274: Joel Runyon On How To Monetize A Blog With Subscription Services

274: Joel Runyon On How To Monetize A Blog With Subscription Services

Today, I’m thrilled to have my buddy Joel Runyon on the show. Joel is an athlete, entrepreneur and the founder of ImpossibleHQ.com, a company dedicated to helping people push their limits and do impossible things.

From this blog, Joel has spawned many other businesses which include a paleo meal plan subscription service at UltimateMealPlans.com and an iPhone app called Move Well which helps you move better, get stronger and prevent injuries.

He also became the youngest person in the world to run 7 ultra marathons on 7 continents in 2017. In this episode, we discuss how to leverage content to create subscription-based services.

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What You’ll Learn

  • How Joel grew his audience for ImpossibleHQ.com
  • How Joel drives traffic to his site
  • How to build a community through challenges
  • How to create a subscription based service

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Steve: You’re listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, the place where I bring on successful bootstrapped business owners and delve deeply into the strategies they use to grow their businesses. And today, I’m thrilled to have Joel Runyon on the podcast and Joel is the founder of impossiblehq.com where he helps people push their limits and in this episode we are going to discuss how he leveraged his content to create multiple subscription based services.

But before we begin, I want to give quick shout out to Privy who’s a sponsor of the show. Privy is a tool that I use to build my email list for both my blog and my online store and right now I’m using Privy Display a cool Wheel of Fortune pop-up basically user gives your email for a chance to win valuable prizes in our store and customers love the gamification aspect of this and when implemented this form email signups increased by a hundred thirty one percent. Now, you can also use Privy to reduce car abandoned with cart saver pop-ups and abandoned cart email sequences as well one super low price that is much cheaper than using a full-blown email marketing solution. So bottom line Privy allows me to turn visitors into email subscribers and recover lost sales so head on over to privy.com/steve and try it for free if you decide you need to the more advanced features use coupon code MWQHJ for fifteen percent off once again that’s privy.com/steve.

I also want to give a shout out to Klaviyo who’s also a sponsor of the show whether you are just getting your business off the ground or looking for new ways to scale Klaviyo offers fast simple and repeatable ways to grow now with Klaviyo you can personalize your marketing build your customer relationships and automate your online sales and it is now easier than ever to create amazing email and advertising experiences so want to talk about Klaviyo’s new entrepreneurial growth guide packed with must read blog post case studies and getting started content this guide will help you prioritize what to do next for maximum revenue growth that moving to a new marking problem can be intimidating but Klaviyo helps you get up and going fast with proven technology and countless support researches they can actually check out this free content now over at Klaviyo.com/mywife once again that is Klaviyo.com/mywife now on to the show.

Intro: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast we will teach you how to create a business that suits your lifestyle so can spend more time with your family focus on doing the things that you love. Here’s your host Steve Chou.

Steve: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. Today, I’m thrilled to have my buddy, Joel Runyon on the show and Joel is someone who I met at Billy Murphy’s Mastermind a while back and we have kept in touch ever since. Now, Joel is an athlete and entrepreneur and the founder of impossible, a company dedicated to helping people push their limits and do impossible things. And for example in 2017, he became the youngest person in the world to run seven Ultra marathons in seven continents that Joe calls it impossible. I call it crazy but along the way he raised almost 200k for pencils of promise and built seven schools and from his podcast and blog over impossiblehq.com. He has spawned a few other businesses which include a Paleo meal plan subscription service at ultimate meal plans.com and an iPhone app called Movewell which helps you move better get stronger and prevent injuries.

And overall, I’ve known Joel for a little bit now and he is terrible at saying no to challenges’ and all you got to do is dare him to do something and he will usually take you up on it. And with that welcome to show Joel. How you doing today, man?

Joel: I’m doing pretty good. So that’s scary accurate.

Steve: So Joel give us a quick background for the people who don’t know who you are how you got the idea for impossible and frankly. Why the heck would you subject yourself to all that pain?

Joel: Yeah. Yeah, so I’ll try to do a quick because it’s been doing it possible for eight plus years now.

Steve: Yup

Joel: But yeah, so I started in possible after graduating from college back in 2009. Did everything you’re supposed to do got good grades learn another language travel the world did a semester abroad played Sports got out, you know done with the college path and went to you know, go get a job in the real world and there were no jobs available. So instead of going it going to getting a job at a marketing firm or doing something else. I started applying two places at Starbucks and Target and they weren’t even know that okay. Yeah, it’s so they weren’t even calling me back.

Steve: I didn’t know that, okay

Joel: So I was like living in my parents basement, you know, trying to like get any sort of job I could get and just getting rejected by literally. Like I can’t make coffee for people at Starbucks. And so I finally got a UPS delivery packages in the freezing cold Chicago winner for about six weeks that added like additional drivers, driver helpers. And so I was basically, you know, trying not to slip on ice carry these really heavy Christmas packages and not get chased by dogs. And then right after Christmas they laid us off because it was six weeks of seasonal work. And so I’m sitting my parents basement did everything I was supposed to do, you know, follow this path and I just kinda had this realization like this everything that there’s there is for me right here and don’t really bad for myself and I saw a bunch of people doing interesting cool things around the world. One of my friends is traveling to every country in the world another just quit his job and got to Thailand and I saw all these people doing all these cool crazy things and I wanted to do them, but I could even get a job at Starbucks.

