On board today is Richard, a Sydney based digital marketer to talk all about digital marketing and online business, and how he leveraged digital marketing to create a business, reach financial independence and leave his job.
Introduction to Richard, CEO and founder Paramark Digital Agency
Richard actually has had a similar background to me, starting off his career in engineering and then chasing financial independence through leveraging his time and creating a business in his dream job.
Richard grew up in Canberra and currently lives in Sydney with his Wife and daughters. Whilst web design and digital marketing is his current expertise, he has actually been building websites since he was 15 years old (and back then it was a lot tougher and required a lot more coding!). After a break, he ended up getting back into websites as a side hustle as taught by Matt and Liz Raad at the eBusiness Institute after he and his wife attended one of their seminars. They ended up absolutely killing it – managing to create passive income from several personal websites as well as building some high-performing websites for local business clients.
Based on their success, Richard continued to build and support client sites for regular income, and actually was able to leave his full-time Engineering job back in 2019 when he and his Wife co-founded Paramark. Paramark is their digital marketing agency that specializes in helping industrial, tech and finance businesses grow through engaging web design, search engine optimization and online advertising.
Fast forward three years to today, he runs this business full time with a team of seven, and is continually expanding. Richard runs dozens of websites (both clients and personal portfolio sites), enabling his family to reach financial freedom and regain control over their lives. He says he feels a lot better as he finally has time to spend raising his young family, with the ultimate ‘work optional from home flexibility’ that comes with running an online business.
Podcast – Digital Marketing with Richard
- Richard runs Paramark, a Sydney based Digital Agency which builds websites for local businesses and makes them rank on Google.
Richards Top Tips
- Educate yourself, learn about different financial strategies, how they work, and what the risks are. That way you have enough information to make an informed decision before you actually start investing
- Mindset. Mindset is actually more important than whatever vehicle you use to try and build wealth or become financially free because you can quite easily be your own undoing. You could walk into an inheritance and invest all the money in shares and still botch it. If your mindset is not right, trying to achieve a mindset that’s going to help you actually become wealthier and grow, I think is really important. Is that something that I’ve focused on a lot since leaving my job
- Just give it a go! If you just don’t take action until then you’re never gonna achieve anything. I’ve made my share of mistakes. I don’t know anyone in business that hasnt made a huge amount of mistakes as well – but we learn from them. I dont know any investors that havent made a huge amount of mistakes, but again, it is really the only way you can learn. I think just giving it a go even when you’re not sure about something is important.
Richards top influences on the path to Financial Independence
- Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki was foundational knowledge for Richard on the topic of assets and investing.
Transcript of Richard from Paramark
Captain FI: [00:00:00] ladies and gentlemen welcome to another episode of captain fi, the financial independence podcast, where I opened the cockpit to some of the best and brightest in personal finance, as well as those who have reached or are on their way to financial independence. Before we get started, remember nothing said, here is financial advice and you should always do your own independent research before making any financial choices with that being said, I hope you enjoy the episode and learn something new.Onboard today. We have Richard paren, the owner and [00:01:00] CEO of Paramark a digital marketing agency based in Sydney, Richard, and his team specialize in helping industrial tech and finance businesses grow through engaging web design search engine optimization and online advertising. Richard has had a similar background to me.
He started off in engineering, but has actually been building websites since he was 15 years old. He left his full-time job back in 2019 to start his digital agency with his wife. And now fast forward two years, he runs a business full time with a team of seven people. This has enabled them to reach financial freedom and regain control over their life.
He says he feels a lot better as he has time to spend raising his young family with this. We’ve talked a little bit on the show about online business and search engine optimization. So I’m really glad to welcome Richard to the show to talk all about this. Richard, how are you going, mate?
Richard: very good. Thank you captain, for having me on the [00:02:00] show. It’s great to be part of this.
Captain FI: No problems, mate. So can you tell us a little bit about yourself? are you from and how does one even get into this niche and how did you know how to build websites when you were 15?
Richard: That’s a good question. I grew up in Canberra and when I was in high school, we started looking at website design and I was in it doing just basic HTML sites from a pretty young age there was a number of different ways you could do it back then. You just did it straight in notepad, and you use that to create HTML documents which were rendered on screen.
And then things got a little bit more complicated. When we moved to tools like Dreamweaver and then fast forward, about 15 years. And now we do all of our websites using open source software called WordPress, which is what I know you’re very familiar with. So I started getting into website design, as I said from quite young, but I went into engineering to start with because a lot of my family we’re an engineering.
So it was an easy thing to get jumped straight into. Other sort of.[00:03:00] Analyzing things. I love numbers solving problems. I started off with that and I was working full-time as an engineer for about 10 years. But I was also very interested in my own business. I love sealing stuff. I love helping people.
And after a good 10 years, I just decided that I wanted to move into running my own business and putting the two things together that I loved, which was website design sales, marketing, and engineering. I’ve just decided that I think the best thing to do would be do, to a digital marketing agency.
That’s why we started our business paramount. And that’s why we have this sort of customers that we’ve got today, which a lot of them are in industry manufacturing cause I really enjoy working with those types of customers and understand what their businesses are and who they serve.
Captain FI: That’s really interesting. What sparked that decision to change from, what is a well-respected high paying professional engineering careers. Even to starting your own business
Richard: I’d wanted to start my business for a while.
Originally I was working and I thought I’d do. Probably development. So we started off [00:04:00] doing a lot of property development and that worked okay, but it was a lot more stressful than I wanted to deal with.
I eventually worked out that I had these skills in website design and I ended up doing some additional training in website design. And particularly with SEO that really accelerated the skills and made them a lot more marketable, a lot more profitable. Once I’d seen what other people had done, I realized that it was definitely something that I could do that I could achieve.
It really motivated me to want to start my business in digital marketing and website design. So I went from full-time engineering to part-time while I was running my business at the start, and then things were going so well that I eventually left the job and and was doing the business full
Captain FI: time.
Congratulations, man. That’s the dream? Isn’t it? It’s good to know that you have that option as well, because it’s a pretty risky thing to just quit your job and dive headfirst, both feet into something new. So being able to go part-time. It’s a pretty big thing like in the fire community as well that we even have this concept of, barista fire where, you’re [00:05:00] essentially working part-time.
So it’s awesome that you’re able to do that, but then use that time to build up a business and replace your income.
So I got to ask where did you actually learn? You said you’d done courses in high school. Obviously you’ve got
engineering degree. Did you learn more of this stuff at university
So I learnt most of the website design to start with in high school. And I was just building my own websites for small little businesses that I tried when I was doing my work as an engineer. But then really took until I did a business Institute training that I really started to understand how to fit website design into SEO and using those skills to actually really help business and really start to get traffic and leads through websites.
That was probably the one, cause that definitely helped me start my business on. There’s so many different aspects of digital marketing and websites and online and you can get a little bit lost in them. After I did the course, it really solidified how I was going to go forward with my business.
And what does, and doesn’t matter when it comes [00:06:00] to getting leads for local business all the way up to getting traffic your own website that promotes products or sell stuff through e-commerce, that’s
Captain FI: interesting. It was probably a bit of a loaded question because I’ve also done that course and I found it pretty helpful.
I’ve done a little bit of website stuff myself before, but obviously doing that and having help from Matt and Liz has really accelerated my personal strategy an online business. But from chatting offline, we do things a little bit differently. Your model of making money you’ve described as an agency.
And the way I’m making money online is what we call portfolio sites. So I was just wondering if you would mind elaborating. A bit more on those different kinds of ways people make money online. What is an agency? What’s a portfolio site what’s early gen. What’s a listing directory, all those kinds of things.
Yeah. It’s a really good
Richard: question. So there’s two different ways you can go about it. You can make money online by essentially helping [00:07:00] another business to get more leads, get more traffic, get more sales through their own business website, or you can do it for yourself. I started off doing this for.
Other businesses, because it was quite an easy and quick way to get into the market. And because I wanted to replace my income. It was a lot faster to do things that way. And it also gave me the opportunity to use a lot of the skills that I’ve learned in engineering to actually be able to go back and help these types of businesses to succeed and make a lot of income through their own business.
So there are different ways you can do it. And the way that you’ve done it, I think is really great as well, because it means that you can potentially have these websites. So they’re just ticking away and making passive income and don’t require as much. To be honest.
I love both sides of it. I really do enjoy working on websites. I think a lot of people, once they actually get into it, they just realize how interesting it is and how much opportunity there is. I guess the reason why I’ve gone down the path that I have is because , an income.
And also I do genuinely enjoy working with the businesses that I’ve had the to work with. Okay.
Captain FI: [00:08:00] So an agency model that is where you are essentially helping a business to reach more customers. So essentially you’re running their website for
Richard: them. Is that right?
That’s right. You can do a lot of different things for them.
So when you get into digital marketing, you realize, how many services you actually can provide. The main things that I provide are website design and redesign and search engine optimization, but there’s a lot of other things you can do as well. There’s people that provide Google ed support.
We do a bit of that, but there’s people that specialize purely in Google ads. There’s social media there’s email marketing. There’s a lot of different ways that you can actually get more people to find a business online. And the reason why I love search engine optimization is because it means that your using the strengths of the business to essentially sell itself.
In my words, if you’re trying to put the terms of the customer. Inside the business. When someone is actually looking for say a car, you’re using the top of the language that a customer is looking for on the business’s website to help people find that business.
A lot of businesses don’t necessarily think about how [00:09:00] they’re wording the information online. They might use a lot of their own terminology that a customer doesn’t necessarily search for. And that’s often why businesses have trouble actually reaching people organically through their websites, because they’re not using the sort of language that a customer actually searches for online.
Captain FI: really important point. And I remember learning a little bit about this in engineering communications lessons, I’m guessing you probably had to go through the same stuff, where we were forced to essentially do. I was a little bit of English and marketing whilst we were learning engineering amongst all the sort of maths and thermodynamics to be able to effectively communicate.
So it sounds like an agency is there to help a business community. We think customers and probably your background in engineering is led you.
Richard: Yeah, that’s right. I think for a lot of engineers, I struggled to actually put their services in the terms of their customers.
And they probably have trouble focusing on what are the benefits of what they do. In engineering, you look at quantifiable terms, like what does something do? What’s it made of? How does it work? [00:10:00] Doesn’t make the specifications. Whereas from a marketing perspective, a customer is probably more concerned about how that service is actually going to help them.
What are the benefits going to be to them? Is it going to make a product productivity point of view? Is it going to help increase production? Is it going to reduce the defect rate? Is it going to integrate easily with other systems in the process? I try to look at things from how we’re actually going to sell the product or the service to the end customer and what we need to do to make the businesses services and products and most appealing.
Captain FI: So winding up just a bit. Okay. So that’s effectively an agency. And that’s where you are running their websites for them enabling them to communicate more effectively to essentially get more customers. And presumably you get a percentage. The
Richard: sales, sometimes there’s a range of different business models for most agencies.
They usually charge an ongoing fee for their services. They might try to monthly fee for doing say search engine optimization services, which [00:11:00] we do, or they might charge a fee for doing social media management or for managing their Google ads account or for doing email marketing for them. It’s more typical of that happens sometimes when you get a business that you’ve worked with for a very long time, or they specifically request it, you might look at doing a commission-based arrangement.
But from my experience, there’s usually a monthly fee that gets charged.
Captain FI: Okay. And so by running an agency once you have. Basically collected enough customers, monthly, your brokering fee, once you’ve deducted your costs, obviously running the business, that is what you then use to
Richard: pay yourself.
then for an agency like us, is to the main sources of income. We help businesses build better websites or upgrade their existing websites. And we also help them with ongoing SEO services to help them reach more customers online. for us, they’re probably about the same in terms of the amount of income that we get.
And then after that we subtract the costs of our own software. Posting because we’ve hosted a lot of the websites that we build for our clients. And then staff costs as well. We have a lot of staff in Australia [00:12:00] and we make sure that we hire really good people. Staff costs for us are reasonably high too.
And then after that’s done we leave money to reinvest in the business. And then I pay myself out of the residual income.
Captain FI: I, it, I like it. And you focusing on qualities, obviously we talked about the triangle, costs quality and time. It’s good to hear that you’re prioritizing the quality.
I know you’ve obviously had a look at the captain fire website. Richard, maybe I need to employ you to redesign that and make that a little bit better. Cause it’s a bit average, I think.
Richard: I think this is the thing that you gotta understand. There’s so many different things you can do with a website.
You can make a website, look the best possible for visual appeal, but it’s not necessarily required. Often say particularly for what you’d call portfolio sites, where they’re informational websites that provide info to people that read it. They’re looking for answers to different questions.
range from, Pretty normal to really visually appealing. But often they can get just the same amount of visitors or traffic. It also extends to businesses as well. I’ve even seen some business websites [00:13:00] where it actually looks too good. Like people go to the site and they’re like I dunno if this is the right business
Captain FI: Oh, I have definitely felt put off by what I felt is to be really slick marketing in the past.
I know I’m probably a little bit irrational about certain things. I watch a fair bit of YouTube. some of the videos that flush up on YouTube, the services they’re so flashy and I’m like, how much money have they spent on advertising? Like for example, super companies, and, junk food companies, they advertise stuff and they make it look so good.
You go, yeah, it’s a little bit too much spin on that. I did want to say something that I heard in one of Matt’s bootcamps recently, ugly sites make money.
Richard: Yeah, it’s true. They still make good money, I’ve seen business websites that don’t look that great they still get amazing conversions through the website. I asked personally we put a lot of effort and time into making sure that the businesses that we work with have the best possible site that we can [00:14:00] get them.
But sometimes you can sacrifice. Performance and conversion for visual appeal. And that’s not something that I want to do.
Captain FI: Yeah. Speed is important. There’s so many times I’ve clicked a link on social media and it’s taken five seconds to load.
And I’m like, boom, I’m out of there. I’m not going to bother for that screen to load. So speed is really important for me. Okay. So backing up. That is. Agencies. And then portfolio sites. So what is your definition of a portfolio?
Richard: A good definition of a portfolio site is a website that you own that doesn’t represent another business.
It’s a site that delivers information to customers that are searching for problems searching for solutions to problems. They’re looking for, the right type of car to buy, or they’re looking for the right type of exercise equipment to use. They might be looking for tips on how to toilet train their kids.
And it’s a site that either through advertising on the site or through affiliate sales makes money for the website owner
Captain FI: to [00:15:00] sites. fall into that category of information and monetize through Google ad sense, Amazon associates and other affiliate programs. I can a hundred percent recommend, I found that it can be very slow in the beginning.
And I think Richard that’s what you alluded to earlier is that you went down the agency model because it provides quicker cashflow. Is that correct?
Richard: Look it’s certainly easier, I think, to build up cashflow faster in my experience because you can get in and help a business immediately and they can see very quick results from the work that you’ve done particularly for local business.
And it enables you to, essentially get paid immediately as well. Whereas for a lot of portfolio sites, global, which means that you’re competing with a lot of other websites online instead of just competing, say in one particular suburb in one city in Australia, you might be competing with thousands of different websites for a particular.
it doesn’t mean that portfolio sites aren’t lucrative. There’s certainly very lucrative, but the time that it [00:16:00] takes to get results, firstly for the website is longer. And from a business model don’t get paid for a portfolio site just because it looks good and you’ve done everything right.
Whereas for a business website, you can get paid immediately by doing a good job. That’s going to ultimately help. Yeah,
Captain FI: exactly. So I’ve seen with some of my portfolio sites here we are like six, 12 months down the track and I’ve seen zero income whereas some other ones have just like really going gangbusters, but in my experience it’s taken a very long time.
Like it took me, I think nearly two years to really see income from the portfolio of sites.
Okay. And then there was a couple of other ones I wanted to ask you about. So I’ve heard the term lead gen, and I’ve heard the term rank and rent. Are they the same thing
So there’s a lot of different business models for helping small business and even larger businesses to get more customers. The easiest and most common way is when you go in and help their website, get more customers get more leads directly.[00:17:00] That’s very common, I’m sure everyone understands that concept, but there’s other ways that you can do it as well.
Some agencies actually have websites that they build that aren’t for a specific business. They might get leads, say for people that are interested in getting a plumber to help them, and they would then give those leads to a local plumber to help them get more business for themselves.
So more of an indirect way of actually helping out a local business and helping them reach more customers.
Captain FI: I’ve seen this actually directly because I was looking at upgrading the solar panels on my mom’s house. And . I can’t remember the name of the website.
I was like solar quote or coal or solar.com. Yeah. And basically I gave him my details and then they went out and got three quotes for me. And then those three people came and quoted. So I’m assuming that is a. Lead gen website. That’s
Richard: what you would call the lead generation sites.
That’s a very well known one, actually. And there’s other ones like high pages, one flare where people are looking for particular services and they go to a website that’s going [00:18:00] to enable them to be connected with those businesses. A slightly different model that would be like a rank and rent top website where someone might make a business just for say like a particular.
Lawyer. So let’s say a construction lawyer. They might just make a generic website and then find a law firm that does a lot of work in construction law and puts their business name, puts their phone number on that website. And the value that they’re adding is that they’ve done all of the design and the SEO to enable that website to actually rank.
And by doing that, means as soon as a business worked with them, ideally they’re getting leads from day one.
Captain FI: Perfect. But then you as the owner of that website, Ultimately control that IP. So you’re just contracting out the use of that website to basically generate leads. Yeah.
Richard: Essentially. So you would just be renting out that website to another business and putting their branding on that website or putting their business name and phone number on that website.
So that’s definitely one way that some agencies, oh,
Captain FI: Okay.
Captain FI: Okay. Awesome. I think that’s a pretty good summation of a few of the different marketing, or I should say business structures, their offer making money online.
you also mentioned email marketing and GMB marketing. Did you want to just touch quickly on those as well?
Richard: Yeah, sure. So this is probably getting a bit deep for SEO, but for local businesses, The biggest thing from our experience that gets them more calls and get some more leads is local SEO.
A lot of that is done through Google maps. So for instance, imagine you’re looking for a cafe. You might put cafe into Google search, and then you’ll see couple of cafes come up near your location in what we [00:20:00] call the maps pack, which is where you say right now there’s three different listings for local cafes.
You might also put cafe straight into Google maps directly, and then you’ll see a list of cafes come up in the Google maps results, and that’s called local SEO. And. From what waves saying, that’s where a lot of customers actually click through first to find a business, because the main thing is it actually displays location, which is really important for local search and it displays a rating.
So by optimizing that and helping a business’s Google maps listing come up higher in search results, we’re able to give them the best possible chance of reaching a customer. So very powerful for local search. And it’s actually a different algorithm to a website itself, ranking in Google.
Captain FI: Ah, okay. Interesting. Look at it is important as well. Richard, I have. Make decisions about whether I’m going to use a company based off those reviews. And a lot of the time I’m super lazy. I’ve got my parents and all the family members, and they’ll say, oh, go to this shop., go down the road and there’ll be a gum [00:21:00] tree with a fork in it.
there’s a yellow sign go left 60 paces to the west. And then, you’ll find the shop there and I’m slightly nodding. Yep. Okay. Thank you for those directions, but really I’m just going to Chuck it into Google. And that’s really helpful to saves me a lot of time. on the flip side to that, if I’ve had like really shitty service, I’m going to leave a bad review.
I’m sorry, like I know how devastating that is, but if you genuinely done me wrong, I’m going to put an We’re a few out there. And I really appreciate everyone who does acts. It’s the Westlake Uber, right? It keeps everyone accountable. You rate the driver rates you.
So it’s like this peer review
Yeah. I think it’s really important. And there’s a lot of credibility from what I’ve seen in particularly Google reviews. There’s lots of different places that people can review a business. There’s true. Local is Facebook, Yelp, yellow pages, but to be honest none of them come up directly in Google search results.
Whereas if you look for a plumber. Google maps reviews are going to come up first. So Google reviews can actually make or break a business. [00:22:00] And they also contribute to how high our business ranks as well. So if you have a business let’s say like a cafe or like a mechanic or something, and you actually go and see them all the time guarantee you, the biggest favor you can do them is to actually leave them a good Google match review.
Captain FI: Good advice, Richard. So from a business point of view, how do they deal with, fake reviews is that a thing? It’s
Richard: very hard. There’s ways of requesting removal on Google. There’s also legal routes as well. Thankfully we haven’t had to deal too much with that in my business or the businesses that we’ve dealt with can really affect a business though.
And there are specialist agencies that actually do go in and try and remove particular.
Captain FI: Wow. That’s definitely going down the rabbit hole. Okay, so , I’m going to ask you a question, right? What is SEO and why does it
Very good question. So SEO is, in my words, helping a website. Rank higher in Google for specific search terms.
Captain FI: Why does specific search terms
Richard: matter? Because a website can rank for [00:23:00] anything. So you could have a plumber that ranks for a local dog show if they have the right words on the website, but that’s not going to bring them very relevant traffic.
the important thing with SEO is. Getting relevant and important search terms, getting that business to actually rank for those. So for a plumber, probably the biggest thing that they want to rank for is the search term plumber. And by helping them to rank higher for those types of search terms, you’re getting people that are actively looking for those types of services to find the business.
So let’s say you do search plumber. the first thing that’s going to come up is the Google ads that’s the strategy and its own to actually get good results through Google ads. But the next thing that’ll come up will be the maps pack and that’s the top three local results for where you’re searching from.
Then underneath that is the most relevant website results there’s different strategies for Google maps, results and website results. So SEO means getting the business to get more of the right type of leads through the website difference between good SEO agencies and bad SEO agencies is a good SEO agency actually cares what happens [00:24:00] when the customer comes to the website, because it is not enough to get people to get to your website.
