Kansas City Keynote Speakers & Motivational Speaking with Joel Goldberg

Joel Goldberg, a popular Kansas City keynote speaker and sports announcer, has one of the most recognizable faces and voices in the metro area.

While Joel has had a first-row seat to one of the most inspirational stories in recent sports history, I found his personal story to be fascinating.

It’s no wonder that he has become on of the most sought-after keynote speaker in the metro area and has spoken companies such as Cerner, Mariner Wealth Advisors, American Family Insurance, Mobank and Enterprise Bank.

Joel shares an amazing story of how he started out in his early 20’s, fresh out of college, and created an opportunity by cold-calling scores of TV stations around the country and fought his way into the business with sheer grit and determination.

You will love this episode!

Click to learn more about Joel, his broadcast career, and all the cool new things he is doing at Joel Goldberg Media!

Learn more about Joel Goldberg

 

Meet Joel Goldberg

Phil Singleton: Hello everybody and welcome to The Local Business Leader’s Podcast. I’m your host Phil Singleton. Today our featured guest is Joel Goldberg. Joel has spent nearly a quarter of a century covering college and professional athletes in football, basketball, hockey and baseball. He’s a graduate of the University of Wisconsin and won a Regional Sports Emmy in 2001 in St. Louis.

More recently Joel has hosted thousands of pre and post-game television shows while traveling with the Kansas City Royals since 2008. Joel is a true storyteller, sharing lessons from the sports world about culture and building relationships with audiences looking to make an impact in their businesses.

He recently spoken at some top Kansas City companies such as Cerner, Mariner Wealth Advisors, American Family Insurance, Mobank and Enterprise Bank. Joel, welcome to the show.

Joel Goldberg: Thanks for having me Phil.

Phil Singleton: This is gonna be awesome. Really before we get started with some of the other questions I’d like to ask you today. Just love to hear about your journey on those first steps out of school, almost what got you here today.

Joel Goldberg: Well I’ll say that growing up like a lot of kids, I had the dream of one day playing professional sports. Unlike some kids, I realized pretty quickly that that wasn’t going to happen. I was, and I’m not being humble, an average athlete at best. I loved talking about it. I was the kid from I can remember as early as first or second grade driving my teachers crazy with details of what was in box scores and games from the night before. So I feel like I always enjoyed telling stories and letting people know what was going on.

So my dream from I would say certainly teenage years on, or maybe even a little before was to be on TV talking about sports. I didn’t know exactly what that looked like. I got out of college, that’s what I studied, and what I found was everybody wanted to do that. So let’s just make up a number, say 10,000 kids came out of college wanting to be on TV in 1994 and it’s more than that. There were only 100 jobs available.

I just started cold calling, and I’m not a cold calling type by the way.

– Joel Goldberg

Now let’s back up and say that this was a time where there was no internet. It was just starting, email had just begun. There weren’t YouTube links. You had to put together physically a tape and then record over and over again more versions of that, put a label on it and stick it in the mail and send it out. I got rejection letter after rejection letter after rejection letter. The first lesson that I learned really in life, business, TV, sports, everything, it was instinctual at that point was I had to figure out a way to get to the top of the list really not being any better than anyone else.

I just started cold calling, and I’m not a cold calling type by the way. I just started cold calling TV stations around the country and the conversation basically went like this, “hi can you give me the name of your news director,” again remember there was no website to look up. Sure it’s Dave Smith, thank you, click. Ten minutes later call back, hi can I speak with Dave Smith, hi my names’ Joel Goldberg. I recently graduated from the University of Wisconsin, I’m looking for a job in TV. I understand that you don’t have one right now, but I just happened to be passing through, fill in the blank, Quincy, Illinois, Terre Haute, Indiana, Rochester, Minnesota, Mason City Iowa, blah, blah, blah.

I happen to be passing through Terre Haute next Wednesday, could I stop by and introduce myself and give you a tape. Sure, and I’d hop in my car and drive all over the country. I started meeting people that way. Put a lot of mileage on the car and sure enough a couple months later I got my first TV offer and within a month or so later, three more came in.

That was the start of it, that’s how I got to the front of the line and 24 years later here I am.

Phil Singleton: That is so awesome. The reason I say that is because seriously, how many of us, I’m guessing you were in your what, 20’s?

Joel Goldberg: I was 22 at that point. I had no idea what I was doing. Was I good, I don’t think I was all that good. I probably did at the time, but I had-

Phil Singleton: Yeah I can tell you right now though, how many kids in their early 20’s have that kind of grit?

Joel Goldberg: That’s true for anything. By the way this is a message that still applies today. I remember talking to my nephew about this a couple of years ago. I don’t know how it all came up. He’s like, well nowadays we have Linkedin, it’s so much easier. I said sure, so does everyone else. So what are you gonna do different than the thousands of people that also have linked in.

The jobs have changed now too by the way. Kids aren’t, I’m hearing this now. Kids aren’t coming out of school saying I wanna be on Sports Center, or I wanna be the local sports anchor. They’re saying that they wanna be the sideline reporter. That’s become a bigger deal. I wanna do the interviews on social media, I wanna have a presence on SnapChat or whatever it is.

So it’s changed, but I still think that philosophy applies today and will apply till the end of time. How do you differentiate yourself from everyone else.

Joel Goldberg – The Entrepreneur

Phil Singleton: That’s a great story. I’d love to talk a little bit. We were talking kind of in the green room so to speak before we started recording here. I look at you as having two sides to your business. Obviously you’ve got the kind of hosting would you call it a career or a job or, almost want to…

Joel Goldberg: Yeah.

Phil Singleton: But then you’ve also got this other side where you’ve got this separate business, where you’re doing things like, speaking, giving motivational speeches, other types of services as well. I’d love to dive into that a little bit more, how that came about.

Then also how you’re going about using your own influence and career path that you’ve taken at this point to grow that business.

Joel Goldberg: Well it’s, the TV things’ been going obviously for a quarter century, and that makes me feel old. I knew I was starting to really get older when we got to a point where there were officially no players left in the major leagues that were older than me. The last one was Jason Giambi, and once he retired I’m like, I don’t even need to search this anymore. It’s gonna take like a 50 something year old deciding to come back and play. So that was one of the points where I realized that I was getting old.

Phil Singleton: But that’s in the sports world in the grand scheme, I mean come on. You’re in your prime.

Joel Goldberg: But I think that there’s a good message there and I would like to sit there and say this was my speaking business and the entrepreneur side of me was all this master plan to have a fall back option or have life after TV. Because I do the speaking thing like golf, I’m a terrible golfer by the way, but you can do it forever.

As long as you can speak, or as long as you have your physical capabilities, you can play golf. You don’t need a lot of physical capabilities to at least get out there and have fun. As long as I’m capable of speaking and standing up on a stage I can do that. But the reality of it is in the television world, it’s gonna expire at some point. Whether they decide tomorrow that they wanna go a different direction, they haven’t for a long time, or whether I just get older.

So I could sit here and tell you that I had this master fall back plan, but it wasn’t that. I just kind of stumbled into it by accident. Being in TV you’re asked to do a lot of appearances and Rotary Clubs and church groups and schools and things like that. I’d always done that, and about two and a half years ago I was asked by a couple different organizations to come out and speak. We have a small budget, so we’ll pay you. I’m, wow, you’ll pay me to do this, wow.

In hindsight, it wasn’t a lot of money, but it was money. More importantly is I got up there and it was two totally different audiences. One was a group of financial advisors, and the other was a group in lawn care and golf course management. I don’t even remember what the whole speech was, I just remember the reaction to it was the same. I thought, boy you got two different audiences, with different professions, dressed totally differently and they had the same reaction.

I was out with a friend, ’cause my off season … I basically work six to seven days a week for six months in baseball. My off season can kind of do what I want, I was doing some other sports. So the natural question from people is always, hey what have you been up to, what are you doing in your off season. I told them I spoke to a couple groups. One of them said, you know you could form a whole business out of this. I was naïve enough to say really, you can?

I didn’t know anything about the business world, about the speaking world, because for all the people that say to me, hey you’ve got such a good job. You get to talk about baseball every day, you get to travel the country. I say yes, they pay me to talk about baseball, life is great. But it’s such a comfortable place if you can get there, that you don’t ever really look outside of it.

Most of us in the TV or the sports world don’t look outside of it. You look at other sports, and this was totally different. So I kind of caught the bug and the entrepreneurial bug. Then I went about this the old fashioned way. I just started networking and great, we have huge audiences that watch us for baseball. So it certainly made getting into doors easier than just some random cold call.

But as you know, one connection, two connections, three connections and suddenly they start multiplying. During my off seasons, I’m two, three, four meetings a day for coffee, breakfast, lunch, happy hour, whatever it might be. That could be anything, it was anything from new relationships to other introductions to brainstorming content. To learning about speaking techniques to being introduced to a speaking coach. To meeting people in the National Speakers Association to on and on and on and on and on.

With that said, this business has been built. I feel like I’m … it’s become sort of an obsession of mine, even in season. It’s kind of giving me new life at a time where I was okay. It wasn’t that I was bored, it wasn’t that I was unhappy. I was lucky enough to love what I did, love what I do. But I think also Phil, there’s sometimes there’s the danger when you’re happy or satisfied of being complacent.

Kansas City Keynote Speakers & Motivational Speeches

Phil Singleton: Right, I was just gonna say that. So take one step back to the new company that you’ve created, that you’re providing services for. The main service you provide is motivational speeches, are there any kind of other services? I wanna make sure that our listeners get that right. What does this business look like in terms of the services that you offer?

Joel Goldberg: Yeah I think the main thing is speeches, and it’s mostly keynote speeches.

Phil Singleton: Keynote speeches.

Joel Goldberg: That’s really where my comfort level is. There have been some workshops and some other activities, but at least for me right now, that sweet spot is the speaking business, and really two speeches. I’m closing in on a third and a fourth.

Phil Singleton: Nice.

Joel Goldberg: But the two, what I’m really focused for now on Kansas City. Just because I think I can provide value to companies all over the country. But the reality of it is, I am, and there’s so much here that has to do with branding. I have a brand as a baseball announcer. I have a brand as the guy that Salvador Perez dumps the Gatorade bucket on and all that stuff.

So I’m trying to take that brand and expand it into someone who can not just come and motivate you, but someone that can come in to teach your employees, or teach the members of your association. Because the one thing that I say is that you don’t have to be a baseball fan or a sports fan to take something out of my speeches, and that is my goal. The same way that when I go on TV, if I’m just gonna go hardcore stats, I’m gonna eliminate a lot of our viewers. If I just go human interest stories and don’t add those stats in, it’ll eliminate other viewers.

So I had to find a way to really pull everyone in. That’s our job, so I try to go about it the same way with the speaking business. Meaning that a lot of former athletes, people on the speaking circuit from the sports world, they can go in there and tell the greatest stories ever. They’re celebrities, and you really don’t have to have a take away. If George Brent or Terry Bradshaw or whoever it might be comes and speaks, they’re gonna make a ton of money by showing up and sharing stories that are gold.

But for me, I don’t think I’m that big of a deal. So I’ve gotta be able to take these stories that I view as a peek behind the curtain. It’s not a tell all. But I’ve been lucky enough for this quarter century to have a shotgun front row seat to teams that have won, lost, everything in between. You look at the Royals, last place to champions. How did they build it, how did they keep it. The highs, the lows and taking these stories and using them as teaching tools for people in business and life.

Storytelling

What I’m finding is, because storytelling … stories are powerful. People remember stories over numbers. People remember stories over pie charts and graphs. That’s important, but I always say when I get to follow the compliance person at a speaking event, I always feel pretty good. Because the compliance, the HR, all that stuff is necessary. You have to do it, but my stuff’s different.

You know what it’s done Phil, it’s given me this new purpose that I can take so many of these things that I can’t necessarily do on TV or I might only have 15 seconds to do on TV, and I can turn them around and spend the better part of an hour with the group really highlighting some of these moments and hopefully opening people’s eyes.

Phil Singleton: Love it. So one of the questions I’ve gathered related to this is, from that standpoint, you’re basically a small business owner, kind of just like the rest of some of us are, right? Of course I know you speak at some of these major top Kansas City companies with lots of employees and stuff like that. But from a business standpoint, in terms of getting new clients for your business. Some of the things you’d already mentioned is how you’re getting new speaking gigs. Part of that is networking, I think you mentioned that. You mentioned you’re active online, on social media. I see you on Linkedin a lot.

I guess one nice thing about also speaking is that kind of leads to other speaking engagements. You do a good job people like the stories that you’re telling, the lessons that you’re teaching and that leads to other things from referrals and that type of thing.

You also have a website right, so you’re kind of like, not only do you have your own social media presences on some of the major social channels. But you’ve actually got kind of a central location for your business online in terms of your own website and you’re kind of marketing that.

Just like to hear a little bit about how that’s working for you, what you’re doing to drive traffic. Other ways that maybe, and let me know if I’m getting this right, other ways that you have tried to generate new business.

Joel Goldberg: Well it’s a good question and I think the first thing I’ll say, ’cause a lot of this is certainly on the website. A lot of this is more your expertise than mine. I’m learning every day, of course we all learn every day, I know that sounds really cliché.

Marketing as an Entrepreneur

Phil Singleton: When you’re doing some of it is common sense. You mentioned you’re going out, you’re having coffee, you’re making it happen. You’re not waiting for the phone to ring. You’re out there actually networking and trying to create these opportunities. I think that’s really just happening because that’s who you are, that’s your nature. It’s like what you said from the beginning. You went out from college and you didn’t wait, sit down and wait for the phone to ring, you went out and made it happen. You had the grit, you made the cold calls, you traveled around the country and finally you got it.

I feel like you’re kind of doing a little bit of that right now. You got this, you got this vision, you got the bug. Now you’re making things happen, like going out and actually meeting with people and being proactive about it. I think that’s a really big lesson to learn for all business owners. ‘Cause so many of us hope for like a magic pill. Throw some money at somebody and hope new business is gonna fall out of the sky.

It really doesn’t happen like that. You have to actually hustle a little bit no matter who you are, especially if you’re gonna start a new business.

Joel Goldberg: Okay, if you have Jeff Bezos type of money or Warren Buffett or name those kind of people, they can make anything happen. Money will buy you if you want. But for the most part for most of us you’re right, there isn’t a magic pill. By the way none of those guys got where they did with the magic pill. All their hard work now enables them to purchase that magic pill if they so choose to. But they also are very astute business people.

But I think it’s a good observation Phil and I appreciate it because it’s weird, I was thinking about this the other day. But when I started this speaking thing two and a half years ago, okay I gotta start networking. I went out immediately, and a good friend and neighbor of mine said you need to meet this guy, he knows everyone. That lead to five more and on and on.

I don’t think I sat there and said okay, I need to do this in the same way that I’ve built my TV career, or started my TV career I should say. It just kind of happened instinctually, which is I think interesting to me. I don’t know how to analyze myself on this one, but I went about it the same way I did when I hit the wall. I didn’t hit a wall on this, but when I had no other chance. My back was against the wall back in 1994, and I just went out there, and I went after it.

So I didn’t go into the speaking thing saying okay, let me go and do this the way I did in ’94, I just started doing it. So you’re right, maybe that’s who I am, and there’s some things you can teach, some things you’re born with, we can debate all that. But I think anyone can do this if they have the desire to do it. I do think that it’s a lot easier to do it when you have a passion for it.

What was interesting to me was as I started this and reading a lot, and all the networking and everybody starting saying the Simon Sinek stuff about finding your why. I didn’t know what my why was. It was almost like you’re not allowed to say the why is for money, you have to have a passion for it. You have to know why you’re doing this. It’s like wait a minute, we all do work to get paid, is that allowed. Am I allowed to talk about that.

The money and the speaking thing potentially is pretty good, and I can control it as a business owner versus signing a contract for TV and this is kind of where you’re at. But along the way I found the why, and I found that I love interacting with people. I love building relationships, I love helping people. I love storytelling and I love opening people’s eyes. Really not all that different than what I was doing when I was seven, eight years old driving those first and second grade teachers nuts. I liked being the one to share that and maybe then it was entertaining. I think now it’s hopefully to help people.

So I guess that’s kind of how everything came about. But I firmly believe that you have to build the relationships in everything. People say to me, when they say to me, hey you’re in the baseball business, you’re in the TV business. I say no I’m not, I love baseball, I’m not in the baseball business, I’m in the people business. I don’t know that I would consider any of the current or former players good friends of mine. But I could rattle off an all star list of guys that if I were to call them or text them right now, and ask for a favor, they would do it.

Because of the relationships and trust that have been built. I’m not doing it, but point being, when I need that interview or I have that big moment, I know that I can rely on these guys. Because, I’ll use a baseball term here, I didn’t steal a base. I went through the whole process. I didn’t try to get to second or third or home before touching first. I think there is a lesson to be learned there. You talk about the magic pill and especially now, as I’m growing all of this and I try to be active on all the social media avenues or platforms.

What I’m finding is, is people try to connect with me on Linkedin and I try to accept everybody because you never know. As I accept them, you start getting some of these messages back. You can see right away it’s sometimes it’s an automated message too, we all get those. It’s like wait a minute, you’re looking for my business and you don’t even know me yet. It’s everything I’m against.

So I’m not asking for everybody that connects with me on Linkedin to try to build a relationship with me. None of us took time for all that. But I’m certainly not gonna do business until we’ve sat down for coffee or gotten to know each other. I think so many people skip that step. I think that’s the one point. Then back to what am I doing. This was another thing that took me a little while to realize, contents’ everything.

So yes, and I have a marketing director that does phenomenal work for me. Basically if you look at my social media, if it looks like something that just was typed out, it was probably me. If it has a nice graphic to it, it was probably her.

Phil Singleton: Right.

Joel Goldberg: She’s very measured with what she does and when she does it. We are at a point now where she is promoting my business and me, which is a little uncomfortable for me. But more than anything, it’s putting out content. Whether it’s sharing quotes or clips from my podcasts or just different things to get people thinking, it doesn’t cost anything.

Just continuing to put out content, building the brand, trying to help people. That doesn’t really cost a lot to do that.

Phil Singleton: Well in a way doing what you are saying that’s been help to get successful your entire career, which is using it in a way with general good content that people are consuming. In a way they’re almost building a relationship with you over the connection, the channels that they’re following you. You’re building that relationship slowly over time ’cause you’re building that trust up and I love that.

Joel Goldberg: That’s right, and again, it doesn’t cost anything. I guess I’m lucky enough that I’m a content person. I also happen to be surrounded by content. But I also think that if we open our eyes, no matter what we do, there’s content around us all the time. There’s stories to be told everywhere. I happen to be lucky enough that I go to work every day of the year for six months a year surrounded by a lot of famous people or people that are less than one percent talent wise. They’re doing something that nobody else could do, that’s really interesting.

But I think everybody has a story to tell, you just have to look for it. You have to ask questions and you have to be willing to share with people and put it in perspective.

Podcasting

Phil Singleton: So that’s a great segue way into one of my recent favorite topics, which is podcasting. You have a podcast, I have a podcast. I think it’s really hot, I think it’s great for all sorts of different reasons. Of course it’s been around since 2005 or before, but it’s really picked up speed in the last three or four years.

Tell us how that came about, what you think about podcasting. If you think it relates to, or can be used by small business owners, other types of business owners. I’d just like to hear what your general thoughts are on podcasting in general.

Joel Goldberg: Yeah, I sort of stumbled into the podcasting in the same backwards accidental way that I did the speaking business. The very short of the story, I mentioned that a friend of mine said to me, hey you can start a speaking business. In the message that I got from him, actually his wife is a speaker. She said, you need to write a book, if you’re gonna be a speaker, you gotta write a book.

You see that in the speaking business, when you have a book you get into more doors. When you have a book you can sell books and you make more money and blah, blah, blah. You’re more credible, and by the way, the whole book thing to me, and the podcasting for that matter too is a little bit silly from this standpoint.

It just means you’ve written a book, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a great speaker. It doesn’t necessarily mean okay, I won an Emmy. I put that in there because, in the bio, because that’s the one that always gets an ooh and an ahhh from the crowd. But you know that’s like winning a Grammy or whatever. It’s a voting thing. I’m not saying I didn’t deserve it, but there’re years where I think I deserved one and I didn’t get it and other years where maybe-

Phil Singleton: In all fairness I think to the rest of us, you have a platform. Most people I think that go out and try to create speaking gigs or get booked on any type of a gig really, they almost need to have something like a book to establish themselves. You don’t because you’ve already got an audience, you’ve already been on the air. You’re a TV host, you won an Emmy.

You could make an argument that you wouldn’t necessarily need that, but if you didn’t have that platform, you might need something like a podcast or a book or something to help you establish yourself as an expert where you have all this kind of stuff. I think it’s a little bit different, but-

Joel Goldberg: I agree, and so I fully get that. So I’m fortunate enough, and not apologizing for it. It’s all the sacrifice and all the years put in and all the content and everything I’ve learned. That now I can show up really well in a speech and podcast and all that.

But back to the whole podcast question, this person said you need to write a book. I met with an author, and really two years ago the thought was daunting. Like how the heck, I don’t know the first thing, what am I doing. She said to me you know what, I don’t think you should write a book, which I appreciated. Because I’m sure she could have potentially made some money by helping me write a book.

She said do a podcast instead. I said why, she said well one, you’re a broadcaster, it’s in your wheelhouse. So I said okay. Two she said it’s an opportunity to meet people and network. Three it’s new content material that could at some point go into a book and fourth, it’s a great way to create a brand.

When she said that, I said well what should I podcast about. She said you figure that out. The one thing I knew was, I don’t wanna do a baseball podcast. I still to this point have friends and people say, hey you should do a season preview, you should talk to … get an athlete on there. I will say this, I could increase my listenership by huge numbers by just doing a Royals podcast. But it doesn’t interest me. I already have that brand, I’m not trying to grow that brand. I’m not trying to stunt it, but I had that exposure that you talked about already on TV.

People see too much of me already and I say that in a self-deprecating way. But I’m hosting 300 shows a summer. I just need to keep doing that job well.

Phil Singleton: I absolutely love it because the podcast that I have called, Local Business Leaders. I could have named it WordPress Website Development Guru, this or that or Kansas City SEO Expert Guy this and that. But no, I wanted to name something kind of like what you’re going after, which is how do we build our network to reach another kind of audience, a new audience. How do we get maybe something that’s more appealing to elevate the type of people I wanna interview. It sounds exactly like where you’re going right. You didn’t just say hey I’m gonna-

Joel Goldberg: That’s exactly it.

Phil Singleton: I love it, I absolutely love it.

Joel Goldberg: Yeah and then it’s just telling stories. I’m not … don’t get me wrong, I have … one of my guests was the new now, it’s been less than two years now. But CEO of H&R Block, I had the mayor of Kansas City, Sly James. I had the CEO of Garmin, those are big name companies and I’ll never say no to those. But at the same time, I’m really interested in telling the story of the start-up entrepreneur who maybe is going to bed tonight worried about financing and making it work and is this gonna work, or is he gonna have to look for something else or she, and telling those stories.

In turn we talk about value of hoping that people that are listening to them, and there’s a library full of them.

Phil Singleton: Tell me, do you think that’s helping your business. I don’t know what episode you’re on right now, but you’ve done dozens of them  Has it lead to new clients, new inquiries, how does it workout that way?

Joel Goldberg: I think it has and maybe I’m not smart enough yet to measure it. One of the things I think with entrepreneurs or certainly people going into a new business and when you’re doing it yourself. It’s the whole scaling issue of what comes first. There’s something and then the investor invest and hope you achieve. So I’m dealing with all that like a lot of people do.

So there’s a lot that I’m still trying to figure out. But what I know is this. I’m getting more buzz, I’m having more people on a regular basis say to me hey, I got a good guest for your. That’s something that wasn’t happening before. I don’t even know if it’s showing up necessarily in the numbers yet. But again this gets back to just trusting this process, it’s very much like building relationships.

Once I got past over obsessing, well I don’t think I was over obsessing, but I would wanna look at those numbers every single week. I was doing it bi-weekly, now it’s weekly, and see how many people are listening to it. I just stopped worrying about that and just keep going out there and more content, more people.

Phil Singleton: It’s like you said earlier, the relationship building. You got a platform now, people know you that want to be interviewed and want to be on your show. Even like this, we’re now talking to each other 20, 30, 40 minutes for a podcast episode. It’s almost like a little bit of relationship starts to build from the nature of podcasting. You’ve already done that with some really heavy hitters in the business world in Kansas City because you have that platform.

I think that’s one of the things people overlook. A guy by the name of Steven Woessler, he’s a marketing guy from one of my earlier episodes. Man people just don’t realize how podcasts, especially the interview format. It’s like the ultimate sales Trojan horse. You get in there, you build up a relationship, you’re doing something for somebody that elevates who they are, their expertise. The relationship actually develops over the interview itself.

That’s one of the reasons it’s happened in the sports world for you. The guys know you because you interviewed them. Then all of a sudden it’s like, you got that, and the same things can happen at the business level. Which I think can apply to all sorts of businesses.

Joel Goldberg: It just grows and it multiplies. It’s one of the reasons why I go, and I trust my network. My network started with one or two, it’s hundreds of people now. It’s started to grow beyond Kansas City. When someone that I trust from in my network says hey you should go for coffee or meet this person. I don’t say why or what am I gonna get out of it. I went to lunch with someone today at the recommendation of someone in my network.

Little did I know we were gonna end up sitting down talking about possibly writing a book together. So you don’t know where the stuff is gonna lead. But I’m looking sitting here in my office, or like you said before we got on the bat cave. It’s a little small for a bat cave. But I’m looking my dry erase board or white board, and when I started this podcast I did every other week because I was worried about, and I think all podcast hosts should be worried about this. I was worried about the regularity of it.

So I know over the years I’ve tried blogging here and there and things like that. I might do one, I might do two and I’m all fired up about it. Then I don’t do one for three months. It’s like who the heck is gonna read or pay attention to something that irregular. So the advice I had from a good friend of mine was, whatever you schedule to be, you have to stick to it. Not just for the listeners, but for the algorithms and all that.

So I thought baseball, I’m gonna go bi-weekly. Well there were stretches. The podcast started in November of 2017. So there were stretches where this podcast, which by the way is called Rounding the Bases, was … I get down there the day before I had to release one and I didn’t have a guest. I thought, I guess if I just wait for the weekend it won’t be two weeks, it’ll be 16 days, that’s fine.

I’m looking at my dry erase board right now, and having switched to weekly guests about a month ago, I’ve got the next eight weeks set, like they’re already recorded. So that’s a product of what you’re talking about and seeing the results to me. I didn’t have to search for those, they just keep coming to me.

So that to me is a sign, a little bit of the branding. When you start seeing and getting traction, again Phil I would say, we’re all guilty of this because we live in a world where you keeps score. I work in a profession covering a sort where somebody wins or loses based on the score. We are since the time we are kids report cards, job reviews, on and on. We keep score and we can get so focused on those numbers understandably. It’s how we get paid, it’s how we succeed that sometimes we forget about the process.

Joel Goldberg’s Kansas City Favorites

Phil Singleton: Such great insight and we could go on and on. But what I wanna do toward the bottom of this interview now is just get into stuff that you love about Kansas City. What you like about living here, kind of some of you’re go to places in terms of maybe you and your family or like where you guys go to eat. Whatever, whatever it is, give us some Joel Goldberg favorites.

Joel Goldberg: Yeah, there’s so much. Mostly I hate and love the barbecue question because one, you’re gonna get yourself in trouble. But to me it depends on what kind of mood we’re in. So if we want the nice sit down, =we love Joes. But we also love, wife and two kids, we love just trying to find some of the outskirts of town Mom and Pop type of places too. Just to try to those out. So those are all-

Phil Singleton: Anything come to mind? I’ve got one client, that’s all he does man. He just goes and finds the hole in the wall, family owned types of things and really tries to stay way from them, somewhat like the commercial places.

Joel Goldberg: I remember locations, I don’t always remember names. So there’s a place, and I’m in Johnson County, but there’s a place out in Leavenworth, I can’t remember the name of it, but that’s really good, we’ve gone there a couple of times.

Phil Singleton: What kind of food is it?

Joel Goldberg: It’s a barbecue place.

Phil Singleton: All right, sweet.

Joel Goldberg: A barbecue place, you can never do too much barbecue. I know that’s such a Kansas City thing to say. The flip side of that is, I can’t tell you how many times we were on the road for baseball and you got press box dining for broadcasters, writers. One night of every series on the road, they always do barbecue, as a homage to Kansas City. I’m like no offense, but-

Phil Singleton: Not necessary.

Joel Goldberg: It’s not necessary, you’re not gonna do it like we do it. So that’s certainly something. Other restaurants, there are so many. But we love-

Phil Singleton: There’s no Goldberg family go tos, it’s just oh, there’s no where else to go to.

Joel Goldberg: This is going to be a little gratuitous, not gratuitous but they named a sandwich after me at-

Phil Singleton: ‘Cause you went there so much?

Joel Goldberg: No and they started at Broadway Deli in the Crossroads, 20th and … I should know this because I think I’m-

Phil Singleton: You have a sandwich named after you…

Joel Goldberg: They said there’s the Joe Goldberg and it’s half corned beef, half pastrami. You can’t go wrong with that. So that’s really good. One of my favorites is Blue Koi-

Phil Singleton: Yeah, that’s there in Leawood.

Joel Goldberg: Which is phenomenal. But if you ask my kids, they’re like any other teenagers. They wanna go to Chick-Fil-A and Kings and wherever they can get chicken tenders and that type of garbage. So that’s it, but the only thing that we really love to do, just to get out of the surburban bubble, we go downtown as often as we can. Whether it be my wife and I, or whether it be with us and the kids and just go try new places in the city and just go explore.

Phil Singleton: That’s awesome.

Joel Goldberg: This city has so much to offer. There a lot of people that’ll go down there if they’re not living there. There are a lot of people in the suburbs that never leave the suburbs. That’s true in most cities, but there’s so much going on here. Whether it’s a first Friday or just really any night of the week there’s always something going on.

Phil Singleton: That’s a good measure for everybody. I mean my job takes me up a lot and it’s just so much. If you stay in your suburban bubble and you don’t pay attention to what’s going on, then you lose what’s all the cool things that are happening and new places that are going up. The new kind of generation of people that are creating new restaurants and stuff.

Joel Goldberg: Yeah, I think like all the influence of the millennials and the amount of people moving to town and all the tech industry and upgrading that’s going well, it’s a benefit to everybody, because you see all the places popping up. I’m too old to go clubbing and all that kind of stuff. But there’s so many great spots for live music, and food and drink and festivals. It feels like its growing by the day. I wanna be able to check all that stuff out.

Phil Singleton: Love it, well Joel, we’re at the end of the interview here. What I wanted to ask is where … mention the name of your podcast again so I wanna make sure we get links to it, and then where else people can follow you online. What social media channels you are most active on. I wanna make sure those is all those on the shoe notes when we promote the show.

Joel Goldberg: Well Twitters’ always been the big one. That’s gonna be my more of the baseball types of updates, goldbergkc. Instagram is really what I’m trying to grow right now which is not easy to grow as Twitter, I’m learning. But just trying to get some of that cool content pictures things like. That’s Joelgoldbergkc, that’s Instagram. I’m on Linked in and I’ve got a Facebook business page, fan page, whatever you wanna call it.

The website is JoelGoldbergmedia.com. The podcast, which can be found anywhere you find your podcast is Rounding the Bases with Joel Goldberg and just having fun doing it.

Phil Singleton: Thanks so much for coming on the Local Business Leaders podcast today Joel. It was so awesome to get some of your insight and listen to your story. I wanna make sure that we have all those show notes up on the page with links to your social medial channel and your podcast as well.

I just wanna thank you one more time for sharing your story with our audience.

Joel Goldberg: I appreciate it, thanks for helping me out Phil.

How to Use SEO & Processes to Build, Scale & Sell Your Agency or Business

Ryan Stewart, is a marketing entrepreneur with over a decade of experience building and selling online businesses. He worked as a consultant for Deloitte and SapientNitro helping large brands like Target and Best Buy improve online acquisition. He built and scaled an eCommerce site called Laces Out with a 1.2 million organic business per month and sold the business in 2017. He built and scaled an online SEO agency called WEBRIS to 1.1 million in annual recurring revenue in 16 months, and sold the business in 2018. Ryan is now a partner and board member at From the Future, a technical digital agency with 40 employees and offices in Miami and Philadelphia.

Episode Quick Links

 

External Resource Links

Meet Ryan Stewart

Phil Singleton: Ryan, welcome to the show.

Ryan Stewart: Thank you for having me, Phil. I appreciate it.

Phil Singleton: Yeah, this is going to be awesome. I’m so psyched. It’s so cool to have people that are in the business that you can talk shop a little bit. And some of this is going to fly over some our small business owners’ heads, I’m sure, but the SEO and marketing folks are going really love this. So tell us a little about your story, those first steps out of college or university or what have you, into the business world, and what got you to where you are today.

Ryan Stewart: Yeah, so I graduated undergrad in 2009 and was super lucky. The school that I went to had a really good alumni network, and I was able to get a job in consulting. And I kind of bounced around that for like two years between Accenture and Deloitte and really did not like it. Wasn’t for me for a whole number of reasons. Great company, just not for me. And so I started looking for other ways to make money, and I stumbled across Instagram. This was back in like 2011. This was before Facebook bought it, back before it has anywhere near the mass adoption that it has. And I knew, I saw a lot of my friends using it. I saw a lot of people moving over from Facebook. So I wanted to figure out a way that I could maybe make some money off that. And I ended up getting into something that didn’t work out, but after going through that process of trying to do something and then making a little bit of money and getting a taste of what being an entrepreneur is like, I couldn’t go back.

Phil Singleton: Did you jump out into the cold or did you quit or were you kind of doing this-

Ryan Stewart: No, I didn’t … I was super lucky that I wasn’t doing much at my job. It was big corporate America. I had it down to I would come in, do an hour worth of work, sit in a couple of meetings, and then I had basically had four hours of time on my hands to be on the internet. So it was the perfect time to do things on the internet.

Ryan Stewart: But anyways, so I was doing that, and I was in a coffee shop talking to this kid I was working with. Some guy next to me overheard me, and he did SEO. I didn’t know what it was at the time. It was back in 2011. And he started talking about it and introduced it to me and I was like, “That’s where I need to be,” you know what I’m saying? To be able to control what people are searching for and all that stuff.

Ryan Stewart: So got into it, just became obsessed with it. At that point, I ended up quitting my job at Accenture. I picked it up pretty quickly within like six months. Actually lied on my resume, and then went, took a job as a contractor at SapientNitro, which is a huge digital agency. And through that, I was able to learn a lot about analytics, how websites are built, how the internet works, all that different stuff, client communications, all those things.

Phil Singleton: Let’s take a step back here because one of the things that blows me away about you is there’s a lot of different things that you’re really talented, you’re obviously really smart, you’re an SEO genius, but the one thing that I notice is that you are … And obviously, I follow you, we don’t know each other personally up until like now, this interview, is that you’re a master of execution.

Ryan Stewart: Sure.

Phil Singleton: All the stuff that you’re doing, you’ve got all these things going in different directions, and I’m just wondering is that some of the stuff that you think came … Did some of that come from Deloitte and training and stuff like that, are you just naturally wired that way? Did SapientNitro … Somewhere in that, you just learned how to execute, man. You’re a killer.

Ryan Stewart: I appreciate that, Phil. First of all, I was an athlete my whole life. I was a scholarship football player in college, D1. I was always undersized. I just had work ethic beaten into me from when I was a young age, so I had that going for me, which was one thing. But going to Deloitte, I was actually a business process re-engineer. So what my job was, I hated it, but my job was to look at massive enterprise software and then build the human processes for that. So I developed a feel for process driven thinking. And that process driven thinking plus my wanting to work hard and succeed, I think when I combined those two things, I found a nice niche in the space. Because a lot of people talk, especially in this industry, but results are what matter. And more importantly too is execution.

Ryan Stewart: So having that process mindset, I was able to build processes to help me scale my time. By having a process, I can then go out and hire somebody with a lot less money, a lot lower cost, that’s not an expert in the field. I can just follow that process. So pretty much everything I’ve done from the agency to the eCommerce to The Blueprint, everything is built on these processes that I’m able to get people underneath me at 4, 5 bucks an hour just doing the busy work that takes stuff off my plate that allows me to be hyper-productive and execute at a very high level as well.

Phil Singleton: Yes. Now it’s coming together. Because I can see, obviously, the competition with SEO, people are really competitive, right? That definitely probably fuels a lot into what drives you.

Ryan Stewart: Yeah, I love it. I have a love/hate … Off topic now, but that’s fine. I have a love/hate with the industry because I love it because it’s so competitive, how passionate it is. The people are super amazing too. When you go to a conference and meet people, they’re all genuine, nice people and we all share this kind of bond and passion about something as stupid as SEO, right?

Phil Singleton: Right.

Ryan Stewart: But my hate kind of comes from the fact, for the same thing, people can be very condescending. People always think they’re right. And at the end of the day, nobody knows the answer.

Phil Singleton: But your bank account knows the answer is the way I look at it.

Ryan Stewart: And that’s all relative too. I have this debate with my business partner at the agency because he sees things one way in terms of promotion and money and how things should be done. I look at the other side. So we’re in SEO, which is the very white hot side of internet marketing, but you get into like the advertisers, the true internet marketers, like the Frank Kerns of the world, who are just selling info products over and over again, you look at their bank accounts, and if you use that justification, you can get, I don’t want to say unethical, but you can cross some lines in that space. Whole other topic for conversation. But yes, bank accounts really do matter.

Phil Singleton: Right. You mentioned something, I know we’re kind of going through … I’m going to reel it back here in a second, but because this is a little bit talking shop too.

Ryan Stewart: Sure.

SEO Experts vs SEO Journalist and SEO Bloggers

Phil Singleton: I think in our industry there are a ton of people that are perceived to be SEO experts, or I don’t know what have you, I actually wrote about this in the book I wrote with John Jantsch, but a lot of them are actually like journalists or reporters or they’re regurgitating top level stuff. But they’re not actually the grunts that are on the ground that are having to make money for themselves and for their clients. And I think that’s where a lot of SEO expertise comes in.

Phil Singleton: That’s why for people that have been doing it for a long time, I know you’re an expert. I read your stuff. I know that on the side of being an influencer and having great content and helping to educate people, you’ve actually, through your track record, been able to build businesses and make money for other people, make businesses and sell them and done it multiple times and stuff like that. That’s actually a huge difference. Do you agree with me on that? I think it’s a little harsh to come out and say, hey, there are SEO experts out there, but are they really experts or are they just reporters or bloggers that couldn’t rank themselves out of a wet paper bag? That might be a little bit harsh, but I mean seriously…

SEO is so legitimate now …you can go and get a job, and work at a job as an SEO making 100 grand.

– Ryan Stewart

Ryan Stewart: Yes and yes. And this is, again, another debate I that I have with people is that when I got into SEO it was to be an entrepreneur. It was to make my own money. But what SEO’s become, it’s become such a legitimate, it’s a legitimate industry, you know what I’m saying? You can go and get a job, and work at a job as an SEO making 100 grand. So there’s different levels to SEO. There’s people who have built their own websites. There’s people who have done Black Hat. There’s people who do local SEO, big enterprise, technical SEO, and all those different … There’s link builders, there’s content marketers, there’s all these different people that have different view of what a result is. You know what I mean?

Ryan Stewart: When I was at Sapient, the big technical SEO stuff, smartest SEOs I ever worked with, but they didn’t know the first thing about content or creativity or … Not that they weren’t creative people, they just looked at things, they were working on Target.com, so of course, Target.com, it’s a technical campaign. And the way that they approached SEO was very different than I was used to approaching SEO building my own WordPress sites and hitting with back links.

Ryan Stewart: So I think it’s all relative. I’m not trying to give a political answer here. I think everyone can be an expert in their own right. But at the end of the day, yes, it’s about what you’ve ranked. It’s about what you’ve monetized. It’s about who you’ve helped. And it’s so much more than that too. I tell people all the time that SEO is a microcosm of marketing which is a microcosm of running a business. And you running a business know after you get to a certain point, SEO doesn’t even really matter to your business anymore. It’s important, but it’s like, what’s more important is hiring, building company, all these different things come up.

Ryan Stewart: I think that if you’ve been doing the same thing for ten years and haven’t necessarily progressed … If that’s what you want to do of course, if you haven’t progressed in the field or with your business then I would have to agree with what you’re saying. You know what I mean? So if you’re still talking about the same things ten years later, it’s like are you building a business or you’re building … You know what I’m saying? There’s different levels to it, you know what I mean?

Phil Singleton: Awesome. Well, let’s jump back because I totally cut you off to go on a tangent.

Ryan Stewart: No, that’s fine.

Phil Singleton: At some point, you jumped out and you actually had your own business because you were able to quit a full-time job.

Ryan Stewart: Yes.

Phil Singleton: You went to Deloitte, and then it was SapientNitro, and then it basically was out on your own?

Ryan Stewart: Yeah, so when I was at Sapient is when I really started like blogging, doing YouTube videos. This was like 2013-ish when I was in the kitchen of my old apartment doing videos and stuff. And then I was getting traction, especially with like link building, I built the process for link building. I was getting a lot of clients. And at that point, because I was a contractor, I went part-time. And then I just eventually left Sapient after about a year, year-and-a-half. And then WEBRIS was launched. And then I did that and then, well, actually before WEBRIS, there was something else, which we’ll talk about later, with my failure. I had another partner, failed, then I picked myself back up, started WEBRIS, grew it really fast, sold it. And have a whole bunch of…

Phil Singleton: And was that pretty much you? Was there a partner involved with that pretty much your own gig?

Ryan Stewart: WEBRIS was all me. Yeah, that was all me. And now I’ve been with From the Future for about a year and a quarter now, and just a whole bunch of other projects in between as well.

Phil Singleton: Awesome. That’s awesome. So okay, we’ll get to some of this other stuff, but I’d really like to talk about … Well, let’s talk a little bit about how … Because WEBRIS, when you started that, at some point you just jumped onto the scene, the SEO scene where you started, you have great … I was thinking about this before we started the show and it was like a couple things struck me. One is, as I mentioned, you’re a master of execution. The other thing that really strikes me that I remember about your sites, is some of your blog posts, dude, are like entire websites. They’re like web apps. I mean, they’re sick. The amount of stuff you put into them, they’re so good and they’re so detailed, and they have so many features into them. That really stuck me. For anybody, I wanted to add a couple of links to the show notes of some of the post I am talking about.

Blogging & Becoming an SEO Influencer

Ryan Stewart: Yeah, I appreciate that.

Phil Singleton: Did that help draw people in, that kind of stuff?  You were all over the place. You’re pitching. One day I see you’re doing a whiteboard video on Moz. You just kind of blew up. Was there a big break there when that happened, and all of a sudden it took off?

Ryan Stewart: Again, it depends how you’re looking at it, but it was years of hard work that was leading up to me….

Phil Singleton:  Becoming an overnight success, yeah.

Ryan Stewart: If the first time you saw me on Moz Whiteboard Friday, it would seem that way, but yeah, that was years and years of blogging, of outreach, of begging people for links, of guest posts. And that’s another thing I did a lot of. I would spend a lot of time guest posting. And I would give my best content to other websites because of the reach. And then when I had it, felt like I had enough authority and clout, I started blogging a lot more on my website.

Phil Singleton: Gotcha.

 

 

Leveraging YouTube

Ryan Stewart: But yeah, I mean, the blogging definitely helped me. It’s still, even on From the Future now, when we release a really good blog stuff, it’s tough in the SEO space because everything’s been covered, there’s no new tactics. But if we can come up with something kind of unique, it always draws clients, still a thing. But for me, it’s been video. Video’s been much better for me. And it’s more scalable for me too. I can put together a deck in like an hour and then talk in the microphone and then give it to a writer to write up. So I’ll do a lot more of that now. Plus it gives me different mediums to attack. It allows me to satisfy two different parts of the audience. Some people like to read, some people like to watch and listen, as you know. And YouTube, for me, has really been my biggest driver.

Phil Singleton: That’s awesome.

Ryan Stewart: YouTube grows on itself. You don’t have to promote it nearly as hard as a blog post. You don’t have to wait for it to rank. There’s a whole other algorithm in place on YouTube.

Phil Singleton: Brian Dean is huge on there.

Ryan Stewart: Yeah, he crushes it. He crushes it.

Phil Singleton: And you mentioned … The one thing I’ve never done, I’ve never been to one of the industry conferences. Is that something you started? Have you always done it?

Ryan Stewart: A little bit more and more. I’m a little bit bougie in the fact that I don’t like to go and just sit and spectate. I like to go and speak.

Phil Singleton: Great, okay. So you’re doing it more as a speaker then?

Ryan Stewart: Yeah.

Phil Singleton: That’s makes a lot of sense.

Ryan Stewart: Because I’m a huge introvert. You see me on camera and this and that, and it’s for the business. But you put me in a room full of people I don’t know and I will just sit there and awkwardly stand there.

Phil Singleton: That’s why I got into SEO man. All of a sudden Google chased me out of my hole…

Ryan Stewart: But when I speak, people will come up to you and interact just naturally. So I’ve been a little bit more speaking. I actually was at a conference … And if it’s a cool place too and they pay me to travel, I’ll travel there for free too. But I live in Miami, it’s tough for me … I work at home all the day, all the time. And it’s difficult to get me out of here. I’m not going to go to some random place that I’ve already been to.

Phil Singleton: Has to be worth it, right?

Ryan Stewart: Yeah, exactly. So the point is that I was in Austin in September with Brian Dean at a conference, and we talked a lot. Super nice dude, super smart, amazing business model too. Doesn’t work with clients, he just makes seven figures a year from launching one course every year. And then it’s all from his blog and YouTube. He’s really smart dude.

Phil Singleton: So on that note, was there a point when you started to get actually clients off of people knowing who you are and doing the speaking versus … I do a little bit of it, but still the vast majority of our stuff comes in from referrals, our own SEO, and maybe podcast. A lot of people that go, “Oh, I heard you speak somewhere.” But obviously for you that must work because you’re out there all over the place. You’ve got a huge, highly engaged audience. A lot of people know you in the industry. What percentage of clients come just from that?

Ryan Stewart: I would say 100% between my partner Nick, Nick Eubanks, he’s also really well known in the SEO space, brilliant technical SEO, really smart businessman too. But conferences are a little bit saturated now. It’s usually the same people up there talking to the same people. It’s really more for networking purposes. I don’t really get clients from when I speak at a marketing or SEO conference.

Phil Singleton: The YouTube stuff out there, people are coming in, that kind of thing?

Ryan Stewart: Yeah, so that’s the thing is it’s my opinion that with this much … Most of the ROPs that we get now are almost sole sourced from people because they know me or my partner and they want to work with us as long as the price and the pitch is right. So I would say probably like 90% of our clients come through that. 90% of our leads anyways come through that. So yeah, its really powerful stuff.

Starting, Building and Selling an eCommerce Business

Phil Singleton: All right, let’s jump in … I could literally just go on and on with you, but I do want to talk about … Because I think for me the one thing that really struck and I was like, “Holy cow, this guy is a genius,” for lots of different reasons, but the Laces Out project was awesome. Because on so many different levels, I mean one, it’s like, first obviously, things that went on the internet now is you got clients that come to you that want to be the Amazon of something. No, it’s the niches that win. That was a highly niche-based product. I loved it because I’m just thinking in my mind, “Here’s something that people will pay for. It’s really light.” To me, the margins have got to be good.

laces out shoelaces

Phil Singleton: Then, what the coolest thing was, you’re actually using it as a case study that people are linking back to, and it’s probably helping that business out because you are using it as a case study. And I was like, “This was blowing my mind how many angles you were playing on it.” And I’m sure it was all intentional, but for me I was like, “Okay, now I gotta really start paying attention to what this guy is doing because that was brilliant.” So talk a little bit about how that came about, why you picked it.

Phil Singleton: And then I want to ask you something almost as free consulting. Because I see some things at the local level, and it’s like geez, should I start buying? I’m almost thinking of buying into some local businesses. You’ve got a platform to do some stuff on, you could literally probably rank number one for anybody. But it makes sense to buy into another business for that reason. You could use it as a case study. You could make it another source of income, that type of thing. But before we get to that piece, I want to talk about Laces Out happened, and how did you turn it into so many wins like that?

Ryan Stewart: That was probably within my first few months of being, so we’ll talk about my failure in the future, but I had my own agency experience a little bit before WEBRIS, so I knew dealing with clients wasn’t really what I wanted to be doing. And I wanted a new challenge for myself. I wanted a new project. I’m somebody who has to be … I can’t be working on one thing. I need at least two businesses to focus my attention, at least two, to keep me motivated.

Ryan Stewart: So I had been seeing a lot of stuff about Amazon FBA, and I wanted to start something on Amazon, fulfilled by Amazon, more of an eCommerce play, something different than working with clients. So I did a lot of research and I came across, I really like sneakers, like I said, I’ve been athlete my whole life.

Phil Singleton: So this was, at the beginning, it was more an intellectual, “I just want to try this and learn it,” type of thing to satisfy your brain power? You can’t focus on one thing, gotta have a couple things. So that’s kind of how it started, am I hearing that right?

Ryan Stewart: Yeah, exactly. I’m a firm believer that we have a very unique skill set that, again, kind of what we talked about in the beginning is that a lot of people just use it as a job, but I see it as an opportunity to do something that I love and to free up my time and get paid for it.

Phil Singleton: Awesome, so Amazon FBA, so you started that, and you started looking into it.

Ryan Stewart: Yep. And I did a lot of research. I buy a lot of courses. I’m a firm believer, buying courses from people, because I’ll just listen to videos and fast forward and consume a whole new business plan in a matter of weeks. It’s pretty awesome what we can do now. But anyway, so I started researching a lot about what works and how the algorithm there works. And I came across shoe laces because it was something that is light, it’s cheap, people never complain about. And if you can angle it and position it the right way, they’re all selling the same thing, it’s more about the package that you put on it and the feeling that people get from that.

Ryan Stewart: So I started Laces Out, just started a website on WordPress. Ended up not doing Amazon FBA for a lot of reasons, mainly because of the fact that I’m a marketer, and it’s hard to build a brand on Amazon. Although, in hindsight, seeing what’s happening on Amazon now and where we’re going, I wish I would have stuck with Amazon or put more effort into it. But I just had so much success with content marketing for Laces Out, just building likes and viral content.

Ryan Stewart: As an expert marketer, when you walk into a space where there’s not a lot of marketing taking place, you can grow something very quickly. And it happened again, actually, I was interim CMO of this cannabis product company like eight months ago, and the same thing. There’s not a lot of marketing knowledge in that space, it’s still blossoming, but a ton of online volume.

Ryan Stewart: But anyways, with Laces Out, just a lot of content marketing outreach, not even like the craziest type of stuff. I was building infographics and submitting them and they were going viral on like the biggest sneaker websites, which have a tremendous reach, an unimaginable reach and how viral that culture is, and Instagram and all that stuff. So it was a fun project, but I was sourcing my own products from China. I had to dedicate one of my employees to do all the shipping and stuff. It was just burning up too much resource. It was making good money.

Phil Singleton: That’s the type of business starts to be like, “Okay….”

Ryan Stewart: Yeah, exactly. I didn’t want to deal with the logistics of it. It was great because it was making me like $5,000 to $10,000 of pure profit, passive income a month. But it just got to the point where I was like, “You know what, it’s still taking too much of my time and attention, and I don’t want to be dealing with stuff that …” That’s what it would cap out at. I couldn’t get that to be a million dollar business. It would never happen. And I realize now, the older I get, the less time that I have to do these things, I want to be focused on projects that have a much higher return, much higher cap rate. So I ended up selling that just on Empire Flippers, made a good amount of money off it. But I just unloaded that, and then a case study.

website business brokers

Phil Singleton: Ultimate, exactly. That’s so awesome to have that and just be like. This gets kind of to the question I was going to ask. I literally had a client come in here the other day. He’s not actually a client yet, but he’s thinking that he’s here. He’s thinking about moving to another state, taking the business and rebuilding it. So he’s thinking about selling this business that he has. He ranks really well. It’s kind of a home services of thing. He has tons of leads, so many that he can’t even do them all. So his business is limited by his ability to scale. So he thinks the business is worth about what I think it is. He had somebody offer him 30 or 50 grand for it. And I was like, “Dude, I will pay you 50 grand right now for this business.”

Ryan Stewart: Yeah, for sure.

Phil Singleton: I’ll pay you 100 grand for it. I’ll write you a check right now. That got me thinking, “Gosh, it is awesome to do what you’ve done.” One is because I feel like I’m in, you probably feel the same way, I feel more so because I’m older than you, but I feel like I’m in my prime earning years, and I’ve got this ability to help folks out. There’s got to be a different way to scale out some knowledge. If I can do it passively and spend a little bit of time and get a big chunk of the upside and really help these businesses grow.

Phil Singleton: But then on the flip side, I’m like, “I don’t really know anything about window treatments and blinds and stuff like that. How am I going to find somebody to run it. Maybe I get 50%. Am I going to go down a black hole and start pulling me away from the 60 plus clients that I got right now that I’m responsible for lead generation for and all?” So what are your thoughts on that? Because I think it would be cool to say, “Hey, I’m a business owner just like you. I bought this company. And now I’ve had it grow four or five times because we put a proper marketing and digital plan in.” How awesome is that and then you get more leads on top of that? On the other hand, is this is something where I’m just like, “Man, you step into something, maybe you get pulled into it and it starts hurting your main business.” Thoughts on that? This is the counsel because I’m literally thinking about this right now, and I want somebody to either talk me into it or talk me out of it.

Ryan Stewart: I’m always the type of person that’s going to talk you into it. I truly believe that we, like I said and like you just said, we have a skill set that when you really break it down of who really knows what they’re doing and not just can talk about it, but can put in a plan to execute and then build a business on the back of it. We’re in a small percentage of people. So yes, I think you should highly consider it depending on pricing obviously.

Ryan Stewart: And I think at the very least what you could do is, forget the business, you could just sell the leads. You could sell those leads for 250 a pop. I sell a lot of my SEO leads, to be honest with you, to people because I get a lot of them that are just not qualified for. So I just push them off, and I make more money off that. Lead selling is a very legitimate … Especially if you have control over all the advertising, all the marketing, you could even set up like a chat bot to pre-qualify them all, you know what I’m saying? Sell them for even more.

Phil Singleton: Awesome.

Ryan Stewart: That’s a true passive play. And then of course you could obviously set up a business on the back of it too, which can then take off and grow in its own right because you’re going to get its. It’s just going to grow aside from just the SEO play that you have going on with it. So I think yes to both.

Phil Singleton: You have so many things to hang your hat on that it’s not really … Like the Laces Out thing is really cool. But I could just see from a local play being able to say, “I own. I bought it. Of course I can do this for you. Look at this business.”

Ryan Stewart: Absolutely. So I say yes.

The $10,000 Question

Phil Singleton: Awesome. All right, so then let’s get into the final question here, the $10,000 question, tomorrow you wake up, you got all your knowledge, but nobody knows who you are, you’ve got none of the digital assets that you have right now, but all your knowledge and skill set. What would you literally start doing tomorrow? Because you’re in Miami, you got bills to pay, to start using the $10,000 that we give you to start rebuild your empire. Would you the website, would you start … Where would you start?

Ryan Stewart: Yeah, I mean, I would start, if I’m selling anything, I can sell whatever I want, or just doesn’t matter ?

Phil Singleton: Yes, anything.

Ryan Stewart: Okay. I would just throw up a landing page. I would do a couple of videos and just advertise on them. I would do like a webinar video that really shows in-depth process of whatever it is that I’m selling. This is, of course, assuming it’s still SEO or consulting or….

Phil Singleton: Could be any of that.

Ryan Stewart: Anything, whatever it may be. The webinar model still works, and just with video. You don’t even need a website. That’s kind of the thing. I would spend 90% of the money on (digital) advertising, just promotion, promotion, promotion, promotion.

Phil Singleton: You’d get something nice and clean up and start promoting and you would.

Ryan Stewart: Yes, just capturing leads and then just giving them a phone and closing it. You know what I mean? It’s still something that not enough … Especially the SEO community, I think that’s one of the reasons why you see me so much is because nobody advertises, man. People publish a blog post and expect it to … They’ll do manual outreach to people to get them to promote it, but it’s like that’s such a waste of time. It’s so much effort time wise that it’s still money coming out of your pocket as opposed to just like put it on Facebook.

Phil Singleton: Was that a big step for you? You say you’re an introvert, but you’re awesome. You’re very charismatic. You got a lot of stuff. You’re very articulate. You get a lot of information out. Was there a point where you’re just like, “Uh.” Because I’m okay at speaking, I’m not great, I’m good enough to get the knowledge out, but it drains the hell … I got to take a nap after I do like. Just physically drains me.

Ryan Stewart: I 100% agree. After I speak, I have to go up to the hotel room and lay down, no joke, for like 45 minutes.

Phil Singleton: That’s an introvert. You can’t help it. It’s just physical.

Ryan Stewart: Yeah, dude, it’s exhausting. And yes, I feel the same way now, but I look at it this way, and it’s still painful. I am really trying to push myself to do more on Instagram because even that is a wide open playing field for people in the business space. The influencers and fitness people had their day, it’s kind of spammed out, but it’s just now people are swinging, everyone’s on Instagram, and everyone’s checking it. Not so much Facebook anymore. But Instagram is different than Twitter. It’s different than YouTube. YouTube is more informational. Instagram is a lot more personal. And I have a lot of trouble showing that side of my life just because it makes me super uncomfortable.

Ryan Stewart: I am not the type of person that’s going to have my cell phone out, my food everywhere. I can’t do it. It’s just not who I am, and it goes against how I feel. But it’s the same thing when I started doing the YouTube stuff, blogging, all this stuff. Because you do have to put yourself out there and people are going to criticize you. They’re going to talk. They’re going to … It’s just what happens when you put yourself out there.

Just ask yourself: If I do this, is it going to help the business?

– Ryan Stewart

Ryan Stewart: And it’s not even the whole, “Don’t worry what other people think, you shouldn’t.” It’s more about a very simple choice. Just ask yourself, “If I do this, is it going to help the business?” Absolutely, then if not, then I’m standing in my own way. So it becomes a very simple decision for me to just dive all in and do it.

Phil Singleton: Then you get used to it, you get a little bit numb to it. It’s kind of like just doing your routine, I guess.

Ryan Stewart: Of course.

Phil Singleton: Get it over with.

Ryan Stewart: I can film a video like nothing, but still when I try to do something on Instagram … Like I have this video filmed that I want to promote on Instagram, but I’m not comfortable posting it. I’m just not.

Phil Singleton: Wow.

Ryan Stewart: It’s just too personal for me there. But I have it on YouTube and Facebook and I couldn’t care less. There’s something … So yeah, in that sense, it’s yeah.

Ryan Stewart’s New Projects

Phil Singleton: Okay, sweet man. All right, let’s wrap it up here. Just let us know what your hot on, where we can find you. Obviously, you just talked about Instagram, so that’s a great place. We’ll make sure that we get those links up. But what else, what are your projects? Where can we follow you? What else are you promoting right now?

Ryan Stewart: Yep. So just really two things right now, the agency From the Future. We pretty much only do enterprise SEO in U.S. projects, so big eCom websites, massive B to B, SaaS companies, stuff like that. And then Theblueprint.Training, that’s basically where I’m funneling all of my advanced knowledge, really more SEO … It’s an SEO agency in a box is what I’m calling it. It’s everything from client onboarding to technical SEO to monthly reporting all done for you, videos, templates, everything that you need. So that’s kind of what I just launched last two weeks ago now, and I’m pushing that really hard.

Phil Singleton: Oh, yeah. You got obviously, your audience is probably dying for that…

Ryan Stewart: Yeah, it’s been going well.

seo course

Phil Singleton: Especially that process, a lot of the guys are probably like myself who have been able to build up decent sized business without embarrassingly enough having decent processes in house. A lot of us are flying by the seat of our pants. We do really well, we start choking on whatever the number of clients is you start choking on. Then you have to be able to come back and be able to scale it to get bigger. And that’s painful. Obviously came natural to you for a lot of reasons, but I think that’s a big weakness in SEO in general, especially with the ones that have raw talent to see some of this stuff. But definitely, definitely check that one out.

Phil Singleton: The other thing I was going to … I’m going a little bit off topic there. Oh, on the SEO front, the people that are ideal for this program, what are they? Are they more enterprise play? Is this guys local, that are shooting local? Is it all over the place? What’s the typical-

Ryan Stewart: Yeah, it’s SEO agencies and consultants. I really am broad that way, pretty broad. If you’re doing over like five million a year as an agency, you don’t really need it. You could definitely use it. Basically what I’m trying to position as is like internal training for agencies. So our agency goes through it all the time. We hire someone new and then we have to rely on our existing staff to pull them off billable work to train someone. We’re literally burning money. And then the SEO processes training. And it’s pretty advanced too. You walk into it like I’m not going to tell you what a canonical tag, you have to know what it is. It’s not an intro course.

Phil Singleton: I saw the tools that were up there. It was like all the ones that I use, SEMRush, Ahrefs, Google Search Console, and some other ones….Screaming Frog.

Ryan Stewart: So it’s really great, that’s true, exactly. It’s built for people that are doing five to ten K a month all the way up to like 100K a month, but are having trouble, just like you said, getting to that next step. A lot of people just hit natural plateaus when they get to certain points of the business. I did. Everyone does. So it’s meant for those people to kind of like guide them through that process and get to that three to five to ten million as an agency.

Phil Singleton: So cool, dude. We could go on and on. I love talking shop and especially if somebody’s been through it and still is in. We’re going to put all of this great stuff up in the show notes. You’ve been an awesome guest. This is already one of my all-time favorites. We’re going to put a couple links summary. You can send me a couple of your favorite blog posts up on WEBRIS and a couple other ones that I’m thinking of right now, From the Future, whatever else. Send us a couple things that you got, and we’ll make sure we include those in the show notes too. Really appreciate, this has been awesome.

Ryan Stewart: Yeah, happy to be here.

Redefining Success: The Million-Dollar One-Person Business

Elaine Pofeldt is a freelance writer, editor, and ghost writer who has recently worked with publications including The Economist, Fortune, Money, Inc., CNBC, Crain’s New York Business, Forbes, and many others. Entrepreneurship, small business, and careers are her specialties. She is also the author of a new book, which we’re going to talk about today, The Million-Dollar One-Person Business.

She helps corporate, non-profit, and private clients write and edit proposals, newsletters, blogs, RFPs, reports, white papers, academic articles, and books. Elaine also helps her online editorial clients create inviting high-traffic websites, drawing on her experience on excuse me, Fsb.com to five million page views a month and the number two site in Google after the USSBA. She founded and ran a national businessman competition for fortune, small business and now advises clients on creating and improving contest on their own. She experienced appearing as a guest on TV outlets such as MSNBC and CNN.

You can connect with Elaine and learn more about her and her awesome book here:

 

Meet Elaine Pofeldt

Phil Singleton: Hi Elaine and welcome to the show.

Elaine Pofeldt: Thank you so much Phil great to be here.

Phil Singleton: Alright this is going to be really exciting because as we were talking in th green room so to speak, before we started recording, Elaine wrote one of my favorite books of last year, million dollar one person business book reviewprobably going to be of all time called The Million-Dollar One-Person Business. So as I was explaining to her when we first connected this morning, I think it’s one of the most awesome book titles that I’ve ever heard of and it’s one that’s inspired me I think the first time in my life to buy a book within seconds of actually hearing the title.

So I can’t wait to actually dig into this because as an agency owner and somebody who aspires for this kind of business model I really thought this was exciting and I love the content of the book. But before we actually dive into that I would just like to hear Elaine about your background and those first steps out of school or what have you that got you into the business role.

Elaine Pofeldt: Oh, sure Phil. Well I came into the business world by accident. I started out as a general assignment reporter after I graduated from college. I was an English major and I worked in Jersey City in Patterson, New Jersey for small newspapers covering police stories, city hall that type of thing. Then after about seven years of that I started to feel a little burned out by all the bad news. So I wanted to do something light and fun and I got a job as a fashion features editor at Women’s Wear Daily.

It couldn’t be much more different than my beat of covering the Hudson County Jail. But it was fun and it introduced me to the business world. I found that I really liked learning about the business side of the fashion businesses even more than covering a runway show. So I wound up going in that direction and I had the opportunity to go to Success Magazine which covers entrepreneurship and then I went from there to fortune small business online which is what you were referring to FSB.com and then I went over to fortune small business magazine for a while. Then they brought me back to the website to help build the traffic some more.

Elaine Pofeldt: Then 11 years ago I went freelance, so now I’ve written for a variety of business publications all in that area of entrepreneurship and careers.

Phil Singleton: Excellent. Thank you for giving us that background and it sounds like at one point whatever that was 11 or 12 years ago you went into the business side of covering stories and content and have never gone back.

Elaine Pofeldt: Oh, absolutely. Well the coverage at fortune small business was very much focused on the business side and even some of the stuff I did at Women’s Wear Daily was and Success Magazine of course was also I formed my own business 11 years ago. So I now have the understanding of what it takes to stay in business for a pretty long time and you manage cash flow and all the nitty gritty aspects of running a business that you learn on the job when you start your own business.