And so I wrote all these things down that I wanted to do, but they all just seemed impossible to me basically watch Netflix instead. I felt I felt bad for myself. For a while and so just watch Netflix and you know felt horrible to think of Italy and out of Netflix shows the they weren’t stocked up that well. I looked at my list again, and I had a bunch of things on it that I knew I couldn’t do travel the world didn’t have any money start a business. I didn’t have a job or any sort of skills to even do that. But one of the things on my list was run a triathlon and that was kind of the gut check because I realized you know, I had all these excuses for why I couldn’t do all these other things but I had no excuse for why couldn’t just go outside and run around the block or get on my beat up mounted bike and ride around the block and so I decided I was going to sign up for the wimpiest Triathlon in the world. It was like a one-hour indoor Triathlon In Lifetime Fitness. It was indoors because I didn’t want to drown in the Open Water Swim and I just decided I was going to see if I could do it and I would basically went through this whole thing train for a month and a half went to this indoor Triathlon a Lifetime Fitness, and I didn’t know if I could do it.

I think my mom Came with me at the time like it was bad, but I was depressed and I finished it and I remember saying to myself, you spend so much time telling myself that this was impossible. What are the things are out there right now that seem like they’re impossible that if you just went for and train for you’d actually be able to do and so that kind of kicked off the idea of me taking on a list of things that I thought were impossible and seeing if I go out and do them and so that was kind of the beginning of the blog and since then it’s you know, it’s it’s evolved from just running indoor triathlons to getting into a basically tricked myself into becoming a runner got into endurance running got into ultra running ended up doing the seven seven seven project and basically taking the mindset that I forged through physical activities at took them to other areas of my life.

So I took that same mindset into applying for jobs got like an entry-level job at a marketing firm where I knew nothing got to interface with the owner of the business and work my way up to Mark and director in about a year and a half and it up working for a couple different other marketing firms for another year plus or so it before quitting. Yeah quitting job and going often start my own stuff. And so the overall through line has been, you know, just kind of continually trying to push her limits and see if the things that you think are impossible really are.

Steve: So let’s talk about the blog here. So you started doing all these physical activities. And will you just documenting them on the blog was it just kind of haphazard. Did you have a strategy in place? It was it like a personal Journal?

Joel: Yeah. So a little bit of both. I remember thinking at the time like a lot of bogs were boring to me and I was like, I think I can write a more interesting blog. Like, I don’t know if I could write a good blog but I can probably be more interesting. It was also a personal Journal because like, you know, some people go back and they call through their old blog post all of mine are still up there. Even the really bad embarrassing one so you can go back and like 2009-2010 and find my beginner blogs and part of it is just like I’m just signed up for this race. I think I’m going to die. Hopefully I don’t die and like literally some of my early blog posts are like that and so it was part partially that and it took me a while. For me to just get like used to writing, you know, some people like your mom will tune in for some of the stories.

But if you want to make it actionable for other people you need to like actually, you know, extract some lessons or you need to you need to make it useful to other people and not just this is what Joel’s, you know, personal Journal looks like and so I think the shift where I went from being like hey, this is something that I’m doing to like. Hey, here’s kind of some Concepts and Frameworks that I’m thinking about, you know how to push myself and here’s how you can start doing them too. That’s when the blog really turned from something that I was just personally writing to something that you know started to really gain traction as an audience.

Steve: So, how did you how did you get traffic early on I mean, it sounds like you were just it wasn’t none of the posts were like really planned right there were journalistic post which typically don’t rank in search for example.

Joel: Yeah, no, none of that it was back in this is 2010. So I was doing a lot of like just following people’s blogs I liked and commenting on their blogs and is like old-school like Yeah, kind of old-school American. Would you check something out over here or just like reaching out to a lot of other people that were starting off around the same time? I remember I got a couple different guest posts on other people’s sites that I kind of started to build that initial traffic off of and doing a lot of that just kind of like, you know, I can’t imagine it working now, you know back in the day. I was just like manually reaching out to people like Chris Gilabow and JD Ross they get rich slowly. I remember I did a bike. I was that was maybe my first big guest post and I wrote about like how I like rehab day like a garage sale bike for one of my triathlons or something like that.

So that was like a little that was when I was starting like, oh, maybe I can make this information a little bit more usable for other people basically just doing old-school networking where it’s like, you know, now you do it on Twitter and Instagram and you know back then it was just going to comment on someone’s blog and after I comment on their blog 10 times and like, you know a month or something like that, you know, based on how many times they’re posting.

Steve: So let me ask you this you said these strategies might not work as well today. So how do you continue to grow that blog today?

