Audio

287: Chandler Bolt On How To Quickly Grow A Self Publishing Book Business to 8 Figures

287: Chandler Bolt On How To Quickly Grow A Self Publishing Book Business to 8 Figures

Today I brought my buddy Chandler Bolt back on the show. Chandler runs Self Publishing School where he teaches others how to write and self publish a book in 3 months.

He’s the author of multiple best selling books and he’s an expert when it comes to going out on your own in the book business.

In this episode, we’re going to catch up with Chandler to discuss the overall publishing landscape

What You’ll Learn

  • How quickly grow your book business
  • What’s changed with Amazon in the last year
  • All of your options when you want to publish a book and the pros and cons of each
  • How to get reviews for your book
  • Self publishing vs traditional publishing. Which is better?

Other Resources And Books

Sponsors

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Transcript

Steve: You’re listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, the place where I bring on successful bootstrapped business owners and delve deeply into the strategies they use to grow their businesses. Now today, I have my friend Chandler Bolt back on the show. And today we’re going to cover what it takes to succeed at self publishing your own book.

But before we begin I want to thank Klaviyo for sponsoring this episode. Code Black Friday is right around the corner and for my e-commerce store email marketing is a heavy part of my holiday sales strategy. And in fact last year, it was close to 50% of My overall sales. And of course as you all know klaviyo is the email marketing tool that I use for Bumblebee Linens now Klaviyo is the growth marketing platform chosen by over 20,000 Brands generating more than three point seven billion dollars in Revenue in just the last year and with the holiday season right around the corner klaviyo has created the ultimate planning guide for crushing those holiday Revenue targets for marketing creative to segmentation strategy. These are proven tactics for more personalized marketing, especially in time for the holiday season. To get ahold of this guide, visit Klaviyo.com/mywife. Once again, Klaviyo.com/mywife.

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

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

Steve: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. Today, I brought my buddy Chandler bolt back on the show. And if you recall Chandler with someone I met at a Fincon meeting in San Francisco while back and he was actually a prior guest on the podcast probably a little over a year and a half ago. Chandler runs self-publishing school where he teaches others how to write and self-publish your first book in three months working just 30 minutes per day and he is also the author of multiple best-selling books and an expert when it comes to going out on your own in the book business. And what we’re going to do today is we are going to catch up with Chandler to see how the landscape for book publishing has changed in the past year and with that welcome back to show Chandler. How you doing today, man?

Chandler: Hey Steve, really great to be back really great to be here.

Steve: I’ve been following your massive growth in just the past year. Congratulations on your success. I believe you made the Inc 5000 once again and you grew in the triple digits, I think year to year. How did you manage to grow your book business so quickly?

Chandler: oh man, a lot of different things, but I think it’s really great people and really great team a focus on a gap in the marketplace that not a lot of people are fulfilling and really focusing on and then just being laser focused on what we do well and not getting distracted by what we don’t do well. So, I think that’s kind of been the combination and that’s led to a significant amount of growth and just laser and in and on what we’re doing well and then on. Actually over the last year and a half on the Marketing side that’s been a big area of focus for us. And so I mean, it’s so funny. I’m just seeing guys like you who have been just executing on this for years and I feel like an idiot because we didn’t focus on that enough.

And so now we’re just really emphasizing content and just adding as much value as humanly possible to people when they’re in the book writing consideration phase. So that you know, by the time they commit to doing it they’ve already gotten so much help from us that they’re like okay, of course. Yeah. I want to work with you guys. So that’s kind of a..

Steve: Hearing you say that it’s just kind of ironic since you’re in like the book publishing business and to hear that you’re just doing content now, it’s just kind of ironic don’t you think?

Chandler: Yeah, if you think because we should

Steve: Well no, I mean like you write content for a living, right?

Chandler: Oh, yeah. Yeah. It’s just a different kind right, you know, it’s gated content in the sense that someone has to purchase it. So the like the books are great. But how do we reach folks who even pre that phase right? There just in the consideration pay so, you know building out like are blot the self-publishing school blog we bought self-publishing.com. So that’s a new property that we’re growing to be just the definitive resource for all of self-publishing. So kind of broadening that out building up our YouTube channel and conjunction with our blog and just kind of trying to do a multi-prong Content approach. That’s and then people can Ascend to buying say my book published or things like that and then they can Ascend to ultimately working with us. So just build a more of a path and especially reach in folks who are in that consideration phase.

Steve: So can we talk a little bit more specifically about what aspects of your content straight. So you said a bunch of things right there. You said YouTube and then just content for like a Blog. How did you decide how to kind of split that up? And what is your strategy for figuring out exactly what to write about or publish a video about?

Chandler: Yeah, so we you know, we had some traction on our blog but that’s been really really growing so it’s kind of a mix between is their search volume and is their buyers intent for self-publishing school. So, you know, there’s there just key terms whether it’s how to write a book how to self publish a book self-publishing things like that that those are the key things that we focus on and so that we’re not just growing traffic for traffic sake but we’re also not focused on social in a bunch of other stuff because we know that a long-term defensible moat for us is organic. So we just kind of exclusively track daily organic traffic unique users. So it’s you know people for people who are less familiar with those terms.

Someone’s searching in Google and then landing on our blog or landing on one of our content articles are aside or things like that. So we just kind of go through what’s the keyword difficulty what’s the search volume. Can we and then Step 1 can we write the best blog post on the internet for that topic and then step two can we get backlinks to that content so that it can actually rank on Google and then once that content goes well and once we have stuff ranking then we say alright. Well, how do we expand this and create a YouTube video create other things so that now, you know. We’ve got 2,000 hits a day on this article then if we can embed a YouTube video at the top that can translate to maybe a hundred views a day on that YouTube video.

Which now helps us rank for say how to write a book or best book writing software or something like that on the YouTube side, which circles back traffic to the blog which then now the YouTube videos hopefully ranking on page one for the same turn which means we’re covering more real estate for that post or for that keyword as well and just kind of trying to feed the whole ecosystem.

Steve: So, what tools are you using to figure out your keyboard strategy?

Chandler: We use AHrefs. We that’s the main tool that we use, we use Moss but more from just Like a domain Authority evaluation tool and stuff like that, but I want to say it’s mostly AHrefs and we’ve used some other tools, but that’s the main ones

Steve: So what is your criteria like you spout a bunch of those keywords and they all sounded really competitive actually. So I’m just kind of curious what’s your criteria. I mean, do you go for those competitive ones since you have pretty solid domain strength right now?

Speaker 2: Yes, and you know for so it’s kind of different. So we’re in the middle of growing self-publishing.com. That’s the early early early phases. I just bought that that domain a few months ago and so it’s still relatively low traffic. So for that we’re going more for lower competition keywords that we can rank for faster to build momentum and then we’ll go in the high competition keywords for self-publishing school. We’re going for way more High competition keywords. And and even if we don’t think that we can rank for maybe three to six months. We’ll go ahead and write that article and start getting some momentum behind it so that we can just build up.

And so yeah, I mean what we are getting our butts kicked on the how to how to write a book ranking right now, which is the most competitive and also the one that we want the most I mean, obviously that’s like the most if someone is searching how to write a book they need self-publishing school and that is like the most vibrant and keyword that we can get maybe other than how to self publish a book and I think you know a few a few. I don’t know if we are currently but a few weeks ago when I checked we were ranking number one for the term self-publishing. Above the self-publishing Wikipedia page. So ethical but yes some some of the some of the higher competition keywords. Absolutely. It takes longer to rank but we’re just trying to really go after it and that’s when I think Step One, is the most important part in the process, which is what I think most people ignore which is we’re not going to write an article unless we think we can write the best article on the internet for that topic.

And so we believe that if that’s the strategy that we’re taking that, you know long-term that’s Google’s goal is to get the best article to rank number one. So sure it might be super competitive and sure it might you know have a ton of backlinks and has been ranking number one for a really long time or any of those things. But if we can if it is the best article then nationally people will start linking to it more they’ll start, you know, they’ll click, you know, Google tracks all that where it’s like I click search result number one go back, search result number two go back, search result number 3 stay on that page for 10 minutes. Okay. Maybe we should bump that up. You know, so that’s kind of the signals that are kicking over to Google that hopefully will help us Rank and when in log term..

Steve: This is kind of like a related question, so you bought this really awesome domain. How come you’re not redirecting everything over? It Sounds like you’re trying to establish it on its own.

Chandler: Yeah, we are and that’s a great question because we kind of went back and forth on that. We said do we Rebrand the whole company is self-publishing.com and I mean to be honest, maybe maybe we should down the road, but I think I think self-publishing.com lends credibility to what we do. So there was a compelling argument for that. It’s like okay if your self publishing. Well, you’re with self publishing.com, but honestly long term we want this to be an independent property of from self-publishing school. So just like it’s an unbiased resource and it’s not just self-publishing School propaganda machine, you know, but it’s like a truly is the go-to site for all of self-publishing so we felt like we feel That site and that company can even be bigger than so publishing school.

So we want to keep that separate and although yes, we’re using some publishing School resources right now to support that, you know, it’s very much in the prerogative of everything kind of meant to be third-party objective non-biased info. And and so we feel like that can be just the voice of self-publishing as a whole and then sure will say if you need help like we’ve got an education arm and then probably a Services arm And right now we’re just referring all that out to a bunch of other people. But who knows maybe we get in that business, maybe we don’t but either way it’s like need help on the education side. Great. Here’s self-publishing School need help on the services side. Here are a bunch of our service providers things like that.

Steve: so in terms of your YouTube strategy, would you say that every post that you write has a corresponding YouTube video as well.

Chandler: Not every post but the best, the most popular post pretty much do. We’re working way through that right now. So for all of our, we’re kind of working our way in order of highest traffic to post to turn those into videos and then, you know, corresponding somewhat with traffic search on on YouTube, but mostly if we have a good really good post this ranking and it’s getting too much traffic. We want to have a video for that as well and then just build that up. That’s I mean, we didn’t pay much attention to YouTube until a few months ago. But I just believe that that video and audio, I mean are the future of search and Google has come out and said a bunch of things that are in line with that. So we’re trying to get you know, we’re trying to move that direction and it’s we’re behind..

Steve: I just jumped on the YouTube bandwagon myself actually, so maybe we can compare notes at some point. Okay, so so content marketing was a huge driver of growth. What was another factor that you mentioned?

Chandler: Just really great people on the team and I think focusing on something that kind of knowing problem that we solve in the marketplace and differentiating and just staying laser focused. I think what I’ve seen some not so much our competitors, but just a lot of people in this in this space and then the online marketing or online education spaces, they just get super distracted and they just jump around to a bunch of different things and don’t really stay committed and we’ve kind of Been a one-trick pony for years and it’s like we know what we’re good at and that’s helping people write and publish their book and use that book to grow their business.

And so we just laser focus on that and sure we’re probably leaving some money on the table and we don’t have like this elaborate Ascension model where it’s buy this and then buy this and then buy this and then here’s my 30k Mastermind and like all that stuff. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. That’s just not the path that we’ve chosen to take. And so I think as a result of that we’ve been pretty laser-focused and Helped us with with execution.

Steve: Prior to your content marketing efforts how had you been getting your customers?

Chandler: Yeah, our top customer acquisition channels, in the early days. It was Affiliates a lot of affiliate stuff a lot of paid traffic and those were the main things now, I would say its Affiliates paid traffic content marketing and speaking so speaking was a new customer acquisition channel for us last year when we did zero on that in 2017 and we did right at a million dollars is a customer acquisition last year. So doing more of that and traveling around speaking and we found that to be relatively successful.

Steve: I’ve noticed you’re speaking in every single event last year at least that comes across in my feed..

Chandler: Oh I spoke to way too many events last year. It was 20, I think It was 24 events. But actually, this has been good Steve, one of our philosophies is actually one of our five core values. Stir fast, fail forward, fail often. So we just believe that there’s no learning and no growth without failure. And so we Embrace that celebrate that and Champion that internally and so that was our Big Goal. We said, all right, we’re working with a friend of mine Pete Vargas super great guy. He kind of laid out his stage strategy and we said, all right, we’re going to we’re how we’re going to differentiate is we’re just going to get on as many stages as fast as possible and just fail a ton and as fast as possible but in doing doing so we know that we’re going to learn faster than anybody else and that therefore our results will increase.

And so we just took kind of like the blue collar bring a lunch pail to work mentality and which is kind of what I’ve always done and I’m from the middle of nowhere in the South and just tiny little town and just that’s just what was instilled to me in growing up and that’s kind of the approach that we’ve always taken and so we just got on a bunch of stages and took a bunch of losses, but also had a decent amount of wins and now this year we’re really really really focused on just less but better and so going fewer stages, higher caliber stages, increasing what Pete Vargas would call like your average stage value, ASV. So that our Revenue per stage increases and..

Steve: How do you measure that actually?

Chandler: In sales on site and immediately after..

Steve: Oh you sponsoring events also? Got it.

Chandler: Yeah, yeah we sponsor events. So speak as well and a lot of cases. I’ll wave my speaking fee and I’ll bring the team and people will do strategy sessions. So sit down and talk through people’s goals about their book. So it’s like what are your goals? What are your challenges and what are your next steps and if it’s a fit and if they qualify to work with us, we’ll talk about what it would look like to work with self-publishing school. And then we’re able to measure that from a revenue perspective. And and so our goal is to increase that this By being more selective and we said no to a ton of events this year. Whereas last year. We just said yes to basically everything.

Steve: Any tips on getting these speaking gigs though?

Chandler: oh man, so we just targeted Outreach very targeted Outreach and trying to think so I’ve got Pedro on my team who kind of runs point on this but and and Pete Vargas is a really really great resource. So we’re just kind of following his Playbook to a tee, but it’s targeted reach, the target Outreach building what he call Champions. So people who are you know, you like you trust you things like that and getting intros and then just having conversations. So we just have a pipeline. There’s initial Reach Out made contact intro call follow-up call..

Steve: Like good old fashioned legwork and networking..

Chandler: Good old-fashioned. It’s like, you know, maybe got Circle back to the question secret to all of this is hard and we just yeah, I’m gonna We lock in on a handful of things that are important. And then our priority and then we just go after it and so but with but we try to be smart about it. Right? not just not just hard work. But you know, it’s I mean people always say work smarter not harder and I’m just a big fan of working smarter and harder to being targeted and then and then, you know working hard at it. So that’s that’s a lot of what we did is just Outreach and then referrals and then, you know, we speak on some key events and then do a great job and over deliver for the The event organizer and then next thing you know, someone is in the audience or talk to that event organizer and says hey I want to bring you to my event..

Steve: Yes, it just gets easier after you get that one big event and I appreciate you waving the podcast speaking fee today. So since we last spoke, let’s transition to books a little bit. Bunch of my friends like James Clear, Pat Flynn have released brand-new books and they’ve chosen to go the traditional self the traditional publishing route, you know with the publisher and whatnot. Can we kind of talked about The options that you have when you want to publish a book and the pros and cons of each because I know you kind of preach like the self-publishing Amazon Kindle route. And if you could kind of talk, I think we those are all our mutual friends. So can you just kind of talk about the pros and cons and why they made their decision and whatnot.

Chandler: Absolutely and so funny. We’ve got a blog post and a video on this self-publishing. There’s the traditional publishing. But yeah, so so, I’m pretty sure that Pat’s most recent book which at the time of us recording. This was just launched a few days ago. I’m pretty sure that that one was self-published. I think the one that’s this is super fans book. I think the one prior to that was traditionally published. So yeah, I mean, there’s definitely pros and cons, you know for 99.9% of people it makes more sense to self-publish and I think that’s what Pat’s seen and that’s what’s worked relatively well for him. Now the cool thing is he’s got enough clout now where his self-published book is in a bookstore, right?

So and that’s pretty awesome and that honestly is the main bottleneck or so. Traditionally people would always go with Publishers because you needed a publisher to get into a bookstore and you needed a bookstore to have distribution and have any sales. Well now over 70 percent of all books sold are sold on Amazon and you don’t need a publisher to get on Amazon. So it’s kind of like the my brother if you know this my brother plays in a grammy-nominated rock and roll band called Me Debris. Okay, so so I’ve seen the music industry. I like behind the scenes very very close up and it’s very similar to the publishing industry. So you’ve got the publishing industry who had a Chokehold on distribution through bookstores and you have the record label industry and music industry who has a Chokehold on music distribution through radio and and things like that.

So very similar and so that’s the main reason that people are still going with those institutions amongst a few other things when you’re just seeing shifts. Well in both Industries away from the way things have been traditionally done and more towards independent deals. And so now that you don’t need a publisher to get the bookstores and you don’t need bookstores because that’s not where a lot of sales happen. A lot of authors are moving over to the self-publishing route. So, you know, my buddy Hal Elrod is a good example of that. We’ve got our first ever live event coming up and he’s speaking at that but how he sold 1.7 million copies of the miracle morning self-published. And I think it’s even over two million copies now and so so just circling. I mean, I realize I’m like circling the airport with like all these disparate facts about traditional publishing versus self-publishing, but from a royalty perspective, you’re going to make a lot more on the on going to self-publish route.

This is something we just we just put together this little on self-publishing outcome like this book roll T calculator because I’ve always been talking about this but never had a good way to show people the numbers and so it’s like you click you toggle around and you go Indie publish traditional publisher self-publish and you get to see like the actual numbers difference between the different royalty amounts, but you’ll make a lot more money self-published and you have you retain the freedom and control and that’s a big one because for a lot of folks don’t realize that traditional Publishers will not Market your book and also you lose control.

So I’ve got a bunch of friends can you know kind of I like your mentioned who just published books and I’m like, alright, cool. Amazon ads are working really really well for us right now. Why don’t you fire up some of those that’s going to be a great return on on your ad spend. They can’t do that because they don’t have to log into their book because the publisher has that so there’s like all these random little things like that. They it actually undercuts your ability to Market and sell the book when you go to the traditional publisher.

Steve: So outside the money, though. I mean clearly there’s a reason why some of these people are going the traditional publishing route. What is the main advantage? Is it Prestige is it?

Chandler: Yes. Yeah, so there’s there’s probably two or three main advantages ego, because you’re published with a traditional publisher. So to the outside world, you’re more legit not saying that’s good or bad. But that is a big reason why people do it. There are still some distribution advantages whether it be bookstores stuff like that. And then a third thing would be access to Big bestseller list. So New York Times for example is an editorial list. So the New York Times list is kind of a scam because it’s not a true bestseller list. It’s an editorial list, which means they pick the books now. Yes. It’s meant to directionally be is directly a best seller list, but if they don’t like you if it’s raining in New York or if the editor’s girlfriend just dumped him they can keep you off the list for any of those reasons, right?

Or for any of this. I mean, this is why you see someone like Michael Hyatt with one of his books. I think it was In forward, I want to say he sold 20 30,000 copies or something like that. Whatever the number was and week one. It was more than enough to be number one and but he wasn’t on the list at all. Because they, I think I’m just obviously just this is theoretical here, but I think it’s because the they’ve been trying to keep off quote-unquote internet marketers. And so even though Michael Hyatt was is I mean just an incredible person. He’s one of the top people I learned from was a CEO publisher for 30 years. CEO of publishing company for 30 years. They kept them off the list. So the USA Today is a true best seller list based on actual book sold. That’s the truest bestseller list that exist but New York Times, so that’s one of the advantages..

Steve: Can you knock it on the USA today list, self-publishing..

Chandler: You can’t, you can’t get on it. It’s mainly the New York Times and just people that’s the one that is it’s not impossible, but it’s very I mean, it’s very close to impossible to get on the New York Times list self-published. So that’s the advantage and then probably final advantage or two would be just International rights and distribution. So if your goal is not to make money off of the book and your goal is you want to be the next Tony Robbins or you know, Something like that Gary Vaynerchuk and you already have clout then that’s like the point one percent are the one percent of people that it makes sense to do a traditional publishing deal because you’re just basically saying hey, I’m going to make significantly less.

I’m going to have less of the rights and all that stuff, but I’m going to be able to pump this out in a major way internationally and kind of get more clout from this book and that’s where it makes sense. And so that’s why I think you have people like Ramit or I think you mentioned Pat here. Yeah. I mean, it’s I would imagine a lot of cases that they do they’re one big book. And so it’s like I think that’s what Pat did and his other books or self-published.

I know that James Clear has self published books and he did his one big book I would imagine Ramit similarly. So it’s like you do that one big book. That’s a huge credibility play and then you have other books if you choose to do them that are self-published and you keep a lot more the royalties from those.

Steve: Okay, but you know, if you’re a beginner obviously self-publishing is probably your only option right if you don’t have the clout your I’m going to sell any books and traditional Publishers probably won’t want to work with you. Anyways, right? Okay.

Chandler: Yeah that I mean I don’t I hate saying it’s your only option because it I mean you can hustle and get a book deal. It’s just probably not going to be a great one and you might get a hybrid deal where you have to pay or something like that. So I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s your only option. It is probably the most viable option and I mean, obviously my opinion is biased but I think it’s the best option.

Steve: If you sell an Amazon or run any online business for that matter, you’re going to need a trademark to protect your intellectual property. Not only that but a trademark is absolutely necessary to register your brand on Amazon. Now, I used to think that any old trademark registration service would work and that could even try to register my own trademark by myself on the cheap, but I was dead wrong. Securing a trademark without a strategy in place usually results in either an outright rejection or a worthless unenforceable trademark. Now, that is why I work with Stephen Wagner and his team from Emerge counsel. They have a package service called total TM, which provides the same attention to detail and process that large law firms do at a fraction of the price. Now for me personally, I like Emerge Council because of their philosophy, their goal is to maximize IP protection while minimizing the price. So before you decide to register a trademark by yourself or file for other I could protection such as a copyright or a patent, check out Emerge counsel first and get a free consult. For more information go to emergecouncil.com and click on the Amazon sellers button and tell Steve that Steve sent you to receive a $100 discount on the total TM package for Amazon sellers. Once again, that’s emergecounsel.com over at emergecounsel.com now back to the show.

Let’s switch gears a little bit. I mean, it’s been well by the time this gets published. It will be almost two years since we last talked and you know Amazon changes fast. So I was wondering if you could give all of us an update about some of the major changes to the platform and maybe some shifts in the book industry.

Chandler: Yeah, so major major changes or they launched an ad platform. I think since the last time we talked Amazon ads that’s been working really really well

Steve: Can we talk about this a little bit. Like how much does it what are the metrics involved? I mean traditionally for like an e-commerce product at least, you know, the cost per acquisition will probably exceed the cost of a book and in some cases. So just kind of..

Chandler: Oh definitely doesn’t make sense. Yeah, so it’s kind of all over the place and to be honest. I haven’t had my eyes super on the ball. Got some people on my team that are tracking and monitoring this and that sort of thing, but I know that for a lot of our students and for a lot of yeah, a lot of our students and for myself personally that’s been pretty profitable. So they count the Amazon cost of sale. I think it’s like a COS what they call that and so I want to say that I mean it’s it’s typically like 2 to 1 3 to 1 return as what we’ve seen so, you know pretty solid return but for us, we’re even happy to go break even because we have back in product. So I just want to feed the funnel and what doesn’t get tracked is that when we’re selling more books will we’re ranking higher on Amazon, which means we’re showing up in more searches which means we’re selling more books that way as well.

So it’s kind of a way to prime the pump and keep your book ranking higher for the keywords categories things like that you’re trying to rank for.

Steve: So you processed based on the revenue and can you refresh my memory on what, how much profit you actually make off of Book sale assuming a certain price point?

Chandler: exactly. Yeah, so it kind of varies and so it’s 70 percent typically for a Kindle book if that books price between $2.99 and 9.99. And then it’s you know, 35% on a Kindle book if that books price from 99 cents to $2.99. And then from a you got print and then you’ve got audiobook. audiobooks are typically 20 or 40 percent royalties independently published through ACX or Amazon’s audible platform basically and then print books kind of varies based on trim size color, color and on color number of pages all those things. But I mean, you’re typically looking at like a 20 to 40 percent depending on list price and print cost.

Steve: That’s how much you get to keep?

Chandler: yeah, exactly and and that just vary so widely. sorry I kind of hesitate to give like a ballpark answer.

Steve: Yeah let’s say though, it’s like the average book does it cost like 9.99 I don’t know. I’m not, I don’t sell any books. So what do you tell your students to price it at?

Chandler: Yeah great question. So if it’s Kindle book is between $2.99 and 9.99 if it’s a print book typically is between $12.99 and 17.99 is the ballpark for that and if it’s an audio book that you know that kind of varies and also based on length. You don’t have control over that pricing audible prices are based on length.

Steve: Okay, so a typical Kindle book that sells for 9.99 let’s say did you say you get to keep 70% of that? Okay, so it’s..

Chandler: exactly exactly..

Steve: and you’re saying that it only costs you like two dollars to acquire a sale there?

Chandler: Yeah, give or give or take and it really depends like that’s why if you just have a Kindle, Kindle only it kind of can hurt your ACOS because it’s lower price. So it helps to have print audio all those things and then there’s random things that you benefit from as well, which there’s an audible bounty which basically means that you know for every if someone signs up for Audible and I’m the first book that they download and that could be randomly there that could be I sent them there I get a bounty from honorable for basically helping them acquire a customer and I think it used to be 50 bucks. I think now it’s 75 bucks or a hundred bucks. And so, you know, I make a few hundred bucks a month just off of those audible Bounties in addition to the role to that I get for them downloading that audiobook.

So those are kind of cool ancillary stuff and then Then like I said for me the ACOS is cool. But yeah, I mean I’ll break even even lose money because people that are reading my book published especially, I mean, there’s turning into leads turning into customers turning into reviews turning into additional Book Sales all those things.

Steve: I’m just kind of curious how the bidding works on that because you know, what keywords do you bid on do you bid on like just the title or I mean, what do you how do the ads work?

Chandler: Yeah. So, I mean, it’s largely author and book focused so you’re adding and keywords for a ton of related authors and a ton of related books. So there’s all kinds of tools that help with that and can help like scrape bestseller list and stuff like that to keyword generate but that’s kind of how you do it.

Steve: So you’re allowed to bid like I could bid on Chandler bolt. And so whenever your book show up my books due to?

Chandler: exactly yeah exactly and the sponsored and then also if you click into so like say if you went to my book published on Amazon and you scroll down well, what used to be customers also bought is now sponsor.

Steve: right.

Chandler: So that’s sponsor and then there’s usually a customers also bought and then there’s another sponsor. so there’s there’s like two or three sponsored slots that kind of looks native, but those are paid placements with a brief little bit of AD copy plus the book cover plus the number of reviews. stuff like that and so those are the places where a lot of the books. That’s where a lot of our ads..

Steve: Interesting, what keyword tools. Do you use?

Chandler: publisher rocket by Dave Chesson really solid that’s one of my favorites and one of the ones that we recommend.

Steve: And that tool is strictly for keywords for books. Is that correct? Okay.

Chandler: Yes. Yes. So, I mean it does a bunch of other things but like it helps with selecting your keywords for actually publishing the book selecting your categories that you’re putting in helping with generating keywords for Amazon ads a bunch of different stuff like that.

Steve: So can we talk about like an updated launch strategy for a book then?

Chandler: Yeah, absolutely. So I mean our main launch strategy is to is to create a launch Team. And so launch team is basically small group of people. It could be five people. It could be 15 people. It could be 50 people and it’s a small group of people that support your book. Now, they’ll read the book ahead of time leave a review on day one when it launches and just generally support the book and then we give them a free digital copy of The book we give them a by like to put their name in the book people love that and then they get to see the behind the scenes of the launch. So we have a run a Facebook group and I’ll give them one assignment per week for like three weeks leading up to the book launch and that just helps spread the word about the book share on social get PR and then ultimately I mean the big deal is leaving a review on day one when it launches because then you got you know, five fifteen fifty or more reviews. Right out of the gate which really helps generate sales.

Steve: So I just have question on that. So coming from the physical products world. If you were to get reviews the way you suggested that could be considered manipulation. Does Amazon care in the book World?

Chandler: they do care and the big the big differentiator is you’re not what they would call incentivizing reviews. So I’m not saying if you give a review I’m going to give you an Amazon gift card, or I’m going to give you x y z. It’s kind of a your Launch Team and part of that is I would love for you to give a review. That would be super helpful. That’s not a stipulation, of you being on this launch Team getting your name in the book getting the book for free anything like that. So, I mean it’s like all the way up to the line without crossing the line.

Steve: Do they check whether you’re related to the people in some way or connected to them in some way?

Chandler: Yeah, they’ve started doing that and so we’ve got two, two things. We got a video and blog post on launch teams and then Got a video on our YouTube channel about why your reviews are being removed. And because that is like one of the most common questions that we get because yes, they’re cracking down on this and and there’s a couple of patterns that we’ve seen. Well, there’s a few things if three reviews have been left from the same IP address. Usually when the third one is left. They all three get pulled down. So that means if three people in your household leave a review so you definitely want to be careful about that people obviously can’t leave reviews if they Spent more than 50 dollars on Amazon.

So sometimes that keep people from leaving a review and then there’s other things. I mean people speculate that they’re connected to Facebook friends. No one’s ever been able to prove that and obviously humans not going to say that but they do own Goodreads which most people log in to Goodreads via their Facebook login. So and Goodreads is obviously connected back to Amazon. So there’s speculation about that but can’t really be proven.

Steve: How do you form a launch Team I guess is the assumption that you have an audience kind of already?

Chandler: No, so I had a, I’ve done this even before I had an audience so it’s you know depends on the person but we say, you know, this could be friends family members colleagues co-workers customers anyone that supports you and the message behind your book. So I mean as with anything that we’ve talked about on this interview, like our general philosophy especially early on when we didn’t have an audience is that we you know, we would just scrap for everything you know. So it’s like I was personally messaging people and if anyone shared the book on Facebook, I would direct message them with a video. That was like Hey, thank you so much can would you mind leaving honest review on Amazon by the end of today?

That’d be super helpful for our goal 50 reviews by the end of the week or you know, whatever that is. So just like guerrilla marketing. And so this this especially works well. you don’t have to have an audience for it. And then one of the things that we do like at self-publishing school is like we support each other through each other’s launch teams and stuff like that. So that’s like a super helpful thing like author to author.

Steve: when do ads come into play in the launch?

Chandler: Yeah ads are typically after the launch just because you can’t get enough velocity during launch for it to be a huge needle mover we’re doing promotions via promotional sites. We’re doing launch team we’re doing you know, pre-release List for anyone that’s on that and then just a bunch of random stuff like that and then ads are more of our sell more books strategy. So to keep sales going month after month.

Steve: I see, so how does the I guess the launch web sites. How do they work?

Chandler: Yeah, so there’s a bunch of launch promo sites. There’s only a handful of only a handful of ones that actually work and so there’s some when you’re in a 99-cent promo, there’s some if you’re doing if you end up doing A free Kindle giveaway promo. There’s some that are you have to be $2.99 and have to have 25 reviews, you know, there’s like kind of all different types, but some of them are paid some of them are free and there’s these ecosystems that you can kind of tap into

Steve: I see and then what are the best ones that you use?

Chandler: and I’m trying to think offhand. I know that we use Buckbooks. We use BookBub. We use BK Nights we use there’s two or three four more. They’re always changing too. So you kind of have like these top few. I think we have a blog post or a video or something best book promotional sites, and we just keep that like up to date with the newest best ones.

Steve: Do you introduce that or pay this people or?

Chandler: I’d say it’s about 50/50. Some of them are free. Some of them are paid. None of them are all that expensive except for BookBub. But BookBub has from our experience been by far the most effective if you can get accepted, so that’s those ones that stuff to get accepted in but and it’s not cheap relative to what the other ones charge but I mean they drive solds.

Steve: So the goal is to generate some sales velocity and hopefully hopefully some of those sales turn into reviews and that just kind of grow organic ranking?

Chandler: Yes.

Steve: I just want to let you know that tickets for the 2020 Seller Summit are on sale over at sellersummit.com. Now what is seller Summit? It is the conference that I hold every year that is specifically targeting e-commerce entrepreneurs selling physical products online and 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 e-commerce business. And in fact, every speaker I invite is deep in the trenches of their e-commerce 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 Seller Summit will be small and intimate every year we cut off ticket sales at just a couple hundred people. So tickets will sell out fast, and in fact, we sell out every single year many months in advance now if you’re an e-commerce entrepreneur making over 250K or 1 million dollars per year, we are also offering an exclusive mastermind experience with other top sellers. Now, the Seller Summit is going to be held in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. From May 6 to May 8. And right now, we are almost sold out of Mastermind tickets already and I will be raising the ticket price regularly starting the day after Cyber Monday for more information, go to sellerssummit.com. Once again, that’s SELLERSUMMIT.COM or just Google it. Now back to the show.

Chandler: A hundred percent sales velocity and review velocity by far the most important thing and just reviews, reviews, reviews, reviews, reviews. I mean, it’s kind of like I’m sure you know this it’s similar ecosystem to podcast ecosystem. I mean a lot of the same things that you do to get a podcast to rank or what you do to get a book to rank. And so I mean as you know, what iTunes like pretty review focused as well, the same type of thing. So we just encourage people to scrap and claw for every single review that they can get especially early on.

Steve: What’s special about books though is like in the search results, at least, they’re going to be typing in the author or the title of book right and chances are if it matches your author or the title, it’s going to rank right. So what is the real benefit? Is it just getting on these bestseller lists or?

Chandler: yeah. I mean it’s getting on the bestseller list like I would say. Yes. That’s the majority of search traffic but there’s a decent amount of search traffic that’s not author or book Focus, but that’s keyword focused. I mean Amazon is one of the biggest search Engines on the internet and so, you know people will go and I’ve done this same as like productivity book or you know leadership book best leadership books stuff like that.

Steve: Got it, makes sense.

Chandler: So you can certainly do that. But then also I mean they ranked based on title subtitle description’ content and the book things like that so they know related books and Amazon reviews are a great way to get bumped up and those related searches so that for both something that’s brought his leadership book or whatever keywords, you’re targeting, you know, you can improve your ranking there. But then also for something like say, you know, 21 irrefutable laws of leadership by John Maxwell, you know, if I’ve got a related book and I want to rank right there, you know, it’s like kind of doing both.

Steve: Got it, cool man. Well anything else you want to add that’s changed that’s worth mentioning?

Chandler: Those are the main things from landscape. I mean, it’s always changing and there’s other sites popping up. There’s things intricacies inside Amazon and all that but that yeah, it’s always changing. Those are the main needle movers though in my opinion from a book launch and a sell more books perspective.

