Reputation repair is a new and rapidly growing online business opportunity that one domain name investor was able to identify, test and build a business around in less than five months.
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Here’s your program.
Michael Cyger: Hey everyone. My name is Michael Cyger, and I’m the publisher of DomainSherpa.com – the website where you come to learn how to become a successful domain name investor directly from the experts.
I’m excited to welcome back today’s guest for the third time. He’s our first person to become a Sherpa three-peat guest, and I want to start out the show by thanking him for giving back to the community of investors and entrepreneurs so willingly.
Joining us today is Adam Dicker. Adam is the CEO of Domain Consulting Group at DCG.com, DNforum.com – the largest online domain name discussion forum. He’s also the Founder of DNFCollege.com – an online school that teaches you how to become a successful domain name investor -, DNFBlog.com – a domain name industry blog -, and his latest venture, which we’re going to discuss today, ReputationRepair.com.
Adam, welcome back to the show.
Adam Dicker: Thank you very much for having me.
Michael: Adam, I love it when you come on the show because you always have a ton to teach people and you’re always so open with your tactics. Today’s show is no different. You’re going to share with our audience a way that you’ve increased your income through domain names that wasn’t available, say, five or ten years ago – somewhere in that. Definitely five years ago; nobody was doing this – and is now earning you a significant income every month. We chatted last week. You said you were earning a great deal of money with just a few e-mails being sent out. Let’s start with the end result. You sent out a few e-mails. How much did you earn from those few e-mails after doing the reputation repair services?
Adam: Well, the first client that I dealt with approached me because he had a problem and I was able to resolve that problem for him, and he paid me six thousand dollars. I can go into his situation, if you want, now or we can wait till later.
Michael: Nope. Let’s hold off on that for just a second.
Michael: And so, you earned six thousand dollars; and has your revenue continued to grow since that point?
Adam: Definitely. I mean this was back in December and January, where he approached me with an issue that he needed, that was tarnishing his reputation, and he asked me if I could help just because he knew I was into domain names and SEO, and maybe thought I could do something. And lucky for me, he turned me on to a business opportunity without knowing it and it’s definitely continued to grow; and it continues to grow month by month.
Michael: So what’s your current run rate for the reputation repair business, Adam?
Adam: Right now, it’s anywhere between a hundred and a hundred and fifty thousand dollars a month.
Michael: A hundred to a hundred and fifty thousand dollars a month?
Adam: That’s correct.
Michael: Or that’s your run rate for the year?
Adam: Well, to be honest with you, I just started this in the middle of January-end of January, so I mean it’s been growing. The first month, I think, was about forty thousand dollars and last month, it was about a hundred and fifty thousand and the month before that was about a hundred and fifty thousand.
Adam: It got so high that PayPal didn’t like me as a customer anymore because they thought I was a high-risk customer because I was putting through so much volume that they shut down my PayPal account.
Michael: You got to love that. PayPal shuts you down when you’re being too successful. All right. I’m going to ask you what you did when PayPal shut you down and how you kept your business up and running, but first we’re going to dig in a little bit more about how you started this business, learn about the model, learn about how you did your marketing to attract the customers, and grew it from that first six thousand dollar customer up to forty, a hundred, a hundred and fifty thousand dollars per month. But first let me ask you this. What is reputation repair? For those that haven’t been involved and haven’t had a need for it and just don’t know anything about it.
Adam: Okay. So, reputation repair is, basically, Googling your name and seeing, when you search your name, because others will, what comes up. What are the first few results – first ten results – that they’re going to see? Your reputation is the most valuable currency owned, so, whether you’re a graduate looking for your first job, or an experienced professional seeking an advanced career as an executive, you need to have a good reputation online. The figures lately are eighty-six percent of HR people will Google your name once they get your resume; and if they find something that’s not good, it immediately goes in the trash bin. So you want to make sure that anything that appears on, at least page one to page two, of Google is all positive about you.
Michael: Yeah. No. Definitely. My wife used to work HR at GE – General Electric – and that was before social media was really big, but as it was starting to catch on, she would look at a lot of college students that are graduating and applying for jobs. And she would type in their name and it would show up all these ridiculous pictures of them partying and their Facebook profiles were open to the public, and just not the kind of impression that you want a hiring manager to see.
Adam: Well, definitely not.
Michael: Yeah. Okay. And so, we talked about some of the need for reputation repair. What are some of the examples that you’ve worked on – not specific examples, but general examples of areas – where you’ve been able to do some reputation repair?
Adam: Okay. So a lot of it has to with that criminal. People that have been arrested and have charges dropped, but the articles are still out there. The mug shots are still out there. It could have something to do with an article that was written about them. It could have something to do with an article that was written about a business or a negative review that was written about business. And we go about helping businesses and personal people – obviously, individual people – fix their reputations. And I mean the first guy that approached me; he was involved – wasn’t really involved -, but he was charged with about two charges, I think, criminally and the charges were dismissed, but in two local newspapers here, they still had him listed as being charged and it was doing damage to this business reputation and his business was suffering. So he came to me and said, ‘look. Is there anything you can do?’ So, I thought about it, and I looked at the newspapers, and I asked for a copy of the dismissal – that the charges were dismissed – from his lawyer. I got a copy of it. I sent a copy of that letter to both newspapers and basically said, ‘you’re doing damage to my customers reputation. You can do one of two things: you can either pull his name out of the story completely, or you can adjust the story so what you’re printing is actually factual and show that the charges against him were dismissed’. At the end of it, both papers actually pulled the full article down and he was a happy customer.
Michael: Yeah. So, I should point out to the audience that, just because you get arrested, or just because there are charges that you’re charged with some sort of wrongdoing doesn’t necessarily mean you did it. Just like you could be sued today for any reason regardless of whether you’re guilty of what was done or not. People can file charges and police may or may not come and arrest you; and if you are arrested, you’re going to have your mug shot taken and that becomes public information under certain–
Adam: Freedom of information act.
Michael: Exactly. And so, this kind of service can help out people that are innocent as well as guilty that are trying to get their life back in order. All right. So let’s go back in time, Adam.
Michael: How did your first customer know that you could do something in the reputation repair space? Was there something else you were doing in the past that let your customer know about that, or do they just know that you’re an Internet guru and you might be able to handle this problem?
Adam: No. I just started out as I had experience in the Internet. He had a problem with it. He didn’t want it to show online and, unfortunately, things come up online; and when people see them, they don’t ask whether you’re innocent or guilty. They just assume you’re guilty, so anything negative that’s out there needs to be deleted or gotten rid of.
Michael: Yeah. No. That’s a good point.
Adam: So he just approached me based on my Internet experience and based on my knowledge of how to manipulate the search engine, so to speak, through proper search engine optimization.
Michael: So your first client contacted you. You removed a lot of the sources on the Internet referring to him and the alleged charges. They were removed and you made six thousand dollars you said. At that point, did you realize that, hey, there’s a business model here that maybe I should look into it? What was your thought process?
Adam: Well, I thought of two things. One, I definitely thought that there was a business model here because, obviously, people and companies are willing to do anything to build a positive reputation online; because a positive reputation will bring in more business, while a negative reputation will detract from business and probably if people see negative reviews about a business, they’re going to be less likely to use that service or that company.
Adam: And then I also thought about my son, who stupidly posted a picture on Facebook of him drinking out of a Jack Daniels bottle thinking it was funny at fifteen years old or sixteen years old. Of course, he told me he didn’t drink any of it and thought I’d believe it, but I was fifteen or sixteen as well at one time. But the bottom line is, when he goes out to get a job five or ten years from now, and if that’s the first picture people see, I’m going to be doing reputation management for my son as well as numerous other people that are doing things on social network sites that they’re really going to be sorry about later when they get into their professional careers.
Michael: Definitely. So, clearly, there’s a need and I think a lot of people buy domain names thinking there’s a need for a specific area, but until you actually bring in revenue, that need isn’t verified. So, in your case, you brought in revenue. Six thousand dollars is a lot of money to do reputation repair; or it’s just a lot of money in general. I think a lot of domainers would kill to bring in six thousands dollars on some domain name that they have built out and tried to turn into a business. My question for you is, you sold one reputation repair program, how did you determine that that was going to be a viable business for you that you wanted to invest in?
Adam: Well, at that point, I didn’t even have a website. I didn’t even have ReputationRepair.com. I didn’t have anything, so I started to buy some Adwords; and the Adwords I catered to were things like ‘remove mug shots’. I mean I targeted all kinds of different keywords, like ‘reputation repair’, ‘personal reputation repair’, ‘business reputation repair’, and then I became an approved vendor for the largest mug shot site on web – MugShots.com. And, from there, I got on the approved vendor list and then my phone started ringing off the hook. So much so that I had to hire a call center to take calls 24/7.
Michael: Yeah. Okay. So that’s interesting. So you did one service, then you started buying Adwords to test the market to make sure that there were people looking for that, that would click on your ad, that would actually buy your service. So, at that point, you had RemoveMugShots.com. Is that correct?
Adam: That’s correct.
Michael: Okay. So you own RemoveMugShots. You’re an approved affiliate of MugShots.com, which is a website that, I guess, is a service to the public under the freedom of information act that they publish mug shots of people who have been charged with crimes?
Adam: Yeah. There’s about a hundred to a hundred and fifty different sites that posts peoples mug shots, whether they’ve been convicted or not, and people won’t those down because, if you Google the person’s name and you find a mug shot, like I said, your reputation goes down hill, your job likelihood goes down hill; and we try to work it so that we don’t presume people are guilty and we try to make it so that when people Google you, your friends, your family, your relatives, your current employers, or you future employers, the first thing that they see is not something negative about a crime you may or may not have committed.
Michael: Yeah. And so, when did you acquire RemoveMugShots.com?
Adam: I think back in January.
Michael: January of 2012?
Michael: Oh, wow. Okay. So it’s very recent. I thought you owned it much longer than that. And so, was it a website that was up and running before that point; that you acquired the domain name and the website, or was it just a domain name?
Adam: Yeah. I bought it in the AfterMarket.
Michael: Okay. And did you buy the website with it, or was it just the domain name in the AfterMarket?
Adam: Just the domain name.
Michael: Okay. So, in a very short period of time, you moved RemoveMugShots up to the top of Google for a lot of different search phrases, and I encourage the audience, now, to go to Google while you’re watching this show. Type into a Google search bar, ‘remove mug shots’ and then your state name, and you’re likely to see RemoveMugShots.com as one of the top five, if not the top, result returned in Google. I think we did this last week, Adam. If I type in ‘remove mug shots Washington’, I think you come up number one and number two. Number one being Washington, the state, and number two being a county in some other state.
Adam: It’s possible. I mean we did a lot of good SEO with it. And I’ll tell you, after that side started to make money, then I went out and I registered different variations of RemoveMugShots. So I did ‘remove’ every state and mug shot, so, RemoveAlabamaMugShot, RemoveAlabamaMugShots, RemoveAlabamaArrest, RemoveAlabamaArrests; and then I did all four of those with delete, so DeleteAlabamaMugShot, DeleteAlabamaMugShots, DeleteAlabamaArrest, and DeleteAlabamaArrests.
Adam: Now, I haven’t built out those sites, but I did buy them all.
Michael: How did you determine that delete was a keyword that you wanted to include rather than just remove, or eradicate, or destroy?
Adam: Well, I tried to pick keywords that, based on the Google Keyword Tool, that people were actually searching for; and remove and delete seemed to be the main thing that they were trying to do.
Michael: Okay. So it’s all based on data, is what I’m trying to show the audience. You went to Google Adword Keyword tool. You typed in mug shots as an exact phrase, and then you can look at the variations that people are typing; and remove and delete were two of the keyword phrases that you saw often used.
Michael: So how many domain names, now, do you own in the mug shots space?
Adam: Well, just from those, you’re looking at fifty, per state, per thing, so fifty times four – two hundred. I would say about three hundred maybe.
Adam: Three hundred plus.
Michael: So three hundred domains. And what’s interesting, if you go to RemoveMugShots.com, you’ve really done a fantastic job search engine optimizing every single state within that domain name. So, for example, you’ve got RemoveMugShots.com/WashingtonState; and I’m not sure if that’s the exact one.
Adam: What I did was, for RemoveMugShots.com, I was still in the learning phase, so I registered all the subdomains and I used those. So I used like Florida.RemoveMugShots.com. And then if you go to Florida.RemoveMugShots.com, in the footer you’ll see all the counties in Florida with Mug Shot, so you’ll see like BrowardCountyMugShots or whatever it is, and all those keywords get indexed as well.
Michael: Right. So, for example, if I type in ‘Remove Mug Shot Washington’, I see Colorado.RemoveMugShots.com/Washington-County-Mughot-Removal. So you’ve done some fantastic search engine optimization on that website using just the RemoveMugShots.com domain name, but you’ve gone out and registered a few hundred other domain names just to secure your position in that remove mug shots space.
Adam: Yeah. Those are all defensive registrations.
Michael: Okay. And then you point them all back into RemoveMugShots.com? So if someone happens to type it in?
Adam: No. To be honest with you, I haven’t even done that yet.
Michael: Okay. All right. So you did the one service. You bought some Adwords. Well, you bought RemoveMugShots.com. You bought some Adwords to point it in. You realized that you could make a business out of it. Let me ask you this: how much did you pay for RemoveMugShots.com?
Adam: I think it was somewhere around a thousand to twelve hundred dollars.
Michael: And when you bought those Adword campaigns, what were you able to drive your revenue up to?
Adam: To be honest with you, most of the revenue comes from being an approved vendor on MugShots.com and creating relationships with other mug shot sites. And go back, a lot of people calling that it’s illegal to post mug shots on sites. I don’t actually own any sites that post mug shots, but they are allowed to do it based on the freedom of information act because they’re all posted by the actual sheriff’s offices.
Adam: So all they’re doing is extracting data from the Sherriff’s office databases, which you or I, or anybody could go look for, and find, and post. But I stick to reputation repair. I’m not going to post mug shots. I’m not interested in that. I am interested in helping people repair their reputation.
Michael: Yeah. That makes sense. And so, for somebody to have their mug shot removed from MugShots.com, how much does that roughly cost them?
Adam: Every site is different. For MugShots.com, it’s usually $399 and for other sites it’s as low as sixty-eight dollars, fifty dollars, but they don’t have near the volume or the database. They may have like fifty thousand mug shots. Well, MugShots.com has over 5.5 million and almost six million.
Michael: Wow. So how much do they have to pay you at RemoveMugShots.com? Is it the same four hundred dollars, and then you get a commission from MugShots.com?
Adam: Well, they pay me $399, and then I have a business arrangement with MugShots.com and I deal directly with the lawyers at MugShots.com. The thing that I like about MugShots.com is that they won’t take just anybody down. If you’re a sexual predator, if you’ve assaulted children under certain ages, if you’ve got assault charges. Every removal has to be approved by a lawyer before it’s actually removed and a lot of them have been declined.
Michael: Wow. So if a client pays you four hundred dollars and then if you can’t remove their mug shots, do you have to return the money to them then?
Adam: Well, I’ve grown smart enough to know to look up what their charges are first and see if it can be removed or if it can’t be removed, and I had to turn away quite a few people and say, ‘look. I’m sorry. Based on that, we’re not interested in removing your mug shot or helping you out and there’s nothing I can do for you’.
Adam: But that’s when they get into other things. So I can’t remove their mug shot, but then what I do is, I do a reputation repair website and I offer them that choice for about $499. So, with that, I register their domain name their name. So let’s say their name is Adam Dicker. I register AdamDicker.com. I tell them to give me ten keywords related to their business, or hobbies, or whatever they want. I get ten professionally written articles written and I submit those to five thousand blogs and websites, creating fifty thousand positive articles, and that pushes any negative things down and out of view from the search engines. That’s restoring their positive reputation for them.
Michael: Yeah. Okay. So I want to dig more into the ReputationRepair.com, but let’s continue with the story for a moment. I want to back up just one moment. So you have RemoveMugShots. You’re making money on RemoveMugShots. How did you decide that you wanted to get into full reputation repairs as opposed to just continuing to grow your RemoveMugShot’s business?
Adam: Well, based on my original interaction with my first customer and based on the fact that customers with mug shots or arrest records; that a lot of them are innocent. I can tell you that just from experience. I’m surprised. You can tell if they’re innocent based on if they are arrested for an assault or rape charge and they were released the next day, and there was never any court case. It was dropped or whatever. A lot of times – and this is a horrible thing to say, but this happens – one spouse or another spouse charges the other spouse with battery or assault just because they’re looking to get a divorce and they want something against them so they can get the kids. And you can clearly tell which cases those are based on the charges and that the court basically just throws them out.
Adam: The other important thing to mention is, most of the cases that I end up dealing with are DUIs.
Michael: Okay. So you had your RemoveMugShots business. You had your client asking for services. You had other people that were coming to you, saying, ‘I need my mug shot removed’ and you basically had to turn them away in some cases because you didn’t have anything else to offer them. And you thought to yourself, ‘hey, I could actually do full reputation repair and then actually push down the results or remove other sources of bad reputation online for them’. So you saw the vision of what the larger market was requiring. Did you see other competitors popping up in the marketplace at all, offering similar products and services?
