My name is Jeff Alan Gray. I’m not that formal, but many people have told me that when they look for me on Facebook about a bazillion profiles come up matching my first and last name, so I started using my middle name as well. You can just call me Jeff 🙂
So who am I? Well I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m not so different from most people. A long time ago in the early days of the internet, I was, like most folks, amazed at the amount of information that was available from my desktop computer, however I was more amazed at the ability to reach people all over the world from my house.
I had been in sales for my entire professional career, and I’ve sold a huge variety of products. At that time I was a mortgage loan officer after getting started in financial products as a stockbroker. When I realized the awesome power of the internet, I thought to myself “there has to be a way to use this to sell stuff!” The only problem was that I had no idea how to go about it. I could use the internet, but I had no understanding of how it really worked.
I continued to use the internet as a tool to make my work as a loan officer easier and was one of the early adopters of email and web based applications at the company I was working for to make it easier to provide services to my clients. The internet was just a tool I used to speed the application process along.
Fast forward to 2007. At that time I was an independent mortgage broker providing homeowner and investor loan services to clients from my home. I was making a good living and had lots of time to do things I loved, which included among other things playing tennis, coaching little league baseball, rollerblading, working out, playing with Miles my German Shepherd, and riding my motorcycle.
n the fall of 2007 I realized that the mortgage industry was in trouble. Unless you weren’t alive then, you know what I’m talking about. I decided that I was going to have to get a job if I was going to continue to maintain my lifestyle. Luckily, two gentlemen that I had managed at a mortgage company years before were working at an automobile dealer that was looking to hire a new sales manager. They reached out to me and when I told them I was interested they told their General Manager that the guy that had taught them how to close deals wanted to talk about the position. Since these two gentlemen were consistently number one and two in sales month after month, the General Manager was eager to speak to me.
With that kind of endorsement the job offer was almost assured, and after a few interviews I received an offer, which I accepted. I was really looking forward to working with Kenny and Mike again as we had had a great relationship. So on Friday, September 7th, 2007 I had an appointment to sign my offer letter and was to start my new position on the following Monday. That’s the day everything changed.
It was a beautiful late summer day in Atlanta, and because I knew that my new schedule wasn’t going to allow me to ride my motorcycle as much as I had been, I decided to ride to the meeting. I never made it to the meeting. On the way I was hit on the highway, knocked off of the motorcycle, and then run over by a pick-up truck. I awoke from a coma 4 days later in the ICU with absolutely no idea what had happened. I was in the hospital for two months and in physical therapy for the next twelve months.
During that time I lost everything. My home, my career, I had to sell the prized classic ’73 Mustang Mach1 that I had had since high school, I even had to send my dog to live with my parents because I wasn’t able to take care of him – I could hardly take care of myself.
The mortgage industry had been on a steady decline this entire time, so because of physical limitations and the limited job opportunities, going back to that career was not an option, I had to come up with something else and I had to do it fast.
I turned back to the internet, and was able to eek out a very meager living as a freelancer, providing content for websites. One of my clients was really impressed with my work. He wanted me to be able to turn projects around for him immediately so he offered me a 1 year contract with a monthly retainer to work for him exclusively.
During that year I researched and wrote optimized content for him and he introduced me to SEO for e-commerce and affiliate marketing websites. I now had what I had been looking for all those years ago. Not only a recognition that the internet could be used to make money, but some insight as to how it was done.
Armed with this knowledge, I built my first e-commerce website, with no prior knowledge of how to even build a website, and no one was more happy or amazed than me when it immediately began to make a few sales. Wanting to capitalize on this momentum I wrote a book called “How to Start an Online Business in 30 Days for $30” outlining the steps I had taken to build my first website for very little money and have it show a quick profit. This was 2010.
I continued to freelance as well and was constantly looking for other ways to make money online. Unfortunately, I spent a ton of money on this or that get rich quick internet marketing product looking for the magic formula, but I was not successful. There always seemed to be something that I either could not do or could not afford that kept me from seeing the results the product promised I would achieve.
I would search job sites looking for a job in internet marketing, but seemed to only be able to find more freelance gigs. One day while doing this, without much faith that this search would end any differently than the others, I came across an ad offering a sales position for a well-known internet marketer. I called immediately. As it turned out, the marketer had already hired someone for the position, but they backed out at the past minute. He was set to begin a new training class within a few days and was scrambling to fill the position. He too had little hope that he would find a qualified applicant that quickly. We agreed that it must have been the Universe that brought us together.
I was not living in Atlanta, where his company was located, at that time, but assured him I could travel on short notice to attend the training class. I ended up working for him for several years, and during that time he introduced me to some of the top internet marketers in the world. I began attending conferences, some with my employer and some on my own. Because of my employer’s reputation in the industry and the fact that I was the top seller of his big ticket products, I got to know some of these marketers very well. They shared information freely with me, and I was able to gain a great deal of knowledge in a short amount of time. This is what got me here.
I began to build affiliate websites, primarily niche-specific Amazon Affiliate sites, as well as collaboratively create products with other marketers. I created a training program called “The Automated Affiliate” (automatedaffiliatesystems.com), eventually began selling my own branded products on Amazon.com (bluzeeyewear.com), and am currently working on another training program called “The Amazing Affiliate Course.”
If there is one thing I learned through this journey, its that no program or internet marketing venture will work if you don’t have the right tools, and that is how The IM Toolshed came to be. My aim here is not to convince anyone to pursue any particular type of internet marketing venture, but to introduce you to tools you can use to help make any number of internet marketing ventures work better for you. Regardless of which avenue you choose to make money online, you are going to need traffic to get eyes on your offer. Content, videos, social media, and an SEO strategy among other things are necessary to your success, and The IM Toolshed aims to provide you with the information you will need about the best internet marketing tools available to help you build your internet marketing business.