Steve: Well Chandler I told you we’d only be chatting for 40 minutes and I want to be respectful of your time. Where can people find more about how to launch a self-published book?

Chandler: Yeah, so we got really great blog posts like first place to start how to write a book. It’s very intense and in-depth and great videos there that’s on the self-publishing school blog and then we’ve got a lot of just self-publishing information that will be coming out over the next year, two years, three years five years, whatever to come on self-publishing.com. So those are our two kind of best resources. And then that’s where people will be able to tap into a bunch of free training and a bunch of the specific kind of posts and videos and all the stuff that we mentioned.

Steve: If you’re going to describe the content difference between self-publishing school and self-publishing.com. Like what is the real differentiator right now?

Chandler: Great question. Yeah. So self-publishing school is all about how to write and publish your mostly your first book and then self-publishing.com is more industry-wide. So the self publishing industry as a whole. So what are the best self publishing companies what our service companies? How do you Ingram spark, how do you get an ISBN like all these different kind of more broad topics from a third-party perspective.

Steve: Oh okay, so if you’re just getting started self-publishing school is the right place to go. Awesome.

Chandler: yeah, I’d say so. Well..

Steve: So Chandler I appreciate you coming back on again and thanks a lot man.

Chandler: Yeah, Steve. Thanks for having me.

Steve: Yeah, take care.

Hope you enjoyed that episode now Chandler is my go-to guy when it comes to self-publishing a book and I may have a little project on the horizon, which I’ll announce when the time comes. For more information about this episode go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode287.

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

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

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

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

I Need Your Help

If you enjoyed listening to this podcast, then please support me with an iTunes review. It's easy and takes 1 minute! Just click here to head to iTunes and leave an honest rating and review of the podcast. Every review helps!
 

Ready To Get Serious About Starting An Online Business?


If you are really considering starting your own online business, then you have to check out my free mini course on How To Create A Niche Online Store In 5 Easy Steps.

In this 6 day mini course, I reveal the steps that my wife and I took to earn 100 thousand dollars in the span of just a year. Best of all, it's absolutely free!

286: The Brutal Truth About Success That No One Talks About – My Take On The 4 Burners Theory

286: Can You Live A Balanced Life And Be Successful?  My Take On The 4 Burners Theory

I’m doing a solo episode today because I want to talk about something that’s been on my mind for quite some time, the 4 burners theory to success in life.

Now the 4 burners theory is something that my buddy James Clear introduced me to at one of my masterminds and it’s a theory that forces you to think deeply about the priorities in your life.

Are you unhappy or dissatisfied with your life? Then this episode will help you figure our your priorities. And if you’ve never heard of this theory before? Then this episode will explain it all.

What You’ll Learn

  • What is the 4 burners theory?
  • How to figure out your priorities in life
  • How I rank my own 4 burners
  • How to cheat the system and have all burners always on

Other Resources And Books

Sponsors

Klaviyo.com – Klaviyo is the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store. Created specifically for ecommerce, it is the best email marketing provider that I’ve used to date. Click here and try Klaviyo for FREE.
Klaviyo

Privy.com – Privy is my tool of choice when it comes to gathering email subscribers for my ecommerce store. They offer easy to use email capture, exit intent, and website targeting tools that turn more visitors into email subscribers and buyers. With both free and paid versions, Privy fits into any budget. Click here and get 15% OFF towards your account.
Privy

EmergeCounsel.com – EmergeCounsel is the service I use for trademarks and to get advice on any issue related to intellectual property protection. Click here and get $100 OFF by mentioning the My Wife Quit Her Job podcast.
Emerge Counsel

SellersSummit.com – The ultimate ecommerce learning conference! Unlike other events that focus on inspirational stories and high level BS, the Sellers Summit is a curriculum based conference where you will leave with practical and actionable strategies specifically for an ecommerce business. Click here and get your ticket now before it sells out.

Sellers Summit

Transcript

I Need Your Help

If you enjoyed listening to this podcast, then please support me with an iTunes review. It's easy and takes 1 minute! Just click here to head to iTunes and leave an honest rating and review of the podcast. Every review helps!
 

Ready To Get Serious About Starting An Online Business?


If you are really considering starting your own online business, then you have to check out my free mini course on How To Create A Niche Online Store In 5 Easy Steps.

In this 6 day mini course, I reveal the steps that my wife and I took to earn 100 thousand dollars in the span of just a year. Best of all, it's absolutely free!

285: Linda Bustos On The Latest Trends In Ecommerce

285: Linda Bustos On The Latest Trends In Ecommerce

Today I have an extra special guest on the show, Linda Bustos. When I first got started in ecommerce way back in 2007, Linda’s articles were what got me through the dark periods of my business.

She runs the Get Elastic Ecommerce blog which is recognized as one of the top 15 entrepreneur blogs worth reading and a top-50 spot on the AdAge Power 150.

She has an incredible breadth of knowledge in ecommerce and I’m excited to have her!

What You’ll Learn

  • The primary source of growth for her clients in the past year
  • The latest ecommerce trends. What’s working well and what’s not
  • Linda’s opinion on Amazon
  • How her clients prepped for the holiday season

Other Resources And Books

Sponsors

Klaviyo.com – Klaviyo is the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store. Created specifically for ecommerce, it is the best email marketing provider that I’ve used to date. Click here and try Klaviyo for FREE.
Klaviyo

Privy.com – Privy is my tool of choice when it comes to gathering email subscribers for my ecommerce store. They offer easy to use email capture, exit intent, and website targeting tools that turn more visitors into email subscribers and buyers. With both free and paid versions, Privy fits into any budget. Click here and get 15% OFF towards your account.
Privy

EmergeCounsel.com – EmergeCounsel is the service I use for trademarks and to get advice on any issue related to intellectual property protection. Click here and get $100 OFF by mentioning the My Wife Quit Her Job podcast.
Emerge Counsel

SellersSummit.com – The ultimate ecommerce learning conference! Unlike other events that focus on inspirational stories and high level BS, the Sellers Summit is a curriculum based conference where you will leave with practical and actionable strategies specifically for an ecommerce business. Click here and get your ticket now before it sells out.

Sellers Summit

Transcript

Steve: You’re listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, the place where I bring on successful bootstrapped business owners and delve deeply into the strategies they use to grow their businesses. Now today, I have one of my early e-commerce mentors on the show Linda Bustos and Linda’s posts on the get elastic blog were instrumental in helping my online store get off its feet way back in the day. So I’m excited to finally meet her and have her on the podcast.

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

I also want to give a quick shout-out Klaviyo for sponsoring this episode. Code Black Friday is right around the corner and for my e-commerce store email marketing is a heavy part of my holiday sales strategy. And in fact last year, it was close to 50% of My overall sales. And of course as you all know klaviyo is the email marketing tool that I use for Bumblebee Linens now Klaviyo is the growth marketing platform chosen by over 20,000 Brands generating more than three point seven billion dollars in Revenue in just the last year and with the holiday season right around the corner klaviyo has created the ultimate planning guide for crushing those holiday Revenue targets for marketing creative to segmentation strategy. These are proven tactics for more personalized marketing, especially in time for the holiday season. To get ahold of this guide, visit Klaviyo.com/mywife. Once again, Klaviyo.com/mywife.

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

Steve: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. Today, I have an extra special guest on the show, Linda Bustos. Now. Linda has been an e-commerce for as long as I can remember and when I first got started in e-commerce way back in 2007. Linda’s articles were what got me through the dark periods of my business and her post were they were like the Bible to me and during her earlier years. She wrote in managed to GetElastic e-commerce blog growing it from 200 to over 20,000 daily readers with recognition from the Wall Street Journal as one of the 15 entrepreneur blogs worth reading and a top 50 spot on the adage power 150 and she’s also provided consulting on conversion optimization, web experience, content marketing strategies and more. To some of the world’s largest and most exciting online companies and after getelastic. She started her own firm called EdgeAscent where she now helps e-commerce companies with strategy and growth and with that welcome to the show Linda. How are you doing today?

Linda: Well Steve. Thanks for having me on.

Steve: Yeah. So Linda, you know for everyone who doesn’t Not know that you are a legend in e-commerce. Tell us about how you got into the field and kind of what you’re up to now.

Linda: So I feel like I kind of bustled my way into to this. I’ve always been interested in internet marketing like ever since College, you know, and I found that my college education was way outdated Because the Internet moves a lot faster than textbooks can be written. So kind of when I was released into the wild after school, you know, I had to do quite a bit of my own research on SEO and paid search and got my hands dirty quite early on, you know working as an SEO and internet marketer for a web design company and working with clients right away and and but what I really really loved to do was write, write about strategies right in online forums. And that kind of thing. I started a Blog called the smoger the Social Media blog.

Steve: I didn’t know about that blog. Okay

Linda: Yeah, it was like blogger.com like one of those create free and there was this meme going around that a friend of mine added me on to is called the Zedd list or the Z list. Sorry I’m Canadian, so we say Zedd, but it was useless and it kind of went all all around the internet and I got reposted on like Seth Godin blog and all this kind of stuff. It was a meme of all these blogs and so I got a readership kind of by accident off of that and I got Twitter followers by accident through this thing that went around and then I just really, you know, just really double down on blogging, I loved it. I loved I loved just finding examples and compiling them and putting them together. It was just kind of I enjoyed that a lot more than doing actually.

Steve: Okay.

Linda: S o I got into that and then and then one of the founders of elastic path, which ran the get elastic block at the time was also a friend of mine here in Vancouver and and you know brought me onboard full time to run that blog because I really found e-commerce to be the most exciting pocket of the web. Right? And there’s so much to talk about e-commerce and and I’m also an avid online Shopper so to blend to blend my own consumerism with work is great.

Steve: Yeah. No, I mean I used to read getelastic blog religiously. Actually, I read it religiously until you left and then I was happy to see that your articles are popping up again on that blog. So that made me very happy.

Linda: Yeah that Blog has undergone a complete reinvention since I’ve left the blog now has wow, probably over 50 guest contributors now and Coast daily. So yeah, it’s a different animal. Than when I left but there’s a lot of different voices and a lot of different perspectives on e-commerce. So yeah, I’m happy to be part of that project again and excited for some of the new new types of content. We’re gonna..

Steve: yeah, I know definitely start reading it again after a what is it like a four-year Hiatus. So

Linda: 4 years on the nose. Yeah

Steve: Yeah. So Linda I know that you’re always up to date with all facets of e-commerce. I was hoping you could just talk a little bit about Trends and what you’re kind of seeing and how how new companies are. To the adjusted landscape with Amazon and other competitors.

Linda: Yeah, so this year I think a couple breakouts have kind of come to know, number one being chatbots and the ability to use chat Bots kind of as an alternative list to your email. So there’s a couple different types of chatbots. You can have you can have one that’s just basically a virtual assistant on your site and you can program it with pre-built dialogues to handle, you know live person. For example, they’ve been a long time Live help service and they run numbers and on e-commerce inquiries and they say that 70% of Life help questions could easily be handled instantly by a chatbot and what that can do is if you can automate the first initial contact and then once the chat bot runs out of answers hand them off to a live person that just helps first of all speed never have to wait for a life help agent to get back from their other conversations again. And also, you know 24/7 accessibility and also, you know just reduce the load on your your life people as well.

So that’s just a basic, you know, question-and-answer bot and some of them are allowing you to do some merchandising in there to like show actual product recommendations and that kind of thing. But then there’s another arm of chatbots which can actually especially when they’re integrated with like Facebook Messenger or some of these other apps like kick or telegram, Skype they’re able to tap that Into that users phone in the messaging service and do follow-ups and remarketing and opt-in email and cart recovery, campaigns and all that kind of stuff, which is you remember back in the day like those recommendations that get that email in the first step check out right so that you can actually talk to these folks again. And now you can do it based on just cookies and remarketing through these through these platforms. So so that’s a great opportunity.

Steve: So what you are saying is completely accurate so we have a live chat bot actually on our e-commerce store and about 70% of the questions before were you know, how long is it going to take to get delivered? And what is the status of my order? And those have been completely automated away along with shipping times and and that sort of thing. So it’s been a huge help for our customer service team like we get a lot less phone calls now.

Linda: Yeah. Yeah, and I mean that really we live in an age where people don’t tolerate waiting for anything right so you can do something and silly, especially during the holidays, right?

Steve: What software is popular to implement some of the things that you were just talking about like remarketing Landing card and that sort of thing. What are some popular e-commerce software that are implementing these things?

Linda: Well, there are so many plugins that will do the remarketing. So there it’s it’s fairly easy to find some and then that that’s a double-edged sword right? Because there’s a lot of low cost free, you know, no friction tools that you can use but the more choice that you have can be a lot of legwork just making the right choice. So do you mean for chatbots?

Steve: Let’s talk about chatbots. Actually.

Linda: Yeah, I also like a short list ones I thought were the top ones for e-commerce and they kind of spend two categories. So there’s a there’s platforms like software-as-a-service chatbots that you can use where it’s hosted by the tool provider and you can just go in and basically build your dialogue flows. And that’s where the legwork comes in right? Because some of these providers have templates that you can kind of customize for basic inquiries and that kind of stuff but really, I mean that’s where the bulk of your work and bulk of you’re planning as a merchandiser as a retailer as an operations manager as a customer service department is to actually build those dialogues and decide what type of personality your Bot is going to have. Do you want it to have kind of more slang and talk like your Market or do you want it to be more professional?

You know, is there a branding team that needs to be involved in that? So that’s where the big work is but these builders make the actual building of the Bots and testing of these Bots quite easy. Also, like if you if you see chat Bots as more of an integrated conversational Commerce strategy, right? You can integrate a lot of these tools or build your own using the AI machine learning languages. So there’s like Microsoft has their Louis programming language and Google has one has a framework

Steve: That sounds really involve..

Linda: Dialogue flow.

Steve: Yeah. Does that involve coding? Like I think I’ve dabbled with the dialogue flow and it but you need to know how to code in order to implement it?

Linda: Yes, you need to know how to code so that’s kind of the platforms and software as a service ones are kind of more marketer friendly. Some are a little bit hybrid, you know, so your marketing can do their work and you know, get a little bit of extra feature with with they’ll integrate with dialogue flow and they’ll integrate with some of these other Frameworks, even though there are a builder? Technically. And then you have the pure builds and you know, if you’re just dipping your toe in and you want to get something up really quickly before the holidays, are you want to have a minimum viable? Product and kind of gather some data and then start investing in a bigger, you know more tech-heavy project a wise person once told me we many years ago get good at free right?

Steve: Yeah

Linda: get good at easy and then build from there.

Steve: So what are some creative uses for these chatbots that you’ve seen companies use?

Linda: Well, I guess customer service is kind of the entry level line, but for merchandising being able to kind of take a guided selling approach, especially on mobile because a couple things if you’ve ever tried to fiddle with a hamburger menu and the more categories and subcategories that you have, you know that slider many you can have three or four different, you know, layers deep of navigation also with site search on a mobile phone. First of all, you’ve got the phone often times tryna autocorrect what you’re trying to henpeck with your fingers and for product names and brand names, they don’t always exist in the dictionary. So you’ve got weird auto corrections and failed searches and the the keyboard pops up and takes up half of your Mobile screen and then the auto suggestions Papa.

Steve: Yes, yeah..

Linda : Yes? right. So being able to use your voice and just I mean voice recognition software has gotten pretty good so far and being able to use chat bot or just have it spit options to you. So if it says hey, what are you looking for? And it gives you three or four different pre-baked options and you just do one tap and then that dialogue breaks down from there and that bot can guide you towards a department or a set of products or gift recommendations or hone in on something that I think that’s the future right? You’re going to be talking and interacting and bypassing navigation menus and bypassing clunky search processes on mobile and just do everything fluidly with your voice or through one tap responses.

Steve: interesting. So instead of just using the hamburger menu, you’re suggesting just I guess replicating that in a chatbot to guide people to all your products that you sell.

Linda: Yeah. I think it’s an alternative to I mean, there’s always going to be people who want to browse in the traditional way and that serves them. But if you really want to give if you want to replicate that store experience, right you walk in and you talk to a sales person and they know everything they know all of of the inventory in the store and their job is to you know, ask you probing questions and to upsell you and to you know, give you details and attributes about the product and give their opinions and experiences like some of these chat Bots are integrated with like the yacht pose and the other site review application so that they can spit out product reviews in the future.

I think in the next two or three iterations of this you’ll be able to say show me the top rated, you know boots for boots for toddlers 3 Five, you know in the color green or whatever and you’ll be able to get that refined set of results provided that here’s the other caveat, you know, we need to get really a lot better with product data and consistency with product data to be able to actually feed that because even when we know with site search now you can type in like all of Green gum boots and you’re going to be missing a few because they didn’t have specifically Olive or you know, they use an alternative keyword.

Steve: What is is your take on voice search? I’ve been hearing that buzz word around like all a lot of shopping is going to be occurring via like Alexa and some of these other devices. Have you seen any of that take place yet?

Linda: Yeah the data that I’m seeing or the number that I keep seeing spit out is that it’s like two percent of Alexa users have you know made a purchase more than one purchase by voice? I think the initial purchase might be a little bit higher because I’m going by memory here, but It’s a very low adoption like through Alexa, but I do think that you know, the chat bots on individual retailers. And as people get more comfortable with actually talking through their phone. This is going to change.

Steve: How does that work? Exactly. I’ve actually never purchased anything via voice and I could imagine like when I’m just doing a search on Google like a whole bunch of things pop up, right? And I usually pick one with voice. It seems like you’re only given one choice.

Linda: Yeah, kind of what it’s doing is its speech-to-text right on the back end. So we’ll take your speech turn it into a text based query pull up the results and then maybe pick one based on Card results or or whatever is the top hit and then text to speech that back to you. You know, I think I think kind of like I hear a lot of fun from my friend people, you know when we’re just casually talking about AI or relax. Anything like that that I think there’s this perception that it is an actual fully baked artificial cognitive Computing that’s understanding exactly what you’re saying. But right now it’s very still programmatic. It’s very rules-based and it’s basically a voice version of search.

Steve: Okay. Does that imply then that you need to be like number one in the results then in order to get that sale?

Linda: Well, if we’re talking about like Google Voice optimization, so so Google has made a move towards cards based results for a while now and you’ll see that right away. If you type in a question and you’ll see kind of these top this top box of results almost like you don’t have to go to the website anymore to get your answer.

Steve: Yeah,

Linda: which is not so good for Publishers, but it’s kind of the way that Google wants to move to surveying and I think Amazon is going to be the next one to use that card spaced if they’re not already through Alexa. However, the challenge with that is exactly that you know, how do you optimize for that? If you’re product how do you get into search results and right now mostly it’s not for actual product results. It’s more about you know information about the product. So, you know, if you want to create a lot of QA content and attach it to your product page. I mean that’s a lot of legwork to get to answer a question that the customer is not even going to click through to your site anyway. Like I wouldn’t recommend it but other ways that are potentially that you can get there is number one.

You have to have really good mobile site speed because that’s part of like it’s a mobile first index now, so if you don’t have great mobile performance and mobile optimized site, you’re not even going to get in the main results.

Steve: What’s considered good right now or what is considered like passable.

Linda: Google has actually a tool the mobile check tool think it’s through Google analytics.

Steve: Yeah pagespeed insights right?

Linda: pagespeed insights. And so that’ll tell you those basic things. But yeah, you want to have a really fast loading speed. You don’t want to have too many. Also that pop up, you know, like pop-ups that my interrupt the users experience and yeah image image load size page load size that kind of thing, right? And yeah, and so there’s that but then also getting your like semantic markup and that kind of thing into Google as well. So having your prices having your stock availability having your local product data, I think the next iteration that Google will roll out will be for local results. Right? like show me the Sony, you know Sony headphones in and steel gray, you know closest to me and they’ll be able to tell you the retailer. So Google will have to pull in that feed data,

Steve: right I guess most shops who are using Google shopping already have that markup. I think if not in the feed but in structured markup on their site, so I would imagine Google will just take that data, right?

Linda: Hmm. Now if ever if most sites are doing that then it becomes like wow

Steve: Yeah I doubt that yeah. let’s do it have but quick question. So we were just talking about chatbots earlier where you can get them as a subscriber and then send them broadcast messages via messenger, just curious with the companies that you’ve been dealing with. Right now, I know with my store that the engagement on the messenger channel is 5 to 10 x better than email. So I was just wondering if you have been seeing that same thing. And if so have the priorities changed in terms of getting an email versus a chat subscriber.

Linda: Well, I think we’re kind of like now is a nice window to start doing it because it hasn’t really hit full saturation yet. Once it does I think the numbers will change because it will become just like email, right? Your essay, your Facebook Facebook Messenger is going to be become a Spam feed, you know, right because a lot of these retargeting campaigns don’t actually need an opt and right? it just needs you to engage on the site on your mobile while you have the Facebook pixel running. I was kind of caught off guard the first cart abandonment messenger thing that I got right because I didn’t even know it was a thing at that time.

I was like what the heck and and it felt very spammy to me and I opted out right away and it kind of gave me a negative impression of the brand. That was my experience. But but I think that, you know, kind of when something gets popular it kind of spoils it for everyone so get it get in on it now, but I think Smart marketers that are doing it now are going to be doing that testing to see like what’s the right timing? What’s the right Cadence who’s the right segment of visitor to remarket to under what conditions right? So it’s much better to send a cart abandonment message then just send a random offer that wasn’t asked for for example. The language that you use do you augment it with an offer right? Hey come back at 10% off make it worth your while versus just hey, we’re just tapping you on the shoulder because cuz we want your business back or you know, self-serving kind of remarketing.

So there’s a lot of ways that individual companies can get in there now and do that testing and figure out what works for them and really have that Insight at the time when it starts getting more difficult to to Market to people because everybody else has joined the party.

Steve: It’s interesting that you said the abandoned cart messenger message turned you off. Do you know what the general opinion is now, I guess this happened earlier on right or a while ago or?

Linda: yeah, it happened a while ago and then I’ve seen it a handful of times since but and now I just collect them because of course I want to blog about them and compare them and say who’s doing it, right and who’s doing it wrong, for me? It turned off because full disclosure. I wasn’t actually really interested in purchasing the item either. I mean I add stuff to cart to test checkouts all the time and that was the case with this one. So, so maybe my opinion would be different if I really wanted the Item and appreciated the reminder and I also don’t feel like I’m exactly the same.

Steve: way to advance of a shopper.

Linda: Yeah. I just know the back end a little bit too much in the marketing side of things to kind of experience things as a consumer. Okay, but you know, the numbers are speaking for itself like your experience you’re saying I’ve heard that up to 90 percent open rate on mobile marketing messages. And again, I believe that is just because it hasn’t become.

Steve: It’s not saturated, Yeah?

Linda: but I mean, yeah, this is a text-based culture right? Like I keep trying to convince my mom. She’s like I got I got a call your I got to call your knees. I got to call your nephew and my mom they don’t they don’t pick up the phone it was like..

Steve: Hahaha

Linda: Right?and like it’s like 69 percent or 70 percent of online Shoppers today would rather interact through a messenger or through instant message instant, instead texting or something then pick up the phone or even deal with email. So there’s there’s a lot of support for it. That way.

Steve: what is your take on push notifications? Any times?

Linda:: Yeah, I think they’re great if they’re opt-in. I mean that’s a great opportunity for you as a merchant take advantage of it, right? It’s just another opt-in. It’s one that kind of just gets a little bit more attention a little bit more engagement rate or a lot more than email. So it’s a great great great opportunity and SMS email list. If you’re not doing that now got to get doing that, you know, everybody’s using those pop-up. Here’s ten percent off your first order use Enter your e-mail, right and and I think is a big missed opportunity. If you don’t have an SMS option there.

Steve: interesting. So how are people using SI? So I’m actually not using SMS with my store yet. So you’re getting a cell phone number and then you’re sending text messages to the customer?

Linda: That’s right. Yeah.

Steve: Okay, is that intrusive? How is that working?

Linda: Well, because it’s opt in right. So that user has already given you permission and then again as a campaign manager, it’s up to you to test and watch your unSubscribe rates or your stop your text back when they stop and and and measure that back to what tactics you were using like how frequently were you doing? What was the offer? You know, what is the segmentation of that user that you can discern right you can kind of do a little bit of break down by like the users area code or stuff like that. If they’ve also opt-in by e-mail or you can use device detection to mount them back to what they actually do on the site. What categories theyclick into how frequently they visit and segment then that way I mean you wouldn’t want to be sending a weekly push to someone who visits your site once every three months or you might, right? So you have to encourage more visits. I mean, it’s very context dependent.

Steve: Yeah, that’s what software are people using for that.

Linda: Well there there are opt-in providers that will give you like your your opt-in lightbox your modal window or whatever. There’s a lot of different providers to do that so some have an SMS option some have Professional Services that could build it for you. Like if they don’t have it in their product yet or if you’re using your own. I mean, it depends on your platform too, it might need to be a plug-in or if you have kind of a developer friendly platform. We might be able to you know, build something that integrates with your own.

Steve: If you sell an Amazon or run any online business for that matter, you’re going to need a trademark to protect your intellectual property. Not only that but a trademark is absolutely necessary to register your brand on Amazon. Now, I used to think that any old trademark registration service would work and that could even try to register my own trademark by myself on the cheap, but I was dead wrong. Securing a trademark without a strategy in place usually results in either an outright rejection or a worthless unenforceable trademark. Now, that is why I work with Stephen Wagner and his team from Emerge counsel. They have a package service called total TM, which provides the same attention to detail and process that large law firms do at a fraction of the price. Now for me personally, I like Emerge Council because of their philosophy, their goal is to maximize IP protection while minimizing the price. So before you decide to register a trademark by yourself or file for other I could protection such as a copyright or a patent, check out Emerge counsel first and get a free consult. For more information go to emergecouncil.com and click on the Amazon sellers button and tell Steve that Steve sent you to receive a $100 discount on the total TM package for Amazon sellers. Once again, that’s emergecounsel.com over at emergecounsel.com now back to the show.

SMS sounds really intrusive like more so than messenger. Like I only SMS is my friends that can imagine getting marketing messages on there. So yeah, I’m just kind of curious I realized I actually haven’t encountered a site that I’ve shopped at debt takes my SMS yet, but I’ll be on the lookout for now for sure.

Linda: Yeah, I can offline I can dig up some that. I’ve encountered see how you doing it.

Steve: Yeah, what are you seeing in terms of Amazon and some of the Retailers you’ve been working with just kind of reconciling whether to go all in on Amazon versus focus on their site and that sort of thing.

Linda: It’s tough. I mean, I think it you’re at a really good Advantage. If you’re a digitally native vertical brand that you know, you have your Shopify site or you’ve got your your main site and then you yourself have put your products on Amazon versus others kind of getting their hands on your product and putting it in the marketplace if you know what I mean or Amazon itself. If Amazon itself is stalking your product like your own branded product. I’m not talking about if you sell another folks products that’s a I’ll get to that in a moment. But yeah, I think those are those are the brands and the and the merchants that have the most Advantage because you’re controlling the distribution and you’re controlling your merchant account in in Amazon. It gets a bit trickier when especially late let’s say you’ve been you have three or four local stores and then you have a website and you’ve got a good following in in your local let Let’s say you’re a surf shop right and you carry a lot of the national Brands just like, you know million other channel partners for those Brands.

So that’s where it gets tricky because that’s where customers are going to come in and use your retail shop as a showroom for Amazon or for, you know, other other sites with massive discounts or whatever, right? I think that’s where it’s the biggest threat and then and then if you’re a brand that has Amazon somehow getting Hands, like either through a third party distributor, for example, a lot of retailers and Brands can’t help that Amazon is getting their hands on stuff and then they undercut the minimum advertised price. They control the buy box and their stocking itself. They’re not going to show you as a as another by box option until they run out of their inventory. I mean this this is where it gets tricky.

Steve: How do you fight that so if you are an online store that sells other people’s products that are also listed on Amazon. I mean, how do you what are some things that you can do to stand out?

Linda: So that’s where you know using these Facebook remarketing using SMS messaging. One advantage that you have as a retailer with your own site is the ability to merchandize a lot better than Amazon does because Amazon is a haystack right? And it doesn’t always do the best job in supporting guided selling or building a bundle. I mean, they have the customers who bought this also bought but that’s purely based on you know billions and billions of skus of data and that kind of thing. So if you’re let’s go back to the online skater shop or snowboard shop. Then you will a you’re able to have build a relationship with a customer or with a visitor, you know, if you’re using the right cooking and device tracking and and remarketing that kind of thing.

But the way that you merchandiser site it can be easier to navigate with a tighter set of Skus. You can build bundles or the way. That you merchandize and decorate your pages the way that you handle look books and the way that you organize your site the coupons and the and the promotion’s that you send by email can can stand out from Amazon because again Amazon’s kind of like you go there you have to know what you’re going to buy. It’s not a browse friendly site not a project discovery engine. It’s really a spear fishing engine.

Steve: but the ship so how much of a factor is the shipping like two day shipping Prime shipping?

Linda: Oh, it’s huge. Yeah the customer today. A kind of expects it by Divine right? but there’s there’s some things that you can do on your website to actually improve the uptake of free shipping, right? So we did some testing on free shipping thresholds with a with a retailer. I was working with you know, 50 $50 free shipping or $75 free shipping or $100 free shipping and actually doing those tests. So to find what is that sweet spot of both revenue and conversion rate at different free shipping thresholds, and it’s Current for different retailers you’d be surprised in different markets and you know Finding ways to actually put those those free shipping incentives actually on the product page as well, you know being able to say like this this order qualifies for free shipping for this product qualifies for free shipping because it’s already over the $50 interesting is ready.

Steve: ahh Interesting.

Linda: Yeah, and and in the cart page saying congratulations you’ve qualified for free shipping instead. Just the generic free shipping over a hundred you just telling them and giving that feedback that yes, you’ve added this to cart and you’ve already qualified just reinforcing your

Steve: actually that I have on my site. I have like dollars to free shipping and when they achieve it, it turns a different color and it says you have any okay, it’s good.

Linda: Yeah. Yeah.

Steve: Do you think Drop Shipping is kind of dying?

Linda: I think it’s getting harder to do mainly because you know, the margins are so small, right? Yeah, and if your Drop Shipping from overseas and you can’t really control the shipping time, I mean if you’re competing with Amazon Prime right that that becomes a lot more difficult and also the cost to acquire a customer so you have to make sure that you’re advertising costs in your acquisition costs aren’t inflating so much that you’re actually losing money.

Steve: Yeah, I mean what I’ve noticed is that the margins are pretty small right? For dropshipping but then you can find the same item on Amazon and oftentimes it’s actually the manufacturer who is selling on Amazon right? at a lower price. So it seems like it’s just really hard to compete if you’re selling other people’s products.

Linda: Yeah, I think if you have a good way to convert if you have a good conversion rate and if there’s a sort of blindness for the customer that there are other options right? like I’d be surprised if I mean I sell I sell in the Etsy Marketplace.

Steve: Okay

Linda: so that site kind of has a even though you can find similar stuff for a lot cheaper, right? It tends to attract the type of customer that wants to stay within that market place?

Steve: right

Linda: and Look elsewhere. So if you have a Drop Shipping site that maybe has a lot of content or a lot of you know, authoritative, authoritative brand and where the content really that sells the, sells the guidance on what to buy and you’ve got a guide and then, you know, you’ve got three or four products in a carousel that they can purchase directly from your site then that’s kind of more of a closed system than you know, somebody who’s typed in. You know washing machine and you clicked on you and then they’re going to click back out and click, you know, five other Google shopping results. It is kind of depends on that too.

Steve: I guess the advantage with that c is everything there is unique, right? I think of smaller, you know retailers and manufacturers selling their own handmade products. So yeah can’t just hop on Amazon and buy that.

Linda: Yeah, I mean Amazon did launch its own handmade Marketplace as well. And I’m not exactly sure how that affected because I know a lot of sellers sell on both platforms and you know get into the prime, but the other thing too where I think as a drop shipper you can do well as if you acquire a customer through things like Instagram and Pinterest right? like they discovered you not through a search engine not through a comparison shopping mindset they discovered you by serendipity and I think in those situations you can still do really well with Drop Shipping.

Steve: Have you seen any do you have any data regarding websites that use Amazon pay? Or you know, you can essentially do a one-click checkout.

Linda: Yeah. Yeah. I don’t have any data but in the context of mobile wallets, right which will be another Trend. So you’re asking about Trends might as well talk about that one. So certain mobile wallets do. Do better so if you think about Apple pay there’s some friction in actually using Apple pay especially if you’re on a more newer device where you have to use face ID, you know and you have to set up all your stuff within Apple pay and it’s it’s a different experience, right? Because the pay sheets the Apple pay sheet that you have to inject into checkout is kind of limited. You can’t ask for things like you can insert your own fields for You know it is this a gift or do you want to split shipment? Do you want to pick up and start like you can’t do that kind of thing.

But things with Apple pay or Amazon pay and PayPal. Yeah. I mean Amazon has what over a hundred million or maybe 200 million now Prime members, so just being able to use that as a wallet and check out quickly. I think there’s a perception that Amazon pay also means it’s Amazon Prime.

Steve: ohhh

Linda: do you might If it a little bit from that kind of halo effect

Steve: well unless they’re disappointed when there is no Prime shipping.

Linda: Yeah. Yeah. I don’t actually I haven’t had any direct experience with Amazon pay like with with anyone. I’ve been working with or have any data or numbers around

Steve: Apple and Google Play.

Linda: Yeah, Apple and Google pay, it’s funny because it’s very very hyped up. Right? but the conversion rates. Are you have to consider it as first of all you have a smaller segments that’s actually using the iPhone right?

Steve: Sure.

Linda: then then a portion of that has Apple pay enabled then a portion of that prefers to use Apple pay. So I’ve seen a lot of data come out of apple itself, you know, or their pilot that two or three pilot retailers that have done it and I all you know hundred and fifty percent higher Revenue per visitor and all these kind of things and then you go to that website and go. Okay cool. I want to check out I want I want to test out this This Apple pay implementation in the checkout and then it’s gone right? I’m not going to call anyone out. But I’m like, okay, that’s interesting. They were the poster child case study and now they’re not even using Apple pay anymore and their digital check out. So what does that mean?

Steve: I just want to let you know that tickets for the 2020 Seller Summit are on sale over at sellersummit.com. Now what is seller Summit? It is the conference that I hold every year that is specifically targeting e-commerce entrepreneurs selling physical products online and 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 e-commerce business. And in fact, every speaker I invite is deep in the trenches of their e-commerce 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 Seller Summit will be small and intimate every year we cut off ticket sales at just a couple hundred people. So tickets will sell out fast, and in fact, we sell out every single year many months in advance now if you’re an e-commerce entrepreneur making over 250K or 1 million dollars per year, we are also offering an exclusive mastermind experience with other top sellers. Now, the Seller Summit is going to be held in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. From May 6 to May 8. And right now, we are almost sold out of Mastermind tickets already and I will be raising the ticket price regularly starting the day after Cyber Monday for more information, go to sellerssummit.com. Once again, that’s SELLERSUMMIT.COM or just Google it. Now back to the show.

Interesting. So I guess in my experience the more payment options kind of confuses customers. So right now for us, I think PayPal’s are number one, I guess because a mobile like PayPal one touch and then we just offer credit cards and just wondering is there a Harmon throwing up Apple pay GPA and Amazon pay I mean, what would you advise just kind of limiting the options?

Linda: Well Paradox of choice right that that’s the thing and if you go to apple pays kind of guidelines or style guide, you know how to implement. They’re always saying will put Apple pay first time top of your check out by the way. Yeah, and when you’re on a mobile screen and you’ve got like one window that you’re scrolling through and Apple pay is like the first and it’s a black styled button that spans a rectangle that spans the size the width of your Mobile screen like that. That is dangerous right? to put it first or even put it second because these buttons kind of stack on top of each other. So yeah, it can be confusing. It’s always good to test stuff. It’s a Sometimes it works for a retailer. You know, you’re in a certain Market where yeah, you’ve got that demographic that wants to pay with Samsung pay or Android pay digital downloads, you know.

Steve: Yeah

Linda: video games that kind of thing. Yeah.

Steve: Yeah, we’ve opted not to put those on just mainly because I think PayPal is much more ubiquitous. But

Linda: yeah and trusted and understood.

Steve: Yeah. So we’re talking at a time when the holiday season is right around the corner. So what Some things that clients are prepping for, you know coming up as we roll into Prime shopping season

Linda: Yeah, usually around this time. There’s not a lot of new future delivery. Not a lot of work on on the website you want to have that code lock down and even the promotions and the promotional calendar or done well, well well in advance and one thing that I’ve been an advocate for is being a little bit more Nimble and more like real-time merchandising and responsive merchandising and what I mean by that is allowing yourself some flexibility to to adjust your merchandising and promotion strategy while the in play, right? And so oftentimes these promotions and these emails and and the merchandising is fixed so far in advance your kind of, you know, licking your finger and putting it in the in the sky and just testing where the wind is right now.

Last year’s data isn’t super predictive of what’s going to happen this year. So I always like to leave some leeway be able to run some tests really quickly early on you don’t want to be applying test results or even running A/B tests now and letting them extend into into the holiday season you want to stop all of that. And then have a plan of saying like Okay, we want to we want to test let’s say in the first week that there’s a there’s a trick to that too. Right? Because Behavior changes rapidly through the you know from from the Cyber weekend to the next weekend to the next weekend people are in a different mindset to there’s more urgency. There’s there’s some times less stock availability Right Stuff start selling out.

There are retailers start getting more aggressive with their holiday plans. They start promoting even earlier. So you never know what your competition is going to do. There’s there’s so many things. So if you can have a testing plan of like, okay, these are our hypotheses. These are our options and take advantage of that extra traffic spikes so that you can get test results earlier and keep those test results and applications of them within the context of the holiday. That’s one way to kind of prepare yourself now for optimizing in real-time during the holiday Spike. And then you know do things like make sure that your ad spend like communicate with your ad agencies and all those kind of things because because click rates go up, impression share, you know can go down as your competitors get more aggressive and stuff.

Make sure that you’re not bidding on stuff that’s not seasonal so that you can spend more of your available budget to the things that you know are seasonal and you sell, so like you have yeah, just non-holiday non, non seasonal products turn them off. Make sure you have a system that turns off ads when products go out of stock.

Steve: right

Linda: or have a back-up plan for when things go out of stock so that your product recommendations will show similar items not customers who bought this also bought that because those can sometimes be from different departments. So you might want to adjust your product recommendation engine for certain categories to Show similar products that kind of thing.

Steve: Okay, cool, Linda. We’ve been.

Linda: And get a chat bot

Steve: And get a chat bot. But actually I that’s what I want to get out of you. What are some sass providers for chatbots that your clients have been using?

Linda: Well, you can look into Mobile monkey as one that focuses on their Facebook. Yeah. Yeah, and there’s Optimum Unk and there’s WeChat

Steve: Are there any that specialize in e-commerce that you know, that’s really popular?

Linda: But I don’t think Any that specialize purely in e-commerce? I think chat Bots are mostly used on B2B SAS, you know or like those kind of like lead gen kind of sites and e-commerce is kind of a second branch that I think has a lot of room to grow.

Steve: Okay.

Linda: Hmm.

Steve: Well Linda, I really appreciate your time and coming on and it is a great honor for me because as I mentioned earlier in this interview, that getelastic blog is what got me through the early years of e-commerce. And I am really excited that you are writing for them again and just because of that. I’m going to start following the blog again. So

Linda: loved it. Thank you.

Steve: Yeah and everything

Linda: and thanks for having me on the podcast.

Steve: Yeah everyone out there go check out the getelastic blog. I mean Linda’s articles are always here’s what I like about it. Here’s just a quick plug. I always liked that you pull in like statistics and examples to support all of the facts that you give in article and so it’s just very convincing and it just inspires you to want to give that a try. So..

Linda: and in my Hiatus from getelastic. I wrote a Blog called e-commerce Illustrated, which if you don’t mind me plugging it,

Steve: no, go for it

Linda: it’s very very in-depth guides from home page to check out so you can hone in on like if you want to look at I want to have some ideas for best practices for category Pages or A/B Testing category Pages. Like there’s a 24 to 40 page chapter on that that that you can go check out and that’s kind of like my little labor of love.

Steve: Nice, I wasn’t aware of that site. Is that something you’re still maintaining?

Linda:: You know, I did the home page to check out. I have a couple more. I have like check out order, order summary and mobile checkout left to post. So the project is almost done but most of its they’re just as static.

Steve: Cool. Awesome. Yeah, I’m gonna go check it out now. Thanks a lot Linda.

Linda: Yeah. Thanks Steve.

Steve: Really appreciate you coming on.

Linda: Yes. Thanks for having me. I really enjoyed it.

Steve: Hope you enjoyed that episode. Now as I mentioned earlier Linda is one of my early e-commerce Heroes. So you should definitely check out her writing over on the GetElastic Blog. For more information about this episode go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode285.

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

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

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

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

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Ready To Get Serious About Starting An Online Business?


If you are really considering starting your own online business, then you have to check out my free mini course on How To Create A Niche Online Store In 5 Easy Steps.

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284: The Story Behind The SwitchPod With Pat Flynn And Caleb Wojcik

 284: The Story Behind The SwitchPod With Pat Flynn And Caleb Wojcik


Today, I’m really happy to have my friends Pat Flynn and Caleb Wojcik on the show.

The reason why I’m having both of these 2 on today is to talk about their incredibly awesome invention, the Switchpod. In fact, I have one on my desk right now and it’s the main handheld tripod that I use for all of my videos.

In today’s episode, we’re going to break down every aspect of their invention from how they got the idea, how they manufactured it and how they managed to exceed their Kickstarter campaign in just a day.

What You’ll Learn

  • How Pat and Caleb came up with the idea behind the Switchpod
  • Their motivations for selling a physical product
  • How they found their suppliers
  • How is the Switchpod manufactured
  • The Switchpod marketing strategy

Other Resources And Books

Sponsors

Klaviyo.com – Klaviyo is the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store. Created specifically for ecommerce, it is the best email marketing provider that I’ve used to date. Click here and try Klaviyo for FREE.
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Privy.com – Privy is my tool of choice when it comes to gathering email subscribers for my ecommerce store. They offer easy to use email capture, exit intent, and website targeting tools that turn more visitors into email subscribers and buyers. With both free and paid versions, Privy fits into any budget. Click here and get 15% OFF towards your account.
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EmergeCounsel.com – EmergeCounsel is the service I use for trademarks and to get advice on any issue related to intellectual property protection. Click here and get $100 OFF by mentioning the My Wife Quit Her Job podcast.
Emerge Counsel

SellersSummit.com – The ultimate ecommerce learning conference! Unlike other events that focus on inspirational stories and high level BS, the Sellers Summit is a curriculum based conference where you will leave with practical and actionable strategies specifically for an ecommerce business. Click here and get your ticket now before it sells out.

Sellers Summit

Transcript

Steve: You’re listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, the place where I bring on successful bootstrapped business owners and delve deeply into the strategies they use to grow their businesses. Today. I with friends Pat Flynn and Caleb Wojcik on the show. And I’ve known both of these guys for many years and Pat’s been on the podcast several times himself. But this time we’re going to talk about their brand new physical product convention the switch pod. How did they get the idea and how did they create this awesome handheld tripod.

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

I also want to give a quick shout-out Klaviyo for sponsoring this episode. Code Black Friday is right around the corner and for my e-commerce store email marketing is a heavy part of my holiday sales strategy. And in fact last year, it was close to 50% of My overall sales. And of course as you all know klaviyo is the email marketing tool that I use for Bumblebee Linens now Klaviyo is the growth marketing platform chosen by over 20,000 Brands generating more than three point seven billion dollars in Revenue in just the last year and with the holiday season right around the corner klaviyo has created the ultimate planning guide for crushing those holiday Revenue targets for marketing creative to segmentation strategy. These are proven tactics for more personalized marketing, especially in time for the holiday season. To get ahold of this guide, visit Klaviyo.com/mywife. Once again, Klaviyo.com/mywife.

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

Steve: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. Today, I’m really happy to have my friends Pat Flynn and Caleb Wojcik on the show. Now Pat’s about on the podcast a number of times and I’ve known Caleb for many years. And the reason why I’m having both of these two on today is to talk about their incredibly awesome invention the switch pod, and I’m actually at my desk right now and it’s sitting right there. It’s the main handheld tripod that I’m using for all my videos today. In today’s episode, we are going to break down every aspect of their invention from how they got the idea. How they manufactured it and how they managed to exceed their Kickstarter goal in just a single day. And with that, welcome show Caleb and how you guys doing today?

Caleb: Doing great. Thanks for having me.

Pat: Dude. Awesome. It’s great to be back. And so we’re talking about a physical product now because..

Steve: Yes

Pat: It’s weird. It’s different.

Steve: That’s actually my first question. So you guys are both very successful in the digital product realm like, why physical product? It’s a lot more work?

Caleb: You kind of start with that. I so, I make videos for a living for clients and for myself and I have so much gear. I’ve so much equipment on sitting in my garage right now, which is just my studio and there’s tripods and cameras and everything everywhere. And I’m the type of person just gets annoyed by stuff. Like why doesn’t this do this thing the way that I want it to, and I think it was just kind of Pat and I in the same place at the same time having the same frustration seeing other people dealing with it the kind of led to our first physical product together.

Pat: Yeah. I mean for me, I mean I’ve been in a digital space for a decade and I would have never I never thought I would have even entered the space the piggybacking off of what Caleb was saying was just there was a very very apparent need there for both of ourselves personally. And where this idea came from is actually, we were at an event it was a video event called Vid Summit and we just noticed everybody with those bendy tripods and..

Steve: Is it called gorilla or something like that?

Pat: Yeah, GorillaPod and we noticed everybody using them in ways that they weren’t really built for. A lot of vloggers, Thanks to the inspiration from people like Casey Neistat and Peter McKinnon. They were taking these gorillas pods putting the legs together and bending them in a way to allow for the camera to be a little bit further away from you so you can get a wider angle. I mean that’s not what they were meant for and it was interesting because when we were there, we noticed everybody like when they want to put it down they would either just lay it down on the table and the camera would be touching the table which is not ever good for the camera. Or they’d struggle opening the legs and they try to put the legs back together and it’s kind of clunky in the hands and we were just like this is insane. There’s got to be a better way, and then right at that moment our good friend Richie Norton who owns a company called Prouduct they help entrepreneurs take their physical product ideas and actually turn them into real things.

He helped John Lee Dumas create the Freedom Journal for example, and we’re just like Richie. Do we have this idea? Like, what do you think? He’s like, let’s do it. And we’re like, like actually do it. And for me, I was like, I don’t want to get involved with this because this is this is going to be a load of work. I love digital stuff because I can change something overnight and then it’s shipped and you know, I don’t have to worry about you know overhead or inventory or anything like that. But again, the need was there and I saw it in person. I think that’s what inspired us and Caleb was the first one to really come up with the idea of like the legs of a tripod coming together to be a grip and like what if they just swung out and you could turn it into tripod mode super fast and like from there. We just started asking questions and talking to people and that’s really how it all started.

Steve: So you met Rich at its Summit is that where it all came together?

Caleb: Even before that Richie was on Pat’s podcast. I don’t know what happened before that. But Richie got on to Pat’s podcast talk about physical products and he and Derral Eves who is the Founder of Vid Summit, the event invited Pat to come there and since I do stuff with patterns videos I Came as well.

Steve: And have you guys ever created anything physical before or it’s just all digital up until this point?

Pat: I mean for me it was all digital except for like at a workshop. I would have a little booklet printed out and then it was only like, you know, 425 attendees, but I’d I had no idea what manufacturing was like I had no idea what the process was like in terms of prototyping and let alone how to sell this thing. Just we just knew that we could potentially come up with product. Now, I had written a book called Will It Fly and I wanted to incorporate that process with the Will It Fly process which is what I used to teach people how to create businesses, which is like Taken Iterative Approach like don’t just build the product and then just start selling it right? I think it was Seth Godin who said don’t find customers for your products find products for your customers and we want to take that approach of like okay, let’s take it in a baby steps and will only keep going if we get a green light every single time.

Steve: Yeah, let’s talk about the process because it’s one thing to just come up with something that you want to sell. Like I come up these ideas all the time and making it as a completely different ballgame. Okay, so let’s start from the beginning so you know you was I want to create something. What was the first step?

Pat: Hey Caleb, do you remember what we did first?

Caleb: You know, the first thing we did was we drew really crude drawings of what this tripod could look like not crude in like inappropriate way..

Steve: Hahaha

Caleb: But just like not in a talented way. I mean, Pat has an architecture background, but Pat, I think he did most of that on a computer, right? So

Pat: yeah

Caleb: Your little better drawing than me so

Steve: You mean like a CAD drawing or just a photoshop kind?

Caleb: No, it was just kind of like white boards at accursed and sketches and things like that and the very next step from there was we talked to an engineer, his name is Cole Chamberlain and he works with prouduct and he took all of our drawings as well as just our ideas of what does this thing need? What is it not need what shape is it in all that kind of stuff. And I think that was maybe a half-hour phone call and he came back with started to do CAD drawings and things like that and making 3D printed prototypes and sending them to us and that was like months long of just slow steady. Trying different things. We still had no idea where it was going to go at that point.

Pat: Yeah. I mean one of the first things we got sent back to us after talking to Cole was like just a piece of plastic or even what kind of look like cardboard a little bit but just in a specific shape and he was like, do you like the shape or like maybe it’s a little longer maybe we can make this curved Edge more straight and then he’s like, okay like and then he got that feedback from us and then he sent us a 3D printed model which actually worked like it, the legs open and close and then I remember opening and Like spring started popping out and I was like, this is ridiculous. But I mean it like I could see it now I could visualize it and we even like put our cameras on it to test what it would be like we shared it with a couple people we got feedback immediately.

And that’s really what the whole process was like it was like, you know starting point get a prototype talk about it with people get feedback make another prototype with those little changes and then talk about it with people again, and I mean I think over the course of two years, right Caleb? We came up with I don’t know how many prototypes but with each one, We got feedback from literally our customer our future customer. We went to video conferences. We went to VidCon. We went to vid Summit again the next year with whatever prototype we had and they weren’t perfect in the whole purpose was we just wanted people to tell us what they liked or didn’t like about it. And the beauty of this was even in the Prototype phase. We had people go. Oh my gosh, like I need this right now we even had other people go. This is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen I would never use this.

And you can you can imagine at a point where you’re offering your beautiful idea to somebody and somebody says that that that might like deter you from to keep going but no that’s that I knew from my online business years, but that’s a good sign because then you can go. Okay tell me why you don’t like it and now we can better Define who this is not for and also, who is it actually for. so we can hone in on who our Market is and all that. So we really honed in on the vlogger or the Travel Photographer that the travel videographer. Who’s on the go and this thing became over time this super lightweight minimal very easy quick open easy-to-use not bendy legs because most people who use the gorilla pod don’t need it to wrap around trees and it just you know as much as we created. This was actually created mostly by the people who offered us feedback.

Steve: How did you find these people for feedback? I mean, I can understand going to a conference but where you just kind of like holding this thing out there and just asking random people or did you already have like a community built there?

Caleb: I mean it was in private for Initial idea was October 2017. And until June 2018. We kind of kept it under wraps. We didn’t share it on social media. We didn’t tell anybody that wasn’t our friend. So it was just if someone came to the studio to film a YouTube collaboration with Pat, we’d show them we’d show it to YouTuber friends of ours. I took it to a video conference called NAB in April of 2018 showed it to my friends that are..

Steve: Is this the plastic prototype? or is this like something close to finished?

Caleb: No, these are these are plastic.

Steve: Plastic? Okay

Caleb: They’re different shapes. Yeah, the parts are breaking off of them as we’re showing them to people, you know, super early. So it was it was Private until VidCon and that’s when we started sharing it publicly to whoever we could at the event by yeah carrying it around kind of swing it out to the side opening and closing it just in the hallways and people like me. What is that? Like, I want to check it out. So that was kind of the first time we publicly shared it

Steve: giving you an idea of, how many iterations you guys had to go through to kind of get to the product that I’m actually holding on my desk right now.

Caleb: If we versioned it. Like software and each physical thing we made was a new version somewhere between 12 and 15. I would say.

Steve: Okay.

Pat: Yeah

Caleb: Some changes major like shape changes material changes. That’s kind of early on then we kind of honed in on the shape. And from there. It was the minor things. Like does it have magnets in it? Does it need an extra hole here that sort of thing

Pat: And it was at VidCon when we shared it publicly we were able to do that. We got some I mean again, we didn’t know what we were doing. So whenever I I want to do something that I don’t know how to do. I just go find somebody who’s done it before me and you know, see what I can do to help them so I could get some some help back to and we got a lot of great advice from people who are like, okay, like you can share this privately with friends that you trust. But until you have a patent pending, you might want to keep it under wraps just in case and so it was right before VidCon that we got our patent-pending going. Thanks to Caleb and the research that he did with that.

And then we were like, okay, let’s just share it and I knew that that was an important moment because not only were we sharing it to get even more feedback In a public forum with people that we didn’t know, That was the other part about this a lot of us create products digital or physical and we share with our friends, or like what do you think about like, this is awesome like you got this and of course, they’re just wanting to be nice versus actual feedback from real people who you don’t even know you who don’t have a relationship with you.

So that was important but I also knew that sharing the story of it being created was going to be massively important for the marketing of this and that’s something that I have always done since day one was like Hey guys, let me take you in on our process. Let’s not keep this a secret. Let’s show you where we’re at and what we’re what we’re fumbling through and how we’re messing up. But what we’re trying to do to get better and over time. We started to notice people really rooting for us. It was it was really amazing to see that, you know, even leading into the kickstarter campaign earlier, February 2019.

I mean, I personally had a number of people who say hey Pat, I just bought the switch pod. I don’t even need it. I just really enjoyed following the story and and I knew that that was going to happen because when you get people involved in the process, they will invest. They feel like they’re a part of it and they want to root for you, which was really cool.

Steve: Can I get an idea of how much you guys spent it in the design process and kind of what the cost considerations were and actually fabricating them, the materials and the process and that sort of thing?

Caleb: Leading all the way up to the kickstarter Campaign, which was probably in total about fifteen fourteen or fifteen months and that time frame you can correct me if I’m wrong, but I think it was somewhere around 25 to 30 thousand dollars in total.

Steve: Okay.

Pat: Yeah, It wasn’t all up front. It was quite iteratively

Caleb: It was like a few thousand for the, yeah a few thousand for engineer work on it a few thousand person prototypes get made 50,000 more to do more engineering. So it’s kind of like slow and steady over that year or so. And then towards the end each prototype cost about $1500 and we ended up having four of those when we launched the kickstarter campaign. So as I significant chunk of our investment was just these one-off perfectly machine pieces of aluminum so that we could have them for taking photos making videos shipping them to influencers if they wanted them that survey.

Steve: and today is it created from a mold or

Caleb: yes.

Pat: Yeah.

Steve: Okay and how much did the mold cost to actually have that created?

Caleb: That was the initial funding goal for Kickstarter was $100,000 because that would have given us the money back. We invested okay and the mold cost so, you know about $70,000 was the mold and that doesn’t count making any of them at that point and then you have to pay for each one you make and getting it here and tariffs and all that.

Pat: Ugh tarriffs. Yeah.

Steve: We’ll get into that a little bit. So, Pat you were just talking about marking a little bit. Why did you both decide to do a Kickstarter of all things? Most people don’t know that a successful Kickstarter requires you to kind of drive your own traffic. So I just kind of curious what the thought process was there.

Pat: Yeah. I mean it was less about potentially getting a staff pick where then you know, the marketing starts to kind of propel on its own but we really like the idea of Kickstarter because we knew that Kickstarter is a great platform to not just test ideas and have people vote with their dollars. But again is allows you to becomes a trusted platform to share your story on and to get almost a community behind you at the same time because people can see that other people are pledging and they’re backing that becomes about the idea versus just like hey, I want to sell you something. It’s like the journey that got you there too. And what this could do for you.

We also knew that video equipment in particular performed very well on Kickstarter to a lot of people in the video space a very familiar with other products that have been pushed on Kickstarter and it’s done very well. Along the way, We also connected with some of those companies in the video space who did very well on Kickstarter and they provided a lot of great advice for us as well. But Kickstarter we knew would be a great place to just test this on a trusted platform. And potentially have it, you know not necessarily go viral, but get get some extra love if it was doing very well what you did if it became the number one camera, I think accessory or Camera and Video accessory for quite a while during the campaign because of the hope the velocity that it had but that that’s the primary reason.

And you know, we didn’t use Kickstarter like many other people use Kickstarter a lot of Products that come out have like 12 different pledge levels with t-shirts to give away or you know, hey if the At this larger pledge level you can you know get a flight come meet us and things like that. We just were like, you know what let’s make this simple. We’re not going to have multiple colors. We’re not going to have multiple sizes. Just one SKU one product. We’re going to make it the best product that can be over going to deliver it or going to deliver it hopefully on time and I think we did pretty good when it came down to it.

Steve: Yeah. I’m always a little worried about kickstarters because a lot of them don’t deliver in the end. I knew you guys send you were going to deliver. So I mean that added a bunch of extra credibility to it.

Pat: I still am owed things that I bought two years ago. And funny the funny thing about Kickstarters, you’re right there is a little apprehension because people have been burned before and there is no contract when you purchase something on Kickstarter that is required for the person that you bought from to give you the product. It’s almost kind of based on the honor System or trust and we wanted to make sure that we communicated with the backers and delivered for them on time and you know, we were able to after the kickstarter campaign ended at the end of February or early March get it into everybody’s Hands by early October which not having mold even created yet at that point. I think we did pretty good.

Steve: How did you guys decide on pricing for this?

Caleb: I mean you look at competitors you look at what other people are charging for similar things as well as profit Margin. You know how expensive is it going to be to make this thing and then ship it and retailers are going to want their cut it when it’s in stores and you’re selling it to them for a lower price. So a lot of different a lot of different considerations also going with where we are now, retail at $99 is kind of a sweet spot, you know, not too expensive. Still is double digits that sort of thing and then we Backed off from that for the campaign to give people a good deal if they were early backers.

Steve: So you probably had some margins in mind right? And I’m just kind of curious how that factored into kind of the design process.

Caleb: For margins factored in the design process?

Steve: Meaning like for example, like you use magnets or whatever certain components are more expensive. And so you want to keep it under a certain price point right without compromising the quality of the product.

Pat: Under a certain price point not compromising quality and also as few parts as possible, that was the other thing. We had a lot more parts and things that were involved earlier that we were just like, okay, let’s redesign this so we can make it easier to mold and easier to create and and easier to ship and support so there aren’t very Many components of it. There are some things inside the the sort of head area of the tripod that you see there that you know are kind of internal but there’s not much we removed a lot. So yeah, I think you know again piggybacking off a lot of people’s previous experience with going into Kickstarter.

We knew that if we could get the product to just the features that we really would need to solve the problem that we were we were solving then we could have higher profit margins for sure. I mean oftentimes with these kinds of products and I see this all the time in the digital spaces, especially with software. You get what’s called feature creep where you get that feedback and they go I want this. Okay. Well I had that. Oh, I want this and I’ll okay. I will add that too. And then you have like this, you know, like the remote that you get from AT&T U-verse. It has like a billion buttons on it and you only actually use 4, like we knew that we wanted to go with okay for like, analogously we want the remote that has on, off, Channel, volume, mute. Like that’s it.

Like how can we create that version of a tripod and I think we did a good job. So the They helped us with determining the price pointing and being comfortable with that as well because sometimes we go. Oh, let’s undercut everybody. But obviously the profit margins play a role in that but we also don’t want to be ridiculously expensive and go super premium. If we don’t need to, we ask questions to people who we were meeting like at VidCon like Caleb would just, I remember listening to our conversations that you would be having and you just put you would just go. Well, how much would you pay for something like this and we would literally just hear the range and the range was between eighty and a hundred fifty dollars, which was really interesting.

And we would ask why? that’s the best the most important question so that when we choose to decide to price it at that we can support it with things that our target audience actually wants versus stuff that we can just make up to make it seem like it’s worth that price. We can actually support it with real customers reactions and it was really cool to see it be in that price range. And you know again, we just have thankfully the advantage of being in a space where people often will pay for things that they don’t need. And you know,

Steve: Haha yeah.

Pat: If we could design something that people need and it’s awesome and it works and it’s durable then we knew it would be a winner.

Steve: So when you asked why I’m just kind of curious what answers you got like why would we do..

Caleb: They would say well the thing they’re holding cost that much and so is immediately comparison

Steve: Okay

Caleb: As well as, they felt the quality of it. So at VidCon we did have the first aluminum prototype and it was metal and sturdy and strong made people put their cameras on it and so they could get a feel for, Okay this isn’t some cheap plastic thing. And so that also kind of gives people the sense of quality to it.

Steve: I’m just kind of curious how much you Leverage The Spy audience or were these backers a lot of them people that you met through the video Community?

Pat: The SPI backers. I mean there were quite a few because again, I have some raving fans who will kind of buy anything I come out with which is really amazing and I’m just super thankful for that. But I do have a lot of people who follow me who are also entrepreneurs who do video and of course A lot of them. I wanted to support and they were just in the target market as well. So that that was quite, I think actually they didn’t actually, they were there but but it wasn’t the majority of the backers. It was it was Caleb’s audience for sure and Caleb has a lot of ties to people from all ranges and experiences in the video space that were very influential and definitely wanted to support because that’s his Niche. But I think the biggest pull for us Beyond just the product itself and I say that because the product is once you see it. You either go I would never buy that or you go I need this right now in my life. Right?

Caleb: Right.

Pat: It’s that polarizing and I love that about it because it kind of sells itself. I remember we were at NAB earlier in 2019, and we went to this conference in Vegas and Caleb and I were walking around with our switch pods and it hadn’t come out yet. It was just about to it had just launched on Kickstarter and two guys came up to us and I like is that the switch pod? I’ve been hearing all about this and we’re like, yeah like check it out and they’re like, how did you guys get access to this? We were like, we’re the inventors and that was one of the coolest feelings you remember that Caleb? Because like they didn’t know who we were and that to me my business has always been tied to me and now I was like who the product is really doing all the work

Caleb: Yeah. I feel like that’s when you know, it’s starting to take off when other people you don’t know or aren’t in your audience are assigned to talk about it and it happened fairly quickly for a few reasons. One of them was, I had some friends that have bigger YouTube audiences that teach Production or do camera gear reviews and things like that make videos and then we had another bigger influencer make a video and so right on day one. It was already bigger than us and our audiences.

Steve: I’m just kind of curious just kind of on the physical product side also on the manufacturing side. Did you guys actually visit the factory is everything assembled overseas or?

Caleb: So, I went visited the factory in August of this year. So about a month and a half before we got our inventory in the US just kind of the last minute Quality check as they had the line all set up about to do the run of ten thousand plus switch pods, I went to the factory. But before that product of the people we’ve been working with to develop it over the last two years. They had been to the factories multiple times

Steve: Okay, and in terms of managing quality, what were some pitfalls that you guys have experienced and I imagine these are inspected on the line and at the end as well, right?

Caleb: Yes, and I also missed one of your previous questions. Yes, they’re fully assembled in a factory in China and then they’re shipped in the packaging that we ship it to people to customers through our warehouse in the US. As far as quality, I mean like Pat said there’s only so many moving Parts but some of them are so important that if you mess it up it could ruin the product. So if the screw is too long at the top of the tripod, which we learned through developing it for two years either a camera won’t fit or will fit and that sort of thing. So, It was just those last-minute things to make sure everything was good. I could hold it in my hand. Make sure it was functioning properly. And to be honest. There was one thing that if I wouldn’t have gone or if the product team would have gone and caught something it could have been a major issue.

So yeah, I think if you are making something at least have them send you them so you can like give a final sign-off before they make a lot of them because it’s easier to make a product one off from, Okay, a CAD drawing to spec when you’re paying a lot of money and they’re precisely measuring everything but once you have molds and you’re making 10,000 of them and you have a lot of people on assembly line putting together, that’s where small little changes can happen and over a lot of units that can be a major headache.

Steve: You guys have any hiccups during production. I mean 10,000 units is a pretty good-sized production run.

Caleb: I think one of the benefits of how we did this is we trusted the people we are working with we trusted prouduct to find factories that would do the different parts to paint them to package them that sort of thing. So we trusted professionals do it. Pat and I would not have been able to go to China and find factories that made tripods like you know, Honestly, there’s no way and as far as issues though. We had also been working with them for about a year. So that factory was making our prototypes for like almost a year.

Steve: Got it. Okay.

Caleb: For shipping, so They knew the product as well as we did as well as our engineer did and when I was there in China, I showed them like hey, look at this. This this might not be working. Okay, 4 engineers that I never met before that live in China and work in this Factory went to work in the next day. I came back and I like okay we fixed it. This is what we’re going to do. And so that’s I think just the benefit of being okay to hire other people to do stuff for you.

Steve: Okay, let’s shift over to marketing a little bit. We talked about the kickstarter already, but the kickstarter is over now and so how do you generate Great sales now and kind of what is the marketing plan going forward?

Pat: Yeah, I mean, so before we skip over it there was a very important moment that happened and Caleb sort of touched on it a little bit and it was one of the big influencers out there in the video space who actually created a video for us and that was a really important component because that I mean his reach and is incredible and the thing is we didn’t pay this person to do this. He did it on his own but it was a, I want to I want to say it was strategic, but it was also just organic at the same time. I don’t want to say like, oh, I’m the only reason we built this relationship was so that this could happen but it was just a natural conclusion to the relationship that we had built and we had met this guy at a conference. I spoke at vid Summit 2018. This person was also a speaker and so we met each other at the VIP party afterwards and that’s one of my favorite reasons to speak is not just the time on stage.

It’s the time outside of the stage and the people that you get access to. Anyway, I was introduced to this person is his name is Peter McKinnon, and obviously it would have just been a dream for him to even like mention our product in a tweet let alone create a video for it and we were just very very sensitive to the fact that well we didn’t want him to ever feel like he was being taken advantage of so when we shared the switch body with him, you know back at this VIP party, you know, we did film that but we never use that footage and we were just like very thankful that he really liked it. He actually wanted to take it home, but it was our only prototype that we had we needed it to get the kickstarter campaign going and we were just like Peter we’re gonna get a prototype made for you were going to send it to you and we don’t want anything in return. We just want you to know. Enjoy it and use it. And we knew that if the product it would it would it was supposed to do he would really enjoy it and you know, hopefully one day he would create a video and put it in his like what’s In My Bag videos or something that I usually does and that would that would have been awesome, but we sent him one.

We put it in a really nice package. We wrote him a handwritten note and we sent a personalized video as well and just said Thank you and didn’t expect anything in return. But we asked if he wanted to sign up for an affiliate program in case you wanted to to promote it for us and just to give back to him if he did and you know. We sent him the video on wistia or is through wistia, which is a video hosting platform. The cool thing about wistia is you can sort of see how many views there are and it was a private video and when we saw one view on it, we’re like, oh my God, he watched it. What do you think he’s gonna do and then and then we didn’t hear anything back and then, you know six hours into campaign halfway to our goal already on our own $50,000.

He came out with this video. It just blew my mind. I was literally in tears watching it because I was like an eight minute video all about how we love this even said like these guys, Caleb and Pat they came up to me at this event. They didn’t pay me to say this. I just think this is the next big thing for vloggers and we were just like, oh my gosh, and then of course the sales just went through the roof. After that. We had reached our funding goal of $100,000 in 11 hours and 26 minutes, which it was a 60-day campaign. So we were just like wow, this is like Caleb said much bigger than us at this point. But then moving forward like you said the kickstarter campaign ended. Now a couple things continue to happen people continue to talk about it and search for it even in Google and they would The kickstarter campaign page and I think you know, even after the Sale, Caleb did some very strategic things to point people from the kickstarter page even after the sale to our Shopify page.

We already had it ready by the end of the campaign and I think Caleb I don’t know what the percentage is, but a majority of our sales at least early on after the campaign were still coming from people finding that Kickstarter campaign, right?

Caleb: Yeah, we still get traffic that people type in switch pod on Google and it goes to Kickstarter and then they click to Shopify and then they buy.