Adam: No. Not unless I created them myself and made them affiliates. But I mean when it comes the reputation repair websites, I ended up putting that as upsell for people who even had their mug shots removed because, just because you have your mug shot removed from MugShots.com, in certain states, like Florida, you could have your mug shot up on eight or ten different sites because there’s TampaCriminals, there’s OrlandoCriminals, there’s Florida.Arrest.org; there’s a whole bunch of other sites; so a lot of them would want the reputation repair websites because it pushes that down or they have to pay to have all eight mug shots removed and there’s no guarantee that they’re not going to pop up down the road unless the get the charges expunged, which could cost them anywhere between five hundred and two thousand dollars, which is a whole other network that I’ve setup for expungements that you’ll probably want to talk about after.
Michael: Definitely. Okay. I’m going to ask you about that. So you have your RemoveMugShots business generating revenue. Do you remember what your revenues was, say, in March or April timeframe? Just on that portion of the business.
Adam: I’d have to say probably fifty to sixty thousand dollars.
Michael: Wow! So, fifty thousand dollars and if you’re charging, say, five hundred dollars to remove a mug shot, which is more than RemoveMugShot, but maybe they were buying more than one service, that–
Adam: And you have to remember that a lot of people have more than one mug shot on a site. They’ve been arrested numerous times.
Michael: Right. That’s what I’m suggesting. So five hundred to fifty thousands; that’s a hundred, is that right? That’s a hundred customers that you’re serving per month. Does that sound about right?
Adam: At least.
Adam: At that point, probably yes.
Michael: Wow. So, nice big market. A hundred customers per month you’re serving. And so, you realize you want to have a larger business. What was your next step? Is the first thing that goes through your mind, ‘I need to buy more domain names’ or is the first thing that goes through your mind, ‘I need to research more and try and broaden my search phrases online’?
Adam: So, before I got into reputation repair, I started to get calls about expungements. So I happened to hook up with a lawyer, who – his name – I won’t mention, who was based in Florida and he was arrested for a DUI; and he came to me to have his mug shot removed and it was removed. And we got talking and then I started asking him about if I could do expungements through him.
Michael: Sorry. Let me pause you one moment. What is an expungement?
Adam: I’ll give you the exact terminology. An expungement preceding is a type of lawsuit in which the first time offender of a prior criminal conviction is trying to get the records of earlier processes sealed, thereby making them unavailable through the state or Federal repositories. If successful, the records are said to be expunged.
Michael: Okay. So it doesn’t remove them; it just seals them so that, in the future, nobody else could look at them?
Adam: Yeah, so the general public can’t see them.
Michael: Okay. Got it. So you hooked up with this lawyer.
Adam: Sorry. There’s a different between a sealed conviction and an expunged conviction. An expunged conviction can’t be seen by anybody. A sealed conviction can’t be seen by the public, but the police still have access to it.
Michael: Okay. I understand. So, to resume with your story, a lawyer contacted you to do some reputation repair, you helped him out, and then you started asking him about expungements because you have clients that were asking you about it.
Adam: Correct. There’s a lot of laws in the United States where a lawyer cannot give a kickback for a service, so he can’t just give me like two hundred dollars for every client refer and things like that. It’s just against the law in the United States. So, what he had to do was, he had to change his firm from a local firm to a nationally run firm and a hire a lawyer in all fifty states so that those people could do expungements for him through his practice.
Adam: And I would send him the clients.
Michael: Got it. And then, by sending him the clients, were you earning a commission? Or, now, he still wasn’t able to do that because attorneys aren’t able to do that?
Adam: Yeah. No. He still wasn’t able to do that, but he was able to buy ads on some of my sites in return for the leads that I was giving him.
Michael: I understand. Okay. So lawyers and attorneys are able to buy advertising; they’re just not allowed to do commissions or revenue sharing based on leads that are submitted.
Adam: Yeah. They can’t give you a percentage or they can’t give you a referral fee.
Michael: Right. Okay.
Adam: I think they can do it other lawyers, but they can’t do it to a common citizen; especially me, being in Canada.
Michael: So now you’ve found yet another way to bring in revenue by providing a service to clients that were asking for that service, but you needed to find an attorney that could help you do that.
Adam: Right. And, at that point, I went out and I registered every state with Expungement and Expungements.com that was available. So AlabamaExpungement, AlabamaExpungements, and so on.
Michael: Yeah. Fantastic. Okay. So now you had pretty much every domain name related to mug shots. Then, you had every geographic domain name related to expungements. And what did you do to grow your expungement business? Did you just sort of leave it there and wait for expungements to come in and you work with your attorney, friend, partner, associate – however you want to refer to it -, or did you actually then go buy some Adwords or buy some other advertising to drive more revenue through that service?
Adam: I definitely bought Adwords and keywords to drive revenue to the contact page so that they could go out and fill in the information; and that, I would forward to the lawyer.
Michael: Okay. Great. And then, where did you move on from there? How did you get into reputation repair from expungements then?
Adam: So I decided that I had enough clients. One day I just decided to offer everybody that had a mug shot removal the opportunity to also get a reputation repair website for $499 and, as I explained, that would end up creating fifty thousand positive articles and push down anything else. And I mean, if it’s about their business, it’s also showing positive stuff about their business and it can probably bring them in more clients professionally as well. So I did that, and, on the first day, half the people bought reputation repair websites.
Michael: Half of which people?
Adam: Half of the people that had their mug shots removed.
Michael: Really? So you’re doing a hundred per month. You’ve been up five months, let’s say, so you had five hundred people and two hundred and fifty people said, ‘sign me up for that five hundred dollar website’?
Adam: No. That day I think we did about twenty and about ten said they were interested, so that was my barometer.
Michael: Wow! Yeah. So your idea was, ‘hey, I’ve got this idea that if I put up a website for them, we’ll search engine optimize it and get a ton of good press out there and a lot of pages indexed in search engines so it’ll push down all the bad information about them and get the good information above; into the first two pages of Google’?
Adam: Yes. But what I didn’t foresee was, if they were doing it and promoting a business – because they were providing the keywords -, it actually increased their business and I actually have repeat customers now that just call me because they want more articles written about their business.
Michael: Sure. And that’s what you’ve been doing at DCG.com for years.
Michael: Helping companies build businesses online by creating websites. That was just an additional unanticipated benefit of what you were doing.
Adam: Well, I have forty-five designers and developers. I’ve hired ten content writers and they’re pretty busy writing positive articles and good content, so it’s all been a good learning experience.
Michael: Definitely. And so, your idea to create reputation repair websites for $499 and offer it to the people who had bought through RemoveMugShots.com; was that just an idea that came to you in the middle of the night, or when you’re off exercising or whatever and you said, ‘hey, let me see if I can put this together and see if anybody buys it’?
Adam: No. It was kind of the customers were dictating that there was a need for it, so that turned me on to it. And then after my test, where I sold ten in a day, which was an extra five thousand dollars. I figured this was obviously a niche that needs to be explored and then I went out and I explored it in detail, and then I registered three thousand domains related to reputation repair.
Michael: Wow. Okay. So I want to ask you about that. But I want to point out to the people watching this show that a lot of times entrepreneurs are successful because they try a lot of different things. A lot of these don’t work, but you can’t ever find the things that will stick to the wall, that will be successful until you try them. And so, all you did was send out an e-mail to your hundred of clients through RemoveMugShots saying, ‘we can create this website for you and here are the features that you’re going to get’. Basically, it sounds like all you did was create an e-mail and e-mailed them because you didn’t even have a website up and running; and you were able to test that market and determine if it was a viable product.
Adam: To be honest with you, I didn’t even go that far. All I had was my call center was taking the calls and they were offering it as an extra value as a service. And then when they went through the shopping cart, if they didn’t hear about it, they were also offered that service and they had the option to click yes they want it – add it on – or no they didn’t. And based on that and the sales numbers, I knew this was a niche I needed to dominate.
Michael: Yeah. All right. Fantastic.
Adam: Look. The bottom line is this niche and reputation repair is going to be around forever because (a) one in five people under the age of twenty-five gets arrested – I learned that during my discovery phase -, so they’re going to need reputation repair whether they’re convicted or not, and then there’s a lot of businesses that have negative reviews on sites and they want them changed to positive reviews. So there’s that; there’s a whole bunch of things, but there was quite a niche that opened up my eyes and then I started to get heavily chasing the domains that I wanted so that nobody else could compete with me in this niche even if they wanted to.
