ROTE 001: Declan Dunn, the GodFather of Affiliate Marketing

Rise of the EntrepreneurWelcome to the very first episode of the “Rise of the Entrepreneur” podcast!

I’m extremely excited to launch this latest project because podcasting has just been an amazing outlet for me to not only increase my business and productivity, but it’s also been a great way for me to learn from others and benefit from time spent in the car, at the gym or whenever I feel the need to listen to some great content.

The Rise of the Entrepreneur is all about creating amazing and quality content, while also inspiring others from the success of other entrepreneurs.

Rise of the Entrepreneur – Episode 1 with Declan Dunn

Delcan Dunn

In life and business, connections are everything.

Declan Dunn is one of the first really influential contacts that I made in the industry, whom I’m still in touch with today.

I first started making money online back in 1995, but it wasn’t til 2000 then I attended my first internet marketing conference, which was Commission Junction University in Santa Barabara, CA. Declan was one of the speakers at this event and still today one of the best speakers I’ve seen.

Talking Points Discussed in this Episode:

  • The start of affiliate marketing and how it was in before 2000
  • Declan’s look back at the last 20 years of affiliate and internet marketing
  • How loving your customer is what matters most
  • Being quite and letting the industry tell you what it wants
  • Growing a community site out to one million members
  • The simplicity and ROI of saying “Thank You”
  • Getting started with Facebook Ads for just $5 a day
  • Using social media to deliver a real message and build a brand
  • Three great Q&A questions for Declan in the Pit of Fire

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Mentioned URLs and Resources:

Declan Dunn, the GodFather of Affiliate Marketing Transcription

ZAC: Yes, my friends, now is the time to seize the opportunity and turn those dreams into reality. Thank you so much for listening in to the very first episode of the Rise of the Entrepreneur. I am your host, Zac Johnson, and this is the podcast for entrepreneurs, made by entrepreneurs.

In each episode, we will be discussing what it takes to establish yourself as a successful entrepreneur, business, and brand while also taking advantage of what the internet has to offer and learning from others.

In this episode, we’re going to be talking with Declan Dunn, a very good friend of mine who I first met all the way back in the year 2000. I started my first online business back in 1995, and it wasn’t till 2000 that I attended my first internet marketing conference. It was called Commission Junction University. I took a few days off from high school, and my father and I flew across the country from New Jersey to California to attend this conference.

It was the first time I got to experience the real world of internet marketing in person. I remember sitting there and looking to my left, looking to my right, seeing all these nametags of huge websites and companies that I was working with on a daily basis. It was awesome, and definitely a huge turning point, not only for my business, but also a huge boost for my dedication and passion to succeed.

While at the conference, this is where I met Declan Dunn, who was one of the speakers at the conference. Declan took the time to meet and talk with me and was completely blown away with how young and experienced I was. Long story short, nearly 15 years later, and Declan and I are still great friends. We’ve seen a huge transition in the industry and business over the years, and we’re going to share it all with you in this interview.

Be sure to stick around to the end of the episode, where we throw Declan into the Pit of Fire, where he has to answer some quick Q&A and much more.

Hey everyone, today on the show we have an awesome friend of mine, Declan Dunn. Welcome to the show. It’s an absolute pleasure to have you here.

DECLAN: Hey Zac, good to see you again, man. I look forward to exploring what’s up now and what has been.

ZAC: Yes, it’s been an exciting time over the past almost two decades now. Before we jump into everything, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself, what you enjoy doing, and how you became a pioneer in the space of affiliate marketing?

DECLAN: I love this space we’re in. I call it digital marketing now, but I’m celebrating my 20-year anniversary in the business, and it really began around a passion of getting people in contact with knowledge and information and education and business that, before the internet, didn’t even exist. And now, lights out! The whole game is changing again in a really cool way to make it easier for all of us to actually do business, to teach – which is one of my passions, is actually teaching; I got my Master’s in instructional design, which is a fancy word for I learned who to teach people.

And what I did was apply those two to an educational site back in ’94 just as my Master’s project. I had no idea: the thing took off, have educated 50 million kids to this day, and what’s cool is while that’s just something that’s in my heart – I love teaching, I love really helping kids (these are mostly 6th to 12th graders worldwide) learn – but what it taught me was valuing partnerships, helping your customers and your audience.

