Gary is a winner at Adrian’s Hub and selected the interview as a special bonus for the recently ended contest. I believe it was a great decision, especially for you, our readers. Learning from failures is a quality all entrepreneurs must have, so when Gary explains what happened with his own traffic exchange business, those that pay attention will have the most to gain.
Thank you for being here for this interview, Gary! To get things started, would you tell us a few things about yourself? Our readers might not know you are a writer and a book author as well.
First of all, I am happily married, my wife, Cathy, puts up with me.
I am a writer at heart. I have worked for three different newspapers, real papers not online. I always enjoyed covering topics for feature articles. I also had to cover mundane council meetings etc. I graduated from University of Maine Farmington BFA with honors in creative writing. I have published a book of poetry “Scattered”. The title says it all I covered a gaggle of subjects. I am working on a second book but this is not poetry. I do a lot online trying to make a few dollars like everyone else.
How did you start your online ventures? Were you seeking to expand your marketing, network with other people or maybe to earn an additional income?
I started working online in 2001. Initially, I sold books on Amazon. I did very well in that business, made over ten thousand dollars my first year. I drifted to other things, affiliate programs mostly. Then started a traffic exchange.
The following questions may come as a surprise to some of our readers, because they focus on a failed business attempt, rather than a successful one. I asked and you agreed to talk about it, and let it serve as a learning experience to whomever is interested. So, Gary, you owned a traffic exchange which failed after a while. First of all, why have you decided to start one?
The reason I started a traffic exchange was to network with people and, of course, wanted to make money. The name was Coffee Shop Traffic. Some of the members here I believe were members.
What’s the reason you decided to pull the plug off on your traffic exchange? And how long have you had it before closing it?
I did well in the first full year but then I started losing money, a lot of money. In the TE business everyone is looking for members, new members every day. It is very competitive so you have to offer members bonuses that everyone else promoted or you would be left behind. These bonuses slowly added up to the point I was loosing several hundred dollars a month. Also, at the same time, I was having serious trouble with my heart. I actually died in an emergency room and they had to shock me several times to get my heart going again. I had what my doctor called a “widow maker”, a clot in my left anterior artery. By the grace of God I survived!
The second year was a struggle, bleeding money and poor health was hurting my business to the point I couldn’t keep up with it. I tried selling it but no one wanted to buy the TE. I did what I had to do to survive, I closed the site. I felt terrible about it, even ashamed to do anything online for a year. People don’t realize how expensive it is just to get online with a TE. Before you open your doors for business you have to spend about two thousand dollars. And then the operating expenses will crush you unless you can survive till you have over 10,000 members, because over 75% will be free members.
I decided to get back online and just do affiliate programs, there is money to be made if you know what you are doing. So I am trying to learn all I can to be profitable. I hope this explanation will shed light on starting and operating a TE. One other thing I forgot, programing knowledge is a must. Without it you will suffer.
Looking backwards, what’s the single most important thing you wished you’d known about running your own TE when you first started that you didn’t know at the time?
I wish I had known how much the little side-things were costing people each month. Programs like Zubbees, and site of the day etc. are astronomically high for one person to absorb without a lot of capital.
Besides the financial end, I wish I would have known HTML programming. I knew just enough to get in trouble.
Did you try to get partners who had complementary skills in the beginning or maybe when things started to get tough?
I did reach out through other large TE owners. I had a few responses but no one with money to invest or real programming skills.
My heart is operating at only 40 percent, so I’ve had to slow down on stressful activities. Working online is the best thing for me.
What would be one thing you’d change if you could go back?
I think if I had to do it all over again, I would have contacted a LOT of different owners, instead of a few that paint a rosy picture.
Anything you’d like to tell people who would like to start their own traffic exchange business?
Do your homework and have partners and capital.
You said earlier you had serious heart issues. God willing, you are still with us. Did the near-death experience change you in any way?
I have always studied religions. Joined a few along the way but nothing really clicked for me. After my heart quit on me, I started studying the Hebrew faith; and I found what I was looking for all my life. It is the first five books of the Old Testament or the laws as some people call it. When I studied Moses’ writings everything fell into place for me. Obviously the whole Bible is important too. I am what is called a Messianic Gentile. I follow the Jewish Laws and customs and attend a Synagogue on Saturdays.
OK, let’s move away from what might still be painful topics for you and wrap it up in a more relaxed tone. You joined Adrian’s Hub recently and grew rapidly in every top we have. What’s your secret?
The secret to getting ahead on Adrian’s Hub, is do all the little things: log in every day, read everything on the site several times. Pay attention to the emails, there aren’t many, but they are all very important. Finally, don’t be afraid to sign up for programs you are not a member of, that is also important. Contact other members and get to know them a little bit (I need to follow my own advice on this). Ask questions, Adrian is the best when it comes to answering your questions.
Great advice, thank you! Anything you’d like to add in closing?
In closing, I would like to thank Adrian for helping me get going again with his site and advice. Failure is not fun, but if you don’t try again, you won’t ever succeed!
Failure is not fun, but if you don't try again, you won't ever succeed! I like that, it's so true! Thank you for sharing your story with us, Gary!
What can you take home from my interview with Gary K Waters? Here are a few key points:
- if you want to start your own TE, “do your homework and have partners and capital” as Gary put it.
- online business is not a sprint, but a marathon. Gary has been working online since 2001.
- in Gary’s words: “Failure is not fun, but if you don’t try again, you won’t ever succeed!”
- good health is of utmost importance, don’t take it for granted. Your options are drastically limited once it’s gone.