What It's About
A developer creates a travel site with over six million subscribers.
Words of Wisdom
Not ready to go all-in with a new business? Here's some great perspective from Dave, "I’m a bootstrapper and I think doing the side hustle thing is a great way to test ideas before going ‘all in’ and quitting your day job."
Dave’s first employee was his youngest sister, Karen. Three of his siblings have been involved in his businesses, two of them as employees.
Notes from Chris
Episode 1091Dave Boehl had long thought it would be fun to start a website focused on travel. So when he looked for a project outside of his full-time job, creating GoLastMinute was a natural fit. Dave was working for the Seattle-based company RealNetworks as a project manager, which meant a lot of responsibility, but not a lot of time spent with hands-on coding. His side project would allow him to stay up-to-date with his tech skills. Way back in the early 2000s, he’d been a web developer for another site, where he learned how to improve the search forms so that more users would follow through with the booking process. It was a practical experience that he would draw upon now. He bought the domain for $1,000 through GoDaddy Auctions. That was a lot of money compared to the $10 that an unclaimed domain would cost, but as soon as he saw it, he knew it was the one that he wanted. Fortunately, that was his only real expense in the beginning, aside from $5 a month for hosting. Initially, the site was little more than a gateway to earn commissions through Expedia.com, the popular agency site. Back then, the Expedia affiliate program was basic—you could link to it, but a technical limitation prevented anyone from including content and pricing on their own site. That wasn’t a problem for Dave. He coded his own program to get pricing from Expedia and use it on GoLastMinute. It was time consuming and buggy, but the creative solution did what he needed it to do. He didn’t do much to promote the new venture. He told a few friends and ran some Google ads to drive traffic to the site. About a week later, he referred his first customer, which brought him a commission of about $20. More referrals came in every now and then, and for the next few years, GoLastMinute was making enough for Dave to cover a few luxuries here and there, or in his words, “beer money.” At some point, he decided it was time to get serious and see if he could grow it into a sustainable business. That decision came from his belief that he’d found a new way to grow the site’s customer base. To him, it didn’t make sense to do much else until he’d solved that issue. With his new idea in mind, he redesigned the website as a “daily deals” travel site. At the time, sites like Groupon were growing rapidly, so he applied the same thought to GoLastMinute. The success of the website was tied to the number of subscribers to the site’s daily email: the more people who subscribed, the more people who saw (and bought!) the deals through the site … and the more money Dave made. When he shifted his model to provide more information and daily deals to people who provided him an email address, his subscriptions exploded. Within two years, he had a million subscribers. He now has about six million. In a recent year, GoLastMinute brought in more than $2 million dollars. Dave has continued to stay current, and just relaunched the site on a new platform that he plans to make available to the public in early 2020. He hopes to empower other budding travel site owners by giving them the right tools.
MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:
- GoLastMinute: Love to travel and looking for a great deal? Check out Dave's site.
- Avid Travelers Turn Finding Deals Into Vacation Planning Side Income: A couple in Washington, D.C. convert their passion for travel into a side hustle planning all-inclusive surprise vacations for those who lack the time to do it themselves.
- Travel Blogger Gets Paid via Pinterest and Guidebooks: A nomadic employee writes a guidebook about Iceland and earns $10,000 after promoting it on Pinterest.
- "Cheap Plane Tickets" Site Becomes Million-Dollar Hustle: How a Washington, DC political analyst used research skills to help travelers save money while attracting 275,000 email subscribers and making more than $1M.
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