Hi! I'm Eric, after earning my bachelor's degree in IT from Florida State University in 2009, I proceeded to work my way up the corporate ladder for 12 years ultimately securing a position as a Systems Admin / Information Security Analyst for a local university.
Having an "entrepreneurial itch", I decided to leave the corporate world in 2020 to see if I could forge a path of my own.
I founded Reliable Resellers, an eBay store that focused on reselling new and used toys and collectibles, in January of 2020 and managed to achieve $250,000 in total gross sales within 2 years of operation.
Things were going well, but I knew I needed to either grow the eBay store or add another source of income if I ever planned to have the same lifestyle I had back in my corporate days, so, I began looking to supplement the eBay store with a steadier source of revenue.
I got the idea to create a long-form, interview style podcast focused on local entrepreneurs with the intention of selling advertising on the show.
This led me to creating: The Art of Business Podcast.
The idea behind the podcast was to interview local entrepreneurs to find out about their backgrounds, how they built their businesses, and what their secrets for success are. In total, I interviewed 18 local entrepreneurs ranging from restaurant owners to the head of the Merchant's Association, to an active City Commissioner.
The show first aired March 28th, 2022, and the first guest was Darrell Bailey who owns a local auction house called Action Auctioneers. Booking guests in the beginning was tricky as I had to convince most people to do it, but after the first 5-6 episodes circulated around, I had local entrepreneurs calling me to try and book a seat on the show!
The show was a blast to produce but I was never able to manage enough viewers to entice advertisers; I managed just over 20,000 downloads in 5 months. I knew the show needed to pivot so I began looking for new ideas. I remembered how Dade City didn't have a local newspaper which led me to the idea of creating a podcast that would highlight local events happening around town.
I called it the Dade City Wire.
The Dade City Wire first began as a podcast only, seeing the pilot episode air September 03, 2022, to more fanfare than any project I've ever worked on. Within 24 hours of release and with no advertising whatsoever, the podcast had been downloaded 217 times and my Facebook page added 103 followers. The day after releasing the podcast I was contacted about the idea of producing a print newspaper to go along with the podcast. After some internal debate, I decided to give it a go and set forth to create the first print edition of the Dade City Wire.
Now mind you, I have no background in creative writing or photography. I have no degree in journalism or communications. I have a tech background with an eBay store, and I've produced a few podcasts... but how hard could it be?
SPOILER ALERT: IT'S HARD!
I researched how to graphically layout a newspaper. I coordinated with local entrepreneurs to write articles. I got myself set up with a local print shop. I established distribution locations around downtown Dade City. I filled the pages with Dade City focused news and on September 12, 2022, I sent issue #1 off to be printed. The following day I hand delivered issue #1 to all the drop-off locations around town.
As I'm driving around distributing the first edition, I began to receive Facebook messages from other local businesses wanting to get on the distribution list. I even had a few folks reach out to me from other states wanting copies to be mailed to their homes. They told me that they used to live in Dade City, and that they like to keep up with what's happening in the area.
Obviously, I'd tapped into something here.
From that point on things quickly took off and I was just doing my best to hold on, trying not to steer everything into the side of a mountain. Producing the podcast, newspaper, and keeping the website and social media content fresh was more than a full-time job and if I was going to make a real go at it, I needed to pause the eBay store as there just weren't enough hours in the day to maintain both.
This was a risky proposition though as the eBay store was the only source of income I had, but I saw the numbers the Wire was pulling in. I decided to go for it and used the profits from my resale business to fund the project for 3 months. If, after 3 months, I was not able to produce enough revenue to be self-sufficient then I would have no choice but to close it all down as there would be nothing left to keep everything running.
Well, we managed to last for 4 months but in the end, I was not able to get the monetization pieces figured out in time and I had to close it all down. This was a crushing defeat, but I had no choice.
The show did manage some amazing numbers though, especially considering that we did this in 4 months in Dade City which is a relatively small town with a registered population of less than 10,000 people:
I officially shut the Wire down January 23, 2022, which was one of the hardest things I've had to do so far as an entrepreneur.
In the end, my business has failed but I've learned so much throughout the process and I owe it all to taking a chance and betting on myself.