Hi, my name is Andrew Forrester and I’m the founder of OnlineSuccessTalk.com – I’m 48 years old and I’m British. I was born in Manchester, England. I lived in England up until 1997 at which point I left and moved to France and I have lived here ever since in a beautiful city in the south of France, close to the Mediterranean Sea. The weather is great and life is good. 🙂
I am a self-employed “web entrepreneur” with over 12 years experience of making money online from many sources including YouTube, selling courses, ad revenue and affiliate marketing. Apart from this website, I have a YouTube channel and 2 other websites that make me money. (I discuss them all in a bit more detail further down this page.)
I started this site, OnlineSuccessTalk.com in order to have a place where I can talk about my journey as a web entrepreneur and all of the challenges that go along with it. I work alone from home and it’s a lonely business sometimes. I like the idea of being able to share my thoughts about my line of work and lifestyle and maybe make some friends on the way. 🙂 You’ll find articles on all aspects of running a successful online business – Not just the technical and business aspects, but also some of the “human” aspects. – I am very interested in personal development, in particular the importance of good habits, time management, productivity and discipline and so I’ll be writing articles about all of those subjects and sharing what I have found works for me to get things done. I’ll also probably be using this site to journal about life in general, so look out for posts on my random thoughts and my life here in France.
How I became a web entrepreneur
As long as I can remember, I have always been interested in business and being an entrepreneur. Even when I was just a kid and all my friends were reading about sports, music and fashion, I was reading the business pages and learning about the stock market and how successful businesses were run. The idea of just having a job bored me and even as young as 16 or 17, I’d buy books and magazines about how to start a business and how to become a franchisee etc. Back then, I was just dreaming of course but I knew that I wasn’t destined to be an employee. When the internet took off in the 1990s, I knew that I wanted to start an internet business but I wasn’t sure where to start.
After graduating in 1996 with a degree in IT and then working a 9-5 job as an employee for a number of years, I had a first attempt to start an online business in 2001 when I launched an ecommerce site selling oil paintings that I was importing from Asia!
WordPress didn’t exist in 2001 and the ecommerce platforms were terrible so I designed and developed my own front-end ecommerce site using the ASP 3 programming language and Microsoft Access for the database! It worked really well but every time I needed to update a price or product description, I had to FTP the database back to my local machine, update the database and then FTP it back to the server.
I realised that by doing this, there was a very high risk of the database file becoming corrupt. So then I had the idea that maybe I could keep the database on the web server and then update it remotely in the browser using some hidden online forms that I could also design and develop in ASP. Without knowing it at the time, I had just developed an ecommerce backend and CMS!
Anyway, coming back to the business side of things – It actually made a small profit but not enough to live on. The margins were very high but volumes were low. I closed the site and admitted defeat in 2004 and I went back to a boring job with my tail between my legs.
2004: Ebay arbitrage
I never gave up on the dream of quitting my job though and in 2004, while still working a job, I started an Ebay business. – I had discovered that I could buy cheap products in bulk from ebay wholesale sellers on ebay.co.uk and ebay.com in the USA and then sell them individually for a decent profit on ebay.fr (the French site). I discovered by accident that I was able to identify the products in demand on ebay.fr by browsing the completed auctions from the past and seeing the products that got the most bids and the highest prices. All I then had to do was to try to source the products elsewhere at a low enough unit cost that left with me with a worthwhile margin.
I didn’t realise it back then but I was actually doing something called “Ebay arbitrage” – Buying low in one region and selling high in another. I made some pretty good money doing it but don’t bother trying to do it now – Chinese manufacturers and dropshippers have since flooded ebay and opportunities like that are practically impossible to find. Ebay is a terrible place to try to make money now IMHO. I don’t recommend it at all.
2005: I discovered a money-making machine!
After my Ebay adventure, I was still working a fulltime job and in 2005 I did some research and bought an ebook called “Google cash” by Chris Carpenter. It explained a technique of how to use Google Adwords PPC (pay per click advertising) to promote clickBank products as an affiliate. It was essentially a way to make money doing affiliate marketing without even needing a website because the technique was to directly link to the clickbank sales page using your affiliate link in the ad. It all came down to mastering 2 skills: 1)SEO skills to find good longtail search terms with a low enough cost per click and 2) Writing good ad copy.
I used to set a really low daily budget of only about $20 and I would track which search terms and which ads were actually converting into sales. I would do that for a few days, while adding new search terms. I’d be losing up to $20 a day for several days while optimizing until I had all the data about which search terms were the best performers. Then I would drop all the non-performing terms and scale up the budget to several hundred dollars per day and sit back.
