While listening to a new podcast on my way to work the other day, I discovered inspirational gold for anyone aspiring to better their financial situation. The story I’m about to share really encapsulates everything this blog is about. I was so excited about the story, I actually listened to it twice in one day!
It comes from one of my favorite podcasts – Indie Hackers. I’ll share with you the story of Mr. Mike Carson, and then I’ll share the major lessons that I picked out of it.
The Inspirational Story For My Fellow Hackers and Entrepreneurs
Mike Carson always self-identified as a “hacker” – in this case, someone who likes to build things, learn from them, and hopefully make some money along the way.
At the end of 2013/beginning of 2014, Mike wanted to reserve the domain “smile.io” for a project he and a friend were going to work on. He created a program that would tell him when the domain became available. When he finally received the notification, he went to the computer to try and purchase the name, but it had already been taken.
Looking deeper into the .io space, he realized that although he was unable to get the domain he wanted, there was actually very little competition in the space and he subsequently bought some good names like “ask.io”.
As he saw other names that he felt might be useful for future projects, he bought them. By the end, he had bought 20-25 .io names.
Mike felt that the names were worth more than what he bought them for, so his wife suggested selling one. On Flippa, Mike sold a name he had bought for $40 for a whopping $2000. That’s almost a 5000% ROI!
Not knowing if it was luck or not, he tried it again on Flippa. And he made a huge profit again. From there, he looked to scale up what he was doing.
In June of 2014, Mike created park.io, where he helps people get the domains they want before someone else takes them. He’s able to do this because he’s written and improved upon scripts (programs that automate a certain step-by-step process) that go out and actually get the names for his customers as soon as they’re available.
So Mike has automated a very big portion of park.io. He has no employees because of the level of automation. And get this – he reports making (on average, I’m assuming) $125,000 a month.
If that’s not an inspirational story of what a single person can accomplish, I don’t know what is.
Critical Money-Making Lessons From This Incredible Story
No good story is told without some kind of purpose in mind, and my purpose in telling this story is to convey some powerful lessons that can help you and I achieve similar results (I’d settle for even a fraction of the results!). Here we go:
1. Use New Trends and Advancements to Your Advantage
Around 2013-2014, a lot of people thought that the big profits that could be gained through domain “flipping” were gone. The .com space was so saturated that it was really hard to find a good way to monetize buying a domain at a low price and then selling it for much higher.
Mike realized that the growing popularity of .io domains meant that what had previously worked for .com names could work again. Most people would have seen .io names, thought “Cool, maybe I’ll get a .io site” and would have carried on with their YouTube videos. Instead of this, Mike thought, “How can I take advantage of the growing popularity of .io sites?”
This is what Profitable Matters is all about – changing our mindset from one of passive acknowledgement of new trends and advancements, to one of active opportunity seeking.
2. “Scratch Your Own Itch” To Find Good Ideas, Then Help Others To Scale
Mike’s first problem was not being able to get domain names fast enough. So he built scripts that would help reserve those domain names before any other humans could take them. He then profited big time from the domain names he had bought.
After finding ways to profit from this for himself, he realized he could make more money if he scaled it out. As Zig Ziglar is known for saying, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.” Flipping domains helped one person at a time. He needed a way to help more people at once, in a more automated fashion.
So he used the scripts that helped him reserve the domains he wanted – together with park.io – to help others get the domains they wanted, charging them a fee based on demand. This is what led to his $125,000 months.
3. Don’t Let Risk And Adversity Stop You From Trying
Where there is reward, there is always risk. I’ll be honest, I’m great at starting things, terrible at continuing those things for more than a week or two. I have a hard time dealing with the fact that I could be “wasting” time by doing something that never goes anywhere.
In the interview, Mike said that he personally tries an idea for a month or two before calling it quits. Although that seems a little short to me, a month or two is still longer than how long I typically spend on something. He mentioned that for his personality type, a month or two is about all he can take without seeing results. And it’s worked for him!
Also, there was a point where the .io registry themselves “decided to do their own back orders” (reserve domain names for people ahead of time). That could have ruined Mike’s whole business. He could have easily said, “if the .io registry is going to put me out of business eventually anyways, I might as well trash park.io and start my next big venture so I don’t waste anymore time!”
Instead, he decided to face the risk. It turned out that the .io registry back order program wasn’t very successful and park.io continued on as if the competition didn’t exist.
You don’t have to (and shouldn’t) force something that just isn’t going to happen. But I believe we owe it to ourselves to at least try.
4. Fail Quickly and Often
Mike mentioned that he launched a bunch of other project ideas before park.io and about 90% of those ideas nobody even cared about. How frustrating would that be?
But because of all those failed projects, Mike got further and further from his comfort zone, he built up his coding skills, and he was ready when a good opportunity came along.
Mike gives his projects a month before moving onto the next things. For you, maybe it’s more. According to Mike, once you find something that works, you’ll know.
Giving up on an idea doesn’t make you a quitter, it makes you wise enough to know when it’s time to move on. The only true failure is giving up completely when one project doesn’t work out like you had hoped.