You want to get them leads. I’ve seen heaps and heaps of websites where they actually rank really high. But to be honest, I can’t see how they’re ever going to get any calls or inquiries from those visitors, because there’s no email buttons, there’s no phone buttons, there’s no contact forms.
So ultimately it’s a file. Whereas a good SEO agency will take. The traffic that our website gets increase it and then get the more lays. Ultimately, any business wants more leads. What’s more potential.
Captain FI: Yeah, that’s really good point. So it’s not just about getting people to your site.
It’s actually about giving them the information that they want to make a transaction. So what are some tips that people can do to improve their.
Richard: It’s a difficult question because you need to know what you actually want to rank for, to start with.
If you own a business, it’ll be a matter of finding out what are actually the relevant keywords for your business. Sometimes it’s easy. Let’s say you are a plumber. Obviously the search term that you want to rank for is [00:25:00] plumber, but you might have a more complicated business with.
What you do and what people search for are two different things. It’s important to know what people are searching for and what particular searches are gonna result a sale as easily and as fast as possible. And that’s where either doing some keyword research yourself, which is possible to do for free or engaging the services of an SEO professional can actually help.
That’s one of the main things that we do for people. If you do know what keywords you do actually want to rank for and what are going into one a meta it’s important to actually use them on the website. I’ve seen businesses and they don’t use any words whatsoever related to their business on their website.
you can literally make a difference within, weeks or months to their bottom line, just by including relevant terms on them. There are other factors as well that are important for SEO. Website speed is definitely important these days. References from other websites are definitely important as well.
So websites that link back to your website is really important. But the crux of it is using relevant terms on your website. That’s actually going to be found by Google and it was relevant to what people are searching for. That’s [00:26:00] going to ultimately make your money.
Captain FI: in a nutshell
Captain FI: about , giving people what they want not what you think they want.
Exactly. Yeah. Okay. Awesome. All right. I want to shift gears a little bit and talk a bit about yourself. How do you personally make money online?
And, whether you’ve been able to replace your income. So the
Richard: way I make money online is through our business. it’s not necessarily online income, it’s business income, and the business has, very specific services with online marketing.
then I pay myself a wage from that essentially. it’s Enough to replace the income that I used to have in my old job. it wasn’t immediate. it takes a while in any business to actually be able to pay yourself a salary. And a lot of business coaches say, it’ll probably take about two years before you can even take a salary.
And that’s because even though you might start receiving income, there’s also expenses that go with that. And then you might want to retain income to reinvest in your business and doing more things. And that was definitely the case for us. So when I first started the business with my wife, there was a lot of [00:27:00] expenses that we had.
There was income that we had but we were very focused on our goal of being able to grow the business and help other businesses online. we continue to reinvest in the business and our own marketing and our staff and our team. ultimately it’s been able to allow us to get enough income where I can essentially work full-time in the business.
We can employ. A really good team and I don’t need to do any part-time work or anything like that for us to have enough money.
Captain FI: That’s pretty impressive. So in basically just under two years, you’ve essentially reached financial freedom. We talk a lot about, financial independence being this magical number of investments or whatever that once we.
Get that level of passive income, we can quit our jobs and just drink my on the beach or whatever. But it sounds like you’re obviously quite passionate about your job and you still work. It’s not like you’ve quit your job and it’s fully passive. You still are putting effort into it, but now you’re able to run your own business, live your life on your own terms.
That’s gotta be a good feeling, right? Yeah,
Richard: definitely. I think the biggest thing is more freedom. So it’s not that I had a badge or [00:28:00] before I do really enjoy my previous job, but I wanted more freedom to do what I wanted to do and to be able to use the skills that I had to help people more directly.
biggest thing that I find rewarding is looking at some of the businesses that we’ve worked with and how we’ve been able to help bottom line. One of the businesses that I first worked with when I started our agency was a robotics business and help them grow significantly and actually double their sales over a period of 18 months and same impact on them was really rewarding for me.
Captain FI: Does that mean double profits,
Richard: Sales and profits? As you see in business are two different things. their profits went up significantly as well, but they’re also able to reinvest a lot of the sales income that they had into growing their own business and re-investing as well.
Captain FI: So in terms of their return on investment for your service, that. They made their money back by double or, how would you describe their ROI on an engaging an agency for them online marketing?
Richard: haven’t done that actually based on the turnover before and after we started, it’s probably at [00:29:00] least a 10 times ROI. Holy
Captain FI: moly. All right. Let’s get you working on my sites, please.
That’s pretty exciting. Another question I have for you. Richard. What are some of the pitfalls and challenges you face with, running a business and especially in online business
Richard: I think any business, the two things that really make a big difference the people that you’ve got and the systems that you’ve got, and I’ve spent a lot of time trying to develop those and get them as good as possible. What lot of people find difficult when I first started business and, definitely in digital business like this is that you can do everything yourself, but you run into a brick wall very fast with what you’ve got the capacity to do.
And I think, there’s really a limit with how many businesses you could work with, or how many different websites you could actually run if you only did the work yourself. And sure the costs are less, but You’d end up working a huge amount as well. started to really invest in the team that I had probably from word Woodyard and also the systems that we had in as well, because you can give tasks to people, but without a good system of actually doing the [00:30:00] work and people understanding what’s required, they can waste a lot of their time because you haven’t been clear enough with what needs to be done.
for me, getting the right people on the team and having the right systems in place to help everyone do the best job possible has been the biggest and, continuing challenge for my business.
