Rafi Chowdhury’s interview on starting an online business

Rafi Chowdhury Interview - Rafi Chowdhury Picture

Could you tell us a little about yourself, Chowdhury’s Digital and myCampusHacks – how you ended up starting an online business?

Sure! Chowdhury’s Digital is a growth hacking agency. I work with mid-size companies and help them leverage their websites to make more revenue. I often use unique tactics to achieve these results in the forms of marketing automation, technology, strategic partnerships, SEO, and virtual assistants.
myCampusHacks is a social networking website for college students that makes it easier for college students to navigate through college life by providing a platform via which they can share hints, tips, tricks, and shortcuts with one another, find rooms and roommates, buy, sell, and trade textbooks, create and find events and study groups, and many other things. The website is particular to each campus to its very relevant to student who joins the network.
I got into it when I launched my own website. I did not understand how to get people to come to my website. So, I started writing blog posts on chess which I would share on my Facebook for my chess friends to read. Eventually, I figured out that website traffic can also come from searching engines, so I got into the field of SEO. After a while, I was trying to think of how I can possibly make money from doing this kind of stuff. I was following other online marketers and entrepreneurs and saw they were doing it. So, that’s when I started reaching out to some local businesses and offered to help them get more targeted traffic to their websites. My deal with them initially was that if I could help them get results, they would have to pay me. Otherwise, I did not charge them any money for my work. It was a good deal for both of us. That’s how I picked up my first few clients for my digital marketing consulting business. From there, it just grew in bigger and larger companies. I always made sure that I did whatever it took to get that client’s business.

The right domain name is important. How long did it take you to come up with the domain name for all your online businesses?

I came up with rafichowdhury.com easily because it’s my name and I always knew I would launch my personal website under my own name. myCampushacks.com took some thought, I would say maybe a week or so. Chowdhurysdigital.com took about a week for me to come up with. But for the most part, these domain names came to me naturally.

Rafi Chowdhury Interview - Rafi Chowdhury Website Screenshot

You’ve successfully established yourself as an expert in your niche. What drew you into this area of knowledge?

I was always fascinated with the internet. I used to market my chess business over the internet on social media long before I even know what online marketing was. It was pretty natural for me that as I got better and better at doing this, I would start to do it for money. What I like about the internet is how easy it is to reach anyone using the internet when compared to traditional means of reaching someone and sending them a message.

If you had to pick the top three reasons for your success what would they be? And why these three?

  1. I am constantly networking with influential people in my industry and trying to build strategic partnerships with them.
  2. I am extremely creative, and constantly try new things. If something does not work, I quickly change strategy and try something else.
  3. I get other people to do things for me. I use virtual assistants and automation as much as possible so that I can free up my time to focus on the things which only I can do the best.

I chose these 3 things because I really do think that a huge part of my success can be pinpointed to my work over the last few years in these departments. The rest is just hard work, consistency, help of God, and luck.

If you had to pick the top three things people do wrong, the things holding them back from success, what would those be?

  1. Lack of preparation. They do not spend hours and hours learning more about their trade and try to get as good as possible.
  2. Lack of opportunity due to improper location. They are not in the right place in the world, to meet the right people, who can give them the right opportunity, at the right time, so succeed. A little bit of luck is all that’s left after that.
  3. They do not network with the right people and are not creative. It’s pretty simple: It’s all about who you know. Knowing the right people can literally change your career overnight. Same with being creative.

Rafi Chowdhury Interview - Rafi Chowdhury Site Analysis

How would you suggest people avoid these mistakes?

Well, by doing the opposite! Network with rich and influential people who can open doors for you. Try to practice your craft until you get as good at it as possible. Try to narrow down to a very specific thing and get really good at that one specific thing. I see many entrepreneurs making the mistake of trying to specialize in too many things. The reality is that most people suck at most things. We are only good at a very few things. The idea is to identify these few things and become really good at those few things and forget about all the rest. Of course, it has to be a skill that is in demand. Or else, hard to monetize.

You also have a blog included within your site, so tell us – do you enjoy blogging? How much time do you spend blogging?

Of course! If I did not, you would not see me blogging trust me. No more than an hour per day. I try to do more of it on the weekends. Blogging is fun ☺

Would you encourage other people to make their own blogs?

Yes. It’s your voice on the internet. If you want to position yourself as an industry Expert, you have to blog and you have to help out the little guys. Even though these little guys may not be able to give you any money, they do have their voices and they will talk. So, what happens is when a large company wants to hire someone like me, and I pitch them my services and skills, I also pitch to them what others are saying about me and how many people I help out all the time. The large companies then will have no choice but to hire me because I am being talked about by everyone, everywhere and showing up in search engines for various industry related keywords.

Please give us some advice for web beginners and for people who considering starting an online business?

Do not do fall for this MLM or affiliate marketing traps. Is takes a very high traffic blog to successfully do that kind of stuff. Instead, focus your time on developing a solid skillset that is in demand. Begin by offering the service for free to build a portfolio and to gain experience and testimonials. Then, once you get kind of good, start charging people for your services. Eventually, from there you can start to look into specific problems which come up in your industry and begin to consider creating a software as a service type of company. Consulting is great and fun, but sometimes kind of hard to scale. So, SAAS models typically are easier to scale ☺

Good luck!

Photos ©: www.rafichowdhury.com

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