Like really – I don’t want to sound corny, but really caring. No hot air. When you care, when you really care what happens to them, not only will you make a lot more money in business, but you’ll build something that’s lasting. Don’t believe me, man; I know you probably all think I’m hugging trees by now – which I just got in from.

But what I’m really talking about is what Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg said yesterday, literally, April 30th: “Love your customer.” It’s what Google said in its AdWords announcement the day or two before that. Love your customer. Forget the devices, forget the technology. Remember it’s about the people. Who they are, where they are, what they’re doing, and how as marketers we can best provide solutions to their problems, which is how I got into the affiliate marketing space, was creating a site that had no money and creating millions of visitors. I figured, “Hey, if we could actually monetize this, wow! We might even have a business.”

So that’s what I brought to the affiliate world and have continued to do to this day, at the heart of everything I do.

ZAC: Nice. That sounds amazing, and it’s something that I personally stress all the time: building that personal relationship and showing people that you actually care. I constantly get emails from people all the time, whether it’s to do a short interview or write something for their website, and honestly I don’t care if they have one reader on their website or 20,000. It’s just that I take the time to answer their question, and that’s a fan for life once you respond to them. Some of the responses I get, they’re just completely blown away.

Why don’t we talk about how you built a community and people started to contribute and build a trust level with you, and just pretty much how a community can really build itself once it’s put together and shows that people care?

DECLAN: One of the best things I learned to do – and this is actually something I think I’m pretty good at than most people, because I learned to just be quiet. Before you jump into any market, let them tell you. They’re the ones who are really into it. They’re the ones with the problem. You might as a business have the problem your customer has, and that’s a good thing, because you can solve it.

But I went out to a community that was just all over the place and I said, “Guys, I’m just new here. Why don’t you tell me? I’m going to listen for a little bit.” So this guy said, “Hey, create this section of the site. Create this section of the site. Why don’t you take some paintings, bring those in?” Great, all these were free and doable.

And each person who brought the idea promoted it – not because they were doing it to stroke their ego. Not that there isn’t always ego-stroking in promotion, but what they really were doing was the honor, the reciprocity of sharing that, and me actually saying “Listen, you’re the audience. You’re smarter than me.” That’s what I think is so key to bring into today. You’re smarter than me, and the minute I learn to do that, listen to you, get my ego and my big whoop-de-doo attitude – which as an entrepreneur, I have – out of the way and just listen to you. Because then I’m going to know what works, what content matters to you, what you’re going to share.

And more importantly, to the heart of really caring, you know. If I do some questions with you, you know what you care about, and if I design, whether it’s an educational site or a conversion funnel, around what you do and what you like to do, first, my odds of success are higher; I don’t have to sit here and be a genius separate from the audience. But more importantly, I’ve unlocked the key that I think all this digital world is. It’s not about marketers manipulating people; it’s about watching human behavior and letting them share it.

I did this with an educational site that I ended up having people share it all around, that we got an introduction to CNET, and with one email, CNET turned me into a million visitors a month in 1997.

ZAC: Wow, that’s really amazing. You think about how different it was 20 years ago, back in 1995. People were just starting to use the internet. Then you look at it today and you talk about Facebook, and there’s over a billion users in the website. You can pretty much target to that audience based on full demographics and everything.

These people are just coming to your website, and there’s really no targeting on what’s going on out there or how you’re going to get these people, so how did you scale the website over time and be able to monetize it and still actually have it established 20 years later?

DECLAN: What I did for that one – and it is funny, though; things are a lot different today, but here’s a really funny thing. You can see one of my presentations from ’96 where I talk about email, and email is just as relevant in ’96 as it is today, even though everyone thinks – all the social media guys say “No, it doesn’t work.” It’s such bunk.

The old ways don’t work, sending lots of stuff to everyone, to answer your question. But it’s about knowing your list, segmenting, and sending out messages. Back in the day, I got this project started because each suggestion became its own little market that helped promote itself, and I funded it – initially, that’s’ where I became an Amazon affiliate and sold books. I remember getting a $500 check in like 1996 and going “This is so cool.”

