Today I have my friend Joe Nicoletti with me on the show and Joe is probably one of the most successful online course creators that I know.
He’s sold over 25,000 courses which is a ridiculous amount and he’s got this great down to earth and step by step teaching style that everyone loves.
In this episode, you’ll learn how he started from nothing and built a 7 figure business with no audience of his own.
Steve: You’re listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, the place where I bring on successful bootstrapped business owners and dig deep into what strategies they use to grow their businesses. Now today, I’ve got Joe Nicoletti on the show. And Joe is probably one of the most successful course creators that I know. And he sells his online courses without his own audience, crazy, right?
But before we begin, I want to give a quick shout out to Privy who is a sponsor of the show. Privy is the tool that I use to build my email list for both my blog and my online store. Now, what does Privy do? Well, Privy is an email list growth platform and they manage all of my email capture forms. And I use Privy hand in hand with my email marketing provider. Now there are a bunch of companies out there that will manage your email capture forms, but I like Privy because they specialize in e-commerce.
Right now I’m using Privy to display a cool wheel of fortune pop-up. Basically a user gives their email for a chance to win valuable prizes in our store. And customers love the gamification aspect of this, and when I implemented this form email sign ups increased by 131%. So bottom line, Privy allows me to turn visitors into email subscribers, which I then feed to my email provider to close the sale. So head on over to Privy.com/Steve, and try it for free. And if you decide you need some of the more advanced features, use coupon code MWQHJ For 15% off. Once again that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve.
I also want to give a quick shout out to Klaviyo who is also a sponsor of the show. Always blessed to have Klaviyo as a sponsor because they are the email marketing provider that I personally use for my e-commerce store, and I depend on them for over 30% of my revenues. Now, if you want to achieve similar results as I have in email marketing, I encourage all of you to attend Klaviyo’s upcoming conference on September 13 to the 14th in Boston Massachusetts.
This event is the largest in-person gathering ever for the Klaviyo community. With two days and over 30 practical and substitute sessions, it is a no fluff, no BS e-commerce marketing conference. So, get your ticket at K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.com/Boston. Once again that’s K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.com/Boston, now on to the show.
Intro: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. We will teach you how to create a business that suits your lifestyle, so you can spend more time with your family and focus on doing the things that you love. Here is your host, Steve Chou.
Steve: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. Today I have my buddy Joe Nicoletti with me on the show. And Joe is actually someone who I met at FinCon on multiple occasions. I think our wives actually went shopping together causing all sorts of monetary damage and they had a great time. And Joe, he’s actually one of the most successful online course creators that I know. I think he’s sold over 25,000 courses, which is a ridiculous amount. And he’s got this great down to earth and step by step teaching style that everyone loves. And he’s also got a great story to tell. And I’m just going to let Joe talk about it. Welcome to show Joe, how you doing today man?
Joe: Hey man, doing great. Thanks for inviting me on. I’m super excited to talk about the story and everything else that we’ll dive into.
Steve: Yeah, I’m so glad to have tracked you down. I mean, it’s been like six months since the first request till now. So I want to take advantage of these moments.
Joe: Let’s do it.
Steve: So Joe, you got a really cool background story that I really want you to share with my audience. What were some of your motivations for starting out with your first hit product? And how did that evolve into like a full time business?
Joe: Oh my gosh, yeah. So I was just your typical, I like to say, average Joe from St. Louis, Missouri. And that’s kind of what I always tell people like hey, if this average Joe from Missouri can do this thing, then anybody can. I know this is kind of cliché to say, but I’ve lived it, I really believe that now. I was just your typical Joe working in corporate job for my gosh, I was in the same job for like 10 years or so. I stayed at my jobs a long time because I just believed the whole, do a good job, do your work, you’ll get promoted, climb the ladder, and it just wasn’t happening for me. I was showing up early and staying late. I was doing everything I was supposed to do in these just small little 3% raises per year.
And I’ve always been ambitious. I always had the entrepreneurial bug, tried a lot of things, failed at a lot of things. And I was kind of at the point where I was giving up, to be honest. I was like I guess the entrepreneur thing is just a dream. It’s just a myth or some people get lucky. And so I was just doing the corporate thing. But life happened. And my wife got pregnant with our second child at this time, and we just like needed more space. We were living in a small condo. And I was like, all right, I guess I’m going to have to start making some extra money, right? So let’s get a second job I thought.
So like, what can I do on nights and weekends? I didn’t really want to work in the restaurant business but I was like, I can deliver pizzas or something. So, I was literally trying to get pizza delivery jobs. I remember I applied to a couple near where I worked. I thought I could shoot over there after work, I don’t know make a couple of hundred extra bucks a month doing that. And the funny thing was, and this was like, this was the start of my journey online. Funny enough, I kept getting rejected from these pizza places. Like here I was, I was a manager in my day job. But yet, because I didn’t have previous pizza delivery driver experience, I wasn’t getting hired. And I was like, this is ridiculous.
So, kind of bruised my ego a little bit like man, I’m just like, I’m not advancing in the corporate world like I thought, I can’t even get a stupid pizza job. Like, what am I going to do? I was like this is just not where I saw myself. I was young and I’m like, I’m going to be a millionaire by the time I’m 25. I remember thinking that as a teenager. And then you’re like, okay, life’s a lot harder than that. So, here I am with a growing family, we’re barely making ends meet, we forget about vacations or any kind of thing like that. We’re just trying to pay the bills, and I can’t even get a side job.
So at this point, I’m like, what else can I do? Like, honestly, I’m just thinking about this driving home in rush hour traffic one day, and I’m like, okay, let’s do what they all say. Like, take a look at your skills, what can you do? People always told me, I’m resourceful. And I just kind of hated that. I’m like, that’s stupid. What can I do with that? Like if I’m the guy who’s somebody says, how do I get to there and I’m doing directions, I’ll draw them like a color coded map and like overboard, right? Then I realized maybe I could teach something, I have no idea and basically, stumbled online through different sites that I would search literally.
I searched like how to make money online, right? I did that thing. And I just thought this stupid, I don’t want to sell weird things on eBay, or — and then I ran across people, actually teaching people, helping people and making a really good living. I ran across folks like Pat Flynn, and Michael Hyatt, and internet business mastery, and all these kind of things. And I just got addicted and just devoured everything I possibly could. So I thought I don’t know what I’m doing, but I’m going to start. That was like — that’s why I always tell people now like start before you’re ready, start even though you’re scared, start even though you have no idea what you’re doing, because that’s where like your ideas will come from. So I started a productivity blog way back in the day.
Steve: Was that efficient life skills?
Joe: Yeah, it was. And that’s where I just like experimented with random things, just completely random. Like my daughter learning how to tie your shoes was like one of the hardest things I found like teach a kid. We like totally take it for granted. And we found this cool, quick way and she literally picked it up in like five minutes. I was like, all right, let’s make a blog post about it. And I think to this day, it’s still gets just an insane amount of traffic, because obviously, a lot of other parents had this particular pain too. And that’s where it kind of took a direction. I was like, hmm, okay, people really like their problem solved. What else can I do?
And so I just had this kind of radar of posting things, blog posts, just like get in the game, but also looking for like, I don’t know, what problems can I solve? I was jealous of people that just knew from day one what they wanted to be or what they wanted to do, that wasn’t me. But I found this funny software called Scrivener. And for those of you who don’t know, it’s a writing software, kind of like Microsoft Word, but souped up on steroids where you can do all kinds of things with it. It’s kind of meant for like long form writing like novelists, things like that.
I was using it to organize all these random blog posts. I had like three different blogs by that time just trying everything. So I was using it to organize stuff. And I loved it. And I kept seeing people talk about it. And it’s kind of like that familiarity thing where like the second you buy a car, you see that brand everywhere now. So it was like articles on Scrivener were popping up. And this one article popped up from Michael Hyatt, who I was following and it said, why he’s using Scrivener for all of his writing. And I was like, oh cool. Well, let me see what he says about it. I’m using it too. And started reading through the comments.
And then people just kept talking in these comments. Like, I want to learn Scrivener too, but it’s too hard. I tried it and I gave up, the learning curves too much. If only there was a course on it. And then since I was this hyper aware of looking for pains, I was like, hmm, could I create a course on Scrivener, like people seem to be wanting that. Then of course the self doubt and all that stuff kicked him. I know, who are you to create a course on that? Why would anybody listen to you?
Steve: Were you an expert on Scrivener at the time though? You were not, right?
Joe: I was just a casual user of it, like I wasn’t, I would never consider myself an expert. I definitely hadn’t even written a book with it. And here I was like, how could I teach people to use Scrivener to write a book? And it was just one of those things where I also challenge people now all the time to just instead of saying, why you, what if you just said, why not me? And then it’s like well, I don’t know, why not? And if I wouldn’t have asked that question, and actually just followed through with the experiment of trying it, it scares me to think how different my life would be. It was just that little key that unlocked the potential for everything.
I remember thinking, well, worst case scenario, it’ll be a total flop. But at least I’ll learn the process of like setting up a curriculum and making an online course. And this was like four or five years ago before we had all these cool course platforms. So, I had to literally like learn how to make the course. And so I started making it. And I kind of I was naive, ignorant, which I think are good things when you’re starting out, because I didn’t know how to make it perfect. I just knew let’s make it to help somebody. So, I was literally reaching out to people one on one on Twitter and things like that, sharing with them what I was making, and would they be interested in something like this? Would it be helpful? And what else would they want me to include in it?
Steve: Did you have a large Twitter audience when you were doing this?
Joe: Oh, my gosh, yeah, super large. I mean, it was like seven people. I just started like, what I say, I started from scratch. It was like, I didn’t even — I had no clue how to acquire a following at all. So I was literally just jumping in. I remember having a conversation with somebody really early on, and asking them like what is a hashtag exactly? And like why do these even matter? Like, what are you supposed to do with them? And he’s like, oh, it’s a way for people to talk about things, and you can search hashtags. And I was like, okay, and then I remembered that conversation, let’s see if there’s a Scrivener hashtag. Sure enough, there’s people talking about Scrivener on Twitter. And so I was like, well, I’ll just jump in there.
And that’s just literally how it started. I was getting feedback, people were responding. And I was just starting to build these relationships, learning about what writers wanted, and so forth. And any chance I could get to jump on Skype or connect with somebody and talk with them, I would take it. So that’s literally the humble beginnings of how I started. And I was just sharing what I was making while I was doing it. And it was working.
Steve: So Joe, let’s say someone in my audience wanted to create their own digital course, I would imagine the steps that you would follow today are different than when you got started, right? So, if you were to start today, what would be like your first step? And what’s kind of like a logical progression?