Michael: All right. So you had hundreds of domains related to mug shots. You had hundreds of domain names related to expungements. Then you tested the market on building the websites for reputation repair, realized there was a big market there, and, through your research, realized that corporations, businesses, services were going to need to have reputation repairs, so you went out and registered reputation repair domain names. How did you determine that ‘reputation repair’ was the phrase that you wanted to pursue?
Adam: I didn’t. To be honest with you, I did keyword research and I came up with sixty phrases. Okay?
Adam: So then I went out and I tried to register those sixty phrases with themselves, and I think I got about thirty to forty of them; and then I went out and I did all sixty phrases with each state. So I’ll give you some examples. I did AlabamaReputationRepair, AlabamaOnlineReputationRepair, AlabamaPersonalReputationRepair, AlabamaBusinessReputationRepair, AlabamaReputationManager, AlabamaReputationManagement; I mean the list goes on and on. There’s sixty different variations that I found and I went after as many of them as I could and practically nothing was taken, so it was an easy grab. And then, once I got all those, I decided to grabbing some of the more premium domain names that I would consider premium, like ReputationRepair, which I had already grabbed, and then I grabbed BusinessReputationRepair and PersonalReputationRepair. I mean, with those three category killers and every possible variation on reputation management and reputation repair, there wasn’t much left; and still isn’t much left, but we have created an affiliate program where people can earn money working with me in reputation management. And it’s very easy to go out and find clients for reputation management. You just have to visit sites like the Ripoff Report and find legitimate businesses that people have posted about that really are unfairly posted and work with them to repair their reputation. And there’s thousands, and thousands, and thousands of companies out there. Companies will spend anything up to twenty-five, thirty thousand dollars to repair their reputation, while a person, like you and me, may spend anywhere between two to six or seven thousand – depending on how bad it is or what we need, but thank God we don’t need any of that right now.
Michael: All right. So I’m going to ask you a few questions about how to contact those companies to do reputation repair if people want to become an affiliate of yours, but let me go back to the domain names for a few minutes, Adam, because I think a lot of people are in your situation. They have expertise in a certain niche and they go out and register a whole bunch of them, and then a year later, they end up dropping a whole bunch of names. So I want to understand what your thought process was. In all, how many domain names do you think you registered around the phrase ‘reputation repair’?
Adam: Well, I mean, it’s funny. I registered, I think, about three thousand. Today I just registered another two, three hundred.
Michael: You’re giving Mike (Unclear 37:40.2) a run for his money. Okay. So, three thousand, thirty-two hundred, thirty-five hundred – that order of magnitude – related to reputation because you registered sixty different variations around the fifty different states and, clearly, an enormous amount of opportunity.
Adam: And also, Michael, I just want to point out, I didn’t leave Canada out either. There’s only, I think, ten, or eleven, or twelve Provinces – I should know that off by heart, but I forget – and I registered all those as well.
Michael: Okay. So you focused on .COM, and then you focused on Canada because that’s where you’re located.
Adam: Right. So for Canada, I had to register the .COM and .CA.
Adam: So, like OntarioReputationManagement or OntarioReputationRepair.com and .CA.
Michael: Did you only focus on reputation repair and variations of that by additional keywords, or did you also do reputation management, which if you search in Google, tends to have more exact match phrases per month?
Adam: I did that as well.
Michael: You did that as well. Okay.
Adam: You’re not going to find many of them available.
Michael: Great. So let me ask you this around your thought process. Did you plan on keeping AlabamaReputationRepair.com, AlabamaOnlineReputationRepair.com, ReputationRepairAlabama.com; are you going to keep all of those for the long haul, or do you plan to look at which ones are getting traffic and then drop the ones that aren’t after a year, or three years, or what have you?
Adam: No. To be honest with you, I’ve changed my whole domaining strategy since this has been able to build so quickly and so rapidly. And because I see it as a never-ending solution, because people are always going to post things that they’re going to regret later or they’ll always going to have problems, or get arrested, or whatever it is, this reputation repair is going to be around forever. I plan on keeping them as packing. Selling one ops, or two ops, or dropping them would be stupid at this point because I pretty much own the whole arena. So, no, I do not ever plan on dropping; so for everybody who’s listening, don’t bother putting any of these in your drop list because they’re not going to be there.
Michael: Okay. Now when you hand register three thousand domain names, are buying them at $8.45 like everybody else?
Adam: Yeah. Something like that.
Michael: Something like that. Okay. So there’s not some secret domain conspiracy where you can actually get them for six dollars because you’re buying three thousand at a time. It’s what everybody else has.
Adam: No. I’m paying the same price as everybody else.
Michael: Okay. Makes sense. All right.
Adam: And most of them are registered through GoDaddy. There’s a free plug for GoDaddy.
Michael: All right. And so, you hand registered thousands of them and you realized there were certain premium domain names that you wanted to get that other people owned, like ReputationRepair.com.
Michael: So who owned that one and how did you contact them?
Adam: I don’t know who owned it. I just e-mailed him. He gave me a price. We went back and forth, and he agreed to the price and we did a sale on that phone.
Michael: What was the original price that he offered to you?
Adam: I’ll be honest with you. I don’t even remember to be honest with you. I’m not one of those guys that lowballs. I come in straight with a good price right away and usually it’s accepted. Actually, now I do remember how I got this one. Sorry.
Michael: That’s okay.
Adam: This one was brokered by Rob Monster’s company, Epik, and it was sold for twenty thousand dollars.
Michael: Okay. So you paid twenty thousand dollars for this domain name?
Adam: For ReputationRepair.com.
Michael: Okay. And Rob Monster’s company, Epik.com, did the brokerage. I didn’t even realize they do brokerage. Was it purchased through Epik’s registry and that’s why you went through them, or you just decided to?
Adam: The client was under WhoIs protection. I didn’t know who it was. He wasn’t answering my e-mails. I saw it was Epik, so I reached out to Rob Monster and I said, ‘make this guy an offer and here’s the offer'; and he said, ‘good news. It’s been accepted’.
Michael: Wow! So one offer and he accepted it. He didn’t come back and say, ‘wow. If he’s will to pay me twenty thousand dollars, maybe I can get twenty-five thousand’?
Adam: No. There were no negotiations and I thank Rob Monster for his professionalism.
Michael: Yeah. How did you determine that twenty thousand dollars was the right price for that domain name?
Adam: To be honest with you, I didn’t really. I just ball-parked it and guessed. I knew I wanted it and I knew that it was a fair price for the domain name. I think I got it really cheap. I think at five years from now, it’s a million dollar domain name based on the fact that I’m building up a business. It’s going to make more than a million dollars a year, so I would’ve probably paid a little bit more for it, but I didn’t really need it.
Michael: Yeah. Okay. So you already had income. You were already fifty, sixty thousand dollars a month based on just RemoveMugShots. I assume that’s a high margin type business, Adam. Is that a fair assumption?
Adam: Compared to most businesses, yes. And what’s amazing is that it’s very easy for me to sell a niche site at $499 for reputation repair to a complete stranger, but trying to sell a good site that can get ranked in top ten or top twenty for $499 to a domainer seems to be a much harder sell. But yet, I can sell ten to twenty of these to strangers a day, and they’re happy with the results.
Michael: Yeah. Great point. I’m glad you brought that up. So, Remove MugShots, you’re basically getting a commission by selling the removal of mug shots for them, whereas, with ReputationRepair.com, you are building an entire website for them and getting them ranked for multiple pages through multiple different sources for five hundred dollars; and I would assume that the margins on your website building is much higher than the commission you would get from Remove MugShots. Is that true?
Adam: That would be a fairly good assumption. And businesses pay anywhere between a thousand to two thousand dollars per reputation website, but we also include more than ten articles. And we have the option to do, like I said, people come back sometimes. I have a guy who ordered forty articles, so he paid two thousand dollars for a reputation repair site. I wouldn’t be able to sell a two thousand dollar site to a domainer too easily; but to these guys, you know what? And he runs a company that makes five million dollars a year. I won’t reveal his name or his information. He’s also hired me to do some SEO consulting for him and paid me another ten thousand dollars just to do SEO work for him, so one thing leads to another that leads to another, and a $399 client then turns into a fourteen thousand dollar client. And wouldn’t we all love those?
Michael: On a five hundred dollar sale, Adam, what’s generally your margin on there? What are you expenses let’s say?
Adam: Honestly, well, the article writing is the most expensive thing because I do have a team of designers on staff. I would say my cost is probably about a hundred to a hundred and fifty dollars.