Because there were no keywords. There was none of this stuff. There was maybe spam, a little bit of spam. That was about it. That doesn’t change. And there was all these things going on. But what I learned was that by building partnerships, and when somebody came to my site, they looked at it and said “Man, you’ve done your work. You’re the real deal.” That’s all people want to know, is that you’re not just coming to them with a bunch of hot air and pitch – another thing that hasn’t changed. It’s you, for real.

So when I came to them with that site, CNET looked at it; I had reviews, I had people going crazy. Simply because of the quality of the content and the ability to build a story, because one of the things that I call – there’s a book I’m writing called Culture Sculpture: Digital Storytelling on the Cave Wall. What we’re all doing is telling our story, whether we’re posting a selfie on Instagram or posting our blog posts. We’re all telling our story.
Back then, I simply enabled a group of people to tell their story, empowered them with tools like email and partnerships to say “Guys, let’s work together and find a way to make this work. Let’s not be competitive,” which I call in my book islands of cooperation in a sea of capitalism. Because you are a competitor and you are a partner. It’s been that way. You’re both. You’re competitors and partners. Give people a reason to do stuff in a really good way.

And then from an affiliate perspective, it’s like “Don’t send me garbage traffic, don’t play games. Give me the real deals. Let’s set it up and let’s target building a long-term relationship.” By doing that, when I took the model out to affiliate programs in 1998, Zac, my God, I could choke a horse with the businesses we put this into. I mean, Network Solutions, American Express, Priceline, Travelocity, all the horrible pet companies, even those.

It’s a model that works because it’s based on partnerships and it’s based on leveraging your assets and looking at your partners to be able to build a strong – one of your many, many funnels of traffic visitors that are actually done, hopefully, as a good affiliate, from referral. Somebody who cares, not just done just buying traffic. I’m not dissing buying traffic, but a lot of times when you’ve done your work and you’ve really targeted that traffic, I’ll get a sale and you as the affiliate get paid more. That’s what I mean by bringing in partners who just really care to drive you the quality. And what’s funny is they care about you, you care about them as a partner, and guess what? All of us care about the customer. That’s the gold.

ZAC: Right, yeah, that’s definitely gold in itself. So you created this website where everybody was contributing, you’re learning about affiliate marketing, you’re making some money in the process, and now you’re building your own company because you’ve perfected the model.

How did you break your way into working with companies like Network Solutions and American Express, all the other big companies out there that don’t know what affiliate marketing is, but you have the solution that works? How do you convince them and get your way into the door?

DECLAN: There’s been several times in affiliate marketing where it’s been very opportune and shifted. At that point, it had been around; affiliate programs had been done at Amazon. I really always equate them with Corey Rudl, my old friend. But they had been around since probably ’94. They’re retail. They’re nothing really radically different.

But what I happened to do – and a lot of this, I want to give a big shout-out and thanks to whoever made it the right timing. Because when you write a book and it’s the right time, kaboom! And if anyone’s ever done it – I wrote a lot of books before this, like five on the internet stuff, and nobody bought any of them. I tried, but nobody bought anything.

This book, I came out with – I basically said “I’m going to interview the smartest people in the business. I’m going to go to them and share a specific 20-page action plan that I do, not just some hot air about what I think.” And this book ended up striking, again, the right timing into all these channels, where all these corporations – just a lot of money, Zac, okay? Way more money than I’d ever been in front of. I’d worked with ABC and PBS and did some cool things before this, but I hadn’t really had these startups buy it. There was a direct mail company doing – gosh, I’m trying to remember, something like $500,000,000 a year back then who bought the book.

So what I did, and to give you the opening, I went back and I was selling this book for $97 as an eBook. You know, because it was information that wasn’t out there, but it was really to me just a book I’d written. But it became so powerful in people’s hands, it was just very step-by-step, that they started spreading the world.

