When I was growing up, children were supposed to be seen and not heard. University wasn’t for people like me, we were taught to be a cog in the world machine, taught for our manual role in society, to conform and be ‘another brick in the wall.’
I washed dishes at fourteen, fitted carpets at fifteen and in a sheet-metal work factory by sixteen. I never felt like I belonged or fitted in with the crowd, I imagined a different way of living, a different life. Although I was good at things in my little world, no one ever took the time to show me how to do anything. I certainly didn’t know how to make money; no one around me had any money or imagined themselves with any money. You go to school and when you leave you get a job.
When I was sixteen I got into playing the bass. I became a musician and played in bands and clubs in the eighties but never made any money doing it.
I spent all those years as a musician to perfect my craft, all I ever thought about was bass, I wanted to be a bass player… and that’s what I became.
But outside of all that I didn’t have much of a life except for doing all the things you shouldn’t be doing. Somehow I managed to live like that for at least a decade and a half. But that life had been crazy and started to catch up with me. I really needed to get out because I couldn’t go on living like that. I needed a way out.
It wasn’t until I was nearly thirty I saw an advert in a musician magazine for a college course that included music business, for some reason that appealed to me; business had never appealed to me before. I didn’t need to go to Music College to learn music because I’d been a musician for nearly fifteen years up until that point, but I was self-taught, which breed’s insecurities about what you know. I thought it would be interesting to see what other bass players were learning at college against what I knew.
I moved to London to go to Brunel University College for a couple of years. But just like before I had many jobs, mostly bars, restaurants and hotel work to put myself through those years, but one job in particular really got to me, which I remember like it was yesterday.
It was a couple of days before Christmas and I really needed the money, but standing in the shop doorway in the dark opposite the restaurant I had to work in that night, I really didn’t want to do the job.
The thought of having to wash up in cold water all the greasy industrial cooking equipment produced by three intimidating, unfriendly and aggressive chefs until 3 o’clock in the morning was not my idea of fun, but living life as a musician was catching up with me, no matter how much ‘positive thinking’ towards my dream of being able to do what I wanted to do I thought how much more of this kind of work and life am I going to put myself through? Is it always going to be like this? I didn’t have to think about the answer for too long. Enough is enough.
I just shook my head slowly and turned around and went home, I vowed I would never do another remedial demeaning job ever again. I would never work for someone who didn’t appreciate me for who I am and what I am capable of doing.
The same night I sat on the settee in my one room playing the bass, I stopped playing for a moment, leaned forward on my bass with my head in my hands and thought, if I spent as much time learning how to make money as I have learning how to play the bass, I’d be a millionaire by now – and I knew what I was saying was the truth.
How do you make money to get out of day jobs and do what you want? It just hadn’t occurred to me up to this point in my life; how do other people really make money? How do other people make their life work? I couldn’t think of a single instance in my past and point to someone or something that had ever shown me how to live a good life or get paid for something I’d created, something that was mine. No one taught me how to market and sell my VALUE so I could get out of crap day jobs and live life how I wanted to live.
It took some years for that thought to sink in.
If you’re a creative person you need material to construct your art, which is why we buy everything we think will get us closer to our dream. As a musician I bought every album and CD I thought could make a difference to my playing. All the money I ever had was spent on music in one form or another. I started to do the same thing with self-development books, tapes and courses. I started buying ‘How To Create Your Reality’ CD’s and tapes. I was going to self-help classes, even night school at Birkbeck College to get a diploma in Hypnosis. Self-Esteem workshops, psycho engineering, even trained with NLP founder Richard Bandler and UK hypnotist Paul McKenna to become an NLP Practitioner.
In 1997 I was into the whole studying fear thing and the best way to study fear, rather than just read about it was to do things that might be considered scary. So I was Bungee Jumping, Parachuting and performing Stand up Comedy all in the same year.
I was doing all the ‘positive thinking,’ but my ‘reality’ didn’t seem to be getting any better, I was still broke doing ordinary work to pay rent.
