Today, I spoke to Glen Allsopp, who built his first website at the age of 15. He currently blogs at ViperChill.com. In this interview, Glen talks about how he became successful at an early age, how he was able to leave a job that he wasn’t passionate about, his personal branding strategy, and more.
You’ve been quite successful at a very young age — are people often surprised by that? How do you respond to their questioning?
Always. As I travel a lot and meet new people, the first thing they tend to ask me is “What do you study?” As I dropped out of college two years ago, I can’t really answer that one. Someone once told me that whenever people ask what you do, answer in a positive statement of how you help others. For example, instead of saying “I’m a programmer” you could say “I build software that helps people be more productive”.
My response to the “what do you do?” question is usually “I help people get paid to do what they love”. This is not how I make my income, but it’s how I spend the majority of my time. Some people simply don’t believe I reached my current position by working hard, and instead assume I have wealthy parents (I don’t) or I got lucky (I really didn’t).
I don’t look to get anything from people, so I’m fine even if they make inaccurate assumptions. I just focus on my own goals and let whatever happens, happen.
You said back in 2007 you were in a job that you hated and taking courses you didn’t love, so you up and left. What was the impetus for that trip? Why South Africa?
I’ve always had a passion for building websites that help people, and built my first very successful site back when I was 16. Just a few months after launch, we had grew the site to 10,000 members and we were even featured in the book, “DJ’ing for Dummies”. Building sites and making money online was the reason I got out of bed in the morning, so I spent as much time doing it as I could.
Of course, this impacted my college work and I was actually told I couldn’t continue on the second year of my course because my attendance for the first year had been too low (around 48%). I’m not proud of that, but I was doing big things outside of college that I cared about far more. After being tempted by the typical path of society, I put my internet projects on the site for a year while I focused on my college work. I ended up with an A in Law and some other good grades, but I didn’t enjoy college and still had another year to go.
It was during the summer after this second year that I revived some of my websites and started making a name for myself in the SEO and Social Media space online. I was headhunted by a company in South Africa who wanted me to work with them on some of their biggest clients such as Nissan, Land Rover and Hewlett Packard.
After discussions with my family and an awkward phone call to my dad “Dad, I’m moving to Cape Town,” I decided to accept the offer. I didn’t know one single person in the country (not even my employer) so quitting college and leaving my job was a massive risk. Not once in my life have I ever regretted following my passions, and this time was no different. I arrived in South Africa a few weeks later, and had the best time of my life – both socially and with work.
How did your friends and family respond when you left? What about now — have they come to terms with the new Glen?
To be honest, not many people believed I was leaving. At least not at first. Living in Newcastle in England, while working in a clothes store, and then telling people I’m moving to South Africa is quite unexpected. My parents knew I was having a lot of success online but I don’t think they knew just quite how well things were going. Thankfully, I have the most awesome parents in the world and they fully supported my decision.
As a side-note to the parents reading this: if your child (or young adult son) is really passionate about something and wants to go for it, please give them all of the support you can. Even if they make mistakes, they’ll learn so much along the way.
I think they’re still very surprised at how well things are going for me. I actually received a text message from my Dad yesterday as he heard people talking about me on the radio as he was driving to work. I think that might have freaked him out a little bit ;). Everyone is really supportive as always though and I couldn’t ask for anything more.
How do you think your personal branding strategy has contributed to your success?
My personal brand has been the critical piece in most of my web projects. When I started a DJ website, it was about me sharing my mixes with fellow members. When I ran a personal development blog, it was about sharing my life stories and the lessons I’ve learned on my journey. Now, with my internet marketing blog, it’s about sharing what works for me, so others can replicate my success.
If I’m honest, I never thought about actually having a personal branding strategy. However, after looking back on what really impacted my success, I can see how critical my own personal brand has been to my success. My achievements and my brand have been totally in sync. At the time, I didn’t realise I had been implementing a branding strategy that has helped me. Looking back though, I can see there are a number of things I do which have helped:
- Being Real: This is actually very easy, but a lot of people make it hard. Being real is just being yourself, but I know a lot of people struggle to bring it out depending on who they are around or because they don’t know how to transition that from the offline world into the online environment. I’ve been open about my success’ and failures along the way, and I think people resonate with that.
- Having a Story: Everybody has a story, but I shared and made mine clear from the start. I went from failing in college and working in a clothes store to now making a 5-figure monthly income online and travelling the world. People like knowing it’s possible for them to turn their situation around and live how they want to live.
- Remaining Consistent: With everything I do, I give it my all. If I don’t like a 2,000 word article I’ve just wrote, I’m happy to delay publishing to improve it or delete it all together. It’s so important to set a standard for yourself and then stick to it. If you keep that standard high, then being consistent is going to help you a lot. I was also consistent in the images I use around the web and my writing style. This way, people can easily see if something is ‘me,’ even if there is no name attached.
These three things have massively helped me to get to where I am today.
What do you say to other teens and adults who are unhappy with their situation? Does everyone need a trip to South Africa, or are there little things we can do in our lives every day?
Don’t feel like you have to do what other people expect of you or want you to do. Your friends and family may unconsciously hold you back from doing things outside of the norm because they don’t want to see you make mistakes or struggle. Hopefully you realise that life is about recognising the hard times to appreciate the good, and making mistakes to learn the lessons that present themselves.
Some people say I was lucky to be able to move to South Africa because I have no responsibilities (i.e. children), but me moving to South Africa is not the point. It’s about recognising this is the only life we are probably going to live and if you don’t follow your passions now, you’re going to keep putting them off for life. Life is too short to make excuses and stay small. South Africa was somewhere that I felt
If you don’t feel like you have enough time in the day, jot down what you do tomorrow. Write down all of your work related tasks. If your results are anything like when I did this, you’ll find that you are wasting a lot of time in your average day and there are hours you can get back with a little bit of organisation.
Glen Allsopp built his first website at the age of 15 and be 16, one of his websites was featured in a book called “Dj’ing for Dummies.” At 17, he was making thousands of dollars per month offering internet marketing services and by 18, he became a Social Media Manager for brands such as Nissan, Land Rover and Hewlett Packard. At age 19, he quit his job to work on his own websites and projects, and at 20 he sold the 10th biggest personal development blog in the world for a mid-five-figure fee. Right now he’s traveling the globe making a five-figure monthly income from his affiliate websites. Glen blogs at ViperChill.com.