Matt, Joe, you had a successful track record, $100 million generated for your clients through an agency, but one day you wake up and you decide this is all for naught. You say, "I've had enough." Rather than wind the business down or sell a business, you decided cold turkey, "Let’s get rid of all of these clients and let's go all-in on a strategy." What was that turning point? Had you guys been thinking about it? You always toy with these ideas of like, "Let's fire the clients or let's completely go in a different direction." Was there a point in time where you were like, "We're executing on this?" What was that?
That was when we started to lose clients for our good work.
This is a content marketing agency at the time and we would help them with all their content marketing, but with the goal to bring them leads and make them sales. It was very tied to a monetary result. We were crushing it in many different locations. There was one client that kicked it off. It was a brain-centered client. It was a technical type of stuff. We were doing keyword research. We were even helping their ads people with like, "Try these keywords out." We had a retainer. It's about $5,000 a month or so for that client. We had a set of protocol things and it was at the end of the day, they were like, "We have a new marketing manager. They have their own team. You're doing good, but they have the systems down. They can backward engineer what you guys have done well. It's the last month. Bye." We were like, "Hold on, really?" They were like, "Yeah, this has been our best month. Everybody there on the actual team loved us. It was the marketing manager." That's when we were like, "We have no control." Whenever a new marketing manager comes into the business, usually they have their own team, some people trust that they've worked within the past. That's pretty much what happened right there.
We're really good with creating content that helps sell a product. It's not content for content's sake. If we do talk about content marketing, we talk about that. A lot of companies make content cause they want to have content out there. We got good at making content that sold products, but also with SEO very well. This company had some negative reviews on Google. We got some content that pushed that down onto page two so you wouldn't see it. We crushed it for them and helped their business a lot. They hired a new marketing manager. The marketing manager decided, "We're not going to retain your services anymore. We get what you're doing. We're going to take it over for you."
It's a crazy business. The client fires you essentially or says, "We're out of here." How long do you guys mull it over? "Maybe this is the sign. Now, it's time to do it."
That was definitely the sign.
I feel like we were talking about it. We were throwing the idea around and dreaming about it for a while. One day we were going to get out of client work and go do our own thing. We always talked about getting out of the client thing. It was the lowest hanging fruit available to us. We knew that game. We knew how to get clients. We knew how to service the clients. We had our systems in that place. It was a scary thing to up and leave it. We had one or two other clients that they weren't necessarily horrible clients. We had one client who was a big pain in the butt. I won't mention any names. We did have one client that almost gave us a heart attack. We worked until 1:00 AM for him a few nights in a row. It was a demanding client and a few of these things stacked up. One day we were sitting around in my Jacuzzi at my house and we were like, "Let's get rid of all of this stuff and let's go cold turkey and let's figure it out."
The writing was on the wall. We had hints. It wasn't like this was, "You're done." That was definitely like the straw that broke the camel's back. We were like, "That's it." We pretty much like we crossed that T. We figured out our thinking about all of this, how fragile this agency life. We had a team. It was all remote. It was like a remote digital agency. We didn't have a lot of overhead, which was nice. We kept this limber. We can totally transition into what we were doing. We're already experimenting with some affiliate marketing. We had the skills to do it ourselves. What we started to realize with agency clients and all that kind of work is that we were getting paid to learn. That's how we kept it up a little bit. We're like, "We're learning a lot." We're getting paid to test new content marketing strategies, SEO and stuff. With those, we're doing some affiliate marketing on the side and creating blog posts, promoting whatever it was, software tools and stuff. It started to slowly creep up. We're like, "What if we put all of our energy into this thing?"
Will you break down affiliate marketing for the uninitiated?
Affiliate marketing is basically when you promote somebody's product and you make a sale, they're going to give you a commission on it. In the world that we operate in, we promote a lot of software tools and a few info products. Typically, we'll drive traffic to it using things like SEO or paid traffic or our email list. We'll drive traffic to those things. When somebody buys through the link we sent them to, we get a commission on it, typically in the 40 to 50% range. What we realized when we were working with these clients is we were doing this SEO work. We were creating good content that made a product sell. We were getting our content ranked for them. We're making little trickles of income over here with affiliate marketing. What if we did the same stuff? What if we treated each affiliate product that we work with like we treated a client? Create content around that product. Mail our list about that product and SEO articles for that product. Do you think we can generate the same results that we're generating for our clients but for ourselves and not ever have to create our own products? Let's try it. That was the catalyst.
Are you ever concerned about you doing all this work, optimizing it and I don't know that the company going under or they discontinue the product? What do you do in that scenario?
This is something from Roland that landed in our heads is affiliate marketing is a great supplemental piece of your business because you're technically growing someone else's company. You have a little rev share going on in the form of affiliate marketing, but sell the company, they could totally change all the terms and you can be booted out. Maybe they don't have an affiliate program anymore.
We never said that that decision to cut off all the clients and go straight in affiliate marketing was the smartest decision. It was a decision that we made. After a little while, we started to see some of the downsides of being purely an affiliate marketer. A lot of affiliate programs don't pay out for 30 to 60 days. If you're driving ad traffic to it, you could run into cashflow issues, which we did. Sometimes affiliates, they're not automated payments and you have to chase affiliates up to get them to pay you out. We had to deal with a lot of that stuff. There were times where we felt like a collection agency to get the money that we were owed from some of the affiliate stuff. Like Joe said and reiterating what Roland was saying is that affiliate marketing makes a great supplemental add-on to any business but you do have to realize that itself is probably not the best all-in business model.
