176: How To Use Instagram To Explode Your Business With Nathan Chan

How To Use Instagram To Explode Your Business With Nathan Chan

Today I have my buddy Nathan Chan on the show. Nathan is someone who I met recently at Social Media Marketing world and I’m really glad we did. He’s the owner of Foundr Magazine which is an incredible resource for entrepreneurs.

He’s had some incredible guests on his site and podcast including Richard Branson, Gary V, Tony Robbins, Tim Ferriss and other famous entrepreneurs. What’s even more amazing is that he attracts most of his traffic through instagram of all places. If you look at Nathan’s account, he has over 1 million followers which is crazy.

So today, we’re going to do a deep dive into Nathan’s Instagram strategy and how he’s used IG to grow his magazine and his podcast.

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What You’ll Learn

  • Why Nathan created Foundr magazine
  • How to establish contact with other famous entrepreneurs
  • Nathan’s outreach strategy
  • How Foundr makes money.
  • How Nathan uses Instagram to market his site.

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Steve: You are listening to the My Wife Quit her Job Podcast, the place where I bring on successful bootstrapped business owners and delve deeply into what strategies are working and what strategies are not. Now today I’m thrilled to have Nathan Chan on the show, and today we are going to discuss how he created Foundr magazine, the leading resource for entrepreneurs by promoting it through Instagram. It’s going to be a great episode.

But before we begin I wanted to give a shout out to Seller Labs for sponsoring this episode, and specifically I want to talk about their awesome Amazon tool, Scope. Now if you know me I always get really excited about the tools that I like and use, and Scope is a tool that actually increased my Amazon sales on several listings by 39% within the first week of use, crazy, right?

Now what does this tool do that could possibly boost my sales so quickly? Well, quite simply, Scope tells you what keywords are driving sales on Amazon. So here is what I did. I searched Amazon and I found the bestselling product listings in my niche then I used Scope to tell me exactly what keywords the bestselling listings were using to generate sales. I then added these keywords to my Amazon listings and my sales picked up immediately.

So today I use Scope for all my Amazon products to find high converting keywords in the back end as well as for my Amazon sponsored ad campaigns. So in short, Scope can boost your Amazon sales almost immediately like they did for mine, and 39% is nothing to sneeze at. Right now if you go to Sellerlabs.com/wife you can actually check out Scope for free, and if you decide to sing up you’ll get $50 off any plan. Once again that’s Sellerlabs.com/wife.

Now I also want to give a quick shout out to Klaviyo who is also a sponsor of the show, and once again I’m excited to talk about Klaviyo because they are the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store and I actually depend on them for over 20% of my revenues. Now you’re probably wondering why Klaviyo and not a different provider. Well Klaviyo is the only email platform out there that is specifically built for ecommerce stores and here is why it’s so powerful.

Klaviyo can track every single customer who has shopped in your store and exactly what they bought and that adds a lot of functionality. So let’s say I want to send an email out to everyone who purchased a red handkerchief in the last week, easy. Let’s say I want to set up a special auto-responder sequence to my customers depending on what they bought, piece of cake, and there is full revenue tracking on every single email.

Now Klaviyo is the most powerful email platform that I have ever used and you can try them for free at mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O. Once again that’s mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O. 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 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 have my buddy, Nathan Chan on the show. Now, Nathan is someone who I met recently at Social Media Marketing World and I’m really glad that we met. He is the owner of Foundr Magazine, which is a great resource to hear the stories about today’s successful entrepreneurs and learn what’s needed to be successful yourself in the business world.

And he’s had some incredible guests on his site and podcast including guys like Richard Branson, Garry Be, Tony Robbins, Tim Ferriss, and other famous entrepreneurs. And what’s even more amazing is that he attracts most of his traffic through Instagram of all places.

Now, if you are look at Nathan’s account or Foundr Magazine’s account I should say, he has over one million followers which is crazy. So today I was hoping to do a deep dive into Nathan’s Instagram strategy and how he’s used IG to grow his magazine and his podcast. And with that, welcome to the show Nathan, how is it going man?

Nathan: I’m doing great, thanks Steve. Thank you so much for having me brother. It’s an absolute honor.

Steve: Dude, it’s an honor to have you on the show. It was a pleasure meeting you, what, a couple of weeks ago, was it now? I think you are still jet lagged; it was last week, probably, right?

Nathan: Yes, it feels like last week, it was like yesterday man.

Steve: So Nathan what’s the story, man? Why did you decide to create a magazine of all things?

Nathan: I wish I could tell you it was like a crazy strategy, but I just kind of fell into it dude. I was working in a job that I really didn’t like. This was what? Four years ago and I never started a business before, but I started to read a lot of books around personal development and also just you know 4 Hour Work Week, Rich Dad Poor Dad, just you know all these great kind of iconic books you can grow rich that people read to improve themselves.

And there was two books in particular that really, really changed my perspective, almost made me see the matrix. I think when you are working nine to five job, corporate job, it’s easy to think that’s all there is. That you are not going to start businesses, nothing at all possible but those books opened up my mind to what is potentially possible, and that sparked the seed of really deep interest.

