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Best resources: BorntoSell.com’s killer covered call screener (transcript)

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Best resources: BorntoSell.com’s killer covered call screener (transcript)

On Tradestreaming Radio, we’re interviewing lots of innovative entrepreneurs, investors, and researchers all trying to make investors better at what they do. Check out our archives. Subscribe on iTunes.

Audio transcription provided by Speechpad.com.

Announcer: Live from the Internet, it’s Tradestreaming Radio with your host, Tradestreaming.com’s own Zack Miller.

Zack: Hey, this is Zack Miller and you’re listening to Tradestreaming Radio. This is your place online to talk about tools, tech, and tips to help make you a better and more accurate investor. We help to bubble up some of the best and smartest people, sharing the most important ideas. That’s what Tradestreaming is all about.

I appreciate you listening. You can find this podcast on iTunes at Tradestreaming. You can also find this podcast on my website, Tradestreaming.com. After the show is up, we will have the audio transcribed so you can find some text there. We’ll also put in some other valuable information as well, so I recommend you check that out.

Today’s guest is Mike Scanlin, the founder of BornToSell.com. It’s an online call option research platform. Mike left a sweet job as a VC to pursue two different ideals. One is this sort of entrepreneurial idea. He wanted to prove to everybody in his life that he could branch out and do it on his own. The second was really to create “the resource” for covered calls online. There are a few other sites out there that do that. He’s totally hyper focused on making it the best, most usable, most functional place out there to really research covered calls. Covered call strategies are used for a variety of reasons. He’ll talk about why investors use these things.

I was interested in understanding how he formed the company, some of the techniques he used to build awareness and traffic to his site, so where he was going with Born To Sell. It’s a great site. He’s got a lot of free content there. It’s a subscription model as well. I’ll put some links up to it on the website.

He’s a treasure trove of information, both about technology and marketing, as well as obviously covered call strategies. He actually learned the strategy from his father, who was a stock broker, who used it to generate income on retirement portfolios. It’s really functional. I even said in the conversation that it felt like using one of the best tools I use in my practice, which is MailChimp. It’s a mail services provider. It has the same type of functionality and ease of use that some of the best online tools have. That’s not by chance. That’s something definitely programmed and designed in there.

I hope you find this informative. If you do, please rank or rate us on iTunes. We benefit and let other people know about what we’re doing here. Also, we’re always open for your feedback, either on the blog or via email. Let us know what you think of the podcast. We’re aiming to make this better and more useful for you. We’ll just jump right into the conversation.

Best resources: BorntoSell.com’s killer covered call screener by tradestreaming

Can you tell me your background? Are you more of a technology person? Do you have a financial background?

Mike: I’m both. I started off my professional career as a software engineer, so I was a day-to-day programmer for 12 years. I worked at five startups in Silicon Valley. Two went public, one got bought, and two failed, so kind of a mix of experience there. Then I ended up at Garage.com with Guy Kawasaki, which was an early-stage investment bank. Originally I was hired to build their website, as a technology person. So I built the Garage.com website. It was designed to accept business plan submissions online, and then Garage would review the plans. They would choose about half of one percent to take on as clients, and then they would prepare those entrepreneurs to meet angels and VCs and then syndicate their Series A fundraising rounds. I did that for four years.

After developing the site, Guy hired me on full time to be the software/technology guy, to evaluate business plans on a technical level that were in the software space. That grew into a role, over four years, where I was running half of that company, and we had 65 people in 6 offices around the world.

Zack: Was Katia there while you were there?

Mike: Yeah, Katia is a good friend.

Zack: Oh good. She’s my first cousin.

Mike: Is that right? Wow.

Zack: Yeah.

Mike: Amazing.

Zack: Small world.

Mike: Yeah, she’s awesome. We were buddies in Palo Alto. Then when she moved to London, Guy and I visited her there a couple times. We do one of our boot camps for startups in London. But yeah, she’s awesome. In fact, my wife is in the jewelry business and is still in touch with Katia, talking about pearls and stones and stuff.

Zack: That’s great.