Joe: Yeah, so the things that — like I did a lot of things right but I also did a lot of things wrong and would have, I could have done everything a lot faster. And so today, I actually teach a course on how to basically do what I’ve done called easy course creation.
Joe: And a lot of the mistakes that I made early on were making something that I thought people wanted or should care about. I think a lot of us have that idea. It’s like I give the funny example of sometimes there’s people that think you shouldn’t have six pack abs, you should have a three pack abs. I’m like nobody wants that, though. So stop trying to convince them that they need three pack abs, they want six packs. So make that. And then that’s just kind of where it starts is to really find out what people want. They’re already having a conversation in their head about what their pains are, what their struggles are, and you need to just jump in there and find that.
So today, I teach and it’s just you’re never wasting time when you’re researching the audience, and you’re collecting their actual language, and just hunting and searching. And so many people want to just dive in and start making something. But it really is that groundwork of making sure you could write a page out of their diary before you ever start making that thing.
Steve: Where are some great places to do this research if you have no audience whatsoever?
Joe: Yeah. Oh, my gosh, that’s what’s amazing about the opportunities today is we have all these tools like number one, Google is amazing, obviously. So you can jump in and just type your topic and forum and you can find forums anywhere. Obviously, Twitter is a place where I started. You really got to find out like where your audience who you want to serve, where they hang out. So writers happened to be on Twitter. So that’s the only reason I jumped over there. Some people are on Facebook, some are on Reddit. So, you just got to do a little digging, find out where they hang out.
There’s forums, Facebook groups, Twitter. There’s also tools like BuzzSumo.com where you can type in a topic and it’ll show you all of the popular blog posts or anything written about that topic and which articles got shared the most and things like that. And that’s exactly how I started developing relationships with like influential writers that were bloggers who had the audience that I knew could benefit from my Scrivener course in the beginning. So, I would literally just type in Scrivener into BuzzSumo, see if any popular bloggers had written about it. I would jump over, read the article, see if they had a lot of comments and engagement, whatever, like, okay, this particular person does.
Are they active on Twitter, by chance, I would hop over there to see their profile. Oh, cool. They’re actually responding, posting stuff. And I would start mentioning their blog and sharing their articles and just kind of building that relationship that would eventually form to some of my biggest affiliate partners today, which also in turn, would grow my list with webinars. And it’s just that kind of groundwork in the beginning that…
Steve: How do you how do you approach like a big blogger? Like, for example, I’m not saying I’m a big blogger, but I rarely check my Twitter feed. Like, occasionally I’ll check it. But I rarely converse on there. I don’t know, I guess it takes a little bit of skill involved to get someone’s attention. I’m just curious how you did that early on. Like, I know Michael Hyatt was like one of your earliest and biggest affiliates, right? How did you get his attention?
Joe: Well, so the thing is, you don’t start with like the A players like you. You don’t start trying to reach those. And if you do, you could start early. But that’s a long game, right, unless you get introductions. And so what I found was like, okay, there was no way I was just going to get introduced right to Michael Hyatt, or because I didn’t — I got to find out who knows him first. So, you just think a little bit strategically about, all right, well, who might be their inner circle and who might be their inner circle’s inner circle and just kind of go out a little bit. And so I would first start with the smaller blogs and maybe do a couple reach out to them, get some results first.
And so I did some really small webinars in the beginning, got some sales and then would approach somebody else and say, this is the results that we got, this is the testimonials that we got, and it would just kind of build from there. And I always, always asked anybody I met; do you know anybody else that would benefit from this? And would you be willing to give me an introduction? And somebody always knew somebody and nobody ever told me no, and I thought, what’s the worst that could happen? They say, no, or, yeah, I know somebody Joe but I’m not going to introduce you, like, okay, I can handle that. Like, I’ll just go to the next one, right?
And for an introvert that was kind of a big deal but I just got over that. And it’s funny if I put like this timeline out, it’s all because of reaching out and meeting somebody and asking for an introduction. And then one day that led to somebody introducing me to Andy Traub, I believe we both know Andy. And Andy is like the super connector, right? He knows everybody. So you can meet one super connector.
And then Andy introduced me to Jeff Goins who has a huge writer following, and we connected and of course, once Jeff and I did a successful promotion, and then his audience loved it. Well, now, that’s a really big testimonial that I can use to approach whoever Jeff knows. And then because of Jeff, I met Joanna Penn who has another huge audience. And so really, it’s just spending the time building relationships, adding value. And so that’s the thing.
Like with you, Steve, if I didn’t know you, and I was trying to get ahold of you. If I was trying to reach out on Twitter and you weren’t responsive there, then I try Facebook, or I’d try — so like, try to find out where you were. If I was having no luck there, I’d try to find out who knows you and try to build relationship with them and then maybe get a direct introduction. So like same thing while I was on Smart Passive Income podcast, Pat Flynn, who was like my first hero, right, who I learned online business from the beginning. And I met Greg Hickman, who happened to know Pat Flynn. And I was like, hey, it’s been my dream to be on Smart Passive Income, would you be able to introduce me. And sure enough, that’s how it works.
Steve: I just want to take a moment to thank Pickfu for being a sponsor of the show. If you currently sell on Amazon like I do, then you know how crucial the quality of your Amazon listing is to the success of your e-commerce business. So for example, I’ve run experiments on my Amazon listings, well simply replacing the main image with a different photo resulted in a 2x increase in conversions. But how do you choose the best and highest converting photos for your listings? How do you know that you’re using the most profitable images for your products? And how do you know that your bullet points are convincing. This is where Pickfu comes in.