5. Reinvest In The Business
I threw this one in because I’ve heard it from other successful entrepreneurs and Mike mentioned that he reinvested the profits from his first few domains to buy more domains.
It may be tempting to take what you’ve earned and run, but remember that you want to go into a business with an abundance mindset rather than a scarcity mindset. Let your business grow to a stable point before taking all the profits out for yourself for fear of losing it all again. Remember, you’re in this for the long-term.
6. Don’t Fall Into The Trap of Needing to Grow Your Business
I thought this was a very interesting point brought up in the interview. If you listen to all the entrepreneur YouTube videos and podcasts like I do, there’s a ton of focus on growing your business. “How can you get to the next level??”
But Mike’s idea is that the business should fit the lifestyle you want to live and not the other way around. He’s not into “growing” (hiring more employees and trying to scale out even more) because 1) he’s able to do it all on his own, 2) he’s happy with how much he’s made and is making, 3) he doesn’t like the complexity and slowness that can come with dealing with other people, and 4) he’s a self-proclaimed introvert so dealing with others is draining.
Sure, Mike could make 8 or 9 figures instead of 7, but why? His plan with the business is to optimize for happiness. And I think it’s the sign of wisdom to make happiness your goal rather than a bunch of money. Now let’s be honest, he definitely has both at this point – but I’m sure the world will keep telling him that he needs to make more and more.
Remember – it’s up to us to stay in control of the business and not the other way around. Know where you’re heading or you could become both the richest and most miserable person alive.
7. Automate, Automate, Automate
This was one of my favorite parts of the interview.
At one point, Courtland Allen (the interviewer) mentioned that what’s probably most remarkable about the story is that Mike is able to make that much money each month without any employees. It’s very rare for anyone to be able to run a company with such high MRR (monthly recurring revenue) with a team, let alone by themselves.
In my opinion, the key to Mike’s ability to do so much by himself is the fact that he automates so much of park.io. He’s created so many different “bots” to do things for him (retrieve the domain names, set up park pages for domain names he gets, send out weekly newsletter, gather metric data so he know what to improve, etc.), that he’s able to focus mainly on the occasional customer issue and improving the scripts he’s built to provide a better service to his customers.
Mike said that at first, he did everything manually. Then as time went on, if he found himself doing the same thing over and over, he’d automate it.
That said, I think it definitely pays to develop some coding skills because the return for the time spent learning coding can be substantial. If that’s not your interest at all, definitely keep someone close who can help with that stuff.
The technology that we have today allows a single person to do what it would’ve taken whole groups of people to do in the past. Take advantage of the time you live in and automate what you can in your business for maximum efficiency!
8. Read Books That Inspire and Help You – Key To Success
As I listened to the interview, I could tell that Mike enjoyed reading.
He mentioned a book called “Lying” and “Shoe Dog” and was able to spout off lessons he had learned from each and how he applies them in his life. This is such an important habit to develop.
If there’s one thing pretty much every successful (“successful” in some aspect of their lives, as measured by others in their field) person I’ve listened to have in common, it’s the idea that reading leads to success. They all talk about the latest books they’ve “read” (typically, they listen to the books on Audible while they’re doing other things – very efficient types) and how they implemented what they learned to improve themselves and their businesses.
Now it could just be a correlation between reading and being successful, but I’m willing to bet it’s more of the causation route in this case.
9. Introverted And Shy People Can Have Tremendous Success
This was my personal favorite lesson from the interview.
I often struggle with the fact that I’m introverted. I guess it’s more than that – I can be pretty shy when it comes to groups of people. I often feel like I get talked over and that I’m at an overall disadvantage at life because so much of it is about who you know. And if it’s difficult to talk to people, it’s kind of hard to “know” many people. As they say, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease” and, well, I’m just not very squeaky!
As Mike himself stated though, he’s an introvert himself. And from what I could tell, he seemed a little shy too, mentioning that he doesn’t have too many friends (I know, kind of sad, but also sadly relatable for myself and I’m sure many others out there).
Mike mentioned that he sort of built the business around this fact so that he wouldn’t have to go out and be around people all day. He can do the work from home, live how he wants, and he’s his own boss.
So there is a way for a completely introverted person to create a service that helps a lot of people, makes a ton of money, and lets introverts/shy people be themselves? If that’s possible, literally anything is possible. Did I mention how much I love technology?
It doesn’t matter who you are or what your personal fears and limitations are – you can succeed at creating the life you want for yourself. Just remember to follow the lessons I’ve outlined above!
Now Go Hack Away!
This will definitely be one of my all-time favorite stories. If you want to listen to the whole thing yourself (I always to 2x speed), you can find it here, along with a ton of other inspirational stories.
The main thing is just getting started on something. If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out and you can try out another idea. But if there’s a chance you could get closer to financial independence, don’t you owe it to your future self to at least try?
Take care, my friends. Until the next post, hack away.
Did any of these lessons resonate with you? Did you find the story inspirational? Are you interested in starting your own business (either on the side or full-time)? If so, what are you doing to move your idea forward? Let everyone know below!