How did Digital Marketing Transform my life?
Short Stories Included
- Quitting, Quitting & Quitting
- Time For My Own
- Beginners Luck
- Selling Domains For Travel
- Bartering SEO for Hotel Room Nights
- Faux pas for sure
- Digital Marketing For Marriage
While I lean towards the saying that there is no such thing as overnight success stories, here is mine.
The great news about the internet is that you can’t fake it, what happened happened, and luckily for you, I documented everything, for example, emails sent that made millions, PayPal earnings, and most importantly some influencer marketing that is still live.
Overall, I have failed more times than I have succeeded but the times that I did succeed, things transformed for me, my family and hopefully are transforming our future.
Call it beginners luck, which i'm sure it was, I was able to make a few online commissions at the early age of 14. Being brought up in a middle-class Indian family, my father was not going to let me drop out of school just caused I earned a little money on the Internet. And for that, I am thankful as I graduated from one of the finest institutes in hotel management in the county, but I literally hated every single moment of being there.
No doubt it was fun too! Got to hang out with my friends, drink up, smoke and bunk college. That pretty much sums up the 3 years it took to graduate from college.
Now you're probably wondering where Digital Marketing features in all of this. Well, after I graduated, my dad was certainly not going to let me throw away a perfectly good education to pursue my passion (which I had no idea what it was at that point). What I did know was that I wasn't the guy to fake smile at hotel guests, open doors for them, engage in heavy manual labour and work long tireless hours with such poor pay.
I used to like to party back in the day, and being a raging 21-year-old, I wanted it all, I wanted wom*n, whisk*y, w**d and whatever be a healthy young male really does look for, you know. My salary was Rs, 5000 a month. Approx $70 a month. Yes, you read that right $70.
I was staying with my grandma, who I absolutely love. But! staying at home with family at my prime, I was not going to settle. Not to mention, I needed to walk half a mile, hop onto a bus, catch a train, hop onto another and then reach my workplace (Hyatt Regency) in Mumbai.
About 2 months into my job, which involved me wearing a formal white shirt, crisply ironed pants, a suit and tie every day, I needed to earn more money. So I went to my boss and sincerely asked him what I needed to do get a pay raise. He joked and said that I would need to break his record in selling banquets in the Hotel. I had to get the highest price for selling a lunch package for a conference. I also needed to top his record of up selling a high-end dinner package for corporates.
With the grace of god, or hustle, or determination, call it what you like, 15 days later, I handed him signed contracts with the highest price the hotel had ever sold at. While I was only looking after banquet sales, along with that they needed about 200 hotel rooms, which as you can imagine made me quite the new hotshot in the hotel.
Did I get a raise? No.
He told me that I would need to serve my time in order to learn more. That was the biggest bullshit I heard in my entire life. Dare you speak up, the politics, the senior management, I knew nothing was going to change so I put in my papers.
Luckily a competitor hotel heard about my sales record and immediately offered me a job, and at double, literally double my current salary. Looking back, it was not a lot, but when you instantly double your income it sure feels great. I moved out of my grandma’s house and moved in with some friends.
There was a brief period which all was good, it was fun, Worked hard, and partied harder for sure. Credit cards were getting swiped left, right and center.
So I'm sure you're still wondering where Digital Marketing comes in. Here is where it gets fun. I had a sales job which entitled me to spend as much time outside the hotel as required.
All I knew was that I had to hit a few targets and I would continue to receive my double pay check each month.As you can imagine, I would check in to the hotel and quickly head out for meetings. The meetings were mostly made up and I could simply go back home, and recover from my hangover and report back at the end of the day.
Was I scamming the hotel? Well, not really..
With my own money, I started running Google Ads. Whenever someone searches for conference rooms in Mumbai, my ad was right up there, and all I would do was collect some really interested leads. Then I'd give them a call, asked them over to the hotel for a drink and close the sale. This was my secret. Instead of spending time in rickety auto rickshaws and buses in the hot and polluted Mumbai air, I was chilling at home, most likely with my unemployed friends, enjoying myself, and making an income.
After sometime, again, bosses being assholes, I quit.
This time, however, I did not have a job in hand, I did not even tell my dad the first time I quit my hotel job, leave alone the second.
Next day, I contacted one of my ex-girlfriends asking if she had some leads and she connected me to something that truly changed my life. I got a job overnight at one ofIndia’s top Digital Marketing companies-DirectI. In its nascent stages at the time, it was a company raring to shine and I was thrilled to be a part of it.
Suddenly I felt like I had found my calling. I really loved what I was doing. Since it was a startup, I grew in the company at supersonic speed. I was working with a technology company optimizing for porn websites; I really could not ask for more.
At this point, I was earning close to 35K a month, which was at least 3 times more than any of my friends were in their sucky hotel jobs. I learned the ropes here. Unlike my previous jobs, I spent more time in the office than anyone else including the founders.
I was obsessed. Late nights, early mornings, I was addicted to learning how to make money online. Making money on the Internet fascinated me and I wanted more. This time, I could not complain about having a crappy boss. In fact, I admired him, respected him, but at that point, I had the Itch to start something of my own. I wanted to start my own online business.
Before I quit, I told my dad, and he was not going through a great time himself. Recently divorced, working for a boss who he did not like either, I convinced him to start the company with me.
The name of our company was called Pragmites.
PRA for Prakash ( my dad’s name)
G for Gaurav
M for Mrinal, My brother
IT for Information Technology and
S for Supriya, My sister.
We also had a very pragmatic approach and business took off. I was finally an entrepreneur and equal partner with my dad and together we started a Digital Marketing Agency.
