Allow us to take a lackadaisical ride on my back-in-the-day-cycle. In the mid 80s, I was… a geek. Make that a capital “GEEK”.
On the weekends, my geeky buddies and I would huddle around an old cup-stained oak table in the dusty basement of my house with pencils, graph paper, little hand-painted figurines, and funky shaped dice.
That’s right, folks. We played Dungeons and Dragons… and I was The “Dungeon Master“. For those who never played D&D, you know how kids these days have the X-box and the PS3?
In those ancient, far away 80s, we didn’t have those game-o-ma-bobs. Back in the day, we needed the geekiest kid to pretend to BE the video game, so all the other kids could play.
That was me. My job was to describe everything in the game so everyone else could “see” the imaginary monsters and the treasure you found after kicking them to pieces.
PS3 had nothing on me, boss.
Now even though it sounds kinda weird, playing D&D in-and-of- itself wasn’t what made me a geek…
What makes me a geek is that when I get into something, I get WAY WAY into it. Almost unhealthy-like. Those afternoons spent pretending to be knights and dragons and wizards led to my fascination with real-world Medieval History.
Fast forward to the LATE 80s when I declared a minor in Medieval Studies. My friends in my Film classes thought I was just as geeky as those high school “cool” kids did.
After all - what good is all that useless knowledge of swords and armor in today’s super duper future internet world, right?
I made my first million dollars from selling replica swords and armor from my Medieval Replica and Fantasy Weapons e- Commerce Store. And it made me feel… generous.
I made a list of everyone I could remember who had joked about my lifelong preoccupation with swords and sorcery. And sent every one of them a shiny new hardcover copy of…
The Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Masters Guide.
How do you think they like me now? It doesn’t say “Dungeon Dummy“… it says “Dungeon MASTER!”
Heh. Okay, enough storytelling for today – let’s talk BID-NESS.
When I first opened www.A2armory.com almost 10 years ago, things were SOOO much less complicated than they are now.
We carried NO Inventory, because everything that we sold was shipped directly from the distributor – so, when we got an order, we just let the drop-shipper do the work.
Writing product copy was pretty easy, too. I mean, I was already pretty experienced at describing awesome magical swords in language that spoke to the geek-at-heart.
But to be honest, I hardly had to use it. Due to some lucky timing, pop culture made “swords and junk” a hot commodity right when I was really hitting my stride.
“Hey, this sword is from The Lord of the Rings Movies. It’s called Sting and glows blue if there are nasty Orcs around. You already know how bad-ass it is, so… Visa or MasterCard?“
And all the pictures came from the manufacturer, so, that was like, copy paste done.
And basically, every time the distributor released a new product, WE released a new product – so it didn’t require much imagination or any fabricated reasons to run a “Sale”.
Yet, to this day, that little $50 a month Yahoo store was the first business anyone ever offered big money to buy from me (Mid-Six Figures).
The answer was “NAY, GOOD SIR!”
Even better, that little store is STILL ranked ALL over the place in Google, Yahoo, BING, sponging up all that free traffic.
And because an e-Commerce Store is surrounded by like-themed pages, the quality scores in AdWords are always 7+. And it still makes BANK - Each and every day.
Even though I’ve been-there, done-that, moved-on when it comes to setting up e-Commerce stores, I’m still a huge fan of the business model. And I think it’s GREAT for a lot of beginners.
Here’s WHY: ‘Cause it makes us focus and really work on the ONE thing that us entrepreneurs need to really MASTER – the skills needed to MARKET the HELL out of something.
Think about it – isn’t that where you’ve gotten jammed up in the past?
What product you’re gonna make, how you’re gonna make it, where can you get it made, what is the Unique Selling Proposition, what is the branding, what’s it called, blah blah blah blah…
I think the reason I took to e-Commerce so well is because all it really made me do was MARKET someone else’s already proven product.
Like I said, it didn’t take much to sell a Lord of The Rings Fan a Lord of the Rings Sword. People that searched for Medieval Weapons and found my store, too.
Right below WikiPedia on the first page of Google. Ended up bringing some pretty qualified prospects – cause believe it or not, that kind of search just don’t happen by accident.
Looking back, it was a GREAT way for me to start my Online Adventure, and lets be honest, I owe it a lot of props. Everything I learned there has led to what I’ve done after.
My first ever eBook was all about Yahoo Stores, the first money I ever invested in a Feature Film came from the profits of my e-Commerce business.
E-Commerce taught me conversion, it taught me SEO, PPC - it basically taught me almost all of the skillz I needed to prosper and thrive online…
…and I got PAID to do it. Paid *Well*, I might add. (Like a MASTER!)
So, I wonder if you’re trying to figure out where you should start? Getting caught up in the details, and not getting to the part where you DO marketing, and thereby get GOOD at marketing?
Maybe you’re like me, and e-Commerce will help you get out of your own way, and quit *pretending* to be a hero and score mad loot. You can do it in real life. You REALLY can.
Check this out: http://mixiv.com/vp/87367/22613/
There was NOTHING like that when I started. If there had been, I wouldn’t even have NEEDED such a strong passion to hit the ground running. I could have picked something and got right to it.
Who knows, maybe there was something even MORE profitable than sharp metal sticks. I guess I’ll never know… but YOU can find out. Try it. It worked for ME!
Andy “Natural 20″ Jenkins
P.S. As “geeky” a reputation D&D has, I didn’t just play the game, but I couldn’t help but study info-marketing too. No lie!
D&D had its own line of info products (rules), a back-end (more rules), conventions, merchandise – even its own dedicated monthly publication! Sound familiar?
Maybe I should go to Hollywood and try to get Video Boss made into a Saturday morning cartoon! But that’s where I am NOW.
Where I STARTED, where I could have STOPPED and RETIRED (if it was in my nature)… was e-Commerce, done pretty much just like this: