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Today I’m thrilled to have Harry Campbell on the show. Harry is someone who I just met at the financial blogging conference in San Diego and we actually met playing basketball.
A few conversations later and I knew that I wanted to have him on the podcast. Harry has an interesting story. He started his site TheRideShareGuy.com in 2014 when he was a full time aerospace engineer and part time Uber and Lyft driver.
And seeing as how ride share services were starting to take off, he decided to create the ultimate ride sharing resource. Today, Harry has quit his engineering job to work on the site full time and his mission is to help drivers around the world. Enjoy the episode!
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What You’ll Learn
- Harry’s motivations for starting the ride share guy
- How RSG makes money
- How Harry built traffic to the site early on
- Which strategy has been the most effective in terms of revenue growth
- The best forms of traffic and how to build it
- How Harry gets people to sign up for his course
- The primary difference between Uber and Lyft
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In other news I just want to let you know that the tickets for the 2017 Sellers Summit are now on sale at sellerssummit.com. Now what is the Sellers Summit, it is the conference that I hold every year that specifically targets ecommerce entrepreneurs selling physical products online. Unlike other events that focus on inspirational stories and high level BS, mine is a curriculum based conference, where you will leave with practical and actionable strategies specifically for an ecommerce business.
In fact every speaker I invite is deep in the trenches of their ecommerce business, entrepreneurs who are importing large quantities of physical goods, and not some high level guys who are overseeing their companies at 50,000 feet. The other thing I can assure you is that the Sellers Summit will be small and intimate. Last year we cut off ticket sales at around 100 people, so this event will sell out quickly, once again that’s sellerssummit.com, and go check it out.
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Intro: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. We will teach you how to create a business that suits your lifestyle, so you can spend more time with your family and focus on doing the things that you love. Here is your host, Steve Chou.
Steve: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. Today I’m thrilled to have Harry Campbell on the show. Harry is someone who I met at the financial blogging conference in San Diego just a couple of weeks ago and we actually met playing basket ball, and a few conversations later on the court, and I knew I wanted to have him on the podcast. Now Harry has an interesting story, he started his site The Ride Share Guy in 2014 when he was a full time aerospace engineer and part time Uber and Lyft driver.
Seeing how rideshare services have started to take off, he decided to create the ultimate ride sharing resource and community. So today Harry has quit his engineering job to work on the site full time and his mission is to help drivers around the word. With that welcome to the show Harry, how are you doing today man?
Harry: I’m doing well; I think I’m just about recovered from the conference, so a perfect time to come on the show.
Steve: I’m not quite recovered yet myself, and you picked an early morning – oh it’s not early morning slot, it’s 8 AM right now, but I’m still a little groggy.
Harry: We’ll ease into it.
Steve: So Harry you are a successful aerospace engineer, so my first question is why the heck did you decide to drive for Uber and Lyft in the first place?
Harry: It’s funny you’re mentioning that in the intro and honestly it seems like a long time ago that I was an engineer, and I don’t know if that is a bad thing or a good thing, but yeah you’re right, I used to be an aerospace engineer for Boeing, and really I guess I’ve always been attracted to side hustles and just honestly easy ways of making money. For me I heard about people driving Uber and Lyft and doing it on their spare time, and some of the drivers were telling me, and this was a few years ago when Uber and Lyft paid a lot more, price has come down since.
Some of the drivers were telling me they are earning 30 to 40 bucks an hour, and I was thinking to myself, hey that’s more than I make in my day job so I should probably check this out even if it’s only for a few hours a week.
Steve: Interesting so an engineer the Uber and Lyft position was making more than your day job?
Harry: I would say that in limited capacity yeah, I drove a couple of big holidays like July 4th on average $50 an hour, but on the regular I think when I first started I was earning $20 or $25 an hour, so it was less than my day job. It was like that feeling where, hey I’m doing something that’s actually pretty fun, when you do anything zero to ten hours a week it’s a lot more enjoyable than something you do 40 hours a week, right?
Steve: Okay yeah I know absolutely. So this is just basically in your spare time you had nothing better to do for that day and just this was just earn some money, right?
Harry: Yeah and honestly I really blame my wife, because my wife was in medical school at the time and that meant that I had a lot of free time.
Steve: Oh yeah absolutely, actually you probably still have a lot of free time right, because she has to go through residency and all that stuff?
Harry: Yeah I guess so, she’s actually so she’s just starting to apply to residency, so I’d say that that’s the one thing that I guess has benefited my business because in a lot of ways I just had a lot of free time to figure
out ways to make money, figure out ways to work and do all that good stuff.
Steve: So what was the motivation for starting The Rideshare Guy then?
Harry: Well honestly I went out there and started driving for Uber and Lyft, and I was expecting it to be super easy and super fun and it was sort of all the above, but at the same time it wasn’t as easy as it seemed. It’s combination really of dealing with customers, safe driving and navigation and also running your own business too, because you’re 1099 independent contractor for Uber and Lyft, you have to do things like tracking your mileage and file a schedule C at the end of the year.
A joke I make is it wasn’t rocket science like my real job, but it definitely wasn’t as easy as it seems, so for me I started goggling and went on YouTube and I said, hey there’s got to be some people giving advice and tips for basically how to maximize your income, and the crazy thing was that I couldn’t find a single blog, not a single blog about rideshare.
I reads a few articles here and there just about people doing like a one off experience type article, but I couldn’t find a single blog, and at the time Uber was worth $10 million and there’re 100,000 drivers in the US. This light bulb went off in my head that hey there’s nobody doing this, so I either have a really good idea or a really dud idea here.
Steve: Can you give me an example of a piece of information that you were looking for but you couldn’t get online about Uber, I mean to me in my mind right now you just pick up the app and you start driving, right?
Harry: For me honestly I was really concerned with how much I was making, so obviously I’m an engineer like you and I was doing just these detailed really natty spreadsheets. I would import all of my ride data and I would go in and calculate by the hour and by the ride and just see where my down time was, because obviously you don’t make any money during your down time as a driver.
So I was just trying to figure out ways, hey I’m making $28 an hour right now, how can I go make $35 an hour, what are the opportunities, even something as simple as texting your rider so that they’ll come down faster can maybe save you two minutes on every single ride. I was looking for stuff like that those like really more in-depth strategies that would help me earn more money and I couldn’t find anything close to that, so basically I decided to create it myself.
Steve: Okay, so basically maximizing your Uber driving experience?
Steve: So when you started The Rideshare Guy, was it with the intention of making money or did it start out just as a purely informational site?
Harry: So to be honest I would say that it was a combination of both, I definitely didn’t have a completely altruistic view, and I said, hey I want to start this because it is cool and I enjoy it, but I knew a few things. I knew that I enjoyed it; I was really interested in just taking the technology behind it and the whole start up that seemed really like sexy and fascinating to me because I worked this boring day job as an engineer.
Then at the same time I also saw the huge potential business opportunity. I didn’t think that I would make a ton of money in my first year and I didn’t, but I knew that it was probably a good bet that Uber was going to keep growing, and if I can establish myself as this go to person for the drivers, then there would be a huge opportunity.
I should also say that I did have a little bit of a head start because how I got involved in the whole of personal finance bloggers conference and everything, I did own and I do still own a couple of small personal finance sites that I started like 5 years ago, and those were purely for hobby, but that’s how I got into everything and saw the potential of guys like Jim Wang at Bargaineering and those types of guys who were selling their blogs for lots of money and the kind of I could basically, hey my site was maybe getting a few hundred page views a day but I could extrapolate.
I could see that if I could get to that point in maybe that niche or a different niche, I could probably make some real money.
Steve: I see so but in terms of your personal finance blogs, did those ever go anywhere?
Harry: Not really, I would say so I started a couple of – actually more three or four and two of them still exist today, but honestly though they are still making about $500 a month net and right now it’s 100% passive for me. I have a couple of people that completely manage it, all we do are just these simple sponsored posts and we do one article a week, so I’m not doing any work on those.
It’s very low traffic, may a 1000 page views a day which is very small for a personal finance site, but I could see that if I can grow that audience even whether it’s in the personal finance niche or another niche I think that I can make significantly more. It’s less what I saw with Rideshare, I was coming from this very saturated niche of personal finance where it was harder to break through. For me now I’m going in Google and I can’t find a single blog and I’m getting all excited, because…
Steve: Totally, I’m just wondering how much time comes into play here, because when you started your PF thing, it was already pretty saturated.
Harry: For sure, I mean I think that’s definitely one of the big things, timing and honestly just getting lucky is important, but I think what really benefitted me is that I was continually putting myself in that position to start something. A lot of people were saying to me, hey you work as an aerospace engineer; you get paid a lot of money, why would you go and drive for Uber and Lyft?
For me it was just about just trying it out, I didn’t know that I was going to try it out and then start a blog and then quit my day job to focus on the blog full time and then have this big business, but it was just like continually putting myself in that position, because you really never know what’s going to happen. But one thing you do know is that nothing will ever happen if you don’t continually try stuff, so that’s what it really was about for me.
Steve: Okay and so how does the Rideshare Guy actually make money?
Harry: Right on, so I’m surprised it took you so long to ask me that question. Literally the first question I ever get asked by anyone regardless of age, sex, and anyone they always ask me, so it’s funny. So we actually have a few different revenue streams and some are a little bit more traditional that your audience is probably familiar with, but really what it boils down to is one of our main sources of revenue is driver referrals so signing drivers up for Uber, Lyft [inaudible 00:11:04] that’s the most obvious one.
We also do direct advertising, so with any advertisers that have products or services that are looking to cater to Rideshare drivers. An example of that would be Intuit in their QuickBooks self employed product, so they’re one of our biggest sponsors and basically they’re looking to get drivers to track their expenses and use them for trouble tax and all that good stuff.
Then we also have a video training course that we sell, very traditional online marketing 101 training course, and then we also have a really unique one that’s an insurance market place since Rideshare drivers need a rideshare insurance. We actually have worked with – we have over 30 individual agents signed up on our site in this big directory and two companies at the corporate level, and so that’s another big revenue stream for us, because as you know insurance is a high commission product.
Steve: Yeah absolutely.
Harry: Honestly I wish I could take more credit for that one, but literally agents started reaching out to us and asking if they could come on our site. Someone wanted to give us money, so we had to figure out a way to accept it.
Steve: So you get paid per lead for that?
Harry: We actually don’t get paid per lead but we do a monthly, basically we charge them a monthly fee and honestly I don’t think I have the insurance marketplace as optimized as it could be, but it’s really simple on our
end. We basically have a directory by state, and then the different companies available in each state and then we list one agent per city.
So it’s super simper, super rudimentary to be honest but at the same time we drive traffic to it every month with an insurance article and we’re really well optimized as far as rankings and things like that. So we’re doing well for all the insurance key words and it works, lots of agents sign up and we have about a 95% renewal rate for our insurance agents.