Steve: If you sell an Amazon or run any online business for that matter, you’re going to need a trademark to protect your intellectual property. Not only that but a trademark is absolutely necessary to register your brand on Amazon. Now, I used to think that any old trademark registration service would work and that could even try to register my own trademark by myself on the cheap, but I was dead wrong. Securing a trademark without a strategy in place usually results in either an outright rejection or a worthless unenforceable trademark. Now, that is why I work with Stephen Wagner and his team from Emerge counsel. They have a package service called total TM, which provides the same attention to detail and process that large law firms do at a fraction of the price. Now for me personally, I like Emerge Council because of their philosophy, their goal is to maximize IP protection while minimizing the price. So before you decide to register a trademark by yourself or file for other I could protection such as a copyright or a patent, check out Emerge counsel first and get a free consult. For more information go to emergecouncil.com and click on the Amazon sellers button and tell Steve that Steve sent you to receive a $100 discount on the total TM package for Amazon sellers. Once again, that’s emergecounsel.com over at emergecounsel.com now back to the show.

I know this has been a mention of switch pod with a bunch of other YouTubers. Have you done any manual Outreach or has been pretty much organic?

Caleb: Definitely manual Outreach.

Steve: Okay.

Caleb: Yeah, I mean we had think we probably had seven or eight people make videos during the campaign that actually had their hands on the switch pod.

Steve: Are these friends of yours. Like how did you get people to actually mention them?

Caleb: Yes, and so all but one of them Peter being the one of them were friends I had before we ever did this or friends that Pat had so like Sean Cannell and Justin Brown and people we had met at conferences and Levi Allen and other people that I knew that made videos about it. So that was like the campaign strategy. And then since then we’ve made a few more prototypes before we went to Mass production sent those to some friends of ours as well. But you know now it’s organic. So we ship them all in mid-october about a month or so ago, then it’s organic. Then it’s all these people that were back the project at bought it on Shopify and out there talking about it.

Pat: Yeah. I need the unboxing video. Like there are literally multiple unboxing videos that come out every week now from People who get it, which I think is first of all, we also put a lot of effort in designing the packaging. It’s very it’s a very nice experience. We wanted to be very apple-like and you know, you open the cover. It says like for, made for creators by creators. We wanted to have people feel like they were a part of this process too. And we wanted to honor them as creators and this is a tool to help them create more and it’s you know, we’re creators as well. The other thing is just you know, like I said the unboxing videos and just showing more and more people that more and more people are using it. There’s like a social proof element to this and Caleb and his wife Jen have been doing a great job of managing the Instagram Channel. If you go to our Instagram page, I don’t know how many followers we have.

Steve: You got like 5,000 or 6,000 something.

Pat: Yeah, and that’s just been we haven’t paid for any of that. And then when we see an unboxing video or somebody share their photo of the switch pod, we grab that we give him credit, but we post it and just kind of Honor them as a user and thank them for it and people have been really creative with how they’ve been using it as well and putting different components on it and different rigs. We have some holes on the side that Allow you to put like lights and other arms and extensions on it and we’re just super super stoked. We have not yet even paid for advertising.

And we know that once we get up on Amazon, which is kind of what we’re in the middle of right now. We can benefit from some PPC campaigns and things like that to hopefully you wrap this up and take it to the next level for sure.

Steve: Let me ask you this if you didn’t have these friends on YouTube. What would have been your strategy for outreach?

Pat: I think you know for me and I’ll let Caleb speak after, but I think it would still largely be influencer based marketing for me because that’s what I know I’m good at and I know how to manage those relationships in a way where people don’t feel like I’m like I can I can serve people and have them serve me back and that’s what’s helped me get to where I am digitally and I knew that could help me with with product, you know physical product stuff. So I would still go to I would pay for the ability to go to these conferences and share it and allow people to use it and even film with it. I’d be number one. And then number two, I think a you know, more strategic Facebook ad campaign that targets videographers or perhaps even a YouTube ad campaign.

I wouldn’t have minded to put a little bit of a bit of a budget into some ads because when you see this thing, it’s like oh my gosh. Yeah, so like, you know a video ad would perform very well. And again, these are things that we have in our pipeline. But right now we’re just kind of cruising and you know, we’re looking forward to the holidays and seeing what happens now because we know things pick up around This time a year and you’re just really excited. I know Caleb what would we have done differently if we didn’t have these relationships?

Caleb: That’s I think that’s hard for me to answer because I would just go back in time and meet people like you have to you have to network. You have to have people in your industry in your customer base that you can connect to it. You can get feedback from because not only in the marketing way, but if we weren’t people that made Videos and we did know people have made videos. We wouldn’t have made a good product because we would have known what they wanted and we wouldn’t have gotten feedback. We would have just work silently and thought that they needed something and so I think it was very important that we did have connections and we had been building them over the years.

And there’s also had a really long gestational period of you know, it took us a year to get to our final prototype, our 99% prototype and then another year from that till it was in people’s hands. So we had two years and even if we had zero Network at the start you find the events to go to you figure out the people you want to meet and you try to meet them in as organic way as possible. Not in a cold email, Here, Try my product.

Steve: Yeah. Yeah. That was the point. I was trying to get to the listeners out there because a lot of people come up to me and they go. Hey, so I got this product. How am I going to get people to promote it now? It’s always a process that where you have to kind of develop those relationships ahead of time. Without asking for anything in the beginning at all.

Pat: right, so, okay.

Steve: Alright.

Pat: So as I say you gotta dig dig your well before you get thirsty because if you’re digging your well, you’re already thirsty your kind of it’s not going to be a good situation.

Steve: So recording this right now Black Friday is next week to get some context. Do you guys have any plans?

Caleb: When is it coming out?

Pat: We had some plans and Amazon’s been a very interesting thing to get involved with because you know, we have our Shopify account and that’s performing very well. We also have our product in some retail stores already online including B&H Photo Adorama.

Steve: How did you get them to carry your products?

Caleb: Right now there’s five of them so I could talk through each of them individually. Number one, B&H. I’ve been at B&H affiliate for many years where they send me a product for 30 days. I can make a video. I use video links. I send it back that sort of thing. So I developed a relationship with my affiliate rep. Pat and I were in New York City just showing people switch pod and we tried to get a meeting with Buyer one thing led to another we ended up meeting, while we were there and they were interested. Adorama was organic actually, they reached out during the campaign. So someone at the team was just kind of keeping an eye on Kickstarter products and they had heard about it. What Have You, Focus Camera was similar to that just cold reach out moment, which is a company that makes smartphone lenses along with cases and other things.

They also have a shop where they sell a bunch of video photo gear. I had actually connected with them during the campaign. To get advice because I was using their Kickstarter campaign as kind of a framework to how to make the page how to show the offer pricing all that kind of stuff. And then the last one that we’re at right now is DVE store and we met them in person at Vid Summit this year and they wanted to order some and put some in stock. So kind of a case-by-case basis and yes, there are bigger stores and bigger opportunities in the future, Target, Best Buy, Walmart, What have you. And DME the other day is like how do we even do that? We don’t know. So we’ll figure it out as we go.

Steve: How does the arrangement work? Is it do you do they pre purchase a bunch of units or like what is the arrangement look like?

Caleb: Yeah, so they all buy it and then they have the inventory. So we’re not direct shipping for any retailers right now.

Steve: Okay.

Caleb: So they get it at a wholesale price because they handle returns shipping holding the inventory that sort of thing and they make their margins on that.

Steve: Can we talk about cash flow for a little bit looks like you guys are selling on a bunch of different channels? So Amazon your own store and then these retail outlets presumably to make these, you know tens of thousands of units. It’s a lot of money involved up front. So I have there been any issues on the cash flow front and what’s your plans for that?

Caleb: We’ve been keeping it tight.

Pat: Very tight.

Caleb: but it but in a strategic way. So we basically, after the kickstarter campaign you get a big payout Kickstarter takes their percentage. There’s a credit card fee percentage. There’s churn, you know, people that back the campaign that didn’t back it. And so the $415,000 public number you see is not what we got as well as a large chunk of that somewhere. I think around 40 to 50,000 is just for shipping out all of these switched pods to the 4,000 backers. So we had a big chunk of cash in our bank account. And we did the math of how many switch pods. Can we make get them to the US Pay tariffs ship them out to our backers and not run out of money and that was about ten thousandths Switch Pods and so we had only sold at that point a little less than 5,000 switch pods.

So we basically double bound we took our chips from one table, we walk to the higher limit. We set them all down and we can fling and we’ve made a couple decisions like that where Pat and I haven’t taken any money out of switch pod yet and we are trying to level this up to the point where for a physical product to really succeed in to be in a lot of stores you need inventory. If you don’t have inventory, you don’t make any money. So we’re making decisions to continually make sure we have inventory as well as if you get it all made At once, it’s cheaper because I need to ship it all over at once and you get better unit cause and that sort of thing. So we haven’t made another batch yet. We’re probably going to make another batch in the next few months, but that also comes down to timing and cash flow and retailers. Retailers take their net 30 whatever to pay you as so it’s a lot of it’s a lot of timing.

Steve: So you’re going through this first holiday season with basically that initial I guess you have 5,000 units left or how many years you have left and that’s what you’re living with do these Holidays.

Pat: Yeah.

Caleb: correct. Yeah, so that 10,000 included the 5,000 or so Kickstarter and then what we’ve sold since then so we still a few thousand. Yeah.

Steve: Okay.

Steve: I just want to let you know that tickets for the 2020 Seller Summit are on sale over at sellersummit.com. Now what is seller Summit? It is the conference that I hold every year that is specifically targeting e-commerce entrepreneurs selling physical products online and 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 e-commerce business. And in fact, every speaker I invite is deep in the trenches of their e-commerce 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 Seller Summit will be small and intimate every year we cut off ticket sales at just a couple hundred people. So tickets will sell out fast, and in fact, we sell out every single year many months in advance now if you’re an e-commerce entrepreneur making over 250K or 1 million dollars per year, we are also offering an exclusive mastermind experience with other top sellers. Now, the Seller Summit is going to be held in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. From May 6 to May 8. And right now, we are almost sold out of Mastermind tickets already and I will be raising the ticket price regularly starting the day after Cyber Monday for more information, go to sellerssummit.com. Once again, that’s SELLERSUMMIT.COM or just Google it. Now back to the show.

Steve: Yeah, and I’m sure it’s going to sell it over the holidays, which means I’m putting mine up on eBay baby. No, I’m just kidding.

Caleb: That was interesting. They were immediately on eBay as soon as..

Steve: Is that right? Haha

Caleb: Yeah, there was some on eBay for more than what you could buy it from our site when we were shipping from our site. So, I don’t know if people actually sold them or not, but he will do what they want to do.

Steve: So I kind of want to conclude this interview by just kind of talking about like the biggest pain points that you’ve had in getting your physical product off its feet compared to your experiences n the digital realm?

Pat: Yeah for me.

Caleb: I would say cost and patience but go ahead Pat.

Pat: Yeah for me is just patients. Like I like things to move fast. I, in the digital space can film a course and created and launched it and make money from it within a week and a half and or two weeks and and to have this take so long and every little iteration take so long. Every little change has to be very purposeful because was that means then the cad drawings have to change and then it has to get remolded or like all that stuff is to be factored in and then you know, even right now this just the patient’s of working with Amazon’s customer service team.

Steve: Yeah.

Pat: I just I’m just like pulling teeth and and pulling my hair out and having so much fun doing I think that’s what’s gotten me through this the fact that in this is what I do on SPI is I build new things and I share the process and and it doesn’t always go perfectly and I love that because it always becomes a lesson for other people so it has gotten me through is just the real life case study that I can then share to help others who maybe are trying to or thinking about doing something similar but that’s been the biggest challenge for me for sure is that has been the patience.

Caleb: For me. It’s been cost and profit margin because like that was saying digital course, you’re looking at what 95 percent 97 percent profit margin on that?

Pat: It’s ridiculous. Yes

Caleb: And physical product. You’re lucky you’re looking at 50 to 70 percent

Pat: maybe

Caleb: maybe

Steve: Well that’s gross. I mean, yeah, that’s gross too. But yeah, yeah. so which kind of leads me back to my original question, which I asked in the very beginning so digital versus physical. What are what are the main Pros that keep you guys going for this?

Caleb: I think it’s just fun like doing something physical is very fun. It’s very different. It’s challenged me to learn a lot of different things to learn again some of the stuff I learned when I studied Supply Chain management in college. So when we just decks and packaging and all these different things as well as it is open doors for Patton eyes Network that a digital thing just simply could not do. To get to meet certain people to be in stores to continually just learn different types of business that we can now share with people and and use whatever Ventures we have in the future. That’s been that’s been the best part is the fun the connections and it can also just be bigger. I think. Because of physical product, Typically I think can help more people. So they’re just more people involved than your ebook or your course or what have you.

Steve: Yeah

Pat: For me. It’s the look that a person has when they pop their camera on there and they use it like it’s like, you know when you’re in a Tesla and you somebody like just throttles it and then you have that like crazy smile. Oh my God, like that’s the moment like there’s a moment with physical things I think is very interesting. That it’s just not in existence in the digital world. Like I can’t give my online courses somebody and yes, they might be excited about it, but they’re not going to be able to use it or get value from it until they, you know, do it until they take action on it versus like I can hand somebody to switch pod and they just this is exactly what I need. They put it on there like yes, and they’re already using it like within 30 seconds.

It’s just it’s just so different and that to me is just been really special and I that’s what keeps me going and you know because any successful business online or offline, It’s about the customer and to be able to create something and to serve them quickly and to just two people throwing away their old tripods now because they got what they really wanted or what they really need is just like, so cool. It’s I love that feeling

Steve: So having done both myself. I find physical products more stable and less maintenance to a certain extent once everything’s out the door, whereas digital products. You constantly have to re-film or keep up to date with All those things whereas physical products that initial hurdle initial investment is really large. But once it’s out there it is generally easier to maintain.

Pat: so you’re saying we’re in a good spot now?

Steve: You are you guys have already met the largest hurdle or one of the largest hurdles, I would say and then you’ve got all these accessories that you can add on to it. I’m not sure if that’s in your future plans, but

Pat: Ah yeah

Steve: And sky’s the limit man.

Pat: This guys and I’m really excited and there’s definitely more upside here in the physical product space side as well. Not all digital is something that needs to always be maintained to I will fight back on that like a mind set course for example, like stuff about mindsets are going to change but if you’re creating a course about you know, social media, I mean you change that like every week so you’re right.

Steve: Yeah, and then you guys have an asset that is a lot more sellable now to than a post a digital course.

Pat: that is correct.

Steve: As well. So I’m excited for you guys. I really love the product. I saw that you stood on it at did I see you last so I tried standing on mine and it went fine and my kids actually climbed on me. As I was I was like whoa whoa whoa easy kids. I don’t know if he can handle all you guys as way but it actually did. It’s very sturdy product and it’s now my go-to tripod.

Pat: That’s awesome. Thank you, man.

Steve: I just want to close, where can people find this if they want to buy it?

Caleb: You can go to switchpod.co

Steve: Switchpod.Co and if it gets sold out in Ebay, is that where the

Pat: Find, Steve.

Steve: I’m just kidding guys, but excellent product. I’m looking forward to all the New accessory announcements and everything and best of luck to you, and if you guys ever need any help, this is my realm, so if you have any questions on Amazon what not feel free to hit me up.
Pat: Thanks, man. Appreciate that a lot.

Caleb: Thank you.

Steve: All right. Take care.

Hope you enjoyed that episode. Now if you’re in the market for a handheld tripod then go out right now and pick up the switch pod. I have one right in front of me right now. And it’s a great product I use for practically all my videos today. For more information about this episode. Go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode284.

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

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

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

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

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If you are really considering starting your own online business, then you have to check out my free mini course on How To Create A Niche Online Store In 5 Easy Steps.

In this 6 day mini course, I reveal the steps that my wife and I took to earn 100 thousand dollars in the span of just a year. Best of all, it's absolutely free!

283: How To Segment Your Email List The Right Way With Alexandra Edelstein

283: How To Segment Your Email List The Right Way With Alexandra Edelstein

Today, I’m thrilled to have Alexandra Edelstein on the show. Alexandra is a senior product manager at Klaviyo and she was also a speaker at my annual ecommerce conference The Sellers Summit.

At Klaviyo, she’s known as the resident expert when it comes to email list segmentation. So today we’re going to talk about the right way to segment your email list to maximize revenue for your ecommerce store.

What You’ll Learn

  • Why blasting your entire list is bad
  • Basic ways to segment your list
  • How to maximize repeat purchases
  • The main parameters used for segmentation

Other Resources And Books

Sponsors

Klaviyo.com – Klaviyo is the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store. Created specifically for ecommerce, it is the best email marketing provider that I’ve used to date. Click here and try Klaviyo for FREE.
Klaviyo

Privy.com – Privy is my tool of choice when it comes to gathering email subscribers for my ecommerce store. They offer easy to use email capture, exit intent, and website targeting tools that turn more visitors into email subscribers and buyers. With both free and paid versions, Privy fits into any budget. Click here and get 15% OFF towards your account.
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EmergeCounsel.com – EmergeCounsel is the service I use for trademarks and to get advice on any issue related to intellectual property protection. Click here and get $100 OFF by mentioning the My Wife Quit Her Job podcast.
Emerge Counsel

SellersSummit.com – The ultimate ecommerce learning conference! Unlike other events that focus on inspirational stories and high level BS, the Sellers Summit is a curriculum based conference where you will leave with practical and actionable strategies specifically for an ecommerce business. Click here and get your ticket now before it sells out.

Sellers Summit

Transcript

Steve: You’re listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, the place where I bring on successful bootstrapped business owners and delve deeply into the strategies they use to grow their businesses. Today, I have Alexandra Edelstein of Klaviyo on the show. And Alexandra spoke at the 2019 Seller Summit and her talk was very well received. And today we’re going to talk about the right way to segment your email list for maximum Revenue growth.

But before we begin I want to thank Klaviyo for sponsoring this episode. Black Friday is right around the corner and for my e-commerce store email marketing is a heavy part of my holiday sales strategy. And in fact, last year, it was close to 50% of my overall sales. And of course as you all know klaviyo is the email marketing tool that I use for Bumblebee Linens now Klaviyo is the growth marketing platform chosen by over 20,000 Brands generating more than three point seven billion dollars in Revenue in just the last year and with the holiday season right around the corner klaviyo has created the ultimate planning guide for crushing those holiday Revenue targets for marketing creative to segmentation strategy. These are proven tactics for more personalized marketing, especially in time for the holiday season. To get ahold of this guide, visit Klaviyo.com/mywife. Once again, Klaviyo.com/mywife.

Also want to give a shout-out to Privy who’s a sponsor of the show. Privy is a tool that I use to build my email list for both my blog and my online store and right now I’m using Privy Display a cool Wheel of Fortune pop-up basically user gives your email for a chance to win valuable prizes in our store and customers love the gamification aspect of this and when implemented this form email signups increased by a 131%. Now, you can also use Privy to reduce car abandoned with cart saver pop-ups and abandoned cart email sequences as well one super low price that is much cheaper than using a full-blown email marketing solution. So bottom line Privy allows me to turn visitors into email subscribers and recover lost sales so head on over to privy.com/steve and try it for free if you decide you need to the more advanced features use coupon code MWQHJ for fifteen percent off once again that’s privy.com/steve. Now on to the show

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

Steve: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. I’m thrilled to have Alexandra Edelstein on the show. Now, Alexander is a senior product manager over at Klaviyo. And she was also a speaker at my annual e-commerce conference the Seller Summit and no surprise she is an expert when it comes to email marketing. And today what we’re going to do is we’re going to talk about the right way to segment your email list to maximize revenue for your eCommerce store and with that, welcome to the show, Alexandra. How are you doing today?

Alexandra: I’m doing well. Thanks. It’s great to be on.

Steve: You know what’s funny is we spent three days together. We didn’t actually get a chance to hang out all that much. For the people that are just kind of listening and don’t know who you are. Just give us a quick background and how you actually got into email marketing.

Alexandra: Yeah. Sure. So as you’ve mentioned I’m a senior product manager here at Klaviyo. I’ve actually been with Klaviyo for about four years. So quite some time and from the very early days. I spent a lot of time working with our customers learning about their needs their pain points so we can Could help build Klaviyo into what it is today. Prior to Klaviyo, I was actually working on a national entrepreneurship program with Goldman Sachs. And again working with entrepreneurs helping invest in their growth build five-year growth plans. And in order to reach those businesses nationally, which is a program. I launched and scaled. There was a lot of email and a lot of marketing. So I learned firsthand the pain points of needing to personalize communication at scale from that job.

When I transitioned over to Klaviyo being able to work with the same group of people businesses entrepreneurs, like everyone listening looking to scale and grow their companies. I could deeply relate to the challenges with really driving that targeted personalized communication with Technology Solutions that were really clunky and hard to use and it felt like if you really wanted to do anything cool you had to be a massive Enterprise company with developers all that and so when I joined Klaviyo, iy was fun to be part of the solution and since then I’ve grown into different product areas. And as of the last couple years, I’ve been focused on Automation and flows to help marketers automate and scale their communication.

Steve: Cool. And that’s exactly what we’re going to talk about. We’re going to talk about email segmentation. Now, what’s funny is I actually got a chance to watch the recording for your presentation because I didn’t get to watch it live. So this is like the perfect chance for me to talk to you about in person.

Alexandra: Oh okay.

Steve: So So just a couple basic questions in case the audience isn’t really even familiar with email segmentation. So first of all, what is it and why wouldn’t I just want to send an email blast to my entire list whenever I run a promotion?

Alexandra: That’s a really great question. What is segmentation? And why should you care? Ultimately, It really gets down to the one-on-one personalized communication that we use every day and honestly take for granted every day and our personal relationships and the relationships were building with our friends, with our family, with our colleagues, with new people we meet on the street. As human beings we’re constantly listening and learning about others that we talked to either in the same conversation or over time and we use that data that we accumulate to build relationships to have more relevant conversations. It may seem really transactional when you when you spell it out, but ultimately as humans were really good at listening, analyzing and then communicating to be relevant and to not sound tone deaf and to Built trust and all the things that come along with actually having a personal relationship.

The challenge when it comes to marketing and especially marketing to a large customer audiences is that we aren’t able to get to know each one of our customers individually all of our subscribers and the sheer scale of it makes it really hard to do that same type of thing. You know, work so well in our personal lives, it’s really hard to learn about individuals that pot buy from us, that subscribe. It’s hard to analyze that data and then it’s really hard to personalize what we put in front of them and how we communicate with them. So segmentation is really a way to do that at scale by starting to think about the things that do make your customers and subscribers unique, it means using your data in order to analyze and figure out these audiences, group them with common characteristics and you want to think about things that will motivate people and that will really make them feel like you’re reaching out to them.

So for example, if you have a mom, let’s say you’re selling children’s clothes and you ask your audience you talk to your mom’s and you say hey, what are the age of your children? And they tell you that would you want to send them Communications and marketing content about clothing that is age appropriate for their children or would you want to send them emails or a promotional content about things that have nothing to do with the data you just collected? I think any marketer would pick the former, so that’s that’s segmentation in a nutshell. It’s basically finding ways to learn about your customers and subscribers and use that data to have more relevant conversations and to be more personal every time you reach out.

Steve: So here’s one of the points I kind of want to hammer home. So let’s say I have a promotion for something that might not necessarily be within that example that you use like the kids age group. What is the harm in sending that promotion anyway? Like the person won’t be interested. They won’t open the email whatnot. Who cares? What, Is there a, does it do any harm?

Alexandra: It does do harm and so that’s the that’s where we get into the great ease of of email marketing and kind of the deliverability side. I find typically when people hear the word email deliverability, they think of Spam folders, but they’re not really sure exactly what it means and how it can impact them. The real meat of it here is that ultimately if you think of Gmail and Hotmail and Yahoo, your recipients are their customers and it’s their job to ensure that individuals have clean inboxes and have an inbox that they’re able to sort through and and really work with and so Gmail and others look at engagement from a sender. So as a sender if you are sending out volumes of emails and getting really low open and engagement rates. That’s Gmail signal that you’re likely sending spam and that’s when you’ll slowly see your open rates drop even more because Gmail will start to put your emails in the spam folder.

Since that’s their reaction to seeing those low engagement rates. And so we have this saying here at Klaviyo that those that do nothing do harm for exactly that reason if you’re not sending relevant personalized emails and you’re seeing low open rates and low engagement rates because of that ultimately you’re going to see your open rates drop even more as you start to see that funnel effect into the spam folder. And so while you may be sending relevant communication to some and some are opening, those that aren’t are actually going to they’re going to ruin it for everyone else and you’re going to see yourself really struggle to dig out of that since it can be a lot more challenging to regain a positive sender reputation then to damage in the first place.

Steve: So does that imply then that if you keep sending and people don’t open that some real good customers of yours may not get your future emails?

Alexandra: Exactly exactly over time. The more the more you send these unengaged audiences the more likely you are to see all of your emails go to spam and so even those that do want to receive your content aren’t going to get it because it’s going to land in their spam folder too

Steve: So just curious what are some decent metrics for open rates to just kind of indicate that you’re in decent shape.

Alexandra: Sure. Yeah, we find that typically around 20 percent and above is what we call a good healthy open rate. If you’re in the 15 or so percent area we say, you know, look at how you’re trending go back and Klaviyo. We have ways to analyze this in any email tool you’re using you’ll Look at your Trends to your main lists, and if you’ve gone down to 15% from the healthy 20% area, it’s likely you’re trending potentially into that spam territory. So you want to do some list cleaning start to segment your engaged audience and only send to them or exclude unengaged audiences to start to boost those open rates. If you’re in the 15% range and you’re trending upwards and that’s a really good signal that you’re starting to be more personal and targeted. So so I’d say if you’re dropping below 15 and you’re especially if you’re in the 10 or below that’s where you may want to take some more proactive measures to get back on track.

Steve: So I hear a lot of people talk about segmenting your list, but I’m pretty sure it’s confusing to a lot of people. So what I was hoping to do to in today’s interview was to talk about some just very basic ways to segment your list that apply to pretty much any e-commerce company that is manageable with a very small team for example.

Alexandra: Yeah sure

Steve: So how would you do that. Like what is the best way to maximize repeat purchases and increase your open rates and engagement rates?

Alexandra: Yeah. So we find that ultimately if you think of the more robust models around recency frequency and value that you may sometimes hear when you think of segmentation the key thing to generally focus on is that recency factor so..

Steve: so can we Define those three terms first before we move on?

Alexandra: Yeah, of course and so we talk about when we talk about recency or talking about people that have Opened or clicked an email from you recently and have purchased from you recently. So those that have purchased from you most recently probably no surprise they’re engaged but they’re more likely to purchase from you again because they haven’t gone too long. They haven’t dropped off. So that’s recency. You can think of things that happened most recently.

Steve: Okay.

Alexandra: When you get into frequency. That’s when you’re thinking about how often does something happened. And so how regularly does someone purchased from you how regularly do they open. The last category here is a value. When someone purchases, how large is that purchase? What is their total lifetime value? What’s the revenue potential or the revenue earn over all time? And so you’re typically trying to drive up all three of these you want to drive up recency. So you want to keep your audience engaged and active and real-time. You want to keep the frequency High you want to encourage repeat purchases on a regular Cadence and of course you want to drive up the customer lifetime value and try to not only increase the average order value for any given purchase. But of course drive up. Like I said that the lifetime value over time.

Steve: Okay, and so based on these three parameters is that like the foundation for your segmentation strategy?

Alexandra: Yes, exactly. So if you think of these different categories you can think that your core marketing audience. So that’s about 75% of your marketing is generally going to go towards those that fall into this recency category, the people that are most recent. Once you get into the laps and not frequent not recent. So we talked about those damaging unengaged folks that you don’t want to email that’s where they have neither of the three. They are not recent and they’re not frequent and their value has seriously tapered off. That’s where you get into the danger zone if you email them because it’s very likely you’re Landing in spam. If you start to creep back from that where maybe they are high value, but they just haven’t bought super recently. They’re medium laps.

That’s where you start to creep back towards the wind back category, which is people that used to purchase frequently or only very early very recently elapsed and have those different value categories. So you can think of the different buckets across these three different core principles as a foundation for segmentation.

Steve: Can we tell some numbers in there. What would you consider a lapsed email subscriber?

Alexandra: Typically if someone has an open an email in three to four months we consider them elapsed and that’s also a tip. That’s what Gmail also considers getting into the laps territory. If someone has an open in three to four months and you keep emailing them and they keep not opening. That’s when they’ll start to filter those emails to spam.

Steve: What if they made a purchase in that time. They’re just not opening their emails. Is that still count as a lapsed email subscriber?

Alexandra: So it depends a little bit about whether you’re focusing on deliverability and and hitting the inbox or if you’re focused on engaging repeat purchases. So the tricky thing is that Gmail doesn’t care whether or not someone’s buying from you. You can have a really great product and you could get a lot of purchases. But if your email games not strong and you’re not if you’re batching and Blasting everyone, you’re not going to see engagement on that side of things. So you do want to segment, you know, pun intended here you want you want to segment your strategy and you want to think about how you’re able to target folks that are engaged keep them engaged via email but also keep them buying and the strategies are slightly different for both.

Steve: All right, so you talked about a number of things here. So your core marketing audience. It sounds like it’s people who have opened an email within the last three or four months. Is this is correct? Just tell me correct me if I’m wrong, and then for win backs, it sounds like these people might not have they probably haven’t purchased in a while and they haven’t opened a while and you’re just trying to get them back and then there’s this set of people that haven’t done either that you just don’t want to email.

Alexandra: Yeah exactly. Exactly and it’s a bit of a sliding scale. So when you’re thinking about recency, you do want to think about recency of purchases as well as recency of email opening. So the more engaged your content is and the more strategic and targeted you are from the segmentation perspective. Hopefully folks are opening your emails. And so that’s kind of a constant. That’s a constant in terms of something you want to be tailoring and and playing around with it to keep your open rates high. In terms of recency of purchasing, that’s where you Get into segmentation around when backs and trying to understand your buyer cycle and ensure that you’re sending targeted Communications to encourage purchases reach out after someone hasn’t purchase when you thought that they should have and things like that.

Steve: So can we just throw some numbers again out there for win backs? Like what are some just general guidelines for parameters that you would said for a win back?

Steve: Yeah. So this is actually it’s a great question. We get asked it a lot. I would say there’s no magic number. I’m in the world of email and the world of marketing because it really depends on your product and your buyer cycle. So the first question I typically ask a brand or someone I’m talking with is if I bought your product today, when do you think I needed it again? And then we have a conversation about what a normal buying cycle would look like based on your product. So if it’s a replenishable product, you probably have serving sizes. You might be able to gasps. Hey, you know if someone buys X within 30 days, they’re going to need it again. And so if that’s the case, you know think about 15 days past that it’s a 30-day replenishment cycle think about 15 days or so about two weeks past that and that’s when you’re going to want to send a wooden back about a week before you’re going to want to send a reminder.

And so you can think about that date that replenishment cycle and a little bit before it. You might want to send a reminder or send some content maybe even a promotion but a week or two after it you want to follow up again with with some wind back type content if you don’t have a replenishment cycle, that’s that’s known or well understood. There’s a couple things you can do. You can think generally about the occasions with which someone would buy your product. Is it a yearly purchase? Is it something that they only buy as a gift during the holidays? Things like that and and think about your buyer cycle that way you can also use tools like Klaviyo to export and really Stand the time between orders I get a little bit more technical with it as well. But I would say there’s no generally guidelines.

We say 30 to 45 days, but a really really varies based on a brand and a market and a product so I wouldn’t take that at face value and I do some experimentation to figure it out.

Steve: Sure. So based on what you said, the wind backs are based on purchase, purchases and not necessarily opens, right? So you wouldn’t send out a win back if someone had purchased before but hadn’t opened an email within like 30 days or 35 days.

Alexandra: Yeah, exactly. That’s where the two are separate but need to be thought of in concert. So the wind back is definitely around purchases in terms of the more traditional marketing segmentation. That being said if you are trying to increase your deliverability and you’re trying to increase engagement, you want to think strategically about every single email you sent. And so that’s why you don’t want to get beyond that three to four month range and keep sending someone win back. So right if you know with your even with your win back audience, you may want to segment those that further segment. Hey, I have my wind back audience people that haven’t bought in 45 days, but they really should have bought in about a month ago or 15 days ago. Let me further segment those that have opened an email since then, since their last purchase the people that have opened an email since their last purchase are going to be way more likely to open a win back email and likely buy versus someone that has not even opened a single email since they last bought and so you can segment those two groups and you can think hey what’s going to get the not opener to open?

Maybe it’s a ten percent off in the subject line. Maybe it’s you know, a really convincing promotion and paired preview tax. That’s going to catch someone’s eye right? For the for the win back folks that have never opened. You really got to focus on that inbox appeal and figure out how you’re going to get them to hopefully open the email first. Those that are win back audience and typically do open or have recently opened an email. You may not need to offer something in the subject line. Maybe you will use the same subject line, maybe not but when you get to the content, here’s this group, right? Here’s this group that bought from you and then has engaged they’ve been opening but they haven’t bought what in your content is going to get them to pull the trigger. So this is where segmentation is really about tapping into the motivations of the people you’re trying to target.

And teasing them apart based on what you know about your business and what you can assume about your audience based on that. So I’d say generally win back time frame you want to think about the last purchase but then you want to further segment based on email and open engagement to help you tailor the communication even further.

Steve: Right. Whether you want to give some sort of promotion or whether you think they’re going to buy anyways

Alexandra: Exactly.

Steve: This interview is only 50 minutes long. So and when backs are just kind of like a small portion of Revenue, So let’s try to focus on just like the core people that you’re going to be emailing very often. How would you segment those folks and I guess these are just people that are classified as people have opened within the last four months.

Alexandra: Yeah, so if you have your you’re engaged audience people that have opened in the last four months and you’re sending it regularly to them or you want to start sending more regularly to them. This is where there’s a couple things you can do to learn more about them and segment further. First, is they’re buying history. So we talked a little bit about that high value versus low value a really great way to start to build customer loyalty and segment further based on the data you already of your purchase data from your eCommerce platform if your Ecommerce is to separate out a VIP group. So set a figure out your average order value go up about you know, 15 20 dollars or think of what Revenue tear you would consider to be a VIP group. It could be the number of purchases. So maybe you don’t want to set a dollar sign value, but you’d rather look at everyone that’s bought three to four times start to segment out your VIPs.

This is a really awesome group that instead of sending your regular emails to start to use the word exclusive or just for you or you know, a thank you to our loyal customers. So segmentation can just take the form of treating people a little bit differently when you know a bit more about them. So a VIP audience really great way to start segmenting and build loyalty with a group of people that you are going to drive the bulk of your lifetime value from.

