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Success Story Podcast

Luke Van Der Veer – SEO Expert & Entrepreneur | Ranking (and Renting) Websites With SEO

By September 20, 2023September 25th, 2023No Comments

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About The Guest

7 years ago, Luke invested $25,000 dollars in learning SEO as a last ditch effort to escape Corporate America. Fueled by a desire for time freedom, he pivoted from traditional agency work to a game-changing website rental model. Today, Luke manages a 7-figure portfolio of lead generation websites across 73 niches in 48 states, generating tens of thousands of qualified leads monthly. His coaching program has reached entrepreneurs in nine countries, teaching them how to leverage Google for lead generation and passive income, eliminating the need for costly advertising agencies and services like Home Advisor and Thumbtack. With Luke’s guidance, business owners worldwide are achieving unprecedented growth while taking full control of their time.

In a world where most jobs and businesses force a choice between money and time, Luke’s approach breaks the mold. He empowers business owners to influence their Google visibility, generating leads effortlessly and building wealth while regaining their precious time. Luke Van Der Veer’s legacy is one of empowerment, inspiring countless individuals to break free from the constraints of traditional work and embrace the limitless potential of the online landscape.

Talking Points

  • 00:00 — Intro
  • 02:36 — Luke’s Journey Begins
  • 05:42 — Luke’s Business Start-Up Mistake
  • 07:13 — Real Passive Income or Just Side Hustles?
  • 14:34 — Luke’s Website Rental Strategy
  • 17:04 — The Mindset Behind Luke’s Success
  • 22:36 — The Secret Sauce of a Passive Business
  • 25:45 — Monetizing an SEO-Based Business
  • 27:59 — Sponsor: My First Million Podcast
  • 28:32 — Starting a Website Rental Company
  • 33:21 — Organic vs. Paid Marketing
  • 39:37 — Solving the Lead Generation Puzzle
  • 48:11 — Impact of Luke’s SEO on Offline Businesses
  • 50:42 — Simplifying Entrepreneurship
  • 54:38 — Luke’s Mindset Evolution: From Employee to Owner to Investor
  • 56:41 — Advice for 20-Year-Old Luke
  • 1:00:30 — Closing Thoughts from Luke Van Der Veer
  • 1:01:25 — Connecting with Luke Online
  • 1:02:13 — Defining Success with Luke Van Der Veer

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Show Summary: From Employee to Entrepreneur to Investor: One Man’s Journey to Time and Financial Freedom

Luke Vander Veer wasn’t satisfied with the traditional career path.

After getting his MBA, he landed a prestigious job at GE, one of the largest companies in the world. But just a few weeks in, Luke realized this corporate life would never fulfill him.

As he looked around at his older colleagues, they all echoed similar regrets: not having enough money saved for retirement, and not having the freedom to live life on their own terms.

Luke was determined not to let that happen to him. There had to be another way.

At just 24 years old, he refused to spend the next 4 decades trading his time for money while clinging to two weeks of vacation a year.

Luke knew in his gut that he wanted two things:

  • Financial freedom
  • The flexibility to do what he wanted, when he wanted

And he set out on a decade long journey to design a lifestyle that would deliver those two outcomes.

Along the way, Luke would learn how to generate passive income online, build assets that worked for him, and even buy traditional brick and mortar businesses to accelerate his success.

His story is inspiring not just because of the financial results, but because of Luke’s mindset shift that opened up new possibilities.

He realized that designing the ideal lifestyle was first and foremost an internal game. Once you gain clarity on what you really want, external opinions fade into the background noise.

I had the honor of speaking with Luke on the Success Story podcast recently. In this deep dive article, I’ll be sharing key insights from Luke’s journey in his own words.

If you’ve ever felt unfulfilled by trading time for money, or you have a vision for lifestyle freedom that seems out of reach, Luke’s story will expand your beliefs on what’s possible.

Let’s get started.

From Golden Handcuffs to Online Side Hustles

Luke took the first step toward lifestyle design just weeks into his corporate job.

He explains:

“I was working at GE, my first real job, first nine-to-five job after the MBA program at Albany. And I was there for a few weeks trying to get used to that type of company – just a true nine to five, HR department, lots of smart people and just a lot of work as you’d imagine at a multinational company.”

But it didn’t take long for Luke to feel uninspired. He noticed his older colleagues were regretting decades of sacrifice.

“I noticed that most of the people in the department were a lot older than me – like I was 24, everybody was nearing retirement, late 50s, early 60s. And person after person after person was telling me the same two themes: I don’t have enough money to retire, or I haven’t been able to do the things I’ve wanted to do over the past 35-40 years.”

One woman in particular stood out:

“She was just talking about not being able to see her daughter, and how important this was to her. I just kept hearing this from everybody. And I just was sitting there adding up the years in my head – I don’t want to do this for 30-40 years and not have money, and not be able to do any of the stuff I want to do. I want it now, like while I’m young.”

This stark realization motivated Luke to take control:

“That was the trigger for me. I’m like I can’t do this. I have to make a change.”

But Luke had no idea what path to take. He just knew he had to find a way out of the corporate grind.

So he started experimenting with every online business model he could learn about:

  • eCommerce stores
  • Dropshipping
  • Amazon/eBay arbitrage
  • Facebook ads agency
  • MLM

You name it, Luke tried it.

Though some generated income, Luke realized these side hustles weren’t the path to freedom:

“All the different things they tried – drop shipping, Amazon, MLM, trying to create a Facebook ad agency – all these different things were just trying to make money. I never really realized that time was what I wanted. I didn’t care about the money.”

Luke was looking for something he could model into a passive income stream – an asset he could build that would run itself.

But he wouldn’t uncover the business model that worked for him until a pivotal moment…

The Middle of the Night Phone Call That Changed Everything

After burning out on side hustle schemes, Luke decided to focus on one thing he knew well – SEO.

He started an agency helping local businesses rank better in Google and driving leads to their sites.

But Luke soon realized he had only created another job for himself:

“I can generate leads for anybody, anywhere. But now I’ve got all these people asking me for reports, updates, send me this, change this picture – the list goes on and on.”

The tipping point came when a client called Luke at midnight on a Sunday, complaining about his site rankings.

Mind you, this client was ranking on page 5 before working with Luke. In just months, Luke had elevated him to page 1 for all his top keywords.

But there the client was, awake at midnight, angry about a slight dip in rankings over the weekend.

Luke recalls:

“I just snapped. I was like I gotta find a way to get out of this. There’s gotta be a way to do this where I don’t have to be involved all the time.”

He stayed up that night searching for a better way.

Luke knew he had mastered the skill of ranking websites. He could get sites to the top of Google for nearly any niche and location.

But he no longer wanted the hassle of managing sites for clients.

He realized the asset was the ranked site itself. So why not remove the client from the equation?

Why not rank niche sites, then rent them out to local businesses in need of leads?

Luke vividly remembers the epiphany:

“I’m looking at what I’m doing for the clients. I’m like, why do they have control over my time? They have control because I’m working for them. What are they really getting? All they’re getting is the leads. How can I have the leads, and have people rent from me?”

This was the start of Luke’s website rental business.

He would go on to make millions with this model. But first, he needed proof that it could work.

Validating the Model: The $500 per Month Car Wrap Site

Luke understood the concept was sound. But as with any new business model, he needed to validate it quickly on a small scale first.

He explains his initial approach:

“I started with the niches I was already in because I had clients in all those niches. Let’s try water damage, roofing, concrete. But I learned things about each of the niches as I was trying them.”

Through trial and error, Luke found that some niches didn’t fit his model. They required too much ongoing management or had long, complex sales cycles.

He needed a niche where demand was guaranteed and sales cycles were fast.

So Luke got creative. He explains:

“I saw a person drive by with a wrapped car and I was like, I wonder about car wraps? So I started looking around the country and randomly picked Phoenix. I didn’t really know what the idea was for that. It was just a pretty random pick.”

Luke built a site for Phoenix car wraps, loaded with great content. He ranked the site for keywords like “Phoenix vehicle wrap” and “Arizona custom vehicle wrap”.

Soon the site was getting organic traffic. Then calls started coming in.

Luke found small wrap shops buried on page 6 or 7 of Google who jumped at the chance for exclusive leads.

One shop owner agreed to pay Luke $500 a month. Just like that, the website rental model was validated.

Next, it was time to scale things dramatically.

How to Make Millions with Website Rentals

Once Luke proved he could rent niche sites for passive income, it was time to replicate this.

The key was identifying the right niches and markets to focus on.

Here are some of Luke’s criteria:

  • High demand services – plumbing, roofing, tree service – things people need year round
  • Short sales cycles – so tenants quickly benefit from lead flow
  • Low competition – smaller cities, obscure niches that competitors ignore
  • High ROI for tenants – aim for 10X ROI so it’s a no-brainer for them

Luke also optimized the sites for organic traffic only – no paid ads. In his experience, organic converts better than ads.