So I started listening to podcasts like Pat Flynn and reading his blog, or we speaking to Yarrow. I used to read Yarrow’s blog. For these guys it was like so cool and then as time went on I was like you know what, I think I should do something. So I started playing around with affiliate marketing and I remember I created this website called bestsmellingcologne.net which was absolutely ridiculous at the time. And then what happened was this opportunity came about.

This guy that I was following, his name was [inaudible] [00:06:16]. He was creating this software, this SaaS product that would allow you to produce your own digital magazine, and I just thought that was such a brilliant idea. And then so I fell in love with the idea of producing a magazine, but I didn’t know what the topic was. At first the topic was going to be on horse racing, because horse racing is really big in Australia.

Steve: Interesting.

Nathan: And then I ended up — that didn’t end up working out. I was going to do with one with my best friends and roommates at the time that I was living with, and that didn’t end up working out. And we said no, this is not going to work because he got a full time job and he couldn’t do anything on the side, and then I was like I’m going to do my own thing but he was a horse racing journalist.

So I was going to be like kind of marketing and tech guy sort of thing, and that’s when I was just like okay, what else could I do? And I just wrote down a huge list of things that I’m passionate about, I’m interested in and just started deep diving into thinking about how I can differentiate myself in the market place which is a really, really key thing and I’m glad that I did.

And yeah, I identified that there wasn’t really a business magazine in the space that spoke to aspiring novice stage, at least stage startup founders and entrepreneurs and also millenials. And yeah, that’s kind of what happened is I just was like okay, this is what I’m going to do. I’m going to stay in my day job and do this on the side and see how it goes, and I’m going to give it a good hard crack for a year and then it just kind of took off and the rest is kind of history man.

Steve: I vaguely remember when I first heard of you and I think like one of your first big names, like the first guy you landed was like Richard Branson, right? I want to say, was it?

Nathan: Yeah, yeah, it wasn’t the first one. We are related with Richard Branson. He was in the first four months, three to four months that I landed interview with Richard Branson, and that was for issue number eight.

Steve: Okay.

Nathan: And we didn’t start the podcast right away. With the podcast it’s only been around for two years. I started the magazine exactly four years ago now.

Steve: Who was your first big name guy that you got?

Nathan: I don’t know. Classify big name.

Steve: Well, like a Richard Branson type. Like, I’m just kind of curious.

Nathan: It would be Richard Branson then.

Steve: Okay.

Nathan: It would Richard Branson, yeah, yeah.

Steve: That’s when you came on the map for me and I was just curious like how did you get him first of all? Like what’s your outreach strategy?

Nathan: So a few things, we wrote an in-depth blog post 6,000 words to detailing the exact process. So you can go there, foundrmag.com/getinterviews. No opt in required, just check out the blog post, it’s really, really in-depth but the way — that breaks it down to really, really deep level. But the main premise of it Steve is one, I find out who the gate keeper is. Who is the person that’s going to be the decision marker because it’s usually actually at this level with an entrepreneur that’s famous or an influencer that is as famous or influential as Richard Branson, he’s in our niche, the entrepreneurship niche, they don’t even really make the decision. It’s actually a PR person usually or you pass on to their assistant.

So you need to find who that gate keeper is. It might be an agency that they are paying. I’ve got a lot of individual through agencies, like that is how we got our first interview was actually both of our interviews with Tony Robbins, dealing with separate PR agencies. So it depends on the gate keeper, you need to find the gate keeper, assistant, PR agency or internal PR person in the company. How do you find that person?

You can use a tool like Clearbit, C-L-E-A-R-B-I-T. You can use a tool like Email Hunter, you can just do Google searches on LinkedIn to find out who that person is that’s head of PR or whatever, and then you need to start contacting them. You can call with email and you can use tools like rebound.cc which automates your follow up, say that person doesn’t respond you can see, you can do something like that, or you can call them on the phone which is something that I actually prefer more times than not now. And you just keep following up and if they say no, they say no, if they say yes, they say yes.

Some people like for example Barbara Corcoran of Shark Tank, she said no then I come back to her a year later. So I spoke to her assistant and I found her contact details from her personal website and then I come back. So it’s all about the follow up too man, and it’s all about also making it a no brainer by finding out what that person wants.

So for example before I met you in person at Social Media Marketing World I actually interviewed Tony Robbins in person in New York and that came about because he was launching his new book Unshakable. So it’s a great way to find people that are looking to do interviews at the present time is when they are launching a book or a new company. So for example you can go to the Amazon coming soon list, and I’ve already identified, I sent someone in my team. I’ll tell you right now you find this interesting, I’ve opened up my slack, just give me a second.

I identified, I was looking in the app, Amazon coming soon literary last night of people we might want to interview, and I said these are the people you want to get in contact with, because I don’t do the outreach anymore, someone in my team does the see up. And there was somebody that is launching a book — yeah, so there is Kevin Kelly the founder of Wired Magazine. He is launching a book called Inevitable Understanding Technology Forces of the Future, and then there is also Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and Foundr of LinIn and she’s launching a book called Plan B — no, Option B I think, or Plan B.

But either way they are two targets and they are going to be looking for a lot of press, and they are going to be much easy to get interviews with as opposed to going in cold. And they are super busy trying to grow their company and super attached to whatever their mission, what they are driving and it’s not a focus. So with Richard Branson, I played on the fact that his first business magazine, his first business venture was a student magazine and also that our audience is young entrepreneurs and he does a lot of work on helping, and he’s been working with the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Steve: Did you have an audience at that time?

