Diary of an Online Business Owner

When I was growing up, my dad and I would sit in the living room together and scheme. Our schemes always focused on some big invention we would create, patent, and sell for millions of dollars. As I got older, there were times when I’d see the actuality of some of our ideas sitting on the shelf at Walmart or in the pages of SkyMall magazine. However, more often than not, our ideas would never sell. I didn’t mind that we didn’t come up with a million-dollar idea, and when I became an adult, I came to the conclusion that I may not have it in me to be an entrepreneur. 

Then I got my job at OrangeSoda, as an Account Manager, and I moved up the manager tract. It was working here that I realized I didn’t need a million-dollar idea to start a small business. I just needed something I was passionate about. The atmosphere at OrangeSoda encourages its employees to explore their own talents and personal interests. Everyone seems to have their own small businesses on the side, and that atmosphere helped me decide that I had to do something. I asked myself, what am I passionate enough about to start a business around?

About six months after I decided I wanted to start some sort of business, a good friend of mine asked if I wanted to start a website reviewing books. I am an avid reader, and my friend and I share an interest in the same types of books, so we got started. Now, our website has been up for two years, and we average 700 visitors a month of natural traffic. Our traffic almost always comes from the titles of the books we review. Therefore, we make sure that each of our reviews has the title of the book clearly labeled, and we make the book title our title tag.

Using some of the internet marketing skills I’ve learned at work, we link back to our site from small reviews we post on GoodReads.com, Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter. Most recently, we’ve started pinning the book cover to Pinterest, with a teaser of our review. We’ve monetized our website by putting up Google AdSense, which is a free program from Google that puts up relevant ads and pays us if those ads see results. We’re also partnering with Amazon, so if our site sends someone to Amazon for a purchase, we receive a small payment.

Currently, our site generates a little money on the side (it’s not quite a million-dollar idea– yet), but more importantly, I am doing something I love, not to mention getting a small tax break and getting some books before they’re released. All in all, it’s inspiring to take a step back and think about the younger, scheming version of myself and realize that this type of business was not possible when I was little, before the age of the internet. The internet allows for so many opportunities of individual ownership and idea sharing, which is downright exciting. I’m just happy to be a part of it.


Keziah Kersey

This is really insightful! I have also been an avid reader for my whole life, and going down this avenue is very appealing to me.

Joel Foley

Managing something, whether it be an account or a whole business, and seeing your work pay off with growth is the largest driving force to succeed again or to push further. I started a business with some partners in 2008 from nothing, not even a penny. We turned it into a not for profit charity and it now turns over thousands each month. Its a big step to go from ‘some one should do that’ attitude to a ‘i’ll do that’ on, but its rewards are even bigger.