While all this was happening in London, I was getting around and meeting lots of different people in seminars and events. At one event I met some people that had their own business; they were Herbalife distributors who were making quite a lot of money selling health products. They persuaded me to join their program and so I did. I bought a starter kit for about a thousand pounds ($1500), but had no idea about how to sell it and so I just consumed most of the product. From there I ended up at a Russ Whitney seminar on how to buy and sell houses, which I bought a two thousand pound ($3500) home study course, which I never applied. But through all that, a part of my brain was starting to be switched on about different ways people were making money.
I noticed that these people were quite positive about what they were doing and some of them who I met were engaged in businesses with a thought out plan to get where they want to go. There whole business had a structure, a series of steps they were following to reach a desired destination. I didn’t see it fully at the time but they were very strategic about what they were doing. They had a strategy that was helping them get from where they were to where they wanted to go.
It was around 2003 that I got my own Internet connection and was immediately attracted to all the Internet Marketing and Sales materials online. I couldn’t believe I’d come this far in my life and hadn’t come across any of this ‘how to make money’ stuff before; it opened up a whole new world to me. It’s not obvious at first but there’s so much opportunity out there to make money it makes you feel like you want to do it all.
It didn’t take long before I was completely immersed in the world of Internet marketing, consuming absolutely everything. There was EBay, ecommerce website’s, Affiliate marketing, Info-product Creation, Cloaking, Search Engine Optimization, Google AdSense, eBook creation, article marketing, blog building, that’s just to name a few to get you in the game. But learning ‘how to make money’ quickly turned into the wider subject of Internet Marketing, which turned into marketing and sales that ultimately came under the heading of business. It sounds so obvious and simple now, but it took me a long time to reach the conclusion that marketing and sales was the way to go, to help you get the life you want. It had never occurred to me up until that point in my life that this is how people make money. I had spent my whole life perfecting what I do, my music. I thought that if I was an expert at my craft I would obviously get what I want, but as life will teach you: Passion Is Not Enough.
So with all the online marketing and sales materials, just as I had done in the past buying records, tapes and CD’s to learn how to play music and then buying self-help books and tapes to learn ‘How to Create My Reality,’ I was now doing the same with Internet Marketing courses. It was different this time because it had now morphed into: ‘How Do I Make Money.’ All the books that teach you how to get what you want through positive thinking… no amount of ‘being positive’ is going to get you what you want. Success doesn’t depend on how you feel. The only thing that can get you where you want to go is to market what you do and then sell it. Sounds so basic, but it took me half a lifetime to discover that.
I bought stuff and then would synthesize it down to its essence and then apply it to what ever I was engaged in at the time because I thought you had to know how to do everything. And when I say everything, I mean everything.
I also signed up to go to night school at Kensington and Chelsea to study Photoshop to create graphics for all the websites I was creating. I was also at college to learn how to use Dreamweaver, the software needed to create those websites. Back then we use to code everything by hand with HTML. I even studied at night college to learn how to create CD-ROMs, which I eventually created a product out of it.
Looking back I realize the problem was that there was so much opportunity out there that deciding which one to start with first was difficult.
I got involved with selling all sorts of things from Private Label Right (PLR) info products, which included hypnosis and Sleep Learning and NLP products. I sold a lot of these as CD’s on EBay every week for a couple of years. Only problem was I had to keep making the CD’s and queuing up at the post office nearly everyday to send them.
I got into Affiliate Marketing, this was back in the day when pay-per-click marketing through Google was all the rage and you could get ten-cent clicks to drive traffic straight to an affiliate offer. That led me to create my own info products that included a bass guitar DVD, guitar scale books and a how to play fingerpicking guitar. I made about $10,000 a year from each of the products just using SEO (Search Engine Optimization) strategies, which I’d unknowingly become very good at. I thought that was what Online Marketing was all about. I was also engaged in writing a couple of non-fiction books, which have nothing to do with marketing and sales.
