services. The model is simple; it works as a commission-based referral system. A partner or affiliate markets a merchant’s products for a “piece of the pie.” And last but not the least, this post is so delicious like my momma’s cherry pie. :P Hope to catch more articles like these.

  29. Ara600_m1

    Affiliate marketing experts often make an income that can tally over five figures per month, however only 1 to 5% of thousands of marketers achieve this level. When an affiliate reaches this elite level they are often referred to as a “super” affiliate. <— My goal this year

    1. ExclaimedIdeas

      Most affiliate programs these days are just scams to get your money into someone else’s pocket but how do we find out what programs we can actually use to make a living from?

    2. Bputitout / Putitoutthere

      Believe it or not, anyone can become a super affiliate, but it will not come without blood, sweat, and a hefty time commitment. The typical super affiliate possesses the following traits: persistence, patience and thirst for knowledge.

  30. floresparati

    here are many affiliate program available on the Internet today, so it’s important to make yours stand out and catch the attention of professional affiliate marketers. Once you’ve done that you are well on your way to a successful campaign. Right, Justin?

  31. joonlee97

    A lot of affiliate marketing programs tell you that they will make you rich overnight, or make you a million dollars in cash pronto. They wont, simple. If you want to become a successful affiliate marketer you will have to work for it and it wont be easy. It will be very time consuming and hard but well worth it in the end.

  32. Laney Pitt

    I’ve learned that claiming a specific niche is the best strategy when you’re starting out. The mistake that many affiliate marketing hopefuls have in common is that they try to offer everything under the sun rather than focusing on a specific niche market. Do not scatter your efforts, focus on your niche, promote it, and sell it well.

  33. H delacruz

    Laura Lake, one of my mentors, related that locating niche partners is also an essential component of web marketing success. Once you’ve claimed your niche market research and find web sites that have viewers interested in your niche market. You will want to find partners that have already built traffic and would benefit from your affiliate offer. Your offer should be a win-win for both you and your affiliate partners.

  34. NicMoon

    Pro-tip: Only use pay-per-click engines if you know what you are doing, otherwise all your profits may end in the hands of Google Adwords or Overture.

  35. veronica_sm

    Expand your network. Don’t rest on your laurels just because you have a few good partners, you never know when they may decide to jump ship. Protect yourself by actively recruiting new partners. You can find new partners by advertising your affiliate program on your web site, listing or advertising in affiliate directories, or by contacting potential affiliates directly.

  36. BeltwayBoy

    You have the same mentality that I have! The only difference is that your making money and I’m not! lol I feel like I’m getting close and working my a$$ off trying to learn everything the right way, thanks for posting this.

  37. How to Register a Domain Name

    I love the quote at the end….bad shit happens to everyone and how you deal with it determines your success. I have had the wrong attitude way too long. Instead, I’m going to use this bad shit to make me a stronger person than before. Thank you so much Shoe!

  38. Marco Lee

    What happened during those ups and downs? You said that you were having $15,000 per month on sometimes none, what are the variables that you were having?

  39. Caleb

    Justin,

    Love this post man, and you’re so right, I really like this part:

    “If you’re struggling right now to make money online, I can guarantee you are closer than you think.”

    This is so true, all it takes is a crap load of patience, even more tenacity, and sticking in there and success can start to happen really quick.

    “Remember: Bad shit happens to everyone. It’s how you deal with it that determines whether or not you’ll be successful.”

    That is also SO true.

    I remember a few things:

    –> Not getting a job as a firefighter (after passing all the tests because of a bad driving record over a year old) — that set me on the path to being an entrepreneur …

    –> Getting my first weight loss site google slapped out of business (led me to other traffic sources, more stable than google).

    –> and there’s probably a lot more, just can’t think of them right now haha :)

    But that’s awesome man, glad to hear of your meteoric rise on clickbank!

    I remember chillin with you in Vegas — you were starting to get everything figured out and I remember you had just had a BIG setback that would of made most people quit, but you kept grinding and look at you now!

    Keep it up bro :)

    Later,
    Caleb

  40. stuntman

    Youre so cool! I dont suppose Ive read anything like this before. So nice to seek out anyone with some unique thoughts on this subject. realy thank you for starting this up. this web site is something that is needed on the web, someone with somewhat originality. helpful job for bringing something new to the web!

  41. Hugh

    Thanks for the great inspirational story! The thing that really inspired me was the part where you said you saw some people go from “rags to riches” within a couple months. I think sometimes I lose sight of that and I get down because it feels like it will take years to see even a little success. I just have to remember that the internet has tremendous power and once we learn to master it, there really is no limit to what we can do.

  42. lyndon

    I think I will become a great follower.Just want to say your article is striking. The clarity in your post is simply striking and i can take for granted you are an expert on this subject.

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