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SEO Podcast .004 – Eric Arnow – The Oldest Dude in SEO

by | Podcast, SEO

Eric Arnow is the owner of For-Knees and is considered by many to be the oldest dude in SEO. On this episode of SirLinksalot’s SEO Podcast, we talk to Eric about his unique story and journey into SEO, how to stay true to yourself while making money, and much more.

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Read the Full Transcript:

Nick:

Hey, everybody and welcome to another exciting episode of SirLinksalot’s Podcast. We are here with Eric Arnow, who is the oldest person known to be in the world of SEO.

Chris:

A World Record. World Record Breaker.

Nick:

Or at least … World Record, yeah, Oldest Person in Affiliate SEO. He’s done a lot of interesting stuff. I’ve had the luxury of speaking with him before, learning a little bit about his story. Spent, I think, something like 40 years as a Buddhist Monk, just really interesting road to what is now … He’s living in Thailand on this Affiliate journey, so I’m going to let you go ahead and take it from here, but if you want to just give the audience a little bit about yourself and how you got into SEO, a little bit about your life.

Eric:

Sure.

Nick:

Feel free.

Eric:

All right, okay, so first of all, I’m not bragging as being the top, one of the top over 70 SEOs in the world. All I can say is that I’ve gone to a couple of the Chiang Mai SEO Conferences and I’m pretty sure I was the oldest person there, but that doesn’t mean that I’m the one of the old … There’s probably other older SEOs who are doing Affiliate Marketing, so …

Chris:

You’ve got to take the crown. Take the crown.

Nick:

Yeah, for now, it’s SirLinksalot World Record Oldest.

Eric:

Thanks, all right.

Chris:

We’ll spread the rumor.

Nick:

Yeah, there we go.

Eric:

Okay, one other item is that in terms of my Zen practice and monk practice, I’ll give you a very basic how I got into that.

Nick:

Sure.

Eric:

Because that is like, that’s kind of the foundation of my life. When I was nine years old, I was watching a television show. This is like 1957, and there’s this guy … and I came from a very normal, middle class family where people had regular haircuts, and they wore ties, and all that stuff. So I’m watching this TV show, and there’s this guy with a beard and a beret and he’s smoking this funny looking cigarette and he’s talking about Zen, and I’m thinking, “Zen? What’s Zen?” So, that happened and then four years, five years went by, I was in junior high school at the time, I walked into store one day after school. And I saw this book called Zen Flesh, Zen Bones, and I thought, “There’s that word… Zen.”

Eric:

So I see this book and I just think, “This is really cool stuff,” because the ideas that they were presenting were like mind expanding experience for people. They raised issues that really appealed to my sense of personal freedom… My big values are truth and freedom, freedom from conditioning, freedom from lies, all the kinds of things that constrain us nowadays.

Nick:

Right.

Eric:

So that was very appealing to me and then I went to university and I was studying chemistry in my sophomore year, the Vietnam War was going on, and I was having serious misgivings because I knew what was going on in Vietnam and I thought, “They’re training me to make weapons, and I don’t want to do that.” So, I decided to change my major and go into the Humanities, and I switched my major to German. Now it turns out that my family all came from the Russian empire. They were all Jewish. Four grandparents, all Jewish, all basically fleeing the chaos that was going on in that part of the world and it’s basically still going on. It’s like a replay. It’s unbelievable. So, they all came to America and I’ve always been kind of haunted by that… What happened during that period of time: pre-World War I, pre-World War II. You know, a lot of difficulties.

Eric:

That was like asking me to … You know, what is the meaning of life, those kinds of deep questions, and then in my German studies I was realizing that many of these German philosophers were asking the same kinds of questions. One of the great writers, Goethe, he had a play called Dr. Faustus, and the story is that he makes a deal with the Devil where the Devil will show him all kinds of experiences. And at the end of 24 years, the Devil says, “You’re mine.” The 24 years go by, he has all these adventures, and the Devil says, “Well, now you’re mine,” and Dr. Faustus says, “No, I’m not, because I’m not attached to those experiences. They’re just experiences,” and I thought this is really interesting.

Eric:

And in parallel, I had been reading about Zen and these ideas of freeing ourselves from our cultural conditioning, and really understanding what is going on in the world is very appealing to me, and I felt that I needed some discipline. I grew up… My father died when I was eight, so I didn’t have male role models, and I felt that I really needed to have some kind of masculine, male training, so to speak. And I didn’t want to go into the military but I thought, “Well, I’ll become a Zen Monk.” I found this …

Chris:

It’s a very like, opposite end of the spectrum.

Eric:

Right, and oddly enough, my mother remarried and her husband had a son who did go in… my age… We graduated at the same time. He went into ROTC and he went into the Special Forces and I became a Monk.

Chris:

Me and Nick …

Nick:

Are you real close?

Eric:

We got along reasonably well but we’re not … We live in different worlds, you know. We didn’t fight or anything. It just … and he was a decent guy but we just …

Chris:

Me and Nick almost went into the military.

Nick:

Yeah, we almost did, yeah.

Chris:

We were pretty close …

Nick:

And then ended up going on a walk about to Asia.

Chris:

Yeah, that’s about 10 years ago, where we almost made that choice.

Nick:

Yeah, I’m glad we didn’t …

Eric:

Much, much wiser.

Nick:

We feel the same way, yeah.

Eric:

Good for you. So I went to… I was living in a Zen community in San Francisco – San Francisco Zen Center. I was ordained after six years; I stayed there for another seven as a Monk.

Chris:

What year was this then?

Eric:

I started in 1971, 1971 and …

Chris:

Okay, so right at the end of … or right at the kind of … I’m not well versed in that time period but maybe like kind of towards the end of the Hippie movement, so I’m guessing, that time at the Zen Buddhist Center in San Francisco is probably pretty hopping.

Eric:

That’s right. It was, I mean San Francisco was unbelievable … It was really amazing what was going on there. Which was the reason, one of the reasons I went there, because I felt that it was on the cutting edge of cultural change, which I’ve always been interested in. So I was there, and then in the early ’80s, the Reagan administration came in. There were very, very serious international tensions between the West and primarily Russia, although, later on there were problems with China. But the US was putting missile into Eastern Europe which could hit Moscow in a few minutes, and it was not a … It was a pretty dangerous time.

Eric:

Our Zen community was involved in the peace movement back then, and at one time, we used to go down to the Financial District of San Francisco. And we would hold a silent vigil for Nuclear Disarmament, and this woman walked by one day and said, “I owe stock in Lockheed,” and I thought, “You know, I think we have to deal with our economic system, because people are profiting off of the possibility of our all dying in a Nuclear war.” I mean this is crazy.

Chris:

Well, we’re still here, maybe the peace vigils worked, huh?

Eric:

Well, yeah, knock on wood, we’re still here. So that was 1982 or ’83. 1984, there was a big … what can I say? A big upheaval in this Zen community, and I felt that I was being … I kind of got as much out of it as I could, and that at a certain point, I was feeling constrained or it became habitual or something like that. So I thought, “I think what I need to do is just go out and get a regular job and learn about how money works because I didn’t have any idea of it,” and so I went into the insurance and financial business. The precipitating event for that was I had gone to a meditation retreat, tore the cartilage in my knee, I had no health insurance, and so I was …

Chris:

What kind of meditation was it?

Eric:

This was another … It was called Vipassana, which was a, it’s a Southeast Asian form of meditation, very similar to…

Chris:

I’ve done two of those, the 10 day retreats.

Eric:

Right, maybe Goenka?

Chris:

Pretty serious stuff, yeah, SN Goenka.

Eric:

Yeah, yeah, Goenka is a very … They do not kid around in those retreats, as you know.

Chris:

Yeah, it’s hard.

Eric:

You go to those retreats, you learn about yourself.

Chris:

Yeah, some people left because they couldn’t physically sit like that for 11 hours a day.

Eric:

Right.

Chris:

So it’s not surprising that you messed up your knee doing it.

Nick:

For those of you in the audience that don’t know, this is a silent retreat that Chris …

Chris:

Yeah, it’s super hard core. It’s no talking. I don’t think you’re even really supposed to look at people really in the eyes. No talking, no reading, no writing, no music for 10 days… you’re sitting Indian style, meditating for 11 hours a day.

Nick:

And you ended up having to do it for 20 days, right?

Chris:

Well, I did it one time in Calcutta … Sorry, in Hong Kong, and then I wanted to … I was traveling so I wanted to give back. I wanted to volunteer at the one in Calcutta, in India. But they found out that … When I got there, they found out that I had only done one 10 day retreat before, so they were like, “Oh, no. You can’t work, but you can sit the retreat if you want.” And so I just had this flash in my head, like, “Oh, my God, I’m going to die here. I can’t do another 10 days so soon.” Because it was only a couple of weeks after. It’s pretty intense, I wasn’t ready, but it ended up being awesome. Yeah, fully recommend to anyone looking into taking control of your mind, basically, doing some brain push ups.

Eric:

Awesome, fantastic.

Chris:

Ah, yeah, sorry about that, go ahead. So you messed up your knee.

Eric:

I didn’t tear it in a retreat, I tore it actually in a … It was kind of a freak accident, so anyway, there I was in a retreat and I thought, “How am I going to pay for this thing?” I thought, “People need insurance.” So I decided to go into the insurance business, and knowing absolutely nothing about it. And I just kind of networked and made contacts with various insurance companies and so I got into that, and the first company I was with … I won’t mention names here … But they were doing pretty sleazy stuff, basically screwing their policy holders, so I had to get out of that.

Eric:

Then I found this, another company and worked with them for a while and they were same kind of thing. I did find a decent insurance company. I think the company is reputable. Some of the agents’ practices are not necessarily totally legitimate, but in the sales business, this is kind of par for the course. I stayed in that business. I did switch companies after about 12 years, because I felt I could get a better deal working with a competitor that was, I felt was equally good. But what happened after 10 years in this, I had not practiced actively, and I felt I really needed to get back into practice because I just thought, you know, just doing business, it’s like, this is not who I am.

Eric:

I found another teacher. I found one teacher, he didn’t work out. And then I found another teacher who I felt is very good, and I still have a relationship with that person in Northern California. His name is Nelson Foster, and he’s a very straight up, really good guy.

Chris:

I’m sorry, what’s he teach?

Eric:

He’s a Zen teacher.

Chris:

Okay, so you went back to Zen.

Nick:

Okay.

Eric:

Yeah, I went back to Zen, and so I practiced with him for another … Let’s see, this is 1998 … So until 2004 and in 2004, I decided to come to Thailand because I … in 2000, we had an “election,” which was was rigged basically, and in 2004, I just had this feeling that I was tired of business, I wanted just get back into spiritual practice. So I came to Thailand, and for the next 10 years, I traveled around Asia, visited Myanmar, Laos. And then in 2007, I went to China because Zen originated in China, and a friend of mine said, “Hey, let’s go to China.” So I went there and immediately connected with a Chinese Buddhist monk who turned out to be an incredible person, a fairly famous artist, art historian, has a very deep understanding of Chinese culture and civilization. And because I had studied Zen and had this …

Eric:

You know when you practice this kind of practice, it seeps into you, so I felt tremendous affinity with Chinese people and Chinese culture.

Chris:

Just to ask you one thing, so during all this time that you’re doing … That you’re saying you’re away from business and you’re focusing on your Zen practice… how are you supporting yourself during this time, or is that something that you don’t really have to worry about too much considering you were kind of like a monk? Was it taken care of by whatever kind of monastery or whatever you’re involved with?

Eric:

Right, well, when I lived at the Zen Center, I didn’t have to worry about money… It was like a work, study program. You work and you do whatever is needed, and they give you room and board and some spending money. Then of course, I did support myself with my business when I left. And I had in the insurance business, you have something called renewals, which means that even if you stop generating business… As long as people pay their premiums, you’re still getting some money.

Eric:

So I was getting some money every month, but of course over the course of time, that money was dropping because people who would … they’d choose another company or whatever and so everything was going okay for a while, but I could see my income was going down, and I’m thinking, “You know, I think, I’d better start taking of the material end of things.”

Chris:

Back to the grind.

Eric:

Right, I did qualify for pension in US law, at least the time. I could get my social security earlier than the usual 66 years, so I started collecting it four years early and that kind of tided me over. I’ve been living on that basically. I continued doing that until 2014, and then this is where a big transition occurred. I injured my knee a second time, and I realized, “Eric, okay, you’ve had your fun, you’ve been practicing very diligently for 10 years, but I think you need to get back to work.” I had this knee injury, so I thought, “How can I integrate my own personal experience with the business?”

Eric:

And I found a knee brace on Alibaba, and I started marketing that on Amazon. And that was how I got back into business. The product did extremely well at the beginning, and then competition came in and really devastated it. So I thought, “You know, I think I need to branch out. I need to get a supporting website.”

Chris:

How did you even find out to do that? How did you have that idea to take the Alibaba product and to sell it on Amazon? How did you get that idea?

Nick:

Because I’ll speak to my father even, and it’s like he couldn’t fathom creating a business like that… Like the idea doesn’t resonate with him, right?

Chris:

Or I, even before I really was introduced to SEO by Nick, I would never have had that idea. It just wouldn’t have crossed my mind.

Eric:

Well, just doing Zen meditation for many years …

Chris:

They’re teaching business in Zen, ha, really? Teaching you how to make a buck.

Eric:

Actually, I’ll tell you, the Zen Center that stayed at, it attracted a lot of very, very talented people, very smart people. And one of them was this guy who he was a friend of mine, and he opened up a little corner grocery store across the street from the center, and it was immediate success. And then during that same transition period when we both left, he opened up this restaurant. He’s probably… I’m sure he’s a millionaire right now. He opened a very high end restaurant in San Francisco, and so there are people like him. Not everybody… A lot of people were not business oriented but there were some people like that.

Eric:

I’m kind of like… I’m somewhat entrepreneurial. I’m certainly not a business genius the way he was, the way he is. But I have this kind of sense of being financially independent. I don’t like bosses. I don’t like being told what to do. I’m not even … I’m kind of like mentally retarded, I can’t even … You know, when somebody tells me to do something, I just think, “How can I get out of doing this?” You know, if I had been drafted into the military, they probably … They would have made a big mistake.

Nick:

“Kick him out.”

Chris:

I wonder how long you would have lasted.

Nick:

It’s like when Jimi Hendrix was in …

Chris:

Yeah, he was such a rebel to the core.

Eric:

Right, right, so anyway… I had this idea of being on my own, being a business person. But at the same time, how can I help people? I don’t want to just go in there and make megabucks at the expense of other people, because I feel … When you practice meditation, the concept of me breaks down. You realize that you’re much bigger than our little self in that we are the product of our family, our culture… So to think that it’s all about me is simply erroneous.

Nick:

Right.

Eric:

And what you think … How do I say this? If you think selfish thoughts, in the end it ends up hurting you. You end up hurting other people, and you end up hurting yourself. So for me, it’s always been: we’re in this together. How can I help? My customers are helping me with their money, I’m helping them by solving their problem… By taking away their pain, and that’s how I like to think about what business should be.

