495
10 min 14 sec

Metal Detectorist Gets Paid for Finding Lost Jewelry

A university data developer starts a metal detecting agency with his kids. It goes on to help people recover over $100,000 worth of jewelry, while earning rewards for the family.
Community Low Startup Potential Low-Tech Service

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What It's About

A full-time data developer starts a detective agency with his kids earning some real rewards along the way.

Business Model
Service
Skills Required
Resourcefulness & Communication
Complexity
Low
Profit Potential
Medium

Words of Wisdom

Dan believes really anyone can get started this way. You just need a basic metal detector, some patience on Craigslist, and the willingness to go out and search for a couple hours when you find a gig.

Fun Fact

Dan once drove 4.5 hours to find a ring that had been dropped off a pier. Dan found a ring—someone else’s ring. After a few hours, Dan’s son, who was just swimming around nearby, came up, hands open, and gave the correct ring to Dan.

Notes from Chris

Episode 495
Dan Roekle was vacationing on a Florida beach. A cool breeze ran through his hair, and the sand was… everywhere. His kids were playing close to the water, but it was time to pack up and head out. He walked down to where they were and gave them the sad news. Little did he know, the fun of that day wasn’t over yet.

As they were walking back up the beach, they saw a man walking around with a metal detector. They watched him search up and down the beach for a few minutes. As he approached, they asked him if he had found anything.

In fact, he had. In one of his hands was a necklace with a dozen rings hanging on it, all jewelry that tourists had lost on the beach. The man explained that finding the jewelry was only half the fun—finding the owners was also exhilarating.

Shortly after Dan and his family returned to Wisconsin, his son approached him and asked if they could get one of those “treasure finders.” It seemed like a fun hobby for him and his kids, so Dan agreed.

At first, they had a cheap, hobby-grade metal detector. They would take it around the school playground for a while each weekend and come out a few dollars richer. Dan’s son loved it.

A couple weeks after buying that initial detector, Dan saw a Craigslist ad offering a reward for a lost ring. Dan, equipped with his basic metal detector, replied. The next day, after showing up less than an hour of searching, Dan found the ring and gave it to the friend who would mail it back to the original owner. It was exhilarating, but not quite as exhilarating as the $200 check that arrived in the mail the next week.

Fired-up from the large check, Dan quickly sold his entry-level detector and used that $200 to buy a nicer, more powerful one. He knew he was onto something.

Over the next couple years, Dan and kids found more and more lost rings, phones, and keys across his state. He usually charged some sort of reward, but it wasn’t ever that big. Somewhere along the way, Dan realized he needed to make his business more official.

In 2015, Dan formed Lost and Found Ring LLC, and created a Wordpress site to go along with it.

He set up the site himself and started blogging about findings over the years. This led to his site generating some major Google traffic. Most of the searches that lead to the site are along the lines of “where to rent a metal detector” or “how to find my lost ring.”

Dan convinces these readers of his blogs that they shouldn’t try to rent a cheap detector themselves—they should hire a metal detecting veteran with upper-level gear. He also shows his authority and skill with finding jewelry, developing trust with random site visitors. And it works!

Throughout the second half of 2015, Dan made over $1,000, earning back the money he spent getting everything off the ground. But that was just the beginning. Dan’s “feel good” stories started getting picked up by newspapers. The tales of long-lost family heirlooms being rescued from loneliness on some beach or in a random pasture seemed to multiply, and Dan started seeing more inquiries.

Dan and his kids’ little hobby is paying out. He and his son find 2-3 items per month on average with a 65% success rate, putting an extra few hundred dollars in the bank account each time. This metal detecting family—who are now equipped with multiple detectors—will keep searching for treasure. Though, according to Dan, the time they spend together is the true reward.

 
  MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

  • Lost and Found Ring LLC: Missing a family heirloom or wedding ring? We can officially say that we've got a guy for that—learn more over on Dan's website!
  • Wordpress: Dan used Wordpress to setup Lost and Found Ring, and here you can learn how to install your own Wordpress site in 5 minutes
SEE ALSO:

Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,

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Quote of the Day
"Being able to return a ring that someone thought was lost forever, and which typically has a huge amount of memory and emotional attachment... is like no other feeling in the world."
—Dan Roekle #SideHustleSchool

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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau