I'm really happy today to share a pretty inspirational story with you. It's also a story I'm quite close to, as the star of the show is married to the person who first introduced me to Internet Marketing back in 2012. Now here I am, interviewing his wife on my own website.
It just goes to show what you can achieve if you stick at it.
The lady in question, Amanda, has taken the plunge and gone full time as an Internet Marketer. A few months back, with the help of her husband, she launched DealTrunk.com, a site that lets you find out all about the latest online deals.
It's got a unique twist to it though, which I'll let you read more about later.
The site itself is a really cool thing, but what's even cooler is the story, and Amanda's insights.
I know a lot of you out there are in a similar situation to where she was, and even more of you are in the same situation as where she now IS (trying to get the momentum moving with your online businesses), so I think you're going to get a lot of value from this post.
Over to Amanda!
Tell us all a bit about yourself, your current situation, and what you’re working on online.
My name is Amanda, I have a Mechanical Engineering degree from Penn State, and I’m in the midst of a huge career change!
My husband, Steve, and I have been married for about 2.5 years (we met at Penn State). Steve has been working for himself online since we were in college and never wanted to work in a corporate job after graduation. I was the opposite.
I went to all of the college career fairs, I worked at two separate engineering internships during my summers off, and immediately started working at an engineering company after graduation.
I stayed at that job for 6 years before I was ready for a new challenge. I quit that job this past summer to launch DealTrunk.com and a Deal Trunk Chrome extension.
You were no stranger to IM when you first started, having a husband that makes a comfortable living online. Why didn’t you take the plunge sooner, and what was it that finally drove you to do so?
You know, Steve has suggested it before now but I truthfully have laughed it off in the past and told him he was crazy. I was proud of my engineering job. I liked getting dressed up for work every day, I liked working with a lot of people in a team environment, and I liked the people that I worked with.
I just reached a point at my job where I didn’t feel like I was progressing forward anymore. I had learned all I was going to from the position that I was at and I reached a fork in the road where I could accept it as a steady job and keep showing up for a paycheck, or I could push myself to make my own new challenges.
I was looking for new engineering positions with other companies but didn’t find anything that seemed different enough from what I was already doing.
This time, when Steve suggested launching an online Deal site I actually heard him out.
I imagine working online wasn’t quite what you thought it would be like. What things did you struggle with the most initially?
You are 100% right! Above I touched on the parts of my previous job that I really liked. Of course Steve is home with me so I’m definitely not alone but I do miss the more collaborative atmosphere of working in a big office building.
I think the thing I struggled with most initially was focusing on posting deals on my site each day before I had much of a user base. I knew that I wanted to put the same quality into my work if 1 person was using my site as I would if 10,000 people were using my site.
Of course that’s easier to say in the middle of the day than when your alarm is going off in the morning to wake you up, or when a show you like is playing on TV.
Do you think it was better to just go from 100% offline to 100% online, or would a transition period have been better?
Hmmm. That’s a great question. I think a transition period probably would have been less of a culture shock. I think I made the right move jumping in 100% though.
When I first resigned from my job my manager actually offered to keep me on part time. I would still be getting a steady paycheck and benefits and I’d have time to work on launching Deal Trunk. This seemed like the best of both worlds and I honestly really considered it.
In the end though I knew it wasn’t something I could accept. I knew that I would struggle with separating the two ventures and both would suffer. I anticipated staying late at my engineering job when urgent issues came up (which happened quite often) and then getting home and not putting the time in that I wanted with Deal Trunk.
Or I imagined the opposite, spending my time in the office sketching out plans for Deal Trunk, and letting my engineering work slack off. I didn’t want to end up down the road leaving on bad terms after my work performance slipped.
And I didn’t want to risk the possibility of a failure with Deal Trunk because I didn’t have my whole heart in it. I knew this was the right choice for me.
In regards to your site, what has the progress been like? What’s been the most fun, the least fun, and the most difficult?
Honestly the progress will seem non-existent for a while and then will come in bursts. It took longer than I had expected to find a marketing team to work with, get the site design finalized, and then get the Deal Trunk site up and running.
Once the site was up and running we were able to quickly affiliate with Best Buy, Target, Ebay, and many other big stores to be able to start posting deals. The biggest one of all though, Amazon, was a huge obstacle. It literally took months and probably 4 or 5 rejected applications before DealTrunk.com was established enough for the Amazon affiliation to be approved.
Each time I would call them up to find out what their concerns were with my site and what I could change or improve.
My current obstacle is figuring out how to reach out and find new users. So far we have had a lot of positive feedback, which has been really encouraging.
But users can’t use Deal Trunk if they don’t know it exists!
I think I would label this as the “most difficult” because there really is no end in sight! There is no answer to the problem because I will always want to continue to grow the user base.
I suspect though that the longer I do this the more I will learn what is effective so that I can be increasingly successful with each new attempt.
