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EXECUTION Starting new Progress Thread after attending the Summit...

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GravyBoat

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I've been skimping on the posting in the last while. We attended the Summit over the weekend, and after being urged by multiple people to start a new progress thread, here it is!

Life:

22 years old, moved to San Diego in October with @nitroheadz28 to get a fresh start and focus solely on business. We met eachother at C&B (meetup) a few years back, shared a hotel room, kept in touch, and one day decided to GTFO and move to a new city. We moved in together in order to push eachother business wise, and it has been a great decision so far. I highly recommend anyone that is in a position to do this start thinking about it. We are 100% focused, and I have made THOUSANDS of times more progress than I would have had I not changed my situation and moved away from my old friends/vices/habits/environment/etc.

Business:

I currently have two Shopify stores. One, I dropship products from China to customers in the US. The other, I do Print on Demand using a supplier within the US (much less of a pain in the a$$ so far).

Biz 1:

Not going to disclose products or website name obviously, but it's a pretty large niche. So far, I've done lots of Instagram marketing. Bread and butter is shoutouts with larger accounts (100, 200, 300k followers), so I pay them $15-45 for a "shoutout post," and drive sales that way.

Where I'm stuck: FB ads. Thankfully, I learned a TON of helpful information from people at the summit. I will be executing on this this week, and will post updates. So far I've tried two different creatives with two different sets of ad copy, using lookalike audiences from people that have already bought from the site (thru IG). I'm not having much success with that so far, so time to switch some things up and keep testing. I will also be doing a video ad, thanks @Eskil !

This business deals with much lower end products (price wise) anywhere from $15-$35, so the profit isn't as good, but it's easier to get people to buy.

Biz 2:

Doing Instagram shoutouts. Finding good influencer accounts, DMing them, asking about their pricing for shoutouts. This biz is much newer so I need to get to 100 sales through IG so I can move to FB ads (what I have learned is that the FB pixel needs at least 100 "events," in this case, sales, in order to start a decent lookalike audience to target.

I am also sending some free samples to smaller Instagram accounts, as well as attractive female accounts in return for a post. This costs me a decent amount up front but hopefully it will pay off, if I even make 2 sales from sending a free product, it's worth it.

This business deals with much higher end products (lowest is $89, highest is around $450). I have zero experience selling higher ticket items, so I am researching that. One thing I've been suggested to do is build a landing page, although I'm not quite sure that would work with this niche... we shall see. Going to do it anyway and see what happens.



We have several whiteboards in the house filled with "do to" lists, and are constantly crossing off items. It feels great to cross something off and erase it. I feel much better about always making a little bit of progress this way since it's a marathon not a sprint.

I will update this at least once a week. Please ask any and all questions, or throw out suggestions on what I could do better.

Best wishes!

GravyBoat
 

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Eskil

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I will also be doing a video ad, thanks @Eskil !
Very cool. Yes video ads can be super powerful. Great meeting you at the summit btw. Hit me up if you need any help with creating a good video for FB.
 
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Biz 2:

Lined up Instagram Influencers for the next 3 days. One thing I've learned is that when starting a store, you want to use Influencer shoutouts ONE AT A TIME, because otherwise you have no way of seeing where the sales are coming from. Let's say you do 3 shoutouts all in one day, you don't know which IG accounts are performing for you.

Goal is to get 1-2 weeks of different accounts lined up, take the best ones, then hammer on them until I hit 100 sales with the new store. This allows the FB Pixel to pull an accurate "Lookalike Audience" for your ads. Once I hit that, I will start on FB ads for the new store.

Also shipped off some product to attractive females that I knew from high school. They are my friends and have 1-2k IG followers. Hopefully I make a few sales from old friends for starters. People like to see someone start a business and have been very supportive in the past (parents of friends, random people you met 5 years ago, etc, just my experience)

Biz 1:

Creating new ads for this as my old FB ads weren't working. Starting a bunch at $5/day to test, then scale the ones that are performing the best. Lookalike audiences to start. I will probably start them in a few days since I'm focused on Biz 2 at the moment, but will keep y'all posted.
 

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There you are man! We spoke at the buffet on day 1 of the summit. I knew your first name but not your forum name.

I'll be watching this thread..
 