Pickfu allows you to solicit real human feedback about your Amazon listings in 10 minutes or less. And you can target the exact demographic of your end customer. So for example, let’s say you sell napkins and you have two main product images that you want to test. You would simply go to Pickfu, list the images, target female Amazon Prime members over the age of 35 and hit go. Within 10 minutes you’ll get feedback of which image people are more likely to buy along with specific feedback on why they made their decision.
In fact, I’ve used Pickfu to almost double the conversion rate on several of my Amazon listings by testing my images, bullet points, and product titles. And what I like about Pickfu is that you get results quickly unlike traditional split testing, and you can use this to test book covers, landing pages, basically anything. Not only that, but it’s super cheap to run a poll and right now you can get 50% off your first poll by going to Pickfu.com/Steve, once again, that’s P-I-C-K-F-U.com/Steve. Now back to the show.
How important was it to go to conferences? Like I know we met at FinCon, but how big was that in terms of your networking?
Joe: That was pretty big. For me, what the conference really did for me, and I remember I came through St. Louis. I was just starting my Scrivener idea at that point. And I remember, it was a big deal talking to my wife about purchasing a ticket, because this was — I was trying to do the pizza thing, we had no extra money. I was like, I want to go to this conference just coming through St. Louis. And it was FinCon back then, it was like what, four or five years ago came through St. Louis.
Steve: St. Louis yeah, that’s where we met, I’m pretty sure.
Joe: Yeah, and I went there, I had nothing going. I was like a complete nobody. But what I remember taking away from that was just meeting as many people as I could, and realizing, hey, these are just people too just like me. I thought they were like special, like there had to be something different and like they just took action on their ideas. And of course, I got to share what I was thinking about with several people and I got some great takeaways and ideas. But yeah, some of those relationships that I met, I met you there, I met gosh, some of the people that ended up being in my mastermind later, many years later, just all from that initial conference. So conferences is like a, I don’t know, when you say it’s like a shortcut almost.
Steve: Yeah, I mean for me, I’m kind of like an introvert in certain ways, and I guess offline so to speak. At a conference, I’m much more social. But I’m very hesitant to reach out to someone randomly like on Twitter, or via Facebook or email just because I don’t get any feedback or facial.
Steve: You know what I’m talking about?
Joe: Absolutely yeah.
Steve: Did you do most of your damage online or at conferences in terms of…
Joe: I couldn’t really afford to go to conferences. So I was in a place where I really didn’t have a choice. Yeah, I remember like that’s really not my style, either. I’m glad I stepped out of my box, though, because some of my best friends are people I met online, it’s crazy. I never would have thought that, but I remember thinking, I kept hearing people all the time, they would say that like you can’t do it alone. You need to build relationships and I was the introvert, I was like, no, no, no, I don’t want to do that. Like, I’m going to try to build it alone. I don’t think I need people for what I’m doing.
And just my introvertedness, I didn’t want to reach out; I didn’t want to get uncomfortable. And finally, I was like, all right, I’m not making any traction. Let me try this. And so I thought, okay, I’m going to reach out, great, what do I do? How do people do this? So, I remember thinking — I was in the efficient life skills. There was this other blog that was kind of like mine? I was like, what do people do? Do they go on Facebook or something and message them, and say, I like your blog. So that’s literally what I did. Like, I messaged this one guy, and I’m like, hey, I like your article. It looks like we’re writing about similar things.
And he was like, oh yeah, what’s your site? And he’s like, hey, we should we should hop on Skype. And it was like, oh, okay, this must be what people do. Like, let’s do that. Let’s hop on Skype. And I was like, I never used Skype. I remember setting it up with my mom to try to like test it with her so I didn’t look like a fool. I was like, okay, so this is a Skype call. And so we did that. I jumped on and we just chatted, and he was like, oh, do you know so and so? He’s like, really great with social media. I was like, no, I don’t. He’s like, let me introduce you. Next thing I knew, the next day I was hopping on a Skype call with him. And from there he was same thing.
And so like all because I had no idea and just reached out to somebody randomly basically, let’s just put things in motion. And then one guy would give me a little confidence, like you’re doing that, like you’re so far ahead of where I started. I was like, oh really? Cool. Okay, so maybe I can do this. And so a lot of it’s about your own internal growth, stepping out of your comfort zone, and just not being afraid to try things.
Steve: Did you lay this groundwork before you launched your class, or did you already have the class together and then start doing your outreach?
Joe: So one of the things I’m glad that I did, which I actually struggle with more now, because I sometimes I know too much now I think, that’s why I talk about sometimes just who is it Steve Jobs who says like, stay what is I forget, stay stupid, stay something. I think what he meant by that was just like…
Steve: Stay foolish I think is what…
Joe: A fool yeah. Like, some of the things I’m glad I was foolish about was, it was just natural for me to be like, well, I’m not a total expert in this. So I need to find out what the people want. And that was my goal was always to be just about the people kind of on accident, because it wasn’t like about me. And so now I have a lot of things I want to teach. And so my tendency is to be like, well, I’m going to make this because I think they need that. But instead, I was just reaching out literally, to people, and then building what they said they needed. They’re like; do you have a section on how to make an eBook in your course that you’re making? And I was like, no, but I will.
