Yo, I’m Tom. Here’s my life in a nutshell.

My Story

In 2017, I dropped all my web design clients to take a shot at blogging & affiliate marketing.

I was completely broke at the time and living with my parents. Countless people told me to “get a job” while I spent night and day writing content. My work finally paid off and my income 7xed in about 2 years (everyone asks how long it took, so there ya go).

More importantly, it gave me the time & freedom you don’t get with a 9-5. I’ve been all over Colorado, saw Tool 3 times with Mom, did a long road trip in Utah with Dad, and even trips to Thailand and Scottsdale getting crunk with an amazing group of 30 new friends. See pics below.

My setup

How I Got Into WordPress Speed

I wrote my first speed guide on W3 Total Cache in 2013.

I was able to get 100% PageSpeed/YSlow scores (in the old GTmetrix) and shared my settings, which became the most popular guide on my site. Since then, I’ve been obsessed with trying different optimization tools & digging through settings to make sites load as fast as possible.

Unfortunately, people lean towards things that are cheap and easy (drag & drop page builders, shared hosting, multipurpose plugins). This was fine until core web vitals. Many tools/plugins/hosts have gotten better or worse, but the main part of speed optimization has remain unchanged. Use lightweight themes/plugins on fast servers.

Me And My Crew

50 Random And Disturbing Things About Me

1. I fall asleep to serial killer documentaries – Forensic Files, 48 Hours, pretty much anything involving murder.

2. I got fined $200 for puking on an Uber driver. My friends and I got kicked out of his car, I stripped down my boxers, tossed my puke-soaked clothes in a Mobil garbage can, and woke up naked.

3. I’m champ in Rocket League. PSN is twogreenballs if you want to play… don’t ask about the name.

4. Here’s a video of me rapping “Lose Yourself” at my brother’s wedding.

5. I once fell 30 feet while swinging on a tree rope and used branches to break my fall. When I hit the ground, it left a scar on the side of my abdomen. Hair grows on it and I need to shave it sometimes.

6. I blew up a bully’s mailbox in high school. When he came to my house, he was holding a baseball bat while standing in the back of my friend’s El Camino. After giving his speech on how he was going to beat the shit out of me, my friend floored it and the bully fell face first in the car bed.

7. I have the best 404 page on the internet (Route 66 where Forest Gump was shot).

8. I got arrested in high school for growing 16 pot plans on my parent’s roof. My parents bailed me out of a felony via a lawyer who was basically best buds with the prosecutor. I’ve been arrested many other times, but not for murder!

9. While I was on probation from the previous incident, I was walking to a college party with a group of friends when 2 campus police approached me from behind because they saw the beer I was drinking. When asked to see it, I said it was a Coke, pulled it out of my pocket, and chucked it on the ground to use as a distraction while I booked it. It worked!

10. I almost died from a staph infection and had a C-reactive protein level of 131 when the normal is 14. Dr. Perkins from the SIUC health center literally saved my life when he drove me to the ER in his personal car where he insisted I get surgery ASAP. It was the highest CRP level the doctors had seen and said I was a day away from dying. They even did a medical study on me. I’m OK now thanks to Dr. Perkins.

11. Almost died part 2. A couple friends and I were flooring his Mom’s Subaru on what we thought was an on-ramp, but it was a dead end with a guard rail and trees. After seeing it at the last second (it was dark), we swerved off the road, blasted through a concrete-cemented fence, and totaled the car. The reason we didn’t get arrested? Cops said there was a cocaine bust down the street.

12. Another bully story. This kid at my bus stop started picking on me by flicking rubber bands in my face, so I pinned him down on the street. He ran home crying. 8 years later, he went to prison for murder.

13. When I was little, I rented a book from the library and lost it. My parents got a bill for a book titled “Gone Is Gone.”

14. I pretended to be sick so I didn’t have to go to school. When my Mom came home, she found an empty box of oatmeal creme pies. She called me in sick the next day.

15. I got pulled over by 2 cops after having around 10 drinks, chillum in my wallet, a headlight out, radar detector on the dashboard, open case of beer in the back, and my friend had an open container (we were all underaged). The officers didn’t even ask if I was drinking but slapped my friend with a ticket, then we drove home. That was the last time and drank and drove.

16. I don’t do half the dumb shit I used to.

17. For my 21st birthday, me and this girl (who shared the same birthday and group of friends) threw a party with about 50 people. Someone thought it would be a good idea to bring mushrooms and by the end of the night, the whole house was one them. When we got to the bar to order our first legal drinks, I ordered water.

18. OK, last bully story (I used to love beating up bullies). This kid threw a ball at my face for no reason on the bus. I put him in a headlock until we got off. He followed me, sucker punched me, and we fought. When we got tired out, he handed me a pocket knife he stole from my backpack and asked me if I wanted to hang out. I declined.

19. In middle school, a group of about 20 guys used to meet at 1:14 sharp in the men’s bathroom to watch my friend fart on command. This went on for a good 2 weeks until the principal caught on.

20. During a high school lunch break, me and a group of friends traveled to border of Wisconsin (from Illinois) for McDonalds just to see if we could. We did, and we were going 100MPH nearly the whole way. We were idiots.

21. The best concert I’ve been to was Tool in Toledo, Ohio – with my Mom! We’ve seen them 4 times together so far.

22. If you’re getting fat like me, get a smart watch/scale, air fryer, and psyllium husk from Bezos. Helped me lose 20 lbs.

23. I grow my own microgreens and highly recommend it (it’s easy, healthy, cheap, and fast).

24. 5+ million people have read my tutorials. All I can say is never give up and prove the haters wrong.

25. I’ve donated $6,000 to GoFundMe campaigns using affiliate income from my blog (Hurricane Harvey relief and feeding homeless in Denver).

26. I painted houses in Pine Ridge, South Dakota for a mission trip (see, I’m not that terrible of a person).

27. My Dad and I did a 2-week road trip to Southern Utah and Colorado. My favorite place was San Juan National Forest. It’s stunning in the fall.

28. I’ve been threatened legally for speaking out for what I think is right on my blog and don’t plan on caving in.

29. My friend was getting picked on by these older guys and one of them wanted to meet at a park to fight. My friend shit in a sock and slapped him across the face with it. He got his ass kicked, but won the fight in my book.

30. The first day I got my drivers license, I got pulled over for going 37 in a 25. As an excuse, I told my parents I had a blocker.

31. When I got a speeding ticket, I had to take an online course which made you sit through videos before clicking the “next” button. I installed a Chrome Extension that clicked every 5 seconds and passed.

32. Many years ago, I was the #1 chess player in my state (but my brother was always better than me and even beat this guy blindfolded).

33. How old I am.

34. I live in Denver and don’t smoke weed. I know, weird.

35. I’ve kicked a 60 yard field goal multiple times.

36. My ideal death is to drown in a bathtub of peanut butter.

37. My favorite things to eat are curry, air fried chicken sandwiches with Duke’s, and ice cream w/ peanut butter.

38. My favorite thing to drink is coffee from my Nespresso. I don’t like Nestlé for ethical reasons, but man it’s good.

39. I played soccer in Spain, Italy, and all over the US. Our team also won the Disney Cup in Florida.

40. My defenders and I used to have a code name “eclipse” where if someone pissed us of, we would try to take them out.

41. I have 2 brothers who kicked the crap out of me when we were younger, which I deserved. We’ve always been tight though, especially today.

42. I went kayak surfing on the ocean’s white caps in Punta Cana. My brother tipped his kayak near the corals and it was almost a disaster.

43. My favorite job was a Home City Ice driver since I got to drive through beautiful Southern Illinois. Not… It’s working for myself.

44. I played piano and drums for about 8 years each (Beatles on the piano, Tool on drums… or at least attempting to).

45. I switched majors 4 times, dropped out for a semester from my staph infection, and still graduated in 4 years.

46. I opened a ramen restaurant but eventually sold my shares. Wasn’t for me. Still love ramen though.

47. I love slickdeals.net (thank me later).

48. If you must know my political reviews, they’re slightly left, but I think Trump and Biden are both braindead.

49. I wouldn’t have gotten where I am without my parents. Thank them, hug them, and be grateful for what they’ve done. They’re only human and make mistakes just like you and I. Thanks Mom and Dad.

50. I love going on hikes, biking, tubing down a natural river, and national/state parks. I’m also down to go on an adventure with a complete stranger (YOLO). So next time you’re in Denver, hit me up.