Nathan: No.

Steve: No not at all. So he just did it because his story resonated with him, right?

Nathan: He did it more than anything because one I played on the fact that his first business venture was a magazine. Two, I pitched the right person and three, because we had a magazine. A magazine is much more powerful than having a blog or a podcast or like, and it’s so much more influence. I can’t put my — it’s hard to explain Steve, but there is a lot of credibility that comes when you produce a publication even if it’s just digital in the app store. There is a really high perceived value.

Steve: Interesting, okay.

Nathan: Just like if you have a TV show versus a YouTube channel, you know what I mean?

Steve: Right, right, right, okay, okay. That’s interesting and then once you started landing one I imagine landing other big names is much easier then afterwards, right?

Nathan: Yeah, and we started to build up our audience and we were able to justify that this person, the exchange in value, their time versus exposing them to our audience was a mutually beneficial exchange in value. I got lucky with Sir Richard Branson and he really did help me get my start, and then I really built off the back of that in a big way.

Steve: Sure yeah, of course, of course.

Nathan: I’ve leveraged the shit out of that man; I’m not going to lie.

Steve: So I’m just curious, so you have this magazine and like if were to start today I don’t know if I would go into blogging or what not. I’m just curious so how does Foundr Magazine make money? Is it the traditional way with like advertising or do you have other ways of making money?

Nathan: Yeah, so we have an interesting business model. It’s a non-traditional media business model, non-traditional publishing model. So most of the traditional media companies, they just make money from ads and subscriptions, mainly advertising. We do make money from ads and sponsorship but it is probably the lowest tickets where we generate our income.

We have a membership site where we generate recurring revenue from. So that’s a subscription base. We also have the magazine which is charged. We charge for the magazine as well which is a subscription base, and then we also have educational courses and products and will eventually get into events.

Steve: Okay.

Nathan: So that’s — and I want eventually build a SaaS products. So I see the magazine as the face of the business and then connecting people that follow the brand, the podcast, the blog, social content, all that free stuff. You know 99% of our stuff is free and then we kind of segment our audience finding out what their problems are as founders, entrepreneurs, if we can further solve them with educational courses, the magazine, membership site, events, a SaaS tool eventually etc. etc.

So that’s our model and I didn’t — I will not claim credit for this model. There is a company called Maquoda, M-A-Q-U-O-D-A and they help — it’s like a consulting company that helps old school publishers. Like people that have been publishing a magazine for like 20 years. They help them digitize it and make it, turn it to this business model that I discussed, I described. It’s called a multi faceted platform.

Steve: Okay.

Nathan: Multi-platform or something they call it and their blog is amazing. So I just read all the free stuff off their blog and stole that idea.

Steve: What generates the most revenue for you of all those sources that you specified just now?

Nathan: Definitely the educational products.

Steve: So these are the courses, right?

Nathan: Yup.

Steve: Okay, okay, got it. Okay, so let’s get into the meat of this. So you have this magazine, you have some content, was that correct actually in the intro that the majority of your traffic comes from Instagram?

Nathan: Not majority, but it’s our highest traffic source definitely on social. I think organic might be marching it now because we are pushing pretty hard on organic.

Steve: So Google you mean, right?

Nathan: Yeah.

Steve: Organic Google traffic?

Nathan: Yup, yup, yup.

Steve: Okay. I was looking at your Instagram account and it looks like you have over a million followers, and what I would like to do actually is maybe take it from the perspective of someone who has like less than a 1,000 followers. Like how do you build it up to a million? And first of all what is the time frame with which you build those million followers and what is the fastest way to kind of build a following that’s very targeted?

Nathan: Yeah, sure thing. So I started on Instagram in November 2014. It was the same month that we launched the podcast.

Steve: Okay.

Nathan: And I stumbled across it purely because I had left my job because I was working with Foundr on the side as I mentioned. I left my job and I stumbled across it because I was looking for a [inaudible] [00:18:05] channel and I don’t know — I didn’t know PPC and still to this day we are not that strong on PPC to be honest with you.

And yeah, I was testing many different channels and I tested Instagram and I just saw the subscriptions of the magazine spike, because I had a friend that has in fact a few different ecommerce businesses and was crashing it with Instagram two years ago as a traffic source. And he told me, he gave me some tips and I followed those for a couple of days, and I just saw on Google analytic our subscriptions spike, and I was like yeah, I’m on to something here.

Steve: Okay.

Nathan: So I built Instagram to a million in about two years, two years.

Steve: That’s crazy.

Nathan: Probably two years and three months and…

Steve: All right, so what were these tips? You are killing me.

Nathan: Yup, yup, so pretty much the first thing I did was I did a competitive analysis looking at the kind of content that our competitors were posting on social because please note at this stage we had no presence on social. Now we have six figure followers on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and now our next focus will be YouTube.

But I had to do a deep competitor analysis to find out what kind of content other magazines, other people that were producing entrepreneurial content were producing on their social channels. And one thing that I found and I don’t know why but startup tips and facts and quotes just killed it for like Success magazine and all these other publications.