Promoting my product with SEO I was immersed in the SEO world, which led me to a secret underground forum where there were some big names in there who were into the whole ‘Cloaking’ scene. The name ‘Cloaking’ comes from Star Trek, the Klingons had the ability to ‘Cloak’ their ships in space, meaning you could look directly at the ships but couldn’t see them because they were ‘Cloaked.’ The same principle was applied to ‘Cloaking’ websites. You would do this because you can build thousands of websites at once at the click of a button, they’re optimized to rank in Google, they’re just code that looks perfect in Google’s eyes, but not good to human visitors. So when a visitor clicked to go to the website they would just see the same single webpage every time. All those thousands of coded websites built for Google all led to a single webpage that looked good to a human visitor.
I thought I was doing great building hundreds of websites at a time, but in this forum I met an extremely heavy-hitter who was building tens of thousands of websites at a time. This guy was an extremely experienced business owner who had been creating businesses for twenty-five years. His knowledge about business and what made money was an equivalent of my knowledge about music and bass. He was setting up a business deal and asked me if I would like to be a strategic partner in this business. I said okay.
This was all happening around 2006-7 when Search Engine Optimization (SEO) was becoming big business. A lot of companies were beginning to see the potential of having their website at the top of Google and were looking for companies to provide that service. I began preparing for this business venture. The business partner was very strategic and had thought through all aspects of the business, a complete strategy that targeted the right clients, how to get them and how to scale the business once it became profitable.
There was no creating the product first and then seeing who can we sell it to. Everything had been thought through, who the IDEAL CLIENTS were, where they were and how we were going to get them as clients. The frontend and the backend were all in place to service those clients. The service was designed for small to medium sized businesses that wanted Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Because the service was a continuity rebilled every thirty days, once a client came on-board and saw that the service worked they could potentially be around for a long time.
I had copy for a website, which was pretty easy to set up. My first job would be to get those clients, which we would email companies to get them to respond to arrange a time to talk on the phone. Once on the phone I would tell them how they could get access to a thirty-day trial at no cost, we were assuming all the risk. It was a good offer, they had nothing to lose.
So the day finally came to actually get started and launch the business. I started emailing business owners about our SEO service. On average I emailed around fifty people a day, which is monotonous, back-aching, tedious, mind-numbing work. First you perform keyword research and match them to relevant businesses and then type those keyword phrases into Google and email everyone personally from page two to page ten and ask how they would like to get on page one for those keywords. With all the emails going out I started to get a few replies. Most said ‘Thanks but no thanks’ or ‘not interested,’ but a few responses said: ‘Sounds interesting, give me a call on this number.’
The time came when I had to get on the phone and actually sell the service. I was hesitant because I’d never spoken to business owners on the phone before, but once you get on the phone you wonder what all the fuss was about. The person you speak to is just that – a person. You discover that all business owners really want to know is two things: Do I like you and will you do the job after I’ve paid you? Our thirty-day trial would answer the second question and the first question they’d answer themselves while on the phone with me. It was obvious to the client I knew what I was talking about because I was doing SEO all day long for my own products. I didn’t really have to sell them; it was really a case of seeing whether or not we were a good fit for each other. Some took the service and some didn’t.
We had a thirty-day trial to prove the service, which started at $300 a month. I was generating leads and at one point I had anywhere between twenty-five and thirty clients paying me anywhere from $300 to $1500 a month.
But what you should also know is that I hadn’t left my day job at this point… I was a car park attendant and part of the job was to drive from car-park to car-park and empty cash machines. Sometimes clients called me while I was driving between car parks, so I had to pull over to talk and pretend like I was an important business owner instead of car park attendant collecting money from Pay & Display car-park machines.
Money was coming in consistently so I made the decision to leave my day job and work fulltime working from home. I now had time to understand the world through new eyes, to reflect on how far I’d come. I realized how I’d been reckless in so many areas of my life in the past, how I was a musician with no money and now I make money generating leads for clients who look to me for advice about growing their business. What a transformation.
