Nice to meet you. I'm Andrej, and here's my story.

Nice to meet you. I’m Andrej, and here’s my story.

Warning: You’re about to read 2,753 words. Go grab your favorite drink, kick back, and enjoy the ride.

Every beginning is tough.

My beginning was back in 2008.

It went something like this:

I got married at the age of 20. We had our baby boy before I turned 21, and then I had to move out of the security of my parents’ house and move in with my wife and kid.

I’ll spare you the details, and all I’ll say is that I was completely clueless and lost.

Clueless of what I’d do for a living, how I’d support my new family, and how we’d make rent in 6 months when we finally run out of our cash reserves…

Fun times!

I was a gambling man (read: kid) back then, and I loved betting on sports. Soccer/football and tennis were my particular vices.

I also played basketball throughout my teen years and was on a verge of signing a pro contract when I was 19.

That didn’t happen. Obviously…

I tore the ligaments in my shoulder during a pick-up game and had to say goodbye to my basketball ‘career’.

(I’m still playing, though.)

Sports and competition have always been a huge part of my life. I supplemented that adrenaline rush I got whenever I stepped onto the field with gambling.

And that turned out… eh…

I was doing OK (read: loss, loss, loss, win, loss, win, loss, loss…), but, since I grew up around entrepreneurs, I always had a desire to progress further…

I hated the lack of control that came with sports betting. Yeah, sure, I had my sheets, stats, H2H comparisons, and whatnot, but that wasn’t it…

banging head against the wall

So, I decided to educate myself on how to tie my weird affinity for gambling and entrepreneurship together.

Ta-da!

I finally had my ‘A-ha!’ moment…

I learned that you could make websites AND sell something on them!

I instantly started researching on how to make money online, how to create a website, etc.

I was hooked immediately.

The first website that I ever built was Tips1x2.net

tips1x2
This was my site. Archive, unfortunately, doesn't show CSS

You can check out Archive.org and find the stuff I had on the site back then.

Fun times, indeed.

The site was a basic Joomla site with a paint-drawn logo. Nothing fancy. I had a ‘vision’ that I was an expert in the field and that I had enough credibility to sell my betting picks for a monthly fee.

Oh boy, was I wrong.

Now, here’s the thing.

Considering the fact that I was practically a nobody in the industry, the site did pretty well. I kept it live for about 8 months before I decided that I hated gambling and everything that comes with it.

I notified everyone that we were shutting the ‘business’ down and I stopped working on the site. It made a couple of thousand Euros via monthly subscriptions – more than enough to give us a solid cash injection.

(Note that I was running a membership site way before membership sites were a thing.)

And then the inevitable happened.

We ran out of money…

I had to give my dad a call and ask him to hire me.

My dad is a contractor. He works with hardwood, and he’s an excellent craftsman. This was just before the economic crash in ’08 when the construction business was booming. He, of course, gave me a simple job, but it was more than enough.

Then the ’09 happened, and the construction businesses around the world got their a**es kicked.

No surprise there…

I was jobless, my wife couldn’t find a job, there was still rent to pay, and I had to figure something out. And I had to figure it out QUICKLY.

Enter Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

I said f*ck it. Let’s ditch the rent, trim all our expenses down and move back in with my parents (and my sister).

There were 6 of us in a small 48m2 (500ft2) apartment, and we somehow managed to pull it off without killing each other.

Time passed and I finally put it all together.

My father was having trouble finding work since traditional advertising seemed to stop working altogether. Everyone I asked had told me to look into advertising on Google.

So, how can we get him on that weird thingy called THE INTERNET so that both he and I can start making some moolah?

(This was my first experience with lead generation without even knowing it.)

I did some research and learned that all I really had to do was learn SEO.

And I did just that.

I read, and read, and read, and then I finally decided that I was ready.

I created a basic WordPress site targeting local terms such as ‘hardwood flooring city’ and ‘flooring contractor city,’ etc.

The next step was to spam those inner pages to death with my keywords and get some directory backlinks (can anyone say DMOZ?).

Don’t forget, this was back in 2010.

Two months later and my dad was getting 5-10 calls per day and managed to close 50% of them.

I had to start a new company to look more professional and to establish trust, but that was easy.

(Note: my dad still runs this business and gets hot leads from the website every day.)

decking.hr
My dad's business

The business started booming, so money wasn’t an issue anymore.

