I got out of jail in 2005 after being locked up for two years.
I started on my journey as an entrepreneur when I joined an MLM in 2005.
In 2009, I moved to Colombia.
I had $2,000 on a credit card.
I was broke.
I lived in Bogota for six months, then decided to move to Medellin in 2010.
From 2010 to 2016 I was just scraping by.
I had some freelance digital marketing clients from the U.S. that I had acquired via cold email marketing, and I taught English at a local private school here in Medellin.
From 2010 to 2016 I made an average of $1,000 to $2,000 USD.
Today, I have a 7 figure digital marketing company. FYI, I have a blog post about my experience starting a business in Colombia.
What was it that caused this drastic change?
QUICK UPDATE: I’ve started to record and publish videos on my YouTube channel, feel free to subscribe. I go LIVE pretty much every day to record these videos. I’d love for you to join and to give me feedback. Thanks!
4 Biggest Changes That Made Me Big Money
Going from making $2,000 USD a month to $50,000 USD a month doesn’t happen overnight.
From 2010 to 2016 I was working very hard on growing my freelance work as a digital marketing specialist.
My specialty is search engine optimization.
Search engine optimization involves creating content on a client’s website (typically written content) and acquiring backlinks to their website.
I’m not a college graduate. I graduated from the California state prison system in 2005. It’s not like I could get a corporate job, so I pursued learning how to create websites and optimize them for search engines.
Everything I’ve learned about digital marketing I’ve learned online, for free.
You can do it too.
You just have to have the desire and the ball to do it, and stay consistent.
1. Found A Great Business Partner
In 2010, I met Joel.
I’ve always been a lone wolf when it came to my business. That’s why it’s called “freelancing,” you’re pretty much free to do whatever the fuck you want…on your own.
I met Joel at a weekly entrepreneur meetup event a couple of friends and I created (The Medellin Entrepreneur Society).
Back then we’d meet once a week or bi-weekly to talk and network.
Joel and I became party friends.
We were both new to Medellin, and every weekend we’d be going out to clubs, meeting new people (by people I mean beautiful females), and discovering the city.
In 2014, we became roommates.
We weren’t working together yet, but since we were living we were discovering what our work ethic was like, what our goals, hopes, and dreams were.
In 2015, we started working together on local clients.
We spent the whole year reaching out to local businesses offering professional photography, website development, and digital marketing.
We gave up after a year of trying.
Colombia just wasn’t ready for that back then.
We decided to change our approach and only go after clients in the United States.
We used websites like UpWork.com, Freelancer.com, Guru.com, LinkedIn.com, and Facebook.com to reach out to business owners with our digital marketing services.
What makes Joel a great business partner?
We are different
He graduated from the University of Toronto with a degree in business.
I graduated from the school of hard knocks with a degree in bullshit.
He’s got a corporate background.
I’m a convicted felon.
I’m a salesman.
He’s a data analyst.
How to find a business partner
Tap into your co-worker pool, both past, and present.
Some of the people you work with or have worked with could be great business partners. Make a list of the people that you’ve worked with before that impressed you, that were hard-working and pragmatic.
Take advantage of networking—either online or through in-person events
Joel and I met through a networking group called the Medellin Entrepreneur Society. Neither of us were entrepreneurs at the time, lol, yet we became entrepreneurs. If you want to become something you’ve got to believe that you are the thing you want to become. One way of doing that is joining groups, attending meetings, networking, and learning.
Attend a business course or industry-related training, and keep an eye out for partners
There are many courses and seminars that are FREE. You can attend these to learn, but the best thing to do at these events is to network. People that attend industry-related training courses, seminars, etc. are already doing what you want to be doing. Take advantage of this captive audience, put your game face on, and start meeting people.
Friends & Family
This may not be the right fit for everyone. I don’t really do business with my family myself. However, there are some families that aren’t as fucked up as mine. You may have a cousin, an uncle, or a sibling that you work very well with. They can become the best business partner ever because blood is thicker than water.
My Tips On Finding A Business Partner
- Find someone with a complimentary personality
- Choose a partner you can trust
- Pick a partner who is hungry to succeed
- Consider a partner in a different field
2. Invest in People
When Joel and I started to make some money in 2016, the first thing we did was find talented people.
For the next few years, we paid our employees more than we paid ourselves.
I learned that they are not employees, they are business partners. If they grow, you grow.
My Tips On Talent In Colombia
- Since we cater to US clients our employees have to be bilingual. 50% of my employees were students of mine when I was an English teacher here in Medellin. You don’t need to go teach English, but tapping into an English school through their events, language exchanges, etc. can be a great source of talent.
- Pay well. What is good pay? It depends on their position, experience, productivty, etc. However, labor in Colombia is cheap. So if you pay better than what a person would typically get paid for their charge, you’ll cultivate appreciation and loyalty.
- If you can’t afford to pay someone well, give them a stake in your business.
3. Quality Over Quantity
Instead of focusing on getting a ton of clients, I focused on doing a great job on a few.
Used tools and people to deliver high-quality work.
It’s easier and less expensive to retain a current client than to onboard a new client.
Upsell – using our team’s talents we were able to turn simple SEO clients into complete digital marketing clients. We handle everything from branding to content generation, to paid ads.
4. I Made It My Lifestyle, My Identity
From 2016 to 2018 I did nothing but focus on the business.
Everything about me had to do with the business for those 2 years.
From waking up early to make my shake in the office to going to the gym with all of the employees at 5:00 PM.
I ate, slept, and breathed the business.
We set goals, but instead of just striving to hit the goals we created systems in order to continue hitting goals.
I formed habits that have lasted until today.
My suggestion to you is if you want to accomplish anything in your life, make achieving it part of your identity.
I hope you guys got something good out of this blog post.
Moving to Medellin changed my life forever. The people, the energy, the love, has made be a better person.
I’ve created a YouTube channel where I talk about my life, business, and of course, Medellin,
Check it out: https://www.youtube.com/c/AndrewMacia
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Hey Andrew, this is such an inspirational come-up story! I wasn’t in prison, but I also have a similar experience of coming down to Mexico a year and a half ago with pretty much nothing. Like yourself, I also have roots here, but I grew up in Canada. I’m actually writing SEO content right now for a bodybuilding supplement website, and am looking to expand on that, while also diving into high-ticket remote sales.
Your blog is great. At first I was a little hesitant to visit Medellin, but after reading through some of your articles, I’ll definitely need to come through and check it out soon. Cheers!