You call yourself digital marketing generalists. Before we get into that, do you think every person that has this interest in online marketing or digital marketing should start off with affiliate products first? Is that a good place to get an education or do you think it depends?
Somebody asked me this question not too long ago and they argued that affiliate marketing should come first. Dip your toes in affiliate marketing and once you've figured it out, then go and create your own products. I debated him and said that I believe the opposite is true. That you should create products on what you know and what you can offer to the world first. Once you've built trust with people who have bought your products, that's the perfect time to add supplementary things to them. Let's say that I make a course around SEO, I go out and sell that course because I'm good at SEO. I know it and I want to make my money teaching SEO. Am I going to have a better chance as an affiliate marketer going out creating a blog and trying to sell people SEO products or am I going to have a better chance as an affiliate marketer going and selling a course on SEO? Once somebody buys that course saying, "These are the tools that we use." Promoting them that way or people seeing some of the free content I put out around SEO, seeing me as the expert on SEO and taking my recommendations. I argued that become a subject matter expert first and then promote relevant affiliate products. That's the way to have the most success with affiliate marketing.
I'll add onto that one is because right in that transition period we started our podcast, The Hustle and Flowchart. That was the time where we had a lot more time to create our own content. I'd probably add onto that is get good at creating content and figure out what type of medium or what content flows from you where there's no friction. For us talking we can be like we've already been talking for probably it would be two hours or so. That can become so many different pieces of content videos. We had the GoPro in the corner. It can be transcribed. That's where I would probably tack on is create content, figure out how to be consistent with that content.
I want to dive into digital marketing and the generalist tag that is associated. First, for those getting started, a lot of business owners reading this, marketing is marketing, you're saying digital marketing. You're saying, digital marketing generalist. Will you first define what do you mean by digital marketing? What does it mean to be a generalist and why is that relevant or important?
In the digital marketing world, which is marketing, taken online. That's our description of digital marketing. You're using the internet or leveraging the internet. As far as a generalist in the digital marketing world is there are so many sub-niches of digital marketing. You can learn copywriting. You can learn SEO. You can learn paid traffic. You can learn the landing page, funnel building or product creation. The list goes on and on. There are a lot of agencies and people out there who decide to focus on one thing. Like, “I am the guru of copywriting. I am the guru of list-building.” We took this approach of let's try to understand, be in the top 10% in all of these topics.
We don't need to be the top 1% of one topic, but if we stay in the top 10%, 15% of this wide range of topics, the combined effort of understanding all of these concepts are going to be much more powerful. We've spent a lot of time studying copywriting, list-building, funnel-building, page-building, PPC and content marketing. We've gone down all of those rabbit holes and studied a lot of it. It doesn't hurt that we have a podcast also because we don't want to focus on one of these topics. We want to go and bring on experts and get little bits of wisdom on all of these topics.
That's where the podcast comes in perfectly because we feel like we can talk the talk with almost anyone we bring on the show. They might be a much more of an expert in whatever that field is, but I feel that serves our audience well. It creates amazing content because we can ask the proper questions and dig into the things that might be a little unclear without us. If we didn't know the topic at all and we were like, "It’s good enough." I feel like our audience thanks us for that. We get like, "You figured out how to find the rabbit hole. You found that gap that maybe they forgot about." We get this detail out of these people. Inadvertently, we're learning more. The network grows and we're always testing. You saw our Dream 100 lists. We were going through that prior to the show here. Those are all folks that we selfishly want to learn from, but they're also people that our audience is going to learn from all of this discussion as well. It's a cool win-win is what we're always shooting for.
There are so many things you rattled off a list there, Matt, of different things that you can get involved in. What do you say to that business owner that maybe feels a little overwhelmed? What is your advice? Pick one and go, but try to be like you guys and be a generalist. What should Joe the Plumber or a traditional business owner do if they want to leverage digital marketing?
I would say probably immerse yourself in one at a time. Joe and I have been doing this for many years now. That's many years of going down different rabbit holes. When I first started, my first business was called the WordPress Classroom and I was fully immersed in everything WordPress is blogging. I stayed narrow-focused on that. The reason we became generalists as we got bored of sticking on one topic. I understand WordPress and now I'm trying to sell a course on WordPress. Maybe I should start studying a little bit about sales. Maybe I should start studying a little bit about how do I get traffic to it? It started with a singular, narrow focus for me. Joe has his own stories when he got started. For me, I started on this very narrow focus. Out of necessity, I started tacking on the next thing that I felt was necessary. Next, I need to figure out copywriting so I can sell this course. Now that I've got the copy dialed in, I need to figure out how do I get people to this course and seeing it? I went down the traffic rabbit hole. Over the years, it stacked and stacked. There's one thing that I'm a pure subject expert on. I feel like I get the gamut now.
I want to talk about the show for sure, but I want to take a step back. I want to know that relationship story. The classic one, I'm talking about how you guys first met.
