7 Internet Business Success Stories

A 17 year old rejects $1.5 million for her MySpace site. Markus earns $10 million a year with an online dating site. A mysterious man sells 100,000 domains for $164 million. These are some of the seven stories of ordinary people achieving extraordinary success with their internet business.

I love reading business success stories, especially when they are about ordinary people who achieve extraordinary internet business success.

It has been said that the internet levels the playing field for everyone. These types of success stories give hope that anyone, irrespective of sex, age, education, or location can become extraordinarily successful online. You don't even have to be particularly talented or skilled, or have any business experience.

Here are the seven web business success stories of seven ordinary people achieving extraordinary success online.

Blogger Wins $300,000 Book Deal 2 Months After Launching Blog

Christian LanderChristian Lander created the funny blog, StuffWhitePeopleLike.com. Just two months after starting the blog, he won a book deal with major publisher, Random House. He received an advance fee of $300,000! Wow!

Stuff White People Like is a blog that takes satirical aim at the interests of North American left-leaning, city-dwelling white folk. The site attracted almost 15 million visitors in a little over two months.

The blog was created in January 2008 by white Canadian, Christian Lander, and co-authored with his Filipino Canadian friend, Myles Valentin, after Valentin teased Lander about his watching the HBO television series The Wire. The blog became popular very quickly, registering over 300,000 daily hits and over 40 million total hits by the end of September 2008.

The Stuff White People Like book was released on July 1, 2008, and has made several bestseller lists.

Source: Why Blog? Reason No. 92: Book Deal - The New York Times, Mar. 30, 2008.

$800,000 iPhone Mortgage Stress Relief

Ethan NicholasIn August 2008, Ethan Nicholas and his wife, Nicole, were having trouble making their mortgage payments. Medical bills from the birth of their younger son were piling up. Then he remembered reading about the guy who had made a quarter-million dollars in a hurry by writing a video game called Trism for the iPhone.

Although Ethan had years of programming experience, he had never programmed for the iPhone. Because he grew up playing shoot-em-up computer games, he decided to write an artillery game. He sketched out some graphics and bought inexpensive stock photos and audio files.

For six weeks, Ethan worked day and night - by day at his job at Sun, and after-hours on his iPhone game. On its first day of release, iShoot which sold for $4.99 earned Ethan $1,000. The second day, $2,000. On the third day, the figure slid down to $50, where it hovered for the next several weeks.

In January, he released a free version of the game with fewer features, hoping to spark sales of the paid version. It worked: iShoot Lite has been downloaded more than 2 million times, and many people have upgraded to the paid version, which now costs $2.99. On its peak day - January 11 - iShoot sold nearly 17,000 copies, earning Ethan $35,000.

In the same article, Kostas Eleftheriou and two friends made more than $100,000 in three months with iSteam, a program they wrote in seven days. iSteam fogs up the face of an iPhone like a bathroom mirror, and you swipe a finger across the phone's surface, iSteam's pretend moisture is wiped away with a realistic-sounding squeak. When the phone is tipped on its side, droplets of condensation roll as if pulled by gravity.

Both Ethan and Kostas were inspired by Steve Demeter, who made $250,000 in two months with a game called Trism, which involves aligning rows of brightly colored triangles.

Source: Coder's Half-Million-Dollar Baby Proves iPhone Gold Rush Is Still On - Wired, Feb. 12, 2009.

Super Affiliate Earns $1.4 Million A Year

Jeremy PalmerJeremy Palmer, an expert on affiliate marketing, earned gross profits of $837,465 on revenue slightly over $1.4 million.

Jeremy discovered affiliate programs in 2003 after noticing that some of the affiliates for the small financial services company he was working for were earning thousands of dollars in commissions. So he added some affiliate links to a website he owned. He says the commissions he generated encouraged him to build more affiliate sites in other industries.

Within two months Jeremy was making more money from his affiliate sites than he did at his day job. Within six months he was making twice as much, so he decided to quit his day job to focus exclusively on his affiliate business.

Jeremy generated $100,000 from his websites in his first year as an affiliate, and over $1 million in his second year. In 2005, he won Commission Junction's Horizon Award for Innovation. That year, he grossed $1.1 million, and went on to make $1.4 million in 2006.

Jeremy's stats for 2006 make interesting reading:

Revenue: $1.4+ million
PPC Spend: $560,000+
Gross Profit: $837,465

Not bad for a one-man band business!

Source: Should you trust the million-dollar affiliate? - Associate Programs, Sep. 25, 2007.

17 Year Old Girl Rejects $1.5 Million + Car Offer

Ashley QuallsAshley Qualls, a mere 17 years old, dropped out of high school, bought a house for $250,000, helped launch artists such as Lily Allen, and rejected offers to buy her young company, including one for $1.5 million and a car (valued up to $100,000)!

Ashley's web site, whateverlife.com, which offers MySpace page layouts for free has raked in more than $1 million in Google AdSense advertising revenue. The business brings in as much as $70,000 a month.

