I Make $30K/Month Offering Online Discount Codes and Shopping Tips

Elice Max
Founder, EMUCoupon
$30K
revenue/mo
2
Founders
13
Employees
EMUCoupon
from Brisbane
started February 2019
$30,000
revenue/mo
2
Founders
13
Employees
131K
alexa rank
98
followers
market size
$232B
avg revenue (monthly)
$30K
starting costs
$18K
gross margin
90%
time to build
270 days
growth channels
Organic social media
best tools
Canva, Ahrefs, Zoom
time investment
Full time
pros & cons
40 Pros & Cons
tips
1 Tips
Discover what tools Elice reccommends to grow your business!
Discover what books Elice reccommends to grow your business!
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Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

My name is Elice Max, and I am the co-founder of EMUCoupon. I was born in Boston but currently, I run a business in Brisbane, Australia. My website allows Aussies to save money while shopping online. Since this is an expensive country, the consumers here are always eager to find deals and discounts that reduce the price of certain items.

EMUCoupon not only brings the latest discounts and coupons to consumers, but it also aims to create a community of smart online shoppers. We regularly upload content to assist individuals who want to lead a frugal lifestyle. Our writers bring the latest shopping tips to people looking to make the best of their money.

emucoupon
EMUCoupon Website

While many websites operate in our niche, none are focused on the Australian market. I believe this is the reason we have been able to achieve great success in such a short time. We also try to highlight small retailers in Australia, particularly those run by women or ethnic minorities.

It’s been more than three years since we founded this website. Every day, thousands of users visit EMUCoupon to avail of deals and learn the latest shopping tips. Our team has grown at the same time, we now have seventeen in-office workers while four of our employees work remotely. We have managed to sustain around a 16% annual growth rate since the company’s inception

What's your backstory, and how did you come up with the idea?

I enrolled at the University of Queensland in 2016. Since I was born and raised in Boston, this meant moving to a different continent for me. It didn’t take me long to figure out that Australia was an expensive place.

I was struggling to pay for campus expenses during the first few months. Eventually, I looked for some side gigs to help me make extra money and allow me some financial breathing space. I performed copywriting, social media, and online marketing projects for different businesses.

During this time, I began chatting with one of my campus buddies about starting our own thing. Since we both did freelance gigs, he thought we should start a website and offer our services more professionally. But I had a different idea in mind. As someone that was looking to save every dollar during the initial months, I had noticed the limited opportunities to get discounts while shopping online in Australia.

Back in the states, I regularly used discount platforms to save while shopping online from local retailers. But this option wasn’t available in Australia. Even the coupon and promo codes I found were mostly expired.

I asked my fellow students who grew up in the country whether Australians would be interested in a platform that provided discounts from local stores. Almost all of them showed great interest in the idea. This inspired me to make a survey and do some formal research on the matter. The results were extremely motivating. More than 85% of respondents said they would use a discount website dedicated to Australian shoppers.

We both pitched in to start the business. I invested $4500 that I had been saving all this time. While starting a business was an exciting prospect, I quickly learned that I had to now cut back on my expenses once again.

Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.

Creating a platform that hosts discounts from thousands of retailers is not an easy task. The first step was brainstorming a catchy business name, with an available domain. We picked EMUCoupon because emus are native and culturally important to Australia. Our company wanted to channel the spirit of this resourceful and resilient creature, who has previously won a war against the country’s army.

emucoupon
Website Logo

The company operated from my apartment for six months before we finally decided to rent an office. Likewise, our first two hirings were a web developer and a digital marketing executive.

One of the major challenges for me at the start was learning to handle the accounts.

of hiring someone straight away, I took Queensland University of Technology’s online accounting classes so I could manage my company financially. It took a while before I got some grip on things. I also had to learn about trademarks since these things are crucial when you are working with other brands and businesses.

Describe the process of launching the business.

The most important step in our strategy was designing a website. We needed to create a seamless web experience for users within a limited budget. The site also needed to have certain aesthetics and design that would become an important part of our brand identity in the future. Our developer used WordPress for this purpose, as it comes with a coupon plugin. For them there, the website was modeled after conventional coupon sites, while we provided some input throughout the way.

emucoupon

Once the website was up and running, it was time to put my online marketing skills to good use. Our team initially relied upon SEO and email marketing to promote the website. Most of our early SEO efforts were directed toward optimizing the website to Google’s standards. We had to make sure there were no broken links on our website, analyze any indexing issues, and add meta descriptions and tags on our pages. It was crucial to get the basics right.

The next part of our SEO strategy was content. We created a dedicated blog section on EMUCoupon to feature articles about saving money and smart online shopping. Finally, we began working on off-page optimization by guest posting on different websites.

On the other hand, our email marketing was mostly targeted toward retailers. Since we function on an affiliate model, it was important for us to work with retailers who would be willing to give us commission for promoting their products. This was perhaps the most difficult part of the process. Most business owners were extremely protective of their business. To convince them, we had to charge an extremely low commission on marketing their coupons. It was only after we provided them with a good number of conversions, they agreed to provide us with a healthy commission.

One of the biggest lessons I learned during this time was that entrepreneurs need to be patient. When you are planning to start a business, you are in a rush to get everything done. But once you step into the waters, you realize that things don’t always move according to your expected pace. Anyone that wishes to start a business needs to practice some stoicism.