It was basically a money-making machine. Put $100 into adwords and get $300 out in sales from Clickbank. It was the golden era of affiliate marketing.
It was instant traffic and sales. No need to wait for your site to rank in google search and you didn’t even need a website anyway. It all came down to tracking and data analysis. A lot of money was made until Google pulled the plug on it in 2006 I think it was. A lot of people were doing it (the ebook in question was a best seller at the time) and Google didn’t like the fact that many of the ads showing in adwords were now all leading to the exact same URLs (just with different affiliate ids) They decided it wasn’t a good experience for the users and so updated their TOS and essentially banned the practice of direct linking to affiliate offers.
So let me be very clear: Do NOT do this today. It will get your Google adwords account banned. It worked back in the day circa 2004 – 2005 because it was allowed back then. As soon as Google updated their TOS, I stopped doing it immediately. I always play by the rules and I strongly suggest you do the same.
Slightly off-topic, but that Ebook was one of the rare Ebooks about making money online that actually worked and lived up to the hype. It’s obviously worthless now because Google has since changed its TOS but it was truly awesome while it lasted. Does anyone remember it? Write a comment below.
2013: Hello YouTube
2013 is when it all came together for me. I was intrigued with YouTube and was an avid user on the site. I kept watching videos about a particular topic I am very knowledgeable in and I felt that I could do better than some of the channels I was watching. So in 2013, I started a channel discussing this topic. It is a topic that I have a lot of knowledge, professional training and experience in. By the way, it is totally unrelated to the “make money online” niche and it’s proof that is possible to be successful in any niche. The channel struggled for about a year but I kept putting out weekly videos and working every day on the channel. Then in 2014 the hard work paid off and the channel took off, doubling the number of daily views (and ad revenue) about 3 times in the space of a few weeks. In 2015, the channel reached 100,000 subscribers and I received the coveted Silver Play Button (see photo below) with a letter of congratulations from YouTube’s CEO.
6 years later and as of March 2021, the channel has a total of over 700,000 subscribers, over 50 million views and has earned me a 6 figure sum in ad revenue alone.
2015 – Website #1
In 2015, when my YouTube channel started taking off, I created a website under the same brand and based around the same niche topic. The goal was to have somewhere to send my YouTube subscribers if/when they wanted more in-depth content than what was available on my channel. The website gets good traffic not only from my YouTube channel but also from Google. It contains good content and so gets a lot of natural backlinks. The site gets about 70,000 pageviews per month.
It is monetized through ads, affiliate marketing and a paid online course. I’m still tweaking the monetization on this website but it brings in several hundred dollars per month in passive income.
2019: Website #2
I started website #2 in 2019. Website #2 is a small niche site that has a handful of articles about a particular type of tech. It is monetized through the Amazon associates program. The goal of the site was to diversify away from the niche of my YouTube channel and website #1. It was also an exercise in starting a new site from scratch, designing and building a brand new site with WordPress, doing keyword research, writing content and then doing some outreach to get some backlinks.
It was an exercise in TAKING ACTION in all aspects of starting a website that makes money. The site has about 24 long-form posts on it and I haven’t added any new content in over a year. The site doesn’t get a lot of traffic but the traffic is highly targeted towards people looking to buy something and so the traffic does convert well. The RPM (revenue per thousand views) of the site is way higher than that of site #1. The next step would be to write more content and to scale it. As it stands, it makes about $100 per month in pure passive income. It’s not much but it’s nice getting that monthly payment from Amazon.
2021: OnlineSuccessTalk.com is born
I have been a successful full-time web entrepreneur for the last 6 years and OnlineSuccessTalk.com is a place for me to write about my continued journey to an audience of like-minded people. On this site, you’ll find articles about all aspects of running an internet business as well as articles on self-improvement, productivity, time management, goal-setting and even a few posts about my life in France and what I’m up to in my personal life.
The road ahead
I think the biggest lesson from my journey so far is: “Never give up”. – Imagine if I had given up in 2004 after my Ecommerce site had “failed”?! I’d still be stuck doing a 9-5 job and hating life.
I truly believe that anything is possible with the right mindset, discipline and strong work ethic. I have big goals and plans (work and personal) for the future and this is where I’ll be writing about them. I do not claim to be an expert or a guru. I simply strive to move forward, learn and improve every day. I hope you’ll come along for the ride.
Feel free to leave a comment below. I like to chat! What are some of your goals?