So I was like okay, let’s just test that, and obviously differentiate ourselves by posting photos of the magazine and the podcast and lessons learnt from the founders we had interviewed, and photos of people and bits and pieces, and probably we should show a bit more behind the scene stuff, but the core emphasis is “Start up tips and facts.” So it would attract the kind of people that are interested around entrepreneurships and startups.

And that’s what I started doing and every time that I posted about the magazine and told people to click on the link in our bio to get the free Richard Branson issue, or subscribe to the magazine. And I did a direct link to the iTunes link and we are on Google Play as well, but I’ve found that most of our revenue is generated from the app store and a lot of people that — 99% of the people that are on Instagram are on their phone.

So if you press on that Apple link in our bio, they just have — they are two clicks away. One click to open and it says, yes, do you want to open this app? Do you want to open the app store? You say yes and then you say the — you get taken right to the landing page to download the app and then one more click they press download, obviously put in their password and then they got the app. It’s like literary three hoops and jump. It’s a low — I guess it’s, there is low resistance to download the app. It’s free, you get the free Richard Branson issue, and yes that was the second thing.

I started producing content that our audience loved, then I started pushing people to click on the link in our bio. And then the third thing was I discovered that one of the fastest ways to grow an Instagram account is to get other people to share your content and to influence the marketing.

Steve: Okay.

Nathan: And I did that at scale man, and I did pay a little bit but I didn’t really have that much money. So what I did was I paid a little bit but I convinced people and found people that had a similar size following to Foundr and re-share each other’s content, and that term, that method is called S for S, share for share. Share that for share that where you team up with other companies, people, pages, you name it and get them to share your content.

And if you do that, you do those three things; produce awesome content that your audience loves that resonates, that looks great. You do it at scale, like what we do. We post anywhere between five to nine times a day and you produce content that your audience love, that looks great with great aesthetics. You encourage people to click on the link in your bio. If your account is verified you can get people to swipe up on your stories like what we do a lot, and then also another thing that you have to do is make sure that you are consistent, never stop and then work with influencers. Yeah, you are in a good spot, man.

Steve: So let me ask you this, so you say you post five to nine times per day. I mean that sounds like a lot. If you are first starting out, is that what you would recommend as well or?

Nathan: No, no if you are running an ecommerce business you only have to post one to two times a day. You just have to make sure your photos of the products looks great and you have to make sure that photos of people using the products and people that you want to — your audience aspires and you have to know your audience aspirations, pains, gains, wants, needs, problems, frustrations, desires, and you have to match that into the brand and the communication of those images that you’re a putting out there. That’s really, really key.

So we don’t have any ecommerce based products. Well, actually we do. We are just about to launch a physical book. We are about to go live with that like we did Kick Starter but I know this because I know a lot of ecommerce founders that are crashing it plus I’m about to launch my own ecommerce business, and these are the things that we will do. And we also have students that have done our Instagram course that have made easily over a million dollars just from Instagram from doing this. Using influencers, getting people to take photos of the products, giving them away for free, doing giveaways, you name it man.

Steve: I just want to take a moment to tell you about a free resource that I offer on my website that you may not be aware of. If you’re interested in starting your own online store, I put together a comprehensive six day mini course on how to get started in ecommerce that you should all check out. It contains both a video and text based tutorials that go over the entire process of finding products to sell all the way to getting your first sales online.

Now this course is free and can be obtained at mywifequitherjob.com/free. Just sign up right there on the front page via email and I’ll send you the course right away. Once again that’s mywifequitherjob.com/free, now back to the show.

So in terms of just the actual images themselves, do they have to be professional? Like did you go out and hire like a photographer for your initial postings?

Nathan: No, so with full transparency, like this is what — I will tell you what we are going to do. It might be helpful actually, 1,000 followers, less than a 1,000 followers. This is where we are at now with my girlfriend’s company, right? And you can watch it grow man, you can follow along in a couple of months, watch it grow, okay. So we are starting an ecommerce business from scratch. We did pay a few hundred dollars to get a professional photographer to take great images of the products for the website.

Steve: Okay.

Nathan: We will be able to use that collateral on the Instagram page but all the other photos that you see now for that product and the product if you want to check it out, you go to Instagram.com/Healthish, H-E-A-L-T-H-I-S-Hco, if you go to Healthishco you’ll be able to see that all those photos are taken with your phone and just touched up with apps. What’s really going to get the growth going, like we have already got people messaging us all the time with only a few hundred followers saying, when is this product going alive? How can I get? How can I get it? How can I get it?

And we’ve got a waiting list with only like 100 people on it, but it doesn’t matter. The point of the story is what you have to do is you need, you always need professional photos done to make it look the part, look great on the website and then the key thing is sending out that product. Allocating it 100 units, 200 units to fuel that user generated content and work with influencers. So you want to send like this bottle we are going to send to Valley Arcade I think 300 bottles, send to 300 influencers.

And we are going to absorb that cost because we know our margins and those influencers as part of the deal is they have to post to their audience and that’s one piece of content that we can use. Plus every single person that we send the bottle to gets a card where we encourage them to share and post on Instagram and we’ve incentivized it. So that’s another thing that we’ve done to encourage user generated content.

Steve: Let’s talk about the influencers, like how do you convince them to post?

Nathan: Give them the product for free bro.