Mike: So anyway, I did Garage for four years, I read like 10,000 business plans. I helped 120 companies raise $400 million. Then we filed to go public with Goldman as our lead underwriter in February of 2000. The market corrected in April, or peaked, started to correct as we were in S1. Then we waited six months. Then in October, Goldman said, “Look, it’s not getting better. You guys should just withdraw.” So we withdrew the filing. At that point, it was clear this dream of the instant big bucks was over. So I left that. I took some time off. I came back as a VC. I joined Sierra Ventures, which is a 25 year old venture fund, as a principal.

I was there for four years, and then I got recruited out to go to Battery Ventures, which is a bigger fund, and they made me partner. I spent the last two years of my professional career as a partner in a VC firm.

Ultimately I decided I was tired of the venture business, having done it for six years and then the prior four years in banking, and I really wanted to run my own company. So I left a very good job, which my wife is still not sure I should have done, to go start Born To Sell, which is this covered call website. I did that just over two years ago.

It took 18 months to develop this site. I hired 35 people around the world. I found them on the Internet using Elance and oDesk. So it’s a completely outsourced model. It’s all self-funded. I had seven different people offer me money to invest when I quit the venture business, and I declined. I decided to go the self-funding route just because, having been on boards, I knew what it meant to take outside money.

We were launched last July, and we were cash flow positive and profitable in our fourth month. Every month the subscriptions go up. It’s a recurring revenue model, so it’s just going to be a cash machine. In a couple of years, it’s going to be awesome. We had a nice write-up. I don’t know if I sent it to you. We were in Barron’s about two weeks ago.

Zack: I did see that. You didn’t send it to me, but I did see it, yeah.

Mike: Yeah, that was a really great mention for us and really boosted subscribers. So I’m now going to hire a PR person. I haven’t done any PR. It’s all been sort of organic SEO. That’s been great. It’s just that learning a new skill I’ve been obsessed with increasing my organic page ranking in Google for 150 different phrases that are relevant to covered call traders. Now I rank . . .

Zack: So . . .

Mike: Go ahead. I’ll stop.

Zack: I’m sorry. It’s interesting to me, given your background, why focused on covered calls?

Mike: Oh yeah, I skipped that part in the very beginning. My father’s a stockbroker, and at the age of 15, he brainwashed me that selling options actually didn’t even exist then. He taught me about investing as a teenager. In 1973, they’d just come out, and covered calls were new. He started doing it. He was obsessed with them. He taught me about them, and I started trading them as a teenager. So I’ve been doing covered calls for 30 years with my own personal money. I don’t outsource any of my financial management. I do it myself, and covered calls is the number one strategy. I’ve been using it, and I’ve had great success.

My frustration was I had a homegrown Excel spreadsheet, like most covered call traders do, because the brokerage firms don’t pair up the trades, a long stock and a short option. So it’s really hard to see if you have 30 open positions, what’s the time premium remaining in each of these positions? So everybody has their homegrown spreadsheet. It doesn’t import prices usually. It certainly doesn’t have ex-dividend dates or earnings release dates or other kinds of integrated information that’s pretty important if you’re doing this. So I was going to write a web page tool, just for my own trading. After six months, I got into it. I showed it to a couple covered call friends, and they’re like, “Well, dude, you should sell that.”

Zack: Right.

Mike: So I polished it up, and that’s when I quit my . . . I was doing this while I was still a VC. Then I decided I’m just going to make this a business. So I quit my VC job and decided to go after this full time.

Zack: So what kind of channels are you using to get the word out? I know you have the blog. There’s some really nice content there. I even saw that you developed an app for the Investing Tools section on Seeking Alpha.

Mike: Yeah.

Zack: Can you talk about how you’re using distribution technologies to get the word out?

Mike: Sure. One, we have an affiliate program. We have over 300 affiliates. They get a fee for sending us leads, which is someone who signs up for a free trial, and then more if they convert to a paid subscriber. The details are all on our page. It’s all public. It’s in the footer under Affiliates. So that’s one channel.

Then I ran some print ads in a few different publications, like Stocks and Commodities and SSO, and actually in IBD, Investor’s Business Daily. I ran it for about a month as well. Those kind of paid for themselves. It was kind of a break even proposition, so I wasn’t very excited about continuing the print advertising.