And that’s nice, but here’s the key, Zac: my buddy’s wife – I’ll never forget this, because we were talking, and she looks at me and she goes – we’d sold like 1,000 books at $97 bucks in the first 30 days, which was off the charts for us. We ended up doing a half million between the series, and that became our initial funding. I invested that in my own company to build it.
But what she told me is what was really responsible for the growth, not my books or the fact they made money. She goes, “Did you thank those people?” I go, “What do you mean?” She goes, “You just sold them a book for $97. Did you thank them?” I go, “Thank them?” Who says that to you, right? Not that you’re ungrateful, but how can I thank 1,000 people? She goes, “Call them.” And you know what? It’s one of those things that bugged me so much, because she was right. That’s what bothered me, she was so right.

So I picked up the phone – not every day, but when I could – and over the course of 4 to 5 months, I called every person who bought that book. 80% of them I left a message with just thanking them, and the other 20% includes many of the top companies you’re mentioning. They got it, I called them, I thanked them. They go, “Why are you calling me?” I said, “To thank you for buying my book, The Complete Insider’s Guide to Affiliate Programs. If I can do anything, give me a shout-out. Thank you very much.”

Which by the way is not only old school affiliate, it’s just very typical to this day affiliate marketing. Being grateful for somebody who’s done something that you like, because it’s so rare. So I just did, and that led me into these companies. Through taking the money that sold our books, we invested it, started building up to about 25 employees, and became really a direct marketing agency with a focus on affiliate programs.

ZAC: Wow, that’s really amazing. That’s an immeasurable amount of ROI for the amount of time that was put in, and it’s something that all of those people will really never forget. I’m sure that they told many of their friends “I just bought this book, and this guy called up the day after.” Getting into the companies that way, that’s amazing.

DECLAN: And I didn’t know I would. This is the great part of life. It was my buddy’s wife. She’s not a marketer. But I was listening. You’ve got to listen to people, because you’ll get these clues of cool things to do, and if you only listen to the guys who you know are the leaders, that’s a great part of it, but listen to the advice someone’s giving you that nobody else would listen to, because that’s where – I just can’t tell you.

To this day, I’ve made that part of my strategy with virtually every business, from real estate lead generation – never do a follow-up call with a pitch. “Thank you.” Stunning. To this day, it still works. Because we’re all so hungry to convert them, we forget to be a little grateful, and realizing the same percentage won’t convert, but if you actually come in and just say “thank you,” you’ve made the first contact. They’re a lot less likely to get pissed in a good reason, because you’re actually being genuine.

And if you look at all the companies today, everyone is not teaching “say thank you,” but everyone’s talking about a new genuine way of running business, to cut out that old “I’m just here to grow my ROI. I talk a lot about being good to my customer, but frankly, I could care less.”

That mode is starting to go away, not because of guys like me, but Zuckerberg, Google. I’m not trying to put them on a pedestal, but in a really cool way, you never heard anybody talking about people. Except in the last couple years, because guess what? It’s the real deal, and when you get them locked into your channel, into your business if it’s a business – if it’s a channel, if it’s content that you’re sharing – they’re dying for really good stuff that they like. To your point, it’s a game of smaller numbers but higher quality, rather than the old days of big numbers and, frankly, lower quality.

ZAC: Definitely. Let’s now swing things over to opportunity on social media and how individuals with ideas are now accidentally becoming brands and actually rich off the internet. What type of stuff have you seen going on right now that’s pretty exciting?

DECLAN: Facebook, because people argue so much about it, you can always tell it’s working. Because the more people whine about how it doesn’t work, generally these are the people being left by the roadside. You don’t hear complaints if it sucks, okay? It just sucks and everyone doesn’t like it.

What I see with Facebook is an ability to really target – like I’m helping a guy at a local level, just did it for the challenge, we’re doing $5 a day. And we’re getting our clicks down to like 10 to 30 cents per click for qualified clicks. He doesn’t have time to do this and doesn’t have a huge budget, but what he does is get 100 people there and convert 5% to 10% of them a week.