Chris:

Yeah, I’m not very well versed on business literature, but … so I can’t even really quote what I’m trying to say, but that’s one of the tenets of a successful business is when you genuinely put the customer first.

Nick:

Yeah, there’s reciprocity.

Chris:

You know, it’s not about making money. It’s like, what are we doing to help these people? And once that becomes the primary focus, everything else kind of falls into place.

Eric:

Right, exactly. And you know, in modern business culture, that idea has been de-emphasized. You know, the purpose of the corporation is to make money for its shareholders. That is the dominant ideology, and it’s unfortunate and we need to change that. So anyway, I decided I should start a website and I … Oh, one other thing is that by … I don’t remember how it happened but I found out there was some kind of course that you could take to learn about how to do business on Amazon.

Nick:

Okay.

Eric:

And it was a very expensive course, about $3600. But it was very comprehensive, and I learned the basics of how to get an Amazon business going.

Nick:

Do you remember the name of the course or who taught it?

Eric:

Amazing Selling Machine, and it’s gone through various iterations. I was in Class Four. I think they’re up to Class 10 now.

Nick:

Okay.

Eric:

And I wouldn’t recommend it actually at this point because …

Nick:

In hindsight, yeah.

Eric:

Well, at the time it worked, but things change and the whole business model around Amazon is … I think it’s very difficult for people to succeed in it. Most people I think have quite a lot of difficulty. Some people are extremely successful, and there’s a lot of people who just can’t do it. And I’ve met people who are successful business people who said they couldn’t make it on Amazon, so it’s a mixed bag.

Eric:

At a certain point, I realized that being dependent on Amazon was too risky and investing in a product that you have to resell… And you have to package it, you have to do all kinds of things to make it work… You’re in deep competition not just with all the other Amazon sellers who are basically stealing your ideas… I have people selling a product that looks like mine, it was a generic form of what I… Basically the one I created, and they have my pictures on their Amazon listing.

Chris:

No shame.

Nick:

Internet …

Eric:

Me, it’s like unbelievable, you know. I’m demonstrating my product and they’re using my picture on their listing.

Nick:

Right.

Eric:

It’s crazy.

Chris:

Did you go after them? Is there something…

Eric:

I sent them a letter. You know, they’re not making the sales that I am, and I’m not doing fantastically. But I’m making a little bit of money, and as I’ll tell you in a little bit, I think there’s a good possibility that I can really pull this off.

Eric:

So, basically what happened was I decided that I needed to build a website. And I was really intimidated by SEO. I took this course called OMG, which was very expensive course.

Nick:

Right, it’s where I got my stripes.

Eric:

You did? Okay, and I’m not a techie and I’m an old dog, it’s not easy for me to learn new tricks. And it was really beyond me, and I took a succession of other courses… None of them really worked. I tried different Amazon courses to other courses, spent a lot of money on this stuff …

Nick:

Yeah, it sounds like you racked up quite the bill with all these courses, knowing how much they cost. I mean, we’re talking two to $3,000 per course typically here for these kinds of things.

Eric:

Absolutely, that’s right. It was pretty nasty.

Nick:

But you were very targeted on what you … The endeavor, and you believed in this business model working for you.

Eric:

Yeah, that’s right. You know there are other … Like people could do drop shipping or other kinds of stuff. I started with Amazon. I could see its limitations quite early on, but I was willing to work with those. I didn’t want to … Basically, I had a product which I believed in. I got letters from people. I got a letter from a Vietnam Veteran, and he said, “Eric, I used to be a paratrooper, and I blew out my knees jumping out of helicopters. You on the other hand were climbing mountains and you were doing the Zen thing. And so we both have bad knees, but that’s what we have in common, and your product is really great. It’s like the best product I’ve used.” These are his words, and I got so many letters from people saying, “This is a great product, don’t give up on it.” So I felt, “Okay, I’ll just keep going. I’ll do whatever it takes to make it work.”

Nick:

That’s so interesting, especially, you know, in comparison to a lot of people we talk to in marketing, or especially SEO, where it’s like I feel like a lot of people are just completely detached from the products that they’re selling. Especially, you know, it’s their first businesses, it’s more so, “What niche can I access, how can I get involved?”

Chris:

“How much money can I make?”

Nick:

Exactly, yeah, and here we’ve got, I think, a very unique perspective in this world of SEO. Yeah, it’s really interesting.

Eric:

Well, at this point, if I do bring other … I think the strategy that I’m going to use and I hope I’m … Maybe I’m giving away the story here, but I think the strategy that I’m starting to use will work with Amazon and I’ll see what happens. If it does work, then I would consider doing other kinds, introducing other kinds of products. I’d be willing to entertain it, because I feel like if I can crack the code of how to actually rank a product on Amazon and sell it in decent amounts, then maybe I would continue with it. But I’ll have to see how that goes.

Nick:

Sure, but I’m sure you’ll always have some sort of personal attachment to the products themselves… Or personal belief in the product.

Eric:

Yeah, right, right, you know, I mean people have tried to get me to sell all kinds of stuff, and I just don’t want to do it.

Nick:

Yeah, I’d imagine you would, yeah.

Eric:

Right, you know, part of the SEO… Part of Internet marketing is Facebook, so I took this Facebook ad course. And I realized immediately after getting into it… This guy is … He’s doing stuff that could get you banned on Facebook, and I just thought the ads that they use on Facebook are clickbait ads and the products that they sell are shitty.

Nick:

Yeah.

Eric:

You know, why even … It was a mistake, that was a mistake. I just have to write that off. So it’s always best if you think of, “How can I help the other person and stay true to myself and stay true to … Stay true.” You know, that if a product is … If it proves that it can help people, then it’s worth promoting. If it’s not, forget it. It’s just not worth it. I think we actually do psychological damage to ourselves when we do things that are we’re only in it for the money, and then we’re hurting people at their expense.

Nick:

Sure.

Eric:

And making money at their expense.

Nick:

I like that. I love how everything, you know, from this conversation… You’ve taken a broad perspective to what is going on in the world and then tied it into everything. Literally, everything that you do from what it sounds like.

Eric:

Right.

Nick:

And you know the biggest picture of being this interconnectivity and this need to propel everything forward, rather than just yourself. I think that’s really, it’s a fresh perspective in this world.

Chris:

So I know you said you didn’t want to sell the other products that people kind of brought to your attention, but is this still the only product that you’re really pushing? Is this your main …

Eric:

Yeah, this the only product that I’m pushing. Interestingly enough, while I was in China, I spent a lot of time in China and I made a lot of friends there. And one of the women friends that I made friends with is like a professor of advertising, and she’s a good person. You know, it’s like advertising, ugh, but she’s a good person. And she’s married to this guy, and they have some company and she’s a brand manager for some companies. And I know she’s the kind of person who would not promote a product that she doesn’t believe in. So at some point I’m thinking I could do a partnership with her. She could hook me up with some good companies that have products that are worth promoting, and then I could do that. I’d feel okay about that.

Nick:

Yeah.

Eric:

There are certainly new technology kinds of products or household products, various things that can be very helpful for people, and if I can make some money at it makes their lives easier, then sure, why not?

Nick:

Sure.

Chris:

Are you in China right now?

Eric:

No, I’m in Thailand.

Chris:

Ah, sorry, yeah. Okay.

Nick:

Going back to China real quick because you kind of spoke about it earlier, but you said you met somebody who was into Zen, was a … I think you said famous artist, we’re not talking like Ai Weiwei here, are we?

Eric:

Not talking about what?

