When I first learned about Jonathan Beebe, his story of falling to a MLM scams and recovering to a successful internet entrepreneur inspired me to contact him for an interview.
Jonathan’s story is unique and a tale of major life changes we can all learn from. Now making a living online, I put Jonathan in the hot seat to tell us his tale and spill some of the secrets to making a living online.
Me: Hello Jonathan, thank you for taking the time to answer these questions.
Jonathan: Hi Murray. First of all, thanks for the opportunity to be featured on your blog, I really appreciate it.
Q: What compelled you to begin making money online as opposed to so many other business options?
When I first started online, I didn’t really feel like there were very many other business options. In fact, it was either get a job (after separating from the military) or figure out how to work online; in my head those were my only two options.
However, the main reason why I decided to pursue an online income over anything else was a combination of reasons, with the main two being:
- not having to spend so much time away from my wife
- being able to be my own boss
Both of which meant more personal freedom in my life.
Q: Can you tell us a little more about the MLM scam you fell upon. It would be great to learn what to avoid so we can avoid these costly mistakes.
The MLM scam targeted “beginners” like myself who are desperate to find a way to make an income online.
I was in the military at the time, so my freedom was severely limited, which is what made their “freedom” pitch all the more appealing. Oh, and they promised riches… which I’m a little embarrassed to say that I fell for, but like I said, I was pretty vulnerable at that point in my life.
Their main thing was they were in “pre-launch” phase and they were coming out with a “revolutionary product”. You were supposed to buy into the program and then recruit as many people as you can into your downline, which they explained in a way that made it seem SO simple and easy… but of course it wasn’t.
My recommendation is that if you’re a complete beginner, avoid anything having to do with network marketing because while there are legitimate companies out there, it may be hard to separate them from the scams as a beginner.
I think you should stick to being an affiliate if you’re going to promote someone else’s product, rather than “buying into” a business opportunity just to promote their product.
And if they have NO product “yet” (e.g. pre-launch phase or something similar)… then 9 times out of 10, it’s a scam (maybe even 10 times out of 10).
Q: You place a great relevancy on forming your own Tribe. What do you hope will develop from doing so and how can others join?
The tribe concept was my implementation of Chris Guillebeau’s advice on recruiting your own “small army of remarkable people”, but modified to fit the goals of my website.
I went with “tribe” rather than “small army” because my time in the military right after high school sort of put a bad taste in my mouth when it comes to that theme.
The main purpose is for it is to make my readers feel more apart of my blog’s community; to let them know that they are important to me and that I want to hear from them. I’m not just someone posting information hoping to make a quick buck from them. Like members of a real tribe, I’m hoping that we can help each other out even in the smallest ways.
Joining my tribe is simply a personal affirmation that you’re on board with what I’ve got going on at MMO Work, and that you support what I’m doing. Pretty much any type of interaction (whether it’s sending me a note through my contact form, posting a comment, etc) is supporting me in some way, so that’s really all it takes to be part of my “tribe”. It feels really good when people send an email letting me know that they’re part of my “tribe” at MMO Work.
It also works as a great trust-building tool because if your readers feel more important to you, you’ll be more important to them as well. The word “tribe” fits perfectly because generally speaking, people within the same tribe SHOULD be important to one another.
Q: Has there been anything along the way during your learning that has stood out which you could recommend to others?
Since my personal strategy involves a combination of blogging and list building/management, I guess the things that stood out the most (in terms of resources) would be authoritative blogs about blogging such as:
As far as list-building goes, what really got me started was Josh Spaulding’s New Age Email Marketing and Jimmy D. Brown’s List P.R.O.F.I.T. System.
And that’s really it as far as blogs and products go. From there it was learning from personal experience and good old fashioned trial and error.
I’m not sure if that’s what you were asking for with the question, but the blogs and products I mentioned definitely stood out during my initial learning process (I don’t think that process ever really ends lol)
Q: What has been your most successful venture so far and what things have you learned from doing so?
My most successful venture to date would have to be my personal development blog DevelopMinds.com (now offline; I decided to close it to focus fully on MMO Work, that is, after my list in the “internet marketing” niche reached the profit level of my personal development list).
DevelopMinds.com was the first time I applied the strategy I am now teaching at my blog and it proved to be very profitable and worked really well. That’s very important because I think the best way to run a “make money online” blog is to actually have experience in well… making money online! It sounds obvious, but I think most blogs in the niche are run by people who have made close to nothing from the internet.
I could probably be making even more money if I had kept DevelopMinds online along with this one, but I wanted to focus my efforts on ONE business instead of two.