And organic rankings meant ongoing passive income with minimal maintenance.

With the model primed for scale, Luke replicated it rapidly.

He found niche contractors hungry for leads, and rented each site out for $1000 to $1500 per month on average.

Incredibly, Luke was able to replace a full time income with just 5 or 6 rented sites.

With this flexible cash flow, Luke could work when he wanted, take vacations freely, and enjoy time with family and friends.

Just a few years ago, he was acquire a multi-million dollar ice cream business using his own capital.

When I asked about the financial upside, Luke humbly said:

“I’ve made several million with website rentals. You can – the sky’s the limit with this. It’s just how long you want to keep doing it. You don’t really need many to create a really big income.”

But for Luke, even millions in revenue wasn’t the end goal. Having his time freedom back was the real prize.

From Side Hustler to Investor: Leveling Up with Lead Gen Sites

At this point in Luke’s journey, his site rental income surpassed what he earned working full time.

He had achieved financial freedom without relying on anyone else.

But Luke wasn’t ready to put his entrepreneurial skills to rest just yet.

You see, Luke enjoyed the process of building and ranking sites, even if he didn’t want to operate them.

So Luke realized he could teach others the model that had worked so well for him.

He explains:

“After doing website rentals the clients I used to have asked, if you’re not going to teach us or do this for us, can you teach it to us? I was like yeah, ok, I can do that. People were getting results so it felt fulfilling.”

Luke’s SEO coaching program was born.

But he also had ambitions beyond coaching. He started looking at how he could invest and acquire traditional small businesses.

You see, Luke realized his core skill – optimizing online presence – was applicable to any business. Even ones offline.

He could take established companies that had never prioritized digital marketing, and scale them rapidly.

So Luke set out to make his first multi-million dollar acquisition.

He found an ice cream truck business doing $2 million revenue with hardly any online presence at all.

Luke saw massive potential to grow by focusing on corporate events, catering and other digital lead generation strategies.

At the time of our podcast interview, Luke was set to close on this acquisition within weeks!

Designing Your Ideal Lifestyle: Luke’s Top Tips

Luke’s journey has been remarkable. He’s embodied the classic trope of going from employee to entrepreneur to investor.

But as you can tell, financial success was never the end goal for Luke.

Freedom and flexibility were his north stars.

Here are some of Luke’s top tips on lifestyle design:

Find clarity on your vision

Before diving into business models, get clear on the lifestyle you want – then work backwards. Don’t assume a side hustle or starting a biz guarantees freedom.

Gain self-awareness

What are you naturally good at? What type of work do you enjoy? The path to freedom should still align with your interests and personality traits.

Master a repeatable skill

Choose a skill you can replicate over and over. For Luke it was lead generation and SEO. This allowed him to scale while removing himself from operations.

Build passive income assets

Passive income comes from assets that run without you being involved day to day. You don’t have to be a business owner to do this. Luke built assets by renting out sites.

Invest in alternative education

Success leaves clues. Find mentors who have results you want and invest in learning from them. Luke focused heavily on self directed learning.

Take leaps of faith

You’ll never have perfect info to start. At some point you simply have to trust your vision and take the leap. Success favors action.

Luke’s story makes one thing clear – with the right mindset, skills and vision, you absolutely can build work and a lifestyle on your own terms.

You don’t have to settle for trading time and freedom during your most productive years just so you can hopefully relax decades later.

As Luke would say:

“Every decision we make has an opportunity cost. When there’s something you want to do and you do nothing, you’re actively choosing to give up whatever that other thing is you could have had.”

Here’s to seizing the opportunities that call to you, even in imperfection and uncertainty.

Because you don’t want to look back at 65 wishing you’d taken more leaps of faith decades ago.

You have gifts to share and goals to achieve in the time you’re given. So make it count.


What is the Success Story Podcast?

On this podcast, you’ll find interviews, Q&A, keynote presentations & conversations on sales, marketing, business, startups, and entrepreneurship.

The podcast is hosted by entrepreneur, business executive, author, educator & speaker, Scott D. Clary.

Scott will discuss some of the lessons he’s learned over his own career, as well as have candid interviews with execs, celebrities, notable figures, and politicians. All who have achieved success through both wins and losses, to learn more about their life, their ideas, and insights.

He sits down with leaders and mentors and unpacks their stories to help pass those lessons on to others through both experiences and tactical strategies for business professionals, entrepreneurs, and everyone in between.

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