Nick:

Ai Weiwei, he’s a real famous Chinese artist …

Eric:

No.

Nick:

That was like, that would be amazing. Sorry, huge fan.

Eric:

Yeah, no, this guy is his name’s Mi Wang Fa Shur. Mi Wang is his name, Fa Shur is his title. Fa Shur means a teacher, a teacher of Dharma, so to speak. For your listeners, Dharma is the teaching which you see both in Indian practice as well as Buddhism. Dharma mean truth, or the way, or the method, or how things are. And so … It’s not a belief, it’s a practice.

Nick:

Right.

Eric:

So anyway, this guy was an extremely knowledgeable person, and we hit it off immediately. And the story of that is incredible. I was walking on the street in a Himalayan hill town, what they call the foothills of the Himalayas, a tourist town in China. I see this guy, he looks like a monk. He’s got a shaved head, he’s got funny looking clothes, and some guy approaches me. And he says, “Can I help you?” He’s trying to … He speaks in English. I said, “Yes, that guy a monk?” He says, “Yeah.” I said, “Can I talk with him?” So he said, “Sure.” So we met, and we talked for eight hours straight.

Nick:

Wow.

Eric:

From 1:00 in the afternoon, 9:00. I finally said, “Hey, you know, I think we .. it’s getting really late now.” And they invited me to go on a trip with them to this famous mountain in China, and when I went there, the first-

Chris:

Which mountain?

Eric:

Jesu Shan.

Chris:

Okay.

Eric:

It’s in Yunnan Province, Southwest China. And the first thing, I go and I see when I reach this mountain is a statue of the most famous Chinese monk of the 19th and 20th century named Shu Yin. Shu Yin was born in 1840, and he died in 1959, so he lived to be 120 years old. China went through two… Not one, but two holocausts. They lost 20 million or 50 million, uncountable number of people in the mid-19th century because of the Opium Wars and rebellions and so on, and then in the 20th century… Then of course the Western countries came in and demanded concessions. They demanded Hong Kong, Macau, and Xiamen, other cities, Shanghai, and they said, “We’re going to take over, and we’re going to just take over these cities. And we’re going to import a bunch of opium into your country and you’re going to sell it. You’re going to allow us to sell it to your people so we can make a ton of money.”

Eric:

And so China basically fell apart for the better part of over a century, and it was not until 1949 when they finally kicked all these people out. So that’s the back story of this guy Shu Yin. And so I had read Shu Yin’s biography 30 years earlier, so it’s like running into this old friend, this person that you have tremendous respect for, and you say, “Oh, so here’s the temple that he founded. How cool is that?” I don’t know if your listeners can appreciate this, but that …

Nick:

I’m sure, yeah. I mean, if nothing else, we sure do. I’m sure that … I got to go out to Mount HuaShan and climb there, and that was quite an experience, especially within the same … I think it was like within the same 15 hours or something, you can wake up on one side of the mountain, walk to the other side, watch the sun go down, and then sunrise. It’s pretty awesome.

Eric:

Right. Right, right.

Chris:

Yeah, I actually, I was in China as well for about a year.

Eric:

Yeah, he just got back.

Chris:

And, yeah, I mean, even while I was there, you know, of course I was aware of the past colonialism, but it never … for some reason, I guess my … I just never looked into it too much, or maybe I just wasn’t paying attention. But the idea that we colonized to push opium is really hard core stuff.

Nick:

Yeah, that’s new. Very.

Chris:

That’s something I think that’s kind of lost in a way. Normally, when people talk about the hardships of China, they talk about Mao’s Great Leap Forward.

Chris:

And the lives that were lost there. They don’t really talk about the bit before that.

Nick:

Right.

Eric:

Right, yeah, I think one of the biggest problems that we, in the West and in the United States in particular, have is that we have no historical context. It’s just we see things in the present situation. They don’t know how things arose or any of that, so they don’t have any … They can’t appreciate, they can’t put themselves in the other person’s shoes.

Eric:

It’s part of what I was talking about earlier. There’s a separation, it’s us versus them. They don’t realize, oh, actually, we’re bound together in ways that we really need to understand and appreciate.

Eric:

So now getting back to this, the monk named Wang Fa Shur, we spent some time together. We went up, we climbed to the top of this mountain, and then he says to me, “You know, Eric, you know so much about Zen and most … a lot of that has been lost in China, so you should come back to Xiamen, our home city, and study Chinese, and then you can hang out with people and they’ll really appreciate you.”

Eric:

So I said, “Well, maybe I should do that.” I was planning to stay in this part of China, but maybe I’ll take a side trip to this place Xiamen. So the next day they say, “Well, we’ve changed our plans. We were going to go to Shanghai, but we’ve decided we’re going to take you to Xiamen.” And so they booked three first class train fares, and we took a three day train ride from Yunnan. It’s like a 2,000 mile train trip from Southwest China to Southeast China, and I spent a month at his friend’s house. Sha Shen Je was the friend of Mi Wang Fa Shur, and we developed this long relationship.

Eric:

At one point, I did some translation for Mi Wang Fa Shur, and we were creating a little, kind of a little booklet. And I said, “What do we call this? A chance meeting results in a friendship?” He says, “No, no, a thousand year appointment made a thousand years ago finally kept.” He says, “You and I were brother monks at this famous Zen master’s monastery, and we finally met again.”

Nick:

Really?

Eric:

Yeah, I mean is that cool or what?

Nick:

That’s awesome. Yeah, it’s very cool.

Eric:

So you can tell that China was a completely transformative experience for me. I learned so-

Nick:

Why’d you end up leaving China?

Eric:

It’s not easy to live in China.

Chris:

I agree.

Eric:

First of all, I would have had to get a full time job in order to support myself, which is kind of against my nature. And then I had injured myself, so I could have gotten medical care, I suppose, in China, but it was … China’s I think more difficult to live in than Thailand is. The visas in Thailand are much easier than they are in China.

Chris:

Yeah.

Eric:

It was a kind of a practical decision, and then from a cultural and personal standpoint, I have a great affinity with China and Chinese people. And from a practical standpoint, Thailand is a very comfortable country. The people are just really nice, they’re very polite. They’re very friendly, and it’s not so difficult to live here, and it’s not expensive.

Chris:

So financially, compared to where you were at in China, Thailand is easier to get by?

Eric:

Right.

Chris:

I was in Shanghai, and of course Shanghai is not a cheap place.

Eric:

Very expensive, yeah, very expensive.

Chris:

You said you were in Xiamen?

Eric:

Xiamen, right, which is about 400 miles north of Hong Kong.

Nick:

Okay.

Chris:

Okay, the name is very familiar, I’m not sure how I know the name, but is it a bigger city or is it a smaller place, or what?

Eric:

I think it’s about five million people, so it’s by Chinese standards, it’s …

Chris:

A tiny city.

Eric:

Yeah.

Chris:

For the US, it’s huge.

Nick:

Yeah.

Eric:

Right, right, it’s a very attractive city. It’s on the coast. They’ve got a beautiful university there with an incredible campus, and there’s a lot of culture … You know, Chinese culture there, and so it’s a very … One of the nicest cities to live in in China, which is the reason why Mi Wang Fa Shur, my friend, lived there.

Chris:

Okay, and so when you decided to make the move to Thailand, you were … I know you had said, you had found the product that you were selling on Alibaba … Was it Alibaba?

Nick:

Yeah.

Chris:

Alibaba …

Nick:

Selling on Amazon.