Steve: And that’s good enough?

Nathan: Yeah.

Steve: So can you give me an example of like an outreach. So let’s say you’ve tracked down someone on Instagram. So one, how do you find their contact information? Two, like what does your outreach email look like, and what’s the size of these influencers right now in your case when you are launching this ecommerce product?

Nathan: Okay, so sizes really range. With full transparency, I think if we try to send a bottle for free to someone with 300k followers they probably will say yeah, we can post it plus its going got cost this, but we don’t want to do that.

Steve: Okay.

Nathan: So we are going to look for influencers, micro influencers, anywhere between the size of ten to 50k, maybe upwards of, maybe close to 100k.

Steve: Okay.

Nathan: And we are going to cut deals. The outreach depends. We go to the profile, if somebody’s profile has their email address on their profile then we know that they want to hear from us, then we send them an email, otherwise we direct message them.

Steve: Okay.

Nathan: And then we just take it from there and it’s quite manual. But you just got to get down and dirt man, and from doing this at scale we will start to get other people to share our content, share photos with the bottle. Them having the bottle it will generate sales, it will generate us content and it will generate us followers, and as time goes on we’ll organically get more and more followers.

I’ve got a whole ton of other strategies that we can use that I can talk about if you like right now how we are going to grow it, but a big one will be influencers, and just working with them one to one and what the outreach looks like. We will just sell the product man. Sales process, hey, we are launching a health based product, this is what we are inspired by, this is our why, we’d love to send you a bottle in exchange for you posting, doing one post. If you are interested in this, here is the directions of what we are looking for, and we’ll just constantly follow them up until they post. Please email us once you post it.

Steve: Do you provide the image or do you have them take the image.

Nathan: No, they have to take the image. That’s what is very, very key Steve because it’s all about the user generated content. For a physical product it’s one of the best ways to sell man, is to show somebody else using it, every day people like me and you using the product. If you get models, it does work if you use Kim Kardashian or Kendall Jenner, it does work but the everyday people is what’s most relatable bro.

Steve: Okay, Okay.

Nathan: Makes sense?

Steve: Yeah, and then do you give them instructions on like what hash tags to use and like how specific are the instructions that you give them when they post?

Nathan: Yeah, look, that’s — we can get supper complicated or we can make it simple. It doesn’t really matter. We can get them to use the Healthish hash tag, we can get them to use the hash tag that lets us know so that we don’t have to always search or whatever. We can get them to use Healthish promo or whatever.

Like we can get a Healthish one, Healthish one, two, three. Like it doesn’t really matter, like we can’t tell what hash tags to use, but I think the main goal is one to expose your product to their audience, two to get the UJC, to get that content because all that content man and you want to get as much content as you can to build up this rapport and community around the brand and reputation and people using the product. That’s where it’s at.

Steve: Are there any tools that you use to find out like which influencers that you’d want to target?

Nathan: No, not really. You can do it manually, but there is Iconosquare. Iconosquare do have like a free search database and one of my friends Greta, she is launching an amazing influencer based tool called Hey, H-E-Y. It was called Nichify, if you search for Nichify or Hey you will be able to find it. But I haven’t used it yet but the platform looks amazing, we’ll probably start using that, but for the most part you can do it manually yourself.

Steve: Okay and I’m just curious like what has been your hit rate doing this?

Nathan: With Healthish with full transparency bro, we haven’t launched the product yet, so we have nothing to send to people, so we haven’t hit any…

Steve: Okay, what about when you were…

Nathan: But when I was doing Foundr, yeah I will draw from my experience at Foundr.

Steve: Sure.

Nathan: What has been my hit rate? In the early days obviously when we had no followers it was pretty rough dude. Maybe ten, 20% but as time went on…

Steve: That sounds high actually, to me at least yeah.

Nathan: Really?

Steve: Yeah.

Nathan: Well look, I was cutting deals too remember, like I was making friends with these people. I built up a book of around 20, 30 people that were in my roller decks which I would team up with and set up rotations of sharing content, and also some of them I featured in the magazine, I featured in the podcast, I featured in the blog. Some of them I mentored because I didn’t even have a product, I just had an Instagram account.

So it really depended on the mutually beneficial exchange in value. So it’s hard to draw on that one but yeah, it wasn’t really — I don’t think the hit rate was that high, but I had leverage. With Healthish I’m starting from scratch man. Hit rate would be probably I think not that high, but doing this process and being very, very gradual with it, getting down and dirty, doing things that don’t scale, this is what you have to do in the early days to build up any brand. So I have to be honest with full transparency, I’m not going to do the work, it’s going to be my girlfriend, I might help her a little bit, for the most part I’ve got run Foundr.

Steve: Okay.

Nathan: That’s the strategy and that’s what we teach to our students that have ecommerce companies and they do very, very well, like we had a student that sells hair extensions. She generated over a million dollars last year mainly from Instagram, that’s her only channel and she did exactly that. Same with another one of our students who sells 4×4 tracks. He doesn’t see, what’s interesting for him is he obviously can’t give away cars for free because he charges like 30, 40, 50, 60 70k for these cars but he finds niche pages. So here is a key differentiation Steve that you might find interesting. There is three different kinds of Instagram accounts.

