Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.
– Benjamin Franklin

Where to begin? I guess the beginning would be a good place!

My journey to making money online has been a pretty random accident. I didn’t even own a computer until my wife and I got one as a wedding present back in 1995. I knew very little about them and spent the first year being able to do little more than Email someone and download music.

I entered the car rental industry soon, thereafter, and they wanted me to actually use one to do productive things. The owner showed me an Excel spreadsheet that I needed to keep updated and when I told him I didn’t know how to use Excel, he said, “click the ‘Help’ link whenever you get stuck.” Yep; pretty extensive training!

From then on, I guess I learned to help myself no matter what I was trying to accomplish on a computer. Almost all of the answers are out there if you know where and how to look for them!

The Company Website

frustrated in front of computerMy first experience with a website was in 2004, when I was the Director of Sales and Marketing at a local car rental company here in Orlando. I was put in charge of getting it to rank well in the search engines and knew nothing at all about websites, let alone SEO (I’d never even heard the term before).

After putting in 12 hour days at work, I spent another 4 hours at night, lurking on webmaster forums. I never created an account or contributed; I just watched the discussions and started implementing what those people were talking about.

It took¬† a little over six months, but I not only got the website to page one, but we made it all the way to position #1 for “Orlando Car Rental.” Pretty impressive, I must boast, considering we were a one office, one town, local car rental company. There we were, towering over Hertz, Dollar and Enterprise in the car rental capital of the world! We went from getting three online reservations per month to 20 per day!

Admittedly, things were WAY easier back then. More than anything, I made sure the on-page SEO was perfect and got a bunch of cheap, easy backlinks from social bookmarking sites, forums and blog comments (things that would get your website de-indexed today). We also picked up a few natural backlinks because of a travel guide I created that reviewed all of the Orlando attractions, ride by ride. I remember having to write that entire guide in HTML – our website didn’t have a WYSIWYG editor. Yep, a lot more late nights learning how to do that and even more writing that Travel Guide in my spare time.

The company has changed hands several times since then and is nowhere near the top of page one anymore. That crappy looking little travel guide has survived the years, though. Not only has the car rental company that owns the site changed several times but the template for the website has changed and nobody has ever bothered to fix the CSS issues the new template created with those Travel Guide pages. From time to time, I take a look at it and read a page or two. It’s been over a decade since it was updated but it’s still pretty current. I can’t believe I wrote all of that in my spare time!

Affiliate Blogs

affiliate marketing cashNot content with just helping the company with their website, I decided to see if there was some way I could implement what I learned with the company website and use it for myself to start making money online. Somewhere or other, I heard about Ed Dale’s 30 Day Challenge and decided to give that a shot. I built my first blog – a political one – and had it ranked in position #1 for some very competitive political terms, leapfrogging the big network news websites along the way.

The thought never occurred to me to monetize the blog when I was building it; I was just trying to win the rankings game and doing it for fun (very much like the fictitious person I created in a post on the Store Coach blog – Once Upon A Time, On A Website That Could Be Yours …). But, since the whole purpose of the 30 Day Challenge was to earn your first dollar online, I added a few banners for political T-shirts and was surprised when a few people actually bought them!

I have no clue what Ed Dale is teaching now (his course is now called “The Challenge“). More than anything, his course helped me hone my on-page SEO skills and taught me that it was possible to actually make money online. I did end up tossing up a few blogs in an effort to earn some affiliate commissions but never really made more than a couple hundred dollars per month. Good bill paying money, but I wanted more …

Making Money Online With eCommerce

laptop with shopping cart iconTo tell you the truth, I have absolutely no idea how I stumbled upon the notion of eCommerce. I probably saw an ad somewhere promising riches and ended up going to a pitch page for an eCommerce training course. It sure seemed to me like it was a much more viable way of really making money online, though.

Even then, I realized almost all of these online courses were scams but there was something about the training course that seemed genuine. I told my wife I wanted to fork out $900 to take the course. We were pretty tight on money then but I remember her telling me that she knew I could do anything I set my mind to and to go for it if I thought it was for real. We should all be so lucky to have someone who believes in us like that!

The course itself was pretty decent. I learned a lot and set up my first eCommerce website – one that sold NASCAR collectibles. It was a massive website with more than 3,000 products and was a real pain in the butt to manage. Constantly changing products, things going in and out of stock all the time; it was a good lesson in what NOT to do with future website niches, but it made a few hundred bucks a month, so I made the money back for the training course and then some. More than anything, the course allowed me to meet the person who would change the course of my life – Dave Hermansen.

It was 2009 and the economy was crashing. All of the rental car companies started laying off people and marketing was the first thing to go. I was out of a job, nobody was hiring and I was in real trouble. I started Emailing Dave in support non-stop, asking his advice about how I could make more money, get my website to do even better and he suggested starting another website, since the one I had was already ranking about as high as it would ever get.

Dave Hermansen helped me to understand some of the technical nuances of website architecture that I had never heard of before and showed me how he and his brothers went about getting the links that really mattered. Three months later, that new website was making so much money, I had replaced the income from my former job. A year later, I was making twice as much as I had ever made at any job I had ever had. Yep; I was finally making real money online!