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GravyBoat

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You can use different tracking links with any proper webanalytics tools and see where the sale comes from!
Definitely can. I'm not gonna set all that up at this point though, too much other work to do :)

@nitroheadz28 and I got to hang out with @powderhound100 today, shared some golden nuggets, marketing tips, and just worked on our stuff for a few hours. I highly suggest to anyone reading this to network with people on the forum, become friends, share info. The more heads you can tap into the better, and you end up meeting some badass people along the way.

Going to be running a Reddit ad as well as a Google ad. Never done either before so we'll see how it goes.
 
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Update:

Biz 1:
Got two different video ads created. Running them now on FB ads. We'll see how it goes.

Upping my Adspend on FB in general. More testing, more products, more creatives, more copy, targeting, etc.

Figured out a bunch of different targeting for FB ads that I didn't even think of before, like targeting public figures in a niche, or magazines or books, TV series, etc. Basically I learned how to use Audience Insights haha. Testing it all now.

I think I'm finally burning through alot of my IG influencer accounts that used to work great, but now aren't working as well... obviously the account's same followers get to see the shoutouts each time so there's only so many that are going to buy. Need to broaden audience thru FB. I'm getting sick of IG shoutouts.

Also re-did a few things on the site making them much better...

Biz 2:

Decided against running an actual AD on Reddit, since, after all, it's Reddit. I'm going to sneak my way into the comments, drop some knowledge, and hopefully get more organic sales that way. Trying not to come off as an advertisement rather than asking for help... We will see how this goes. If it doesn't help, I can always run an ad on a new account. I was told you shouldn't use your personal Reddit account to run ads since it's all tied together and people can see that, so I made 2 new accounts.

Did a ton of Competitor research, figured out their FB targeting, figured out their funnels.

IG shoutouts are NOT working for this business. I've done over 10 shoutouts and had zero sales come directly from them... Made a few family/friends sales but as we know those don't count. I think the product price point is far too high for someone to make a spur of the moment decision.

Got product samples as well as confirmed shipping times, packaging, inserts, etc with some of the people I sent product to. Everything looks very professional and clean. Products themselves are top notch quality.

Going to be putting a "Referral program" insert inside the packaging as well as an upsell or BOGO offer, on the to do list.

Here's my FB Campaign map so far. I'm really gaining a better understanding of "Retargeting." The more I learn about this stuff the more it all makes sense. It's really all about the process, yet again.

upload_2018-3-12_0-55-8.png
 
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Biz 2:
Once I make some more sales off FB, gonna reinvest the profits and send 5-10 products to Instagram models. That's what I'm going to do instead of doing shoutouts. Does anyone have experience doing this? How many times should I ask that they post my stuff?? How should the convo go before hand?? Products cost me $45-70 shipped to send to them.
 

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Nice process you've got going. I'm gleaning some useful info from you. Thanks ;)
 

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Biz 2:

Driving heavy FB traffic to the site yesterday and today. Writing this at 2:00AM still trying to work out an issue with the site.

Issue happened today when I added 3 new simple slider images, for promos I'm running (ie buy one, get one 50% off). Now, the theme is screwed up, and the slider isn't "responsive" on mobile meaning the images won't resize.

I'm far from a coder or graphic designer, so I reached out to the Shopify Support team. I intentionally picked a free theme so they would be able to make changes to it, since on Biz 1, I used a 3rd party custom theme, and they won't/can't support it. I totally understand, so I chose this theme. Funny enough, I've already gotten them to customize it pretty extensively (hours work of tweaks) just getting things how I need them.

The issue now is, all of this FB traffic is coming in, most of it on mobile, and the site looks like shite on mobile...

Not sleeping until I figure it out... Looks like others have had this issue. Probably going to have to hire someone. Phoning friends as I type this lol

Biz 1:

Still running FB ads, getting sales. Tried a new product which is doing decent so far. Starting to figure out how to scale an ad campaign. You really just need to let it do it's thing for the first 5-10 days I found out.

I'll expand more on my FB ads learnings later.
 
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GravyBoat

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I FIXED THAT SHIT. Now off to bed. Best feeling I've had in a while.