Joel: Yeah, so it’s it’s evolved. Right?

Steve: Right.

Joel: So, you know now instead of having to build a lot of those relationships a lot of them are already built. A lot of that actual relationship building has kind of formed into other networks, whether it’s Twitter, whether it’s Instagram and then I got a lot more intentional about SEO. So SEO is you know, when I said, I took an internship or like a low level entry job at a marketing company basically use that opportunity. I think it was blogging for two, two and a half years while I was still like working a real job and I took that opportunity to basically teach myself PPC SEO like email marketing all that type all that type of stuff while I was still at my day job. And so I took a lot of things that I learned from the SEO world and use that to continue to grow a possible. And so those are kind of like the core strategies that it shifted into but I still find that the you know search is really good for bringing in top level funnel traffic.

And the relationship stuff though, sometimes it’s almost like, you know Finding Your strategic partners for you via different relationships is like a pseudo version of Facebook’s custom audience where you’re just basically saying like hey, these people are already kind of vetted by, you know, these other similar sites and bring it in those types of traffic is sometimes easier to bring into your funnel then, you know, whittling down just search traffic.

Steve: So you keep talking about relationships. Can you be more specific like for example me knowing you how does how does that benefit me? For example..

Joel: I don’t know. I mean, that’s the question. You got to answer you keep hanging.

Steve: Well, you keep mentioning this, you know, relationships were pivotal and growing your blog like how?

Joel: Yeah, so I mean early on it was like a little bit Joel mission-focused like this is what Joe’s trying to do it, even seven seven seven at one point was like Mission Focus. So it’s like the the taglines push your limits to something impossible and when we were doing like nonprofit specific initiative, so when we talk about like the non-profit initiative that we were doing. Well, basically we’re just calling people to join something bigger than themselves and so there’s not like a there’s not like a product or buying but there is like a feeling that they’re buying into and they’re saying Hey, I want to be a part of doing something impactful that’s more than just me. And also when you do that, you’re also taking a look at the you’re giving yourself perspective from a Global Perspective. And so when you scale that down to your personal life and you saying hey, why aren’t you in the gym today? You know, there’s other people that could be like basically what I was doing was like we were raising money for like schools around the world.

So when you’re saying hey, yeah, I really want to work out today. It’s hard you’re like, you know, it’s really hard, you know, trying to grow up and not knowing how to read or something like that. It’s put your excuses and check and it boosts the fitness aspect of our brand because it gives people from a motivational standpoint like a clear understanding of like a your excuses a crap get over yourself moves on.

Steve: So it sounds like you put together these challenges and you worked with your buddies to kind of promote it together and then you know, the combined audience kind of spilled over to all of your Publications.

Joel: Yeah, so I mean especially at first it was literally just getting out because at the beginning I probably first year and a half. I was ready. I didn’t know what I was writing about. I was just getting used to writing. I didn’t actually have a business focus at the beginning. It was just trying to get traffic to the blog.

Steve: Right

Joel: And then over time as my voice refined. I was able to better clarify the mission of the blog the mission that I was on and how we can help people which does fall into like it’s a lot of like I me but I thought through physical activity and so a lot of that stuff comes through different physical fitness training programs that we do and then pulling out mental lessons from that and then the additional pieces like we have an impossible list. We have people we have like thousands of people that have built their impossible list and use that as a structure for taking on goals challenges and difficult things that they want to do in their life.

Steve: So let me ask you this then so the stuff that you did in the past may not necessarily apply. But today what are some of the best strategies that you’ve had to build traffic? Actually, Let’s position had this way. Let’s say you were starting all over from scratch today, what would be some of your initial strategies to grow your blog?

Joel: That’s a good question. So right now one of the main focuses that we’re doing is we’re doubling tripling down on SEO.

Steve: Okay.

Joel: There’s a lot of opportunities for the site because this is this is a little different because the blog where it is versus starting out right now where we’re at. We’ve gotten a lot of lot of publicity a lot of legitimate, press a lot of different things both for seven seven seven. If you’ve done for our projects that we’ve done and the state from a theoretical standpoint is actually a pretty good asset to go ahead and rank but I hadn’t had focused specifically on a possible to do a lot of SEO stuff with but as we started like just even just playing around with a little thing, you know, a few of the things that we’ve learned from the other businesses and applying it within a possible. It takes off pretty quickly because the domain is strong the notoriety is pretty well done. And so that makes it a lot easier for us to say like Hey, we’re going to go double triple down on content from an SEO standpoint and have it work much faster. Then if we were starting from scratch and saying okay now we have to build up a link profile. We have to build up some you know, press code will all this other stuff.

And so that is one of the benefits that I have with impossible. We’re standing now if I was starting from scratch, it really depends on the type of business. I’ve said before like I wouldn’t necessarily recommend people to start a business like I started impossible. I think the Paleo business is probably a better way to get initial traction, but what I like about what we’ve done with impossible is that you know, it’s not it’s not even my biggest business, but I think it’s going to be the one that has the most longevity and so the fact that I’ve been able to build it continually while doing other stuff. Let’s just be a little bit more flexible in the methods that we go about doing that.

