When we left off after my first big fail, I was out $2000 invested in a social network that did not look promising. It was called Clickthrou for those that didn’t read the first post. Even though I knew I was most likely never going to get my money back, I pushed on and spent time each day on the site, weighing in on all the active discussions, moderating, and even promoting my own marketing business.
The Investment May Have Paid Off
I was contacted by one of the active members about partnering up on his niche website business. He most likely saw me as an authority because of my leadership role with Clickthrou. I thought that maybe indirectly my investment may be paying off. I had a look at what he was doing and what he was offering and thought he had a decent business venture going. I told him that I liked his idea and if he agreed to a 50/50 split that I would be interested.
The guy was from the Southern US and was a little rough around the edges, but he seemed to have good internet marketing knowledge. Like I mentioned, he had a great idea selling niche website packages, but it just needed a bit of refinement. He wasn’t afraid to live on the edge of legitimate when it came to SEO and marketing in general (ie. Greyhat), but I think I help to keep him on the straight and narrow, which I think helped the business in the long run.
We had Success Right From the Start
We had a website that outlined our services, but the biggest chunk of our sales came from a special offer on Warrior Forum. What we were offering was generally a new concept, so obviously it was met with some naysayers. My partner did not handle the criticism too well and would often lash out at anyone that questioned us. I would have to reason with him to edit his post and I would also step in as the more down to earth party. Regardless of that, the thread was a success and most people gave us great reviews. The positive reviews enticed one of my partner’s friends to make a very large order that netted us around $1500! We were busy enough at that point that we hired out most of the content creation and SEO portion.
My partner was happy with my contribution to the business, and surprised me with an offer to partner with him in his other online business. He also ran a up and coming hosting company. It was an established business with more than enough income to offset the cost of the server space. To me it sounded like a no-brainer so I agreed to another 50-50 split.
That’s When It Started to Unwind…
Now that we were a 50/50 split on both businesses, my partner approached me with an idea to spruce up the hosting business with a new domain and fresh design. He was right. The site was not cleanest looking and the domain definitely could use a change. I agreed with him, so we decided to use some of our proceeds from our recent niche business sale to fund the new domain and site redesign. Unfortunately I wasn’t as involved as I should have been and found out too that that he had spent the entire niche business profit on the new domain and design. I was mad at first, but the site really did look great and I knew that this would help with new clients tremendously. The greatest thing was that most of our niche website clients didn’t have hosting, so it was a natural progression to host with us as well.
Not too long after that excitement of feeling like I was going to have great success with this, I was kicked square in the gut (…the PG version of where it actually felt like where I was kicked!). My partner tells me that he needed to sever our 50/50 partnership in the hosting business because of a previous agreement with a relative. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, and I knew that day that we weren’t going to be able to go forward as partners any longer. I wasn’t going down without a fight, so I told him that I’ll give up the hosting partnership, but he had to give me 100% of the niche website business. Oddly, he was quite willing to give it up and we broke ties after that.
It Got Worse…
Shortly after our partnership terminated, his friend that purchased the large niche website package filed a PayPal dispute claiming he never received what he paid for. We had delivered all the sites to the guy a month ago, so I went online to check to see if they were still active. To my surprise, the friend had taken every site we had provided him offline before filing the dispute. I did everything in my power to convince PayPal that I had delivered everything that was promised, but without any tangible goods exchanging hands, it was a worthless attempt. PayPal sided in the friends favour and I was out around $2000 that I had to pay back out of my pocket since there was nothing left in the niche business account.
I knew right then and there that I had been taken advantage of by my former partner and his friend. I never confronted him about it, but deep down I knew that was his plan and that I fell for it.
Back to the Drawing Board
So there I was, back on Clickthrou even thought it had now cost me almost $4000, but I wasn’t giving up. I still had the niche business all to my self now, so I knew I was going to be ok, but I knew I needed help to take it to the next level.
There was a friendly lady on Clickthrou that had been there since the beginning and posted just about as much as I did. She seemed to have above average internet marketing knowledge, so I dug a little deeper and found out that she had several niche sites in the past that had made her a very decent return. With that in mind I told her about my recent acquisition of my niche business and wondered if she was interested in partnering up. It didn’t take long for her to agree and that’s how I began my three year partnership with Maggie David, whom I had my largest online success with in creating 6StarMedia.
The lesson of this long story is just don’t give up. You never know when a failure will turn into a huge success. Yes, I was out $4000 in the long run, but I gained a wealth of knowledge along the way. I have learned to be a much better judge of character (even though I like to give benefit to the doubt), as well as how to property protect yourself from a PayPal dispute.