It starts in band days. We both play guitar and we were both in bands at the time. We never played together and never even had a show.
I don't think we've ever played together.
We've tinkered around a little bit. I remember keyboards in your parents’ living room for some reason. It's weird because we'd been pretty much brothers for the last several years in this whole business thing. It started with music and I was working at a shoe store, famous footwear. We were already introduced briefly at a party, but somehow she knew I was working there. I was talking about shoes and whatever. She's like, "You're cool. You should work for our company." His parents had a shutter company, some interior shutters. That's where they hired me to help with the office, management and admin-type of stuff and take a lot of calls. He was out there basically what you're running the factory in the back spreadsheets and all that stuff.
It's perfectly like how we divide stuff still to this day is I'm more the people front-facing, hop on the phones, whatever it is. He's analyzing things, spreadsheets and all that stuff. It's a perfect combo for partnerships. During that point when we were at that shutter company, all of our off-hours, it's usually the last few hours in the day because we'd blast our work and it'd be quiet. That's when the Robert Kiyosaki book popped out. It was one of the installers at that job, gave it to either one of us first. The other one of us was like, "Holy crap." We were totally trading our time for dollars and it's not a lot of dollars. That sent us on a path to figure out, "What's the highest thing that we have?" That was blogging. That started off with content marketing for both of us. You were already doing some websites for clients. I had an interest in all this stuff. I was going to school for marketing and all that. I had a health blog, Be Healthy and Relaxed was the name of it. It's definitely not a focus, but maybe one day you'll come back to it and a wealth blog. It's HowIWillBeRich.com
. That was a playoff of Ramit Sethi’s
We just nerded out and we made our first dollars through affiliate marketing and text link ads.
You're not allowed to buy links on your website for the purpose of SEO and gaming the Google algorithms. Back in the day, it was legal and we were selling links on our website so that people could game the Google algorithm.
It was our first a-ha moment to be like, "We can make this blog post once." I don't think we were doing any traffic stuff at that point. We were hoping that Google would pick it up and we did for in marketing, we did a lot of that. We did a lot of sharing and trying to give value elsewhere, which still to this day now we take it at other places. It's still the way that we kick-start a lot of our content.
You were doing WordPress Classroom, were you involved in that?
I'm not with that, but he did that. There was a point close after that. It was ironic because it was right when we graduated from college. We both got married that same year. I quit my job right before I got married, right after I graduated from college with a marketing degree. He did the WordPress Classroom stuff and I went more to the agency route. I was more of the people relationship. It was a lot more focused on video marketing. I was creating a lot of the sales videos that you see a lot of those launch videos. That's why I brought up Mars Burden and The Launch Man. I worked with Mike Koenigs a lot. He's a good buddy of mine and Amish Shah. All of these different bigger names I would say in that launch, I was right in the middle of it. I was the call guy whenever they needed slides for keynotes, something beautiful or something that sells. It's again being the generalist. All I did was mashed up some persuasion with some cool graphics that I was pretty good at for. That's what I always enjoyed. I grew a little team and I did well. It was a great lifestyle business. That was while Matt was doing the WordPress stuff.
You came together in the agency and became partners at that point.
We kept on veering away and coming back from it. While he was off doing the agency stuff, I started the WordPress Classroom. That was right after I quit my job. We weren't making enough money to quit our jobs. That was another moment where we both leaped. We left and went, "I don't know how we're going to do this, but we're going to figure it out." My very first thing was a product called the WordPress Classroom. We bought into this like a mentoring thing and it came with a community forum. I'd go into the forum and I'd say, "I used to build WordPress websites for some of my clients. If anybody needs help with WordPress, shoot me a message." People would pm me and I'd be like, "I'll install WordPress for you for $50." I was installing five or six WordPress accounts for people a day at $50 a pop. That's how I got started. A friend of ours named Josh Bartlett, created a product called ThriveCart
and Easy Video Suite
and some bigger name tools in the industry. He came to me and said, "Why do you keep installing these? Why don't you make a little course on how other people can install it? You can be making money while you sleep too. People could just be buying that course." I went and made ten video tutorials about how to set up WordPress. That evolved into something bigger and bigger. The next thing I know there are 500 videos in there and it's like a library for everything WordPress.
There's continuity too. It turned into that. That was a monthly thing which is nice.
I was doing that. At some point, Joe and I re-teamed up and said, "Let's start building websites for people again," because we start to get more confidence in what we can sell, what our value was. We had more confidence in what our value was and we've started selling in the four figures instead of two figures that I was selling my WordPress Classroom.
I feel like that was our training wheels during that first area where he got good at the system side of things. Autoresponders and how all these integrations work and I can leverage that stuff, which still to this day we lean heavily. That's why we have a lean team and it's everything remote. Whereas I was busy trying to build the network and help give value to that network. I had a pretty good similar product in the design and the sales-type material. Occasionally, they would turn into website stuff. That's where I was like that's not my skill set, but Matt knows that. We had a few of that pop-up. I'm like, "We’ve got something bigger. We could combine." You still had your thing going on in the side too, the WordPress Classroom.
Joe had a lot more connections than me in terms of the bigger name gurus in our industry too because we've been working on all the launches. I was underground doing my thing. I didn't have a lot of connections. When we came together, I was like, "I got the tech side handled. You’ve got the connections in the sales side handled. Let's do this."
