There was a game show on TV when I was a kid that I really wanted to try-out for and become a contestant. I don’t remember the show as much as I remember the Grand Prize offered each week: a 5 minute shopping spree at Toys-R-Us. I didn’t really care about being on TV or anything, I just wanted to be on the show for a shot at the prize! Was I a toy freak? No, not really. I just discovered a way that I could take advantage of the prize!
You see, I’d watch in agony each week as the kids who won would run through Toys-R-Us and make the same mistakes over and over. They’d all do the same thing: with huge eyes, they’d frantic their shopping cart through the store filling it with things like bikes, skateboards, basketballs, huge stuffed animals, radio control cars, and other huge items. I swear one time a kid tried to stick a trampoline in his shopping cart. Watching these kids would frustrate me because they were doing it wrong! They get to keep everything they could squeeze into one cart. If only they had my strategy, they could have gotten all those toys and more. My plan was pretty simple to. If I were on the show, I’d run straight to the baseball cards and fill the cart until it was overflowing. I could then maximize the space in my shopping cart with some of the smallest, yet highest valued items in the store. I wouldn’t need to run all the many aisles, I could maximize my full 5 minutes in a single spot. After I took home my loot, I’d open all the packs, sort them out, create a few sets, and resell those sets plus the highest valued singles back to my local baseball card dealers (there were many in the 80′s and early 90′s). With the money, I’d return back to Toys-R-Us and get the toys I wanted and still have a lot of money left over.
As my friends know, I’ve always been a entrepreneur geek. Sure I enjoyed making money, but what I enjoyed most was optimizing a little-known process (which could also be thought of as exploiting a loophole or exploiting the system). My career choices are pretty much par for the course from my humble beginnings. As a Search Engine Optimizer and Social Marketer, I look for ways to “optimize” the experience for my clients. I make their website more suitable for success within search engines and social networks. Back 3 to 5 years ago, I was simply exploiting holes in Google’s algorithm. These days I play their game, but still have many opportunities to leverage social networks like Twitter, reddit, StumbleUpon, and Facebook in the process.
I enjoy it. It’s fun to be able to make changes and see how it affects the traffic coming into the site. I’ve been on the tipping point for a few months with one of my sites, and I think we are about to release a product (another website) that will soon push it over the edge and give me the results I’ve been looking for for so long. One downside to this business is that it can be entirely frustrating to not get the results you were hoping for as soon as you want. But when you do achieve success, it is very rewarding. So I’m hoping this little extra “oomph” that my team has been working on for the past 2 months will really jump start something good. We’ll see what happens. But our shopping cart is full and we are more than ready!