One there is a personal brand account that’s like Steve Chou. You’ve got your Instagram account, you are an influencer, you run entrepreneurship, podcasting, ecommerce, FB ads all these things. So if you are a personal trainer you’ve got your own personal — if you are a personal trainer you’ve got a big account, you’ve got a personal brand page account, right?

The second one is a company/ a company brand page. So that’s like a Foundr or Healthish or Nike or Daniel Wellington or any of these brands, right? And then the third one is a fan page. Have you heard of fan pages before?

Steve: No, I’ve not, keep going.

Nathan: Fan pages are a page that is 100% dedicated around a certain niche.

Steve: Oh yes, yes, of course.

Nathan: And they don’t have a brand behind it, all they literally do is post and build follower base and then they make money from promoting other people’s products, and there are so many young kids who want to go real date. There are so many young kids from the ages of 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 that I have spoken to that have these niche pages that I’ve worked with, I’ve cut all sorts of deals, I’ve done all sorts of things to get them to share Foundr’s content. And we’ll do the same with Helthis bro. We will not only work with micro-influencers and people with personal brand pages, I will use my networks and hustle to cut deals with these niche pages.

So these people that might have a collective of like a hundred million followers and they will have like literary 40 different accounts. One in fashion, one with watches, one in luxury, one on cars, it’s crazy. So those niche pages are ones that you want to try and work with as well. And then another strategy you want to build and this is something that my friend Greta did, and we are actually working on an ecommerce course collaborative ecommerce course with her that she’s teaching and she has, she runs Shopify to first build the business. She has four multi-million dollar brands and she told me she uses Instagram as one of the main traffic sources too for her ecommerce products.

And one thing that she told me was another thing you can do is actually create these fan pages yourself. So if you want to go real deep man, you can start to create two accounts, one a branded account which is Healthish which is around your brand and then two, I could create a health based account around health and fitness. Because anyone that’s following the health and fitness niche fan page they are going to be interested when every now and then throw in that product and fan pages are really, really easy to grow because people treat Instagram now like a vision board.

People post things that inspire them. It’s a little bit like Pinterest man. So there are a lot of people that create niche pages just for fun as well. So yeah man, there’s [overlapping 00:36:52]

Steve: Let me ask you; let me ask you this question. So the algorithm has recently changed so that they show more content that is getting more engagement, right? So I actually had someone else on the show and I don’t know if the episode is published yet, but they built their business through Instagram as well. And the way they started was, they were paying influencers and doing share for shares also, but what he told me was like, ever since this algorithm hit, like whenever one of those influencers shows one of their products, that post would not get as much engagement than their regular post and it is not working as well anymore. So I’m just curious what your take is on that.

Nathan: Yeah, look, there is no doubt about it that there was, there is conflict, it’s like Facebook man. Facebook or Instagram there is no doubt about it that two years ago Instagram was hotter and easier to get free traffic or a better ROI as opposed to now. But man, for me it works, for me it continues to work for our students and you look at Instagram and yes, the engagement isn’t as powerful as it was two years ago, but yes it’s still extremely powerful bro.

Steve: Okay, okay and then…

Nathan: Yeah, like I wouldn’t say that it is a channel that you should stop using just yet. In fact I would say it’s still a channel that you should be doubling down on right now and you can get an ROI because I see it day in day out.

Steve: Just curious, are you paying for ads at this point or are you still just doing everything organically.

Nathan: For Foundr or what we are going to do with Healthish?

Steve: Let’s start with Foundr because it sounds like you’ve been doing this for a while. Are you buying ads for Foundr right now?

Nathan: No, I hardly buy ads at all.

Steve: Okay.

Nathan: I have gone through phases where I have and I haven’t but for the most part after we hit 100k we haven’t really bought ads. The only time I have bought ads is when I can see the ROI and might be promoting a product or something like that. Like for example when we did the launch for our Kick Starter book, the book on Kick Starter, coffee table book. So I might buy ads for that and I can measure the ROI but otherwise no. I don’t- and I get people to share and link in their bio and stuff like that, otherwise no, I don’t really pay for ads. We just do, it’s all organic, or we get people to share our content.

Steve: When you do share for shares are you having them change their link in their bio or are they just having them like at direct to your page?

Nathan: Correct, yeah.

Steve: Okay.

Nathan: Shares for shares unless I cut a deal with and I have done this many, many times where I cut a deal with an account where a million, I might cut a deal with an account that’s like a 100,000 followers. So we’ll post one of their pieces of content, we never post products; we always want to promote Foundr stuff unless I’m really helping out a friend like Daniel for example.

Steve: Wait, a mutual friend yeah.

Nathan: Yeah, yeah, yeah, mutual friend. Yeah how we met big time because he’s actually featured me in his book as well. So like in that aspect, but I will never change linking bio but yeah, I will post the product but yeah, for shares for shares like if someone is 100k or at a million I say like yeah, yeah, post about that book and we’ll post like one of your quotes and we’ll link back to you and change the linking bio. But it will be with a niche page like a fan page man. Companies don’t do that really, branded page don’t do that.

Steve: Just curious like when you were small and like you didn’t really have a large audience at all like what did you have to offer? Like you mentioned like cutting all these deals and I’m just curious what some of these deals were early on when you were, when you had less of a presence.