Phil Singleton: The one thing I’m going to ask, I want to dig into the book here really in a couple minutes. But since we already started talking about this a little bit you’ve been writing, you’ve been a journalist you’ve been a writer for some time. The Internet’s changed a lot. I’m assuming some of the things when you first got into the writing world so to speak maybe a little bit more emphasis on print publications and then maybe that shifted some. Can you talk a little bit about how that changed for you personally in the way you write and where it gets published and distributed.

Elaine Pofeldt: Oh, its changed completely Phil. You’re completely right about that. The whole journalism industry has been disrupted. It’s had good and bad changes I would say. I came up in a system that was print oriented and there was a level of rigor to journalism that I think a lot of younger journalists had not experienced. I’ll give you an example. If I wrote a story for fortune small business there might be a line editor that would edit it. A top editor of the magazine and three copy editors before it ever went out to the public and so you have a lot of great training that came with the job. Now what’s happened a lot is papers are basically gone. A lot of stuff has shifted online. But with that shift it doesn’t seem like the industry has been able to really find a good profit model. So where I think a lot of publications have gone is to go ultra lean in terms of staffing.

Elaine Pofeldt: So there are times when I’m publishing things where maybe there’s an editor somewhere in the organization who’s looking at it just to make sure there’s nothing glaring, but I don’t have any contact with that editor on a daily basis. So it’s very much you’re sort of out there winging it and you do your best. Luckily I do have very good training and I know how to do things. But that’s what’s evolved so you have to bring that quality control to your own business and do the fact checking even if they don’t ask you to do it and that sort of thing. Sometimes I have sources who laugh and say I’m the only person who ever contacts them with fact checks and I think that’s probably because there are not that many internships anymore. There are very few staff jobs anymore and there are few opportunities for young journalists who are entering the field now to really learn how to do things in that way. Fortunately there are still a lot of very experienced people doing it so they bring that training to the work.

Elaine Pofeldt: In terms of where I get published it’s definitely much more online these days. In the last year or two you’re on the cutting edge Phil of a big trend which is podcasting which has been a wonderful trend because it’s brought a lot of news waste to the whole discussion of whatever topic it is, in this case entrepreneurship. I find that a lot of the hosts of business podcasts are business people like yourself and they ask very, very smart questions. So I really enjoyed seeing that. Now on one hand maybe if a radio veteran listens to them there might be some things that they look at that they would do differently because they have a certain training. Similar to how I feel with written journalism. But from my point of view as somebody who is part of this whole dialect I’m so excited to see all of these new voices and some of them maybe would have not had the inroad to the media. It’s very much a who you know business that goes way back to your early career and it can be hard to break into. So it’s nice that people can just break in if they have something to say and they can build an audience, I love it.

Phil Singleton: Totally fascinating and as you’re talking I want to get right to the book as soon as we can but I have another question I just have to ask you because of your background and how you’ve seen this shift online and the way that you’re explaining how things have changed being published today. It also makes me think of somebody who for myself often times we’re trying to do for our clients is almost treat their websites as a marketing and a publishing platform. So some of the things that I’m doing writing my own books now, I’m publishing. I’ve got a podcast for many of the reasons you explained.

Phil Singleton: But I actually started to produce our own local magazine. So but one of the things I’ve noticed as looking at content as a publishing platform is how tricky it is for some of these online media sites or online publications where you’ve got this gray area. I don’t know what you want to call it. I’d love to hear your take on this where and I’ve seen this, I’ve been reading about it a little bit more as I get into this publishing model about native content. You had the print model before. There was so much checking, so many tiers as you were mentioning before and it was physically separate. But you know now when we publish things online you’re part of a whole system of things. There’s online ads, there’s people commenting. There’s things being advertised within editorial content. There’s people trying to get an SEO or a Google advantage and get links and stuff. So it’s so much more complex just I think in the way things are presented and distributed in the type of technology that’s embedded in new content, versus the simple way of there was literally a physical firewall on content.

Elaine Pofeldt: Oh, yeah.

Phil Singleton: In a newspaper or magazine. So can you comment on that kind of stuff because this is where it really fascinates me the things I’ve never really thought about before because I’m coming at this as an SEO person and here now I’m trying to play with my own almost media publishing platform. I’m seeing this myself and it’s really making me think, wow I can see how people struggle a little bit with the advertising model because it does get a little bit tricky.

Elaine Pofeldt: Oh, it does. Well when I see the publications doing is they’ll clearly label it. I’m talking about bigger publications they label it when it’s advertising. I write some content and what I notice is they label it. It’ll say this is our custom content and a lot of them have gotten very sophisticated about it so they won’t just publish anything like the old editorials of the past. Just aren’t done where it was a pay to play kind of thing. It’s very much when I do it I have a lot of discretion as to who to interview. There are people in the stories that did not pay anybody at the magazine. The publication for an ad that they don’t discuss that with me if an ad was purchased or not. They want me to go ahead and do the best possible story because what the advertisers are realizing is no one wants to read some hokey ad you know? They will read a good article that’s topical and related to what the advertiser is in the middle of doing. So maybe somebody might buy an ad. There still are some print publications.

Elaine Pofeldt: The way I see this done is they’ll buy a full page ad somewhere in the publication and then that supports a section on a certain topic, let’s say it was accounting and then as the writer I’ll be asked to submit story ideas about accounting, similar to being a journalist. It’s almost exactly the same. Then go out and report it. It supports the section itself but there’s nobody leaning on and you saying you have to say this.

Phil Singleton: I mean that’s great to know at least from the bigger and more popular ones and of course they’ve got the reputations and things. But you do see I mean gosh some of these ones that offer a sponsor are clearly marked. I think some of these smart advertisers that are doing it, they’re not producing the good ones anyway. Aren’t producing advert tutorial type content. It’s actually they’re getting it…if the sponsor post even it’s not written by a journalist. It’s provided and information provided by a company. It’s almost like the really good ones are truly trying to provide really good educational content that has value versus something that’s so promotional.

Elaine Pofeldt: Yeah you’re right.

Phil Singleton: Some of those look like they’re so good and then sometimes they’re so good it’s almost like wow is this editorial content or did somebody pay for that? So I pay attention to it a lot more. It’s great to get your insight.

Elaine Pofeldt: Well it’s interesting that you raise that as far as the commentary and that sort of thing. What I found is for awhile a lot of publications were so happy to get the content that they had pretty relaxed standards and then what happened I guess it was the beginning of 2018 when the Huffington Post kicked all the contributors off the site. It seemed like that touched off a wave of scrutiny where I saw a lot of the publications were cracking down on ad content basically. It wasn’t necessarily to “advertisingy” it was more just boring.
Phil Singleton: Lower quality stuff.

Elaine Pofeldt: Yeah, not true thought leadership and they really raised the bar in terms of thought leadership and I do some editorial work for people who have been trying to get published and they don’t understand why the publication won’t take it. Now I was a senior editor so I worked with some of the toughest editors in business trials so I know why the editors are taking something or not taking it. I can give them some guidance. Now some people don’t want to take that guidance. They just want to say whatever they think is interesting without regard to that feedback. But a lot of people say oh, you know what I just don’t know this field so thank you so much for that feedback and they will adapt their content to make it readable. That’s why it’s so similar to what you see on the journalism side because it has to be. They don’t want to junk up their sites with poor content.

Elaine Pofeldt: Now with smaller publications sometimes they have less sophistication. Not always there are some excellent very small publications. But. We see that very, very blurry line it’s usually going to be the smaller ones that maybe don’t have an experienced staff or don’t have the budget to bring that rigor to the whole process, similar to on the editorial side.

Phil Singleton: Interesting. That does sound like you mentioned, I mean the Huffington Post thing it seems like a lot of these larger online media sites really did look at their contributor platform and like you say some of them shut things down completely and redid them. Looked at them with new eyes and then changed and it sounds like it went through almost like a quality upevil and kind of got focus back on the basics and now we’re all getting a lot better quality from the sites. There was great stuff on Huffington Post that got passed around and I’m sure there were probably some diamonds in the rough that came from little known people that once in awhile got something that went viral. But it got really spammy. So I’m being more harsh. You’re being nice about it, but some of these things really got spammy. A few of them got called out probably from people trying to abuse it from a Google standpoint and it just gets stuff in there for either exposure or traffic or back links and then that got really cleaned up which was good because on some of these sites I think it was really starting to become a problem and people are putting content up for the wrong reasons and it dilutes everything.

Elaine Pofeldt: Well you’re a professional too in the field so I can look at things too and I can see when something is put up for that reason. It junks up the whole site. In terms of protecting their brand I think a lot of the publication said we really don’t have enough of a team to police this to the level we need to so it’s easier just to get everybody off the platform and only have paid contributors. It kind of went full circle in a way.

Phil Singleton: Right I’m so happy it did because it got a little crazy for a few years there and it really cleaned up. Thank you for your perspective on that I really want to get to the content and the topic that really excited to reach out and so happy to have you on to discuss it today which is your book. I thought, the first thing I said like I mentioned at the top and then earlier is the title is just so awesome. Probably personally the best book title I’ve ever seen from a business standpoint because it probably just spoke to me and how I’ve always wanted to run my business, what I’ve aspired to. One of the other things I just personally see in terms of technology and maybe some of the agency and digital type businesses that are run because a lot of things we’ve seen I want to give you a little bit of a preface about why I think your book is important to me and how it resonated with me and kind of dig into some of the things that you wrote about and why you wrote about them.

Revenues, Employee Counts & Venture Capital Do Not Equal Success

Phil Singleton: But, one of the things I see personally is all of us that are in business these days are trying to figure out ways to elevate our authority and trust and expertise and get that out there. One of the things a lot of businesses do especially startups but agencies and other digital types of companies as well is trying to put stats out there which are a lot of times they are related to things that I think don’t necessarily relate to true business success. So, let me give you an example of that. You hear a lot of times people here in my town other places that explain to you they’re being really successful because the number of people they’re hiring. Or because they’re revenue is X amount. But at the end of the day it really relates to the way businesses today are and how profitable are you or how much of that revenue are you bringing in that actually you get to take home.

Elaine Pofeldt: Exactly, yeah.

Phil Singleton: Right? A person or agency that makes a million or two million dollars a year but the owner’s only bringing down 100,000 dollars net is a lot different than a mutual person that we know Chris Parker he’s got a whole website business where he brings in around a million dollars a year and it’s just him and his wife. So obviously his take home is huge. Big difference in lifestyle and these kind of things and I think your book speaks a lot to that kind of a new lean business that’s highly mobile and allows you to live a lifestyle and go out while still bringing in large revenues and being able to take home a lot of it. To me that’s what really excites me about business in general ’cause I know there’s a lot of agencies out there that’ll say oh, we do three million dollars in sales but we’ve got 100 employees. Well, you’re struggling. I know I’ve seen this happen all the time in my town and other ones where you start building up the beast, the number sounds really good but then it gets really tough and it gets to be a lot of heartaches in there sometimes.

The average small business in the United States their leading income is less than 50,000 dollars.

Elaine Pofeldt: Well I’m glad you brought that up. I’m sorry.

Phil Singleton: Sorry?

Elaine Pofeldt: That’s such an important topic and I’m really glad you brought that up because with the title sometimes people say why did you focus on revenue and the reason I did was because when you look at the average small business in the United States their leading income is less than 50,000 dollars. So they don’t even have the revenue to be making much of a profit or to live on honestly depending on where you live in the country. I mean there are lower cost places where 50,000 dollars goes a lot longer way than it would say in Manhattan, New York. But I want to get people thinking more about moving the needle on the revenue but you also do have to move it profitably and that can take some figuring out. That’s why there’s so many case studies in the book because there’s not really a cookie cutter as you know because you run a business and I know the same thing. You have to experiment. What worked one year doesn’t work quite as well the next year because something changes with technology in your field or whatever it may be. Something comes more labor intensive, less labor intensive. So it’s a constantly changing thing.

Elaine Pofeldt: But what you take home is important as far as profits too. There’s a point where you get to where the business can be so profitable that you could be paying out so much in taxes that it’s hard to regress. So sometimes what business owners do is make a decision to actually try to lower the profits a little bit so they’re not paying so much in taxes by reinvesting the business or maybe they have a spouse who is helping out with the bookkeeping but they’re not paying that person so they might hire the spouse and then put the money that the spouse earns into a solo 401k or something like that. Rather an IRA I should say. So sometimes you have to look at those types of things too because it’s complicated the whole thing with profit. What people have on paper isn’t necessarily what they’re really capable of bringing home in the business. They may be in a high tax state and make certain decisions that would actually depress the profits because they almost have to as a matter of survival.

Phil Singleton: Excellent. Let’s take a couple of steps back though in terms of what motivated you to write on this topic? I mean obviously you come from business we talked about your journey as a journalist. But this particular topic I mean how did it, why is it exciting to you? Why is it important and how did it come about?

Elaine Pofeldt: I write a blog for Forbes and I was down to my last couple of days of the month, I write five posts a month and I ran out of ideas so I started Googling for inspiration and I came across some statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau for the non employer business. Now that’s a wonky term for businesses that have no W-2 employees. So the owners might work there but no one else. So it could be one person, generally it is one person. Sometimes it might be a couple of spouses. Friends, that sort of business. Anyway I noticed that the numbers of those that were bringing in between one and 2.49 million were going up and they rose 35 percent as of between 2011 and 2016. That was the most recent year we had the census data for and I thought that was pretty interesting. I got very curious about what they were doing and I started looking at the census data and I was able to see which industries they were in.

Elaine Pofeldt: So I published a post about this and then people said well we need to know a little more about this. I need to start a million dollar one person business. Are they doing E-commerce what are they selling and I couldn’t find this out from the census bureau because they won’t give you that type of personal information about the people who fill out the form. So I wrote to the readers and I said if you’re one of these businesses please write to me and tell me what you’re doing because people are curious. So they wrote and I wrote this post about five of them and went very viral. It was I think 340,000 page views now.

Although their numbers are going up  (one-person business millionaires) they’re still a needle in a haystack.

Phil Singleton: Nice.

Elaine Pofeldt: It touched off a whole series of profiles as I found out about these folks. Although their numbers are going up they’re still a needle in a haystack. There’s about 36,000 of them in the whole country out of maybe 25 million non employer businesses. So these are the Olympic athletes-

Phil Singleton: Unicorns, yeah.

Elaine Pofeldt: Yeah. So there are people who just don’t want people to know what revenue they get. They don’t want to go public with that for privacy reasons. All various concerns they might have. So you can’t always get them to do an interview. But the ones that would do an interview I profiled and then over time an agent noticed these and said this would be a great book and it was kind of in the back of my mind that in these posts it was hard to bring them altogether and because I was the only person writing these types of profiles I had some observations about what they had in common that I could share at a high level and go a little deeper into the profiles than you would with a blog post. So that was how the book came about and it came out last January.

Phil Singleton: It’s so awesome too. I remember when I got it, got on Amazon came the next day or whatever it is. I basically tore through it. I started actually reading it again around just slower this time. I didn’t bring it to the recording studio here. It’s sitting on my nightstand still. I’m halfway through it, the slow read. I know we talked about some of the people that you profiled and at least in general. I know there’s towards the beginning I think there’s a couple but there’s at least one E-commerce one in there for sure. You explained some of the backgrounds on some of them an overview. I obviously want get people to… I think everybody should buy the book and read it especially if you’re… I think this is the dream of a lot of people these days is to have something, a lean company that can run from home, home part time and be able to do things to where you can have the freedom to have a lifestyle and actually be able to experience life to the extent that you can.

Phil Singleton: I know that all the people in the book are like that, it’s like a child and they’re doing it 24/7 and even if they are or claim they have a lifestyle they are probably working a lot harder sometimes on the book than they are playing. But I still like our audience to hear a little bit more about the diversity or the types of businesses that were in there.

Types Of One-Person Millionaire Business Owners

Elaine Pofeldt: Oh sure Phil. Well there are six main categories I focused on and just for a little background there are some categories where people tend to go over five million. But I did not focus on those because they’re still niche and require very specific talents and skills. One of them is finance, so they’re hedge fund managers. I didn’t do that because how many people can become a hedge fund manager. That’s very sophisticated skill. Then there are people like actors, actresses people with very unique talents. I guess we could all go to acting school but we might not make five million dollars a year as an actor. So I eliminated those and I focused on the ones that I felt were most relevant to the general worker out there. So the categories were E-commerce and I’ll give you some specific people after I run through this quick list.

Elaine Pofeldt: Manufacturing which sounds really odd for a one person business but it’s actually growing. Informational content creation, so that would be things like people who have webinars. It could be people have a teachable course any kind of informational product. There’s professional services so this could be attorneys, accountants, engineers, architects who can command high prices basically for what they do, they’re that good. Personal services firms, so this could be people like fitness coaches, nutritionists. Often these types of folks will have contractors working under them. They have a methodology that they teach and then they train other people to use it. I had one person who was an eyebrow stylist who trained other eyebrow stylists to use his method in the book. So it could be something like that.

Cory Binsfield – Real Estate

Elaine Pofeldt: Then there’s real estate. There is one entrepreneur I profiled Cory Binsfield who started out buying a single duplex. He was a financial planner but he was just getting his business off the ground. Reinvested the money from that duplex, the rent money into the next property and now 20 years later he’s got 116 properties, or he did as of the time in the book. He’s probably up to like 120 by now is my guess and may throw off one million dollars in revenue. That’s something that’s accessible to all. So I’ll give you a few examples.

Camille and Ben Arneberg – eCommerce

Elaine Pofeldt: In terms of eCommerce there are Camille and Ben Arneberg they started a business called Willow & Everett it’s an Amazon store and they sell housewares and they’re a young couple. They had recently gotten married. He was in the military and she worked in corporate social sustainability but she felt like she was not really a corporate person even though she cared about social sustainability. So they wanted to create a business they could do together. What they did first was they’re both very athletic. She’s also a personal trainer. They said let’s do something related to our shared interest in running. So they started selling running compression sleeves and they decided after a short time it wasn’t really selling what they’re inventory was. So they decided to change gears, they thought about their other interests and they like to entertain people and buy cool coffee mugs and wine decanters and that sort of thing.

So they ordered I think it was like six or seven products from a private label manufacturer in India and put them up on Amazon. They had about a 5,000 dollar budget and they had saved while they were working and they rationalized that a college course would cost that much. So they were going to view this almost as a college course, even if they lost every single dollar they would have learned something, they were committed to being entrepreneurs and once they put them up there they did a horse race. Some of them didn’t sell as well as others so they discounted the ones that did not sell and reinvested that money into the inventory that was selling and ordered more. That was how they built that business. Now they’ve expanded to several other businesses. They’re selling baby products on one site and pet products on another one. They just sold a business. They kick started that business with another couple.

EThey sold maps for people who use standup desks so they don’t get blood clots by failing to shift and that one was just acquired by somebody Richard Jailichandra who was the Chairman of Click Bank, a giant marketplace for informational products. He’s trying to acquire about 100 million dollar one person businesses actually. So they were acquired by him. So that’s one example.

Megan Telpner – Professional / Personal Services

Another example is Megan Telpner she’s a nutritionist. She was working in advertising in her 20s went on a trip to Africa, got very sick. She was diagnosed with Crones Disease and she didn’t like the treatments that were being given to people with Crones disease and she wanted to heal herself with health and wellness and nutrition. She went back to school, became a nutritionist and stopped working in advertising altogether and she started blogging about her views on nutrition which had a very strong point of view that not everybody cared about the role of nutrition and healing and over four years she was on a panel like this. She blogged every single day and built up a following, very gradually through hard work. These are not overnight success stories.

They started selling a product called the three day green smoothie fast and this was 11 years ago so it was a pdf file basically. She sold it to her email list but her email list was not an email list in a CRM system it was just the people in her email. So this 10 dollar product she saw people bought it so she sold it to some more people. This led to other products like courses, eventually and then she started something called the academy of culinary nutrition where she trains people in her entire system of cooking. Along the way she wrote two cookbooks for Random House called the undiet, easy ways to cook nutritious foods. So that was how she built her business. Now she’s also gotten into coaching other people in their businesses, people like nutritionists who are trying to build their business. So she’s an example of professional service, personal services. But it’s a hybrid because she’s selling informational products.

Rebecca Krones &  Luis Zevallos – Manufacturing

Elaine Pofeldt: We say informational products people think it’s going to be a webinar that then tries to sell you some other thing and what I found with the ones that have sustainable business it’s a real value in terms of what they sell. She has a big following among nutritionists and they really trust her as far as what she’s teaching about nutrition. So I think that’s really important is a real value there. Then another example would be Rebecca Krones and her husband Luis Zevallos, they are in food manufacturing. They sell honey online and they’re doing what a lot of people are doing with manufacturing which is using a co packer. They had the good fortune in that her father is a beekeeper and he sells the bees to commercial farms but he wasn’t doing anything with the honey and she did some research and she found that a lot of people were worried about the origins of their honey at one point there was a scare that adult aerated honey was on the market. It has bad things in it and so she knew where the honey came from and so they put up a site for tropical trader factory foods and they didn’t want the responsibility of bottling up the honey and putting the labels on.

Elaine Pofeldt: So they hired a firm called a co packer that does all of that so that it can be sold commercially. There was another woman I came across after I wrote the book who her product is called Booby Bars it’s a nutrition bar for new moms to keep up their energy level and produce milk for their babies. She was a neonatal intensive care nurse. No business experience whatsoever. She was a mother of three, she was running this volunteer group helping the moms and she started baking these bars for the women and they were so popular that the women started offering to pay her because she was making them in such a large volume. You know how people always say you should turn that into a business. This is really one place where she did and she went to a co packer because as you scale up you really can’t make the stuff in your kitchen because of food safety rules.

Elaine Pofeldt: She was able to get the product into Walmart. (Laughs).

Phil Singleton: There it is, there’s your big break.

Elaine Pofeldt: And she told yeah, you’re a marketer and branding guy. She was worried about the name that Walmart would find it too direct but she said they didn’t even bat an eye. They were fine with it and she went on Shark Tank and she’s done really great with the business. So there are a lot of ways you can do these things.

The Millionaire Next Door

Phil Singleton: Yeah so fascinating the diversity and like you say that’s my favorite thing about the book is it’s in some ways one of my very favorite books but before yours is on the list now too is The Millionaire Next Door.

Elaine Pofeldt: I love that book.

Phil Singleton: You know about how the things that you perceive them to be aren’t and how people live high consumption of lifestyles. Some of that I felt some of that, I don’t know if you intended it, but I feel like when I read some of the stories and the way people are they’re hardworking people that are just trying to go after passions and then they’ve got experience and all this kind of thing for people trust them and they’re just working hard. They’re probably also a lot of them are probably just inherently smart people and maybe low consumption I’m guessing. But it felt like that kind of similar type of small business where you had that blue collar work ethic in terms of them really putting the time and effort behind it and then just turning it into something real. Was the feeling that I took away from some of it. I don’t know that that was necessarily your intention but it really struck me there and I thought that was really interesting.

Elaine Pofeldt: That’s interesting that you took that away. I agree with you about that. I think these folks are very hardworking. They’re self motivated. You have to be to run a successful one person business ’cause there’s not a boss there cracking the whistle. Every once and awhile someone will post something like what do I do about motivation. And if you really are not motivated it’s very hard to run a one person business. You can get external motivation by getting a coach or a system of accountability around you, similar to people with exercise right? You have people that are just at the gym at five in the morning no matter what it could be a blizzard. Then you have other people have a personal trainer. They both maybe equally as fit, but these folks have put their motivated themselves or they’ve put the systems in place with a coach or someone like that to keep them on track. It’s not always easy to run a business. These are not get rich quick type of people.

Phil Singleton: Right.

Elaine Pofeldt: I’m not interested in telling those stories because they are not sustainable and I’m more interested in people creating lasting value. Giving something back to the community. It doesn’t mean they have to be almost a nonprofit. But giving something to their customers that makes their customer’s lives better I think is really important ’cause we’re at a point in business where it’s easy not to go in that direction. We see a lot of bad examples of business. So I don’t want to tell those stories. I want to tell the ones of the people that are doing things right and that are working hard.

Phil Singleton: You have to have two pieces of it too. You can’t work hard on something, make a successful profitable business and still on your lifestyle and be making bad decision where you’re maybe squandering the fortune that you’re making. Even to some extent I mean just running my own business there’s some people that take chances with some of the reinvestment money that they make and you got to basically be doing all that stuff which to me then feeds into that work ethic. These people really must be able to not only work hard and be pretty smart in terms of how they’re making money but also kind of how they’re saving and reinvesting in their business. You almost have to have all of those pieces. I think, I’m guessing I don’t have research on it.

Elaine Pofeldt: You do. There is a certain amount of R & D that they do. Some of them like Alan Walton in the book who runs a spy camera store online called SpyGuy uses profit for his accounting and I noticed that a number of them do that where you put your profit away first and you set aside a certain amount of money to do the reinvestment because that’s one difference between these businesses and the sort of scrambling freelancer is that there is a strategy behind it. The owner does step back a little bit and think about okay what is the purpose of this business. Is the business helping me in my life’s biggest goals? Do I have time for my family? I started this business so I have time. Do I actually have it? They set back a little bit and think about the purpose of why they’re doing it all and they do realize the importance of keeping it fresh and sustainable. So you have to do R & D. Even I do R & D in my writing and contact business because there’s new stuff coming out all the time. You can’t know if things are going to work until you try them.

Elaine Pofeldt: Sometimes it costs you money.

Phil Singleton: Right, right.

Elaine Pofeldt: That’s another thing I have to point out which is sometimes folks are thinking about leaving their job to start a business and they can maybe do it without risking any money. These folks have really taken the risk out of things to some extent because they’ll start the business on the side and they do small experiments to test what worked.

Phil Singleton: Was that pretty common that they had the foot kind of in the other boat a little bit and grew it enough to step away?

Elaine Pofeldt: It’s pretty common. Not in all cases. A lot depends on the stage of life. As people who have kids and dependents and things like that often have to start it on the side because it’s very hard to save up enough money to create the perfect circumstances to start a business. The average American has trouble saving 400 dollars, right? So when you think about six months of living expenses, six months of business expenses all the conventional advice which is correct, I mean who can do it. So the way around that is you start it on the side and as it builds up revenue you finally can jump from the job and go into it full time. But you do have to be willing to risk some money because there is some risk to running a business and if you want zero risk at all in your professional life and financial life this is not for you.

Common Success Trait: Ambitious, Self-Educated Risk Takers

Elaine Pofeldt: It’s for people who are willing to take very smart calculated bets on themselves. Ben and Camille they were committed to learning what it took to being entrepreneurs. They knew they wanted to be entrepreneurs. So even if these products didn’t sell they were willing to bet that 5,000 dollars. Now a lot of people don’t have 5,000 dollars but over time you could save up or you could have fewer products if you wanted to be in E-commerce. But there’s going to be certain elements of people might not buy it. That’s the thing you have to be mentally prepared for. It can be stressful for people who are used to going to their job and then in two weeks they get a paycheck whether or not their efforts were successful they would get paid. If they’re really unsuccessful for awhile they might get fired. But basically the money is guaranteed, it’s not in a business.

Elaine Pofeldt: But these are folks who thrive on that and they understand it. But I wouldn’t say they’re extreme risk takers. They’re not like Elon Musk. They’re kind of mildly risk takers and that’s why I thought their stories were so appealing cause there are a lot of people in corporate jobs who are just starting businesses who have that same profile who don’t necessarily don’t want to be the highest rollers in town. But they are willing to take a little gamble on their good idea and on the chance to have the better lifestyle and maybe they’ll decide how much they’re willing to risk. Similar to like if you want to Las Vegas you decide alright that’s it. I’m going to bet this much and that’s it. They kind of take that attitude and then they can go into it with the spirit of fun. But they do put things in place so that they don’t have to end it prematurely.

Elaine Pofeldt: Sometimes it might be that they have a spouse or life partner who has an income coming in or I’ve seen cases where people downsize their lifestyle. I’ve seen this with older entrepreneurs. Sometimes they own a home and now their kids are out of the house and they want to start a business and they might sell the house and move into a rental. Then they have money to invest in a business. I didn’t focus in this business in this book too much on things like franchises. But there actually was one franchise case study in there too so that’s an option too. In that case it was a uni-shipper’s franchise.

Phil Singleton: Yeah sometimes that’s even a bigger up front gamble because it’s a bigger investment.

Elaine Pofeldt: But you can do it. You can get to one million and what he did was he used an outsource back office service so he didn’t have to have all the employees that you would normally have in a franchise and then he eventually liked the back office service so much he acquired it. So there are ways even with that you can learn from these entrepreneurs about how to keep things very lean. But going back to your point about the Millionaire Next Door these are not wasters of money. They’re not people who have to drive a Maserati. I’m not saying anything against someone who wants a Maserati if you like sports cars, but they’re not living for other people. They’re living for who they are and what they want and sometimes they do go on nice trips or I haven’t been to many of their homes so maybe they have really big homes. I don’t know, but the impression I have gotten from them is that their lifestyle focus and they want to build a sustainable lifestyle.

Phil Singleton: Fascinating. I want to wrap this up with just, I should know this but I don’t, first book that I read from you. Was this your first book or?

Elaine Pofeldt: This is my first book under my own name. I’m a ghost writer so I’ve written a handful of books for other people but this is the only one I can really mention here.

Phil Singleton: So just out of curiosity any things that you’ve learned? I’ve written a couple you went through a traditional publisher which is great. We did ours through several different partnerships that I had co-authors and what not. Direct publishing, but I’m just curious. Seems like every time I’ve gone through a book writing process I learn something new. Is there some things that you’ve learned that you would have done differently just in the process? I’m just kind of curious just as somebody myself might write another book again and I know every time I’ve gone through one I was like wow that was a good idea I wish I would have done that a little differently. Just curious if you had anything that you learned from it that you might do differently in the next book?

Elaine Pofeldt: You know there’s always something that you learn you’re so right about that Phil. One thing I found was very valuable was I had events around the book where I would bring together the entrepreneurs from the book and do panel discussions. Sometimes I would get invited to do key notes and I did do some. But I really I liked the more collective approach. So folks would come and get to meet the people from the book and that was extremely popular. Sometimes we’d have two or three hundred people at the events.

Phil Singleton: Wow, that’s great.

Elaine Pofeldt: I think there was something really nice about it not being filtered completely through me. So people could see that these are real people just like themselves and hear it in their voice and there would always be somebody…if you’re a person in the audience maybe you would relate to one person in particular a little more because of the same industry. They’re your same age or your both women or whatever you have in common with them. That was really something that I enjoyed and I thought was very positive for the book and I would definitely do again. I didn’t know to do that when I did the ghost written books with the ghost writing clients but it’s something that I’m now suggesting to others that they do that if they have a case study driven book.

Phil Singleton: Right.

Elaine Pofeldt: The real people plus you can do it regionally. So I did it in San Francisco, Toronto, Chicago, well I didn’t have a panel in New Orleans but I did go. I did it in Austin, Texas. I’m in the New York area do I did it there and I wound up keeping in touch with a lot of people I met at the events. Thinking of something like that that you could do that really brings it to life and makes it about not just you but the subjects of the book. To me that was my biggest takeaway. That that was very, very helpful and I would also record these things in Facebook lives so it enabled me to bring that message to people around the world who would never be able to come to an event in New York. If they were India or somewhere like that necessarily. But they could at least learn the message of the book and there’s always more to say on the topic. So I was never worried that once people were exposed to it then they’d never read the book. It’s a topic that’s evolving by the minute. Like we didn’t even know people could do this a few years ago.

Phil Singleton: Right.

Elaine Pofeldt: So you learn a whole lot in the next few years.

Phil Singleton: It’s interesting ’cause I think at the beginning of the book or somewhere towards the beginning its like there’s only a matter of time before there’s the billion dollar one person company.

Elaine Pofeldt: Yeah that’s evaluation. Yeah it was funny that was a VC and I was talking with someone else about this yesterday, who knows? I mean I don’t know where it could go, but I’m hearing about bigger and bigger revenue businesses. We’ll see what the profits are as you pointed out in the beginning. But just the fact that they can raise the revenue so much without a big team. They often have a team of contractors and that sort of thing. But that’s to me that’s very freeing for people ’cause there’s a lot of people that don’t like managing people. They just, they’re fine with managing-

Phil Singleton: Well this gets so much easier now to build a system and then specifically hire people out as a gig or a contractor as part of your system for something specific. So you build this machine up and it’s like yeah I can totally see it. As long as it doesn’t strip all the profit away from it and you find a way to add a lot of value and then be able to decide and stop somebody from building something really big and scalable.

Elaine Pofeldt: Oh, no and these folks are very good at hiring contractors. One of the things I learned from Sol Orwell who’s one of the entrepreneurs, he pays a lot for his web designer. I don’t remember if he was on or off the record what he pays her so I don’t want to say it but it was what you would consider pretty high fee. But he found that really good people can get done in one hour what it’s going to take a mediocre person six or seven hours to do. Excuse me, and so that’s one rule of thumb that I’ve used in my business. I try to find the best professionals I can even if their hourly rate is high because these folks are so busy they don’t want to pad the bill anyway. They’ll bill you for one hour and in that hour all the knowledge that they bring is so valuable that it’s not worth trying to find somebody who’s charging the rock bottom price who’s not going to be as good generally.

