The following post is a part of the weekly interview series with various full time internet entrepreneurs. If you’d like to be interviewed please contact me here.
Where are you from? How old are you? What’s your blog address and Twitter account? Any other personal details you’d like to share with us?
I’m 42 years old, happily married for over 10 years with 3 children. We currently live in Kent, WA which is about 10 miles south of Seattle. My neglected blog is at JamesSeligman.net and my Twitter is @jamesseligman
How did you get started making money online? When did you realize the full potential of owning and operating an online business?
I started making money online with my very first forum, which is still online today. My plan was never to make money from the forum, it just happened. I opened the forum and within 2 weeks I was approached by a company who wanted to buy some ad space, I had no idea what to charge. I figured if I could get my hosting and domain paid for a year that was worth it, so I sold a spot, a couple days later another company approach me and I knew I was on to something. To fill in some spots temporarily, I was introduced to Commission Junction by a fellow forum owner and that’s how I learned about making more money online.
What type of online business model do you currently run? (i.e. websites, blogs, membership sites, product creation, web services, affiliate marketing, etc.)
We currently own a few over everything, from affiliate sites to online discussion forums, and pretty much everything in between. We do some web type services and some local led gen work for some clients, but we do not actively search for them, most of them come to us by word of mouth.
Do you have any employees or business partners? If so, how many do you have and what do they accomplish in your business?
My wife is the VP of our company, although she doesn’t oversee the day to day operations, she does have a say.
I do team up a good friend of mine, David Ochoa from time to time on projects. He is not on our payroll. He is also our “tech” guy, anytime we have a server issue, a crazy idea, or just need a quick code change he’s the man! I say “This does do this, I want to do that, and can we make it do that?” and it’s always a yes and I’ll figure it out.
What online promotional methods do you currently use? Any favorites?
We use and try pretty much anything like PPC, Social Media like Facebook and Twitter, online forums, etc. A lot of our traffic is organic, although I am no SEO guy at all I think it has mostly to do with good updated quality content and a great domain doesn’t hurt. Social bookmarking has been one of my favorite lately; we have seen some pretty good results and ROI.
What was your biggest business success and what did you learn from it?
I think my first forum, it’s still running today. Over the years we have added so many more features to the site, although it’s still a forum, it is now an authority site for the industry.
What was your biggest business failure and what did you learn from it?
One of my biggest failures was a photo website based on a (what I thought was going to be huge) social medial business card product. People liked to take pictures with this item and take pictures of this out and about the town. But our site failed and failed miserably, we had some good traffic for the first couple of months and then it slowly did. I think it was mostly due to the product, it was hot for a little while and now I hardly ever hear about it anymore.
What’s your favorite thing about running an online business?
Still the newness of it all! There are still so much untapped markets and industries and things are evolving so quickly, before you know it there is something new popping up. Think about what you did before Facebook, Twitter, etc.? Now there is Foursquare, Yelp, and mobile advertising. Next year there will be 10 new things to build your business.
What’s your least favorite thing about running an online business?
Having too many ideas! I come up with tons and tons of ideas most never make it to the actually planning or design. So maybe it’s a time issue more than too many ideas.
How many hours do you spend per week working? What do you do for fun when you’re not working?
Anywhere from 20-60 hours, it all depends on what needs to get done. For fun, I love hanging out with the family.
How long do you vacation for each year? Any amazing places you’d recommend people to visit?
I don’t take many “vacations” although we do have a cabin that we like to go to as often as we can, so you can consider it a mini vacation. It’s only about and hour and half from our house.
I do travel to conferences all the time, so I do consider those my vacations.
What is your favorite conference to attend and why? If you don’t attend any why not?
Affiliate Summit without a doubt! When I first started going I tried to make it to as many sessions as possible, now I go for the networking, seeing old friends and making new ones. You also can’t beat some of the parties and private events. The private dinners are really where some great deals can be made.
If you weren’t in this business what would you prefer to be doing?
That is a great question! My background is in the demolition industry and since the recession, the industry has taken a pretty big hit, so I know it probably would not be that.
I almost can’t see myself doing anything else right now.
What else do you want to accomplish with your business? Any long term goals?
I would like to hire one intern and one employee by mid-2011. So I can concentrate on the bigger picture of the business. Again with the too many ideas, I would like to actually build some of them.
What is a current project you’re working on that you can share with us?
Our newest project is We Love Forums. We purchased this site, along with a few other paid forum posting sites recently. Recently we re-launched the site including a new affiliate program, where affiliates can earn 25% on all orders. Currently the site offers forum posting services, forum installs, and modification and theme services. We will be adding a few other things shortly.
What is some parting advice that you can give to someone that’s just starting out online?
Remember just because something works for others, doesn’t mean it’s going to work for you, don’t get frustrated, stick with it. Do what you do best and don’t lose focus.