Steve: Can you give me some an example so your segmenting out these high rollers and Language like exclusive but given that these are the high rollers. Do you need to be sending them offers and that sort of thing or you just kind of sending them products at this point?

Alexandra: It can be either or and so sometimes maybe you want to have a single promotional event a year. That only goes towards your VIPs. You can do something like that. But if you aren’t necessarily interested in discounting and there’s other approaches such as you know free gifts on birthdays, there’s different ways. You can set a VIP the program apart, but it can also just be about access so early access to a new product a product launch. So anyway, you can create exclusivity that tends to drive engagement and so aspect for your VIPs. You want to keep them feeling special and again, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a high bar to be a VIP. You can start to build these loyalty audiences and tears. But ultimately these are going to be your promoters your Advocates and so Keeping them feeling special whether or not it’s around any discounts or just the content in the Early Access can really help.

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So I guess high rollers. That sounds pretty straightforward. Right? These are the guys who buy from you often. They open all your emails and their lifetime value is very high. I guess it gets a little bit more gray with some Other folks right? So can we talk a little bit about the less obvious segments?

Alexandra: Yeah, and I think that there’s the different segments you can create around those frequency, value, recency but there’s also things you can learn about what people click on what they browse. Do you want to talk about the segments around those three core principles or more about how you can learn about your audience from what they look at what they click?

Steve: Let’s finish like all the three main principles first. And maybe after that we can talk about some of the other segments that you want to talk about. But at some point like everyone’s going to be getting a whole bunch of the, whole bunch of emails, right that kind of cross these segments. Well, let’s finish three principles first. So what are the other segments that you want to have based on recency, frequency and lifetime value?

Alexandra: Yeah, so you got your high rollers. These are the people that you want to give perks to you want to help them advocate. So again follow us on social media. There’s lots of ways you can leverage your high rollers to help them be better Advocates and keep them kind of right there along with you as your as you keep marketing and as your brand grows and then you start to separate out the people that are either frequently purchasing, but it’s at a lower value and so again this maybe lumped in with your high rollers. If you’re not looking necessarily at Value, but more how often someone buys that three or four time purchases, but you can imagine if somebody is purchasing frequently, but not at a high value. You want to drive up their average order value. And so there are a couple different ways. You can try to drive up your average order value.

There’s lots of apps you can use at checkout to suggest, but ultimately related and recommended products is by far one of the best ways to increase order size and if someone gets used to always purchasing a couple items together or in bulk, they’re going to keep doing that. So if you look at your high rollers and you look at what the makeup of their orders are and why they’re purchasing more think about what can drive your brand enthusiasts. So people that are purchasing from you but not in high value. How can you encourage them to look more like your high rollers? How can you start to bundle things? Encouraged volume discounts constantly recommend related or complementary products to try to boost that average order value. That’s another segment. You can Target to ultimately have people that love you they buy a lot but start to drive up the value that you get from them.

Steve: It sounds like you need to further segment down your brand enthusiasts as well. Right? Based on what they bought so you can show them complementary products.

Alexandra: Exactly. Yeah, and that’s where we get into the more topical segmentation. So regardless Of how recently or frequently someone’s bought as well as the value. You want to you want to think about what they’re interested in and you can track what they look at on your website. You can track the type of email they engage with and what they purchased in the past what they’ve abandoned in their carts. So again, you always want to get down to the more granular level at some point so that you can recommend items complimentary items things like that exactly.

Steve: So for someone who doesn’t have a large team To do email marketing for them. It seems like you know, by the time you get down to segmenting based on recency, frequency and value in addition to individual products that you can cross sell and that sort of thing. It sounds like there’s going to be a lot of segments is that it almost becomes exponential.

Alexandra: It can and so there’s a couple things that I typically recommend starting with.

Steve: Okay.

Alexandra: First is kind of thinking about your business goals. There’s a lot of different segments and you really do want to start to segment your audience. But you want to think a little bit about what you’re struggling with and what you could and what your goals are in terms of a boost. And so if you don’t have any high rollers, and that’s a really small group. You can bundle them right? You can bundle the high rollers with a brand Enthusiast and don’t necessarily look at Value, but think of people that have bought for me recently and buy frequently and treat them special together when you go down a tier. And people that have bought from you recently you can again just segment them out and try to increase their frequency. So focus on replenishment for people that have bought recently but not frequently and then when you get down to the lowest tier people that bought recently or semi recently and the frequency is or isn’t there again, you can kind of start to bundle those and really try more promotional content.

So I would say, you know start with just one group or one level and the nice thing is that once you create these spaces segments, you can use them for absolutely everything. So there might be a little bit of an upfront investment our customers, typically, when we chat with them. They say hey two hours a month is all we actually really need in order to tune these segments build a couple more and use that for the rest of the month for our strategy. So if you’re thinking the sounds like a lot of time, can you give two hours out of the whole month towards this and if the answer is yes, then there’s a way for you to start and see value from this type of model.

Steve: Okay before we go into more depth on that, let’s just quickly Define the other segments based on three. So there’s three parameters which means there’s eight segments. Right? So we covered the high rollers. We cover the brand enthusiasts which are essentially high rollers with a lower order value. And then I guess moving on down the tier. There are also people who are recent but they don’t purchase very often and then there’s high and low values for those. For those people who don’t purchase that frequently. What are some prootions that you might send them to get them to buy again. Are we sending them coupons at this point. What are we sending them?

Alexandra: Yeah, so I was on them two things. I would send them best-selling related products as well as limited time urgency deals. So the key here is that if someone is not buying recently or too frequently you really need to drive them to see value. And so that’s where you have to get more personal but you want to put your best foot forward with them. So best-selling items related products from what they might have already bought and then create some type of urgency with either a discount or free gift something along those lines a bundle offer to really push them over the Finish Line.

Steve: It sounds like a related product cross-sells kind of Encompass all of these, is that accurate?

Alexandra: Yeah, it really is and this is where the content itself is a little bit more ubiquitous. So cross sells generally this you think about life cycle marketing are critically important in order to be able to introduce customers to a wider range of products and they might already have seen before and drive up the both average order value as well as the frequency which is why it really crosses over segments because you can imagine if someone only buys one product from you being able to cross sell will not only probably get them to buy again sooner than they might have already because now there’s a new item that they want, but then there’s two items which is more value, two items that could replenish and it really expands from there.

Steve: And then finally there’s this segment that might not even have bought from you at all. And you’re just trying to get them to make a purchase, right? So for these people would you suggest much larger discounts just to get them to kind of pull the trigger?

Alexandra: Yeah, when you’re in your we call them that nearly there’s or the waiting for Wows. These are people that have engaged with you. But they really need to be nudged over the Finish Line there and they’re clearly waiting for something. And so ideally you reflect a little bit on you know, what are they waiting for is it they don’t actually understand your product and they need education on it? Is it that they think it’s too expensive. So you need to really sell the value I would think about those different motivations when you think of the best content, but this is where social proof product reviews testimonials as well as some light discounting or some urgency deals can really be kind of the one-two punch.

Typically if people are hanging on and they haven’t purchased yet. They really need to be sold on the value that fear of missing out fomo the more that they see others enjoying the product and Trust building, you know, social proof and product reviews can also help nudge people over the finish line. So if you if you have that combination of content as well as a discount or promotion, you’re very likely to Target those more effectively and start to get them closer to purchasing and then finally got them to purchase in which point your then focusing on encouraging the frequency and the value.

Steve: How often are we emailing these people? Or what would you recommend or what have you seen?

Alexandra: Yeah, I would recommend for those kind of nearly there’s you certainly do not want to over email and so it, you want to go back to that recency factor. And so how recently did they last purchase if they have or how recently did they last open an email, if you have someone opening emails. I say, typically two emails per week is a really safe spot. So you can start to measure engagement. If you’re seeing good engagement from the two emails per week. You can ramp up potentially the three if you’re really being targeted, if you’re not seeing open rates, then I would drop back to maybe one and have it be a more impactful discount something like that. You really want to, the two things I don’t recommend. Don’t email multiple times per day. If you’re really trying to nudge people over to be mindful of your deliverability, but you can start sending multiple times per week. If your open rates are safely over 15%.

Steve: over 15% Okay, and I would imagine like the high rollers in the brand enthusiasts. You can probably email, you can probably get away with emailing them more often

Alexandra: Exactly. And that’s where four people that again. I would segment them based on openers or not openers just because people are purchasing from you at a high value doesn’t mean you’re there in love with your email strategy. So look closely at your open and click rates. But yes for folks that are opening their engaged you definitely have more latitude with emailing them more frequently, but really quality is always better than quantity when it comes to email. We have a great case study with Taylor Stitch and a couple other brands that really started to drop back the number of emails that they sent and focused on segmentation and quality and they’re now full Believers and the less is more approach and so you find that when you Segment you will ultimately end up sending less emails, but you will make more money from them.

Steve: So let’s talk a little bit about implementation now, so number one can all of this be automated and two, you mentioned two hours per month what exactly encompasses that two hours to get everything set up?

Alexandra: So for that two hour setup, I would focus on creating to base segments to start one is you’re engaged segment. So that’s everyone that has open an email and is opted-in opened an email in the last three to four months just so you have it. That type of Engagement Audience is great for your big promotions for Black Friday Cyber Monday sending for holidays. And that’s one segment that you can safely send to its you’re engaged audience. And then you similarly want to create your unengaged audience. And these are folks that have not opened an email and three to four months and you typically want to add a little bit more to that you want to look at people that have opted in or they joined your list over 30 days ago ideally since its if they’re very New they might not have had a chance to open yet. Based on how often you send. You also want to look at in terms of your unengaged make sure that they haven’t opened or clicked since open rates.

Sometimes people don’t have images loading open rates aren’t precise. You want to look at both of those but generally for most of your regular sending you want to exclude that group so that your as you focus on all of these nearly. There’s you’re waiting for Wow’s you’re not harming your deliverability in the process. So those are two starting points from there I would again pick out your high rollers and your brand enthusiasts feel free to Clump them together. If you don’t want to create that distinction based on value, but the two hours is spent just building some of these foundational segments because you’re going to use them for every single campaign that you’re thinking about you want to think about your goals your strategies for every campaign and then you want to consider. Can I Target my content differently for these different segments? So again the two hours you spent building some of these foundations and from there, they are automated because the segment’s will update in real-time hopefully. If you’re using a tool that provides that automated segmentation like pages

Steve: The one that rhymes with ABO?

Alexandra: That rhymes with ABO, there are others out there. But Klaviyo definitely provides this automated strategy approach things update real time. They’re there waiting for you every time you’re about to send you can consider. Hey, what should my high-rollers receive here or for people that have never bought? What’s the best way to get them to buy with this campaign? So your content isn’t have to be dramatically different but and your subject lines are not to be dramatically different, but if you pause for just a moment and think about how you can better tailor your content towards folks that either love you a lot and I thought all the time, from people in the middle or for people that actually have never bought yet. Those are the types of pauses you can have before every campaign once you already have these bass line segments.

Steve: I just want to let you know that tickets for the 2020 Seller Summit are on sale over at sellersummit.com. Now what is seller Summit? It is the conference that I hold every year that is specifically targeting e-commerce entrepreneurs selling physical products online and 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 e-commerce business. And in fact, every speaker I invite is deep in the trenches of their e-commerce 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 Seller Summit will be small and intimate every year we cut off ticket sales at just a couple hundred people. So tickets will sell out fast, and in fact, we sell out every single year many months in advance now if you’re an e-commerce entrepreneur making over 250K or 1 million dollars per year, we are also offering an exclusive mastermind experience with other top sellers. Now, the Seller Summit is going to be held in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. From May 6 to May 8. And right now, we are almost sold out of Mastermind tickets already and I will be raising the ticket price regularly starting the day after Cyber Monday for more information, go to sellerssummit.com. Once again, that’s SELLERSUMMIT.COM or just Google it, now back to the show.

All right. So let’s just kind of break down everything that you just said with an example and I’m going to start putting words in your mouth. Tell me if I’m saying anything wrong. So we talked about three parameters, but it sounds like if you have a small team and you just want to do like the bare minimum you just kind of Lop off the value that leaves just recency and frequency. So, in fact, you can just lump everything if you want in the simplest case to three groups your high rollers your people that don’t bias frequently and the people who haven’t bought yet and you’re just kind of close but they’re kind of engaged right? And within these three categories you want to put together sequences that cater to each group distinctly.

Alexandra: Yeah, that’s a great way of summarizing it chop off the value just look at recency and frequency all the way up to the people that have bought recently by all the time and at the bottom people that have never bought from you and start to consider those.

Steve: So in terms of automating this with autoresponder sequences, I can see, so would you want three separate sequences for each I would imagine and I’m just coming up with this right now on the fly. For the high rollers and the potential high rollers. I suspect that you would want to just put them on an autoresponder sequence did does cross sells primarily and maybe some content that kind of boost your brand?

Alexandra: Yeah. So yeah, the nice part about automation is that it tends to be targeted. Regardless of anything else because it’s Behavior triggered. And so when you’re thinking about segmentation you want to think about it in terms of the campaign’s that you send proactively but your auto responders are really what are going to be the undercurrent of what pushes everyone along and so you want to think they’re about every single interaction that a given subscriber customers going to have with your brand and instead of being more based off these segments. You want to think about the life cycle touch points and so on. When someone first subscribes you want to introduce them to your brand right? They’re, they have that recency in terms of that. They just did something they just subscribed or opted-in but they haven’t yet purchased and so you want to think about how to motivate them along you have your auto responders around abandoned carts, which again you want to Target you can absolutely start splitting out the paths are based on these segments.

If someone abandon a cart and they’ve never bought from you before what are you going to need to say or do to help get them to buy? Versus someone that abandons a cart that buys all the time from you, you know, maybe they just forgot their wallet. Maybe they are trying to cut back and they do kind of need a discount. Maybe it’s just around sending them a friendly reminder because they’re loyal customer. Right? So for all of the life cycle touch points and times people can engage with your brand definitely start thinking about these segments and how they can start splitting out these more personalized communication. Touch points so that you can automate a lot of this.

Steve: So it sounds like then that the initial breakdown of the segment’s primarily the way we’ve been talking has been for just individual broadcast. Right?

Alexandra: Yes.

Steve: But even within that within the autoresponder sequences, you used abandoned car as an example someone who has abandoned but never have purchased before you might want to just give them a coupon code within your abandoned cart to get them to buy whereas for a high roller they’re probably gonna buy anyways, and maybe they just need a reminder.

Alexandra: Exactly. Exactly. And that’s the Part about these segments is that once you build them they really are for the more broadcast for the campaign sense. But these Concepts can absolutely be applied to your everyday automations for welcome series as well not everyone considers that someone can subscribe via pop-up or a footer form at any point. So you could have loyal customers that are just joining your list for the first time. And so maybe you don’t want to send them a discount towards their first purchase, right?

Steve: Right.

Alexandra: That might sound a little weird if someone is Actually bought before so it’s another great way and a great time to split out your audience’s. Something as simple as a welcome series abandoned cart again loyal customer don’t give them a coupon code just send them a reminder. All the way through towards browse abandonment win backs as well. And that’s where you can start to think for a win back. If somebody has only bought once from you before and you’re trying to encourage a second purchase versus if someone bought three or more times before and Trying to get that fourth purchase. How the content different there. So the segments can be applied to automations as well.

Steve: So my final question is if you’ve been broadcasting to your entire list for a very long time, what is the road to recovery look like?

Alexandra: Yeah. So it’s a great question that we typically recommend starting out by creating that engaged group or the unengaged group and exclude them. Let’s say you create your engaged group of people that have opened an email and have engaged with you in the last three to four months and just start sending to that segment. Don’t worry about any of the other high rollers the recency the frequency the value if you just been sending blast campaigns and your open rates have suffered to get back on track just start with an Engaged group focus on that recency of email engagement so that your open rates start to climb since ultimately your segmenting and you’re like great but you’re a recovering Blaster and your open rates are low. It can be tough to do both at once.

So I’d start out by just focusing on your engaged audience started to get your open rates up observe that you’re not actually going to lose money. I think that’s one of the first big eye openers for a lot of folks when they start segmenting they realize they’re sending less email to less people but they’re starting to make more and more money. So..

Steve: Is that, is that common?

Alexandra: It’s very very common. Yeah.

Steve: Okay.

Alexandra: It’s very very common. It can take a little bit of time. I’ll send her reputation is something that can take a couple weeks to really build back and even beyond that so it can take some time to, when I say send a reputation, I mean it’s what the Gmail’s of the world think of you as a sender based on your engagement. And so if you have seen emails go to spam it can take you know, a bit of really good engage sending to build that back up. But once your open rates are starting to climb and you’re in the fifteen percent or above that’s where I would start to kind of split things out and go from there.

Steve: Okay, and so just kind of summarize what you just said, like for example your high rollers. You might want to just focus on those guys because it’s like guaranteed income so to speak so sending more often to them. Not only do you have high engagement rates, but you also are making a lot more money off those people. So how long would you recommend doing that before you start introducing the other groups back in?

Alexandra: I would stick with the engaged groups until it’s really about your open rates until you start getting closer to that 15% and Then I would start layering in some of the others but think a lot about how often you’re sending and play around with that if you start sending too often, and the number of emails sent is way way higher than the number of emails opened. That’s where you start to get into the danger zone. So I would say you can start to layer in these other segments rather quickly as long as you’re thinking a lot about how often you send and you’re keeping your open rates.

Steve: okay.

Alexandra: Yeah. The last thing I’ll say there is that one of the Best ways to really start to support and build a cushion around your deliverability is to get at least five autoresponders sending around those lifecycle touch points. The reason being is that we see almost you know 3x the number of Revenue per recipient for highly segmented emails, but when it comes to flows and autoresponders, its exponential the open rates that you get because they are so timely and Targeted. So if you’re going to start ramping up make sure you have a foundation of a welcome series and abandoned cart sequence, a win back browse abandonment, start to a thank-you post-purchase follow-up get. These autoresponders sending they tend to get really high 30 percent average open rates in and of itself and that can provide a really good cushion as you start to ramp up your campaign Sunday.

And they also help you maximize Revenue if you send a campaign, but then there’s no abandoned cart full on the other side. Help you really maximize that Revenue you’re not going to see the ROI there. So think of those start getting your autoresponders up and running as part of that initial investment as well.

Steve: Right. They kind of act like as the foundation for kind of

Alexandra: exactly.

Steve: These groups even and then you can use the broadcast to, for the special offers to get them to buy.

Alexandra: exactly.

Steve: Cool. Alexandra, I really appreciate your time. I know you have an appointment right now. Where can people find you, what’s coming up? What’s new in Klaviyo and yeah, where can people contact you if they have any other questions.

Alexandra: Yeah, so you can reach out to Klaviyo at any time. If you have questions, thoughts and you can email product@Klayiyo.com. If you have any ideas or questions for anyone on the product team here at Klaviyo. We also have a pretty cool conference coming up next month September 25th here in Boston. It’s Klaviyo Bos and it’s going to be amazing. We have tons of great speakers from across the industry. Lots of folks from Klaviyo talking about our product, but also just best practices and tips and things like this. So definitely come by, and if you have any questions about the conference, definitely reach out, and you can get in contact with me or anyone else on the product team at product@klaviyo

Steve: cool, and I will be at that event as well, and I hope to see you there too.

Alexandra: Sounds great.

Steve: Thanks a lot for coming on the show. Take care.

Alexandra: All right. Thanks.

Steve: Hope you enjoyed that episode. Now most email marketers simply blast their entire list, which is suboptimal from both a conversion and a deliverability standpoint. For more information about this episode. Go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode283.

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

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

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

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

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Ready To Get Serious About Starting An Online Business?


If you are really considering starting your own online business, then you have to check out my free mini course on How To Create A Niche Online Store In 5 Easy Steps.

In this 6 day mini course, I reveal the steps that my wife and I took to earn 100 thousand dollars in the span of just a year. Best of all, it's absolutely free!

282: Michelle Schroeder Gardner On How To Make 7 Figures With Affiliate Marketing

282: Michelle Schroeder Gardner On How To Make 7 Figures With Affiliate Marketing

Today, I’m thrilled to have my friend Michelle Schroeder Gardner on the show. Michelle started out with over $40K in debt and hustled her way to becoming a millionaire by starting her blog MakingSenseOfCents.com at the age of 22.

Today, she earns over 100K per month from blogging through affiliate marketing and teaches a popular affiliate marketing course.

What You’ll Learn

  • How Michelle makes money through her blog
  • How much time she spends blogging every week
  • The challenges of running a blog
  • The best places to find affiliate offers
  • How to track affiliate sales and the top affiliate platforms

Other Resources And Books

Sponsors

Klaviyo.com – Klaviyo is the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store. Created specifically for ecommerce, it is the best email marketing provider that I’ve used to date. Click here and try Klaviyo for FREE.
Klaviyo

Privy.com – Privy is my tool of choice when it comes to gathering email subscribers for my ecommerce store. They offer easy to use email capture, exit intent, and website targeting tools that turn more visitors into email subscribers and buyers. With both free and paid versions, Privy fits into any budget. Click here and get 15% OFF towards your account.
Privy

EmergeCounsel.com – EmergeCounsel is the service I use for trademarks and to get advice on any issue related to intellectual property protection. Click here and get $100 OFF by mentioning the My Wife Quit Her Job podcast.
Emerge Counsel

SellersSummit.com – The ultimate ecommerce learning conference! Unlike other events that focus on inspirational stories and high level BS, the Sellers Summit is a curriculum based conference where you will leave with practical and actionable strategies specifically for an ecommerce business. Click here and get your ticket now before it sells out.

Sellers Summit

Transcript

Steve: You’re listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, the place where I bring on successful bootstrapped business owners and delve deeply into the strategies they use to grow their businesses. Now, today I have my friend Michelle Schroeder Gardner on the show and Michelle is someone who I met at Fincon many years ago and she’s a seven-figure blogger over at making sense of sense. Now, she’s an expert when it comes to affiliate marketing. And today, we’re going to learn how she makes over a hundred thousand dollars per month blogging.

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

Steve also want to give a quick shout-out Klaviyo for sponsoring this episode. Code Black Friday is right around the corner and for my e-commerce store email marketing is a heavy part of my holiday sales strategy. And in fact last year, it was close to 50% of My overall sales. And of course as you all know klaviyo is the email marketing tool that I use for Bumblebee Linens now Klaviyo is the growth marketing platform chosen by over 20,000 Brands generating more than three point seven billion dollars in Revenue in just the last year and with the holiday season right around the corner klaviyo has created the ultimate planning guide for crushing those holiday Revenue targets for marketing creative to segmentation strategy. These are proven tactics for more personalized marketing, especially in time for the holiday season. To get ahold of this guide, visit Klaviyo.com/mywife. Once again, Klaviyo.com/mywife.

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

Steve: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. I’m thrilled to have my friend Michelle Schroeder Gardner on the show. Now, Michelle is someone who I met a while back at Fincon and I’ve always been impressed with what she’s managed to accomplish at such a young age. Now Michelle started out with over 40,000 dollars in debt and hustled her way to becoming a millionaire by starting her blog making sense of sense at the age of 22 and today, she earns over a hundred K per month from blogging. Now, specifically Michelle specializes in affiliate marketing and teaches a very popular affiliate marketing course called making sense of affiliate marketing and today we’re going to learn more about her story and how she managed to grow such a profitable blog. And with that, welcome to show Michelle, how are you doing today?

Michelle: I’m good. Thanks so much for having me today.

Steve: So Michelle, I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to have you on the show. So for the people who are listening that do not know your background. Give us the quick story about how you got the idea for starting making sense of sense.

Michelle: Yeah. So I started making sense of sense in August of 2011. This month is actually my eight months bloggerversary. And I started my blog just

Steve: Eight years.

Michelle: Eight years, Yeah, it started all just like on a whim like I didn’t start it to make money or to like be featured anywhere or anything like that. I literally had no idea what a Blog was or anything like that. I was reading Cosmopolitan magazine one day and in it, they feature the personal finance website daily worth and I started reading that and eventually I started reading the comments to see what like how people were doing with their financial journey and like comparing myself to them and stuff like that. And I learned that a lot of them actually had personal finance blogs and it all just quickly started from there. I started my own blog. It was Anonymous. Like I said, I had no plans to make money or anything like that. It was entirely for me just like a new writing Hobby and it all just quickly grew from there.

It’s really funny to think about because like when I was in high school or middle school or whatever, College, I had no interest in writing if my English teachers knew that I was writing for a living now. I’m sure they would find it just like odd, so it’s really funny to think that I’m blogging full time now. I actually went full-time in October of 2013 and have been blogging ever since.

Steve: I think we have a similar story. I used to really hate writing when I was younger. And so it was a complete shock to my parents when I told him that I started blogging also and they’re like you don’t even write.

Michelle: Yeah

Steve: Well, it’s a means to an end, right?

Michelle: Yeah, exactly.

Steve: Just curious. Do you still write all of your posts or?

Michelle: Yeah, I still write all of it. I have an editor who helps like make it flow better and corrects things and stuff like that, but I right 99% of what’s in a blog post.

Steve: And I’m just curious, what made your blog initially take off. Do you know?

Michelle: So I’ve always been told that I write in a slightly different way than most Financial blogs. I write like I’m talking to a friend. So I feel like that has really helped me over the years because I have a lot of readers who say like, it’s more relatable. It’s more personable. It’s easier to understand and stuff like that. And I think that has really helped my blog post take off.

Steve: So in the beginning, were you collecting emails and that sort of thing or were you just, just kind of writing and people were just, how are people finding you in the very beginning actually?

Michelle Oh, yeah, so I wasn’t really doing much to earn traffic. Back when I first started my blog. It was mainly just me interacting with other bloggers and readers mainly through like comments and emails and stuff like that, but I didn’t have like an actual email list until, I didn’t really start to focus on it until like creating making sense of affiliate marketing and that’s when I switched to convert kit and stuff like that. So that was around like 2016. So I went a good five years without really doing anything for my email list.

Steve: So you mentioned that you went full time. I think was it like two years after you got started was it or two or three years?

Michelle: It was like 2 years and 2 months.

Steve: 2 years and 2 months. Okay, so you just mentioned that you didn’t start email until much later. So was it making money in the beginning within those first couple of years?

Michelle: Yeah. So the first couple of years I was earning money in a slightly different way on my blog than I am right now. So I back then I was earning money like through so many different ways social media management for other websites, staff writing. I did a lot of like sponsored posts a tiny bit and affiliate marketing. Lots of display advertising and stuff like that. So it was like what really well-rounded but I quickly realize that like for me I didn’t really find joy in social media management or staff writing for other blogs and stuff like that.

So in 2015, I actually fired all of my clients every single one and I started like purely focusing on making sense of sense and that included like finding ways to grow my traffic through Pinterest, Facebook, Facebook group stuff like that Twitter and my income, I think it like tripled like a month after I fired everyone and actually just started focusing just on making sense of sense.

Steve: Were people finding you through the blog though for those Consulting gigs, I guess?

Michelle: Yeah. That’s actually how will everyone found me. I had like a higher me tab on making sense of sense.

Steve: Okay, and then you just kind of hustling it on social media. I guess where your ranking in search at the time?

Michelle: Not a ton just a little bit. But..

Steve: Okay, and I would imagine firing all of your clients was kind of stressful. Right? Was that a hundred percent of your income at the time?

Michelle: No, but it was like a good chunk for me to feel comfortable with working at home. It was definitely stressful to fire all of them. But I think I like did it all in like one to two days. I gave them all of course a little bit of notice and I continue to work for them until like they were comfortable or until they found a replacement. But for the most part it was really really nice. Just getting rid of all those clients and having a much more flexible schedule.

Steve: Just curious. Where you working full time when you started your blog or?

Michelle: yep. I was working full-time as a financial analyst.

Steve: Okay. All right. So this is all coming together now and when did you actually quit your job?

Michelle: I quit my job in September of 2013 or maybe October.

Steve: Okay. So when you fired all your clients, you actually quit your job as well.

Michelle: No, I fired all my clients in 2015.

Steve: Oh 2015. Okay

Michelle: Yeah, it was about like a year and a half later.

Steve: Got it. Got it to on 13 is when you actually went full-time with it got it.

Michelle: Yep.

Steve: And so what are all the different ways that you make money currently?

Michelle: So now the main ways I make money is mainly making sense of sense and making sense of affiliate marketing. I earn a good chunk through my blogging course that I started in July of 2016. And then of course the other good chunk is through making sense of sense and that’s through affiliate marketing sponsored Partnerships and display ads.

Steve: Okay, and then so making sense of sense is like an Finance blog. So what can you just give us an idea of who your affiliate partners are? And actually if you wouldn’t mind just kind of Define Affiliate marketing for some of the listeners who might not know what that is and then just kind of how you get these affiliate Partnerships established?

Michelle: Yeah, definitely. So affiliate marketing for me on making sense of sense. I will promote something on my blog. So something I really like to promote is like, something easy to be like the instapod like I use it every single day. So it makes sense that I would promote it to my readers and I might include a link in a recipe Roundup post or something right to talk about the instapod and then if a reader buys something from Amazon or the instapod specifically through me I will earn a commission. The commission rates really depend on the company and the product, Amazon is usually super low but other products such as like an online course could be as high as like 40 60 percent.

So affiliate marketing is really great because since I do travel full time, I am able to earn an income when I don’t have internet when I’m sleeping when I’m out sailing or something like that. So it makes it more possible for me to travel full-time because I’m earning more of a passive income.

Steve: So you can’t do affiliate marketing effectively, unless you have traffic right? So what would be some of your advice for someone just kind of starting out in this blogging game? Like what is the order that you should be doing things in?

Michelle: So I’ve talked to people who have had success In all different types of orders. So I mean some people they might start with affiliate marketing right away and they’ll say success others might have to wait six eight months or whatever. I always tell people to First focus on like first start your blog and you can learn about affiliate marketing at the same time so that you don’t have to like go back and change everything of course because once you learn like the fundamentals of affiliate marketing, it’s like super easy. You just like apply it really quick and it doesn’t have to be like a huge like strenuous task.

Steve: Can we talk about some of those fundamentals if you wouldn’t mind?

Michelle: Yeah for sure. So number one. I always tell people like affiliate marketing is not as easy as just like slapping a bunch of affiliate links on like your social media page or on your blog or whatever. Like I see that all the time people will just be like hey bty this instapod and Like literally the whole blog post. That’s all it says, but no you actually have to like think more about your readers something that I talk about on making sense of sense won’t always work on your own blog. So I get that a lot like people say like, oh, I’m promoting all the same things as you but it’s not working on my blog and I go read their blog and their Blog has like nothing to do about money Finance or anything like that.

So first you want to think about your readers. What do your readers want to read about? What are you an expert in? What do you like to talk about? What do you actually use? So I mean what I promote won’t always work for everyone else you want to do like your own survey your own research and see what actually works for you and your blog.

Steve: So you mentioned some people start out with an affiliate marketing first and then worry about traffic. What do you recommend? Do you recommend figure out what you want to promote first and then writing the content around that or just writing the content first and then just naturally looking for affiliate partners for products to promote.

Michelle: So that really depends. Usually there’s like an affiliate product or something related. Or something kind of similar for almost anything. So it’s usually pretty easy to find something. So it really just depends on what you want to do for me that all of my blog posts are affiliate related. So I might write and then a year later I might realize oh, there’s like something I could easily place in here. So for me, usually I about I want to say two-thirds of my content is like not affiliate related at all. And then the other third is like easily. I can easily place an affiliate Link in it.

Steve: And how do you decide whether, when you write a post? Is it for the intention of making money with affiliate marketing for that 1/3, I guess that you mentioned.

Michelle: No, not really. It just kind of naturally happens because when you’re writing about something there’s almost always something that you’re probably talking about that you can easily promote that someone’s probably interested in because when you’re writing a blog post, you’re probably answering some kind of question. So I mean like what’s the best budgeting app or something like that? And you’re just naturally talking about budgeting or whatever and so just should easily align and that’s why I always recommend for a writer like when you’re writing an affiliate blog post.

It shouldn’t be like a pure advertisement a hundred percent of the time unless that’s like your kind of blog or whatever like you have a review blog, but for the most part it should be a helpful blog post that actually helps your reader and makes a want to come back for more.

Steve: So, can you give us an example of a post on your blog that you didn’t really have any intention of making an affiliate post or not? And then how did you find an offer that went along with that post?

Michelle: Yeah, so like for one blog post I just talked about like, let me think.. like I talked about like work from home stuffing a lot. So I remember what a blog post I talked about like work from home scams and it’s like what can you really promote in there? And one of my Affiliates actually had a, like a freebie principle that talked about that went more in-depth on work from home scams and through that I was able to promote that and I was able to get leads into her product and that helps me to promote. Product and sell it easily year. Once my readers understood who I was selling and stuff like that because you want to introduce your readers to your affiliates as well.

Steve: How did you find that affiliate? That one sounds a little bit random. It’s not like a company right sounds like an individual?

Michelle: It’s individual. It’s an online course.

Steve: Okay, and it how did you find this person? Is there like a central database to find, find people like this?

Michelle: So for smaller companies like that? I don’t really know of anything but there’s a definitely a lot of affiliate marketing networks out there. Where you can find like just tons of different affiliate offers, of course, and that’s a great way for a new blogger to start another way to start is I always recommend if you think that there’s an affiliate product or something just go to Google and type in product name, plus affiliate product or affiliate program or something like that and there’s almost something that pops up.

Steve: What are your favorite affiliate networks where you can easily just find lots of companies?

Michelle: So I don’t use affiliate networks as much as I used to to find companies. I usually just do the google thing, but some of my favorite ones are definitely like CJ.com I use impactradius a ton. I would probably say oh and shareasale. Those are the top three that I use.

Steve: Are there any differences between the three that you can comment on?

Michelle: They’re all pretty similar. I would say the most like user-friendly would be impactradius.

Steve: Okay, and so in general, I guess you don’t really care as long as they have the company that that you want to promote.

Michelle: Yeah, and I of course I’m not going to name like the affiliate networks that I don’t like so I don’t want to like get in trouble or anything like that. But I mean you definitely want to make sure that your affiliate managers are great that you can trust the tracking system because sometimes like the tracking might be bad. It may not track any clicks or anything like that the system may go down a lot. So you definitely want to make sure that you can trust the affiliate Network that you’re a part of. Those three that I mentioned. I have I don’t think I’ve ever had a problem with any of them.

Steve: How do you know whether your clicks aren’t getting tracked?