I’m more passionate about teaching people how to make money online than I am about teaching people how to live a more fulfilled life (personal development)… and it makes sense considering I have only lived my own life for only 24 years.
The things I learned from my DevelopMinds run was how to write compelling blog content (I had A LOT of very long articles up, so that gave me a lot of blog writing experience), how to effectively network with others, and most importantly: how to build a list and TAKE CARE of them so they’re not merely subscribers, but genuine followers.
So to date, DevelopMinds has been my most successful venture… but MMO Work is going to surpass it by far, and it’s creeping closer and closer.
Q: You recently launched a new eBook entitled “The Ultimate Free Startup“; please tell us a little more of what we can expect from this guide.
The Very Small Guide to the Ultimate Free Startup is a “mini product” that is meant to be a straight-forward, actionable guide that will teach you how to start an online business using all free methods.
There are a lot of guides on the internet that show you how to make money online utilizing free resources, but the tactics they teach are more like “online grunt work”, where you have to submit articles to every far corner of the internet, or hundreds of social bookmarks, etc.
My guide is meant to show you that you can run a stable online business with the lowest budget imaginable, without being behind those who start off WITH a budget. It’ll show you a system that is very easy to follow and can be incorporated into just about any part-time schedule.
It is truly a “very small guide”, so it leaves out a lot of fluff found in a lot of other products, and simply focuses on giving you the information so you can take action on it as soon as possible.
Q: If you could start over with the knowledge you know now, what would you have done differently?
Well the first thing I would have done apart from selecting a niche I’m highly interested in or passionate about would be to work on a free report so I could start building my list AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
I would have definitely skipped all the mistakes and months and months of the “bum marketing” I was doing for the occasional affiliate sale and focus all my efforts on the strategy I’m currently implementing today.
I don’t really have many regrets though, because I can now use all those “learning experiences” and help my audience even more. It’s because of those experiences that I have something to write about on my blog.
Q: With eBooks, marketing, blogging and family life, how do you find the time for all of your projects?
Well, the fact that neither my wife or I have to “go to work” leaves us with A LOT of time for each other, my business, and our little ones. Because we are young, the grandparents are always willing to take the children if we need a little time to ourselves.
On top of that, my wife is VERY supportive of what I do, and always has been, even when I wasn’t making any money at all. I’m very proud, thankful, and BLESSED to have her. She’s a graphics designer so she’s often helping me with graphics and giving me pointers here and there.
Q: Here’s a screwball for you: what’s the strangest business idea you’ve tried?
I’m not sure if this qualifies as strange, but if everything I’m doing now is somewhat normal, then I guess programming a working social network from scratch would have been my “strangest” business idea that I tried.
I didn’t know anything about making money online or marketing at the time but I was in high school and wanted to create a website like Friendster (this was before the MySpace and social networking craze got big in the U.S.) so I taught myself PHP (using free tutorials on the internet) and named the site ‘Friend-Link’.
I planned on marketing it but I never got around to doing the finishing touches and getting it “out there” because I joined the military immediately after high school and didn’t think about making money online again for two years.
Good screwball by the way, that one really got me thinking, LOL.
Q: Out of all the tactics of blogging, which do you think is the most essential (minus content)?
On the blog, it would have to be sticking to a somewhat consistent posting schedule. Don’t allow your readers to assume you’ve abandoned ship.
Off the blog, it’s guest posting by far. Not only does it give you a nice traffic boost and help build your incoming links, it also helps to increase your presence within your niche.
For example, my guest post on Yaro Starak’s Entrepreneurs-Journey.com brought in over 100 new email subscribers (so far), and almost tripled my traffic in the past few days.
Q: Final question: What advice could you give to those just beginning their blogging and online career?
My best advice is to follow someone you know you can trust (it may take some time to separate the sharks from those who are truly interested in helping), follow their strategy (since you know it works, because you trust that person giving you the advice) and then STICK TO IT.
I recently ran a poll on Warrior Forum (which I plan on posting about on my blog soon) that asked what everyone’s biggest challenge is when it came to making money online. The winner was NOT sticking to something long enough to see positive results, aka “opportunity hopping”.
I can understand why this happens though, it’s very easy to get distracted by other “opportunities” when you’ve put in so much work and effort into something and don’t see a return on it just yet.
If you want to increase your chances of success, you really need to follow a strategy and JUST KEEP DOING IT despite your lack of results in the beginning. The best thing to do is come up with a do-able schedule for yourself, and work it for six months, assess your results, and tweak your strategy from there.