I taught myself over the years to be a man of my word, if I say I’m going to do something, it gets done. When I said yes to the SEO business opportunity it meant I unconsciously committed myself and was going to do it to the best of my ability. The difference for the success this time round was simply because there was a plan, a strategy, a system that had been thought through to achieve a specific end goal. It was the committed decision and consistent effort towards that plan that made all the difference. The system doesn’t have to be perfect out the gate, I wasn’t, but as long as you can provide the END RESULT a customer or client is looking for, that’s all that matters because that’s what the client wants.
No one would argue in the past that I was a committed and consistent bass player or musician, I became a good musician because of my committed, consistent effort to practice the bass, but I never got anywhere because there was no plan, there was no strategy to realize that dream.
I realized/discovered if you want the freedom to live the life you keep thinking about, you need to commit to a consistent plan of action that defines who you serve, what problem, fear or frustration you’re solving and how you intend to reach those people. Put all that into a simple system that achieves that end result on a consistent basis and you have a winning formula for business.
The key to make money in business is to have consistent sales conversations with the right customers and clients. Just keep leads coming in and talk to those leads and some will convert into clients and some won’t. It’s a numbers game. To make all that happen you don’t need to know everything there is to know about marketing, sales and business. There’s no need to juggle fifteen balls when three will do the trick. Business is about repetition, the ability to discipline yourself to learn how to do a few things four thousand times as opposed to doing four thousand things a few times; that’s the difference that makes the difference. Business is not about recreating the wheel every time you come into contact with somebody.
That’s what I want to share with you today… but before I do that, I just want to give you the end of my story of how I got from the SEO business to the Authentic Marketing System I’m going to share with you in just a moment.
Making good money every month was great but after several years the SEO business wasn’t what it was when I got started, the market changed and it was getting harder to get results for clients because Social Media was becoming the new SEO. The business partner had seen this coming and developed a new venture in the Real Time Bidding (RTB) industry and so I made the decision to start growing my business in that direction.
But after a while I had second thoughts about what I was doing. It had taken so long to get to this point that I was conscious about what I wanted to do with my life. I had doubts about whether I wanted to commit another five to ten years developing a business in this industry, in this direction. to go down this road.
I was reasonably happy but I wasn’t doing what I really wanted to do; just focusing on the money and business I felt I’d gotten off-course. Now don’t get me wrong, I developed a passion for this stuff, I like helping people get what it is that they want. Dealing with business owners in charge of large organizations is fine, you get to know them, some still have passion for the business. Unfortunately a lot don’t, that’s why they hand off tasks to operations managers and staff members, so they don’t have to deal with vendors like me.
The problem was I would build relationships with people that would eventually leave that company, you then have to deal with other members of staff that you have no relationship with and they don’t know who you are and some don’t see the value in what you do. Some even fire you…effectively immediately.
A lot of the people I dealt with at the time were in the business world were there because they have to be there, it’s their job, it reminded me of all the jobs I’ve ever had in the past, it’s not the same as the people that I deal with today that have passion around what they do and want to do something.
Now, just as a side note, over the last seven years of running Linxcat I had other projects on the go… including I wrote a couple of books along the way and now help other people write their personal life story and turn it into a book, info product or coaching service; the Authentic Marketing System is just a small part of an overall strategy, but a very important part of what I do. The people I help today are people just like me that have passion around their subject area and they want to share what they have with the world. I’m helping them get their message or story out into the world because that is my story.
So let’s get back to the story… I made the conscious decision to move away from corporations and big business and move in the direction that I really wanted to go; again the Authentic Marketing System is part of that process.
So I knew deep down that this wasn’t the right path for me. It seems to be a recurring theme of working so long and so hard for something and then you don’t take it any further. I had the feeling to contribute something else meaningful to the world, but believed this wasn’t it, this wasn’t enough for me.
So… as I said I started to change direction to help people like I was in the beginning of my story that had no marketing and sales experience, but wanted to get their stuff out into the world.
No sooner had I taken my foot out of the RTB business door all sorts of things started to go wrong, there seemed to be a mass exodus of clients from my business and money coming in drastically went down, almost overnight. I didn’t worry too much because I thought I’d be okay until I started what I really wanted to do. I had enough money to get through the next six months to a year without too much trouble.