I actually think that so far these “least fun” aspects have also been the “most fun”. Above I was talking about how I like to be challenged. Of course it’s not very fun when you are in the midst of the problem, but I find it extremely rewarding each time I overcome one of these obstacles.
What plans do you have for helping your site grow?
One thing I have been doing since launching DealTrunk.com is holding monthly giveaways for things like a new Kindle, or gift cards to different retailers. Managing these giveaways has been a fun way to meet some of our users and to motivate current users to tell their friends!
We give out extra entries for the giveaway when someone you refer also signs up. Last month was very exciting when one of our users posted our $50 Amazon Gift Card giveaway on reddit. The person who posted got a ton of extra entries (for everyone that signed up for the giveaway under their link) and Deal Trunk at least tripled the number of active users. Win – Win!
The other thing that I’m working on is reaching out to other communities that are interested in the Deal Trunk extension. Everything from local blogs that want to hear about a new Pittsburgh startup, to tech sites that keep an eye on tech prices, to couponing or stay at home parent sites that help users find ways to save money.
I hope that if I can let enough of these blogs know about Deal Trunk that some may want to feature the site in an article. This would give the editors of these blogs some fresh content on a new company that would interest their users, and it would (hopefully!) be another boost to our user base.
I’m just starting to reach out to these sites so no success stories yet, but hopefully soon I’ll gain some insight into what works and what doesn’t!
What tips do you have for anyone else who’s thinking about making the transition from the full-time workforce, to a career online?
Two main things come to mind. First is to be realistic about your finances and make sure you have enough in your savings to live off of for a little while. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to replicate that reliable engineering salary after a couple short months.
If it was that easy to make money online then everyone would do it! We took a serious look at how much money Steve was making a month (without my salary), how much money we owed each month for our bills, and how much we usually were spending in a month.
This also meant looking at what expenses I could cut back on like manicures, shopping, going out to eat, happy hours, etc.
The second thing is to know who is emotionally supportive of your transition. Steve has been extremely supportive and I couldn’t be doing this without him, but not everyone in my life has been supportive of this career change.
Some think I’m throwing away my engineering degree, some think I quit my job because I just didn’t feel like working anymore. It’s a challenge to do, but I try to channel this negativity into motivation… “I’ll show them I can be successful!”
But as much as it helps to have a positive attitude, there are times you just need to surround yourself with your friends and family who believe in you!
Lastly, tell us more about your site and how it works.
It’s about time! Just kidding! I’ve referenced Deal Trunk a lot already so you probably already get the gist, but here goes… DealTrunk.com is a website that I continually update with hand picked deals from around the web. You’re probably thinking “but that already exists!” and you’re right.
There are other sites online that update with new deals daily, which is why the Deal Trunk extension is really exciting!
To use any of those other sites you have to check back in to the site over and over and over again throughout the day. When there is a really hot deal it usually sells out quickly.
By the time you see it the prices have already risen, or worse yet, it’s sold out.
That’s why we created the Deal Trunk extension.
After installing our extension, a little version of the elephant logo sits in the corner of your browser and changes color to let you know that a new deal has been posted. It isn’t anything flashy or obnoxious, so if you are in the middle of working on something, no worries, it won’t be distracting.
When you do have a minute to check out the new deal you can simply click on the icon and see a short pull down list of the recently posted deals to see if any of them interest you. This preview allows you a quick way to check what has updated before deciding if you want to venture over to the full site.
Most of the items I post are tech related (computers, cellphones, cameras) but you don’t need to be a big tech geek who spends hundreds each month on the latest gadgets to enjoy the savings offered at Deal Trunk! For example, just last month I plugged my phone in and realized it wasn’t charging.
I looked a bit closer and saw that one of our two mischievous kitties chewed straight through the cord! I had two options. One – go to Verizon and buy a new cord for $30 or two – buy one online, usually in the $1 – $5 range and available in lots of fun colors.
I guess those fun colors might be even more enticing to the cats, but I digress… Even though Deal Trunk focuses primarily on tech items, I also post a wide variety of other products when they are on sale for a great price. This includes clothing, sunglasses, home décor, kitchen appliances, games, food items, and more!
One last great feature of the site is our monthly giveaways. Our current giveaway is for a $30 Amazon Gift Card. As shown on our “Wall of Winners” we have already given away $194 to users all over the country from Florida, New Jersey, and California, and you could be next! Well not you, Bryon, since friends are excluded, but anyone reading this on your site!
Back To Dom
Pretty insightful stuff right? I wish I'd had a kickass husband when I first got started, but at the end of the day Amanda's success is going to be down to her own hard work and tenacity.
She's agreed to stop by in the comments section and respond to any questions or comments you all might have, so feel free to get involved.
Also, don't forget to sign up for the giveaway here: I Want An Amazon Voucher