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A Interview of a Former Pastor Who Made $2 Million A Year
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When Nicholas Kusmich, 34, of Toronto, was in high school, his faith was a big part of his life.

“I had this thing inside of me that said, I have something to do that’s bigger,” he says. At that time, his experience led him to believe that would be to go into the ministry. After becoming youth director, then youth pastor at 17, he got ordained at 19. “I thought my role in the universe was to touch lives through this,” he says.

However, he soon realized that pastoring wasn’t going to pay the bills, which he needed to do not just for himself but for his immigrant parents (Ukrainian father, Korean mother) who owned a convenience store. His father, who had had multiple heart attacks and strokes starting when Kusmich was 4, had to stop working when Kusmich was 17. “I remember being in an ER once having a conversation with a cardiac specialist, and I had spent so much time in hospitals he asked me where I practiced,” says Kusmich, who was about 15 or 16 at the time.

His role as primary breadwinner didn’t start off so well. “I was a sucker,” Kusmich recalls. He tried all kinds of things including direct selling, multi-level marketing schemes and every other internet opportunity out there. “All of it was an epic failure,” he says. His one minor success? Creating a fitness ebook and digital program and selling it to someone else in the industry for $6,500.

That gave him the courage to try his hand at becoming a marketing consultant, which resulted in about 10 years of half-hearted efforts that went nowhere. It wasn’t until he found a niche — Facebook ads — that his efforts really began to pay off, and in a big way. Kusmich and his wife launched a boutique Facebook marketing agency that boasts returns on investment of 1,000% to 30,000%+ and whose clients include personal development gurus and New York Times bestselling authors. The couple is on track to earn just under $2 million this year. Not bad considering that, three years ago, Kusmich was at a low point in his life. Here’s how they did it.

How did you have the epiphany to specialise in Facebook ads?

In 2014, I was sitting at a conference, and the person on stage asked, how many people do Facebook advertising? And 80% of hands went up. And then he asked, how many of you have been profitable with Facebook ads? And 80% of the hands went down. I decided right then, I will no longer be a marketing consultant but a Facebook strategist. I had success with Facebook advertising and was not recognizing a need in the marketplace. We decided to start a boutique agency and began working with higher-profile clients. We’re known in the industry as having some of the highest returns on investment. I was still pastoring until about three-and-a-half years ago, but at a certain point, things were getting tough in the church and things were getting better in the business so I decided to do marketing full-time.

Back when you were just starting, how did you learn about internet marketing?

I turned to the internet and was learning about direct selling. It was 1999, so the only way to learn about it was to pay for courses such as how to be an affiliate marketer or how to market using emails and paid traffic. There’s a term in our industry — “shiny object syndrome” — and I bought anything I could afford, any CD program, any ebook, anything that would teach me how to make money on the internet.

Why did you say it was an epic failure?


I’ve spent well over $100,000 on learnings, but not made a penny in return. I’d buy a book on email marketing, try it, not follow through and then take another course, not do much deployment and move on to the next thing and the next thing.

How were you supporting yourself then?


Mostly through pastoring, which paid $30,000 a year. And my mom found manual labor at a dry cleaners.

What was your childhood like in terms of lifestyle and approach to making, saving and spending money?

My mom says I wasn’t supposed to be born. She had trouble conceiving and then a pastor prayed for her and I was conceived the next month. So I was the apple of my parents’ eye. When you talk about spoiling a kid — despite having no resources, they made sure I had what I wanted. They had their business and it was enough to pay for the bills and no more. But still, they were willing to give to me or to a family member in need, so the attitude around money was, it doesn’t grow on trees, but when you do have it, be generous with it.

When I went to junior high school, I went to a school outside my district in a wealthier neighbourhood, and I noticed the kids’ parking lot had nicer cars than the teachers’ parking lot did. I pretended I lived somewhere I didn’t so as not to give people the impression that we didn’t have enough.

Tell me about the minor success you had with that fitness ebook.

I had taken a course that said to go into a market where many people want what you have, so I chose the multibillion-dollar weight loss industry. I studied a bunch of weight loss methodologies and came up with my own angle — that there are root and surface causes in weight loss. Dieting was a surface cause, but root causes were hormones, toxic buildup in the body and bad food choices. The position I took in the market was that of a reporter, Napoleon Hill-style. But I was a pastor at the time, so I wrote under a pen name.

