Categorized | Shoestring Startup

The Out-of-Body Travel Foundation’s Keys to Inexpensive Startup and Common Sense Growth

Marilynn Hughes

Marilynn Hughes

The Out-of-Body Travel Foundation,
Social Network,

The Out-of-Body Travel Foundation was started in 2003 with $119.00, a five page website and one book in Spring of 2003. Now in the summer of 2011, we have over fifty books in print, forty magazines, seventeen plus CD’s (Music and Audiobook CD’s), we’re international in well over 285 countries, have over 200 pages on our primary website with over 575,000 hits, a social network with over 6700 members. We became #1 on Google, Yahoo, MSN, and AOL within months of going into business and have remained there to this day. As a result of all of this, I’ve been asked to make innumerable media interviews including Coast to Coast AM with George Noory and an appearance in a documentary film coming out late summer or fall 2001. I’ve participated in two scientific studies, one on and the other for an upcoming book on extra-planetary experiences.

We started the company with the intention of offering everything we had for free download. Mother Teresa used to say that spiritual poverty was much more serious than physical poverty. So our goal and eventually our Mission Statement quickly became ‘To Reduce Spiritual Poverty Worldwide.’

Because I’d been a writer with a traditional publishing house about fifteen years prior, I did have a small following to tap into. The first book we published The Mysteries of the Redemption: A Treatise on Out-of-Body Travel and Mysticism, was unique in that it contained music that I’d heard in Out-of-Body Experiences, as well as, artwork I’d painted of things I’d seen. So we ventured to make all of this downloadable for free, as well as, for sale in print.

What started out as primarily a publishing company became an internet source for free information about spirituality of all kinds. As royalties came in, I was able to continue adding to my inventory of books and inspiration was not hard to come by. We added sections of books on how to have out-of-body experiences, more books on out-of-body travel, the mystic knowledge series, world religions books, miraculous images, suffering, children’s books and more. We also expanded by adding video channels filled with free programming on the Science and Research of Out-of-Body Travel, Sacred Chant and Recitation fromWorld Religions and many subjects including Mystical Theology. We even offer a music channel called Mystical Voice TV which features some of the best of the spiritual music artists around the world.

Our book line continued to expand and we developed two magazines, The Out-of-Body Travel Foundation Journal and Mystics Magazine. And we began adding more music CD’s as we found that customers seemed to really like the previously released Out-of-Body Travel Music, we introduced a line of Catholic Liturgical CD’s for meditation. And of course, we eventually began to expand into audiobooks, kindle and every worldwide market we could reach. Kindle turned out to be a very wise move, as it now brings in one of our highest income streams worldwide.

When we began our company, we came up with the initial funds from our own money. For the first five years, I worked several different part-time jobs to pay for the meager expenses, but in 2009 I left them completely to focus on the business which was now generating enough revenue to pay its own expenses and then some.

A great deal of the expansion was generated by the media interest which burgeoned almost immediately as we made appearances on Coast to Coast AM and were involved in scientific studies. The Out-of-Body Travel Foundation will be featured in a documentary film to be released this year on mysticism produced by History and Discovery Channel filmmakers.

In order to generate a lot of continuing discussion on our Social Network, we’ve utilized a free tool known as Seesmic Desktop which allows us to monitor the activities on all of our social network accounts: Our Facebook Group, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Linkedin and NING. We have all these accounts linked to one another, and utilize Twitterfeed which has proven to be a fantastic resource to keep new activities from members of The Out-of-Body Travel Foundation Social Network constantly posting across the web.

And of course, we couldn’t ignore YouTube. We developed our own YouTube Channel wherein we started out by digitizing and uploading previous media interviews on the Joan Rivers Show and Good Afternoon Colorado, but then expanded into making more videos. Some of them promoted new books which were coming out, and others explained concepts about Out-of-Body Travel and what it felt like to have the experience. We also did a four-part series of videos entitled From Selfishness to Selflessness: Lessons from a Near Death Experience inspired by questions received after a Coast to Coast AM appearance.

Believe it or not, I run this operation almost completely on my own with a little bit of help from my two kids who are currently sixteen and twelve. They assist me when they have time on getting new and exciting ideas onto the websites and social forums, updating, maintenance and even brainstorming on new ideas. Never underestimate the value of your kids, they get excited and pumped up about contributing to the work.

We do get a ton of ideas from people outside the company; writers, filmmakers, artists, etc., who share the work they’re doing and if it fits our vision, we include them on our site. It helps them out with free advertising and it provides more resources for our customers.

And as a sidenote, we like to call our customers our friends.

The best advice I never got was to make your site worth visiting even if somebody isn’t planning to spend money that particular day. We have so many fascinating and free resources, but in recent traffic evaluations, we still have more traffic to our storefronts than anywhere else on the site. Giving your customers things they can use and offering your products and services as a free bonus is a nice way to treat your friends, and they keep coming back because of it.

There are many things which could’ve killed our business from the start. Probably the biggest was and remains the technology curve. In the beginning, I had to teach myself how to do everything from book publication, master recording to website design – and now it is an issue of keeping up with the latest trends in technology and all the tools which come out which can literally make or break your business. My recommendation is to get all those journals about online marketing in your e-mail inbox and truly take the time every single day to read about every little new gadget or idea that has come out. This is one of the secrets to staying on top of your game.

As to the biggest thing we did right was following my gut instincts on everything, but most especially, providing free resources all over the site for my customers and friends. Following my own passion was also key to our success, because my passion turned out to be the passion of our small niche following . . . which wasn’t as small a niche as I thought!

Our largest transition to date was our first Coast to Coast AM interview. I had no idea how big a show it was until I went on, and the next day our site had over 90,000 hits. My inbox had over 7,500 e-mail. It was at that time that I realized it was necessary to transfer my regular e-mail registration process on the website to an automated system. And I chose NING to do the job. They were fantastic because they provided me with not only the mailing list, but also a social forum and many other fantastic tools to keep our readers engaged. Every week, they send out a Creator’s Digest, which is filled with fantastic new tools on the site to increase your social network engagement and ideas from across the web to do the same. This kind of engagement keeps our company in the black, for which we are extremely grateful.

Our next great transition will likely come with the release of the documentary film which is currently in production and entitled ‘Into the Mystic’ due for release in late summer. We are trying to be more prepared this time by anticipating its impact on our market and our business needs.

The Out-of-Body Travel Foundation has always utilized ALL FREE advertising. Search Engine Optimization on every page of our website is absolutely essential because although our main keyword may be Out-of-Body Travel, we have hundreds of other keywords that people enter the site through because of our Video Channels. We spend a lot of time on SEO. Social Networking is free and very effective, because not only can you easily post through Twitterfeed all of the activities on your forums and blogs, you are targeting your niche audience which is essential to advertising success.

Written by Marilynn Hughes, Founder,CEO

The Out-of-Body Travel Foundation.

How to Prepare for an Out-of-Body Experience (1 of 2)


How to Prepare for an Out-of-Body Experience (2 of 2)


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