I remember coming to the United States when I was 9 years old. Me and family landed in JFK circa 1984 and at the time, I was the happiest kid in the world. Of course, I knew very little english and I was held back that same year but later on, I quickly picked up the English language and made tons of friends – not to mention getting picked on a lot for being a dorky looking kid with thick glasses. Here is my story.


After finishing Junior High School, I then went to High School and during that same time, my Father was going through cancer. Around 11th grade, my Father passed away and it was just me and my Mom and an uncertain future. We moved to Howard Beach, NY and stayed with my two uncles and it was then I learned to become a man. I remember as I was in the hurse, my Grandfather (now deceased too) gave me a pep-talk and told me that you need to learn to become a man so that you can take care of your Mother. That day brings tears to my eyes. I took it to heart and never forgot that pep-talk. Thanks Gramps!

Trying times

Fast forward a few years later and my Mom and I decided to get an apartment of our own because I was growing up and needed my space. As a teenager without a Father, I was a bit rambunctious and free spirited and could not handle being around grown-ups for too long and plus, my space was getting crowded — after all, how was I supposed to mack-it to the ladies? All kidding aside – I believe this is when I learned all about responsibility.

During the years that followed, I went from odd-end jobs to corporate positions for many years but finally, I found something that I liked that paid well. I started working as a computer instructor teaching networking, hardware, software, office apps and eventually graphic design for a company called New Horizons in NYC for a few years and during the World Trade Center Attacks, I was laid off like thousands of others during the recession. Being laid off really sucked because we struggled with money and finances and it was not easy to get by but I think that is what pushed me over the edge to begin working for myself. After getting laid-off and fired from so many different jobs, I hated working and I wanted a piece of the Internet because I noticed so much opportunity.

In 2001, the internet was like the wild-wild-west. It was an open desert and you can buy your plot of land anywhere and call it anything you like and I did just that. I turned my negative situation into a positive and decided to register a domain and began to sell sunglasses online and eventually made more money than I ever made with my pockets full, confidence high and opportunities galore. About a year after my first web site, I started 3 more sites and at my peak, I was making close to a million dollars a year. In the last 13 years I’ve been in business, I’ve probably made 5-6 million dollars combined but as you know, nothing is easy or lasts forever and if it did, it would get boring and routine.

Every Fairytale has a big bad wolf

Like every fairytale, there is always a big bad wolf. Want some advice? I know its cliche but never put all of your eggs in one basket ok? Thats what I did and it was a 1.5 million dollar mistake. How? well, in 2010, Google Panda / Penguin hit all of my web sites at the same time. At first, it was a 30% drop in traffic but towards the end of 2012, I lost 90% of my traffic and along with that traffic, 90% of my sales were down as well. During this time, I was in negotiation with a buyer who wanted to offer me close to a million dollars but like an idiot, I got greedy and wanted more only because I thought it was worth a lot more.

After the Google updates, my sites were hit so hard that everyone I talked to lost interest or was no longer interested in acquiring my businesses. After many unsuccessful attempts, I decided to work as hard as I could to try to improve the business but I couldn’t and I finally lost my confidence and faced the darkest two years of my life as I had lots of anxiety and regret to have not sold sooner than later. Oh well, you live and learn. Then, around August 2012, I sold one of the three sites and recently, I sold two others which leaves me with one web site sitting idle thats not making any money nor bringing any reasonable traffic. Yes, I’m unemployed!

All is not lost

Please do not take this story the wrong way – I don’t need sympathy and I have no regrets. Instead, this is what happens when you’re uncomfortable. You see, we all get pushed to the edge sometimes and thats the time that we grow the most if we decide to take a risk. In 2001, I took my chance and decided never to work again for the rest of my life and today, I am unemployed but I believe that this time, I have found my life-long passion / career in something I’ve always wanted to do.  This is a woe-to-win story and a win-to-woe story all in one package circling 13 years of my life. Granted, 13 years ago, i was struggling but because I’ve wised up over the years, I’ve saved a lot which I will live off of until I get things “shaken and stirred.”

The future looks bright as I will be doing something I love doing and I learned so much along the way. Honestly, I have no regrets. I really believe that all of this happened for a reason and that reason has brought me here today to write to you – my audience.

Thanks for reading this blog post, please come back tomorrow and read what I have to write about my new business venture (you can call it business but I’ll call it a hobby!) and how I plan to monetize it. Thanks for reading.

-William Shaker