How did you make the transition to becoming a marketing consultant?

The book was turned into a course so I could charge more for it. I was selling it for $77, and making $1,000 a month or so — enough to say I was making a living but nothing more. Then someone in the internet marketing industry approached me. The Biggest Loser was popular at the time, and he had struck a deal with a couple who had won. He said to them, you be the face, and I’ll be the business guy, but the couple started to gain the weight back, and he was distraught. He liked my course and wanted to buy the license or rights to use the information and repurpose it. I was happy anybody was even remotely interested in what I had created, so I agreed to stop marketing it for $6,500. To me, that was a huge win. When people started asking me how I did it, that was the beginning of my transition to being a digital marketing consultant.

I was 20 or so when I sold it, but my foray into digital marketing was an extremely long stretch of unfruitfulness. The most I was making was $1,200 or $1,500 a month with my services, whether one-time short-term projects or web pages, or a retainer client I would have for a couple months. But I never got past that amount. And that was the story until I stepped into that conference when I was 30-31.

In the latter part of those years, my marriage began falling apart. I found out my wife was cheating on me, I lost all my assets. That was the beginning of things not working out at the church. If you’re going through a divorce, it doesn’t go well with the church if you’re the pastor.

Tell me about the conference where you had the epiphany to focus on Facebook ads.

This was Jan 2014, the same month I quit pastoring. I was in a down place in my life. My friend introduced me to a group where this guy, Giovanni Marsico said he was hosting an entrepreneurship conference. He made an offer I couldn’t refuse. The event was $595, but he said, pay at the end only if you felt if was worth it. I decided to go to the event, Archangel Academy for Gifted Entrepreneurs, and thought regardless of how good it was, I was going to say it sucked and not pay.

One of the things Giovanni does during his events are 126 talks — if you’re in the audience, he’ll give you 126 seconds to introduce yourself on stage and present one great takeaway everyone can use in their life. I was prepared to present something that had nothing to do with Facebook, but the guy right before me asked those questions about Facebook ads — how many people used them and how many people had made money from them — so I immediately changed my talk to how to make Facebook ads work for you. That was well received, and they dubbed me the Facebook Ninja. So word got out that I was an authority even though I wasn’t.

Graciously, Giovanni ended up emailing everybody, this is my gift to you, so nobody owes me anything. Fast forward a couple years later, people now pay $300-$2,000 to be at his conference and $5,000 to be at his mastermind events.

How did you learn about Facebook ads?

Through courses, I’d been using and learning from Facebook ads, and I was making money with it, which is more than what 80% of people could say, so at the conference, I thought, I can have first mover’s advantage on this. Something I teach now is the blue ocean strategy — move into uncontested space, a niche being underserved. I decided, not only does my target market have to be underserved but also affluent. And one of those types was the coach/consultant information marketer. I targeted that space and went after my dream clients. I said, I know you don’t know me, let me do some work for you, and only if I get the results you’re looking for will you pay me my fees. I would do well and they referred me to others. Then I began working with higher-profile clients and they hang out with other high-profile people. And that’s how I went, in 18 months, from being an unknown to, now, one of the highest ROI-ing vendors in the industry.

When you went to that conference, since you had quit your job, did you have any savings or other income to rely on?

I knew I was going to pursue a new venture when I went to the conference, but I did have a fallback. My girlfriend, who became my fiancee and then my wife, had a stable corporate job. So I was able to focus 100% of my time and energy to making it work.

How much were you making initially and how did that change over time?

I charged my first client $2,500. I said, I’ll run this for you, but you only have to pay if I get results. We ran a successful campaign for him, and he started to tell people about it. People started telling me I had more value than $2,500 so I began quoting $3,000. Soon, we were getting so many clients, and I could only work with a limited number, and there was a waiting list, so I began charging $5,000. Now I’m up to $7,500 or more a month, since I’m getting more results. I sometimes also charge a percentage of revenue share.

As we went from $2,500 to even $12,500, about three or four months in, I had broken into the six-figures. I had four or five clients at $2,500 a pop. With more and more case studies and experience, not too long after that, I had 10 clients at $5,000 a month and then 13-15 at $7,500-$15,000 a month. Then we started to incorporate not just agency work, but my wife came to work full-time in January 2015. So we added consulting to the agency, I added speaking, and so our combined income, as of mid-November this year, is more than $1.7 million, and we’ll come in at just under $2 million by year’s end, and it’s the second or third year in business.

