Chad Brinkle was doing really well at his demanding, 6-figure job, but he felt frustrated and unfulfilled. A series of challenging and terrible events in his life shifted his perspective, and he realized what was really important to him: spending time with his wife and baby daughter.
Chad started dabbling in SEO and launched a site on a whim. Once it gained traction, he was hooked. Today he runs the e-commerce site High Country Off-Road, which specializes in off-road accessories for enthusiasts.
The dropshipping model is working well for him. After less than a year of working on his site, he’s making $4k/month. Even better, he expects he’ll be able to double or triple his corporate salary in the next 2 to 4 years.
Keep reading to find out about:
- Why he left his 6-figure corporate job
- The life events that changed his perspective
- How he got into SEO
- How much money he’s making
- His top marketing strategy
- How he builds links
- His keyword research and content creation strategies
- His favorite resources
- The tools he uses every day in his business
- The biggest challenge he’s faced
- His most important accomplishment
- The main mistake he made
- His advice for other entrepreneurs
Meet Chad Brinkle
My name is Chad Brinkle, and my background is actually in manufacturing. I studied mechanical engineering in college and went on to work for the largest commercial jet engine manufacturer in the world.
I spent 9 years with them in varying roles throughout the manufacturing supply chain, but I found that regardless of the role, the corporate culture was to work 50-70 hours/week in order to get promotions.
Also, the scope of work for the jobs was loosely defined so that as you would complete one task that was assigned, there would always be more to work on, which made it to that if you wanted a break you just worked slower on the current project rather than completing something and having a break in-between projects.
A Different Perspective
Fast forward to March of 2020 and my daughter was born, right at the start of all the Covid lockdowns. While I was at the hospital with my daughter in the NICU from being born early, I received a call from my manager that they were laying off the entire workforce until further notice.
This ended up being a blessing because the layoff lasted for 2 months, which was 2 months that I was able to spend with my daughter and wife uninterrupted from work.
With North Carolina being so delayed on unemployment applications to where I didn’t get a paycheck that entire 2 months, we didn’t lose our house and we were still able to eat, so it showed me that maybe I didn’t have to have a 6-figure job to survive and be happy.
In December of 2020, my father was killed by a drunk driver and it really put into perspective how fragile life is and there is no guarantee of time, so in May of 2021, I left the company I had worked for, and my wife and I moved back to our hometown.
She found work as a traveling respiratory therapist which, with the rates hospitals are paying due to Covid, meant that she was making more than I was in my corporate job. This allowed me to try and start my own business. I started working on SEO for small businesses, which grew into searching for jobs on Upwork to supplement income.
This is me, my wife Leighanne, and our daughter, Emilia.
Why He Created High Country Off-Road
As I said, I started in the digital world through SEO, which I learned through online courses as a way to remove myself from being tied to a physical location, like I was with manufacturing.
High Country Off-Road started when I had a client that hired me to do keyword research for his e-com site. After completing all of the research and determining which keywords would be the easiest to rank, the client didn’t move forward because his supplier cut off the supply of his biggest seller.
At the time, I was trying to land more SEO clients on Upwork, but I was running into issues because I did not have a good case study for anything other than local service businesses.
Given that the client’s website that I did the research for was only 1 year old, I decided to make my own website and see if I could replicate the results that I had told the client we would be able to achieve.
I started with products for a different vehicle make from the client’s. But after some conversations, I actually ended up being a dealer for the original client’s products. This meant that I could use all the research that had already been completed.
I hired a freelancer to design a WordPress website, and the site went live in January of 2022. I started by focusing on ranking blog articles to use as a case study for clients on Upwork, but once I started generating traffic to the blog posts, Google started indexing more of my product pages and sales started coming in. Everything is dropshipped, so order fulfillment is not too time-consuming.
I was going to migrate my site from WordPress/WooCommerce to Shopify, but traffic has grown to a point where I don’t want to risk changing platforms.