Connect with Elaine Pofedlt (and Please Buy Her Book)

Phil Singleton: Great, great, great advice because I think we’ve all learned the hard way. Shopping around ends up wasting a lot of time and gives you a heartache. If you just find the experts and then pay them a fair rate you’re likely to get the best return on that. Let’s since we’re coming to the end of this time wise, I’d love to tell our audience one where we can buy your book and two, where the best place is to follow you online for your content.

Elaine Pofeldt: Sure, well the book is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, all major book stores. So I hope you do enjoy it and they can reach me at TheMillionDollarOnePersonBusiness.com It’s the title .com. No numbers, all spelled out in words or they can write to me on LinkedIn or Twitter under my full name. I’m sure it’s in the show notes so I won’t spell it out it’s a mouthful. But I do invite people to write to me, I really love hearing from other people in ultra lean businesses and I do write back and I love hearing about what your questions are because it helps me as I’m writing to become a better journalist and think about what were the unanswered questions I didn’t address so I can address them the next time.

Phil Singleton: So great Elaine thank you so much for spending the time. It was absolutely fascinating. Thanks for writing such a great book and then for agreeing to reach out on LinkedIn come to our show and share such great insight and some of your background with us. Personally I thought this was one of my favorite ones so I really appreciate it.

Elaine Pofeldt: Awe, thank you so much this was great. You ask really awesome questions. It was really a pleasure.

Phil Singleton: Alright. We’ll see you soon.

Elaine Pofeldt: Thank you.

Podcast Booking Services for SEO Link Building and More

For those of you that follow me or my blog, you’ve noticed that I’ve been really into podcasting over the last year or so.

For many years [insert eyeball roll] I thought of podcasting as a fringe marketing tactic.

Because if I wasn’t listening to podcasts, no one else was either.

Boy was I wrong.

Podcasting is huge and has been surging in popularity.

I’ve never had any digital marketing tactic produce as much bang-for-the buck as I have with a strategic podcast guest booking program.

– Phil Singleton

Then I stumbled onto what I still think is the single biggest bang-for-the-buck tactic in all of SEO and content marketing: Podcast Interview Marketing

Is being booked on other people’s established podcasts really that much better than other link building techniques like guest posting?

Uh, yeah.

It’s so good in fact, that established a separate company call Podcast Bookers to deliver a unique type of podcast booking service design to extract more SEO value than run-of -the-mill booking services.

podcast booking services

Down below, you will fine a 90 minute video that we use to training new clients to 10x their return on their podcast guesting campaigns.

But First, What is Podcast Guesting vs Podcast Hosting?

Podcast guesting is when you are booked as a guest expert on someone else’s podcast.

This blog post is primarily about the benefits on being booked as a guest on other people’s and influencer’s established shows, but I truly think to get the full benefit, that you should also have your own show (like I do).

Here is a Summary List of Podcast Booking Service Benefits

  • New audience access
  • Easier than guest blogging
  • Less spammy than guest blogging
  • Personal connection with influencer (host)
  • High production value content
  • More shareable and “launchable” content
  • Social cross-amplification on steroids
  • Free long form blog posts (via transcripts)
  • Increase dwell time on pages (via embedded audio)
  • “As Seen On” content for trust
  • Online reviews (see video below for how)
  • Sales (yes you can get clients)
  • Backlinks from host’s episode show notes pages
  • More “ripple” backlinks from episode syndication on high authority podcast directories
  • New podcast subscribers (if you have your own show)
  • Authority / personal brand building (you are introduced as a subject matter expert for Pete’s sake!)

How Much are Podcast Book Services Worth?

Well, let’s look at the value of what you can get from podcast interview marketing.

This is a spreadsheet that is included in the video below, that assigns a market value to benefits according to retail rates we were able to find for individual marketing service that bring the same value.

Most notably, backlink building services and blogger outreach service cost more for similar quality links, yet you get NONE of the other benefits!

 

podcast link building services

 

10x Better Than Guest Posting or Buying Backlinks

Here’s the video.

It’s long, around 90 minutes.

But it has all the secret sauce.

You see, getting booked on podcasts is great, but if you don’t have an SEO mindset, then you’ll loose 90% of the value from your campaign.

 

Podcast Booking Services Training Transcript

Phil Singleton: Hello everybody, I’m Phil Singleton and welcome to the Podcast Bookers, podcast guest training and certification course. My name is Phil Singleton. I’m going to walk you through a training session that I think is going to help you get way more benefit out of guesting, that is getting booked as a guest on established podcast shows, which is what Podcast Bookers is all about. A lot of folks out there provide podcast booking services, but they do so in a one dimensional way. And that is, “I’m going to get you booked on a show. You’re going to get access to this audience.”

Well, that is a great reason to get booked on podcast shows, but if you think of it from an SEO standpoint and all the additional benefits you can get out of this, you can increase your ROI by 10 times or more. And I want to give you some training and some tips and tactics on how you can get way more benefit out of a guesting campaign to the point where really, for me, I realized last year that I’ve been in SEO and Internet marketing for over 12 years. This is the most powerful form of SEO in terms of an SEO tactic or even a content marketing tactic that I’ve ever seen.

I’ve never had anything produce as much of a bang for the buck as I have with a strategic guest booking program. I’ve done this successfully for myself. I’ve been on well over 50 shows in the last 12 months, probably approaching 60. I’ve booked tens of thousands of dollars in new business, but that’s not why I got involved with it. I got involved with it because I saw a lot of benefits from an SEO and content marketing standpoint. I’m going to walk through each one of those so that you can enjoy some of the benefits that I have in terms of using this service and helping to grow your business, your authority and your own personal branding. So let’s get to it.

I actually had this slide up last, and I’m going to show you it again at the end, but I thought, “Hey, let me show this up at the beginning because I think this really will show to people when I say that there’s a lot of value to this, I actually mean there’s a lot of monetary value that we can prove.” And I’ve been trying to figure out ways even for myself to try and figure out and determine how we can increase ROI and if there’s any value that we can attach to these individual benefits that are actually occurring as part of a strategic guesting program.

And you’re going to see things as we walk through the presentation and the course where each one of these individual benefits like a high quality backlink, we know has a retail value of say at least $150 per link that you would get off of say, a show notes page, which you will see later. And if you really get on some of these bigger, higher authority sites and larger shows over the course of a successful longer term grassroots podcast guesting campaign, you can get on some that are going to give you in terms of a retail value, maybe be worth $1,000 or $2,000 a link more in terms of what other actual link building companies are charging for similar quality link, and get a lot more benefits on top of that.

But we’re going to break it down in links in terms of online reviews that you can gain out of this, building your online reputation, the benefits of personal branding and using guesting as one of the quickest routes to authority in building a personal brand. The actual value of having a whole show dedicated to you versus what an advertiser pays for a 60 or a 120 second advertisement on a podcast. So there’s a tremendous amount of value to the extent that an entire show that you’re going to be on is basically dedicated to you where you have advertisers just try and get in there and sneak on there for seconds, if not maybe a minute or two and pay top dollar just to get access to the same audience that you’re getting for your guesting campaign.

If you’re smart about this, like I think that we’ve been, you can actually get very high quality blog posts out of these efforts that can rank really highly if you go about them strategically and doing the right way. You get all sorts of social media benefits out of this, and you can actually get, as I have new clients, which to me has been the gravy. I would do it without it. I don’t put a value on this where, if you’re going in one of our guest blogging programs for say the four shows per month, you’re paying about $165 a show. You’re at least getting $600 worth of value out of each show that you get booked on. And on some of the bigger ones, if you get lucky as, as you do this, your ability to get pitched on bigger and better shows grows.

Really, the sky’s the limit in terms of value in what they can bring to you. But I think the value is much higher than $600 a show, and could be as high as 10 or 20 times that depending on the shows that you get booked on and how your performance and your value add is. We’re going to get back to this value summary at the very end of it because I’m going to try and prove this case. But I wanted you to see this ahead of time. It’s like, hey, when you get involved with this, we’re talking about real money and real value here. This is a very high powered, very effective content marketing campaign.

And I wouldn’t be doing it because anything that I do these days, I’m trying to make sure that I can get a 10 or 20x return on it, and this is certainly one of those tactics that can do that if you do it strategically. If you do it in a one dimensional way, you’re not going to get much benefit. You’ll get some benefit out, but you’re not going to get through the returns that I think I’ve seen over the last 12 months. So let’s get into some background here. First of all, the first thing that I get from a lot of people who are thinking about podcast guesting I think the wrong way is, “What kind of shows can you get me on? I’m I going to get on the big shows?” Like you’re going to hit this one grand slam that’s going to change your life.

…you’ve got to think of a podcast guesting campaign in terms of a virtual speaking tour or almost like a political town hall strategy where you are going out and seeing smaller groups of people.

It’s totally not like that. That’s the myth. If you’re looking, trying to get on a big home run, Tim Robbins show or Tim Ferriss or some other famous Tim out there that’s got hundreds of thousands, if not millions of listeners, it’s just not going to happen because these guys have their own booking staffs. They’re booked out for months, if not years. And they don’t have any problem getting guests that are a lot more famous than you or I are type of a thing. But that’s not really what the benefit of this type of program is. We’re trying to go after established and targeted shows that are within your niche. So you’ve got to think of a podcast guesting campaign in terms of a virtual speaking tour or almost like a political town hall strategy where you are going out and seeing smaller groups of people.

If you think of, if you’ve ever gone out and given a presentation to a group of 50 or 100 people in a room, that’s a pretty good showing. We’re doing that a lot of times in a guesting campaign where some of these smaller shows might only have 50 or 100 or 1,000 or a few thousand listeners, but they’re very targeted, they’re very dedicated and loyal to the host. This is one of the things I think I took for granted in the very beginning, a show host that allows you access to their trusted audience is a very special thing that should not be taken for granted because the people listening in and subscribing to the show trust the host and their content very much, and you just by nature of being guested or having the ability to access it, is a great privilege to be able to be introduced by somebody that these folks really trust.

So getting to talk to somebody for 20 or 30 or 40 minutes, and for somebody that’s actually giving you their seal of approval, that’s the host, great privilege. And something that I think that I probably took a little bit for granted in the beginning. But you need to think about this as a town hall strategy, a virtual speaking tour, and something where you’re trying to build up a grassroots campaign and that you’re getting in front of potentially a lot of your targeted ideal clients and building this up on a weekly or if you’re doing this once or twice a month basis, and there’s a lot of power to doing it this way. But if you’re thinking about, “Hey, I’m going to sign up, what kind of shows are you going to get me on?”

You’re looking at this the wrong way because there’s many other benefits that you’re going to get from being guested on a show and get access on a trusted website with a trusted audience than just trying to get that one time. “Oh, hope I get on a show with lots of people on it. It’s going to change my life,” type of thing. It just doesn’t work like that. So podcast, guesting, let’s talk about some of the obvious benefits, some of the ones that are going to back up maybe that chart that I showed you at the beginning. The first thing, I think first and foremost, again, like we talked about in the last slide, you’re getting access to a highly engaged audience.

Podcast consumers are people that are going to be advanced buyers and ones that want to be educated and learn. And you’re getting access to these folks. Again, they trust the host, trust the show, and trust the website that you’re going to be, and the social media channel that you’re going to eventually be marketed on. But one of the things that I think is absolutely beautiful about this whole type of a campaign is that once you’re prepared and have an idea of what you want to pitch and how you want to educate people in you’re guesting program, the host is doing all the work for you.

You’re showing up prepared, and giving your best 20 or 30 minutes. And after the recording’s done, you say goodbye, and the host is going to do all this work for you to promote your content and drive people back to that page that they’re going to create for you and potentially even your own website or your own gift, your own call to action. So if you think about some popular forms of content marketing, again, I’m an SEO person, and I think one of the things that people still do in terms of trying to get in terms of a content marketing tactic is going to be something called guest posting, and that’s essentially writing blog posts and getting them posted on high quality authority websites where you, again, you can get access to another audience.

And then hopefully earn an organic backlink back to your website that gives you, that Google’s going to pay attention for, and essentially give you credit and work into the algorithm. And over the course of doing it, over weeks and months. You get enough of these links that are going to contribute to better search engine rankings as well. That is a very, very hard, labor-intensive process where you have to pay somebody to create some great content on your behalf, or you have to spend a lot of time on your behalf to do it, then go out and pitch websites that are getting pitched all the time. This tactics becoming very tired and spamming. And it takes a lot of outreach.

And essentially what you’re doing when you give a blog post, the production value’s a lot lower because it’s just ‘a blog post’ that you wrote and you hopefully got a link back into it. Maybe you have a bio credit at the end of it, but it doesn’t have the production value that being guested on a show is going to give you. So a podcast show has a lot higher production value and is a lot more shareable, and it’s almost got this many launchable piece of content than you would get in, say, another form of content, like a guest post, which is really just almost like a raw post in and of itself, that doesn’t quite have the production value or the chance to have as much of engagement or sharing as again, being a guest on somebody else’s show is.

I mentioned, this is a very popular entrepreneurial website called Entrepreneurs on Fire, hosted by John Lee Dumas. He’s one of the top guys in the podcasting space. So if you already have your own podcast show, you already know John, you’ve probably listened to some of his podcasts. You might have consumed some of his content or taken some of his advice in terms of how to run your own podcast. But it’s really interesting when I talked about guest posting here is, if you look on John’s site, if you were to go out and say, “Hey man, I wish I could maybe find a way to get some exposure on John’s side through on Entrepreneurs on Fire, through a guest posting program.

What you see, what he has in a lot of websites have these days that have any type of authority or value to them. He’s saying, “We do not accept guest posts on Entrepreneurs on Fire. We do not contribute in any other types of blogs around.” You see, another popular form of content marketing is trying to approach influencers and trying to build up a round up post where you’ve got several influencers that provide a quote and aggregating that together and doing maybe a quote for your own website. Again, this is one of those tired things, there’s lots of outreach for, and people are getting like John than any other mini influencer or influencer that’s out there is getting approached, to try and get some content that people can leverage.

This just goes to show you that it’s a very tired tactic and hard to penetrate harder and harder to penetrate good websites and get exposure on them through a guest blogging campaign. Of course, podcast guesting is a lot different, and we’re going to show you this, but I just wanted to give you an example here of how hard a traditional form of link building and content marketing is through guest blogging. And I talked about production value. One of the things a lot of the hosts are going to go out of their way to do is, when you spend time with them, 20 or 30 minutes, a lot of them, I would say that the majority of them are going to go out and create or they’ve got some a graphic template that they use specifically for sharing.

Well, they’re really nice. They go through the effort of customizing them, they’ll get your headshot, they’ll put your name on it, and put a custom title of the show. They’ll send this out to you during the show, and also place it on the show notes page on their website, which we’ll talk about later. You don’t normally see this thing anywhere else, but again, you’re going and spending a half hour with somebody, and they’re going to go through the effort of promoting. And part of the promotion is, a lot of them come up with custom graphics for you that they’re going to use to promote in their social media channels, and maybe even their email newsletters and on their website.

This is just proof to show you and say, “Hey look, here’s another benefit of guesting campaign.” A lot of these times in each and every show, you’re going to have a custom graphic that the host is going to do for you or a member of their team. More benefits of podcast guesting. One of the biggest things and one of the reasons I got involved with it is because pretty much every established show out there, the way that they traditionally are going to distribute a new show that you’re going to be on, is they’re going to interview you, they’re going to record it, then they’re going to, mostly if they do it the right way, I think in terms of the podcast host, is they’re going to create a show notes page that has an embedded audio in it, and also has some notes and maybe even a transcription of the show along with the graphic that we saw on the slide before.

Within the show notes page, it’s on the host website on your episode that you’re going to be on. They’re typically going to ask you, “How can we reach you?” And include links to your website or websites, links to a special offer, or a call to action that you should have for the show, links back to your social media or any other resource that you’ve mentioned during the show. So huge benefit, if you think about this in terms of making sure that you mentioned your website and/or websites so that they get mentioned in the show notes and in almost all cases the host is going to link back to the resources that you mentioned there. So you have to make sure that you mention all the links that you want to mention in the show.

Massive SEO value here because those links are eventually going to be picked up by the Google crawlers, and you’re going to get a ‘SEO points’ for these because they’re coming from high quality websites that are going to be in or around your niche. There’s also another huge benefit that I stumbled on after doing the first couple of shows is, you can actually use your guesting program to accumulate reviews for yourself, for your own business. Now again, I’ve been on over 50 shows, probably closer to 60 now. And every case I go after an ask the host, “How was I in terms of sharing knowledge and being a guest on your show? Would you be willing to give me a review on Google or on LinkedIn,” or in some other place where I can capture the chance for them to review the knowledge that I share. And there’s multiple ones there because reviews are huge for many different reasons.

You’re spending that period of time with a host, great way to stack up your reviews in something I think is probably worth the value all by itself, just to the extent that you can get more reviews for your company or business or yourself as part of a guesting campaign. So you can also do something, this relates to reviews in terms of you’re building your own reputation, or in terms of maybe helping a client out that has reputation management issues. When you think about the way a show, a podcast show is structured, the whole show, the whole episode is about you, the guest, you the expert. They’re inviting somebody that has special knowledge to come onto the show to educate their audience or enlightened them with some a new tip or a tactic or some background inspirational story.

Well, because the show is about you, the title often has your name in it. The URL often has your name in it. The content on the show notes page on the host website has your name mentioned multiple times on it. Well, that helps you in terms of reputation management because you will see as you get on shows that have a higher and higher authority, that those pages will start to rank when somebody searches for your name, or if you’re doing this on behalf of a client. And if you’ve got somebody that has reputation management issues, you can leverage this in the background as a way to build up those show notes page on multiple podcasts, and build those up onto the first page for name searches, your own or somebody else’s, and start to push down maybe some of that content or pages where you might be dealing with some reputation management issues from the past.

It’s something that you can help to improve your reputation management terms of rankings right now, but more importantly, for somebody like myself, I’m thinking, I’ve got a way to stack the deck against maybe some reputation things that happen in the future. So the more shows you get on and the better you’re able to snowball yourself onto higher and higher authority, and more shows that have more reach and more authority, the more those show notes page on those sites are going to rank for your name when you rank them. So it’s a great way to stack the search engine result pages, the SERPs, with content from other websites that has your name on it.

Of course, you’re going to get … We’re moving on here into traffic. This is one of the things I think people think in the one dimensional sense. Yes, you get that one launch, you’re going to get access to listeners. You’re going to get traffic to your website show on the day of that launch or when it gets shared. Absolute benefit on this, a lot of times it can lead to direct sales if you’ve done a good job soft pitching what you do, educating and getting people to trust you on the show. It’s just a matter of numbers. The more shows that you do, eventually you’re going to resonate with one of the listeners, and they’re going to contact you and say, “This guy understands me. I need a service like this. I need to talk to somebody like this.”

And all of a sudden. you get a chance to suck them into your funnel or your education process that can actually lead to a sale. We’re going to talk about free blog post, something that I absolutely love and have leveraged to a huge extent for my own businesses. The personal branding thing on this piece is something we need to talk about, and we can’t underestimate the importance of it. A big part of being a successful marketer for your business or as a professional marketer is we’re all trying to differentiate ourselves in terms of building a personal brand and building our own authority as a leader in the space. Well, I think podcast guesting on shows that are in and around your niche is the fastest way for people to build authority.

There’s just nothing else like it because there’s no way to spend this little amount of time to reach an engaged audience. And then again, have somebody blast your name and call you an expert and showcase you on their website and on their show. Nothing really does that like a podcast guesting campaign. The list goes on and on, but even from just going through quick list of bullets, hopefully I’m making a case where I think this is the most powerful SEO tactic that I’ve seen in 12 years. It’s not the only thing that you should be doing, but there’s nothing else in terms of the amount of time that you spend going into any kind of campaign where you can get this many wins for this little time. There’s just nothing else that touches it.

I want to get into the actual value that you’re going to get from certain things that happen as a result of a guesting program. Well, the first thing that you just can’t argue with is when we get you booked or when you get yourself booked, let’s say for example on an established podcast, most of these websites that have podcasts, established podcasts are already advanced marketers, so if they’re doing their own podcast show, they’re likely doing lots of other things that have benefited the website by the time that you get on the show. Just about every show that we see, and that’s an established show that has 50 episodes or more, usually has a minimum DA value of 20 or more domain.

DA is Domain Authority, and this is a third party metrics that was developed by SEO industry leader, Moz. That’s essentially a measure of a website’s domain authority. What it tells us is how valuable a website in terms of the quality of other links that are pointing to its website. If you have a website that’s been around and you’ve have other people from higher authority websites linking back to your website, you tend that have a higher and higher domain authority. And when a domain authority reaches 20 and higher, the value of getting a link from that website on a DA 20 site and hire has much more SEO value to you.

There are a lot of companies, SEO companies out there that sell out link outreach or link building services, and the way they charge you for that is based on domain authority. So they’ll go out and say, “How is Moz domain authority of 20 to 30?” And if we actually click out of here and going to go do like a search and search Moz domain authority. If I look on this tool here and open the … If I go to my website, kcwebdesigner.com and do a search, you’ll see that my website has a domain authority of 43 out of 100, which is quite decent, high enough for a small business, a web design website.

It’s got a page authority of 52. So I’m way higher than 20, I’m not as high as you’d see like maybe a CNN that might be 80 or 90, but we’re not as low as a website that might be a zero or a 10 that doesn’t do any blogging, hasn’t been around that time or just has an inactive website. But just from a link building value … Scroll back down to where I was, hoops, you get a lot of website and SEO companies that are selling links services, are going to sell you the placement for 100 and 50 to $200, and in most cases even higher. Most of the ones that seeing right now are like 197 to 200 to $300 for a link placement, just for the link by itself.

Just by nature of you getting guested on a show and mentioning your website or your websites if you’ve a couple of different websites and getting that link placed on the host website and in the show notes page, you’re getting a minimum value most of the time of 150 to $200. So again, if we just look at this from an SEO standpoint and say you’re going through Podcast Bookers and we’ve got a $650 a month campaign for you, where you’re essentially paying about $160 per show, just the link that you get as part of this campaign is worth the value that you’re paying to be on the show. And there’s tons more value you’re going to see, but the link building value into the pure SEO value based on what the retail rates for link building as a one dimensional tactic is worth the fee that you pay on your own, or even if you do this on your own direct access.

But the whole point of it is you can assign or you can see monetary value for each length that you’re getting. So this is not a hidden value, this is something that’s out there. There’s proven fee rates and fee structures out there that will charge you for getting a link from a third party website. And we know based on what other people charge that getting a link from an established show is going to bring you each length that you get. It’s going to get you a minimum value of $150 per length that you get as a result of that show notes page. I’ll give an example here. I was on, again, I like you mentioning this, but I’ve been on many podcast shows for the last 12 months.

This is an interesting site, Active Campaign, some of you guys may have heard of it, professional marketers have, small businesses, maybe not so much, but this is a famous email driven CRM. A lots of people are using it, very fast growth, high tech company that a lot of marketers and small businesses use. Very high domain authority of 75, probably higher because I did this screenshot awhile ago, but a domain of authority of 75 … And this is an interesting backstory here because when I actually wrote the book, SEO for Growth with John Jantsch, who’s actually have got, of course a lot more influence and authority than I have, we actually approached these guys to say, “Hey, we’ve done this.”

The CEO, actually give us an endorsement for the book. I said, “Would you mind as part of our content marketing strategy for the book, SEO for Growth, can we offer you a guest post on the website?” And we were rejected. They wouldn’t let us give them a guest post for their blog on the site because they weren’t doing it, didn’t have a program, it wasn’t in the … or maybe they just didn’t, it’s just their policy not to accept it. But anyway, over a year or so ago when we went with a guest post, then they said no. As part of the podcast guesting campaign, when my booker approached them and said, “Would you have Phil Singleton as a guest to talk about SEO in the show?”

Here I found a way to get onto the website and now as a guest on the show, I’ve been able to get the same benefit, if not a ton more by being a guest. Now again, the post that we were going to put up was just a random educational posts that didn’t have a whole lot of information about me. On this show that I was on, you can see actually the whole episode title is, Finding Success Using SEO with Phil Singleton, a web designer, an SEO expert, Phil Singleton. So they’re actually saying, and by them it’s not me saying I’m an expert. It’s the third party in the host that’s reaffirming your personal branding and your authority.

When somebody else says it, especially when it’s coming from a higher domain authority site with a larger audience like Active Campaign has, a lot more weight and a lot more value because all of a sudden the people that are hearing and seeing this as it gets shared, they’re saying that I’m the expert, not me. Huge branding and authority building that goes along with this. And again, it’s not just a post that I was able to get onto their website with an author bio, the whole episode is about me and it’s mentioned in a couple of different sites. The same things are going to happen to you as you get guested on other folks’ podcast shows.

But the reason I pulled this up is to say, “Hey, I purposely,” and you should be doing this too as part of your campaign. “I purposely ahead of time know what sites I want to mention.” Of course these are all sites that belong to me, that I own or co-own. Each one of these cases, I mentioned Podcast Bookers, I mentioned SEO for Growth, which is a book that I wrote. I mentioned kcwebdesigner.com, which is my services website for internet marketing and website building. But if you look at this and break it down, a DA 70 has a minimum value per link of $750 a site, I got three epic, epic links on here that if you multiply them together, very conservatively just by getting booked on this one show, I got over $2,000 worth of value.

If I were trying to go out and try and have somebody else do this for me, I would’ve had to pay them two, two and a half grand to get this kind of value. Again, just this one show. I got these ‘free’ as part of it, in addition to me getting shared in their email, on their social media, on their iTunes and episode, within their website, on the show notes page. In addition to getting a whole page written up about me with the full transcript on it, I also got three high valuable links. So this was an absolute home run, but it just goes to show you that there’s real value within the links that get shown in the show notes pages.

You have to be very deliberate and you have to make sure that you have great calls to action so that people are going to want to push them to those pages. And that you mention them and you’re purposeful in how you mention your website, and maybe you mention it a couple of different times. These hosts is going to give you several opportunities, especially at the end to mention where people can contact you, but be deliberate about where you’re sitting. If you have multiple websites, if you got a book website, if you’ve got another a funnel website you can send people to, mention. Find a way to naturally mentioned them throughout the dialogue. So you’re doing so in a non “salesy” way, but one that incentivizes the host to add those resource links on the show notes page when it’s published.

Extracting the most wins. Again, I think I’m talking about this and as you’re seeing this and as you’re saying, “Okay, what shows can I get on the beginning?” And now we’re breaking this down saying, Hey, it’s a lot more than that. It’s about leveraging the host website and making sure that you’re deliberate about the things you talk about and the things that get posted up on the show notes page.” One thing you want to think about this whole process and you can see that I’ve done this as we’re halfway through this presentation, is you want to make sure that you keep what we would consider like a Google or an SEO mindset.

Make sure that as you go through and you’re getting guests on other people’s shows that you’re thinking about the words and the phrases that you’re saying. You’re thinking about how can I make sure that this next show that I’m going to be on before I talk to somebody, after I talk to somebody, the actual content and things that I say within the show that I’m thinking about things in a way they’re going to benefit me in multiple ways and not just about that one dimensional, “Hey, I’m going to get a shot at … A certain group of subscribers are going to listen to me when the show launches.” And that’s it.

And then as you’re thinking about it, and as you see shows get launched and as you see things get shared and as you see show notes pages from the host get published, think about ways that you can learn and tweak and repeat it so that you can continue to get more and more value out of your guesting campaign, because you will get better at it over time, you will build up more influence. You will think about ways, and this is a really important thing that I want at the end to get more value out of it. Let’s go through and break these things down one at a time.

First thing, equipment. You got to have great and decent equipment. You’re going to have a Skype account. Go to Skype.com, they’re free, get yourself one. Over 50% of the podcast shows that you’re going to be on, are going to want to record you on Skype. Some of them will do it on third party recording systems like Zoom or Zencastr, but you’re going to have to have a Skype account because virtually half or more people are going to want to contact you through your PC, through a headset on a Skype account. If you don’t have any kind of headset, get one now. One of the ones that most podcasts show are going to recommend that you get is a Logitech ClearChat.

Go do an Amazon search on this, they’re all over the place. I think they cost anywhere from 20 to maybe $35. But if you do H390, it’s a USB connection, plug it right into your laptop or your desktop, you sound really great and the hosts are going to appreciate that. And you’re going to sound really good too when you’re on it for a very low cost. Don’t try and do it through your speaker, I wouldn’t try, and if you can help it through just the earbuds on a phone, invest in a ClearChat headset if you want to bust out and do a little more research and get something a little bit better.

There’s lots of stuff out there, but I’m going to recommend that virtually for all of our clients anyway, that they invest in the Logitech ClearChat H390. And make sure you’re in a really quiet space because like I said, if you’re in a place, don’t try and do this in a coffee shop. Don’t try and meet with your podcast host in a noisy office space or in a conference room. Give him your full attention, if they know that you’re in a quiet space, they’re going to know that you really thought about this and you appreciate the drama show. Give the host your full attention, don’t try and do emails or any other type of work that you’re going to do on this.

You won’t do it in the beginning because you’ll probably be amped up, but as you do more and more of these, you get more comfortable, and there might be some more motivation to try and sneak in some work. But your headset, they’re going to pick up everything and they’re going to hear those mouse clicks and they’re really not going to be very appreciative. And again, I just want to reiterate, getting on somebody’s show whether they have 50 or 5,000 or 50,000 subscribers is a true privilege, and you want to take advantage and not take that for granted, and take advantage of every opportunity that you get and give your full attention.

Number two, your website is key, it has to be up to date and it has to look good. Lots of people that contact us on Podcast Bookers, they’re not going to consider you. If they’re good, they’re going to look at you. We’ll talk about how we present you and having a one sheet so you look professional, but your website has to be up to date, has to look good. You have to be proud of it because nobody wants … The hosts are going to try and drive people to your social media channels and your website. And if they can’t be proud of where they’re going to send you to, then they’re going to be less likely to want to book you on your show.

But not only that, you’re going to lose a huge opportunity, if you don’t have a great website, it’s got great content, great call to action, and it looks at least professional. I’m not talking about an award winning website, but there’s a lot of people that just have a half bake website with not a lot of great content on it. You’re going to lose a huge conversion opportunity, you’re going to lose that opportunity for a sale if somebody come is driven to their website and like, “Who is this person? They don’t even have their own website up. But here they are being pitched or speaking to me as an expert and their website really looks like it was done 15 years ago and they haven’t invested in any kind of content.”

I think before you consider any content marketing campaign, especially a guesting campaign, you’re going to want to make sure your website is in order, because I can guarantee you, the host is going to take a look at them, and anybody that’s interested in what you have to say is going to come back to that and you’re going to lose a real opportunity if you don’t have your site set up. So make sure it’s professional. I’m not talking to scare people away and say you have to have an award winning site, but it should look professional, be error free, load properly and not look like your nephew did it 10 or 15 years ago. It’s got good content, it’s plain I’m sure it’s fine.

But make sure you load up on the know-like-trust factors, read up on Duct Tape and in StoryBrand, and make sure that you’ve got some of those conversion factors on your website. So anything where you can show your book or your ebook or testimonials or trust badges or anything that proves and reinforces your authority is really going to be impressive to those listeners that actually do a little bit of follow up and come to your website, either to cash in on your giveaway or your ebook or download or whatever you’re giving as a call to action at the end of the website, or just thinking about you as a potential person that can solve one of their problems or someone to potentially hire.

And you got to make sure your website’s set up for lead capture. I think I didn’t do a great job of this in the beginning, but then I saw, “Oh my gosh, I’m actually getting clients off of this. I got to make sure that I’m set up and I’ve got something really attractive to incentivize people to come and leave their email.” And the better you get at this, the more you’re going to get a higher return off of potential clients from this. This is an important thing to do, pre-booking and post show, and just keep improving on that.

You are getting a lot of SEO benefit out of this, so take another look at your website and making sure it’s set up on page for SEO factors because you’re going to be getting some great backlinks, and if you don’t have your website set up the right way, you’re not going to get the full benefit of this great SEO activity and signals and links that you’re going to be getting. Just take another look at your site and make sure that you’ve got it up to speed because you will get a higher return on it if it’s set up right.

We’ve got a one sheet here, mine I’m actually redoing it. This is one of the things that we will do for you as part of setting up for the podcast guesting campaign, but it’s a really super important thing to have because one, it looks cool. It’s great for personal branding. As we pitch you, as you get pitched to potential show host, nine times out of 10 they’re actually going to look at your one sheet and scroll through it. But I think what’s really powerful about a one sheet is that you have the opportunity to draft up two or three sentence of your bio, which nine times out of 10 is what the hosts read at the beginning of the show to introduce you.

