This week’s interview is an inspiration. Have you ever dreamed of traveling the world while making money – working on a laptop at a cafe in Paris or from a beach in Brazil? Meet Nate Ginsburg, entrepreneur, traveler and photographer of beautiful places. Nate kindly introduced himself to me on Twitter after learning we share similar life dreams. He was in the beginning stages of building his business and was dealing with frustrating setbacks and a cloudy vision. But unlike so many, Nate steered straight ahead, taking a few risks and allowing pieces to fall into place. And now Nate’s business is taking off, new clients are streaming in and he’s buying travel tickets again. Let’s get to know Nate.
1. Where are you from and what do you do?
I grew up in Minneapolis, MN and run an internet marketing business.
2. How did you get involved in the online community?
When I was traveling in southeast Asia in the fall of 2011, I met someone who was running a business from his computer and had been traveling for the better part of two years. This absolutely blew my mind! He sort of introduced me to SEO and Internet marketing and I was instantly fascinated. After learning that there were actually people out there running businesses from their computer while traveling the world; I knew there was nothing else for me.
3. What is it that drew you into making so many connections online and networking?
I’m naturally a very curious person and get excited when I meet someone who has a new perspective or different experiences that they can share. I’ve always enjoyed networking and meeting new people because I’m usually drawn in by their different stories. Networking online is amazing because you have access to so many new and different people! And, you can connect with them from anywhere which fits the lifestyle that I’m going for.
I’m also a big believer of ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’ and have found that most of my opportunities have come as a direct result of someone that I’ve met/networked with.
4. What social networks do you rely on most for business? For personal connections?
My Facebook is mostly limited to people I know personally. It’s how I keep up with most of the people that I know and how they keep up with me.
I use Twitter a lot more for meeting and connecting with new people which has led to more business opportunities. Also, as someone involved with Internet marketing, I have to be active on Twitter to give myself and my business credibility.
5. Photography is a great love of yours. How did you get into it and what types of pictures are your favorite to take?
I got into photography pretty much because of Instragram when I was living in NYC. I love exploring and NYC is the absolute best place to explore. There is so much going on all the time, and the different parts of the city are absolutely beautiful. When I wanted to take a break from work, I’d go for walks around the city and couldn’t help but find so many beautiful things that I wanted to photograph. And with the various filters and photo editing apps I was able to make my pictures look a lot nicer.
One of my favorite activities is walking around cool places and taking pictures. I love trying to capture the mood or feel of the place with candid shots of the people and things that are there. When I shoot, I usually take a ton of pictures and then go back through them to find the ones that might have captured something special.
6. Traveling is a great motivator for you. Why is that?
Even since I was little, I LOVED to travel. I was fortunate to be able to visit a few different countries growing up and have wanted to travel ever since. I’m just fascinated by new places and how different (and similar) far away places can be. I want to know what everywhere is like and so I want to travel everywhere.
7. What is the best place you’ve ever been and why?
That is such a tough question.. so many places are so great and for different reasons. The best I can do is a list of some of my favorites.
Prague- Prague is gorgeous and feels like its right out of a fairy tale. I love the stone roads and squares. The whole city just has a magical feel to it.
Kyoto- I read in a guide book that Kyoto is “the Japan of your imagination” and it really is. It’s filled with temples and pagodas and geishas and just feels like you would hope Japan would feel like. I loved my time there and look forward to going back someday.
NYC- I was a bit hesitant to move to NYC for all the typical reasons: too expensive, too crowded, too big etc. But after only living there for a short while I absolutely fell in love with the place. NYC has an excitement that is unrivaled. And there is always so much to do! NYC is such an amazing mix of everything; I love it!
8. You do a lot of work with Pay Per Click, how important is PPC to small businesses?
PPC can be SO important for small businesses! I know a lot of businesses that use PPC as their sole marketing/advertising channel and that are doing great. PPC, if done correctly, delivers fast results that are trackable so you can directly see the ROI. I’m a huge advocate of PPC and recommend it to almost all small business that I work with. The results can be huge and measurable so its usually pretty easy to explain the value or it.
9. What are the pros and cons of starting an online business?
Well for me, one of the biggest pros of having a business that operates online is that it can be managed from anywhere. My goal all along has been to have a business that supports my life and allows me to travel which is tough to do with a business that isn’t online. Also, if you set it up right, you are able to scale an online business without incurring a ton of additional costs for things such as office space.
I’d say the biggest con is that it’s hard! It took me a long time go get any sort of traction in my business and the beginning was very tough. Starting out, I had so much to learn and really didn’t have any clue what I was doing. Eventually things started to come together, but there was definitely a lot of self doubt and struggle which I guess is common for most entrepreneurial endeavors online and off.
10. You gather a lot of your business from online freelancing companies like oDesk and eLance. What has been your experience with these companies and would you recommend them to others?
I love the different online freelancing platforms like oDesk and Elance! It is just incredible to me how many talented individuals are looking for work as well as how many people/companies are looking to hire people on these sites. I’ve had a lot of success using these platforms to find clients as well as to find freelancers to work on various things. If you are either looking for some extra work, or if you are looking to hire someone for something, I could not recommend the online freelancer sites more!
11. Tell us about your business Onset Digital Brand Marketing?
I think the name has a positive connotation, like the start of something good, and I have one goal with Onset: take my client’s investments and turn it into profit centers for their business.
Because of this, I will only take on clients and projects that I know will have a positive ROI. There should only be one goal with any marketing campaign and that should be to make more money than what you are investing. Internet marketing is so great because there are such a wide variety of tools to play with to get that maximum ROI. Sometimes its PPC, sometimes its SEO, other times its social media marketing, and other times the site just needs a facelift to better convert on the traffic. Most of the times its some combination of all the above.
In any situation, its an exciting challenge to take the client’s budget, and put together a solution that best fits their business. My clients have been very pleased with the results of this approach and that makes me feel good about the work that I do.
12. Who is your target audience and what services do you offer?
My target audience is any business interested in growing online and has a budget. What I try to do is first get a clear picture of what the company does, who their target market is, what their goals/objectives are, etc. and then devise a custom package that is right just for them. The thing is, SEO, PPC, Social Media or Content Marketing can all be really effective at driving traffic/leads/sales, but they all aren’t for everyone. I find the channel that has the highest ROI or potential for ROI, and then hit it as hard as I can.
As far as services go, I’m able to provide pretty much the whole spectrum of internet marketing including SEO, PPC, SMM, website design/development, and mobile development. I want to be able to utilize whatever tools are available in order to have the highest returns for my clients.
13. What is your idea of success while having an online business?
Generating enough revenue to support my ideal lifestyle, while traveling, and still having some time to enjoy myself.
14. What advice would you give to someone who is just starting their online business?
Consume as much content as you can to learn as much as you can. I’m really into podcasts and have learned a lot that I’ve been able to apply to my business. Also, if you want it bad enough, don’t give up until you’ve got it. I remember some times when I was so close to throwing in the towel and just so frustrated with how difficult building a business was. In those times, you just have to stick it out and keep pushing forward until you get to where you want to be.
15. Do you have any mentors? Who and why?
I wouldn’t say that I have any go-to mentors that I turn to with whatever I am dealing with. I do, however, know a lot of really talented/smart people in different areas that I can reach out to with specific questions. But, I’m still meeting a ton of people and so maybe I’ll meet that go-to mentor soon.