I also wanted to make a point to let everyone know that one of the best choices I ever made was to remove myself from a negative environment back home. Moving across the country (I count anything over a 15 hour drive far enough). A year ago or even 6 months ago I would have been partying my a$$ off on a Friday night not giving two shits about my business goals. Funny how things change when you force yourself to change.

I would not say I had an ounce of fun today but the feeling you get after accomplishing something is WELL worth forgoing "fun."

Anyway, let the traffic flood in and the ads optimize!!!
 
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GravyBoat

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Update

Biz 1: Sales still coming in, but I'm trying to scale. Getting my a$$ handed to me in Facebook Ads but I'm still pushing. Redoing all my campaigns again now that I have a better understanding of what to do.

Right now, I'm using this method:

1 Product = 1 "Campaign." Each Campaign has 1 adset for starters with a Look Alike Audience. Here is the progression:

Optimize adset for View Content. Once that hit's 300 VC's, duplicate Adset and optimize for Add To Cart. Once that hits 50 ATC, duplicate that adset and optimize for Innitiate Checkout. Once IC hits 50, optimize for Purchase conversions (haven't gotten to this yet).

Let me know if anyone sees a flaw. I'm getting opinions from several different sources that are very good with FB ads, but they are saying different things, so I'm going to let this run it's course for now and see what happens. If it fails I'll adjust.

Biz 2: No sales coming in anymore. Dropping prices storewide to see if this helps. Traffic is still coming from FB but not converting so there has to be a problem. Website looks great, products look great... I'll let y'all know if this makes a difference. I figure if I can get like 50 sales this way with lower margins that should be enough for some good traction.

Also put referral cards inside the packaging so we will see if those make any sales. I'm more than willing to take a smaller margin on the first sale to acquire a customer.
 
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Biz 1: Figured it was time to hire a FB ad person for starters. I've been failing and spending money testing, but I want someone that's good at it to show me what's up.

Posted on a few FB groups, got a bunch of responses. Mostly agencies (or their salespeople) hitting me up. Most wanted $1k/mo, some were up to $2k/mo for starters for a 3 month contract... PLUS adspend. When I told them my budget, what I want to spend ($2500/mo for starters), they said "Okay, sounds good, so 2k for us, $500 for adspend, sound good?" No, that sounds like a rip off.

I ended up going with a solo guy who does other ecommerce stores similar to mine (difference niche tho). He's only charging $300/mo for starters. He told me another brand he works with does profit sharing with him, but I said I'd rather just up his monthly retainer instead of do that. We are working together now on re-doing everything, setting up a better email sequence, FB ads, funnels, upsells, etc. I will report back soon.

Still getting some sales off IG and a few from FB. Putting all of the $ back into ads.

Biz 2: Getting shat on with this one. Lowered product prices storewide. FB campaigns still running. Launching re-targeting campaign as well. Added all products into Facebook and Instagram themselves so you can tag, and actually shop from within FB and IG. Pretty crazy and cool how this works.

Have a ton of traffic coming in but no sales. Something is wrong........... Product or price. Or something on the site. We will see if the store wide price drop helps this week and next.

Still figuring it out. Beating my head on the keyboard. I've been messaging larger IG accounts asking if I can send them products for free. Little to no response.

Might come out with some new designs slightly different from the current ones to test those. If I don't get any sales this week that's what I'll do.
 
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GravyBoat

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Been slackin' on the updates.

Biz 1:

I finally understand Facebook Conversion ads. Finally at the point of scale with ONE product.

Next steps: Find more winning products to sell. I am also going to segment different products into separate stores, since if you don't, you screw up your Facebook Pixel data. This is what allows Facebook to actually optimize your ads.

Retargeting and email marketing has been huge as well. MUCH cheaper costs per conversion.

Biz 2: Put this one up for sale and got someone that's going to buy it. Basically they are going to move all of their products into the site and use my infrastructure. Taking the loss as a learning experience. All said and done it was maybe 2 or 3 thousand bucks in the hole including adspend, so whatever. Not a huge deal but I DEFINITELY learned so much.

Biz 1 is going to branch out and become Biz 3 and 4 shortly, due to different niche's. I figure it's better to have a website selling one product with maybe an upsell than have one store selling semi unrelated products. I will skip Biz 2 in this progress thread going forth since it is officially dead. If the sale doesn't go though within a few weeks, I will likely just take it offline and cancel all related accounts, as it's costing unneccsary money. I might leave it up for another month but who knows.