So then I got turned on to online SEO, which I had known about as a VC obviously and being a techno nerd. I’m thinking, okay, this is a new challenge. I’ve got to get this page ranked number one. My ideal phrase is “covered call screener,” which is an exact description of what we are. So my mission was to get that ranked number one, which we are today.

Zack: How long did that take?

Mike: It wasn’t that competitive. There are probably five websites that matter in that space. I think it took maybe three months, because with Google, you can’t just blast it all at once or it looks like spam. Google will actually penalize you if you do it in a spam-like way. You have to build up trusted links from credible sites on a regular schedule over time. If you just get a thousand inbound links on day one and then none for a month after that, that looks really spammy, and it looks like you bought links, which is what Google hates. So you can’t do that.

I read all kinds of SEO blogs and forums and learned from a bunch of books. It’s basically pretty straightforward. The on page optimization is about 20 percent of what you need. That takes a couple of weeks to get that nailed, and then 80 percent of it is the external links and people to point to you. You’ve got to get a link from Wikipedia, although now, Wikipedia is all no follow. They used to be do follow. Wikinvest, Investopedia, places that are relevant to your audience and trustworthy, ranked by Google. So today, I’m tracking 150 different phrases. I have 20 of them in the top 3 organic results. I have about 55 on page 1 organic results, and I’m still working on the others.

It’s become less of a focus to be honest. I stopped that about two months ago. For the first six months of the site’s life, that’s pretty much where I spent 75% of my time doing SEO and trying to get it to rank. It’s great because today that’s going to pay dividends for years. We get hundreds of visitors per day that are coming to us essentially for free because we rank for phrases that they’re searching on. If you were to buy a pay-per-click ad on Google for the phrase “covered calls,” it’s like $5 a click.

Zack: Wow.

Mike: Because all the brokerage firms are bidding on it, because to them, the lifetime value of a customer is enormous if they can secure an options trader who can trade ten times more than a stock trader. So you’re competing with all the brokerage firms on the phrase “covered calls,” and the singular version “covered call.” So I didn’t want to buy clicks at $5 a click. I’d rather rank organically, and I think right now we rank number six or seven organically for the phrase “covered calls.” So we are on page one. But I got things like Motley Fool and Wikipedia ahead of me, and those will be harder to overcome. But it’s doable. It’s just going to take more time. It’ll probably take a year, because Google puts a big emphasis on domain age, as you may know, and on the new site.

Zack: It’s just interesting, given the fact that you found a winning strategy for you that you sort of battlefield tested that you yourself were using. Why launch a software company as opposed to just raising a fund and doing it yourself? I guess more principal investing.

Mike: Yeah, I guess it’s lifestyle and passion. I’ve always felt that with a big enough asset base, I could live extremely comfortably just writing covered calls on the call premium income alone. It’s relatively low stress, from the way that I do it. I mean a well diversified, conservative stuff. I do trade on margin, but I’m online all the time, and I don’t trade around earning dates or a specific stock. There’s still macro and market risk in general, but I’ve learned a lot of lessons about what not to do.

I wanted to build the ultimate tool for covered call traders. I wanted to basically give people like dad’s clients a reason not to use my dad. My dad is 80 years old. He’s a full-service, retail, full-charge broker, and people pay a lot of money to him to execute trades and manage their funds. Because he’s low-risk, these big cap dividend payers write the money covered calls on, they will dump their life savings on him because of the trust factor.

I’m thinking, well, that’s great, but he’s a dinosaur. I love my dad, don’t get me wrong. But that business model is a dinosaur. If someone has just a tiny bit of technology understanding, they can do it themselves. So I’m trying to make a tool to help enable the average person that owns stocks to generate extra monthly income from them. I’m very passionate that anyone can do it, and you don’t even have to buy any new stocks. If you’re a mutual fund, it doesn’t work. But if you own stocks through ETFs, you could just do it today. If you’re not doing it, you can just write some stuff, put down some money, and see what happens. You’ll probably just find you get extra dividends every month, and then you can graduate to weeklies, maybe, but those are generally higher beta stocks and maybe not appropriate for the total casual observer. But half of my audience are people who are really active traders, and they’ve been dying for weeklies. I’m actually implementing weeklies right now. I’m going to release them soon, probably next week.