As simple as that is, it only takes him a few minutes a day, so to me, not just the prevalence of Facebook, but what Facebook ads represent. One is a buying opportunity. It takes a lot of work, as all good ads do, but it is something you can go in with a small budget, which is freaking huge in this day and age. Because there aren’t many places you can go in without having deep pockets – even though I would recommend the deeper the pockets the better, always. But you’re not left out of the loop at Facebook.
But the #2 thing I want to say is there’s been this huge controversy that people bought likes and now their pages aren’t being shown in the stream, and people are whining. Again, Zac, when people start whining a lot, either this is the biggest fraud in history – which it’s not, obviously – or they’re just being left by the roadside and they don’t understand what’s going on. I know many Facebook pages I’ve helped who still get half the people talking about it. I mean, one has 400,000 fans, and 200,000 are talking about it.

Why? Because she cares, she’s there every day, and they go to her page. They don’t go to the stream. Just like they should go to your website. Little clue – get them to go to your page and stop looking at the stream, because even in the stream, you’re history in 9 seconds. When you get them at your page, you’re building a relationship, whether that’s a Facebook page or your website or both of the above.

The guys killing it have an amazing Facebook page where they actually show up on their site to talk to their customers. They don’t wake up with a freaking to-do list; they wake up with a chance to talk to people who are spending tons of money with them through Facebook.

ZAC: Right. Once again, it all comes back to engagement.

DECLAN: And you’re paying for ads – it’s like customer service has turned into marketing. It’s support. If you’re there, most people are just… Oh my God, I saw an internet guru who took out an ad campaign – I won’t name him, because he’s a good guy, but a lot of people who didn’t like his product were commenting in the comments around the ad that he was posting everywhere, telling him how bad he sucked. And he was still paying for the ad.

You see what I’m saying? You can’t sit outside. You’ve got to jump in the river. It’s called a wall or a stream for a reason. You’ve got to be in the water, or if not you, somebody who actually shows up and says “Wait a minute, somebody’s complaining about me.” Either turn off the stupid ad or reevaluate it and deal with it.

But that’s what social media is doing, is not only giving us the opportunity to reach people – guess what? They can say you suck, and they have the right to do it, and haters will hate. And the sooner you stop letting that bug you, the better. But Zac, that’s one of the biggest things. Haters hating. Because you can’t control them, and it’s getting like you never will.

ZAC: Of course. There’s nowhere to hide, so you’ve got to make sure everything is legit and that you have a quality product and that you actually care about them. People know now not to fall into the pitch of just going to a website and signing up. You actually need to build a relationship, and you need to provide value over time.

DECLAN: And if nobody’s hated on you, you haven’t reached enough people. Because statistically, someone’s not going to like what you do. That’s just life. And if you haven’t reached it – it’s like not selling enough products because nobody returns your product. I’ve heard people say “Oh, nobody returns my product!” You haven’t sold enough. Because statistically, if you reach enough people, there’s usually about 1% to 5% where it won’t be a right fit for whatever reason.

Just like you need returns to show you’ve reached scale, you need – not like people have to hate on you, but it means you sparked a reaction. And it is hard. I’m not advocating all these people go crazy, but I see people spending their time on social media arguing, and they don’t realize that’s just their point of view. What you’re doing is empowering the guy who hated you.

Not to not acknowledge it, but to realize that, just like you’re saying, it’s an opportunity. I can tell you something, Zac. I called everybody when I sold my book, and I told that story; I also called the people who returned my book and asked them what I could’ve done better.

ZAC: Excellent. Yes, there’s no better way to learn from your customer.

DECLAN: Listen, I’m just saying, sometimes it hurts – and I’m not saying the nutty stuff, okay? But let it – it’s there to teach you something, is all I’m saying. And if you take that attitude, then you’ll say “Wait, okay.” Not that they’re crazy or calling you Hitler or whatever, you know what I’m saying? But it’s more like “what does this have to teach me?” Because what they’re doing is improving your product.

One of the things I always say, when you’re out researching what to write in copy, go look at Amazon. Look at the good reviews and look at the 1-star reviews. The good reviews are easy. That’s where people are going “Oh, this is great, I love this. This is what it did for me.” It’s great. You find a lot of reasons why people loved it. Find the 1 or 2-star reviews, because what they’re going to tell you is the one thing they wanted it to do that it didn’t do, and that’s the core.