Steve: Wow, that’s awesome, so of all those income sources that you specified, which one is the top one?
Harry: I would say probably – actually the income sources, I’ve worked really hard in 2016. It used to be all driver referrals because honestly driver referrals were the easiest and most natural fit, we would be writing about Uber and say, hey here is our experience at Uber, go sign up. Pretty natural and pretty easy to mention, we would tell drivers you can make more money by driving for Uber and Lyft, go sign up for both of them, stuff like that.
That was the most natural fit and I would say in 2015 that was by far probably 75% of our revenue. In 2016 though I made a really big push to build out our direct advertisers and affiliates, so I hired a guy full time to handle that and then I have another guy part time that does the insurance marketplace, so honestly driver referrals is probably about 30 to 40% right now, but then the rest are pretty evenly matched.
Our direct advertising and affiliate, our video quarters and our insurance market place all pretty even when it comes down to that.
Steve: That’s cool man. I’m just curious what is the pay out for a driver referral?
Harry: Well, that’s the crazy thing is first of all it’s funny that it really varies, so I’m going to say a number and you’re going to say that sounds pretty high, but in some cities it’s a lot lower. So in a top major market it might be like $500 to $750.
Steve: That is crazy.
Harry: LA, San Francisco, it’s $500 to $750 and obviously it varies, it goes up and down a little bit. This month it actually dropped to 250 but over the past year in a major market honestly it’s been averaging around $500, and the crazy thing is that it’s double sided, and I’m simplifying it a little bit. Basically what happens is if I’m an existing driver, I can go refer my friends, we each get $500 after they do 75 rides in 30 days, and that’s the gist of the program.
There a lot of small to mid size cities that might be anywhere from like 10 or 25 bucks to a couple of hundred bucks but still it’s definitely high amounts for driver referrals.
Steve: So they have to do 75 rides in 30 days, so do you do anything post sign up to encourage them to do that or?
Harry: That’s one of the really unique things is that I actually don’t have a direct affiliate program set up with Uber and Lyft even to this day. I’ve had my site for two and a half years, I’m probably one of the top referrers by volume with Uber and Lyft, yet I actually use the same referral code that I used when I first started and it’s my driver referral code, so I have…
Steve: Interesting, okay.
Harry: Isn’t that crazy? I have no tracking, I have no ability to follow up or anything like that and I’m also doing very high volume, and you’re right it’s actually a big problem for me because Uber and Lyft don’t have – it’s funny because these companies are also big, but they don’t have any of the affiliate tracking or anything like that you are probably used to with some of the more established companies with more established programs.
For me I actually only get about a 5 to 10% conversion from the people that sign up using my link to the people that actually end up driving and getting me paid a bonus.
Steve: Okay but the dollar amounts are so high; I guess it doesn’t really matter.
Harry: Exactly, so the dollar amounts are still so high when I really try to focus and honestly I’ve never been that in love with increasing conversions and worrying about all that even though it’s funny because I’m an engineer, and since I started blogging I really kind of just attacked the top of the funnel and said, hey I like writing articles, I like doing content.
If I spend more time on content, I can increase my top of the funnel and I end up doing something that I like and then do that way and by that way I can actually increase my pay out down the road as opposed to down the funnel increasing my sign ups to conversions by 12%. I would rather just focus on the top of the funnel because that’s what I enjoy and also that’s what I think my skills are at too.
Steve: Okay and so when you made this shift to go again to steer your business away from the referrals more, did you focus more on your course or the insurance part?
Harry: Honestly I wish I could say that I took more credit for the insurance, I sort of stumbled upon the insurance, but at the same time we did the course I would say I spent the most time on the course. I would say that I spent the most time on direct advertising and affiliate stuff and then the insurance marketplace and then the course in that order, because that was what when I first started really trying to expand the income, that was what was already producing the most income in that order if that makes sense.
Really I felt like the course was going to be tough to boost that income, basically it’s like, hey here’s the channels that are doing well, I want to double down on those and spend more time on the channels that are doing well, that have the more potential, that’s how I focused and allocated my time.
Steve: So in terms of the course, how much do you charge for it?
Harry: I charge $97 a pop for the course.
Steve: Okay it’s just a lump sum, right?
Harry: Yeah, one lump sum and then they get access to a bunch of videos.
Steve: In terms of your direct advertising model, do people come to you or do you have like a team that’s going out to these companies and approaching them?
Harry: That’s one of the nice things; we talked earlier about there not being a lot of competition right now. If you’re looking to advertise to Uber drivers, my site is probably one for the best places that you can go. So honestly all of our advertising deals that we do come from inbound leads, we do very, very little, almost none, no outreach.
So everyone is coming to us, we have a little process that we put them through, if they are a huge advertiser, we’ll hold their hand and talk to them, but otherwise we make them fill out an inquiry form and then I have one of my guys go and reach out to them and send them our media kit and things like that and take things from there.
Steve: Okay and then I know you have a podcast as well, is that all part of the advertising equation, is it for the podcast or is it for the site more?
Harry: So I have a blog, podcast, YouTube channel, and video training course, so those are my four main mediums and the four main ways that I distribute content. It started with my site two and a half years ago, I did the
blog and the podcast. It is a no brainer; hey I’m catering to all these Rideshare drivers that are going to be in their car all the time, probably I should start a podcast, right?
Steve: Right, yeah absolutely.
Harry: What I found was that my blog growth was just eclipsing my podcast growth, so right now I’m at about 10,000 total downloads a month for all of my episodes every single month for the podcast and the website, the blog is actually – so this past month, in the past 30 days, we did 800,000 page views last month.
