In 2011, Joel Brown was working as a Sales Executive for a telecommunications company in Perth, Australia. Between working full-time just to pay his bills, and spending nearly ten hours in traffic commuting to and from work each week, Joel was growing increasingly frustrated with the repetitive grind that had become his life.
Fueled by that frustration, Joel started looking for ways to earn additional income to help alleviate the stress of paying his bills, travel more often and get away from his work environment. When a friend invited him to attend a workshop led by Jordan Belfort (aka The Wolf of Wall Street), he jumped at the opportunity.
“One of the things Jordan Belfort asked me was if I had any goals.” Embarrassed, Joel admitted that he didn’t. But then Jordan said something that he would never forget. “He said goals are good for short-term achievements, but what you really want to do is cast a vision for your life. You want to think big, and if you’re already thinking big, you want to think bigger.”
Inspired by those words, Joel began to think about how he could align his passions, values, and strengths in a way that would enable him to live out his dreams. At the time he was reading a lot of personal development books and watching motivational videos online to keep him inspired. He was also good at working with computers, as he had been using them for most of his life. He decided to align his passion for personal development with his computer skills and create a website with a core focus on personal development. Shortly after, Joel’s website, Addicted2Success, was born.
In just a few years, Joel’s website has grown to become one of the world’s most popular online sources of motivation and inspiration. In a typical month, Addicted2Success receives anywhere from 1.8 to 2.5 million visitors, with some months as high as 3 million visitors. It has received over 62 million views since its inception, earning Joel a six-figure annual income in the process.
“Now I live a life of financial freedom. I can travel and work from anywhere. I am absolutely blessed.”
As is the case with all success stories, Joel’s didn’t happen overnight. When he was working full-time as a Sales Executive, he would utilize every spare moment he could to work on his website. Even when he was at work, he would use his breaks and time in between sales calls to work on his website. After installing WordPress, a few plugins, and a design theme, his website was up and running.
At first, Joel didn’t create much content himself. Instead, he would collect inspiring articles and video clips from various sources online and publish those on his website. But eventually he started to write his own articles, and in time he learned to enjoy the writing process. He also installed a social media sharing bar on his website, which enabled his readers to easily share his articles with their networks on social media. After a few months of writing articles consistently and having them spread virally, Joel noticed significant increases in his website’s traffic. Next, he enrolled in Google’s AdSense program, which enabled him to earn revenue each time someone clicked on an ad that was displayed on his website.
The revenue Joel earned by participating in Google’s AdSense program wasn’t much at first. It started at a few dollars per day, then worked its way up to $10 per day, then $15, and gradually kept increasing from there. Joel used that money to pay for his food, phone bills, transportation costs, and other small bills. But as he continued to publish new articles, his website’s traffic continued to increase, as did his ad revenue. It took nearly two years, but eventually the ad revenue was enough to pay all his monthly expenses, including his rent and even a few holidays. At that point in time, he realized the opportunity cost of keeping his full-time job, so he resigned from his job in order to devote himself entirely to growing what had now become his primary business.
It has now been nearly three years since Joel made the decision to quit his job to become a full-time entrepreneur, and it’s a decision that he hasn’t regretted.
“I’m not making millions every year which is what I used to aspire to, but I do have freedom. I don’t have a boss looking over my shoulder, telling me what I need to do. I can have memorable moments with my wife, we can travel anywhere we want to. We can go anywhere and still run the business. Compared to just a few years ago, my life has completely changed.”
Because Joel built his business online, he has the ability to run it from virtually anywhere in the world. Even when he’s not actively working on his website, its content continues to be shared and inspire thousands of people on a daily basis. We asked Joel to tell us about the people and systems he utilizes to run his business, and to our surprise, his setup is actually quite simple.
In addition to receiving help from his wife, Joel has one other person working for him full-time. “We put an ad on Facebook, saying that Addicted2Success was looking for an intern. It started as a three-month trial and then led to a full-time position. We received about 60 applications, which my wife Charlene filtered through, and then she selected about 10 for me to do interview calls with. We chose someone who was not only a big fan of the website, but very pro-active and ready to commit full-time. It’s been great. I’ve been able to disconnect from my business for the first time in over four years, because I have somebody that is running my business for me.”
In addition to having a full-time website manager, Joel has utilized several different tools to run his business more efficiently. One of which is a software called Screen Flow, which he uses to record his computer screen as he demonstrates a specific process or completes a specific task. Those recordings become the training videos for his website manager, who then assumes responsibility for those tasks. Joel also utilizes Buffer App, a scheduling software which enables him to schedule specific posts (such as blog posts, picture quotes, or podcast episodes) to be published on multiple social media platforms on specific days and times. That being said, he doesn’t like to become too dependent on scheduling because he understands the importance of interacting with fans on social media in real time.
“We use scheduling as a way to be more productive and efficient in other areas. But we also dedicate time to reply to people and make sure there’s engagement going on in our community. We’re very community driven. At the end of the day, it’s all about the community. It’s about the people that visit our website. How are they feeling after they’ve read the articles? Are they willing to share? Will they be coming back? These are the important questions and the things you need to think about when it comes to running a website or an online business.”
Another way that Joel stays in touch with his audience is through email marketing. Using Infusionsoft, Joel sends regular emails to his list of subscribers with links to new blog posts, podcast episodes, product launches, and other important announcements.
“We made the switch from Aweber to Infusionsoft, simply because Infusionsoft is a lot more powerful than Aweber. It’s not as easy to use as Aweber, but it is more powerful for launching courses and books and things like that.”