Godda fail fast I'm learning. I'm also learning a good point of reference between "not giving it enough" vs "giving it too much". It's been tough but thank God it's finally working.

Should be exciting next few weeks!!!
 
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Hey buddy! I'm running a fair bit of Facebook ads these days.

There seems to be a lot of misinformation out there regarding optimization strategies, and that's largely in part because there's this tendency to want to 'outsmart' Facebook and copy what just happens to be working for other people.

In general, it's not a good idea to try and 'outsmart' Facebook by coming up with fancy optimization strategies. In general, if conversions don't work right off the bat (as in, they get no sales or sales that are horribly unprofitable), then either your audience is too expensive (unlikely), your ad is not resonating with them, or your offer isn't compelling enough.

I said 'in general' twice because it's very important.

Your ad funnel is solid. Facebook is all about creating content that resonates with people, and your offer needs to be part of that. Retargeting makes this easier.

The conversion pixel data is used during and after the 'learning' phase that your ads go through. Running conversion ads, IN GENERAL (ha), will send you to a 'bucket' of people that have been determined by Facebook as likely to convert... IN GENERAL. That's why when you run conversion ads:
  • your CTRs go down
  • your VCs, ATCs, ICs, etc. go down (but the costs go up)
  • your abandon rates go down (more like normalize)
  • your CPAs go down
...all of this IN GENERAL. (so many caveats)

There is a need to season the pixel, of course, but that is because you want to keep a good campaign staying good (and let a campaign that got off on the wrong foot get better).

The nice thing about all this is that business owners have the freedom to create their own system that works for them and test it at scale. You can scale with only a few angles, a few SKUs, and a strategy of shuffling creatives, rotating LA audiences, and segmenting broad audiences... but you just have to create that system around it.

We should talk sometime, it's been a long time.
 
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Been slacking on the updates again. I always think there's not alot to report but that never is actually the case!

Getting kind of slayed with FB ads recently. Stopped all FB ads. Going to take a different approach.

I'm stuck between not spending enough money to test, vs spending too much money to test with not enough results. I'm going to take more of a shotgun approach and see what sticks. Many more adsets with less $ per day. I was doing $20/day per adset, going to try $10 now. $20/day/adset ads up fast when you're bootstrapping.

Putting all products on eBay as well. Going to try eBay ads.

Been messaging larger Instagram Influencer accounts. None of them are replying. Going to keep trying.

Had a friend make like 15k in one day with just Instagram. All of the accounts were massive, 5-8M followers, one had 13M I think. Inspiring shit.

Also got another sample product from a supplier. Product looks good, just going to do some more real life testing and take some pictures. Then it's large order time. Shipping half my order to Amazon and going to sell the other half on my site.

Also fired the VA I had doing stuff for me. He was worthless. I paid him for the last month in advance, then finally grew the balls to fire him. I knew he wasn't working out, it was just super awkward for me since I've never done anything like that before. Oh well I got over it and told him to refund me the money since I wasn't using him anymore. He's going to refund it soon. We shall see if he does. Thankfully I used PayPal so I can do a chargeback if not.

Dealing with customer emails is extremely shitty. I need to hire a VA for this once I'm making more money.

Hired another VA to help with ads. He actually has a proven track record, and let me talk to another company that was using him. Good for him. My issue is I give people the benefit of the doubt too often instead of using max skepticism. Trying to find a good balance.

Kind of going through a rough patch right now but it should be ironed out. Just godda take baby steps every single day. I'm figuring alot of life shit and business shit out this year. It's been massively eye opening. Shoulda been doing this years ago but such is life. Always learning!
 
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Also been meeting up with SO many cool people. Meeting tons of new contacts from the forum in real life (@powderhound100 @SteveO @TKDTyler @Gary @vitality11 @RayAndré @D.Davis to name a few), as well as making new business friends elsewhere. It's crazy how your social circle can change so quickly. I've cut out 95% of people weighing me down and making me stagnate. The rest push you forward.

