It all started with study skills.
I was working on a master’s degree in 2011 and looking for ways to make some income on the side. Part of me wanted to work at a grocery store or coach swimming like I’d done in the past, but I also knew neither option paid super well. I had some experience teaching study skills, and I was interested in what I read about starting internet businesses.
So I started a business.
My wife was teaching school, which meant I had enough time to learn how to use the internet for growing companies. That was good — because at first I was terrible at it. As it turns out, all of the “passive income” or “just start an internet company” information isn’t as easy as all the experts say it is. But, for what it’s worth, I figured it out, more or less.
In a few years we went from no one knowing about my study skills company, to having a quarter of a million users annually, all organically grown.
I remember the first time I realized the strategy was working. I was on vacation and was making money… without bagging groceries, or selling financial software, or teaching someone how to swim butterfly, or doing a single street sweeping shift (all of which were jobs that filled the financial gaps while the company grew).
A new path forward
My favorite thing about the education business I built wasn’t that it made a ton of money, because we never really focused it into a growth engine it could have been. I just ran out of energy for developing the resources. I was starting a church with a few friends, I’d moved across the country, and I was in a different phase of life.
But as I was considering a new business opportunity, one was placed into my lap.
I was at a dinner party. We were just talking about life and business, and a friend of mine who was the COO of a $15,000,000+ company started talking about the digital space. He’d hired a well-known marketing organization in his town to help them, but had just slightly more than 0 measurable results after a year … and had spent just shy of $100,000 in that time frame.
This sparked more than a few ideas. I asked some questions. He saw that my knowledge from 5 years of marketing and digital experience could potentially help him. I agreed to come on for a small retainer.
And we were off and running.
The “Digital Marketing” Racket
The next couple of years were interesting learning experiences. Here’s what I learned about “digital marketing” (and why I don’t like calling my company a digital marketing company):
- Most Digital Services can be expensive. As it turns out, my friend’s experience wasn’t unique. Many companies won’t work with clients who won’t spend less than $50,000 in year 1. That’s not me — because I’m really focused on your success, and affordability is a key factor for that. Still, you do get what you pay for most of the time.
- The expense is real. While I’ve worked in a variety of business relationships since 2016, all of the digital services experiences I’ve had have been expensive. That’s not because companies are robbing you. It’s because delivering high-quality digital services is tough to do while providing consistent, affordable results. I can rant about why, but neither of us wants to read that.
- It’s not as confusing as some people want you to think it is. When it comes down to it, while there are technical aspects (like in any profession), digital marketing isn’t about tips and tricks. It’s about really connecting with people. That’s it. The rest will take care of itself.
- Quality really is important.
The Genesis of Authentic Digital
I could tell you a lot of stories here about clients, and employees, and successes, and failures, but I’ll stick with just one thing. This is the thing that led me to rebrand Empower Digital, my 3-year-old digital services company, into Authentic Digital. And here It is:
Authentic connection matters.
I know. It’s simple. Every sales professional could tell you this. Every public speaker, or teacher, or counselor, or manager, or parent knows this to be the case intuitively.
However, so much of the web has been built on flashy websites and business jargon that we’ve lost the humanity in our local business websites. It’s almost as if we hide our teams and our unique perspectives behind the facade of the company.
Your service is great. Your product is great. Your location is great. Don’t hide those things. I don’t hide them — I’ve got a portfolio on this site, and I’ll talk shop with anyone who wants to.
But remember that you and your people are the ones we really want to connect with. Not your brand.
And that’s not only more fun — it’s more profitable.
Schedule a consultation, and I’d love to show you how.
Thanks for reading,