Zack: What’s a weekly?

Mike: The weekly options are just like the monthlies, but they expire every week. So they have a lifetime of eight days. They get announced on Thursday, and then they expire eight days later on Friday. It behaves exactly like a monthly. It’s just that if you trade weeklies, you get 52 expirations a year instead of 12. Since an option’s time decay quickest near expiration, you get a lot more time decay or income from the weekly than from the monthlies.

Zack: You’re launching the weeklies. That’s in the pipeline?

Mike: Yeah, it’s not announced. I’ve just spent the last two weeks coding it. It’s beta testing right now with a few users. We should have that imminently, maybe this week. If not, the next week.

Zack: That’s great. So outside of SEO, you said you sort of scaled back. Why? Just because you sort of hit a tipping point where it was good enough?

Mike: Yeah, it was good enough. Then I got other opportunities coming along. Now, we’re well enough known that people are approaching me for biz dev deals and trading subscriber lists and other marketing things. They’re like, build me a special widget that looks like this, and we’ll put it on our site. It’ll be like a souped-up affiliate program where I can provide some sort of unique content. Like today’s highest yield in covered call in a widget, and they can put that on their site. If anyone clicks through and then signs up for a free trial or a paid subscription, the person who hosted the widget earns an affiliate fee. So it’s more than just a review and a mention by an affiliate. It’s actually some sort of valued content that they can display on their site, which is relevant to options trading or stocks.

I’ve got to write a book. Everyone in this space has written a book on covered calls. It’s just a credential that I need. I’ve just got to do that. I know how to do it. It’s just time. I just figured the SEO was at the point where I was generating enough traffic. We get new paid subscribers every day, and it’s basically going great. So now is the moment, eight months after launch, to take a little break from the marketing craziness and think about features in 2.0, like weeklies and then writing this book and some other biz dev opportunities that I have.

Zack: So outside of the SEO, can you point to other specific marketing endeavors that you felt had good return on your time spent?

Mike: I did a lot of interviews, and there are two kinds of interviews. One are people who are focusing on investing, and they’re like, “Teach me about covered calls or how does it work, because it seems confusing.” The other half is on being a startup, to be honest. How did you boost traffic? How much money did it take? Did you have investment options? Did you have to mortgage a house or get a bank loan? All these questions and teaching other entrepreneurs. Even when those interviews got published, it was to an audience that typically is not my customer, because an entrepreneur is not going to have the assets to do a covered call strategy. It was great exposure, and it was actually really good SEO, because I got links from trusted sites related to interviews around how to be a startup. There’s a resource called HARO. I don’t think I found you through HARO. Do you know HARO?

Zack: Yeah, that’s where we first connected.

Mike: HARO is great. I respond to probably three HARO requests per week where I feel that I’m relevant, and I probably get a 50% callback. Of the callbacks, about 80% results in something good, either a positive mention or a “do follow” link back to my site or something to make it worth my time to talk to those people and help them with their articles. So HARO has been a great . . . I don’t know if it’s a channel, but it’s kind of do-it-yourself PR. I’ve been extremely pleased.

There’s another one called Blogger LinkUp. I think it’s BloggerLinkUp.com, where people who want content on their blogs publish every day what they want. About once a week there’s something on finance there or retirement. There’s something that’s relevant to me. So I respond to those, and then I can basically guest blog. I’ll write a 500 word article that they post on their blog, and they give me a link back. Again, it’s establishing credibility and my point of view on investing, as well as the SEO benefit of having a link back and just exposure to their audience, whoever that may be. Guest blogging. I do a little bit of article marketing, although it feels kind of spammy to me, so I didn’t really focus on that.

Zack: What is article marketing?