Not every website grows to attract millions of visitors on a monthly basis. Evidently, Joel and his team have been doing a few things correctly. One of those things is listening to their audience. Joel keeps a close eye on his traffic statistics and website analytics. This enables him to see what is working, what his visitors are clicking on, what they’re sharing, and so on. Tracking this data helps him to understand which topics resonate with his audience, and which ones aren’t as popular.
“I think what a lot of people do is put out what they think everyone would be interested in, and they make that mistake for too long. It’s okay to experiment, but if you keep making the same mistake by putting things out there that people aren’t looking for, you’re not going to grow your business.”
Another key to Joel’s success has been his commitment to publishing quality content. He has a specific standard for the content on his website that he maintains at all costs. Joel has hundreds of contributors submitting articles to him on a regular basis, but if he receives an article that does not meet those standards, he will not publish it.
“We won’t post an article on a day where we feel that there’s no new content that has come through that is at the level of quality that we expect. You sacrifice the quality of your website if you start settling for articles that are not bringing the juice that you’re known for.”
To Joel, Addicted2Success is more than just a website – it is a brand. He is committed to protecting the reputation of that brand, and he carries that commitment to quality into other areas including e-books, coaching, and most recently, the Addicted2Success Podcast.
“It’s funny because I never really wanted to play the podcasting game. There are a lot of people that are starting to step into it. But because I was already interviewing successful people for Addicted2Success, through video interviews and article interviews, I just figured that I might as well turn those videos into audios or keep the audios that I had from those article interviews and put them out on a podcast. I love listening to audio books and I know there are a lot of people out there who are auditory learners, so I decided to cater towards that crowd and I found that it just absolutely took off.”
True to his brand, Joel goes for quality over quantity. He doesn’t just try to do one podcast interview every week like so many other podcasts do. If he doesn’t have a high-quality guest, someone that he feels can really deliver a lot of value to his audience, he simply won’t publish a podcast interview that week.
“It’s been great, and it’s allowed me to reach out to people that I’ve looked up to for so many years like Tony Robbins, Deepak Chopra, T. Harv Eker, and Gary Vaynerchuk. These are some huge names, and they want to align themselves with what we do because they believe in self-development just as much as we do.”
During the first couple of years of running his website, Joel would often face challenges related to infrastructure. Since traffic to his website was continuously increasing, his website’s server would crash quite often. He learned the hard way what the consequences of not investing in adequate infrastructure were. On the internet, first impressions are very important. If someone visits your website for the first time and your website is down, that person will probably never come back to your website again. Whenever Joel’s servers crashed, he would lose revenue and perhaps more importantly, repel visitors from his website.
“I would recommend to anyone that is running a blog or a website, or anything online, to pay extra for a more powerful server because you want that reliability. You don’t want to be worrying or going to sleep at night wondering if when you wake up in the morning is your server going to be down and has it been down for the last 8 hours.”
In addition to building the Addicted2Success brand, Joel has also started to invest more time and energy into building his own personal brand. Inspired by Gary Vaynerchuk’s book Crush It!, Joel has come to realize that people want to follow other people. They want to know who the person behind a business is, and not just follow the business itself. It has been a gradual process, but Joel has utilized several tactics to build his personal brand and increase his reach online.
Joel is very active on social media (using personal profiles), and he also has a personal Facebook Fan Page. In his emails that go out to his Addicted2Success subscribers, he includes his name, picture, and links to his social media profiles in the signature at the bottom. He makes regular appearances on other podcasts, and he posts inspirational video blogs and quotes on social media regularly. Collectively, these efforts have resulted in an increasingly recognizable personal brand as the Founder of Addicted2Success and as a source of motivation and inspiration to people around the world.
Success is a very subjective term. Everyone has their own unique definition, and that definition will often change over time. For Joel, that definition started as money. But once he succeeded financially, his definition of success began to change. If you were to ask Joel to define success today, he would tell you that it’s not just about the money.
“When I first started Addicted2Success, I wanted money. I wanted to be rich. But the funny thing is I didn’t know why. Looking back now, I think it was because of the situation that I was in. I felt like I needed that to get out of where I was – working a 9-5 and feeling stuck. But having success now really means to be comfortable in my own skin, to be comfortable with myself, to be happy with where I am right now, and to know that I have in me the belief that I can achieve whatever I set my mind to. I think that’s the first half of success. And the second half is being happy with that achievement once you get there. I think it takes a lot of people a long time to figure that one out.”
Joel’s journey as an entrepreneur has most definitely been an inspiring one. Starting with nothing but a vision of a better life, he combined his skills and his passions together, and in just a few short years built a successful online business, achieved financial freedom and inspired millions of people in the process. We asked Joel to leave us with some final words of wisdom, and his parting advice proved to be invaluable.
How @IamJoelBrown built the world's #1 success & motivation website @Addictd2Success Click To Tweet
“Make sure that whatever you’re committing to is at least in your top 1, 2 or 3 highest of values. The thing that you spend most of your money on, the thing that you love talking to others about, that you research most of the time, that excites you, and that peeves you off when you have to go to bed at night because you can’t stay up working on it any longer because you’re too damn tired. That is what you commit to. That is what is going to empower you. That is what is going to light you up. That is what is going to be the fire in your belly at the end of the day. You’re not going to look for external sources of motivation because it will be burning within you because you’re aligned with your highest of values.”
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