Steve: That is crazy.
Harry: Yeah so you can see that there is a pretty big difference there, right?
Steve: Yeah, so you’re focusing more on the blog?
Harry: I would say yeah we’ve definitely spent way more energy and time on the blog, but at the time I enjoy doing the podcast, so we do sell advertising spots on the podcast, but it’s not anywhere near one of our main forums, one of our main outlets of revenue. Actually what I’ve been really surprised with is the YouTube channel is I started the YouTube channel about a year and a half ago and it was really to promote our video course.
I said to myself, this is how I think, right? I’m going to start a video training course, we’re going to have videos in there, I should start a YouTube channel because then people who will like my YouTube channel will maybe buy my video training course, it’s pretty simple thinking, all right. Actually what happened was that our YouTube channel started doing really well, we now release two videos a week, and it actually has grown to 10,000 or 11,000 subscribers, so that’s been one cool thing.
I guess in order of how well our outlets are doing I would say the blog is definitely our number one advertising outlet, and then YouTube below and then podcast way down below.
Steve: Interesting, that’s not what I would have expected.
Harry: Yeah I know it’s interesting, pretty funny too because the YouTube channel I just started on a whim and it’s actually been pretty close to the blog in terms of growth.
Steve: In terms of getting traffic, what is your primary traffic source?
Harry: My primary traffic source is search, so we get about 67% of our traffic from search and it’s all organic. I mean I guess I’ve done some Facebook boosted posts here and there but never more than like $50 and that’s only really started in the past year, but when I was first growing my site everything was all organic, and it was really kind of – yeah I mean that sort of – to answer your question basically 67% organic.
Steve: Okay and then what about the other 33?
Harry: The other 33 is going to be mainly direct, actually it’s really mainly direct, and then referrals, so I could probably pull up the numbers for a little bit more in-depth of the top of my head.
Steve: No that’s okay, I was just curious.
Harry: Actually I do know, so it’s mainly direct and referral. One area that’s really low compared to other sites is actually social, so I think social is 4 or 5% of our overall traffic which when I talk to some of my other friends, I think they told me that their social stuff from Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, whatever is a lot higher, but our social traffic is actually very low.
Steve: Did you do anything deliberate to get all that sort of traffic?
Harry: Oh yeah definitely, I mean like I said I’m not an SEO expert or conversion expert or anything like that, but I think one thing that I’m really good at is establishing relationships with people, and so for me I saw the media as a huge opportunity to really help grow my blog. I was doing a ton of organic stuff, I was out there in Facebook groups, I was out there taking Uber rides, I was having my friends talk to Uber drivers.
I was doing everything I could organically word of mouth, but at the same time once I started to get traction with my site, I looked at these huge media sites and said, hey with one link or with one article mention or something like that, one quote, I can probably drive hundreds or maybe even thousands of views to my site. For me at the time Uber and Lyft and even today are still really hot in the media, everyone is writing about them.
For me I really started to try to establish relationships with everyone that was covering media, so I had all of these media outlets like The Verge, Business Insider, all the big tech publications, they all have at least one or two people dedicated to rideshare, dedicated to the whole Silicon Valley space. So I started finding them, identifying them, trying to develop relationships to them, just become a really good source for them so that when they did need a quote, they would know that I am the one they should talk to at least.
Steve: Can you talk about some of the things that you did to get on their radar?
Harry: For sure and this is where I think it really helped me having a little bit of experience blogging in the personal finance niche, so back in the personal finances and I don’t know if people still do this anymore, but everyone would do these weekly roundups and I’m sure you’re familiar with these.
Steve: Yeah of course.
Harry: It’s basically a bunch of friends or even sometimes not even friends, the [inaudible 00:23:24] or whatever they would call them, and each week you would feature maybe five or ten or sometimes 10 or 20 different articles from your friends, and then you would share them on social media and you basically all link back to each other. For me I took that strategy and applied it to Rideshare, and the reason why I thought that it would work so well is because no one else was doing it. First of all I was one of the only rideshare bloggers…
Steve: Right exactly.
Harry: Then second of all I said hey – so I started featuring about five to ten different articles that I found during the week, and I would post them on my Facebook page and see which articles were most popular with my audience. So I was posting probably 20 or 30 articles a week on my Facebook page every week from like big outlets, like reputable outlets like CNN, a lot of the tech blogs which people may or may not be familiar with, The Verge, Business Insider, all of those and I would see which ones would do the best.
Then I would feature them in my weekly roundup on Saturdays, and after that I would have my virtual assistant go in and she would find all those authors, find the publications and she would tweet them and say, hey – first she would follow them and then she would tweet them. She would say, hey @stevechou, at My Wife Quit Her Job, we just featured your article on the Rideshare Guy, and then we would link to that article.
Now they sort of, first of all we were stroking their ego a little bit because one thing I found is reporters love Twitter, and that’s one amazing way to get in contact. You may not get a response from them, but I guarantee they’ll see it, every single reporter is on Twitter, I don’t know what it is but they all love Twitter, and then now we’re featuring them, so we’re stroking their ego a little bit.
Then they maybe come to our site and see that, oh hey this guy actually has a blog, he has this little branding, the Rideshare Guy, he’s a driver and so now we’re starting to establish those relationships with them and just interacting in general with them on Twitter, so that’s really how I started reaching out to a lot of people. Of course I saved all their names, all their emails as we were featuring them.