Those two viewpoints can make your conversion and your copy go through the roof, because it’s not enough to know why people love you when they use your product; you should know what happens if you don’t fulfill your promise to them. Because it’s very powerful, and it helps you improve your product, and it helps your customers love you. You never please all the people, but the little one to five percenters who really irritate you, they’re there to irritate you for a reason. Because if you listen, they’re probably a better source of growth and devotement for your business than everyone telling you how great you are.

ZAC: Yeah, definitely. Everybody likes to think when they go out to a restaurant or whatever that they’re going to go home and leave a nice review, but 9 times out of 10 someone forgets. But if there’s one tiny mistake that goes on, you can be rest assured that they’re going home and the first thing that they’re going to do is leave that bad review.

DECLAN: Ah man, it is. And you know what? That’s something I learned, actually. I worked my way through college waiting tables; it’s the same thing I approach social media. You have to come in – you don’t have a bad day. I’m just a fan of this. It’s not that you fake it; you don’t go airing your anger our there. You let other people – if you have love from your audience, they’ll stand up for you. I’ve seen it time and time again. It’s actually one of the coolest things, because when somebody calls you out, many times it works to your advantage.

ZAC: Right, and at the end of the day, your brand and your history is all you have to go along with you.

DECLAN: Well, as long as they can go someplace and see that there’s a reasonable number of people who’ve liked what you’ve done. And that’s just business. What’s really funny is then all of a sudden, all the things people complain about social media, because I see a lot of whiners, they want to control it. They like it when it tells them they’re good, but they don’t like it when it doesn’t tell them they’re good. That’s social media to me.

ZAC: Yes, social media, affiliate marketing, changing everything, social media. And now we’re going into mobile. Everything is going to change like crazy. And we’ll have you on another show talking about mobile and everything else going on. But right now, you’re about to be thrown into the Pit of Fire.

DECLAN: Throw it on.

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ZAC: All right, we’re back with Declan, and now it’s time for the Pit of Fire. We have three questions for you, and you can inspire our audience, tell them the truth, blow their minds, whatever you want.

Question #1: What was the best and worst piece of advice you ever got?

DECLAN: Wow, the best piece of advice was when I first lost everything in like 1990. One of my businesses blew up, and while I was full of self-pity and convinced that the world was against me, i.e. clueless about business, he said “This is the best thing that ever happened to you.”

Of course, I said a bunch of cuss words, because I grew up in New Jersey where we’re proud of that. And then he looked at me, he goes, “No, I understand. But when you take that attitude, that’s your first step to getting over it. You’ve got to turn it into the best thing that ever happened to you.” And I did, and ended up actually creating the educational site we talked about that led me into affiliate marketing. Came out from the woods.

The worst piece of advice I ever received… that was back when I was probably – God, there are so many, but there was once when I was pitching investors back in the .com days. We tried to raise funding – or actually better, selling products and raising funding – but I did a pitch, and we had done up our books. The guys who were the investors came to me and looked at my books, and it was like a plan for $100 million company, which we were just trying to start. I thought that was pretty impressive. They added a zero. They said “Now you’re a billion dollar company. You have to be.”

And you know what? If you’re in Silicon Valley or in the Zuckerberg world, it is, it’s a billion dollar game. That’s no movie thing. But what I realized was that made me uncomfortable, and I still went and did it. It wasn’t bad, but if you say the worst piece of advice, because it wasn’t being me. It was being this guy who told me that – and at that time ,it was true; everyone had to have a billion dollar pitch.

We got money. We got funding and stuff, don’t get me wrong. But I really realized, I go, “This is not where we’re going.” So that’s why you learn from the worst advice. You go through it and you look back and go, “Man, I should’ve never really done that.” Because it’s not a billion dollar business. But again, it was also a sign of the times. It wasn’t me creating it; I just had to deliver the script.

ZAC: Those are two really great answers. So many times from failure, we’re hit down at the time, but what comes right after it could be the next greatest thing.

DECLAN: It’s true. It’s corny; you can say “Oh, failure turns into opportunity” and all this stuff, but it really is. You’re an entrepreneur, and I’m not a born entrepreneur. I’m not Gary Vaynerchuk selling people lemonade when I’m 10 – who by the way is amazing to me. I never would’ve thought of that.