Mike: Article marketing is where you write an article. I’ll write an article on covered calls, 500 words or more, and then I’ll post it. There are a hundred article databases. The big one’s called Ezinearticles.com, and then the theory is that other bloggers who need content will go to Ezine, scan through, do a search for relevant articles, find one they like, and then republish the article on their blog with a link back to the original author. It’s a way for people who need content and people who are producing content to come together in a marketplace. People have taken that to an extreme. They’ll post articles to Ezine, not because they expect anyone to syndicate that and republish it, but just because Ezine itself is like a PR 7 site or PR 8 site, I think. A link back from Ezine is worth something. So, “Let’s just post a bunch of articles to Ezine, and I don’t care if anybody syndicates them, because Ezine itself, the link is worth it to get back.”

Then Ezine has 100 competitors, and none of them will accept previously published content. So you have to write a unique article for each one. Then there are these things called article spinners, where you write an article once and then you feed it to the software, and it changes synonyms within the article so that the output has similar meaning but it’s different words than the original article. Depending on what spinner you use, the output can be gibberish and not make any sense at all, or it could be a timesaving awesomeness where you write one article and you get five, and then you can post that article in five different directories. That whole thing is a game, and that’s not my angle.

There are people who are professional gamers of the Google algorithm, but then Google figures this stuff out. They’ve got hundreds of Ph.D.s on staff who are stressing over, “How do we identify these article spinners and their output?” If they do, they’re just going to devalue it – meaning zero value for the link that you worked to get – and they might even penalize your site for trying to game their algorithm.

I’ve stayed away from things where it’s just a pure game, and I’m trying to optimize the Google algorithm. There’s a difference between black hat and white hat SEO. I’m in the white hat category. I want to have a link from a credible source. I wrote an article for Investopedia on weekly options, and Investopedia is a totally credible place where you have credible articles on investment topics. They have an audience that is relevant to what I do, and now I have a link back from them. That single link is worth 100 or even 1,000 spam links through some black hat SEO method. So I’m sticking to white hat SEO.

Forum posting is another one we didn’t talk about yet. I’ll participate in investment discussions, and in my signature, I’ll say BornToSell.com. It’s not a blatant advertisement for Born To Sell, but you’re allowed to have an affiliation in your signature, as long as your comment is a value add to the discussion that’s going on. If it’s not, the moderator will just delete your comment. Posting, being a resource and offering advice to the different the investment communities out there, like on Motley Fool, you can participate in the discussions. Obviously, Seeking Alpha, I’ve done that a bunch. Then you can have a link back from those. Those are typically no follow, which gives you no SEO benefit. But if you’re posting in a place where relevant humans are, you don’t really care about the SEO value of the link. You want the humans to read your comment, think you’re credible, and click through.

Zack: You are so busy from guerilla marketing tactics. It sounds like you spend most of your time marketing.

Mike: Yeah. Well, one, I rarely sleep and this is a total passion. I have the quality that a lot of CEOs of small startups do, which is they want to work on their thing until they’re too tired to type and then they fall asleep and they wake up four hours later and keep going. That’s kind of how I operate, because I really, really want this to succeed. One, I just kind of want to prove to all my ex-VC buddies that I’m not an idiot. I didn’t give up a sweet gig to starve for the next seven years doing nothing, working for minimum wage. So it’s nice to have a competitor. It keeps you focused. I think this is a big market. I think options are becoming more popular, and I think that everyone should be doing covered calls. I’m just trying to make it easy enough that they can. I don’t use jargon. On my site, you don’t find words like delta or implied volatility or any other option geek words, which I fully understand, but I’m not going to expose the average investor to because I don’t think you need to, to make some money with covered calls.

Zack: I think it’s people like you that are contributive to what I call really a bull market for financial content right now. You’ve been successful in taking a strategy and then productizing it. You’re finding other form factors, with apps and stuff like that around it. Is that where everything is headed? Smart people with experience in other industries coming to the financial sector and just kind of changing things up?

Mike: Well, I think the Internet is great, because the tools are becoming more sophisticated. It used to be installed software, where you had to buy a package and then typically subscribe to a data feed to get that software to update to be useful. Now it’s the Web and having web apps and they’re easy to change. People have new and high-level expectation on user interface design. Everyone wants an iPhone or iPod-like simplicity. That really was my goal, to make my site the Apple-like version of a covered call tool. Because if you look at my tool and you compare it to any other options screener, it’s night and day. I’m the only one who someone who is not an option geek could really get into.

