Interview With Graham Langdon – The Ultimate Online Rags to Riches Story
Graham went from $100 one day to $100,000 the next. This is a great rags to riches story. In a lot of ways I was you’re average broke college kid, just focused on getting good grades so that one day I can get a job that pays well.What inspired you to create your first major project MillionDollarWiki.com?
This is a great rags to riches story. In a lot of ways I was you’re average broke college kid, just focused on getting good grades so that one day I can get a job that pays well. I had a mountain of student loans that weren’t going away anytime soon, and a hundred bucks in the bank. However, I had been an entrepreneur all my life, and the “idea gears” never stopped turning in my head. In fact, I would have a new idea for a business on a very regular basis. However, as you know, most businesses take money to make money. I needed a way to make money that didn’t require any upfront investment.
So I decided to write a novel. And while writing the novel, I tried to find a website that could help me with the process of writing similies and metaphors. I couldn’t find one, so I made one: Associary.com. The idea behind Associary was to have a wiki page for every word and idea, and people could just write the first thing that comes to mind. Just a bunch of word association that people could use to help write similies and metaphors.
So there I was, with a wiki where every unique page was based on a unique keyword. The gears kept turning as I realized that for popular keywords on Google it can cost more than 5 dollars per click to advertise. It was about that time that the message really hit home that keyword have a real value, and with the proper marketing, I could essentially sell keywords. I thought a bit about branding, and decided to shamelessly piggyback off the “Million Dollar” brand that Alex Tew had started. The “Million Dollar” brand actually conveyed the idea well, that a finite advertising space was available, and that it relied heavily on buzz marketing. The rest is, as they say, history.
You made over $100,000 in just a few months from MillionDollarWiki, what did you spend this money on?
First I made sure to put aside enough money to pay taxes. That kind of income puts you in a 30% tax bracket. I don’t support the war in Iraq and I don’t feel I should have to pay my hard earned money for guns and bombs. But there isn’t any choice involved here, so after putting aside money for taxes I paid off my student loans. That felt good.
Now I was left with less than half of what I had made. If I wasn’t careful, I knew I’d spend it all and end up back where I started. That wasn’t going to happen. I decided then and there that I would parlay my money immediately into another business idea of mine, one that would not be a passing fad. Eventually, every last dime would be spent on Entrecard, and I would sell Million Dollar Wiki to further finance Entrecard. In every way imaginable, I have put everything on the line for Entrecard.
In November 2007 you created Entrecard, tell us about this website.
Entrecard is a social advertising network for bloggers. Social Networks like MyBlogLog and BlogCatalog do not offer advertising across the network, and advertising networks like BlogRush do not offer and social networking. Entrecard is an improvement of the Blogrush traffic model, with all the bells and whistles of a social network.
The great thing about Entrecard is the credit economy we’ve established. People earn credits in every type of card exchange and advertisement sale. Now, we’ve launched a store, the first marketplace just for bloggers, where you can pay with credits, and buy everything from SEO Consultations, WordPress themes, Ebooks, Blog Makeovers, Blog Reviews, Text Links, and more.
But if I had to sum up Entrecard, I would say its a Social Network, an Ad Network, and a Marketplace for bloggers. It’s going to be huge. Yesterday we ranked 1900 on Alexa, we’ve done a million pageviews over the last month, our widget is running on over 1600 blogs, and our traffic, userbase, and economy is growing at a very healthy rate.
What are your long term plans for Entrecard?
I want Entrecard to be the Facebook and the Ebay of the Blogosphere. I want to turn the Entrecard Credit into the currency of the blogosphere. I want thousands of bloggers buying and selling anything related to blog marketing and blog design, and using Entrecard Credits to facilitate the transactions. I want to make Entrecard such a no-brainer for bloggers to use that they wonder how they ever lived without it. I guess I have pretty high ambitions for this project.
If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started. What business related advice would you give yourself?
I would have accepted Paypal on Million Dollar Wiki from the start. In the beggining, I only accepted Google Checkout because there was no processing fee. My sales doubled when I added Paypal. I would also have let people sell their wiki pages from the beginning instead of waiting until November. I actually think that this would have kept the buzz machine going, and it would have got me much closer to the million than I got. These were two pieces of the puzzle that I failed to put into place, and as such my earnings were negatively impacted.
Do you think that entrepreneurialism is something that is in your blood? Or is it something that can be learned?
Personally, I think its in your blood. I’ve been starting businesses and having business ideas since I was eight years old. It’s almost pathological. I watch a TV show, read a magazine, have a conversation with someone and say “Hey, that just made me think of a great business idea.” One of the hardest challenges I’ve had to face is staying focused on one project long enough to see it through, and stop myself from going off on another business project. It’s possible if I stayed with MDW, I would have made much more money, but instead I got the idea for Entrecard and had to do it. People who know me personally actually get sick of my constant business ideas. I can almost guarantee what I have is genetic.
Is there anyone that you look up to and model yourself on?
Keith Olbermann is my hero. Look him up on youtube.
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
Keep your life balanced. Sometimes, a day goes by and I’ve realized I spent the whole day online. Getting away from the computer on a daily basis to read a book, play a musical instrument, and spend time with friends is paramount.
What advice would you give to a young entreprenuer starting their first business?
Look for an opportunity and exploit it. Backwards engineer your business. Look at why something succeeded, and analyze it. Break down how they marketed it, how they made money, and what is working in the world TODAY. For me, starting a business is like putting together pieces of a puzzle. When all the pieces fit, you know you’ve got a winner, and that will give you all the motivation you need to make it work.
What are your plans for the future? Do you believe in goals (for example anything that you want to do before age 30)?
It’s hard for me to plan more than a month ahead, for anything. I guess my one goal is to be satisfied with what I’ve done with life, and not look back when I’m fifty and desperately wish I had done something else.
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