Nathan: Fully subscriptions to the magazine, life time subscriptions, interview them for the podcast, interview them for the magazine, interview them for the blog, mentor them, a lot of stuff man, help them [overlapping 00:40:56]

Steve: You just get creative depending on what they want, right?

Nathan: Yeah, yeah intros, you name it bro.

Steve: Okay. I’m just curious like of all of these currencies like do you gather emails as well? I’m just curious like where in the hierarchy all these different social currencies lie? Like do you try to get an Instagram follower first or would you rather have an email address? Like what’s more valuable to you?

Nathan: Email.

Steve: Okay.

Nathan: Our email list is quarter of a million. I built that. We’ve only been list building for two years. It was over 300,000 but we removed a lot of inactives or people that weren’t opening up our emails. So it’s a quarter of a million and a lot of that is being generated from Instagram and here is the cool thing, Steve.

The cool thing about Instagram yes, we can attribute how much traffic we drive, yes we can attribute how many emails subscribers we get but what we can’t attribute is the influence that we build, the people that follow us and the people that hear about the brand or might come back to us at one point in time. And they might have originally found us on Instagram or seen us on Instagram because we are everywhere and that’s the cool thing.

And that’s something that you know you cannot measure or track, but I’m telling you man, like we don’t do this anymore because I just couldn’t keep up, but when someone would sign up to our list we’d have an indoctrination series, right. And one of the things I would ask people is what is your biggest problem and frustration? I’ll write back, I’ll write back to every email. I’d also love to know how did you find out about Foundr?

And so many people man always start following me on Instagram, start following me on Instagram. Or they’ll say I can’t remember but most of the time they say, oh yeah actually this is when I’m asking somebody in person, oh, I can’t remember, oh, I think I’ve seen you on Instagram. So that stuff that can’t be attributed.

Some of my followers on Instagram that might not download one of our lead magnets from Instagram but then will promote the podcast, they might start listening to the podcast, and then they might have actually downloaded the Branson issue. They might go and check out the website, they might start reading the blog post and then they’ll see content upgrade. Like it’s just an ecosystem, but followers to me Steve don’t really mean anything, it’s for me how much traffic you can drive, how many email subscribers because that’s the core of our business.

The front end is the magazine, the podcast, the blog, social channels, but all leading back to the email list and the email list connects people to our products, with our sales funnels et cetera, products, or services and then yeah, so I’m always of the opinion, I actually don’t really care how many followers we have. Yes, it’s great for influence and yes it’s great for spreading the message, but it’s not owned media; I’m all about owned media, bro.

Steve: Okay. So you post between five and nine times a day, can you kind of describe like what those postings consist of, are they mostly content or are most of them like postings where there is a link in bio where you want them to click on something?

Nathan: Jab, jab, jab, right, hook Gary V stuff.

Steve: Okay, okay. So we are looking at mostly inspirational quotes with maybe one post that’s a link where you want to drive an email sign up it sounds like.

Nathan: Correct and we constantly alternate the lead magnets.

Steve: Okay.

Nathan: So we have about 20 different lead magnets that we alternate between.

Steve: Can you describe what your — like you have a team that just generates this Instagram content. Like I’m just wondering for someone small out there who might not have a team like what is the really easy way to just put out Instagram content?

Nathan: It depends on the kind of business you are. If you are ecommerce and I really wish I could share with you how we do it from the Healthish brand once we launch because I really, really want to show you how it’s done for ecommerce, because I know you’ve got a lot of ecommerce people for the brands.

Steve: Yeah.

Nathan: But for Foundr man, it’s all run by VAs. I have two Vas that run the Foundr camp, that do our support, they do admin, they do loading up the blog post, the serious weapons. They run all of our social, so it can be easily done, it’s all about those systems. So I’ve got- we’ve got a graphic designer in that team and he set up these amazingly designed templates.

He did like 20 different templates and then he gave it to one of their VAs who knows how to sue Photoshop and in design, and then now she just uses those templates and he does little bit but for the most part she is creating the content and then we’ve got another one that’s posting it and has a list of – we’ve got some serious weapons in our team just VAs in Philippines that manage it all.

And yeah, look it just depends. Like I don’t want people to think you know, oh, Nathan is posting five to seven times a day. That’s what I got to do, you don’t. The key thing is being super consistent, building a community, being patient, being prepared to play the long game and utilizing influencers.

As I said we do have a course that goes in depth about so many other 30, 40 other growth hacking strategies if you want to know more, but pretty much it’s a combination of all those things. But producing content, I highly, highly recommend to really go down the path especially as an ecommerce business obsessing about UGC, user generated content.

Get your community that you are building up to stop producing that content. That’s where it’s at. That’s how you have an endless amount of content and you can use a VA or you can do it yourself and you just do social media Mondays. You create your seven posts or eight posts or ten posts, or 20 posts or whatever, spend two hours starting every Monday and do for the week and you are done. And you can schedule that up using like a tool like Later or Schedugram, totally up to you. But we posted all manually but yeah, totally up to you.

Steve: So it sounds like a good way to do this perhaps would be when someone makes a purchase you incentivized it somehow in some sort of post purchase sequence to send you a picture of them using in action which you can then use for your Instagram account, and then it kind of just feeds upon itself.