So we’re all our own style of entrepreneurs, but in the end, there’s just no point when you get kicked down – the thing I can say now, being a little bit older: get off your own back. That’s the real key. Don’t get on other people’s backs and get off your own. Just get on with it. Because when you’re doing that, you’re wasting your time and theirs.

And mostly we’re not bad to other people. Most of us entrepreneurs sit in a room and go, “oh, boom, boom,” beating yourselves up. Screw it. Just let it go. Give yourself some time; you might have a week or so, but move on. And it’s easy to say, but eventually you will anyway. So why not do it sooner?

ZAC: That’s a great segue into the next question, which is what’s the single most important reason for your success?

DECLAN: Persistence. (laughs) You could say talent. I’ve really gotten the internet since the early days. I know what’s coming down the road. And I don’t mean this to be all looking like a visionary; I just watch patterns and listen to brilliant people. I saw mobile in 2009, not because I was ahead, but because my email list was all on mobile, and nobody could open up my email because they were all on mobile phones with no browsers. This is the kind of thing. It’s just really being open and listening, and not being surprised at the direction things take you.

ZAC: And the final question: what’s your greatest fear being an entrepreneur?

DECLAN: I am always one of those entrepreneurs like – and I think it’s like the athlete part of me. I always want to be better. The fear of that kind of guy is always “I’m never good enough.” It’s something, actually, being older, I’ve mellowed out in a good way. Because that can work to your advantage, because I see it as finding a competitive edge, but there’s a way to find the edge that’s inspiring.

What I found was that my real fear was, like all of us, was the poem Mandela read: we fear inadequacy. We fear our brilliance. We fear just being ourselves. And also screwing up, giving yourself the space to do that. So I’d say as an entrepreneur, that probably continues to be it.

But you know, I know with just hanging in there, persistence – and sometimes in business your learnings are longer; sometimes you’ll go really fast, other times you’ll be at a plateau. Just keep at it. Because that’s what everybody who I’ve ever seen in any field does. You’ll see “Oh, they’re suddenly successful.” They’ve been booking that thing for 8 to 10 years, and all of a sudden it’s just amazing, because the people just notice it, but in the meantime, they’ve been plugging away.

I wish you good luck. I hope you get success within a year, but most startups are a 2 to 5 year cycle. And within that time, give yourself the time to find what that business is going to become, because that’s why we call it Pivot and Profit. You’ve got to pivot, change your direction slightly off your original plan, to find ultimately the best business for you and for the customer.

ZAC: Very nice. Amazing words of wisdom that I’m sure our audience will appreciate. So Declan, we’re now at the end of the show. Please let us know anything you’re working on and how everyone can get in touch with you and follow you on social media.

DECLAN: Yeah, definitely. My name’s Declan Dunn. It’s D-e-c-l-a-n, and D-u-n-n is my last name. So Twitter, it’s @declandunn,, As well as my URL, you can go for my blog. What I’m about to do is I’ve just, Zac, actually been mentoring at our local startups here. My place I live has a wonderful small community here with some amazing companies.

So I’ve actually been warming up my Pivot and Profit mentoring, and I’m actually coming out in fall with my first mentoring sessions and online education that’s based less on how to and more doing it and having coaching and guidance for companies and individuals along the way.

ZAC: That sounds amazing, Declan. Always helping people make money online and bring their dreams to a reality. Thank you again, Declan. We will all be in touch with you soon.

DECLAN: Thanks, Zac.

ZAC: Wow, that was a lot of great information and advice from Declan. He truly is one of the pioneers in the internet and affiliate marketing space. When I think back to those early days of the internet, it really brings back so many great memories and exciting times, but it still keeps me fired up for what’s still to come.

I want to thank you again for listening in to the very first episode of the Rise of the Entrepreneur Podcast. Please let me know what you think by leaving a review on iTunes and connecting with me on social media. The biggest complement is a recommendation of the show to your friends, family, or online audience.
Be sure to check out for show notes and much more. This is Zac Johnson, signing out. Now go prepare for glory.


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