Zack: On your site, I feel like I’m using MailChimp. It’s that level of ease.

Mike: Yeah, and that was a design goal. This is the third version, by the way, what you’re seeing. I threw away the first two versions, because I kept trying to simplify it without making it unusable. I started with my spreadsheet. I said, “Let me make this web version of my Excel spreadsheet.” Then I realized, “Wait a minute. I’m an option geek, and this is going to intimidate people that are new to this.” I think that there are already sites, like IVolatility.com and some of the tools on thinkorswim or optionsXpress, that cater pretty well to the five or ten percent of the audience that are option geeks. They want to do four-legged strategies, or they’re talking about theta or delta, and they’re really into it. That audience is well-served.

Zack: Lots of geeks.

Mike: Yeah, that audience is really well-served, and that’s not what I’m competing against. Sometimes those people call me and they say, “Your site is a toy. I can’t possibly use your site to make money.” Then the majority of my users are people that say, “Oh my god. Thank you for making this simple and clean. Now I get it. I never have prior to this.” So I’m going after the middle of the bell curve. I’m not going after the right side of the traders who are option geeks.

But to your earlier question, is this the future? I think so. I think there are a lot of specialty web apps that are in niche markets that are kind of best of breed in their little niche. Eventually people just figure, “Okay, they’ve done it. There’s really no reason to go anywhere else. It’s simple, it’s clean. It does something I need. Why would I switch to something else?” There are a lot of spaces like that, I think, on the Web, niches that people have successfully dominated, and I want to dominate covered calls.

I get requests to do spreads and butterflies and naked puts, and I’m like, “You know, I really don’t want to expand into 12 different options strategies, because then I’m going to look like every other options site. I’m going to confuse the hell out of the beginner, and I don’t want to do that.” I just want to be best of breed for covered calls and see how that goes.

Zack: Well, I guess, sitting at the intersection of technology, media, and investing, there was this sort of growing frustration that a lot of other industries have undergone some type of transformation where finance seems so monolithic and so resistant to change. A lot of that, obviously, come from compliance, regulatory environments, and stuff like that. But I’m seeing professional investors sort of move out of directly managing money and creating an educational cell, which is really what you’re doing. You’re selling content. I guess that was my question. Obviously, you’re still just in the beginning of it. But if that seems to be where people are rejiggering their businesses and saying, “Hey, there really is a content business in finance. You really can make it without having to custody somebody’s assets and get paid for that.”

Mike: I agree with that. There are so many overwhelming choices, especially now with the explosion of ETFs that are niche ETFs, and people are confused. Like, “How do I do asset allocation? How do I rebalance? Are bonds really going to get creamed the next three years because of inflation risks? I’m retired, and I have a lot of bonds and I want to live off the income, but I don’t want to get creamed on the principal.” Financial education is a big space. Especially with the Internet, these old guys, they call me, they write me emails, and they have nothing to do. They’re home alone. They’re retired.

Zack: They are watching CNBC all day, right?

Mike: They are. That’s the other thing I need to do, by the way, is I need to add a chat forum to my site so they can talk to each other. I didn’t do it in the beginning, because when you only have seven members, it’s like a ghost town and no one is chatting. But now I have enough people that a chat or a forum would be useful on Born To Sell. So I’m thinking about that.

I think they like having simple, clear instructions on here’s a strategy. You don’t need an advanced degree in math to understand how it works. You’re not having some asintotic risk exposure for some black swan event. In all likelihood, you’re going to make reasonable money. It’s not get rich quick, but if you can even make 1% a month consistently, that’s pretty good, and it’s way better than bonds, which are paying you 4% a year and have inflation risks.

So, you can triple your yield, reduce inflation risks and maybe get some dividends while you’re at it. That sounds like a better deal. They like that argument. They’re just risk averse, because they’re at the end of their career. So they don’t want to be investing in high beta pharmaceuticals. I’m like, “Look, you don’t have to. Buy some big cap dividend stocks and write them into money covered calls. Your equity risk exposure is very small. You have no inflation risk, relative to bonds.” That resonates with them. So, just a little bit of information and a rational argument and some education, and then you give them a tool to use it or to go implement it.