Captain FI: I can definitely relate to that. I’m trying to learn how to better outsource and automate and we mentioned the e-business Institute earlier.
That’s probably the biggest thing that I’ve taken away is learning how to effectively outsource build a good team. Yeah. Hit nail on the head right there. So is there anything you wish you’d known before? Firstly, before you started your career in engineering, I know you’ve been interested in online business and websites since you were 15 years old in high school.
Or of course, taking the decision into 2019 to start your agency. you could go back in time and tell yourself what would you say
Richard: before I question a lot, and it’s hard to say you can go straight into a business , straight from school or during school, which a lot of very successful people have done, but it’s [00:31:00] hard to know whether the experiences that I’ve had since my career and the people that I’ve met have been essential to where I am as well. I think. If I had my time, again, I would’ve invested even more and done more research and education in online skills, I think for the type of interests that I had I could have started what I’m doing a lot sooner now that’d be sure, but at the same time I’m really grateful for the career and the opportunities and the people that I’ve met already, because take engineering, the only reason why I’m able to help a lot of the industrial and manufacturing businesses that I work with is because of skills that I’ve had through doing a degree in engineering and also working in the field.
Captain FI: Yeah. I like it, man. And anyone who’s listening who is an expert or professional, or just has an interest or hobby in something, that might give you inspiration to start online business. Relating to whatever niche you’re specializing in. All right, so we’re going to shift gears again now.
Cause it wouldn’t be the captain fire podcast. If I didn’t get all nosy and start asking you about finances. [00:32:00] So Richard what is your personal investing preferences? Like? How do you invest your money?
Richard: Okay, good question. From fairly early on, I started in property.
I bought a property when I was 23 in Queensland. The first time you invest in something, there’s always things that you wish you knew and you might do differently. I think it’s important to start, an investment journey is early as possible and at least learning some of the steps.
The other things that I invest in are shares and I’ve done that specifically since knowing you and listening to your success. And I’ve been really happy to see how they’ve performed. I also have websites that we own that earn us passive or semi-passive income, and then I make money through the business as
Captain FI: Oh, awesome. So you don’t just run the agency, you also invest in the portfolios.
Richard: Yeah, that’s right. So we’ve got a couple of portfolio science. They’re not a huge amount of our income, but purely because we haven’t, dedicated as much time on them as we have a lot of our business customers.
But they do make us a bit of income and as we get the opportunity we go through and improve them [00:33:00] And that will grow increasing the amount of income that they give us.
Captain FI: Yeah, that’s great. And one of the things found in my experience is that the older a domain is, or the longer that content has been around.
Google tends to like, take it more seriously as well. Is that kind of right? Those things, should just get better over time, right? As long as you keep providing content on
, it’s a good SEO. I don’t know if there’s really an answer to it.
I think for me with older websites and older domains, there’s more opportunity for them to get back links from other sites. So often you see older domains that perform better for that reason. There’s often. And, this is, who knows if it’s a case or not, because Google never tells us, but I feel there’s also a bit of a sandbox period where if you start a website from scratch, particularly if it’s like an affiliate site and there’s a lot of competition online, it may take, six months before you start seeing it get picked up and Google.
A lot of people seem to comment on that from being their experience. So an older domain, I would say has an advantage because it’s gone through that sandbox period, if it does exist potentially has [00:34:00] backlinks as well.
Captain FI: Okay. And that’s what you mentioned about having the back links.
To get higher in the Google search.
Richard: Yeah, that’s right. So when there’s a lot of competition, just having the right terms on a page might not be enough. You might find that there’s other pages, other websites that people have got that have just as good content or better, and then it comes down to role who’s more authoritative.
And the only way that Google can see who’s more authoritative is who actually refers to that website. Like you look at very well-known websites news websites, and a lot of people link to those websites because they’re seen a source of information. And they increase in their authority and it’s the same kind of concept for a portfolio site as well, in my opinion.
Captain FI: Oh, wow. So it sounds like it’s hard to break into , but once you get into it, because you’re the authority, you’re going to get more backlinks and then you’re going to be perceived as the authority. That’s it?
Richard: It is, it can be a little bit like that. It’s not impossible and I think a little bit.
Try and gain the system to get links back to their site. But networking is actually, I think, a really great way to get started because you think about, how does another website link [00:35:00] to another website? There’s two ways. So the first one could be that they’re looking for information on a topic.
The website comes up and they site that page or they link to that page as a reference, the other way it might be as if someone that’s in a similar industry or a similar niche to you, and you want to collaborate on some content or a particular article and refer to them.
And that’s a way that a website can get a link as well. when we’re looking at building links for a business or for our website, one of the great ways that you can start is just literally by collaborating and networking to get more great links back to your website.
Captain FI: Oh yes.
Now they’re a networking groups I’ve heard of. Do you use them and are they worth it?
Richard: I am a really big believer in networking. I think for any business. Two of the most important schools you’re going to have, I think a sales and networking, because to start with it can be hard to get new customers and sales without word of mouth.
I’ve definitely been a big believer in networking and I’ve made a point of trying to increase my networks. Since I left my job and networking for me is definitely a big part of how I develop my
Captain FI: business. I’m [00:36:00] actually really glad that this has come up because in the fire community, I’ve definitely found myself being at times, ultra frugal and in some instances, Cutting my nose off, despite my face, for want of a better term in that, sacrificing some of those expensive dinners or, networking drinks and events, where, how do I have gone to those things?