Eric:

Right, let me … Yeah, what happened was, so this was 2014, I had been doing another meditation retreat. I felt a kind of a twinge in my knee. The retreat ended, my knee was hurting, it’s kind of … I went to do a yoga class with a very intense yoga teacher. My knee was really hurting after that, and when I got back to Chiang Mai, I thought, “You know, I think I better get an MRI.” When I got the MRI, they said, “Yup, your knee’s screwed up.”

Eric:

So I found an orthopedic surgeon trained in the United States who did the operation for me, and it cost probably like a tenth of what it would cost in the United States.

Chris:

And so you ended up in Chiang Mai, which is kind of like the center of the SEO community, by chance or …

Eric:

No, Chiang Mai is … I think of it as like a town on the edge of the empire. If you think of, in Star Wars, you know, there’s this sort of city state that’s pretty far away from everything and it’s got a lot of strange looking creatures that you’ll find in…

Chris:

So that’s Chiang Mai, huh?

Eric:

That’s Chiang Mai.

Chris:

Sounds cool.

Eric:

That’s Chiang Mai. It’s part of the empire, but it’s far enough away that it attracts seekers and scoundrels and ne’er do wells and saints and all kinds of people. And they have meditation centers, and the food is good, and the housing is cheap, and so on and so forth. So I basically had a home base in Change Mai since 2006, you know, I had been renting a place and finally bought it in 2006, in 2014, I guess, actually I bought it.

Eric:

I was just living here, just doing, just living, and then I took this course on Amazon. I was working, trying to develop my business on Amazon, and then I realized, “Oh, I guess there are some people around here who know something about websites.”

Chris:

Cool. What a coincidence.

Eric:

Somehow I found about this Chiang Mai SEO community and showed up at this coffee shop there they would hang out on Thursdays, and I met some guy named Matt Diggity who seemed like a pretty nice guy. And so I was struggling along with my website, and I had had several people work on it and they all screwed it up. And then I bought this SEO course from these people in … I guess they were like an … One of the people associated with OMG Network.

Nick:

Okay.

Eric:

They were Network Empire, and then they split off, and they were charging $500 a month.

Nick:

Sounds familiar.

Eric:

For this SEO course, and my site totally crash … They’d started doing well and then it completely crashed, and I just thought, “Oh, God, what am I going to do now?” So then I met Matt, and one day I was in the coffee shop and Matt says, “Hey, Eric, why don’t you come over here and let me take a look at your website?” And of course, you know what happens when Matt looks at your website.

Chris:

You make a million bucks. Yeah.

Eric:

Now this guy, I’m doing shameless plugs for Matt.

Nick:

No, I was about to say, and for those of you that don’t Matt Diggity, he’s a very famous SEO. He’s got a course called The Lab, it’s great and runs … What’s his affiliate or …

Eric:

Affiliate Lab.

Nick:

Yeah, Affiliate Lab, there we go and …

Eric:

And he’s got several other companies, Lead Spring and some other companies.

Nick:

Yeah, there we go. Yeah, but great guy.

Eric:

So here’s this guy, famous SEO with this 70 year old slob who doesn’t know what the hell he’s doing. He said, “Hey, let me take a look at your website,” and he says, “Oh, you’ve got to fix this, this and this and this.” And I think, “Oh, geez …” Try and figure this out, and then at a certain point, I did fix some of the stuff. There was a lot of duplicate content… Because I had my site structure, I had categories and archives and all that. It was all duplicate.

Eric:

So I fixed that, but the site was still dead in the water. And then at some point, I heard that he was doing a $200 off promotion, so I thought, “Hey, man …” I had hired another SEO company to do on-page for me, and they weren’t doing the work, and it was not working, and they’re taking my money, and it’s all bullshit, and I’m thinking… You know, “I’ll just have … I’ll take Matt’s course and give it a try.”

Eric:

As I was going through it, I realized, “Oh, so that’s what I’m supposed to do. I’ve got to do meta tags, I’ve got to do title,” you know, meta descriptions. I’ve got to do title tags, and so I started going through my whole … I went through my entire website myself and fixed a lot of these things and rewrote the content and lo and behold-

Nick:

So, sorry, previously, were you kind of just outsourcing that work?

Chris:

Yeah, he said it …

Eric:

I was outsourcing it.

Nick:

Okay, got you.

Eric:

Yeah, I was hiring. Every single SEO company that said we’ll do on-page for you, we’ll do all this stuff for you … None-

Chris:

Where were you finding them?

Eric:

Some of them I met at the conference, and some of them I … were kind of fairly well known.

Nick:

I feel like SEO’s one of those things where like, you know, Steven Floyd, you’ve got to be able to inspect what you expect. And especially with on-page, I remember that being a sore point of struggle for me early on. Because, you know, without the study, you’d give it off to somebody, and when you get it back, you’re going, “Well, I think it’s maybe okay …” but, you know, it depends on how it resonates in the SERPs.

Eric:

Right, right.

Chris:

So you made the on-page changes yourself, after watching the course.

Eric:

Right, right, after watching his, after doing his … I’m not even through his course, yet, but I did a lot of the on-page stuff. So what was really interesting, guys, was that having hired these companies to do my on-page for me, for like 10 out of … I had about 40 posts. My site wasn’t ranking at all… was dead, and I hire these people and I say, “What’s going on with my website? What’s going on with …” “Well, you know …” They’d give me some excuse and when I went in and looked at it and on the basis of what Matt was teaching, I realized not one of these guys had done title tags or meta descriptions or schema, those things.

Chris:

What were they doing?

Nick:

What were they doing? Yeah.

Chris:

I mean that’s like the bedrock of on-page.

Eric:

Yeah, they were doing nothing.

Nick:

Nothing, just taking money and saying, “Uh, well …” It’s crazy.

Eric:

Yeah, I really, I mean, that’s like the basic stuff. If you don’t have a meta description, if you don’t have a title tag, that’s like basic.

Nick:

What the hell are you doing, yeah? Like it’s … At that point it’s a pure scam.

Eric:

I’m paying these people $500 or a $1,000 a month.

Nick:

Wow.

Eric:

So what happened then was after about a year of being like a flat line, brain dead website, all of a sudden there was a little jump. And I actually got a couple of sales from my Amazon affiliate links, and then I hired Affiliate Lab which is his link building business. And I saw this big spike, relatively speaking, big spike, and since then … It’s not like huge amounts of money, but I’m making $150 a month, something like that …

Nick:

It’s a win, yeah.

Eric:

Which after nothing, after zero for years, it’s huge. So that’s basically how my SEO journey has gone. Now I want to just bring up one other item which is that, Charles Floate had a company as you probably know, and he wasn’t able to sustain it. It sounds like he kind of bit off more than he can chew, and had no … Charles is a good guy, I don’t want to cast any aspersions or anything, but he wasn’t able to do what he said he would do. But one of the strategies that he recommended was something that you can use to rank on Amazon, and that is called a Parasite SEO.

Nick:

Parasite SEO.

Eric:

Yeah, I had never heard of Parasite SEO, and so this is another example of … I’ll give kind of a shoutout. So I was in at one of our meet ups with our Chiang Mai SEO group, and somehow the subject of ranking on Amazon listing came up. And this guy from Israel named Uval, said, “Oh, yeah, well, what you can do is you can send PBN links to this website, and I know a company that’ll do it.” I thought, “Okay, well, that sounds like it’s worth trying.” So this was Arch SEO, and I made an order for it. And then the owner of the company contacts me, because he knew me because he had been to Chiang Mai as well.

Nick:

Okay.