Once we’d established a little bit of relationship, I think I reached out with an email and said, hey I’m Harry, I’m the Rideshare Guy, I’m an Uber driver, I know this, I know X,Y, and Z, here is why you should listen to me. If you ever need anything – I didn’t ask for anything, I just said if you ever need anything, here is my cell phone, here is my email, I never sleep, I’m available at all times of the day.
I really just tried to be a valuable resource to them, because one thing I found with reporters is that they just need – they don’t really care where they get the source from, they just need you to be credible, they just need to make sure you’re not a wacko, that you can get back to them quickly if they’re on deadline, and that they are not going to quote someone who turns out to be crazy or psycho or anything like that. For me I was just trying to put myself in that position to help them.
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Okay and so once you establish initial contact – so how many roundups did you do? Are we talking about like a handful of these or do you do this every week?
Harry: I have done them every week for about two and a half years, I still do it today, it still works really well I think.
Steve: And each time you reach out to another group of…
Harry: I don’t email any more, but now what I do is every week on Saturday I publish a roundup, but now we do about maybe five to six articles featuring the top stories of the week. Then I have my virtual assistant go in the following week and tweet them, say hey reporter X at the publication, we feature the article on my blog and then we follow them.
That is what we’re doing now to continually find a lot of these reporters and now I will say when people – a lot of reporters find us to be honest we put the badges on our site to show them we’re a little bit legit where I have been featured and things like that. It’s a little bit of a snow ball effect now, but when I was first growing my blog that was really how we did it and of course I also did the low hanging fruits to help a reporter out, things like that.
Steve: Do you ever have any luck with hello [ph]?
Harry: To be honest I have a pretty interesting hello strategy, well not interesting hello strategy, but I have a little strategy with hello too because I have a lot of friends like you that are bloggers that are media that use hello and so I ask them. I ask them, hey what is in a good hello request? So what they told me was that you need to be first, because some of these hello requests get dozens or hundreds of responses, you need to be first.
So I set up little alerts in my Gmail, basically anytime a hello request comes in with like an Uber, Lyft, Airbnb, any type of those mentions, now it’s mainly Uber, Lyft rideshare that I look for, it stars it in my Gmail so hopefully I’ll see it pretty quickly. Then I have a canned response that is custom tailored, and then I custom tailor just the middle section of it depending on the hello request.
Then usually these hello requests will tell, sometimes they put anonymous but most of the time they’ll say a letter from – so like I just did one for New York post and the reporter’s name was Christian. I found him on Twitter like I said Twitter has been my best friend when it comes to dealing with reporters. I found him on Twitter and I sent him a message, I said hey I just sent you a hello request about I’d love to chat, and sometimes I’ll send them my contact and sometimes they’ll just reply to me on Twitter and we’ll just do it right there.
So that’s how I do it. I try to just get them multiple touch points, because you could imagine how many people are responding to those hello requests, how many people are also tweeting them. So now when they go and see 100 hello requests, if mine was first, hopefully they’ll be like Harry Campbell Rideshare Guy, I think that guy just tweeted me and maybe open mine first.
Steve: Interesting, so do you pay for the hello service because you get earlier alerts right?
Harry: Oh really, I didn’t even know that, maybe I should be doing that, but no I don’t pay for it, I just wait till it comes into my inbox, and I will say since Rideshare isn’t as saturated a niche as personal finance I am 100% sure that there aren’t nearly as many people responding to these hello requests as in another niche.
Steve: That’s probably true, yeah okay. Like one of five maybe.
Harry: Yeah honestly one of five, but at the same time it’s kind of all goes back to me picking this niche and trying to establish myself as a go to person in a smaller niche although I guess I will say that it’s grown a lot bigger than I would have ever thought.
Steve: Right now so you’re reaching – you do your initial outreach, do they usually reply at this point or you just keep following up with them?
Harry: Hello, are you talking about hello?
Steve: No, not hello, your other strategy with the roundups.
Harry: My other strategy with the roundups, well my other strategy with the roundups is really just about establishing a relationship so that when they do need a source or when they do need someone they think of me first, that’s what I’m trying to get because you can imagine like these reporters – I really try to do honestly like the opposite of what everyone else is doing.
These reporters are getting dozens, hundreds of pitches asking me, hey come on, hey I have this story for you and anyone who has ever written for Forbes or Business Insider, or Huffington post knows that if you put your email anywhere on the site you are going to get dozens or sometimes hundreds basically really crappy PR pitches, and so for me I’m trying to provide like the opposite experience. I want to find them around Twitter; I want to establish my relationship on Twitter.
If I do email them I don’t want to really ask for something, I want to say, hey I’m here to provide you value. Sometimes especially when I was first starting, I was looking for really interesting stories and sending them to reporters. I was looking for like things going on in rideshare and then sending them to that as opposed to feeling like, hey write about me, write about my site.
It’s like the strategy of really like I was trying to provide them value in the sense that they were looking for good stories, and it’s also about knowing these reporters. I talked to one reporter at [inaudible 00:32:03] who told me she had to get 2 articles a day, that’s a lot.
Steve: Yeah I know totally.
Harry: So for them if they can find anything that’s in the realm of a good story and they trust you, they’re going to be really thankful to you because you’re always feeding them good ideas and helping make their job easier, so that’s the type of stuff I was really looking for.
Steve: Okay, would you say that getting mentioned in these publications is one of the main reasons why you are ranking in SEO?
Harry: I would say that it has to be, I’m not an SEO expert but at this point I think I have a page on my site that we can probably share on the show notes, but I just call it my around the web page and I think that I’ve probably been quoted, featured, linked maybe 300 to 400 times or more and these are publications.