My Biggest Mistakes

I’ve made some idiotic mistakes, so hopefully you can learn from them:

  • Bad themes have cost me a lot of time/money.
  • I don’t put enough effort into my email list or social accounts.
  • I wasted a lot of time targeting broad, hyper competitive keywords.
  • My industry changed rapidly and I was trying to stick with what I knew.
  • Hiring a bad link builder got me a Google penalty that lasted almost 1 year.
  • I thought my blog was passive income, but they’ll eat you up if you don’t give it love.
  • My sedentary lifestyle caught up to me and I was forgetting to take care of my health.

Is Blogging Too Competitive Now?

A lot of people think about getting into affiliate marketing but are scared their efforts won’t pay off. Here are my thoughts:

Starting a blog has gotten much easier with 1-click import pre-designed templates (it literally take 10 minutes or less to get something up and running). This means it’s also gotten more competitive. The good news is that most affiliates are sellouts and people can spot this a mile away (they only write good reviews, but not bad ones). Many regurgitate things that have already been said or straight up copy someone else’s work.

There are still plenty of opportunities. You have a better chance if:

  • Your content is really unique.
  • You’re a good writer (or video maker).
  • You don’t write “glowing reviews” of everything.
  • You don’t get sidetracked (you make blogging a priority).
  • You’re willing to work extra hard on making amazing content.
  • The topics/keywords you write about aren’t super competitive.

You also have to be careful since some companies will threaten you if you write a bad review. I know several bloggers (including myself) who this happened to. That’s why it’s important to back your content up with facts rather than opinions.

Maybe you shouldn’t quit your day job, but write 1 awesome blog post a week and see how it goes. Just don’t give up if you don’t see results immediately. I was inches away from giving up when I got my break and traffic shot up. And I’m a stubborn person who does not quit. I pushed through most if it but was damn close to breaking near the end. Once I got my first check, I packed my stuff and moved to Denver the same week.

Pass Core Web Vitals

  1. Slow page builders (and slow page builder plugins) are a recipe for disaster.
  2. Don’t add too much CSS/JS (usually from themes, plugins, third-party scripts, etc)
  3. Be open to trying other cache plugins especially if you’re using WP Rocket or SG Optimizer.
  4. Use Cloudflare and another CDN like BunnyCDN (you can/should use both at the same time).
  5. Only use 1 font family, host it locally using woff2, preload the font files, or just use system fonts.
  6. Some plugins increase CPU usage while others add CSS/JS/fonts to the frontend (neither are good).
  7. Improving security and blocking unwanted requests can reduce CPU usage and free up server resources.
  8. GTmetrix Waterfall, WebPageTest, and Chrome Dev Tools can give you better info than PageSpeed Insights.
  9. Cloudflare’s DNS is faster and more reliable than GoDaddy, NameCheap, SiteGround, and most DNS providers.
  10. Your foundation (hosting, theme, plugins, CDN) are absolutely key. If these are right, everything else will be easier.

Interview Me

I love sharing my story. Email me at tom@onlinemediamasters.com. Videos and podcasts work too. I can talk about WordPress speed and affiliate marketing all day. Here are a few I’ve already done:

Giving Back

I’ve donated to my community, parents (more like paid back), and Red Cross at Hurricane Harvey. Thanks for using my affiliate links.

I Couldn’t Have Done It Without Pronaya

Can you believe I’ve been working with the same overseas WordPress developer sine 2011? Pronaya has been with me through thick and thin, always guiding me and checking my site to make sure it’s running smoothly. While I usually recommend him for speed optimization, I originally hired him for WordPress design/development (he even helped me build this site). Even when I was too poor to afford him, he just said “pay me back later.” That’s just the kind of person Pronaya is. Dropping a link to his freelancer profile is the least I could do: freelancer.com/u/bdkamol

Get Your Advice From Reliable People

Gijo Varghese from WP Speed Matters and WP Johnny are some of the few bloggers I would trust getting advice from. The majority of Facebook Groups are run by hosting companies, affiliates, and people with a stake in promoting something. Several people (YouTubers in particular) talk about speed optimization and core web vitals but their reports are a mess. And don’t even get me started about Quora. Just be careful out there!

Have A Tutorial Suggestion?

If you want me to write about a topic, or a tutorial needs updating, I’m all ears. My email is tom(at)onlinemediamasters.com. Please do not email me with solicitations like affiliate/partnership/project inquires. I get too many of them and it’ll be sent to spam. It’s why I don’t use a contact form.

Now go make a coffee and get back to what you were doing. Rocket League if you ask me.

Peace ✌️
Tom