Earlier this week, Rae Hoffman wrote a great post on her blog about 48 Things I Know Now That I Wish I Knew Then. It’s a great read and following her advice will certainly lead to more efficiency and more happiness in your life. Most of the list were items that I need to remind myself of on a regular basis. That post got me thinking about all of the various forums, conferences, blog posts, and people who have influenced and inspired me the most over the past 10+ years in online marketing. I have a lot of people that ask me where I’ve learned what I’ve learned so I decided to do a brain dump of that info.
Rae – It seems fitting that since one of her posts inspired me to write this, that she’d be first on the list. There aren’t many people out there that I trust as much as I trust Rae. If she says something, it’s worth listening because whether you agree with her or not, she’s giving you honest information. Posts of hers that I have bookmarked and revisit from time to time are why you fail at affiliate marketing, Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda, or how she got into internet marketing. She’s a huge reason I am where I am and I am who I am now. Info she has given me over the years has resulted in literally hundreds of thousands of dollars in extra income over what I would have made without listening to her.
John Andrews – John is another person I trust more than just about anyone else out there. If you really want to understand being a competitive webmaster, read his blog. One of my favorites is his You’re Free to Go Home post.
Aaron Wall – When Aaron wrote his SEO Book, I bought it and sent it off to Kinko’s to have it printed & bound. I carried it around and read it several times over the course of a few weeks. I was bouncing back and forth between Phoenix and Portland at the time and it made for good reading on the airplane.
Aaron Chronister – I met Aaron a few years ago at an event called Think Tank. To be honest, he scared the crap out of me at the time. A couple months later, we were both in Vegas, sitting at the Breeze Bar in TI and started talking about barbecue. Thanks to that conversation and being given the opportunity to do a barbecue competition with Aaron, I’ve become addicted to barbecue.
DK & ThinkTank – ThinkTank was more of a networking & drinking session than a conference. The group of people at the very first one was awesome and many of the people who I would consider my biggest influences now were there. Pamela Lund, Chris Winfield, Andy Denton, John Andrews, Neil Patel, ShoeMoney, Michael Dorausch, Aaron Chronister, and Tony Adam are all people I follow closely and try not to miss anything they write or speak about. All of them were at the first ThinkTank and I’m grateful that I was able to be a part of that.
Webmaster World – My first “real job” in this industry was back in 2001. I started working as a designer for an online pharmacy and quickly discovered that after several years of art classes and a degree in multimedia, I mostly sucked at web design. I also learned that the programmers I was working with sucked at programming. It wasn’t long before I was the lead developer (the bar was set pretty low) and ended up working closely with the SEOs that were there. Part of my job became figuring out making development, design, and SEO play together and I was told that the best place to learn about it was Webmaster World. At the time, there really wasn’t a better community of knowledge and the supporter’s forum was full of some pretty amazing threads. Some of the threads I bookmarked early on and read through the most were How Search Engines Work, Successful Site in 12 Months with Google Alone, and Themes. They’re still a good read today, if only for the sake of seeing what has changed and what hasn’t changed in 10 years.
PubCon – In 2004, the first PubCon in Las Vegas was held and since that was an easy drive from Phoenix, I decided to attend. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, not just from a business perspective but life in general. I met some of the people I care about and trust the most in this business at that conference. One of the relationships I gained from that PubCon turned into working for 4 years as CTO and doing SEO for a travel company.
ABestWeb – When I first started into affiliate marketing, there wasn’t much information out there about it. ABestWeb was a good place to go and feel like I weren’t just some dude sitting at home in his underwear making money off of something that didn’t seem legit. People on there were just like me. I was inspired to try dozens of different ideas from there. Some resulted in big money and some were major failures. They were all worth it.
Affiliate Summit – If you’ve never attended an Affiliate Summit show, I’d highly recommend it. Affiliate Summit West in Vegas is massive. It’s amazing how much it has grown since the first one I attended at Bally’s. There’s a crazy mix of people there and no matter what you’re into, you’ll probably run into other people there that are doing the same thing.
Ogilvy On Advertising – This book is old school and some of it doesn’t necessarily apply anymore but it’s one of the first books I read when I really got into online marketing. Definitely recommended reading.
WordPress – Most of what I’ve done over the past 10 years has involved WordPress in some way or another. I’ve been using it since it was b2/cafelog. Without WP, I likely would have had to suffer through software that sucks like Drupal or Joomla (both of which I’ve used and both were a major nightmare) and may have chosen a different path to where I am now.
Smashing Magazine – I love this site. I can almost always find some kind of useful info or inspiration. The web designer I wish I could be is addicted to Smashing Magazine. I don’t think there’s a site out there that I visit more often for the purpose of being inspired.
So that’s my list. I’m sure I missed a few important pieces and there are likely thousands of other influences & inspirations I’ve had over the years. Whether you’re new in this industry or you’ve been around a long time, you should consider checking out all the people, sites, threads, and blog posts I’ve mentioned above. I guarantee you’ll get better at whatever you’re doing if you do.
So, what are your influences and inspirations?