Steve: So let’s talk about impossible. If you were to start all over would you you’ve mentioned relationships and you’ve mentioned SEO so far and you’ve mentioned just challenges if you were to start impossible all over again, what would you pursue first or what would be your primary focus?

Joel: So this is actually something we’re going to be launching your pretty soon. But one of the things that I found people respond really well to are these challenges whether their 30-day whether they’re one week whether they’re like, you know, even like three times a week or something like that. One of the things that I found is just giving people these, even 30-day challenges. I feel like sometimes are a little bit too long for people’s attention span. And so one of the things that were going to be launching on a regular basis is different physical challenges and giving people a way to test themselves in very specific ways because it aligns with the message of the brand push your limits do something impossible and and then we can kind of, you know, bring them in from there on to something bigger which is like the next level of either our fitness programs the nutritional stuff that we have or we’re going to be coming out with some more physical products in the apparel and supplement space. So those are the things that I think from a traction standpoint. They get people excited about really quickly. It’s easy to do stuff with other people to challenge other people and there’s a way to make physical challenges accessible but still very difficult.

And that’s one of the things that I think we’ve done we’ve done intermittently, but we haven’t done like a consistent and I have an app called cold shower therapy. I did a tedx talk on this and this is basically the idea that people everybody talks about, you know growth become begins at the end of your comfort zone. They always say, you know, get comfortable being uncomfortable but nobody actually ever wants to be uncomfortable and so a lot of times from a you know from a personal standpoint, I’ll talk about running an ultramarathon and getting super uncomfortable while doing it. Unfortunately, A lot of people are not ready, you know, if they come across your site from like, you know, Instagram link or you know, just from Google they’re not ready to run an ultramarathon off the bat but one of the ways that we can train people to start getting comfortable with actually being physically uncomfortable is through culture of our therapy and that’s like a 30 day challenge instead of taking a warm shower take a cold shower take a freezing cold shower.

And that alone, makes actually getting uncomfortable super accessible to someone even if they’re not ready to run an ultramarathon and what’s that that is done for the brand is like we have we have an app and we have people that have taken 2,000 old showers in a row and these people are crazy like they get into it and they get crazy into it. It’s not necessarily like a like a money maker for us. Like I’m making bank off this app. But what it does is allow people to kind of buy into that mindset that we’re selling begin to practice it on a daily basis and then be able to like, you know, how they have these pseudos competitions between themselves on the app to see who’s you know, too because like, you know, keep their streak of cold showers going and so we have someone that’s been doing it for like four or five years. And so..

Steve: Can you walk that through how you structure a challenge? Like just walk me through how you set it up and everything and pretend like I was going through it right now.

Joel: Yeah, so I mean the culture of our challenge originally started as a 30-day email sequence.

Steve: Okay.

Joel: Just like you sign up like you sign up. I think it was paid. It was like 29 bucks or something like that

Steve: I have to pay you to take cold showers?

Joel: Yeah. Well, you got to pay, you get to pay me for the emails.

Steve: Okay? All right.

Joel: And, but it’s like a 29th day like email motivational series and it was just basically like do this five minutes in the morning and you know set yourself on the warpath

Steve: Where is the accountability or what was there any personal accountability or is it just email?

Joel: The MVP version of this was like a PayPal button to an email sequence and that was it. So that was super super straightforward. Now it’s an app. There’s email series that you can join. I think we made it free and you can go through it and you can restart it if you want to get more of it, but that’s the 30 day one. What we’re going to be doing coming up is going to be more of a seven-day Series where it’s like, okay, we’re going to have one challenge this week like you need to have four or five check-ins and it’s going to be through this app called Spar.

Steve: Okay.

Joel: I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of this but it’s basically I think Ryan Holiday has done a couple things with this and think Lance Armstrong recently did one but the idea is you have people sign up for a challenge. You have a metric they need a hit. So right now I have a like a rowing challenge like a 500-meter road time type challenge. I have a, You know personal bet with a friend that I’m going to beat his his time over the next month. And so we’re going to be doing a group challenge basically, you know.

Steve: Do you have to enter in your name does the app like collate everyone in the challenge? And so you can compare times is that?

Joel: That won’t do that but it’s like a video check in afterwards. So you can either do like a video or you might be able to do a photo and then what happens if you sign up for the challenge and you miss a day so you have to do you know, four out of seven days. You can actually get charged money for not showing up or not checking In.

Steve: Interesting. Okay.

Joel: And so we want to do more stuff like that because I am big on even the informational products that we’ve done in the past have been good. But the number one thing that drives me to insanity is people who will consume information or who buy information like literally pay me for information, but don’t do anything about it. And so I’m like the underlying like drive and impossible is like like remove everybody’s excuses for not doing something and just like get them to do it however they have to and if that means like, you know penalizing the money for not showing up to the challenge like that’s an interesting thing. If we might do some that don’t involve like the monetary penalty, but the goal is to continually do these on a regular basis get people to take on these challenges that are hard but not impossible, get engaged the community aspect and then also, you know remind them that they can do much much more than they think they can.