Time To Do What I Really Like – Writing!

writer at laptopRight about the time that I was finally making real money online, Dave and his brothers parted ways with the other online course and launched their own eCommerce training course – Store Coach. Dave had come to know me pretty well over the course of the previous year and when he launched the new website training course, he asked me to give my thoughts on it and I became their first official member.

The course is, in essence, a step-by-step version of all the things Dave helped me with in those countless Emails back and forth and a whole bunch more. Last time I checked, the course had about 100 video tutorials and around 500 detailed training articles. It flows well, though, and you just go from one tutorial to the next. They keep adding to the course so who knows how many tutorials there are now?

Honestly, as good as the other course was, the information in Store Coach blew it away. It is ten times more comprehensive than anything I have ever seen relating to making money online through eCommerce. I am absolutely sure that there is no other eCommerce training course that even comes close to it. I was so appreciative of the help he had given me when I had lost my job and things were at their bleakest, when he asked me if he could use my story on the home page of the website, I said “by all means.” That’s actually my voice you hear and my story (albeit a shorter version than this one). They got an artist to illustrate the white board video after I recorded my narrative.

Dave knew that I had become obsessed with finding everything out about SEO as I possibly could. I subscribe to more than 30 feeds from prominent SEO blogs and am always looking for more. On any given day, I’ll peruse 50 different articles. Because of that, Dave knew that I knew my stuff and, because I was a writer, invited me to contribute to the Store Coach blog whenever I wanted to. I also helped write a good deal of content in the BigCommerce Design section of the Store Coach course as well as a few other training articles – mostly how-to’s on things like setting up Google Shopping.

The exposure I gained from Store Coach, both in their forum and the blog, gave me the opportunity to hook up with other people in the SEO Community, which led to several ongoing paid gigs, ghost writing for blogs. I’ve been published on political and sports websites, too – sometimes under my real name, sometimes not. You’ll see me from time to time on various other forums and blogs, usually with the username “Scooter,” “Scotty Mack” or some derivative of those names.¬† Now that I have money coming in that pays the bills, and it’s money that takes very little time and effort to make, I finally have the time to do what I love best – writing. If I can help some people along the way, all the better. I’m all about “paying it forward.”

Website Cash

cash coming out of laptopI’m no “guru.” I’m simply a regular guy who has made a ton of mistakes and learned how to make money online despite my missteps. I’m quirky, long winded, sometimes brash, definitely opinionated and always brutally honest. I have definitely had success and hope that anyone reading this blog will be inspired by it. If I can make money online, anyone can!

I started this blog because there just seemed to be a void. Sure, there are plenty of blogs offering SEO and website advice but none of them really seem to be geared toward that absolute newbie that is struggling to understand even the most basic things. Certainly none of them seem to understand that there are thousands of people out there that are just like I was – down to their last couple of nickels and looking for the least expensive way possible to get a website up and making money. No, so many places seem to be trying to steer people to the most expensive options – things that will make them the most in affiliate commissions.

Don’t get me wrong. There will certainly be things I recommend that I will earn affiliate commissions from. I’ll label those things so that you KNOW there is something in it for me if you sign up. I’ll also try to recommend anything I can find that doesn’t cost a dime that’ll get the job done, even if it means it’s harder or takes more time to do it the “freebie” way.

The main core of Website Cash will be the daily summaries of anything I find on the Net that I think people should read or watch. If there’s a day where I don’t think there was anything that would be of real value to the regular guy, so be it. I’ll also supplement the blog with tips or little tricks I have picked up along the way and don’t be surprised if you see an opinion piece or two.

I hope you find something here that helps you achieve your dream of independence through eCommerce. If you have a question, please don’t hesitate to ask it in the Comments section after any piece. If I don’t know the answer, I promise I’ll make something up (just kidding). And, if you know of a great source for website tips, SEO or anything else you feel would benefit “the little guy,” please, please, please let me know about it! At this point, what’s another RSS feed or ten?

DISCLAIMER: I have provided a couple of links to the Store Coach eCommerce Training Course in my story. If folks sign up for Store Coach, I will be paid a referral commission. My reputation is worth far more than a few extra bucks from affiliate commissions and it’s not like I really need the money. They taught me how to make it for myself, after all! I wouldn’t recommend Store Coach if I didn’t think it was well worth the relatively small investment. Most courses like theirs aren’t half as good and cost 4 or 5 times as much money!

Picture - Scott McKirahan

About the author: Scott McKirahan is a full time owner of several successful e-commerce websites and has been involved in SEO since the mid 2000’s. He has been published on a variety of websites with articles ranging from politics to sports to website tips to SEO and is a member of several website related forums where he often goes by the name “Scotty Mack,” “Scooter” or some variant of those names.

Connect with Scott via: Twitter | Google+

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Scott McKirahan

Scott McKirahan is a full time owner of several successful e commerce websites and has been involved in SEO since the late 1990's. He has been published on a variety of websites with articles ranging from politics to sports to Website Tips to SEO and is a member of several web related forums where he often goes by the names "Scooter," "Scotty Mack" or some variant of those names.

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