Michelle: So the other day I actually logged in to one of the, one of the affiliate networks on my part of it. It’s not any of those three and it was a new product that is just started promoting and I was receiving about I want to say it was like $400 $500 a day through these leaves that I was generating for him and I like just started promoting them. So I was regularly going in and checking every few days to see if it was working since it was brand new and so for the first 12 to 13 days, it was working perfectly. Everything was normal, too. Seemed like a good amount of clicks and then I went like 10 days without checking because I had no internet and those exact 10 days there were exactly zero clicks.

So I mean if I wouldn’t have checked, I don’t know how long that would have lasted but I emailed my filling manager and he said yeah, something’s definitely broken. I’m glad you checked it. So, I mean you definitely want to check something like that too. So if you notice like there’s a steady stream of clicks, then all of a sudden it goes down to like zero or half or something. It’s a good chance that it’s technical related.

Steve: So I would imagine you work with a lot of companies in their affiliate programs. Is there like some sort of methodology that used to keep track of everything because I would imagine like if there were certain offers where the traffic wasn’t getting counter what not be hard to keep track if you were if you had like 40 or 50 offers outstanding for example.

Michelle: Yeah, definitely so I’m kind of old-school. I just like an Excel sheet and I just go in like once a month usually or once every few months and I just go in and check and whenever there is an issue. Which isn’t very often usually you can just reach out to your affiliate manager and pointed out to them and almost every single time. They’ve just taken an average from what it was working and use that average or if I think it’s been higher such as like if that blog post went viral or something and I realized it wasn’t working. I usually just pointed out and we just come up with like some kind of calculation to make it like more equal for me.

Steve: Okay, and then do you ever run ads to your affiliate Pages or is it just purely organic?

Michelle: So I’ve done some Facebook ads. Ads to like my freebie courses, but I haven’t really done a ton of anything. I’m actually in the process of learning more about improving my Facebook advertising strategy. And then I also want to take like a Pinterest advertising class too.

Steve: Okay, so it sounds like it’s mostly organic and you’re running Facebook ads, but that sounds like it’s a lead gen for your course. Is that correct?

Michelle: Yep. Exactly.

Steve: Okay. So if we were to break down your traffic like, where are you getting most? Like, what are your top three traffic sources?

Michelle: Facebook Pinterest and organic SEO. Yo, but I also I guess direct referral would probably be number one. So I guess that would be the top four.

Steve: Okay, and so when you say Facebook, it’s Facebook organic, right?

Michelle: Yeah, like face my Facebook page or my Facebook groups?

Steve: So given that Facebook’s reach has just drastically decreased over the years. I found a little surprising that you get most you try from Facebook. What are you doing? To gather that traffic.

Michelle: So I’m pretty active on my Facebook page. I post I actually just lowered it the other day from like 5 posts a day to about 2 to 3, but I’m usually pretty active on their, ask a lot of questions not everything is a link. So I think that really helps with my engagement on there. And then I also have one Facebook group for making sense of sense. That’s like a free community group and I post a link to something. I’m making sense of sense pretty much every single day. So with those two things, it’s actually not too. Hard to get traffic the Facebook group definitely generates a lot more traffic these days than it used to

Steve: So you mentioned two things like a page and a group which one actually works better. Like why not make, making sense of sense a group instead of a page?

Michelle: So the group lately has been a lot better than the page the pages traffic has kind of died down and I think that’s because groups are just more popular these days and you’re kind of fight, when it comes to a page your kind of fighting with Facebook ads and stuff but with my group all my readers can like join in talk to each other and stuff like that. So, of course, there’s going to be more engagement since people are actually engaging in creating their own threads and stuff like that.

Steve: Okay, and can you give us an example of some of the posts that you might post on your page in or group to generate engagement?

Michelle: Yeah. So I mean, I post pretty similar things but in the group people tend to comment more so on either, it’s usually just like a link to a recent blog post or might be a link to like a really old blog post. So I mean that’s Easy and then the caption is usually just like a question. So if we like the other day really popular guest post on my blog was why me and my husband have separate finances and it wasn’t something I wrote or something a reader wrote. So the question on that was would you have separate finances with your spouse and that generated a ton of Engagement either people who are pro or against it. So that really helped generate like more traffic more engagement stuff like that, but then there’s also a lot of days where I just post simple questions with no links and that’s simply to like increase discussion in the group and around the page.

So like I might just ask like would you have separate finances with your spouse or whatever but no link at all. So and I find that those really help without a link.

Steve: Yeah, that makes sense and everyone has an opinion on that also, so it generates lots of discussion.

Michelle: Yeah. It’s definitely a debatable topic.

Steve: Do you schedule all these out or do you just kind of do it on the Fly?

Michelle: I almost always schedule them out. But if I think it’s like a really good question on the spot usually adds. Just like to ask it right away to see what people think because it also helps me like think of new blog posts and new things to talk about.

Steve: Do you use any of those social media Auto posting software?

Michelle: Yes, so for my Facebook page, it’s just I just schedule right on Facebook locked in my virtual assistant does

Steve: Okay

Michelle: But my Facebook group, I guess that’s just scheduled right in there as well. But for Twitter that’s on HootSuite and then by making sense of affiliate marketing Facebook group that’s on HootSuite as well.

Steve: Okay. Is there a reason why you would use HootSuite versus the Facebook scheduler?

Michelle: No, not really. I really don’t know why I went that way I just did.

Steve: Okay, no worries. And then you mentioned Pinterest as another source. So what are some things now that you’re doing to generate Pinterest traffic?

Michelle: Yeah, so I actually have simple pen media managing most of the scheduling for Pinterest for me, but I do have like me you’re my virtual assistant going in and pinning more organically.

Steve: I’m sorry, What something what is simple pin media?

Michelle: Pinterest management company?

Steve: Okay. Okay.

Michelle: But she’s really awesome. I don’t how many employees she has but the whole group is really awesome and they helped me improve my Pinterest page. And so the main thing I’m doing right now on Pinterest is I’m having my virtual assistant go through and updating all the graphics and I found that that has really helped to keep fresh content on Pinterest. So I definitely recommend that more people start doing that.

Steve: So outside of the tall and skinny format. What does it mean exactly to update an image?

Michelle: Might just have my virtual assistant go in and create a brand new image. That might be like new wording a new question a new caption or something on it. But mainly it’s the picture should be different so that it’s completely different from the other one and then Pinterest can kind of recognize that there’s a new updated image and lately that has been really been helping and I’ve noticed that more people have been saying the same thing as well. So usually when I publish a blog post in the past, I would only create one image and that would be like my one image forever. But lately I’ve been having my assistant go in and once a week she goes in and updates like five to ten images or five to ten blog post eachweek and that has like really really helped.

Steve: Interesting. So by update you mean remove the old one and add a new one.

Michelle: Yes, Yep. Some people will leave them both and like kind of A/B test them, but for me, I’m just kind of removing the old one and improving it because of course things change over time. Some of my Pinterest images are like 5 years old, so..

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So is Pinterest like very consistent like you’re getting a lot of traffic to one post? Does that traffic tend to linger like Google?

Michelle: It’s actually pretty consistent for me. So like I have a blog post 75 ways to make extra money and I can remember when I publish it was probably five years ago or something for years ago. And that is still one of my top Pinterest referrals and I found that usually that it’s the same things like month after month edit generate traffic for me through Pinterest.

Steve: And then the post at you Taking the images on those I would imagine get less traffic and you’re just trying to jump start it?

Michelle: Yeah, definitely. So usually I have her my virtual assistant like update the blog post that aren’t doing as well to see if maybe a new image will help it perform better.

Steve: Yeah. So, you know, I’ve actually tried Pinterest for my Niche which is e-commerce and it does okay, but it seems like there’s limits. There’s certain posts that you focus more on for Pinterest or do you just put Pinterest images for every single post at you, That you post?

Michelle: So I have a Pinterest image for probably 99.9% of the blog post I had. When I first started on Pinterest I was probably one of the First Financial bloggers on there and I had a ton of people tell me like, oh that’s a huge waste of money people on their only care about like clothes and food and stuff like that. So but I was using Pinterest at the time and I was a really regular user and I figured why not just try it and I think that actually like really helps give me a leg in the game because I was one of the only financial bloggers at On there. And yeah, that’s just really helps me over the time and people always tell me another thing that I want to mention is like, oh like men aren’t on Pinterest and stuff like that.

But I recently read a stat where it’s like 35 or 40 percent of Pinterest users are actually men. So I made a few think like, oh like my niece doesn’t fit or whatever. I definitely recommend still trying it especially since of Pinterest image doesn’t really take a ton of time to make.

Steve: if there is like a couple tips that you might share for someone just starting out with Pinterest. What would you suggest?

Michelle: The number one tip is to create a Pinterest image for every single blog post.

Steve: Okay.

Michelle: Definitely. It’s doesn’t take very much time. Just one make take, if you just create like one image. It may take like 5 to 10 minutes max. So, I mean, it doesn’t take it doesn’t have to take a ton of time to definitely make sure your images are always long horizontal images do not do well on Pinterest at all. I’ve always heard never to use faces on Pinterest unless you’re like a fashion brand or something that like that a clothing brand usually faces or stock photo images don’t really work as well.

So, I mean you want it to like blend in but kind of stand out on Pinterest. So I always recommend like looking to see what is doing. Well like on your home popular feed that’s always a good tip or see like what other people like in your industry or doing as well. So if you see another personal finance while you’re doing really well on Pinterest definitely see like what they’re doing what’s working for them.

Steve: Interesting so you don’t use any stock images?

Michelle: I do use stock photo, stock images, but I don’t like use like the normal cheesy ones that people tend to use

Steve: Okay, this is going on..

Michelle: Yeah.

Steve: We’re like Jeff Rose is a couple of him holding like Lumber is right.

Michelle: I seen this.

Steve: Okay, and then what about pinning strategy?
Michelle: So for me like mainly simple pin media managers my pinning strategy, but it’s pretty similar to what I’ve always done in the past. It’s nothing crazy, they pin for me like 20 to 30 times a day. It’s usually I think it’s like 60% my blog post 40% other people’s blog post. So I mean you don’t just want to pin your own content and you don’t just want to pin the same blog post over and over again because that comes across as spammy and that I mean that doesn’t look normal. So I mean you’re pinning strategy really depends on you. I know people who pinned 200 times a day and generate a ton of traffic. I know people who pinned like two times a day and generate a ton of traffic, so it really just depends on like finding your own little strategy.

Steve: So I know for me and I know blogs is going to be different but the traffic that I do get from Pinterest is amongst the lowest converting at least the way I measuring that is by email subscribers. Is that similar for you or in terms of just traffic value or is Pinterest like a really high traffic value source for you?

Michelle: I think that’s pretty normal. I think Pinterest is more like about the numbers like hopefully you can generate more people coming to your blog and hopefully like that will help you. Even with a lower percentage. Hopefully that’ll help you like turn them into subscribers and stuff like that. But I think in general Pinterest is like a high bounce rate group, but I still have found that I found like soup like a ton of really loyal readers through Pinterest.

Steve: Okay, and then I think you said that third prong is SEO and it sound like when you first started out you were just writing whatever has that changed over the years?

Michelle: So I’ve never really written for SEO. That’s just not really something I’ve ever done in life, but recently I started taking a a new SEO course my I’m hoping to dedicate more time towards that area right now SEO actually generates like a lot of traffic for making sense of sense. And that’s with like almost no effort towards it. So I think if I start spending time on it, I can definitely start generating more traffic with it.

Steve: Okay. So you’ve never done any link building guest posting that sort of thing. It’s just all been kind of organic?

Michelle: I’ve never done any purposeful link building or anything like that. No.

Steve: Okay. Cool. Now let’s talk a little about your course. So if someone’s like brand-new and they want to make well first of all, what do you think is realistic in terms of what you can make in a year. Let’s say..

Michelle: With affiliate marketing?

Steve: Yeah.

Michelle: So it really depends what the person I’ve had people take my course and they tell me oh two days later. I made a hundred dollars and that was like five days into my blogging career or whatever. Then I’ve also had people say like oh six months and I haven’t really made anything yet. Like what am I doing wrong? So I mean, I think it really depends on the person. Whether they’re really getting blogging and the amount of hard work that they’re putting towards it.

Steve: Sure.

Michelle: So I always tell people like if you’re a brand new blogger the average blogger quits like six months in and so it’s always like getting past that hump figuring out what’s wrong, taking the courses that you need, asking for feedback. So one of the things in my making sense of affiliate marketing group is I have people come in and you can start a new thread and ask like, oh what’s wrong with this affiliate marketing post. So I always recommend that people do that because there’s almost always like some crazy like obvious mistake that people are making but in the end the amount of money that you can make like really varies for me. I’ve earned around 50,000 to 60,000 a month like pretty consistently over the past three four years, I think.

So, but I mean, it really just depends on the person how much traffic they’re generating if they’re taking their email list seriously and stuff like that. I don’t think there’s like any perfect number that I would want to give out because it just depends on so many variables.

Steve: So for someone just starting out obviously, the first step is to write really good content right?

Michelle: Your content definitely matters. Yeah.

Steve: So what are just some pieces of advice that you give someone just starting out with with even how to write?

Michelle: Yeah. So like I said earlier like my English teachers would laugh at me if they found out like I was a full-time writer. So I mean, even if you think you’re a really bad writer, but you like want to give a Blog a try. I definitely recommend trying one you just never know where it will lead to but the top tips for like a really good blog post. One, would probably be make sure it’s long. So some people who start a new blog including me. I wrote a lot of blog posts are like 200 to 300 words at a

Steve: Yeah I wrote a bunch too.

Michelle: Yeah those do nothing like for the most part. I can’t think of very many blogs where I rate of 200 blog, 200 word blog post. I’m like, oh, wow, I really learned a lot from that. So you definitely want to make sure it’s long the average blog post a mine is anywhere from around 1500 words to around 5,000. So just this past week I wrote Two blog posts that were 5,000 words long so you definitely want to, you don’t they don’t all need to be five thousand words, but I mean try to make it at least around 750,000 words to really make it meaningful.

So you can actually help your readers and then that goes into to make sure you’re actually helping your readers with your blog post. That’s a definitely a big thing with your article. You should be helping them answer their questions helping them answer their issues problem solving. And just being like really engaging you want your content to be fun as well. But it really just depends on what kind of blog you have. That depends on how you write.

Steve: How long did it take you to write that 5,000 word post?

Michelle: Lately, I’ve been a lot faster than usual. It really just depends. So I have a real in Life or only work when I want to and that really helps with my writing. So I do enjoy writing but I don’t do well when I force it if I force writing a blog post, I mean it might take me like weeks to write one. But if I’m like really in the mood, I mean I could write it definitely and just a couple of hours.

Steve: Wow. Okay, if I told my kids that they could just work whenever they felt like it they would never work but so in terms of this writing so does that imply that you don’t post every week? Do you post like twice a month or?

Michelle: so I always try to work in advance because of what I just said since I’m not always in the writing mood. I mean I might go a month or two where I don’t write it all and then I might go a month write like 30 blog post. I mean it really just depends and that’s the number one thing. I always recommend for people when it comes to you like creating a schedule having a lot of blog posts and stuff like that. When I first started making sense of sense, I would literally write my blog post the night before I would publish it and I did that for probably I don’t know, two three years maybe but lately I like to be around two to three months in advance and that’s not just because it’s for multiple reasons because I’m not always in the mood to write or sometimes like I write a ton.

But also because of lack of Internet issues. I don’t always have internet So if I’m two to three months in advance, I don’t have to like frantically run around and try to find internet.

Steve: So two to three months in advance. How many posts does that equal?

Michelle: Yeah, I so I usually right around two to three times a week. So what does that probably like 10 a month? So about 20 blog posts.

Steve: Oh my goodness. Okay. So you put out two to three posts a week. You said

Michelle: Yep

Steve: My goodness and each one of those are at least 1,500 words?

Michelle: almost, always. So I actually came up with that idea. I can’t remember what blog post I was reading but it was when I first became a full-time blogger and she said that she had a one year full of blog posts ready like an scheduled.

Steve: Wow.

Michelle: And I just thought that was insane but I was like that’s a really good idea.

Steve: It sounds crazy to me. But can we talk about the writing process? So you pump something out and then you have an editor just kind of make it presentable or?

Michelle: yeah, so I just write the blog post and then I handed over to my editor and I usually give her like a few like requests like hey, can you fix the intro a little bit. It doesn’t seem to like make a ton of sense to me or can you make sure this flows better or stuff like that. And usually she spends like an hour or two fixing a blog post and it’s actually quite affordable. So I recommend that more people get editors or proofreaders or something like that. If you find that you’re struggling making your post better.

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Interesting. May I ask like what the ballpark would be for an editor?

Michelle: Yeah, so I actually at one point had a proofreader. I started with a perforator and I can’t remember exactly how much it was. But I think it was like $10 a blog post and that was actually the going rate for proofreading back then and then but then when I hired my editor she charged dollars an hour and that was for like more like grammar and stuff like smaller things like that. But now as an editor, she’s mainly making things flow better. She like add sentences sometimes paragraph stuff and stuff like that and it takes about sometimes it only takes like 20 minutes to do a blog post for her and sometimes it takes one to two hours. So I made it really varies on how much it actually costs.

Steve: Sure and how long the post is I would imagine.

Michelle: Yeah, definitely

Steve: So I know a couple people what they do is when they write a blog post they’ll just talk and then they’ll have someone turn that into a post. Are you at your laptop or whatever just typing, haha that’s a weird question. I know. so you write all of your posts out, when you’re first writing in the blank screen are you just trying to get all of your ideas out and then you turn that over to your editor or do you actually do a good amount of proofreading first?

Michelle: I usually do a good amount of proofreading and make sure it makes sense and see if I have to really add anything. So it’s usually pretty easy. So I usually start off with I have a notepad on my computer and I have a ton of different blog post of blog post ideas. And I usually have like bullet points right next to it that talks about the things I want to talk about. So it’s usually really easy to transfer onto a blog post because it’s all like there’s Good template for me to follow already.

Steve: what percentage of the post that you write since you are quite prolific what percentage of these posts actually generate traffic significant amount in your..

Michelle: Okay, that really depends. So for the first week, they almost always do well so I pump them all out to like my email list.

Steve: Okay.

Michelle: And but after that I would say, I don’t know. I’ve never really done that math, but my top blog post are usually like my top 10 and they’re usually pretty consistent. So I would say like, I don’t know I probably have 2,000 blog post and tent and 10 to 20 like generate almost all of my traffic.

Steve: Okay. Yeah, that’s what I’m gonna say

Michelle: very slow. Yeah.

Steve: So do you ever do any I’m just thinking about this in the SEO context here where you know, Google kind of likes a nice tight site where like, actually it sounds like all your posts are high-quality. So there isn’t a quality issue there I guess but do you ever go back and Purge some of your older posts?

Michelle: So I’ve never gone back and Purge like nothing really serious. Like I might delete like an old ad or something that I wrote like five years ago that doesn’t really make any sense or isn’t relevant to today. But for the most part I keep everything and I do hear that a lot because I’m making sense of sense. I talked about so many different topics. I talk about money, travel or being, boating like life confidence building and stuff like that or sometimes my pets. So I mean I talked about pretty much everything I making sense of sense and I don’t know if I ever really plan on changing that.

Steve: okay, and then in terms of your fans, are they mostly following you on email or social? What do they get from being on your email list, like what extra value you’re providing there?

Michelle: Yeah. So my email list. I always prided myself on the fact that I reply back to pretty much every single email I received. So if you’re on my email list, you can reply back to any of my newsletter. So I send out and I will personally reply back to you help you with any issues that you have or anything like that. So I have a really good relationship with all of my readers do that since it’s actually me that they’re responding to and not like an assistant or anything like that.

Steve: Okay. Yeah. No that’s tremendous value. Are there any other ways that you are gathering subscribers whether it be Facebook Messenger anything else?

Michelle: And another thing would probably be Instagram. So I like I don’t generate like a ton of traffic through Instagram, but I do like get a lot of really good loyal readers who like to see like my behind the scenes life because on Instagram, I don’t talk about money like at all. It’s almost purely like my life traveling and stuff like that. So Instagram is really good for building like behind the scenes.

Steve: Okay, so I guess the final question that I I want to ask you is if you are a blogger, brand new blogger, how would you personally rate the traffic sources to focus on?

Michelle: I were a brand new blogger. How would I personally rate..

Steve: I mean, it’d be on all these platforms well..

Michelle: Okay. No, so I mean, I do recommend like starting like the actual platform and like getting that getting that username so that no one else can take it from you, but I always recommend starting with that and then just like working your way through each one almost each one can be scheduled or automated in some way. So I mean they all are pretty easy due to that like you don’t have to go crazy and post or pin each pin on Pinterest 30 times a day like individually like that would take forever. So I always recommend that people schedule but some things don’t work on. I definitely say like start an Instagram page start a Pinterest page probably started Twitter because that’s great for networking. Lately, Facebook hasn’t been the greatest. But if you are thinking about Facebook, I definitely think a Facebook group is great.

Steve: Okay, and then would you You recommend someone just kind of focus on SEO, Pinterest, Social when they’re first starting out or I know the answer probably depends. But what would you recommend someone brand new focus?

Michelle: Brand new? SEO is definitely great. I’ve learned a lot about that recently. So I would definitely say SEO is great same with Pinterest. Pinterest can be really great for a brand new bloggers because they don’t really care if you have like a hundred thousand followers or if you’re brand new. It’s all about the pain. So I would definitely say Pinterest is great for a brand new blogger.

Steve: Okay, so from what from what I’m hearing you say Pinterest everyone’s on a Level Playing Field. It really is just on the Merit of your image or your PIN. So to speak.

Michelle: Yeah, definitely.

Steve: Well Michelle, I also want to give you a chance to just talk about your offerings and where people can find you online.

Michelle: Yeah, so you can find me on making sense of sense.com. And that’s like all of my blog posts. I talked about pretty much everything on there. And then if you are interested in affiliate marketing I definitely recommend looking at makingsenseofaffiliatemarketing.com in there. I’ve had over 5,000 students take it and I have so many rave reviews. Everyone seems to really really love it and it’s still definitely my baby to this day. If you’re interested in following my travel Adventures that would definitely be Instagram and that’s instagram.com/michelleshroed and I just pretty much just post travel pictures all the time and it’s definitely my favorite platform right now.

Steve: Cool. Well Michelle. Hey, thanks a lot for coming on the show. Really appreciate it.

Michelle: Yeah. Thanks so much for having me.

Steve: Hope you enjoyed that episode like myself Michelle and I have been blogging for a very long time and there are a whole bunch of different ways to monetize your blog. For more information about this episode. Go to mywifequitherjobs.com/episode282.

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

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

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

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

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Ready To Get Serious About Starting An Online Business?


If you are really considering starting your own online business, then you have to check out my free mini course on How To Create A Niche Online Store In 5 Easy Steps.

In this 6 day mini course, I reveal the steps that my wife and I took to earn 100 thousand dollars in the span of just a year. Best of all, it's absolutely free!

281: Scott Voelker On How To Get Out Of Your Own Head And Take Action

281: Scott Voelker On How To Get Out Of Your Head And Take Action


Today I’m thrilled to have my buddy Scott Voelker back on the show. Scott was my partner in crime for the 5 Minute Pitch and I recently spoke at his conference at Brand Accelerator Live.

As entrepreneurs, our biggest problem often lies in our own heads. In this episode, Scott and I break down the Take Action Effect, how to overcome your excuses and make progress with your business. Be sure to check out his new book!

What You’ll Learn

  • Key takeaways from Brand Accelerator Live
  • Why Scott decided to write a book about the Take Action Effect
  • How to get out of your head
  • The mindset and process required to make progress with your business

Other Resources And Books

Sponsors

Klaviyo.com – Klaviyo is the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store. Created specifically for ecommerce, it is the best email marketing provider that I’ve used to date. Click here and try Klaviyo for FREE.
Klaviyo

Privy.com – Privy is my tool of choice when it comes to gathering email subscribers for my ecommerce store. They offer easy to use email capture, exit intent, and website targeting tools that turn more visitors into email subscribers and buyers. With both free and paid versions, Privy fits into any budget. Click here and get 15% OFF towards your account.
Privy

EmergeCounsel.com – EmergeCounsel is the service I use for trademarks and to get advice on any issue related to intellectual property protection. Click here and get $100 OFF by mentioning the My Wife Quit Her Job podcast.
Emerge Counsel

SellersSummit.com – The ultimate ecommerce learning conference! Unlike other events that focus on inspirational stories and high level BS, the Sellers Summit is a curriculum based conference where you will leave with practical and actionable strategies specifically for an ecommerce business. Click here and get your ticket now before it sells out.

Sellers Summit

Transcript

Steve: You’re listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, the place where I bring on successful bootstrapped business owners and delve deeply into the strategies they use to grow their businesses. Today., I have my buddy Scott Voelker from The Amazing seller back on the show and this time we’re going to talk about the biggest hurdle that most business owners face the mental aspects of Entrepreneurship and getting out of your own head.

But before we begin I want to thank Klaviyo for sponsoring this episode. Black Friday is right around the corner and for my e-commerce store email marketing is a heavy part of my holiday sales strategy. And in fact, last year, it was close to 50% of my overall sales. And of course as you all know klaviyo is the email marketing tool that I use for Bumblebee Linens now Klaviyo is the growth marketing platform chosen by over 20,000 Brands generating more than three point seven billion dollars in Revenue in just the last year and with the holiday season right around the corner klaviyo has created the ultimate planning guide for crushing those holiday Revenue targets for marketing creative to segmentation strategy. These are proven tactics for more personalized marketing, especially in time for the holiday season. To get ahold of this guide, visit Klaviyo.com/mywife. Once again, Klaviyo.com/mywife.

Also want to give a shout-out to Privy who’s a sponsor of the show. Privy is a tool that I use to build my email list for both my blog and my online store and right now I’m using Privy Display a cool Wheel of Fortune pop-up basically user gives your email for a chance to win valuable prizes in our store and customers love the gamification aspect of this and when implemented this form email signups increased by a 131%. Now, you can also use Privy to reduce car abandoned with cart saver pop-ups and abandoned cart email sequences as well one super low price that is much cheaper than using a full-blown email marketing solution. So bottom line Privy allows me to turn visitors into email subscribers and recover lost sales so head on over to privy.com/steve and try it for free if you decide you need to the more advanced features use coupon code MWQHJ for fifteen percent off once again that’s privy.com/steve. Now on to the show

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

Steve: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. Today, I’m thrilled to have my buddy Scott Voelker back on the show. Now, I’ve had Scott on the show many times in the past talk Amazon and online business in general. He was also a partner in crime for the 5 minute pitch our Shark Tank like show where we give away $50,000 to one lucky winner. But you know Scott he is always taking action on something and recently he held his first ever conference brand accelerator live, which was a huge success and at this event. He released his first Book that teaches others how to take action with their businesses. Now, even though his pickle ball game is lacking. I’m happy to have him back and welcome to show Scott how you doing today man?

Scott: I had to hold back to laugh on that, I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to be listening in to that intro.

Steve: You are agreeing right if you didn’t say anything, I mean you agreed your pickleball game is hurting.

Scott: Yeah. No, I’m practicing I’m practicing, we are gonna have a showdown and that might have to be aired as well. We might get some some good viral video out of that.

Steve: Yeah that’ll make a good Instagram story, I think.

Scott: Definitely definitely it will. Hey man, thanks for having me back on. No, this is exciting me back on and yes a lots happened since the last time I was on and like you said the event and everything and I’m just back from the event and I’m just starting to kind of take it all in its kind of crazy.

Steve: I was gonna say I just literally saw you a couple weeks ago. How is the post-conference wind down doing? Are you still pumped up?

Scott: I’m actually more fired up now than ever and going into the conference. I mean, I picked your brain a lot because you guys you and Tony Anderson have done a tremendous job at your event and I’ve really just picked your brain and I was nervous all the way up to and I told you that I’m like man. This is like crazy. Like there’s just so much to be done. And your you feel like you’re you know, people are depending on you and all this stuff and now that it’s done and I seen the results from it and the community and it was just amazing. I’m like so excited for like the next one. Right? Like I’m just like super super excited and then the book like the book launch that was like part of it was like the secret reveal. I didn’t know how that was going to be, you know. Received and that was a smashing success. So yeah, I’m feeling really really good.

Steve: Well it was so well received that the line was like three hours long so I didn’t have the patience to wait in it.

Scott: Well, that’s because you’re not a true fan ha ha ha.

Steve: I figured I’d hit you up later, but ended up not getting my books sign. So I guess the next time rock you in pickleball. I will get my book signed.

Scott: Yeah, bring it right up a little sweaty. But yeah, go ahead and bring it.

Steve: What were some of your key takeaways from the event. What did you like about writing the event and what didn’t you like?

Scott: That’s a great question. Well, I think what I really liked about it was Community like the community. I didn’t realize how strong of a community I know you’d, you kind of thought that I did have a pretty good Community because the first event, you know, there’s a couple girls that wanted to get into that event because they thought I was supposed to be there and who is and they were going to take down some of your..

Steve: well, let’s tell the story because I don’t think a lot of people know about it. So this is what happened. So Scott had a meet up at the Seller Summit and the people there thought that Seller Summit attend this meet up with the same thing and we were of course having free alcohol that night. And so we didn’t want Outsiders coming in and spending our you know, our bar tab essentially.

Scott: Sure.

Steve: But these these fans of Scott were so fanatical that I think they got into a fight with Tony you’re trying to get in and eventually I think you had to step in right and you say hey this is not part of my event and you ended up separating out. And so after that point you were banned from having meetups during

Scott: Yes

Steve: Seller Summit parties.

Scott: That is true. True actually, there was a text message that came from you while we were at another location because I had it off location. And that’s when you said Scott you got to get over here and handle this and so I don’t know if I did I think Chris Shaffer actually went over and kind of figured that out. But yeah, then we move the party back over. But yeah, I was banned from having it during sellers Summit any activity. So we had to do it like late at night when all the parties were over.

Steve: So I’m kind of curious. If Tony could have taken those two women, maybe not two-on-one, but maybe one on one it would have been a fair fight.

Scott: Maybe her and Liz

Steve: Oh yeah her and Liz, that’s true.

Scott: So but yeah, so to be there in person and I think you agree right like we’re on a mic right now. We’re in our office were like talking to a mic and whenever you’re in your office or by yourself, you don’t really realize the people that you’re connecting with on the other side until you meet him in person and they tell you their stories and they tell you how much you know, they know about you and how much they resonate with your story and all this stuff and when you get those people in a room, it’s just it’s magical to me. It’s like there’s so much energy and that’s really what I feed off of like that brings me back to the mic with even more energy that I had before if that’s possible and it is possible by the way. But yeah, so I mean just the people and my wife to be there and be part of that and she really got involved in the community, which I wasn’t expecting because a lot of people know my wife doesn’t like the spotlight.

She actually, she took a zero in public speaking back in high school, but she’s like, I don’t want to be up in front of the class. So she’s not the First and she doesn’t like that but she felt just such a connection here with the people and yeah, so I mean to have her be part of it and everyone that was there just it really just was a magical moment just in that. Now, the content was awesome. I got I mean, I got a ton of great positive feedback from your presentation and so many others and just everyone said that they had just an amazing time the community had people from Australia from Germany come in. It was just absolutely amazing. So that’s what I took away. I just love the people.

Steve: Absolutely, I actually chatted with your wife for like a good 45 minutes, I want to say and she did not come across as an introvert at all

Scott: Yeah. Well, yeah well and it’s funny because she had said like she made a thing in her head like and I don’t know if you have you ever heard of Mel Robbins the five-minute rule or the five second rule– five second rule. It’s great. Great book. She’s she’s awesome. It’s she’s got this thing where it’s like five three two one go do it like kind of like take action right like go do that. Don’t overthink it and my wife was reading her book and she said you know what if something makes you uncomfortable just go ahead and just say to yourself. I’m going to go ahead and try to talk to five people just randomly and just see what happens and just do it and when you do that you start to get yourself in that Rhythm kind of like the book that I wrote the take action packed like once you get that action is set in motion you start to see that wait a minute here.

This is actually going pretty good, you know, like good things are happening in and when she did that she started to build more confidence and then, you know kind of just take it from there. So yeah, I’m just Again, like so proud of her for doing that and then at the conference at the end, I was surprised at the very very last session that I was coming up on stage. You kind of closing down the event. I was getting ready to come out. I had my music that was going to come out to and all that stuff and then all of a sudden they said Scott come on out and then I come out and it’s not what I thought. It was my my wife on stage my son Scotty on stage and then my father on stage and that was just a huge milestone for my wife to actually be on Stage in front of a couple hundred people insane and through me so

Steve: They just spoke for a couple minutes.

Scott: Yeah.

Steve: Well words to say too..

Scott: I was yeah. Yeah, it was really good and everyone’s like I would have never known that she was like nervous to be speaking in front of people. And so yeah, so that was a big thing. I mean that was a big shift for her and a confidence Builder. So I mean she’s now in our brand accelerator like we’ve got a group in there like a private group and she’s in there talking to people everyday and communicating and so really I think it changed even the way that this event is going to be moving forward having her involved in all which wasn’t something I was planning on so It’s not exactly..

Steve: I think you should have her give a session

Scott: I do too. But hey, let’s not let’s not get crazy. Now, let’s not get crazy because she already said she goes to I don’t want to feel like I got to be Forced. You’re not forced not you don’t have to do it. But yeah, I’ve already taught maybe even doing an interview or something like that. It would be pretty cool. Pretty cool.

Steve: Absolutely.

Scott: You know, so that that’s all the good. Now, What’s something that that didn’t go? Well or that I wasn’t expecting was that the second part of your question?

Steve: That was yes.

Scott: Okay, I would say we wanted to do some beach balls stuff here Steve. I think I told you the story right? We had these giant beach balls that we thought would be fun for the crowd to kind of, you know be able to kind of hit and stuff in between sessions and it was just a fun. I’ve seen them in events. I thought it’d be fun. Well, we did that and then we didn’t realize that at our event we’ve got tables so people can actually write down notes and put their drinks up. Well started knocking over drinks.

Steve: I guess I missed that part.