I can’t explain how this is, I can’t emphasize enough how important this is to be able to put words into the host mouth as they introduce you, because again, you saying it is worth just about nothing, but when somebody else says it and quotes you as an expert or says some of the things that you’re great at, has a huge, much more value into it. And you have the chance in your one sheet to be able to craft and put words in somebody else’s mouth. And again, it all feeds into the SEO personal branding authority, making you sound like a more interesting guest or somebody that’s got something interesting to say or some an important tips or advice in terms of educating people. And also just being able to spin and craft where you want the direction of the interview to go.

A lot of these guests that are out there, established shows, they’re always looking for somebody that’s interesting to the extent that you can actually give your own suggested interview topics and actually again, frame the questions in a way that you’ve got a way to give them some ahead of time. A lot of times, these folks, if you’ve done it the right way, we’ll ask these questions, or ask something in and around what you provided them with. And then down below to anything you’ve got in terms of trust factor, a book, an ebook that you might’ve written, awards, anything where you can show them to be like, hey … Because again, these people, they have their shows, if it’s an interview based show, the onus is on them to be able to consistently provide interesting guests.

And your one sheet is that one opportunity where you can show people immediately that you have something to offer, and it’s kind of that one selling point and again, there’s lots of different places up in this one sheet that we can help you out with, but a lot of it’s also on you in terms of the things that you want to talk about, so that you can frame and steer the interview into topics and questions that will help you get your message out in a way that educates people. So the interesting super important, make sure that you’ve provided the proof that you have on anything that’s out there in terms of your accomplishments and what might be interesting to that audience. And you’re going to frame the topics and the questions.

Again, down here, we’re making sure that people see our contact information and some of the links that are down in here are included along with the contact information. You want to make the topics and the questions broad enough so you’re not zeroing too much on just one type of audience. Because for instance, in my case when we’re talking about web design or SEO or any type of internet marketing, I could just zero in and say, “Hey, you know what, I only want to talk to people that have an audience of web designers or SEO folks.” I really don’t want to do that. I can open this up and say, “You know what? I can talk to anybody that’s got an audience of any small businesses.”

And if their audience list is about people that want to write books, well, I can write how to leverage your book to make sure you get more SEO benefits out of it, or supposedly they have restaurants, there’s all sorts of ways. If you make your topic relevant to a broader base, you’re going to get booked on more shows. So even on surface level, it might not look like, “I’m an SEO web design guy, why would I want to get booked on a show that largely has restaurant folks or restaurant owners? Because I have an angle for them, and if my topics and questions are broad enough, I can frame this in a way where I can add value and still be interesting enough to that audience. And that’s what you’re booking and trying to do in this grass roots strategy, is try and get out there and get in front of people in a way that we can reach as broad an audience as possible.

Pre-show number four, remind yourself to teach and share your best info, and this is your one chance to make an impression on this particular group they’re getting interviewed on. Never ever sell on anything, don’t try and be sneaky about it or pitch too hard during the middle of the show or spin the host questions into something that doesn’t fit into what you’re trying, your agenda, what you’re trying to sell. Use that at the end, almost all the time, the hosts are going to say, “Hey, tell us what you’ve got going on right now, or how people can contact you. Any kind of special offer, that kind of.thing.”

You can soft pitch and soft sell offer that you have, but really, the today’s content marketing is selling by teaching. Nobody wants to hear your pitch, they want to hear your inspirational story, they want to hear your tips and tactics in a way that’s going to help that audience grow or get better or improve their businesses. Ahead of time, spend a couple minutes, read the host website bio, know a little bit about them, where they’re from. You don’t have to spend too much time because one of the things about podcast guesting is that we don’t want you to have to spend a lot of time.

What will benefit about doing this is that you can spend five or 10 minutes pretty show, get up to snuff, show the host that you care enough to know their name, know where they’re from, maybe listen to a couple of minutes of a podcast or two ahead of time so you can hear their voice and say something. A lot of times I’ll listen to part one and I said, “You know I listened to your last podcast and you actually mentioned this.”A lot of those kinds of little touches go a long way in terms of making a connection with the host because of all these benefits that we talked about, one of the things that we’ll talk about later on, I’ll make sure, I’ve included this part of the presentation is, if nobody else listens to any of these shows, you’ve got a unique opportunity to spend 20 or 30 minutes with a person who’s listening to you for that period of time.

So it’s a great way to make a connection and meet a new person, a new person that maybe collaborate with, that’s going to have your undivided attention during the show, to the extent that you can try and reach out and prepare a little bit and show that you’ve looked up this person and that you cared enough, I think to make a note of something special about their background or experience will really make an impression, and I think set the ground works out for a great interview. Like I said, listen to parts of recent episodes, know where they’re located. I always ask a little bit about the audience.

Even if I can figure it out from a five or 10 minute review of the website ahead of time, you can always ask about at least how it breaks down and say, “Hey, I listened a little bit of your show, it seems like your audiences is this. Is that right? What’s the background? Is it business owners as a consumers, is it the moms, the dads, or mostly female?” Anything you know that will help me angle the show to that group is great, but you should actually also do it, like I ask a lot of time because, I use the same stories and a lot of the same advice, but I will try and re-craft the answers a little bit that I give to make sure that I’m trying to specifically speak to who their main audience is.

That I think is the big benefit of pre-show, is spending a little bit of time ahead of time, getting yourself through routine that you have an idea who their audience is and then you frame your answers or your story to the audience instead of just repeating the same story or answers over and over again. Oh, this is one of my favorites, intentional mentions. Make sure, and I actually did this in part of my own podcast, so I’m big into gasoline, but I’ve got my own podcast show right now, but be purposeful if you can about mentioning other books or other influencers or even other companies you might want to work with. One of the things I’ve done I think that’s worked out for me really well is, use an influence or using the example of somebody else, and mention a company that does something really well as an example.

And when it comes out, when the show comes out and launches, as you share on your social media channels, you can say, “Hey, check me out on this podcast. We talked about this subject, we also mentioned some great companies like ABC Company and this influencer that wrote this book. And a lot of times if you do one or two of these tags on Twitter, on LinkedIn, or maybe on Facebook, you’ll get a share or a thanks or some Kudos because you reinforce that company or that influencers status, and they like to be mentioned. That’s part of the nature of it. So if you can make notes about some of the other folks, it’s another way for you to amplify the benefit of your guesting program because you’re drawing other people and using them as an example within the interviews.

If you’re a little bit more intentional about that, something that’s very easy but something that a lot of influencers and companies are going to like because as everybody likes to get a shout out. And then when they come on and about, again, social tag these when they go live, and is everybody going to retreat a re-share when they’re mentioned? No, but you’re going to be surprised because a lot of them will, and a lot of them will be thankful. Call to action. This is probably one of the most important things to have because if you’re looking at a guesting campaign as a way to get direct access to new clients, and you should because it will happen if you do it right overtime, is to make sure that you got a very good call to action and a reason for somebody to visit the website. Free Ebook offer, free consulting, half hour talk.

I’ve done a couple of them, I’ve actually raffled off either free books or even gift cards as a way if I know the audience is super targeted enough to make sure that I get that targeted click back to my website. But the more deliberate you are about having a call that say, if you go to the end of an interview and just say, “Oh, I’m going to interview, my name is Phil Singleton, follow me on LinkedIn, go to kcwebdesigner.com. That’s good, and that’s okay but it’s a lot more compelling if you go and say, “Hey, I’ve got something really special for your group today, John. What I’ve done is on my website, I’ve created a special page, and if you go to this link, you will fill out this form and I will give you a copy of this book that sells for 1595 online or a free website review or whatever it is.”

But the sexier you make that call to action the better chance you are to get somebody to get to that page, and the better chance you are to be able to tag or pixel them or get them to fill out that form and get them into your education or your sales funnel. So whatever you do, make sure that you stay disciplined and try and improve that call to action over time because that’s going to be one of the biggest bang to the bucks, and one of the big higher ROI items. You can actually grow your customer base by leveraging on people that are actual listeners on the show you’re going to be on.

Resource strategy. I’ve mentioned this already, but I want to make sure that you’re very deliberate about the sites and the links and the special offers that you do. And that, make sure even note those down every once in awhile. I’m even getting into better habit right now of being very specific about mentioning a specific blog post on my website or one of my other websites or making sure that I send them to a different site every time and mixing it up if you’ve got multiple websites, And really trying to customize that offer to the extent that you can really, really helps because again, the more you customize it for a given audience, the better chance you’re going to have it actually getting a sale out of it. And then just provide these links with SEO in mind.

I come from SEO, so every time I’m on a show, I’m thinking of, “I want to make sure I get a great backlinks.” So I never forget this, but one of the things I see about a lot of guests booking services or a lot of people that do get guested on programs is, they’re thinking about SEO last. You’re losing a huge opportunity to get massive value out of this, and you just don’t want to do any show without thinking or having SEO at the top of mind on this. And I think if you write it down and make it a habit, you will get that, but you just don’t want to forget about that piece of it.

Now, one of the things that I’ve done is I actually have gone at the end of every show, I send a couple of different emails back to the host. And I want to make sure that every time somebody does a show that if they didn’t hear it or didn’t pick up the links that I mentioned, I will send them this. I’ve already got pre-prepared, so the links that I want to have mentioned are on here. In this case, “Here’s somebody that we work with, actually, I would consider almost like a barter client. They got a SEO for growth, we’ve got Podcast Bookers, which is our own website, KC Web Designer, which is mine. Actually I’ve a different SEO website where I put my gift link on this one.”

And then I put a link to my LinkedIn page, one, two, three, four, five, six deliberate links that I want to, and I sent this to them. And not only did I do it and it helped me make sure that I’m getting extra links on their website, the hosts really appreciate it. John Lee Dumas, he said, “Man, that’s awesome. Perfection. Jim, make sure all these get in the show notes, all, A-L-L. I just took the extra step of reaching out really in the effort of trying to make it a lot easier, but also trying to make sure that I’m going to get the SEO benefit. And this is just one of those things when we take that extra step, you are sure to get a lot more SEO points out of it.

Oh my goodness. Now this is my very favorite one. Ask for reviews. This is huge. If we wipe out every other benefit on a guesting program or getting on a show, this again is one of those things that just by itself is worth the time and effort and maybe money that you’re spending, but at the end of every show, you want to make a special ask. You want to send an email in real time and you want to offer to review the host as well. Every podcast host out there, established shows that have 50 or 100,000 listeners down to the ones that are just getting started, maybe 50 or a 100, they all want more iTunes reviews. They all want more reviews somewhere.

So if you give them an opportunity to say, “Hey, would you mind reviewing me as a guest on your show? I would love to reveal you too.” And you can start to stack your reviews up on LinkedIn or Google+ in a way that will change your business. I say, I don’t want to sound too salesy or over the top, but I’ve gotten over 50 new reviews on my own properties and it has been a game changer. I send this template, “Hello there, host. Thank you so much once again for having me on your show. If you would consider it, would you mind leaving me a positive review with respect to being a guest on your show and the value of knowledge shared? If so, please send through this link.”

I have my own review funnel that I send, you can make your own or somebody can help you make it like us, but this is a fabulous, very easy thing to send something to and redirect people to where you want to send them. “If I can reciprocate by leaving a review somewhere, please let me know. I would love to do so. Thanks again, Phil Singleton.” I send this literally at the end of every show while I’m still on the show, after they stop recording and I tell them I’m going to do this. And a lot of times, I send it while they’re still there and I ask them, “Did you get it?” So you still get them when they’re really hot and tell them it just takes a few seconds and you’d like to give them an iTunes review. Super awesome way to get more reviews for your business.

If you go to the website link that I just show you, ours is a review funnel, which is a single page, it sends them right here. If you click this, it send you right after where I want to send you. I think in this case, it goes to Google+, but I can send them to LinkedIn, I can send them wherever I want. I can send them to Facebook, but I’m still trying to boost up my LinkedIn and Google+ reviews. So I send my review funnel which is right here, so if they click onto this, they land on this URL. If they click on this fifth star, we send them right to Google+ and it’s kind of a thank you and that makes it really easy. That’s an example of one that I got and here’s John Lee Dumas gave us one.

This is third review he has ever given because nobody ever asked him. I asked him, Phil drop value bombs, entrepreneur on fire. What a guest.”Great review I got up on Google+. What’s really, really powerful about getting these reviews is once you get reviewed on a show of this caliber or any caliber, we as a podcast booking agency, when you tell us this, we can then take these reviews and use them to get you on better shows, so the next times my booker goes out and tries to book me on shows, they say, “Here’s Phil, he’s an expert on SEO. Here’s what he likes to talk about, here’s his one sheet. By the way, here’s a couple reviews that John Lee Dumas and Josh Patrick said when he was a guest on their show.”

Now all the sudden I look like a great guest, which makes it easier for me to almost snowball my chances on getting on higher and higher caliber shows, and you’ll do this. My first couple of reviews are on smaller established and as I’ve done more, I’ve been able to use that to get on better and better shows. This is huge. It’s huge to get the Google review, it’s huge to reuse the Google review as part of our own guesting outreach. I then also use this review on other places, like my website to show other people that some of these influencers have said great things about me. This review strategy is huge and it all comes from just a strategic guesting campaign.

And nobody that I know has gone out and used a guesting campaign as a way to have a proactive review management on online reputation management strategy. This is killer. This by itself is worth every penny, anything that you would spend, and it really makes an outreach program probably worth like $500 to $1,000 of show if you do it right versus spending a 100, $150 to $200 a show, whatever it takes you to get booked on it. Just tremendous value. But again, almost everybody that I know, every booking program out that’s out there does not stress this. And this is a killer return on investment.

And if you don’t do this after every show and ask for a review and then you find ways to recycle it, you are losing a tremendous piece of ROI from a program. And this, I can’t stress this one enough. Free blog posts. Again, the gift that keeps on giving. Most hosts and most shows that you’re going to be on, will not take the effort, time and effort to transcribe the audio into a text file. So they’ll do a review, they’ll do a summary, they might write up 250 or 500 words about the show, and then they’ll provide the links and then they’ll use that page on their website, that link on their website is what they’ll use to share out on Twitter and social media and even in their email blasts and things like that.

One of the things that I’ve done as I noticed, hey, people aren’t doing this, but there is a content goldmine in here. And I asked the first show that I was on, I was like, we talked about 40 minutes, “If you’re not going to use the transcription notes, would you mind if at my own expense, I went and transcribed these up on Rev.com, which is a place where there’s human transcribers that you pay a dollar a minute, and they will transcribe and edit, an edited form of a interview and send it back to you in a word document that you can then use as a blog post.”

This is unbelievably awesome. I’m going to give an example of this, I’m going to block out of this. let me give you an example of like the first one that I did. If I go to Google.com and I do SEO benefits of podcasting. Oh, it’s great because we have one of these shows come up, actually Podcast Bookers comes up in the position zero in the knowledge box, but the number one organic is actually on my website. And all of this blog is, it’s a blog post, it ranks number one globally. I took a show that I was on, which is the WordPress Chick, here’s the original show.

I was a guest on this show and she chose not to transcribe it and I asked, and I took this show and she said it was okay, and I transcribed it and I put the transcription notes up on my page and I turned it into a blog post. I made a little graphic, I pulled out some quotes, I put backlinks in it. I put some page titles and some other … And I kind of dress it up a little bit, and this ended up being like a 10,000 word, the post is huge. And this transcripted podcast of somebody else’s show that they weren’t going to use, I repurposed it and made it into a blog post on my show, and of course, I gave full credit back to her website and actually point back to the site, but I got a free long form blog post from this show.

Get a free blog post, most hosts don’t transcribe, ask the host if it’s okay to transcribe it. You can go on Temi.com, which is an automated way the transcript … I’m not too crazy about Temi because it’s not human edited, so it does a pretty good job of giving a raw file and it’s like 10 cents a word. So it’s like for three bucks, you can get a podcast show transcribed, but too much editing for you to go through, but if you to rev.com, that’s actually a dollar a minute, so a 40 minute show will be $40. Most shows are 20 to 30 minutes. If you think about 20 or $30 to transcribe something, dress it up and use as a blog post on your own website, it’s a great way to get a free blog posts out there as long as you’re going to be willing to take the time and optimize it like I’ve done, and don’t forget to optimize and do that.

If you’ve got a weekly blog content struggle or you want some long form content on your website, I wouldn’t completely substitute transcribing some of the show hosts you’re going to be on for bob, but that’s a great way to get some new content in a different form on your website. And if you do it right, you can actually get the post to rank. I’ve got several cases of this where the shows that I’ve been on have been transcribed and turn them into blog posts and now they rank for moderately to even some, fairly competitive keywords. That was part of the demo on there, but I’m going to actually show you again, if I come out and do, on my own podcasts, let me show you a competitive one where I went and did one just recently for my own show. And I did like attorney SEO tips, I think it was.

Here’s a show that’s only a couple weeks old on “local attorney SEO tips“, pretty competitive keyword. I’m one, two, three, four, five, five, mid page five, two weeks out on this, where I actually took one of my own podcast on this and then I transcribed and turn it into a blog post. Within two weeks globally, I’ve gotten into a top ranking for a fairly decent longterm keyword. So just that in an of itself, getting a free posts out of this is a huge value. You can do it for your own podcast, and I believe that you should, but there’s no reason why you can’t ask one of the hosts on one of the shows that you’re going to be on if it’s okay.

And I wouldn’t go out and transcribe a show unless you get permission, but I always ask, I said, “Hey, listen, I noticed you don’t transcribe your shows, would you mind if I transcribe this show and put it on my website and I’ll give you a backlink back to it?” And I’ll do it. I usually tell people I’ll do it a week or two or a couple of weeks after the show, so their initial episode launch goes out first and then we get a second one, maybe two weeks or a month later where the show is almost going to relaunched on my website when I do a blog post using the transcribed audio.

Repurpose some of the stuff on your own website. I’ve aggregated some of the shows, I’ve used some of the audio files, like when you can go on and give an example even on this site, on my site here, anytime there’s a show notes page, like this is my own show notes page for my own podcast, typically, what you’re going to do is embed the audio file from somewhere like Libsyn or wherever the host is the show or the audio file. We can always go onto some of these players and click, where you can grab the embedded file like you would on a YouTube video, and you can take that and then actually embed the same video on your own website. So this is easy to grab.

Somebody could take this, put on their website and all of a sudden, this little player here would show up wherever you’d want it to. Adding, if you didn’t do a blog post and you’ve been on somebody’s show, I’ve taken some of these rough gun and use some of the embedded video and use them to dress up blog posts or pages on my own website, because one of the cool things about having embedded audio on your website, when somebody clicks it, they stay on your website longer. Well, dwell time on a webpage is an SEO ranking factor. So anytime you get some rich media like this, like an audio file where somebody, it doesn’t take too many people to click it to whereas if they’re on their website and they stay on longer, it’s a strong, strong signal to google that the page is valuable and they’re more likely to rank it, the longer people stay on their website.

We like to use, when I say rich media up in here, to the extent that you can use a video, because a lot of times these podcast hosts will actually, they’ll video record you, they’ll audio record you, and you’ll have a chance to embed both these types of files. You can reuse them on your own website or on other pages and get more on page SEO value by reusing and repurposing some of that content.A lot of professional podcasters or professional content marketers will start to take some of the shows that they’ve been on and create a page on their own website, and they’ll show like, “Here are some of the shows that I’ve been featured on.”

And all of a sudden, you can start reusing some of those podcast graphics or just even the logos from the shows and start to show like I’m thinking of doing, “Hey, you’ve see me on some other shows. I’ve been on Entrepreneur on Fire, I’ve been on Active Campaign, I’ve been on Duct Tape Marketing. I’ve been on some of these other WP Elevation, some of these other shows that have a large following within their niches. And for sure, I think I’ve mentioned this once already, using reviews that you get on your website are huge, because one of the things you want on your website is anything where you’ve got third party people saying that you are great at what you do.

And when you’ve got a podcast host saying that this expert came on the show and provide a great educational content, that’s great supplementary testimonials also to have in addition to your own clients, and more third party social proof that you can use to stack your website up to make it more compelling and improve your own conversion rates. Again, this is 10 things we were going through that it’s just one of those gifts that I think keeps on giving, but you have to think about this in terms of an SEO mindset and make sure that you’re on the lookout to extract as much value as possible.

When your episode goes live on a show, obviously, one of the main benefits for both the host and yourself is that your cross leveraging your social media channels. So you’re getting access to their social media and they’re getting access to yours. One of the things the host is going to want to do and one of the reasons that they feature you and make a custom graphic is so that you’ll also maybe in your email newsletter and your website on your social media channels, when the show goes live, you’re going to do your best to make sure that you amplify it in your channels while they amplify it in theirs.

And when you go out, when they post up on there, take a little extra time to go and say, and throw up on LinkedIn, wherever they are, and they post it up there, thank the host on the post where they’re amplifying, “Great opportunity, loved the show. Thank you so much for letting me share whatever you shared on the show.” Because part of this, having a proactive, cross sample amplification on both sides is a way for you to get more value, but also show the host that you are a good guests and also just makes you appear like a another good guest that might want to invite you on the show.

One of the things that I learned at the very end or towards the end of doing 50, 60 shows is that, oh my gosh, if I would have only had my own podcast way back on the first show, I would have had access to the ultimate groups of people that are already podcast consumers. I kick myself now because I have my own podcast called the Local Business Leaders Podcast, and there are about 10 episodes launched into it, but I just started launching it this year in 2018. Had I had that as a call to action on my website, I’ve already been in front of thousands, I think probably tens of thousands of podcast consumers. Whereas if I had my own show, I would have been picking up subscribers since the very beginning.

So if you do this and it’s successful and it will be, if you commit to a longterm strategy onto it, at some point, you’re going to realize the same thing and be like, “Gosh, if I only had my own show, if I only realized how easy it was to produce my own show, I could have already had my own built in audience like myself. I could probably have my own subscriber base of maybe a thousand or 5,000 or even 10,000 subscribers that if I only had a podcast for them to subscribe to, I could have just picked them up because they liked what I had to say when I was on the host podcasts.” You’ve done this 50 times, picking up a thousand subscribers probably would have been easy. So you do get like an oh my God level, oh my gosh level access to ideal clients and to people that are already podcast consumers.

So at some point it, you just get into this self realization. It’s like, “Gosh, I need to have my own podcast.” And if you’re smart enough, like I wasn’t to start one now, it’s ideal, but then I think a lot of people are already just thinking of this as sloughed fringe marketing tactic, which it’s not, it’s about as mainstream as it gets right now. The fastest way to get, and it’s also all sorts of things with launching your own podcast, which have just absolutely blown my mind, but it’s a natural progression from guesting. And the one thing that I think of having my own show that’s been unbelievable is, we tried to do our own outbound sales 90 % of our stuff comes from inbound leads and I just figured “Hey, you know what, we do a great job, we’ve got great reviews, we do a great job for our clients, if I only try a little of this outbound selling and I just told people we existed and showed them our track record, we’d have so many more ideal clients.”

Well, we did that, hired somebody for three months. They were on the phone for 30-50 phone calls a day. We got one meeting and no calls, because people just didn’t want to be, call somebody up on the phone and are like whatever your pitch is, it sounds like you’re selling them something. Well, when I started the Local Business Leaders Podcast, I named it that for a reason, now all the sudden, when we do outreach for a CEO of an ideal client and we call up and say, “I would like to interview your CEO on the Local Business Leaders Podcast,” we go from 100% rejection to like almost 90% of being able to book a client on the show. A perfect way to gain access to people, a perfect way to gain access to folks at the C level, great way to give them an enormous amount of value and spend 20 or 30 minutes on the show.

And having your own podcast is just a mind blowing outbound/inbound technique that on top of all the other benefits that it gives you, what’s blowing my mind is the access to people is about the easiest thing you can imagine when you’ve got a podcast, I think that’s launch strategically. Think about that as you’re going through guesting campaign. If you really get into this and you’ve done it for like I have almost close to a year now, having your own show, it just becomes a natural progression. I wanted to hit the value summary again that we showed in the beginning, hopefully I’ve done a good job, and I want to get you excited about seeing that there’s actually real monetary value if you go out and make sure that you’re extracting as much value as you can on each and every one of these shows.

There’s absolutely no question that you’re going to get at least $150 if not $200 per show for each backlink that you get. Some shows aren’t going to have show notes, and in most cases, almost all of them do. Having one every once in a while that doesn’t do one is not that really big of a deal, especially if they’ve got good … I’ve been doing it for a long time. There are a few, but almost all of the established shows right now, they understand the value of having everybody come back to their website for the episode launches, so it’s 90 plus percent of the time you’re going to get a backlink back to the show, and you have to be very deliberate about it, especially if you want to get more than one.

Going after that review strategy, now, I put this at $50 getting a review up on Google. I think for me it’s at least worth, and I tell some of my clients when they go out and do their own small business review, reviews are everything, getting a small group or an army of people saying that you’re the best at what you do or you’re an expert at what you do is worth a lot more than $50 a review if you get up in the right place. But I wanted to put something that’s a minimum. I think it’s probably worth $500 to a 1,000 reviews, because I didn’t get people, they call us right now on the web design SEO that literally will say, “I’m only calling you because your reviews are so good.”And that’s just the way people buy everything now from Amazon to local services.
People want that social proof, and we have a killer way for you to stack the deck on this. So I put a minimum dollar of 50. I think this is way conservative, and you’re not going to get a review on every request but if you do it right and you bring your best effort to the show, I think probably two thirds of the time you’ll get a review off of it just because by nature of you’re doing a good job, and the fact that people want those iTunes reviews.Your own reputation, again, building up that personal branding and making sure that you have shows notes that have pages that are exclusive to you, that end up over time showing up when somebody does a search.

I’m going to give you an example, and I’ve got a lot of places that say nice stuff about me, but if you go out here on a google search, I type in Phil Singleton, what you’re going to see is, I’ve got some of my own stuff up in here by nature of doing my own SEO, but as you can come down later, you’re starting to see the podcast shows that I’ve been on, Leading Results is a show that I’ve been on, the WP Chick is a show that I’ve been on. Many as we start going down to the second page, Jeffalytics is a show that I’ve been on. You start to see some of the shows, and Real Estate Rockstars is one that I’ve been on, Site Visibility is one that I’ve been on.

In my case, I’ve been a professional SEO marketer for many years, so I’ve got a lot of other pages that show up higher, but for a lot of small businesses are professional marketers, you’re going to see a lot of your podcast show pages show up at the top of Google. Now, if from the reputation standpoint, if you have somebody that’s got a reputation problem, like I talked to somebody today, a dentist in another city, another part of the country said, they were buying another dentist group where the previous dentist had some reputation management issues from some bad press that he got seven years ago, and some of that stuff, when you google his name is coming up on some of these press page.

Well, if you go out and do guesting campaign and you get booked on a lot of shows, those show notes page will start to outrank some of that older press. Now, in that case, each one that gets launched out, especially the ones that start to show up on the first page, are worth a tremendous amount for somebody that’s got reputation management issues. But, for all of us, you’re only one bad article away from something showing up on Google to the extent that you can pre-stack the deck against a reputation issue that you might unfairly run into you years down the road by nature of having a guest blogging program, you will insulate yourself from that.

There’s a tremendous amount of direct and indirect and longterm value in terms of the personal branding and the reputation protection and shield that you build for yourself that I think almost nobody talks about or doesn’t understand the value, but certainly, somebody that’s got a reputation issue right now, I would put them on a guest blogging program right now because that’s the fastest way that they’re going to start to be able to get up onto the first page and start using show notes pages to start pushing that, that bad old press that might be up on other websites.

The podcast ad in and of itself, when you’re on shows that have a certain amount of listeners already, almost all of them are going to have some show sponsor. The sponsorship money isn’t great, it ends up being, I think per thousand listeners. So a lot of times these guys are going to get a couple of hundred dollars per episode, so the episodes you’re going to be on are going to have a show sponsor. The smaller ones probably only get 100 or $50, maybe $200 a show, but they’re paying for 60 seconds to be on the show, you’re getting the whole 20 or 30 minutes for free. So there’s some added value that you get by nature of being on the show and having it be exclusive on you. The bigger shows, the sky is the limit.

I’ve been on some shows that have 50 to 100,000 subscribers per shows. People are paying thousands of dollars for ad spots on that. Meanwhile, I got on the show for free. There’s just add value for that, it’s really that access, immediate audience access value that you get while you’re trying to put some a monetary value on it. And at least even on a smaller show, getting $50 worth of audience access value on show, I think it’s a lot higher than trying to be conservative here. The long form post, 20 minutes show ends up being five to 6,000 words transcribed, you pay 20 minutes on Rev.com. If you do a 20 minute show at a dollar a minute, ends up being a great blog post. If you go and try and hire somebody to write a 5,000 word blog post, you’re just going to cost you probably hundreds of dollars, but having a transcription up at the top or you maybe write a little summary, that long form posts in addition to the money that you pay to have it transcribed, has some value on top of it.

I’m going to say it’s at least worth $150, especially if you can get it to rank like I have, it’s invaluable. On a lot of the posts that I have, but you may to be able to assign some value so that you can see on here. Social media, these guys, and I probably would type on email in here too. Virtually every guest that you have is going to create a show notes page and they custom graphic, they’re going to take that link and they’re going to share that link across all their social media, and a lot of times they will also include it in their email marketing campaign. So you’re getting free access to somebody’s audience that they’re going to blast in multiple channels.

How much is that worth? How much is it worth to have somebody feature you in their email list and in their social media channel and say, “I had this guest expert,” whoever your name is, and as part of their email and drama all back to that onto a specific page which features you as a guest expert? Worth more than $50. Of course it is. Even on the smaller shows that have audience, probably worth several times that. But at a minimum, I think that would be worth $50 to come up on this. And the new client value, I’ve had over six digits in new business come off of several new clients that we’ve got as I realized that I was actually getting real clients off of this.

The sky’s the limits on that. In my case, a new client might be worth a $10,000 website and $2,500 a month in a digital marketing campaign. If we annualize that, you’re up over $30,000 a year for one new client that we get off of a show. Some people have smaller programs, smaller ones have things … It all depends on what a new client is worth to you, but if you do this right and you do it consistently over the course of … and you’re good and you’re comfortable, everybody gets on shows might not work the same for everybody. But in general, if you’ve got a good good plan and a good pitch and some good advice and some good proof and a good track record and good call to action, and if you do this over the course of dozens of shows and not trying to look for a home run off of one or two shows, more than likely, you’re going to get some new clients over time.

The value per show for me, I think this is really conservative, the cash value of getting guested on one established even a smaller show is worth at least $600. It feels closer to like a $1,000, but I have no problem telling somebody that it’s worth a minimum of $600 per guesting on an established show. And for some of the ones that I’ve been on, I’ve just [inaudible]thousands and thousands of dollars. I’ve been on some that I’m sure, and if I went to one of these bigger websites, Entrepreneur on Fire and said, “Hey, John Lee Dumas, do a personal branding campaign where you’re going to give me a backlink and give me your review and do a reputation of personal branding and make a whole website page about me and give me an advertisement spot, and give me a long form blog post and promote me in your social media.”

If you went and aside from a guessing program and positioned a package like this, these guys with big audiences would be charging you five, $10,000 plus for a ‘personal branding authority campaign.’ Well, that’s what a guesting program is if you do it right. It is actually that, but it’s a way to get into a super low cost way that can give you huge amounts of benefits where you’re essentially getting this an personal-branding / influencer marketing campaign. It’s just under the guise of a guesting campaign and it really, really works. It’s worked for me, and I think if you stick with it, it will work with you as a longterm content marketing strategy.

If you’re a part of our program and you’ve got your one sheet and you’ve paid the setup or paid the fees, or you’ve otherwise been informed, and we haven’t given this, you didn’t win this as part of a freebie, you are now certified because I think you’ve actually become a much better guest now at the end of this presentation than you were at the beginning of it. I think hopefully, you’ll appreciate the opportunity that you get to get in front of other people’s audiences, but more importantly, I hope you really think about these opportunities and the massive amount of extra value that you get from guesting, and that you take the onus on yourself to make sure that you get every drop of value, because there’s a ton of it in here.

On the other hand, if you just go about this and think of it in a single dimensional way, it’s still going to be okay, but you’re going to not get anywhere near the value or the return on investment as if you take advantage of all these opportunities the way we’ve outlined them here in the presentation. So best of luck to you. I hope that this really helps, and I look forward to working with you and helping you grow your business.

If you’re looking for the best podcast booking services at the lowest cost with the highest SEO value, please be sure to check out Podcast Bookers.

Lead Generation Tactics for SEO & Internet Marketing Agencies

Tom is an SEO strategist and the host of The Sure Oak Podcast. Go check out his podcast, like I have. He is the founder of Sure Oak an SEO agency in New York City that grows companies with search engine optimization to get businesses more traffic and drive their revenue growth. Tom has been published in many well-known publications, such as The Huffington Post, Search Engine Watch and SEMrush.