Michael: Write the articles; get the content put into a template. Clearly, you need to get the customer to sign off on the template, or you just say, ‘here are your options’ and they choose one?
Adam: You know what? I get them to send me an e-mail saying that it’s okay if I go register their domain name. They give a list of the articles. I post the website. They don’t seem to care because it pushes everything down, but I would be more than happy to make changes for it. I don’t hold the website hostage. At any time, it’s their domain even though I paid for it. The website is in their name. It’s their actual name. At any time, I would be more than happy to transfer it over to the client. I’m not doing this to hold it to transfer them, but I charge them another $499 later or (unclear 45:44.8), or something like that.
Michael: Yeah. That makes sense. So you basically put up a cookie cutter website that is search engine optimized and gets their content to the top of the search engines. And if they want some changes later, you’ll make them for them, but your job is to do reputation repair number one and not necessarily produce a beautiful looking website that’s going to be a website for their business or what have you. You’re looking to drive–
Adam: I got to honest with you. These sites are good looking sites. I mean, I guess I can give you one to look at.
Michael: They are and I want to run you through that one; but before we get to that, I’ve got a couple more questions. So you bought ReputationRepair.com for twenty thousand dollars. What other premium websites did you find yourself purchasing in the AfterMarket?
Adam: Okay. So I went out and the next purchase I bought was BusinessReputationRepair. This one started at, I think, about ten thousand dollars and closed at five thousand dollars.
Michael: So you approached the seller. They said ten thousand dollars. You negotiated down. You closed at five thousand.
Michael: Funny; because I would’ve thought BusinessReputationRepair might actually have a higher. Well, ReputationRepair is one word shorter.
Adam: No. I would agree with you. I think BusinessReputationRepair is; for me, it makes more money as a service because I charge more for business reputation repair than I would for an individual. But I thought it was a good deal. I got it at $5k and, well, that’s the end of that one.
Michael: Yeah. Did you negotiate that one on your own, Adam?
Adam: I negotiate everything on my own.
Michael: Okay. Were there many other premium ones that you purchased?
Adam: I purchased PersonalReputationRepair as well because the only services I sell are business reputation repair and personal reputation repair.
Michael: Yeah. And how much did you acquire that one for?
Adam: Five thousand dollars as well.
Adam: And he started at fifteen.
Michael: So, for thirty thousand dollars, you got, arguably, the top three domain names in the reputation repair area.
Adam: Yeah and not only that. I’m doing some awesome SEO work on these sites so that they’re bringing in leads and revenue on their own without me having to do much.
Michael: Right. And I should point out that if people are going to go these websites, Adam; just last week were on chat and you told me I just bought ReputationRepair.com and I went to the website, and you’re like, ‘yeah. I’ve only owned it for two hours’. And you already had a website up and running on there.
Adam: Yeah. Because I have such a large team, I put a ticket into the task management system before I go to bed and, by morning, the sites done.
Michael: Yeah. That’s amazing.
Adam: It’s not always done the way I like it. I mean I need to make modifications, and I need to change the services, and I need to add my own payment buttons and things like that, but it’s done relatively quickly.
Michael: Yeah. Definitely. Okay. So, did you buy any premium domain names around reputation management that were on the same order of magnitude as five, twenty thousand?
Adam: Not yet. No. But maybe by the time this interview airs I will. I did buy all the state names for reputation manger, reputation management, and I think that’s quite enough. I’m also in the middle of purchasing OnlineReputationRepair.com, which is pretty much the last of the crown jewels as far as I’m concerned.
Michael: Great. And if there are any investors that own something around reputation repair or reputation management, would you like to hear from them?
Adam: Sure. I’d like to hear from them only if they have reasonable pricing.
Michael: Yes. All right. So there we have it.
Adam: The other service that we haven’t talked about, which is a value add service that I add for my costumers; is something that you put me on to and we talked about the other day. Reputation Monitor, which I hadn’t even thought of until you gave me the idea, so I appreciate that and I thank you for that. And I added it as a service for $99, where if anything about their name or their business comes up in Google or anywhere else on the Web, they automatically get sent alerts and they can go look at it. And I charge $99 a year as an upsell for that and, basically, all I have to do is go to Google Alerts, enter their name and e-mail address, and I’m done; and it’s under recurring billing.
Michael: Yeah. Love that; and we talked about it. It’s just like the LifeLock service, where the CEO gets on an ad and he puts his social security number front and center on that. “I’ve got LifeLock. Here’s my social security number. Go do your worst.” You want to be told what other people are doing and that’s one of the services that LifeLock offers. So, in a lot of cases, if you look to similar services in other industries whether they’re related or not, you can really find some great examples of a way to add additional services to your business.
Adam: Well, I went ahead right away and I put Google Alerts in for Adam Dicker, DNForum.com, and probably DNFCollege and things like that. And I do get alerts for it and it’s interesting to see my name mentioned in different places come in and I go and I check the articles. And if it’s negative, I try to put it to a positive. Luckily, I’ve only seen positive so far, but I mean you do get negative. I mean we’re talking about reputation, so the higher of reputation you build in an industry, the more you’re a target for some people that aren’t going to like you and some people that are going to like you. The bottom line is, I’m not out to take business away from anybody. I’d like to help people. I’d like to help them make money through reputation repair and reputation management; and if they’re interested, we’re posting an affiliate section on ReputationRepair this week, so it’ll be up by the time the video airs, and they’ll earn twenty percent or twenty-five percent of everything that come through their affiliate links.
Michael: Okay. So if people put up affiliate links that drive people to ReputationRepair and they buy reputation repair, reputation monitoring, expungement – any of the services you’re offering -, they’ll get twenty percent of that sale?
Michael: So you’ve got the entire domain name market locked down, Adam. If somebody happens to have a domain name already, before you got into buying all these domain names a few weeks ago, a good business for them might be to set up a website on those services and then drive customers to them through search engine optimization, or buying Adwords, or forming relationships and then making twenty percent off of the commissions that they drive to your business.
Adam: Yeah. I mean there’s nothing stopping anybody from registering MichaelsReputationRepair, or CygerReputationRepair, or any term that they want, or any other business. It doesn’t have to be ReputationRepair to drive business, especially if they’re buying Adwords. It could be – I don’t know – AcmeWidgets and as long as you’re buying Adwords to it and it explains the reputation repair services, they’re going to make money.
Adam: And I’m telling you; and we’ve havent gone into this yet. I set up eight people so far and each person is making over five thousand dollars a week.
Michael: Five thousand dollars a week?
Michael: Revenue that they’re driving to you, or is that their commissions?
Adam: That’s their commissions.
Michael: Wow! Yeah. That’s a lot of money, Adam.
Adam: But to be successful in this business, I’ll be honest with you; I drop my girls off at school at 8:10, I drop my boys off at 8:20 – even though they go to high school and they’re lazy and could walk -, and then I’m at my desk from 8:30 in the morning until ten, eleven o’clock at night. And I’m not even answering the call centers, but I’m just busy doing other things to help the reputation repair business. And I’m here to answer questions and help the affiliates, or the vendors, or whatever you want to call them, earn revenue. And that’s what I’m here for; to facilitate them earning more money. And I guarantee you; if you have a strong work ethic, you’re good in sales, which is really what it needs to be, your phone will ring and you will make sales.
Michael: Yeah. All right. Let me ask you this. You put up ReputationRepair.com. You’ve set up your reputation monitoring service. Clearly, you have a cash of customers from your mug shots business. How else are you driving customers to your websites? How are you getting more customers? What’s your marketing plan?
Adam: You know what? It’s to the point where I’m happy, at this point, with what it’s earning. I have increased some different things I’m doing as far as Adwords and things like that, and advertising on the Bing search network and things like that, but there’s not a whole lot I need to do. People generally will find you if they have a problem. But, like I said, I can be aggressive and go after people that have had negative reports posted about them or on their business and try to work to get those things unpublished. Unpublishing is also going to be something that is going to be the future because unpublishing an article is what a lot of people are going to want to do from here on in, or unpublishing a blog post, or a forum post, and there’s money in that. And every (unclear 55:07.0) that’s out there has people. I get people e-mailing me every day, ‘can I get this post taken down? Can I take out this thread?’ Well, there will be an unpublish link and they can click it; and if they want to unpublish it, it may cost them twenty-five dollars, but they’ll be able to unpublish whatever they want. And I’m sure all the mug shot sites will eventually switch over to unpublishing as well.
Michael: Interesting. Okay. So now you’re sending people to go buy domain name with unpublish in them.
Adam: No. We charged some of the three hundred I’ve already done today.
