Hey, I'm Shane!
Former accountant, I now build internet businesses for a living... here's my story.
Former accountant, I now build internet businesses for a living... here's my story.
I’m Shane Dutka, founder of Dutka Digital, a place for me to publish content about what I’m working on, what I see in the internet marketing world, and occasionally just vent about things…
But first, let me take a quick step back and provide you with a bit more context on who I am and how I went from crunching numbers as an accountant to building internet businesses.
So, let’s take it all the way back.
To the very beginning of my journey in November 2014 where I was still working at PwC as an accountant for the Government.
Specifically, I was a consultant to the Chief Financial Officer of the Department of Defense.
I sat at my desk crunching numbers all day, making dozens of power point “decks” bored with the same old routine, day after day, no excitement, with the same predictable paycheck always looking forward to the weekend and the cost of living raise once a year.
Don’t get me wrong though…
I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity and the lifestyle that job was able to provide for me.
Not everyone gets a chance like that, to work with smart people, and get experience servicing high profile clients.
It was a rewarding experience and I am glad part of my life was
But.. it didn’t scratch my entrepreneurial itch…
My Dad is a bootstrapped entrepreneur who built an electrical contracting business, so I’ve always had the entrepreneurial bug lodged in my psyche for better or for worse.
I’ve always been the guy working outside his swim-lane in the corporate world, craving independence, wanting to build new things, enhance processes, and just go faster.
I also wanted a chance at higher ceiling to earn more money vs. a very linear path at a traditional 9-5.
But in 2014, I just didn’t know what… or how I’d accomplish that.
What I DID know is that I didn’t want to quit my job, at least not yet. As much as I wanted to just go all in and throw caution to the wind, I wanted to be pragmatic. I had to be able to build something while still working at the same time.
This was key.
I’ve always been efficient with my time, so I thought I could do it without burning out first.
Given all the constraints and barriers I propped up for myself, I figured the best way to make this happen would be to leverage the internet to make money.
I’ve seen other people do it, why couldn’t I?
I searched around the internet and eventually landed on the idea to start an E-commerce store and sell something.
What would I sell?
(drum roll please)
Out of all the things, why try selling bow ties?
Well, because I was getting into men’s fashion at the time and it just seemed like a good idea. I think it’s also possible the Shark Tank episode where an 11 year old by mentioned he sold $50k in bow ties got lodged into my subconscious somewhere.
And well, I didn’t have any better ideas, so why not just start right?
Not much more to it honestly.
No validation, no product-market fit, just a gut feeling and the willingness to get started.
Extremely dumb in hindsight, but I just wanted to GET STARTED…
Are you beginning to see a theme yet?
So, I took a leap of faith and started digging around for the next steps.
It was like, “Okay so I have a product idea, but what’s next?”
Well… I needed a logo, a website, the ACTUAL PHYSICAL PRODUCT… all the things and I knew NOTHING about any parts of the process.
So what did I do?
I Googled it…. all of it.
I researched every detail from every website from every perspective.
Admittedly, I probably consumed too much information and didn’t take enough action… but I’m an analytical and accountant at heart.. and I needed to understand all the forces a at play before moving forward.
I think I spent at least 6 months trying to get a logo together, a website, and start designing the bow ties I wanted to get manufactured.
I worked with freelancers I found on Upwork to design the product patterns I wanted, negotiated with manufacturers in China to get the product made, and contracted with freight forwarders to sort out the logistics to get the goods shipped across the pacific ocean through customs and to my house in Washington D.C.
Fun… and oh yea… still 0$ earned, but about $30k spent mostly on bow tie inventory.
And all of this was financed by my full time job’s salary and a little credit card debt. Pretty much everyone thought I was crazy, and there were a lot of moments when self-doubt crept in.
At one point I got the brilliant idea to hire an agency to help with the marketing process.
I figured, “I have some extra money, I can do things right and bring in professionals to help refine the logo, build a decent website, and get started on the right foot.”
Good idea in theory…
…but in practice this was a giant waste of money and just ended up getting me extremely frustrated.
Given the fact I was a newcomer, the agency didn’t take me very seriously, and because I didn’t really know what I wanted, it was hard for me to communicate how I wanted the website to look and what I needed it to do.
Not their fault, I was just inexperienced.
I didn’t know what the best practices were for an e-commerce site.
I didn’t know anything about how to structure the checkout experience to increase conversions, how cross-sells or up-sells worked, or where to place any sort of email opt-ins. I didn’t know about branding, I didn’t know about design, I didn’t know about product photography, I didn’t know about anything.
Needless to say it was a frustrating experience.
But… I kept pushing through it.
The agency ended up building my site on Shopify, which is an e-commerce platform that’s suited nicely for people who just want to sell stuff and don’t want to have to worry about code or any infrastructure behind setting up an actual website.
This was good cause it allowed me to get my feet wet with internet marketing…
…but at the same time bad because the site they built was a piece of crap and poorly optimized for any type of conversion. Again, my fault for not understanding what I needed at the time.
I will say, working with the agency showed me the process of starting with an idea, branding around it, and photography to bring the idea to live. Photography is everything when it comes to e-commerce and that experianced helped crystalize that concept in my head.
So… about an $8,000 dollar marketing lesson…
Fast forward to today, I’ve become an expert in search engine optimization (SEO), affiliate marketing, direct response marketing, and e-commerce.
You can see exactly what I’m working on right now on the homepage of this site -> Go to the homepage of this site.
I’ve transitioned my bow tie brand away from Shopify and migrated the entire site to WordPress and leverage WooCommerce for my e-commerce needs. (***July 2019 Update *** it’s now sold!)
I’ve also pivoted away from e-commerce into a more “affiliate” role where I upsell other people’s products for a commission. Amazon has one of the largest affiliate programs on the planet making it easy to find products and promote them on my websites.
I also run not one, but five different websites with more coming online soon…
As of today (April 18th, 2019) Below is the earnings report from Amazon for the last 30 days to give you a sense of the level of success I’m getting with my websites these days…
I’ve developed the systems and processes allowing the sites to run themselves. I’m obsessed with efficiency, which makes it EASY for me to build projects up and then let them hum along in the background while I re-focus my energy somewhere else.
Oh and get this… I’m married!
I still have time with the wife after its all said and done 🙂
This was the goal when I started and today I can say with confidence I accomplished my goal.
And that brings me to this website, Dutka Digital…
Dutka Digital is meant to be a place where I can connect with other like minded people.
I love being an entrepreneur because no day is the same, there’s stuff always shifting and changing. New possibilities and opportunities popping up all the time.
Today I work full-time building growing, and selling internet marketing businesses. I live this stuff everyday of the year.
As more of the world continues to use the internet to learn new things and buy products online, there will only be MORE opportunity for marketers who embrace it and leverage the power and scale of the internet to create value for others.
Right now my main tool to reach my target audience is SEO, tomorrow it could be Google Voice, and in 20 years it could be some virtual reality crypto token based ad platform.
But, it’s exciting to think about and hopefully Dutka Digital can be a place where you (the reader) and I can connect to share ideas and ultimately profit together.
And that’s Dutka Digital.
See ya round!