Eric:

He’s from Singapore, and I had bought another crummy course, and I said, “Do you know this guy from Singapore, Pat something?” He said, “Oh, you know he’s … Just drop that course, it’s terrible, terrible,” and I could tell that course wasn’t very good, so with his encouragement I dropped it. And so he’s been kind of a guardian angel for me, as well, and so I submitted my order and he contacted me. He said, “Eric, no, no, this is what you’ve got to do,” and he explained to me how to create anchor texts for this kind of order.

Nick:

Sure.

Eric:

He went out of his way to help me and he said, “Eric, I don’t normally do this, but because I know you and I want to help you out …” So it’s a great feeling when you have people who … It’s not like a … In a way, we’re competing with each other, but in a way, there’s a lot of support here. And you guys are part of that by giving me a chance to tell my story, in a way that maybe can inspire other people to think about their lives and how they can improve their own lives on a deeper level. And so this whole idea of helping people, there’s no money involved. He just said, “Eric, this is what you really need to do in order to make things better for yourself.” You know, Matt says, “Eric, let me take a look at your website.” It’s like along the way, there are these little guardian angels who come in and have helped me out and it’s a really wonderful feeling.

Chris:

That’s a good thing to have. You know, you’ve been telling your story and it’s “I got this course, I got this course, and then these people didn’t know what they were doing and this person said this, this person said this.” There’s just, I feel like a lot of people, especially people that maybe aren’t in Chiang Mai or don’t have any kind of SEO people around them, they get lost in this, basically, sea of information, and they have no way to validate anything.

Eric:

Exactly, right, right. Yeah, it’s really been extremely helpful, it would have been impossible for me to get anywhere near where I am now without being in a community. Even in terms of my Amazon product. You know, my Amazon product, I brought that product to market in 2015. Within three months, I was selling $10,000 worth a month.

Nick:

Wow.

Eric:

Which was great, and then competitors came in and my sales eventually fell to a $1,000 a month, which was pretty discouraging.

Nick:

That’s wild, yeah.

Eric:

So I found some Facebook groups and some Chiang Mai, Amazon FBA, Fulfill By Amazon, so that’s the business model where you store your stuff at Amazon warehouses and then they ship it for you, taking your cut. So I went to a couple of meet ups with these people and they said, “Oh, what you need to do, you need to repackage your product.” I just had in a very simple plastic bag, I just thought, you know all those packaging, who needs it? It all just creates more garbage.

Nick:

Right.

Eric:

They say, “Well, Eric, you’re really going to have to make that concession,” so I did that and I found a graphic, a good, a real graphic designer who has done great work for me since then. He lives in Chiang Mai. And I got some other ideas, so that now my product is… It’s not up to the $10,000 a month, but it’s trending upwards. I’m up to about $4,000, which is profitable at this point. I’m actually making some profit from it.

Nick:

That’s great.

Eric:

And that would not have happened if I had not been in Chiang Mai hanging out with people who have had experience and were able to help out.

Chris:

So what would your advice be to maybe people who are listening to this who are not in Chiang Mai, who are… Maybe they’re struggling to put together their first $150 a month from a site like you were at one point?

Eric:

Right, well, I would say, speaking just of Affiliate Marketing, I would say take Matt’s course.

Chris:

Sure.

Eric:

It’s an excellent course, and get into his Facebook group, because if you have questions, you can always ask them and people will help you out. Not every answer will be what you want, but Facebook groups are a pretty good substitute for being actually physically in the same place.

Chris:

Are you in our Facebook group?

Eric:

I’m not sure. What is it?

Nick:

It’s SEO Roundtable.

Chris:

Well, you better be after this.

Nick:

Yeah.

Eric:

SEO Roundtable, okay.

Chris:

No, but Matt’s group is great.

Nick:

Matt’s group is amazing, yeah.

Chris:

Definitely one of the good ones. We’ve got one going now as well, SEO Roundtable.

Eric:

SEO Roundtable, yeah …

Chris:

We don’t have the numbers of Matt’s group but me and Nick are in there every day.

Nick:

Yeah.

Chris:

Trying to help people as much as we can and trying to facilitate the community where other people can help them as well.

Nick:

Right, I think that’s something, too, is this is a fairly new industry, right, as far as its popularity and growth. We’re talking the last 10 years it’s exponentially grown and so we keep seeing newer and newer faces, but I think just like for you, it happened to me… Probably Chris as well. As we’re learning we go through all these different ups and downs of almost hitting a win. Then you get sucked out by buying the wrong thing, listening to the wrong advice, and there’s so much of that out there.

Eric:

Right.

Nick:

But I think it provides a lot of opportunity for people that want to educate, based on what they’ve actually been able to test and then supply these communities. I think guys like Matt Diggity, Steven Kang, people that have these massive communities that are putting out free information, I think that’s really interesting, and I think it’s great because it’s providing avenues for people to kind of exist on the plane that you were talking about earlier, which is the one I want to live on, where I don’t have a boss. I do kind of make my own path through this business venture so to speak, but it definitely was not easy to come up in, so I feel that for sure.

Eric:

Right. Right, I would say for people who are fairly new or having, I don’t know, other challenges, find you a good course that gives you some structure. There are a lot of courses that are not structured very well. I think Authority Hackers, another course which… I own and I haven’t really used it as much as Affiliate Lab, but I think that’s also a good course. So I would say, take one of those good courses that I just mentioned, I can specifically speak of Matt’s. Find a couple of Facebook groups that can be useful. I belong to more than one and often I’ll put my question out into several groups and see what comes back.

Eric:

See if you can … My guess is that most people live in somewhat larger cities… New York or Austin, Texas, or Boston, or some cities like that, generally. And see if you can find other people that you can hook up with and hang out with because they may not have world class SEOs, but at least they have people who can give you some moral support. And moral support is very helpful, too.

Nick:

Yeah, sure.

Eric:

And just trading ideas back and forth, it can only help you.

Chris:

Right, right, someone to bounce ideas off of.

Eric:

Right.

Chris:

Someone that might take a little bit more interest in your problems than, I don’t know, just random people in groups on the internet.

Nick:

Yeah.

Eric:

Right, exactly. I mean if you just … As I say, I’ve taken courses with people and they just didn’t resonate with me and I think I hear that that’s the case with a lot of people. There’s a lot of courses that just, they just don’t seem to work, and they can-

Chris:

The course market is real. They’re all sitting there waiting to grab people looking for a lifeline, right?

Eric:

Right, yeah, exactly. I just saw the Federal Trade Commission has a complaint website, and one of the things that they … There are two items that they specifically talk about. There’s like six different things that they talk about as being problematic. One of them is health supplements, and the other is work at home schemes. So there’s a lot of predators out there.

Nick:

Yeah.

Eric:

People have to be careful. I would say, one thing, if you think you’re going to take a course, if you’re thinking of taking a course, if it doesn’t have some kind of guarantee, you know, like a 30 day or a 60 day guarantee that if you don’t want it, you can get your money back, don’t take the course.

Nick:

Sure.

Eric:

Because you can get into it and then you can find out, you just got yourself into quicksand and just lost a bunch of money.

Nick:

Yeah, I remember doing that several times where it’s like, you open the course, you open up a few videos, you fast forward through different things, and you just realize automatically, “Well, dammit, you got me again.”

Eric:

Exactly.

Nick:

It’s funny in hindsight, but I remember those days as being so nerve wracking and just wanting to pull my hair out basically, because the people that these courses prey on are the ones that are looking for the lifeline. And usually you’re not making great money and usually you’re trying to get a leg up.

Chris:

At that point, it just seems like an illusion.

Nick:

Yeah.

Chris:

SEO is an illusion.

Nick:

“You’re lying to me.”

Chris:

Making money online is an illusion. These courses are all an illusion, none of it’s real, and then it just clicks one day like it did with you. You make some on-page changes and, “Oh, my God.”

Nick:

Wow.

Chris:

“I made a few bucks.” Progress, right.

Eric:

Right, right, and I can see, you know, it’s like now I can see, “Oh, so this is how I can go forward,” and I found a couple of partners. Affiliate Lab, they’re basically doing … so my Anchor text for me, when they place links, and it’s not cheap. It’s like $500 a month, which it’s a fair amount of money. And I’m also, I just hired Alpha Investors, and they built a website for me, they did very good work. And I’m asking them to do content writing for me and they’re very straight up kind of people.

Chris:

So it seems like you pretty much outsource everything. Like you outsource your link building, you outsource the website. You outsourced on-page at one point, but now maybe, you’re doing it yourself.

Eric:

Yeah, I’m doing a fair amount of my on-page and some content writing also.

Chris:

Okay.

Eric:

Because I feel those are the things that I have the most control over. In terms of link building, you know, outreach, and things like that, I’ve tried those, it hasn’t really worked for me, to be honest with you.

Chris:

Yeah, it’s its own beast.

Nick:

Yeah.

Eric:

Yeah, and basically, see, my Amazon product is fueling my affiliate business at this point. The profits that I’m making for Amazon are going to pay for these other services.

Nick:

Okay.

Eric:

Basically, my goal is to build up my Amazon business in conjunction with my affiliate website to the point where it’s making five figures a month of profit and at that point, I would probably sell it, and that would give me enough cash that I could then use that money to develop other sites.

Nick:

Sure.

Eric:

Because there’s other niches. One of the niches that I would really like to develop would be the green niche, green energy, sustainability type of thing.

Chris:

Again, something that you are interested in yourself that you think is beneficial to people.

Eric:

Right, right, exactly.

Chris:

That’s an, yeah, a pretty different way of niche selection that a lot of people …

Nick:

Yeah, that’s awesome.

Chris:

That a lot of people use, but it’s definitely make you sleep better at night, yeah.

Eric:

Well, I hope so, you know. There’s one thing that I just … We’ve been online for a while and there’s just one thing that I wanted to bring up and that is … This is probably kind of controversial, maybe you can … if you post it, you can edit it out but we’re …

Nick:

No.

Eric:

But you know we’re living in an age of Fake News and …

Chris:

Yes.

Eric:

We’re facing a lot of challenges with disinformation of all kinds and …

Chris:

Absolutely, we were just talking about this right before we went on air.

Nick:

Right, before we got on, yeah.

Eric:

Interesting. And one of the things that I’m really, really concerned about is the fact that websites are actually getting banned or demonetized. You know, there’s YouTube channels that are being demonetized because they’re saying things that are not in line with what the powers that be want to be said.

Chris:

Yeah, this is new stuff, yeah.

Eric:

Google is … like I have, there’s websites that I go to and I’ve seen their traffic fall dramatically, because they’re basically taking Anti-War positions. You know, things like … We’re not talking about violence, advocates of violence or anything, violence or anything like that. It’s just they’re questioning what is going on in the society and they’re getting demonetized, and Google is part of that. So as SEOs, I hope that we can … We’re basically in a … It’s like a love/hate relationship with Google, we need them and yet at the same time, are they our allies or are they adversaries?

Nick:

Right.

Eric:

Pretty hard to say.

Chris:

I take the more adversarial approach.

Nick:

Interesting. Yeah, I like the idea of being a rebel so I take that, but at the same time, it’s like if you’re honest and rational about it, yes, we have a very symbiotic relationship that …

Chris:

Yeah, we also have a unique relationship in the way that we have our fingers on the pulse of this beast, you know.

Nick:

Correct, yeah.

Chris:

And so we are the people that are, maybe that you could say understand it the most or at least we should.

Eric:

Right.

Chris:

Maybe we even have a responsibility as almost like a watchdog in this scenario to … I don’t know … make people aware of exactly what’s happening, because I don’t think this is something that’s talked about enough …

Nick:

No.

Eric:

Right, exactly.

Chris:

In mainstream media outlets.

Nick:

Yeah, especially with this last US Election, but not … Well, not only this one, but we talk about like using WhatsApp to market to people, for the Brazilian elections. I think that happened in Indian elections. So it’s like all over the world, we’re seeing this digital manipulation happening, and I feel like it’s very hard to for somebody that’s on the outskirts of this Internet … Not even just Internet culture but … What would you say we are like?

Chris:

Community? Internet community?

Nick:

Yeah, Internet, yeah, this community. The SEO community or just like the data manipulation community in general, and you kind of see how easy it is for this to be mass produced and used for pretty nefarious practices. And honestly, it’s not only disheartening, but pretty scary …

Eric:

Right.

Nick:

When you feel very awakened but then you speak to your peers and you realize nobody really understands how this information is being used or used against them. That’s a scary thought.

Eric:

Right, exactly.

Chris:

Yeah, I’ve said for a while that … and I think people kind of brush it off … but I think in our lifetime, if Google goes off the rails, which it kind of seems like they’re inching that way… once they stop taking people’s best interests at the heart of their ethos or whatever, they’re going to be the biggest bogeyman of our lifetime …

Nick:

Yeah.

Chris:

Especially if once the government gets their fingers in there and they decide what can be said and what cannot be said and tying that to your financial well being and it starts to get pretty scary.

Nick:

Yeah.

Eric:

Right, exactly, exactly, so that’s … I’m really glad that we’re on exactly the same page and I really appreciate the fact that you understand this issue, and I hope that what I see is that, yeah, we’re in a struggle here to become successful in business. And we have to take care of ourselves, there’s no question about that. So if we can include the idea of our being part of a larger community, which we’re not just SEOs, we’re part of this whole, a whole country, a whole planet that’s in crisis. And if we can use our skills to create more mass consciousness, then that would be a really great thing. See, we, SEOs have the tools to be able to do that, which other disciplines don’t have.

Nick:

Right. This is the first industry that … and I fell into it, but it’s the first one that I saw immediately… It would have massive scope or an ability to give you massive scope, and so no matter what you wanted be involved in or how, you could through the platform that is SEO. I think that’s really interesting and considering that it’s basically, exclusively, business for me right now, I am excited to stay in the industry so that maybe it can transfer into something a little bit grander at some point in time.

Chris:

So, Eric, do you have any ideas as far what we could do to do what you’re saying, to try to kind of get people woke or whatever you want to call it?

Nick:

Yeah, advance the …

Eric:

Well, in terms of how we run our own business, I kind of sneak things in, you know.

Chris:

Sure.

Eric:

So, for example, in my … It’s a health oriented website. I address the issue of predatory drug companies, for example. I think one of the main things in our kind of daily discourse in our … Whenever we’re interacting with somebody, or interacting, or on our website, if we can just put a little bit of “Do we really need to spending 12 times the amount of money on our military that Russia does, and we’re calling Russia the threat?” Is that …

Chris:

So you’re planting little seeds.

Nick:

Yeah.

Chris:

Planting the seeds of cynicism or …

Eric:

Right, but … Well, it’s not cynicism.

Chris:

Yeah, maybe that was a bad choice of words.

Eric:

I mean cynicism is the negative way of putting it.

Nick:

Yeah.

Eric:

But it doesn’t have to be cynical, it can simply be, “Yeah, you know, why does Flint have dirty water, and we don’t pay for bombs, why do we have to pay insurance premiums?”

Chris:

Sure.

Eric:

You know, they bail out the banks but they don’t bail out the home owners.

Chris:

Right.