According to Google Analytics, Whateverlife attracts more than 7 million individuals and 60 million page views a month. Quantcast ranked Whateverlife.com a staggering number 349 out of more than 20 million sites. Wow! She's how old?

Source: Girl Power - Fast Company, Dec. 19, 2007.

62 Year Old Grandmother Creates The World's Most Popular Online Greeting Card Site

Jacquie LawsonJacquie Lawson, a 62 year old grandmother in the village of Lurgashall, West Sussex, England, created jacquielawson.com, the market leader in online greeting cards.

According to Nielsen/NetRatings, JacquieLawson.com had 22.7 million visitors in December, more than double that of its closest rival, AmericanGreetings.com.

The web site has 531,227 members, each paying a £4.50 ($6.80) annual subscription fee, generating nearly £2.4 million ($3.6 million). Websites like JacquieLawson.com usually sell for 5-6 times income, so JacquieLawson.com could be worth nearly £15 million ($23 million). Five years ago the egreeting cards site, BlueMountain.com, went for $35 million.

Trained at St Martin's School of Art in London, Jacquie worked as a freelance artist for years. She got her first PC in 1998 and began using the animation program Macromedia Flash in 2000. After six weeks of trial and error she finished her first electronic Christmas card and sent it to 30 friends, then went to Australia. When she returned she had 1,600 messages from people all over the world who had received her card. Many asked that if she produced another card, she let them see it.

The following November, a simple website was born, only to crash under huge demand. Jacquie's friend, Andrew Dukes, and nephew, Mike Hughes-Chamberlain, helped her set up a more sophisticated website. The rest is history as they say.

Jacquie, who had been designing her cards slowly with a mouse, now uses a touch-sensitive tablet and stylus.

Source: UK's cottage industry beats US internet giants - Guardian, Feb. 12, 2006

$10 Million A Year Working 10 Hours A Week

Markus FrindMarkus Frind, created the online dating site, plentyoffish.com, and working 10 hours a week earns net profits of $10 million a year. Thirty-two year old Markus runs the web site from his 83-square-metre Vancouver apartment.

Markus built the Plenty of Fish site in 2003 as an exercise to help teach himself a new programming language, ASP.net. The site became popular with English-speaking Canadians, then spread across U.S. cities with minimal advertising.

According to data from comScore Media Metrix for November 2007, Plenty of Fish had 1.4 million visitors in the United States. In December, site served up 1.2 billion page views. It has 600,000 registered customers, despite the fact that each month it purges 30 percent of users for being inactive.

Plenty of Fish makes money from banner ads, Google AdSense and affiliate marketing links that send users to other dating sites. Markus boasts of making $10,000 a day from Google Adsense alone. He even posted a photo of an AdSense check for $901,733.84, which Google confirmed as being genuine.

Customers submit 50,000 new photos every day, each of which has to be verified that it is an actual person and does not contain nudity. Volunteers review each and every photo. Some have made it their principal pastime. Among Plenty of Fish's volunteers were 120 who last year evaluated more than 100,000 images each.

Source: From 10 Hours a Week, $10 Million a Year - The New York Times, Jan. 13, 2008.

100,000 Domains Sold For $164 Million

Yun YeI have left the most incredible business success story to last. There are many domainers who have made a fortune with domain names, but this story is the most widely reported. When I read the story, I thought to myself, why didn't I think of that.

In November 2004, Yun Ye, a Chinese American, became a legend in the domaining industry when he sold his portfolio of 100,000 domain names to Marchex for a whopping $164 million!

Yun Ye began building his enormous collection of domains after graduating from the University of Maryland in 1998. Yun gobbled up thousands of expired domains, often names that the previous owner had either forgotten or decided not to renew.

When Yun Ye was building his portfolio, the only way to make money from domain names was reselling them. In 2000 that changed when paid search started to take off. Advertisers would pay for each visitor that Pay Per Click (PPC) search engines, such as Overture (which later became Yahoo! Search Marketing), sent. And Overture would pay domainers like Yun Ye for placing their ads on their domains.

Yun Ye's portfolio of names were bringing in more than $20 million a year in revenues, with $19 million in profits. Marchex paid the equivalent of 8.6 times annual earnings, based on figures provided in SEC documents.

Yun Ye is intensely private and dealt with Marchex only under the agreement that they never mention his name. To this day, Marchex execs refer to the deal by the company name Yun Ye adopted for the transaction: Name Development.

Source: Masters of their Domains - CNN Money, Dec. 1, 2005.

I hope these seven incredible internet business success stories inspire you to find your own business success online.

About the author: Michael Wong is the editor of Mikes-Marketing-Tools.com and author of MichaelWongAcademy.org, which shows people how to make money online. Mike entered the internet industry in 1998. He sold a website to a SoftBank funded start-up in 2000. He wrote one of the earliest SEO books in 2002. And he's generated millions in online revenue since then.
You have Mike's permission to republish this article in your website, on the condition you include Mike's bio after the article.