If you're reading this and haven't done this in your own life, or maybe it's been a few years, I highly recommend. This includes family members and "best friends." I truely believe that you become like the 5 people you hang around the most, and that you should spend your time 33/33/33, 33% with people who are where you were (giving back), 33% around people on the same page as you (in the trenches), and 33% of people who you aspire to be like (your role models). Life is too short and there are too many people in the world to waste your time and energy on ones that aren't pushing you to become a better person. Something I'm figuring out recently.
 

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All of my updates start with "Shit, been slacking on the updates again." ... lol

Anyway, big update.

Biz 1. Expanding. Hired 5 VA's so far, fired 3 of them. The two I have now are actually a husband/wife team that have done similar stuff before. I pay them each $3/hour, and they are AWESOME. Took a few shitty ones to get to this point but now that I have them I'm so happy. They address me as "sir," I told them they could work as many hours as they want, since I have a ton for them to do. I've set up videos and automation for most parts of the business. The only thing I'm doing is ads/marketing right now, they are expanding for me and doing a great job at it.

Biz 2 is actually something that's been in "idea" phase for a few months, not alot of action has been taken... this all changed when we were approached by 3 investors over about 2 weeks in West Hollywood.

The biz includes 2 of my friends, it was one of their ideas. For obvious reasons I can't disclose what we're doing, but it's crazy. We found two competitors after some research, but they are doing a shitty job, and we are pivoting from what they're doing. We (my friend) came up with this idea without the knowledge of any competition, but we are actually glad we found them. There are some legal hurdles and red tape but that just increases barrier to entry.

Biz 1 has very low barrier to entry. It's money chasing right now so I can get some traction, stack some money, get into real estate and launch other businesses. Biz 2 (new biz) is a very long term, massive, high barrier to entry that I see being a serious biz in the future. The market is HUUUUUGE and barely being tapped (competitor has like 800 likes on FB, that's nothing).

Can't wait to explain biz 2 to our meetup group in SD!!!! It's exciting.



Life update: Been busy as hell, doing some traveling, living it up while working more than I ever have. @powderhound100 will also be joining our San Diego entrepreneur house in a few weeks, super excited for that. The more biz guys we get in there the better!!! We had a random Craigslist girl as our roommate but she moved out. She wasn't business minded, basically just paid rent and we never saw her. This should be a much better dynamic.

So now it's me, @nitroheadz28 and @powderhound100

I'll update this when I have more for y'all. Keep kicking a$$!!
 

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Also hung out with @Hyrum last weekend while he was in town for a conference. Had a great talk and some great tacos :) If anyone is in San Diego and wants to hang out, hit me up!!
Thanks for meetig up with me! You ruined tacos for me for a long time. The local taco bell just can't compare.

That's one of the best parts of this community - instant fellowship with people everywhere. There were thousands of people at my conference, all own the same business, have the same education, face the same issues on a daily basis that I do. And yet, I got more out of spending a hour with two fellow entrepreneurs than I did the entire week I spent with my 'peers'. If anyone is on the fence about meeting up with FLF members in real life, just go. You're missing out if you don't.
 

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From your original post, I like the mention of how much productive business building has been with a like-minded business-builder roommate.

I've never used Instagram. I literally have no idea what an Instagram shoutout out is, who would buy one or why. This is not a joke, I really don't know. Never encountered the term before today.
 
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I've never used Instagram. I literally have no idea what an Instagram shoutout out is, who would buy one or why. This is not a joke, I really don't know. Never encountered the term before today.
You leverage an accounts following by paying them to post your content. A percentage of their followers see it due to Instagram's algorithm in their Instagram feed (when they're scrolling through). You must do due diligence to make sure their followers are legit (buying fake ones is easy). You don't wanna be serving your content to fake accounts. You want targeted followers that are more likely to buy your product. Using sites like Instagram Engagement Calculator | Phlanx and YouTube, Twitch, Twitter, & Instagram Statistics - SocialBlade.com help you determine if they're legit. If you see a spike in followers quickly over time, that likely means they paid for fake followers. You want the engagement % to be over 2 or 3%. The higher the better, this means the followers are commenting and liking the account's posts. You want this.

There are also "engagement groups" that Instagram accounts get into, basically a big clusterfk of accounts trying to grow, so they all like/comment on eachothers posts. These are real accounts, but you also want to avoid accounts that are in engagement groups because again, the accounts seeing it aren't gonna buy from you.

