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The Digital Entrepreneur

Updated 3 days ago

Business
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The Digital Entrepreneur is for people who want to discover smarter ways to create and sell profitable digital goods and services. Tune in weekly as Sean Jackson, Katy Katz, and a host of experts give you the strategies and insight you need to start building your digital business ... the right way.

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The Digital Entrepreneur is for people who want to discover smarter ways to create and sell profitable digital goods and services. Tune in weekly as Sean Jackson, Katy Katz, and a host of experts give you the strategies and insight you need to start building your digital business ... the right way.

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152 Ratings
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Awesome way to prep for an interview

By Olivareza - Mar 14 2018
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I started listening to this podcast prior to a job interview (applying to become a digital marketing strategist), to offer potential talking points. I easily go overboard on articles and information and by listening to contained 45 min episodes I could absorb it more organically and speak more confidently. I feel so much more at ease and prepared. Thanks!

Keep Going Brian!

By mariojann - May 21 2015
Read more
Love the podcast!! The Show Must Go On!!

iTunes Ratings

152 Ratings
Average Ratings
138
8
1
3
2

Awesome way to prep for an interview

By Olivareza - Mar 14 2018
Read more
I started listening to this podcast prior to a job interview (applying to become a digital marketing strategist), to offer potential talking points. I easily go overboard on articles and information and by listening to contained 45 min episodes I could absorb it more organically and speak more confidently. I feel so much more at ease and prepared. Thanks!

Keep Going Brian!

By mariojann - May 21 2015
Read more
Love the podcast!! The Show Must Go On!!
Cover image of The Digital Entrepreneur

The Digital Entrepreneur

Latest release on May 17, 2018

Read more

The Digital Entrepreneur is for people who want to discover smarter ways to create and sell profitable digital goods and services. Tune in weekly as Sean Jackson, Katy Katz, and a host of experts give you the strategies and insight you need to start building your digital business ... the right way.

Rank #1: Position Your Content Curation for Success With These 5 Essential Elements

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Last fall, Robert and I did an episode of the podcast where we laid out how content curation could be used to build an audience and even a business. It was one of the most popular episodes of 2014.

We did that episode based on a personal project I was already planning to do. I quietly launched that project last month, and it’s called Further. It’s a curated email newsletter dedicated to living your best life, with features and news items related to health, wealth, and wisdom.

Here are a few sample issues:

Given the initial high interest (and several requests), I’ve decided to do a “behind the scenes” case study on myself, revealing what I’m doing and why, plus what’s working and what’s not. This episode and the next two will be the first leg of that case study.

If you’re interested in the possibilities at the intersection of curation and email marketing, I think you’ll get a lot out of these episodes. Even if you’re not sure about that, there are a lot of fundamental content, copywriting, and entrepreneurial insights throughout. At minimum, you can watch a new project develop in real time, with commentary.

Enough said … let’s get started.

In this 36-minute episode Robert Bruce and I discuss:

  • The two primary keys to building an audience with curation
  • The element that makes curation a financially viable approach
  • How to make your content curation project unique
  • The design philosophy that works like a charm
  • My explosive new image strategy
  • The kind of copy to use and how to test it
  • How I’m positioning Further in a sea of sameness

Listen to The Digital Entrepreneur below ...

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The Show Notes

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The Transcript

Position Your Content Curation for Success With These 5 Essential Elements

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Robert Bruce: Brian, what’s going on?

Brian Clark: Busy, busy, man. This year is off with a bang.

Robert Bruce: Yeah, what’s the quick list of what we have going on right now? Some of which we can not talk about.

Brian Clark: Don’t make me do that. I’ll get stressed out and this whole episode will go down hill.

Robert Bruce: No, it will make you feel better to get it all out.

Brian Clark: Oh, really. Okay.

Robert Bruce: Yeah, isn’t that how psychology works?

Brian Clark: Thank you, Dr Freud.

Robert Bruce: Any time.

We’ve got Authority Rainmaker, our live event coming up in May, and we’ve got our super stealth secret project coming up shortly, that we can’t talk about but we will be talking about, and actually, we are talking about it, without talking about it. Does that make sense?

Brian Clark: Yeah, as far as I’m concerned, we gave it away last episode but let’s not say anything now. They’ll have to go listen.

Robert Bruce: Good point, good point. What else?

Brian Clark: We’ve got some virtual summits that we are working on, and we have got the Rainmaker Reseller Program that’s about to launch. It’s crazy.

Robert Bruce: And with all this going on, and all the normal stuff going on, you decide to start a new project on top of it. I don’t know why you do these things, but that’s what we are going to talk about today. Specifically how you are doing this project, which we have been talking about in the last few episodes, the curated email newsletter.

So we are going to start today with this series of episodes. We’ll see how many they become, about Further, your curated email newsletter. And this all begins around one of your favorite topics, which is positioning.

Brian Clark: Yeah. So as to your point, I do have a pretty full plate and I did add something else to it. I’ve got to tell you, I love doing this. I do it in my spare time. It doesn’t feel like work. Maybe just because it is new but really it’s because the subject matter is stuff that I am really into. I write the feature on Friday nights, I do the link sections on Saturday’s and I proofread it on Sunday and publish on Monday. It’s really not that bad.

Now the cool thing will be if you can do this kind of one time per week curation thing and have it actually drive your business model, then that’s a really cool thing. So that’s the idea. The premise that we are operating from.

So when you are thinking about, “Okay, how would I start a curation project?” a while back we talked about how to pick a topic, right? You have to pick something that is in demand, a lot of people want and then you have to come at it in a unique way. And that’s another way to say positioning. You know, from a sales perspective the old concept was a USP. We’ve evolved pretty far from that.

Seth Godin talks about the purple cow. The thing that just stands out in a sea of saneness. Well, that’s what we are trying to accomplish at the ground level. If we have chosen a topic and it’s got a lot of competition, how do we stand out and have it be unique to us?

Basically, that’s what we are going to be talking about today. The five things that you have to cover, that are kind of unique to a curation project and even some of the stuff applies to any kind of marketing.

The Two Keys to Building an Audience With Curation

Robert Bruce: Okay. So five elements to successfully position a content curation project like you have with Further. What is the first of the five elements?

Brian Clark: Well let me talk about the first two because they are closely related, but they are still distinct.

The first thing, as you might guess with any content, is value, usefulness. It’s got to be something that your intended audience values and wants to consume but otherwise may not be able to find on their own, or whatever.

That brings us to the second element which is closely related, specifically with curation, is convenience. So if you are following original content, you have to subscribe to 50, 100 sources to really understand what’s going on out there. That’s not going to happen. So most content discovery is really just kind of ad hoc. If it’s popular enough, it might bubble up to you, but you know, popular is not always the only criteria here. I think that’s why we really have this growing need for smart, human curators who by their own editorial taste and selection, bring attention to content that needs to be seen by people. Going back to that value thing.

So value and convenience are the two Cornerstone elements of any curation project. If you don’t have those two, you are not really going to succeed.

Robert Bruce: I get that, a convenience as well.

How to Make Your Content Curation Project Unique

Robert Bruce: The next item on the list here is uniqueness.

Brian Clark: The best way that I can sum this up is the theme of the publication. It’s the editorial positioning if you were starting a magazine. It’s kind of what do you stand for? Who are you? It’s the human element. It’s the voice of the publication.

Let me give you an example. So let’s say you’ve got two real estate brokers and they are both going to start content marketing, whether original content or curation. One goes the straight up utility authority route. “Here’s what I know. Here, let me share it with you. I’m the trusted advisor and I am going to prove it to you with my content before you hire me.”

Then, a different positioning. Same goal. Same perspective audience theoretically, is the “Here’s what they won’t tell you” guy. So he positions himself as, “Here are all the dirty little secrets in the brokerage industry. I don’t do any of this stuff and I am going to pull the curtain back for you.” Right?

Two ostensively same topics, completely different positioning and each will attract a different type of customer. Not either worse than the other, just different. And that’s really what we are talking about when we talk about theme. What do you stand for and how do you express that with what you reveal to the audience.

Robert Bruce: This has a lot to do with your own personality.

Brian Clark: I think it does because a manufactured thematic approach to your editorial curation is not going to fly. You are not going to feel comfortable with it. It’s not going to become natural. Your writing is going to be stilted.

I think the project has to be a passion of yours, as it is in my case, and then you have to bring yourself to the table and the way that you view the world. Then you end up finding an audience or building a tribe that you are already a member of. How many times have we talked about the advantages of that? And I always say, of course it’s possible to fake it, but why would you want to though?

Robert Bruce: Yeah, I think this is where a lot of people get screwed up with the idea of how can I become unique, and they really struggle with it. When sometimes the answer really is as simple and as difficult as just begin yourself as much as possible. Injecting yourself, your personality into the topic.

Brian Clark: Oh, absolutely. Everyone is already unique. Sally Hogshead who will be keynoting on day 2 of Authority Rainmaker. That’s her whole thing. She has got the data to back it up. It’s really kind of amazing.

The Design Philosophy That Works Like a Charm

Robert Bruce: Okay, let’s talk about the next item which is design, and you have strong opinions on this when it comes to a project like this. What do you think about when you think about design in a content curation project?

Brian Clark: Simplicity. We did talk about it in the introductory curation episode and I made some statement, you know, no sidebar, no distractions, no clutter.

Brian Gardner, our partner here at Copyblogger Media, listened to that episode and has just started a project called No Sidebar. Both metaphorically and literally, which I think is pretty cool to see happen.

But it also relates to language. You want a very clean, single purpose. Your goal here is singular and we’ll talk about that when we talk about the fifth element, but you are trying to accomplish one thing. You are not trying to have a multitude of options and flashing widgets and all sorts of distractions. You need a very clean, simple site.

If you look at some of the other curation projects from around the web you will see they have a singular focus. They are simple, not trying to distract you too much, but also in your language. They have an elevator pitch. What it is, succinctly and directly, then a call to action.

Robert Bruce: I saw you link to Dave Pell’s new redesign yesterday over at NextDraft.com. Very simple.

Brian Clark: Very simple. It’s a little more than he had before but I think he added all the right things.

Robert Bruce: Yep.

Brian Clark: Look at all the media sources he has as testimonials. Now that’s the kind of stuff you add to your page once you have them.

Further is brand new. It’s nothing like that. We will talk about that in a second but yeah, it’s simplicity, because you have to nail how you communicate that value and convenience, and you do it in your own voice, which is the uniqueness. All these fundamentals are tied together.

So even though I am presenting them to you in five different parts, you have to be able to see them as a unified whole, which is kind of our theme. It’s all one thing. We always talk about that, even when it comes to things like SEO and content marketing, they are all part of one thing.

Robert Bruce: One of my favorite things about Dave’s new design at NextDraft.com is when you scroll to the bottom of the page. He has got a sub-head there. It’s the greatest thing I have seen in a while. In context to what he does, he says “I am the algorithm.”

So there he is speaking to uniqueness. I think he says directly, “I plucked the top ten most fascinating items of the day, which I deliver with fast pithy wit that will make your computer device vibrate with delight. No bots. No computer algorithms.” So he is fighting the man. He’s fighting the computer algorithm that we are used to, generating these interesting lists for ourselves. He says, “I am the algorithm.” I love it.

Brian Clark: Yeah, and we’ll take a closer look at language on Further in a bit, but I stole my favorite hipster phrase “handcrafted.” It means the same thing.

Robert Bruce: Nice. Yeah. What’s the fifth element?

Brian Clark: The fifth element is really simple. What’s our goal here? We are building a business asset, an audience, and it takes the form of an email list. Anyone who has struggled with, “I don’t understand how you can make money with curation, instead of original content” doesn’t understand that the goal in both cases is to build an email list, because whatever business model you end up in, that’s the medium by which people are going to transact with you. So the list is the thing.

Robert Bruce: And that ties in perfectly with the idea of simplicity because where is that simplicity leading us to in design?

Brian Clark: Yeah, absolutely. They are just basically one thing that we want people to do on this site and it’s as clear as day, and it’s even almost somewhat repetitive in some cases but not in a bad way. So singular focus.

Robert Bruce: This episode of Rainmaker.FM is brought to you by the Rainmaker Platform, and today, instead of me talking about it, I thought I would let our customers do the talking.

I’ve just got a few quotes here from Rainmaker customers that I want to read to you.

Mike Davenport said, “With Rainmaker I have stopped worrying about my website, now I spend time working on my business.”

Another one. “It’s literally plug and play. I just wish I could get all those wasted hours back trying to do this stuff myself.” Ahmad Munawar.

Tessa Shepperson says, “I love the idea that I won’t have to do anymore updating or hunting around for plugins and then worrying if they work or not.”

And finally we will end this little section with Jane Boyd. “Oh Rainmaker, I love you. That is all.”

Find out if you’ll love the Rainmaker Platform with a free 14-day test drive. Start it up right now at RainmakerPlatform.com.

The Five Elements of Successful Positioning

Robert Bruce: All right Brian, let’s now move into a section where we talk about these five elements of successful positioning. And let’s bring them to your project, Further.net, so that people can see how you are actually implementing this stuff and deciding to play it out in real time.

Let’s start with talking about the title itself, Further.

Brian Clark: Yeah, so your goal with the brand you are trying to build is to create that instant mental engagement upon first interaction with the person you are trying to reach. You want them to look at the title or the logo, as the case may be. Maybe you have got a tagline in there as well, and they are like, “Hey, this is something for me.”

Now whether they sign up or not of course, has a lot to do with a lot of other things as well. But without that kind of instant engagement, you are kind of fighting an uphill battle.

So the idea with Further is, it has a lot of significance for me in a lot of ways. It relates to my own journey in a lot of ways, both as an entrepreneur, as a spiritual person, and in the last year, battling back from middle age, just getting healthy. You know, getting back in shape. I lost 30 lbs between my 46th birthday and my 47th, and a lot of this stuff I am writing about in Further is stuff that I actually explored and tried myself, but I am not really coming at it that way, as we will talk about in a second.

But is has a few overtones to it, that I think communicated pretty well just through the title and the tagline. It’s about motivation, longevity. Living a long, happy life. And if you want to get technical about it, in the Maslow sense, it’s about self-actualization. Being the highest and best you, you can be and continuing that pursuit throughout life.

It’s not necessarily about the young, it’s about ageing well and continuing to accomplish. I really decided to do this project when I was really concerned something was wrong with me because we had a few people talking about trying to acquire the company. We ended up turning them all down. This was a year and half ago. And instead of thinking about the millions of dollars I would get, all I thought about was “What am I going to do next?” And my wife is like, “Are you ever going to be satisfied?” And I’m like, “I guess not. I guess I’m just cursed.”

I started looking into the science and motivation. Dan Pink’s book, Drive is really good on this. And I realized, “No, this is just what it is.” If you stop trying to go further, if you don’t keep going, this is why people who retire, die early. This is why people who lose a spouse end up passing away soon after. They lose the will. They are not going further anymore.

So that’s what it signifies. From the feedback that I have been getting, people are like “Yeah, I got it.” And that’s good because it would suck if it didn’t.

Robert Bruce: That I would rather retire to a bar stool in Long Beach, is beside the point. This is really interesting.

Brian Clark: Well you are going further with your sclerosis.

Robert Bruce: Yeah. Correct.

Brian Clark: In the very first issue I did touch on that drinking is actually good for you and that people who don’t drink die younger than those who do. Weird as hell. Isn’t it?

Robert Bruce: That is some science I can get behind.

This title thing is interesting because on one hand you have got like the Google, Yahoo, nonsense name thing but I think you’ve found something really interesting here with Further. It’s difficult because domains are gone. As we move further and further into the future, it’s tougher to find a good domain, even if you find a name that you like. And last week you hinted a little bit that you did spend a couple of bucks on Further.net but what’s your opinion on the importance of naming?

We know it’s important but can you also come at it if you can’t get to what you are really looking for, or say a name that you want? There are a lot of ways you can infuse your domain name with meaning, right?

Brian Clark: Well look at Copyblogger. At the time it was a contrast to ProBlogger and advertising based commercial blogging that meant you apply copywriting techniques to content, and you also sell stuff. And it had meaning. I don’t know if people get that meaning anymore but after 9 years, it’s a brand. It just stands for what it stands for. And that’s what you are trying to get to.

There were other variations of Further that I was able to pick up at normal price, but this is me being in this position and wanting to do this project, so I paid someone for Further.net. Honestly I would have paid for Further.com if they would have sold it to me and that would have been expensive. I’m just happy with an old school, original extension, one word domain. And it’s one word that has the most meaning to me seriously in my life.

Robert Bruce: And even if you have trouble getting to that one word, like Brian has done, I would suggest too that a lot of great work can be done in the tagline, in the rest of the copy, which we will talk about a little bit later.

How Brian is Positioning Further in a Sea of Sameness

Robert Bruce: But let’s move on to the next idea here, which is theme. When we think about theme. When we are developing the theme. What do you mean?

Brian Clark: Well as we touched in the first section, that’s kind of your unique voice and perspective, that you don’t try to whitewash down. You want to display it in every issue, or curated piece of content that you create.

So for me, Further when you think about it, it’s got that tagline of “Health, wealth and wisdom.” It’s essentially personal development. I have always had a love/hate relationship with these guru types. I had this one line in one of the early issues that got tweeted quite a bit, which was “Why do some people call themselves gurus? It’s because charlatan is too hard to spell.” And that was in reference to Dr Oz, who it turns out, 50% of what he says is either wrong, or just baseless. And yet people follow this guy’s every word. He’s got a magazine. He’s got a television show. Oprah is ringing his bell. I hate that. That’s me. Okay.

So Further is not about a guru, a cult, or personality. It’s not even about me. I am on this journey with the audience. I am learning as I go.

Now I have been reading in these areas for well over a year now, so I have kind of got that head start but that’s how you get enough of a start to get going. But every week in my spare time, the books I am reading, the magazines I read, podcasts I listen to, the videos I watch, are all potential material for Further and I’m discovering as I go along.

The theme is very much an emphasis on science and research. Not new age woo woo stuff and certainly not any sort of guru. Because when you think about it, and nothing against Tony Robbins, that man has certainly come a long way from infomercials, to the CEO whisperer. Good for him. I just don’t want to be Tony Robbins. But the topic, health, wealth and wisdom, go look at Tony Robbin’s product catalogue, it’s the same thing, except I’m trying to deliver the newest information, for free, and make sure I am emphasizing that it’s peer reviewed, scientific research.

How to Write and Test Your Site’s Copy

Robert Bruce: How are you messing around with language and copy over there at Further?

Brian Clark: I don’t know how many words there are on the homepage but it’s just a few sentences. And there’s an about page, which is a short article length and then there’s the actual content. That’s it. You know that I dwelled on every word, edited and massaged, and re-edited, and thought, and all of that stuff because when you go back to the themes of useful, and convenient and simple, you’ve got to be succinct. You don’t have a lot of time, and yet you are persuading someone to give up their email address, which is not necessarily an easy task.

In future episodes we are going to talk about how you up your odds there, but for now, it’s just the newsletter and the copy. So a lot of that is just based on how I feel about the project, the things I have read, the things I have observed. All the things we talk about watching social media. Picking up on desires and problems and complaints and dreams. And that’s hopefully expressed in the sparse language that I do have.

The second thing though that I am doing, which is really cool, and Rainmaker makes so easy is that I have been split testing. And I am really proud of our guys in development for this. I just really kind of got into it because there is enough traffic coming into the site to actually test something and I am just doing a test of the headline on the homepage. It’s a very simple variation but the headline at this point is “Live your best life.” And then I asked you, before we recorded this, “Hey, Robert, if I put “How to” in front of that, what do you think will win?” And your answer was

Robert Bruce: Got to be “How to.”

Brian Clark: I bet every copywriter on the planet would say, “How to will win” but, do we have to take that on faith? Even though it’s been true for hundreds of years?

Robert Bruce: Yeah.

Brian Clark: No, we don’t. We can actually test it. I’m still running the experiment because I want to get to a statistically significant result, but “How to” is winning fairly easily.

So if you go by the site, a week or so from now, and it’s “How to” you’ll know why.

Robert Bruce: The other interesting thing with copy and in particular on the homepage, is the length of copy. This is something that comes up all the time. People ask a lot, “Should we go long copy or should we go short copy?” And like you said, you’ve got the about page, you’ve got the actual articles but they are not prominently available. I think they are in the nav.

Brian Clark: It’s a great point, but what do you think I can test next? What I can do, is take the about page copy, put it below the email form on the homepage, make about go to that section of the homepage, and test that against what I have now. And again, I’ll know.

Robert Bruce: Yep.

Brian Clark: It’s really amazing. I’ve got to just say how happy I am because basically with split testing you have got an existing page, you basically dupe that into a new page and change the parts you want to change. Then you just check a box, hit a button and Rainmaker does it for you.

The only thing I would advise is, it’s like a horse race and you’ll waste valuable productivity time checking to see who’s winning, which is a lot of fun. Don’t do that. I’m really forcing myself not to do that but it is fun. I mean if you are a word person and kind of a data nerd at the same time, there is nothing more fun than split testing. But you are not doing it for fun. You are doing it to find out what the audience prefers from language. It’s the same thing with keyword research. The language that they use is always going to be more effective than something you come up with in the alternative.

Same thing with “What do they actually take action on, on the page?”

Brian’s New Newsletter Image Strategy

Robert Bruce: All right. As Jason Fried has written, “Copywriting is interface design” but let’s talk about some other design elements here. You’ve got a few things listed and let’s just go through each one, one by one.

Brian Clark: Yeah, so really as you know, a lot of tweaking and evolution in design despite how simple it is, I think almost the more minimal your design, the more important every little thing is. And of course with you working with me over almost 5 years now, you know that I am really into details and I think they make the difference. You never know which detail is going to make the difference but I think in the aggregate the details matter.

So even from the last podcast that we did, where we revealed the site, you’re a happy man now that I changed the images that I use in issues of Further. Why don’t you tell them what you told me, and I’ll cop to it?

Robert Bruce: I can’t remember the exact words I used but we got on the phone last week and I said, “You know, it looks great, I love the design but I think there is something about these images that are holding it back.”

Brian Clark: What kind of images, Robert?

Robert Bruce: These were stock images that you were finding. But anyway, through this conversation, you lit upon an idea that you switched up this very week and started rolling with it. I think it’s been a pretty good response.

Brian Clark: This has been the biggest revelation I have had so far.

Okay, let’s face it, you hated the stock images. You thought they were crap and you always have. Okay, let’s not mince words.

I agree with you, but I know I need an image and I don’t really know what else to do but to try and pick something good. But, you were right. So what I have been doing is, I would lead with the Further logo, the template for the page and the newsletter itself are the same. Further logo at the top, headline, image and then a quote. I would lead with a quote that was relevant to the issue. Sometimes it’s kind of funny, sometimes it’s profound but obviously it’s always thematically relevant to what I am writing about.

So we were on the phone together and I am trying to figure out what to do, and I just said, “I need to incorporate the quote into the image, instead of having it as text.” And you are like, “Yep, that would be better.”

You know, we have all these great tools. I mean you can use simple photo editing software. You can use something like Canva. And I suppose it does take some skill and some taste but people love quotes, and people love visual imagery. I kind of downplayed that because I’m a word guy. And that’s just my bias. But what I learned by doing this was amazing.

So the first post that I really went public with to see how people responded was on meditation. A lot of good feedback on that issue. People are into it. It’s a hot topic right now.

The original time I tweeted from my personal Twitter account, I got 5 retweets, which I was like, “Hey, at least people don’t hate it. That’s pretty good.” But it had this pretty crappy, blue stock image of a head and some mystical looking stuff around it, which may have not been the best choice.

So it was out there for 4 or 5 days, and then I decided to change the approach and I went to black and white. The photo in the background with a black box that contains the quote. This particular quote is kind of humorous because it’s a zen proverb that says, “You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes every day, unless you are too busy, then sit for an hour” which is a very zen thing to say. And I totally get it.

So I put the post up with a new image and tweeted it. It was like off hours and it was the second time I had tweeted it, so it wasn’t new but it got 50 retweets. The image. The visual impact.

Robert Bruce: Not to mention, you’ve now also created, as you create each issue, another piece of micro content that can stand alone. An advertisement for the entire site.

Brian Clark: You are way ahead of me. I’ve all of a sudden got an Instagram account. I rediscovered Pinterest. We will talk about the results of my attempts at visual marketing but it’s interesting because you know, you almost have to do it separately because just on basic social networks, like Facebook, and on Twitter the right image makes all the difference. And I think I’ve hit along on something. I mean it’s not double as good, it was 10 times as good.

It really comes down to the topic and the image you choose and the quote you use. Of course, there is all these different variables. But every single issue I went back and changed the image and reintroduced it to an audience. Most and a lot of people had already seen the content and it always does exponentially better. So we will talk more about images later, but that is a big part of your overall visual style and I think one of the main things is that the black and white approach is more congruent with the sparseness of the site as it is.

You notice that on the homepage, you’ve got logo, copy, a little bit of nav and the subscription box, and the only splash of color is the “Join Us” button, which has been tested quite a bit in the world of conversion optimization. It definitely helps.

The Importance of Congruence

Robert Bruce: Okay, so let’s go to the final element in this little list, as it relates to Further, and that is content.

Brian Clark: The important thing here is, remember, we may have talked about it on the show in the past, if not, this is something that Brian Eisenberg talked about at the last Authority Intensive show in 2014, the scent test, right?

Effectively what that means, and this goes back to research done in Palo Alto many years ago, that people on the web will follow and expect a congruent scent from page to page. So if you have an advertisement that is of a certain style, flavor, or theme, and then they arrive at a landing page that is completely, jarringly different, that will kill your conversion rates. You need congruence.

I wrote about that topic in conjunction with native advertising. Basically saying, if you are going to do native advertising in publication you are working with, you not only have to make your content fit in editorially, but it should fit in with you, right? Don’t advertise on BuzzFeed if you are advertising a stuffy law firm. That would make complete lack of sense but people do it all the time.

So when you are creating this visual style and you are creating your elevator pitch and you are creating an about page that tells the longer story of what you are trying to do, it’s all got to be matched up fairly well with your content. Same kind of voice, same kind of style, a congruent scent and promise, and then delivery of that promise.

That’s all I want to say about content right now. I think we will probably have some questions relating to process and stuff like that. To me that’s individual but I will be happy to talk about it.

Remember when I interviewed Seth Godin a couple of years ago, when I asked him what his writing process was and he refused to tell me? Because he’s like, “We are all crazy in our own way. If I tell you what I do, number one you are going to think I am crazy and number two, someone will try to mimic me and that’s completely wrong.” And I get him. So we will talk about collecting links and stuff like that, but of course, Rainmaker’s built in curation features, which are coming very soon, are going to make a lot of this really easy.

Robert Bruce: Yeah, let’s leave it at that. We will have further episodes on this topic. The idea of content curation and specifically case studies as it applies to what Brian is doing.

Thanks for opening things up over there man. This is interesting.

If you like what we are doing here at Rainmaker.FM, please let us know by heading over to iTunes and giving us a comment or a rating. It’s much appreciated. And if you want to get everything, head over to Rainmaker.FM and you’ll see right under the header, the headline and the tagline, a green button. Click that and sign up by email. You’ll get all of our episodes as soon as they are published and you’ll also get access to our free 10-part marketing course that will likely change the way you think about online marketing.

Thanks for listening everybody, and Brian, thanks man. I will see you next week.

Brian Clark: See ya.

Jan 15 2015

36mins

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Rank #2: The Psychology Required to Successfully Grow Your Business

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How you think about your business matters. And in this episode, we delve into the growth mindset you will need to succeed.

Rainmaker.FM is Brought to You By

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Brandon Bruce, COO of Cirrus Insight (one of the fastest growing companies in America), joins the show to share his experience on growing a successful technology company.

Brandon’s company has been through a lot; from server crashes, failed investment opportunities, and loss of distribution opportunities.

And yet he and his team were able to overcome all these challenges and find opportunities for growth. And their efforts paid off; recognized as #41 in the Inc 5000 list.

In this 34 minute episode, Sean Jackson and Katy Katz talk with Brandon about the obstacles his company faced, and the mindset he and his team had, to grow their business.

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Mar 08 2018

34mins

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Rank #3: Why You Should Build a Business That Shines a Light on Your Talents

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The freedom of digital entrepreneurship means something different to all of us. For Andrea Vahl, it has meant the freedom to be unafraid of being different, and build a business that shines a light on her talents. And she loves helping other people do the same.

In this wide-ranging 36-minute episode, Andrea and I discuss:

  • The importance of getting your social media tracking pixels installed … NOW!
  • Why the freedom of digital entrepreneurship can be both exciting and scary
  • Her proud story of the lives she’s changed through her work
  • How she deals with being “big enough to get critics.”
  • What she’s doing to fulfill the potential she sees in her business
  • Her methodical process for achieving her current top priority
  • How she’s trying to overcome being the bottleneck in her business
  • Why staying fresh, and exercise, are so important to her moving forward

And, of course, Andrea answers our standard rapid-fire questions at the end. Don’t miss those answers!

Listen to The Digital Entrepreneur below ...

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The Show Notes

The Transcript

Why You Should Build a Business That Shines a Light on Your Talents

Jerod Morris: Hey, Jerod Morris here. If you know anything about Rainmaker Digital and Copyblogger, you may know that we produce incredible live events. Well, some would say that we produce incredible live events as an excuse to throw great parties, but that’s another story. We’ve got another one coming up this October in Denver. It’s called Digital Commerce Summit, and it is entirely focused on giving you the smartest ways to create and sell digital products and services. You can find out more at Rainmaker.FM/Summit.

We’ll be talking about Digital Commerce Summit in more detail as it gets closer, but for now, I’d like to let a few attendees from our past events speak for us.

Attendee 1: For me, it’s just hearing from the experts. This is my first industry event, so it’s awesome to learn new stuff and also get confirmation that we’re not doing it completely wrong where I work.

Attendee 2: The best part of the conference for me is being able to mingle with people and realize that you have connections with everyone here. It feels like LinkedIn Live. I also love the parties after each day, being able to talk to the speakers, talk to other people for the first time, people who have been here before.

Attendee 3: I think the best part of the conference for me is understanding how I can service my customers a little more easily. Seeing all the different facets and components of various enterprises then helps me pick the best tools.

Jerod Morris: Hey, we agree — one of the biggest reasons we host a conference every year is so that we can learn how to service our customers, people like you, more easily. Here are just a few more words from folks who have come to our past live events.

Attendee 4: It’s really fun. I think it’s a great mix of beginner information and advanced information. I’m really learning a lot and having a lot of fun.

Attendee 5: The conference is great, especially because it’s a single-track conference where you don’t get distracted by, “Which session should I go to?” and, “Am I missing something?”

Attendee 6: The training and everything, the speakers have been awesome, but I think the coolest aspect for me has been connecting with both people who are putting it on and then other attendees.

Jerod Morris: That’s it for now. There’s a lot more to come on Digital Commerce Summit, and I really hope to see you there in October. Again, to get all the details and the very best deal on tickets, head over to Rainmaker.FM/Summit.

Welcome back to The Digital Entrepreneur. I am your host, Jerod Morris, the VP of marketing for Rainmaker Digital. This is episode No. 25 of The Digital Entrepreneur. On this week’s episode, I am joined by someone who is passionate about helping small businesses understand and leverage the power of social media to actually grow their business.

She co-authored the book Facebook Marketing All-in-One For Dummies, and she was the community manager for Social Media Examiner for over two years. She is also the co-founder of Social Media Manager School, an online training course that has helped over 500 students learn how to start their own business as a social media manager or consultant. She also doubles as Grandma Mary, social media edutainer.

Can you guess who it is yet? She is Andrea Vahl. I’m very excited to have Andrea on the show. You’re really going to enjoy the conversation that we have — so much good insight that she has about how to decide what to do next when you have a lot of different priorities on your plate, the importance of really having a mindset of wanting to help, not just to succeed and make money for yourself, but a real genuine desire to want to help other people.

I love the answers that she gives to the questions that I ask about the one word that she would use to describe her business now and the one word that she hopes she’ll be able to use to describe it a year from now. Really great answers and so much else in this conversation. I think you’ll really enjoy it.

Andrea will actually be joining me on stage this October at Digital Commerce Summit in Denver, Colorado, which I’ve been telling you about here on The Digital Entrepreneur the last few episodes. The conference will be held on October 13th and 14th. All of us really here at Rainmaker Digital hope that you will join us at this one-of-a-kind event.

Why Digital Commerce Summit Will Take Your Digital Business to the Next Level

Jerod Morris: Here’s a few things that make it one-of-a-kind.

First, it’s not like some of those other cattle-call conferences that you may have been to, where every 90 minutes, you have to make a difficult decision about what presentation you want to go to. Then you get buyer’s remorse because you’re thinking, “Man, what if this other presentation that I’m missing out on is good?” You’re trying to get some sort of coherent through-line between the sessions that you pick, but it’s kind of difficult.

Well, at Digital Commerce Summit, you are treated to a single track of speakers. It’s curated personally by Brian Clark, and it follows a step-by-step progression to help take you from point A to point B, or point C, or point D, or even further with your digital product or service. We don’t want you leaving Denver in the same place in your business that you showed up. This is an event about action, and you’re going to be buzzing with ideas and an itch to execute by the time it’s over and you’re traveling home. That’s our goal. That’s our commitment to you.

Second, what other conference is held at a famous theater and treats you to a special musical performance by a band like Cake? Well, you’re going to get both at Digital Commerce Summit. This combination of fun and education is what makes it a great place to network and why Digital Commerce Summit is the premiere live educational and networking event for entrepreneurs who create and sell digital products and services — entrepreneurs like you.

But here’s the deal. The early bird price goes away today. This episode is coming out on Thursday, July 28th, and the early bird price goes away today. You don’t want to hesitate to get your ticket because you’re only going to end up spending more.

Here’s something better. Since I’m a speaker at Digital Commerce Summit, and Andrea’s a speaker as well, I can give you the special speaker link, which allows you to get an even better deal than the one being offered publicly. Now, this deal also expires with the early bird price on July 28th. Again, don’t hesitate to use this URL.

Here’s the link. Make sure you remember it or write it down. It’s Rainmaker.FM/Summit-Speakers. That’s the URL. Use it. Get the best price on your tickets for Digital Commerce Summit because I really want to see you there.

All righty. Well, let’s get to this week’s discussion. You will enjoy certainly some wit, some humor, and lots of wisdom from my guest — the one and only Andrea Vahl.

Miss Vahl, welcome to The Digital Entrepreneur.

Andrea Vahl: Thank you so much, Mr. Morris. I didn’t realize how formal it was here.

Jerod Morris: You and I, we did a session recently for Digital Commerce Academy, but I believe we last saw each other in Philadelphia. Is that right?

Andrea Vahl: It was, yeah.

Jerod Morris: We’re going to see each other again in October coming up in Denver, which will be fun.

Andrea Vahl: Yeah, I’m really excited for this event. It’s going to be so great. I attended other events put on by Copyblogger, and of course, the content and material is always spectacular.

Jerod Morris: Well, thank you. We’re looking to do it again this year, so it should be no different. Speaking of, your talk is titled Social Advertising Secrets for Selling Digital Stuff, and you’re speaking on the second day of the conference. Obviously, this is a topic that you know quite well. You’ve built a business around it.

I’m wondering — don’t give away all of your secrets — but is there maybe one secret that you can share with our listeners today that might help them get a little more bang for their social advertising buck?

The Importance of Getting Your Social Media Tracking Pixels Installed NOW!

Andrea Vahl: Yeah. If you want to really rock your social ads, it’s making sure that you have all of your tracking pixels in place so that you can know exactly which ad is giving you the best results. You can do all kinds of tests around different types of ads, different copy, different images, different targeting — but unless you’re really tracking all that specifically, you’re not going to know what ads you can shut down and what ads you can keep running.

What’s amazing about it is you sometimes have a guess about which ad is going to perform the best, and a lot of times, you end up getting totally surprised. If you get those tracking pixels in place and there are tracking pixels for Facebook. There are tracking pixels for Twitter, and there is ways you can track on all of your advertising efforts with all kinds of things. I’ll leave it at that.

Jerod Morris: Yeah. I know I was going to say we’ve definitely found that with the ads that we’ve done — being surprised, thinking that one’s really going to take off. But then it doesn’t do as well as you think, and another one really goes well.

One quick follow-up to that, so you want to get those tracking pixels in. Let’s say someone hasn’t yet started doing their paid advertising. They’re thinking about doing it in the future. Would it make sense to just get the tracking pixels installed today, so you start building an audience? Or is that something that you’d wait until you’re serious and ready to start running ads?

Andrea Vahl: No, absolutely. Especially for re-targeting, your traffic starts building the moment you install a pixel. You want to get that pixel on your website, tracking the traffic that is coming to your website so that Facebook or Twitter, whatever, can start building that audience and putting that traffic into a reserve for you that you can then use in the future.

Definitely, if you do nothing else from this conversation, it’s just go, find that pixel of yours — everyone has one that’s unique to their Facebook Ads account or Twitter Ads account — and just go ahead and put that pixel on your website.

Jerod Morris: That’s great advice. We’ve been seeing our best results from our ads, from those remarketing campaigns. Very good advice.

Andrea Vahl: Yeah. For those people who are new to the idea of advertising, the idea of pixels and tracking, pick the pixel … when I say ‘pixel,’ it’s really just a little bit of code, a few lines of code that you just copy and paste into the header area of your website. It’s really not hard. Your webmaster can do it, or a lot of times, your site has a place for tracking codes that you can easily put it into.

Jerod Morris: Yes. All righty. Switching gears a little bit, Andrea, I have always believed that the number one benefit of digital entrepreneurship is freedom. The freedom to choose your projects, the freedom to chart your course, and ultimately, the freedom to change your life and your family’s life for the better. What benefit of digital entrepreneurship do you appreciate the most?

Why the Freedom of Digital Entrepreneurship Can Be Both Exciting and Scary

Andrea Vahl: Yeah, it really is truly that freedom and that ability to scale your business up and down, to be able to work from anywhere. I love travel. I try and plan trips to Europe or international destinations, and I can work from there. I can keep my business running from there. It’s just a beautiful thing. Then in the summer, I scale my business back a little bit because I’m hanging out with the kids a little bit more.

Jerod Morris: I’m also curious, from your perspective, taking that freedom idea in another direction, freedom of expression, freedom to be yourself — obviously, some people know you as Grandma Mary. I’m wondering how much that plays into it for someone like you. You didn’t need to ask anybody permission to do that. You did it.

Andrea Vahl: Yeah. It’s true. Sometimes it’s hard, and sometimes it’s easy to have that freedom. It’s nice to have that freedom to be able to choose your projects, choose the clients you want to work with, choose the things you want to work on, but also choose the way you want to do it — you make all the decisions. That can be hard and scary sometimes, too, because you’ve got almost unlimited amounts of things you could do, and you have to choose the things that you’re going to really focus on. I know, as entrepreneurs, I think sometimes the ideas start flowing, and we get excited. But there’s only so much time in the day. Double-edged sword there.