How many employees do you have?

It is myself and my wife, and we have a handful of contractors for supplementary support with things like graphic design.

What have been the major turning points?

Going back to Giovanni, several months after his conference, in July of that year, he wanted to do a bigger event in LA, so he said to me, I want you to run the Facebook ads for it. That event ended up bringing in about 100 people, the number he wanted. He was part of a higher level mastermind group called Genius Network aka 25k — it costs $25,000 to be a member and has the elite of the elite in our industry. As I walked in, I bumped into Giovanni and several members of that group. He introduced me as a Facebook Ninja and they assumed I was a leading Facebook guy. One of them said, what’s your email, and he wrote an email to the CEO of Joe Polish, the marketing expert, saying, I know you guys were looking for a Facebook guy, I think I found him. That client was was one-degree separation away from many top business owners and entrepreneurs, and so he started referring other clients. We still get new clients from them. Just by saying I do all Joe Polish’s stuff, that indirectly led to more clients.

We’re getting more selective about the type of client we work with, but since some people can’t afford to work with us, we started doing two-day implementation intensives where we can deploy things for your business right there, and attendees leave with all of it done. We did our first event in September 2015 with 20 business owners, and did another four weeks later. Now we charge $5,000-$8,000 for implementation intensives and put 15-20 business owners in a room.

We also do a few one-off consultations — sometimes a company will hire me to go there for two days — and now, my public speaking is picking up. I’m speaking at four to five events back to back, not necessarily as an income-generator, but it leads to other private client work and helps fill our intensives. I laugh when I think about how, four years ago, I was on stage doing the same thing as a pastor, but obviously with a different purpose.

How many hours do you work a week?

That’s changed, because we recently had our first child. When my wife was pregnant, we intentionally drew back. We work out of home — have breakfast, work, chill out, play with the kid, go for walk, work for a few more hours. When we were in building mode, we worked 10-12 hours a day, but now it’s more like now 5-8 hours a day. As of right now, we’re really liking the pace. I was pretty stressed out, and I don’t want to be that father who puts work in front of family. We’re not going to stop working, but one of the mind shifts I had was that business growth and revenue is not the be all, end all. With people constantly sharing their numbers, it makes you think you must go up and to the right. But back in the day, I could make $5,000 a month, then I made $100,000 a year and then I was making $1 million a year. When is enough enough?

How did you manage to make more while working fewer hours?

It was a combination of raising our prices from $5,000 to $10,000 or more, fewer clients — we only work with about 10-12 — and supplementing with these intensives. We did four in 2016, and in 2017 we’ll do six. In two days of delivery, we can generate the same revenue as we can with one client over 18 months or more.

How much do you make now?

Most months are between $100,000 to $160,000. Months with intensives, you see an income spike above that.

What were some of your biggest setbacks and how did you overcome them?

When things were growing, like mid-2015, I was working ridiculous hours. I was responding to emails on weekends and bending over backwards for clients. A doctor ran a bunch of blood work, and he said, Nic, your adrenals are shot. You’re going to have a serious breakdown. It put things into perspective for me and prompted me to restructure the business.

How has your lifestyle changed with this boost in your income?

My wife and are not extravagant people. We’re not buying sports cars or yachts or lavishly shopping every weekend. Most of our income stays in the business. At the end of 2015, when we had our first million-dollar year, my wife send me a screenshot of $1 million and the end of 2014 where I had basically nothing, and she said, “Always be grateful.” It reminds me this could all disappear tomorrow.

If we want to shop at Whole Foods, we will. If we’re out at a restaurant and want a bottle of wine, we’ll indulge. We bought a nicer home and drive a Mercedes SUV, and we allow ourselves to do a bottle of wine, an extra day of vacation, the guacamole because we can afford it.

What have I not asked?

In the entrepreneurial space, there was all the rage about The Secret and Gratitude Rocks, and affirmations and Think and Grow Rich. I found, in the midst of things crumbling before me, at the core of it was me with these wild vision boards, saying to myself, you can achieve more. When I said, I’m not going to live for the next outcome, I’m going to be grateful now and not live a life based on pursuit, we were able to achieve the life we have now.
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In oversea, people quit pastoral duties to become businessman, in Singapore, businessman turn into pastor
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