No sooner did I have that thought – the bank sent me a letter informing me as the money coming into my account had fallen so dramatically over the past year or so that they were going to cancel my overdraft limit, which I was partly relying on to make the transition. The old fears of no money began to resurface. What have I done? The ‘not being able to pay the bills’ drama in my head started to play. I couldn’t relax properly because I was worrying about how I was going to pay all the bills. I thought about the outward appearance of Steve the businessman doing really well who has everything together, which I did, but now I had sabotaged it all and was running out of money… fast.
If that wasn’t bad enough the worst was yet to come, the person I was sharing a life with, Alfiya was diagnosed with stage three cancer.
I didn’t tell Alfiya, but through the next year I was struggling financially, I didn’t want to give her any unnecessary stress. But over the next year I was so worried I wouldn’t be able to pay the bills. I didn’t realize it but changing over from my existing business to what I wanted to do was taking longer than I anticipated. Instead of taking six to twelve months, it was more like 1 – 2 years. Eventually I had to start to sell all the music gear I’d bought over the years on EBay. It was a very uneasy and worrying time about everything.
The fateful night came when Alfiya in deep distress came in through the living room door, buckled over clutching her stomach and said “Steve, call an ambulance… this is the beginning of the end!” I learned later she knew what was coming; I on the other hand had no idea what was about to happen. Alfiya was in and out of hospital for the next three months and I became her full time carer at home. I walked to St. Thomas’s Hospital in Westminster, London everyday while she was in hospital.
I don’t want to make this about me, but at the same time all the stress of the last few years had caught up with me, I was burnt out, fatigued and I was getting migraines quite often. I had developed back pain, which caused a hernia and another problem, both of which I had to have surgery. It’s just unreal how everything happens exactly at the same moment in time. If I put all the things that happened around this time into a film and you watched it, you wouldn’t believe it happens like that in real life. One minute you’re doing okay, the next you’re on your knees. You’re only ever one day away from total failure or total joy.
The inevitable happened and Alfiya passed away and we took her body back to Kyrgyzstan [Ex-Soviet Russia], where she was born so we could bury her next to her mother, who had only died a year earlier. Having to bury someone close to you gives you a whole new perspective on what is really important in life.
It had been twelve years since the start of my business journey and I was emotionally drained, everything had caught up with me, Alfiya’s death, the death of my business, multiple surgeries, migraines, I’d basically lost everything that meant anything to me and even had to get out of the flat. I ended up with no money, no clients, no life, no partner – I had to move back to my mum’s house. All I had was me and what I’d learned from my experiences. From this perspective I had the freedom and Independence to start all over again and get it right this time and do I what I wanted to do. Alfiya’s death helped me crystallize what was important in life after seeing her life taken from her in such a painful way. I resolved to stop taking life for granted and use what I’d learned, my knowledge and experience to get things right.
I knew what I was going to do. I was always going to play the bass, I love to create new music, but I understand that for now ‘creation is enough’ as far as music is concerned. But with what I’ve learned in business, I want to help other people understand that Passion Is Not Enough. To get their product, service, message or book out into the world you’ll need to commit to a plan of action and be consistent with those actions before it’s too late.
I knew I wanted to show people that are passionate about their subject how to get what they really want through having a business, not the little pieces of life you can get to squeeze around your business. I know people are facing the same problems I once faced when getting started in my business to get my stuff out into the world. I wasn’t fulfilled just doing business for the sake of doing business. Even though I helped business owners I felt I wasn’t doing what I was supposed to be doing. I was more attuned to helping people more like I was when I got started, creative people that have something to share with others but don’t know how you go about getting it out into the world – the right way. I wanted to get paid for creating products and services that matter to me, like I did when I got started. I know if the products I create matter to me they will matter to someone else. When you have real value to share, there is no need for all the marketing hype.
If you’re like me and want to turn your knowledge and wisdom into products and programs that matter, rather than wasting years trying to figure everything out yourself…
Let me help you Here