What makes for a great partnership? We got the sense that your tech, your relationships, but that's the fodder there, but to continue on and keep that relationship. What do you think some of those keys are?
We started growing this team and we hired an ops manager. She was hired based off of the Kolbe
test, Kolbe personality assessment. We figured out first between Matt and me where our strengths lie and where our weaknesses are. I'm very much of a quick start and a lower follow through, but I'm definitely ideas and I know it overwhelms Matt. He's not that much.
I'm a high fact finder, high follow-through. I'm the almost exact opposite of him.
I don't know if you know Tim Francis, The Great Assistant. He opened our eyes to this. If you take this Kolbe, you're going to learn so much about yourself, but also any partner you have or anyone on your team. That's how we hired Shannon, our ops manager. She's more Matt because of the follow-through, but a good in between.
She's a good mediator too. There are a lot of times where I'll have a vision that I want to take it and his vision won't be on the same page, so we'll run it by Shannon. She's that mediator that says, "Here's the middle ground that I see,” or “Matt is right, Joe is wrong,” which happens a lot.
I can totally relate to this. My former enterprise, we had that. It's funny, we have three here as well. Are you guys of the mindset solopreneur or find a partner? Do you lean one way or the other?
For me, I've always had a partner. The WordPress Classroom was the only stretch in my entire career that I didn't have a partner. Even with that, another partner ended up buying in. We rebranded it as Learn to Blog
. I had a partner for most of the run of that business too. I've always had partners. I'd lean heavily on partners because personally, I'm introverted. When we go to networking events, I'm not usually the one starting the conversation. When it comes to outreach to get people on the shows, that's usually not my strong suit. I lean heavily on partners because I try to find partners that have those characteristics that I lack in myself.
I love having a partner because of exactly what you said. For the longest time, I did not have a partner. This is when I was doing the video stuff and all the sales material and design. I had a small team. I'm talking a couple of people. I'd outsource stuff too. It was consistent. I remember thinking back. When you and I started, Matt, I was like, "That was cool because there's some stuff I hate or what I failed." My biggest failure was not growing an email list back then. I was relying strictly on referrals. I wasn't doing any paid advertising. I remember those two things. I was proud of it at the time. I was like, "I don't need paid advertising. I'm crushing it with my network." Obviously, that's very on the whim and relying on someone else. I remember specifically, I'm like, "Matt, would be helpful right now," or someone like Matt.
Through that whole time too when I was running my own business and Joe was running his own business, we still talked on the phone three times a week at least, bouncing ideas off each other. Joe would say, "What should I do next in my business? Here are the problems I'm having." I would give him some advice and I'd say, "Here's what I'm running into." He'd give me some advice. This whole time we were running two businesses separately, but we were both much involved in both of each other's businesses.
It's been like a constant mastermind basically.
You've given some insight here, but I'm going to ask in any way. Matt, it's been said that Joe has the ability to befriend anyone. Sitting here, it's quite obvious. I'm curious, has it rubbed off on you? Do you feel more extroverted now having spent lots of time together?
I'm good at faking it. I'm good at a being a fake extrovert. I don't think people at parties and networking events would come up to me and be like, "He's very socially awkward. He's introverted." I don't think I get that vibe from people anymore. I'm in my head the whole time though, thinking that I am. I do think a lot of it has rubbed off on me. A funny thing is when I started my first podcast in 2010, the reason I started the podcast was that I was introverted. I was uncomfortable. I didn't like networking. I felt like this was a way to growth hack myself. It was a way for me to hack the getting comfortable talking to people I'm uncomfortable talking to. That was literally the catalyst for my first podcast.
The Kolbe is not based on introvertedness or any of that stuff, but either way, it is very interesting because the graph, I thought it was hilarious. Someone put this together to us. I don't think you realize how opposite you guys are, but there's a shared overlap. We always have a shared goal. Our visions are the same. That is key with any partnership. You’ve got to have clarity of where you're going and the path there. You're going to have your own paths as long as you can communicate effectively, which the DiSC
will definitely help with and the Kolbe as well. Figuring out communication was the second thing that we ran into, especially with a team like, "We’ve got to figure out how to talk to each other. What are the hot buttons for each of us? We probably should stay away from because with no winning going there anyway.” We each have our own and everyone does. If you understand those things, even with a team, not even partners, it's crucial.
We can use that power for good and bad because sometimes we know what questions to push. If we're in the right mood, we'll definitely poke.
Speaking of poking the bear here, Joe, I want to ask you. It's been said that Matt's weakness is not letting stuff go. Is that still the case or has he gotten better?
He's nodding aggressively. I don't think that's ever gone away. I learn to navigate it. It's all through communication. This is in my own personality. I will take a lot of things personally. It's because I'm a personable type of person. I'll check myself. We know that our communication styles are different. He's a lot more of the written form. I'm more in the verbal form, which like all of these things, we didn't know this up until we started exploring that stuff. That was several years into our partnership. How long it takes like, "That's why I keep running at this brick wall and I'm stressed out."