Scott: Yeah, so people started leaving the room and everything so we’re like, oh wait a minute. Okay, we just learned something. We’re not going to throw beach balls unless we don’t have tables which we are so the beach balls that was that was a fail. Yeah. That was a complete fail. But I think the only other thing is is I think it was a little too short. We have to add half a day. I think we might do like a kickoff party next time and then that way there we can have solid two days. Maybe do maybe a little bit of a break out. We’re not sure but like I don’t think I think it’s funny because I was expecting something to go wrong and everything really really went well. I mean again like Tony does it such a great job organizing Kevin Sanderson, my planner did a phenomenal job. So I can’t say that there was anything that didn’t go really well. I went it exceeded my expectations.

Steve: I did not notice anything go wrong at all everything started on time. Yeah, you did jostle me a little bit. I think it was like 8:00 in the morning. I was I think I was checking my phone and you were blessed and heavy metal the eight in the morning and you ran around you shook me. Scared the crap out of me.

Scott: Oh, that’s funny. Yes, I was getting you going man. Come on. I gotta go. You’re in the Scott Voelker event. Yeah

Steve: So dude, so you recently released a book called The Take Action Effect, which I actually completed last night great read time passes quickly and think it finished in just like a couple of hours. It was a really good read. So first off, I want the audience to buy it, but can you You tell the audience what this book is about and kind of what inspired you to even write a book in the first place?

Scott: Yeah, it’s a great question. Well, here’s the deal when I would say probably a couple years ago. I started thinking myself. Like there’s probably something in there that I can share. I mean, I’ve done a lot through my years you’ve done a lot through years like we’ve all done a lot and we don’t give ourselves a lot of credit as we’re building up these skill sets and really kind of being, I think Like agile and being willing to Pivot and taking risks and all of this through our life. And so, you know, I started thinking myself like there’s got to be something that I can share and I had already done this in multiple Industries. I did it in photography space and then I did it in the Amazon space but then switched it over to e-commerce and now more into the brand building stuff and I’m just like, you know, there’s something there that I want to leave behind for my kids.

I want to really document my story, but I want to I don’t want to be just a story about Scott. I want it to be something that can apply to people and then I started thinking like Why aren’t people doing it? Why aren’t people actually taking action. A lot of times it’s fear itself sabotage. It’s I’m not smart enough and I went through all of all of these things. And so I started thinking myself. I’m like, how can I bridge this to where it’s going to be a mindset piece that people can really understand and see that they they can do it. Right? Like we both know we’ve done it your wife has done it. You’ve done it like we’ve all done it but why is it different for you than other people they they start they get stuck and they stop. Right? So I said I got to figure out this this piece. So I wanted to turn it into a book about taking action, which I didn’t know it was gonna be called take action and told a 3

Steve: I knew, It was going to be called in before you wrote it dude.

Scott: Really? Okay. Take a yeah. Yeah, I and I and at first I’m like, I don’t know if I want to name it that I don’t know if it makes sense. But then as I started going through it, I started to identify like in my own path, you know my own Journey. There’s been these moments these moments in time that we’ve made a decision, right? We made this decision to do something and then from there our life changed forever. Like there’s something there that just clicked or that a circumstance came up and we had to do it and then all of a sudden it changed and if that didn’t happen you wouldn’t be where you are today. And so I started to kind of like unpack everything and saying like Okay, if someone was going to do it from scratch, what would that look like if I get a lot of people and you do too like what would you do today if you were to start over again.

So I wanted to create a book that would allow people to get through their own self sabotage their own like sticking points and then to get them built up enough inside that to really think that they can do it. Like there’s a confidence in all of us, but we don’t know how to identify some time. So I wanted to really unpack themselves through some of my own stories, but then from there turn it over to them. And then once we get that mindset piece done now, let’s figure out what you can actually do or the business that you’re currently in. How can you take that to the next level with core principles that aren’t going to go away. That’s why it’s really How To build a future proof business but really a future prove you in building that skill set.

Steve: So let’s do this. Let’s apply some of the concepts of your new book and helping the audience take action with their businesses and let’s start with mindset because it’s actually something that I typically don’t cover on the podcast because as an Asian, I was just kind of brought up to just kind of suck it up and do it the way things work. So let’s talk a little bit about just kind of breaking the routine. I know you and I we probably both get emails all the time. People who are just kind of stuck in this rut this routine of going to work coming back eating dinner my wife and I we were stuck in this rut first. So how can you first convince yourself how to get unstuck? And how did you get unstuck?

Scott: Well, the one thing that I think people that are feeling stuck they need to really see exactly what they want. And I know this has been something that people have talked about, you know for years, right? Like what is your why but it’s, it’s even deeper than that. So for me going back and I remember exactly when it happened for me. I lost my mother when she was 50 years old. So that was a real eye-opening experience and a life-changing thing for me. I was 23 years old 24 years old somewhere in there and I had a three year old daughter and a two-month-old son. So I got married young had kids young, but then my mother passed away suddenly and so that shook me and I thought I was going to own my father’s company at the time that I was working for a construction company. And then found out that his you know him and his partner. No just that partnership was not good. We had people in the business that were stealing. It was just a nightmare. So I seen that my future was kind of limited there. So when when I started to identify this myself I started to say like what can I do and I didn’t have confidence in myself back then because I didn’t go to college.

So because of that I’m thinking like well in order to get a really good job, make six figures you got to go to college. And so then that’s when my wife came to me with an idea of starting a photography business. And I mean the rest is history from There but at that point we established the what we wanted we wanted lifestyle and freedom. We didn’t care that it was like, oh I got to make, you know, a hundred fifty thousand two hundred thousand we needed to make whatever $4,000 a month back then in order to pay the bills. So that was the goal so I could be home with the kids more and we can live a life together. Right like so, you know to me with the wake-up call was my mother passing away and then me realizing how short life can be and having kids and then seeing them grow up and then Being able to see them take their first step or maybe my son if I didn’t do again that take action moment. If I didn’t do that, I would have missed my son’s baseball but his little league career because I would have been working because I knew I was working 12 hours a day if I was still working in my father’s company, but because I did this that that one moment I call them take action moments in the book that moment that I decided to make the leap allowed me now to watch my son.

You know at you know, every baseball game and actually coached him all the way up till he was 16 years old and we travel all over all over the country playing Baseball so I would have missed out on that. So I think for people it’s that it’s that what is it that’s going to drive you and I get people say well, yeah, I want that too, but then you don’t put in the hour at night or the hour before you go to work, right? I built that Steve; I built a house while I was working construction. I built a house from the ground up myself with a few buddies my dad on the weekends or at night while I was working a full-time job 60 plus hours a week and I did that because I wanted a house that Built that I could say that I built that I raised my family and that was just important to me back then that was my goal. That’s what I did. So for people right now, they’re like, well, I want that freedom, but I don’t want to put in the time you have to put in the time in order to get the result and when you get frustrated, you gotta push through if you really want the thing that you’re going for like the you know that goal of yours, whatever it is. The why.

So, to me people just don’t have a strong enough why in order to drive them that no matter what it takes, you’re going to do it. You’re going to show up and just you’re going to make it happen no matter what and learn through that process.

Steve: You know, it’s funny is we have similar whys and I met your entire family and I think you guys have a super tight family and I can understand the way you were brought up your super close to your dad and your mom that you don’t want that for your kids. I was kind of the same way when I was brought up. I actually didn’t see my parents all that much because they were working all the time. And so I wanted to be able to spend as much time as possible with my kids because of my childhood and that became my why And that is when things got bad that is kind of what pushed us over the top. We just keep plodding through the muck so to speak when things aren’t going that well.

Scott: Yeah it well and again, so let me ask you so okay, you had this and I mean obviously your you know your brand my wife quit her job, right? Like that was all because you wanted to get your wife to be able to stay home and she wanted it you wanted it because it was important you guys that you had a parent, you know with you know, your children.

Steve: Yeah.

Scott: Like that was important. Portent so in the beginning was it wasn’t easy like that was her struggles along the way. Yeah. I’m sure there were I mean you can answer that better than I can but I know we did like we had I mean I look at businesses Seasons, you have all these different seasons you have seasons that are you know, you have winter. Oh man. It seems like it’s never going to end and then all of a sudden spring comes and then summer and then it’s great, you know, so it’s all about understanding that it is going to take some struggles. But if you really want it you’ll push through so that way there you can have it and work at the other side.

Steve: So I think it requires more than just wanting it right? I don’t know there’s some people who want it but I don’t at least in my audience, but they’re just not putting forth the effort like what is something that you can do just push them to make that extra effort?

Scott: Well, I think first off a lot of times by people don’t start. They I think gathering information is easy, right? We all can do that. Right? Let’s just keep Gathering. Let’s just keep Gathering. Let’s keep Gathering. Look at all the different things we can do and then all of a sudden Seems like you have to do so much and then it becomes overwhelming you do nothing. Okay, or you go you know, what if I never start if I just keep learning if I never start I can’t fail. So there’s a lot of different things. It could be as you were a kid your parents made you feel as a failure because you would start something in you wouldn’t finish or you quit. Maybe you quit your little league because you felt like, you know, the kids didn’t treat you the same or maybe you’re coached batted you 9th or whatever right?

There’s we have we all have our own little internal struggles. Right? but I think that people are afraid of failing and to me you’re never failing you don’t fail unless you give up period, right? so every single thing that you do every action that you take will give you knowledge that you will always have but if you just keep consuming, you’re never going to get there, you know, the questions or you know, the answers that you’re looking for because you’re not actually putting something into action. So I think people struggle with starting because they don’t want to fail or you know could be their wife. They don’t want to fail in front of their wife their kids, you know, maybe their parents because they’ve said I’m going to be a doctor and their parents want them to be a doctor or they want them to be a lawyer or whatever, right? So there’s all everyone is a little bit different but I think a lot of times it’s like if I don’t start I can’t fail.

Steve: If you sell an Amazon or run any online business for that matter, you’re going to need a trademark to protect your intellectual property. Not only that but a trademark is absolutely necessary to register your brand on Amazon. Now, I used to think that any old trademark registration service would work and that could even try to register my own trademark by myself on the cheap, but I was dead wrong. Securing a trademark without a strategy in place usually results in either an outright rejection or a worthless unenforceable trademark. Now, that is why I work with Stephen Wagner and his team from Emerge counsel. They have a package service called total TM, which provides the same attention to detail and process that large law firms do at a fraction of the price. Now for me personally, I like Emerge Council because of their philosophy, their goal is to maximize IP protection while minimizing the price. So before you decide to register a trademark by yourself or file for other I could protection such as a copyright or a patent, check out Emerge counsel first and get a free consult. For more information go to emergecouncil.com and click on the Amazon sellers button and tell Steve that Steve sent you to receive a $100 discount on the total TM package for Amazon sellers. Once again, that’s emergecounsel.com over at emergecounsel.com now back to the show.

I know for me. I have problems starting things if I think it’s one gigantic problem that I need to solve.

Scott: Hmm.

Steve: So for the blog for the longest time, like I hate writing I started hating writing.

Scott: I can’t believe that too because you get some long posts.

Steve: I do I write them now but back in the day, I used to hate writing. I used to dread every minute of it. I just sucked it up and did it but the reason why it took me so long. I wanted to start a blog for probably two years and the reason why I could not do it was just because I didn’t want to learn how to install WordPress and get that whole infrastructure in place.

Scott: That’s crazy.

Steve: But once I had that down which turned out not to be that bad at all once I had the website up just adding the post was was a no-brainer, right? All I had to do is just log in and start writing but because I had include that first hurdle. I just had a lot of problems getting started.

Scott: Well, yeah, and I think people overcomplicate it so like in my book like I break it down. So all you have to do is just focus on like these or principles right like figure out your market like figure out how to get attention in the market, you know, then from there learn how to build some relationship with the audience so that way they know like and trust you and then figure out how to monetize after the fact now that doesn’t mean that you’re not going to do in the research stages. You’re not going to make sure that there’s ways that you can monetize like we want to make sure that we do this work but really it’s that simple like you don’t have to go out there and think you have to you know, know every single part of the business and I think that’s where people get hung up. Because then we start hearing about all these all these new things we can do all of these different platforms that we can use social media this that and the other thing when in the beginning you just really need to start and I like to start with a home base.

Like like you said like the blog the website like that’s kind of where you kind of you build the foundation there and then you can start building things off of that that will bring things back to the home base. It’s really that simple but so many people get overwhelmed I think also because they’re comparing to other people right there comparing to other screen shots that are being posted in In their you know, their Facebook group that they’re following a hundred different Facebook groups with a hundred different gurus showing all of these different things. I think if you just if you put the blinders on and you just follow a system and a process then I don’t know how you can fail. You just you just continually push through obviously, you got to understand how to validate a market, you know, see if there is potential there for that market whether that’s traffic, you know monetization ways like all that stuff, but it’s pretty simple if you break it down.

Steve: So before we get into that, which is what I’m going to transition to, A little bit. I just wanted to talk about this one quote that I really liked. I think it was Pat’s quote actually not “instead of trying to learn everything there is to learn about getting started with the business. For example, all you got to know is what you’re working on right now.”

Scott: Yeah, that’s it.

Steve: That’s all the knowledge. You need it ignore everything else just work on learning about what you’re trying to accomplish like right this second.

Scott: Yeah a hundred percent. I I mean again, I mean Pat has said it to I think he learned it from someone else or heard it from someone else just-in-time learning. It’s like just Learn what you have to learn right now, like shelf all that other stuff. And I said that at our event I said, you’re going to learn a lot of stuff here. You’re gonna have a lot of different ideas, but there’s things that you can apply today or maybe six months from now. You can always go back to the Shell from for later. You can come back to them.

Steve: Absolutely, Yeah, so Scott, let’s let’s talk about starting a future-proof business. What is the first step from someone who is just getting started?

Scott: I think the first step is and I think this is where people struggle though. They’re like what Niche do I go into do I just look at numbers do I just you know, and there’s like probably a ton of different responses or replies that we could we could go, you know into that direction. Like I think people get stuck because sometimes they’re like, I want it to be my passion and you know, I would love for it to be your passion. But if you’re struggling for six months to figure out what your passion is, then I think you just need to move. I think you need to You need to..

Steve: But that means it’s not your passion. If you’re struggling to figure out what it is right?

Scott: True. And but I think you know passions can kind of come from starting something as well and I’ll get em, I’ll give you the example. So my wife and I started our photography business when I was leaving the construction World. Well, I was we wanted to leave the construction business, but we were building the photographer’s I was not passionate about photography. Okay. I was not my wife was in a sense, but she still wasn’t like every day looking at like photography magazines and like all of that stuff, she just enjoyed good photography like that was it and we had we had went to photography studios and she seen that there was a there was really a I think a hole in the market where we were because no one was really giving a good experience. So she came to me with this idea.

Now, I my passion at the time was getting the hell out of my job. Right? Like that was my pet. I want to get out like get show me a different way and I’ll get out. So once we did that, that opened me up to number one Photoshop, which I have My my Photoshop six journal on my bookshelf as a reminder bought it for $64.95 back in 2002 2003 something like that. And so that book right there bought it and I started learning about it. I started becoming really passionate about that and then I started also figuring out how I could get more people in the door for my wife to be able to photograph. Then I started to develop a passion for marketing, right? So those passions weren’t there before I started but I started because I wanted to get out of the thing.

And then that built up skill sets that I now have I mean that one Photoshop book has made me millions of dollars just that one book, right because of all the I built businesses on it. I’ve taught people on Photoshop. Like I’ve had CDs that I’ve sold around Photoshop templates, you know photography clients that came in and I’ve done you know personal work for, for five hundred dollars for photo Restorations, like all of that stuff. I’ve made Millions on that book, but it’s a skill set that I built that was a passion of mine and you know, so is the Marketing, so I just think that people need to get out of their own way sometimes and say listen Okay, this one might not be my passion. But someone else that I know it’s their passion, then you can go ahead and plug into that and then start to learn the process and then when the passion arises in you, you’ll kind of identify and then you can act on it.

Steve: I mean that’s very similar to my story. I am not passionate about handkerchiefs or linens.

Scott: No?

Steve: Not at all but I was passionate about getting my wife out of a rut of going to work every day to a job that she did not like and I was very passionate about having a parent stay at home with the kids and as we started the e-commerce business, I became interested in the nuts and bolts of how to run the business how to market the business all the customers psychology aspects of getting someone to buy was very interesting to me and I became very passionate about that.

Scott: Yeah and see so you didn’t have that before you didn’t start that but you started it for the one thing but then it opened up something else for you and this skill set that you have you’re going to have forever, right?

Steve: Absolutely and it can be Applied to any business actually.

Scott: Any business. Yeah.

Steve: Yeah.

Scott: Yeah, No, I absolutely love it another short story. Let me just because this happened at seller Summit. Actually, we were at a meet up after hours, by the way. It wasn’t during the event. It was it was all

Steve: I know is off hours because there’s no one fighting trying to pick a fight with Tony. So.

Scott: yeah, so and I met a guy there and he this it was his first time at like an event like this and he was a little confused. He was struggling with his with his with his passion. Well, like what he was going to build his business on and I got to I can do it and he’s like, you know, I just wish that I could hire someone that could do all the marketing things, but I’m like but you don’t know your passion yet. He goes. Yeah. I know I’m struggling with that. But I’m just kind of confused and I go well, you know tell me a little bit about like what you do and he goes, well, I were corporate he goes my wife. She runs a speech therapy business, you know, brick and mortar and I go wait a minute stop time out for a minute and I started digging into that welcomes the find come to find out he’s really passionate and so is his wife about speech therapy for kids that she’s been doing for 15 years.

Why don’t you help your wife get that online to help more kids not just locally and he’s like, wow, I didn’t even think of that and I’m like see that could help you learn the process of building a business online and then you have all of the content that you’ll ever need because she’s doing client work every day, right? She could show up on video on blog posts and then he started to tell me because you have then there’s these products that were buying on Amazon and they never come how we wanted. There’s always little flaws were always tweaking them or telling people to use this rubber band for this for that I go well that’s a perfect, perfect way for you to create your own customized product because now you’re going to be able to refer products and so his mind was blown after we got done but he didn’t see the opportunity in front of him because he was looking for his passion not just an opportunity.

Steve: Interesting

Scott: It was pretty crazy.

Steve: I had a similar story with my wife quit her job like I was running the business and people’s just started asking me questions about e-commerce and I was like okay I kind of know this stuff I mean I’m not an expert but I’m you know I can just talk about what I’m doing with it, and that turned out to build a pretty big following.

Scott: Yeah not exactly exactly so it doesn’t have to be hard and it doesn’t have to be your passion to start with I think you just have to move you got to do something and start learning and then once you do you’ll plug that into whichever business adventure is going to be coming your way you know in the future.

Steve: Here’s the thing about passion this is kind of why I brought it up earlier like when you’re passionate about something Things that you just read about and do all the time like when I was a kid, I used to play Nintendo games and I used to like create my own little strategy guides and everything and I spent like all of my time doing this stuff and no one was paying me. I didn’t have any idea. I didn’t have any intentions of making money on it but kind of by accident little kids started paying me for these little strategy guides that I was making and I haven’t it’s great when things just kind of happened by accident. It’s just all about identifying what it is that you can do with the skill set that you have because Everyone has a skill set.

Scott: Absolutely. I think you’re building skill sets as you as you take action, right? Like as you do things you’re learning things and to me, that’s how I’ve you know been like I said, like I think we all have a safety net to fall back on with whatever leap were making next. Like if I go all the way back like I can still right now probably go out there and start my own company building houses. Like I’ve done it. I know the process. I know how to manage subcontractors. I know the nuts and bolts right? I know it. Photography same thing like I know That stuff but I’m not using it today, but I might be using some of the marketing stuff because that kind of that stuff is interchangeable. So I just think that people need to understand that you just got to start if you have if you’ve been listening to Steve, you know for the past year and you’ve been wanting to do something but you haven’t you need to just give yourself a deadline and do something right? Like just get something started simple as that.

Steve: So I know for you that when you were trying to figure things out after the photography business, so first of all, why did you To show that and what led you to create podcasts?

Scott: Yeah. Okay, it’s great great question. So when we were running a photography business was a brick and mortar in my home actually built the studio separate access to that to our house in our basement. So was a full, you know full studio. And so we were doing that we had that we had the two kids at the time we had Alexis and Scotty and then we were pregnant with Kayla who now is 11 and we just started saying ourselves. It’s going to be really hard with a new born and taking all these clients. And also when in the beginning it was great because we’re like, oh we can make our own schedule. But our own schedule was a lot of times in the evenings or on the weekends because that’s when people are off of work or the lighting was best at night. So we started to get a little bit burn out with client work.

So we’re like, how can we create like a side, you know Revenue stream. So this way here we can work less with the clients that we had and then I started to dabble in eBay to be honest with you and the way that we did that it was we had some props that we used to buy. For the studio we were buying these little wooden bridges these little four foot Bridges. And so my wife seen that they were also selling at a store locally for like 30 bucks, but they were selling on eBay for a hundred and thirty bucks. So we said let’s try to sell them and we did and we ended up buying like 25-30 Bridges and we sold them all on eBay and that’s what opened my eyes to online selling. And then from there. I started building these projectors that I was transferring film for for my video the video side of the business because we were doing some video transfer work too and I started some of those sold over $100,000 in these projectors that I was modifying.

And sold them on eBay. So that’s what opened it up there. And then I started hearing about private labeling just because when you’re in this, you know, entrepreneurial space you start hearing about other channels and you know, what’s coming up and so I started to think maybe I should just throw five grand at something and see what see what happens well back then it was easy, you know, you can just throw them almost anything up and you know, because you could put up a stainless steel garlic press and probably hit number one and sell 50 units a day and then it got harder but I started to ask myself the same thing. I had people asking me. Like, how are you doing it? Like how did you start your own online business? How are you selling e-commerce, like all this stuff and I said, well, maybe I’ll just document the journey and I’ll just start a podcast because I like talking I don’t like writing like you said, so that’s what I did.

I started it in almost four and a half years now and so I just wanted to be able to show up on a medium that I didn’t mind jumping on and that was podcasting and then it’s totally like pivoted since I started right before it was like Amazon focus now, it’s more brand-building focus that that’s kind of how.

Steve: I know. Had a couple of podcast before the amazing seller. Why

Scott: yes

Steve: Those not do well.

Scott: Well, the one I had was on well, I was 40. I was 39 and I started to go through that. Oh my gosh, I’m you know, I’m going to be 40. I’m not in good shape and stuff. So I started getting into Beachbody products. I went in I did Insanity for 60 days and I got totally ripped. It was like awesome was in the best shape of my life and I’m like, you know, there’s probably a lot of guys that are 40-ish and you know, they feel like they want to get back in shape. They want to be healthy. And so I started really getting into it. I mean, I was really really dialed in almost obsessively and so I had a buddy of mine you met him Jimmy and him and I was said, you know what let’s just jump on and do a podcast will talk about what we’re doing and we did it and after about six episodes we were like, it’s just too much work. We just don’t feel like doing it and we just stopped and that was it was like literally just because we just

Steve: Why did that happened though. Why did you just decide to stop?

Scott: I think it was hard for him and I to get on at the same time. I might have been doing a lot of Publishing so I felt like you know, a lot of the work was coming down on me. So it was him and I just kind of like riffing as friends.

Steve: Okay

Scott: And there wasn’t really so it kind of got to be like a little bit of a hassle even though it was like it was six weeks worth of stuff. Maybe it was a six or eight whatever it was. And so I just started to lose a little bit of interest in it still had the passion for helping people. Actually. I hope the few of my buddies lose over a hundred pounds just by setting up there, you know simple diet and simple exercise routine. So I still have a passion for That I still have a passion for just living just a healthy life and staying active and all that stuff. So I think I just I didn’t see the reason in doing it when I was doing my other stuff. I was still doing photography stuff. I was I mean, I built an online photography tutorial based membership site. Like I was running that for six and seven are almost seven years, which did really really well, but I was doing that and I was trying to do the podcasting thing and so it just it took up too much time at you know, at the time that I was doing.

It so I think I just got kind of a little bit burnt out and he wasn’t as into it as I was so I felt like you know, I’m gonna have to kind of I’m gonna have to kind of try to keep him enticed. So just got a little bit old quick. Yeah, but then the second one was on a marketing it was marketing but it was more broad. So it wasn’t like Niche down. It was like really broad like just how to Market your small business, right? So it’s just too broad and I didn’t realize at the time and it was fun because I was helping photographers get more clients, but it Wasn’t around just photography. I probably should have narrowed it down to just photography. But at the time I wanted to kind of get out of the photography Spotlight and be more than just business not just photography.

And then that’s where I said. Well, let me just, you know Target Amazon sellers because that’s kind of like up-and-coming and there was no one else doing it at the time. And so then when I started doing that it was great, right like had a great following and I still do but that all of a sudden I started being coined as the Amazon guy and I’m like, oh my gosh, I’m right back where I started. I was the photography guy now. I’m the Amazon guy. I don’t want to just be the Is on guy I want to be the guy that helps people build businesses and that’s kind of where we are now. Like I’ve done that pivot over the past four and a half years.

Steve: So how do you know when you need to Niche down?

Scott: I think in the beginning you have to I really do I think if you’re not you’re going up against like just everyone I think if you can Niche down in the very beginning, I think it’s going to make your life in the process easier. I think the only thing I would say though is you definitely want to allow yourself room for growth meaning if I was going to Niche it down. In like let’s say fishing, right? Like if I went fishing, that’d be too broad. I’d go bass fishing or I’d go kayak Bass Fishing. I would try to drill down but I wouldn’t name my site the ultimate bass fishing whatever right? I would name it something like, you know, something fishing more broad or even just Outdoors sports or something that would allow me to be able to be in fly fishing bass fishing deep sea fishing like anything that I could have other verticals under I wouldn’t just Target myself. That Niche down I would allow myself to come out of that if I wanted to.

Steve: And how do you find the people who are to listen to your podcast? I guess in this example. I got it. I don’t even know the story. How did you get your first listeners on the amazing seller?

Scott: Yeah. So what I did was I went into a Facebook group and I was there for probably over eight months just being a contributor just going in there answering questions. Guys, I’m not an expert, you know at the time I might have been making $10,000 a month or something, you know revenue and it wasn’t You know crazy and I was just kind of answering questions Fielding questions. And so then as I did that people would start at asking me questions and then I said, you know what? Maybe I’ll maybe I should just start a podcast and answer some of these questions on a podcast that way there.

I can build a community. I had no idea how I would monetize it didn’t care because I’ve built audiences before and like if I just build the audience the rest will figure itself out. And so then I just I asked the group I said, hey, I’m thinking about starting a podcast that’s going to talk about the things that I’ve talked about here. But I can go a little bit deeper. Would you be interested if I did it and I had about a hundred people say yes, and that was it and I started my but I almost didn’t start Steve almost didn’t start. I almost did not hit record on that episode.

Steve: So what pushed you over the edge.

Scott: Actually my wife my wife said to me because I was telling her what I was doing and everything and she said, you know, I really think you should do it and I’m like, well, yeah, but you know who’s going to listen to me, you know, like I’m just you know, Dabbling over here. You know, I know what I’m doing, but I don’t know. I’m still kind of learning things and she’s like, yeah, but you just whenever we’re at a party or any everyone’s always huddled around asking what you’re doing, you know, like what how are you doing this like because people don’t understand like we are, you know kind of on the same mindset as far as like we understand the online space or if you’re coming into the world, you’re starting to hear us all talk about it.

But when you’re at a party with people that are just in corporate or whatever they don’t they don’t really understand it. They don’t know landing pages and you know, like Optimization like all of this. They don’t know these terms and so she was like, you know, I really just think that you should do it, but she goes you’re just really good talking to people you’re really energetic you get people excited about things. Why don’t you just give it a shot and I’m like, I don’t know and then she’s like just record like 15 20 episodes and I’m like, all right, I’ll do it. And then I did it and then here we are, you know, so if I never did it if I didn’t have my wife also pushing me. I probably never would there’s another take action moment to by the way, he’s going to highlight that.

Steve: I mean, they’re gonna take away I got from that is you need a really good support system and spouse to get you to take action.

Scott: A hundred percent man. I mean like going to an event like your event our event now any event that’s like like-minded people. There’s so much power in that like when you make a few connections just a few that could be like game-changing stuff because from there it can push you or it can make you believe in yourself when you don’t believe in yourself, right? Because you’re not giving yourself enough credit.

Steve: I just want to let you know that tickets for the 2020 Seller Summit are on sale over at sellersummit.com. Now what is seller Summit? It is the conference that I hold every year that is specifically targeting e-commerce entrepreneurs selling physical products online and 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 e-commerce business. And in fact, every speaker I invite is deep in the trenches of their e-commerce 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 Seller Summit will be small and intimate every year we cut off ticket sales at just a couple hundred people. So tickets will sell out fast, and in fact, we sell out every single year many months in advance now if you’re an e-commerce entrepreneur making over 250K or 1 million dollars per year, we are also offering an exclusive mastermind experience with other top sellers. Now, the Seller Summit is going to be held in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. From May 6 to May 8. And right now, we are almost sold out of Mastermind tickets already and I will be raising the ticket price regularly starting the day after Cyber Monday for more information, go to sellerssummit.com. Once again, that’s SELLERSUMMIT.COM or just Google it, now back to the show.

Here’s a good story. There’s this one seller summit attendee that that you know of and he was talking to Mike Jackness and you said I’m thinking about selling this blah blah blah and then Mike told him like I’m not going to talk to you again until you’ve actually launched your product love it. And then after that he actually launched a product and today he runs a seven-figure business.

Scott: It’s ya see that there

Steve: you have one conversation with Mike

Scott: once that’s what I talk about the book as far as a take action moment. Like that was a moment that you made. Decision, right? Because Mike gave him like Hey, listen, if you don’t do this don’t talk to me until you do it, right like and I think we need people like that in our lives that can help us see a little bit clearer, but also believe in ourselves and then from there once you take the action you’re and I’m sure that him getting there from that conversation to the seven figures wasn’t easy, right? There’s been struggles. There’s been you know, probably inventory issues. There’s been maybe hijackers there’s been all kinds of stuff. But the thing is is he got momentum and the problem he had then isn’t the problem he has now get different problems now, right? It’s just at a different, you know at a different level. But yeah, I love that. I absolutely love that.

Steve: So Scott, who is this book for man?

Scott: this book? Really when I was writing it was like it was kind of strange because I was like this. I wanted to serve two different people. I want to serve someone that’s feeling stuck in their in their nine to five or there JOB, and they’re thinking themselves. I’m stuck right I put all this time and energy into a degree. I can’t give up. On this career because if I do I’m going to waste all that right and I’m miserable, you know, and I want to be home more or I want to be able to take more Vacations or I want to be able to just live the life that that I deserve right? That’s it’s for that person that doesn’t believe in themselves because they don’t see the big picture and I want to use myself and my story as an example and then give them the roadmap the other person it’s for is if you’re building a business right now and you’re feeling stuck in that business, whether it’s either growth or if you’re feeling like I’ve built this thing and I’m not really sure that I even want to build this business.

I might want to build something else. Well, I want to give you the opportunity to grow that business. So this way here you can sell it for more when you decide to or you can also take the same principles and then start a business from scratch and then lay the the, you know, really the foundation and you know create that that roadmap that will allow you to build something that is Diversified and that will give you that freedom that you want and that you deserve And also you can repeat this process. So it’s really for two different camps either if you’re feeling stuck or if you’re feeling like I’m stuck in my business that I built. I’m not sure if I want to be here or I want to grow that business outside of just one channel.

Steve: My key takeaways were basically the book will help you get out of your own head. Yeah, basically, yeah Scott. I know you have a snazzy URL for it to work and they find the book?

Scott: Yeah. It’s very simple takeactioneffect.com will take you over to the book and you can grab it over on Amazon and paperback hardcover and it’s on Kendall.

Steve: And it’s coming out in audible to right?

Scott: Yes. We are going to be recording that depending on when you’re listening to this. So if you are listening to this before December 2019, because I’m hoping to have it released by then. If you do grab a copy of the physical book, all you have to do is send me a copy of that receipt at Scottattheamazingseller.com and just send me that and I will send you the audio book for free.

Steve: Cool. Yes Scott, man. Thanks a lot for coming back on the show. Really appreciate it.

Scott: Yeah, I appreciate you having me and I want people to look out for some footage of me beating up on you in pickleball.

Steve: Ha ha ha just sign the book first dude sign the book first.

Scott: Okay, I’ll do that. Thanks Steve. I appreciate it, brother.

Steve: Take care.

Hope you enjoyed that episode now Scotty V is the man and if you haven’t picked up his book yet head on over to amazon.com right now and buy it now it is a quick and interesting read and you’ll be super motivated when you’re done for more information about this episode go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode281.

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

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

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

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

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Ready To Get Serious About Starting An Online Business?


If you are really considering starting your own online business, then you have to check out my free mini course on How To Create A Niche Online Store In 5 Easy Steps.

In this 6 day mini course, I reveal the steps that my wife and I took to earn 100 thousand dollars in the span of just a year. Best of all, it's absolutely free!

280: How To Prepare Your Business For Sale And What Multiples To Expect With Thomas Smale

280: How To Prepare Your Business For Sale And What Multiples To Expect

Today, I’m thrilled to have my friend Thomas Smale on the show. Thomas is the founder of FEInternational, one of the largest and most prolific website business brokers on the internet.

Thomas has completed hundreds of millions in SaaS, ECommerce and content business acquisitions since 2010 and he’s got a huge network of pre-qualified investors.

In this episode, we break down what multiples businesses are selling for today and how to prepare your business for sale.

What You’ll Learn

  • How Thomas founded FEInternational
  • Why and how Thomas got into the business of buying and selling businesses
  • The online business models that carry the largest multiples
  • How to prepare your business for sale
  • The criteria to look for when buying a business

Other Resources And Books

Sponsors

Klaviyo.com – Klaviyo is the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store. Created specifically for ecommerce, it is the best email marketing provider that I’ve used to date. Click here and try Klaviyo for FREE.
Klaviyo

Privy.com – Privy is my tool of choice when it comes to gathering email subscribers for my ecommerce store. They offer easy to use email capture, exit intent, and website targeting tools that turn more visitors into email subscribers and buyers. With both free and paid versions, Privy fits into any budget. Click here and get 15% OFF towards your account.
Privy

EmergeCounsel.com – EmergeCounsel is the service I use for trademarks and to get advice on any issue related to intellectual property protection. Click here and get $100 OFF by mentioning the My Wife Quit Her Job podcast.
Emerge Counsel

SellersSummit.com – The ultimate ecommerce learning conference! Unlike other events that focus on inspirational stories and high level BS, the Sellers Summit is a curriculum based conference where you will leave with practical and actionable strategies specifically for an ecommerce business. Click here and get your ticket now before it sells out.