Yet, I wasn’t happy.

I wasn’t happy because I hated the physical work and I wasn’t my own boss.

I worked with my dad till late 2012.

During that time, I never stopped learning about SEO, marketing, psychology, and entrepreneurship.

I knew that I needed to move on and do something on my own.

Enter January 2013.

I decided to use all my new and (somewhat) tested SEO knowledge to start making some ‘passive income.’

This was my trigger.

That was the first article I read on affiliate marketing and the concept of making money online without actually having to sell anything.

I started doing some niche and keyword research.

After the initial brainstorm, I had a list of 20 or so niches in front of me.

Of course, I decided to tackle the worst niche possible for someone with no money and experience:

The weight loss niche.

I targeted the ‘how to lose weight naturally‘ keyword.

I had $500 saved up and decided to invest it into a solid article (5,000 words), premium theme, and a nice domain.

HowToLoseWeightNaturally.net.

You can imagine how that played out…

I won’t even elaborate.

I lost $500, a lot of my time, and, most important of all, I felt like a failure.

But, here’s the thing.

That was the BEST thing that ever happened to me.

I had to learn from my mistakes and not let them define me. I’d followed what the gurus preached, and that got me in trouble.

It was time to put my thinking hat on and not make the same mistake again.

Here’s what I did.

I went to Flippa and pulled out a list of all the sites that recently got sold for more than $20,000.

There weren’t a lot of those, but I filtered them so I could only see the sites that used Amazon’s Associates program — popularly known as Amazon Affiliate sites.

Finally, I ended up with a list of 10-ish websites in front of me.

The idea was to find a site that got sold, but that looked and felt like crap.

That was easy.

The next step was to make something A LOT better.

Better content, better design, better user experience… Better everything.

That was (relatively) easy as well.

I went all out with keyword research, design, creative monetization, and built the site for less than $1,000.

I worked on the site for 8 months before listing it on Flippa and selling it for $8,400.

I was in shock.

That feeling of growing something from the ground up and selling it for a nice profit appealed to me more than anything in my (professional) life so far.

I knew this was what I was meant to do.

And I wasn’t wrong.

I took that $8,400 and reinvested 100% of it into another site. I started to think a bit bigger with this one and moved from being in a micro-niche to being in a (broader) niche.

That site started to make solid money by month 6, but this time I wasn’t in a rush to sell it. I used the revenue to launch new sites. Yes, sites. Not just one.

It’s April 2015.

I sold that site for $51,900.

Guess what I did first?

I bought myself a nice car (’10 BMW 1 series, pics below). This was the first time I took the money I made online and bought something real.

Something I could actually see and feel.

Something that made people around me wonder what the f*ck am I doing for a living.

And it was a freaking CAR. I was once again, shocked.

It felt weird.

I felt like some weird hacker sitting behind his desk printing money. And the thing is – no one in my (broad) circle knew what I was doing for a living. And I was, and still am, perfectly fine with that.

bmw2

Fast forward to October 2015.

So, I’d sold my site, bought a car, and still had a handful of sites producing low-five figures per month in affiliate commissions…

Then I got in touch with my, soon-to-be, business partner, Jon Gillham. He runs an SEO blog called Authority Website Income.

Jon was actively buying content sites on his blog, so I decided to reach out.

He was intrigued with what I’d been doing with my sites, so he asked me if I’d like to re-do one of his sites.

Heck yeah! Of course I’ll do it – I said.

He liked what I did with the site so much that he ended up purchasing a website from my portfolio.

And then…

…two months later we started a company called Brand Builders.

We utilized my site-building systems and mixed them up with his audience to create one of the fastest growing businesses in the industry.

We were growing and scaling like crazy.

Our first client signed up in December 2015.

In 2016, we generated a bit over $250,000 in revenue.

My systems improved over time as I learned new skills.

I learned how to set up, grow, and sell a business the right way. A lot of stuff goes into this, so I won’t bore you with details…

In 2017, Brand Builders generated over $1,100,000 in revenue.

Yes, that’s seven figures. Lots of zeros!

This was almost unimaginable for a guy that was sanding hardwood floors just a few short years back.

Who would’ve thought that a guy from Eastern Europe, who married and had a kid so young, could make that amount of cash… ONLINE… I mean, c’mon…

andrej ilisin
Yes, this was me, 8 years, a lot of hair, and kgs ago 🙂

I definitely wasn’t one of those people.

