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It all started five years ago with a simple action that millions of us do every single day. A Google search.
Thinking back on how drastically a few keystrokes into a search engine altered my life is astonishing.
This seemingly insignificant moment propelled me into a remarkably challenging, yet rewarding five-year journey.
One that led me down the road of building my own business. A passage that is littered with failure, heartbreak, long days, and sleepless nights. Of those, I experienced many, and on numerous occasions was tempted to throw in the towel.
As I write this, I am proud to say I didn’t and now live some version of my dream. More importantly, though, by relentlessly chasing that dream, I learned a lot about myself and became a better person for it in the process.
But enough with the deep reflections on life and business, let’s get back to that groundbreaking Google search.
I was 23 living in Charlotte, North Carolina. I just moved out of a house with a few college buddies into a studio as an attempt to “grow up”. I had graduated a year prior and was a couple months into one of the many pursuits that led me to today, professional golf.
When I was a freshman in high school, I first discovered the game and it quickly became a bit of an unhealthy obsession.
With many in the competitive arena first picking up a club at a young age, I was behind the eightball, but incredibly determined to make a life around it. By the time college rolled around, I was playing on the club team at the University of South Carolina and was introduced to a few friends who were cutting their teeth on the mini-tours, golf’s version of the minor leagues.
To my surprise, a couple of the guys had not played for a division one, or any college team, like myself. Yet they were out there playing in professional golf tournaments and doing remarkably well I may add.
Seeing this fundamentally changed me.
They were my first symbol of the entrepreneurial spirit. That you didn’t need the proper resume or credentials to chase a dream. That if you were willing to develop the necessary skills, with a strong self-belief and work ethic you could do whatever you wanted in life.
You didn’t need anyone’s permission, just your own.
So I decided what the hell, if they can do it, so can I. At this time, my golf game was strong. The day after graduation, I took to the links with an immense drive to write my own underdog story.
Over the next eighteen months, I gave it everything I had. Made a few top tens and just as many finishes in the back of the pack. Worked part-time jobs to pay my way, stayed in cheap hotels around the east coast, and put every waking moment towards my craft.
But as Michael Jordan famously said, “I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” My pursuit of professional golf taught me this lesson in spades, and from the ashes of my first venture came a new passion – the internet.
While on long drives from tournament to tournament, I got really into podcasts. More specifically, entrepreneurial ones about people building a life on the internet around what they loved to do.
Entrepreneurs like Sean Ogle became my new idols as they built online brands that allowed them to work whenever, wherever. For a guy who was living off part-time jobs while losing all of it betting on himself in small, professional golf tournaments, this was incredibly appetizing.
Eventually, on one of these long drives, a crazy idea came to mind. What if I could start a website that merged the two things that interest more than anything else, golf and entrepreneurship. And what if this website that focused on my interest could pay for my pursuit of playing golf for a living.
How great would that be?
So one day in a hotel room somewhere in North Carolina, I opened up my laptop and entered a phrase into Google that would alter the course of my career and life. “How to build a website”.
Before I knew it, I bought the domain gandemagazine.com and my first online business was born. I put together a scrappy WordPress site and got to work.
The plan was simple. Tell the untold stories of people building a life in golf through entrepreneurship, create an audience to tell them too, and sell advertising space on the website.
In less than a year, the brand amassed a social media following of 25K+ while reaching over 100,000 people a month across all of its digital properties. This was my first taste of small success in business and it felt amazing. But behind it all, something better was coming to fruition.
While I was fiercely building G&E Magazine, I was teaching myself the world of internet marketing and didn’t even realize the value in that knowledge and skill set. Let alone that it could be a career on it’s own.
As a result, businesses and brands started asking if I could recreate what I did with my website and brand for them. Saying yes was a no brainer as I loved building cool things online, and the money was better than selling advertising space on my website.
One project became two. Two became four, and all of a sudden, my own marketing consulting business was born. At the start, I tried to run G&E Magazine and do all of my client work at the same time, but I quickly learned that you can’t do it all. My first online business was put on pause as my passion for building a career in golf was slowly replaced by my love of working with businesses of all shapes and sizes.
As I mentioned at the start of this story, I am now living some version of my dream. It wasn’t what I thought it would be at the start, but growing my own business while getting to be a consultant for bigger agencies and brands is a dream come true.
So I guess the whole point of this story was to introduce myself, this website, and how I became a digital marketer and internet entrepreneur.
But more so, deep down, I’m hoping that one person who is trying to figure it out reads this and realizes that you never really know what life is going to give you, but if you work your ass off and keep chasing those crazy goals, what will become of it is greater than you could ever imagine.
Don’t stop, ever.
It’s the most important lesson life has taught me and a mantra I will take into everything I do in business, entrepreneurship, and life for many years to come.
Thanks for reading!
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