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Editor: Joining us for today’s session is Paul Counts, who describes himself as a father, an Internet entrepreneur, a movie producer, a speaker, a podcaster, and so much more. So, I’m really excited to find out more about all of this. Paul Counts, welcome.
Paul Counts: Hey, thank you. So glad to be here. Excited to be a part of this programme and thanks for reaching out.
Editor: Well, you’ve been doing this for a long, long time. So, first of all, congratulations on all your successes.
Paul Counts: Oh, thank you very much. Yeah, I’ve been doing it for over 21 years now. So, this is my 21st year. Started in my parents’ house at the age of 13. Started with actually email marketing of all things for people that were trying to buy t-shirts, custom screen print and embroidery. And then, one thing just kind of led to the other and we ended up being in a spot where we needed to have the actual website. And at that point, the owner of the company said, “Hey, you wanted the website, you need to learn how to market it.” And from there, my Internet career was born, if you will, and haven’t looked back, loved every minute of it and just thrilled to still be doing this 20 some years later.
Editor: Sounds like an amazing story, Paul, and, for anybody who’s not heard of Paul Counts before, maybe you could just tell us a little bit more about the man, the way you got started, and so on.
Paul Counts: Yeah, yeah. So, the way I got started, so a little bit more about that side story. When I was 13 years old, I was selling t-shirts for a custom screen print and embroidery company, and to do that, we had to actually send proofs out to local schools and high schools. And I was hired just to be a junior sales representative. So, I was in junior high and I was hired just to sell t-shirts to my local school. And, of course, me being the entrepreneur that I am decided, “Hey, there’s a lot more schools out there.” So, a good friend of the family and the athletic director at the school gave me a manual that had all the athletic directors in the state with their email addresses. And so, he said,” Hey, you could reach out to different schools.”
Paul Counts: So, I started doing email marketing, emailing to them direct through a Hotmail email address, and way back when, when I was doing this, you could not send an attachment that was larger than 500 kilobytes. So, I could not send proofs. So, I told the owner of the company, I said, “Look,” I said, “I’m trying to do my best, but I can’t send proofs. We need to get a website so we can have a proper email.”
And so, at that point, he actually told me, he said, “Hey, you got the website. We did get the website as you wanted. Now, you learn to market it.” And I started to research backlinking. I started doing search engine optimization way back when, and started reaching out, doing press release marketing.
Paul Counts: He came back to me later, and said, “Hey, you’re really good at this. Why don’t I refer you to a few friends of mine.” And, like I said, that’s when things just really started to take off. And then, a few years after that, I decided, “Okay, I can only serve one or two clients at a time.” So, I realised that there’s a lot of to be made if you create and launch your own products. And from there I started creating my own courses, my own video trainings, teaching people SEO, teaching people marketing online.
Through the years, in order to stay relevant, I’ve had to make a lot of changes. Some people probably recognise me from the Real Guys brand, Real Guys Real Money. We’ve had some great successes over at ClickBank, over on JVZoo, Platinum Seller on ClickBank, which means we’ve sold millions of dollars over there. And then, we’ve also had a tremendous amount of success, as one of the top sellers, over on JVZoo.
So, I’ve had a great career on both platforms and have been able to prove ourselves in this niche market. And fast forward to today, I’m now the co-owner, co-founder of a company called Marketing Counts with Shreya Banerjee, and we have the Marketing Counts Podcast, and we now consult and work with clients, including State Farm agents, and helping them expand their reach through the Internet. We also host our own live events. So, it’s been quite the journey. That’s kind of the shortened version of the career and kind of a little bit behind who I am and what I’ve done.
Editor: Wow. It’s an amazing story. And, I guess, from what you’re telling me, Paul, is that it’s almost that you’ve kind of fell into this. It wasn’t ever a plan of yours to do this right from the very start.
Paul Counts: Yeah. It was never my plan. I really did just fall into this. And it was something that just kind of fell in my lap as a kid. I actually really wanted to have a job in sports. I wanted to have a career as a sports journalist, and also, as a sports broadcaster. That was kind of my ultimate goal, was to do that. And also, I was eyeballing coaching at the collegiate level. And so, sports was my passion. I thought that’s where I was going to be and this really just fell into my lap. And my brothers, they were either were a lifeguard at the pool or they also drove a wheat truck in the summer, and I ended up starting to do marketing, at that age, because I kind of fell into it. So, it was never the plan I had, but it really just fell into my lap and just one thing led to another. And here we are 20 some years later.
Editor: And I guess when you started, Paul, the barriers to entry were actually a little bit harder, perhaps, than they are today. I know a lot of people think of it the other way around that it must have got harder over the years to get into this. But what would you say to that? Would you agree?
Paul Counts: Yeah, I would say it was harder, because back then there wasn’t as much training. There wasn’t as much resources. There wasn’t as much knowledge. You had to learn a lot on your own. It was a school of hard knocks. There wasn’t the software that’s available today. I mean there’s two schools of thought there. So, there’s part of me says, “Yes it was much harder.” Because we didn’t have faster Internet. I used to run a dial-up line from my parents. I grew up in a town of 300 people, so I’d run a dial-up Internet connection back to my room in order to do my Internet stuff. So, Internet speeds are very slow. Technology wasn’t there. Building webpages, you had to do more things manual. You had to use HTML coding. You had to learn the CSS.
Now, we have these amazing page builders, right, that you can just take, and you have an incredible page builder and a nice landing page without having to know any coding. You can make graphics on the fly. You can outsource through companies like Fiverr on the fly. Just very quick and easy to do those things nowadays. And so, that’s why I think it was more difficult back then. But then, on the flip side of that, there was a lot less competition back there. Now there’s a ton of competition, so you have to really have your marketing dialed in, which is, hopefully, that’s going to be some of the stuff we’ll be talking about. You have to have your marketing dialed in, you have to have your messaging, your foundation, so that you can actually reach people, today, because there is so much noise and so much competition in this day and age, whereas, back when we started, competition was a lot less.
I really wish I knew kind of what I know now, way back when, because I was even starting before Amazon was even getting going. So, you look at some of that and you go, “Oh my goodness. Where was I?” And it’s kind of wild when you look at that journey, but it’s been fun throughout the process.
Editor: I can imagine and I bet the Internet has changed so much since you got started.
Paul Counts: A tremendous amount. The Internet has changed so much over the last 20 some years, to the point where, it’s just unrecognisable. I mean, email addresses are different. Hotmails were all popular, AOL emails, Juno emails, all the old school stuff. I was just at a podcast interview, recently, and we were joking about people that have AOL emails and how old those are. And now, everything’s Gmail and the technology change. It was Myspace quite a few years ago. Now, everything’s Facebook, and now, Instagram is becoming the new thing.
Note from the editor:
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