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Steve: So this Spar App is what facilitates this and anyone can sign up for this app and create their own challenges.

Joel: Yeah.

Steve: Okay. So can we go back to your email sequence? I’m just kind of curious how it all works. So, let’s see I sign up for it and I pay you 30 bucks. How are you motivating me to take cold showers and is there any accountability and what’s motivating me to continue because it sounds kind of miserable.

Joel: No, it is is miserable but it’s sort of a self motivating challenge. So part of the problem is are not part of the problem part of the goal, Is that like I’ll send you an email every single morning and sometimes you might read it. Sometimes you might not. But the goal is basically take 30 days of cold showers. And that is that is like that’s the thrust of the challenge. You know, the first time we did it we got people first cohort that went through it was like a bunch of crazy people and they loved it and they paid the 30 bucks and they said like the emails came in at just like, you know day 14 when you’re like, this is stupid. I hate Joel. This is the worst thing in the world. I’d write them an email. That was like, I know you’re probably thinking this is stupid. And you hate Joel and there’s no point to this and then I just like break down their excuses and like a motivational email and they kept doing it and we’ve had people basically take the challenge and take that you know the idea of like, hey, this is miserable to be like, hey, this is just uncomfortable and I can do uncomfortable things. I can do hard things and then they’re able to take it to one of our fitness programs and they’re able to lose a hundred pounds. Or they able to lose 50 pounds because they’ve changed the way their mindset works.

And so part of the goal is like, you know, if you’re not self motivated enough to like do 30 days of cold showers. Like you may you may not be a good fit for the brand like you may not be a good fit for some of our challenges and part of that is like, you know, it’s a filtering process. So it’s kind of like open initiation if you will where it’s like, okay, we’ll get a lot of people, you know from SEO that rank for a specific thing. But we you know impossible, you know, it’s a challenging brand. It’s it’s something that’s calling you to be more than who you are. You have to be a certain type of person that’s ready for that message and cold showers is one of those things and these other challenges are one of those things that they’re going to filter out people who you know want to stay comfortable and they want to stay you know, where they are. And so that’s kind of one of the mechanisms. Is that like, yeah, we can motivate you but you you’ve got to do it and

Steve: Yeah, I’m Asian if I pay you 30 bucks. I’m going through the challenge. So is there a video component to this?

Joel: I’ve got a couple videos we’ve done on it, but there’s not a video addition to it.

Steve: Okay. And is there a community where everyone can just like is there like a Facebook group or something attached to this also?

Joel: No.

Steve: No, okay, interesting. Okay.

Joel: So one of the goals of the challenge is that we’re going to be launching is to be much more intentional about that. Right now, the cold showers are like the initiation fee, not Initiation fee, but the initiation aspect of it and then we’ve had other fitness programs. They’ve kind of come organically out of that through various autoresponders and everything, but I want to be much more intentional about like continually having physical challenges on a regular basis that people can you know join no matter what that if they you know, they fell off the wagon they’re able to get back on and then you know, hop in.

Steve: So look at this kind of summarize where we’re at so far. So you you’ve done a whole bunch of these crazy things like running marathons on different continents and then people follow you and then you put out these challenges because people respect what you’ve done and they want to start tackling the impossible as well. And so they sign up for these challenges and then change their mindset and then through building this list of people who are your people you then, you know present them with other challenges and Courses in mini courses and mini challenges that you have on your site.

Joel: Yep.

Steve: Okay, and SEO was not really much of a factor early on and it was just basically, you know people following you for these challenges right? It’s almost like a fanatical crowd, right?

Joel: Yeah, like we’re trying to like plan around with using them to join the cult. I don’t I don’t want to be a cult, but I like aspects of Cults – like the you know, the mass suicides at the end of all of them. I like the fact that like, you know, when you get people who you know, they buy into something and they’re all about it. It’s like the message we keep coming back to it impossible. It’s like that. I keep coming back to impossible, it was like people can do so much more than they think they can and what you have to be bought in to really go after it and you know, when when stuff gets hard, you’re not going to keep going because Joel told you to or that like you read a really good motivational email you have to have a switch flipped like in you that makes you go after that you have to have something in you that tells you you’re not going to quit either you’re not giving up and going home.

And so Little bit of like the self-selection where you know people can you know that fanatical group, you know the because I want that I want you and we can do other things from a marketing standpoint to reach, you know, get that message to more people but there’s always going to be like that filtration mechanism where it’s like, you know, some people say like, you know, our target market is, you know, mom’s over 35 or something like that and it’s like our target market is people who have that switch flipped and are you know committing themselves to like doing those hard things no matter what they are. And so we try to meet them where they are at and then create programs and tools and resources to help people stair step up from or so, but you know, we can’t switch that flips we can’t.