How Much Money Chad is Making
Currently, my monthly revenue has been between $3000-$4000. On that, I have a 25-40% profit margin.
His Top Marketing Strategy
SEO is my main strategy. I’m not sure if it’s the best, but it’s what I’m doing currently. Currently, it’s the only real strategy I have.
My strategy involves creating new content with unique product descriptions and specific blog posts that target users’ questions. I source links to that content through outreach and guest posts.
I may experiment with Google shopping ads, social media ads, affiliate links, and influencer sponsorships in the future though.
I do think that, for new e-com sites, SEO is underutilized in certain industries, just because it takes so long and there are websites that have been live for decades that you may be competing against.
I was able to find very niche-specific keywords that these major companies had not targeted and I felt there was an opportunity for faster wins.
Link building is very important and backlinks are a major ranking factor for google. I tried HARO outreach with little success for the time put in. Lately, I have focused on niche website outreach and copycat backlinks from the competition.
How Chad Finds Keywords and Creates Content
I use Ahrefs to evaluate my current ranking keywords for each page and then search for terms I think I can move from page 2 to page 1.
I then optimize content for the page around that term and create supporting articles for that page. I also look at what my competition is ranking for that is driving traffic to their site and see if there are any easy wins to be had.
After keyword research, I use a content optimization tool that determines the number of keywords, LSI keywords, content length, headings, etc. based on the current top-ranking results for that search term.
Achieving Current Revenue Levels
It took me 9 months to achieve my current revenue.
Chad’s Favorite Resources
I tried a couple of podcasts on Spotify for e-com stores but found myself going down rabbit holes from shiny object syndrome.
Through my SEO training, I have signed up for a mentorship program where I discuss strategies with my mentor about what keywords to target, how to structure the page, how best to monetize the traffic, etc.
The Tools He Can’t Live Without
I use the following:
- Asana, for project management. I use the free version, which has all the functionality I need. I have added a content writer and web developer to the platform that I found on Upwork, and I assign tasks to them and myself each week for what needs to be worked on the site.
- Ahrefs, for keyword research and to find quality backlinks from the competition.|
- Google Search Console/Google Analytics to know what is driving traffic and how people interact with the site.
His Biggest Challenge
My biggest challenge has been staying focused on the strategy laid out, being patient enough to let organic results come, and finding good freelancers to help complete projects.
Chad’s Most Important Accomplishment
This would be not giving up and going back to work in the corporate world.
I walked away from a 10-year career and a 6-figure job to start my online business. For 2022, I’m going to make 1/10 of what I made at my previous job because a large majority of the money that has been brought in I have re-invested back into the business.
I have a mechanical engineering degree and a master’s in supply chain management, and with the current job market, it would be much easier for me to go back into the workforce in a factory.
The downside is that I would not be able to see my family as much as I want to, and if you’re not willing to uproot and move your family every few years, your salary is quickly maxed out at many corporations.
So for me, the biggest accomplishment has been growing the website to a point where I can see the future potential and not take the easy route of going back to making someone else money.
What He Wishes He Knew When He Started
If you think it will take a month, plan for 3.
Everything that I have wanted to change always seems to take longer than I initially planned for. It has gotten better as I have found many times that tasks were taking longer than expected because I was not clear in the expectations from the start.
I have become much better at making sure my expectations are clear prior to sending tasks to my content writers and web developers so that when they do get a task, they don’t waste time trying to figure out what needs to be done.
His Main Mistake
I started this by joining a very expensive lead generation course/business model to provide leads to local businesses. It was sold as the golden ticket to financial freedom but became a very difficult sell to local business owners.
I probably spent over 20k altogether and only have one website that is producing any income out of 25 that were made.
Chad’s Advice for Other Entrepreneurs
There will always be some discomfort in the unknown, but if in your gut a business model doesn’t feel right, such as the lead gen one above, see if the skills you learned can be applied to another area and still be profitable.