If people want to hear how we work through our problems, we do podcast episodes that we call therapy sessions where we do not bring on any guests. It's me and Joe having a conversation. Usually, we're working through stuff. Usually, it's a conversation about, "Here's an issue we're having. We're trying to work through it." We do it live on podcast episodes.
You'll hear some bickering. Whenever the bickering starts and we know that's not how we're going to get through it. It's usually something we're both passionate about. We have a shared goal here. “What's the solution? Let's not bicker, but what are our next steps to this thing?” We're starting to nip that in the bud a little quicker than being like, "I'm out of here."
Your company motto is working our zones of genius, prioritize our to-do's and delegate the rest. Companies have visions, but we're human. Things happen and it's easy, especially, I know you guys talk about shiny objects at times. It's easy to get distracted. How if you find yourself distracted from it, and maybe you don't because that could be the answer, but if you do, how do you get yourself back on the track to remember to let things go and stay in that zone of genius?
Having Shannon, our ops manager helps a lot.
What Matt was saying is being a mediator helps. She also guards our time well. We do have our weekly calls, it's a Tuesday call. She's constantly asking us, "What should you not be spending your time on?" It's cool. I don't think we ever told her to do that. She realized that we have shiny object syndrome and I don't think that will ever go away. It's a constant joke with her too. It’s like, "We changed it all up again. Buckle up." We don't do drastic moves, but it might be a new something we're testing from our podcast because we're learning so much. That's why it will never turn off. I feel like her mediating has definitely helped. It's back to us. We do Monday calls typically is like our vision calls. It’s like what you were saying with your partners. That's where we see, “What does the week look like? Are we still on the same path that we planned the weeks prior?”
I'm annoyingly systematic. I say annoyingly systematic because I get frustrated with people when they don't follow my systems, even if they don't quite understand why they're following the systems or why they're doing what they're doing. I pick at people for skipping steps and stuff. That's a big element for me. I've got a to-do list that I worked through every single day. I will not go to bed unless everything is checked off on that to-do list because I’ve got some borderline OCD, "I’ve got to finish this."
That's the difference for both of us. He has OmniFocus
and that's a Mac app. It's all done off the GTD, Getting Things Done system. You make it your own and it's elaborate and beautiful. My desk is you’ve got stuff everywhere. I get the important stuff done and stuff inside of my genius. The step-by-step stuff, that was in my Kolbe. It's like, "That's where Joe's going to break down."
I'll go to Joe's house and sit at his computer and I'm like, “I'm going to organize your desktop for you.”
I appreciate it. That’s why I'm always asking, I'm like, "You've got to show me your system for this." I'm like, "My inbox is starting to overflow. Something is wrong here."
I can totally relate. I’ve got to tell you, I lead more your way. I need more systems love. I want to talk about the podcast now. You have built an amazing community. You built a big brand and a big podcast. I want to have the conversation for business owners that are out there that haven't started the show. I remember back to when I was at the previous venture. I will always want to do it, but I didn't do it. Why should someone start a pod? What are the benefits? What are the things they should be thinking about?
There are a ton of benefits. For us, one of the biggest benefits when we started this one, we had no intentions of monetizing it. Joe and I had this conversation, "Do you want to start this podcast knowing that we'll probably never make a penny off of it?" What we will get out of it is essentially free consulting. We get to go and pick the brains of some of the smartest minds in our industry. There's the networking element. We try to stay connected with everybody that's on our show. Once you've been on our show, you're going to keep hearing from us because we want a relationship now.
It's an automated networking system for us. It's like free consulting. Now, it has turned into a monetization thing. We do generate good revenue off of our podcast, but it did not start that way. We went into it thinking we were never going to make a penny off of it. We are going to get the best education in the world for free. We're going to network with some of the smartest minds in our industry for free. Those were probably the two biggest reasons we started this podcast.
I know you guys work with people that launched shows and have shows. Do you think it's critical they have to come at it from that angle or is it okay to come out of the gate with, "I'm going to make money from this?"
We work with a lot of brands who like yours where you see, here's an opportunity for podcasting as a good content generator, but it's also an attention grabber. It could start off with your best customers as your audience. You're going to get brand loyalty. We all know Dan Kennedy even said, "It's easier to resell or make more from the customers you already have." The podcast allows you to have such this intimate thing. We're all wearing headphones right now and our podcasts are about an hour long. Your engagement rate, we've seen it. That long of an episode, you're not going to get that on Facebook videos and Instagram obviously. All these other forms of content and if you're genuinely interested, if it's an interview show, you’ve got to get interested in other people. You don't have to have an interview show. It could be for your own brand. We've talked to some of these companies and you could highlight or they could highlight these different features. Maybe use cases, highlight testimonials and people in their own customer circle. That's a perfect way to kick-start something. It could be a ten-minute show.
I'll add on something. It's important that every business has some content marketing play. That's important especially if you're like a digital marketing forward business. Maybe brick and mortar, if you've got a lot of people walking by your storefront every day. Maybe it's a little less important. Online digital business, it's very important that they all have some content marketing strategy. It's important that you lean into whatever form of content you feel you can sustain. For us, it's audio. We have no problem talking. We can talk about anything in the digital marketing world for hours on end. If people would listen, we'd probably have three-hour podcast episodes with our guests. It will probably bore people to death. For us, audio works. For some people, they like making video tutorials and putting them on YouTube. For some people, they love to write. They love to heads down the blank screen, start typing up content. It's important that you have one of those kinds of things in the business. For us, we've chosen to podcast.