Steve: Yeah. No, of course. I mean, I think your blog just became really popular because you were doing things and writing about things that other people were not and then people were just naturally gravitating towards you because of what you were doing physically. Right?

Joel: Now I would agree with that.

Steve: Did you run any ads and and how that lead to the podcast I imagine the podcast came much later, right?

Joel: Yeah. So the podcast is kind of been intermittent, but it was basically an excuse for me to interview people that were like way bad ass than me. And so when I was in San Diego, I started interviewing quite a few people I’m out there. There’s a bunch of Navy SEALs that are based out of there and just a bunch of athletes in general that I was like man you guys you guys have something let’s like let’s dig into that and that’s you know, that’s basically where the podcast drove out of is just like me finding these awesome interesting people that have done really hard physical things but also have like inspiring stories from other areas of their life and just bringing that in and and and again reminding people that a lot of times people think they’re special or they’re like their problems are unique or that, you know, they’ve got it real hard and when you get these perspectives of like my buddy Kyle Maynard who you know, it was born A congenital amputee and climbs mountains around and is a Nike athlete.

He literally bear crawls up mountains, you know or Rob Jones who ran 50, 50 marathons and 50 states and he’s a former Marine who got blown up by an IED and doesn’t have either of those legs. So he’s he ran 50 marathons in 50 states with no legs, on Prosthetics. And when you get those types of stories out of people it makes you kind of confront your own excuses and say yeah, you know, I don’t wanna go to the gym because I’m tired today. It doesn’t it doesn’t it doesn’t ring the same right as as otherwise and so it’s just an extension of the brand telling those stories telling people giving them reasons not to give up and not to quit.

Steve: What is it more impact on your overall brand the blog of the podcast you think?

Joel: I would say the blog. I’ve been probably too intermittent with the podcast people really really like the podcast but I basically started it in the midst of like a big move and so like half It was like before I moved to Austin half of it was like after I moved to Austin and so I’ve been really focused on just getting like operations that have been off so we can get back off but I would say the podcast has more potential reach when I’m consistent with it, but the bog I’ve been doing much much longer and I think that’s how most of the people that got to the site know me from.

Steve: Okay. All right. And so you have all this traffic and you have this fanatical following on possible. How did you actually start making money from that?

Joel: So I mentioned before that when I was blogging on myself, that’s really cool and like there’s like people that will follow you for that. They only care about you so much like nobody cares that much about you like if you’re trying to make yourself like the thing like it’s not that it’s not that useful and eventually people want to know how they can become that person. So with impossible, it’s like how does someone become impossible how do they do something impossible? And so kind of the Breakthrough for me was when I started not just taking these challenges on but also kind of Breaking them down and then building them into programs. So one of the first ones that I did was one of the things I my impossible list was get a six-pack of those kind of ridiculous that and so I ended up doing it and writing about it. I got a bunch of people asking me about. Okay. How did you do that? Like that’s actually really impressive like you got down to like 5% body fat like photos came out really awesome all this other stuff.

And so we ended up putting together like a fitness program based around like getting six pack abs, so maybe a little bit cliche in the online business world, but like a lot of people, you know had been following me for a while and they were literally asking like, how did you how did you do that? Put together a program on that. Launched it and it did really well since then we’ve done a couple other different like Fitness specific programs a couple different like intermittent fasting and like eating protocol programs and then another one that’s just like a bodyweight workout regimen. We’re in the process of releasing two more here in the fall. And so the goal is to basically build out, you know, we’ve had several thousand people build out there and impossible list at this point and one of the things that I’m working on for like a technical standpoint is to figure out what are the most common possible goals people have then how do we build program specifically for those and so

Steve: But programs, these are just like digital courses?

Joel: Yeah digital training program.

Steve: Okay.

Joel: So typically like some are PDFs summer courses some have video components. I’d like to like up level the tack across the board and make it more of like a membership site where you can access stuff in like 12 week increments as far as like, what are you doing? You know, what’s your training protocol for the next 12 weeks? I found that when I get too fancy with technical stuff, sometimes it slows down like actual

Steve: Sure.

Joel: Actual business. And so I have my high in the sky what I actually want to build and then you know, like actually it’s just easier for just to sell 12 week or so sometimes and so we have two more courses that were going to be coming out with from like a more fundamentals like aimed at like the newbies that are just coming in and wanting to get started but aren’t ready for like a full beat down and then like a shrink. Yeah. Yeah, like

Steve: Haha like me?

Joel: Yeah. Well, you know the goal Is like, you know, we don’t want to just you know, we don’t want to just have people that are I was going to say crazy people but we want to help them become a little bit more days. And even if they don’t necessarily feel like they are right now we want to be able to like help them get there. And so we want to be able to bring in people and everybody thinks like the audience of impossible is like, you know, just like Joel like late 20s early 30s, dude, like very like, you know..