I may have been able to expand my network better. And what I’ve actually found is since, delving into Leaving full-time work essentially is that I’m trying to prioritize more of those networking events. And I’ve actually found myself being happier to spend larger amounts of money going to these kind of functions.
trying to have drinks and that kind of stuff. Cause it’s actually really helping my online business. I just can’t help, but be reminded of that old adage of, people on the golf course doing business deals on the grades.
Richard: Yeah. I wouldn’t say on much of a golfer just yet, the networking will give you opportunities that would never have come along before.
They’ll give you opportunities to collaborate on a business that you might never have had access to. They’ll let [00:37:00] you meet people that have got businesses that you can help if you’re an agency like me, or if you’ve got a website that you’re doing, it might be an opportunity to collaborate with them on an article or a video or something like that.
And that’s really where you can help increase the audience that you’ve got. And the authority that you’ve got. Yeah. Yeah.
Captain FI: Awesome. So investing in your networks is another way that you personally invest money and time. It’s basically the same thing, isn’t it?
Yeah, definitely. You mentioned shares made me feel really good when you said that you started getting into shares from rating must off say thanks. Blushing over here. When we talk about shares would you want to elaborate a little bit on your personal investing preference in the share market,
Richard: yeah, with pleasure.
So I, along with probably a lot of other people, when I first got into it thought. Successfully pick my own stocks. And I figured, I’m an engineer, I’m smart. I can do this. And you actually warned me not to do it. Then you said, but just choose ETFs much easier, much safer. And I was like no, I know better.
[00:38:00] And I’ve since come to eat my words and I’ve moved everything into ETFs and it was, ah,
Captain FI: congratulations, look, I did the exact same thing. I try to speak stocks. And then I think I actually even paid for stop picking subscription services probably stop mentioning what they work.
Cause I don’t think they were very happy about me talking about them. But ending up underperforming the market. Yeah. And just with this sort of an admin nightmare so simplifying the investments has helped me personally. It’s almost like a little bit of minimalism when it comes to investing.
That’s right. Yeah. Awesome. Okay. And so property. Are you still actively a property investor and it is in Australia and real
Yeah. So we still invest in property. We’ve got properties that we own. Like I said, at the start we tried doing property development to see if that could be a way that we could build our wealth and build our income.
I found it quite difficult myself with property development for us, I think, I’d just be looking at, investing in property, going forward because. It’s more passive, whereas when you’re [00:39:00] trying to create, new buildings or split up land to try and unlock the value in them, there’s a lot of hurdles you’ve got to overcome and a lot of different jobs you’ve got to do which, not everyone knows going into it.
Captain FI: Absolutely. preaching to the choir. Ma I had tried my hand in that and, thankfully it’s worked out for me. But it’s just taken a little bit longer and I’ve been a little bit more active than I thought it was going to be. So it’s really interesting to hear your perspective on that.
And is there any other asset classes that you invest in? Like I know if you’re really smart about websites what’s your thoughts on things like, say crypto NFTs
Richard: or particularly in the NFTs? I guess I’ve been But before an investment. I guess from a little while ago, I just made the decision that I wouldn’t invest anything unless I really understood it.
A lot of people that made a lot of money in crypto and FTS and, it’s obviously worked out very well for them, but I made a decision not to actually do anything like that until I understood the market a little bit more. Cause there’s a lot of people that have made money in cryptocurrency, but there’s also people that have lost money through one reason or another.
Captain FI: [00:40:00] It’s a very wise. I remember reading something similar from Warren buffet, saying don’t invest in things you don’t understand. So what about any other, the exotic ones they’re invested in like artwork or wired or cars or anything like that?
Richard: No, actually, no nothing. That’s pretty much it the biggest investments that we’ve probably made have been in property and business and we a website.
Captain FI: Nice. It’s funny as I say that, I just remember him. I’m pretty sure I do have a big stack of Pokemon cards somewhere in a box in my apartment. And member really keen to actually see cause apparently that could be worth something
Captain FI: Alright. So look, I really appreciate your like to finish up all interviews by asking my guests the same couple of questions. So the first one I want to ask is just flat out, what are your top financial tips for someone who’s on the path to financial independence and who wants to build their wealth and better themselves?
Richard: think there’s probably three.[00:41:00] The first one is education. So educating yourself, learning about different strategies, how they can work, what the risks are. And that will give you more information before you actually start investing. The next one would be mindset.
With just wealth in general. I think the mindset’s actually more important than whatever vehicle you use to try and build wealth or become financially free because you can quite easily be your own undoing. You could walk into an inheritance and invest all the money in shares and still botch it.
If your mindset is not right. Trying to achieve a mindset that’s going to help you actually become wealthier and grow, I think is really important. Is that something that I’ve focused on a lot since leaving my job and even before then and then, the last one is just to give it a go because I think there’s only different things that you can do.
And if you just don’t take action until then you’re never gonna achieve anything. A lot of different things, you just give it a go and I’ve made my share of mistakes. I don’t know anyone in business has made a huge amount of mistakes as well.
And anyone, who’s investors made a huge amount of mistakes, but it’s [00:42:00] really the only way you can learn. I think just giving it a go even when you’re not sure about something is important.
Captain FI: I really appreciate you sharing those Richard really struck a chord with me, mate, because I know early on when I started my websites and blogging about fire, I focused so heavily on the nitty gritty and I was really zoomed in.
But the more experience I gain and the more, smart people that I talk to like yourself, and then I’m able to see interview the really successful ones. They basically say what you just said, mindset, education, and giving it a go. it’s really struck a chord with me.