That's an important point because we had previous podcasts, so we had two together.
We had the Online Income podcast and we had the Evergreen Wisdom podcast.
You had an Authority Insider, which morphed into this show. The death of those previous podcasts was the lack of consistency. That was the promise we made to ourselves. We were like, "We cannot do willy-nilly." That's how those previous podcasts were. We got to ten, fifteen episodes each and they all fizzled out. That's common. It's pod fade as what they call it. You see that all the time in iTunes. You might have a popular show then you look at it and you're like, "The last show is like from last year." They pod faded and it's the batching. That's where our system comes into play.
To circle back around to the original question, I don't think it's a bad thing to go into podcasting thinking "I'm going to do this as a money-making thing." I don't think that's a bad thing to go into an approaching that realizes that unless you've got something established already, it's probably going to be a slow growth to get to income. If you're a business like WealthFit or like we already were with Evergreen Profits where we had products that we could sell and we had things that we can offer, it wasn't too hard for us to translate our podcast into sales. If you've already got that, it's going to be a quicker path. If you're thinking you're going to start a podcast and you get sponsors. You're going to start selling tons of affiliate products off the back of your podcast within the first few months of starting it, you're probably in for a rude awakening. It's going to be a little more of a marathon than that.
If people come with that mindset of growth that they're going to personally grow, they're going to learn, they're going to network and get access to folks and focus on the money later, generally, I feel as good if you come at it with, "This is an investment in me. This is an investment in this form of content marketing." I feel you guys are spot on with that.
Look in the startup world too, pretty much every startup in Silicon Valley doesn't even make money. They're spending money to grow so that someday they can make big money off of it. If you take the podcast that way, like Facebook, for the longest time, Facebook wasn't even monetized. They built up users and went, "Now, we've got this audience. How do we make money off of this audience?" That's all we did with the podcast was, “Let's build something of value. Now we have all this audience, is it possible for us to monetize this audience?” We started exploring that.
It dawned on me because I was going to ask you. You mentioned the other shows and consistency not being there and they fizzled out. This show was named something different. Joe, are you Hustle and Matt, you're Flowchart is that it? I shouldn't ask this question, but I had to ask to confirm it. That totally makes sense.
We have a shorts podcast. It's like best of that's Hustle and Flow Shorts. The name continues to evolve and other things.
I want to ask you about that. Do people find the other show and come over? Why shorts?
It's the idea. That's the thing with podcasts because tracking is impossible in a lot of fronts. It's not totally impossible, but it's difficult. A lot of folks were asking us for a shorter form because we have typically 60-minute long shows. We turned into this thing called The Hustle and Flow Shorts, which is about ten, fifteen minutes. There's a little intro on there that is right now it's you, but it's transitioning to someone else on our team that gives a little highlight of what to learn and maybe direct some back to the previous show. There's always a little affiliate offer. We call them mock sponsorships or a CTA, Call To Action to one of our own offers of some sort. It gets cuts right into a five to ten-minute clip from the longer show.
How do you decide what clip is going to go there?
We haven't figured out a great systematic way of doing that. Quite honestly, we look at all of the episodes that we've done and we'll go, "We haven't pulled out a clip from the Billy Gene episode in a while. Let's put a clip from that one." That was a topic of conversation on our team meeting is how do we get more systematic about deciding what clips to use?
It's tough with all that content because we're almost at 200 episodes of this show.
We probably have 200 shows of our past shows and we're going to start working those into the Flow Shorts too. There's some exclusive content on that can't be heard on the main podcast.
I'm curious to know what has surprised you with this show. You already had some chops, like with the other shows that you had done, what's something that has surprised you that you hadn't considered at the start?
It's the level. I feel it's grown quicker than we imagined it would. The quality of guests is amazing. A lot of these folks are the ones that we grew up several years ago prior learning from and now we are able to say whatever we want and get can some free consulting. We're obviously giving value at the same time. We're making it a fun thing. We become friends with these people. We're like, "Wait, what?" We automated our networking. It's so true and it didn't surprise us because that's led to so many equity or advisory type of deals, rev share opportunities, which we're doing in the podcasting space. That's why it's so cool. It all started from that network, chatting and being cool with people.
I would say there are two things that surprised me. One was the community in the podcasting world. We started going to podcasting conferences. That's how we got to know Chris Krimitsos and some of the people that we had breakfast with. That community is one of the most amazing communities. The podcasting community is such a supportive community. It feels like everybody's working together to make all the ships rise together. You don't get that sense as much in the digital marketing space. In the digital marketing space, I feel there are a little more egos. It's a little more competitive. It's a little more like people showing off their numbers and stuff. In the podcasting world, it is a collective group of people all trying to raise the medium together. That was a surprising thing that I never anticipated because we never worked in that world. The other thing was how easy it's been to get guests that we never thought were attainable. That's been surprising to me that some of the people that we've had on this show, I would've never thought were attainable.
Why do they come on the show? People don't have this awareness. Why would a big name person come on the show?
There are a few factors. We do like to feature the bigger name guests. If you land on our podcast page, some of the bigger names are front and center. You can see who the bigger names were. That's a factor. When we reach out to somebody and say, "Do you want to be on our show?" They look at our show and go, "These guys are legit. They've had some big names, obviously chicken or the egg. How does that start?" You got to reach out to people. That's what's been so surprising to me. It's like the hot girl syndrome. The hottest girl in the bar nobody's talking to because people are intimidated and they think, "She's probably taken," or she's out of my league so nobody reaches out. I feel the same way about some of these bigger name guests that we go after. Some of them we send an email and within twenty minutes, we'll get an email saying, "Sure, where's the link to sign up?" We're like, "We thought you'd be way busier than that."
I will say with all of the outreaches to the bigger names, like the ones on that Dream 100 lists that we mentioned there's the only one that was more work to try to get and the prep work. I would say it's 99%. It's a timing thing. Maybe it's immediate or it's like, "We can do that in a few months from now. It's like amazing." We're good at the follow up to make sure that we're building this as a win-win for them too because we do our best to try to get them exposure, not on the show, but repurpose like crazy with ads and make sure our email list hears about it. All the retargeting ads and everything.
Let's go down that rabbit hole. How are you doing differently? The Shorts, you're giving additional exposure. You dropped in their ads. What do you particularly doing with ads?
We advertise on a lot of the podcast platforms. You've got Overcast
and Podcast Addict. We were talking about Podcoin
. There are a whole bunch of podcasting apps that are the players where people listen to their podcasts on. That's probably the best place to advertise your podcast because they're already in an app. You know they listen to podcasts. You can do a little bit of targeting.
Spotify is coming out now with a lot more targeting.
That's one of the things we're doing. We're starting to get some success using Reddit. Reddit has been an interesting growth place because not a lot of digital marketers or podcasters have discovered Reddit as an advertising platform yet. It's fairly uncluttered and un-spammed. That's been interesting for us. We do run Facebook ads as well. If we have a guest that's a target on Facebook, for example, we had Perry Marshall on. I can target fans of Perry Marshall on Facebook. I'm running ads to that episode to fans of Perry Marshall. When it's that targeted, we're paying $0.07 a click for those clicks over to Perry's episode. There are a whole bunch of things, but I'd say looking at the 80/20 of it. The advertising on Reddit, on the apps and doing some real basic Facebook ads to the fans of your guests have been our biggest winners.
I wanted to ask you this. You guys are digital marketers, however, you are kicking it old school and you have an offline newsletter. Tell me how did you arrive at doing offline when you love digital?
This happened right around that transition period we spoke about at the very top of this podcast. We started the podcast during this phase of transitioning from client work to affiliate marketing. This thing called the EGP letters, what it started off as Evergreen Profits letter as a monthly subscription. We'd send sixteen pages or so when it started. We would have different topics that were interested in the month. Matt and I would hack it out. Usually, it was the last day, the last couple of days, deadline showing up. People loved it. We got up to about $100 a month. The monetization was all purely subscription at that point. That lasted for thirteen months, that initial letter. We hit a roadblock and trying to scale the thing. That was the first time we ever tried any direct mail, consistent type of stuff. We were learning fulfillment and all that. This new iteration comes directly from the podcast. It's a repurposed effort.
Every podcast episode, we have a note taker and she takes extensive notes, very clear, detailed and usually it's about two to four pages depending on the episode. That's a freebie from the show. That's our little bribe to get you on our email list. For a week, you can get these free notes, but they go into our vault. That month it turns into a physical newsletter that is a compiled, eight episodes to a week, maybe nine, depending on the month. It will have insights from us and we see it as an action guide. We want to make it actionable for folks who can't take notes or don't want to have the time to sit through an hour-long episode twice a week. We're giving them the best of the best and it's $15 a month. We changed the model around. We're trying to make it a no-brainer. There's also a whole membership with a ton of training, monthly calls and stuff like that and Q and A. The idea is now it's a sponsorship platform. It's another way to extend exposure for one for our guest. It's another win in their column there. It's also a good opportunity to bring sponsors in or affiliate offers or ride alongs. Maybe they want to write up a section, a paid area.
Going back to the podcast monetization topic, this is probably the most creative way that we monetize the podcast is like Joe said, we have a note taker who gives you the bullet points from every episode we do. To further monetize that, if somebody wanted to sponsor our show, we can say, "We'll do a pre-roll added for you on the podcast for an extra X per month. Would you like us to have you sponsor the newsletter as well?" It gives us another opportunity to sell bigger sponsorship packages. That's why we went for that $15 a month, low barrier to entry prices. We can get volume. We're a little better than break even. We're not making a ton off the newsletter, but we're going to make the money off of selling the sponsorship packages.
We're trying to build audiences that we can monetize those audiences off of things like affiliate marketing and sponsorships. That's the plan. The reason we went back to the newsletter was when we ran the newsletter the first time, it had some of the best retention rates we've ever seen. We noticed that somebody would sign up for the newsletter and stick for nine months on it. They never seem to cancel. Where when we had a membership site where everything was delivered digitally, three months retention on maybe. The retention on the newsletter where they were getting these things in the mail and they were building a collection on their bookshelf or whatever they were doing with them for whatever reason, they stuck around so much longer.
I'm with you. I don't know if I shared this with you guys, but I started in this. I sent it out for free to build relationships. It's a new podcasting. I'd feature somebody of the month. I was doing that on my dime to build the value. Eventually, I figured out putting ads in there, sometimes people paid me and sometimes they'd run an affiliate thing. There's no shortage of ways to make money. I want to ask you about the perfectly handcrafted beer. I hear you guys are into that. I've never made beer so what goes into the perfectly handcrafted beer?
We're probably not the best people, but we'll start it off like that though. We do have a website called Homebrew Academy
that we have a partner with. It's a site that teaches people how to brew beer. We also have a business called Overtime
that we run every year that happens right during the Traffic & Conversion Summit
. We always coordinate with them so it's not conflicting. We run this giant networking event where we come out and we make our own beer on their systems and brew it. People come out, hang out and drink beer. There are no talks. There are no pitches. It's, “Let's get a bunch of people together and hang out and have fun.”
That's what I was at. You guys were making beer there?
We did two weeks prior to all the fermentation process.
The beer that we're serving that night was the beer that we made.
Our deal is we go on an off night to a local brewery. Luckily, we have a cool circle of brewers that are deep into that scene. They knew the brewers. They know the beer judges. We're not that nerdy. We know the process enough and we definitely have done it multiple times. Homebrews on the stove boiling over and the wife yells at you.
I've done that and it was like following recipes.
We definitely are not brew experts, but we're partnered up with some brew experts. We used our network to go to these breweries. That one was at Mission Brewery downtown, this old brick Wonder Bread factory. I don't know the exact count, but it is probably at least 300 people cycling throughout the night, possibly more. It was the biggest one, a ton of people.
I'm curious what the benefit is and how many times have you done that
That’s the third during T&C. We'll do smaller ones that are local and people from San Diego. Some people come down from LA, but it's small. We've done what maybe eight.
They started off quarterly. We all got a little busier. We definitely make sure to do the Traffic & Conversion one mainly because the brewery asked us to come back. They were like, "You're blowing it up on Wednesday nights."
We don't have to rent the space because we pack their place and everybody pays for their drinks.
What benefit have you seen from that?
That's a pure networking thing again. A lot of the folks, which now it's even better with the podcasts. We had a banner with our podcast logo on there. People will take pictures and stuff in front of it. It was to meet people for once. A lot of these folks do the virtual show. A lot of these people came. There were speakers at T&C. We were able to buy them a beer, hang out and chat.
This one that we had during this last T&C was the first one we ever had. It was profitable because we sold sponsorships. It didn't cost anything to get in. It didn't cost anything to rent the space. The Mission Brew was happy to have us because people were buying drinks. We went and sold a handful of sponsorships. It was 100% profit other than the fact that we had to pay a photographer to float around. We paid for our big step and repeat banner that we took pictures in front of. Other than those type of things, there was zero cost to us. It was pretty much pure profit. We basically gave to the bartenders at the end of the night and said, "If any of these people here come up and ask for a beer, it's on us." We used it as our open tab. We didn't keep any of that. It was the first one we did that was profitable. Next time, we're going to get more sponsors and probably make it even more profitable. We'll not spend all our money on beer next time.
What does sponsorship look like there? Do they get a logo somewhere? Do they get a little talk? Maybe I missed that.
It was a logo on the step and repeat.
They had a beer named after their company or whatever. It was a play on.
They rebranded some of their beers to incorporate the business names.
We're always trying to do these weird lateral things.
We're big experimenters online, offline and anywhere we want. We want to test stuff and have fun and see what works and keep going.
What does the future look like? What are you guys most excited about?
It's definitely podcasting focused. There is so much opportunity. We see podcasting and you saw our talk at War Room
with Roland and the guys there. It's like this archaic medium that needs an update. It's screaming for an update in terms of tracking and discoverability, monetizing shows. That's where we're focused on is figuring out how to combine tech, strategies and assisting people, working with them. We're not trying to create an agency. We're like, "We want to partner up with maybe ten people max." We have a handful now. This is the infancy stage I would say, because now podcasting is starting to go mainstream all over the place. Investor money is getting pumped into it from all over the place too. It's like this gap in time that three to five years. You mentioned that. I'm like, "We can capitalize on something interesting here that helps not only podcasters, listeners, sponsors, maybe whoever wants to be an affiliate with this show." It's a huge win for everybody, but there's this marketing tech gap that's frustrating. That's where our time is focused on.
Between that and growing the newsletter, those are our two big focuses right now, helping people with their podcasts, podcasting ourselves and growing the newsletter.
More investing too and that's where I would say the evolution is.
We're studying pretty heavily multifamily investing.
I appreciate you being here. If people want to keep tabs and tune in to the show, the podcast, what's the best way for them to find you online?
If you go to HustleAndFlowchart.com/wealthfit
, there will be some cool stuff there. We have a traffic book that teaches some of our PPC, SEO strategies and things like that. We like to give that away to your audience. HustleAndFlowchart.com/wealthfit
, there will be a link to get that book for free. It's a full book. You can buy it on Amazon and stuff, but we give out free copies of it.
Thanks again guys for being on the show, doing what you do and paying it forward
Thank you for having us. It’s awesome.