Steve: hardcore

Joel: I’m not bro-y, but people think I’m bro apparently but yeah, but hardcore and you know, we got we got a lot of people we have like Grandma’s right in. I had a guy that was like a 65 year old diabetic in England and he lost a hundred and twenty pounds following our ABS course. He’s like, I don’t want to get abs but I need to change my life and like basically reversed his diabetes using our program and we get people from all all sorts of walks of life. And so it’s much more of a mindset fit than it is, you know a specific person even so we’re building out a couple different more training programs for that and then the goal this fall is to want a supplement line and also expand first of all we want to do inspire people to push the limits we want to train them to actually push their limits into something impossible and then we want to like want to fuel them while they’re actually doing those hard things and then also gear them up because people go out and say like hey, I’ve been wanting to go skydiving, you know my entire life, but I never had the courage to do it.

I went and did it I did it in my impossible shirt. I like we have people skydiving and all of our impossible gear or bungee jumping or running the marathon or you know doing a 5k or anything that’s on there list than putting off. We have people, you know send in photos of them doing stuff in there impossible gear and it fuels other people to keep pushing their limits. So that’s kind of the cycle that we want to go out.

Steve: It seems like the programs were kind of a logical progression of your content. Can you kind of talk about what influence you to want to start an iPhone app and do that paleo meal plan and what interested you in those two side offshoots, I guess of impossible?

Joel: Yeah, so the interesting thing about impossible especially early on was I didn’t necessarily think about it as a business like I mentioned it was a program. So we did this we did that the second ABS program and in it, I mentioned just offhand. Yeah. It was like a Paleo intermittent fasting protocol and actually go into details on the specific ones that I did in the program, but I mentioned the word paleo like offhand and I got so many inquiries on the word paleo. I was actually really annoyed. I was getting all these customer service inquiries about like, what’s the specifics of paleo? How does it work? All these other things and I was like, I just don’t want to deal with all these questions and so I built a one-pager website like an FAQ section of all the questions I was getting because I don’t want to write like 1500 word email responses to people are asking about paleo just be like, hey, here’s the link check it out.

That was right before paleo blew up this site ended up starting to get in traffic. And so that’s why I talk about that business was there’s like an accidental business. It just started just started kind of growing on its own and all of a sudden it’s like, okay we should Probably put ads up to cover hosting costs and all these other things and then all of a sudden, you know,

Steve: Okay. So this is kind of organic like you just..

Joel: Yeah, okay it just like we are able to spot an opportunity with impossible and then it’s like, you know, I had this thing and it just started growing or like okay, I guess that’s a business, huh?

Steve: Okay

Joel: With movement and Mobility app called move. Well that was a little bit, you know, I was in the middle of seven seven seven the ultramarathon project and I got hurt my first race in and I got hurt really bad. I had to take six months and do physical therapy rehab and you know going into physical therapy session. I’m really good at doing the work when I’m paying them sixty or a hundred bucks an hour and like in their one-on-one with a person then I would go home and they’d be like you need a foam roll and I’d be like, yeah, that sounds cool and then I wouldn’t do it. And so we built movewell as basically like a personal Mobility coach partially, you know to help other people, but is also like partially to help me recover

Steve: That make sense. Yeah, you’re scratching your own Itch. Yeah.

Joel: Yeah, and that was a different type of business because I had a partner in it for a minute and I end up item out at the end of this year. We’re kind of rolled that into impossible and the kind of the goal with that now is people to push themselves and to go you know

Steve: And recover obviously.

Joel: Yeah. So the idea is like you can do much more than you think you can but you have to recover more than you think you can as well

Steve: Let me ask you this Joel we started out this interview talking about relationships and you mentioned a couple big names like Chris Guillebeau. How do you meet these people? Like what is your strategy for building new relationships?

Joel: My strategy, I think at the beginning literally I just showed up at his meetups. Like he had a couple meetups that he was launching. I’ve got a I did a talk I opened for his last book meet up in Boston or whatever and I have a photo of him at his most recent be up at then at the first he denied he ever did how is their am I looking very wide eyed eager to meet him the first time he wrote a book and came through Chicago a lot of these guys. I literally started off. You know, this is 2009-2010. So and they knew me from my gravatar image commenting on a lot of their blogs and being like, you know, not kissing ass or anything like that, but Just like hey, that was a super impactful blog because I was literally living in my parents basement watching Netflix shows and reading these guys walks and that’s what you know, that’s where my time was. So I was I was really grateful and inspired by them in the first place. And so that’s how I did it at first. I think at one point I figured out how to get their emails email a bunch of random people out of the blue people like Sean Ogle. I remember emailing Steve Cam and then just, you know, kind of going back and forth Just Like A lot of them were awesome newish at the time.

So some of us grew together someone like Chris was you know, he was quite a ways ahead of a lot of people, you know, just try to treat him like, you know, I do friend that was trying to make and so, you know, that looks a lot different nowadays than it did back then but I think a lot of the principles are really the same it’s like hey, you know be appreciative people’s work every time I get an email from someone who’s like this specific thing that you wrote was really impactful and help me in this way. I take notice. I’m super busy I get a million emails. But when someone sends you a genuine compliment, like I think people people pay attention to that and then trying to take it offline and meet them in person. Whether that’s a meet-up that they’re doing whether that’s a you know, Chris hosted world domination Summit like a conference a bunch of times for meeting people at another place. I find those in-person relationships go way farther than just, you know, tweets or retweets or if it’s instagram tags or anything like that.