Fast forward teething troubles like not getting paid on time by our dear Indian clients, really quickly, we jumped, skipped and went International. The rest really was history. International companies were blown away with our level of professionalism, our knowledge, and the passion with which we handled and looked after them.
Then one day, things went WILD. This is what I was talking about when I said, certain days can make you succeed. Our company got featured and started trending on THE most popular forum on the Internet. I literally woke up one morning to an Inbox full of cash.
Digital Marketing transformed everything. A few years into the business I wanted to take things to the next level. My dad was looking at making a retirement, plus the stress of working with family got to me. One morning I went to his office and asked what he'd like to do. He said he wanted to quit the business and walk away with a retirement fund.He threw out a number, and by then my international connections were decent.
Somewhere during that time, I was invited to Las Vegas. I was invited to be an International Speaker and talk about outsourcing. This was a tremendous success and it was the second time, I had an inbox full of cash. With over $300,000 dollars in recurring revenue, thanks to Paypal, life was good!
Not only that, I found a potential client who wanted to invest in my business. He was convinced and agreed to the sum of money my dad had desired.
I went to the US again with a watertight contract, and what happened next blew me and my dad away! Within 24 hours, my dad received an SMS that X amount of money was DEPOSITED into his bank account.He could not believe that the deal went through and he actually made an exit from the business. I like to pull one-off wonders and that sure was one!
When I was 21 years old my brother who was 25 back was studying and working in the US while my sister was studying in Barcelona. So the 3 of us planned a holiday in Barcelona. The only problem was that I did not have any savings or liquid cash then. Being students, we were all tight on cash.
I knew I had to make it. I couldn't miss partying it up in Barcelona with my siblings. Having some experience in domain names, I had cybersquatted on some of the top Institutes of the country. I was also the proud OWNER of SSC.in and ICSE.in, both top education boards in the country. By then, I had figured that I wouldn't end up in some fancy college so I decided to buy and sell their domains instead! I made a quick flip, got a couple of $XX,XXX grand in my account and voila, I was off to a brilliant unforgettable holiday.
Working as a freelancer, I had mastered trading domains for a profit and now it was over to affiliate marketing.
Any of you remember the vibrating panty scene from the movie,The Ugly truth? If you haven’t seen this clip on Youtube, I would recommend you stop reading this and go watch it right now! After watching this movie, I created an Amazon store selling, you guessed it, Vibrating Panties for Women.
Everyday, month on month, I got a commission for a while until the google penguin wiped my site out!
One of the first domains I bought back in the day was makemetrip.com. If you live in India, you're probably well aware of the travel website Makemytrip, right? So when they started doing well, I started receiving a ton, I mean a ton of typo traffic! I quickly signed up as an affiliate and redirected their traffic back to them! This worked so very well, again for a while, that I was able to fly business class from Mumbai to Dubai One Way. Yes, that's right, BUSINESS CLASS!
That reminds me, in my wonder years, let’s call it my peak, I was tired of staying at home with my dad, Running a startup, I had to save and re-invest all the money I made back in the business. I really wanted a place of my own. With all the late nights and after partying scenes, it would have been cool to have my own bachelor pad!
A friend of mine, who did extremely well for himself started a hotel. Of course, being the entrepreneur I am, I offered him some SEO and digital services. Since we were friends, we swung a barter where I would do his digital and he would grant me an all-access suite 2 nights a week! I was content though the business grew so much that he felt compelled to pay me a monthly retainer and made sure that I never worked with his Competitor.
After getting married and living in Pune for a while, I was invited to a super prestigious club called the Start Up Leadership Programme in Mumbai. On Day 1 of living in Mumbai, I got a bad toothache and had to visit a dentist. He did not know me nor did I know him. In the midst of my treatment, he looks at me and asks me what i do. So gagging a bit, I told him I am a digital marketer and help build websites and drive traffic for my customers. The rest was history. My dental treatment henceforth in Mumbai was covered and the pain was gone.
Another year, it was valentine's day, and oh boy, I forgot to order some red roses like I normally do for my wife. Still unaware, I heard our doorbell ring at midnight and it was a delivery man with a bouquet of red roses! Now, who was sending red roses to my wife on Valentine's day? Well, it was my client covering my ass. We helped him for years with his flower business and he must have realized that I did not place an order like I usually do. Still very thankful to him for the brownie points I got with my wife!
Most of my of wow stories boil down to digital marketing. It has transformed the way I live, my expectations and my confidence. Every few days I receive an email or a message from someone who we either worked with or trained with similar stories of success and it touches my heart.
One last story before I wrap up which isn't connected to my professional life but it did involve the wonder called the internet more specifically Facebook. This was a day that truly changed my life, my direction, my focus, and my ambitions.
It was late in the evening and my friends and I packed up from Pune and headed over to Mumbai for a friend's wedding. Little later that evening, I was seated in a formal arrangement with a beautiful lady dressed in red sitting to my right. I had an instant attraction and vibe going on with her. We chatted, we joked, we hung out and then went our own ways really late that night. It was a delightful evening but really could I have been such a fool that I forgot to take this beautiful girl's number!
Well as it turns out, I woke up, researched the net like hell and it was Facebook that helped me connect with my true love, my now wife. Medha.
I talk about this a lot and how it relates to digital marketing and your customers. Kind of the same concept.
That’s my journey so far- some pretty awesome days and some terrible ones too! Along the way, I've been fortunate enough to meet mentors, partners, colleagues, friends, customers and contemporaries.
My confidence has probably been boosted by 1000x from the day I started.
Literally by the grace of God, I have been blessed with the most awesome friends, family including my pets! Here's to moving forward and bringing the dream alive- one keyword at a time!