Michael: All right. So, for marketing, you’ve got your website up and running on a fantastic premium, keyword-rich, industry defining domain name. You’ve got search engine optimization going on in the websites, so over time, just like on your RemoveMugShots, they’re going to rise to the top in various states. You’ve got all the domain names that are helping to, if they’re not pointing to ReputationRepair, they may in the future. You’ve got Adwords purchased on Google. You’ve got a competing product – whatever Bing sells. I’m not even sure what the name is, but you’re buying some ads on different search sites it sounds like.
Michael: And then your affiliates are a great way to market as well, where you don’t have to do any work and you’re just paying the commission to the people who are your affiliates that are driving more customers to you.
Michael: All right. Anything else that comes to mind that you’re doing for marketing, or you have planned in the future?
Adam: No. I think that pretty much covers it all. I mean it’s a very good business. It’s going to be around forever, and people need to realize that and it’s not too late to get into it.
Michael: Yeah. Okay. So let’s walk through an example. You and I discussed a customer last week. Is it still okay to discuss that customer?
Adam: I guess.
Michael: Well, it’s up to you and I don’t want to put you on the spot. We can run through a generic example.
Adam: Yeah. Maybe we should do that because I don’t know. She wants to go down in the search engines and not up; and if your interview posts her name, it’s going to go up.
Michael: Right. Okay. So you told me about a customer that contacted you. Without mentioning names, what was her generic problem?
Adam: I don’t know what it was to be honest with you. She was arrested for something. I think it could’ve been a DUI or something like that, or it may have been some charge that was dismissed. Obviously a DUI is serious, but it wasn’t — I’m not sure if that was the charge. But she did have her mug shot posted on a few sites and she didn’t want reputation articles to be written about it to push it down. There are one or two mug shot sites that refuse to take your mug shots down for money. JailBase.com is one of them. They leave it up for six months. So if you’re on JailBase.com, you have no choice other than to do reputation articles and that was one of the sites – the only site – that she was still left on.
Michael: Okay. So you decided to remove mug shots and then also do a reputation repair website for her. And how much was the entire package that she paid for?
Adam: I mean I’d have to look it up. I guess she probably paid anywhere between nine hundred and twelve hundred dollars.
Michael: Okay. That order of magnitude. And so, you removed the mug shots that she wanted removed and then you created a website for her. Tell me about the creating of the website.
Adam: The creating of the website is simple. I asked her to give me authority to register her name as a domain name and send me a list of hobbies, or her job description, or things that I can use – ten keywords – to create those articles. Then I had the articles written. I had them posted on the website. I designed a really nice looking website for her, as you’ve seen, and then I submitted those articles to five thousand different article directories and blogs. Now she has fifty thousand positive articles and her JailBase link is nowhere to be found.
Michael: Yeah and I can vouch for that. I completely understand that you don’t want to mention the name in this interview because it’s really not fair to her to mention her name because it may or may not be associated with something else, but I typed in her name into Google. The website that you developed for her, I verified through WhoIs, was just registered. The domain is number one in Google for her and if I look down the top, I think, twenty links, a number of the top twenty links – page one and page two – were individual pages on that website.
Adam: That’s correct.
Michael: So I vouch for the service. It did push down whatever else might’ve been in the top twenty or in the top few positions. It pushed it down.
Adam: Yeah. And the other thing that I have to remind people constantly is that – and I have another guy who calls me. Actually, a guy who’s worried because his mug shot is on page three of Google. But I keep telling him. I said, ‘you’re the only person looking for it’. People may type in your name, but nobody is going to type in your name with the word mug shot because nobody is going to think it exists. So you’re the only one that’s seeing it, so don’t panic because it’s on page three or four of Google. It’ll slowly disappear, but you’re the only one that’s ever going to type in your name associated with the word mug shots. So, forget about it.
Michael: Right. All right. So now that you’ve set up the website for her, how long does the service last, Adam?
Adam: Oh, it’s indefinite. I’m not going to take it down.
Michael: So she’s got a website. You go to GoDaddy or you go to any hosting account; you got to pay five dollars a month, or twenty dollars a year, or what have you. Is this a recurring revenue source for you by hosting her website?
Adam: No. Not at all. I don’t charge anything beyond $499. I mean I have about eight hosting accounts with unlimited domains, and I just put them all on a server and I call it customer websites, and that’s it. I just keep posting them. So it costs me $14.95 a month for all of them. Based on my run rate, I think I can afford that.
Michael: Yeah. All right. So, a lot of domain investors own domains that they want to develop out and they can’t figure out how to develop. I know I’ve received a couple of e-mails in the past from people who have watched my shows that have wanted to do that, and they’ve actually reached out to you after watching one of you previous two interviews and said, ‘I reached out to Adam. He helped develop out a website for me and now I’ve got a business online’. And it’s unfortunate that a lot of people don’t have the skills to get a WordPress site up there, but you can help them do that and get it up pretty quickly. But once they have a website up and running, Adam, I think a lot of people just expect them to run on their own. “I put up a website. People should just pay me money and I should have an additional revenue source.” But what you’ve said just ten or twenty minutes ago was, I think, critically important. After you drop the kids off at school, you’re in your office handling phone calls, doing support, doing sales till 10PM at night. I want to find out: when it comes time for reputation repair work, when an order comes in through the site, what happens to it? Who touches it? What kind of processing does it require?
Adam: Okay. So when an order come in to a site, if it’s a mug shot removal, I have to pay for the removal on one of the hundred and fifty sites that it may be posted on; and sometimes it’s more than one mug shot. It could be four or five. So I pay to have those removed and then they get removed, and then I send the customer an e-mail saying – it starts with – ‘mug shot removal process started’. I give them the links. I tell them how long it takes. I tell them it’ll take between two and four weeks for the links to come out of Google, but two to three business days for the mug shots to be down; and I do all that. And then if it’s a reputation site, I send them an e-mail asking for their keywords, and their name, and everything else. And then I put that into a task management system and I wait for the site to be done. But it’s me who does a lot of the customer service because I like to be hands-on. I mean I had a lady; this is unrelated, but she bought a domain name. I had WiseCracks.ca and somebody put in an offer for it, and I thought, ‘who the hell wants to buy WiseCracks.ca? They’re starting a fun site; a keyword site?’ And then I did some research and found out that there is a company that owned WiseCracks.org who fixed cracks in the foundations of homes, and they happened to be a Canadian company. Very nice woman. Very sweet woman. And I sold her the domain name relatively cheap. It was under five thousand dollars. And she said she was surprised that I sold it to her, and then she contacted me because she did some research on me. That’s why she was surprised that I sold it so cheap. And then she contacted me and said, ‘I’d also like you to redo our website for us’. So they ended up buying WiseCracks.com, which is going to be their main site and they own WiseCracks.org and .CA. And then I called her personally. It’s a family run business. And after I talked to her, in the e-mail she said, ‘I told my husband that you called me personally and he was shocked’. I like to do everything personally because I think that there’s no better salesperson and no better person that understands the needs of a customer than I do. I mean I listen more than I talk; although it doesn’t seem so on these interviews, but I mean I listen to the customers needs. It’s that old, “you have two ears and one mouth, so listen twice as much as you talk”. I listen to the customers needs, I develop them out a website, and away we go. I’m doing a website now for the USA Armed Forces Radio Network and they’re going to give us free commercial airtime on it, and it’s going to be a beautiful site. Their current site, to me, doesn’t look good and we’re working on that too. So I get a lot of other leads. By the way, they weren’t related to ReputationRepair at all. It was just; when you get known for building good websites. And we’re doing a few hundred a month easy; not just reputation repairs. Like just sites for customers. We’re almost up to seven hundred sites a month, so that’s quite a lot. And I forget where I was going with this point.
Michael: I want to point out to the audience a lot of the points that you just made that I think are so important is, again, the perception for domain investors is that they want to invest and they want all this passive income; but if you want to build a business, you need to work on the business in order to figure it out before you can go to the next step. The next step might be outsourcing. It might be to find a virtual assistant that can handle all these steps for you; to handle the processing of the e-mails, to handle that personal touch; but whether you choose to or not – and that’s your personal choice as the business owner -, you may get personal satisfaction out of interacting with the customers and find out that they’re relieved and they’re satisfied, and they love your service and that’s fine, but you have that option. And while you’re building the business, I think it’s important to listen to the customer and find out exactly what they’re asking for. And you can’t do that from somebody else’s filter level. You actually talking to the customer, finding out what their needs are in terms of reputation repair, is going to provide a whole buch of potential ancillary services, or upsells, or just honing in on the service. So I commend you for doing that work yourself rather than what I think a lot of other investors try and do as a passive income.