I was, and still am, shocked by the opportunity we all have in this day and age to make money from anywhere we want.

And it doesn’t have to feel like a J-O-B.

I love this shit.

I never, ever, feel like I’m working. It’s like I’m playing a video game.

I love strategy games (Civilization & Sim City fanatic in the house!), so this concept of making money online was right in my wheelhouse.

Plus, building a business, putting all the pieces together, tweaking, moving, shaking, baking… It feels like a strategy game, so what’s there not to love?

But I digress…

It’s now early 2018.

We sold a pretty big piece of the company to outside investors. That got me out of my comfort zone because all the joy of running my own show went out the window.

Yes, the money I got was nice. But it wasn’t the money that motivated me.

I had more than enough to live a simple but comfortable life.

I loved building things.

And now, after I’d sold a large percentage of my business, I felt like I wasn’t doing that.

It had started to feel like a job.

On top of that, my wife gave birth to our wonderful daughter. That made my next decision practically a no-brainer. I didn’t have time to mess around. Especially with two awesome young ones running around.

It was time to give the investors and my former business partner notice.

I’m out.

A lone wolf.

Six months later, June 2018, to be exact, I transferred all my responsibilities to other people and started to focus more on my own portfolio.

I had 5 sites in my portfolio that generated a large amount of cash. I also had a lot of capital just sitting around doing nothing.

I hate that.

You’ll get this next analogy if you’re a fan of Shark Tank

Mr. Wonderful’s metaphor of sending his troops (money) to battle is what resonates with me the most.

So that’s exactly what I did.

I bought one site for high-five figures, another one for a similar amount, the third one for a bit less than that, etc.

I deployed a large portion of my capital and went to work.

My forte is SEO, CRO, building sales funnels, and developing strategies and systems. I applied all my knowledge and started improving those sites across the board.

The ROI is crazy in this game. If you know what you’re doing, of course.

It’s not risk-free, though.

These days, I’m lucky enough to have hundreds of projects under my belt, so I have a good sense of how to mitigate and avoid risk.

Time went by as I bought, sold, and built new businesses…

I’ll be upfront and say that I made a lot of money doing what I do.

But money is not my motivation.

Not anymore.

As I said, I LOVE to build businesses.

Fast forward to March 2019…

I got bored (yes, I get bored quite often) doing everything on my own, and I started to feel that ‘itch’ again.

I wanted to engage with other people. I wanted to create a community. A tribe.

alpha investors

Meet Alpha Investors.

I learned more than I can express during all of those years I spent understanding the industry.

I learned how to hire, how to fire, how to manage, negotiate, buy, sell… All that’s needed to run a successful business.

I learned and developed new skills whenever the situation required them.

Whenever I hit a roadblock, my slight OCD kicks in, and I have to find a perfect solution to that problem. I don’t stop until I do.

That said, I felt (and still feel) that I had solid systems and processes for buying, selling, and building online businesses at scale.

So, I decided to use all that experience to help other people, who were struggling in the same way I had.

  • It’s not easy.
  • It’s not fast.
  • It won’t make you rich overnight.
  • Heck, it probably won’t make you rich, period.

But, if there’s even a slight chance that it could help you to turn your life around – the way it turned my life upside down – you should strongly consider it.

The reason I started Alpha Investors is to help people transition from a regular 9-5 to being able to do things on their own terms. Without me being obnoxious or even remotely salesy while doing so.

What we do is pretty simple.

We help people skip all the boring and draining work of having to learn how to create, run, and grow a profitable website.

It sounds simple, I know. But there’s a LOT that goes into it.

I hired a lot of talented people who are way smarter than me. That means that I’m challenged on a daily basis and forced to evolve both as a person and as a business owner.

We’re building our own projects, buying, improving, and selling sites regularly. All while working together with our clients on their own projects.

I couldn’t have asked for more.

I have a chance to do what I love while helping others do the same.

It’s priceless.

But here’s the thing.

We’re only at the beginning. We’re only getting started. I’m sure you’ll be hearing from us for many years to come.

That being said…

I’m pretty sure you’re tired of reading through almost 2,800 words (not talking to you, skimmers!), so I’ll wrap it up.

Me – in one sentence:

I’m a simple guy, with a great family, who loves to travel, enjoys sports, and loves to build businesses that matter.

See you in the trenches!
Andrej