Episode Resources

Meet Tom Casano of Sure Oak

Phil Singleton: Tom Casano, welcome to the show.

Tom Casano: Thanks for having me Phil. I’m psyched to be here. It’s going to be fun.

Phil Singleton: Oh, yeah. This is going to be … These are my favorite ones, and talking to somebody of your caliber is always going to be really fun. Who knows what directions we’re going to go on, but I would love to know, just for myself, little bit of your path about when you got out of school or wherever your last stop was, and got into the business world, what got you to where you are to today and got you into SEO and digital marketing.

Tom Casano: Yeah, it’s a great question. I studied philosophy in school. When I graduated, I wanted to be a rock star. Tried doing that for about a year and, after making $30 for playing at a bar, and no one cared too much, in giving me music lessons, I traded on Wall Street for 10 years. And then once that got pretty meaningless and unfulfilling, then about four, no, six years ago, I started a business. I went through a program to develop a SaaS. I had never developed a SaaS, but I created a lead generation website for life coaches, and that’s called Life Coach Spotter. That’s kind of where I started cutting my teeth in digital marketing, and ultimately, SEO.

Tom Casano: So initially, I struggled like crazy to get traffic to the site to generate leads, because here I am supposed to be the marketer for the life coaches who don’t know how to do marketing. It took me a long time to get to two, three, four, five thousand organic visitors per month. Then we could talk about this. I did link building strategy. You might be familiar with that scholarship. And then the traffic to the site went up literally 500%, 5X in two months, which I’m usually afraid to say because it just sounds too good to be true, and I don’t want people to have the wrong expectations. Also did a lot of Skyscraper pages on there and a lot of cured research and optimization.

Tom Casano: So like the onsite stuff was just like ready to go. And then the link building happened and then it went to like 25,000 organic visitors per month. And then I was like, “You know what, I’ve spent so much time grinding away at SEO and doing tons of stuff that doesn’t work.” I have to bring this to other people. The businesses that are making millions a year and we moved their organic traffic by 10% or 20% as meaningful for their business. So then I started the SEO Agency Sure Oak. And that’s what I’m deeply involved in and focusing in today, which is doing SEO as a consultant, as an agency, and helping businesses to grow their traffic.

Phil Singleton: That’s so awesome. So when you were at the Search Engine Spotter, is that the name?

Tom Casano: Life Coach Spotter.

Phil Singleton: Life Coach Spotter.

Tom Casano: It’s for life coaches. Yeah.

Phil Singleton: That’s right. Okay. That sounds like when the fire was lit a little bit, right? Cause you kind of self studied your way. It sounds like I’m hearing also some people that you may have studied from skyscraper it was reminding me of Brian Dean, and some of these other guys. Did you kind of dive in self study? And some of these … you take some courses and you just test some things out. How does that get rolled in for you?

Tom Casano: Yeah, totally. Totally self education. I’ve always loved to read and learn and teach myself new things. And that’s the funny thing about SEO. I mean, I would hope today there is a college class like search engine optimization 101….

Phil Singleton: I doubt it…

Tom Casano: It’s one of these things, right? Like if you’re in college right now, where are you taking a class in Chatbots, it’s cool that some of those things might be evolving. So yeah, basically as you know yourself and then the worst part is everything you can possibly read and learn. You could pay for courses and classes and mentorship, but then you go and do yourself a practice and it’s like not even driving the results that you know. And part of that I think is not out of someone trying to mislead you.

Tom Casano: But this, the context and the situation is different. So someone might say like, you need to get all the technical stuff on your site, really good. The 404s and a 301s and the, I don’t know, the image all tags, image all tags like those ones drive me crazy cause it drives in results. But that might be very true for a site that has like a hundred thousand pages. But for your little site with like 20 pages that hasn’t even done keyword research and has two backlinks, you really need to focus on your backlinks and the content. So it’s tough like to learn this stuff. But actually, I think all that failure along the way makes you stronger and you realize like, okay, this is what actually works and moves the needle.

Phil Singleton: Awesome. So, that’s really cool. Coz I mean, for some of this stuff it’s like, this is kind of my world where I live. So it’s you get talking to somebody else who’s kind of taking their own path. It’s really exciting to talk about. But how about just getting the agency started doing that kind of thing? I mean like I know for me, deciding when to maybe get some physical office space, or taking that first plunge, or maybe actually hiring somebody, whether it’s a full time contract or even an actual W-2 employee, that kind of thing. It’s a big step. Right? Can you maybe explain how you got started with that, did you get the same feelings? And we are trying to build a team, whether it was a remote team or a local team, whatever it was and … because at some point you’re making money for yourself and all of a sudden you’re starting to feed other mouths to feed type of thing and the kind of … the responsibility becomes I think a little bit gross.

Tom Casano: Yeah, now it’s a great question. So I guess in some ways I’m an entrepreneur at heart and I learned along the way with that first business, the life coaching one that is using Upwork to hire freelancers and writers. And we created like 10,000 words of content and like I’ve realized that it wasn’t the best use of my time to sit and write this content. I was outsourcing and finding freelancers to help. And then, when I decided to start the SEO agency, I mean it’s just … and the thing I learned, I did a program called the foundation from being Maxwell, Andy, Trish, and learned a ton about business and a lot of mindset, like these limiting beliefs and these emotional blocks. If you’re afraid to kind of take those first steps on what’s holding you … a lot of it is like the inner game.

Tom Casano: But then … I lost my train of thought. Oh, basically I knew it’s just about getting the first clients, right? Once you get that first client, even if it’s like 500 bucks or a thousand whatever, it doesn’t matter what it is. Now you start to build a little momentum. Like a first little testimonial, you get some experience, you figure out how to create a proposal. And then for me, again, it’s just a matter of like finding a freelancer, finding someone that can … I think like a subcontractor. Like, “Hey, can you help me with Keyword Research?” “Hey, can you help me with … do a technical audit?” And I’m slowly starting to get one or two or three or four clients and starting to pass off some of that work.

Tom Casano: And first I’m doing all the work myself, right? So first I’m just a consultant, then I’m passing that work off. And over time it grows and grows. So now as there’s more clients, then there’s more freelancers. All of a sudden the freelancers are full time people. Our team is all remote. So it’s pretty interesting. Yeah, it’s been really a-
Phil Singleton: Everybody’s moving the nuts. I love it. I love to hear more about that and how you kind of manage it. But that’s-

Tom Casano: You know, exactly, that’s it. Someone was asking me recently, and what’s really been the most helpful is we have this like one half hour meeting once a week, and we just have this vibe and attitude of being like a family and helping each other, loving each other, just being open and honest.

Phil Singleton: How do you…

Tom Casano: That’s a Skype call with no video. I don’t know why, but it’s just the idea of like, just being honest and caring for each other and loving each other and somehow it just brings us more close together. And even though we’re remote, people love it, they work from home or wherever and it hasn’t really been a problem. So yeah, now we have like a full team. There’s over a dozen full time people, I don’t know how many people…

Phil Singleton: I think in my experience it seems like that’s a huge perk for one, to get the best people, and the best people that are really good at what they do. They want to be able to work from home. They don’t want to come into an office or work in a cubicle. That’s the main reason why I got into this business in the first place I was … I got a soul crushing cubicle job my first four years out of college. “I Don’t want to do it anymore.” But yeah, it seems like the best people, seem like they want to work from home or remote cause they can. Do you feel if or not the same way here?

Tom Casano: 100%. And I think also you find such quality and talent and people like if you’re living in the middle of nowhere in Montana, you can’t like commute to a city to get some SEO strategist job. But you know, we got one for you. And you know, I live in New York City in Manhattan, and if I want to hire an SEO strategist here, it’s going to cost me a fortune. But when I find people in other places of the country, so I think there’s just all these benefits, and then there’s also challenges. Like there’s time I wish … so many times I wish I could just give someone a big hug and I can’t. So we need to have yeah, like a get together. But yeah. It sounds like you understand this stuff. Your team has is remote or local?

Phil Singleton: I’ve got local, we have some W-2 employees that are here, but, we also have remote people and like basically full time contractors so. I actually have an office. The only reason I have an office really is for local clients to come in and come to our conference room, have a meeting, know that there’s kind of that investment kind of here locally. But then it’s really just all for them. Because then most of the work’s not done in the office. So I’ve got me, then I’m here with … as I’ve trained my boys were talking about before the show, and the summertime, I kind of have to be here. But other than that, I’m at home when I can be and then my sales guy is in here, we have meetings. Other than that, there’s no reason to have like a physical office, you know what I mean? So.

Tom Casano: Yeah, now that’s a cool thing about the online world nowadays.

Leveraging Upwork

Phil Singleton: Love it. Let’s get into something that’s near and dear to my heart because at the end of the day, it almost all comes down to lead generation for quality clients. Whether it’s for our own agencies or what we’re trying to do for our own companies. All sorts of other things can help people manage and scale and do this all kind of stuff. But at the end of the day, I mean really doesn’t it all come down to lead generation in some shape or form?

Phil Singleton: So you’ve had some successes generating leads in different ways. I’d love to kind of dig into it. And some of the ones that you mentioned before, I think in this call right now even before we started recording. Upwork, Linkedin, you’re a great podcaster you do a lot of video, good video content that goes along that as well. So those kind of things that are kind of working for you in terms of like drawing in ideal clients.

Tom Casano: Yeah, I’ll tell you honestly, 90% or so of our clients and business and revenue and everything is from Upwork. And it’s still kind of surprising to me to hear my own story, but I used Upwork to outsource work. To offshore it, maybe someone in India or the Philippines can do something for a few bucks an hour-

Phil Singleton: First to get help basically is that right?

Tom Casano: Exactly, yes. So, they call it the client and the freelancer. So I’d be the client, and I’m putting in whatever, a hundred bucks to get some work done and I get the work back. But then, I don’t know why or how, but I became a freelancer. So now I’m the consultant or the person looking for the work. And honestly, like that’s, I can’t tell, like I think in the last, 12 trailing months, over $100,000 of transactions have happened through Upwork, but that’s not counting everything that’s happened off of Upwork, off of their platform. Because they take a fee and all that stuff. So I’ve really scaled that up and I spent enough time as an SEO, like you understand, you just want to optimize the heck out of something once you start understanding the mechanics of it.

Tom Casano: So I can walk through that, but we’re maybe getting, I don’t know if it’s 10 or 20 leads per week? And then it’s a matter of filtering, because a lot of people when they’re on Upwork, they’re looking to like outsource, sometimes they’re looking to do it cheap. And so there’s a lot of people that are not the right kind of client for us, but those ones that are, where you go that extra mile to show how much you … how smart you are, how much you care or your experience and your skills and you make your profile awesome and you make your pitch awesome. And you filter out for those bigger projects. But it takes time cause day one you’ve got no reviews, and you’ve got no profiles either build it up over time. But it’s like anything, the more you put into it, the more you get out of it.

Phil Singleton: Are talking about sampling from your first a little bit? Or did they kind of come in and be like, “Hey, we love what we hear. We’ve done some research, let’s sign you up for like a retainer based thing for the rest of them.”

Tom Casano: No. Yeah they started like small terrible projects and to be honest, I have had like zero sales experience I’m like, “What do I know about pitching them and making it compelling and proposals and stuff?” So yeah, I started $500 or whatever I could get to get those little projects and building stuff out.

Phil Singleton: Awesome. And was that to build like reviews and things? A smaller transaction or those turn into bigger projects from the people that bought the smaller project from you?

Tom Casano: Yeah. The way it worked for me was just getting that traction of some reviews, so you have like a score, and I figured that it’s called, a Top Rated Freelancer. And then once you have that credibility, and they have their own algorithm. So it’s just like SEO all over again, like how do I rank higher when someone’s ranking SEO on the platform. So yeah, that actually wasn’t from those same client, cause those initial clients were smaller projects. And I could never a upsell them cause I never had the budget. I was like a little local printer in Australia and his budget was $1,000 a month. I could never upsell him to $2,000 a month cause it was just out of his budget. But having that experience and credibility in the platform then, would allow me to get the 2000 a month to 3000 a month.

Phil Singleton: Awesome. So Upwork’s one another’s contract it under some degree or some shape or form. Which one do I want to hit on these next? I mean we did talk a little bit about cold calling before the show started. I know in your team you’re not the person responsible for that, but to the extent that you can, love to hear more about it, cause I’m always intrigued about that piece of it was always believed that if there’s a way you can reach somebody on a phone, if you’re good at it, there’s just always going to be an element of timing. We were just thinking about doing and you show yourself, you get that ability. That’s just almost like a numbers game type of thing too. But I also know there’s a lot more noise these days and it’s just so much you’ve got like a really big give or a good angle is hard to get anybody’s attention.

Phil Singleton: Love to hear if that’s working for you or something you guys continue to do now, is it still kind of one, this is up in the air? Is it a core part of kind of like your sales and marketing efforts? How’s that going for you?

Tom Casano: Yeah. Honestly we haven’t even started it yet. And we have two guys that were hiring and we have sales training and I’m not a huge believer in it. It’s not that it can’t work and it won’t work. And I have a friend Ed who’s over in Brooklyn and he’s been doing a lot of it. And when I think of the types of leads, there’s, I think at the top you have like referrals or networking and then layered, like the next level down second level would be like inbound or someone’s found you through content marketing or saw you somewhere on social media.

Tom Casano: And then the third one is outbound. And I tend to think that outbound is the one you can have control over and you can be very proactive in. Because if no one’s coming to your website or you are going to have to pay. But I just think that it’s like a needle in a haystack. And if you call a hundred people, maybe one to five of them or one to ten … It’s a numbers game. And I’m not a huge fan. I’m not a huge believer but I know it’s possible. I know whole businesses built on it.

Phil Singleton: Yeah. Well it’s also funny, it seems like some of the clients that we end up getting seemed like they maybe if they were unhappy from their last digital marketing company, nine times out of 10 they were cold calls. How they kind of got on the hook for them. It worked for the company even though maybe they didn’t have their sales and marketing work. So always interested in talking about anybody that’s got a way. Cause there’s other people that swear by it and I’ve interviewed a ton of entrepreneurs where it seems like no matter what at some part of their early career they kind of had to roll up the sleeves either to like save their business or to get it going or just to try and generate something. Lots of them, nine times out of 10 hit the phones, but one time I guess in their life.

Phil Singleton: And maybe that’s a little bit different now because for us trying to do it, we don’t hit the phones. We’d go to another place where we’d try and start off with small gig or something like that to get better clients I don’t know how that works, but I’m definitely still interested in cold call. Cause I told you before that we failed miserably at it, but there’s some tenacity there to see like see how there’s other ways to make it work. I just know the way that we initially tried it didn’t work very well for us.

Tom Casano: No, I know exactly. And it’s like anything, if we try to do too many marketing initiatives, then we’re not giving anything enough attention to like really make it work. And then if you really have conviction on something you can double down on, You start to see the inklings of it. Like working and you get a lead out of it. I mean, like I’m telling you, I think 80-90% of our business is from Upwork. There might be a couple of referrals or partners has been working with those take time to build those relationships. Like if you’re just starting out, even for us to build relationships with potential partners, it’s a process, which I’m okay, I love longterm things, but at the same time I have like an urgency and I always want to see the growth chart to be as vertical as possible, even though it’s ridiculous.

Tom Casano: Another thing I’ve experimented with this clarity about us, have you heard of that Phil?

Phil Singleton: Yes.

Tom Casano: And that works well, no, it doesn’t work right. I guess some phone calls, but none of them really become retainer clients. Maybe like one or two have you could do get hourly work out of that. You could build relationships, you can actually optimize your profile. I’ll be frank with you, the algorithm all these platforms of algorithms, clarity’s algorithm. It’s like you can just keyword stuff your profile and your rank higher. I think for SEO I’m ranked number two, you want to get more reviews and more calls that’ll help you-

Phil Singleton: That’s another, I mean I’ve heard of it. I’ve never like actually used it, Is that’s a kind of another gig based kind of-

Tom Casano: It’s a cool platform. I wish they would market it. I want to help them because you can just hire any consultant on a minute by minute basis, you could talk to someone for a dollar a minute who is an expert in Facebook ads and just like boom, start talking. I think it’s a great idea. And so I’m on there as an SEO consultant. Anyone could be on, there’s any kind of consultant. So it’s another way to get potential leads. But that one doesn’t really drive us retainer leads or retainer clients-

Phil Singleton: Doing that now a while or is it still kinda up in the air is it still?

Tom Casano: Yeah, I’ve been doing that maybe six months or a year-

Phil Singleton: Are you getting like the engagement and starting the conversation, but it hasn’t like-

Tom Casano: Well, what will happen is these people want to pay by the minute, so they want to do a 30 minute call, great. They got what they needed. Maybe they’re doing it themselves for doing it in house and then they’re gone. And it’s like, hey, you want to spend $3,000 a month with me, It’s like not in their budget is not in their mindset. It’s not really the right targeting.

Phil Singleton: Gotcha.

3rd Party Webinars ie “Webinar Guesting”

Tom Casano: And then, oh, I did a Webinar for SEM Rush and I think I got four or five leads at that and two of them I think closed and became pretty good, retainers. And then I got another lead from a podcast I was interviewed on. I know this is your thing, so you can-

Phil Singleton: That’s great. I mean, I know that somebody else to like, confirmed that it’s actually working and it wasn’t just luck for me, but that’s awesome. Because a webinars almost to me, almost a very similar type of idea. Where you get exposure and other audience through being a guest somewhere, sharing knowledge bit-

Tom Casano: I think a topic matters too because the one that worked so well for me. It was all about the ROI of SEO. I think that can speak to like a CMO or a business owner. I did another Webinar with SEM Rush and it was all about how to be a great freelancer on Upwork and I think that’s going to get all the freelancers on Upwork it’s not gonna be targeted to my ideal prospect.
Phil Singleton: There’s value in that too though, right? Because all of a sudden you’re getting your name out there more than personal branding and authority and stuff that hopefully will come back-

Tom Casano: Yeah. I think it’s not as much, but yeah, and then we didn’t touch on yet, but I think, I mean I’m working on this now so it’s still too early for me to be like, “I’m getting leads and it’s growing my business.” But, Linkedin we could talk about, we seem to already be aware of….what’s that?

LinkedIn Lead Generation

Phil Singleton: The Cherry on top, let’s get it to Linkedin is something we’re excited about and I think you’ve got much more of a head start than most of us there. So tell us about how that’s working for you and what’s working for you.

Tom Casano: Yeah, for sure. So Linkedin, Microsoft bought them two years ago and change a lot of platform and now people probably notice it’s more like Facebook. There’s the news feed that’s on the homepage and so-

Phil Singleton: Some people were a little bit afraid they (Microsoft) were going to mess it up. It’s just like they actually like hit a home run with it.

Tom Casano: Yeah, exactly. I was like, why is Microsoft buying this? This makes no sense. But the challenge is if you look at Facebook, not only is it like saturated and every marketer kind of knows about it, but also, you get like basically almost zero organic reach through your company page. It’s like basically if you want to be seen, you have to pay for it. Linkedin is still kind of a baby and oh my God, Linkedin is every, in the first of all, the targeting is amazing, right? Like you could basically find anyone you want to find, you want to find the CMOs, you can find them and everyone is on there and it’s much more one to one.

Tom Casano: And it’s also like, it’s not a one way street, like with, Facebook, you’d get followers, but with Linkedin I connect with you and once we’re connected, we’re both automatically following each other unless we unfollow. But there’s like no content. It’s like if you look at your Linkedin feed, it’s terrible. Typically for most people’s feed, it’s like someone share something that gets zero to one likes and it’s like people are promoting it. It’s like garbage.

Tom Casano: There’s this opportunity of all these content creators that are coming on now and it’s an algorithm like, other social media algorithms that if you start getting engagement with your posts, like within the first hour, I don’t even know. I need to study the algorithm. I don’t fully understand. Within the first day or so, the algorithm starts to think like, “Wow, everyone’s liking this to commenting on it. It must be really good. We’ll share it across more, give it more visibility.” And there’s so many fascinating things in this. You could tell getting passionate about it because they’ll show your stuff the second and third degree connections. And you’ve probably seen it like it’ll say the topic, someone commented or someone like such a such a thing. All of a sudden your network just starts like moving further and further out of people that are not directly connected to you.

Tom Casano: And a creative video a week ago, as of the time we’re recording this now and it’s gotten 12,000 views and I think like 200 comments and 200 likes. And it was a very transparent, vulnerable video about spike own self worth, which has nothing to do with business or Linkedin. But if it can resonate and if I can get that initial … I tell the guys in my team like, “Hey, like, or comment on my thing.” That’ll tell the algorithm that this is a good piece of content.

Tom Casano: And so basically I’m very hyper aware now people that have grown, tens of thousands or a hundred thousand plus followers and they put out a piece of content. It gets all these likes and views, and I was telling you in the green room right before this, that if I would have be on YouTube, it might be lucky to get five years right and put the VR on Linkedin, it got 12,000. But that’s because I’m really optimizing the crap out of it. I’m scaling my connection. I’m connected with a hundred people a day. I’ve grown from like 2000 to 4,000 connections in the last month. There, there’s a lot and I’ve been putting a lot of too much time and energy into learning about it, but I just think the opportunity is just amazing.

Phil Singleton: Yeah, that’s awesome. I mean, that’s so good. There’s other ones, I don’t use it, yes ave looked at at all, but it seems that there’s a lot of Linkedin lead generation services where you’ve got people that are, I’m not exactly sure how it is they’re doing it but I guess they’re targeting people helping to do the outreach stuff, setting up meetings and calls and that kind of stuff. Is that something you’ve tried or looked at? Have you done any kind of your own outreach or that kind of thing?

Tom Casano: That’s something I’m starting like literally next week for, we’re moving into the fourth quarter because I don’t know exactly the best process, but I do know a few things. I do know that templated or like copy and pasting and junk just I don’t think works so well. I think it has to be personalized and I think it has to start from a place of like, “How can I help you?” or “What’s in your world-?”

Phil Singleton: All the time, I’m sure right now, I get it like, all of a sudden somebody can do it. It’s like, now, you know?

Tom Casano: Yeah, exactly. It’s like spam. It’s a cold email. Like we talked about cold calling. There’s cold email, it’s the same concept, right? Just copy and paste as junk and then the person’s like, “I don’t … who are you?”

Phil Singleton: We’ll do a followup with you on that to see how it kind of works I know there’s something, I mean I even tried to think about the ways that people have actually … that I’ve actually ended up buying from. Because they get pitched all the time. Sure you do. And the ones that really only works when then the gift has been pretty good. Like, “Hey, some people say I want to guest post.” Or when somebody comes and says, “I read this post, it was really awesome. We actually linked from it from our side.” and I said. “Oh Wow. Okay. Well that’s cool.” they already starting to give me something. Now I feel obligated to come back and do that.

Tom Casano: So now all your listeners now they just need to send you a backlink.

Phil Singleton: I guess we’re doing that right now, but anything, yeah, another guy said that, their posting or their blogger outreach was so good that he was willing to give me three of them to like, “Hell yeah, I got to try that.” And then all of a sudden it was good. So we tried them out and that kind of stuff. That stuff really works right? Cause they’re investing in themselves, to do that kind of thing versus “Hey, we just connected with you. I want to tell you about how I can make your company more money. You’re saving money.” It’s like never, it has never worked once for me. I don’t think it will ever work. Has it worked for you? Has it worked for some people? Because it’s a numbers game for em but-

Tom Casano: No, I have the same philosophy you got to give first. You have to add value, create value. I’ve been also tracking this as I connect with more people. I get more of these things and I’m actually starting to record there’s like four of them that got me to engage. And I was almost intrigued. I was like, “Ooh.” And one of them was just an open question of like, it’s a personalized message. So it can be templated it’s like, “Hey Tom, thanks. We’re going actionable.” And they’re like, “What’s new in your world?” And I feel like I have to respond to that. I don’t know why and two of those guys said. And I was like, “I wonder if this is like a thing that people are doing this?” Like, “What’s new in your” … it doesn’t have to be that phrase, but I was just like … or they say, “What can I do to help you?”

Tom Casano: And I usually say that and then like, “Oh, do you know anyone who needs help with SEO?” I’d love to …. But you are not adding value, and this is now … we could talk about it for a second like … cause I want to actually you to teach me when you’re in my podcast about how you’re becoming a guest on podcasts. So there’s been some … I have a podcast as well as fill in and some people have pitched me like, “Hey, I want to be a guest on your podcast?” And it’s just like you’re saying, and I heard you say this in the Larry Kim episode, like, “What’s in it for me?” Like, “What’s the value?” Like, “If I get 10 pitches, why would I pick you? I don’t have all the time in the world.”

Tom Casano: And, so I watched another agency like pitch me in to be a guest. On their podcast, I took the guest, it was the guy who’s the founder of Manychat, the chat-

Phil Singleton: Okay. Yeah, sure.

Tom Casano: And what she said, it was a great email and I copied the whole thing. I was like, “This is beautiful.” It was like she left her review, and then she talked honestly.
Phil Singleton: Wow that’s good.

Tom Casano: Yeah. And she said like something very specific, like I could tell she must have listened to an episode for at least 10 minutes. Oftentimes people will say that when they’re doing outreach for link building, like, “I liked your post about it.” and then insert title and then you’re like, “No, you didn’t.”

Tom Casano: Who Cares? Right? So it’s adding value. It’s giving first building a relationship and then finding that synergy and connection. But, so that’s what we’ve been doing. So for me to become a guest on podcasts on it, I need to hear your strategy. We’ve been doing that and just being methodical or having a list of podcasts and creating a rela … a lot of it is building relationships like you and I met through a relationship through my colleague, who’s been a guest on your podcast, and on mine too. So it just becomes a small world where people want to help each other and all that.

Phil Singleton: Exactly. And it’s so genuine stuff like that. I’d love to kind of dig into that a bit more. But yeah, the Linkedin things very exciting and I think it’s going … it seems like it’s getting, it’s almost like early, it’s getting better.

Phil Singleton: I mean, I don’t wanna spend any time on. The only place I ever spent anytime right now is Linkedin because it’s cleaner content. It’s more interesting. It’s more focused on stuff that I like. I just not never have really been into Facebook. I am there because you know, clients and customers need to be there, that kind of stuff and there’s some group things that work. But I love Linkedin but I also feel like I’m leaving money on the table.

Tom Casano: Well I think-

Phil Singleton: Only participating and not doing it with enough strategy.

Tom Casano: Yeah, I mean I think it’s like anything, it’s like to really make it work for you, you really have to invest time or energy or money. You have to give it some focus. Right? And I’ve struggled with this too, because I’m too focused on too many things I’m not. But I think the other big thing is to, when we talk, like Gary Vaynerchuk talks about like optimizing to the platform or like being native within that platform.

Tom Casano: And so with Linkedin you can’t put an external link in your post because Linkedin’s algorithm will not give it as much visibility coz Linkedin doesn’t want people to leave the platform. So you really have to create content for Linkedin. Like specifically, you can’t take your blog post and just paste it in the link and say something about it. You’ve got to, craft that Linkedin post in the same way that if you’re writing a blog post for your blog, you’re just making it just for that blog. So does that make sense? I think a lot of people like doing that.

Phil Singleton: Totally. And that’s something I’m probably doing you no wrong too, coz I’m always wanting people to come back to our site so I can tag them now with Linkedin’s got their own remarketing tag too, so I can see how people would do it the old fashioned way.

Phil Singleton: But I totally get what you’re saying it’s like, well you’re also, it’s a little give and take there. They want you to put your best con … you want your best content on your site. They want the best content on their platform and they’re going to reward you more for it. So-

Tom Casano: Exactly. And it just takes more time and effort. And the other thing is like they give you like the preview, like if it’s a text post, you see like the first. I should know the number of characters are down that need’s to click see more. And so the real, it’s almost like the headline or the Clickbait and you have to have something in there emotional that will grab people. And the other thing is like transparency or vulnerability, which people, I think there’s fear because on Linkedin you feel like you have to be professional.

Tom Casano: It’s your professional network. But I think once you start to just say something like raw and honest and the other thing that’s really amazing, is like when you go on Instagram or Facebook, you know everyone’s posting like their vacation pictures and this perfect life, life like the filters on. But like, then it makes all the rest of us kind of feel crappy like, “Man, these people have awesome lives.” Like, “Mine sucks.” But then when you go on Linkedin and no one’s doing anything like remarkable, and then you start to say something that’s like, “My client just fired me yesterday.” Period. It’s like, well, you want to start your … see more. Or like, “I just had the worst day of my life yesterday and I cried for two hours.” Well like you can click see more and your students are reading it and getting the engagement. So it’s like marketing and other platforms as well.

Phil Singleton: That’s awesome. Let’s let them wrap up here and then kind of also just tell our listeners where they can find you and that kind of stuff. Before I do that, I want to ask one more question. One of the things I noticed in after we made a connection, of course I checked your website. That’s great. I checked out your podcast with some episodes. You’ve done a fantastic job of being able to start a podcast in your niche and be able to invite and get people on your show that are pretty much the Who’s who in the SEO, like kind of in the inbound marketing world in particular in SEO. How does that … how did you do that? What? Did you do direct outreach? Did you engage with these people first? What … you saw one of the tricks Larry used again when he came on my show. Did you do … was it that extravagant or did you use something else? Spill it man. Tell em how you do it.

Tom Casano: Oh you know I didn’t finish Larry King episode, and he told to listen to the rest of it. Yeah, so, I have kind of like a template, and you have to, like we talked about adding value and giving you have to position that so that like, “Hey, would you like to be featured as a guest on my podcast for all my listener?” It has to be of extreme value to them, but the relationship building is even first and foremost. And even with any templated email, I’m always personalize in the beginning. If you have an existing relationship, you have to have that human connection that they like you and they want to be on.

Tom Casano: But if they’ve never heard from me, I might cold email them or I might try to like get some kind of referral or some kind of like connections was not direct. So like for instance, Brian Dean, I think I first emailed him in like September of last year. And I replied to one of his like automated marketing messages, and then he went on Hunter.io. I tried to find … he had like three email addresses like, “I don’t know what or it he’s even going to reply. So and then I replied to one of his automated marketing messages, and then he said something, he was taking like a podcast holiday for two months and he was busy. Okay. So I marked it on my calendar and I followed up again and then he was busy. Okay. And then … Sometimes the opportunity just presents itself. Like there’s a, a company I mentioned to you called conductor, which is … you’re not that familiar with them and probably a lot of people aren’t.

Tom Casano: But I want to interview the CEO, his name Seth. And so I’d emailed him in the past and then the opportunity presented himself. I just randomly … Sorry shared on Linkedin that he was interviewed in some podcast and shared. And then I liked it and I commented, I said, “Oh great. I’ve had Pat from your team, from your company on the show and I’d love to interview you and … sorry the guy too.” And then he responded and then I emailed them and they emailed me back to set up a time. It’s like … and the other thing is having the credibility. So what I’m asking someone that I want to interview on my podcast, I have a landing page and I could share with you and it’s like, I’ve got the most credible figures I could think of, at least in my or in our world of SEO and stuff like that.  Eric Su, you know, maybe I’ll change things or add people if I have some of those types of people or internet famous. What’s that?

Phil Singleton: If they click on it and they are of that caliber, then all of a sudden they see everybody else to it. Now it’s kind of like snowballing on itself, right?

Tom Casano: Exactly. Yeah. It’s like street cred, right? And you build your way up. And then, but then what I’ve learned, Phil, I’ll be very honest, is I thought that like, what’s cool is one, it’s influencer marketing. So you’re building relationships, right? Like now I feel like I can email Rand Fishkin or Brian Dean and then I’m not going to be some stranger weirdo guy. But the other thing is I thought that these people would kind of like share it. And he even got Brian Dean’s tweet it, but like did nothing, I don’t really think it had any impact. So even my concept and what I heard and thought about influencer marketing, it’s not really driving results for the podcast, which makes me realize Mm-hmm (affirmative)- okay. That’s not really the best strategy for me. What other strategy should I do?

Phil Singleton: Awesome. It’s great stuff. Gosh, we have to have you back again to once now that we’ve had this kind of initial one to kind of really maybe drill down on one or two things the next time if you’re willing to come back on the show. But for now I just want to thank you and I’d like for you to tell us where people can reach you in terms of your website, and I’m assuming Linkedin’s going to be one of the places that we’ve got to make sure that we are link to because you’re active on. What any other social channels that you spend time on too?

Tom Casano: I spend a lot of time on twitter, but it doesn’t really do anything. You thinking like a con. I don’t know. People don’t really engage or maybe I’m just too late to the platform. I Dunno. But yeah, and it’s been a pleasure. I-

Phil Singleton: You do it just to … so it will include that link, but that’s one of the ones that you just kind of-

Tom Casano: Well it’s, yes. Some people say it’s a ghost town, or it’s overly bullish on Linkedin.

Phil Singleton: I just … Yeah Linkedin seems like it’s more for like the people out there that are actually getting the work done. Twitter just seems like such an … just like a major influencer platform.

