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The Trial-and-Error Path from $0 to $1 Million with Dominic Wells of Human Proof Designs

Episode #083

"It doesn't necessarily feel that real at times." Dominic Wells (@human_proof) didn't initially set out to create a million-dollar business. However, he was so determined to find a way out of his job teaching English that he would write blog posts on his iPad in between classes. In this episode we dive into Dominic's winding path into building and scaling a profitable Internet business, why affiliate marketing is a great way to break into entrepreneurship for engineers and non-technical founders alike, and why the best advice is to just get started.

  1. 5

    I appreciate a good grift as much as anyone else, but I think if you're going to interview someone running an "I'll teach you to get rich doing affiliate marketing" membership site you should examine it critically to make sure you're not just getting infomercialled.

    • How much does this guy make off "teaching" other people to make sites and selling sites vs actually doing the affiliate marketing he claims to be an expert at?
    • Do the people who buy his sites and subscribe to his memberships actually do well? Or do they grind away for a few months, paying a few hundred for his services and then get disgruntled and move on?

    Disappointing interview.

    1. 6

      Was the interview itself disappointing, or are you skeptical about Dom's business? If you're skeptical about Dom's business, is that based on any specific wrongdoings you've uncovered, or general negativity toward the affiliate marketing industry as a whole?

      As for your questions, the bar you're setting seems unrealistic to me. Business is hard. Most businesses fail. Even most of the companies in my Y Combinator batch failed, and they had access to the best resources and mentors in the world, not to mention significant funding. Is it fair to expect Dom's customers to do dramatically better? He's not selling a magic pill here. He's selling what essentially amounts to ready-built websites + SEO research + strategic advice, and he's doing so at reasonable prices.

      Of course, it's totally possible that I simply did a poor job interviewing Dom via the podcast. In that case, I recommend checking out the text interview we did with him last year. I believe there's quite a lot to learn from Dom's story. It would be a shame for those lessons to go overlooked, especially due to trivial reasons like aesthetic differences in opinion as to how businesses "should" be built.

    2. 3

      Hey Ruddy, I think you probably jumped the gun in your conclusions here. I don't think I've ever said "I'll teach you to get rich doing affiliate marketing" and I even said on the interview that I offer training and services. I'm saying "I'll give you a car and teach you how to drive it" and you're accusing me of saying "I'll teach you how to win an F1 championship".

      If you followed me for some time you'd know how transparent I am about many aspects of both my service business and my personal affiliate marketing. At the end of the day if I can build a $1mm business I clearly know a thing or two about building a business, so there's merit in listening to what I have to say.

      In 2015 Entrepreneur.com said "Wells doesn't just talk the talk, he walks the walk" and that sums up everything HPD stands for.

      I think you're totally right in wanting to make sure someone, particularly in this industry, is authentic and not just another guru (incidentally, did you listen to the reason I started HPD?), but hailing it a poor interview because you've decided I'm making most of my money from offering services is shortsighted.

      1. 1

        Would you be interested in sharing or creating an open case study? Where all the data, costs, time and effort are provided.

        Coming from a software development background and being more interested in creating products or SaaS, the crediability of affiliate marketing makes me interested and skeptical about this interview. This is despite Dominc presenting himself in a very open and honest manner.

        Why don't customers essentially purchase a pre-made site and have HPD create the necessary content for it? Allowing them to reap the rewards of a regular passive income without much hassel.

        1. 2

          Got a few case studies on my blog already, like this one from a couple of years ago: https://www.humanproofdesigns.com/part-one-how-i-chose-my-niche/

          And many customers do just that

  2. 4

    @HumanProofDesigns I would love to know where you usually find contractors (both writers and technical)?

    1. 3

      Hey, it's a mixture of Upwork, Onlinejobs.ph, reaching out to our audience for specific job postings, responding to people who reach out to us, and otherwise tapping our network.

      1. 1

        Thank you!

  3. 2

    Forgive my ignorance here. I don't get this 'affiliate marketing' thing, and to me it always sounded like a scam. When you 'find your niche' like Dominic did first with shaving kits, he wasn't actually buying and testing dozens of razors, was he? Was he just googling for other people's opinions? Just writing 'content' which is essentially made-up? How is this contributing any value to anything at all? Why in the world would someone trust a website like that? If I'm interested in buying a nice straight razor, I'll just go to Amazon and read reviews. I don't know, this doesn't make any sense at all to me. Maybe I'm not the target demographic?

  4. 1

    My Main Takeaways:

    • Dominic started his business for freedom. It was more of a lifestyle business intended to generate more income than his job (His job paid $1500-2000 per month).

    • Work is life: Before starting his business, Dominic told himself that if his business would generate $5000+ per month, he’d hire someone else to run it for him, and he’d enjoy the passive income and spend his time relaxing. He ended up NOT doing this, because he “didn’t know what he would do with all the free time”, he got addicted to growing the business and achieving. Another reason is that his operational expenses have increased so he has to continue working.

    • Dominic’s business provides “Done-For-You” services to affiliate marketers.

    • Trial and error: Demonic read a lot of books and blogs about business and entrepreneurship in his early to mid 20s. He also joined membership sites that taught him about internet marketing. He then began building his own sites that ultimately failed, until he built a site that did not fail.

    • Dominic devoured content to learn new things about internet marketing and business, books, podcasts, audiobooks.

    • When getting started with online businesses, Dominic was working a job at the same time, so he was far stricter with his time and money.

    • In less than a year from starting, Dominic was making $500-1000 per month from his affiliate marketing websites combined.

    • Dominic tried selling websites on Flippa, but that platform didn’t work for him, so he built his own platform to sell his websites, "Human Proof Designs".

    • Listen to your customers for new ideas: Dominic started getting new service ideas to offer through his platform, "Human Proof Designs", by listening to the requests his customers were making.

    • To come up with good ideas for Affiliate marketing: Use keyword tools to find good niches.

    • To come up with good ideas for SaaS: Be experienced/knowledgeable of your target industry/niche.

    • Build relationships in your niche by engaging with people. Dominic would comment on blog posts, join groups, answer questions.

    • Leverage what you know: Dominic went from teaching English (his day job) to teaching Affiliate Marketing (his business.)

    • Delegate and hire people when you want to scale.

    • Dominic hired a COO who had better business skills than himself.

    • Advice for beginners: Just start, and don’t be afraid to fail. Develop your ability to execute by executing.

  5. 1

    Hello Dominic,
    I keep listening to your podcast several times (especially when I go for a run ...loll) and really appreciate your dedication to achieving what you achieved (not going out, working between hours of work and so on). You were so committed that you really deserve your success.
    In addition, actually, you have been able to create a service out of nowhere: building half-done websites and so on.... really creative.

    You mentioned in the podcast that you were trying to sell your websites on Fliper, but it didn't work.
    Then, you say, I start telling people that you could educate them on how to build these websites, and later on you was building these sites for the others.
    Now THE QUESTION (that actually, was partly asked): where did you announce what your doing. If you had a website (how did people knew about it) and if you're using a platform (which one???).
    And lastly, and now, where do you find your clients??? Do you do online advertising?
    Thank you in advance.

  6. 1

    There are many interesting things here, but still, why not tell about passive earnings, this is also a profit. Many on this and earn.

  7. 1

    :(