Zack: One other question. A lot of data or content providers have found certain tools to move into the portfolio space. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Covester and Wealthfront, but they’re basically like marketplaces for strategies, I would call them.

Mike: Okay.

Zack: Basically, whatever data they have, say if you’re running a portfolio or something, even though it’s not a real money portfolio, you can then port that over to their site. They’re an RIA. They take in the assets. They’ve taken responsibility over the client management.

Zack: You’re just like a model manager.

Mike: Yeah.

Zack: Have you thought about that move?

Mike: Yeah, I’m not going to do that. I get two requests from my users, beyond features for my tool. The first request is, “I want a trade recommendation service, so I just want you to tell me what to buy, and I’ll go trade it.”

Zack: They don’t want to work.

Mike: Exactly. That requires a ton of work on my time, because if I’m making trade picks, I’ve got to really make reasonable trade picks. There’s so much information you really want to know about the other side and their financial situation. One thing that’s appropriate for one guy may be completely inappropriate for another guy, based on their risk level, their asset base, experience, whatever. So trade picks is one thing that I don’t think I’m going to do.

The other thing is money management. I’ve had people call me and say, “You’re obviously credible in this space. I just want to give you money and have you manage covered calls with my money, and I’ll pay you a fee for that.” That’s like me setting up a mutual fund, or like you said, being a model manager at one of these sites. I don’t think I want to do that either, because from a lifestyle point of view, that’s very different than running a subscription tool where it’s sort of use at your own risk. I’m only eight months into this with a launched service, so I don’t yet know the total market size of what I’m doing. I’m trying to expand the market size. I make it easy for anyone to do. But if I can build a subscription business that’s a decent size, then I don’t need to take on additional stress of trade picks or money management. I prefer not to do it if I don’t have to.

I’m not one of those guys that need to be a billionaire; I’m just trying to earn and get to a point where I can do the things that I enjoy, which includes travel. It’s really hard to travel if you’re managing other people’s money.

Zack: Right, for sure. Last question, any other tools that you use online? Obviously, you employ an option strategy in your own investing, but do you find any other financial tools useful?

Mike: I look at so many things during the day, because I do trade from my own account. What do I use? I use Yahoo! Finance for headlines. I use Seeking Alpha. Obviously, they have some interesting content there. What other blogs? Obviously, The Wall Street Journal, TheStreet.com. What else do I read regularly? It seems like my inbox is always full of different services that are sending me tidbits of information. It’s kind of like I’m digesting feeds from 20 or 30 different sources. I don’t really depend heavily on any one tool, other than my own, because that’s my main strategy. It’s not really a tool, but information sources are all over the place. I’ve kind of learned to use a variety and not just stick with one. It’s nice to have opposing opinions sometimes.

Zack: Awesome. Very nice speaking to you. I appreciate your time.

Mike: Sure thing, Zack. Good luck. Talk to you soon.

Zack: All the best. Bye.

That was our conversation with Mike Scanlin of BornToSell.com. Check it out. It’s a covered call screener. Mike’s a programmer turned VC turned entrepreneur. He’s built a very useful site that really wants to own and go very deep in the covered call industry. He’s been thrown curve balls to try to expand the service other ways. He’s staying very focused. He’s used a lot of guerilla marketing techniques to really get a lot of awareness and a lot of people talking about the product. He’s created an affiliate strategy, so he has other people marketing him. He’s doing a great job, I think, as a very small, lean shop, being able to start building traffic and generating revenue.

Come back to the blog. We’ll have some links there hopefully that you’ll find useful. Appreciate your listening to us. We’re very grateful for you tuning in. We know you value your time, and we appreciate your listening.

Please come to iTunes if you have a chance and rate us and rank us. Let the rest of the world know what you think of us, and let us know what you think of us by either commenting on the blog or sending us an email. Again, this is Zack Miller at Tradestreaming Radio, and peace out.

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