The company I went to work for was a web hosting company so this was right up my alley.
To be honest it was one of the best experiences of my life and honestly where my life took a complete u-turn.
I was hired as the Community Manager which was a pretty big deal for a company that hosted over 100,000 websites.
I got to interact with a ton of different people. Many of them solopreneurs that were doing their own thing.
The discussions were absolutely fascinating.
I’d say that over 98% of the people that I talked to had no clue how to build a website.
They didn’t have any technical chops at all and yet that didn’t stop them. They were still building successful businesses.
This was unreal to me because my whole adult life had been based around a simple idea.
If you wanted to start a business online and make good money then you needed to know how to build things.
That’s what I thought.
I had written two books. One to a small audience that didn’t want it. One to a large audience that didn’t want it.
That must’ve meant that I need to actually build something! Writing a book was meant for the lucky people.
That’s what I tried to tell myself.
But I had 100s upon 100s of people proving me wrong.
It wasn’t as if they had investors pouring money into their companies or they had teams of developers.
Some would use WordPress to build a simple site and others would hire a freelance developer to take care of some things for them.
Most importantly they all seemed extremely happy to be working on their own thing and controlling their own future.
I missed that feeling.
Every night I would go home and think about what awesome ideas I could build. I probably built at least 10 different sites that were going to be my next big idea.
None of them panned out because I just couldn’t bring myself to finish them.
I would start with extreme excitement and then after a week or two fall into a pit of despair where I was left wondering if people really wanted this idea or did I just make that up in my head?
Every once in a while I would tell my fianceé (yep, girlfriend became fianceé) that I dreamed of going out on my own again.
You could imagine her reluctance to this idea. She stuck with me while I was living on my parents’ couch in my late twenties.
She wasn’t going back to that and I didn’t blame her.
I was also scared.
I did the whole book thing and failed. TWICE!
Why did I think that I needed a big idea or that I could even succeed with a big idea?
I was probably just kidding myself.
However, there was a moment where it didn’t matter if I was kidding myself or not because I had to take action.
I pissed off the CEO of the company.
To make a long story short I had been working on a project for 6 months. I put my whole life into this project and my team and I were super excited.
I remember the day we presented it to the CEO like it was yesterday.
Our presentation was prepared. Everything was flawless.
The meeting lasted 3 minutes.
The CEO told us that we weren’t going to move forward with the project because of whatever dumb reason CEOs come up with.
I walked out before he could even finish and went to the corner store and bought a beer. I brought it back to my office, closed the door, and sat in the dark to drink.
Oh, you thought my ego had completely left after my two previous failures? Psh, it’s amazing how egos can regenerate.
About 30 minutes later the CEO came in with some investors to say hello and introduce them to me.
I didn’t say a word. I just got up and left.
I was fired a week later.
And for good reason.
This was my last day at the job.
So here I was in Los Angeles which was more expensive than Mars without a job and a month’s worth of savings in the bank.
Finding another job was going to take time and I knew it wouldn’t take me all day to fill out applications or go to interviews.
So I sat down and thought of what big idea I could build that would finally make me money.
The big idea never came.
My lady was starting to get antsy. She was making money but where we lived we needed to be a two-income family. Not one income and a dreamer.
Then something amazing happened.
At the time I didn’t realize how amazing it was but looking back I can see how significant it was.
I got an email from one of my past blog readers asking me how I learned HTML. It’s the underlying code that is used by web browsers to display a webpage to you.
They told me that all of the sites they went to showed things in chunks and it wasn’t helping them at all.
I told him that the way I learned was by doing and that I would help him with a small project.
I had time on my hands anyways.
So we came up with a very small project and we walked through the steps.
Over a single weekend, he went from struggling with HTML to being competent in it.
He told me that I should sell this to others and I laughed because to me it was no big deal to learn HTML.
I had done it. He had done it. Anyone could do it. Why would they buy something from me?
A couple of days later I was wasting time on Product Hunt when I saw a site that showed people how to build iOS Apps. I thought that was cool.
Wait, I knew this guy!
I hit him up over email and we talked for a little bit. He mentioned that by being featured on Product Hunt he had made $47,000 in a week!
It was amazing.
I was in awe. I also hated him for it.
Why did he deserve to get so lucky and I didn’t?
This is not the way you should look at life. At all.
Then just by chance, he said something that caught me off guard. He mentioned that people kept on asking him if he knew how to build marketing sites so that they’d have a homepage for the apps they learned how to build.
He said he didn’t, but he knew of some places he could send people.
Wait a second, this is exactly what I helped the guy with not too long ago. People actually wanted this?
I told him my idea and he said that I should put the idea up on Product Hunt. I told him it would take me a month to build it and he suggested that I put it up on Product Hunt as a pre-sell.
Wait, that was a thing?
In another life, I would’ve waited until the product was done, but my savings was on its last legs and it completely sucks to have your fianceé come home every single day from work and ask if any job offers had come in and the only thing you can do is shake your head and quickly change the subject.
I had no choice.
Back against the wall, I put a page together and I got the site up. I put it up on Product Hunt not expecting much because of my previous two failures.
But I still had a glimmer of hope and you know what they say.
It’s the hope that kills you.
So to prepare myself for any disaster that was coming my way I went out to breakfast and thought nothing of it.
Or at least I pretended to.
When I came home I figured it was time to check my email to see if any job offers had come in.
27 new emails! Oh wow, one of them definitely had to be a job offer.
NONE of them were job offers.
They were something better.
27 people had pre-ordered my HTML course.
But that wasn’t the end of it. Over the next 3 days over 200 people would purchase it.
It was $49 so I made close to $20,000.
I didn’t know how to feel about this much money coming in. Was it a dream?
I did know how I felt about looking for another job. It wasn’t going to happen.
This was my life from now on and I wasn’t turning back.
My fianceé came home and she asked the usual question and I answered the usual way, but instead of changing the subject to something random I told her I made some money that day.
I explained what happened and she was so excited.
But then she asked a question that never even crossed my mind.
How was I going to do this again and again and again?
Why did things work out this time when the previous times didn’t?
Was it because Product Hunt had a larger audience?
That certainly helped, but that wasn’t the key.
The key was that I provided an offer to the right audience and they did what I had hoped.
They bought it.
This is when I unlocked the concept of offer mapping.