Self Made Minds – The Book, The Group, The Movie

We started Self Made Minds back in in 2007 (dang that’s a long time) and stopped doing regular posts back in 2010. It opened so many doors for me and I have made lasting business friendships because of it. I’ve tried to relaunch it a few times but find it difficult to find the time (and motivation) to do long posts which a lot of topics require. So I think a new approach is needed and I hope I have the solution. A Book and a Facebook Group.

I guesstimate that 75% of my Facebook friend list are people that run their own businesses, some of whom are VERY successful. So I’m going to write the SMM book and share peoples journeys (this also gives me an excuse to go visit folk and some of them live in nice places 🙂 ). As an example of some the things my friends have done/do:

* Multi million pound sellout of his security company, he’s now started a new security software service
* Brews and sells his own beer from the basement of his pub
* Sold company for high $xxx,xxx,xxx to a top 10 tech firm, that was his fifth sellout, he’s sold at least 1 more since
* His huge SEO company imploded, he reinvented himself and is happier than ever
* Content sites that were making $xxx,xxx per month from Google
* Some of the biggest eBay affiliates in the world
* One of if not the biggest blog network in India
* Youtuber with 50K subscribers, he’s not even a teenager yet
* A cafe owner who’s added a micro bar to it
* Importing products from China and selling on multiple online marketplaces
* An SEO company that sold for £xx,xxx,xxx
* Some dude that lives in a mansion surrounded by reindeer (sorry Scott)
* Sold an affiliate site, started a playlist site, sold that, started a record label
* A digital nomad who travels the world and sells his private label product online to fund his lifestyle
* Imports heavy machinery from South Africa and sells all over the world
* An ex ballet dancer who’s wife’s business is one of the biggest wholesalers of greetings cards in the UK
* A pyrotechnician who does huge firework displays
* A gold trader who creates viral adverts to increase his business
* A contestant from Dragons Den who turned down the dragons offer

I could go on and on writing this list but I’ll stop there

I find a lot of successful people are often happy to help and share their knowledge and experience. Which is what I want the Facebook group to be all about. I also find networking really important, I’m not very good at networking in person (I’m a bit socially awkward like that), but I’m really good at connecting people online.I often introduce people that I think can help each other.

So there you go, what do you think?

Answer in our Facebook group 🙂

Self Made Minds (the return) – Take 3

Well it’s been a while since I posted here (2 years, oops). Recently I’ve found myself posting more and more in forums and various Facebook groups and I quite enjoy it. My wife told me I need a hobby (as did my therapist) so I think the time is right to start posting here again. Not going to promise weekly updates but it will be more frequent than before. Any feedback will always be appreciated and will motivate to write more.

As before I’ll be posting about different business bits (and self made mind stuff) I’ve done or am doing, both successes and failures (boo). I will go into the nitty gritty at times.

I’m currently still selling on Amazon (after a few suspensions), mainly outsourced or automated and I’m very close to a 7 digit milestone, so there’s a bunch of stuff I can write about there. Starting a print on demand, new brand case study so that could be a fun one (maybe profitable, maybe not). I’ve been working on my own SaaS (Software as a Service) product for ages but that is getting really close to release. Still have various sites, and since my last post some have been and gone. I do have my fingers in quite a few different pies at the moment. I’m beginning to import from China and if that doesn’t generate some cool posts I’ll be amazed. Oh and I’m moving to the good old USA next year.

I will be doing interviews with various entrepreneurs that I know, so if you fancy a chat feel free to ping me. When we first launched Self Made Minds back in 2007 (ouch), I did a series called the HISTORY OF A $100K SITE. Over the years the site made me a few million but not everything lasts forever so I’m thinking of doing a followup series, The decline of a 7 digit site – you can learn just as much from mistakes as successes (even better when it’s somebody else mistake).

Currently sat on a train on my way to London to watch the mighty Iron Maiden on the last gig of the current tour (should be a classic), also meeting a couple of business partners to talk shop and stuff (that’s the primary purpose of this trip Mr Taxman).

The Return of Self Made Minds


Firstly I’d like to welcome you (back) to Self Made Minds, an entrepreneurial blog where we share the various activities, ideas and stuff we’ve been involved in. We’ve had something of a hiatus from this site, where Scott and I have been up to various business and life experiences and changes. However Self Made Minds is now BACK…

For new readers my name is Al Carlton, I own and run numerous websites and have made a healthy living online for the last 7 years or so. The last couple of years most of my sites ran on auto-pilot giving me a nice passive income and I was able to travel (some what excessively) and get myself married twice to the same woman in different countries, all fun stuff.

I’m now at the point were I want to start concentrating again on my business and as I did early on, document my successes and failures here on Self Made Minds. Scott will also be providing updates various updates on what he’s been up to the last few years.

Some of the upcoming posts that we have planned include:

  • Losing a 6 figure revenue stream (this one was scary)
  • Do you need to register for VAT, the procedure and outcome of a VAT Compliance Audit
  • Profiting from generic twitter usernames
  • Maximizing mobile traffic and profit
  • Optimizing your email list with WordPress

As before we will be very open with what we do. If there is anything you’d like us to cover or have suggestions (or encouragements) please let us know in the comments.

The best way to follow Self Made Minds is via our email newsletter, however we’ll also link to all new posts from our twitter account and facebook page, so what ever suits you best.


Happy Birthday SMM

Happy Birthday!It was the 18th of March 2007 Al made the first post!