So those are the things that I would say as far as meeting people at building relationships, you know, treat them like you would you know, they weren’t someone that was online like, you know, you’re just meeting a friend at a bar or something like that. Like what are you gonna what do you say or what do you talk to him about.

Steve: Yeah Yeah. So basically Joel you stalk them and you wear them down over time until..

Joel: friends were being friend and you have to deal with it.

Steve: Cool. That’s actually really good advice and I just been listening to everything that you’ve been saying and my blog actually didn’t start taking off until I started attending events and making friends with other bloggers and we’d help each other promote each other stuff. And that’s really how my blog ended up taking off early on.

Joel: Yeah, I found that stuff is again. I’ll talk about SEO because as soon as my background, but you have to do so much more qualifying on SEO traffic unless you’re selling like a widget I find with blog specifically if you can find other people that are already like minded that like maybe you’re taking like a different angle on a subject then you know other existing bloggers are like those are sometimes maybe we’ll send you a less traffic but I find those are way better fit sometimes then like, you know, you know chasing chasing the SEO God’s, you know for blog specific stuff, you know, if we’re selling like a six pack AB course, you know, SEO is going to be really helpful, you know, and in conversion Focus for that, but I found I found some of the biggest growth has been those similar blogger opportunities similar, you know, personalities or podcasts or you know across cross-posting guest posting interviews Etc.

Steve: So Joel we’ve been chatting for almost 50 minutes. Now, where can people find you and what is your next thing? What’s your next event? Whatnot. Where can people get a hold of you?

Joel: Yeah, so you can check everything out at impossiblehq.com. I’ll have links to I think you could throw the links to like the meal plans in the and movewell as well..

Steve: Yeah.

Joel: But everything’s at impossiblehq.com. Right now, we’re in the midst of like clarifying some of the messaging. We just shot this big old this big trailer for impossible that I’m really excited about and planning my next big Ultra event. So I’m trying to figure out what I’m going to do before the end of the year, but we’re coming out with we’re coming out with new programs for more people to pushing your limits more accessible to more people and then we’re also working on some more physical products this year, which I’m really really excited about so that’s coming up this fall.

Steve: I challenge you to do an Ironman on every continent neck

Joel: That’s actually awesome but I don’t know how you swim in Antarctica unless you’re off the edge and then you run into Antarctica people being very litigious about what water is technically count as Antarctica. So this is a whole. This is a whole area of the world that gets very little not litigious. But yeah kind of litigious record breakers that are trying to do crazy stuff so I got to do one Ironman. I think I’m gonna do one Iron Man in the next 12 months. I actually wrote that down to two days ago.

Steve: Okay, it sounds like an excuse to me. But what will leave it like that.

Joel: Hey you you come out with me. We’ll do it together.

Steve: Oh, yeah. Well, I gotta go without this podcast has been gone quite some time now, so..

Joel: Haha

Steve: Hey man, really appreciate you coming on the show and I’m sure I’m gonna see you probably next month or something like that.

Joel: Awesome looking forward to it.

Steve: Hope you enjoyed that episode. Now, I’ve known Joel for quite some time now and he’s the type of guy that always motivates me to do better. For more information about this episode go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode274.

And once again, I want to thank Klaviyo for sponsoring this episode, Klaviyo is my email marketing platform of choice for e-commerce Merchants. You can easily put together automated flows like an abandoned cart sequence a post purchase flow or win back campaign. Basically, all these sequences that will make you money on autopilot. So head on over to mywifequitherjob.com/klaviyo. Once again, That’s mywifequitherjob.com/klaviyo.

I also want to thank Privy for sponsoring this episode. Privy is the email capture provider that I personally use the term visitors into email subscribers. They offer email capture exit intent and site targeting tools to make it super simple as well. And I like Privy because it is so powerful and you can basically trigger custom pop-ups for any parameter that is closely tied your eCommerce store. Now, if you want to give it a try it is free so head on over to privy.com/steve. Once again, that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/steve.

Now I talked about how I use these tools in my blog and if you’re interested in starting your own e-commerce store heading over to mywifequitherjob.com and sign up for my free six day mini-course just type in your email and I’ll send you the course right away. Thanks for listening.

Outro: Thanks for listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast where we are giving the courage people need to start their own online business. For more information visit Steve’s blog at www.mywifequitherjob.com

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One thought on “274: Joel Runyon On How To Monetize A Blog With Subscription Services”

  1. Sean D says:

    Love the interview. Big fan of Joel’s had is Cold Shower Challenge app on my phone for years (I’m a big fan of Wim Hoff). 5minutes is an eternity under a stream of cold water. It was great to hear Joel’s launch into the industry.


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