Steve: Oh wow.
Harry: These are everything from New York Times, LA Times, Wired, San Francisco Chronicle all the way down to like I just did one for like the Boston College, I don’t know some Boston college newspaper because that’s the other thing, I take every single – no media request is too small for me and there is literally a reason behind that too.
Steve: Okay, just curious I know a while back, a whole bunch of the bloggers started removing their roundups because of panda, like [inaudible 00:33:12] the articles, has that had an effect on you at all or do you care?
Harry: Honestly I don’t really care and that has always been my strategy. I know what I’m good at, like I’m good at creating content, establishing these relationships. Honestly I don’t know crap about – I know what Google panda update was, but I guess I didn’t see a big drop off from that, and so for me I’ve never really trusted what Google said. I just look at the numbers, like hey if my site is still doing well I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing; I’m going to keep trying new things to try to push the envelope.
If crap starts to hit the fan, then maybe I’ll hire someone to try to sit down and reassess. I think at the same time though I think it really depends on what a lot of other people are doing. If everyone is doing roundups and it’s the spammy way to approach things, then it does make sense that it’s not as valuable, but for me if I’m curating all these articles.
I actually will say in the text face especially, just the sheer fact that there’s so much content these days, a lot of bloggers and a lot of journalist are actually moving to this curated newsletter format where they may not publish it on their website, but once I’m subscribed to a bunch of newsletters from really top people in the tech and rideshare industry, and they send out weekly newsletters basically challenging the top content, because there is so much info these days.
Steve: Interesting, have you done any paid advertising at all?
Harry: I really haven’t done — I mean I’ve done hundreds of dollars but not even thousands in my two and a half years of doing this, I’ve probably spent no more than one or two thousand dollars. So paid advertising is not something that I’m good at, and also I just honestly feel like anyone can do – no I shouldn’t say anyone can do paid advertising, but I feel like it’s a low barrier to entry.
I feel like anyone can really go and spend a bunch of money and try to get return on their site, but I feel like it takes a lot more work and a lot more strategizing and brain power to think about how to develop these relationships with the media, how to get free things and things like that. Those are what I enjoy doing, because I think it’s a lot more challenging and I think that the value and return is a lot better.
Steve: It sounds like your primary strategy is just put out lots of content in all different channels and get linked up, and then just get all of your traffic organically, right?
Harry: In a nut shell that’s honestly exactly what I do.
Steve: In terms of just content creation then, how often do you post to your blog and the YouTube channel and the podcast?
Harry: For sure, so I’m actually extremely consistent with the blog, and I think that’s one thing that’s been super important. I’ve done four articles a week I think for the past year and a half, Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and before that I was doing three articles a week. On the blog I’ve basically almost always done four articles a week. On the podcast I do one every two to three weeks, and then on the YouTube channel I do two new videos every single week.
Steve: How do you promote your articles on your blog since you’re posting almost every day?
Harry: Right on, so I’m posting four times a week, so every time I do a new post I release it at 9 AM Pacific, Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and then I also have my – it’s called like blog to RSS set up, so it automatically goes out. I’m a really bad blogger, I should probably know what that’s called, so it basically sees my RSS feed that a new post is out and then at 10 AM it sends it out to my email list.
They get the entire article in the email and we actually have – so that sends out and then I’ll post it to Facebook and I use co schedule to basically post it four times after that and I go from there. So that’s really all I do every time I release a new post.
Steve: Interesting, so do you send out four emails a week then?
Steve: Okay, and do you have another email strategy like do you follow those people to your course or towards Uber referrals, do you do anything else besides just sending out the article?
Harry: Yes so I would say the email is one area where I did a lot of work on right at the beginning because I was hearing all these big people that are smarter than me were saying, hey you need to build your email list. I said okay I want to build my email list, so I used all of the SumoMe plug-ins, the drop down on the top bar and then basically all the basic ones. So I’m collecting I think about 40 to 50 emails a day right now using those basic plug-ins, and I don’t even think I paid for it actually, just the free plug-ins.
So it seems to be working pretty well on my end, so I’m adding about 1000 to 1500 new subscribers a month, our email list is at 18,000 or 19,000 right now. According to MailChimp we have a 30% open rate although it does seem like most articles get opened in the 20 to 30% rate, so we’re in that kind of range. All that I do though with my email, I have about a ten email autoresponder.
When they sign up I send them this ultimate guide which is honestly is like a15 page PDF but it’s more like an ultimate guide to my site. It’s like getting here, they’re getting started, and then I throw in an affiliate offer and to go through and provide some value and then pitch in an offer and things like that. Then I highlight my top blog post and then I highlight my top YouTube channel in the autoresponder, I introduce some to my various channels.
I will say I’m literally looking at my to do list right now and on my to do list is the build out like a three month autoresponder that has 50 more emails, so that’s on my to do list, that’s the one thing I haven’t done a good job of, but it’s definitely something I need to do.
Steve: I’m just curious how you get the sign ups, is that just naturally through affiliate links in your articles or is that part of your autoresponder?
Harry: How I get signups for…
Steve: The referrals for drivers, the ones that pay out 700 bucks a pop?
Harry: Honestly those are mainly from my site, so I’m not doing a lot of email conversions, I guess I will say that obviously when I send a blog post out obviously if there is anywhere to include relevant links or anything like that I’ll do that in emails. But in my autoresponder it’s more about introducing people to the various areas where they can find me, like I’ll highlight my most popular YouTube video and I’ll say, hey go subscribe to the YouTube channel, go check it out.
