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Although it may sound like a too-good-to-be true deal, Nicholas Kusmich quit his day job to earn millions online.
Kusmich, who runs a Facebook marketing agency called H2H Media Group — as well as doing personal consulting — was a Protestant pastor for 14 years in Toronto. He took a small salary of about $23,000 (Canadian $30,000) per year.
Now, with his new work, he says he earned $2.1 million in 2016, and is on track to earn $2.6 million this year.
"When I originally felt a calling, it was because I wanted to help people," Kusmich said. "My narrative at the time told me, 'You should go into pastoring.' I had a congregation of about 100 people."
"But the primary reason I wanted to do it was to touch and help people," he continued. "Pastoring taught me how to help and speak. I'm still able to reach and touch and help and hold people, but from a much greater scale."
The former pastor stumbled upon online marketing in 2010 when he was looking for ways to supplement his income. After taking a few classes and reading blogs, he learned the easiest way to make money online was to sell a niche product.
"The training I took taught me to find a niche that had a huge consumer base where people were spending millions and millions of dollars," Kusmich said. "It's an easier thing to sell something to large niches with proven buyers than it is to sell 'how to grow large tomatoes in your tomato garden.'"
Since he was interested in natural health remedies, Kusmich wrote an e-book on how to lose weight naturally, and sold it for $20 to $30 a copy. He used a pen name so his congregants wouldn't know his side business. After selling a few hundred copies, he realized it wasn't going to be a "huge mass of success."
However, he decided to turn the e-book into an online course, which cost up to $197. Kusmich used the e-book, Facebook advertising and other social media techniques to market the classes. Eventually it caught the eye of another company working with former "Biggest Loser" winners, who bought the content and other assets from him for $25,000.
"I got pretty good at it, and thought if I can help myself, I could do this for others," Kusmich said. It gave me the confidence and credibility and skill set to say I know what I'm doing here."
In early 2015 Kusmich started H2H Media Group, which consults and runs Facebook advertising for businesses. He decided to specialize on the platform because he felt it had the most promise. Although he was concerned about giving up a small yet stable salary, his girlfriend at the time (who later became his wife) helped him realize Facebook marketing was what truly made him happy.
"I was presented with an opportunity where I could do Facebook and all these other social media, or I could triple down and really own the Facebook space," he explained. "Mid-2015 I decided Facebook would be the only channel where we operate all of our services on, but all of our training we do is theoretical to all social."
Today, Kusmich makes most of his money doing Facebook advertising consulting, including two-day intensive classes where he and his team build Facebook campaigns for clients, doing in-office training or fleshing out existing programs.
He also has online courses for businesses and writes books. In addition, he manages Facebook marketing for a handful of clients. Kusmich started out working with "thought leaders," which at that time he said was an "affluent underserved space," including the coaching division of the Tony Robbins Group (Robbins-Madanes Group), Joe Polish and recently Deepak Chopra and the Chopra Institute. As more thought leaders emerged, he moved toward ecommerce companies, such as the Dollar Beard Club, Radha Beauty and RTA Cabinets.
Being a pastor prepared him by forcing him to deal with all kinds of people and to learn how to be honest while also constructive, which he believes sets his company apart.
"A lot of marketers get a real bad name," he said. '[Author] Seth Godin makes this claim that all marketers are liars, which I think there is some truth to it. In the online space, there's a lot of slime. People renting Lamborghinis and saying, 'This is my car.' I made it a point that we wanted to be authentic, true and transparent."
Giving all those sermons helped a bit as well.
"If I hadn't spoken on a stage every Sunday for 52 weeks a year for 14 years, I wouldn't be able to do what I do now," he said, laughing.