Nathan: 100% and you want to send a little cog with the product incentivizing it on that card with instructions about the product and getting, encouraging people to share and yeah, it’s all about the UGC especially ecommerce for content man, very, very key.

Steve: Is that the same with Foundr magazine as well or no?

Nathan: For us it’s easy to make those quotes and we produce a magazine issue every single month. We’ve got a hit — we are pumping out so much content man, it’s not hard for us and we have a team around us, but in the early days I used to get my girlfriend to help me. You can use little apps and this is if you want to create like, if you want to create images with writing like that you can just use a tool like Iconosquare or Wordswag, you don’t even need to be a graphic designer. It’s really, really easy.

Steve: Okay, so yeah, it sounds like your strategy would differ between an ecommerce store versus like a blog or a content based site, right?

Nathan: 100% but I know…

Steve: So it’s all that UGC for ecommerce.

Nathan: Yeah but I know how to grow a fast growing Instagram account no matter what the initial industry.

Steve: Okay, I’m just trying to summarize everything, so UGC and then rely on influencers share for shares to kind of grow your account gradually and keep up putting out content and occasionally put out an offer with a link in bio trying to get an email address or point directly to a product. Actually what would be your prerogative for an ecommerce store? Would you post them — would you have them go to like some sort of landing page where you can get email or would you just point it straight to the product right off the bat?

Nathan: For now we’ll point straight to the product right off the bat, but I will be running a series of tests like giving away coupon codes, free shipping codes, running random flash coupon codes, giving them to people, all sort of things. I think it would be a combination to be honest man.

Steve: Okay, and then you also advise to set aside some of your initial inventory for giveaways for these influencers, right?

Nathan: 100%.

Steve: Okay.

Nathan: And also running competitions, that’s key too. Another great way to network with other influential camps or you can do things like, you can do like a round up giveaway, have you heard of those?

Steve: No, go ahead, talk about it.

Nathan: So you can like if you run a health based product you can find ten other health brands and then you all promote it together; you all promote the giveaway together. And part of the rules of entering is you have to follow all these like ten accounts or something, stuff like that.

Steve: Cool and just you know what I’m thinking in my mind right now is all these things are things that I’ve done with email and it just seems — and that’s kind of why I asked you that question in the beginning. Like you can focus your efforts on getting Instagram followers or emails or turn your Instagram followers into emails. And so when I asked you that question you said emails were the biggest or more important than Instagram followers, right? So it seems like all these contests and all these shares, like these things can just go straight to email addresses instead, wouldn’t you say?

Nathan: Yeah, look, it depends on the product man, because we are switching between physical products and Foundr digital media company.

Steve: Yeah I know, it’s really confusing, yeah.

Nathan: So like for Foundr, I’m 100% focused on the email, for the Healthish based products, we’ll do a combination of both.

Steve: Okay, okay. Nathan, we’ve been chatting for a while and I appreciate your time and your expertise. Maybe we should do a follow up episode about your ecommerce brand once it’s actually launched; I think that would be interesting to the people listening here.

Nathan: Yeah, for sure, more than happy to man. Give me a few months, we’ve got a hustle, but yeah, you can watch, you can follow along anyone listening and yeah, please watch now, now the pressure is on.

Steve: Yeah, and I will link up all those pages that you specified, right? Was it satish? I can’t remember what it was now, but I’ll look it up. I’ll have my podcaster link all those up and we will follow you in real time. The pressure is on.

Nathan: Yeah, the pressure is on. Also man, well, thank you so much for having me. It was a great conversation dude; you’re a great interviewer man.

Steve: Thanks man and where can people find you online?

Nathan: Best place you just go to Foundr.com, F-O-U-N-D-R.com, so Foundr without an E, .com

Steve: Sounds good, Nathan take care man. Thanks for coming on.

Nathan: Thank you so much Steve, absolute pressure brother.

Steve: All right, take care man.

Hope you enjoyed that episode. Nathan’s story is incredible and it’s amazing how he’s been able to build his magazine so large on the back of Instagram, he’s the man. For more information about this episode, go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode176.

And once again I want to thank Klaviyo for sponsoring this episode. Klaviyo is the email marketing platform of choice for ecommerce merchants and you can easily put together automated flows like an abandoned cart sequence, a post purchase sequence, a win back campaign, basically all these sequences that will make you money on auto pilot. So head on over to mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O, once again that’s mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.

Now I also want to thank SellerLabs.com. Their tool Scope has completely changed the way I choose keywords for both my Amazon listings and my Amazon advertising campaigns. Instead of making random guesses Scope tells me exactly which keywords are generating sales and within the first week of use I saw a 39% increase in sales. It is a no brainer. So head on over to Sellerlabs.com/wife and sign up for free, and if you love the tool you will receive $50 off. Once again that’s sellerlabs.com/wife.

And if you’re interested in starting your own ecommerce store, head on 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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2 thoughts on “176: How To Use Instagram To Explode Your Business With Nathan Chan”

  1. Sean says:

    Great job pressing the guest for details. He seemed to be holding back a lot of info until Steve really pressed him

  2. Rob says:

    Foundr’s Instagram audience engagement is really low which means buying shout outs isn’t the way to go. Do you think you could get Ruben Chavez of the Instagram account @thinkgrowprosper?

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