So I just wanted to say thank you so much for sharing that.
Richard: All right.
Captain FI: Last question. Who or what has been the biggest influence on your path to financial independence,
Richard: but probably two things. I remember when I was, I think about 24 I was watching a seminar by Robert Kiyosaki that one of my friends just, put on the TV and I had no kind of real concept or idea about how old are these different things worked and, how businesses and investments worked.
I just [00:43:00] figured that, you just work really hard to make some money and that’s kind of it. watching that, and I guess then reading rich dad, poor dad by Robert Kiyosaki was probably the start of everything for me. In terms of who has really influenced me, it would probably be Matt and Liz from the e-business Institute.
The course that they ran, I found extremely valuable. And the biggest value I got from that was the mindset and the business skills about actually being able to make money through business, through online business, through websites.
there’s a lot that I’ve gotten out of that has led me to, where I am today.
Captain FI: I, to almost everything that you said there. It took me a long time to actually understand rich dad, poor dad. I think I read the book a few times. I got really angry and through the book, across the room, cause I’m like what does pay yourself first mean?
It took me a while to figure out what that actually meant. But that’s amazing, dude. And look, I gotta say mental lists have really helped me with mindset as well, yeah, that’s awesome, man. I really appreciate you being so honest and transparent with everything today.
Lastly, is there anything you want to chat about that we we haven’t spoken today before
Richard: we finish up.
The other [00:44:00] one that’s probably interesting to talk about is a difference between active and passive investments. It took me a little while to figure this out. But there’s passive investments out there and there’s active ones.
Like shares are a very passive investment because you put your money in, you get the dividends. Hopefully the stock goes up, we get a dividend as well, but you don’t have to do anything. Property is reasonably passive as well because you can, assuming it’s a good property and you have good tenants, you can own the property, you get the rental income.
You pay the interest on the loan. If you’ve got one and hopefully there’s a profit there for you. But not all investments are necessarily as passive like that. you take the example developing a property, there’s a lot of work that goes into that and you might make money out of that, but it’s something that’s taken a lot of your time.
And the same is true with other types of investments as well. When we talk about building and owning our website portfolio I love those types of investments but they are actually, active, there’s worth doing there you can let them sit for a while, but they perform the best when you do a bit of work on them and for a website portfolio.
There’s definitely not that much work involved with them, but it’s not like you can just put your money in and then pull the ATM and let the [00:45:00] money come out. And when people get out of trying to get out of a job and just live on passive income, one of the big traps is that they get into investments which are actually active.
And instead of saving them time, they actually take up even more time because the investment is still requires so much time and energy that they might as well have just stayed in a job and bought some shares or something. Knowing what’s actually an active investment, that’s going to consume a lot of your time and what’s a passive investment.
That’s just gonna make your money. Or your sleep is really important to know before you get into it. Very wise words.
Captain FI: I think I made a mistake similarly with a couple of websites that I bought thinking that I could just get them and I would have to do absolutely nothing to them. And it was not a lot of work.
Still for me at the moment I’m spending about, maybe one or two days a month. So that’s pretty good, but it still does require some active, so yeah, really good point. I’m really glad you brought that up. So Richard, where can people. Get in touch with you and learn more about your agency.
Richard: [00:46:00] So you can go to my website. paramount. P a R a M a R k.com to, to you. And that’s how websites, you can find out more about what we do. What sort of businesses that we work with and what sort of services that we provide. And if you wanted to get in contact with us, you can call us on a number or contact us through our contact form on the website.
Captain FI: I’ve all my science had just got columns, so interesting. Why’d you go with a. Calm John, are you
Richard: okay. so.com dot a U is typically used for Australian businesses. whereas.com is often used for like blogs affiliate sites, e-commerce sites that have a global reach. if you’re looking for a local business or an Australian business, Some people, not everyone actually do specifically look for a daughter.
You just to confirm that it is an Australian.
Captain FI: Oh, there you go. Last little nugget of wisdom from Richard, from Fairmont. Awesome. Looking at, we show notes on the captain fire website as well. So there’ll be links to that. I’ll put the number for Paramark if anyone’s interested in having a [00:47:00] chat to him.
And I’m pretty sure I’ve seen your name come up in quite a lot of SEO for. I’m pretty sure you’ve answered a lot of my questions online as well.
Richard: Having your Richards, financial independence, Facebook group.
Captain FI: Awesome. All right, again, thank you so much for your time.
It’s been awesome to learn. About some of the different business models online. It’s been great to talk about SCA and I’ve certainly taken away a whole bunch of good stuff myself. So again, thanks very much for your time. Thanks for having me
Richard: captain. I definitely appreciate it. Cheers.
Captain FI: Bye.
Thanks for listening to another episode of the captain fire financial independence podcast. So read the transcripts or check out the show notes, head over to www captain fire.com for all the details. If you have a question for the captain, make sure to get in touch, you might even make it on the airwaves.
You can reach me online through the captain fire contact. Get in touch through the socials. [00:48:00] I’m active on Facebook and Instagram as well as a number of online finance and investing forums. And finally remember the information presented on the show and the links provided for general information purposes only they should not be taken as constituting professional financial advice.
You should always do your own research when making any financial decisions and make sure it’s appropriate for your personal circumstance.
Captain FI is a Retired Pilot who lives in Adelaide, South Australia. He is passionate about Financial Independence and writes about Personal Finance and his journey to reach FI at 29, allowing him to retire at 30.
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