Sellers Summit

Transcript

Steve: You’re listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, the place where I bring on successful bootstrapped business owners and delve deeply into the strategies they use to grow their businesses. Now today, I have my friend Thomas Smale on the show and Thomas is the founder of Fe International one of the leading business brokers in the world. And in this episode we are going to break down what multiples businesses are selling for today and how to prepare your business for sale.

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

I also want to give a shout out to Klaviyo for sponsoring this episode. Code Black Friday is right around the corner and for my e-commerce store email marketing is a heavy part of my holiday sales strategy. And in fact last year, it was close to 50% of My overall sales. And of course as you all know klaviyo is the email marketing tool that I use for Bumblebee Linens now Klaviyo is the growth marketing platform chosen by over 20,000 Brands generating more than three point seven billion dollars in Revenue in just the last year and with the holiday season right around the corner klaviyo has created the ultimate planning guide for crushing those holiday Revenue targets for marketing creative to segmentation strategy. These are proven tactics for more personalized marketing, especially in time for the holiday season. To get ahold of this guide, visit Klaviyo.com/mywife. Once again, Klaviyo.com/mywife. Now on to the show.

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

Steve: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. Today, I’m really excited to have Thomas Smale on the show. Now Thomas is someone who I’ve known for quite some time now and he’s actually sponsored the seller Summit for the past four years. He is the founder of Fe International one of the largest and most prolific website business brokers on the internet and they’ve completed hundreds of millions in sas Commerce and content business Acquisitions since 2010 and they’ve got a huge network of pre-qualified investors. And today what we’re going to do is we are going to talk about Takes to sell a business and which business types have the biggest multiples today. And with that welcome to show Thomas. How you doing today, man?

Thomas: Yeah. Thanks. Steve, I’m really good.

Steve: Hey Thomas. So for the people who don’t know who you are. What is your background story? And when did you kind of get into this business of buying and selling online businesses?

Thomas: Yes. So if you gave up to 2010 when I founded the company, I was still at College, I think like many college students. I was trying to make some extra cash. So I got into I met someone who’s buying and selling domains. I started doing that as well and to others did not do very well until why I realize is that what I thought was a domestic really have any intrinsic value to have any consistent process selling them. I thought like more luck than anything else. So I then stumbled upon the idea of websites. And at the time I was studying I see a business degree at University or college. So that made a lot more sense to me resonated so I didn’t really have any money so there’s a case of Investing $100 usual my credit card at the beginning of month buying a website finding ways to improve it. So she’s just finding ways to make a little bit of extra money with it.

And then reselling it before the end of the month paying off my credit card and redoing that cycle so that quite successfully for a while and was making less nice little bit of extra side income. So in the year I graduated with his 2010. I decided to write a book and a course about how to buy and sell. That’s kind of profit. So I wrote that launch that at the time I thought that I would or if that’s what I thought the business or F in SAS as it is now, I thought it was going to be a business where I made all of my money teaching people how to buy and sell and also buying selling myself. What happened is that the course did well it got it was successful is very popular. People who bought the course it turned out. They actually didn’t want to sell businesses themselves. They wanted to hire someone to do it for them. So I started having people coming to me with established businesses.

They had already either bought or built themselves and saying well, hey, you know how to buy and sell something for a $1,000. What about if you help me sell my business for twenty thousand. So the first day I ever did as a broker so to speak the $20,000 deal didn’t get paid anything into it. It’s sold and then from that really just compounded from Word of Mouth what we do now didn’t really exist back then. I was one of the only people only companies helping people with online businesses seldom the water like business brokerage been around for many many years. So if you have a restaurant or bar those kind of businesses have been bought and sold for Long Time online businesses lesser. So that’s how I started out and then it really just compounding from there as a lot of Word of Mouth.

Steve: Yeah

Thomas: It started. A doubling down and focusing something like many businesses. It was a very early pivot what we do now is not what we did at the start but the concept of buying selling is still really the same. It’s just now we do much bigger deals than what we started out.

Steve: So just for the benefit of the listeners out there. What Thomas did is actually a pretty good way to get Legion you put out some education about a particular topic and people might not be necessarily interested in the education. They want to just hire you out right? So I guess you kind of accidentally stumbled upon that and that’s really allowed your business to kind of get jump-started through that method.

Thomas: Yeah. I think that’s a pretty good way of describing it.

Steve: So Thomas, I think I’ve seen you at every single event that I’ve ever been to does Fe kind of specialize in certain types of companies or do you kind of just do them all?

Thomas: The same many as you can used to be that if it’s an online business, we would we would take it on and try and sell it as years have gone by we’ve become a little bit more focused and specialized in what we do and that’s partly because we’re a success The only business we only get paid if we sell the company and we don’t want to waste anyone’s time if we’re not going to be of any help or assistance. So we primarily focus on e-commerce and within e-commerce that includes Amazon FBA examples of merch all sorts of different businesses within that. We also do SAS and software companies and then content based businesses, which we would usually seems like blocks that monetize with affiliate programs or advertising then occasion. We have some other businesses in so we quite often cell service businesses, which also have a kind of subscription or or product element as well for usually those those three main business models of SAS Ecommerce content are what we specialize in the most.

Steve: So I’m just curious myself what business models what online business models carry the largest multiples right now on average?

Thomas: So if you look across those three business models SAS is generally the highest. I mean, there’s hundreds of factors that go into

Steve: I’m sure there are.

Thomas: Valuation. Yeah, so the reason I guess I’m high level. The reason why SAS valuations are generally higher than e-commerce in content is the fact you almost always have recurring Revenue. So if you have a e-commerce business, for example that has recurring Revenue. So let’s say a subscription box or maybe you have like a membership or or something like that or subscribe and save that kind of business model. Then you would expect to see a similar valuation to her SAS business, but they do tend to be the highest. Because of the fact you’ve got that recurring Revenue.

Steve: Can you just give us an idea of like the low and high end over multiple for I know it’s hard to generalize here, but I’m just trying to get an idea in comparison.

Thomas: Yes. So, the e-commerce businesses. We’ve seen recently anywhere in the two to four times. Net income range SAS businesses three times to 4.7 five times and then we’ve had some local on much higher than that lower than that, but that’s a fair average range so that’s really the top range of e-commerce is a middle range of SAS if you want to look at it that way.

Steve: And what about content sites? Like blogs?

Thomas: Yeah content in the 2.25 to 3.25 range the slightly.

Steve: Interesting. So, it’s a lot?

Thomas: Yeah slightly tighter range than e-commerce. I’d say that’s generally because in e-commerce you’re selling usually well more valuable businesses. You’re selling an actual product. I think feels like it has a lot of value to buyers and investors. Whereas for the content business, you’re usually not selling anything. You are, I mean by definition just the value is in the content. You’ve created some multiples do tend to be a little bit lower. But we have seen some go much higher I mean; we completed a 12 million-dollar deal a couple of weeks ago and that multiple was much higher than anything. I’ve quoted there that does depend a little bit on the business that size of it and the business model itself.

Steve: So, going through each one of those business models what allows it to have a higher multiple. So, like in the let’s do e-commerce since the majority of the listeners are on the e-commerce space. What would cause an e-commerce… You mentioned subscription models, but outside of that, what would cause an e-commerce store to have a much higher multiple in general?

Thomas: Yes. One thing with e-commerce and say that comes up a lot which really does affect the multiple is the growth rate. One thing we see in e-commerce more than any other business model is businesses that grow a lot and then decline particularly businesses on Amazon; It’s quite difficult. At least from what I’ve observed to consistently grow a business on the Amazon platform. That doesn’t mean you don’t have a profitable business, but it might mean one year you do a million in sales. Next you do 950 then you do 1.2 million. The margin center fluctuates as well.

Steve: Hmm.

Thomas: So if you have an e-commerce business, which is consistently growing top Line and bottom line so revenue and profit then those multiples are going much higher than a business which is which is not live reasonably uncommon to see one that’s growing top and bottom line just because in e-commerce unlike a Content or SAS business, it’s much more likely to have margins that fluctuate if the platform fees go up or fulfillment fees go up or the cost of your product goes up or even down if it goes down then your multiples going to increase as your net margin creases.

Steve: And so, when you’re looking at that for an e-commerce business, are you looking at top and bottom line increase for an existing product? Because a lot of times people on Amazon the way they grow as a just start releasing new products.

Thomas: Yes. I mean that is a good point. So, another kind of value driver is the number of skis you have orb-like for that lines. So, if you just have one product line, then the multiple in general is going to be lower if we have multiple then it’s generally going to be higher. The way they look at it. If you’re constantly launching new products to keep the net profit high is how sustainable and how easy is it to take over that? But like business model. So if it’s, I don’t know, you’re selling Steve products and every product you sell as a new product with your face on it that’s going to be a little bit harder for someone who buys your business take over.

Steve: I don’t think anyone would buy that product in the first place. But, go on yeah.

Thomas: Well…

Steve: Hahaha

Thomas: But if they were that would be quite difficult for someone to take over. So if you have a really good process for launching new products on a consistent basis, then buyers would be happy of that. If you do not and you’re somewhat reliant on maybe you’re a designer or a product developer or you are the one who is, I guess somewhat unique to your launch strategy, then that’s going to be a little bit harder to sell.

So, it does we I guess the short of it is we look at lots of different factors and variables and buyers really looking at ultimately do they think the business will continue to perform at its current level or better after they required the business. If so, they’re going to pay a higher multiple. If not, they going to pay a lower multiple or not buy the business at all.

Steve: Can we talk a little bit about an Amazon e-commerce business versus one like where you own your own website and you have email subscribers and that sort of thing.

Thomas: Yeah say from a multiple perspective and I mean, just because it’s Amazon or just because it’s your own website doesn’t change the multiple detectors at all to say.

Steve: Oh okay.

Thomas: But there are things we would then look at to establish the value. So, for example, a lot of people who on their own stores that sets on Shopify they might get all of their traffic from running Facebook ads. That’s definitely been a more common level. We’ve seen in the last few years that tends to rely on what the effectiveness of the Facebook campaign itself or the campaign’s you’re running and usually the skill of the operator. So, the person who’s running the ads maybe you’re using an agency most businesses. We see a people doing themselves those businesses are going to be generally difficult to sell or attract smaller multiples because they’re relying on that one source traffic. Now, if you’ve got that second type of business you mentioned which is an email list man. You have maybe had a business where you launch a new product every month and the majority people that buy that product from your existing email list that’s going to be a significantly more valuable business. So back to what was done earlier. It’s not quite recurring revenue and such. But if you have the Same people buying on a consistent basis then from a buy perspective. That’s basically the same as recurring revenue. So, this is like that is going to be quite valuable. And then in the Amazon space, the great thing about the Amazon platform. This is how big it is and how many potential customers you can reach probably the worst thing about it is you never really truly own the…

Steve: Right.

Thomas: Customer so you can email them and say hey, I’ve just launched a new product. At least, It’s very difficult to do that and stay compliant with their kind of rules.

Steve: So, it’s going to say that at least for our business about 36% of it is repeat business and it seems like in Amazon, there’s no guarantee for that. So, would you say in general like an e-commerce store that you own with a list is generally going to sell for higher multiples than just an Amazon business that sells equivalent products.

Thomas: Say generally speaking. Yes, particularly, if you have that email list and particularly if you can prove that actual bias and that’s the important bit because a lot of people build an email list then say, “Hey, I’ve got 10,000 emails” and its people that signed up to I don’t know say, e-book. I like a free book as a lead magnet but they’ve never actually bought a product that’s not as valuable as say a thousand people the much smaller list of which all of those are past customers and you segmented it’s you know, each of them are spent at least $100 or $1,000 or over or whatever it might be.

Steve: Like if I showed you my Klaviyo account for example, and I separated It out the people who have bought multiple times and have a high lifetime value there be a lot more valuable.

Thomas: Precisely and I say a lot of people I mean, it’s probably just a really good lesson to everyone. A lot of people don’t have that set up of tool. So the fact you even have that setup and you probably think about it on a day to day or week by week basis puts you ahead of a lot of e-commerce business owners who may have an email list, but if they have it, there’s no level of very rarely any level of thought in it beyond, “Hey, when we launched a new product, we’ll email people”. Well, they might have a newsletter. So, your sounds like you’re a step ahead or two steps ahead.

Steve: So it sounds like then when you’re saying that an Amazon business will roughly self the same multiple as an e-commerce business, you’re referring to those e-commerce businesses that just primarily rely on other platforms to get their traffic and sales like Facebook ads for example or Google ads and those will tend not to or self-work with the multiples as an Amazon business because really you’re just relying on a different platform right?

Thomas: Generally, yes. I mean, that’s exactly the way to look at it and the reason, the business with emails were so high is because you’ve got that reliable income stream from repeat customers.

Steve: So, what are some other factors that increase the valuation? Do patents are those, are those a big deal?

Thomas: Not really to be perfectly honest. To say, I mean, we do sell businesses that have patents people do care about things like trademarks. I’d say people care more about the fact “Is it a unique product?” but because you have a patent doesn’t mean the product itself is good, but anyone can get a patent does it mean anyone actually wants to buy the product itself. So, say generally speaking. If you do have a unique product or unique products and the buyers are going to look at how defensible that is. So, do you have like a unique deal or like an exclusive deal with the supplier? Do you have brand protection? So that might be a patent that might be a trademark lots of different ways you can protect it and in that respect. So, buyer will look at those kinds of things, but I say in general, having a patent versus not having a patent doesn’t increase or decrease the value of such. People really care about is the product unique if it’s not and you’re reseller, that’s not necessarily a bad thing in general those businesses are going to sell for less just because a margins tend to be a little bit lower.

It’s not just the fact that you’re a reseller which the problem that the margin center be lower. They tend to fluctuate more regularly because you’re more like to have competition that comes up. If you’re selling some more like Amazon or Facebook, for example, then you’re much more likely to fluctuate because there’ll be new competitors all the time. If you have your own email list, then it could be completely different because that email list might not care that you’re reselling a product that they could buy elsewhere because they’re not looking elsewhere there on your list looking to buy what you’re selling. So, this is kind of my point. There are so many different factors that go into it.

Steve: Yeah.

Thomas: I guess the Wade our valuation. One process works is it’s not like you start at Baseline multiple and then add 10% or take away 10% Depending on checking boxes. It’s a combination of the factors that is important.

Steve: Sure, what I’m trying to get out actually is what you might want to focus on if you were to just plan ahead for evaluation. Like what about social media? Like if you have a big Facebook group that’s active. I mean or an Instagram account, how do all those factors factor into the valuation as well?

Thomas: So, any sort of active market you have of your either existing or potential customers. So that’s the email list or social media following is important and by his death. He like to see that from a brand perspective. But again, that the most important thing is proving that having those people is actually beneficial to the business ideally in the form of sales. They can prove that they’re buying or in the form of interaction. So, if for example, in my business the way we look at the we have might have a lot of people who follow us on social media who aren’t necessarily customers or potential customers, but they might like our content share or content with people who could be a potential customer. So, doesn’t mean they’re worth nothing.

So, from that perspective a buyer will care about the type of engagement you have. To buyers engaging, that’s great. If it’s just a guess like fans or super fans that’s good as well. And then also how you’ve built that following. I think I’ve seen it less in recent years. But if you go back over the years, it was very prevalent people building up kind of fake fans and viewers see would regularly see Facebook fan pages with a million fans. And then that the average post would get 3 likes. So, there’s definitely a more of an emphasis now buyers are getting more intelligent and they realize that it’s the interaction that’s important. Not just the number of fans or the number of followers you have so that again it’s not like you get 10 cents per follower as your evaluation. It’s really just how are they interacting? Are they buying if they are your perfect target audience and they’re not buying what does that tell you about the business? That might be a hard to catch in the evaluation, but from the way I want to buy this business or not? They’re the kind of things they might think about.

Steve: If you sell an Amazon or run any online business for that matter, you’re going to need a trademark to protect your intellectual property. Not only that but a trademark is absolutely necessary to register your brand on Amazon. Now, I used to think that any old trademark registration service would work and that could even try to register my own trademark by myself on the cheap, but I was dead wrong. Securing a trademark without a strategy in place usually results in either an outright rejection or a worthless unenforceable trademark. Now, that is why I work with Stephen Wagner and his team from Emerge counsel. They have a package service called total TM, which provides the same attention to detail and process that large law firms do at a fraction of the price. Now for me personally, I like Emerge Council because of their philosophy, their goal is to maximize IP protection while minimizing the price. So, before you decide to register a trademark by yourself or file for other IP protection such as a copyright or a patent, check out Emerge counsel first and get a free consult. For more information go to emergecouncil.com and click on the Amazon sellers’ button and tell Steve that Steve sent you to receive a $100 discount on the total TM package for Amazon sellers. Once again, that’s emergecounsel.com over at emergecounsel.com now back to the show.

Steve: I Imagine for something like Instagram. It’s really hard to attribute like a post to sales right because it’s hard to directly link from Instagram to a product. So, I to kind of put words in your mouth. I guess the higher traffic sources of the ones we can actually directly attribute it to a sale.

Thomas: Yeah over there is a reasonable degree of confidence. So yes, you’re right Instagram is difficult to track but if you have no Google analytics set up for example, and you know that I don’t every day at 12 p.m eastern. You post a new offer and you can see the traffic and sales spike of that time in Google analytics. Yes, you might not be able to prove its from exactly that post but it’s reasonable to assume that it was so it’s often very difficult win in any business to get an exact answer of what’s caused what but you can usually it’s our job to affect you build a story and say well.

Steve: Sure.

Thomas: We know that regular on Instagram. We know there’s a spike in sales at this time. Therefore, it’s fair to assume. It’s from Instagram or it might not even be from Instagram. It might be that the Instagram post prompts you to tell a friend about them. It might be that the Instagram post prompts you to Google them. It might be that the Instagram post pumps you to read your e-mails and see if they sent you an offer that week. So, try to look at them individually is difficult you really have to look at its kind of all together and how they co-relate.

Steve: So, it seems to me then that out of all these traffic sources organic Google traffic for example might be the most valuable.

Thomas: Assuming it is sustainable. I would definitely say there’s a high degree of value on it. If you can prove it’s coming in consistently now much like Facebook ads and equal. No sorry, e-commerce like Amazon. It’s definitely still you’re still relying on Google that traffic can fluctuate get a penalty there all sorts different things that can happen to increase or decrease your traffic. So again, I mean another fact that comes into valuations how old to business is. If you’ve been getting traffic from Google for five years and that’s been increasing year-on-year then apply as much more likely to pay a higher multiple thinking that’s quite reliable if your traffic is… I know you’ve been getting traffic for two years and you’ve seen a bit of an increase in a bit of a decrease. Then that’s not really going to be worth as much sort of it depends on the predictability and age is an important factor of that. Generally speaking, has been around for longer, it’s more likely to continue at least in the eyes of buyer.

Steve: Sure. What about the revenue of the company? Like I’ve heard that higher revenue companies will have higher multiples than smaller companies, right? Can you just kind of talk about what the breakdowns are?

Thomas: Yeah, I’d say that’s a fair observation again. There’s no like, “Oh! As soon as you hit this level, you’ll suddenly worth X”. But there’s definitely a correlation between the size and the multiple, although at the lower end often multiples can still be quite high because there’s so much competition from buyers. So, if you have a $500,000 e-commerce business, there are a lot of buyers at that level looking to buy these businesses. You might end up achieving quite a high multiple just from the fact there’s so much demand in general. I think a reasonable rule of thumb would be once you go above 10 million revenue. The multiples will start to increase.

So that’s where you might start to see multiples above say four times. For example, we’re working on Amazon development that does around 15 million in revenue and if profitable and the multiple on that is can’t tell you the exact number but it’s above 4. So, multiples definitely do increase. But again, there are so many different factors that go into it just because you’re doing 10 million a year doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good business and by goodness as I mean in terms of valuable from a buyer’s perspective and just because you’re doing say only a million dollars in revenue doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad business as such it would get a low multiple, but you are right. Generally speaking the larger the businesses revenue and profit wise but more it’s going to be worth but there are lots of things that go into that.

Steve: Let’s switch gears a little bit. Let’s say someone listening wants to sell their business. What are some steps that you should take to kind of prepare your company for sale?

Thomas: So, I think the most fundamental level the very best thing. I think you should do. It’s nothing really to do with your company itself. It’s you personally it’s figure out what you would like to achieve and that’s thing you need to establish its both personally and also so personally might mean with your husband with your wife with significant other whoever that might be in your personal life and then for business perspective, maybe have a business partner or business partners. Maybe you have investors. It’s very important to be on the same page with what you’re trying to achieve because if you want one thing and your spouse wants something completely different or you are one thing and your business partner want something completely different. Then even if your business is like let’s say it’s checking all the boxes high valuation ready to sell then nothing’s going to happen. You’re not going to have a successful process because there’s probably going to be one person blocking it.

So, once you have an idea of what you’re trying to achieve that’s probably the most important thing so know what you’re trying to achieve and then from there you can start establishing what that’s going to going to look like in terms of either timing or value. Most people from now will either established they want to make a certain amount of money. So, it might be a million dollars, 10 million dollars, 100 million dollars. Again, it doesn’t matter what that number is. You can’t tell them other number should be I can’t tell them that’s very much a personal decision with yes personal and professional stakeholders. So, once you’ve established that I always say that. And this is kind of might sound a bit too much your pitch, but I think the best thing to do from there is going to a free valuation

Steve: Sure.

Thomas: All lemonade firms and brokers will or any good ones at least will offer a free valuation and generally from our perspective, we’ll put together evaluation knowing that the vast majority of people are not ready to sell now. But it allows you to ascertain where you are in comparison to your goal. So, if you get evaluation today in your business is worth 5 million dollars and the number you have you want to sell for that you and your wife are going to be happy to sell for is 6 million dollars then probably in your business, you’re not going to have to do a huge number of things to get to that level. You probably just gonna have to run the business a little bit longer. Now, if you get a valuation today of 500,000 and you want to sell for 20 million, then it’s probably a lot of work you’re going to have to do to get there. So, from that perspective your plan and what needs to be done to increase the value does tie in a lot with where you like right now versus where you need to get to value-wise.

Steve: I guess specifically what I was getting at, there was, let’s say I just want to maximize my evaluation. Would I focus more on revenue growth or profit growth? Let’s say my time frame is like 2 years

Thomas: Yeah. So, say if you are any intention is to increase the value and it doesn’t matter what you’re trying to achieve then a combination of the two. What a lot of people do is they make the mistake of doing one and not the other so say, “Hey look like I tripled my Revenue” but their net worth is still the same what you might find is that you can increase your revenue and your margins will slightly decrease but you’re because you’re I don’t buy more traffic for example, but your net number as a dollar value or whatever currency are using is higher. That is fine. But don’t just increase revenue and not worry about bottom line at all. I have seen that a lot where people will particularly, it comes to buying traffic. They’ll buy traffic they’ll double their revenue, but they were actually increase their net at all. So, a combination of the two is important so if the two metrics you’re always going to be getting a multiple of your net when it comes to selling. So that’s the important number to worry about.

Steve: Earlier you mentioned like the growth rate matters also, right? So how do you kind of balance the two?

Thomas: If every day, it’s a tricky one. So, you have to be growing your revenue consistently because that proves there are people that want to buy your product people are real doing a product or products or whatever you might be selling. So that’s important. But at the same time, you need to prove that it’s profitable to do. So, there’s no point growing a business if it’s not going to become more profitable in the process but I think the important thing to think about is not doing anything that could affect the long-term of the business. So, what a lot of people do is they’ll focus on revenue growth because they’ll hear that revenue growth is an important part of evaluation and then they’re also hear that they’re going to get a multiple of net like we’re talking about. So, they’ll start to do things that may jeopardize the long-term future of the business but doesn’t necessarily affect the business short-term. So quite a common one is they’ll start cutting head count. So, I’ll be all we don’t actually need this support rep we don’t need to do we don’t need to publish any blog content anymore.

Steve: Right. Okay, I mean, it seems like growth contributes to the multiple. Whereas your profits, you know kind of contribute to that base right? For that multiplier?

Thomas: Exactly. Yes, but I mean in an Ideal world. For example, the double your revenue, the double your profit. I guess the reality of business and from what I’ve seen over the years. It’s very rarely that simple.

Steve: Yeah and nothing is ever black and white, but if I were to like double my revenue and then increase my net by like 5 or 10%, is that better than not increasing my revenue so much? Maybe 10 or 15% on revenue, but my profits have increased by 2x?

Thomas: Generally speaking, either of those scenarios is fine. Growth is always good. That’s a combination of the two is healthy, but as I’d say combination because no one wants to say a business. There’s no potential to improve it. So, if you’ve done absolutely everything to improve the net margins and there’s no way that can be improved then the business might be great, but that could be a difficult one to sell from a buyer’s perspective. So, I guess just look at them all together. Yes, ideally everything would increase together. But either works.

Steve: I just want to let you know that tickets for the 2020 Seller Summit are on sale over at sellersummit.com. Now what is seller Summit? It is the conference that I hold every year that is specifically targeting e-commerce entrepreneurs selling physical products online and 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 e-commerce business. And in fact, every speaker I invite is deep in the trenches of their e-commerce 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 Seller Summit will be small and intimate every year we cut off ticket sales at just a couple hundred people. So tickets will sell out fast, and in fact, we sell out every single year many months in advance now if you’re an e-commerce entrepreneur making over 250K or 1 million dollars per year, we are also offering an exclusive mastermind experience with other top sellers. Now, the Seller Summit is going to be held in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. From May 6 to May 8. And right now, we are almost sold out of Mastermind tickets already and I will be raising the ticket price regularly starting the day after Cyber Monday for more information, go to sellerssummit.com. Once again, that’s SELLERSUMMIT.COM or just Google it now back to the show.

Steve: How does the process work? And what is what is a brokerage charge for example?

Thomas: Yeah. So generally speaking, like said first thing with us is, yeah evaluation. Get a free evaluation. At that stage, you’re not committed to anything other than we just ask you to send the information we need to put together evaluation. Assuming you get the evaluation. Let’s say you want to get 5 million dollars in this business and we tell you it’s worth $500. Just keep it super simple right from there. We would sign an engagement agree with you then gave her an agreement would tell you what the fees are these very, it depends on size of business. Generally speaking, we are 15% on the first million dollars of value or sale price specifically and then that tears down beyond that. So, if you have a 20-million-dollar business, you’d expect to pay less than 15% together $500,000 business, its 15%.

Steve: Got it. Okay.

Thomas: But you don’t pay anything until the business sells or have sold and if it doesn’t sell you don’t pay anything. From there, we then go through a discovery process with you where vets we asked a bunch of questions about your business. So, use you will send you a questionnaire of about a hundred different questions will go through your financials. Effectively trying to learn as much about the business as we possibly can and any day to you have any information about your business, we will use I guess to the advantage of the sell. So, for example, like you mentioned earlier Klaviyo account, we might go through that and be able to prove some useful metrics. So, you might be to say well of the 10,000 subscribers on Steve’s email list. We know that 5,000 have bought at least three times and they spent at least $1,000. So those kinds of metrics are important we will get them out. The effect he then put together a sales document which we call a prospectus which is usually are 30- or 40-page document depending on the size and the complexity the business once we’ve put that together and that process generally takes a couple of weeks.

We spend a lot of time up front making sure we understand your business making sure we learn everything there is to learn about your business and making sure that we’re aware of the good things and also the bad things and we can kind of present that in a in a fair and honest way because no one wants to know buyers want to see a business where there are issues that have kind of been covered up because they’ll always get discovered at some point in the process. Our mentality is it’s better to be transparent up front versus hiding things and then being discovered a couple of months into the process. So, once we prepared that we then send that to you and say hey Steve got the sales materials ready read through it and make sure you’re happy you effectively sign off on our materials to make sure you’re happy with the factual accuracy.

We then go out to our investor Network in three stages. So, we start off by reaching out to a very segmented list of buyers will put together who we think will be specifically interested in your business based on what they’ve told us before. So, might be they said, “Hey, I really want to buy an e-commerce business that sells this type of product my budget is 2 – 10 million dollars. So, if you have a 5-million-dollar e-commerce business, we will send it to them”. So generally, we start with a relatively small group. So small percentage of our overall network, but they’re the ones who are most likely to buy so we send out to them. We also will simultaneously be depending on your business on what you think could be the ideal buyer. We’ll also reach out to potential strategic buyers. So, we’ll build a list of those we reach out to those at the same time from there. We then also go out to use your battle week later go out to our whole buy network which at the moment is about 41,000 active investors and they have over not given us any criteria or just have high level criteria.

So, we’ll send them. Very much like an overview of your business. They can then request information. If they request information, they have to sign a nondisclosure agreement. So, we don’t just send out Steve’s businesses sale to 41,000 people with your like domain and all the information all the financials. We have a vetting process. So, once your request information will then get confidentiality agreement ask other questions so that from there, there’s a back and forth negotiation with the different parties. So that’s something that we’ll do on your behalf. You’re paying us to negotiate the deal effectively. So, buyers will have asked questions. Some buyers will want to get on cools of you as a seller. So, we will navigate that process and will establish who we think is serious and who is not. Often, you’ll find there’s lots of people who are just curious and fishing for information.

They would love to have a chat with a successful business owner. So, they’re going to 10 they have money and trying out a cool. So, it’s our job to filter those people out and we do a good job of doing that. So, we want to make sure that your anyone on the phone with people who weren’t necessarily definitely going to buy a business but could buy a business if they like it and happy with it. So, from there, there’s a negotiation process. Hopefully we get multiple offers. So, for example on an eight-figure Amazon business with work on the moment, we had 11 of offers that came in and then from there we work to narrow that down so we’ll say okay. Well, we don’t like these 3 offers at all. We’re just gonna kick my process. We don’t like these for…

Steve: How are these deals typically structured and then what affects whether you like an offer or not? Is it because it’s financed, all cash or I mean, what are some factors in there?

Thomas: Yes, generally speaking in the e-commerce space you would expect an amount of cash upfront as to how much that is. It can really vary anywhere between say 50 and 80% of the deal value upfront and then usually a performance element beyond that awesome set financing. And then also you generallly going to get paid separately for your inventory at cost and then the amount of cash you get down upfront really does depend on a lot of the other factors we’ve spoken about so if you have a business, which is very reliant on a single channel, so let’s Amazon or Let’s say it’s Facebook ads or let says it’s single product. You would generally expect to get less shot less upfront and more of a performance element. If you have a much older business, which has been around for a long time has multiple channels, multiple products and is very consistently growing then first, you would expect to get a higher multiple, but you would also expect to get more cash up front and less of a performance structure.

This is no reason why I bought it. Simple form and structure for such an established business. Whereas if you just have one product, one platform that’s generally going to be high risk. So, buyers are going to want to kind of adjust for that. So, you generally expect to get anywhere between like I said 50 to 80% upfront cash deals do happen and that really depends on your business and the different kind of factors and reliance’s that go into it.

Steve: How long should someone expect this entire process to take?

Thomas: So depends a little bit on the size of the deal say as a general rule of thumb if you have and we’ll use this use three different levels of business and Million Dollar business $100,000 business and a 10 million dollar business. If you have a hundred thousand-dollar business you’d usually expect to sell within a month together.

Steve: Really? Wow. Okay.

Thomas: Million Dollar business generally two months than 10-million-dollar business generally three months. It can take longer than that, it can take less time than that. That’s a reasonable average to expect and then if you hire an M&A firm like us with an average success rate of 94.1% So the vast majority of deals, we take on will close part of the reason. I think you were surprised that the speed of smaller deals at that level firstly there are a lot of buyers. There’s a lot of demand businesses of that size at generally simpler. And also, they’re just less complex that it’s less often like Judeans. It’s required because there’s going to be less transactions less complexity and the financials probably less products. The contracts for sale itself is going to be quite simple. There’s not going to be a huge number of contingencies and that’s gonna be hey, I’m buying a business at that. Well, it’s probably going to be all cash to be $100,000 cash. We’re going to close in a week.

You’re going to send me $10,000 worth of Entry. It’s not going to be particularly complex as deals get bigger part of the reason, they take more time. Is there more complex and they have more moving parts. So, you just expect accountants’ lawyers will the different third parties to take more time at that level.

Steve: Does that 15% fee? Like are they using your lawyers and your accountants or is that all separate also?

Thomas: So, we cannot legally advise you throughout the process, but we can we will draft documents on your behalf. So, a lot of people at the lower end will choose to effectively represent themselves if they’re comfortable with contracts. So, we will prepare the sale agreement for example, but will again depend on the complexity deal get depending on how comfortable you are legalized you would then maybe bring in your own attorney, but essentially our fees are separate. So, if you are bringing in your accountant or attorney or lawyer beyond what we’re providing in our service then you would pay for that separately. But say most people do not do that until the deal gets larger and more complex to the stage where they probably already have both of those kind of professionals on retainer already
Steve: Right. Cool. Well Thomas we’ve been chatting for quite a while and I think we got through a pretty good overview of the process and I really appreciate it.

Thomas: Yeah. Well, thanks for having me.

Steve: If anyone is interested in buying or selling a business, where can they find you?

Thomas: Yes, the best thing to do is go to the F International website on there. We have a bunch of content about valuing businesses. For example, like we’ve I know we’ve gone through a bunch of stuff but there’s so many different variables that go into evaluation. It’s worth going on our blog reading through some of the content. We have various eBooks and like short courses you can go through that will teach you about the different things that we’ve spoken about today. If you’re interested in buying a business you can inquire on the different business. We have a sale going on. Sell a business get free evaluation. You can go there as well and we’ve spoken quite a bit about social media today.

But our team were pretty active on social media so you can always follow us on your preferred platform or platforms all of us that easy to get a hold of if you have any questions reach out for those of you who don’t really know where you want to get to or where you’re at right now. Feel free to reach out why he’s happy to have a chat. You don’t have to. Calling us as not a commitment to hire us or anything like that. So, we always like to chat.

Steve: And there’s no fee for buying a business, right? It’s only on the sell side.

Thomas: No, we do have a small admin fee throughout the process, but effectually no fee.

Steve: Okay. Well Thomas so really appreciate your time.

Thomas: Yeah. Thanks, Steve.

Steve: Thanks.

Steve: Hope you enjoyed that episode now eventually every business owner will want to sell their company and it’s important to understand where to focus your efforts when the time comes for more information about this episode go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode280.

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

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

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

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

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