Tom Casano: It’s too noisy. That’s the other thing, like you could-

Phil Singleton: Unless you are a Celebrity, and I mean the rest of us, is it really the best place for them now?

Tom Casano: But it’s too competitive. It’s too noisy and competitive, like maybe there’s … in someone’s feed, they might have like a thousand tweets an hour or 200. Like how are we going to stand out in that? You’re not.

Phil Singleton: Once I was talking to some other guy, I was saying, yeah, like the twitter or something … twitter’s the shelf life’s like minutes?

Tom Casano: Yeah.

Phil Singleton: Facebook, It’s like maybe six hours or so I don’t know what it is on Linkedin, but at least on some of those-

Tom Casano: Linkedin is like, oh, it’s like a week, it’s two weeks. Like you look in your feed and you might see like something from four days ago.

Phil Singleton: It’s still in…

Tom Casano: It can still show it because they’re so hungry for content. There’s nothing better that happened in the la … I mean that video is still getting views. It’s still increasing cause it’s, yeah. So people can find me anywhere. Google my name Tom Casano or connecting with me on-

Phil Singleton: Can you spell it out for us?

Tom Casano: Sure Oak. Yeah, for sure it’s Sure Oak Yeah. It’s S-U-R-E like you are “sure” about something and O-A-K like an Oaktree.

Tom Casano: So yeah, connect with me. Follow me, reach out. I’d love to say hello and see what I can do to help you. And thanks so much for having me, Phil. It has been a pleasure.

Phil Singleton: Awesome I also got so excited about this too. So and Tom Casano tell me I’m saying it the right way hope I didn’t say it … mispronounce it. I didn’t, I just rolled the dice and said, I think I can get this one. But thanks a ton of time.

Tom Casano: Yeah. I’ve had a blast Phil you are awesome and we’re kindred spirits, so thanks for having me.

Phil Singleton: Awesome.

How to Get Content From Your Clients

About James Rose & Content Snare

James Rose is a reformed Australian digital agency owner and the co-founder of Content Snare.

Content Snare is an online software service designed to cut down the time and headache wasted on chasing up clients for website content.

Content Snare is one of the best content marketing tools helps digital agencies and web designers get content from their clients.

One of the biggest bottlenecks in the web design process is waiting on clients to send their content through.

After countless follow-ups and an email trail longer than your to-do list, it’s still common for deadlines to be missed.

Content Snare helps you get the content back on time and in the right format, in a process that’s simplified for the client and your agency.

Instead of wading through different files, a massive email trail and Dropbox, Content Snare provides a central place where you and your client can access everything.

Episode Resources & Links

 

Meet James Rose

Phil Singleton: Hello everybody, and welcome to another episode of The Local Business Leaders Podcast. I am your host Phil Singleton. Today our featured guest is James Rose. James is a reformed Australian digital agency owner and the co-founder of Content Snare. Content Snare is an online software service designed to cut down the time and headache wasted on chasing up clients for website content.

So, wow. I’m a website, SEO, digital marketing owner myself. And I can tell you that this is one of the most difficult things that us agency owners run into. We’ll get a website, you know, 90% done and then be waiting weeks and weeks on content from the clients, who are busy during their own thing, right? The website’s a really important part of their business and it’s the hub of basically anybody’s modern digital marketing program. Yet getting that critical content up onto a new website can be like pulling teeth.

So anybody who creates websites for a living and knows how tough it can be to get the content needed to complete and launch a new website is gonna love this. And I think other folks with small businesses that listen to this podcast as well will kind of understand some of the challenges that we have in … Or in getting this kind of content. Really probably for websites but just maybe ongoing, you know, content for the website and other projects as well. So we can’t wait to really dig into this.

James, welcome to the show.

James Rose: Thank you for having me, Phil.

Phil Singleton: Awesome. I can’t wait for this one. ‘Cause anytime we get the chance to talk about our own company’s pain points and stuff like that is always a treat. But before we get into that kind of stuff, can you give us a little bit of background about yourself? I mean, literally your first kind of job out of school or what have you? How did you get started into the business world? And what was kind of your story in terms of getting to where you are today?

James Rose: I think I have one of the more boring stories here. Like, I always hear people like … Oh, they like selling things to people in school and stuff like that and always have had the entrepreneurial thing. But I did not at all. I was fully in the system, you know? Go to university, college as you guys might say. And then get an engineering job, ’cause I was really into that sort of stuff, like super logical and liked working stuff and I liked working on that kind of … Sorry, moving stuff, you know, like machinery and all that. And I was just fascinated by it and I wanted to make it.

So that’s where I went. But yeah, I just did the thing. I went to college, got my job. Was doing … Just did that for a few years. And then a friend of mine was going to an online marketing conference and he had a free ticket. And you know back in the day when online marketing conferences were basically pitch fests?

Phil Singleton: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

James Rose: But yeah, I went to one of those kind of things. And … But it actually provided a fair bit of info on like how to sell other people’s products for a commission online. And that sort of … It was one of those like Matrix red pill moments where, you know, I couldn’t get back now that I know that I can make money on the internet. Yeah, that’s pretty much how it all started.

Phil Singleton: The conference basically lit the fire, huh?

James Rose: Yeah. Like, so I went home and started building websites and trying to monetize them with … Back in the AdSense gold rush as they called it, where you could just throw up rubbish websites and put AdSense on ’em and try to get them ranking in Google to make some money. And yeah, that was my start. Like, in hindsight we made some terrible, terrible websites. I mean, we were probably putting a lot of crap on the internet and I’m glad it went away. But …

Phil Singleton: How awesome was it for a while? I mean, as it was kind of easy to make a little bit of money back then, or a lot of money. You know, just by getting started up. They were sweet. So then what happened? And then you got … I know you’ve had an agency or had an agency for a long time. What was kind of the …

James Rose: Yeah.

Phil Singleton: Like when you first got that started and how you kind of maybe amped that up?

James Rose: Well, the first thing we actually did is I met my business partner at my day job. And we built some software for that industry. Is a long time ago now. So we always liked software and building stuff, and that’s where we started. But eventually-

Phil Singleton: So you actually had some skills? I mean, in terms of like, you know, build stuff and participate in that kind of, you know.

James Rose: Well, we learned it. We learned it, you know? Like, we wrote software as part of our job, but very, very different style of software then writing something for a computer, you know? Like these industrial things that have their own special programming languages that most like web developers and stuff would have never even seen half of these languages before.

But so there, we learned C Sharp, it was, and we built a product for … It was in the SEO space, and eventually it kind of … We just decided we didn’t want to be in that space anymore because this product was kind of dodgy. You know, like now it’s a grade of black hat and back then everyone was doing it. And we saw that shift happening and we were like, “No, we cannot be in this space. We don’t really want our names on it.”

So, yeah. Then we started networking just around the local area to just try and find another problem to solve, really. That was it. I was just talking about what issues they had. They asked what I did, and I’d say software. And most people seemed to associate anything with computers as the same thing. You know, like IT, websites, software. So as soon as we said we did software they’d be like, “Oh, my web guy’s like disappeared and we’ve got all these problems with our website.” And blah, blah, blah. Everyone focused on websites.

So that’s how we got started. We went, “Ah, well, we’ve been building websites for years. So how about we do that for people and charge them for it?” So that’s how we got into the agency side of things.

Phil Singleton: Nice. So that kind of … It looks like you had that going for years. Five, six, seven, eight years. Something like that? Or …

James Rose: Yeah, I think it was about … Oh, actually, no. It was only about four and a bit I think now. Because we’re winding that down now. But yeah, so we started doing websites and obviously had that capability for software and eventually mobile apps, which we learned over time. But to be honest, we always had our head down, like ear to the ground looking for ideas for our next product.

So we … Actually, it really early on in the whole thing we found a problem with … A client needed to set up a payment system and send invoices out with Xero using Stripe, the payments … Sorry. The payments went out with Stripe, invoices went out with Xero. And there was not a really easy way to make this happen. Like, we were trying to use Zapya and Triumph, and things together to make it work. But the reconciliation process was really awful. And we ended up building a product for that called Silver Siphon, which we actually sold to an investment firm in Silicon Valley last year. So that was-

Phil Singleton: Nice.

James Rose: But it was only like a side gig. It was never going to be a huge app, ’cause it was a single feature app type thing. Yeah, so … And that sold last year. And then around the same time we started work … Actually, it overlaps quite a bit, but we started work on Content Snare, which is our product which you’ve already touched on for digital agencies to get content from clients. Because we obviously had that problem quite a bit in our agency life.

Phil Singleton: Right. So that’s what I was gonna ask. Is it … Is that something that you went around and asked? Or obviously you had a niche building websites, you felt that pain on your own as any of us still feel to this day. So loved to hear about how kind of, you know, that started and the kind of problems that you had at your agency in terms of getting stuff out of clients to launch.

James Rose: Yeah. Well, I absolutely cannot take credit for it, because my original idea was something around the briefing process, like website briefing. Because that was one of my biggest issues. I was really trying to get websites down to a really sort of … Like, I’m very process-minded, and I wanted all these parts that took a while to be automated somehow. So I had this pretty cool idea for a briefing app. And in our software circles, they talk about doing client interviews, where you go and talk to your potential audience and find out what their biggest problems are.

So I did that. And the idea is you go in without any … Like, you don’t guide them towards what you want, you know? Like, I wasn’t sitting there going, “Is the briefing process really difficult?” I didn’t … I just wanted them to talk about their biggest problems.

So I just went down that path with about 15 different local designers. And every single one of them focused on content as the biggest bottleneck in their process. ‘Cause that’s … I just talked about their process from start to finish. From talking to a client or potential client to signing off a job and them going on their way. And every single one of them focused on content as the biggest problem. So even before we’d started, the idea was kind of flipped over and we basically moved on Content Snare instead of a briefing tool.

Phil Singleton: That’s awesome. So let’s talk about like what it does and how you guys help people and what kind of traction you got and a little bit more about Content Snare. It’s one of those things, too, I think that … You know, I’ve been doing this for years myself and it’s always been an issue and we try different ways to do things. And we found certain ways I think to kind of ease the pain. And some of it is trying to do whatever we can actually to take it away from our clients.

So part of our process would be like, “Okay, we’ve got 10 or 15 questions. We do interviews on Zoom. We record ’em. We transcribe ’em. We send them to a write and we just basically … Part of our contract is we’re gonna write you like seven or 10 pieces of content, you know? Get some stuff out. So if takes a long time, we’re just gonna be able to like stamp this out. Even though that’s probably not the best way to do it. It’s almost like just a way … Like, get some really high-quality starter content on the website. Which isn’t great, but you can see how … I can see how people are out there just trying to figure out how to get things done.

The Problem: Getting Content for a New Website

‘Cause if I step back and look like, “Look, if I just … If every new client I had just already had 10 or 15 pages worth of content, some great images and maybe a couple of videos, we could be turning out really awesome websites in like a couple … Custom websites in like two to three weeks.” You know?

James Rose: Oh yeah.

Phil Singleton: But you don’t have that piece. So that’s the X factor that takes a website … You know, instead of two or three weeks may take two or three months. Or four or five months. Or six months or … You know, like we were talking about before the show, everybody’s got one that they’re probably really embarrassed about. It’s like, “Wow, we’ve worked for like months and we can’t get it launched.” And I’ve got two right now that are from 2017, you know? And we’re still trying. Which is like scary. So-

James Rose: And it’s definitely a story we’ve heard a lot.

Phil Singleton: Yeah, yeah. So tell us … And then you hear things like, you know, “Cool, alright. There’s a new software or service that you got.” Which almost sounds … I don’t want to like, you know, always hit it … Is that too good to be true type of thing. How have you guys solved it? Like, what does it do? Let’s dig in a little bit and tell us how it’s made our lives easier as agency owners.

James Rose: Yeah, and it’s funny you say that too good to be true thing. Because I’ve actually … The first email that goes out now and to clients’ Success Pack, this sort of thing that I send out to people that sign up, I make sure that I say that it’s not a magic bullet, right? Like, nothing’s just gonna magically get you content. I think that is actually one of our biggest issues at the moment is people sign up expecting they can turn it on and magically all their content problems go away. And suddenly clients start providing content in like three days. But it’s not the case.

So essentially we just try to make it much easier for clients to provide content. And that also requires a bit of work on the digital agency front. So at its core really it’s just a lot of different places for a client to put their content in. So that might be file uploads or text fields or WYSIWYG, which is for those not familiar, What You See Is What You Get. So just like formatted texts so they can bold things and italics and all that sort of stuff. You know, and you can constrain everything, so like with images … You know, it’s always funny when you get a logo that’s like 20 pixels high or something and you’re trying to use it on the site.

So you can force clients in … ‘Cause this is one of … Like, the biggest problems we found people had were the delays. Getting bad content. You know, whether that’s the wrong images or content that’s not long enough or short enough, or, you know, it’s waffling. Or it’s just not good content at all. Or it comes back really strangely formatted, like probably a lot of web designers can probably resonate with this. But getting like Word documents back that are full of highlighting and red text with like instructions saying things like … Yeah. You’re laughing because I’m sure you’ve had it before.

Phil Singleton: Oh yeah.

James Rose: Yeah. So … And you get these weirdly formatted documents. And that was what we were trying to squash, is those three issues in one. So it’s a place … It’s a central place to manage all the content where you don’t need to have instructions throughout the actual content like you do with Word documents. So the instructions sit separately in their own little boxes where you can guide your clients through the writing process and what kind of content you need. You can constrain them into the right kinds. And then obviously the automatic reminders, because that’s the biggest thing is sometimes they just forget or, you know, you don’t want to have to sit there and constantly email them and chase them up.

Phil Singleton: Yeah, right.

James Rose: So yeah, I mean, one day maybe we’ll even do some text message reminders or something, I don’t know. But we want to turn it into a bit more of a management platform where it helps you manage your clients a bit more. At the moment it’s kind of just email reminders, you know, on schedules based on due dates.

Phil Singleton: Awesome. So it’s like a central repository kind of where you can put stuff and then you’re actually structuring the content that you need and then the clients are basically getting reminders. And once it’s filled, does it stop the reminder?

James Rose: Yeah, absolutely. So … And you can actually send out different reminders based on like whether they’ve not started at all or they’ve filled it out just a little bit. Or whether they’re done. So in the future, I think we’re gonna make that even better. But, yeah, that’s pretty much it. Like, I never know how much detail to go into with this. But yeah, in one sentence, it’s a central repository with a structure and the automatic reminders. So yeah, what you said.

Phil Singleton: And then it’s like I see … I totally get what you’re saying about it. It’s really any of these tools. I mean, there’s so many things out there that I guess can work or can’t work for you. And it’s like none of them usually are like, “Buy something and solve all of your problems.” But anything that can kind of give you the structure and you actually like use and make part of your routine, is huge. Right? I mean, that’s just a big thing.

But the other side of it is that I can see … This is an agency designer myself that’s … Look, I’m really intrigued by this and I’ve actually signed up for it myself. But we’re already like, you know … Always seems like we’re in a game running around. So you get that part where it’s like, “Which tools do you kind of give it a try?” ‘Cause every trick that we try takes some time, is a learning curve, right?

James Rose: Yeah.

Phil Singleton: And then you know you need to do some of these things so that can improve your process. But at the same time, it’s like … Okay, sometimes we put things off, right? And then-

James Rose: Absolutely, yeah.

Phil Singleton: And even on new things that we know can help … Any challenges with that or any success stories that you can relate to people that are taking the time to work this into their routine? And some of the things your happy clients say after kind of incorporating it I guess?

James Rose: Yeah, and this is why we have to spend a lot of time trying to make that onboarding process, like getting people to use it, as easy as possible. And because if they put it in the too hard basket, I don’t know, do you guys say that in America? Put it in the too hard basket?

Phil Singleton: Yeah, I’m gonna start saying that. But, had to explain it, yeah.

James Rose: Yeah, yeah. So that’s … You know, if you have to put all this work in to get it going out of the … Especially as a busy person already, which most agency owners are, they’re not gonna have the time to do it. So that’s pretty much where all my time’s going right now is making things easier. And I mentioned the Client Success Pack before. And that’s essentially like a video that helps people get started as fast as possible. Some explanation on how to make it work the best. And some actual templates, you know, and copywriting instructions. Because I find that is the biggest thing.

And I was speaking to a client … To answer your question … I was speaking to a client just like a week ago who sort of hit this aha moment. They’d first started using it a while back. And didn’t really realize the best ways to use it. And to him that was realizing each section. So in Content Snare you have a content request, and then you have sort of pages, which could be used for pages on a website. And then within those, you have sections.

So in a website header, you know, the hero header might be a section. But he hadn’t … In my mind that was really clear, ’cause that’s how we designed it. But he hadn’t realized that was a … How it was supposed to be used. And when he realized that you could put a screenshot of a website section as like a section in Content Snare and then put fields in that corresponds to that like a headline and a subheadline and a button, that was his aha moment where it clicked in. So that’s a big thing now.

Like, I’ve … We’ve created built-in templates for common website sections like navigation sections and headers and, you know, about blurbs and contact pages and all that kind of stuff to get people to that point faster. And he actually said it really well. ‘Cause we were just talking about the time spent to get up to speed. He said, “You know, putting in a few minutes work now can save you hours later. And now I’m trying to work out how to put that in our onboarding.” Like, get … Make people realize that that’s the case.

Phil Singleton: Yeah, that’s awesome. So I can see as you’re talking about this, I’m also thinking about how many of us … And you’ve probably done this yourself, too, James, maybe … Where I’ve bought things or started trials or even bought things where, you know, you are … You’ve got this thing, this service page you’re paying for. And I’m actually thinking right now, every once and a while I think we go back and I take a look and like, “Are we actually even using this?” ‘Cause you start doing your own agency or whatever, all of a sudden you start building up this like list of monthly payments that you’re doing. And then not even realizing that you haven’t used it.

And not that the product’s not good or anything, it’s just you never took some time. I think it seems like some online software providers, they must have some way to like tag their notices. ‘Cause some of them I notice if you don’t start using them, they basically are like … They know that they’re at risk of, you know, maybe canceling the service because you’re not even using it at all. You haven’t really given it the chance. Like, you went on with the best intentions. You buy and it kind of sat there. And all of a sudden it starts dinging your credit card.

James Rose: Yeah, you’ve just given me an idea of like … ‘Cause that’s definitely one of our things at the moment is people forgetting about it or not using it and not having the time. And then canceling. And I was like, “Man, the CRM we’re using has that ability to email people who are” … It’s called the segment’s slipping away. So it’s like built in, right? So that’s something I need to start doing.

Phil Singleton: Well, even still just myself, I was just thinking, “Gosh, that I could see how that happens.” ‘Cause we all want the next edge and you have to keep investing in technology and stuff like that. But I can see that being a tricky … How about just making the … I mean, you didn’t really make a transition I guess from … You always kind of had the agency in the background, but you always seemed like you also had the ability or you had a product that you were actually selling and, you know, kind of a scalable piece where you could have it out there and resell it. And I was gonna ask…

James Rose: Yeah, I think that’s where our heart’s always been, you know, like in the software side of things. Agency stuff was like … I enjoyed it, but not as much as software.

Phil Singleton: Right. And that’s ’cause you like building that stuff? Or you like actual process of being able to kind of put something out and market it and sell, you know-

James Rose: Yeah-

Phil Singleton: Lots of them versus having to kind of … You know, it is kind of tough. Everyone wants to scale their agency. But at the end of the day, we’re still consultants to some degree, you know? It’s really, really hard to like completely automate like a website.

James Rose: Oh yeah.

Phil Singleton: Especially if you want to use it as a tool to do recurring income type of thing. But-

James Rose: Definitely.

Phil Singleton: So you can scale and have more, maybe you can go from 50 to a hundred or two hundred. But you can’t do like a product where you could literally sell thousands of ’em, right?

James Rose: Yeah, that’s right.

Phil Singleton: And that’s kind of where you guys are at with this thing. And … Can you give us some examples about how you … You got this, you got a product, you have something that almost seems like it’s really geared for agencies, right? Digital agencies?

James Rose: Yeah, well, that’s like the marketing. There’s definitely other markets for it.

Phil Singleton: So how are you going about, like, getting the word out? Marketing that now? Maybe a website for it? You’re doing your own content for it? You doing any AdWords? I mean, you’re out there both … How’s … What’s working for you that way?

James Rose: Oh, this is a touchy subject.

Phil Singleton: I’m sorry.

James Rose: No, no, no. I’m kidding. It’s like the bane of my existence right now because the big thing with any sort of productized thing is they say … Especially in the beginning … Finds one or two channels that are really working well for you and just double down those. And right now I have about 15 channels that are working a little bit. So I don’t have any one channel that’s really like exploded or … You know, it’s all working a little bit and it’s fine and it’s growing. It’s just like I wish I knew where to focus. But yeah, we’ve tried … We’ve done a little bit of AdWords. A little bit of Facebook Ads.

But a lot of our stuff comes from people searching for the problem. Whether that’s by actual on Google going like, you know, hitting a point of frustration and going, “How to get website content from clients”, but that’s really, really low volume. Like, not many people actually search for that. To the point where we couldn’t even target it on AdWords ’cause it said too low volume or whatever.

And the other thing is if they hit that same point of frustration and go to like a Facebook group or a community and say, “Look, I’m so sick of this. Like, what have you seen that helps or how can we streamline this process?” And people might mention Content Snare if they’ve heard about it. Or, you know, ’cause I find some groups that we haven’t sort of gotten into yet where people are talking about Google Docs or product management systems. And they’re probably our biggest competitors in these tools that can be used to do it, but probably not in the best way. And then people find out about Content Snare and suddenly we get recommended.

But that’s … They’re our biggest channels. I spend a lot of my time on content marketing, so we definitely have a few blog posts that rank well for terms that digital agencies would be searching for.

Phil Singleton: Nice.

James Rose: But there’s not many of those, you know? I’ve spent … Oh, man, I don’t even want to know how much time I’ve spent searching and reverse engineering other websites that target digital agencies to find what they rank for and come up empty-handed. It’s crazy. So yeah, that’s why I said it’s a touchy subject, ’cause I just … It’s all these like small channels. Nothing’s really just gone gangbusters yet.

Phil Singleton: Have you guys ever tried … Like, you mentioned at the beginning … And I’ve never really been … I mean, I’ve actually never been to one single industry event type of thing. So anyone out there … And I know a lot of people go ’cause they end up making … You know, a lot of people … I mean, I’m sure of the States anyway … They’ll go after a certain vertical or whatever and the big part of their business is just going to like, I don’t know … If you’re doing … If you want to do marketing, you want to focus on like dentists. And you go to like a dentists, you know, event or some trade show or something like that. And I just go with them. And that’s great.

But I don’t know. Have you been … I mean, I know you went to some early on. One kind of sparked the fire for you. But have you ever gone to any of them yourself just in general? And have you ever gone to any of them with the purpose of pitching Content Snare?

James Rose: No, not really. So I go to a lot of events, but more like general entrepreneurial stuff. Mostly just to be around other business owners, ’cause it’s like a different head space. But I’ve been to a WordCamp, which is sort of 50-50-

Phil Singleton: Sure.

James Rose: Our target audience. And I’ve looked up a lot of agency conferences. Unfortunately, a lot of the big ones are not in Australia, obviously.

Phil Singleton: Such a roll of the dice, too, ’cause they’re so expensive to-

James Rose: Oh yeah.

Phil Singleton: Travel to and go to and …

James Rose: And it’s a bit hard to justify I feel when, you know, software products might be 30, 50, whatever, a hundred bucks a month. So let’s say your lifetime value is somewhere between, I don’t know, 300 bucks and a thousand dollars. For us, like, it’s … You know, I don’t know if how worthwhile it is to spend all this time, you know, all the money to travel to a conference. To stay there. To … You know, there’s a lot of costs, right? For the ticket-

Phil Singleton: Exactly.

James Rose: And all that sort of stuff. And if you’re only there talking to a few people … If the entire purpose was pitching, which it rarely is, you’d have to convert … You’d have to get a lot of people onboard to make it worthwhile, right?

Phil Singleton: Yeah.

James Rose: Whereas if you were doing.

Phil Singleton: A hundred dollars, sure.

James Rose: Yeah. And you know, if you’re doing dental marketing stuff and you can charge five, 10 grand a month or something, then you’re gonna pay back that much faster by … With just one client. Exactly. Exactly. So that’s why it’s not something I’ve really looked at too much. I’ve looked at sponsoring some events. So far the sponsoring thing hasn’t done real well. I think that’s more of a branding play that you gotta do long term. And if you’ve got lots of money … Like, yeah, that hasn’t really been a big part of our play yet.

Phil Singleton: And then that’s a great time to segue into something that’s actually worked pretty well for me, which is podcasting. Both-

James Rose: Oh, yeah.

Phil Singleton: Having a podcast and being a guest on a podcast, you know.

James Rose: Definitely.

Phil Singleton: Even in front of lots of targeted audiences. Sometimes I guess in maybe small pockets, but you’re still doing it from your home office or your office in Brisbane or in Kansas City or wherever you are. And all of a sudden you’re getting in front of targeted audiences week in and week out.

James Rose: That’s it. And after having you on our podcast last week, I … We sort of talked about this offline and I’m really starting to think about doing that again. ‘Cause that’s how we did that in the beginning. And we got a lot of traction. Well, you know, relatively sort of compared to zero. At the beginning, you know, that was how we started is going on various podcasts. And you can use the people you’ve already spoken to to introduce you to other podcasts, ’cause everyone’s connected. And then suddenly … And as a lot of things that that … A lot of benefits for that where it’s not just getting in front of the audience but the backlinks obviously. So rank better across a lot of-

The Agency Highway Podcast

Phil Singleton: Ding, ding, ding, ding. That’s actually the reason I got started. And I was like, “Holy cow. There’s so many other things that come.” You know, once you start getting clients from it, I was like, “Okay. All in.”

So tell us now about how you’re … You’ve got your own podcast. This is a great time to talk about it. You know, you’re talking about your … I’m gonna butcher it … But it’s Agency … What is it?

James Rose: Agency Highway.

Phil Singleton: Exactly.

James Rose: Yeah, and that’s cool. And it’s brand new, right? Like, well, I think brand new. We’re at about 12 episodes or something. But the reason we started that is people have been telling me to podcast for years. Saying that, “You know, you’ve got the personality for it. It’s be awesome. Blah, blah, blah.” And I never knew what I was gonna podcast about. That’s why I never did it.

But now it seems to make sense, because Content Snare as … We do a lot of content marketing around Content Snare, right? I could have done a podcast under that brand, but the thing is a lot of agencies might not need Content Snare, so they might have an in-house copywriter or whatever that uses their own systems. They know how to provide the content and the right format, whatever.

So they might not benefit unless they need a sort of collaborative tool to work with their clients. Which is, you know, that’s a whole ‘nother topic really. But which is where we’re going to be moving Content Snare. Not moving, but adding features for that kind of workflow as well. But because I feel like a lot of our marketing then is wasted because we’re here getting in front of these agencies that don’t need Snare where if we had another resource or place for agencies to go, it becomes … I don’t know. That’s just more helpful in general.

So it will … I plan on it being a resource website. A bunch of content as well as the podcast. But yeah, that’s what we’re doing now. It’s more just so my marketing isn’t … I don’t know. I can help more people and not waste marketing, really. It makes sense.

Phil Singleton: This is a great, you know, just such a … Every agency owner can relate to some form of pain. I don’t care how big or small the agency is, but there’s always some parts of … ‘Cause you’re dealing with people and people get busy. Especially or obviously … Especially when you’re in smaller companies where people know that the website’s a really important part of it. But they get locked down ’cause they’re actually executing some other owned work, right?

No matter what it is. If it’s a plumber or….layers, all that kind of stuff. So … Your company’s are saying, “Wait, I have some resources in-house. It’s a little easier for them.” But still, coordinating that effort, I can see that as a big challenge. But yeah, I love that. ‘Cause one of the reasons we started the podcast is one, so I can pick the brains of smart people like you and get hacks and ideas and get access to new tools and that kind of stuff. It’s gonna make us more profitable and more scalable.

But it’s also such awesome access. I mean, we try to do some outbound marketing last year and got no one. And then as soon as we, you know, go to an ideal potential client and say, “We want to be on The Local Business Leaders Podcast“, they’re just like, “Yeah”. You know what I mean? ‘Cause they want to be … So same thing I think with you, obviously, right? I mean, you could start interviewing folks and some of them might be either ideal clients or if they’re influencer agencies where people are trying to follow them, at least they’re not gonna use it, then you get to tag their out answer, do all that kind of stuff. So …

James Rose: Yeah, well, it’s definitely a good networking tool for sure. And that was one of the first sort of things I was thinking about. And, you know, if I want to have a partnership with another company, like an influencer agency that you were talking about that’s connected with other agencies, it’s hard to go in and go, “Hey, we’ve got this product. Would you like to try it? Blah, blah, blah”. And it’s all on the take, right? It’s you just trying to take all the value.

But if I can go in and say, “Hey, look. We’ve got this audience and I want to put you in front of them. I come on the podcast, we’ll put you in the Facebook Group. Obviously gets shared everywhere. We can do a guest post if you want. Whatever.” But, you know, lead with all this value and then they go, “Oh, you’ve got this cool product. Like, I think I should share that with my audience.”

Phil Singleton: Awesome. Well, really cool, man. I love all of this kind of stuff. Yeah, we’re kind of … Throw us in that group of folks that like … I have every intention to use Content Snare. We’ve signed up for it. You know, we’re gonna try and obviously use it and give it a try. But it’s funny. It’s one of those things that’s like we’re constantly in … I’m one of these agents … I know a lot of them are like it … But I don’t … You know, we don’t like hire for growth type of thing. We hire after we’ve been doggie paddling so long that we’re drowning.

I don’t know … That’s probably the worst way to do it, but I’m so conservative. ‘Cause I mean there’s so many agencies out there, especially here like here where they basically hire based on feast or famine type of work. And then they go out of business because they had a couple of really good clients an office and hired a bunch of people, and they couldn’t “feed the beast”. And they close like a year or two later. So I’ve always…

James Rose: Yeah, totally.

Phil Singleton: I’ve been doing this … The only way I’ve survived is kind of being … That means a lot of times we’re doggie paddling, you know? We’re, you know, “busy” kind of thing that works. So … The other thing I was wondering … I’ll tell you this about myself, as I’ve got a great, really smart guy in-house that has tried to build something on his own. I think we talked about this before on active campaigns or something.

And I’m thinking like, “Gosh, all a sudden if you’ve got somebody who’s got their own process, and now you’re gonna say, ‘Hey, I got this really cool thing that’s probably gonna be better than what we have'”, do you compete sometimes a little bit with somebody that’s either got their own thing and you’re introducing something new? And I’ve never really had that discussion yet, but I’m just throwing it out there if that happens or how do you get around it. Tips that I can try to get internal buy-in to try and sell it, too, right?

James Rose: Yeah. And I mean, yeah, that’s almost another story than I was going to mention. Because then there’s a person involved, you know, and people tend to enjoy like creating … If they’ve gone and created this awesome process, then they’re not gonna like to have that be taken away or whatever.

Phil Singleton: Even if it is better.

James Rose: Yeah, but I mean, they can always get involved in that new process themselves, right? Like, they could set up … You know, it’s still their little baby … But like I was saying before, it’s … These things are definitely our biggest competition. Things like Google Docs or project management systems like Basecamp or whatever. Like, we have people say, “Oh yeah, I just get them to come into our project management system and do it there.” And I’m like, “And that goes well for you?” And they go, “Oh, no.”

Phil Singleton: But that’s how we do it.

James Rose: Yeah. And like, I’m a big fan of not having clients in project management systems. That’s why I’ve always been a big fan of team work, ’cause it integrates with team work desks so that clients can keep using emails to talk with you. But it comes into your system as … Not into your project management system. I love that. Yeah, so I … And Google Docs, I mean, obviously everyone’s or most people are familiar with that. But it’s got its inherent problems as well. But yeah, these are our competition and some people don’t have the time or want to change. And then other people do change and go, “Oh, man. This was like … I wish I’d done this earlier.” So yeah. I think that answers it.

Phil Singleton: James, look, I really appreciate you having and kind of sharing all this insight and kind of what Content Snare is and how it’s helped and how you got, you know, why you started it and kind of where you guys have … Are today with it. Tell our listeners where they can find you online. At what places you hang out, what opportunities that you have. Content Snare, that’s something people can try out. Is there a trial thing? How does that work? And kind of tell us … Our listeners how to follow you and connect with you.

James Rose: Alright, cool. Well, I guess the best way is probably go to ContentSnare.com. That’s obviously the tool itself. But if you go down to the footer, there’s a bunch of free resources. We’ve got like a Facebook Group for web designers. And agencies, obviously AgencyHighway.com. That’s pre-launch at the moment. But if you to … Just search The Agency Highway Podcast, you’ll find that. If you want to subscribe to that. Me on Twitter is @_jimmyrose. I was really late to that and didn’t get my name or my nickname. But yeah, I think that’s pretty much it.

Phil Singleton: Yeah, your Facebook … You have like thousands of people on that thing.

James Rose: Yeah. 3800 in there. And it’s called Grow Your Web Design Business. Very originally named.

Phil Singleton: So awesome.

James Rose: Yeah. Jump on in and say hi. That’s where I spend most of my time hanging out, for sure.

Phil Singleton: Alright, James. Thanks so much for coming on the show. And we appreciate the time that you spent with us.

James Rose: And thanks for having me, Phil. This has been awesome.

 

Building a Million Dollar Website Business with No Employees

Chris Parker is the founder & CEO of WhatIsMyIPaddress.com, the number one website in the world for finding your IP address. According to the Alexa ranking, Chris’s website is one of the top 3000 websites in the United States with over 6 million visitors a month.

Chris started the website on January 4th, 2000 and for the first five years, his revenue didn’t even cover his internet bill. In 2005, Chris made $30 from display ads and he knew he couldn’t give up!

In 2014, Chris was laid off from his corporate job and was faced with the scary opportunity to make his website a full time business. Since then he’s aggressively grown his site to generate just under seven figures a year in revenue with no employees, no office, and no inventory!

WhatIsMyIPaddress.com has granted Chris and his wife time and financial freedom that they use to travel the world and raise their mini schnauzer, Bailey.

WhatIsMyIPAddress.com Resource Links

Chris Parker Resource Links

 

Meet Chris Parker of WhatIsMyIPAddress.com

Phil Singleton: Chris, welcome to the show.

Chris Parker: Great to be here, Phil.

Phil Singleton: Awesome, so I’d love to hear right off the bat, like just what got you into the business World in general, those first steps out of high school or college, or whatever it was. What was your first job? And kind of just give us the quick story in terms of how you got involved in the business world, and what brought you to here today.
Chris Parker: Sure. Yeah, my first job was in 1984. I was 12 years old, and I delivered newspapers.

Phil Singleton: Nice.

Chris Parker: I think I had like, I had the smallest route in the neighborhood. I had like 30 customers, so to speak. I made four bucks a month or whatever it was, but grew that, took over all the neighboring routes, and did that for number years, and then realized I don’t want to ride my bicycle every morning and every night delivering papers.

Phil Singleton: Right.

Chris Parker: I think my first business that I tried running was a website called discountbibles.com, back in 1999.

Phil Singleton: Dang.

Chris Parker: That was just around the time, I think, Amazon had launched not too long before that, but I was competing against Amazon, selling Bibles. It was fun. I was working a day job at an online, or I guess at that time was a mail order catalog, a computer reseller called Club Mac. I thought, you know, I want to sell Bibles of the side.

I put together a website, got some databases of things, and put together something fairly clever, and started, put up the server on my own DSL connection in my home. Over the course of a couple months, I realized it really sucks to have to pick up the books, box them up at night, and on my lunch breaks take them over to FedEx, UPS, and the US Postal Service. And on the weekends, I was boxing and running credit cards, and trying to do all this out of my apartment. I realized, oh my gosh, this is not scalable. I don’t want to be doing this.

I think I was making maybe a couple of hundred bucks a month at the end of the day, which is nice to have some extra spending money, but way too much work for what I was making. So my next thing that I tried was, well, if you can’t beat Amazon use should join them. And so I switched over to the site. Called it “The Bible Finder,” you know, keeping your niche when you know what you’re doing. And rather than packaging them up myself, and doing all that, all the credit card processing, the chargebacks, all that fun stuff, I just became an affiliate for Amazon. No more, you know, no more books lying around the house, no more dust. I thought, oh, this is awesome. It’s totally scalable, until Amazon decided, “We don’t want to have to charge sales tax to all the orders that we ship to California, so we’re dropping every California affiliate.”

Overnight, my business disappeared.

Phil Singleton: Wow.

Chris Parker: I think, during all that time, I’d actually started whatismyipaddress.com back in 2000, and it was totally a hobby. I’d never thought of it as as a business. I just put up the site because it solved the problem that I was trying to figure out for the company I was working for. I just kind of let it run in and, honestly, didn’t really pay attention to it for a while.
Once I saw there was some traffic to it, I was originally like just showing people their IP address, like no welcome to the site, just eight characters, 12 characters, whatever it is. Just effectively one word of text on the screen.

Phil Singleton: One point there, before we could continue on there. Just as a refresher on an IP address. Can you explain to people kind of what that is? I think most people have heard about it, especially if you got a job or something, and you know we’ve all heard about, “Hey, what’s your IP address?” I think, definitely for marketers, it’s become something that they’re familiar with for a variety of reasons. But can you explain just in simple terms to the layman, that really doesn’t maybe spend a whole lot of time on the computer, what an IP address is, and why somebody might want to look it up?

Chris Parker: Absolutely, it’s the internet equivalent of your home mailing address. When you’re at home and you want to mail something and get a response back from someone, you put their name on the envelope, you put your return address on the envelope, you send it off. It gets to that company. They want to send whatever they want back to you, they need that return address in order to get the envelope back to you. That’s the internet equivalent of an IP address. It’s so websites and email servers and all the things that we do online, games, data, it knows how to get back to us when we put a request in.

It can reveal a little bit more about you than you realize. It provides someone with a database. They can figure out what who your internet service provider is, and with some more advanced databases, they can actually probably figure out within a few blocks of where you live, just based on your IP address.

Phil Singleton: Some practical things I’m thinking of, like we run into all the time, is for our websites we a lot of time will put some additional layer security for against malware and hacking. There’s ways to kinda block access to people, maybe add them to the back of your, say WordPress example, WordPress website. You need to know, basically, your IP address of the people that want to walk in there, if you want to like white-list them, allow them in, right? So that’s one thing I know that we’ve used your site for, to lookup an IP address, so that we can white-list people to be able to access, and through the security settings that we have for our website.

I can also think of other things that are like hot today. You hear people talking about geo-targeting, geo-fencing, all this kinda stuff that’s based on maybe a device and a location. I’m guessing that probably has something to do with an IP address for some of these things. Is that right?

Chris Parker: Yep. When it comes to mobile devices, primarily it goes based off of the GPS data that you’re intentionally sharing, but even if you turn off the GPS data, you kinda fall back to the geolocation based off of IP address. Not as accurate, but nevertheless when you’re surfing the internet, it can give you ads for your local neighborhood, as opposed to the wrong country.
Phil Singleton: Awesome, okay. So thanks for that kind of refresher there because I think, again, most people have heard about it. A lot of people have kinda looked it up for certain different things, but I think that kinda helps put things into perspective. Get you back onto the trail of kind of where you were, you said that you had kinda started whatismyipaddress.com kind of as a hobby, still had kind of a day job, and where would you take it from there?

Chris Parker: Yep. I, at some point, put an email address on the site, and said, “Hey, if you have questions, ask me questions.” So I started answering questions about IP addresses via email, and I realized that, “Gee, I’m getting an awful lot of the same questions over and over.” So I put up a FAQ on the site. That was the beginning of my content development days, of rather than one-off … and I’m thinking scalability here, rather than one-off responding to these emails, but put the information online, and that’s kind of how the site started to grow.

Like you said, back in 2005, you had the launch of ad networks and AdSense. So I put a little ads on the site, and realized, “Oh my gosh, I can make a little bit of money doing this, and offset my bills for my hobby.” Then it, you know, finally started being more than my bills, and making a little bit of vacation money, some travel money, and little of investment money.

Again, it was never really on my mind as this is going to become a full-time gig. At this point it had become a side hustle, until the day that the company I was working for started struggling in the financial crisis. Over the course of a couple years, and multiple rounds of layoffs, they finally came to me and said, “Well, Chris, we can’t afford to keep paying you full-time. We’re going to have to let you go,” which is I don’t think what anyone wants to hear. I suppose some people want to hear it, but I didn’t want to hear it.

So I was faced with a decision. Do I try to turn whatismyipaddress.com into my full-time gig, or do I look for another corporate job? Asked my wife, we sat down and talked about it. We set up some milestones of like, okay, can I grow the business enough in the course of the next year or so to offset the loss of my full-time income? We set up some milestones every three months or so, to kinda reevaluate and see how things were going. Lo and behold, by putting 30 to 40 extra hours a week into the website, I was able to earn back my day job, I haven’t looked back.

Phil Singleton: That’s awesome.

Chris Parker: It is a blast being able to work from wherever I want to.

Phil Singleton: Yeah, I mean, you’re definitely living the dream from that respect, to be able to kinda … Yeah, you’ve solved a bunch of different things. You solved a problem. You turned it into a website. You got traffic, and then it sounds just kind of like by the force of the economy, or outside economic forces, that you were almost forced to to turn it into a revenue generator, and you really got serious about it, and found ways to make it, and turn it into a nice profitable business.

On that note, I’d love to talk about like what … because as you’re talking, I’m thinking, wow, okay, at some point you really knew you were onto something because the traffic probably really started to take off. You were definitely one of the first ones on there, so from a search engine standpoint, and we can talk a little bit later, you had kinda the first move or advantage, and you’re working on it. And there are probably people linking to you, and your traffic grew.

You mentioned AdSense in the beginning, so it was probably the first thing that you did to try and monetize it, right? And you realized, okay, not a whole lot of people get rich just from AdSense money, or just from display ads, but there’s all sorts of other things I’m taking that I’d love for you to talk about. Did you try … Was there any affiliate marketing, you know, upselling people, email lists, all these other things that probably have come into play maybe in recent times, or that you looked at, since you kinda did this full-time? Can you talk to us a little bit about how, how do you start monetizing a site like this once it starts taking off?

Chris Parker: Absolutely. Actually, one of the biggest challenges has been to actually monetize the traffic. Everybody jokes of like, “Well, if I just had lots of traffic, then I could make lots of money.” I’ve actually had kinda the flip problem that most people have. It’s, “Okay, I’ve got lots of traffic, now how do I make money off of this?” People immediately go, “Oh, well, all you have to do is just throw ads on the site, and you’ll make lots of money.”

Well, when 70% of your internet, when 70% of the traffic to your website isn’t in the United States, it hurts. There’s not a whole lot of money to be made in banner ads to people in India, China, Russia, Poland. There just isn’t money in that. So it’s really been an interesting challenge over the years trying to find the right ad vendors, the right ad networks.

There’s been a few tried-and-true ones, but most of them I’ve been able to work with them for a couple of years, and then they become less effective. It’s been a very unique challenge with most of the people I’ve talked to about it because that international element to it makes a complicated. The other side of it is that whatismyipaddress.com does not draw really targeted, intense traffic.
It’s not like they’re coming to my website because they’re researching a camera that they’re about to buy, and I can, “Hey, here’s a camera I can buy,” whether it’s via ads, or by affiliate marketing. That’s not the case. People are coming, “I just want my IP address. I’m going to get it, and I’m going to go. I’m not going to look on any other pages. I’m not going to look at any of your ads.” So it’s been difficult to manage that.

One of the exciting things that’s happened over the last couple of years, is a new infrastructure technology that kind of can be used to compete against Google AdSense, and that’s called Header Bidding. I’m not sure if you’ve heard about it or not.

Phil Singleton: I haven’t. I’m all ears.

Chris Parker: It’s basically when someone hits your website, it sends off a request to a variety of ad networks, and they can bid against, bid for that impression. “I’m willing to spend this much money for the impression, and then if you’re using, like I have been, Google’s DoubleClick for Publishers as an ad platform, it could then turn around and compete against AdSense. So not only do you have the ability to monetize impressions that maybe AdSense wouldn’t, it creates a little bit of competition, and right and pushes the AdSense rates up a bit.

Phil Singleton: Yeah, takes some money off the table for them, basically.

Chris Parker: Takes some money off the table, lowers their margins a little bit, and pushes your revenues up a bit. It’s kind of … the technology’s a bit in its infancy, so there’s definitely some hiccups. I think over the next year or two, they’ll actually be a lot of consolidation in all the ad networks as they and they … you just can’t have 500-600 companies competing on exactly the same product, exactly the same space. There’s going to have to be some consolidation there, but I think over the next couple of years Header Bidding will really, really coming into fruition. A lot of it’ll be done on the backend, and not on the client browser. It’ll help website owners who are monetizing with display traffic a lot.

Phil Singleton: I love that because it really seems like, and even now, when I think about it. I think of, geez, it just seems like you really can’t make the majority of your revenue, again, this is from the outside in because we don’t do a whole lot of it, but you just think, well, somebody’s … if they’re on their way they’re monetizing the website is through AdSense, then you know that that’s probably not, no matter how big, unless it’s like super huge. They’re probably not making a whole lot just from that, right? I mean because it takes a lot of displays to make to make those checks really big.

Chris Parker: Yeah, and anyone who’s been doing AdSense for more than five years can attest, the rates that publishers are making for traffic has just been dwindling over the years. We get a smaller and smaller, smaller and smaller bang for our buck for those that are in kind of that general … If you’re really, really nichey, and have really good intent, you can get some crazy good ad rates. But if you just have a very general interest news site, a general information site like I do, it’s hard to get good rates on the ads.

Phil Singleton: So a couple of things there I’d like to ask. One is, what’s interesting from the advertising perspective, from the banners and things like that, over the years Google has changed their algorithms, and just been more scrutinized a lot more, you know, what’s being presented on the space in terms of like above the fold and things like this, right?

Chris Parker: Yeah.

Phil Singleton: So, you get a lot of stuff where you maybe you get more impressions, or better ads, then they want you to push them down, and if you don’t, you kind of have this game that you’re playing versus how do I satisfy the search engine to keep my rankings up, versus they don’t want you to have a bunch of ads above the fold because they’re going to say that’s not most beneficial to the user. I guess, have you thought about that, and had to play that game a little bit? It makes it a little bit tougher for people that are selling ads, right? Because it’s like, wow, you just took that away. You’re gonna take our rankings away, and you’re going to make us put what’s valuable down below the fold. It makes it even a little bit harder, I think, if you’re relying a lot on organic traffic.

Chris Parker: Yeah, it is a challenge, the balancing act of that is a lot of give and pull. You’ve got, you know, the ad network who want as many ads and as high up the fold as possible, covering as much of the real estate as possible. You’ve got the users who want no ads whatsoever because it’s on the internet it should be free. And then me, who, well, I’ve got to pay my bills. I have to make a living. Trying to balance all that out, and my general approach has been I want as good of a user experience as I can provide, and still make a living. I definitely tried in the early days, “Hey, let’s try these pop-ups that were paying your $20 per thousand impressions, or $50 per thousand impressions.” Yeah, I could make a lot of money very quickly, but it disenfranchises the users. I’d get hate mail. I’d get, “I’m never going to use your side ever again.”

I kinda took that to heart, and said, “Okay, I can’t do that.” I’ve gotta find that balance that keeps my users engaged, and doesn’t turn them off, and hopefully they’re going to understand that I need to make a living. There has to be some ads on the site, but not so much that it becomes a horrible experience.

Phil Singleton: Yeah, that’s what you get-

Chris Parker: We’ve all been on those sites. You open it up on your phone, and there’s like one sentence on the screen, and all the rest of it is ads. That’s a horrible experience. Those sites should be penalized.

Phil Singleton: Right, right, right. Next, we got the ads … these are when we’re talking about … Sorry, what we’re talking about right now is the banner and the ads that show up, that you’re basically being paid on the amount of impressions that you receive. Have you tried any, or do you have any where like there’s affiliate relationships, right? I’ve heard some people, obviously back in the day it was a huge thing, I think even now. I think people still do really well with it in some areas where you’ve got a banner ad you’ve got a relationship with the people that are the advertisers, and if they click through to their website, it carries over a cookie. A sale is made, and then you get a piece of the sale, right? Is that something that you’ve tried? Is that part of your current model? I mean, that’s changed a lot over the years. Can you talk to affiliate marketing a little bit?

Chris Parker: Yeah, I definitely do affiliate marketing, and it’s probably been the the quickest growing segment of my revenue over the last couple of years. I’ve tried doing it with ads, with ads kind of competing against the ad networks all in an ad server software. It’s a lot of management. I very quickly realized that I was spending a large portion of my time tweaking, a little bit more here, turn that one up, turn that one down. It really just became too much time consumption to manage the affiliate relationships within display ads. Again, I think part of it is because I have such a a non-nichey site, only in certain place up on my site could that even potentially work. In most cases it just doesn’t work at all.

But I have really worked really hard on affiliate relationships over the last couple of years, and building content which promotes particular products, which are in the same sort of vertical of a portion of our users. A lot of that is privacy, online safety; have done really well with VPN affiliate offers. I’ve tried newsletters.

Phil Singleton: That was gonna be my next question, is like build an email list, and trying to have another thing, I guess, to monetize.

Chris Parker: I have a fairly large mailing list that is really hard to get them to do anything. Again, I think that comes down to it’s a lot of international people as well on the mailing list, and while it might be more targeted than the website, it’s a pretty hard mailing list of to move to do stuff. I’ll get a lot of … great open rates on my emails, but really hard time getting clicks into affiliate offers in the newsletters, and so it’s something that’s like, there’s more bang for my buck to do other things, work with more strategic, like exit intent pop-ups, things that engage users after certain amount of time on the site through OptinMonster, and there’s a bunch of other platforms that do it. But try to catch people with with other types of interactions when it’s less intrusive than like right when you get hit the homepage.

Phil Singleton: Right, the next thing I was gonna ask is have you tried or thought about any type of premium service, upsell, software-as-a-service type model, where somebody comes in and you got the … I mean, I see on your site now, it looks like up in the bar, I haven’t checked too many of them, but there’s other things we can check on whatismyipaddress.com now, right? Are any of those premium, or is it just another way to draw more traffic, and have you thought about that model?

Chris Parker: I definitely thought about the model. Again, some of it, I’ve questioned the scalability based on the amount of effort that I’d have to put into it. So currently all the tools, all the functionality that’s mine on the site is entirely free. I just kinda like that model. I’m in talks with a couple of different data providers who provide … let’s call it the the background checks type of stuff. A little bit more in-depth than information that I can provide and an awful lot of work for me that to build it out in-house, that are offering like a white-label solutions where I can start the brand that. They’ll handle all the billing. So, I think there’s a great opportunity there. It’s something that we’re looking at in Q1 of next year in order to grow that.
A lot of it has been the amount of work to get a subscription.

Phil Singleton: Right.

Chris Parker: It’s one thing if you’ve got this great master class, and you can charge $5,000 a year membership. Hey, if you get a couple of members, you know, you get a couple of dozen members, you don’t have to scale it up. Anything that I do, just because of the niche, I’d have to scale it up to tens of thousands of people for it to be profitable. And kind of dealing with, okay, credit card processing on 10,000 transactions a month, or annual subscriptions in order to get $10 a month from people. It becomes … I don’t think the metrics work out in the long run for me.
Speaker 3: Interesting question.

Chris Parker: Oops, sorry.

Phil Singleton: That’s all right. So it’s safe to say, I mean, it’s been great. You mentioned in your bio that you’ve grown this to essentially a seven-figure business. So the majority of that seems like it’s coming from some shape or form of advertising. Is that safe to say?

Chris Parker: Yep, at this point it’s either display ads or affiliate relationships. There’s a few data things that I’m doing, but it’s kinda that one percent on the backend sort of things.

Phil Singleton: That’s really cool. Then I wanna get into a little bit in, I don’t wanna get too deep into SEO stuff, but kind of in the green room before we were talking about … Somebody that’s had a site since 2000, has seen it grow. You had a ton of organic traffic. I looked at Ahrefs, which is a tool that we’re both familiar with, that we use here at our agency. I’m looking at it, I think I can still pop it up right now. I’m going to share a screenshot of what I see, but they show that you’ve got … and this is just for organic traffic. I’m looking at it today.

You know how these things are. I mean, it’s not analytic, so it’s not gonna be like your exact numbers, but they’re showing organic traffic of four million unique hits a month. So that’s just only organic. I’m sure you guys have direct links, direct traffic, referral traffic, social media traffic, all sorts of stuff that gets you up to six million and above. Of course, we know, a lot of times these external ones aren’t as accurate as some other things, but it also shows one of my favorite metrics inside of Ahrefs is your monthly traffic value in terms … I don’t if you’re familiar with this one, but it’s one of my favorite ones in SEMrush and also Ahrefs, where they assign, basically, an AdWords value to your organic, free traffic that you’re getting.

I’m looking at it right here, and it says your monthly organic traffic’s worth three million dollars a month. I’m like, wow, okay. So they’re basically, because you get so much organic traffic, they’re cobbling together lots of probably diverse stuff that your ranking for. Obviously, to see that’s one thing, to be able to monetize into is something else, but it does show the power of what you have in terms of what you’ve been able to build and the amount of organic traffic that you’re able to get. I’m sure it’s really probably only getting, building and getting more over time, as more people get familiar with IP addresses.

It’s become a hot topic, since the last election and stuff. Things that are going online, what people are looking for, what do people know about us? It’s just more in the media right now, more people trying to understand about what people know about certain things. The more they become familiar with it, the more likely they’re going to be looking up like, “Well, what is my IP address?” Right? I’m sure you guys have benefited a little bit of that as well. On the topic of SCR, I’d just love to hear about … because you’re starting way back in the day, 1999-2000, things that you’ve seen in terms of these massive Google updates, them going after links and content, Panda, thin content.

Even in recent years, you see great sites doing really good things, but for whatever reason, you’ll see good sites with great content still get hit randomly by one of these Google updates that they do every day, and then once or twice a year they do a really big one that sends a tremor pretty much that everybody feels. Can you talk a little bit about your experience with Google, and has it frustrated you over the years? Have you had to kind of move things and change things? Did you ever experiment with stuff? Have you changed your site strategy and content based around SEO and Google and this kinda stuff? Just kind of give us a little bit of a background about how SEOs impacted or affected this business.

Chris Parker: Yeah, I mean, definitely, like you say, there’s a crazy amount of natural search traffic. I think when you are so reliant on natural search traffic, there is always that kind of underlying fear of, you know, if I get slapped by Google, this is gonna be a problem. I think every time there’s been a major update, it’s always kind of like, “Okay, I hope this doesn’t impact me.” I think part of why a lot of these haven’t impacted me is I really tried to use kind of best practices. I don’t buy links. Maybe 20, maybe 15 years ago, 10 years ago, played around a little bit in that space, but it’s, honestly, it’s not cost-effective for me. I’ve tried to avoid just a lot of the practices that were sketchy to begin with. I’ve never paid companies to spam my links in forums and comments and-

Phil Singleton: Did you ever try and build out tons of pages that were kinda thin that way, or did that ever happen?

Chris Parker: You know, I never tried to do it as intentionally thin pages. There were some stuff that, looking back at it, that there’s definitely some pages on the site that have very thin content. But it wasn’t like, “Hey, let’s-”

Phil Singleton: Let’s build a 1,000 pages for each keyword here, and try and-

Chris Parker: Yeah, yeah, yeah. It was never that. It was, “Well, I had an article written on what is SMTP,” the way mail servers communicate, and it was like 300 words, 250 words. In my mind, it’s like, “Yeah, it’s really pretty thin. I don’t really know if that article’s that helpful to anybody who reads it.”

So algorithm changes which affect that sort of stuff have concerned me over the years. One of the ways that I’ve addressed it to go back to a lot of that content, and either get rid of it entirely, and just 404 the page, redirect it somewhere else, or have a better writer come in and write better content that’s-

Phil Singleton: Beef it up, yeah.

Chris Parker: … that’s just more useful to people. And so that’s kind of been my way of dealing with that. The one algorithm update which scared me the most, and I think all businesses and some sense should be kind of scared about it, was … I don’t know, when Google directly started answering questions. If you google right now, “What is my IP address?” Google will actually tell you what your IP address.

Phil Singleton: The knowledge boxes, now they’re starting to work in more direct stuff, and basically answering things on the page, and bypassing the source of where they’re getting the answers from.

Chris Parker: Yeah.

Phil Singleton: And that’s just been something, I don’t know the we can specifically call that like an update, where they just did this, and did it. It’s almost been something that’s been creeping into the search results, where more and more it seems like they’re trying to provide, really to me, data that has answers to it without as much maybe commercial intent to it. So it’s like you ask a question, you get an answer, so there’s no reason for you to go to a separate page. Yeah, I think a lot of people … Here, it’s funny, because this is one of those things with Google where here they don’t want you scraping content, but they can scrape content from you and show it directly in the search results before going to your page. But, yeah, so some of that stuff I could see, I guess, how that would be concerning for some people that are supplying answers to people like this.

Chris Parker: Yeah, informational sites kind of run the risk of either being scraped by other people, or being scraped by the search engine, and the search engine’s just totally bypassing you. The interesting thing about that update and subsequent traffic, is that I saw maybe a 10% hit in traffic due to that update with Google starting to answer that question. It really made me think of a couple of things. Do people just not trust Google that much that they’d rather go to my site instead of trusting a result from Google? Or, that I’m actually providing more information beyond that, which is what I’m doing.

Phil Singleton: Yeah, right. When I look at your site. I mean, I see some of the Google, sometimes when you do the Google one, it either gives you, and I don’t … and you can maybe explain this little bit better, but sometimes the IP address looks different. It’s like a longer string with colons in it versus you an actual whatever that multiple digit with the period numbers is. And it doesn’t give you like the carrier, and the map results, and I kind of stuff. So, obviously, a site like yours is giving you a lot more information than just a number.

Chris Parker: Yep. So, as a segue, or as a tangent, the short one with the period, the four numbers with four periods, that’ IP address version four. It was designed as, “We’ll never need more IP addresses than the 16 billion. I think it’s 16 billion that IP4 supports. Then magically all these internet of things devices started connecting up, and everybody’s got 20 internet-enabled devices in their home now. So slowly the transition has happened to IPV6. That’s the one that could be a lot longer with colons and sets of four digits, and you never kinda know whether you’re connecting via IPV4 or IPV6, and for the vast majority of people, it’s totally behind the scenes, and they don’t really even ever need to know. But you visit my website, and I’ll tell you IPV4, IPV6, carrier, where in the world it is, and some other interesting things that we might be able to determine about the user of that IP address based on available information.

One of the weird side effects of Google actually answering that is the quality my traffic went up because the people who were, “I just want the number, and I’m going,” didn’t come to the site anymore. So, average pages used per session went up. The click-through rates on all the ads went up because, effectively, Google carted off the worst traffic for me and kept it for themselves. So it really only upgraded the quality of my traffic. I saw almost no revenue hit from losing that traffic, which was really kind of crazy.

Phil Singleton: Nice. Alright, let’s … This is fascinating for me, I mean, just to kind of see how somebody that’s gone through it … Like I say, there’s a lot of people out there that are side-gigging, wanting to build up their own internet asset, so that they can one day step away, make a seven-digit income, and be able to do whatever they want. In a lot of ways you’re basically living the dream.

That being said, it’s like a lot of these quote-unquote overnight successes that’s taken many years to get to the point where you are today, right? It’s not like you just had an idea, popped up a website, and then made a million bucks one year. I’d love to know on that, we’ve got the $10,000 question. If you didn’t have any of your assets right now, and had to build something from scratch, and I gave you $10,000 to do so, where would you start? I mean, if you were gonna try and rebuild the empire?

Chris Parker: You know, if you were telling me I had to go into the whatismyipaddress space…

Phil Singleton: Something similar, yeah, something similar to this. How would you-

Chris Parker: I would just and wouldn’t do it, yeah.

Phil Singleton: If you’re coming late to the game, you might have another idea of it, right?

Chris Parker: I think I could probably do something in the affiliate space where I could build up content around products, and really provide some insights about those products, comparisons versus others. There’s a lot of sites that do that, to find a really nice … maybe it’s even the VPN niche because I have experience there. But to really find a really tight niche where I can really get a good understanding of the audience, really zoom in on who they are, what they do, why they do it.

Today, the ad targeting that you can do these days through Facebook and Google AdWords is just amazing. If you really know your audience, you can … I’d rather have 10 people who want to buy my product coming to a site than 10,000 people who have no intent of buying a product. I think these days there’s some crazy opportunities to make money being super nichey, super targeted. I’d probably go that route, and try to-

Phil Singleton: So you’d build a site, build some content around it, and then start just giving a lot of value, and maybe doing some really highly targeted advertising.

Chris Parker: Yep, and start working out from there.

Phil Singleton: So just off of that real quickly, you mentioned VPN. I think we talked a little bit about that in the beginning too, or you mentioned that once or twice. What’s going on in that space where there’s some interest? Why is that kind of a hot area for you, and something that sounds interesting?

Chris Parker: So the 10,000-foot view of what a VPN is. A VPN is a network, not your internet connection like your internet service provider or your wireless carrier, but it’s a company that provides transit for your data. So rather than you appearing to be surfing the web from your AT&T mobile phone, your traffic gets routed through your VPN provider, and it pops out the internet, kind of almost wherever you want it, wherever your VPN provider has servers. If I’m traveling in Singapore, and I want it to look, to the internet, like I’m on the internet in California, I can use a VPN company which routes my traffic through a server in California. So as far as the rest of the world knows, based on my IP address, I’m in California and not in Singapore.

Where this is really impacting things these days is you’ve got oppressive governments who are trying to limit access to social media and information, and so people in those countries don’t want their government spying on them and watching what they do. So they’ll use VPNs to route their traffic elsewhere, so they can get access to content which they otherwise might not get access to. I think even more so, people are are becoming more concerned about that even here in the United States as well. “I don’t trust the government. I don’t trust these big companies with my data. I wanna make sure that I’m protected,” and things like that.

Then you’ve got people who are expats. That are US citizens living abroad, and they wanna be able to access US Netflix. Well, you can’t do that from many other countries, so if you get a VPN which routes your traffic through the US, your traffic to Netflix and Hulu and the common streaming services appear to come from the US. There’s a bit of cat and mouse going on with that because the Netflix and Hulus, there’s licensing issues. They really don’t want to be distributing US content to people in other countries. So there’s a little cat and mouse game going on there as well. Usually, the use of VPNs revolve around, “I want to access something I can’t access my country. I want privacy. I don’t want people who’s website I’m visiting to know where I am, know anything about me.” Or security, like, “I’m on wifi at Starbucks or my local mom-and-pop café, and I don’t trust their ability to keep their network secure, so if I use a VPN, my devices are protected. My traffic is is encrypted, and no one can kind of sniff out what I’m doing while I’m gone at the café.”

Phil Singleton: No, it makes perfect sense. As you say this, I’m also thinking, geez, earlier this summer, you know my wife’s from Taiwan. We took a trip there, spent a couple weeks. Of course, we’ve got kids, and we have a Netflix account. Of course, if you go overseas and are trying to access your Netflix account through there, it’s like you can’t access it because you’re outside the country. I’m wondering if, okay, I wonder if a VPN would kind of solve that problem, where you could actually access something you already should have access to. They just don’t tell you, or aren’t explicit about you can’t use this traveling or traveling outside of the country type of thing.

Chris Parker: Yep, a VPN is a good solution for stuff like that. You gotta test it to make sure it works, but each one is a little bit funky, or can be funky in how they implement it.

Phil Singleton: Well, Chris Parker, this has been really awesome. Of course, I guess we’re kinda geeking down a little bit more, maybe than we do on some of the shows, but I find this really fascinating because some of this stuff also is a great lesson for … it just happens to be IP addresses, right? But it could really be anything. If somebody gets on to something that their passionate about, and able to build up traffic. It all comes back to, if you’re gonna do it full time, it’s gotta be profitable, and you got to monetize it. A lot of the lessons, I think, learned here today could apply to a lot of different folks, especially when it comes to advertising.

Can you give us … what’s the best way to kinda follow what you’re doing? I know we mentioned whatismyipaddress.com a couple times. What else do you have going on? What’s your favorite social media channels that you kind of act and distribute and share content on? Are there any other websites where people can follow you?

Chris Parker: Definitely, you can get all the social media profiles for whatismyipaddress.com down in the footer of the website, and unfortunately whatismyipaddress.com is too long to be a social media handle, in most cases. So you can find it there, we’re on all the main social media channels. If people wanna follow me personally, and kind of some of my behind the scenes and my journey, they visit cgparker.com, and find all my social media there.

Phil Singleton: Is there any particular one that you spend a little time on than others? Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or they’re all kind of mixed up?

Chris Parker: You know, if anyone is personally trying to get ahold of me through social media, LinkedIn is probably the best way. I will provide a link for you for the show notes.

Phil Singleton: Awesome, we will definitely place it. Well, thank you very much, Chris. This has been really awesome. I’m so glad we get to have a person with your experience and of your caliber on the show. I just want to thank you one more time.

Chris Parker: Thank you, Phil. I had a great time. It’s always fun to geek out on some of the technical aspects of the site.

Phil Singleton: All right, bye now.

Chris Parker: Bye bye.