I’ll highlight one of my most popular podcast or highlight my video course and I’m not doing as much sales from the emails although I probably could and should and will be in the future. Most of my conversions are actually coming straight from the blog and people finding me and converting there and clicking on my links all over the site, because I have on my other resources page, I have a sign up bonuses page, I have an insurance market, all of these pages on my site, so I’m getting most of my conversions from my actual blog.
Steve: Okay and then your email sequence it sounds like just introduces the reader to all those different channels where they can just pick and choose what they want to consume?
Harry: Exactly, now that we’re talking about – I am a little embarrassed of my email autoresponder series, because I think I’ve heard it up there for about a year and a half and it should definitely be a lot longer, so maybe after this call, I’ll go set it up.
Steve: I was just curious because you have this course right, you get to keep all the cash too, and the payout isn’t bad 97 bucks, so I was just curious if you actively market it?
Harry: I would love to talk about the course because for me the course is one area where I started it just because it’s like that online marketing 101, everyone saying, hey you got to do this course, obviously it’s nice because it’s very diverse, it’s like mutually exclusive from driver referrals. If driver referrals I don’t control that, one day if Uber said hey we’re not going to pay you any more, my income goes from X to zero.
With the course that will likely never happen, if anything it might be a slow drop, but for me I’ve always felt – I haven’t felt bad taking money from drivers but honestly Uber drivers don’t make a lot of money. So I would rather find ways to extract money from direct advertising or find rideshare insurance product that they need to get anyways and monetize that way as opposed to – I still do a lot on my video course, we just spend a lot of time building out an affiliate program.
We actually now have a blog on, so we have the course hosted on a separate site called maximumridesharingprofits.com, which is probably one of the longest URLs you’ve ever heard. But we actually added a blog and we started transcribing so I use this transcription service called Speechpad that’s only a dollar per minute, and we started transcribing all of the content from our YouTube videos over to the MRP blog.
So we took out top YouTube videos, the ones that basically were doing the best and we transcribe them and now we do one post a week on the MRP blog, and we’ve actually been able to get the traffic up completely organically to around 75,000 page views a month on that separate site, just on transcript and we obviously have one video that is about how to enter multiple destinations on your Uber ride and that’s doing 25,000 page views a month.
It’s definitely for me one other area that I really have been focusing on, it’s kind of leveraging my content across different platforms, because we spend a lot of time, we only do four articles a week which might sound like a lot, but I obviously have other writers that help me. We spend a lot of time and a lot of research and a lot of effort into these articles and one thing that we’re finding is that our audiences are very mutually exclusive.
The podcast listeners don’t read blog articles, the YouTube viewers don’t do the other two, so what we’re trying to do now is not necessarily repost the exact same content but figure out ways to leverage a really big blog post, maybe there is one paragraph that we can go more into detail on a YouTube video, and we are already very familiar with it, and it might make for good YouTube video.
So we try to leverage that content so that we’re not coming up with completely original content across every channel because honestly we have a very different audience, so it’s not like someone is going to see the same thing in three different places.
Steve: So it’s not just a straight transcription, you’re taking that transcription and you’re turning it into a post, is that right?
Harry: No it’s basically a straight transcription, we’ll add headers and put a neat little intro but honestly it’s more of a transcription than a blog post and we try to make it pretty upfront. We’re pretty upfront about like hey here is a video we recorded, because actually a couple from people complained and they said your blog posts are amazing on Rideshare Guy but your MRP blog posts suck.
I said well first of all if you think these are blog posts that’s probably a problem on my end, so we just try to make it really clear that, hey this is a transcription of this video. People seem to – we haven’t got a single complaint since we started making that a lot more clear and it seems to be working pretty well.
Steve: In terms of revenues for the Rideshare Guy, are you going to hit seven figures this year or?
Harry: Not quite at seven figures but hopefully at some point in the future.
Steve: Okay, that’s amazing. This is just a question that I have that I was just really curious about, what’s the difference between Uber and Lyft?
Harry: That’s actually one of my most popular YouTube videos.
Steve: Is it right, okay.
Harry: Honestly for me I’d say the biggest difference is that Lyft tends to be more of a driver friendly community. They have a lot of features, once you become a driver they have a lot of features that are just more friendly to drivers, they have enough tipping so passengers at the end of the ride can leave a tip in the app, Uber doesn’t have that. If you do a certain number of rides, Lyft will actually – if you do 50 rides a week, they’ll give you 10% of your commission back, things like that.
I would say that Lyft has typically has more of a community and more driver friendly features. Uber on the other hand they are like you know what you’re going to get. Uber you’re always going to be busy with Uber, you’ll probably going to make more money with Uber than you will with Lyft, but you also at the same time know they don’t really care about you, it’s like you are a number on a spreadsheet to them, they are like strictly business.
Lyft is like this friendly alternative that really cares about you. You kind of support them even though you don’t make quite as much money but you support them because you like them.
Steve: Interesting, so if I’m driving though and I have both those apps, I’m just going to use the Uber app right?
Harry: Yeah I mean honestly that’s one of the strategies we talk about on the site, if you sign up for Uber and Lyft during slower times, it makes sense to turn both the apps on and just take whichever request comes first. For me I’ll always take a Lyft request over an Uber request if it comes in, because the rates tends to be a little bit higher, the passengers tend to be a little bit friendlier, and you also have the option of getting a tip on the Lyft app.
Steve: Okay and then in terms of one completely demolishing the other, do you foresee both of these services co-existing going forward?