Crikey, a year old.

  • 254 posts
  • 160,266 words

If you want to read through old posts they can be found via the sitemap, I would say there is a lot of good info to be found there, some light posts, some long posts and some gold dust. Lot’s of lessons learnt and a few mistakes to boot.

One of my favourite posts would be Al’s at the start if the year in which he breaks down his December income, we are all learning but everyone loves those big numbers. Talking of big numbers Al did an excellent link bait post on the top blogs by subscriber numbers which brought truck loads of visitors, subscribers, links and over 200 comments/trackbacks.

The posts I enjoyed writing the most were the property developing online one’s because that really can be done on a budget by anyone and took up a fair bit of my time or the minisites post which I picked up on a few times. UK domains don’t get the type in traffic that .com’s do and therefore developing a domain even into a small minisite can generate enough traffic and income to pay for it’s own renewal fees which makes it an attractive option and one I would think the parking companies have been trying to develop if they are to remain in business in the future.

I plan on doing a good case study soon once a domain purchase goes through which will be transparent and updated as it will be a big focus of mine for this year. In the meantime if you have questions or topics that you would like our view or opinion on then please get in touch, if either of us are to make a post it’s better done on something people find interesting so send in questions and we will try and make sure all get answered as long as they are not the blatant self promotional type of spam.

Thoughts and thanks for 2007

Happy New Year 2008 

Just wanted to wish everyone a Happy, peaceful and prosperous New Year from Al and myself.

Let’s ensure that we leave behind all negatives and reasons why not to and make 2008 a doing year that builds on what we have already done and sets us up for the future.

Quick thought on 2007
In 2007 I have personally gone through a fair dip in Adsense, like many others, but that has been no bad thing for me, it gave me the jolt to open my eyes and realise I needed to make moves right now to ensure a more stable and an overall greater income in the future which has prompted me to invest in some good generic domains to build, earn from and lease.Continue Reading

Free Website reviews, a weekend away and some booze.

Edinburgh Castle

Al mentioned last week after working together on a few sites for over a year we had arranged to meet up for the first time this weekend in Edinburgh with our families. It’s a funny thing working online with someone and then meeting in person for the first time, you half meet up as strangers but don’t do small talk as you already know where they live, what they do etc, quite surreal. Then again not quite as surreal as going out for a meal and seeing Al’s daughter order a 50/50 pizza with baked beans and cheese on one side and marshmallows and chocolate on the other, it was a pleasure to meet up and enjoy good company staying in an Apex hotel with a view of Edinburgh Castle from our rooms, a great excuse to get out of the house for a few days on a ‘business trip’.Continue Reading

The Meeting of Minds


Scott and I have been in business together for just over a year but we’ve never actually met or even spoke on the phone, all communication has been via PM’s, email and MSN messenger. That’s all about to change this weekend as we are meeting up for the first time, which means we can talk shop whilst the other halves actually shop.

One of the things that will be up for discussion is the direction that we’ll be taking Self Made Minds AKA “this site” so this post is to get a bit of input about what you think we should talk about (over a beer or three). Ideas from me are:

  • SMM Idea – Case Studies – Creating new sites from scratch and documenting their progress but what sort of case studies would our readers like to see?
  • Discuss sharing statistics from other sites that we own (jointly or individually)
  • Re-investing profits
  • SMM Marketing – How to increase our readership
  • Does beer taste better in Scotland or England

So if there is anything you’d like to know or stuff you think we should talk about now is a great time to ask. I’m really looking forward to the weekend and just hope I can understand Scott’s Scottish accent.

Site Changes

under-construction.gifInstead of writing a (hopefully) informative post I’ve spent this morning coding, installing third party plugins and generally tweaking the Self Made Minds site. So this post is more about the changes that you can (and cannot) see.

Comments and Commentators Links
After fair bit of feedback on this post, on whether using keywords in names looks spammy I’ve modified the comment system and added a Title field. This will be used as the anchor text on both the comment title and list on the sidebar.

If the title field is set the comment will appear for example as

Martin of Community Building Blog

I’m sure none of our regular readers will abuse this but please use a bit of common sense with what anchor text you want to be associated with.
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Chowed or Dugg, what’s best

We’ve not done all that much by way of promotion with Self Made Minds and are instead using a long term strategy of quality content will bring traffic over time. That being said we’ve still tried a few traffic generating ideas when the opportunity presented it self, so in this post I want to share them.

The first two promotion methods we tried cost a bit of cash, the others cost our time.

Press Release
We paid a pro to write us a press release about the site and distribute it via PR web. The total cost of this was around $200 and a bit of time was spent by Scott sending it manually to various related sites. Traffic on the day was up slightly and we picked up a couple of decent links including one from But I don’t think it created anything like the traffic we were hoping for. It’s a difficult one to get exact figures for but the link on did bring us 476 visitors.
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Welcome to Self Made Minds

I always find it a bit tricky doing the first post on a blog, so here goes. First off welcome to Self Made Minds, the site is run by 2 online entrepreneurs, Scott and myself Al. We’ve both quit the 9-5 rat race and make all of our earnings off our own projects, we’re not millionaires yet but well on the way :).

The purpose of this site is share some of the things we’ve done right and also mistakes we’ve made along the way, if you don’t make mistakes you’re either doing nothing or doing something wrong.

Comments and suggestions are always more than welcome.