And then I was going to study how to do eBooks with Scrivener. And then I would make a tutorial and I’d literally come back and like share like here’s a preview of it. What do you think? And what I found was I didn’t need to be an expert for people to care about what I was making. I just needed to know a little bit more than they did. That’s all they cared about. And nobody ever asked me, well, what are your credentials? Why should I listen to you?
I was so afraid they would. It was just all about, oh, that’s awesome. You just showed me how to do something I wanted to learn. That was it, they didn’t care who I was. So, it’s kind of freeing to think it’s kind of freeing just to say, like, people don’t really care about you that much.
Steve: Yeah, they just want to learn. It doesn’t matter about your credentials unless it’s something I guess that requires credentials, I guess. But very few things do these days.
Joe: Yeah, not that many things where people just want to — they go online to learn something, they need a quick result, they don’t want to spend hours researching it. Just like think about what we say to ourselves like when we’re looking at a tutorial, even today, when I’m like how do I do this? Well, let me search YouTube. And then if a guy’s rambling on in the beginning, telling me all about him and his credentials, I’m thinking in my head, like dude, just get to the point. I need to know what I need to know so I can get back to do my thing. And that’s kind of how people are. So they just, they go online, they’re looking for information. It’s a whole new ballgame today with all these opportunities, and it’s pretty exciting.
Steve: So let’s say you have your course down. How do you launch it, like you have no audience? So when you first completed this Scrivener course, how did you actually get paying customers?
Joe: Yeah, I remember being all excited about having my course, it was probably about 75% done. And I was like, okay, it’s good enough to start getting it out there. And I remember I had one of those moments just like I did about how to connect with folks. Now it was like, okay, how do I tell people about this. I was like, oh, this is that marketing thing, it is kind of important, right? So it’s like making your thing is part one, now you got to get it out to the people. And so I would literally spend like an hour every day on Twitter, just doing the one to one thing, and I was getting sales that way, which I was super excited about.
And I think back then, I was afraid to charge money for my course. And so I would make 100% off coupon code and handed out for free to people. But it was great feedback in the beginning. And then people were like, oh my gosh, I’d pay this or that for that. And this is great. And I can’t believe you’re only charging 27 bucks.
Steve: Interesting, so you gave it away to people on Twitter. You just said hey, here’s a download link.
Joe: Yeah, I used Gumroad back then because it was just super easy. And then I would just create 100% coupon code. And because I was afraid to like, just reach out and say, here’s my thing but it costs money, right? And so I would say I’m building this, I’m looking for some feedback. Here is it, would you be interested, I’ll give you a free coupon code. And they were like, of course, like, well yeah. And so I’m glad I did that because I did get some really good feedback. And it built my confidence because people were like, this is great.
And so I would, then I would open up a conversation with them like, oh well, do you think it’s — is it worth $27? And they are like, are you kidding me? I’d pay 97 for this. And I’m like, oh my gosh, are you serious $97? I just couldn’t fathom just making money from something that I had made. It was amazing. And so people kept encouraging me to make it better, put more out there. And slowly I did. I said, well, let’s try $47. And people were buying it saying, this is great, I recommend this to my friends.
Steve: This is through Twitter still.
Joe: Yeah, this is still very, very network, one to one, not scalable. And then I started thinking, how do I scale this, right? How do I get a bigger audience? I had no money for ads, so I couldn’t run Facebook ads. And not to mention, I had no clue how to do that. And so that’s when I started researching and just goggling right how to get your things out there and different strategies. And I remember webinars was one of those. I was terrified of ever doing a webinar. But one of the folks I met Andy, happened to know Jeff Goins like I said, and he set it up with Jeff to like, hey, could you do a private webinar for Jeff’s tribe writers group? He’s like it’ll be a smaller group. He’s like would you be able to do that? I was like, well, yeah.
He said just come on and teach what you know about Scrivener, and then we’ll tell them about your course at the end. I was like, yeah I could do that. Right? And he’s like, okay, can you do it in a couple of hours. And I was like, oh my gosh, I was still working my day job. I like flew home on my lunch break to do this webinar, super terrified, I was going to be live. And I did the webinar and people loved it. We sold like, I forget how many, I think then it was like we made $1,000 in sales. And I was like, I made that on my lunch break. Like, that’s crazy. And I was just like, that was the most money I’ve ever seen in a short period of time like that. And I was hooked on webinars after that. I was like, this is great, like to get…
Steve: So at this point you didn’t have an audience at all and so you kind of leveraged Jeff’s audience?
Joe: Exactly yeah. And not to mention that I set up the registration page, and I remember reading enough about people saying, build an email list, because then you can serve people better and you can tell them about updates. So I was like, all right, I’m going to make a registration page, Jeff sends an email to go register for the webinar, which I’m going to teach, now they’re signed up for my email list too. And so just like that, I had an email list of 1000 people who I knew were interested in Scrivener. And so I was like, well, let’s do more of these, right.
And so that’s when my Twitter strategy kind of shifted to let me find more people who have an audience already, instead of me, taking two to three years blogging and building that audience. I wasn’t very patient. So I was like, if I could leverage the time that somebody else spent building their audience and they can vouch for me, and just send them straight to me, in the meantime, I will teach them something they want to know. And so that’s what I did. I started asking for introductions. And I remember reaching out to some folks several times; they turned me down at first. Then I did this webinar with Jeff, we got good results, I’d go back to them, share the results. And they were like, oh well, yeah, maybe we could do something.
Steve: Did you know Jeff before you did the webinar, or was it a cold introduction?
Joe: I didn’t, it was just a cold introduction. I had been trying to get in touch with him for a while but just never — it is tough when you’re dealing with somebody who’s very busy, they’re very successful. They get asked for things all the time, right? And so you don’t want to — I made the mistake of just leading with an ask many times. Hey, would you be interested in a webinar? Yeah, yeah, yeah, they never even see it. And so you just have to be a little strategic, try to get them results.
Steve: That’s interesting that Jeff allowed you to give a webinar to his audience and he’d never seen you present before?
Joe: Never seen it, but the only reason he did was that he trusted Andy.
Steve: Got it.
Joe: And I got to connect with Andy. And so that’s why if you can meet somebody within their sphere of influence, like that’s the open door, and that’ll get you past any gatekeeper or anything like that. And so that was my strategy of like, just connecting with folks. And you never know who knows who. And so, just taking the time to do that, not being afraid to ask for introductions, because that’s the ultimate shortcut. You’re not having to deal with emails whining in somebody’s inbox that they never see because a personal introduction, you just go boom, straight to them.
Steve: And then that — and Jeff, he benefit from this because he took half of the proceeds?
Joe: Yeah, that was always my thing was like, hey, you spent all this time creating and building your audience, I spent all this time creating this product, let’s just meet in the middle 50/50, we’ll split any sales that come from it. And in the meantime, I will teach your audience and give them something that will be worth their time. And you’ll look great because you brought me on to teach them. So, regardless whether they buy anything or not, they’ll love you for it, it’ll be the best teaching I can possibly deliver for that hour. And it was and it was great.
And then people would buy it who were interested, and we’d split the commission 50/50, and it was a win-win for them. And I was like, I didn’t really know that true win-wins existed like that where we talked to the audience, they got something for free. Those who wanted more, could get more, they were happy, the affiliate was happy, because he got a good, great commission. I was happy, obviously, because we made sales. And I was like, let’s just keep doing this. And I didn’t have to spend a cent on advertising, right? It was just — and the webinar worked really good too, especially because I wasn’t a credible name yet.
So, I didn’t have this huge following if somebody was going to Google me, but all I needed was a vote of approval from them. And so that credibility transferred, because they trusted me enough to bring me in front of their audience. And that’s literally to this day, I don’t have a blog. I don’t, I just didn’t go that route. But I grew my email list super fast. We have over 100,000 on our email list now. And that’s just from webinars.
Steve: That’s crazy.
Joe: And people can’t believe, they’re like you didn’t blog, you don’t have all these sign up forms on your website. And like, no, there’s no website, there’s no signup form.
Steve: So today you don’t have a — I mean, you only have a website that serves as like a sales page for your products, you don’t have — you’re not putting out content on a regular basis?
Joe: So yeah, I didn’t — my business was built zero from content marketing, and basically all from affiliate marketing basically.
Joe: Yeah, it’s kind of crazy. And some people are encouraged when they hear that, like, oh, there is another way. You mean, I don’t have to just like blog my face off for two to three years and build the audience and then create a product? Like, no, you can create it backwards. Find the audience first, find the pain they have, create the product, and then build relationships with those who have that audience. And it feels like it’s taking longer in the beginning, like you’re not making any traction. But once you start to make that traction, the snowball effect, it just grows exponentially.
And so within a year, I went from zero to a thriving growing email list, which I learned later, will buy from you over and over again. And so there’s that, and then a thriving business to where I was like quadrupling my day job income, and here I was trying to get a couple of hundred extra bucks delivering pizzas. So it was just kind of a crazy transformation.
Steve: So, let’s talk about some tips because clearly, you’re really good at getting to know people and networking. So what are some of your tips for when you’re first starting out, and you’re trying to get that first webinar blogger or whoever?
Joe: So don’t be afraid to do things for free, like do small webinars, do a webinar yourself, do a webinar that has only 10 people on it. Just get results, start, and that’s great too, because these webinars, you’re able to interact with folks, and you’re able to ask questions and get feedback live. And that’s really just the most important thing you can do in the beginning.
Steve: I mean would you even suggest doing a webinar with an influencer where they get to keep all the proceeds and you get the email list? I mean, have you ever done that too?
Joe: Yeah, I haven’t done that myself. Everybody’s always been super generous and say, no, we’ll split it. But I’ve heard people do, that’s definitely a good incentive, or at least do like a 75/25 where you just stack it in their favor heavily. The one thing I did do well in the beginning was, I tried to put myself in their shoes and thought, okay, if I’m super busy, if I don’t really trust this guy, I don’t know how it’s going to work, the last thing I would want is for this to be like, feel like work for me, right? Like, I want to make this as easy as possible for them.
And so I would always approach it with a, hey, this is going to be a done for you service, like, I’ll handle all the technology, I’ll even give you the emails to send that you can just swipe copy. So you don’t have to think about that. I wanted them not to have to think. They just basically take a chance on me and get commission if it works. So, I set up all the registration pages, I went live, we used my technology. And I said, all you have to do is literally send a couple of emails and show up and I’ll make you look like the rock star because I’ll just give your audience so much and I’ll make it look like you organized the whole thing. But basically, I did.
And so that was always my goal from the beginning, is just make it as easy as possible on them to where they don’t have to have any bit of friction. And I would even tell them, hey, you don’t even have to show up. I would just go overboard. And they were like, wow, that is great. Like, you don’t know, a lot of them would tell me like you don’t know how nice it is to really not have to worry about this. Because that’s what they’ll see a lot of times is like, oh, this is going to take me a lot of coordination and thinking about, and I got to set up the page. And then I got to think about the emails to write.
And they don’t have to do that, especially these guys. They’re already making money; they don’t have to do it. And so some of them, they didn’t care about money at all, like they were already doing very well and their key to their — key to their heart so to speak, was their audience. And I would try to learn about them from their blogs. And you could tell some of them like, they really care about the audience. And so I wouldn’t lead with pitching them the money, like I will give you 75% blah, blah, blah. I lead with, I can see your audience really craves this information, and I believe we really can help them.
And then it would be kind of like, oh, and by the way, I always, do a 50/50 split, and yada, yada. That’s where they’d be like, oh, I get questions all the time about Scrivener, and I never really know how to answer it. So this would be great. And so you got to find what works.
Steve: I just wanted to take a moment to tell you about a brand new service that I personally just launched that will help you grow your email list for free. First off, my new business is called GoBrandWin.com. And it’s a service that helps e-commerce sellers build their email list through group giveaways. And here’s how it works. If you own your own e-commerce brand, and you have a following, what you do is you contribute a gift card toward your products valued at $200 or more. Now Go Brand Win will assemble gift cards from other participating brands with a similar customer demographic into one massive sweepstakes giveaway.
Now, all participating brands will then send our co branded giveaway email to their entire customer base driving them to a special landing page on GoBrandWin.com where we will acquire email addresses and Facebook pixel data. We will also send the giveaway entry forms to related influencers in our blogger database. And between my co founder and I, we have access to almost 1,000 bloggers in our database. Now, consumers who enter the giveaway will enter their email addresses, we will send them special offers from your company and select a grand prize winner. And after the sweepstakes are over, you will receive the full list of entrants and instantly grow your audience.
Bottom line, the concept is very simple. We all help each other promote each other’s businesses, get free promotion from bloggers, and share the spoils, which in this case, are the email addresses. If you are interested in growing your email list, then head on over to GoBrandWin.com, that’s G-O-B-R-A-N-D-W-I-N.com. It’s 100% free, so sign up now. Now back to the show.
Yeah, I’m just trying to think from my perspective, if someone came up to me and wanted to do a webinar, I would be less concerned about the money and more concerned about the information that was to be delivered. So I guess, if I saw this person in action, and they really delivered quality content, I’d be much more inclined to do it.
Joe: And you got to think like they’re taking a risk on you, right? Like, just like you would be taking a risk because now you’ve built this credibility with your audience. And you don’t want to ruin that. And so you got to think of it. And it’s different. Like when I was — because I was coming at it from a place where I was hustling, I was struggling, I needed money bad. Like, that was my motivation. But that doesn’t mean it’s theirs. And so you have to think about it. Put yourself in their shoes.
And that’s what I would do on Twitter just reaching out to folks too was like would I want to just be hounded with a questions and requests? Like, no, so for like months, like six months to a year, every time Michael Hyatt would post a blog and he posted on Twitter, I’d comment on it, I’d share it, I’d like it, and just jump in a conversation. Never once asked for anything until one day Michael, I guess probably noticed, I was always showing up, recognized my name. And he asked me a question on Twitter. I remember that day like it was yesterday.
He was like, is there a way to work with my editor who uses Microsoft Word with Scrivener? Because he went through my handle, saw that I was Scrivener coach on there and I posted Scrivener tips and things like that. I was like, oh my gosh, he’s asking me and I said, you know what, I don’t know the answer to that. But let me get back to you. I will find out. And I dropped everything. And like spent a week researching it, finding out what other authors were doing. And I came up with this method, this workflow, recorded them a super like good video. I thought this is my chance, right, because he asked me now.
And I just went over the top, made him a video, responded back on Twitter. I was like, hey, I think I found the perfect solution for you. And he was like, great, email it to me here. It’s like, boom, right? We have direct access to his email. He’s looking for it. Like, this is so much easier rather than me just knocking on his door constantly. And so that, like I said, that was six months to a year of patience and just reaching out and giving back and sharing and doing what I could.
Steve: I’m just trying to think of my own experience here. Like the people I noticed, especially on Twitter are the ones who constantly tried to share my content, or re-tweet it, and it’s a long term play, right? I might not notice it for like a full month. But if this continues for like six months or longer, I’ll know who that person is.
Joe: Yeah, because we get people all the time. And the same with me now, they will pop up a time or two and you’re like, that’s nice. But you notice the ones that have perseverance that stick around. I mean, that’s how — do you know Bryan Harris of Videofruit?
Steve: Yeah, he was on the podcast not too long ago.
Joe: Okay, cool. Yeah, that’s how I met Bryan. He’s one of my best friends today actually. It’s funny, because on Twitter, I remember anybody who would mention or have a question about my course, as it became more and more popular. Like, hey, I have a question about this. And Bryan would see that and he’d comment. He was like his course is legit. It’s one of the best courses I’ve ever taken. And I remember, I’m like, who is this guy? He is very nice. I did not ask him to just jump in here and say a nice thing about it.
Like, you notice people like that, who complement your work and stuff like, and so of course, I’m curious, right? You click through their profile. Like, who is this guy? Oh, my gosh. And I clicked through his blog. I’m like, he’s legit. Like, this is crazy. And then I message him, and let’s chat. It’s funny how things work, but it doesn’t take a lot. Especially if — something else I’ve learned is really powerful. Think about this. Like, if somebody were to message you, Steve and say, like, I’ve taken what you recommended I do in this article, or here or there and I did it. And I got these amazing results. Like, how…
Steve: Yeah, you bet, hell yeah, I’m going to contact them.
Joe: Yeah, you’re going to be like, let me hear more about that, right, because, it makes you look good. And it’s a credibility for you. And so you kind of think, how can I make them look good? How can I help them share, them whatever, increase their audience, help their audience, find the things they care about, and focus your time there.
Steve: I’ve actually used that exact technique, it works really well.
Joe: It does, it really does. And so you just have to be a little strategic about it, and have patience and find something you can help with. So, like in the beginning, I remember thinking, I really, I can’t introduce anybody to anybody, because I didn’t know anybody. I remember feeling bad about that, because people were like, oh, I can introduce you to so and so. And I’m like, I’m sorry, I can’t introduce you to anybody. So, I was like but you know what, I’m pretty good at graphic work.
And I was like, do you need anything help with a design, like eBooks are really big there. I was like I could design eBook cover for you, whatever. And like they were thrilled with that, like are you kidding me? I’ve been wanting that thing redesigned forever. Like sure, that’d be super helpful. And like, that was a big deal to them. And it was something I could give. So, always just find your skill set, whatever it is, and just don’t be afraid to offer that.
Steve: That’s really great advice Joe. Really quick, I just, I did want you to talk a little bit about some of the tools like what are you using for webinars? What are you using for courses? And what are you doing to just kind of monitor social interaction?
Joe: Yeah, so today, I’m really a huge fan of these course all in one platforms, like Thinkific.com and Teachable.com, they make things so much easier, like stuff that I think spent the better part of a year trying to build, it was like, done it all for you. So, I highly recommend starting on a platform like that. And what’s great is, yes they have a fee, but they handle all the technology and headache stuff for you. And it’s usually a free plan to start with. And so you can grow together, it’s just like a perfect solution really.
So a lot of times I tell folks, if they want to start like I did, like look for the pain, look for who you want to serve, and start reaching out, help, have the audience build it with you. And you can start with a free plan on Thinkific or Teachable and like kind of start fleshing it out a little bit in there. It’s fun to see a course kind of take shape. And so that that’s kind of what I’m using today. For course platform I use everything on WordPress and like would build it myself, but the more things would break and plug-ins weren’t communicating with each other, it was just like uh. So that’s what I’m using these days for that.
For webinars I use GoToWebinar just because it’s just like never breaks. We have a lot of people on our webinars now, but I’m also…
Steve: Thousands right from what I heard?
Joe: Yeah, and so I made the mistake early on of trying to go a cheap route with a service and people got kicked off and it crashed. And I was like uh. So that’s been the most reliable for me. But I know a lot of folks are having great results with things like Zoom and a lot of other ones. There’s just a lot of great ones out there now. And then…
Steve: Email marketing… sorry.
Joe: Yeah, I had email marketing.
Steve: What are you using for email?
Joe: We use Infusionsoft for email marketing now because we have like all of our courses, and we’re kind of complex. Starting out though, like if your business isn’t in certain like really complex or anything like that, I definitely wouldn’t use Infusionsoft. I would probably use ConvertKit, a huge fan of just their interface, the way they’ve laid it out. It’s just super clean and nice and again, a tool that didn’t exist when I started.
Steve: Yeah. Joe, I didn’t realize well, we already been talking for like 45 minutes, and you just have a new kid and I want to be respectful of your time. So Joe, where can people find more about you, get ahold of you, maybe check out the products that you have to offer?
Joe: Yeah, so the best place today still is right where I started on Twitter. So I’m @Scrivenercoach over on Twitter. And I am slowly starting to build out kind of a resource page over on JosephMichael.net. So my Scrivener kind of pen name is Joseph Michael online. So, you can check out that, it’s a work in progress but we’re going to be putting all the programs and courses that I’ve designed over there, and so you can check them out.
Steve: Yeah, and you’re launching a course on how to get a pizza delivery job right? Is that coming out soon?
Joe: Yes just avoid it entirely.
Steve: All right man, take care Joe, really happy to have you come on the show. Really appreciate it.
Joe: Thanks Steve. It’s been fun.
Steve: All right. Take care.
Joe: All right.
Steve: Hope you enjoyed that episode. Joe is probably one of the biggest hustlers that I know, and he basically started with nothing and now he runs a seven figure online business selling courses. For more information about this episode, go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode222.
And once again I want to thank Klaviyo for sponsoring this episode. Next month Klaviyo is holding a two day conference for 400 e-commerce marketers and store owners with an awesome lineup of speakers. They’ve got experts coming in from Shopify plus BigCommerce, Google, Octane AI, Recharge, Smile.IO, Swell, and other top e-commerce agencies plus panels with successful Klaviyo customers and a keynote address by Ezra Firestone. Find out more about this conference at Klaviyo.com/Boston, that’s K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.com/Boston.
I also want to thank Privy for sponsoring this episode. Privy is the email capture provider that I personally use to turn 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’s so powerful and you can basically trigger custom pop ups for any primer that is closely tied to your e-commerce store. 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 talk about how I use these tools on my blog, and if you’re interested in starting your own ecommerce store, head on over to mywifequitherjob.com and sign up for my free six-day mini course. Just type in your email, and I’ll send you the course right away, thanks for listening.
Outro: Thanks for listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, where we are giving the courage people need to start their own online business. For more information, visit Steve’s blog at www.mywifequitherjob.com.