Adam: Well, I think there are a couple main points here. One is that you cannot just open up a brick and mortar store and put a sign on the door that says open, and then just walk away and come and change it to close at eleven o’clock at night when it’s closed. Nobody will ever operate our business the way you will because you’re the one that makes the revenue. Other people will give up on sales calls. They may not be closers. They may not know how to make sales. They may not know how to handle customer service. I have never gotten upset with a customer; even if I’m wrong, or if he’s wrong, or whatever the situation is. I always try to resolve it because I can always turn a negative into a positive, and turn them into a customer that may have been upset with something and I end up getting more revenue out of him. Because you get customers where you take them down off of a mug shot site and two days later, it appears on three other sites; and they’re like, ‘is this some sort of scam? Are you circulating the mug shot everywhere?’ and my answer is, ‘no. You paid me to take you down from here, but I don’t control the whole Internet. I can only do what you asked me to do and what you pay me to do’. And then I explain the process to them and I explain that, ‘look. You could appear on fifty other sites down the road a year from now. I don’t control that. I don’t control what happens. I do control what you ask me to do and I do what you tell me to do, and I make sure that I do that properly’. But nobody will ever run a business like the business owner themselves, which is the same reason you’re doing the interview with me instead of having somebody else do it.
Adam: And one more quick thing. I know you talked about the past interviews that we had. Just today alone, I got an e-mail from somebody who watched one of our previous interviews and it was a thank you letter for the information that we shared in the interview that we did. And every time I get one of those e-mails, it gives you a nice warm feeling because you know, whether they make money or they don’t make money, you’ve made a difference and they’ve learned, at least, one thing from watching the video, and really that’s all that you can help to do. And with reputation repair, I feel I’m on the positive side of this industry because I’m helping people. I mean I’m not taking off pedophiles. I’m not taking off murders. I’m not taking off people with assault charges or anything really negative. I won’t do that, but at the end of the day, I get thank you letters from these customers too. I have one somewhere here on my desk about a lady who sent me a letter and said she’s sending me a package as well as a thank you gift. I’m afraid to open the package, but I think it’s nice of her. But, again, going back to it, nobody is going to operate the business like the business owner. And if you think you’re just going to put up a reputation repair website and hand it off to a call center, and walk away and not be hands-on, it’s a big mistake and it’s going to fail. And that is the biggest mistake domainers make. One of the biggest is that they put up a website and they think they’re done; and that’s not a way to run a business. And even with the reputation repair, I know I’ve said this is on other interviews and we’ll cover it, I’m sure, at the end of this. I give them all my personal cell phone number and I want them to call me if there’s a problem. I want them to call me if theirs an issue. I don’t want a chargeback. I’ve had one chargeback. It’s just because the lady lied, but it’s okay; I’ve taken care of her. But I mean the bottom line is, I want to talk to these customers because they’re also future potential sales for other things. And it could be a website design for their business. It could be anything.
Michael: It could be the friends that got a DUI or were charged with something and want it removed. Definitely. And so, part of what I want to go through during this interview is learning your story, but then also giving people the ideas that they can go do this in another niche, or if they want to work with you that they can become an affiliate. And there’s are just other ideas out there, and there’s new industries forming everyday and people need to keep their eyes open. And you mentioned one thing earlier that I just want to bring back up for discussion, Adam. You talked about your marketing plan and we talked about all the different areas that you’re doing marketing right now. When I file a trademark, and the trademark usually gets rejected the very first time and you get your letter, something becomes public information with respect to the trademark. And then I usually get about three or four unsolicited letters in my mailbox saying, ‘hey, we saw that an offex action just came out from the US Patent and Trademark Office and we are expert in this'; and the really good letters will include something like related to my trademark, so they’ll customize the letter saying, ‘we’ve done intellectual property for media companies in the past and we can help your get your through’ or what have you. And so, I want to point out to people that, unfortunately, there are because this is public information. A lot of cases when people have their mug shots, people can reach out to people, either through Facebook, or Twitter, or whatever way they have their personal information out there. And if they want to form this affiliate relationship with you, there’s a way to do proactive marketing out to people that may need reputation repair and they can create a business through that as well.
Adam: Yeah. You just have to be careful how you do it. And I have done a little bit of that; and basically it’s you go and you send them a message and say, ‘look. I’m not here to hassle you. I’m just here to let you know that I found this mug shot; and if I can find it, your friends, your employers, your future employers, your family could find it too. You may want to a call a reputation repair company like us, or somebody else, to get it taken care of for you’. And you’re not doing a hard sell. You’re just letting them know it’s out there. And you’re certainly not posting it on their Facebook wall, where every friend of theirs is going to see their mug shot or anything else. But mug shots are a good portion of this business, and arrests; but I mean, like I said, I’ve seen all kinds of weird charges where it’s been the wife accusing the husband of something because they’re just trying to get custody of the kids. So, it’s now always what it seems to be. Although some of the best pictures of seen have been those DUI pictures, where they take those mug shots and they look like they’re half asleep and you can clearly tell they’re drunk.
Michael: Exactly. So, I bring up that not because I’m condoning it or saying that I do this. I’m just saying that there are ways out there. There are attorneys that do it every day for people that have office actions filed through the USPTO. There are domain investors that do it every day. I get the same e-mails that you do. “Hey, I own Domain-Sherpa.com. I know you own DomainSherpa. You probably want to buy this as well.” It’s not a hard sell. It’s spammy, but, in some cases, maybe people want it.
Adam: I don’t tend to do that in general. I don’t have to because my phones are ringing. But there are places you can go that are free, like a company called SearchBug.com. I think you could type in a person’s phone number and for like a buck they give their address and e-mail, and you can contact them. So there’s definitely ways to be proactive without being a real jerk about it.
Michael: Yeah. All right. Let me come back to a point that you brought up earlier, Adam. You said, “PayPal shut you down because you were too successful”. Tell me about that.
Adam: Okay. So it’s a bit of a long story, but I’ll keep it as short as I can. I started to process transactions for Reputation Repair through my DNForum PayPal account. And then I noticed that the volume was getting to high, so I called PayPal and they said, ‘no. We’d like you to open up a separate account for it’. So I opened up a separate account for it. They told me to do that. I started putting them all through the ReputationRepair PayPal account. Then about two weeks later, I got a letter saying, ‘look. You’ve had no chargebacks, but we’re going to do a pullback of nine thousand dollars and ten percent’. So I thought, ‘okay. I’m still doing nothing wrong, so go ahead’. A week later, I got another letter from PayPal saying, ‘no. You know what? We just thought, even though there were no chargebacks, we’re shutting you down. We’re shutting down your PayPal account for your Reputation Repair. We’re shutting down your PayPal account for DNForum’. And not only not, but what’s even more surprising is, ‘we’re not even going to let you buy from a vendor that only accepts PayPal’. So, to me, this was all ridiculous because I haven’t done anything wrong. I’m sure they think I’ve been doing something wrong because of the volume, but, to them, it’s high risk because if you put a hundred thousand dollars through an account and then you transfer it to a bank account, they’re concerned, ‘well, what about chargebacks?’ If they get eighty thousand dollars in chargebacks. So I personally offered everything. I reached out to the President of PayPal. I spoke to his assistant. He’s arranged a conference call that’s supposed to happen this week between my lawyer and their lawyer, but basically they’re not going to open up my PayPal accounts and I lost about fifty-six thousand dollars in recurring revenue from DNForum memberships.
Michael: That is a terrible way to treat customers.
Adam: Well, I mean, you know what? I don’t know how you punish a customer that’s putting business through you and that’s just the way it is. And those are the facts. I’ve got all the letters. I’ve got everything. I know I never did anything wrong besides process transaction, so whatever they accuse me of, they’re going to be wrong. There are obviously two sides to every story and they haven’t listened to my side.
Michael: Yeah. So what have you done in order to get DNForum.com memberships recurring to take new credit card transactions? What was your process to evaluate other transactional services for use on your various businesses?
Adam: Well, actually, in the end, they actually did me a favor; because I had to go through my bank and set up my own merchant account, so that worked out better. But I also still have merchant accounts with three or four other processors, so I’m not mixing up anything. DNForum uses a different processor, all my other websites use a different processor, and the Reputation Repair uses a different processor. So, I split it all up.
Michael: Why split it up into three different processors, Adam?
Adam: Well, just because. I mean I want to mitigate any chances of any risked analysis or assessment being done again based on just one business and the growth of that business. You would think that a payment processor who’s making a good percentage off the money you put through would be happy. And look; I was okay with the pullback. They could’ve increased it to forty thousand if they wanted and a twenty percent holdback because I know I wasn’t going to screw them around. They didn’t agree to that. They just shut me down and that’s just the way it is. So PayPal is not on my best, most likely to use vendor list and they lost a lot of money from me, a lot of potential revenue.