Eric:

You know, with something … Maybe we should be thinking about stuff like that, and of course you don’t hit people over the head with it because it’s … People can get overwhelmed or they shut down or something like that. But if you can, in the course of our sort of daily conversation, or in the course of our, how we conduct our business, there are probably little ways… Tiny little way that you can do that. And that’s how things work in societies that have difficulties. You know, there’s a small group of people who understand what is actually going on and they … It’s like blades of grass creeping up through the concrete.

Eric:

You guys have been in China. You know what, you understand Chinese philosophy. There’s in the water, when you’re in a stream and there’s lots of rocks, the water always finds a way through. When you’re on a mountain top and there’s a huge rock there, you find a tree that grew out of that rock. How did it do that? Because it found a little nook or cranny where it could sprout and grow life …

Chris:

Actually, that was like one of the biggest things I took away from China, I can’t even remember, I’m really bad at this stuff, but yeah, it was the idea of flowing water and basically not going against it. Like you have to go with it to find the real like opportunity or something more advantageous to yourself, a better position, rather than basically trying to force something where you’re fighting upstream.

Eric:

Right, right, the concept of harmony in Chinese culture is very, very strong. So their whole idea is that you cooperate with things and you make them … Yes, you can turn them your way, but not by force.

Chris:

Yeah, not by brute force.

Eric:

Right, that’s the difference.

Chris:

By being a little bit more slippery and adaptive, I guess.

Eric:

Right, slippery is kind of got a negative tone to it.

Nick:

Yeah.

Chris:

I’m saying a bunch of negative stuff.

Eric:

You’re bringing the natural language philosophy …

Chris:

It’s like if you’re in a wrestling match, right, you just lube up with Vaseline all over your body, then they … You’re a slippery guy and they can’t …

Nick:

Oh, I get it now …

Eric:

Right.

Chris:

But, yeah, no negativity.

Nick:

I think it’s pretty cool … I’m trying to remember the documentary I watched recently but it had something to do with the political revolution somewhere or other, and I remember a quote being that this person didn’t think that any future revolutions would be anything grand… But they were these small kind of microcosms that we create by doing the little things, these little inflections that then become far grander because they sort of steer waves of thought. And I think that’s really cool and I think it’s nice that as SEOs we have the power to consider … Let’s say, you have somebody else write your copy, fine, you can still go put little bits and pieces here and there to cater some sort of personality and change. I think that’s an interesting observation.

Eric:

Right.

Chris:

Well, Eric, this has been a little bit different from our other podcasts but it’s been extremely enjoyable.

Nick:

Yeah.

Chris:

Do you have any kind of parting advice, parting words, you’d like to give to anyone who may still be watching at this point?

Eric:

Don’t give up.

Chris:

Even if it takes until you’re 70 years old, right?

Eric:

Well, hey, I started when I was what? 66.

Nick:

Yeah, really, I mean … yeah, you’ve done really well. To me your story is awe inspiring. I think it’s awesome and I think it’s going to help a lot of viewers, too, who may be … You know if you speak to like certain people I know in my family, it’s like, “Well, I’m too old to figure out how that stuff works.” Well, that’s more a frame of mind than it is any sort of truth, so …

Chris:

Yeah, my dad’s 66 and there’s no way, there’s no way in hell.

Nick:

Yeah, I’m thinking the same thing.

Chris:

Not a damn chance.

Nick:

They won’t even watch our podcast.

Chris:

Yeah, not a damn chance that I would get him to start making money online. Just not going to happen. I’ve tried, I’ve floated it to him a couple of times to give him something to do in his retirement.

Nick:

Same.

Chris:

But not happening.

Eric:

Now, I actually, there’s some other things that … this is going to kind of … It’s off topic but it’s not really.

Chris:

No, it’s good.

Eric:

Is people should stay active. They should … Get a bicycle.

Nick:

Yeah, we were talking about exercising the other day.

Eric:

Exercise, exercise, I’m kind of sloughing off lately but I do, I try to do push ups is like my main exercise so-

Nick:

I mean you look incredibly fit and healthy. You know, you are, you’re a very active person, I’m guessing, right?

Eric:

Right, I mean today I had to go get my passport so I hopped on my bicycle. You know most people say, “Oh, just get an uber or hop in the car or whatever.” I don’t have a car. I haven’t had a car since 2004. I have a bicycle, and so that’s the other thing is… You combine activities. So I’m getting exercise, I’m going where I’m going, and you don’t depend on other people. You do as much as you can yourself, you do as much as you can yourself. Yes, I do outsource stuff. I also try to do as much as I …

Nick:

But you learn … yeah.

Eric:

I do as much as I can myself and especially physically, as I’ve said to one of my other Internet marketing friends, nobody’s going to take care of you. You have to take care of yourself.

Nick:

Right.

Eric:

Especially, younger people who are not … if you’re not eating properly, if you’re eating junk food and you’re not exercising and you’re sitting in front of your computer all day and you’re not stretching and you’re not doing any kind of stuff like that, you’re basically cutting your life short.

Nick:

Right.

Eric:

It hurts your state of mind. It hurts your productivity, so it’s very important to take care of your whole life together. Don’t compartmentalize your life.

Chris:

Sure, yeah, actually that’s kind of a mistake I’m … now that I’m back from China and I’ve been back in the US, my life is a lot more compartmentalized. I’m driving my car. I miss riding the bike. I was riding a bike every day in Shanghai. Even if it was just to and from subway stations but, yeah, definitely being active is something huge for people who are working in front of the computer in their home all day. You’ve got to get up and do something.

Eric:

Right, I mean there must be, you can find an excuse. There’s got to be, “Oh, I’ve got to go 7-Eleven to get something.” Okay, fine. Either walk or take your bike, don’t take your car, whatever it is. Stuff like this. Again, it’s looking for the little things that you can do. You don’t have to make massive changes. Look for the little things you can do in your own life to help yourself, to help other people.

Nick:

Got you, yeah.

Chris:

Well, there you have, ladies and gentlemen. Eric Arnow, be physical and get some exercise, get off your butt, and don’t give up.

Nick:

Yeah.

Chris:

Thanks for coming onto the show, Eric. We really appreciate it and we enjoyed it.

Eric:

Thanks for inviting me.

Nick:

Yeah.

Eric:

Terrific, yeah, same here.

Nick:

Of course, hope to have you again sometime.

 

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5 Comments

  1. Patty Toro

    Vipassana meditation sounds intense yet amazing!! I don’t know if I could sit Indian style for 11 hours a day though!

    Reply
  2. Kasper

    Loved hearing his story. I love Chiang Mai too. Sad he was getting ripped off but glad he got some insight and knows what he’s doing now! I agree it’s good to know about this stuff before you hire someone for SEO services… I got burned on upwork once, lukily I only spent about $12 but still… it was ridiculous.

    Reply
  3. Maurice

    Totally agree with those trying to sell courses! That’s what I love about you guys, you aren’t pushing some course. I bought an ebay dropshipping course earlier this year and the first video was called “What is Ebay?” Like WOW! He really made a whole video explaining what ebay was. It was like something you might see in 1999, like who doesn’t know what ebay is? I knew then that it was a red flag and he was not to be trusted. Come to find out, I actually think ebay dropshipping isn’t allowed on ebay anyway, so his course is kind of misleading anyway…

    Reply
  4. Matthew

    I can’t wait to listen to this on my way to work Monday (yes I still have to go into work even though the corona is lurking!).

    Reply
  5. Lucas

    This was a great interview, I still have 20 min left, have to finish it tomorrow. I am deeply inspired by Eric and his willingness to venture into SEO, gives me hope that I will be a master one day.

    Reply

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