Harry: Yeah, I mean I definitely think that going forward – I mean the funny thing is that Uber is obviously this huge $68 billion company and Lyft is often thought of as an afterthought, but at the same time Lyft is a $5.5 billion company. I think a lot of people forget that, but if Lyft were to stand on its own, it would be one of the biggest tech companies out there today, but since they are in Uber shadow they pale in comparison.
I think just because of that I don’t know that Lyft is going to be able to really ever come close to Uber as far as market share. I think Uber has about 80% market share right now in the US, but I do think that Lyft can definitely coexist, and 20% of a trillion dollar market is still a really good business.
Steve: So going forward Harry, what plans do you have for your blog to grow even more for the latter half of this year and next?
Harry: Definitely, well I would say that for me my goal by the end of 2016 I would love to hit a million page views a month, so that’s just one number that we put in our head at the beginning of the year. For me honestly I definitely like the growth, but one thing I’ve found as I’ve gone on is that it’s not all about growth for me, I really like the balance of life and work, I mean I’m married, no kids yet, but at some point in the future I’ll probably have kids.
For me it’s about continually growing the business, but at the same time really figuring out the areas where I can optimize and make things more efficient, because like I said right now there’s probably the insurance market place for example, I think we could probably increase the revenue by 20 to 30%, but I think it would cause a lot of extra headache and a lot of extra hustle for me, so I don’t know that it’s worth it.
For me it’s really just finding those low hanging fruits and just exploring things. I really like taking on challenges that I haven’t done, so like for example right now I’m in the process of launching a consulting business to help some of these startups who are doing products and services for drivers. A lot of people who are doing how to start a rideshare company type stuff, because I have a lot of this industry expertise and knowledge, and honestly if you don’t work directly at one of these companies, there aren’t a whole lot of people that you can go to.
So for me those are the types of challenges that I’m looking forward to and trying to really grow other businesses and leverage everything I’ve done, leverage my audience and my expertise to diversify into other projects.
Steve: In terms of quitting your job, how much was The Rideshare Guy making when you quit?
Harry: The Rideshare Guy was making about, I think $30,000 to $40,000 a year.
Steve: My goodness, okay.
Harry: We were probably on track to make $30,000 or $40,000 a year, but I could see the writing on the wall. I mean we weren’t optimized, I talk about we aren’t optimizing some revenue streams right now. When I quit my job we weren’t – I literally had not focused – for the first year of the blog; I didn’t focus on making money.
I really just focused on building that audience, I really wanted to get to 100, 000 page views a month because from talking to other bloggers, and talking to other people it seemed like that was the level where you could start to eke out a full time living and really start to turn it into a business. For me in that first year of running the blog, I was really just focused on growing it.
If someone came to me and said, hey we want to give you money for this, great but I really didn’t even consider any of those small monetization opportunities, because for me I looked at it like, hey I might spend an hour on this ad deal right now and make$250, but if I can grow my audience to two or three X in a year, then I can charge $750 and it’s still going to take that same one hour.
So it’s like trading that hour now for trading it later and I will be able to make more money, so I was just trading my time for the hopes of making more money which ended up working out.
Steve: Yeah, I’m just shocked, because you quit when you were only making 30 or 40K and you live in LA, and I imagine your aerospace engineering job paid pretty well.
Harry: Yeah so I was getting around I think 70 to 80,000 as engineer but obviously plus all the benefits and bonuses and everything like that, but honestly for me I wanted to do personal finance blogs. You can imagine I’m a big saver, I worked for six years as an engineer, and I was always doing side hustles and always making extra money on the side, so I had a pretty large – I mean I had a six figure emergency fund saved up.
It wasn’t as big of a risk, I think from the outside I think it looked like a lot bigger risk than it was to me. Honestly for me it didn’t seem like a big risk to me. When I quit my job my boss said, hey if you want to come back just let me know. He was like I don’t know what you want to go do but if you want to come back, just let me know, I’ll have a job waiting for you.
Steve: That’s awesome; Harry thanks a lot for coming on the show. If people want to reach out to you, I know you answer every single email you get is that what you said?
Harry: Honestly I test people, so a lot of times people just email me to say hi and to ask me if I check email, so yeah feel free. It will be me, it won’t be a virtual assistant and shoot me an email Harry on his site or obviously you can find me on therideshareguy.com or on Twitter @therideshareguy. I keep it pretty simple, so keep that…
Steve: Everything is the rideshare, he’s got a YouTube channel too.
Harry: Yeah it’s at the Rideshare Guy
Steve: Rideshare Guy yeah. Cool man well thanks for coming on the show, really appreciate your time.
Harry: Yeah awesome, I really appreciate you having me on and I look forward to talking more.
Steve: All right Harry, take care.
Hope you enjoyed that episode. Harry is the perfect example of someone who found a market that wasn’t being well served and then jumped on it, and his story just goes to show that you can make by providing value to those who are looking for answers. For more information about this episode, go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode144.
And just a reminder that tickets for the 2017 Sellers Summit are now on sale at sellersummit.com, the conference that I hold every year that specifically targets ecommerce entrepreneurs selling physical products online. The event will be small and intimate, and I promise you that the speakers will focus on actionable strategies to improve your ecommerce business and not any high level BS. So head on over to sellersummit.com, and check it out.
And once again if you are interested in starting your own online business, head on over to mywifequitherjob.com, and sign up for my free six day mini course on how to start a profitable online store. Sign up right there on the front page, and I’ll send you the course via email immediately. 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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