Hi! I’m Daniel and this is my story so far…
I grew up having an ever-changing myriad of ambitions – from one end of the spectrum of wanting to become a priest to becoming a classical pianist, early childhood educator, physics teacher, and football player, and it seems I could never set my mind to something.
I studied engineering in college, and struggled through my freshman and sophomore years (practically failing module after module) but had a great time nonetheless in college life. I would not have made it through college if not for my best pal in engineering, we motivated each other and studied enough to barely scrap through with a passing grade, we were more interested in movies, music, food, and the opposite gender rather than our engineering modules.
First taste of working life and digital marketing
After graduation, I pursued a career in engineering while my best pal pursued music. During that time, I was fascinated by the idea of engineering designs and projects and was blessed enough to land a job as a project engineer designing and building industrial plants. I enjoyed the learning, problem-solving, and engineering aspects of the job but the hours were grueling and stressful, I had a slave-driving boss and I worked day and night, even on weekends, coming home just to sleep, all this for just $2,200 a month.
After several years, I felt that the stress and workload were just not worth it given the salary I was earning, and moved to a company selling industrial equipment and hardware. While work was not as stressful, I was always drawn to the idea of making money on the side, I watched videos on Youtube on E-commerce, especially in the area of dropshipping. One day in 2020, I saw a Facebook Ad on how to run a PR agency, boasting how this young 20-year-old college medical student made over $50,000 a month while studying, with little or no effort using an all-new unheard method. I was intrigued and made an appointment to meet one of the owners of this course, being naive and a newbie in digital marketing, I was the easy prey and he could easily throw out many technical jargons, anything he say would make sense to me such that even a monkey could sell me a course. I was easily sold and bought his course for almost $2,000. I went through the online course over the next few days and to summarize the contents of the course, this was their all-new secret money-making method – reach out to financial advisors, real estate agents, chiropractors (aka high-earning professionals) privately on Facebook groups, tell them you can get leads for them by running Facebook Ads to a custom built landing page, feature them in an online news article to show that they are famous (by paying some money to small news websites) and write a book for them which they can give to their leads to show that they are knowledgeable in their specialization (basically by buying some cheap private label rights book and putting their name on it), charge them a one-time mind-boggling fee of $10,000 and recurring $1,000 per month for running Facebook Ads (not counting ad spend cost), no wonder this 20-year-old student could make $50,000 a month!
My first major defeat in digital marketing came when the makers of this course offered an affiliate program to market their course, we were provided with ad copies and creatives to use (little did I know their creatives and ad copies were severely violating Facebook Ads Policies), I ran some Facebook Ads using my personal account, got my ads suspended several times and finally got my entire ad account banned. Being a total noobcake, I didn’t know what to do, scoured the internet on how to recover a banned Facebook Ad account, wrote in to Facebook, and was told that I need to set up a company and do a business verification in order to make an appeal – the entire process of getting the business verification done took me nearly 3 months of non-stop back and forth with Facebook. Once the business verification was done, I could finally make my appeal to Facebook, but guess what happened next? Merely 1-2 days after the appeal, Facebook rejected my appeal and say that I can no longer advertise with them, I was totally crushed – just months into my digital marketing journey, and I was already banned with Facebook! I recalled setting an extremely small goal in 2020 that I would make JUST $1 through digital marketing and advertising, and in that year, I did not even make a single dollar on the side.
I quit my job in early 2021 and decided to try out dropshipping full-time, allured by countless Youtubers raving about how they made thousands of dollars easily through dropshipping, I mean…how hard can it be right? You don’t even need to hold inventory, just find some interesting-looking product, create a nice-looking website, run some ads to it and money will magically fall onto your lap, right? Well I would be proven undoubtedly wrong yet again, dropshipping is a real business but it is anything but easy!
I was pretty gung-ho on my product, I bought some small stock of 60 pieces and kept them in a fulfillment center and did custom packaging which were mistakes to begin with, brought in some samples to my home to do a video shoot, and bought a professional microphone and audio equipment to record a voice-over, built a pretty nice looking online store, spent some more money on a Youtube Ads course and ran Youtube Ads for this product – after spending a good $2000+ on ads, I only made a measly 5 sales.
2021 and 2022 would take me on a roller coaster ride in E-commerce and digital marketing, I had gone through hundreds of Youtube videos, tried dozen different methods, spent more money on courses, found a way to advertise on Facebook again, and it was not till around August 2021 that I managed to find my first winning product that could sell rather consistently, it was the first small victory I celebrated in my e-commerce journey. The following months would be spent trying to optimize my online store, testing different Facebook Ad creatives and targeting, testing different apps, testing different prices, hiring people to make UGC videos, and even trying out TikTok Ads and influencer marketing, I even hired a mentor to guide me in early 2022, to try everything to increase my average order value and increase my profits. The feeling of seeing the Shopify notification for a sale on my mobile each time is truly exhilarating, it almost felt like an addiction seeing those sales pop-up notifications.
My online store was making anywhere from $4000-$6000 per month but I was still struggling to make it profitable, I was getting the ‘Shiny-Object Syndrome’ trying to find the newest and fastest way to make money, I bought an affiliate marketing course that seemed promising, I was even making a number of sales using that method and just when I felt I was on the brink of making a breakthrough, guess what happened? My Google Ads account get suspended, and I’m back to square one again trying to recover my account and find an alternative method of making money online.
An on-going process
During this entire time, I truly understand the struggles of having your own start-up or business, there are endless days of worrying, self-doubt, seeing everyone except you making it in life, feeling hopeful one day only to feel that all hope is lost later on, taking one step forward only to fall two steps back, constantly moving from one strategy to the next, praying earnestly every day and feeling as if God does not care about you. When you stick with a strategy without success, people say you’re being stubborn and don’t want to move on; when you change strategy, people say you give up easily instead of sticking to the strategy that you learned. The hard truth is, that if you do not succeed, regardless of how hard you try, anything you say will sound like an excuse to others.
In spite of the struggles, I did learn many things along the way – digital marketing and advertising, finding winning products, creating an online store with a high-converting landing page, running and optimizing pay-per-click ads, strategies to increase average order value and conversion rates, video editing techniques, copywriting techniques, running affiliate offers, etc. And as cliché as it might sound, overcoming failure after failure just becomes part of daily life, it’s like having failure for dinner every night and still forcing yourself to get up each morning and try again.
I hope my experiences will become a source of learning for you, and hopefully, all of us can eventually get to where we want to be to find joy, peace, and happiness.