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

Fortunately, I had a mentor who guided me in gradually building traffic on my website. I created a long-term strategy for increasing EMUCoupon’s standing on search results and stuck with it even though the results took some time to come.

I had to be flexible, think of innovative solutions, and stay ahead of the curve just so my business could survive. I believe overcoming these challenges allowed me to become a better leader.

I did collaborations with online retailers, submitted guest posts on bigger platforms to gain some traction, and most importantly, made sure to frequently upload good content on my website. Almost none of our budget was invested in paid marketing, as it only gets traffic for a short period.

We did dedicate a good time to social media in the early days of the business. But as I learned, later on, social networks aren’t a regular source of the traffic to websites in our industry. Customers who are looking for deals and discounts usually go straight to search engines. However, we did try to establish some presence on Facebook and Twitter, just so we could utilize every available channel to engage customers.

emucoupon

As a part of our community engagement strategy, we feature lesser-known makeup artists from Twitter on Halloween. This helps us highlight some talented individuals and also brings some social media traffic to our website.

It’s been three years since we started our business, and we consistently attract good traffic on EMUCoupon. We didn’t take any shortcuts to get here, and perhaps that’s been our best decision so far.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

Our business is growing by the day. At first, our focus was to bring discounts from local stores to Australian customers. But we are now collaborating with store owners from around the world. 20% of our traffic these days comes from countries like the USA, UK, and Israel among others.

We were getting clicks from non-Australia regions in the early days of EMUCoupon but we never created a strategy to target these markets. It was just recently that we tried to capitalize on traffic from around the world.

We have recently organized paid marketing campaigns to extend our outreach. Currently, we are also in the process of creating dedicated pages for consumers belonging to 12 different countries.

Since we have helped many retailers increase their sales in previous years, this has allowed us to renegotiate our affiliate agreements. We are earning more on conversions now than in previous years. Similarly, we are now advertising some extremely popular digital products in the market and getting a healthy commission in return.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

In the last two years, the most crucial thing I have learned is the ability to adapt. During the lockdowns, I had no choice but to manage a remote team. As someone who had been a business owner for just more than a year, this was a tremendous challenge.

I remember dedicating a great time to learning tools such as Microsoft Teams and organizing meetings on Zoom. These things were frustrating at times due to connection and other technical issues.

Last year, two of my employees decided to quit their jobs. I had been working with the same team since the start, which meant this caused great disruption in the workplace. It was a struggle to find replacements, as most prospects were uninterested in a simple 9-5 job.

I evolved a great deal during this period. I had to be flexible, think of innovative solutions, and stay ahead of the curve just so my business could survive. I believe overcoming these challenges allowed me to become a better leader.

To become more successful, I developed a “getting things done” mindset. Since I have been a procrastinator all my life, this change in attitude wasn’t easy to bring. I started carrying around a to-do list and didn’t call it a day until every objective on that list was achieved.

The biggest ability I have been able to acquire as a leader is self-discipline and this has been the key to whatever success I have achieved so far.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

One of my favorite tools to use is Ahrefs. It’s a goldmine of data that’s useful for websites like mine. I can analyze search volume, rankings, social shares, and backlinks to see where my website stands. The site audit feature is extremely useful in creating future strategies. While Ahrefs is a bit expensive compared to other SEO tools, it is worth the investment when considering all the features that are offered.

Another useful but underrated tool is Canva.We use it to create graphics for our website and social media. I especially like it because my graphic creating skills are below average but Canva allows me to quickly create eye-catching banner images.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

I went through several books while I was starting my entrepreneurial journey. However, no book provided me with better insights on starting a business than Making a Living Without a Job by Barbara J. Winter. This book has just the right blend of motivational stories and practical strategies for anyone striving for business success.

On a more technical side, The Marketer as a Philosopher is a podcast by Flint McGlaughlin and Daniel Burstein is something that I listen to regularly. I like how these individuals are always ahead of the trends. I have learned some great marketing strategies from this podcast that I have implemented to great success.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

I have some advice for women who want to start their businesses. You need to be assertive. Even more so than your male counterparts. This is because we are constantly undermined, even if we are in a position of power.

I've been in meetings where the questions that should've been directed toward me were asked to my project manager just because I am a woman. I have to constantly interject, lead conversations and assert my authority when I am being undermined. Of course, this can be exhausting, but I feel like it's necessary.

If you're a woman who runs a business, you will be labeled "aggressive" and "harsh" regardless of how you approach things. Unfortunately, this is something I don't foresee changing anytime soon. So my advice to women entrepreneurs would be to not be afraid of such labels and make sure they get the final say.

Business leaders in general should be assertive but humble at the same time. You must know how to get your point across without coming off as too authoritative. Otherwise, you risk losing respect from your peers.

Likewise, don’t let anyone talk you out of an idea. If you think you have created a potent solution to a certain problem, go out and conduct some firsthand research. I consulted some experienced business owners on my idea and most of them thought it wouldn’t work out. However, they were wrong as most humans are from time to time.

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

Currently, we are looking for a Junior Digital Marketer. Someone we can groom to be an important member of our team. This is an entry-level job and we are especially after fresh graduates.

Candidates can apply here: [email protected]

Where can we go to learn more?

If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!

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Elice Max, Founder of EMUCoupon
Pat Walls,  Founder of Starter Story

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