I was born on May 31, 1974, and grew up in Moline, Illinois, the son of a teacher and a factory worker. It was a pretty normal life, except that I grew up fat. I mean, at the age of 14 my weight had already tipped the scales at 300 pounds. Sure, I built up a tolerance for people giving me hell and learned that I always had to work that much harder to be that much better than my competition, but being picked last for teams in high school and never having any girls want to be more than a friend was never fun.
I can still remember my first glimpse at technology. It was 1987 and my mom had just bought me an Apple computer. Immediately I was hooked. It was an escape from life. I could play video games, pretend to be someone else, and even write a few programs while I was at it. Over the years I learned more and more about computers but didn’t know exactly what I could do with my passion.
In 1995, I had already graduated from high school and was busy selling appliances at Sears. One day, a woman strolled into the store and started talking. I figured she was there for a washer and dryer. Instead, she came to offer me a job at her Internet Service Provider (ISP) company and a dollar more an hour than I was making. She heard I was good with computers and wanted to know if I’d be a part of the team. I was sold.
I headed to my new job and learned how to manage servers, develop security systems and write websites. It was a true learning experience. However, after a couple of years I left the job and headed back to school. I was convinced a real degree was what I needed. Or was it? While still in college, I founded my first business making Macintosh gaming sites. Instead of taking finals, I was fielding calls from companies who wanted to use their marketing dollars to advertise directly on my sites. Who knew I could make sites I loved and make money? It was great!
Then the dotcom crash came along, I spent every last dime to pay web hosting bills, and to the real world I headed working for different banks and big corporations. It never ended well and I was fired from every job. At the age of 28, I found myself overweight (about 420 lbs.), $50k in debt, smoking two packs of cigarettes a day, and sleeping on my friend’s couch. I was in a real mess, but part of me said this was all I should expect from life. And I was okay with that!
Then I met J, a beautiful woman working her butt off to become an anesthesiologist. She had an insane work ethic, sent herself to school, and showed me that you can get whatever you want if you are willing to work for it. (She also became my wife.)
That was the turning point. In 2003, I took the plunge and started my own business, began writing my blog (ShoeMoney.com), and took my ringtone community company, Next Pimp, to the next level. Not only had I lost over 200 pounds that year through a remarkable surgery, but I also started making more money online in one month than I had made throughout my ten-year career. Actually, a photo of me with a check for $130,000 (my one-month earnings from Google AdSense) is one of the most linked to pages on my blog.
In March 2007, my business partner, David Dellanave, and I launched AuctionAds, an eBay affiliate marketing service that serves eBay auction ads on contextually relevant sites. The service won multiple awards and, in a matter of months, marketing company Media Whiz purchased a majority of the company.
My blog, ShoeMoney.com, shares my ups and downs in the world of online marketing to a loyal daily readership of over 30,000 people. ShoeMoney.com has been named the Best Affiliate Marketing Blog and ranks in Technorati’s top 50 blogs for the past three years. Having made millions of dollars over the past five years, I want to share my insights with others so they, too, can learn and grow.
Currently, I’m the founder of ShoeMoney Media Group as well as a husband, father (two gorgeous little girls), marketer, entrepreneur, blogger, author, and a fan of Mixed Martial Arts.
Philosophy And Business Model
- Embrace new trends and look for opportunities to exploit them. For example, SMG entered the ring tone market early, captured traffic and has monetized it. Finding angles and exploiting them for profit is a key aspect of SMG. Maximum and diverse revenue streams are built on fairly narrow marketing concepts that are then diversified. This is what Jeremy Schoemaker calls “the Coke Theory.” If you are already making Coke, then you can make Diet Coke, Cherry Coke, etc and turn a profit on those as well. A company can achieve growth through small degrees of separation between sites, maximizing diversity within a small industry.
- Focus on what you know. From the beginning of SMG, Schoemaker focused on the aspects of marketing that were second nature to him. He built his sites on those natural marketing principles while running the back end. Web design was a secondary skill, so he focused on the marketing of the sites, which then built revenue. Later he would invest in a professionally done design. Schoemaker continues to focus on existing sites and expand their income potential by building a network of sites centered on a central theme. Again, the “Coke Theory.”
- Small changes can equal big revenue. Once a base of traffic and revenue is built, don’t be afraid to experiment with the site. Once the traffic is there, small changes in design and structure can make big changes in revenue. Ad placement, recurring subscriptions and affiliate marketing can add value to a site without disrupting the base of revenue. Monitor revenue daily, even hourly, to see how your changes have affected revenue. If it’s not working, you can always go back to the way it was.