How I Failed College But Learned Internet Marketing

In the spirit of April Fools Day, this entire week is dedicated to showing you just how much of a fool I am.

A fool who has lost more money in business than most people have made

…a fool that went his first two years online without ever selling anything…

..a fool that, yes, has failed out of college.

But I’m also a fool that was able to say, “Yeah, sure” to my friend and business partner Matt Smith last week, when out of the blue he texted me and asked me if I wanted to go to Asia for 10 days…with just 7 days notice.

So if this fool (i.e. me) can pull off an online business that allows me to globetrot the world on a moment’s notice, then it proves that you can accomplish your financial dreams through the use of a website-based business as well.

A little more on that as the week goes by…but first, the true story of “How me fail collegz”, by Craig Ballantyne.

It was 2003, and the next logical step after getting a Master’s Degree in Exercise physiology was clearly to sign up for a Web Design course at Toronto’s George Brown college.

As I struggled to get my online fitness business ramped up, I thought that being able to make my own sites was the solution to my sales problem.

It wasn’t.

But each Tuesday night, after a full day of personal training, I would sneak out of the house I shared with my best buddy (there was no way I wanted him to know I was taking web design at college) and take the subway downtown.

I then spent the next three hours in a classroom learning HTML from an old, cynical college professor. He looked like the kind of guy who just wanted to take computers apart in his garage, and resented the fact he had to teach some snot- nosed kids (and some weird personal trainer dude) how to build websites.

Needless to say, this was as exciting as watching “Everybody Loves Raymond” while doing long, slow cardio.

Of course, all I did was stare out of the room at 22 year old college girls wandering the hallways.

Finally, after three sessions it hit me.

This. Was. Stupid.

It was a complete waste of time.

There was no good reason for me to be learning this nonsense.

And so I dropped out.

Weeks later the F showed up in the mail.

I had officially failed out of college…

…BUT, I had passed an important test in the real-world exam of building an online business.

I recognized what really mattered – adding value to the lives of readers and learning how to sell.

That college course was a waste of $500. On the other hand, the $97 “Info Millions” manual I purchased earlier that summer went on to make me at least $12,000 directly (I was able to create $4000 in sales each time I read it.)

This college dropout experience was probably also the first point at which I created Ballantyne’s Law, which states:

“The more technical expertise you have about such things as building websites, connecting merchant accounts to your online shopping cart, or writing computer code, etc., the LESS money you’ll make on the Internet.”

No matter how much this law might upset you, I stand by it.

If you spend your time trying to figure this nonsense out, you’re opportunity costs will be sky high.

What that means is…

Every time you say “yes” to something, you are saying “no” to something else.

If you say “yes” to trying to fix your website on your own, you are saying “no” to spending more time trying to fix your sales message, your email copywriting skills, etc.

You need to understand what is important, and that is making money. That’s what businesses are supposed to do.

So you need to be selling, marketing, etc. Not building, tinkering, or fixing.

As Matt Smith told our ETR Mastermind attendees this weekend, “You aren’t internet marketers. You are revenue drivers.”

Knowing HTML doesn’t drive revenue.

Creating big ideas, adding value, and being able to sell through the written (or spoken) word, are revenue driving activities. And that’s what matters in business.

Make sure you focus on becoming a revenue driver, even if it means failing out of college.

Disclaimer: Don’t fail out of college. At least, understand that I don’t mean it literally, particularly if your parents are paying for it.

But understand where your real business education is to be found…and that is in the world of entrepreneurship.

By the way, now would be a good time to mention the BlackSmith Liberty and Entrepreneurship Camp to any 19-25 year old readers.

Matt and his friend Simon Black (who I will be traveling to Hong Kong with today) run this extraordinary camp each year in Lithuania. This will be my 3rd summer there.

You can find out how to apply here:

No foolin,

Craig Ballantyne

Today is the first day of the rest of your life. So don’t dwell on past mistakes. Instead, focus on what you can and will do today, tomorrow, and the rest of your life, and all of the great things that will happen because of your actions.