Hope that makes some more sense. I absolutely hate social media in general, but instead of rebelling like I used to, I make it make me money. Somehow I get MORE satisfaction knowing that I'm actually MAKING MONEY from something I don't like lol.
 
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That's one of the best parts of this community - instant fellowship with people everywhere. There were thousands of people at my conference, all own the same business, have the same education, face the same issues on a daily basis that I do. And yet, I got more out of spending a hour with two fellow entrepreneurs than I did the entire week I spent with my 'peers'. If anyone is on the fence about meeting up with FLF members in real life, just go. You're missing out if you don't.
It never ceases to amaze me how no matter how different people are, if they're on this forum, we have a 99% chance of getting along like old friends.

It's also amazing how extremely successful guys like @SteveO and other successful people I've hung out with always enjoy hanging out with my 22 year old self who hasn't accomplished much in comparison. We simply "speak the same language" no matter what stage of the process you're in.

My mom runs the "Business Professionals of America" group for a local high school back home. The keynote speaker from one of their conferences was the guy who founded Roady's Truck Stops (https://roadys.com/). Guy is a billionaire. She approached him and asked if he would make some time to talk to me in the future. He blocked out 30 mins or an hour for a few weeks down the road. I drove about 6 or 7 hours to the corporate HQ to meet with him, just to shoot the shit and pick his brain (I was 18 at the time). We started talking, got into what I was doing, what he does, and this guy ended up cancelling the rest of his meetings for the day to continue talking to me. We talked from noon until 5PM. 5 hours. Of a billionaire's time. For my 18 year old a$$. Net win for both of us. He loved it.

THAT is the power of the language :)
 
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From your original post, I like the mention of how much productive business building has been with a like-minded business-builder roommate.
I proved to myself over the past few years that you become just like the closest 5 people you hang out with. That's why I'm hanging out with business people now. It was time to get serious and quit fcking around.
 

Late Bloomer

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Hope that makes some more sense. I absolutely hate social media in general, but instead of rebelling like I used to, I make it make me money. Somehow I get MORE satisfaction knowing that I'm actually MAKING MONEY from something I don't like lol.
Thank you. That's very clear. I now understand how you hold your nose as you shovel in the money from promoted posts ;-)
 
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GravyBoat

GravyBoat

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Thank you. That's very clear. I now understand how you hold your nose as you shovel in the money from promoted posts ;-)
Just to be EXTRA clear just in case you're thinking about using IG, the "Promoted posts" are actually "Facebook ads" run on Instagram. I also run Facebook ads, and through Facebook, Instagram-Facebook ads. These are different from the shoutouts I was talking about though and haven't had as much success. Shoutouts are done through DM (Direct Message) or email, actual Facebook and Instagram ads are a completely different animal. Let me know if you have more q's.



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Not alot to update on Biz 1 or 2 right now, been working heavily on both. My sleep schedule is totally backwards, I haven't gone to bed before 6AM PST in weeks. Been working heavily with VAs in the Philippines to automate Biz 1 as much as possible so I can focus more on Biz 2. Biz 2 won't make money for a while but the potential is faaaar greater than Biz 1. Biz 2 we are creating a platform. Biz 1 I'm stuck in 2 sales channels (Shopify and eBay), which is okay for now but violates the Control Commandment.

I'm also kind of sketched the more I teach the VA's. The wife part of the team is very loyal, calls me sir, knows my credit card info, passwords, (yes I got a different CC account and changed passwords)etc but I rarely hear from the husband side of the team. His work is just fine, same as hers, but I feel like maybe he's realizing every part of the business and wonders why he isn't doing it himself..... you never know. For now though, they're kicking a$$.

Biz 2 is going to be a long and tough process. I've talked to several people about it, and the industry is completely foreign to them. I guarentee it hasn't been talked about on the Fastlane Forum yet. We INC'd, have trademarks and provisional patents filed, but I'm limited on what I can share here because of the partners. They don't understand this place.

Once we get further I will do a detailed progress thread. Basically me breaking into a very new, unknown industry, all while not knowing much about it myself previously :happy::happy:
 

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