Michael: No. Definitely. So you just went directly through your bank. You set up a merchant account yourself. What front end are you using with that merchant account? Who are you using to actually do the transaction before it connects to your merchant account?
Adam: Oh, I use 1ShoppingCart.com.
Michael: 1ShoppingCart.com. Okay.
Adam: Yeah; because they offer the ability to add-on upsells like we talked about, like the monitoring for $99 or the reputation website for $499. They also offer auto responders, which I can sent out and remind you the charges are coming from the Domain Consulting Group, Inc. and so on. They offer coupon code and a few other things. So I’m actually far better off and I’m in control of my database, and I get my money the next day so I don’t have to worry about any other crap that they could cost me. But I mean it’s just one hurdling in doing business. And the more successful you are, apparently some companies don’t like it.
Michael: Well, I could understand. I worked in Citi Group, in the credit card processing group, and I understand that there are risk profiles and any type of service that sell without delivering any goods can be risky, whereas you take the money, you transfer the money out and they could be left holding the bag for a lot of chargebacks. I understand their thought process, but that is not a way to treat any customer; especially a customer that’s been long standing, like yourself with DNForum.
Adam: Yeah. I mean this PayPal account was opened up in 2002. And I was getting all kinds of advertiser payments and things. And not only that; but they’ve done damage to my reputation because I was paying companies like Domain Tools, and I was paying Elliot’s blog for advertising, and I was going to pay you for advertising; and the payments are coming to them as saying rejected, which makes it look like I don’t have any money, I’m going out of business. So I mean it’s not positive. It’s all negative. So it’s done damage to my reputation ironically. I mean It’s just made things a little bit harder, so now I’m having to do wire transfers to pay everybody, which I don’t mind because the money’s there, but I would’ve rather not been hassled for increasing somebody’s business. If somebody wants to take my business from a hundred thousand and increase it to two hundred and fifty thousand dollars, I’m going to kiss their feet. I’m not going to ban them.
Michael: Exactly. All right. So before we get to the last question, Adam, where I want to go back and revisit something else that we discussed in the past, is there anything else related to Reputation Repair that I haven’t brought up that you wanted to talk about.
Adam: No. I think we’ve covered the full gamut. The summary is that it’s a great industry for people to get into. It’s in its infancy. There are only a few key players out there and there’s nobody that can own it like I own it. And I mean, sure, there’s other people who can try to compete with me and I wish them luck, but it’s not going to hurt my business.
Michael: Right. It’s probably just going to increase the size of the industry.
Adam: Well, if it does that, it’s going to promote the ones that are the good, honest players. It’s going to help promote them and, as usual, I make myself available to anybody that wants help to start the business. But you got to be willing to work at it yourself. You can’t put up a website and think you’re going to pass it off to somebody and sit back on the beach or on your couch, like Domain Parking. We know how well that did for people, etc. It did nothing. But my main strategy that’s changed, and I think I want to cover it just quickly, is that I’ve been switching over and dropping quite a few domains and only building out and keeping domains that, either I can build a good information site on, like DownSyndrome, that’ll help people, stuff that I can build a business around is the most important thing, like Limo.ca, which gets about twenty leads a day for limos, like ReputationRepair, where viable businesses that earn cash and earn revenue are things to concentrate on now. And if you can’t develop it out as a business, you’re probably not going to put much time into it. And I’ll be honest with you; in the last three months, I’ve been really busy with ReputationRepair and I haven’t spent as much time on DNForum as I have to, and I need to get back to it because it’s my baby.
Michael: Yeah. And then, what are you doing with all the other domain names that you have that don’t focus on an area that you want to develop for public benefit, like DownSyndrome, you don’t want to develop into a lead generation business, like Limo.ca, or a full business like ReputationRepair? What are you doing with all those other thousand of domain names you own?
Adam: Well, I’m either building informational sites for AdSense and for revenue, or I’m leaving them parked. I’m basically keeping generics, I’m keeping product domains, I’m keeping services domains because I can put directories on there and charge for ad revenue, and I’m keeping informational sites. And anything that’s generic, where I think I may one day build it out and never will find the time to; and that’s what I’m doing, but I’m basically concentrating all of my efforts on ReputationRepair because it is a growing industry and it’s earning revenue unlike some of the other things that are out there now.
Michael: Yeah. All right.
Adam: So, I mean, the bottom line is, everybody has to focus. I mean I make myself a list of twenty or thirty things to do a day, and it changes, and the only thing I concentrate on are the revenue effecting items first and then I get to the rest of the stuff. And that’s why I’m in my office till ten, eleven o’clock at night; because sometimes it takes me that long to get to those things that aren’t revenue effecting, but still need to be done.
Michael: Yeah. Great point. All right. For the last set of questions, I want to go back in time and revisit one of your previous interviews. We did an interview, entitled “Stop Parking Domains and Build a Real Business”. Very much in line with what we’re talking about today. It’s the second most popular interview on DomainSherpa in terms of the reader comments and activity of that interview. The interview focused on Cord Blood Banks. You registered six hundred or so domain names, like AlabamaCordBank.com, AlaskaCordBank.com, and you were generating, I think you said, seven to ten leads per day at USACordBlood.com and, when they convert to a sale, you were making something like seven hundred dollars per customer. Where are you now, Adam, on that business?
Adam: Well, I’m still working with the cord bank that I was working with. I still do get leads come in and I forward them off to the cord bank, and they close the sales and I just basically get checks.
Michael: Okay. So it is still an operating business. It’s not like that has petered out or you put on the side and now you’re focused on this business. It’s still one that continues to operate and you continue to run.
Adam: Yeah. It definitely continues to run. It doesn’t make anything close to the revenue as ReputationRepair or the growth rate, but it still has consistent revenue, so I wouldn’t be a fool to just let it slide.
Michael: Yeah. Okay. The revenue is still stable from when we did that interview back in November of 2011?
Adam: Yeah. Nothing’s changed and I think that industry, like reputation repair; as more and more people become aware of it – and a lot of people aren’t aware of it-, and more and more people decide to store their cord blood storage as they have babies, that industry is going to continue to grow. It’s a good growth industry as well.
Michael: Yeah. All right. Excellent.
Adam: And someday those babies are going to need reputation repair.
Michael: And there’s an upsell opportunity right there.
Adam: Well, not right away, but maybe when they can read.
Michael: All right. If you have a follow up question for Adam, please post it in the comments below and we’ll ask him to come back and answer as many as he can. If you want to follow Adam, he’s on Twitter @AdamDicker and you can of course follow DNForum at @DNForum. And this is the point, Adam, where I tell the audience if you received any benefit from this interview, and I know I received benefit; if people didn’t receive benefit, they need to just stop watching these interviews because they’re packed full of information and if they can’t get something out of it that they can use, then I don’t know what else we can do because you’ve been phenomenal with the amount of information you’ve been providing. But if you received anything, take a minute right now, send Adam a tweet, post a comment. This interview is free. Adam has taken over an hour today sharing his tactics and we had a pre-interview last week. He’s spent a lot of time. I’m only asking you to take one minute out of your time, post a comment, and say thank you, Adam, for taking the time out of your schedule and sharing your thoughts. Please do that right now. Or you can also thank him by visiting his websites. DNForum.com is the place you need to go to have a conversation on domain names. If you need a website or any type of search engine optimization, he’s got DCG.com – Domain Consulting Group is what that stands for. Of course he’s got DNFCollege.com, where you can learn the skills if you want to buy different websites in different geographies or learn how to spot niches. And then, his latest venture, ReputationRepair.com. If you own some domain names and you want to work with Adam, you can look at his affiliate program. Adam Dicker, thank you for coming on the show, sharing your strategy and tactics, and thanks for being a Domain Sherpa again.
Adam: Michael, just one thing before we close. I always like to give out my contact information. I have no problem with people reaching out to me asking me any question. You can reach me on my cell at (416) 884 – 0535. You could reach me through email at Adam@DCG.com. You can reach me on Skype at Adam.Dicker. And I’m sure there’s other ways you can get a hold of me. I’m here and I sincerely mean that you should reach out to me. Ask me questions. I won’t have an hour to dedicate to evaluating your portfolio, but I could certainly put time together to help you with a website, with an SEO campaign, with whatever you need, and I can get you on your way to making money in reputation repair.
Michael: Very generous of you, Adam. Thank you again and thank you all for watching.
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