A lot of agents ask me how I started Rootfin.
If you’re not familiar with the term bootstrapping – it’s starting a business with limited money, time or resources.
You’ll see that it was quite the journey of bootstrapping Rootfin. I made a lot of mistakes and had to be very patient.
Here’s my Story of how I bootstrapped rootfin.com
I purchased the domain in 2007. I saw a real estate website called redfin.com and I liked the brand name. It was short and memorable. So I registered my first domain – rootfin.com. The “Root” is my last name and “fin” would stand for “financial” and it had a nice ring to it. I thought all I needed to do was have a website that collected leads and add that link to a few directories/yellow pages and I would be swimming in leads. Such a foolish thought (can’t believe I’m admitting this). I received 0 leads and just used it as a “business card” to back my custom email address. I just kept buying leads and selling over the phone – which at that time had great ROI.
While selling to purchased leads, I found myself doing online searches for anything I didn’t know. If someone had a health issue I didn’t know about, I’d Google it. If someone had a question about anything life insurance that I didn’t know the answer to, I’d Google it. My upline was of no help to me at that time. I’ll leave them un-named – (they started with “e” and ended in Financial)
I saw exactly 1 agent come up on over half my searches and keep in mind I was searching for some long tail stuff like: “life insurance with bipolar disorder with recent hospitalization”. This agent was providing information no other website was providing. Sure the big guys like MetLife, Prudential, GEICO etc owned the “life insurance quotes” searches, but there wasn’t anyone giving detailed information to consumers at that time besides this agent. Surely if I was googling this stuff as an agent, prospects had to be doing it as well. So I started blogging in October of 2008.
I registered the website www.lifeinsurancelog.com (which I no longer have). My intent was to log each case as a blog. A quick archive.org search shows I blogged from October 2008 – January 2009 with 18 blog posts. I only made 2 sales from my blog and I remember them clearly because it was very exciting as a first timer. At this point I knew nothing about online marketing or SEO. I figured why put in all that work and only make 2 sales…when at that point in time I could just buy 15 leads and get 2 sales. It didn’t make sense to me at that time.
I remember stopping my blogging in January of 2009 because I ended up hooking up with a life insurance call center and I didn’t have the time. The domain name eventually expired and I’ve regretted it to this day. I didn’t have the patience to see it through. If I did, that site would be a monster right now. Could you imagine if I blogged the 2,000+ policies I’ve sold since then?
At the life insurance call center – I absorbed as much from the marketing department as possible. I was a sponge. Which is why if you have no experience marketing online or selling life insurance over the phone, hooking up with a life insurance call center to hone your sales skills and witness successful online marketing first hand is something I’ll always recommend.
Anyway, I started doing more research and hooked up with a blogging platform called “Hubspot”.
Hubspot’s premise is blogging for leads. I watched their webinars, downloaded their whitepapers and saw exactly what I wasn’t doing with lifeinsurancelog.com. It made me feel pretty stupid actually.
I already tasted some success with my first website, so I knew blogging for leads worked. If I learned their optimization tactics, I knew there was a big opportunity. I paid their fee and dove right in and started blogging on rootfin.
Hubspot taught me that blogging for leads is a science. They taught me keyword research, on-site optimization, lead magnets, tracking conversions and basically showing me how to blog with a purpose. After 9 months with them, I was generating over 75 leads per month on rootfin. These were the best leads I’ve ever worked. After my year contract with Hubspot was over, I was generating 120+ leads per month (without any link building) and decided I learned everything I could and migrated my website from Hubspot over to WordPress.
I bootstrapped this business for over 4 years to get to where I am right now.
I still learn something new every day about blogging and online marketing.
Why Am I Sharing This Story?
To show you that you need to be patient.
Most agents I speak with will create a website and work on marketing for 2 months and then give up.
Does that mean it will take you 4 years like it did for me ? Heck no!
I have several lead generating websites. One website was started in October of 2012 that’s doing 500+ leads per month. I project it to hit 1,000 leads per month by the end of the year. All off of organic search engine traffic.
I have 3 agents who started websites within the last 9 months that are placing over $10k/mo on average. 1 of those agents averages over $30k/mo placed. How do they do it? They put their marketing hats on and realized that new clients are a direct correlation to their marketing.
I believe the agents who will thrive will invest a good portion of their time learning to market. This WILL NOT be an overnight success unless you have some serious internet marketing chops already.
It doesn’t have to be SEO/blogging for leads like I did…there’s e-mail marketing, media buying, social media outreach, building referral sources (my current favorite) and many others.
I’ve mentioned this before, but the average age of a life insurance agent was 56 years old according to LIMRA in 2010. In the next 10 years, there will be a shortage of life insurance agents and with less agents entering the business than ever before – this leaves a huge opportunity. Especially with more people buying life insurance online than ever before.
Is it time for you to bootstrap your online life insurance business?