Jerod Morris: Yeah, that’s a good point. Let’s hold that thought because I want to get to that a little bit later in terms of how you make those decisions. That is something that I think so many digital entrepreneurs face.

Before we get there, though, I want to go back a little bit. I’d love for you to take us back before you became a digital entrepreneur. What were you doing? What was missing that led you to want to make a change to take you down the path that you’re on now?

How Wine Led Andrea Down the Entrepreneurial Path

Andrea Vahl: I started out as an engineer, so I was working for some different companies. I actually worked for a motor company, and I was actually over in Europe for them for a little while. Then I worked for Agilent Technologies in the telecom field. I was doing technical support, played a technical support role for them. I actually did really like my jobs that I did. There was a little bit of lack of freedom, lack of being able to call the shots, but it was okay. I liked the companies I worked for and the teams I worked on. What happened is, I got laid off through no fault of my own. The telecom bubble burst.

That is another aspect that I love about being a digital entrepreneur — that you can call the shots in terms of not having to worry about your income completely disappearing. Obviously, there are things that can happen in your business, but usually you’ve got different silos, different things that you’re working on. You can even pick up and recreate everything, probably pretty easily, if everything somehow disappeared anyway.

Jerod Morris: What then led you to go into business for yourself? If I remember correctly, correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t wine involved?

Andrea Vahl: It was! Heavy drinking — always good in entrepreneurship.

Jerod Morris: Yes.

Andrea Vahl: After I was laid off from the engineering field, actually, it was great. I had a one-year-old son, stayed at home, decided to stay at home and stretch out my severance pay there. I started working with a wine company doing in-home wine tastings, and it was entrepreneurial in a way because I was building my business. It was a network marketing company. Then what happened with them is that they folded as well. I was really bummed because who else pays you to drink on the job, right?

Jerod Morris: Right, yeah. Tell me about a milestone or a moment in your career as a digital entrepreneur as it has progressed that you are the most proud of?

Andrea’s Proud Story of the Lives She’s Changed Through Her Work

Andrea Vahl: I would have to say that probably … there’s a few things. I was obviously very proud when I got the book deal to write Facebook Marketing All-in-One for Dummies. I was shocked and amazed. It was a wonderful moment. But I have to say, the parts that I’m really, truly most proud of and what keeps driving me is when someone that I’ve helped has said to me, “You have changed my life, and I’ve been able to become a digital entrepreneur myself because of you. You’ve made a difference in my family.” I’ve had people who say that I’ve helped them keep their home.

Jerod Morris: Wow.

Andrea Vahl: They were laid off from their job, and they weren’t able to work. But they created their own income, and they were able to keep their home. A woman whose son had cerebral palsy said that it’s changed her life because she’s able to stay home with her son and work from home.

One of the things we do in Social Media Manager School is teach people how to become their own boss and run a business as a social media manager or consultant. That has been so rewarding and so exciting to me. I love working with small businesses and people who are solopreneurs, where you feel such an impact on their home, their family, and what they’re now able to do. I love that.

Jerod Morris: That’s incredible. You know, I had Chris Ducker on last week, and for this same question, he gave a similar answer and actually used the exact same phrasing in terms of, “You have changed my life,” that someone who had read his book said that — “You have changed my life.” It’s a guy. I think his wife had passed away. He was trying to spend more time with his daughter, and because of what Chris taught him, it helped out their family so much, which is similar to what you’re saying.

Do you think that having that spirit of empathy, wanting to help, and taking real joy out of that — not just saying it, but really getting joy out of that impacting other peoples’ lives — is that a prerequisite for significant success as a digital entrepreneur, do you think?

Why Coming From a Place of Service Changes the Way You Approach Your Business

Andrea Vahl: I think that it can really help be such a motivator. I think some of the other things we see that we might think of as perks, as maybe feeling like you’re kind of semi-famous in this niche, feeling like you’ve made it in some monetary way, or whatever — those are exciting on the surface, but this is a tough life sometimes.

It is really hard. Sometimes you are working long hours. Other times there are benefits, where you don’t have to work as much. Sometimes it’s harder on motivating yourself to get certain things done. If you’re working out of your home, it can be challenging. I think the coming from a place of service will really change the way you approach your business. I think it’s a great way to keep going.

Jerod Morris: Yeah, I agree with you whole-heartedly. Let’s flip to the other side now. Tell me about the most humbling moment in your career as a digital entrepreneur and what you learned from it?

How Andrea Deals with Being ‘Big Enough to Get Critics’

Andrea Vahl: I’ve gotten a lot of feedback from others. I guess I think that there are some humbling moments where I’ve thought a product is going to launch really well. I thought, “I’m going to knock it out of the park.” Or it’s going to be an amazing reception to a certain product or offering that I have, and it’s just like crickets — and there’s lots of reasons that can be.

Also, I think it’s hard sometimes to take some of the feedback. I’ve had someone who swore a whole bunch at me in an email about segmenting my list. It sometimes feels like a punch in the gut when someone words something a little bit nastily. You are in a mindset where you’re kind of internalize it maybe differently than what was meant, or you are more sensitive to something like that. I think that what it’s really taught me is just take that feedback and really examine it. See if there’s a way you can improve.

I did really look at my list segmentation after that. And actually, I had the guy come back to me a year later. We connected somehow on LinkedIn, and he apologized for that email like a year later.

Jerod Morris: Wow.

Andrea Vahl: He was like, “I’m sorry. I was in a really bad place. Thank you for reaching out to connect on LinkedIn.” I was like, “Okay, great.” That was kind of interesting because you never know what kind of mindset that person is in who is giving you criticism. I think really understanding where to take your criticism from. I definitely am more concerned about my customers, people that I’m directly doing business with rather than someone who may never do business with me and is just feeling the need to complain.

I’ve gotten some comments about Grandma Mary, too. I never really sweat that because I’m like, “You’re not my people.”

Jerod Morris: Right.

Andrea Vahl: I think that’s really just it — just examining where you can get better from that feedback and trying to implement it. Then just tossing away and leaving the rest, to not internalize, if you can.

Jerod Morris: When you were introducing Grandma Mary and you got some of that feedback, did it ever make you question whether you should keep doing it? Whether this was the right path? I agree with you whole-heartedly. You’ve got to know who your people are. There are different levels of seriousness with which you deal with different critiques, depending on who’s giving them to you. How did you deal with that with Grandma Mary, which seems like such a personal thing to me?

Andrea Vahl: Right, yeah. Actually, that has always been interesting because I’ve never really questioned that much my decision to go with Grandma Mary because I’ve gotten so much positive response that a few negative voices means that maybe I’m big enough to get critics, right?

Jerod Morris: Yeah.

Andrea Vahl: I’ve really gotten so many people who have come to me and said, “This is awesome. This is great,” that I’ve been able to not ever think about changing. There are times where feeling like not doing Grandma Mary some days and really getting into it other days. I think there is a natural ebb and flow to our own energy in our business. I think the other thing is just important to really remember why you’re doing it.

My whole idea with Grandma Mary, her whole mantra is “If Grandma Mary can do it, then you can do it, too.” I’m really drawn to that, not only in business, but in expressing yourself creatively. People are so afraid to be different and so afraid to shine a light on their talents sometimes. I think that being able to say, “Hey, someone else did this, and she didn’t die,” and say, “You can express yourself and be who you are” — even if that’s a wig-wearing crazy person.”

Jerod Morris: I love the line, “Big enough to get critics.” We should all hope to be big enough to get critics. It’s a good place to be.

Andrea Vahl: Yeah.

Jerod Morris: Okay, let’s fast forward to now. What is the one word that you would use to sum up the status of your business as it stands today?

What Andrea’s Doing to Fulfill the Potential She Sees in Her Business

Andrea Vahl: Oh wow, that’s a good question. I think ‘potential.’

Jerod Morris: Potential.

Andrea Vahl: Yeah. I really feel unlimited potential with the things I’m doing. I think that I definitely am feeling a little bit of a crossroads sometimes in my focus. Do I decide to bring on people? Do I decide to focus more on speaking, more on the products, or more on the consulting? Or whatever it is. I think that it’s exciting times because I just see so much potential.

Jerod Morris: That’s a good one. That’s a really good one. So on that, and relating to what you said earlier about having so many things to do and how do you figure out what you’re going to do — you’ve got all this potential, all these things you want to do. What is at the top of your priority list right now? How do you decide? When you have 10 things you could do, how do you decide, then, what goes at the top?

Andrea’s Methodical Process for Achieving Her Current Top Priority

Andrea Vahl: I think I always want to focus on the core business that’s brought me the most income and really keep focusing on those digital products because that’s, by far, what has brought in the most money for me over my eight, nine years of business. That’s always at the top of my focus.

Right now, I’m really looking to draw in more speaking. That’s been not as big of a part of what I do, the in-person speaking. I do a lot of speaking, obviously, on webinars and other things, interviews and things like that, but I’m really looking to shine more of the light in my business on my speaking. It’s something I really, really enjoy, and it’s also something I love doing, combining the travel with the speaking.

That’s something that I’m bringing up in my business, and I’m doing things like, this weekend, I’m attending the National Speakers Association convention. I’m connecting with speakers. I’m making a real marketing plan towards marketing my speaking. Even though it’s not been, historically, a big chunk of my business, I’d like to grow it because it’s something that’s fun for me.

Jerod Morris: Well, and it sounds really smart, the way that you’re doing it. The next question I was going to ask you is, what are you doing to get there? You pre-answered that question by telling me exactly what you’re doing to get there — which is good. I think a lot of people in our industry, they talk about wanting to speak. They’ve got it out there as this nebulous goal, but as we’ve both learned, to do it, you’ve really got to put yourself out there. You’ve got to be active about it like anything else — which you’re really doing, which is good.

Andrea Vahl: Yeah. It’s always fun. I love learning about something new, and this is something new for me. I’m going to have to be making some outbound calls, which is uncomfortable for me, but I know that there are great ways to do it. I’m learning from some of these professional speakers how they do it and their methods, and getting into a new challenge.

Jerod Morris: Tell me a little bit about the biggest challenge that you’re facing right now in your business?

How Andrea’s Trying to Overcome Being the Bottleneck in Her Business

Andrea Vahl: I think right now it is a little that I’m kind of a bottle neck in it. I have a team, but I haven’t given as much work to my team as I should. I’m doing too much of my own little things. It’s just a case of laziness on my part and not getting my systems set up as well as they could. I definitely have some systems to outsource things to my team.

I use things like Asana, which is project management. Also, one of my team members uses Basecamp. That gets the work to them, but sometimes I’m just lazy about really getting it to them, getting more to them that I should offload from myself.

Jerod Morris: How do you decide what you’re going to do and what you will offload?

Andrea Vahl: Sometimes it’s just, as soon as I get them trained up on something, then I know that they can all do it. I think it’s just a little bit of control where I want the control over the process and how something looks. But a lot of times, I find that when I give up that control and let them just do it, they’re better at it than I am. It comes out better. It’s just so much nicer for me to not have to deal with it.

As growing up from zero to where I am now, you get used to being able to do everything yourself in your whole business. You think, “Oh, I’ll just , ” rather than I’ll give that to someone else, “I know how to do it really quick. I’ll do it.” It’s a lot of stuff that you shouldn’t be doing. I’m not very good at delegating as much as I should be.

Jerod Morris: That is a common challenge that digital entrepreneurs face.

Andrea Vahl: Yeah.

Jerod Morris: Let’s open up your toolbox a little bit, if you don’t mind. What is one technology tool that contributes the most to your success as a digital entrepreneur?

The Tools That Contribute to Andrea’s Success as a Digital Entrepreneur

Andrea Vahl: Well, I would say, one I use all the time that I use to create my products is Camtasia. I love that product for editing videos, mostly. Sometimes I get a little bit irritated with it when it glitches out, but it’s like any tool, right? That’s the tool I use to record video. I do like a lot of video. Obviously, things like my phone and cameras that I use are important to me.

I think images are so important with social media now. Some of the tools I’ve used are Canva. I’m just starting to explore Adobe Spark, so that’s a new image tool.

Jerod Morris: I like Canva. Canva’s a good one.

Andrea Vahl: Yeah, Canva’s pretty amazing. It’s pretty off the hook, so yeah.

Jerod Morris: What is the non-technology tool that contributes the most?

Andrea Vahl: I would say that the non-technology tool that contributes the most is exercise.

Jerod Morris: Ah, that is a good one — and an oft-overlooked one, too.

Andrea Vahl: I know. I have to exercise.

Jerod Morris: Yes.

Andrea Vahl: It just gets the monkeys out of my head and really helps me stay centered, stay grounded, stay focused. I love running. I just actually signed up for my second triathlon. My first one last year did not go so well. I had to blog about it. It was so bad.

Jerod Morris: But at least you did it.

Andrea Vahl: I did it — and I finished last, but that’s okay.

Jerod Morris: Nice. Exercise is so … I think people underestimate the importance. It gives you energy, makes you alert, helps you focus, keeps your brain young.

Andrea Vahl: Yup.

Jerod Morris: There’s so many reasons. I’m glad you said that. Okay, moving forward. I asked you a few minutes ago for the one word you would use to sum up the status of your business as it stands today. You said ‘potential’ and really the unlimited potential that you see it having. If we talk again in a year, what would you want that one word to be?

Why Staying Fresh, and Exercise, Are So Important to Andrea Moving Forward

Andrea Vahl: Ooh, that’s a good one, too. I would say, I guess it’s like quick, what’s coming up for me is ‘freshness.’ I don’t know.

Jerod Morris: Ooh, okay.

Andrea Vahl: Really, I want to always just be making sure that I’m staying energized with the things I’m working on, make sure that I’m feeling fresh. I think being a digital entrepreneur and consuming a lot that’s online, as we do sometimes, can be really frustrating, really energy-sapping sometimes. I think I just want to always be making sure that I’m feeling fresh and energetic.

Jerod Morris: I like that. Very good. Okay, so let’s go now to our rapid-fire questions, if you’re ready. Are you ready for these?

Andrea Vahl: I’m ready. Let me just stretch. Hold on.

Jerod Morris: All right. Get a little a little exercise in.

Andrea Vahl: All right, yeah.

Jerod Morris: Here we go. Let’s keep this fresh.

Andrea Vahl: Okay.

The One Book Andrea Would Insist You Read

Jerod Morris: All right, here we go. If you could have every person who will ever work with you or for you read one book, what would it be?

Andrea Vahl: I think one of the books that I just love so much is Steven Pressfield’s, The War of Art. It just encompasses so much around creativity, around work, around the idea of what work should be for us, and I love it.

Jerod Morris: I was talking with a student of my alma matter, Indiana, yesterday, and he asked me a similar question, what book I would recommend. That’s the first one that popped into my head, too.

Andrea Vahl: Yeah.

Jerod Morris: Actually, I have that on my desk right now. I’m re-reading it because it’s so good.

Andrea Vahl: Nice. I know, it is.

Andrea’s Ideal 30-Minute Skype Call to Discuss Her Business

Jerod Morris: Okay, if you could have a 30-minute Skype call to discuss your business with anyone tomorrow, who would it be?

Andrea Vahl: So hard, that’s so hard. I think I really go between Seth Godin, who I love and I think is amazing, and another person that’s heavily influenced the way I think and my mindset is Darren Hardy. I subscribe to SUCCESS magazine and have listened to his CDs for a long time, and it really helps me. I think I’d have to go with Darren Hardy just because I’ve just really loved his practical advice.

Jerod Morris: I’m not familiar with Darren Hardy. I’m going to have to look him up.

Andrea Vahl: Yeah.

Jerod Morris: SUCCESS magazine, is that a print magazine?

Andrea Vahl: Yeah, it is a print magazine, and it’s just filled with really uplifting entrepreneurial advice, entrepreneurial stories. They often feature people who have risen through the ranks. They deal with mindset. Darren Hardy used to be the publisher. He isn’t anymore, but I still follow him. He also wrote Entrepreneurial Roller Coaster.

Jerod Morris: Got it. Okay, very cool.

The One Email Newsletter Andrea Can’t Do Without

Jerod Morris: What is the one email newsletter that you can’t do without?

Andrea Vahl: That’s a good question. The one I consistently, consistently read is Chris Brogan’s.

Jerod Morris: Yeah?

Andrea Vahl: Yeah. I love the ideas in there. I also love Social Media Examiner’s for the news and getting caught up on what you need to know, but I definitely think Chris has a real good insight into the entrepreneurial mind.

Jerod Morris: I’m pretty sure his was the first one that I ever subscribed to, I do believe. There’s probably a lot of people for whom that’s true.

Andrea Vahl: Yeah.

The Non-Book Piece of Art That’s Had the Biggest Influence on Andrea as a Digital Entrepreneur

Jerod Morris: What non-book piece of art has had the biggest influence on you as a digital entrepreneur?

Andrea Vahl: Well, I would have to say The Carol Burnett Show. I always wanted to be Carol Burnett, and that’s how I feel like I combined that desire with my business.

Jerod Morris: Yeah, and Grandma Mary was emanated from that, right?

Andrea Vahl: Exactly, yeah.

Andrea’s Biggest Productivity Hack for Doing Meaningful Work

Jerod Morris: Very cool. What productivity hack has had the biggest impact on your ability to get more meaningful work done?

Andrea Vahl: Yeah, I think for me it’s a lot about changing scenery sometimes. That can mean like going on a walk and taking a break, or switching to a coffee shop. If I’m really feeling stuck and really not getting stuff done, I just take a walk or meet a friend at a coffee shop, and it really helps my productivity.

Jerod Morris: That’s a good one. I’ve even read studies about how just going through a doorway, like if you’re stuck with your thinking, literally just walking through a doorway can change your thinking and freshen up your mindset a little bit. You don’t even have to leave your house. You just walk through the doorway.

Andrea Vahl: That’s cool.

Jerod Morris: Yeah, there’s something psychological that goes on. I know I find myself, working from home, feeling like that a little bit.

Andrea Vahl: Right.

Jerod Morris: As great as working from home is, sometimes it’s like, “Okay, I got to get out of here. I need a change of scenery.” So that’s a good one.

How to Get in Touch with Andrea

Jerod Morris: Okay, and finally, the easiest one of all — what is the single best way for someone inspired by today’s discussion to get in touch with you?

Andrea Vahl: Yeah, just go to my website AndreaVahl.com. There’s a Contact Me spot there, and you can just get in touch.

Jerod Morris: AndreaVahl.com, perfect. We will have that in the show notes. Andrea, thank you so much for your time.

Andrea Vahl: Thank you. This has been great!

Jerod Morris: It has, and I look forward to hanging out in Denver here in just a couple months.

Andrea Vahl: Yeah, see you soon.

Jerod Morris: Yes. All right. Thanks, Andrea.

Thank you very much for tuning in to this episode of The Digital Entrepreneur. I do want to make a special announcement, which I will do here in just one second.

But one more quick reminder to go to Rainmaker.FM/Summit-Speakers. Again, the early bird prices go up today. That is Thursday, July 28th. Make sure that you go today and get your ticket. You’re not going to want to miss Digital Commerce Summit. It really is a one-of-a-kind event, and we all want to see you there.

A Brief Hiatus for The Digital Entrepreneur

Jerod Morris: As for the future of The Digital Entrepreneur, going to take a week or two off. My wife and I welcomed our first child into the world, so we’re obviously very excited. I’m taking a little bit of time to play dad and focus on that role. Putting some of these podcasts, doing it with The Showrunner as well, on hiatus for just a few weeks. It won’t be too long because I’m excited to get back and to continue recording these episodes and bringing you these great stories from so many great digital entrepreneurs. I’m really excited about the direction that we’re taking the show in, and I hope that you are as well.

Anyway, I’ll be gone for a couple of weeks, but then we will be back with some more brand-new episodes of The Digital Entrepreneur. Until then, use the time that you might have used listening to The Digital Entrepreneur to go over to Rainmaker.FM and check out some of the other shows over there. I highly, highly recommend Confessions of a Pink-Haired Marketer, Sonia Simone’s show.

Sonia will also be on stage at Digital Commerce Summit, and any time you listen to her show, you’re going to get great insight. She’s just one of the great experts in this field and one of the most compelling and entertaining people to listen to.

Check out that show in the meantime, and I’ll be back soon with brand-new episodes of The Digital Entrepreneur. Take care.

Jul 28 2016

39mins

Play

Rank #4: The Biggest Mistakes Online Entrepreneurs Make and How to Fix Them

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We all face challenges when building and growing an online business. And in this episode, we give you practical advice on how to meet and overcome them.

Rainmaker.FM is Brought to You By

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Most online businesses face two types of challenges; running their business and growing it. Both challenges present unique issues. And in this episode, we cover a few of the most common operational and marketing issues you may be facing, and more importantly, how to address them.

In general, operational issues tend to revolve around processes and people. For marketing, the challenges tend to center on positioning and experience.

To help you address these types of issues, Jessica and I take a deep dive into both categories, and share our insights and advice to help you grow and thrive.

In this 31-minute episode, Sean Jackson and Jessica Frick address the most common problem you may face in running an online business, including …

  • Why you should build customer feedback loops into all processes
  • The secret to great customer service
  • How to address the people problem
  • Where to focus your online marketing efforts
  • Finally, our question for the week – What are the latest emerging trends you need to focus on?

Listen to The Digital Entrepreneur below ...

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The Show Notes

  • If you’re ready to see for yourself why more than 201,344 website owners trust StudioPress — the industry standard for premium WordPress themes and plugins — swing by StudioPress.com for all the details.
  • Jessica’s tool recommendation for managing employees, Gusto
  • Sean’s recommendation for website experience analysis – including heat maps, Hotjar
  • Follow Sean on Twitter
  • Follow Jessica on Twitter

May 25 2017

30mins

Play

Rank #5: The 6 Top Online Marketing Trends for 2018

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In this very special year-end show, Katy and Sean cover the big changes in online marketing for 2017 and what to look for in 2018.

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Online marketing continues to evolve at a fervent pace; with so many innovations and trends emerging it can be hard to know what matters.

To help guide you, Katy Katz and Sean Jackson review the events and topics that defined 2017 and discuss the new marketing innovations that will define 2018.

In this 48 minute episode, Sean Jackson and Katy Katz review the topics, trends, and ideas that will shape your online marketing efforts in 2018.

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Important links from this episode:

Dec 20 2017

48mins

Play

Rank #6: The Secret to Becoming an Online Expert

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Ever wonder how all those online experts became famous? This episode reveals their secrets.

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This is part 3 of a 4-part summer series of short, inspirational, and thought-provoking concepts to help you succeed online.

Jessica and Sean will return to their normal programming schedule starting in September 2017.

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Aug 17 2017

5mins

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Rank #7: Why You Should Start a Digital Marketing Agency

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A behind the scenes discussion on how — and why — you should create a digital marketing agency.

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In 2017, the team behind Copyblogger.com launched a digital marketing agency … after 11 years of writing about, and teaching, content marketing to others.

In this episode, we interview Brian Clark and Ed Bardwell to discuss the reasons behind the creation of this new business unit and the ideas they use to stand out in a crowded market.

If you run a marketing agency — or just considering it — then this episode will reveal the tactics and ideas that you can use to launch your own effort.

In this 35 minute episode, Sean Jackson and Katy Katz share the insights and ideas behind the launch of Rainmaker Digital Services with Brian Clark and Ed Bardwell.

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Important links from this episode:

Dec 14 2017

34mins

Play

Rank #8: How to Create Legendary Content That Builds Your Business

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“Storytelling” and “empathy” have become business buzzwords, which is either hilarious or sad depending on your perspective. These two words, however, are at the root of what it means to be a human being.

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And yes, these two words are also the key to effective marketing of any kind. When you add in a strongly integrated mix of content and the right products and services, you’ve got an amazing business.

Bryan Eisenberg joins us today to discuss the principles from his book Buyer Legends (co-written with his brother Jeffrey Eisenberg and Anthony Garcia). In short, we’re talking about stories told from the point of view of your customers; because your brand isn t what you say it is … it’s what your customers say it is.

In this 33-minute episode Bryan Eisenberg and I discuss:

  • Why you re telling a story whether you re trying to or not
  • How the 80/20 Rule applies to your online marketing
  • Why understanding the buyer s journey is critical
  • How to switch to your customer s perspective
  • Why you need to combine art and data to succeed

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The Show Notes

Sep 03 2015

32mins

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Rank #9: What is Digital Commerce?

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The dream of building a business around digital products and services is as old as the Internet itself. Unfortunately, the early days of “digital commerce” were overpopulated with snake oil promises and “Online Cash Machine” hype.

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Fortunately, things have changed:

  • Sales of ebooks exceeded $5 billion in 2014
  • Online education is now a $15 billion a year industry
  • Apps and other downloadable software are the norm
  • Software as a Service rules the business market
  • New forms of digital products are emerging daily

In other words, the market is ready and waiting for you. That doesn t mean it s gotten any easier, though. Here s how we plan to change that.

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The Show Notes

Oct 22 2015

16mins

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Rank #10: Behind the Scenes: 2014 in Review and the Road Ahead

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2014 was a pivotal year for Copyblogger Media.

We …

  • Launched a Pilot program for our Rainmaker Platform using a podcast
  • Evolved the platform to version 2.0 during the Pilot phase
  • Arrived at the 8-figure level for annual revenue, up 34%

For an added twist, we tried things, observed, learned, and made changes on the fly throughout the year – from content, to format, to development. Which, let’s be frank, may have made us look like we didn’t know what we were doing.

Welcome to the real world. When you play in real time with a real audience, you figure out everything you need to know. But you can’t be afraid to adapt based on what they tell you just because it differs from “the plan.”

In this 32-minute episode Robert Bruce and I discuss:

  • Why 2014 was such a strange year around here
  • The big project we’re working on for 2015
  • The biggest Rainmaker.FM episode of 2014
  • I (finally) reveal my new curation project
  • The future of the Rainmaker Platform
  • The content trend you need to focus on in 2015

Listen to The Digital Entrepreneur below ...

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The Show Notes

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The Transcript

Behind the Scenes: 2014 in Review and the Road Ahead

This episode of Rainmaker.FM is brought to you by the Rainmaker Platform, which we will be talking about a little bit later but you can see more of right now at RainmakerPlatform.com.

Robert Bruce: Happy New Year Brian.

Brian Clark: Happy New Year to you too.

Robert Bruce: Thank you. It’s 2015, for those of you who are still in a fog rolling into the days of January here.

Brian Clark: That would be me. So, thanks.

Robert Bruce: Well you get a lot done, it seems. Some of which we are going to be talking about a little bit today but we have laid out a nice little plan for this episode. Another behind the scenes episode of Rainmaker.FM.

The first half of the show we are going to take a look back at 2014 and the second half of the show we will be looking ahead at 2015.

We were talking the other day that folks in and around the Copyblogger audience, if you are watching closely, you may have noticed some interesting things going on, you may have even questioned some of the decisions we have made over this last year, wondering why we are doing what we are doing. So we will talk about a few of those things and obviously, what we learned from them. Then will go onto 2015 in the second half of the show and what’s coming next for us, which hopefully will be informative and useful to all of you.

Why 2014 Was Such a Strange Year Around Here

Robert Bruce: Yeah Brian, what do you think about 2014, generally first? Some of these things, turns, decisions we made.

Brian Clark: It was a big year. It seemed like a crazy year. We tried a lot of things, we learned a lot of things and we figured out a lot of things, and yet we did it all on purpose as a demonstration.

When we launched this podcast at the beginning of 2014 we had a general plan for what we are trying to accomplish but we were really learning as we went, figuring things out, taking in feedback and seeing what worked and what didn’t. And of course, that early effort turned into the New Rainmaker training course, which shows that I’m still not a jaded old fart. But in our LinkedIn discussion group when they were talking about the best of 2014 from Copyblogger, several people chimed in and said it was the New Rainmaker training course that was their favorite thing from the year. That warmed my old jaded heart.

Robert Bruce: Yeah, and let’s talk about that for a minute, because we started the podcast in January, we built on the Rainmaker Platform, both the product site and added the podcast to it, but it was always going to be more than a podcast. It was always like so much of what we do is going to be a demonstration of the platform itself, of marketing strategies and that initially turned into this Rainmaker training course, which was essentially seven episodes. The first seven episodes of this podcast that we repackaged, cleaned up, added transcripts and then three on top of that. Three separate webinars that you did. So there are ten lessons altogether in that course.

Brian Clark: Well the interesting thing about that is that, yes, it culminated in a training course, but the podcast was actually the launch of the Rainmaker Platform pilot program, so that was a first for us. We launched not only a new line of business but the primary go-forward line of business for this company with a podcast. I think that really kind of spoke volumes, considering we are pretty much known as a writing focused company.

Robert Bruce: Yeah.

Brian Clark: But it was outstanding. With the pilot program, we got a lot of enthusiastic people who understood the deal, “You are getting a great deal. You are going to help us make it better”, and literally from April to September we went to Version 2.0. It really was amazing. It’s amazing of course on the side of our developers, who I am extremely proud of, but I’m also proud of all the people who gave us crucial insight. Some of the stuff we kind of knew, and it was confirmed. Other people had requests, that we were like, “Yeah, that’s good.” And I really think that sort of customer-centric collaboration is what it’s all about. You know, building something according to what’s in your head and throwing it out there, it’s really not that all that smart a strategy, although you still see it all the time.

Robert Bruce: Anything else you want to hit on the launch, Rainmaker 2.0 and the Rainmaker Platform?

Brian Clark: Well, let’s just say that when you are betting the future on something and it goes well, you know adding another seven figure revenue line for the company, and pushing us into eight figures overall for the year, that’s pretty big. So I’ve got to say I’m pleased, despite the chaos.

If it looked chaotic on the outside, multiply that by ten on the inside, and try and build a SaaS product, coordinate editorial and support and all that. But that’s the thing, 2014 really just set the stage for the go-forward, which you’ll start seeing being implemented this year. That’s all we’ll say about that right now because I think the demonstration of what this thing can do is the most important thing, instead of me just saying how wonderful it is.

The Biggest Rainmaker.FM Episode of 2014

Robert Bruce: So back to this podcast in particular, we covered a lot of ground over the year and in a relatively few episodes. There was some specific things we wanted to cover which dictated our schedule for releases but one topic in particular kind of dominated the year, and that is curation.

Brian Clark: Yes, so we took the summer off because we had work to do on evolving that 1.0 to a 2.0. By the way, that won’t happen again.

Robert Bruce: It won’t?

Brian Clark: No. Hey if you want to take the summer off, that’s fine but I may quit everything else. I’m going to do the podcast of this show. I’m doing 50 at least this year.

So yeah, we came back in the fall and we did a couple of interesting little NPR storytelling with guests.

Robert Bruce: Yep.

Brian Clark: With Tom Asacker, and Sally Hogshead, who will be keynoting at Authority Rainmaker. Some people liked them because they were short and quick, other people didn’t. But it took an incredible amount of work to do those little episodes. Right, Robert?

Robert Bruce: Yeah.

Brian Clark: I had to write a script. I did the interview first, which is usually all a podcast is, as we demonstrated with the guests we had at the end of the year, then you take that, you select excerpts of what the guest expert said, and then you write a story around it. Then you give it to Robert to narrate. It was quite the production. I was proud of those two episodes but I don’t think we felt that the response was strong enough to justify that amount of work.

Robert Bruce: Yeah it’s very interesting. The interview, the straight kind of interview shows, and the shows where you and I are rambling along talking, were some of the biggest ones and, of course, the content curation topic as well.

Brian Clark: Yeah, so the curation one was more of an educational format. One thing we did catch is that some people like the interviews a lot and some people didn’t, because that is very standard in marketing podcast land. And I get that. We get that. That’s why we have experimented with different styles. We don’t want to be like everyone else.

But one thing came through loud and clear is that people want to learn something. Whether it’s short, or it’s an hour long interview, there has to be a focus on education and I always try to do that, but I think it gave me some good insight into going forward.

So anyway to your point, the curation topic was really kind of a tease at a new project, that at that time was nothing, because it was only an idea, and I hadn’t implemented anything at that point. But it was basically the roadmap of what I wanted to do with this new project that’s built on Rainmaker. Not only that, but completely done by me. I don’t have you, and I don’t have the Copyblogger team behind me really, I mean to the extent I need assistance with design work, Rafal of course is always there, but I kept the design really minimal.

Anyway this is a busy CEO’s side project as case study of a curation business model. We didn’t know how that would resonate or not, but I thought it would do well because curation is a hot topic. You have got people talking about “content shock” and glut, and this and that, which I think is mostly overblown, but there is incredible value in being the person who finds the best stuff, packages it up, gives their perspective and commentary, and delivers it preferably by email. So that was my idea.

So you and I did the show and it was like a home run. I mean people just went crazy over it.

Robert Bruce: We are going to talk more in the second half of this show about your project in particular, without giving away any details.

It was really kind of a basic overview. There was a little bit of shock in the sense of the history of Copyblogger and what we do, and what we are known for, versus a new kind of strategy. Not that Copyblogger, as you said in that episode, is going to move to a curation model.

Brian Clark: No, Copyblogger is what it is.

Robert Bruce: Right.

Brian Clark: This is an alternative approach to it, that I want to do no matter what. But I figured if people were interested it might make a good case study and it turns out people are interested. So taking that fact with the emphasis on education, you’ll see the next several episodes of this show focusing on that project, which we will talk about a little bit in the next part of this show.

Robert Bruce: Yep.

The Next Big Project We’re Working On

Robert Bruce: So we’ve chatted about this a couple of times, and we are trying to decide what to talk about and what not to talk about in terms of our next project here. I am going to leave it to you to start this little conversation. So away you go.

Brian Clark: Yeah, and this is part of the “try it and figure it out” motif that was 2014. We started out with the brand, New Rainmaker, that was always supposed to signify content, and then of course we launched the Rainmaker Platform. And that of course is the SaaS service that allows you to do what we do effectively as we are demonstrating it.

You have to be careful with a term like ‘rainmaker’. I mean people instantly get it in the context of sales and marketing but that also means that you have to be careful in a trademark sense. That it’s a generic term, so you have to have a trademarkable, ownable term to prevent confusion in the marketplace. That’s why it’s really important that we have modifiers like New Rainmaker, Rainmaker Platform and then people saw us introduce Rainmaker.FM. I understand why it happened but it was kind of concerning, you know, everyone was like “The New Rainmaker Platform, New Rainmaker”, you know, there was all this confusion in the insertion of ‘New’ because it’s in the domain name.

Robert Bruce: Right.

Brian Clark: We do own RainmakerPlatform.com. It’s not the sexiest url but it’s easy for people to find the ever moving sales page for Rainmaker Platform. But that’s what I am talking about.

If you’re looking from the outside, and you are like, “These guys are all over the place.” Hey, we did it in public, in front of you, on purpose, so you can see that we are not just making this up about iteration and adapting, and putting out there and figuring it out. That’s how it really works, and if some people want to say we were kind of inconsistent last year, that’s okay, but I think that’s the wrong lesson to take away from it. This is actually how it works if you are truly listening to the audience and to your customers.

So in the fall, all of a sudden we introduced Rainmaker.FM, which is a url and we were using it for the name of this show. And right about that time is when we had the lightbulb moment, right Robert?

Robert Bruce: Yep.

Brian Clark: I think it was somewhere around when I started the interview series and, I’ll be honest with you, I did those interviews as a demonstration of what I consider a form a curation. You know, not putting myself out there as the expert in that context. I’m having a conversation with someone who I really want to hear from.

I think it was David Siteman Garland that said, “The key to a great interview is being genuinely curious in what the other person has to say.” I think that’s why those interviews went so well.

But the recurring theme that kept coming up about podcasting, and Jay Baer said some very interesting things about how we have video, and we have text and they are never going away, but audio is the only true mobile content format.

Robert Bruce: Yeah.

Brian Clark: And of course, we thought of that a year in advance, which is why we did a launch by podcast. But I think that the whole idea of Rainmaker.FM and the conversations you and I had about what we really wanted to do, finally I just decided “Yeah, we are going to do that.”

So, here’s what I’ll say. This show will again be eventually known as New Rainmaker and Rainmaker.FM is something that encompasses that show. Now, can you guess what that is Robert?

Robert Bruce: Yeah but I’m sitting here trying to remember what the heck we talked about in terms of what we are going to reveal and not reveal. I mean it will become clear soon enough.

Brian Clark: Yeah. Let’s just put it this way. Right now Copyblogger is our flagship content site and we are about to launch another one.

Robert Bruce: Right.

Brian Clark: It couldn’t be anymore different, but you have probably caught on if you have seen what we did in the last year. Again, launching a product with a podcast. So stay tuned on that. I think we will just wrap up 2014 on that note.

Robert Bruce: Yeah, let’s leave it at that.

And let me say that this episode of Rainmaker.FM is brought to you by the RainmakerPlatform.com. If you are looking to easily build a powerful sales and marketing website that drives your online business, head over to RainmakerPlatform.com. There’s that url again, Brian. Head over there right now and sign up for a free 14 day trial to see if it might be a fit for you.

Rainmaker handles all the technical elements of good online business practices for you. That’s design, content, traffic and conversion. And she does it all under one roof. Get over to RainmakerPlatform.com right now and get back to building your online business in 2015.

Brian (Finally) Reveals His New Curation Project

Robert Bruce: Okay, speaking of 2015, you hinted at, and have been talking a bit about this new project of yours, and we had also touched on how the curation episode of this very podcast took off in the minds and imaginations of our listeners. What is that going to look like in regard to this project, this podcast and your project in 2015?

Brian Clark: I believe the next three episodes of this show will be me doing a three-part case study on my curation project. I guess you could think of it as a mini course, like we did with the original New Rainmaker course from the beginning of 2014, but it will extend beyond that as I have new insights to give.

So this will be kind of the core of “Here’s what I am doing. Here’s my strategy. Here’s my plan. Here’s how I plan to execute. I’m going to continue doing that and then the things that I do well and the things I screw up, I’ll come back and continue to report on.

A lot of people who have already caught on to what I am doing are kind of excited about being able to get notes in process. It’s not, “Here’s what I did five years ago.” It’s “Here’s what I am doing right now and here’s what happened.”

As we have been discussing, this is a curation project. Meaning I am finding and synthesizing content created by others to create these email newsletters that hopefully have high value and are able to build an audience because I am delivering value in the sense that I am finding the best stuff for people without them having to do it. One neat little package from someone that they trust.

So I’ve actually, what am I on? I have done three issues, right?

Robert Bruce: Yeah, I think that’s right. The third one was yesterday.

Brian Clark: Yeah, I wrote the first two with no audience at all and then I kind of leaked it out on social media. So people are starting to figure out what it is but if you haven’t seen yet, it will be in the show notes but it’s called Further. Further.net. Not a cheap domain. Even for a .net.

Robert Bruce: I was going to ask you about that. Let’s reveal the price tag on that.

Brian Clark: You don’t want to know. Not as bad as you might be thinking but worse than maybe you are thinking. I don’t know.

So, what is it about? It’s not about marketing necessarily. There are aspects of it that relate to entrepreneurship and marketing in that context but it’s really I guess, encapsulated in a pithy tagline, personal development without the fluff. It’s very science based research driven information, non-guru, non crazy, new age stuff about living your best life. In fact, that’s the headline on the homepage. “Live Your Best Life.” There’s a brief description and an email opt-in. So that’s it, Further.net.

I guess the other two components you would want to know about from being able to follow along with the case study, would be the Facebook page, which goes by the handle facebook.com/furtherdotnet and on Twitter, it’s @furtherdotnet.

Unfortunately, I wish Twitter would allow you to put dots in names. That would be much more attractive but they do not, so I had to spell it out. In both cases the dot is spelled out.

Robert Bruce: So that is a look at what’s coming for content on this podcast. We are looking into the curation mini course, the case study of Brian’s new project, and there’s going to be interviews. There’s going to be a lot more than that.

The Future of the Rainmaker Platform

Robert Bruce: One thing that is directly related to that on the product side of what we are working on in 2015, is the suite of curation tools in the Rainmaker Platform.

Brian, you and Rainmaker customers across the board do not have access to that yet but these tools are coming, and they are going to be in the standard package of the Rainmaker Platform. This is going to make your job a lot easier in a lot of ways. We have talked about this before what these tools are going to do and how they are going to help, particularly in the curation aspect of doing content, but what are your thoughts on some of this that is coming in relation to how you are doing things now?

Brian Clark: Well without the tools inside Rainmaker, I am having to patch everything together which is the problem we are trying to solve, and in some cases I had to deal with some pretty annoying translation issues from page to newsletter template. Don’t even get me started. It was horrendous but hopefully that is all going to be worked out. The problem is, I wanted to get this thing started in advance so that we could kick off the year with this case study.

So, you are right. Things will get easier when the curation tools are released as features inside of Rainmaker. Now here’s the good news, because if you have been following along with our product announcements for Rainmaker, we said the curation tools are part of the pro package, which will be fully delivered by the end of March. That includes marketing automation, adaptive content and the full learning management system and what else Robert? I mean there is a lot of cool stuff coming but that’s part of a more expensive plan.

After I saw that reception of the curation episode and the fact that I’m doing this myself, I said, “Hey, let’s throw the curation tools in the standard package.” So if that’s not clear, if you buy Rainmaker right now, that’s the standard package. So when the curation tools are added, which is coming, you will automatically get that upgrade. You don’t even have to do anything because obviously we upgrade all Rainmaker sites for you.

Another interesting thing that’s coming in the standard package, right now of course we are using Rainmaker to produce this very show. One show on one site. Well, Rainmaker is about to become capable of hosting many, many shows on one site, which will be very handy for this Rainmaker.FM thing.

In fact have I said too much?

Robert Bruce: I almost just stopped you, but I think we are still okay. I mean I don’t want to make a damn circus out of this.

Brian Clark: You love a good circus.

Robert Bruce: But yeah, you are right, it’s going to make things a lot easier for the project we are doing called Rainmaker.FM. The next iteration. The next evolution of Rainmaker.FM. All of these details will be coming out. We don’t mean to be coy here but yeah, and that will be part of the standard, to Brian’s point, of the standard Rainmaker platform.

Brian Clark: If you have been waiting to get onboard because you felt like you had to invest in the professional package to get these particular capabilities, including podcast stats, multiple podcasts hosting on one site and all the curation tools. You don’t have to sweat it because you could get started right now and those features will be out shortly. I’d say within the month. A month and a half at the latest. That’s my latest word from development.

So it’s very exciting. My curation product is a demonstration that I am going to do a case study of. Rainmaker.FM is going to become a highly educational content site that is also a demonstration of the Rainmaker Platform. I think you kind of get the feel here. We are committed to teaching you one way or another whether you use our products or not, but it’s going to be pretty apparent how much easier and more powerful the Rainmaker Platform allows you to be to do these kind of projects.

The Content Trend You Need to Focus on in 2015

Robert Bruce: Let’s close this episode out about content and let’s go back to content strategy and philosophy.

You brought something to the table a few months ago, this idea of adaptive content. How do you want to approach this? Is it something we are going to be focusing on a lot in 2015? How do you want to introduce this to the Rainmaker audience?

Brian Clark: Well I think adaptive content is, or can be, a confusing topic if you have heard of it at all, but you will. In the sense that there are many definitions of it. I mean I have seen people talk about adaptive content starting with mobile responsive design, which of course we have been doing at StudioPress and with Rainmaker as a matter of course. It’s a mobile world now.

If your site doesn’t render automatically on a phone, a tablet, a laptop or a desktop, you’ve got issues. To me that’s just web 101 now. And of course, that is built right into Rainmaker.

It’s adaptive in the sense that it senses what device or what screen size you are on, and it adjusts. But the broader concept of adaptive content is the type of user you are based on your interests and needs, the content itself changes.

So that sounds a little bit like marketing automation and I think we have been using the two terms side by side because I think there is a line. But there is a reason why most of the marketing automation companies, Marketo, Eloqua, and even HubSpot are very expensive and they are aimed at companies that have sales teams.

Marketing automation is really identifying moments when you can identify that a person is ripe to speak to a member of the sales team.

Adaptive content is more for companies like Copyblogger Media, where we sell online or for service companies for example that do lead generation online but it’s not exactly going to a 20 person sales team. It might be coming into a realtor. Like when I was a broker, the leads came in by email and then I distributed them as necessary to agents and all that kind of stuff.

It’s really the content and your copy that is your sales team, whether you are selling digitally online or you are doing lead generation of the type that I just mentioned.

So adaptive content is really about being your sales team, being the right sales person at the right time, for the right person. I think that’s the best way to think about it. But I guess, you are going to be learning more about it.

I’m working with Jerod and Demian on the series Demian is producing because as we were building out the advance features of Rainmaker, we realized it’s really an adaptive content platform. And rather than a buzz phrase, I think adaptive content is just what content marketing will be in the future as consumers whether, B2B or B2C, or whatever the case maybe, will expect a more responsive and personalized experience. It’s no longer good enough just to produce content that half or 60% of people on any given day are not interested in. I am not denigrating that because that’s how Copyblogger was built. But the technology is getting smarter and that means that your competitors are going to start doing it. It’s really not super complicated, it’s actually kind of wonderful.

Remember, Robert, the theme of the New Rainmaker training course and again, if you haven’t taken that, go sign up. I think 30,000 people have taken it, which is pretty cool. But create less content with more impact. Well that’s what adaptive content allows you to do. You are able to serve up the right article from your archives at the right time, instead of it being buried back there.

There is stuff in the Copyblogger archives that I’ll stumble upon and I’m like, “Ah, I wrote that?” That’s not how it should be and that’s not how it’s going to be. It’s the technology that’s exemplified by what Rainmaker is evolving into with the professional edition that will be out by March. So that’s why we are starting this educational campaign primarily on Copyblogger, and also on this show, about adaptive content and how you do it.

Robert Bruce: So that’s a very brief look at 2015. What’s coming for us and as it relates to you. I mean we didn’t even touch on things like Authority Rainmaker, the live show we are putting on in Denver in May. We didn’t touch on a major shift that we are doing regarding email on Copyblogger, but we will be talking about that.

Brian Clark: Well you know we killed blog comments and our Facebook page last year, so we had to top that somehow. I would expect we might have some surprises.

Robert Bruce: I think so.

Well thank you for listening everybody. If you would like to get Rainmaker.FM delivered to your digital doorstep and not miss a thing in 2015, head over to rainmaker.fm and sign up by email. Just click that big green button you’ll find at the top of the page there and we’ll take care of the rest. And if you want to go direct to iTunes and subscribe to Rainmaker.FM in iTunes, I’ve got a little bitly link for you. It’s bit.ly/rainmaker.fm and it will take you directly to the iTunes page.

Brian Clark: And if you would like to give us a nice review or some stars of some sort, that would be wonderful.

Robert Bruce: Some stars of some sort. Yes, that is the language that iTunes understands. So yes, a rating or a comment over in iTunes is extremely helpful if you like this show and you want to see us do better in iTunes. Thank you for that. We always appreciate it.

Wherever or whenever you are out there on the Internet, good luck to you. Brian, thanks for this episode. See you next week.

Brian Clark: Thanks man.

Jan 07 2015

33mins

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Rank #11: How Becoming a Digital Entrepreneur Helped Jarmar Dupas Get His Life Right

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This week’s guest aspires to help you get your money right. He wants to assist others in taking back their purchasing power. He is Jarmar Dupas, and he is a Digital Entrepreneur.

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In this 35-minute episode, Jarmar walks you through his journey as a digital entrepreneur:

  • The moment that got his ears “buzzing,” which got him interested in entrepreneurship
  • The simplicity of his proudest moment … and what you can learn from it
  • How being a digital entrepreneur has been conducive to creating his desired lifestyle
  • Why Jarmar sometimes gets in his own way and how he’s trying to overcome it
  • The element of entrepreneurship that gives him the most satisfaction and how it inspires him to keep moving forward

And more.

Plus, Jarmar answers my rapid fire questions at the end in which he retells a famous Stephen Covey story that has impacted his ability to get more meaningful work done.

Listen to The Digital Entrepreneur below ...

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The Show Notes

The Transcript

How Becoming a Digital Entrepreneur Helped Jarmar Dupas Get His Life Right

Voiceover: Rainmaker.FM. You’re listening to The Digital Entrepreneur, the show for folks who want to discover smarter ways to create and sell profitable digital goods and services. This podcast is a production of Digital Commerce Institute, the place to be for digital entrepreneurs. DCI features an in-depth, ongoing instructional academy, plus a live education and networking summit where entrepreneurs from across the globe meet in person. For more information, go to Rainmaker.FM/DigitalCommerce.

Jerod Morris: Welcome back to The Digital Entrepreneur, the show where digital entrepreneurs share their stories and the lessons they’ve learned so that we can all be better in our online pursuits. I am your host, Jerod Morris, the VP of marketing for Rainmaker Digital. This is episode No. 36.

This episode of The Digital Entrepreneur is brought to you by the Rainmaker Platform. I will tell you more about this complete solution for digital marketing and sales later. But you can check it out and take a free spin for yourself at Rainmaker.FM/Platform.

On this week’s episode, I am joined by someone who started his journey out of frustration. He didn’t have anyone to turn to when it came to his problems with money. He knew something had to change, and so it did. He did. He began to question his beliefs about money and who stood to make the most from financial advice from mainstream media.

After intensive research, he learned from those doing it wrong. Today, he wants to help others achieve financial freedom. He gives his advice through his podcast, Get Your Money Right, where he strives to help others take back their purchasing power. He is Jarmar Dupas, aka The Money Misfit, and he is a digital entrepreneur.

Jarmar, welcome to The Digital Entrepreneur.

Jarmar Dupas: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Jerod Morris: No, it’s awesome to have you here. You and I first became acquainted as part of The Showrunner Podcasting Course. You joined the course when we launched it. How’s the podcast going?

Jarmar Dupas: The podcast is going pretty good, actually. It’s surprising. After taking the course, just decided to start it with you and Jonny helping me out. It’s been growing ever since. I’m not on your level or Tim Ferriss or anything like that, but it’s amazing the tens of thousands of downloads we’ve gotten from just my little old voice. I don’t do any interviews or anything like that. It’s been great.

Jerod Morris: It’s been all monologues and you basically giving people advice. Your show is Get Your Money Right. So you’re giving people advice about money, and it’s just been you so far doing monologues.

Jarmar Dupas: That’s it. I think what really helped a lot, and I learned from The Showrunner course, was getting into New and Noteworthy. We jumped off to get a good start, got into New and Noteworthy, and got a good boost from that. I guess it just resonates with people. I’m just pretty much just telling my story, talking about money as it relates to real life, that a lot of the financial gurus don’t dig into. Either they’ve made it and forgot what it’s like to still be going through a journey in life or maybe had some other situation.

So I m just telling my story, and it’s helping people apparently. It’s been a lot of fun.

Jerod Morris: Very nice. Well, the podcast is obviously an important part of what you’re doing. We’re going to talk in this episode about your journey as a digital entrepreneur. I’m sure that we’ll be touching more on the podcast and how it fits in. But I want to begin with the question that I always ask our guests to begin these episodes.

That is this. I’ve always believed that the number one benefit of digital entrepreneurship is freedom — the freedom to choose your projects, the freedom to chart your course, and ultimately, the freedom to change your life and your family’s life for the better. For you, what is the biggest benefit that you have derived from being a digital entrepreneur?

What Jamar Sees As the Biggest Benefit of Digital Entrepreneurship

Jarmar Dupas: Man, that’s not fair, Jerod. You already took the answer.

Jerod Morris: You’re allowed to agree with it and expand on it. That’s totally fair game.

Jarmar Dupas: I definitely do agree with it. I guess if I had to add onto it, one of the biggest benefits of being a digital entrepreneur — and it’s fun because you get to see what’s coming down the pipe — we’re turning into a digital world. The world is digital.

If you’re going to be an entrepreneur in this day and age, what other type of entrepreneur would you want to be other than a digital entrepreneur? At least, definitely from a marketing and customer outreach perspective, being digital is almost vital these days. Definitely the freedom, but also being able to see into the future and be prepared for what’s to come.

Jerod Morris: That’s a great answer. One of the reasons why I structure the question that way is because I know most people will say freedom, so I like to get that one out of the way. But everybody always has a unique perspective after that. Yours is one we haven’t heard before, so that’s a great one.

Jarmar Dupas: Awesome.

Jerod Morris: Let’s go back. Let’s get into your story a little bit. Take me back before you became a digital entrepreneur. What were you doing, and what was missing that lead you to want to make a change?

The Moment That Got Jarmar’s Ears ‘Buzzing,’ Which Got Him Interested in Entrepreneurship

Jarmar Dupas: Oh, man, what was I doing? I’ve done a lot of things. I think like a lot of entrepreneurs I meet today, I’m just all over the place. There’s so many things that I want to be doing. I started off, I was born at a young age. There was college, and I wanted to be a doctor, believe it or not. I wanted to go to medical school. I was pre-med in undergrad, and then halfway through that decided I didn’t want to do that because it wasn’t what I thought it was. I wanted to make money. I wanted to travel the world.

I met a guy one day who said he made like $40,000 a month. I was like, “You’re lying. Nobody pays anybody $40,000 a month.” I’ve never heard of such amounts of money. Growing up, we were taught if you could be a doctor, lawyer, even the post office worker, or something like that, then you’ve got it made. When I first heard of that, the gentleman who told me said, “You’re right. Nobody’s going to pay you that much. You have to earn that much.” That’s when I first got my wind of what entrepreneurship is.

It’s funny because I’d never even really heard it that way or even thought that I could be an entrepreneur. It was always grow up, go to school, and get a job. I didn’t even think of me or anybody around me being a business person. That’s kind of when my ears started buzzing. I got my foot wet, and the whole network marketing MLM-type of direct sales type of businesses. I did okay with that. That wasn’t really my cup of tea. Then I started a bartending business.

Jerod Morris: Really?

Jarmar Dupas: Yeah. I started a bartending business. I was doing private parties, which was something else that kind of just fell in my lap. I had no idea that people actually hired people to come to their house and stuff like that to do parties, to bartend and mix drinks.

Jerod Morris: Had you been a bartender before, during that, or was this something that you trained specially to do because you had this business idea?

Jarmar Dupas: Well, I went to a bartending school because I needed money. I went to bartending school. One of the instructors that was there, he asked me one day if I wanted to do a private party. I was like, “Sure, why not?” That grew onto something else. One day I couldn’t make it. I asked a bartender friend that I knew if she could make it for me, go to the party for me, and I charged a flat rate per hour plus tips.

I told her, “I’ll just pay you all my money.” She said, “No, I’ll just keep the tips. You can keep what they pay you.” That was my first taste of making money without having to actually be there, actually doing work for the money. I was like, “I like this.”

Jerod Morris: Yeah, no doubt.

Jarmar Dupas: That kind of grew from there. Then I had some guy come and bought my business from me after that. I was doing Super Bowls. I even did a party for Puff Daddy. It was a bunch of crazy stuff.

Jerod Morris: Oh really? Wow, we might have to do another episode and just talk about stories from your bartending experience.

Jarmar Dupas: Yeah, it’d have to be a late-night edition for that.

Jerod Morris: I bet.

Jarmar Dupas: Can’t let my wife to listen to that. I sold that business. I blew all that money. I started consulting for other people who owned bars, and I was running bars. Then I got into commercial real estate. I’ve done so many different things.

How Being a Digital Entrepreneur Has Been Conducive to Creating Jarmar’s Desired Lifestyle

Jarmar Dupas: To make a long story longer, what brought me out of that was I wanted to get married. I was like, “Okay, this life is not conducive for being married.” I had to find another way.

I remember that time. I actually saw Copyblogger. I was actually on their emails list. I didn’t really pay much attention to it until years later. Now, I’m all over you guys’ stuff. Everything, Rainmaker Digital, I’m all in on. I’ve always wanted to have freedom. I’ve always wanted to be able to live on my own, do my own thing.

That’s what attracted me to a lot of things I’ve ever done, was how does it fit around my own lifestyle? I knew if I wanted to have an awesome marriage and have an awesome lifestyle. Being in the bar business probably wasn’t going to be conducive for that. I had to get out of that.

Jerod Morris: That led you to where you are now?

Jarmar Dupas: Yeah, so I’m actually a firefighter. I work ,unlike most of the people that you have, I actually still have a job. That fell in my lap as well, too, but it was also part of the design. As a firefighter, we don’t work every day of the week. We batch our hours, so to speak. We work 24 hours at a time or 48 hours or whatever, depending on what city you’re in.

That was attractive to me because I can get these hours out of the way and have several days off to pursue my entrepreneurial goals. I could still make some money, and I can manage some money that was steady, so to speak, that could fund my entrepreneurial dreams. That was the thought process behind that.

Jerod Morris: That’s why I love this story because you’re right. A lot of the people that we’ve had on The Digital Entrepreneur are people who have gotten to the point where they’re doing it full time. But for so many people, those stories have a part in them where people are working, and they have a side hustle. The goal, of course, is to make the side hustle the full-time job.

But most people have to go through that transition and manage priorities, manage time, manage money, juggle all the things like you’re doing right now. This will be a great perspective.

Jarmar Dupas: Absolutely.

Jerod Morris: Tell me about the milestone or the moment in your career as a digital entrepreneur, with the work you’ve done online, that you are the most proud of.

The Simplicity of Jarmar’s Proudest Moment and What You Can Learn From It

Jarmar Dupas: To be honest with you, it’s just starting. It’s the biggest milestone because it’s the biggest fear, I should say. Not even really fear because I don’t believe in fear, but more of a doubt. I don’t think people really fear. I think they have too much doubt. Doubt, of course, leads to fear. Doubt is just a lack of information.

I think one of the things that The Showrunner course helped me do, and even podcasts — not just this one, but all types of podcasts — and seeing examples of other people doing things, it gave me enough information to drive out doubt. I was like, “Look, if this person can do it, I can do it.” Even in those times of doubt, I said, “I got to get started.” Even my show today is not where I dream for it to be, but just getting started was I think the biggest milestone for me that got this thing moving.

Jerod Morris: I’m glad you said that. In all the work that we’ve done helping people with podcasts, and it’s the same thing with starting a business or any kind of online pursuit or side hustle pursuit, that fear of starting can just be so pervasive and can stop people in their tracks.

I’m glad that you highlighted that as something that you’re proud of. It’s something easy to overlook. “Oh I started, who cares?” No, that is the biggest hurdle for so many people. I’m so glad that you mentioned that. Kudos to you for starting. That’s awesome.

Jarmar Dupas: Thank you. But let me say this, though, I got into your course about this time last year. I didn’t start till March.

Jerod Morris: Hey, that’s okay.

Jarmar Dupas: But I started.

Jerod Morris: Exactly.

Jarmar Dupas: For anybody who’s out there who is beating themselves up about it, it’ll happen. Just keep getting that information in, and just do it. Just do it.

Jerod Morris: Absolutely. Let’s take a quick break. When we come back, I’m going to ask Jarmar about his most humbling moment as a digital entrepreneur. We’ll be right back.

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All of these reasons and more are why Rainmaker.FM runs on Rainmaker and why all my personal sites do, too. But don’t just take my word for it. Check out the Rainmaker Platform for yourself. Go to Rainmaker.FM/Platform. Start your free 14-day trial today.

Now, back to my interview with Jarmar Dupas, and he, in a little bit, talks about how he uses Rainmaker for his business as well. Stay tuned for that.

All right, Jarmar, tell me about the most humbling moment in your career as a digital entrepreneur and, most importantly, what you learned from it.

Why Jarmar Was Humbled by Realizing the Work It Takes to Do Something Great

Jarmar Dupas: I don’t know if this is a moment, but more of a process of looking at my numbers and then comparing myself, my show, my business to other people. It was humbling because I started to realize the work that it takes, that goes into doing something great. It goes into doing something outside of the norm, so to speak. It’s really humbling that I get to see other people doing such great things.

I’m out here, and I’m working. It’s like, “I’m working, I’m working, I’m working,” and not sure if it’s working, but then you see the results. Then you hear other peoples’ stories. It humbles me to sit back and look at that. It gives me grace for myself. Like, “Look, maybe you’re not making a million dollars a day, but have some grace, sit back and relax. You’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing. It will all happen in due time.”

Jerod Morris: Yeah. We talked about the podcast. Can you give us a little bit of an overview I guess of what your business is right now? I know from looking at your website it looks like you’re starting to build a membership. Do you have any streams of revenue yet, or is that something that you’re planning on for the future? Where are you at with the business right now?

Why Jarmar Sometimes Gets in His Own Way and How He’s Trying to Overcome It

Jarmar Dupas: Right now I’m still in that discovery mode. Working on a course right now. I’ve done a few webinars for research. Really, I’m in a stage of serving — serving my audience, finding out what they want, what resonates with them. It’s funny because I don’t have any services on my site, but I get people that email me all the time and say, “Hey, could you sit down with me? I want to talk about this money thing.” Or, “Me and my wife, or me and my husband were having an issue. How do you and your wife do this?”

My revenue has come out of that, people emailing me. I go, “Okay, we’ll sit down.” I guess you call it one-on-one consulting so to speak. Initially, it was going to be podcasts and courses, but I’m finding so much more by talking with people one on one.

Jerod Morris: I’ll tell you, it’s one of the themes that I’m starting to find out here as we go through these episodes of The Digital Entrepreneur. You find that a lot of people start out doing the services, or doing the consulting, and really learning from those one-on-one experiences and using that to then inform a course. A lot of times they even thought, “Hey, I’ll do courses first.”

Of course, while you’re doing that, you have to pay the bills. That’s where the consulting and the one-on-one stuff comes in. I think there’s a benefit to doing that because I’m sure you’ll learn — and probably already have learned from those experiences — so much that it will inform or make your courses even better.

Jarmar Dupas: Yeah, absolutely. I’ve learned quite a bit. The things that I think that I should talk about a lot of times, it’s not exactly what everybody wants to talk about. I talk about money, but a lot of people want to know about credit. How do we get that credit? — which is a part of the whole equation, but I didn’t realize how much of a mystery it is to so many people. Those are the kinds of things, things like that.

Jerod Morris: What is the one word that you would use to sum up the status of your business as it stands today, if you had to pick one word?

Jarmar Dupas: I’d probably say ‘raw.’

Jerod Morris: Raw?

Jarmar Dupas: Yeah, just really raw. Just like a ball of clay. I’m still in that period of trying to mold it, trying to figure out which way this thing is going to go — which I think all entrepreneurs are always doing that. I think Brian Clark talks about that quite often, about pivoting. If you look at his career, look at where Copyblogger has come from and where it’s going, you watch all these pivots. I think it’s part of the natural evolution of a business. Definitely, I would have to say raw right now.

Jerod Morris: What is your biggest recurring pain point as a digital entrepreneur?

Jarmar Dupas: Getting in my own way. I have so many ideas.

Jerod Morris: I laugh because I feel you.

Jarmar Dupas: I’ve got so many ideas and so many things that I want to do and think I should do. But then it’s like, “Okay, get this one thing done first.” That’s a re-occurring battle that I have with my own self like every day.

Jerod Morris: What element of your daily work gives you the most satisfaction?

The Element of Entrepreneurship That Gives Jarmar the Most Satisfaction and How It Inspires Him to Keep Moving Forward

Jarmar Dupas: Just hearing the stories. I just got an email the other day from a single mom. She has three boys, and she just was bouncing checks and overdraft fees, all this other stuff. I sit down with her, and I talked to her about her money and everything. One of the things that happens a lot of times — I know it’s not particularly about digital entrepreneurship, but just to tell the story — is people over pay their taxes, or they just ignore. They’re distracted by life.

This young lady was getting a tax refund of like $6,000 a year, but she was bouncing checks. She couldn’t make ends meet. I said, “We can make adjustments on your tax returns. That’s a $500 a month pay raise you can give yourself instead of waiting all the way until April or whatever.” We did that. Walked with her onto the IRS website. There’s a little calculator. She typed in her numbers, and it spit out her W-4 for her to change her deal.

She hits me up like three months later. She’s like, “I got a new job. I’m working on a new skill. I’ve made more money. My sons are doing better in school.” Those are the things like that, it blesses me. This is the reason why I do it.

Jerod Morris: There’s nothing better when you create content, especially any kind of educational content, and you get those stories. It’s like hearing you talk about starting after taking The Showrunner Podcasting Course, and those kind of stories. You’re right. There’s nothing better at all. Definitely the most satisfying.

So let’s open up your toolbox real quick. What is one technology tool that contributes the most to your success as a digital entrepreneur?

Jarmar’s Not-So-Surprising (and Old-School) Favorite Tools

Jarmar Dupas: This is such a softball. I hate to sound like a fan boy, but it’s going to be, I have to say it, it’s the Rainmaker Platform.

Jerod Morris: Nice.

Jarmar Dupas: I work out of it. It helps my podcast, the blog, the website. It does the design for me because you get to kind of hire Rafal to do your design for you, off a template. It’s just the tool that I use. It makes everything easy for me. It’s all in one place. I use RainMail. I was one of the early adopters of it. It just makes things, for me, easy.

Jerod Morris: Very nice. I love the design that you have on your site, too. You’re using Digital Pro, which is the same one that I use on my site. I love it. What about the non-technology tool that contributes the most?

Jarmar Dupas: It’s not very green, but paper. I like pen and paper. I have a paper calendar that I work out of that’s on my desk. It’s a little folder that I use. I jot down my thoughts on paper. I journal to get all this junk out of my head. Non-technology, I guess, it’s using paper and ink pen to kind of get things out of my head.

Jerod Morris: We’ve had a few people say that. Pen and paper still holding on strong, even in the digital age. There’s something about — and I like it, too — being able to work it out with a pen. I don’t know. There’s a better feeling when you do it.

Earlier I asked you for the one word that you would use to sum up the status of your business as it stands today. You said raw. When we talk again in a year, what would you want that one word to be?

The Power of Being ‘Systematized’

Jarmar Dupas: Let’s go with ‘systematized.’ I like systems. One of the big draws of my podcast and the work that I do is I kind of design systems around money, so you don’t have to think about money so much. I think a lot of people struggle with money because of decision fatigue. I think I get some of that, too, with my digital business, trying to make decisions every day. I try to make a couple decisions early and just go through the day and just do the work.

Jerod Morris: I love that. I love that concept of decision fatigue and doing what you have to do, creating systems, to combat that. That’s great. I think a lot of people face that. Especially when you’re an entrepreneur and you have so many decisions to make and so many seemingly open-ended decisions, it can be really overwhelming.

Jarmar Dupas: Yeah. This goes to the people who still have the 9 to 5s and stuff. You’re dealing with that. Then you’re dealing with life. I have a wife. I have three kids. We got one on the way — which is the first announcement I’ve made on podcast, so congratulations on hearing that little exclusive.

Jerod Morris: Very nice, congratulations. That’s awesome.

Jarmar Dupas: You got all that. I have a dog, too. Can’t forget about my dog.

Jerod Morris: That’s right.

Jarmar Dupas: You got all that, and you’re trying to be a great person. You’re trying to be a great husband, a father, an entrepreneur, a friend, a son or daughter, you’re trying to be all these things. You don’t have any time to make too many more decisions. There’s already these other things that really need your focus. I am really a proponent for that.

Jerod Morris: Very nice. I’ve got a few rapid fire questions to ask you as we close up here. Are you ready for them?

Jarmar Dupas: Let’s do it.

The One Book Jarmar Would Insist You Read

Jerod Morris: If you could have every person who will ever work with you or for you read one book, what would it be?

Jarmar Dupas: I’d have to go with Proverbs in the Bible. There’s something about having all that wisdom. I think the word ‘wisdom’ even means the ability to live a skillful life. That’s probably one. If they’re allergic to the Bible, it’s something they can’t touch or something like that, it probably would be How to Win Friends and Influence People.

Jerod Morris: Oh that’s a great book.

Jarmar Dupas: For me, it taught me to focus on others and taught me how to talk to people. That is done so much for me. I tell people this a lot of times. My last four or five jobs that I’ve had, or gigs that I’ve had, I’ve not even filled out an application, even in the fire department. Don’t tell anybody this, but even working for the city, I had a job offer before they even had an application on me.

Jerod Morris: Wow.

Jarmar Dupas: Yeah. That’s just talking to people, winning friends, and things like that. It’s a great, great, great book that I think everybody should read.

Jerod Morris: I agree completely. I actually got the audio book for that and listened to it on a drive from Miami up to Virginia Beach like 10 years ago. It’s great. The headline of that book, it’s so benefit-driven. It almost sounds like it’s kind of selfish, like you’re learning how to manipulate people. But you get into it, and it’s all about listen to people, remember peoples’ names. It’s basically be kind, be empathetic. It’s some great lessons that, when you do them, you’ll see benefits from it, too. It’s terrific.

Jarmar Dupas: Absolutely.

Jarmar’s Ideal 30-Minute Skype Call to Discuss Her Business

Jerod Morris: If you could have a 30-minute Skype call to discuss your business with anyone tomorrow, who would it be?

Jarmar Dupas: Probably Tony Robbins. To me, he’s kind of like that digital entrepreneur before it was really cool to be digital. Then he started on books, CDs, seminars, and things like that. Just to watch him grow and watch his business, to see what it is today, he’s a juggernaut. He has so many different avenues and things like that. I was going to say Brian Clark, but I think your last few guests …

Jerod Morris: Everybody says that. I think it’s like a subtle way of saying we want Brian back hosting the podcast, giving us these 30-minute episodes.

Jarmar Dupas: You go to Rainmaker.FM, you still see his little picture next to hosting. It’s like, “Well, come on, Brian, where you been?

Jerod Morris: I know. I’ll have to have him back on here. I’ll say, “Everybody wants a 30-minute Skype call with you, so we’ll do a big group call.”

The One Email Newsletter Jarmar Can’t Do Without

Jerod Morris: What is the one email newsletter that you can’t do without?

Jarmar Dupas: ConvertKit I guess is a good one. They have a pretty good email, or newsletter.

Jerod Morris: Yeah, they do.

Jarmar Dupas: Yeah. If I had to pick one, I’d say ConvertKit is good. I’m not a ConvertKit user, but they have a good email.

Jerod Morris: Their strategy stuff is smart.

Jarmar Dupas: Yeah, yeah, absolutely.

The Non-Book Piece of Art That’s Had the Biggest Influence on Jarmar As a Digital Entrepreneur

Jerod Morris: What non-book piece of art had the biggest influence on you as a digital entrepreneur?

Jarmar Dupas: Probably my family. There’s a big portrait of us when I go outside of my office every day. One of the reasons why I try to batch my hours of work and want to be a digital entrepreneur is because I’ve always wanted to be an involved dad. I’ve always wanted to be around. My door’s always open. I work here in the office at the house. My kids can come in and be kids and stuff like that. They motivate me. They motivate me to try to make income from wherever I am, so I can be with them and do that good stuff. It’s a lot of fun.

Jerod Morris: I love that.

Jarmar’s Biggest Productivity Hack for Doing Meaningful Work

Jerod Morris: What productivity hack has had the biggest impact on your ability to get more meaningful work done?

Jarmar Dupas: I guess it goes back to my family. I first got this from Stephen Covey. He talked about I don’t know if you heard the story of the big rocks in the jar. I’ll tell it real quick because it’s a good story. There was a professor. He was in front of a class. He had these ambitious, very smart people in his classroom. He pulls up this huge Mason jar, and he puts it on top of a desk. He takes another bucket, takes a bucket full of big rocks. He puts all these big rocks in this huge jar. He asks the class, “Is this jar full?” He fills it up all the way to the top. They’re like, “Yes, of course it’s full.”

He takes out some smaller rocks or gravel. He takes the gravel and he pours the gravel into this jar, and he fills the jar all the way up with gravel. Then he asks the class again, “Well, is the jar full now?” They’re like, “Well, we thought it was, but apparently not because we see where you’re going here.”

Then he takes a bucket of sand, and then he pours the sand. The sand flows through the cracks that’s through the big rocks and through the gravel. Then he asks, “Is this jar full?” Of course, at that time, they say, “No, it’s not full,” because we know you got something else up your sleeve.

Then he takes some water, and he pours water. The water kind of sits in until the water starts overflowing outside of the Mason jar. Then he finally asks, “Is the jar full now?” Of course, it’s like, “Yeah it’s full.” The moral of the story is, if you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in. Most people start with sand or gravel. Then they can never get their big rocks in.

My productivity hack for me to get things done especially here being at home, my wife, she’s our chief home officer. She works from home. She raises the children from home. My kids are usually at home. My big hack is to make sure that they are taken care of first. I say, “Okay, we’ve got them settled. We got their activities going,” things like that. Now I can sit down, and I can go put in some work. If not, then I will be interrupted about a million times throughout the day.

Jerod Morris: So it’s a win-win. Take care of them first, and then you’re able to take care of yourself and get your work done.

Jarmar Dupas: Yeah. Here’s a tip, especially for you. I know you’re a new dad. Congratulations.

Jerod Morris: Thank you.

Jarmar Dupas: This is anybody with young kids out there or getting ready to have young kids, if you go out with your children, people always say, “How are your children so well behaved?” Well, I put the big rocks in first. I feed them and make sure they’re watered, and they have tinkled before we go out in public — and naps and things like that. You take care of things, and they’re angels. If not, they’ll wreck you. They’ll wreck everything you try to do.

Jerod Morris: Good advice. Very good advice.

How to Get in Touch with Jarmar

Jerod Morris: Jarmar, what is the single best way for someone inspired by today’s discussion to get in touch with you?

Jarmar Dupas: Just head over to my website, YourMoneyRight.com. Again, it’s just YourMoneyRight.com. Or just look me up on the podcast. The podcast is called Get Your Money Right. It comes out on Mondays. It’s for ambitious individuals. Specifically, I talk a lot about marriage and how to handle money with families, just kind of every-day life, and also my life as a digital entrepreneur as well. It’s a lot of fun. That’s probably the best way to get in touch with me. Of course, you can find me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, all that good stuff, too.

Jerod Morris: Excellent. Well, Jarmar, thank you so much, man, for taking the time. This was a blast. Awesome to have you on The Digital Entrepreneur.

Jarmar Dupas: Thank you so much. This is an honor. I can’t tell you how much this has blessed me to be on this show and to have even get an invite from you guys. Like I said, I’m a big fan of Rainmaker Digital. I love everything that you all are doing. Keep up the good work. Keep leading us to the promised land, so to speak.

Jerod Morris: That’s what we’re trying to do is serve people like you. It’s great to be able to have you on here and tell your story. This was great. Thanks, man.

Jarmar Dupas: Thank you.

Jerod Morris: My thanks to Jarmar for joining me on this episode of The Digital Entrepreneur. It was great having him on here and having him share his story with us. My thanks, as always, to Toby Lyles and the team that edits this podcast and makes it sound so good and, of course, to Will DeWitt and Caroline Early for their help on the production side.

Most importantly, my thanks to you, the loyal Digital Entrepreneur listener. Thank you for being here, for listening to the show. You are the inspiration, the one that we do this for. It’s great to have you here.

If you have any questions, comments, concerns, words of advice, or Tweets about sports, because you know that I like those, Tweet me any time @JerodMorris. I always love hearing from you. Yeah, send me a Tweet. Let me know what’s up, and make sure that you join us next week because we’ll be back with another brand-new episode of The Digital Entrepreneur. Talk to you then.

Nov 17 2016

34mins

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Rank #12: 5 Compelling Reasons Why You Should Use Free Online Courses as Lead Magnets

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This is the fourth episode in our ongoing series on the essential elements of the modern marketing website. Today we take the next step after access, and break it down by using free online courses as the perfect lead magnet for digital entrepreneurs.

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In this 22-minute episode, Brian Clark and Jerod Morris discuss:

  • How free online courses help you carve out attention (and authority)
  • What the topic of your course allows you to learn about your prospects
  • Why a free online course helps you solve the identity issue
  • How you can adapt the experience for the people who take your free course
  • What this all means for conversion

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The Show Notes

The Transcript

5 Compelling Reasons Why You Should Use Free Online Courses As Lead Magnets

Voiceover: You are listening to The Digital Entrepreneur, the show for folks who want to discover smarter ways to create and sell profitable digital goods and services. This podcast is a production of Digital Commerce Institute, the place to be for digital entrepreneurs.

DCI features an in-depth, ongoing instructional academy, plus a live education and networking summit where entrepreneurs from across the globe meet in person. For more information, go to Rainmaker.FM/DigitalCommerce.

Jerod Morris: Welcome back to The Digital Entrepreneur. I’m your host Jerod Morris, the VP of marketing for Rainmaker Digital, and I am joined this week by Brian Clark, the founder and CEO of Rainmaker Digital.

Brian, the last time we talked, you were preparing for a trip to the Philippines. How did you manage the long flight? Did you get as much work done as we had hoped for?

Brian Clark: Not really. It’s interesting because I also didn’t really sleep. I was just so exhausted the whole time that I watched a whole bunch of movies. Going over there, I was just trying to make it. That was, by far, the longest series of flights I’ve ever had. Coming back was easier. I guess once you understand what you’re in for, and the long leg of the flight this time was 10 hours instead of 13. That makes a difference, trust me.

Jerod Morris: Oh, I’m sure it does.

Brian Clark: But I got back, worked it so that I would go to bed early the day I got home and start waking up really early, which was one of my goals coming out of the conference. As you know, I’ve been up at four and five in the morning pummeling you with emails. But you also get up early, so it actually works out.

Jerod Morris: It did. It worked out great.

Brian Clark: With you in Central time zone, I actually have to get up an hour earlier than you just to be even with you, but it’s all good. I’m feeling back to normal a bit but, actually, more productive now because I’ve implemented this new morning routine. I’m just much more productive in the morning, but by three in the afternoon, I’m pretty much done. Just stick a fork in me.

Jerod Morris: I’m the exact same way. I get so much done when I get up early, so I like to do it. We had some fun while you were gone. Robert joined us. Chris joined us. We had a really good discussion on last week’s episode really linking together what you and I talked about before with adaptive websites and what we’re going to talk about today with free online courses.

Talked with Robert. He took us back to the beginning of the New Rainmaker strategy, talked some about that. We got some of Chris’ insight on adaptive websites. So you and I now, we’re going to take the next step in the conversation that we’ve been having about these elements of the modern marketing website.

We talked in episode six about the power of an adaptive website, and today, we’re going to talk about why people should be using free online courses as lead magnets. We’ve got five really compelling reasons why this is a good strategy. Any kind of overview statements before we dive in to these five reasons?

Overview

Brian Clark: Well, after we did the adaptive episode, we did the access episode. Access is a broad concept with a whole bunch of benefits that we went over in that episode. A lot of people, that seemed to really resonate with them. Then it’s what kind of access should we provide? There’s all sorts of different things that you can provide access to.

In this episode, we’re really going to make the case for you that, from a marketing standpoint, you really can’t beat providing access through registration to a free online course as the best way to not only begin a relationship with the right prospects, but to convert more of them.

Jerod Morris: Yeah, access. You’re right. I got my A words mixed up. Speaking of A words, that’s the first reason why people should be using a free online course: attention.

How Free Online Courses Help You Carve Out Attention (and Authority)

Brian Clark: Yeah. Even dating back to the old-school funnel, created by a guy named St. Elmo, by the way. I don’t know why no one says ‘St. Elmo’s funnel’ because it just seems perfect, but they don’t.

Attention is the top of the funnel, regardless of the metaphor that you want to use. This is one of the key beginning reasons why we migrated to this type of strategy. Part of the reason why it’s so effective is perceived value.

The days of the crappy PDF ebook or some other kind of marginal lead magnet, in a lot of industries, it just doesn’t work as well because people are like, “Eh, it’s probably not going to be that great. I’m probably going to get spammed and I’d rather just not.” Great content marketing means giving away something–in this case, information–worth paying for. We’ve made this point before.

People are definitely paying for online courses to the tune of $15 billion a year and growing rapidly, so the perceived value of this type of giveaway is much higher. That’s a constant battle that we’re all in–how do we create more perceived value for our prospects, and how do we deliver more actual value?

It begins with perception, and perception is a function of attention and whether or not that attention leads to the next step.

Jerod Morris: Couldn’t you also add another A word here, authority. If you have that perceived value of the course, then when people actually get in the course and they get value and they see your knowledge, you’re also building authority here, too, aren’t you?

Brian Clark: Yeah, I think so. You establish the authority after they’re involved in the course–let me say, demonstrate authority. In your landing page copy and with your other content, you’re going to have to give indications of authority that way as well for people to find the offer attractive.

But it’s a true authority enhancer once you get them to actually finish the course. As we’ll go through these elements, you’ll see that the fifth one is really compelling, and that’s a big part of it.

Jerod Morris: It is. So attention is the first reason. Let’s move on to the second reason now, which is interest.

What the Topic of Your Course Allows You to Learn About Your Prospects

Brian Clark: Right. Any time you’re trying to get someone something, whether you want to call it a ‘lead magnet,’ an ‘ethical bribe,’ or whatever terminology, you’re offering something to establish what this person is interested in–and by that, I mean what problem are they trying to solve?

By using these very strategic assets based on topical interest or problems to be solved, you’re learning something very important about them. That tells you what content you have to deliver to match up with your business objective at the end–whether that’s selling a product, getting them to call you for consulting, or some other kind of client engagement. You get the idea.

Interest is the bridge between attention and conversion, but it also informs, “What do I have to teach these people in order for more of them to want to do business with me?”

Jerod Morris: We often talk about how one of the benefits of digital products and an information product like a course is that the marketing is really baked into the product. That really comes out here–which, again, helps you develop the product that people are going to need. Then you already understand who those people are, so it’s easier to get it out to them once you have it done.

Brian Clark: Yeah. So my interest is learning how to create online courses. I know what I have to teach you as a preliminary matter to get you to take my broader course. Or you’re selling software or software as a service, and that functionality accomplishes something for people.

But let’s say with Rainmaker Platform, if you’re not well-versed in some of the strategies that the platform allows you to execute on, you’re going to feel lost. That’s just a perfect example of someone has an interest and you’ve got a solution–but what needs to happen in between those two things?

Why a Free Online Course Helps You Solve the Identity Issue

Jerod Morris: Now we move on to a topic that we’ve talked about before on previous episodes. We’ve got attention. We’ve got interest. Now it’s about identity, and again, we’ve talked about how every buyer’s journey is going to be different, and we’ve got to treat them as such. This concept of identity helps us take that first step toward doing that.

Brian Clark: Yeah. Identity is the fundamental opposite of one-size-fits-all marketing blast (you just send out the same message to everyone). Identity really allows adaptive content and automation principles to be used. In this context, it has an advantage over some of the more traditional uses of marketing automation, which rely on cookies.

Again, with an access concept, and specifically with an online course, the registration process provides identity–just like Facebook knows who you are, or Twitter, or Basecamp. Yet because you are experiencing this content marketing–which, make no mistake, that’s what this course is–inside a logged-in experience, then no matter where you come–whether it be your iPad, your iPhone, your desktop, your laptop–the identity piece is always there.

You don’t have the infamous cookie drop where your automation just falls apart because they switched devices on you, and you got this disrupted experience. That’s got to be jarring for everyone, but I definitely think that it impacts the ultimate success of that funnel.

How You Can Adapt the Experience for the People Who Take Your Free Course

Jerod Morris: Yeah. And when you have identity, this then allows you to take the next step. This is the fourth reason why creating a free course is a great thing to do and a great product to use as a lead magnet. You can adapt the content.

This is one of the reasons why creating a free course–for example, using an LMS is so much more beneficial than doing it if you just create it via email–is because you understand who the people are. Then you can adapt the experience to them, which is obviously quite beneficial.

Brian Clark: Yeah. This goes beyond even an access concept. For example, you give away an ebook, some other kind of process map, or a free download of some kind. All you know is, basically, did they opt-in, and did they download it.

If they don’t download it, you can adapt a little there and say, “Hey, don’t forget to download your free strategy guide because you haven’t yet, and we want to make sure you get the blah, blah, blah”–but you know nothing about what happens after that. It’s probably sitting on my hard drive, on my desktop

Actually, I have a reading file in Google Drive that has so many PDFs in it that I have not read. That happens, right? I opted-in. I got the thing. I never consumed it, and your follow-up emails I probably got annoyed with. I hadn’t achieved the benefits of knowledge that I was looking for from that download, so I just opted-out at that point.

With a course, it’s a very different thing, especially in a learning management system, because you know if they’ve consumed the content. Did they take lesson one? Yes. Check. Go on to lesson two. Lesson two, they got halfway through it and stopped.

Now, at that point, you can send a different kind of message that says, “Hey, I know life is distracting and things happen, so I just wanted to give you a gentle reminder that your lessons are still there available to you. Maybe you can pick it back up, blah, blah, blah.”

You see the power there. Could you watch someone with an ebook to find out if they were actually progressing through the information, but were they also progressing through chapter by chapter or page by page? We do have that ability with an access concept married with an LMS-style course.

I know you have done this kind of stuff with your Showrunner course, where you see where people get stuck, and you have tailored messages for them. That’s an amazing thing. That’s real adaptive content. You just can’t achieve that with just a static download.

Jerod Morris: Right. Well, you can even take it to the next level where, if you introduce something like quizzes, not only can you find out if someone’s progressing through the material, you can actually find out if they’re understanding the material and really getting it.

Brian Clark: Yeah. That’s actually a teaching strategy, too. If you test them, they will actually retain better than if you don’t. But you’re right. At the same time, that’s another indication of engagement that is very valuable to how you treat that prospect, someone who’s that highly engaged even at the quiz level–which, by the way, coming in Rainmaker very, very soon, I can’t wait to implement some quiz strategies. We’ll talk about those in the future.

When you see that level of high engagement, you might be more inclined to make an offer sooner than someone, obviously, who’s kind of poking through it, nitpicking here and there, skipping around, or just kind of fell off.

Again, every buyer’s journey is different. Yet if you don’t have the information about what they’re actually doing, consuming, engaging with, then how do you actually tailor that journey for them?

What This All Means for Conversion

Jerod Morris: Yeah. We’re talking about five compelling reasons why you should use free online courses as lead magnets. We’ve hit four of them so far: attention, interest, identity, and adaptation, and of course, now we go on to the fifth one. This brings us back to the ultimate goal with what we’re really trying to accomplish with all of this, which is conversion.

Brian Clark: Yeah. So often, this is really a mystery to me. It’s only because I’ve been doing it a long time, and I’m not being critical of anyone. But content marketing is about educating a prospect, so they can do business with you. It’s not enough to have attention, interest, or any of these other really important things on the way to conversion if you’re off the mark on what you’re teaching and how that is married up to what you’re selling.

When you understand what their problem is and you understand how your solution solves that, a course is like a laser-focused educational experience that can better convert a prospect into a customer or existing customers into repeat or recurring customers.

Now, this is the reason why we say that you need to understand your prospect and your customers almost better than they do. We have all of this information and data that we’re generating through a more adaptive content approach to where you can be constantly refining and testing.

Once you get to a point where you understand that they need to know boom, boom, boom, boom, five lessons, whatever, and that more people convert at the end of that than otherwise, that’s one of the more compelling reasons for this format.

Again, we’ve evolved along the way ourselves. Blogging every day hoping that day’s article connects with the right segment of people, and then maybe tomorrow the next one will connect.

When you create these type of very focused funnels using online courses, you’re going after a specific type of person in a very concentrated period of time with a sale in mind. This is going to be liberating to a lot of content marketers and digital entrepreneurs out there. The days of heavy-duty blogging are kind of over. I’m not saying blogging’s dead. I’m saying that laser-focused content is more effective and, ultimately, when you look at volume, easier to create.

Jerod Morris: Yeah. Like you said, you’re teaching people exactly what they need to know to, and you’re giving them little wins along the way. As you also mentioned, it’s a process then of adapting and figuring out what’s working, figuring out what’s not, adapting the message, adapting the content also to the people that you’re serving and the people that you’re trying to move through and get to take that next step.

The Importance of Testing and Understanding What’s Working, What Needs to Be Tweaked, and What to Double-Down On

Jerod Morris: That’s going to lead us into the fifth element that we’re going to talk about, which is about testing and really understanding what’s working, understanding what needs to be tweaked, understanding what needs to be doubled down on so that you really are, in a sense, creating a machine that is educating people, giving them value, giving them something that they really need, and at the same time, moving them along with you so that they can take the next steps with you–whether that’s business for the first time or becoming recurring customers. Then when you put it all together, it’s a beautiful thing.

Brian Clark: Yeah. All the elements we’ve talked about right now are incredibly important and incredibly powerful, but without testing, you’re still flying a little blind. I will say that, if you did steps one through four as a strategy and left off testing, as long as you executed well, you’d do better than you would do with another approach–but why not do your best?

That’s what testing allows you to do–the right word, the right button, the right case, the right that. It’s all discernible, and the technology is easier than ever. I know you and Lauren have been running tests I don’t even know about, but you guys are like kids in a candy store right now going, “Ooh, let’s test this.”

Jerod Morris: Yeah. Hey, if you can get a 20 percent bump in conversions for the same effort, why wouldn’t you do it?

Brian Clark: Absolutely.

How to Take Your Digital Commerce Education to the Next Level

Jerod Morris: Yeah. You might as well, and I do want you to know, if you’re listening to this right now, and obviously you are because you just heard me say that, if you want to take your digital commerce education to the next level and if you want to learn more specifically about courses and how to put together courses that really work, then you want to go get your free taste of Digital Commerce Academy if you haven’t already.

When you do that–and you can do it by going to Rainmaker.FM/DigitalCommerce–as soon as you sign up–and again, it’s free–you get four lessons in Brian’s course on how to build an online training business the smart way.

You also get three case studies, and one of those case studies is a story of Danny Margulies, who we featured on a previous episode of The Digital Entrepreneur–who went from soul-crushing job to six-figure freelancer, all the way to creating the mega-successful Secrets of a Six-Figure Freelancer course.

Now, that was a paid course, but the elements of what make courses work–whether they’re free or paid–there are obviously similarities there. There’s a lot to learn from both in Brian’s lessons, in that case study, and in some of the other content that you get in your free taste that will really help you, that you can apply to your situation and business. All of it’s available as soon as you register. Plus you get our free weekly newsletter, too.

As I said, it’s free. Go to Rainmaker.FM/DigitalCommerce and get activated, get your free membership today, and start learning more, so you can put this into practice for you. The sooner you do, the better off you’ll be.

Brian Clark: Yeah. They also get some free access to our marketing funnels course–which, when you think about courses in the context of lead generation and conversion, as opposed to paid courses, that’s what you’re creating. You’re creating an adaptive content funnel. You’re just doing it in a very methodical way with some very powerful learning management technology on your side, which is pretty cool.

Jerod Morris: Yeah. All right, Brian. Stay warm. I’ll see you on email at 3:30 tomorrow morning.

Brian Clark: I slept until five today, man. I’m just slacking off.

Jerod Morris: I’ll talk to you next week, and we’ll talk to you next week on another brand-new episode of The Digital Entrepreneur.

Brian Clark: Take care, everyone.

Mar 31 2016

22mins

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Rank #13: The 5 Things Your Customers Actually Want to Buy

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Struggling with how to sell the benefits of your online products? Then this episode will help.

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Discover why more than 80,000 companies in 135 countries choose WP Engine for managed WordPress hosting.

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In marketing, we often hear the phrase “sell the benefits, not the features.” The truth is that it is hard to find the right benefit unless you know what your customers actually want to buy.

In this 15 minute episode, Sean Jackson details the five things people actually “want” from any product they purchase, including…

  • The real reason “easy” is such a powerful benefit
  • Why promoting physical comfort is actually a reward trigger
  • Why a bored customer can be a great buyer
  • The role of identity and social acknowledgment in marketing copy
  • And the tool recommendation for the week

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The Show Notes

Oct 12 2017

15mins

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Rank #14: Secrets of a Six-Figure Online Course Builder

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Danny Margulies went from “wantrepreneur” to digital entrepreneur. First, he taught himself how to succeed as a freelancer. Then, he turned those lessons into a basic online course that taught others how to succeed as well. In January of 2016, his online course generated over $25,000 in revenue. (And that s not even the best month he s had.)

Rainmaker.FM is Brought to You By

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In this 21-minute episode, Jerod Morris gets Danny to open up about what he’s learned during his journey from working at a “soul-crushing” job to earning six figures a year with his first online course.

They discuss:

  • Why Danny walked away from a six-figure freelancing business to create his online course
  • How he “feeds the machine” to leverage the scalability of his digital business
  • The important role that guest blogging has played in his success
  • What happened when Danny decided to raise the price of his course
  • What he thinks has been the single biggest contributor to his success that other digital entrepreneurs can apply to their daily work

And remember: You can actually watch the entire 90-minute case study that Jerod did with Danny as part of the free membership option that we just launched at Digital Commerce Academy.

To find out what your membership will entail, and to register in about 10 seconds, go to digitalcommerce.com/register.

Once you’re registered, then go get Danny s complete story by watching the case study How Danny Margulies Turned His Freelancing Success Into a Powerhouse Paid Course.

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The Show Notes

The Transcript

Secrets of a Six-Figure Online Course Builder

Voiceover: You are listening to The Digital Entrepreneur, the show for folks who want to discover smarter ways to create and sell profitable digital goods and services. This podcast is a production of Digital Commerce Institute, the place to be for digital entrepreneurs.

DCI features an in-depth, ongoing instructional academy, plus a live education and networking summit where entrepreneurs from across the globe meet in person. For more information, go to DigitalCommerce.com.

Jerod Morris: Welcome back, everybody, to The Digital Entrepreneur. I’m Jerod Morris, the VP of marketing for Rainmaker Digital, and I have a very, very special guest with me today.

I had the good pleasure, actually, of producing a case study for Digital Commerce Academy with this individual just last week. It was so interesting, so educational, and so inspiring that I had to bring him here on the podcast as well. Before I introduce this guest, let me set the stage for you real quick.

In 2012, my guest quit his ‘soul-crushing job’ because he wanted something new. He wanted to be a professional writer, but with his first child and a pregnant wife at home, his back was against the wall, as you can imagine. So he rolled up his sleeves, and he got to work. He taught himself how to succeed as a freelancer on Upwork, previously Elance, and then turned those lessons that he learned into a basic online course that taught others how to succeed as well.

In January of 2016, his online course, which is smart and highly useful, but won’t blow you away with fancy design or all these bells and whistles, generated over $25,000 in revenue–just in the month of January. That’s in one month, and that’s not even the best month that he’s had. The course is called Secrets of a Six-Figure Upworker, and my guest is Danny Margulies.

Danny, welcome to The Digital Entrepreneur.

Danny Margulies: Thanks. Thanks for having me. Great to be here.

Jerod Morris: For sure. Like I said, I enjoyed our conversation for the case study so much. I really wanted you to come on here and share your story with our listeners on The Digital Entrepreneur. You can’t share all of it. That case study was about a 90-minute-long case study. It was great, and the questions at the end were fantastic.

But there are a couple parts in particular that are especially relevant for this show that I want to dig into a bit here in this episode. To fast-forward your story a bit and lead into this first question, you made one transition when you quit your job, taught yourself how to be a successful copywriter, and then started earning a six-figure income on Elance, with a lot of hard work along the way.

Eventually, you had to make another transition from successful freelancer to starting all over again as a digital entrepreneur creating courses. Take me back to that decision, and talk about why you decided starting a course, and eventually doubling down on it, was the best idea for you.

Why Danny Walked Away from a Six-Figure Freelancing Business to Create His Online Course

Danny Margulies: I nicknamed my younger self ‘want-to-preneur number one’ because that’s where I was at a few years ago. I had a lot of energy, and I always wanted to do something. But it was really hard to figure out how. Freelancing was the first step towards that. I don’t think that that’s a necessary step, by any means. Some people say, “You should start freelancing first.” I think you could jump right into being a digital entrepreneur.

For me, it didn’t happen that way. I just didn’t know how to do it or what to do. I started freelancing serendipitously right after I had typed in ‘how to make money writing’ into Google. That was a serendipitous thing. Then, freelancing was great, but I wanted to take that next step and say, “Okay, I want to be a real entrepreneur in terms of having something scalable.”

Being a freelancer is sort of entrepreneurial, but it’s not a real business. It’s more like working for yourself, but it’s not exactly like having a business. I wanted to have a business, and I loved the accessibility of having an online business. We’ve gotten to a point where anyone can publish a blog. Anyone can put out a course, especially with Rainmaker.

That was also a lucky thing. While I was thinking about this, you guys were launching Rainmaker at that exact time. All of these questions about, “How am I going to sell this course? I’m going to have to figure out all the technology. I’m going to have to have a website built and designed and all this stuff”–all of that was quelled with the release of Rainmaker.

You guys were like, “Hey, look. This will do all of that for you. All you have to do is make something good. Just give people good information.” I thought to myself, “I can do that.” You know what I mean?

Jerod Morris: Yeah, totally. There’s something else that you mentioned in the case study–and you kind of alluded to it here–that I thought was interesting. Your quote was, I believe, “That is the beauty of having something scalable. I just have to feed the machine.”

Obviously, that’s the big difference between your digital business and your freelance business. With your freelance business, there are only so many hours in the day where you can do work and make money. With a digital business, you can scale it so much better.

Talk a little bit about this idea of ‘feeding the machine’ and some of the ways you went about doing that once you had the course up.

How Danny ‘Feeds the Machine’ to Leverage the Scalability of His Digital Business

Danny Margulies: The best way that I found to feed the machine–and it’s super simple–it’s just guest blogging. It obviously doesn’t cost any money. As a matter of fact, some people offer to pay for it. I’ve never taken a payment for guest blogging because I feel like, for me, it’s just better to keep the payment out of it. It’s a different kind of transaction. It’s just so simple.

So many blogs really want great content, and they need it every day. Also, people set their sights a little too low, maybe, with the guest posting. They think like, “Oh, well, all I can do is just post on one small blog at a time.” I think people would be surprised to find out that even bigger blogs really want your ideas if they’re good.

I’ve contributed to Business Insider twice. It really wasn’t that hard, if you just pitch them with a good idea. It doesn’t have to be a earth-shattering idea of ‘how I made a million dollars’ or whatever. I saw the other day on Huffington Post, somebody wrote an article called Why I Didn’t Finish a Marathon. It got thousands, maybe tens of thousands of views and shares because it was an interesting story.

I’ve been telling people ever since–what could be more underwhelming as an idea than, “I didn’t finish a marathon”? The person had an interesting perspective on why she didn’t finish the marathon, so it was a great post.

I think that focusing on that one thing everybody I talk to, they’re like, “I’ve got Facebook Ads. I got Google Ads. I got Bing Ads. I’ve got affiliate stuff.” They’re trying to do 18 million different things, and they just end up getting frazzled and confused, whereas I just picked that one thing and just focused the hell out of it.

Jerod Morris: Again, that’s feeding the machine. It’s so important to have the something scalable so that you can then feed the machine. You can do all this guest blogging, run all these ads, like you’re talking about, but if you don’t have something really good at the core, at the heart, that you’re directing people to, it’s not going to work. That’s what you did.

You developed this course. Went from your MVP course, which I think you were selling for $49, and then raised it up to $200. We’re going to talk in a minute about when you raised the price up again because I love that part of your story.

But even before you were ‘feeding this machine,’ getting people on your email list and getting them into this funnel that would then lead them to the course, was there any particular challenge that stands out in your mind as you think back to creating and launching that first course?

Danny’s Biggest Challenge When Creating and Launching His First Course

Danny Margulies: The biggest challenge was just mental. It was just thinking that it wasn’t going to be good enough. “It’s my first course. Nobody knows me.” It’s all BS, though. If you have a good piece of information, then it’s a good piece of information. It doesn’t matter how you deliver it. Would it be nicer if you could deliver it gold-plated and all this pretty stuff? Sure, but I remember, and I told you this when we talked, I had ‘splurged’ on the $200 mic.

Looking back, I shouldn’t have even done that. I just did it because, when I listened to my first iteration of my voice using my laptop mic, I was like, “Ah, it doesn’t sound good.” Then I showed it to my wife, and my wife was like, “It’s fine. Nobody’s going to care. It’s totally fine.” I was so in my head about it. I guess that’s the metaphor.

The mic is the metaphor for the biggest challenge–which is just being in your own head about and just thinking everything is not going to be good enough. When looking back, even if I had hired a crew and done all this stuff to make it ‘perfect,’ I still would’ve had that voice.

Now I’m gearing up to do another course. It’s going to be much different, much more sophisticated, and all this stuff, but I still have that stupid voice in my head. That will never go away. That’s the biggest challenge–the mental block of thinking that everything kind of has to be perfect.

Jerod Morris: Moving ahead now in your story, jumping ahead again. This is, again, one of my favorite parts of your story. Again, you started at $49 when you went out the door with the MVP and then eventually bumped it up to $200 for the full launch. There’s a great story within that, that you tell within the case study.

Then, you get to this point where sales have grown to between $8,000 to $12,000 a month for, I think, a good four or five months in a row there. Then you decide to raise the price. Take us back to that time. Why raise the price, and what happened when you did?

What Happened When Danny Decided to Raise the Price of His Course

Danny Margulies: A few months before that and maybe it’s quite a few months at this point or maybe even a year. I don’t know. Time has just been flying. I remember hearing Brian I can’t remember who he was talking with. I don’t remember if he was talking with Seth Godin on the podcast, but I remember hearing him say that it’s been his policy in life, when something scares him, to use that as a signal that that’s what he needs to be going towards instead of away from.

I was scared to raise the price. People would tell me, “Raise the price. It’s too cheap.” Colleagues would tell me. Students of the course would tell me. Random people. My wife would tell me. Everyone was saying, “Raise the price.” I was like, “You know what? It’s bringing in like $10,000 a month. Why mess with a good thing?” Then Brian’s voice was echoing in my head there, and I just said, “I got to do this.”

I woke up one morning. It was a Monday. I called my one team member. I had, at this point, one part-time team member, so I have a few freelancers helping me now with the course. I just called her up and said, “We’re raising the price. I’m going to send out an email today.” We kicked around a few ideas, like should we do a big email series over it.

Then we both came to the conclusion, “No, let’s just send out two very short emails. One today and one on Friday as a reminder.” That was it. We didn’t want to make a big deal out of it. I didn’t feel the need to convince people that there was a reason why we were doing it. We felt like the results were self-evident. They spoke for themselves.

The price, we were just going to raise it, and that was it. This is a big thing that I think a lot of people need to get over is, again, a mental block. I was scared because I was thinking about it in a logical sense like, “Oh, if it’s $300, then fewer people will buy it than if it’s $200,” because that’s the laws of economics. It doesn’t really work that way.

When people are thinking about buying your course, it’s not like cabbage at Walmart where they’re like, “Should I buy the cheap one, or should I buy the more expensive one?” It’s something that people want, they’re connecting with emotionally if you made something good. They’re not tied to it in this logical, bean-counting sense. What we found is, the sales have literally stayed exactly the same. Actually, they’ve grown. Just to show you people don’t think about it in that logical way.

Jerod Morris: The next part of that story is you doubled-down, and you fed the machine even more–and I love this. Right after you raised the price, you turned around and wrote an article called How I Made $30,000 in One Month Selling an Online Course. That’s the little detail. I forgot about this. In the month where you raised the price, you had what I believe to this day is still your record for sales which was $31,738 in October of 2015.

You wrote this article, How I Made $30,000 in One Month Selling an Online Course, and then you got another 800 subscribers to your email list and kept getting sales. This has kind of been a theme for you. Something works. You double-down on it. You expand it into another area, and again, you just keep feeding that machine.

The Important Role That Guest Blogging Has Played in Danny’s Success

Danny Margulies: When you’re having success, this is when everyone wants to celebrate. “Okay, we just had a $31,000 month. Let me take a vacation. Let me whatever.” That’s the exact time when things are hot. That’s when you have momentum, so I said to myself, “I had this big success.” Literally, people were emailing me, “I hope you’re going to take a few days off now.” I’m sitting there, and I’m like, “If everyone’s telling me to take a few days off, that’s probably a sign that that’s not the best business move.”

I thought about it and said, “How can I leverage this?” Then it’s like, “Wait a minute. Of course, Business Insider would love to hear this story”–versus a random month when $10,000 came in. It’s not quite as interesting. You have to seize those moments when they happen.

For people listening, it doesn’t have to be a big win. It could’ve been how I made $2,000 on the side while working a full-time job. It could’ve been how I launched my first course and made $600. They’re interested in that, too, so it doesn’t have to be this grandiose number.

Jerod Morris: Fortunately, in this case, it wasn’t about quitting like the marathon article.

Danny Margulies: No, but if I did write an article about running a marathon, it would definitely be about quitting as opposed to finishing–probably quitting very early. Maybe that would be my next article: How I Quit Before the Race Even Started.

Jerod Morris: There you go. I’m right there with you. I’ll co-author that one with you. Okay. Danny, last question here for you. What do you think has been the single biggest contributor to your success as a digital entrepreneur that other aspiring digital entrepreneurs that are listening to this episode could apply to their own journeys?

What Danny Thinks Has Been the Single Biggest Contributor to His Success That Other Digital Entrepreneurs Can Apply to Their Daily Work

Danny Margulies: Without a doubt, I was going to say not being afraid to fail, but I want to reframe that and say, be afraid to fail–but do it anyway. It’s like they say with technology. I hear Mark Cuban on Shark Tank say this all the time. He’ll point to a piece of technology someone’s pitching, and he’ll go, “Look, the one thing we know for sure about that technology is that, at some point, it’s going to fail.”

That’s what I feel about becoming a digital entrepreneur–the one thing that you’re literally guaranteed to do. If anyone’s listening to this podcast or listening to the other material that you guys are putting out and thinking, “I’m going to get it. I’m going to absorb all this information, so I won’t have to make these mistakes.” That is just not ever going to work.

You may avoid some mistakes, but you’re going to make other mistakes. Some of them are going to be awkward. I sent out an email to 7,000 people with a blog post that was half complete. Even worse than that, it had my notes in it. I had somehow just ended up saving an earlier draft. It was a mess. I’m honestly surprised that 1,000 people didn’t unsubscribe from my list that day.

We’ve had bloopers you wouldn’t even believe. I’ve had posts that people hated. I mean crazy emails from people, whatever. There’s just going to be unpredictable stuff, and the key to this whole thing is having a mentality where you go, “Okay, I’m going to screw up. I’m going to screw up a lot, but every time I do, I’m going to try and take something away from that.” You’re getting better over time.

I think about the airplane system that we have. Every time an airplane crashes, the entire airline industry gets safer as a whole. They learn from that mistake, then they implement fixes, and the whole system gets better. As horrible as it is when an airplane crashes, overall, it’s actually better. Even though that’s a morbid analogy, I’m realizing now, but you have to think of it like that.

You have to say, “Every time I screw up, I’m not … ” What people do is, they screw up, and they’re like, “You see. I knew I wasn’t cut out to be a digital entrepreneur. If I was, I totally never would have made this stupid mistake.” It’s the opposite. The people who are doing the best have just screwed up the most. That’s something everyone needs to keep in mind. You will mess up. Just keep going.

Jerod Morris: That’s great advice. Actually, Tony and Chris over at The Mainframe did a great episode about that called Why Failure Is Always an Option. We’ll link it in the show notes. That’s such an important mindset for any entrepreneur, especially digital entrepreneurs, to have. Thank you for sharing that, Danny.

How to Learn More About Danny’s Story

Jerod Morris: There are two great ways to get more from Danny, to learn more about his story. One is to go FreelanceToWin.com, which is his site, and the other is you can actually watch the entire case study that I did with Danny as part of the free membership option that we just launched at Digital Commerce Academy.

To find out what you’re membership will entail–because there’s a lot that is included in the free membership–and to register in about 10 seconds, go to DigitalCommerce.com/Register. Then, once you register, to get Danny’s complete story, watch his case study, How Danny Margulies Turned His Freelancing Success into a Powerhouse Paid Course. It’ll be there ready for you to watch.

Danny, thank you, my friend. This was great. I’ve really, really enjoyed getting to know your story, getting to know you through this whole process. It’s been a lot of fun.

Danny Margulies: Thank you. Same here. It’s great to be here.

Jerod Morris: Thank you all very much for listening to this episode of The Digital Entrepreneur. We will be back next week with another brand new episode.

Feb 25 2016

20mins

Play

Rank #15: 3 Simple Hacks for Better Copy and More Conversions in Less Time

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Joanna Wiebe of Copy Hackers joins us this week on The Digital Entrepreneur to offer up a handful of simple copywriting hacks that work especially well for digital products.

Joanna knows a thing or two about copywriting for digital products. Not only is she a digital entrepreneur herself, but her company has worked with some of the most well-known digital products out there: Buffer, Wistia, and even our own Rainmaker Platform.

In this 29-minute episode, Joanna and I discuss:

  • A simple A/B test anyone can use to gain valuable insight into audience behavior
  • The surprising button placement that actually worked wonders for one company (and the larger lesson this represented)
  • Why copywriting fundamentals like the Rule of 1 still work (and why we doubt them at our own peril)
  • What the “stages of awareness” are and why they matter
  • How to listen in a way that actually leads to meaningful results
  • The oft-overlooked importance of frameworks and formulas (like P-A-S)

And much, much more. We cover a ton in this episode, and we hope you enjoy it and get a lot of out it.

Don’t forget: Joanna will be speaking at Digital Commerce Summit coming up this October. Early Bird tickets are still available (as of now), so don’t wait to get yours. You won’t want to miss Joanna’s talk, as well as the presentations of so many other successful digital entrepreneurs.

For more information, go to: rainmaker.fm/summit

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The Show Notes

The Transcript

3 Simple Hacks for Better Copy and More Conversions in Less Time

Voiceover: You’re listening to The Digital Entrepreneur, the show for folks who want to discover smarter ways to create and sell profitable digital goods and services. This podcast is a production of Digital Commerce Institute, the place to be for digital entrepreneurs. DCI features an in-depth, ongoing instructional academy, plus a live education and networking summit where entrepreneurs from across the globe meet in person. For more information, go to Rainmaker.FM/digitalcommerce. That’s Rainmaker.FM/digitalcommerce.

Jerod Morris: Welcome back to The Digital Entrepreneur, I am your host Jerod Morris, the VP of Marketing for Rainmaker Digital. This is episode number 20 of The Digital Entrepreneur. Today I am joined by Joanna Wiebe, the conversion copywriter for Copy Hackers, where they promise to help you write more persuasive, believable, and usable copy sans pixie dust, so you can boost your website e-mail conversion rates. I’ve had the good pleasure of working with Joanna, so we can certainly vouch for their work. They do a great job.

Something else that I learned recently about Joanna — I actually learned this earlier today — is that she likes making up new words, like indeedly for instance, and using them casually in conversation. I too share in this wonderific pastime, which may be why she and I get along so well. Joanna, welcome to The Digital Entrepreneur, it is great to have you here with us.

Joanna Wiebe: It’s wonderific to be here.

Jerod Morris: Yes, indeedly.

Joanna Wiebe: Indeedly.

Jerod Morris: Joanna’s appearance today continues our series here on The Digital Entrepreneur, where we’ve been talking with some of our esteemed speakers who will be at Digital Commerce Summit, which is coming up this October. Joanna’s going to be a featured speaker, and her session is going to be titled, “How to Make Good Copy Great When Selling Digital.” In this session, she’s going to be discussing real-life examples from actual projects that Copy Hackers has been working on with companies like Buffer, Wistia, and our very own Rainmaker Platform.

On today’s episode, we’re going to explore a few of those projects, some of those ideas here today. But make sure that you come to Denver so that you can hear Joanna and all of our other terrific speakers live. Early bird tickets are still available, so you’re definitely not too late. Joanna’s going to be there. I will be speaking. And, of course, members of the Rainmaker Digital team like Brian Clark and Sonia Simone will be speaking as well, along with a host of our friends from around the digital entrepreneurship space, including Rand Fishkin, Jeff Walker, Tara Gentile, Joanna Penn, Chris Lema, and many, many more.

As we say right there on the website — in the kind of conversion copy that we hope would make Joanna proud — this is the conference and networking event where you will discover smarter ways to create and sell profitable digital products and services. So don’t miss it. For more information, go to Rainmaker.FM/summit. That’s Rainmaker.FM/summit. Again, early bird tickets are still available for now.

Joanna, let’s dive in here, and I would like to kick this off with an admission that I need to make to you.

Joanna Wiebe: Uh-oh.

Jerod Morris: No, it’s okay, and it has nothing to do with the admission that we just talked about before we went …

Joanna Wiebe: Let’s not talk about that.

Jerod Morris: No, you will not. You spoke at the first Authority conference, which was now more than two years from the day that we’re recording this.

Joanna Wiebe: Right.

Jerod Morris: In your presentation at Authority, you spoke about improving our call to action buttons, and you discussed the two elements that prevent people from clicking on buttons, that is friction and fear. To this day, that is one of the lessons from that conference that has stuck with me. Every time I have a call to action button I’m always thinking, “Okay, how do I reduce friction and/or fear to make this as easy to click on for as many people as possible?”

I’m sure the alliteration had something to do with it. You also talked a lot about the lizard brain and engaging the lizard brain. I think just because this little easy framework — friction and fear — it works. So thank you for that lesson. It’s another reason why going to conferences is such a great thing to do. In addition to the networking, you can pick up these little nuggets that really carry through. Maybe everybody will have different ones, but I’m very appreciative of that one.

Joanna Wiebe: Oh, that’s cool. I’m glad you remember that. That’s awesome to hear. That was a really fun conference.

Jerod Morris: Yeah, it was, and this one will be good too. To start, just give us a little background, if you would.

Joanna Wiebe: Sure.

Jerod Morris: Can you explain a little bit more about what you and the Copy Hackers team does?

Joanna Wiebe: Yeah, absolutely. We get to work with some pretty cool companies — present company included — where we optimize copy, essentially, or we aim to, at least. Sometimes it works, other times it doesn’t. That’s the nature, and that’s why we test. We help organizations either write better copy, or copy that’s worth testing and measuring, or we teach them how to do it. Our blog teaches you how to do it. Our courses teach you how to do it. And if you really want to see how we work and to have us go in and help you hands-on, then we sometimes accept clients. Only the coolest clients, obviously. Just kidding. No, we’re really lucky to work with very cool people that we love, so that’s wicked.

That’s what we do, and the biggest thing that we focus on — outside of being really dedicated to copywriting and messaging — is testing. To be sure that we at least know if something’s working or not. Then we can hopefully have a good hypothesis so we know why it didn’t work or why it did work, so we’re not just constantly guessing and then guessing at something else and then something else. Yeah, that’s what we do.

Jerod Morris: Yeah, that’s the thing that’s been so clear in working with you guys, is the culture of testing that you have and the commitment to testing. Do you find with individuals that you work with, with companies that you end up working with, that the people aren’t testing enough or that there isn’t enough of a commitment to it?

Joanna Wiebe: Yeah. I think it’s a scary thing for a lot of people. It depends where you’re at when you’ve heard of it, but testing feels like … If you’ve just heard of it, it sounds exciting. And then you go and you look into it, and you’re like, “Oh man, I need so much traffic to test a page. And then I need to have a big enough change in the conversion rate to close a test. Wow, I need so much, it’s just going to be too hard.” But you try doing one test, you don’t get any conclusive results, and you just throw your hands up and say, “Testing doesn’t work for me.”

Then there’s the other end where it’s like, “Okay, we don’t test, we only engage in marketing automation, behavioral automation, behavioral marketing, and personalization as a subset of that. So if we A/B test, it’s within this really complex system of marketing automation, essentially.” Those are the bigger businesses that look at A/B testing as trying to find a single solution for a whole bunch of people, which we all know isn’t possible in most cases — to find a single solution or way to message something that works for everybody visiting that page or reading that e-mail.

At the other end of the spectrum, people discount it as trying to do too much with too little, and at the first side of it, the newer people coming into testing, it just feels like you need too much traffic to make it work. Naturally people shy away from it, and I certainly don’t blame them for it. When you get into testing there’s a lot to consider. Where the sources of traffic are, should you be including mobile traffic in your test? If not, should you be doing a separate test just for mobile traffic? There’s so much to think about that I think it can be a bit off-putting for people.

When it comes down to it though, A/B testing is really just, “Here’s the page that we’re currently working with. Here’s what we think we might want to replace that page with because we feel — based on a lot of different data points — that this is the stronger message to go with, but we don’t know. So we’re going to A/B test it one page versus the other.” That’s really, at its core, all it really has to be about. But it’s easy to over-complicate that.

Simple A/B Test Anyone Can Use to Gain Valuable Insight Into Audience Behavior

Jerod Morris: For someone who’s listening to this, maybe they’ve thought about testing but they haven’t done it yet, or maybe they have but it’s been kind of complicated and it feels real convoluted for them. Do you have any suggestions for a simple test folks can go out the door with? Maybe dip their toes in the water? Maybe it’s changing just a headline on the homepage or changing a button. Is there a universal first step people can take to start wading into the testing waters if they haven’t yet?

Joanna Wiebe: Yeah, and it’s basically those two things you just talked about, actually. There’s two ways that I recommend if you haven’t done a test before. The first one is to do an A/B test on your highest traffic page, generally. Generally on your highest traffic page, where that new variation you come up with has a new headline and a new button. Not one or the other, but both changed on variation B. That’s because that button is the real site of conversion. It’s where the measuring happens, on the button.

If you only change the headline but the button isn’t improved, then it complicates things a little bit, or it means you’re going to have to really swing for the fences with that headline, or be dramatically different. I recommend if you’re just starting out do a headline plus button test where that becomes your new variation. Another really easy way to start testing is to test the placement of that button or call to action. If you currently have it in your homepage hero section — where basically every digital business on the planet has a button, in that hero space — try moving it.

Now, obviously, any CRO person will absolutely say, “Well, you have to have a reason why.” We can get into that at some other point, but if we’re just talking about, “Here, test it,” just to get into testing, just to dip your toes in the water, then just test removing that from the hero and moving it further down the page. See what happens. Or test it as a sticky button that follows you as you go. Buttons are the absolute easiest test to start with.

Jerod Morris: But don’t move it so much that there’s increased friction.

The Surprising Button Placement That Actually Worked Wonders for One Company

Joanna Wiebe: The question when we’re like, “Okay, where does a button go?” is at what point is our prospect — our one reader, the one we’re actually trying to convert — at what point are they ready to move forward? You put a button in front of people, they will click it. People like to click the button. That’s the lizard brain, right? “Ooh, I see it, I just – Ta-da! I click it! I didn’t even really look at the things that I need to look at yet.”

We actually did a test on Sweatblock.com, which is an e-commerce site. It’s a little bit different. But we tested a variation of the homepage, kind of a one-pager. Our variation B moved the button way down. The control had the button in the hero section. Variation B opened with a problem agitation solution opening, which is kind of odd on homepages.

You usually just lead with the solution on a homepage and then you might try to back up and go into problem agitation solution as a framework. But we were like, “Nope, we’re not going to lead with the solution. We’re not going to put that button in the hero section. We’re going to lead with the problem. No button. We’re going to agitate the problem, still no button. We’re going to talk about the solution, and only when we’ve said enough about the solution will we put the button on the page.”

I actually just wrote about this on the site. We saw 45% more paid conversion when we did that. More products purchased — not just clicks, but products purchased — when we moved that button down and made people feel something first. The question is, where do you need to put the button? It obviously depends on where your prospect is at, but I would say be sure to be confident in your ability to move people to click, but don’t let them click whenever they feel like clicking. That’s part of having that button test.

Jerod Morris: Wow. That’s great stuff, right there.

Joanna Wiebe: It was fun.

Jerod Morris: Yeah, I bet it was. As I mentioned before, your session title is going to be “How to Make Good Copy Great When Selling Digital.” I want to talk a little bit about what that means, making good copy great. But not just for any reason, for any type of copywriting, but specifically when it comes to selling digital goods. Are there specific elements — and I think you just hinted at some right there — but are there specific elements to writing great copy for selling digital goods that may be different from other types of copywriting?

Why Copywriting Fundamentals like the Rule of 1 Still Work

Joanna Wiebe: I have found that selling digital goods has more to do with traditional direct response copywriting than not. Using the old tried-and-true rules that we read about from Shorts and Caples and all those awesome dudes — those still work. Those still completely and totally work. It’s when we pretend that the rules have changed that we harm our conversion rates.

There’s this sense that people buying online or people reading online are these completely different thinking beings that don’t follow any of the old rules and can’t be persuaded the old ways so we’re going to just throw stuff at them. They like to look around so let them look around. But we haven’t found that that’s been anywhere near as successful as controlling the flow of information.

That comes out in different ways. Sometimes it will mean we take a long-form sales approach and we put it into a “palatable” form on the page so it doesn’t look like a long-form sales page. It still acts like those old sales letters, it just doesn’t look like a letter. When it comes down to it, it’s really about those formulas and frameworks and just listening to your prospect and repeating what you heard on the page. That goes a long way. You think back to Great Leads and books like that, where they talk about basically what I’ve summed up. I don’t even know if it was from the book, I read it so long ago.

The rule of one, where you’ve got one reader, one offer, one big idea, and one promise. If you still follow those when selling on a landing page — it’s hard to do that on a homepage because you generally don’t have one reader, but that’s a big discussion unto itself — if you follow those parts and organize your page with that in mind, you can still see great conversion lift. We did something similar with Buffer, which I’ll be talking about at the summit so I don’t want to talk too much about it. Come to the summit if you want to hear the story.

We followed some of that like, “Okay, what do we need to say to the prospect to move them from the stage of awareness they’re at to the stage of awareness we need them to be at on the page in order to move forward to the point of being a paying customer for Buffer? For their business plan?” We did some cool stuff, we saw very cool lift, and that’s all I’m going to say about it because we’re talking about it at the summit.

What the “Stages of Awareness” Are and Why They Matter

Jerod Morris: You mentioned the stage of awareness. How do you know what stage of awareness folks are at on different pages and in different parts of the process?

Joanna Wiebe: Yeah, totally. Generally a good thing is to look at where they were before, and that should indicate in many cases — maybe not all cases, but we’re looking for as much solid info as we can use. Sometimes it’s imperfect, but oftentimes it’s better than nothing. We look at where they were first. That could mean, “What keyword phrase did they use? Or where were they? Was it a Facebook ad that brought them to us? Are they already on our list or are they not on our list? Are they a returning visitor or are they not a returning visitor?”

Those sorts of things can help us say, “Okay, if they searched a branded keyword phrase like ‘Buffer for business,’ or ‘Buffer for business pricing,’ chances are good they’re in product to most aware.” Those are the two places we’d want to put them, so where do we then kick off the page, that landing page for them? Well, we’ll want to mention the product if they’re in product aware. We might also mention it if they’re in most aware, although what the page looks like will probably be different for those two.

A most aware person — it always depends, but a most aware visitor landing on a landing page meant for most aware visitors is probably going to see a shorter page that does more of the things that we see in Cialdini’s Influence. All of those sorts of persuasion techniques that are great for the lowest hanging fruit, like a lot of social proof, urgency — maybe scarcity, if you’ve got it. Those sorts of things that we hear about as persuasive but that might not work as well for somebody who’s solution aware. But for product aware or most aware they could work much better.

Now, product aware — we might find ourselves putting a lot more on the page to get them to the place where they’re ready by the end of the page to pay. I don’t know, is that clear? I feel like I could talk for an eternity about stages of awareness.

Jerod Morris: No, it is. I think it’s important. It’s funny, because I think we got into this on the call that we had earlier today too. You can have this great piece of copy and it feels really well written and it feels good, but you can’t really tell how successful or good a piece of copy is outside of the context. You’ve got to understand when the person who is the target of this copy, the audience, when are they getting it? What do they know? What have they done already? Where are we trying to get them to go?

I think you don’t want to over-complicate it, because I think the fundamentals of copy are pretty simple. But you also don’t want to underestimate the importance of really understanding the context and putting that copy into the right context for the audience member so that they can actually take the next step that you want them to take.

Joanna Wiebe: Yeah, exactly. This is something that any UX person would absolutely agree with, that context is huge. Even as you’re talking, I’m thinking of how these disciplines all come together today and how it’s helping us all, I think, to produce better materials that are — all of these same principles keep coming up. Like you say, where’s the context? Where are they actually at in experiencing our brand or our product?

If you don’t think about that — this is why targeted landing pages are so important. They’re so easy to create today, as well, that it’s shocking when people don’t. If you write and you send everybody to one or two landing pages that are somewhat generic, they’re just never going to work as well. Or you send e-mails that aren’t specific to what a person’s really going through, they’re just not going to work as well. We all know that.

But sadly — and I know why it is, I go through this for business too — it’s like, “Okay, well I have to prioritize what I’m going to do,” and doing something else generally looks better than sitting there and saying, “Okay, well we have to write six different drip campaigns for six different triggers. It’s going to be a 10-week job to get to the point, and we’re going to have one person on it full time.” You’re like, “Holy crap, well what if they don’t work?” Yeah, it’s true. If you don’t know the context or you don’t know where the prospect is at when they’re looking at the page, none of us should be terribly surprised when they don’t convert as well.

The Difference Between What You Care About and What Your Prospect Cares About

Jerod Morris: Do you think that that’s one of the biggest mistakes that you see individuals and companies make when it comes to their copy? What might be some other ones?

Joanna Wiebe: Yeah, it’s a biggie. It’s not knowing the reader you’re talking to so you put down on the page what you think. I hear this a lot, even in our comments on our blog. I’m sure you’ve seen the same for Copyblogger when you’re talking about copy. We had a bunch of comments recently on one of our posts where we asked people to comment on what they would differently with the copy. One thing that kept coming out was, “I would need to see this,” or, “I wonder about this.” The person is thinking that because they care about it, the prospect cares about it.

Obviously as we’re talking about it, everybody listening is like, “Well, of course not.” But how often do we actually sit there and do that? Write a page where we’re like, “Oh, okay, well let me imagine what you want to know in order to move from where you are to where we want you to be. I think you might care about this, so I’m going to make this the headline.” That’s, I think, the biggest problem, and it happens again and again. Imagining that you could possibly know what your prospect wants, or that your prospects wants the same things you want in the order you want them. For me, that’s an ongoing, continual problem.

Jerod Morris: How do you get around that? To start, you have to have some kind of hypothesis. Is it then just refining based on data and what you see? How do you approach that?

Joanna Wiebe: Start with lots of data. I know that that can be problematic for people who say, “Okay, that’s our business before. Data reflects the business as it’s been and the users we’ve had, not who we want.” If you let that be your reason not to use research or data, then I don’t know. I’m sure other people will know how to help you — hire somebody who does. I don’t know. What I know is that if we look at the data — like the analytics, like click-tracking on the site — if we ask questions about the landing page that identifies who you are …

Help me understand. Put a Hotjar poll on the page you want to optimize and ask questions, or a question, to help you figure out where that prospect is at so you can write for them. Then put click-tracking on there to see where they’re not paying attention. Then consult your actual survey responses that you might have that are from a larger survey that you’ve done, where you can split your data up. Do those sorts of things and you’ll be more likely to write a page.

But that’s how you find what you ought to write about. We all know it’s not sitting there, staring at the page, thinking, “Hmm, what do I care about? To optimize this page, what do I want to know differently? What’s not on here that I need to see?” We all know that’s not the way to do it. Usertesting.com — you can send people on and actually pinpoint. I know it doesn’t get that granular, but you can get down to marketing managers and have only marketing managers — let’s say if you wanted to sell a product to marketing managers — have marketing managers on usertesting.com spend 20 minutes. Get 5 of them to spend 20 minutes on your page answering questions, and that alone will illuminate some opportunities for you and some of the things that your prospect might actually care about.

How to Listen in a Way That Actually Leads to Meaningful Results

Jerod Morris: Yeah. As we were working with you, that was one of the things that you guys did early on and wanted to even do more, was talk to actual customers.

Joanna Wiebe: Yes.

Jerod Morris: How important is that?

Joanna Wiebe: It’s everything.

Jerod Morris: Yeah?

Joanna Wiebe: For me, it’s everything. Interviews alone. There’s all sort of stuff that you can go out and do. We talk about this all over the place. I could make a list, and probably just will. Interviews are hands-down — they’re the thing you want to do least, and they’re always the most revealing if you can get somebody to sit there and talk with you on the phone or in person for an hour, and listen like a crazy person. Just listen the whole time and then transcribe what you’ve heard. Yeah, for me — and I know others will say they don’t do it this way and it works for them to do it their way. Cool. All I can speak about is for me. And for me, time and again, I get the best results when I just shut up and listen and then repeat what I heard.

Jerod Morris: I think that’s true for most folks. It’s so important, and it is underrated.

Joanna Wiebe: Yeah.

Jerod Morris: It’s interesting. What would be your biggest general piece of copywriting advice for folks? I feel like what you just mentioned, listen — the irony of that being the biggest skill that you can have as a copywriter, someone who is producing content, is to actually listen … Maybe that is the best piece of advice. But what is your best general piece of advice for folks to take their copywriting to the next step, to get a little bit better today the next time they write some copy than they were before they listened to this episode?

The Oft-Overlooked Importance of Frameworks and Formulas

Joanna Wiebe: Yeah, I would say listening, doing that research, that’s huge. In one hand: research. In the other hand: frameworks and formulas. I took a long time to come around to the idea of not basically starting from scratch, or of letting somebody else tell me how to frame the page or how to organize a headline. I think a lot of us as copywriters — you still identify heavily with the writer side of that, which is nice and great. But I recommend you have something else you’re writing on the side as a creative project and then make copywriting about copy writing. That means take frameworks and formulas and use those.

This is the hardest thing for people to get their head around. Even when they start listening, they’re like, “Oh, cool. I got all these survey responses. There were these long answers, and look at this sticky copy in there, awesome!” They go and start using it on the page, but they use it without any formulas, without any frameworks, without any way to say this is the right way to organize it. And that’s a problem as well. Don’t try to dream it up from scratch in any way, shape, or form. Listen, and then take what you have heard, and use frameworks like PAS, which I mentioned already and which happens to be my favorite for organizing any message or writing anything. PAS comes through for me every single time.

Jerod Morris: Which is problem, agitate, solve?

Joanna Wiebe: Yes, exactly. Sorry. Headline formulas, crosshead formulas, and button formulas. Just use them. I know it feels like, “Ugh, it’s not as fun,” but you know what’s super fun about it? You get to see cool results. For me as a copywriter, that’s where the real fun is, when a client’s like, “Holy crap, you actually brought in twice the number of paid conversions, that’s amazing.” That’s going to feel better than saying, “Oh, those are my words on the page, organized as I think they ought to be.”

Those are the two things. Research in one hand, frameworks and formulas in the other. Put your hands together.

Jerod Morris: Yes, and it simplifies it. Maybe it makes it less art in your own mind, but it simplifies it and you can be more efficient and get better results.

Joanna Wiebe: Yeah, absolutely.

Jerod Morris: It all makes sense.

Joanna Wiebe: I find that, at least.

Jerod Morris: Yes. Excellent. Joanna, this was great. I can’t wait to hear your presentation at Digital Commerce Summit and see what great nugget you say that I’m still thinking about and talking about on podcasts two or three years later.

Joanna Wiebe: Sweet, and I can’t wait to reveal your giant secret.

Jerod Morris: Cut. Yes, it’ll be great. We hope that you will join us at Digital Commerce Summit. Go to Rainmaker.FM/summit. The dates are October 13th through the 14th. We will be in beautiful Denver, Colorado. As I said, on the date that this episode goes live, early bird tickets are still going to be available. I don’t know how much longer they will be, but they are still right now, so go to Rainmaker.FM/summit. Get your ticket and join us in Denver. We can’t wait to see you. Joanna, I will see you there.

Joanna Wiebe: Yeah, thanks a ton, Jerod.

Jerod Morris: Absolutely. We will see you all there and on next week’s brand new episode of The Digital Entrepreneur. Have a great week.

Jun 23 2016

30mins

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Rank #16: 6 Business Insights that Could Radically Increase Your Online Engagement in 2017

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Are you looking for smarter ways to engage people in your online business? Then you will want to listen to this episode.

With so many options to engage your website visitors and customers, you might be wondering which ones to focus on.

Well have no fear, because in this new year, there is a way to steer you clear, so let us bend your ear.

OK, enough with the rhyming and now for the rhythm.

In this 38 minute episode, Sean Jackson and Jessica Frick provide clear ideas to help you focus your efforts, including…

  • Trends in mobile, native advertising, online video, and direct mail you should be paying attention to
  • How to turn daily distractions like email into something that improves your productivity
  • The latest book you should be reading and a killer tool that will help you manage your online ads
  • And of course, our question for the week – if you are just starting out online, should you use WordPress or Medium?
  • To sign up for free to the Digital Commerce Academy, send a text message to 313131, with the keyword DIGITS (if you are in the continental USA). If you are outside the USA, email digits@rainmaker.fm. As a special bonus, we will subscribe you to our newsletter when you text or email us

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The Show Notes

The Transcript

6 Business Insights That Could Radically Increase Your Online Engagement in 2017

Voiceover: Rainmaker.FM.

You’re listening to The Digital Entrepreneur, the show for folks who want to discover smarter ways to create and sell profitable digital goods and services. This podcast is a production of Digital Commerce Institute, the place to be for digital entrepreneurs. DCI features an in-depth, ongoing instructional academy, plus a live education and networking summit where entrepreneurs from across the globe meet in person. For more information, go to Rainmaker.FM/DigitalCommerce.

Sean Jackson: Welcome to The Digital Entrepreneur. I’m Sean Jackson.

Jessica Frick: I’m Jessica Frick. I am really excited to ask you, Sean, this week’s question.

Sean Jackson: What is it, Jess? Now, for those who don’t know, we always end our show with a question for the week. Now, Jessica and I are going to debate it. Jess, what was the question that we left everyone hanging with last week?

How to Turn Daily Distractions Like Email into Something That Improves Your Productivity

Jessica Frick: Well, last week we talked about social media accounts and got to hear how wrong you are, but this week we get to hear how wrong you are where it relates to email. Is email a time saver or a time suck?

Sean Jackson: It is a time suck, okay.

Jessica Frick: You’re insane.

Sean Jackson: I’m telling you now, it is a giant time suck. Maybe it’s our generation, too. One thing about email, when it comes to people of a certain age, email is our default communication system. For my daughter, literally her email app on her phone is in a folder called ‘Old People Stuff.’

Jessica Frick: Whoa.

Sean Jackson: I would definitely say email, whether it’s a time saver or time suck, greatly depends upon your age. If you’re too young, you don’t really care about email. It’s for password-retrieval purpose.

Jessica Frick: Oh my gosh.

Sean Jackson: Let me tell you why I think email is a time suck.

Jessica Frick: All right.

Sean Jackson: I don’t think people use email properly. That’s why it’s a time suck. I think that too many times people are so addicted to their mobile device, to their desktop device that they’ll have multiple tabs open, but there will always be that tab to their email program. It’ll have a little alert on there telling you how many unread messages you have. Or it’ll be you get on your phone, and there’s that little icon with that little red circle that says, “You have 55,000 unread messages.”

I think what it does is that it is a time suck because of the way we use it. It is constantly drawing our attention to it. For example, if you go on vacation, which I know you never do, but if you ever went on a vacation, what you would find is that what is a real vacation? If you’re checking email, is that really a vacation? No.

Jessica Frick: It can be if you enjoy it.

Sean Jackson: No. So it is a complete time suck because people don’t use email correctly. What do you say?

Jessica Frick: Well, I say that I would agree with you, but then we’d both be wrong.

Sean Jackson: Okay, well, give me another point. That’s not the point of this. Give me the counterpoint.

Jessica Frick: Counterpoint is, well, yes, I will acquiesce that some people do use email wrong. For example, us, we’re in a virtual workspace. Can you imagine if every time we needed to talk about something we had to actually talk about it over the phone or in person?

Sean Jackson: Well, that we use Slack for all of it.

Jessica Frick: Exactly. Well, Slack or email because email is for long-form stuff if we have to get somebody to sign off on something or strategize something where it’s not in a chat room. I feel that email is better for addressing specific things without the nuances and distraction of that immediate feedback loop.

Sean Jackson: Yeah, but here’s the thing. You spend so much time on email going back and forth when picking up the phone could solve about 20 hours of back-and-forth dialog on the email message. To me, that’s where I get so adamant about email. Not only do we not use it right, but then we go back and forth and things can be misconstrued. Your tone in there, god forbid you put all caps in something, right?

So to me, email can be just an incredible waste of an entire day, especially if you let it pile up and then you’re having to go through and go through and the anxiousness that comes from that. I would disagree with you. I don’t think if there’s any time savings per say. I think there are certain times when it is appropriate, but picking up the phone and talking to someone is, in many ways, a faster form of communication than going back and forth on email. What say you?

Jessica Frick: Well, speaking of old people stuff, how many people do we work with who forget what you guys just talked about yesterday?

Sean Jackson: Yeah, good point.

Jessica Frick: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to go back to the email and say, “Actually, we talked about this on February 22nd, 2015.”

Sean Jackson: Yeah, I know. Next to the send feature on email, it’s the search feature I use the most.

Jessica Frick: Exactly. How much time do you save with that? Email is more than just that one to one. It’s also a group situation. How many times have you been on a conference call that could have been solved with an email?

Sean Jackson: Yeah, you know, if we talked more on the phone, then I would agree with you, but I think we’ve become overly reliant upon it. I think there is a value in picking up the phone and talking to people. I think there’s a value in putting together a webinar, let’s say, where people can have a voice and talk. I think it has more value to look at other alternatives — only because I, again, will push back on this, saying I think people use email incorrectly.

Jessica Frick: I think I would agree with you on that part.

Sean Jackson: Yeah, and here’s why. I think we leave it always on, so I literally, literally just before the show was using the restroom.

Jessica Frick: TMI, Sean!

Sean Jackson: Yeah, I know, I know. Getting really personal, folks. Cover your ears, folks. I was sitting there, and the guy in the urinal next to me was checking his phone. He was coming in, and he was checking his phone. He was going on and et cetera, and he was reading through all these emails, et cetera. Because I know the guy, I wasn’t just talking to a stranger, I said, “Look, email so permeates our business life.”

So what I have done — and I would highly recommend everyone think about this — on my mobile devices, I turned automatic email off.

Jessica Frick: Like when it refreshes?

Sean Jackson: Yeah, I have to go get the email. I don’t let it just sit there and come to my phone automatically so that, every time I pick up my phone, I see this little red circle with 20,000 things that I haven’t done.

The reason I do that is because it goes to the greater point about email and most communication in general — given the tremendous amounts of ways that we do communicate, blocking off time is the best way to manage all forms of communication. Having it always on can be and is a huge distraction to productivity.

Turning your email auto fetch to manual means that, when you’re ready to check your email, then you are in the right mindset. Otherwise, you just ignore it.

I will tell you, doing that, Jess, has saved my weekends with my family. I’m dead serious because, when I pick up my phone, I’m not like, “Oh my gosh, there’s an email I have to respond to.” No. I have certain times when I work, and I have certain times I spend with my family. Turning off email auto fetch and making it a manual process allows me to control the way that I spend my time in communication.

What say you?

Jessica Frick: Well, I like the idea of block scheduling. I’ve never been able to make it stick because so much of what I do is fluid. Somebody might need to get in touch with me right now, and it can’t wait eight hours until my next email block. Like our colleague Matt, he handles a lot of our server operations, and he has a tremendous workload on any given day. If he always makes himself available, he gets distracted and isn’t able to accomplish the huge feats that he does on a regular basis.

Sean Jackson: Yeah, that’s true.

Jessica Frick: He needs to have that focus, but at the same time I can’t imagine how he’d survive if he had too many group phone calls. The best way to get him is email.

Sean Jackson: Yeah, and I will say this, that there is a time and place for it. I think it’s up to you who’s listening to this to really think about your communication plan. How you interact with the communication streams that you have coming at you and really think about it for a second. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it is not a time suck.

Jessica Frick: There is no maybe.

Sean Jackson: No, there is. There is. But again, by controlling your communication stream, you may find yourself to be more productive. Certainly, there are times when you’re sitting around waiting for that one email communication to come in, but I think that if it’s that damn urgent pick up the damn phone and talk to somebody. Jess, I’ll let you end our argument with your point.

Jessica Frick: If you’d like to get in touch with us, you can contact us at Digits@Rainmaker.FM. That’s our email address.

Sean Jackson: Wow, that was a heck of a plug, and way to go to, Jess. We’ll be right back after this short break.

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Trends in Mobile, Native Advertising, Online Video, and Direct Mail You Should Be Paying Attention To

Sean Jackson: Welcome back from the break, everyone. I’m Sean Jackson and joined by Jessica Frick. Jessica, for this particular segment, I want to talk about focus points for 2017. Some ideas for you to focus on for your online business.

Jess, I’m going to go ahead and let you give your top three focus areas that you think our audience should be looking at 2017.

Jessica Frick: Well, my first one is going to be live video.

Sean Jackson: Now, what do you mean by that? What do you mean by live video?

Jessica Frick: I feel like more and more brands are getting into the live video business. Even those that you’d be like, “Well, what could you possibly do a video about?” But they’re all in there, and they’re using Facebook Live or YouTube. I feel that that medium has become a very strong way to reach your audience, and people love it.

Sean Jackson: Yeah, so let me push back on that for a second. Let’s say I sell a digital good, an ebook, a software, a membership system, et cetera. Let’s say I’m not selling a physical product, which tends to lend itself to a video format. What type of live video ideas should someone in the digital goods space be thinking about?

Jessica Frick: I think it depends on the product or service, but people can talk to you. You might be discussing one of the areas of your expertise. Or you know what, maybe you’re just walking around a downtown area that looks really cool, and you just wanted to hang out with your friends and talk about this new book you’re selling.

Sean Jackson: Yeah. Here’s a couple of ideas. Whiteboards, obviously, certainly over at Moz, they do Whiteboard Friday. I think certainly webinars fall into that space, but whiteboards, a constant stream of just very simplistic style of video composition where great audio using your phone. Certainly, talking to customers.

At the end of the day, there may be customers of yours in your local town — just getting together and talking through their issues. When it comes to the digital goods space, you have to be a little bit more creative with video, but at the same time, you don’t have to feel like you’re limited either because you can talk about bigger ideas using video.

Jessica Frick: That dovetails with my next thing — 360 video and imagery. Are you seeing so many people are using that? It goes virtual reality, augmented reality, that kind of immersive experience is becoming more and more popular. I feel like a lot of brands can leverage that to help them.

For a digital entrepreneur, giving them an immersive experience inside it could even be your office. I know that sounds so stupid, but I would totally look at that. Not only would I look at that, but I’d be zooming in on your desk.

Sean Jackson: Right, giving a little bit more appealing to the lifestyle aspect of what you sell, right?

Jessica Frick: Yeah.

Sean Jackson: Certainly, there’s some people who really promote the freedom lifestyle. Your freedom to be anywhere, right? Well, reinforce that.

Jessica Frick: Yeah, you’re hanging out on the beach doing your work.

Sean Jackson: Right, exactly, because you’re hanging out on the beach doing your work. So again, sharing information around there. Certainly, with augmented reality, virtual reality, and some of the other things that are in the pipe and coming down further, I think it really comes down to content creativity. What is a piece of content that is visual that can be associated with both your brand and your product to reinforce it, right?

Then, through that, give them something that is a little bit different. Again, a lot of people are doing gaming right now. The YouTube channels that are coming up where people are touring houses. Certainly, if you’re in the real estate segment, man, you’ve got to be thinking, “What are some of the ways that I can really get above the noise?” And augmented and video virtually reality are methods for doing that, especially where there’s a physical aspect to what you provide online.

Jessica Frick: Completely agree.

Sean Jackson: What’s your third one?

Jessica Frick: The third one and you and I talked a little bit about all of these earlier, but I’m going to make a last-second decision and change my third one. I think physical mail is going to come back.

Sean Jackson: Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Tell me why you think that.

Jessica Frick: Even if you run a digital business, nobody is using actual mail anymore except for the phone companies and the utility companies. How much do you love getting stuff in the mail? I give Amazon all kinds of money just to send me cool stuff.

Sean Jackson: I know.

Jessica Frick: Post cards. I can remember being young, and my mom started getting these weird random post cards from some dude that she didn’t know. But they were all like these rural places with these photos of cool farms. She couldn’t figure it out. Anyway, cut to the chase, the last post card in the series turns out this guy actually worked for a new popcorn company, and they were selling popcorn.

So she’s getting all these random post cards. I want to say there were four or five before he revealed himself, but you can bet your bottom dollar that she bought that popcorn all the time.

Sean Jackson: Yeah. You are absolutely 100 percent spot on. I was thinking about including that actually, so you jumped me on that one. That’s fine. No, I did. You took my idea. I’m looking at it. I’m tapping the desk right now. You took my idea. Let me explain why, folks.

Here’s why. When you start to look at all that data that you’re getting in on both your visitors and your customers — and we talked in the last episode about Clearbit API, which I particularly like — you are starting to get a lot of data about these people. Reaching out to them with something like, I don’t know, a sticker.

Jessica Frick: Oh yes, people love stickers!

Sean Jackson: A sticker for their laptop. One of the things I have on my laptop is a laptop cover that’s really cool. Every time I pull out my laptop, people look at my computer and go, “Oh my gosh, where did you get that cover, that wrap that you put on the front?”

It doesn’t have to very expensive, but what about that social acknowledgement that you could generate with a sticker of some sort — just sending it out to people whom you’ve been able to identify on your site either by them filling out a form or you’re just coming up and being smart about it and saying, “Oh I realize who this is person is,” looking at data sources, and sending them something inexpensive that builds social currency for your online brand.

I will tell you, you send a sticker or a wrap or something like that, people will be Tweeting about it. They’ll be showing you. It really is something so easy, but it requires you to think outside of the Twitter-verse.

Jessica Frick: Yes, and you’re engaging another sense all together, that tactile sensory experience. I’m touching the same sticker you touched. There’s a human connection going on here.

Sean Jackson: That’s right, and it doesn’t have to be expensive folks. All right. So, Jess, you stole my idea, so I’m down to two. I had three, wow. Man, I’m never going to do a pre-call with you. Man, forget that.

Jessica Frick: Sorry.

Sean Jackson: Here’s my big focus I think people should be thinking about for 2017, and it’s going to go into the mobile space. I know, mobile, mobile, mobile — but here’s why. We have really transcended past the mobile-responsive age to the mobile-first age. Let me explain that.

As content creators, we spend all of our time in a desktop-style environment. It’s conducive to the way that we operate, so we have a natural bias to the desktop experience. Knowing that, in certain categories, especially the consumer side, and even in the B2B side, people are consuming information more and more on a mobile device.

In the consumer side, it’s over 50 percent. It’s looking at 60, 70. Heck, even on LinkedIn, a business social media network, most of the content consumption is on a mobile device because executives are reading, learning, and listening to these things as they are in transit. Where I would say that a mobile-first design means that you look at your site purely from the mobile experience first. That if you go into some tool like Chrome, for instance, the Chrome web browser, they have developer tools in there that will allow you to see your site in a mobile environment.

Start thinking about what are the features that are on my site that are not applicable to the mobile experience? I’m talking about forms on your site. I’m talking about content on your site, video. I just went to a site that was on Shark Tank. I was watching Shark Tank, and I went to their site on my mobile device, which is probably how a majority of people watching Shark Tank are going to look at these companies.

I looked at their home page, and I was disappointed. You could tell that it was trying to be responsive, but it just didn’t work. All of that traffic flooding to them, and your first experience is, “Eh, the text looks weird. It doesn’t respond properly.” I’m not saying it wasn’t responsive. It didn’t respond properly because they didn’t look at it from the mobile-first viewpoint because the people who built the website were sitting at the desktop.

I would say that looking at a site, number one, is the current focus. The second big focus area for 2017 goes in line with that, which is really about text messaging. Now, this is something that, again, I have been on a rant for the past two years as I’ve been really thinking about a mobile-first world.

Certainly, video is a big part of content consumption in the mobile world. No question about it. If you have children, you know exactly what I mean. But on top of that, text messaging. You know we went through the app phase where in-app notifications and popping things to your phone, and everybody got annoyed with that because every app wanted to send you a push notification.

The text messaging still out-performs push notification. It has more people using text, more people who are seeing it because, really, unless you unsubscribe, you’re going to see the text. Then, I would also say that, when people are viewing your site and there’s a call to action where you want them to fill in something about themselves, the default of your name and email is laborious and tedious on a mobile device versus just putting in your 10-digit phone number from the United States.

Think about those forms, those calls to action you have on your site, and find a way to intelligently, say, if you’re on the desktop, putting in your name and email is not a big deal. But if it’s a mobile, it better transfer over to a text input and a real input so that the keyboard even goes to numbers, not letters, right? So they can easily put in their telephone number and, again, access, consume, or get a part of your subscription.

Does it cost a little more? Yes — but I want to tell you, folks, email costs. Everybody thinks email is free. It’s not. You pay something for email management over time. Text messaging is no different.

Jessica Frick: You know, Sean, I remember when you first started talking to me about this a couple years ago, and I rolled my eyes. One of the things that’s so annoying about working with you is how often this happens. I roll my eyes, and I’m like, “Oh, Sean, bless your heart.

Sean Jackson: Yeah, you don’t get it.

Jessica Frick: “You think of just the cutest ideas that are never going to work.” Here we are two years later, and I’m getting text messages from certain organizations — and I’m responding. They’re like, “Do you want to find out if there’s a meetup in your area? A for yes, B for no.” And I’m choosing my own adventure with these people via text. They’re like, “Send a 2 if you want to send $2 for this,” and I’m doing it.

Sean Jackson: Yeah. Look at the last campaign. Candidates would have their text messaging number on the podium because they know that they don’t need people to download an app just so they can send their communication. Text is still the fastest way.

I went shopping the other day, and I went to Bed Bath & Beyond. Because I’m on Bed Bath & Beyond text-messaging system, the coupons are sent to me now right to my phone. I don’t have an app or anything like that. Here’s the thing — even when they expire, they give a little note that says ‘resend.’ If you’re a part of the Bed Bath & Beyond and you just hit resend, they’ll give you the current coupon.

Jessica Frick: What? I didn’t know that.

Sean Jackson: Yes, I know. I was trying to use the coupon and it expired. So I went to the text messaging. It just said ‘resend,’ and it came back.

Jessica Frick: Oh my gosh.

Sean Jackson: I know. That’s where I think, again, smart online entrepreneurs are thinking about, “What are we doing today? How are people working today, and what will carry me through to the next several years?” Then I’m going to end, and I’ll put my third one in since you copped one of mine, I’m going to come in. I’m going to take your original idea, which is online ads.

Jessica Frick: Yes.

Sean Jackson: Now, here’s where I think we were kind of moving to. I think if you really look at native advertising, which is essentially paid content, I really think focusing in 2017 on native advertising — using the content networks out there, Google, et cetera — where you can really be intelligent about tagging people as they come to your site, using remarketing to use rich media ads to drive them to content.

Primarily, in my opinion should be video content, but regardless, it can be long form text content, doesn’t matter. Remarketing and focusing on putting your own native advertising together. So if they visit a page about blue socks, then they’re seeing the blue socks ad, not just ads for socks. If they’re reading about hosting, they are coming in, and you’re tagging them and putting something out for them. So being a lot more intelligent about people who come to your site, remarketing to them based on the words that are on that page so that they’re given different ads based on the content they consume.

Let’s recap this, so we can finish off this segment. Jess had number one, live video to focus on — 100 percent agree with that one. Secondly, virtual reality. Certainly, figuring out how to engage people with this new and emerging media. Then third one, of course, offline. Figuring out ways to use traditional mail to get to people and give them, as I pointed out, social currency, something that they can have a brand affiliation that doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg to do.

Jessica Frick: Love it.

Sean Jackson: And my three points were mobile-first design, focusing on that site, looking at it from a mobile experience first and making sure it works perfectly for that, then the desktop. Text messaging, just being smarter about using text messaging, capturing text messaging. There’s a lot of services out there. I happen to use EZ Texting.

I find it to be fairly affordable, very intuitive, and easy. Then, of course, the third aspect that I was talking about which is really about using native advertising, but be very strategic about it. Looking at the per page or the categories of content that you have and using remarketing to drive people back to those calls to action that are related to the content they just read. Those are the six focus areas for 2017. I’m sure there’s many more, but that’s what we could come up with.

Jessica Frick: You can do it, guys.

Sean Jackson: Folks, we’ll be right back after this short break.

Sean Jackson: Hey, everyone. This is Sean Jackson, the host of The Digital Entrepreneur. I want to ask you a simple question. What is your business framework for selling digital goods online? Now, if the question perplexes you, don’t worry — you’re not alone. Most people don’t realize that the most successful digital entrepreneurs have a framework or a general process for creating and selling their digital goods in the online space.

One of the best free resources is Digital Commerce Academy. Digital Commerce Academy combines online learning with case studies and webinars created by people who make a living selling digital goods online. The best part is that this material is free when you register. Are you interested in joining? Well, I’ll make it easy for you. If you’re listening to the show on your phone and are in the continental United States, I want you to send a text message to 313131 with the key word ‘DIGITS.’ When you send that text message, we will send you a link to the registration form right to your phone.

Are you outside the United States? Don’t worry. Just send us an email to Digits@Rainmaker.FM. Either way, we’ll send you a link to the registration form so that you can sign up for free for Digital Commerce Academy. As a special bonus, we will also subscribe you to our newsletter when you text or email us so that you can stay informed with the latest insights from the show.

And don’t worry — we respect your privacy. We will not share your email or phone number, and you can easily unsubscribe at any time. If you want to start building or improving your framework for selling digital goods online, then please send a text to 313131 with the keyword ‘DIGITS,’ or send us an email at Digits@Rainmaker.FM. You won’t be disappointed.

The Latest Book You Should Be Reading and a Killer Tool That Will Help You Manage Your Online Ads

Sean Jackson: Welcome back, everyone. For this segment, we always like to talk about sites, tools, information, and things that we think are very valuable to your online experience. Jess, I’m going to go ahead and start off on this one. Is that all right?

Jessica Frick: Have at it, Sean.

Sean Jackson: I have now found an author that I am absolutely just enamored with. His name is Adam Grant. Now Adam Grant is the new Malcolm Gladwell.

Jessica Frick: That’s a pretty big statement.

Sean Jackson: In fact, Malcolm Gladwell says he’s the new Malcolm Gladwell.

Jessica Frick: Really?

Sean Jackson: Adam Grant is a professor, I believe out of Warden or Chicago I can’t remember. He’s a big thinker. He has written a series of books, one Givers and Takers, which just had true impact in my life, but there was another one — which is how I first ran into him — which is called Originals: How Non-Conformists Change the World, basically.

He goes through and debunks a lot of the preconceptions that we have about success in general. One of the things that he really pointed out in there and he uses a ton of illustrative examples, from Dean Kamen and et cetera, but what he really pointed out was where original thinkers come from and how they actually can do things differently.

He gave a great story, and I use this all the time. He gave a great story in this book to illustrate his point about this study that people were doing about support centers. Specifically, what were the attributes that made someone very good at customer support? They looked at everything. They looked at education, background, demographic data. It didn’t matter.

They looked at all sorts of personality traits, and they could not find any direct correlation between what made someone really, really good at customer support, and succeeded over the long run in customer support, versus those that didn’t. Until they looked into how people filled out their job application online.

Jessica Frick: What?

Sean Jackson: I know. When they researched that, here’s what they found. People that used Internet Explorer and Safari generally were not very good at customer support.

Jessica Frick: Huh.

Sean Jackson: People who used Firefox and Chrome did exceptionally well.

Jessica Frick: Firefox!

Sean Jackson: I know. Now, think about that. Here is what he was pointing out.

Jessica Frick: Who still uses Internet Explorer?

Sean Jackson: Exactly. Internet Explorer and Safari are the default browsers that come with your OS, right?

Jessica Frick: Oh, I can see that.

Sean Jackson: They’re the default ones. Now, think about what you have to do to put Firefox and Chrome. First, you have to go out there and find them. Then you have install them. You have to want the advantages of speed, performance, and security that you feel that they bring to it versus just using what you see in front of you.

When they started dividing people up based on the type of browser they use, what they found were people that went and used Firefox and Chrome were more inclined to find solutions to people’s problems outside of the little box of solutions they were given in customer supports. They were willing to go above and beyond to find solutions versus people that just would deal with the status quo — which, again, goes back to Internet Explorer and Safari. Isn’t that crazy?

Jessica Frick: That is fascinating. I would’ve never made that connection, but you’re right. You’re absolutely right.

Sean Jackson: I told you — he’s the new Gladwell, right? He totally takes something really arcane and really espouses through them. He talks about the Warby Parker guys, who were actually students of his, one of the founders of Warby Parker. He actually had a chance to invest in that company, and he didn’t because his preconceived mindset was, “Entrepreneurs are risk takers. They put everything to the wind, and they’ll risk it all on a roll of the dice.”

When he met with the Warby Parker founders when they were starting out, they were highly risk averse — highly risk averse — and they would take small, incremental steps to get towards a goal. What he found in looking at other entrepreneurs, the people that we really think are the big entrepreneurs, what he found was they were highly risk averse. They would take small, incremental steps and remove risk from the equation as they continued to build their business up.

It’s this type of different type of thinking that make people, what he basically prefaces, original thinkers, people who are willing to go and do different things than the status quo, who are willing to take risks in measured increments — not just throw it out and hope that it lands on black. That was the type of thinking that he really highlighted in his book.

So the name of the books is Originals by Adam Grant. I highly recommend it, especially if you’re in the online space because you’re probably just strange to begin with. You’re not the status quo. You’ve taken a risk to go out there and leave the 9 to 5 job to get into the online space, and I think you will find this book to really appeal to you. I’d also say, his other book, Give and Take — I already called it Givers and Takers, but it’s Give and Take — that was one of his first books and, again, really a powerful author. Easy to read, very insightful.

That’s my tip for the week. Jess, what do you have?

Jessica Frick: Well, I kind of dovetail on that to say, if you’re not super risk taker-y there we go, that was really well said, Jess. I am admittedly a little risk averse. I like to know what I’m getting into. I like certainties over uncertainties. It’s probably why I would have unfortunately passed on Warby Parker, too, but one of the ways that I help us make sure that we know what we’re getting into before we get into it with actual money is using a cool tool called SEM Rush.

I handle our ads, and I don’t like treating the money like so many other people in the world seem to. You know just throw some money at it, see what sticks, and then do more of that. I like to really research these keywords, and I like to research the competitors. I like to know what’s happening in the market.

I like to know if one of the main keywords I want to go after just had a huge drop in people buying it. Those sorts of things save us money. I’d rather learn from your mistakes.

Sean Jackson: Right, and you think SEM Rush is a tool that helps you do that?

Jessica Frick: I do. And I feel that by learning what our competitors do, I can compete better. I feel that we have a definite leg up on the competition because we know not only what they’re doing, but what they’ve done.

Sean Jackson: Well, it goes back, too, because then they know what we’re doing.

Jessica Frick: Well, they do. They do, but at the same time, we also are always looking forward not backward. Beyond just that, I think it’s important to still pay attention to rank even though there’s always these algorithm changes and stuff like that. Whether you’re entering a new market or just increasing your presence in one that you’ve been in, I feel it’s important to see who’s moving up in the scales there. Am I?

Sean Jackson: I think you’re right because, again, keying off what I was just talking about, risk mitigation, the more that you can research, the more that you experiment in small, incremental ways, and find things that work, knowing what may not be working for someone else. These are important insights, and I definitely agree. There’s a lot of great tools out there, folks. And just so you know, we don’t get compensated for this.

Jessica Frick: No. This is something that we buy. We pay for this. We’re not including an affiliate link here. I do use other tools, but I have found the SEM Rush interface to be so user-friendly that I am completely comfortable recommending it to any digital entrepreneur who is considering entering the paid placement space.

Sean Jackson: There we go. All right.

Question for the Week: If You Are Just Starting Out Online, Should You Use WordPress Or Medium?

Sean Jackson: So, Jess, we’re coming to the end of the show, and we’re going to leave our audience with a question of the week. I want everyone to really think about this because I’ve been asked this question by people from the outside looking to come into the digital entrepreneur space, who are looking to maybe give up their traditional office-esque job or want to experiment with the online marketing, online selling of digital goods.

So here’s the question to leave you with. Should you start your online business using WordPress or start with something like Medium’s publisher, Squarespace, Wix, et cetera? Should you go out of the box with WordPress, just make the investment of time there, or should you start with something a little simpler like Medium and Squarespace to start building an online presence.

So, Jess, we’re going to talk about that and, like we do at the top of every show, debate it profusely.

Jessica Frick: Now, Sean, do you promise if I give my actual opinion I’m not going to get fired since we’re a WordPress host?

Sean Jackson: No. We can’t agree, though, Jess. That’s the key to an argument. We both have two sides.

Jessica Frick: I know, we can’t agree. But see, here’s the thing — and this is going to surprise you. I’m going to tell you that I don’t think you need to be on self-hosted WordPress.

Sean Jackson: Ooh, well, I will leave you hanging with my response to her proposition on the next episode of Digital Entrepreneur. You folks have a great week now, okay?

Feb 16 2017

37mins

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Rank #17: Laura Roeder on Building a Business that Supports the Lifestyle You Love

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This week’s guest is a self-learner. She aspires to help people’s small businesses succeed beyond their wildest dreams by making social media marketing plain and simple to understand and implement. She is Laura Roeder, and she is a Digital Entrepreneur.

In this episode, Laura walks you through her journey as a digital entrepreneur:

  • How being a mom has influenced her ability to reap the benefits of digital entrepreneurship
  • How all the small choices she’s made over the years have added up to something incredible
  • Why constantly innovating helps her deal with the challenge of bringing in new customers
  • The one word she’d use to describe where see wants to take her business in the future … and why you should strive for it too

And more.

Plus, Laura answers my rapid fire questions at the end in which she reveals why she’s been keeping her phone in another room at night.

Listen to The Digital Entrepreneur below ...

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The Show Notes

The Transcript

Laura Roeder on Building a Business that Supports the Lifestyle You Love

Voiceover: Rainmaker FM.

You’re listening to The Digital Entrepreneur, the show for folks who want to discover smarter ways to create and sell profitable digital goods and services. This podcast is a production of Digital Commerce Institute, the place to be for digital entrepreneurs. DCI features an in-depth ongoing instructional academy plus a live education and networking summit, where entrepreneurs from across the globe meet in person. For more information go to Rainmaker.FM/DigitalCommerce, that’s Rainmaker.FM/DigitalCommerce.

Jerod Morris: Welcome to The Digital Entrepreneur, the show where digital entrepreneurs share their stories and the lessons they’ve learned so that we can all be better in our online pursuits. I am your host Jerod Morris, the VP of marketing for Rainmaker Digital. This is episode number 38. This episode of The Digital Entrepreneur is brought to you by the Rainmaker Platform. I will tell you more about this complete solution for digital marketing and sales later, but you can check it out and take a free spin for yourself at Rainmaker.FM/Platform, that’s Rainmaker.FM/Platform.

On this week’s episode, I am joined by someone who was raised in an entrepreneurial family. She got her start at a young age and she got it actually when she started selling painted rocks. Although, her family members were her only customers at the time, and she is a self-learner when it comes to the web and online communications. After moving to Chicago to start her professional career, she quit her job at 22 years old.

Since then, she’s relocated several times, currently in Austin, Texas. She’s gone from a one-woman design business to a scalable social media consulting business. Now, obviously running a SaaS platform called Meet Edgar. She aspires to help people’s small businesses succeed beyond their wildest dreams by making social media marketing plain and simple to understand and implement, and giving them the tools to do it. She is Laura Roeder and she is a digital entrepreneur. Laura, welcome to The Digital Entrepreneur. It’s great to have you here.

Laura Roeder: Thank you Jerod, I’m very excited to be here.

Jerod Morris: It was nice to finally meet you in person at Digital Commerce Summit a couple of months back. That was nice.

Laura Roeder: Yes, yes. We had been emailing for many years and now I can picture you when I talk to you.

Jerod Morris: Yes, and you did a great job, by the way. Your presentation was fantastic. It was great having you there. It was a fun event.

Laura Roeder: Thank you, yeah it was.

How Being a Mom has Influenced Her Ability to Reap the Benefits of Digital Entrepreneurship

Jerod Morris: Let’s dive in here, and I’m going to start out with you the way I start out with everybody on this show, which is asking you this question about digital entrepreneurship and the value that you derive most from it. Because, I think, for most digital entrepreneurs the number one benefit that we get from it is freedom. The freedom to choose our projects, to chart our course to change our lives and our family’s lives for the better. What’s the biggest benefit that you have derived from being a digital entrepreneur?

Laura Roeder: Definitely the freedom and more specifically now that I am a mom, I feel like I’m really reaping the benefits of building this career for the past ten years. My son is almost two and I was able to take three months off maternity leave when he was born. I actually just worked part time for the first year of his life. Now I’m back to full time but I have a very flexible schedule and I go home for lunch for two hours every day. I pick him up from preschool in the afternoon and I can take time off whenever I want. Seeing some of my friends who have young children and both parents are working full time and it’s like, finding the time to go to Target is all they have time for on the weekend. I’m just very thankful that I’ve made these choices and built this life because it allows me to have a lot of freedom and I just think a lot less stress in my life.

Jerod Morris: I was looking at your website in preparation for this and one of the lines that really stuck out is where you say that you’re big on building a business that supports the lifestyle that you love. It sounds like you’ve really been able to do that.

Laura Roeder: Yeah, I mean that’s been very deliberate for me. I mean, even the switch from training to software was very deliberate in creating a business that I could really take a lot of time away from, and could continue to grow without me.

Jerod Morris: I guess to start here would be good to frame this by just giving people the overview of what you do, because you’re running Edgar now. Explain what Edgar does for folks who may not know it.

Laura Roeder: Yeah, Edgar is a tool to repurpose your content on social media. You create a library of all of your old blog posts and whatever else you send out on social, like funny images, inspirational quotes and whatever. Edgar pulls your content for you and also repurposes it over and over again, so that instead of having to manually schedule every update, Edgar looks at your library, makes sure that all of the content that you wrote a year ago that’s still valuable, it’s still getting shown on social, it’s still getting that audience.

Jerod Morris: Before you got into software, you alluded to this, you were doing scalable consulting for social media.

Laura Roeder: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Shifting Gears into Digital Entrepreneurship

Jerod Morris: Let’s go back to even before that. Take us back to before you became a digital entrepreneur. What were you doing and what was missing that led you to want to make a change?

Laura Roeder: Well, I became a digital entrepreneur really young. I’ve only had one real job. My first job out of college was a designer at an ad agency. I was there for about a year and half and the freedom was definitely part of it. I remember having a friend visit me. I was living in Chicago at the time. She visited me and I worked til 6:30 or whatever, and we’d have time to have dinner and then that was it. That was all I got to see her while she was visiting. I remember when I visited her, she had a more flexible schedule and she could take the whole day to spend time with me. I thought, Ah, that’s what I want to be able to do.

And I was kind of bored of my work and I wanted more control over what my work was and how I spent my day. So I quit that job when I was 22 to start working for myself as a freelance designer. I’ve worked for myself ever since, for the past ten years.

Jerod Morris: You were a freelance designer and then you basically took some of what you’d been doing as a freelance designer, some of what you had learned and then parlayed that into teaching other people? How did you then get into social media and doing that part of it?

Laura Roeder: As a designer I was making websites for my clients, and just because I was young and naive, I thought that when you made a website you were also telling your clients what content to put on it and the strategy for traffic and SEO. I just thought I’m making the website. They need to know how to get traffic and how to drive business, and how to turn their leads into customers. I would just help them with all that stuff, that was what was free and they’d pay me for designing and building the site.

Around 2007 – 2008 social media started to become a thing. My clients would just ask me, What is it? Should I be using it? How do I do it? Eventually, enough people told me you know, you could get paid just for talking to people about social media, just for teaching them, at the time it was Twitter, teaching them how to use Twitter. I thought, That sounds like a sweet gig, talking to people about Twitter. Sign me up. That’s how I became a social media consultant, which very quickly turned into productized training.

How All the Small Choices She s Made Over the Years Have Added Up to Something Incredible

Jerod Morris: Tell me about the moment in your career as a digital entrepreneur thus far that you’re the most proud of.

Laura Roeder: Oh man, at this point there’s a larger team. At Meet Edgar we have 24 employees. We’re all remote so we don’t have any kind of office. We meet up twice a year. For me, what’s very fulfilling is providing great jobs. For whatever reason, that’s even more inspiring to me than the work we do for our customers is getting to provide a workplace that people can really do their best work and they love showing up to every day. My greatest moment as a digital entrepreneur has happened, honestly, every time we’ve met in person because every time it’s more people.

The last one was actually in Denver and we filled a conference room, I mean a small conference room, but we filled a conference room nonetheless. We had to bring in extra chairs and it was just so moving and so amazing to me looking around the room and thinking, I’m supporting these people s families from this company that I built on the Internet. So often it just feels like this imaginary thing, like we never see any of the money, it’s all people paying us on credit cards, going through straight to our bank account. It’s really nice to have this physical representation, seeing my team in a room, saying, Wow, this is a real thing that I built.

Jerod Morris: You know, that’s so interesting, because when we get together at Rainmaker Digital, since I’ve been with the company we’ve had four or five of those meetups. It is always so powerful to get everybody in the same room. I have, of course, done it from the perspective of one of the people working for Rainmaker Digital. I can’t imagine how that must feel in your shoes or in Brian Clark’s shoes when you’re sitting there and looking at it. What you started is what led to all of this. That has to be just such a powerful moment and such a powerful realization.

Laura Roeder: It really is. It’s just amazing seeing that an idea and just that little bit of work everyday, because when you’re in it, it’s just like you’re plodding along every day a little bit more. All these small choices that you make over the years really do add up to something incredible.

Jerod Morris: Yeah, and it reminds you of your why. Why you’re doing it in the first place.

Laura Roeder: Yes.

Jerod Morris: Okay, so let’s take a quick break and when we come back I’m going to ask Laura about her most humbling moment as a digital entrepreneur. Stay with us.

As you probably know, stitching together a website that truly gives you everything you need to demonstrate your authority, connect with your audience, and earn recurring profit isn’t easy. You have to find good hosting plus security and support you can trust, which is a headache. You need a patchwork of plugins that can prove to be a nightmare at the worst possible time. You need the ability to create content types ranging from blog posts to podcasts to online courses and what about integrated landing pages, email marketing and marketing automation to deliver a truly adaptive content experience. These aren’t nice-to-have features anymore for the smart profitable digital entrepreneur, they are necessities. But you have two choices: you can piecemeal it all together, pay more in total and then cross your fingers and hope everything plays nicely together, or you can use the Rainmaker Platform.

Rainmaker is a fully hosted, all-in-one marketing and sales machine that gives you everything out of the box in one dashboard. You can run a successful podcast, host authority building membership areas, and sell in-depth module based revenue generating online courses. You can even use RainMail to host all of your email lists and send broadcast emails and autoresponder sequences right there in your Rainmaker dashboard. Plus, the full email integration with your website platform gives you insight about your audience and content flexibility that you simply cannot get with separate solutions stitched together. Oh, and rather than having to choose from one of a hundred different places for support when you have a question with Rainmaker it’s just one support team ready and excited to help you out.

All of these reasons and more are why Rainmaker.FM runs on Rainmaker and why all of my personal websites do too. But, don’t just take my word for it, check out the Rainmaker Platform for yourself. Go to Rainmaker.FM/Platform and start your free 14 day trial today, that’s Rainmaker.FM/Platform.

Now back to my interview with Laura Roeder.

Finding Humility in the Various Life Experiences of Your Customers

Jerod Morris: All right Laura, you just told us about your most proud moment as a digital entrepreneur. Tell us now about the most humbling moment in your career as a digital entrepreneur, and most importantly what you learned from it.

Laura Roeder: Something that’s always really inspired me when I was doing training, is the people who really didn’t consider themselves very computer savvy and knew that this is what they needed to do in order to grow their business, in order to keep up. Because I think so many people limit themselves and think, Oh, I’m too old, or, I’m not very good with computers, I can’t really learn that.

I remember I had … when I was doing training programs and sometimes you could buy the premium package and get phone calls with me. I remember having a call with this company that was very old school, brick and mortar, and the owner had sent me some emails that were just so sweet that were like, We just so appreciate what you do and we’ve learned so much from you. We got on a call and when I started talking to the guy he started laughing, hearing my voice, and he was, “We call you the girl that talks to us from the computer. Now here you are really talking to us.” He just thought it was so funny, like it was just this novelty for him that he’d heard my voice on the computer and now I was a real person.

It was very humbling, someone who had just such a big learning curve about online marketing and social media. Seeing that he was, I’m going to spend my time. I’m going to spend my money. I’m going to do the premium package so that I can get more one-on-one help and I’m going to learn this. I’m going to have a great business because of it. I really admire that kind of determination and that really is something that I found very inspiring in the training business. Because, it can just be easy to create this content and just forget about who’s consuming it and the impact that it’s having.

For some people this was a game changer, right? Because for a lot of people it’s like, Okay, I already know what content marketing is. I’m improving my skills 5%. But, some people, this was like, Wow, I just took my business from a brick and mortar to literally a global business because of what I learned in this class. That is very humbling.

Striving to Maintain Stability in a Volatile World

Jerod Morris: Yeah, no absolutely. Let’s fast forward to now. What is the one word that you would use to sum up the status of your business as it stands today? One word.

Laura Roeder: The word that’s been guiding me lately is stable. Something that has been a challenge for us in the past two years … Meet Edgar is only two and a half years old but we’ve grown really fast. We’re at a four million annual reoccurring revenue, starting from zero two and half years ago.

Jerod Morris: Wow.

Laura Roeder: We’ve had some pretty fast growth. Hiring to keep up with that growth has been really challenging. Our goal for the end of the year has been to really build out our teams for 2017. Instead of hiring every month, we’re like, Who do we want for the whole year and we’re going to hire them by the end of this year or early next year? We’re not 100% there yet, but my dream is to, instead of feeling like there’s this frantic growth, obviously keep growing the customer base, keep growing the revenue, but the team to feel really stable and this really tight knit community of people who have gotten really comfortable working together, and have really gotten their rhythms down. You know how it is when you work with someone for a few years and you can read their mind and you know what they’re going to do. I love to have that kind of rhythm within our own company, so stable is what we’re looking for right now.

Why Constantly Innovating Helps Her Deal With the Challenge of Bringing in New Customers

Jerod Morris: Okay, very good. What is your biggest recurring pain point as a digital entrepreneur?

Laura Roeder: I would actually say that it just continues to be customer acquisition, because you have to keep innovating. I’m definitely a big believer in the bread and butter and just doing basics of online marketing. That’s absolutely how we get the majority of our customers. But, as we continue to grow, we have to keep expanding our thinking both about how to up our game and improve our content marketing and social media marketing game, and totally new channels that we might want to explore. Customer acquisition, it s fun, but it is an ongoing pain point because it’s a problem that’s never solved.

Jerod Morris: Yeah, that’s true for everybody. You mentioned earlier how much satisfaction you got from that moment when everybody was together and you had that realization about how this all happened because of what you started. I know that gives you a lot of satisfaction on a macro level, but on micro level, what element of your work gives you the most satisfaction on a daily basis?

Laura Roeder: My job is now is mostly coaching the leaders of our teams. What gives me the most satisfaction is seeing people make hard decisions. When something s not going right and a tough call needs to be made, maybe a project needs to be scrapped that we’ve already put a lot of effort into. Maybe we need to start over with a new direction. Maybe a team member isn’t working out or a freelancer isn’t working out and needs to be let go. Watching the leaders on my team make those tough calls and put into action those tough calls, I love it.

Using Your Own Tools to Make Life Easier

Jerod Morris: Yeah, that’s great. Let’s open up your toolbox here a little bit, if you don’t mind. What is the one technology tool that contributes the most to your success as a digital entrepreneur?

Laura Roeder: Okay, well I have to cheat and say Meet Edgar.

Jerod Morris: You can do that.

Laura Roeder: You know it’s funny, so obviously we use Edgar. The person who does our social media at our company, basically his attention went elsewhere. There was more important stuff that he had to do, so he took a lot of attention off social. We’re trying to figure out, Who do we need to hire? Do we need a freelancer or do we need a full time? We just stopped messing with it for a while and we realized Edgar handles our social, because now we have our customer support team going in and responding to people and monitoring the daily activity.

As far as keeping up with the content, Edgar really does that for us and Edgar really sends everything out. You really can just check in once a quarter and refresh things. That was a pretty cool moment to see, Oh, this thing that we would have previously had to hire maybe a full time role for, Edgar is just doing for us. That’s pretty cool.

Jerod Morris: Yeah and by eating your own dog food you found that out. That’s nice, and that’s what you designed it for so hey, that’s good. What is the non-technology tool that contributes the most?

Laura Roeder: Keeping focused on goals. At the start of every week I write my one or two big picture goals for the company. I’m always asking myself, Okay, is my time really helping to move the needle on that goal? That’s my biggest non-tech tool.

The One Word She d Use to Describe Where She Wants to Take Her Business in the Future and Why You Should Strive For it Too

Jerod Morris: Very nice. Earlier I asked you for the one word that you’d use to sum up the status of your business as it stands today, and you said stable. When we talk again in a year, what would you want that one word to be?

Laura Roeder: What immediately comes to mind is joyful.

Jerod Morris: Oh, that’s s new one, I like that.

Laura Roeder: Yeah, I guess it’s unusual, but I would love to have that feeling for our team and for our customers. That using Edgar actually gives them joy, whether it’s seeing the results, seeing the time that’s freed up. Same with the people at the company. Obviously, there’s going to be some challenging problems that they’re solving, but if you’re doing work that you really love, it’s really fun to do that. To me, that word means we’ve gotten past some of our growing pains on the team level and on the product level. Everything just feels smooth and it’s like, This is fun. It’s fun to show up and do this work every day.

Jerod Morris: I like that, joyful. Okay, that’s a good one. I’ve got some rapid-fire questions to end here. Are you ready for the challenge?

Laura Roeder: I’m ready.

Rapid-Fire Question Time

Jerod Morris: All right, if you could have every person who will ever work with you or for you read one book, what would it be?

Laura Roeder: Scaling Up by Verne Harnish. We use a ton of the systems. It’s our business Bible.

Jerod Morris: Scaling Up by Verne Harnish?

Laura Roeder: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Jerod Morris: I haven’t read that one yet.

Laura Roeder: It used to be called Rockefeller Habits.

Jerod Morris: Okay, very nice. If you could have a 30 minute Skype call to discuss your business with anyone tomorrow, who would it be?

Laura Roeder: Wait, I thought I had my answer, sorry. You re gonna have to edit so it sounds faster.

Jerod Morris: Oh no, oh no, we’ll leave it in here. It’s okay, this makes for good audio.

Laura Roeder: Wait, who do I want to choose?

Jerod Morris: Who are you deciding between?

Laura Roeder: I don’t know their names. I would choose someone at Uber, but I don’t know who, because it’s probably not Travis who is the big name person that you see. They’re a fascinating company to me for how much action they take so quickly. It just seems like someone has an idea and then the next day it’s implemented in 40 countries. You see differences when you Uber in different cities. They have it localized and improved for that location. It’s just incredible to me. I don’t know who I want to talk to at Uber, but I just want to know how they do that.

Jerod Morris: Somebody, yeah. What’s the first question that you would ask?

Laura Roeder: I would ask, How do you execute so quickly? How do you take things at such a huge scale and execute so many ideas without breaking everything?

Jerod Morris: Yeah, that’d be great to know the answer to that question. What is the one email newsletter that you can’t do without?

Laura Roeder: Hiten Shah’s SaaS Weekly is a pretty good one.

Jerod Morris: Love that one, I subscribe to that one and I believe we’ve had that mentioned on here a couple of times. It’s a really good one. What non-book piece of art had the biggest influence on you as a digital entrepreneur?

Laura Roeder: I have no valid answer to this one.

Jerod Morris: Nothing?

Laura Roeder: I don t think … I haven’t been influenced by art that is not books.

Jerod Morris: No song, no movie, no anything? How about a moment?

Laura Roeder: What moment had the biggest influence?

Jerod Morris: Maybe a scene or a location, like a trip that you took or a place that you were.

Laura Roeder: Okay, I’m going to think of an answer.

Jerod Morris: Anything.

Laura Roeder: Anything! Like, Give me something!

Jerod Morris: Something that’s not a book.

Laura Roeder: Okay, I guess, to choose a place that had an influence on me. I mentioned visiting a friend and she had a lot of free time. When I first started working for myself I was living in Chicago. Much love to Chicago, but I did not grow up in a cold place and I could not handle the winter. My best friend from college had moved to LA. I just remember that first time I visited her and the weather was just beautiful and it was such a fun city. I thought, Why do I live in Chicago? I want to move to LA. And I did. I did move to LA, and I was able to do that with the work that I had set up. I know so many people that would just sort of remain a lifelong dream because they’d be like, How am I going to get a job? I don’t know anyone there and I d have to start over. That visit really influenced me to choose what I wanted in life.

Gaining Productivity by Cutting Out the Phone Temptation

Jerod Morris: Very nice, and that all goes back to being able to design the life that you want to lead, and building a business around that, which is so important. What productivity hack has had the biggest impact on your ability to get more meaningful work done?

Laura Roeder: Getting off my phone. I do no tech after 9:00 pm. I do not keep my phone in my room, so I’m not seeing it before I go to bed, or when I wake up in the morning. I take social apps off my phone. I take email off my phone. I found that it makes a huge difference to be able to really start my workday when I sit down and start my workday; as opposed to I half look through my emails that morning. I try to respond to one, but then it got too complicated and abandoned it. You get this feeling that you’ve done work, but you haven’t actually done anything. Not checking Slack, not checking email, til I m actually sitting down at my desk ready to work is huge for me.

Jerod Morris: Interesting, so no email either. Even if you leave the office and go pick up your kid or whatever, you don’t want to be able to check your email when you’re in the line? You want it totally off there.

Laura Roeder: Exactly, because the thing is, I can’t do anything about it. If someone needs me, which they never do, they could text me. The problem with reading email when I’m waiting for my kid at pick up, anything that’s worth responding to, I’m not able to … Maybe I need to reference a document, maybe I want to write something more in-depth. I’m not able to do that, so to me, it often gives you this false feeling like you’ve handled something, but you haven’t actually been able to close the loop. Now you’re just thinking about it on the drive home. You can’t do anything about it. I find it much better to just have focused work time where I can actually close those loops.

Jerod Morris: I really like that idea. I can’t promise that I won’t just go start deleting stuff off my phone right after we get done with this, because that’s pretty inspiring, actually.

Laura Roeder: Give it a try.

Jerod Morris: Yeah, I may try that, I may try that. What is the single best way for someone inspired by today’s discussion to get in touch with you?

Laura Roeder: I still love Twitter.

Jerod Morris: Only when you’re at your desk?

Laura Roeder: I don’t have Twitter on my phone, actually.

Jerod Morris: No, that’s what I mean. Only when you’re at your desk.

Laura Roeder: Yeah, I’m LKR on Twitter, so that’s a great way to get in touch with me.

Jerod Morris: LKR, fantastic. Well, Laura this was a great conversation. Thank you so much for taking the time. I really appreciate it.

Laura Roeder: Thank you.

Jerod Morris: That will do it for this week’s episode of The Digital Entrepreneur. My thanks as always to our great production team led by Kelton Reid and Toby Lyles as well as Caroline Early and Will DeWitt for helping me put this episode together. My thanks of course to Laura Roeder for taking the time to speak with us, and my thanks to you for being here and listening to The Digital Entrepreneur. I always greatly appreciate your attention and the time that you invest in the show. Always feel free to send me any comments or thoughts. Tweet me @jerodmorris, J-E-R-O-D M-O-R-R-I-S.

A quick programming note, this will be our last episode of The Digital Entrepreneur for 2016. We’ll be taking a little break but we will be back at the beginning of the new year with new episodes, so watch out for that. In the meantime, enjoy the end of 2016. Enjoy the holiday season however it is that you celebrate it, and I look forward to talking with you in the new year. Take care.

Dec 15 2016

27mins

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Rank #18: Is Your Email Marketing Leaving Money on the Table?

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It’s not enough to just be doing content and email marketing anymore. Those are merely the prerequisites to join the game.

To have a chance at succeeding, you must be doing more — and in this episode of The Digital Entrepreneur, we discuss what that looks like in the present and near future.

In this 29-minute episode, Brian Clark and Chris Garrett join Jerod Morris to discuss:

  • Why tagging and segmentation are no longer nice-to-have email features
  • Simple examples of smart marketing automation done right
  • What lead scoring is, and why it matters
  • How we’re building RainMail to integrate all of these features under one roof with the Rainmaker Platform
  • The difficulty of using website, email marketing, and automation solutions that aren’t integrated

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The Show Notes

The Transcript

Is Your Email Marketing Leaving Money on the Table?

Voiceover: You’re listening to the Digital Entrepreneur, the show for folks who want to discover smarter ways to create and sell profitable digital goods and services. This podcast is a production of Digital Commerce Institute, the place to be for digital entrepreneurs. DCI features an in-depth, ongoing instructional academy plus a live education and networking summit where entrepreneurs from across the globe meet in person. For more information go to Rainmaker.FM/digitalcommerce. That’s Rainmaker.FM/digitalcommerce.

Jerod Morris: Welcome back to the Digital entrepreneur. I’m your host Jerod Morris, the VP of Marketing for Rainmaker Digital. For those of you scoring at home, this is now episode number 21. I’m joined today by a couple of familiar voices. First we have Brian Clark, the Founder and CEO of Rainmaker Digital. Brian, welcome back to the show that you started.

Brian Clark: Do you really think people are scoring at home?

Jerod Morris: No, it’s a callback to an old Sport Center catchphrase. I’ve always wanted to say it.

Brian Clark: I do appreciate the reference, and I did get it.

Jerod Morris: We’ll see how many other people do. Now, a person who definitely did not get that reference. We also have Chris Garrett, the Chief Marketing Technologist at Rainmaker Digital. Chris, I hope this appearance helps cure your podcasting withdrawal symptoms that I’m sure you’re still going through.

Chris Garrett: Yes, that it does. And I can confirm, I did not get that reference.

Jerod Morris: Yes, that was a sport and goal reference.

Brian Clark: Inside baseball.

Jerod Morris: Yeah, I know.

Chris Garrett: I don’t even get inside baseball. I have to have somebody explain that one to me.

Jerod Morris: All righty. We are not going to talk about baseball today on this episode of the Digital Entrepreneur. We’re going to talk about email. We discussed this topic back when we did our five episode series on the elements of the modern marketing website a couple months ago. We’ll have that episode link for you in the show notes. Email actually kicked that series off. The episode was titled, “How Email (Still) Creates the Profit Engine of Your Digital Business.” If you are not yet convinced that you need to be building an email list, go back and listen to that episode and then get started building an email list.

For this episode we’re going to assume that you understand the importance of building an email list, are in fact already doing so, and are at that next-level stage where you’re looking to become more sophisticated with your email marketing. You’re working with autoresponders, you want to get into tagging and segmentation, and perhaps improve what you’re already doing in that area.

That’s our big idea today, which is to stress the importance of thinking in a more sophisticated and strategic way about what you’re doing with email. Also to discuss how we’re building these tools and features into the Rainmaker platform in a way that no one else has really done because of one key huge difference which we will get to here in a bit. First, Brian, I want to start off by asking you, why have tagging and segmentation become such essential elements of an email marketing campaign?

Brian Clark: It’s all about that providing a more personalized experience. When we’re putting together our email sequences everything depends on the action or inaction. There are usually a couple to several variables that are always at play. Isn’t it smarter to speak to someone based on what they actually do, what they show interest in, than some one-size-fits-all autoresponder stream? That worked great for me in 2001 to 2005, but we’re in a very different world now.

Jerod Morris: Yeah, we are. The message that you are delivering to your audience needs to adapt. We’ve talked about this idea of the right message for the right person at the right time, and that’s what this allows you to do. Chris, Brian and I were actually talking the other day about the difference between tagging and segmentation. What is that difference? Can you explain what tagging and segmentation actually are from a more technical standpoint and what the difference is between them?

Why Tagging and Segmentation Are No Longer Nice-to-Have Email Features

Chris Garrett: Segmentation is what Brian has just talked about, talking to the people who are interested in the topic about that topic, and not sending them information that they’re clearly not interested in. You segment them. You put them into groups. So this group is interested in red widgets and this group is interested in blue widgets. You can do that by putting them on two different lists, or you can have one master list and add information about them. Brian is interested in basketball and Jerod is interested in football. It can be one list called “sports,” but that information about what they are interested in could be a tag. It could be a custom variable.

It’s a piece of information about that subscriber or that prospect. Back in the day, with the early sales CRM processes, you would say, “This is a prospect. This is a warm lead. This is a qualified lead.” You would say, “This person has shown interest. This person is ready to be closed.” That’s a piece of information about them. Just like you would tag a blog post to say it’s about science fiction or romance, you would tag a person to say, “This is what we know about them.”

Jerod Morris: It’s so important to be able to do this to have flexibility. I’ll give you an example from a project that I was working on with a certain email provider. I wanted a way to send messages to the people who visited — this was for The Assembly Call — people who watch the show the most. If people had visited that page ten times I would tag them a certain way, but I actually had to create a separate list for those people and send it to a separate list and pay separately for that list, as opposed to it just being a tag for those people, those subscribers all within my list already that I could just email.

Brian Clark: That’s what I have to do now, and I’m not shy, it’s AWeber. Chris, when are we moving me to Rainmaker? It’s so unwieldy when you have to create a new list.

Jerod Morris: Yeah, I hate it.

Brian Clark: It doesn’t make sense. And I think AWeber has some much more expensive advanced features that may include this, I’m not sure. But my opinion is, this is just email in 2016. This isn’t advanced email marketing. This is just email marketing. MailChimp and AWeber and all these people who are vanguards of the industry are saying, “Sure, we’ll sell you that for this much more.” I disagree with that approach, because I think everyone needs to be doing at least basic segmentation and tagging. It just makes much more sense than creating all these separate lists and, of course, being charged for them.

Chris Garrett: You want to be encouraged to do this. The more you know about your subscribers — the more you know about your customers, especially — the better you can provide the service to them that’s not annoying. It changes how you approach the copy as well, because if you’re sending an email saying, “You may have seen this,” or “I don’t know if you saw this what I’ve talked about last week,” it’s awkward, it’s clumsy. It’s a lot better to say, “You were on the webinar on July the 10th and we’re doing it again.” Being able to say, “I know this about you, therefore I know you will be interested.” Or, “We met at a conference in Denver,” instead of, “Did you see me in Denver?” You’re talking to a person instead of the group as a whole. When you’re talking to a person you get through to them better. You can include the things you know about them.

Brian Clark: Looking at it from a conversion standpoint, if I send out an offer email for a promo and someone clicks but doesn’t buy, that is an important piece of information compared to someone who either didn’t open the email or opened the email and didn’t bother to click. The first person is probably seriously thinking about it. They at least went to check it out.

That’s a very different message that I would send to that person compared to someone who doesn’t seem to be interested at all. Maybe they didn’t see it. With that person you can say, “Hey, did you see this email? Because you didn’t open it.” The person who saw it, clicked, and looked — that’s valuable information. What if you gave them some incentive to tell you why they didn’t buy? That’s incredible information in return that you would also get from knowing that.

Chris Garrett: Also, the majority of the people aren’t going to buy — 95% are not going to buy. If you only focus on the 5% who take the action, what about the majority? What about all the others who might be ready later? They might, as you say, have good reasons why they didn’t take action right now. There’s a lot of money and goodwill sat there that you could be just ignoring.

Simple Examples of Smart Marketing Automation Done Right

Jerod Morris: The other thing that’s interesting too, is how much more you can do when your email is fully integrated into the platform. This is what I want to ask you about in regards to Rainmaker, Chris. As I go through and start using some of these features, I’m finding so many more options available for tagging and segmentation and being able to adapt the content based on what people do on the website. If you’re just using a third-party email provider, you can obviously do a lot based on what they click in the email and all of that stuff, but actually having it integrated into the platform gives you a whole world of other information that you can use to tailor the experience that you’re giving them.

Chris Garrett: Yeah. One of the things that I know you and Brian have talked about a lot is the free member library concept or the free course. We’ve really focused on making that as useful and valuable as possible. Because, if you’re sending people off of your site to a third-party training platform or video hosting platform, you’re losing a lot of opportunity to know about what is really engaging to them — what is really exciting for them, or gets them to take action — or what they want to go deeper into. Having just that website and that training platform in one, that’s huge increase in what you know about your customers or your prospects.

If you look at how we use it — we know if somebody has started Brian’s course versus started the funnel course or Chris Lema’s course. We know if they’re a paid person or a free person. We have a free library because we do what we teach. We know to not send people information based on whether they are free or paid.

We don’t want to send them the stuff that you should pay for, but also we don’t send them things that will annoy them. We don’t tell them to buy what they’ve already purchased, which sounds basic, but how many times would you signed up for something where they should know but they still tell you irrelevant things or they still mistake you for being a prospect when you’re already a customer? If you just go around the web and you see all the remarketing ads for stuff that you’ve already purchased, you know what I’m talking about.

Then, as we add to the platform, we want to look at people who haven’t registered. Maybe they haven’t even signed up for your email yet, but we still want to know information about them to use later. Think about if you’ve got a blog and that blog has call to actions to get people to sign up for the email list or sign up for the free membership, then that free membership gets people to pay. If you’re sending people to separate sites or separate tools all along the line, you’re losing those connections. Once somebody has shown that they’re a human being and a return visitor we want to build up information about them. Then you can start segmenting through your content and through your own site experience. You can have on-site call to actions based on the actions they’ve taken and the interest they’ve shown.

You can have blog post series that lead people to have a deeper interest in a topic and then you can give them the opportunity to go deeper into that by registering for a free course — either as an email course or as a learning management system video-based course with downloads. That’s another opportunity for them to express more interest and show more action. Sign up for webinars — you know if they’ve signed up for the webinar, but did they attend the webinar? That’s all information you can build about them, and it’s all through their actions and their interest rather than trying to infer, spy, or use analytics, which is not really great for drilling down to an individual.

How We’re Building RainMail to Integrate All of These Features Under One Roof With the Rainmaker Platform

Brian Clark: Tagging is an email concept, obviously, but it’s also a CRM concept. You’re actually building a database of informed information. You can review that information, but Rainmaker does most of the heavy lifting for you. I think that the really exciting thing that we’re going to be able to move toward that third-party automation solutions can’t is — because you’re essentially controlling the email list and the site in an integrated fashion, that allows you to truly adapt the site — literally change elements of the page based on topical interest, behavior, and identity. To where, if a certain interest is determined…

For example, we sell a lot of different things, but if someone comes in at Copyblogger through the email marketing landing page, that sends them into My Copyblogger along with everyone else. That’s valuable information, because we know that their point of entry was email. Therefore, the follow-up sequence for that person is different from everyone else, even though they all ended up in the same place based on a tag that is placed right there.

Chris Garrett: If you think about the things we sell on StudioPress, if somebody buys the foodie theme versus the real estate theme that’s good information for us to know. They’re actually expressing that they’ve got an interest in industry in a vertical, and that is really useful information.

We’ve got people in our customer base who are writers, we’ve got developers. They have different needs. They have a lot of overlapping interest, but they also have different interests as well. You can service them better the more you know about them and know what they might be interested in. Also, if you give them an opportunity to express interest and they don’t take the opportunity, that’s also information that you can glean as well.

Brian Clark: Let me ask you this, Chris. You and Nick, one of our developers, were geeking out. We’re trying to extract reasonable deadlines from you — like marketers do — without much luck. Tagging is really the smarter way to segment. But you guys were talking about advanced segmentation and some other stuff that we have coming later in the summer for Rainmaker. Tell us a little bit about that.

Chris Garrett: One of the problems with tagging is that a lot of the time a tag will be a “yes” or a “no.” It’s really interesting to say Jerod is interested in basketball, “yes.” But I think it’s more interesting to be able to say Brian started this course on June 22nd and show a different message if somebody started before June the 1st or after June the 1st. Then there’s things like lead scoring. If somebody downloads a white paper, do you give them ten extra points to say that they are really interested versus somebody who’s got a lead score of one? Is that person now a lead score of 20?

What Lead Scoring Is, and Why It Matters?

Brian Clark: Lead scoring — just so we don’t lose anyone here — this is a way of giving a rating or a numerical value, if you will, to a prospect in which case, if they are more highly motivated than someone else, you might send them an offer or a different message than you would send everyone else.

Chris Garrett: Yeah, exactly. Or you would use that to develop correlations between the activity you’re doing and the quality of the prospects and leads that you’re generating. You might want to know: Did the Google Hangout do better than the white paper? Did the webinar serve you better than the email autoresponder sequence? What is generating the best lead for the money and the investment you make?

Brian Clark: Where did they come from? I guess.

Chris Garrett: Yeah, is a search prospect better than a Facebook advertisement prospect? It might not be just down to picking up the phone and calling your best prospects. It might be, “Okay, this is where our investment is going and this is how it’s paying off.” Down to — once they become a customer — did it take them a long time to become a customer? Did it cost you a lot of money to make them into a customer? This is all valuable information that allows you to tune and tweak things. It’s not just about, “Yes, we can show different messages on screen. We can show different email copy.” It’s also where you’re putting your efforts. It’s the 80/20 rule, 20% is going to be 80% of your payoff.

The Difficulty of Using Website, Email Marketing, and Automation Solutions That Aren’t Integrated

Jerod Morris: Chris, how would someone even try and do something like this with a mishmash of a bunch of third-party providers? As we’ve talked about them, that’s with Rainmaker and it being all integrated. That’s what I was hinting at earlier when I said the one huge key difference — it is that integration having everything in one. How would someone even do this at this level of sophistication when they’re putting parts and pieces together?

Chris Garrett: We tried. We tried to piece all these things together. It didn’t work so well. That’s why we built what we built — we built it for us. If you sign up for a Rainmaker trial or if you sign up for the Digital Commerce, you can actually see us using the stuff we’ve started building. Obviously it’s all going to roll out to everybody who’s our customer on Rainmaker.

We couldn’t really do this integrated thing. We were spending a lot of money and time in development to glue all these things together, and we just thought it would actually save us time and effort to build what we needed instead. The multi-device world we live in — take that alone — where you take a lot of actions on your phone and then you go to the website on your desktop, because bigger screen. You’re ready to use your credit card and it forgets everything about you.

That’s what we want to get away from. We want people to sign up for your free course on the phone being able to follow it on their iPad and then download the PDFs on the desktop and it all be the same person, the same experience, or an enhanced experience. We want you to tell us by viewing the video past 30% that you’re interested. We don’t want to glue all these different tools together. It needs to tell your email subscriber, your member record. It needs to tell your on-screen experience. It needs to tell your experience six weeks down the line that you showed an interest. It shouldn’t forget about you. You can, if you’ve got a big team and a lot of effort, get some of that by gluing a lot of things together. But not what we needed and not to the level we want to take it.

Brian Clark: There’s a ton of businesses out there these days who are essentially one person. They do very well. Of course they have virtual staff and freelancers and designers that are part of the eco system, but you need your technology to be your business partner not a liability.

Jerod Morris: Yeah.

Chris Garrett: How many businesses have got the resources or even the time and bandwidth to have a team of people looking after this? Every extra team member you add — even if it’s a freelancer — is taking mind share away from you as a CEO.

Brian Clark: If your automation solution requires you to hire a consultant, you’re doing it wrong.

Jerod Morris: Yes.

Chris Garrett: Outside of this company. I don’t want to do myself out of the job. The funny thing is how many of these tools are sold as being easy, but really they’re consultant-ware. That’s one thing to be really nervous about. If you have to take a great deal of expensive training and then you have to have a lot of resources to manage the thing, and then you’re so tied in because of all that investment that you’re worried that you’ll never be able to go anywhere else, then you’re not doing your job. You’re not marketing or producing products, you’re not doing customer service. You’re dedicating all that resource and that energy to a tool. The tool should serve you, not you it.

Jerod Morris: Chris, did I hear you correctly? You mentioned earlier — we’ve talked a lot about the importance of the logged in experience and what you can do from a marketing automation perspective when people are logged in. The importance of that will never dissipate. But did I hear you that folks will be able to perform some of those marketing automation functions even when people aren’t logged in?

Chris Garrett: Yeah, I think that’s important for us as a step that we need to work towards as much as possible. Like you say, the logged in experience is going to be the ultimate because we know if they hit that Facebook log in button or that Facebook registration button, we’ve got a lot of information about them and then everything they do. Not everybody’s going to log in and not everybody’s ready to log in. A blog creator doesn’t need to be logged in. Reading an article — we want to know that they are really interested in the 3D printing category versus the basketball category without them having to log in. Then, clicking links — you don’t have to necessarily log in to show an interest, because you’ve clicked the link. All of that needs to be, if they logged in, great, if they are not logged in, to still work.

Jerod Morris: I think you and I need to create a site where it’s possible for someone to take a path of either 3D printing or basketball.

Chris Garrett: Nick and I were actually talking about using these tagging and segmentation rules features to do Choose Your Own Adventure. Do you remember those books?

Jerod Morris: Yeah.

Chris Garrett: We’re actually seriously considering making Choose Your Own Adventure using these tools. I think that will be fun.

Jerod Morris: That would be fun.

Chris Garrett: Ten plus points minus five heath. That kind of thing.

Jerod Morris: All right, can we nail you down on dates when all these stuff is going to be done?

Chris Garrett: No, you cannot.

Brian Clark: We do have one date that we’re fairly …

Chris Garrett: Yeah, we really want to get this into your hands as soon as possible, but at the same time we want it to be great. I really hate promising. But in July we definitely want you to be able to tag people and to be able to show or hide based on those tags.

Brian Clark: Tagging really is the next killer app of the killer app. It’s not necessarily new, but most of the solutions out there that offer this, like I mentioned earlier, it’s an upsell. Remember when we tried out Marketo and they finally figured out that we don’t have a sales team and their solution wouldn’t work for us? We paid a lot of money for that. Of course, that was the moment when we decided to build it ourselves.

The integration in Rainmaker is interesting because it’s a total platform. We don’t have to maximize profit on email. Not only do we not upcharge you for tagging, you’ll see that our email prices — despite world-class servers and deliverability — are cheaper than everyone else out there. That’s simply because it’s all part of one solution. You got all these companies that are SaaS companies that are basically a feature. Rainmaker is the exact opposite philosophy of that.

Chris Garrett: A lot of these systems as well, they don’t understand that one company can have multiple brands. But back to the start of Copyblogger when you started Teaching Sells with Tony, Brian, you had Copyblogger and you had Teaching Sells. A lot of these companies don’t understand that concept that you might want to email from Teaching Sells as Teaching Sells even though the company is Copyblogger. With our solution, your subscribers are your subscribers. It doesn’t matter what websites you have, you can brand it from those different sites. You have the advantage of it being one subscriber going across two brands, but you can also email from that brand.

Showrunner can email somebody. StudioPress can email somebody. We could actually charge extra for that, but it would sound silly to me. It sounds like something that would be obvious for you to be able to do. A lot of those system are set up for, as you say, the sales person to lead them from being a prospect to a “yes” or a “no” and then dismissing them and discard them. We’ve got people going back to 2007 that are still loyal customers. Why would we do that?

Jerod Morris: Yeah, it’s all very exciting. Obviously, Brian and I love seeing these new features and getting to play with them, and we love the ability to share them with you as well. We’d love for you all to go to Rainmakerplatform.com and take a test drive. What was the Rainmaker email service is now RainMail. It is fully integrated in the platform. You can take a free trial of the platform if you go to Rainmakerplatform.com. We’ve also added a monthly billing option now that you can take advantage of. Get in there, test it out, try it out. We got Chris to go about as far as he will go in terms of a promise by letting you know that there will be some new features in July.

Really, there are going to be new features rolled out in July and August and September, because we’re constantly updating the platform with new features and with new updates to be able to do all of the things that we talked about in this episode today. Make sure that you go to Rainmakerplatform.com, get your free trial started, and see how this can take your marketing and your business to the next level. Because the features are great and they will be able to do that. Chris, thank you for your insight. It’s always appreciated.

Chris Garrett: I had so much fun. I don’t want to overpromise, but I’m sure it’s fine.

Jerod Morris: Brian, thank you as well. Always great to have you back on the show.

Brian Clark: I’m pretty sure he hasn’t overpromised.

Chris Garrett: You’ll make sure of it.

Jerod Morris: All right, everybody. We will talk to you next week on another brand-new episode of the Digital Entrepreneur.

Jun 30 2016

29mins

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Rank #19: Does Your Social Media Strategy Need a Mindset Shift?

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It might be time to adjust how you’re approaching your social media strategy — especially if your approach is focused solely on top-of-the-funnel activities like building awareness.

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However you’re currently approaching social media, this week’s guest has some insight that will help you get more out of the time and money you’re investing in social media marketing and advertising.

In this 45-minute episode, Jason Keath, the CEO of Social Fresh, stops by to discuss the insights he and his team gleaned from the massive report they recently published: The Future of Social.

Among the topics discussed:

  • The disconnect between how people say they are using social media and how they should be using social media
  • How to use social media to “take people who like you and make them love you”
  • Why having clear goals and KPIs is so important
  • How to approach Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter (and which one is outpacing the others)
  • Why video is so hot right now, and how even inexperienced digital entrepreneurs can leverage the medium
  • The importance of focus
  • Why smart social media advertising has a content-focused approach

And much, much more.

We talk about Facebook too, of course, because it remains the dominant social media platform. But Jason is quick to caution anyone overlooking the less popular social media channels and content types — because people are having success with them. It’s all about finding the right fit between your goals, your target audience, your content, and the social media platform you’re using.

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The Show Notes

The Transcript

Does Your Social Media Strategy Need a Mindset Shift?

Voiceover: You’re listening to The Digital Entrepreneur, the show for folks who want to discover smarter ways to create and sell profitable digital goods and services. This podcast is a production of Digital Commerce Institute, the place to be for digital entrepreneurs.

DCI features an in-depth, ongoing instructional academy, plus a live education and networking summit where entrepreneurs from across the globe meet in person. For more information, go to Rainmaker.FM/DigitalCommerce.

Jerod Morris: Welcome to another episode of The Digital Entrepreneur. I am your host, Jerod Morris, the VP of marketing for Rainmaker Digital, and this is episode No. 16 of The Digital Entrepreneur. It’s a special episode because we have a special guest.

Jason Keath, the CEO of Social Fresh, is here to discuss the report that Social Fresh recently released called The Future of Social. You can get that report at SocialFresh.com/Future. We dive into a lot of the insights that Jason and his team came up with, with that report, a lot of interesting data.

The timing of this conversation, for me, is especially interesting because I am actually in the midst right now of putting together a course inside of Digital Commerce Academy called Savvy Social Advertising. The big idea with that course is to teach you, the digital entrepreneur, the 20 percent that you need to know about social media marketing, social media advertising, to derive 80 percent of the benefits.

You are out there developing your digital product, offering your digital service, and you don’t necessarily have the time, the inclination, nor the need to become a full-fledged expert on social media. You have a lot of different things that you’re doing, and that’s not the goal of this course. Again, it’s to teach you that 20 percent that you need to get 80 percent of the results.

What’s interesting about this conversation in this episode with Jason–and why I’m excited to bring it to you–is that he talks a lot about a different way to think about social media. If you’re thinking about social media simply as a way to build awareness and put people into the top of your funnel, you’re not really thinking about social media in the way that it can have the maximum benefits.

Thinking about social media from a customer-loyalty perspective, from a lead-nurturing perspective, from an education perspective, from a customer-service perspective–all of those elements social media does really well–sometimes we overlook them simply trying to build that awareness or even trying to jump right from awareness to a sale.

There are a lot of steps that can and should happen in between there, and you’ll learn about that in this conversation today. You’ll also learn much more about it and learn some really important step-by-step tactics for how to make it work for you and to save you money so that you can make more money and have a better return on your investment in social. That will all come in the course.

As I said, the timing of the conversation is interesting because I’m developing the course, but it’s also interesting from this perspective. We are currently in the midst of our price raise promotion for Digital Commerce Academy. Currently, we’re still offering our post-pilot introductory price of $395 per year for membership at Digital Commerce Academy.

The thing is, since we offered that price the first time, the value of Digital Commerce Academy has skyrocketed. Now there aren’t two full-fledged courses in there. There are four. In addition to Brian’s course on building an online training business and Chris and Tony’s course on marketing funnels, we now have Chris Lema’s course on building WordPress products the smarter way. You have my course on Savvy Social Advertising, plus the entire library of Case Study webinars we’ve done, the entire library of Cutting Edge webinars we’ve done, plus the regular coaching Q&As, which happen every other week, and all of the upcoming ongoing education, in addition to the community.

The time was right to raise the price, and we are. On Friday, May 27th, the price is going up to $595 a year. It’s still a great value, but obviously, it’s a better value at $395. You still have the opportunity to get that. This episode comes out on Thursday, May 26th, so you’ve got about 24 to 48 hours from when this comes out to when the price is going to go up.

Go to Rainmaker.FM/DCA, you can still get that post-pilot introductory price of $395 before the price goes up. Rainmaker.FM/DCA. Again, you’ll have access to my course on social advertising. Especially if today’s episode peaks your interest, then that is a course that you’ll want to get in there and start to dig into. I’m having a lot of fun putting it together, and I really am looking forward to you getting in there, checking it out, giving me your feedback, and learning from it.

Without further ado, let’s get to my discussion with Jason Keath, a really interesting discussion. You will get a lot out of this. Definitely stay around till the end because we get into video at the end. Video is one of the fastest growing content types that is really, really big in social media, and you’re going to want to hear Jason’s tips on how you can make video work for you. We talk about all of that and much, much more here on this episode of The Digital Entrepreneur.

All right, so we are joined on this episode of The Digital Entrepreneur by Jason Keath, the CEO of Social Fresh. Jason, how are you? Welcome to the show.

Jason Keath: Doing great. Excited to be on the show. Thanks for having me.

Jerod Morris: Yeah, yeah. We’re excited to have you here, and we’re excited to talk about your report. You guys just released this report, The Future of Social, and it has some really interesting insights that I want to get into.

I guess the first question is just an overview question about the report, because the report itself is based on surveys. You guys did over 500 surveys that you conducted of digital marketers whose responsibilities include social media marketing.

I’m just wondering, to put this in the proper context for our listeners, how big on average were the companies that these marketers worked for, and will the numbers in the report, and that we’re going to talk about, will those be applicable for digital entrepreneurs who may be solopreneurs or who have smaller teams?

Why The Future of Social Is Relevant Whether You’re a Solopreneur, a Small Team, or a Large Business

Jason Keath: Yeah, yeah. Social Fresh, in general, at our conferences, on our website, on our podcast, everything, we focus on what we call the ‘professional digital marketer,’ or the ‘professional social marketer.’ That’s everybody from solo entrepreneur running their own company, doing their own marketing, doing their own everything, all the way up to the largest companies in the world who attend our conferences. Everybody really gets value out of what we do because we focus on that person and the fundamentals to that responsibility.

The report was no different. We had two research partners, Firebrand Group, an agency out of New York, and Simply Measured, a pretty large social media software company who helped with the report. We also targeted people through some LinkedIn cold emails that we did, so we could get some job titles that we were targeting.

It’s a really well-rounded report. It’s got everybody from very small businesses to very large businesses and everything in-between. It’s really representative of the average of what’s going on in social media marketing.

Jerod Morris: Okay, and for folks who want to see the report, you can go to SocialFresh.com/Future and check it out. We’re going to dive in to some here on this episode. Obviously, we can’t get into everything. Definitely recommend that people go there–again, SocialFresh.com/Future–and check out the report.

The Disconnect Between How People Say They Are Using Social Media and How They Should Be Using Social Media

Jerod Morris: It’s interesting. One of the first observations this made in the report shows what seems to be a disconnect between what people think they’re using social for, what their goals are, and maybe what social is best for them. What I mean by that is, 76 percent of the people surveyed listed ‘awareness’ as one of their top social media goals, yet there were a number of experts that you guys quoted in the report who suggested that this might be a bit of a myopic focus.

What should people–or in our case digital entrepreneurs who are selling maybe an online course, a SaaS application, or premium WordPress product–what should folks be focusing on when it comes to maximizing the time and money that they’re investing in social media?

Jason Keath: Great question. Ten points for the word ‘myopic,’ if everybody’s keeping score at home. Great outline of that. Yeah, that’s right. Social media is great for scale. It’s set up for scale, and it’s set up for all these awareness metrics. You can measure reach really easily. You’ve got a list of followers that’s public. You’ve got ‘likes,’ comments, and Retweets–all these numbers that are thrown at us as vanity metrics.

Even if you’re smart enough to know you should be going after maybe customer loyalty, sales, or leads instead of focusing on awareness, your boss may not be as savvy, necessarily, and may want to really get those awareness numbers higher–those vanity metrics, those followers, et cetera.

Social media in general is still trying to overcome that kind of setup. I don’t know if we’ll ever really get past it, but on the base level, social media is best at people talking to each other. It’s really great at customer loyalty, customer service, really good at building community, really good at taking a smaller audience and making them go from like to love, taking your customers and making them really great word-of-mouth opportunities for you. Or taking your average customer and making them, giving them a longer customer life cycle, giving them upsells, giving them just a better feeling about the trust of your business.

The real low-hanging fruit in social media is that customer loyalty, is that word of mouth, and then building from there. I usually tell people to focus on three audiences in social media, and this is reflected in the report. All the expert advice we got from a lot of folks in the industry is to focus first on your customers in social media, then focus on your qualified leads. If you’re B2B, that could be actually, if you have a qualified lead program or if you’re a consumer business, it could be just focusing on the target audience that’s best for your product.

Then focus on your fans would be the third audience. Your fans can be people that have great word of mouth of your company00even if they’re not necessarily a customer or going to become a customer. They can be partners, et cetera. Those smaller audiences are much, much bigger reward for the business typically.

Jerod Morris: That’s interesting because a lot of people, when they think about social media, they think about filling up the top part of your funnel, but you’re saying think about social media as a way to interact with people across all the different levels of engagement that you have.

How to Use Social Media to ‘Take People Who Like You and Make Them Love You’

Jason Keath: Yeah, and there’s so much opportunity for social. We asked people to name their top two social media goals, and awareness was just by far the most popular mentioned. Awareness, you can do great awareness building using social, using advertising products that exist on social networks, using video.

There’s a lot of great tools in social networks and social media that can help you with building the top of the funnel. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s harder. It’s going to cost a little more money. It’s typically more difficult, and it’s going to cost a little bit more time.

Now, if you are good at talking to your customers, you’re good at talking to your qualified leads, and you’re good at talking to your biggest fans on social, then, yeah, build that top of the funnel. There’s nothing wrong with that. But the average social media team is very small, and the average marketer has a lot on their plate.

Typically, you’re missing the lower-hanging fruit if that’s your number one focus. If you haven’t built the bottom of your funnel to be really good–and your customer loyalty, and customer service to be really good–that’s a better opportunity for the average business.

Jerod Morris: Yeah, and there’s a great quote in the report from Jay Baer, who says, “Embrace the organic social functions more like an email newsletter, and think strategically about how you can use social to make people who like you, make them love you,” which I thought was great and what you just mentioned.

Jason Keath: Yeah, Jay’s great. His new book is about customer service, so that was a great fit for his expertise with the report.

Jerod Morris: Do you think that part of the issue comes back to the fact that people don’t really understand what their goal is? Or that, if they do have a stated goal, it’s the wrong one? They don’t understand what KPIs they should be looking for. I know there was another stat in there.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think it was around 25 percent of people didn’t even know what the return on the investment was from the time and the money that they’re investing in social. It suggests that they don’t even know what they should be tracking. Is that a big issue that folks are having who may be struggling with what they’re doing in social media?

Why Having Clear Goals and KPIs Is So Important

Jason Keath: It’s a great question. ROI, we asked folks, 63 percent said they got a positive ROI from social media, which I think is pretty high. If you’re able to say, “These activities I’m doing on Facebook, on Twitter, et cetera are directly correlating to a return on investment for my business,” that’s typically not the easiest process to implement for your business–having the measurement system in place, having the right goals in place, and tracking people along that process, along that funnel.

I thought that was a pretty good sign for the industry, but you’re right. We did have like 24 percent, I think, were not sure, and 12 percent said they were not seeing a return. We correlated that to a few things, typically a lower experience level when it came to marketing and social in general.

For instance, when we tracked people that were using social media software versus people that were not, just the fact that, if you were using social media software versus just posting natively to Facebook and Twitter and not really monitoring it, using any analytics, using software, you saw ROI 19 out of 20 people, roughly 95 percent. If you weren’t using software, it was virtually a coin flip.

There were a lot of things that really told us that the audiences that have a better system in place, a better process, are doing really well. The folks, the marketers out there that are measuring what they’re doing have an idea of what their goals are. Even if it’s the simplest process, even if it’s just Hootsuite and Bitly, two free tools, even those folks have a much higher percentage chance of seeing a good return and seeing it work for their businesses’ bottom line.

Jerod Morris: The key, then, is to be intentional about it, to be strategic about it, not just spray and pray, but actually have a plan in place for what you’re doing.

Jason Keath: Yeah, it’s shocking, right?

Jerod Morris: Yeah.

Jason Keath: Yeah, basically. We just did a discussion about it when we launched the report. @jeremarketer, the co-writer for the report, mentioned there are a lot of things that are hard to measure. There are a lot of things you can measure, and you can get really intricate with your process and your plan to see what works and what doesn’t. But just simply measuring what you can and learning from that is an initial step that some marketers don’t even take, some business owners don’t take.

Being very intentional about that and learning what data really tells you useful information and what data is more just surface and doesn’t give you as much useful information for actually making more money for your business, that, in itself, is a very important step. These stats amplify that even more.

Jerod Morris: Yeah, absolutely. It won’t surprise anybody, or at least it shouldn’t surprise anybody, that Facebook continues to dominate in terms of where people are spending their money, where people are seeing ROI. I think everybody gets that, but there were a couple of insights that I thought were really interesting that digital entrepreneurs especially need to pay attention to.

Dark Social and the Future of Social Media

Jerod Morris: Like I said, I want to ask you if this is something that a digital entrepreneur should pay attention to. You mentioned, there’s actually a heading on one of the pages that says, “Is the future in dark social?” ‘Dark social’ refers to one-on-one messaging, which can be harder to track. That’s Facebook Messenger and the direct messaging that you get on any of these platforms.

It’s clear to see how this could be a challenge, especially for bigger brands who have tons and tons of fans, and that can get kind of unwieldy to manage. But for smaller online businesses, like the kind that many digital entrepreneurs are running, is this dark social, this one-to-one messaging, is this something that they should be taking more advantage of to connect one on one with customers and even prospects?–especially as we talk about connecting with folks further down the funnel with social.

Jason Keath: Yeah, it’s a hard conversation to give businesses advice on. It’s so new, and it’s so hard to really wrap your head around both tactically and strategically. At the conference this summer–we’ll have our 18th conference in Orlando, Social Fresh 2016–we’re going to have a panel that’s going to touch on at least dark social. We’ve got the CMO of HubSpot. We’ve got some folks from Simply Measured that will probably be talking about it.

Everybody I talked to recently about the future of the industry and where it’s going–everybody that I consider to be very smart in social media–mentions this to me. ‘Social messaging’ is basically what people are calling it, so it’s basic messenger. It’s WhatsApp. It’s half of Snapchat is one-to-one or one-to-many private messaging. It’s what a lot of the Millennials and younger people are focused on.

Even today, social messaging as a platform is larger than social networking. The people that are using these apps, and the amount of content they’re sending, is more content and more people than are active on public-facing social media feeds like Facebook’s feed, Twitter’s feed, Instagram, and LinkedIn, et cetera–which, in of itself, is very important fact.

But the ways to interact with people if you have a Facebook page and you have a brick-and-mortar store, you probably see messages come on Facebook Messenger. That’s important for you to respond to. That’s something that’s very easy to recommend people pay attention to. They’re probably also getting messages or reviews on Yelp, OpenTable, things like that as well.

For the average business, there’s not really a lot of actionable advice to give today that you can directly measure. Simply Measured is actually working on a system that allows businesses to measure social messaging better, but it’s hard. We’re probably years away. I would say two to three years away at a minimum before most businesses have to worry about this.

You’re going to see a lot of untrackable traffic to your website, to your landing pages that might be coming from private Facebook groups. It might be coming from direct messages in addition to the email traffic that you get that you can’t track.

One of the biggest lessons, for me, is what we just talked about, which is investing in your customer, investing in the audiences that are going to be your word-of-mouth ambassadors, and making sure those people are taken care of. If you do that, all of this conversation that happens in private, one-to-one, one-to-many messages that you can’t track, you can’t measure, you can’t see, it’s going to be better for your business if you’re investing in the right people.

Even influence or marketing would be another layer, but just taking care of your customers which are your best ambassadors would be the best, most actionable thing that I can tell people in response to social messaging right now.

Jerod Morris: I guess there are two layers to social messaging. There’s the one-on-one messaging that’s happening between other people that you can’t see, that you have no control over, that you can’t even really interject into that conversation. Then there’s the one-on-one messaging that you’re having with potential prospects, with customers, and that’s really the only one, obviously, that you participate in.

I know you said it can be one to three years. Is there any way that folks can start to open themselves up for that? Obviously, you want to respond if someone sends you a message. Is it something where people should be making themselves available on a Facebook Messenger or Twitter Direct Message, that kind of thing?

Where You Should Be Making Yourself Available (and Why) on Social Platforms

Jason Keath: Yeah. Especially if you’re a brick and mortar or a service industry that’s local, you’re already getting questions asked directly if you’re a business. If that’s already happening, then doing response in Twitter DMs, doing response in Facebook Messenger is something you should definitely look at, especially as a customer-service response tool.

If you read Jay’s book, Hug Your Haters, he talks about messaging people up to two times publicly for customer service situations, and then taking it into a direct message, an email, or a phone call. That’s great advice and really the way most businesses should be treating those opportunities.

There’s some businesses that are using these. Facebook Messenger is a platform now with an API. You can plug your store into it. You can do automated response bots in it that are customer-service based, that are transactional based. If you’re ESPN and a media company, you can send updates about the Carolina Panthers or the Arizona Diamondbacks. You can do all kinds of things in these apps, but a lot of that is very costly on the time and the budget frontend for the average business.

If you’re ESPN, it makes sense. If you’re Jet Blue, it might make sense, but if you’re a mom and pop, an entrepreneur, or even a medium-sized business with one to 25 people doing marketing and PR, it might not be a resource play that you can handle right now because it’s so new. It’s so untested, and it would take a lot of time and effort in testing to really prove the benefit.

If you are interested in that, there are people that can do that for you. There are companies that are building that kind of thing. But for the average business, it’s something to start thinking about, to start paying attention to, but acting on it is probably a little farther away than this year or next year.

Jerod Morris: So Instagram is growing as a trend that we see continue, and you say in the report, “Instagram will officially become the second most popular social network for marketers to spend their time and money in 2016.”

The numbers, the trends, they’re clearly there. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems that Instagram still, at least among some groups of folks, has a perception problem of being more of a niche social media site for photographers, foodies, fashion folks, personal trainers.

I still even catch myself thinking that way sometimes. I know that’s not right. I’m just saying it’s that perception that is there. How can digital entrepreneurs who may not have an obviously visual product and who may even have this kind of bias against Instagram for that very reason tap into Instagram? Clearly it’s a place to be.

How to Approach Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter (and Which One Is Outpacing the Others)

Jason Keath: It’s interesting. You have a B2B bias against Instagram right now because it’s hard to get links out of the site. That’s an immediate barrier for most folks. Consumer brands probably see a lot more value in the platform, and that makes sense because of the visual nature of it.

However, if you are running an advertising campaign for, let’s say, a social media conference like we’re doing for Social Fresh, we use Facebook Ads. We use Facebook Ads because it’s got great targeting. It’s a really mature, the most mature, social advertising product, and now you can do all of those ads on Instagram as well.

We just talked about how you should focus on your customers first. When we’re building a sales funnel for our conference, we have a very targeted audience that we want to make sure knows about the date and time of our event. It is an awareness problem for us, and Instagram’s advertising product is really mature because it’s building on top of Facebook. That, in of itself, is going to have a lot of marketers paying attention.

These might be more lifestyle photos that represent your business or industry. You look at somebody like IBM or GE and the type of content that they’re creating that is almost more like a consumer brand. That’s the type of advertising and imagery that’s going to work on Instagram.

If you talk to Instagram, I’ve talked to them directly, one of the things that they’re trying to focus on, focus content on, is making it look more DIY. In other words, less polished, less like corporate commercial, and more just, “Here’s what’s going on at your office, your industry, your employees,” that is a little more entertaining and a lifestyle focus. It can be self-help. It can be solving your customers problems. Those are the directions that I would look.

That being said, if you’re B2B, the bigger opportunities are going to be on Facebook, are going to be on LinkedIn, Twitter, maybe even a SlideShare. If you do have a specific awareness challenge that Facebook’s Ad platform can help you achieve through Instagram ads, I think that’s something to test. The audience is clearly there. It’s bigger than Twitter now. It’s bigger than LinkedIn. It’s growing faster than both of them, and it has an amazing ad platform attached to it.

Just because it’s growing and just because it’s going to receive a lot more attention from social marketers in general, doesn’t necessarily mean that your business has to be there, and has to be investing in it. However, I think look at it, and look at that opportunity and see if there’s something you can test there on that platform.

Jerod Morris: You mentioned LinkedIn, and Facebook obviously dominates the paid advertising spend and the ROI as we talked about, with Twitter and Instagram coming in next in terms of where people are spending their time and their money. But surprisingly, at least to me, was LinkedIn is the one that ranked second in terms of ROI. Why do you think it is that LinkedIn, that people have been able to get a better return on LinkedIn despite it not being used as much as Instagram and Twitter?

Why Some People Get a Better ROI with LinkedIn and When LinkedIn Is a Good Choice

Jason Keath: Well, LinkedIn has been consistent. It hasn’t gone away. It’s bringing in revenue. They’re growing slowly compared to the other social networks, but they’re growing. They’ve got specific products for HR, for some sales folks, for hiring that are really powerful.

Then, when it came to our advertising question, what we saw there is we forced people to pick one. Facebook completely dominated. I think it was 75 percent of people said, “If I had to pick one, Facebook Ads are the best,” which is pretty representative of what the technology can do and the value of it.

LinkedIn was second. It was the only question we asked where LinkedIn showed up in the second spot. It was third or lower in everything else, and I think it’s because there’s a small, but significant audience of marketers, mostly B2B, and probably even mostly SaaS-software-focused audiences, or service focused, that see a good value from the LinkedIn Ad.

You can do things on LinkedIn Ads that you can’t do elsewhere, the biggest of which is targeting job titles–which can be very powerful. However, they’re a little more expensive, so most of the folks that are spending money on LinkedIn Ads that are seeing success, they typically have a larger price point and can stomach that kind of cost-per-lead price that’s going to be higher on the LinkedIn platform.

That being said, I’ve seen that success consistently from this smaller, yet significant audience that is mostly B2B companies on LinkedIn, and I don’t think that’s going away. They are improving their ad platform. They are consistently investing in it, so it’s still got a lot of opportunity for a certain type of business.

Jerod Morris: I have a question that I wrote down: if you could only focus on one network starting today, would it be Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn? I’m guessing based on your answers to these last few questions that it’s really going to depend, and it’s going to depend going back to your goals, going back to your budget, going back on who you’re trying to reach. Would that be an accurate guess on my part?

What Social Platform(s) You Should Be Focusing On

Jason Keath: Yeah, definitely. Instagram’s younger. LinkedIn’s older. LinkedIn’s probably better for B2B. I’d say Instagram and Twitter are better for consumer. These are all generalities. Your business mileage may vary. For us, for instance, for Social Fresh, going out to social marketers, Twitter is probably the best of those three. Although, again, we’re looking at Instagram because there’s a lot of social marketers there’s typically a majority female audience now, for us at least, for our target, and they’re more likely to be on Instagram in a lot of ways. It just depends on your specific demographic target.

Jerod Morris: Let’s turn our attention to content development here a little bit. I thought it was interesting and encouraging that you ask people where the biggest amount of their time is spent, and the biggest chunk of time was spent in content development.

Do you think that we’ve moved past this old era where content marketing and social media marketing, especially paid social media marketing, were seen as mutually exclusive? It seems, to me, that the smartest marketers realize that content and social really feed off of each other and make each other more successful.

Why Smart Social Media Advertising Has a Content-Focused Approach

Jason Keath: Yeah. At the first Social Fresh conference, which I was planning in 2008, ‘content marketing’ as a term did not exist. Nobody was using it. We were talking about social media, and there’s still people trying to debate whether it was ‘social networking’ or ‘social media’ is the term.
We talked back then about blogging. We talked about video content. We talked about creating images. All of that was what people define as content marketing in a lot of ways now. It’s a little broader, but it’s always been the same conversation.

As social networks have gotten noisier, as the competition has gotten to be louder and louder, and harder to get your message out, the focus on more quality content, on a higher-quality product when it comes to video, blog posts, images, or what not, that’s created a subsection conversation that is content marketing. I think that’s great.

For us, we’ve always discussed content and social in the same breath. Email marketing is in that conversation. It’s all digital today, and it all touches itself. It’s all hyper-connected. I don’t see them as separate discussions at all.

Jerod Morris: No, and they certainly shouldn’t be. Again, for people who are doing it right, they’re not. When it comes to content, and specifically types of content, obviously blog post content works. I think images were the one that people who responded to your survey, that they invested the most time in and that they were seeing the most success from. But the one that seems to be growing the most is video.

How can digital entrepreneurs be leveraging video more in their social media marketing? Are there suggestions that you have for creating good, quality video that will work in social media that’s not cost-prohibitive? I know that’s a big challenge for folks who want to get into video.

Why Video Is So Hot Right Now

Jason Keath: Yeah, there’s so many levels of video, and you’re right. If we look at the top three social networks, in a lot of our questions, especially where people were seeing return and where they’re investing their time and money in the future, it’s roughly Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

If you look at what all three of those are focused on, it’s video. Instagram and their newest release, they have an entire section tab dedicated to video. They’re stringing together videos now, similar to a Snapchat story. Facebook’s Ad platform and their feed are focused, hyper-focused on video. Twitter is also following suit and focusing on video, trying not to fall behind there.

Purely as an opportunity standpoint, your opportunity to stand out in this noisy system we’ve described and your opportunity to build the trust with your smaller audiences, your customers, your fans, video is something you have to be looking at. To build on top of that, you have Snapchat as a big trend, which has a lot of video content. You have live streaming platforms like Facebook Live, Periscope, and Blab that are video focused.

There’s a lot of opportunity to experiment. I don’t think you need to focus purely on the storyboarding, the classic TV-commercial-style video where you’re storyboarding something, you’re doing product features, you’re doing high-quality video shoots. That’s super time-intensive, and if you are a big company, maybe that’s important for you. You look at what Lowe’s Home Improvement is doing on Snapchat, where they’re building stories through short video clips or short stills, that’s more of a mixed media experience.

Snapchat’s a great platform for relearning what video can do, and using the Snapchat story product can really, if you start playing around with that, testing it, trying to build narratives where there’s a beginning, middle, and end, and a purpose to your story, that’s really video editing. That’s what video editing has been forever, and this is a much easier way to create things like that. That’s a great education point.

And just one more piece of advice. Look to live-stream platforms to get comfortable with video. Look to Periscope. Look to Blab. Look to Facebook Live to play around with it, to get comfortable in front of the camera, and to experiment with lighting, with microphones, with everything. Just minimum viable product–get something out there, play with it, learn about it, and test it.

Jerod Morris: Yeah, that’s what’s so interesting about video. It seems intimidating, yet video doesn’t need to be perfect to work. It seems like what people really want is authenticity and something useful. You can do that in a video that isn’t the highest ‘visual quality’ as long as it tells a good story. Maybe it uses text to help extenuate the visuals–as long as audio is good, which is an interesting part about video is that a lot of people judge the quality of a video by the audio quality and the lighting, of course.

What other rules of thumb do you have for people who want to dip their toes into video with Periscope or with one of those, maybe want to put it out on Facebook and even do some advertising with it? What’s the minimum that folks need to do? Any rules of thumb you have for what people need to have in those videos?

How Even Inexperienced Digital Entrepreneurs Can Leverage Video

Jason Keath: Yeah, you want to tell a story. Facebook Video Ads are great to experiment with. You can almost build a funnel with three to four videos that you try to expose the same audience to.

For our conference, for instance, we might have a 30-second spot just with highlights. Then we might have really short clips of past attendees talking about it, testimonials. Then we might have short clips of speakers from previous conferences on stage showing the product. Then we might have videos of how the conference has actually changed businesses for the better and make that kind of the hard sell at the end–and trying to get people to watch all four of those.

You can do that really easily with Facebook Ads, with Twitter Ads, with Instagram ads now. Make them short. Make the first few seconds really visually engaging because a lot of these videos are muted. The phones are muted or the computers are muted when they’re first watching them. Making them click the volume button, making them engage through a highly visual engagement–people moving around, beautiful people, smiles, action, et cetera. Making sure you have that narrative, have that purpose of your video.

We do interviews like this for our podcast. We do Blab recordings, webinars, things like that. Just taking excerpts of something like that and putting it as a video ad or something is not necessarily the most engaging, so you might have to do a little editing. You might have to do a little bit of planning, of strategy, and testing.

Another key is to test your Facebook Ads, your Instagram photos, your Twitter Ads, and things like that. Learn which visuals are hitting well, and do something that’s very similar or those exact images as your first few seconds of your video. That’s really helpful as well to get people engaged.

Then a software tip, just a really simple software tip, I use something called ScreenFlow, which is $100. I use it on my Mac. It’s as good as any editing software out there. It actually makes some things a lot easier. If you’ve never done video editing, you’re going to have a learning curve. But you have to learn it, somebody in your company has to learn it, or you have to find somebody that you can outsource it to that’s quick and can move fast with these things and learn.

Jerod Morris: Hey, when you talked about that three-, four-video sequence, like what you guys are doing for the event, obviously, you have that last video that’s more the harder sell for the event. Where are you sending people in the first few videos? If they click over, are they going over to the landing page for the event? How do you work that in as you go through the funnel?

How (and Where) You Should Work Links from Your Videos into Your Funnel

Jason Keath: A lot of these platforms, you can easily list a link. You can pop up a link at the end of almost all the videos. Typically, what we do is always have our landing page link for all of them. If you have a longer sales cycle, you may want to take people through more of an education of your product.

For us, we’re typically very narrow in our advertising targets. We’ve found ways that we can really target people that are social media marketers with our ads, so there’s not as much product education. It’s just more convincing people of the quality of what we have to offer through testimonials and excerpts, but we try to include the link all throughout.

Typically, for us, people land on our conference landing page, they’ll check out the speakers. They’ll check out the topics. They’ll realize they’re interested. They may have to go get approval. They may have to submit for budget. They’ll come back again in a couple weeks. They’ll realize they got an email from us that the price is going up in two days, and then they’ll buy it then. It’ll come back to our landing page several times, and we build the ads around that same concept.

Jerod Morris: That’s a really interesting point and a good one. It’s important to have that level of self-awareness for your product and your company, to understand what your sales cycle is. Like you said, you guys have a pretty good understanding of how you’re targeting and what your sales cycle is. You can send people directly to that sales page.

Other people who maybe do have a longer sales cycle but they send people right to the page, they bounce, and they lose that person. Whereas, maybe getting someone to opt-in, taking them through a lead-nurturing sequence might have been a better decision.

Do you find that there is sometimes, for people who struggle with social media, a disconnect between where they’re sending people, the offer they’re presenting to people, and maybe what they actually should be based on what their product is and what their sales cycle really looks like?

The ‘Commitment Curve’ and How It Helps You Build Trust

Jason Keath: Yeah, totally. I think everyone has a nurturing problem. If we all got better at understanding the 17 steps between someone knowing about your company and buying your most expensive product, it would solve all of marketing’s problems.

For me, we look at something I learned a long time ago called the ‘commitment curve,’ which is you get people to take little steps, and that builds trust between you and them. Ultimately, you try to get them to accomplish a larger step, a larger trigger, goal, et cetera. That’s typically a large purchase. This is something political campaigns do really well where they get you to sign a petition as a first step in that commitment curve.

For us, our product, it costs a decent amount of money to attend Social Fresh conference. Mostly, it’s businesses paying for that for their marketers to attend, but we get everybody. We get a really good rating on people that get value out of it and return year after year. But It’s hard to convince someone– they just learned about the company, they’ve never heard about it before–drop $1,000 or more a ticket, depending on how much they’re getting involved in the conference.

So you have to build steps in-between. Our research report is a great introduction to our company. They can spend time with that. They can hear us on podcasts like this. We also have other reports that they can purchase that are a lower price point. We have webinars and things like that, experiences that are good content marketing where they can get to know us.

You have to build those steps along the way. If you’re jumping from an introduction to trying to cram a purchase into their news feed, then it’s a much lower conversion rate for everyone.

Jerod Morris: Jason, when I’m not here hosting The Digital Entrepreneur, I’m over hosting The Showrunner, talking about podcasting, or hosting one of the other three podcasts that I do. I’m big into podcasting. In looking at the report on that list of content, I was kind of disappointed to see podcasts so low on the list of content priorities for the companies that you surveyed.

I’m just wondering your thoughts on why that was. Is that because the medium itself is still gaining traction with content consumers? The medium itself doesn’t really lend itself well to quick consumption. Or something else? Why do you think people aren’t prioritizing podcast content more? Especially when it’s proven its ability to connect so well.

The Value of Podcasts

Jason Keath: I’m a big believer in podcasting. It falls into a larger category for us that we talk about called ‘trust content,’ which is spending more time and more meaningful moments with your audience–with a smaller audience typically.

Podcasts, there’s a lot of barriers. You can’t measure it very easily. Most people are turned off by that. The biggest barrier is it’s hard. It’s hard to get a good-quality audio. It’s hard to turn out consistent content. We’re getting ready to start season two of our podcast for Social Fresh. We believe in it, but we can’t do it year round. It’s just too much of a resource drag on our small team.

But we believe in it enough that we are doing it again. When I talk to people in person, one of the number one things they mention is, “Oh yeah, we love the Social Toolkit Podcast. We love listening to that.” It’s one of the number one things people mention to me as just an ad-hoc, unrequested piece of information, so I love that.

I’d also argue that it’s not that low on the list. You’re saying it’s basically number 12 out of a list we have that’s one through 12, but we had about 20 to 25 different content that were listed for that question. It’s in the top 12.

Jerod Morris: Ah, okay.

Jason Keath: It’s seven percent of people who create podcasts at least once a month. I think it’s growing. It’s young. It’s a hard production, really draining for folks, and most folks aren’t set up to do that yet–just like video.

Jerod Morris: Good, I’m glad it was higher than I thought. That’s good.

Jason Keath: I think it’s higher than you think. Also, there’s no quick podcasting. There’s quick video with Snapchat, live streaming, and short video on Twitter and Facebook, but there’s not really any quick podcasting that does any good for anyone. That makes it a little bit more difficult.

Jerod Morris: Hey, getting back to the video real quick. What’s the ideal length of a video? Maybe that’s an impossible question to answer. It may depend. Is there a rule of thumb for how long my videos should be if I wanted to have an impact in social media?

Finding the Sweet Spot for Video Length

Jason Keath: Yeah, 43 seconds, I would say, precisely.

Jerod Morris: Oh perfect.

Jason Keath: Typically, 30 seconds to two or three minutes is what a lot of people say. I’d say keeping it between 30 and probably 100 and 120 seconds–90 seconds is a sweet spot. That really challenges you.

What you’re going to have to end up doing is taking what is in your head as a video and breaking it up, usually into two, three, or four videos. You probably have too complex of an idea of what video you want to create.

For us, it was highlight reel, testimonials, speakers on stage, examples of that, and then the last video would be simply one case study telling that hard story at the end. Think of those very simple stories you can tell with video, and then try to tell them really well in this short timeframe.

Jerod Morris: Yeah. Well, again, the report is at SocialFresh.com/Future. I really, really encourage everybody to go check that out. You can dig into some of these numbers that we’ve talked about today. Jason, obviously folks will go there, and they’ll be able to check out that report.

If there’s one element or takeaway from the report that you think all the digital entrepreneurs who are listening to this should walk away from this episode from, walk away from reading that report from, what would that be?

The Importance of Focus

Jason Keath: It’s to take a close look at what you’re doing and if you’re reaching the audience you want with the content and the social network that you’re using. There’s a lot of people that are focused on Facebook only, or they went the other direction and focused on all the social networks they can get access to.

My interesting part of the report was seeing that LinkedIn Ad performance, or seeing that there’s still people that answered Pinterest or Snapchat as an ROI answer. It was much, much smaller, but there are people getting a return out of SlideShare, out of webinars, out of podcasts. People are still listening to these things, and it’s important for every business to find their niche. You don’t have to do all of this. You shouldn’t be doing webinars, podcasts, infographics, and video on Snapchat, et cetera, et cetera.

Trim it all down. Find those niche opportunities for you that work for your business. If you’re an e-commerce fashion brand, look at Instagram. If you’re a B2B SaaS company, look at LinkedIn. Really focus on getting those right. There are so many people in these social networks now, you can focus on one and find a ton of opportunity. I think that’s a bigger trend that’s going to play out for social marketers moving forward.

Jerod Morris: Yeah, excellent advice, Jason. If you want to get more from Jason, you can follow him on Twitter @JasonKeath. Jason, thank you for your time and for your insight. This has been a lot of fun.

Jason Keath: Yeah I appreciate it, and I really, really highly encourage folks to check out our conference. If you go to SocialFresh.com/Rainmaker, we’ve just put up a temporary, for the next couple of weeks, $100 off. Check it out. We’d really love to see some Rainmaker, Copyblogger fans out there at the conference this year.

Jerod Morris: Absolutely. It’s SocialFresh.com/Rainmaker. All right, Jason, thank you, and we’ll talk to you soon.

Jason Keath: Thanks, Jerod. Appreciate it.

Jerod Morris: My thanks again to Jason Keath of Social Fresh for joining us on this episode of The Digital Entrepreneur. Again, the URL for the report is SocialFresh.com/Future. If you are interested in their conference, it is SocialFresh.com/Rainmaker. Go check that out. Their conference is in August.

How to Take Your Digital Business to the Next Level

Jerod Morris: Again, make sure today or tomorrow that you go to Rainmaker.FM/DCA. The price of Digital Commerce Academy is going up. Even if you get to this episode after Friday, May 27th, the price of one of those courses that is in there would be $495 if we sold it individually, and you’re getting four of those courses plus everything else for $595 per year. It’s an incredible deal.

We really want you to get in there, learn as much as you can so that you can take your digital business to the next level and be as successful as you can possibly be. That is the goal with The Digital Entrepreneur podcast. That is the goal of Digital Commerce Academy. We look forward to you taking advantage of it.

Again, Rainmaker.FM/DCA. If you’re listening to this on the day the episode goes out, make sure you go there to get the best price that you can get on Digital Commerce Academy.

All right, everybody, thank you very much for listening to this episode. We will be back next week with another brand-new episode of The Digital Entrepreneur. Until then, take care. We will talk to you soon.

May 26 2016

47mins

Play

Rank #20: Lessons on Business and Life from the ‘Zen Master of Marketing’

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This week’s guest is a visionary strategist for the digital age. She helps brands reach the next level by leveraging digital opportunities to drive meaningful results. She is Shama Hyder (aka the “Zen Master of Marketing”), and she is a Digital Entrepreneur.

In this episode, Shama walks you through her journey as a digital entrepreneur that started back in school:

  • Why she strives to have a student mindset (no matter what)
  • The importance of the freedom to make contributions without boundaries and limits
  • The lessons she took from her parents (that you can implement too)
  • How she finds humbling moments every day and is always learning something new

And more.

Plus, Shama answers my rapid fire questions at the end in which she reveals why it’s best to close out your browser windows while working.

Listen to The Digital Entrepreneur below ...

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The Show Notes

The Transcript

Lessons on Business and Life from the Zen Master of Marketing

Voiceover: Rainmaker FM.

You’re listening to The Digital Entrepreneur, the show for folks who want to discover smarter ways to create and sell profitable digital goods and services. This podcast is a production of Digital Commerce Institute, the place to be for digital entrepreneurs. DCI features an in-depth ongoing instructional academy plus a live education and networking summit where entrepreneurs from across the globe meet in person. For more information go to Rainmaker.FM/DigitalCommerce, that’s Rainmaker.FM/DigitalCommerce.

Jerod Morris: Welcome back to the Digital Entrepreneur, the show where digital entrepreneurs share their stories and the lessons they’ve learned so we can all be better in our online pursuits. I’m your host Jerod Morris, the VP of marketing for Rainmaker Digital and this is episode number 37. This episode of the Digital Entrepreneur is brought to you by the Rainmaker Platform. I will tell you more about this complete solution for digital marketing and sales later, but you can check it out and take a free spin for yourself at Rainmaker.FM/Platform, that’s Rainmaker.FM/Platform.

On this week’s episode I have a guest that’s been honored at both the White House and the United Nations as one of the top one hundred young entrepreneurs in the country. She is a visionary strategist for the digital age, a web and TV personality, a best selling author, and the award winning CEO of the Marketing Zen Group, a global online marketing and digital PR company that helps turn successful companies into industry leaders. She helps brands reach the next level by leveraging digital opportunities to drive meaningful results. She is Shama Hyder, AKA the zen master of marketing and she is a digital entrepreneur. Shama, welcome to the Digital Entrepreneur. It is wonderful to have you on the show.

Shama Hyder: It’s a pleasure to be here. Thank you so much for having me.

Jerod Morris: Yeah, you’re an award winning entrepreneur, you’ve shared the stage with presidents. We appreciate you taking the time to join us and lend some insight on your path as an entrepreneur.

Shama Hyder: This is my favorite topic so a pleasure.

Why She Strives to Have a Student Mindset (No Matter What)

Jerod Morris: Very good, very good. Let’s start out where we always start out with our guests. I’ve always believed that the number one benefit of digital entrepreneurship is freedom. The freedom to choose your projects and to chart your course and ultimately the freedom to change your life and your family’s life for the better. What is the biggest benefit that you have derived from being a digital entrepreneur?

Shama Hyder: Yeah, I would say definitely the freedom has been a huge part but also just the ability to make a contribution without boundaries or without limits. Really, I think as an entrepreneur it’s the limits that you put on yourself. I think, for me, that’s a very gratifying part of it.

Jerod Morris: All right, so let’s go back. Take me back to before you became a digital entrepreneur. What were you doing and what was missing that led you to want to make a change?

Shama Hyder: Well, I was in school, so I think, unlike a lot of people who sort of go from the career world, I started the company right out of school. I think, just to rewind slightly back, I finished school and I thought that I would go get a job, which is what you’re told you’re supposed to do and whatnot except for me my industry didn’t exist and the idea of social media, social media marketing is just so new. The industry really, honestly, did not exist.

Jerod Morris: Yeah. Now, had you always been an entrepreneur growing up, like is this something that was just in your blood that you had always done?

Shama Hyder: I think so. I’ve always been entrepreneurial, and so … Both my parents are entrepreneurs and, but I think that actually made me not want to do it as much. Because I saw them, and we have very different styles of entrepreneurship, I can put it that way. I guess I’d only seen one facet of that but yeah, I think I’ve always been very entrepreneurial and I’ve always enjoyed the idea of having my own rules and my own way to contribute to society in a way that’s not limited by anyone else.

The Lessons She Took From Her Parents (that You Can Implement Too)

Jerod Morris: You mentioned that you have different styles. How would you describe the differences in your styles?

Shama Hyder: I think my parents with their entrepreneurship, they were also very spontaneous in a lot of ways. I think some of the challenges I saw them deal with was more towards not being as organized. I’m more type A than they are.

Jerod Morris: How did you come by that? Have you just always been that way?

Shama Hyder: I think when you grow up with parents who are not type A it forces you to be type A and so yeah, I think in some ways, to make up for that, even as a kid … Yeah, so I think I got the best of both worlds in many ways.

Jerod Morris: Can you walk us through how your business is organized, because obviously you have Zen Marketing, so you have a marketing agency and you’re taking clients. Then you also are a business unto yourself with your speaking and with the books that you’ve written, how do you keep everything organized and manage your priorities?

Shama Hyder: Yeah, I think that’s exactly it, it’s priorities, it’s knowing what are the absolute things I have to accomplish today and then everything else revolves around that.

Jerod Morris: What kind of systems do you have for helping you do that and make those tough decisions?

Shama Hyder: I want to say pen and paper is sometimes the best. You think it’s tools but it’s not, right. You can have tools that help you focus or support your productivity but at the end of the day it’s really you rolling up your sleeves and saying, This is what I ve got to do. I think certain things that do help, like there is a tool I use that’s like a thirty minute timer on my phone and it’s great because I’ll do … I think it’s also known as the Pomodoro effect where you take, you focus on something for thirty minutes and you go do something else. That certainly helps and try to focus in on things that need me. But of course you only work in such, my schedule, there’s not always a set schedule because the media might call and they might be doing a story on something and they want me in or a client says Oh, we’ve got this great opportunity, can we brainstorm? In so many ways, yes I can have a framework for my schedule, but I have to stay flexible as well.

Jerod Morris: What kind of role have some of the digital products that you’ve created like the eBooks, what kind of role have those played in the growth of your business?

Shama Hyder: Yes, well I ve got two books out in bookstores. One is called The Zen of Social Media Marketing, which is now in its fourth edition and Momentum, my second book, which is about marketing in the digital age that just came out a couple of months ago. And both have been, say, pretty crucial in helping with business development and building a thought leadership platform, and both of them came about from market demand. I wrote The Zen when people really there were no books on social media, where people really needed some insight on what it meant to do, to use Facebook or to use these platforms and tools for business. Being able to create something based on market demand has always, I think, been a key to success.

How to Maintain a Trajectory of Success

Jerod Morris: One trend that we have seen is a lot of people who are in client work will end up starting another portion of their business around digital products, whether it’s courses or membership sites. Do you have any plans to do anything like that or are you going to stay on the same trajectory that you’ve been on?

Shama Hyder: I think there’s always possibility. For me, what’s more important is, How do you stay relevant, right, to your audience, and how do you constantly give them something they want? If that looks like digital products, then it will be digital products. But, I’ve never been one to say, Okay, this is the way we’re going to go and then everything else gets forced around it. It’s much more, Let’s keep listening to the audience. Let’s see where our clients want. Let’s see what the audience is asking for, and then create around that.

Jerod Morris: Yeah. Shama, tell me about the milestone or moment in your career as an entrepreneur that you’re the most proud of.

Shama Hyder: One moment that I think that for me was really sort of a personal like, Oh, wow, moment was visiting a client’s Christmas party A client invited us to a Christmas party, we’d been working with them for two years at this point and we were handling all their digital marketing and attending their Christmas party from the year prior, it had seemed like the company had tripled. All these people and their families and the CEO, I remember was talking to him and he said yeah, We’ve grown so much with your help in the last two years. These are all the people that we’ve now been able to hire.

What was great about that was just to know, sometimes I think that you do, you see the impact on bottom lines, but you don’t see the full societal human impact, right? How we were helping with the marketing and helping this company grow, they in turn were able to hire these people and then, of course, there were these kids and families that were impacted by that. For me, that was a really touching moment in terms of what we do and the effect it really has.

Jerod Morris: Boy, that had to be just a great moment. To just see there and see, yeah, the impact that you had and the help on real people, like you said, because sometimes we can lose sight of that fact. That had to be great.

Shama Hyder: Totally, and it was. And we’ve had moments like that and I’ve had moments like that, being able to see how what we do impacts people.

Jerod Morris: Yeah. All right, let’s take a quick break. When we come back I will ask Shama about the most humbling moment that she has had as digital entrepreneur.

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How She Finds Humbling Moments Every Day and is Always Learning Something New

Jerod Morris: All right, so Shama, tell me about the most humbling moment in your career as a digital entrepreneur, and most importantly, what you learned from it?

Shama Hyder: I think I have humbling moments everyday, honestly. I don’t know, really it’s not like one like Oh my God, I was so humbled, but everyday I think I learn something new and for me it’s a mindset, right, to always stay in that kind of student mindset of there’s … I feel like things make you humble when you get to a certain point or like, does that make sense?

Jerod Morris: Totally.

Shama Hyder: Right, like there’s some place for you to fall from? Or there’s some place to be like Oh wow, I really thought I was going in one direction and this opened my eyes. I think I always come from that perspective where I’m a student. I learn so much from my employees all the time because, let’s face it, I’m younger than all of them, most of them. For me it’s always been a process of being a student and learning so I don’t know if there’s one experience that I would say, I was really humbled by it. I’ll say that everyday there’s at least ten moments in a day where I’m like, Oh, well I don’t know it all, good thing I didn’t think I knew it all.

Jerod Morris: I think that’s probably an indication of why you’ve been successful because obviously those moments of humility are also paths for learning and opportunities to learn. I think the fact that you view it that way is a great sign for your continued growth, because that’s what will keep you learning and growing, so that’s great.

Shama Hyder: Thank you, I certainly think having a student mindset no matter what you’re doing is the way to go. You know, and when the clients you can always tell the difference from the clients who are, I love that our clients are like this, they want to learn. They want to grow. They’re curious, and I have a lot respect for curiosity. I think it keeps you from ever thinking that you know it all, because the moment you do I think is when you have that really humbling moment.

Jerod Morris: Yeah.

Shama Hyder: I just prefer to always keep myself in that mode.

One Word that Sums Up Her Status of Business Today

Jerod Morris: Yeah, absolutely. Let’s fast forward to now. What is the one word that you would use to sum up the status of your business as it stands today?

Shama Hyder: Growing. I mean, really, it’s growing. And maybe, you know what would be fair, I would say, if I was going to be really specific, I’d say momentum, which is the name of my second book. I think part of me writing that and choosing that name was because I feel like, as a company, we have a lot of momentum right now. We’re one of the top social media digital PR agencies in the country, if not in the world, in terms of just being how early we started on to this path. I’m really excited with how much momentum we have and where things are going.

Shama s Biggest Recurring Pain Point Right Now

Jerod Morris: Very cool. What is your biggest recurring pain point as an entrepreneur right now?

Shama Hyder: I would say a reoccurring pain point, and this is just something is constantly, especially in our industry, keeping up. To be totally honest that’s a challenge for anybody in this industry, but it really is when you’re looking at things and you’re saying, What changed while we were sleeping? That’s the joke at the office, right?

Jerod Morris: Yeah.

Shama Hyder: I think and it’s a challenge I love, but it is definitely a challenge to be able to keep you and to know what’s changing, how do we … We have to stay a step ahead for our clients. To stay relevant is the only way that we’re going to be useful to them.

Jerod Morris: How do you do that with so much information out there? How do you make sure that you’re getting the right information and finding out what you need to stay relevant?

Shama Hyder: I think, at this point, I’m very lucky that because I’m an investor in things and I’m, I write for multiple columns and I do a lot of media, that things find me, which is a great place to be.

Jerod Morris: Yeah.

Shama Hyder: I think that’s a nice thing is that I’m able to get sort of what I would say is the early scoop or the insider, the early invites and things to know what’s new.

Jerod Morris: That’s good.

Shama Hyder: Or what’s around the bend, yeah.

The Most Satisfying Part of Her Job

Jerod Morris: You mentioned earlier how rewarding it was to be at that Christmas party and see the impact that your work was able to have on real people, on families, I’m curious what element of your work on a daily basis gives you the most satisfaction? Like the actual just getting down, doing the work, what part of it do you enjoy the most?

Shama Hyder: For me, it’s honestly one of my favorite parts, is the strategic part, working with our clients, coming up with campaign ideas, talking with the team, figuring out how we’re going to help our clients move the needle, whether it’s with their social media campaigns or influence their marketing or digital PR campaign we’re launching. Like, these are all the things that really get me excited at the end of the day.

One Recommended Tool

Jerod Morris: Excellent. Let’s open up your toolbox if we can, and I’m curious what is one technology tool that contributes the most to your success as an entrepreneur? I know you mentioned earlier the app that you have that helps you keep track of your time and keeps track of your priorities. Are there any other technology tools that really stand out as helping contribute?

Shama Hyder: I’m a big fan of Slack. We use that. It’s a communication tool, which I’m a huge fan of that. Just allows me to keep in touch with our team. Our team is all over the US. Our clients are global. We have clients from Lithuania to Hong Kong, so definitely a huge plus in that way.

Non-Tech Ways to Keep Yourself Grounded

Jerod Morris: In addition to pen and paper, which you mentioned earlier, are there any non-technology tools that contribute the most, that help you out?

Shama Hyder: Non-technology tools aside from pen and paper, I would say that I have some favorite apps, things like that but you know my dogs, they’re pretty non-tech. They’re great because they remind you what life is really about.

Jerod Morris: Exactly, exactly. That s why I like asking that question.

Shama Hyder: It’s not Instagram Stories.

Jerod Morris: Right, right. No, that’s wonderful. Okay, so earlier I asked you what’s the one word that you would use to sum up the status of your business as it stands today. You said growing and momentum, we accept both of those.

Shama Hyder: Okay.

Jerod Morris: When we talk again in a year, what would you want that one word to be?

Shama Hyder: Wow, I think that would be a good word. Why not aim high, right?

Jerod Morris: Yeah. What will it take to get there for you?

Shama Hyder: I think just doing what we’re doing. I think that’s the path we’re on. I’m really excited about how we’ve grown and we don’t do any outbound marketing. Everyone who works with us comes through client referrals or they come through our own inbound efforts and that’s really, to me, that’s really powerful.

Jerod Morris: That’s a good spot to be in.

Shama Hyder: Yeah, I’m grateful for it, yes.

Rapid-Fire Question Time

Jerod Morris: Yes. So I have a few rapid-fire questions to close out. Are you ready?

Shama Hyder: Yes.

Jerod Morris: If you could have every person who will ever work with you or for you, read one book, what would it be?

Shama Hyder: Shoot, I know this is going to sound like an unfair question or an unfair answer perhaps but honestly it would be The Zen of Social Media Marketing and we do. We ask people to read it because so much of that is my philosophy. It’s the company philosophy, so in some ways it is like understanding what we’re about and how, what our perspective and approach is on digital marketing.

Jerod Morris: That’s a good way to make sure everybody understands that, and understands the mindset and culture that you’re trying to create, so I think that’s a very fair answer.

Shama Hyder: Exactly. And it helps when someone comes in when we’re hiring and they’ve read the book. To me it’s like, Okay they’re a step ahead. They are already familiar with this. Like, they know what we’re about to some degree.

Jerod Morris: Yeah, so memo to anybody looking to get a job: read the book. If you could have a 30 minute Skype call to discuss your business with anyone tomorrow, who would it be?

Shama Hyder: I don’t think that’s funny because it’s not … I feel like the people who work with us find us so I don’t know who I’d want to be able to talk to. Like totally, honestly, I think it would be the person that is really interested in working with us. Like that would be where my interest is.

Jerod Morris: Okay.

Shama Hyder: That’s the person I’d want to talk to.

Jerod Morris: Yeah. What is the one email newsletter that you can’t do without?

Shama Hyder: Boy, there’s so many, I like my Quora Digest. The digest I get from Quora.com, that’s like the questions people are asking and I find myself looking on it often, so, yeah.

Jerod Morris: Yeah, Quora has some great stuff.

Shama Hyder: Yeah.

Jerod Morris: What non-book piece of art had the biggest influence on you as an entrepreneur?

Shama Hyder: You know, there’s a really cool sculpture at Burning Man. I don’t know if people have seen it but it’s two … it’s kind of a wire frame of two people who are arguing and they’ve got their backs to each other but within that wire frame you can see the children within each other and they’re facing each other trying to find a solution. I always think that’s touching, like regardless of where we are as adults or we’re in our kind of cages you know, inside it makes like the soul within salutes the other souls that it recognizes. I think that’s a really moving piece of art.

Jerod Morris: That’s great. That’s a great answer. What productivity hack has had the biggest impact on your ability to get more meaningful work done?

Shama Hyder: Close out browser windows. I mean honestly it’s amazing how much we’ll get done when you focus on one thing at a time and you don’t have multiple, I mean just me closing out browser windows has been huge.

Jerod Morris: Yeah, it’s amazing how those can just accumulate. You don’t even realize it.

Shama Hyder: Well, such small things, and the other day I learned an interesting hack which I think is great. For people who play on their phones a lot or find that to be kind of, where they keep going back. Turning your screen to be a grayscale. You can do that on the iPhone, so everything’s grayed out, the colors go away and stuff and you find that you’re just, you want to play with it less, which I think in some ways can be a good thing.

Jerod Morris: That’s interesting.

Shama Hyder: Yeah.

Jerod Morris: I might have to try that. Shama, what’s the best way for someone who is inspired by today’s discussion to get in touch with you or to get more from you?

Shama Hyder: Certainly we’ve got two sites, MarketingZen.com and then ShamaHyder.com, both the sites have tons of content so if this is the type of content that you’re interested in and especially marketing, those are the places to go.

Jerod Morris: Excellent. Well Shama, thank you so much for joining us. Good luck getting to wow over the next year, hope you get there and yeah, really appreciate your time and insight.

Shama Hyder: Thanks so much. Pleasure to be here.

Jerod Morris: And that concludes this week’s episode of the Digital Entrepreneur. My thanks as always to Toby Lyles and our production team along with Caroline Early and Will Dewitt for helping to make this episode possible. My thanks to Shama Hyder for taking the time to join me for this discussion. I really appreciated her insight. It was great to get to talk with her and I’m sure you feel the same, and of course my thanks to you for being here and for listening. I always appreciate your attention and your support on the Digital Entrepreneur. If you ever have any questions, comments, thoughts, or anything, or just want to connect send me a tweet @jerodmorris. I always love hearing from you, and we’ll be back next week for another brand new episode of the Digital Entrepreneur. Take care.

Dec 08 2016

22mins

Play

Stop Being Afraid and Start Building Your Business

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Everyone feels fear when faced with uncertainty — especially when starting a new business. But if you have the right mindset — and framework — you will find your own success.

Rainmaker.FM is Brought to You By

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Starting a new business endeavor can be one of the most stressful events of your life. So many things to do and so many issues to face. Many people find these challenges so daunting that they can never go past the idea stage.

The truth is that every successful entrepreneur has faced those same challenges.

But what made them successful is the mindset they had when faced with uncertainty and doubt.

In this 33 minute episode, Sean Jackson and Katy Katz share their advice on how to create the right mindset for online success along with a simple framework to help you meet your goals.

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May 17 2018

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Are you in a creative rut? Well don’t worry, this episode is filled with great ideas to help you repurpose your content.


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We all get in a creative rut from time to time. Sometimes we are afraid of doing something new. Or maybe we have difficulty convincing others of our creative ideas.

In this 32 minute episode, Sean Jackson and Katy Katz talk with Joe Youngblood to get his ideas and tactics for reusing your content in ways you may never have considered.

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May 10 2018

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The Creative Way to Use Video Marketing on LinkedIn

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LinkedIn is rolling out a lot of new features for marketers; including video. If you are looking for creative ways to connect on LinkedIn, then this episode will inspire you.

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LinkedIn is one the oldest social media platforms on the web. However, it has not always been easy for marketers to create meaningful engagement through the platform.

But after the acquisition by Microsoft, LinkedIn has started to show a lot of improvements that make it easier to advertise and engage with professionals.

In this 33 minute episode, Sean Jackson and Katy Katz interview Goldie Chan and discuss recent changes to the platform and how she has exploited these changes to grow her reach and influence.

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May 03 2018

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Is Blogging a Waste of Time?

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To blog or not to blog, that is the question … we’ll debate on this episode.

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Blogging is considered an essential tool in the content marketer’s toolbox. But is it worth the time?

With so many options available for online ad buys and social media engagement, does having a blog really help you grow your business?

In this 32 minute episode, Sean Jackson and Katy Katz debate the merits of blogging; discussing its merits, pitfalls, and alternatives that you should consider.

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Apr 19 2018

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Eric Enge — founder of Stone Temple Consulting — shares his insights on using content marketing to dramatically grow a service business.

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It takes a lot to grow a service business. You are constantly juggling client work against promoting and selling your service, all while trying to run your business.

It is not easy. But it doesn’t have to be hard either.

In this 27 minute episode, Sean Jackson and Katy Katz ask Eric Enge to share his experience in growing Stone Temple from a simple blog to a large, and influential, content marketing agency.

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Apr 12 2018

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Rand Fishkin’s rise to fame…and fortune?

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An intimate interview with Rand Fishkin – Founder of Moz – on the perils and positives of being a tech entrepreneur.

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One of the most influential technology companies in SEO is MOZ, founded by Rand Fishkin. From the beginning of the business, he faced enormous challenges. But over the years he and the team at Moz prevailed – ascending from an SEO blog to more than $45 million annual revenue as a technology company.

But the TRUTH of what it took to grow Moz has never been fully revealed – until now.

In Rand’s forthcoming book, Lost and Founder he combines his gift for compelling storytelling with an unvarnished, transparent assessment of some of the key decisions he made, along with their repercussions – sometimes triumphant and others, tragic.

In a very real sense, Rand was able to accomplish so many of the goals he had wanted from the company’s founding. But what he found along the journey, and what he actually achieved, fundamentally altered his entire concept of what it takes to find true success as a tech startup entrepreneur.

If you have ever wanted to start a technology business or have founded one already, then this interview will absolutely blow you away.

In this 37 minute episode, Sean Jackson and Katy Katz talk with Rand about his latest book and the painful (and insightful) lessons he has learned along the way.

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Mar 29 2018

37mins

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The Psychology Required to Successfully Grow Your Business

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How you think about your business matters. And in this episode, we delve into the growth mindset you will need to succeed.

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Brandon Bruce, COO of Cirrus Insight (one of the fastest growing companies in America), joins the show to share his experience on growing a successful technology company.

Brandon’s company has been through a lot; from server crashes, failed investment opportunities, and loss of distribution opportunities.

And yet he and his team were able to overcome all these challenges and find opportunities for growth. And their efforts paid off; recognized as #41 in the Inc 5000 list.

In this 34 minute episode, Sean Jackson and Katy Katz talk with Brandon about the obstacles his company faced, and the mindset he and his team had, to grow their business.

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Mar 08 2018

34mins

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The Secret to Guest Blogging on Your Favorite Website

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Guest blogging is a great way to grow your audience, if you know the right way to do it.

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To all the people that blindly send us a request to guest post on our show, I have an answer for you … NO.

But that cold answer comes with a lot of caveats; primarily because how people approach guest blogging is just wrong.

In this 33 minute episode, Sean Jackson and Katy Katz interview Melissa Fach, veteran editor and Search Personality of the Year winner, to discuss the RIGHT way to reach out for guest blogging.

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Mar 01 2018

32mins

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How to Make Money from Podcasting

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Podcasting is very popular, but not everyone can make money doing it — unless you know how.

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Obviously we are huge fans of podcasting — a technology that dates back to the beginning of the commercial web.

But while podcasting has grown in popularity, not everyone can make money — let alone a living — from producing a show.

In this 36 minute episode, Sean Jackson and Katy Katz interview Rob Greenlee, veteran podcaster and member of the Podcasting Hall of Fame, to discuss the key ways podcasters can make money from their show.

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Feb 22 2018

36mins

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Is Facebook Marketing Dead?

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Facebook made significant changes to the way marketers organically reach their customers. Does this mean free traffic from Facebook is over?

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On January 11, 2018, Facebook announced major changes to the way information is shared in user’s feeds. This announcement has caused great concerns for many online marketers that had counted on organic traffic from Facebook.

So is organic/free traffic from Facebook at risk from this change? And more importantly, how can marketers thrive in this new environment?

In this 29 minute episode, Sean Jackson and Katy Katz interview Marty Weintraub, CEO of Community.co and author, to guide you through the right ways to create a sense of community, regardless of the environment.

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Feb 15 2018

28mins

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How to Build Meaningful Membership Communities

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Scott Gerber, author of Superconnector, shares his insight on building — and maintaining — world-class membership communities.

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Building a shared community of interest can be an amazing way to propel your brand — if you do it the right way. Unfortunately, too many brands and online businesses do it poorly.

In this episode, we discuss nuances and ways that you can build meaningful connections, either online or offline, with a true expert in the field.

In this 31 minute episode, Sean Jackson and Katy Katz interview Scott Gerber, CEO of Community.co and author, to guide you through the right ways to create a sense of community, regardless of the environment.

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Feb 08 2018

31mins

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What Every Online Marketer Must Know about Google Analytics

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Annie Cushing (@annielytics) discusses how to avoid the most common mistakes with Google Analytics.

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At the heart of online marketing is data. And while it is important, it can often be confusing to understand and hard to act on.

Lucky for you, we have a true expert in the field of Google Analytics joining the show to help you get the most from your Google Analytics data.

In this 32 minute episode, Sean Jackson and Katy Katz interview Annie Cushing and guide you through the most important elements of Google Analytics.

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Feb 01 2018

31mins

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Is Google AMP a Waste of Time?

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Google AMP represents a fundamental change to website development. But should you implement it?

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Google Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is a unique method for displaying mobile content on Google. But as every expert will attest, implementing Google AMP is not easy.

On this episode, we dive into the reasons for implementing AMP, along with the benefits and pitfalls of this new technology.

In this 30 minute episode, Sean Jackson and Katy Katz interview Ross Simmonds, noted online marketeer and entrepreneur, and ask the hard questions about what it takes to succeed with Google AMP.

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Jan 25 2018

30mins

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The Ultimate Framework to Help You Achieve Your Goals in 2018

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A smart and simple framework that will help you achieve your online goals!

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The start of a new year often brings with it the thoughts for the future; ensconced under numerous goals we provide for ourselves.

But the key to achieving any goal, no matter how large, is following the right framework that leads you to success.

So whether you want to make more money from your site, or bring in more traffic, this framework is designed to help turn your ideas into reality.

In this 36 minute episode, Sean Jackson and Katy Katz break down the goal setting process into actionable steps — following a proven framework that leads to success.

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Jan 18 2018

36mins

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The 6 Top Online Marketing Trends for 2018

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In this very special year-end show, Katy and Sean cover the big changes in online marketing for 2017 and what to look for in 2018.

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Online marketing continues to evolve at a fervent pace; with so many innovations and trends emerging it can be hard to know what matters.

To help guide you, Katy Katz and Sean Jackson review the events and topics that defined 2017 and discuss the new marketing innovations that will define 2018.

In this 48 minute episode, Sean Jackson and Katy Katz review the topics, trends, and ideas that will shape your online marketing efforts in 2018.

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Dec 20 2017

48mins

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Why You Should Start a Digital Marketing Agency

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A behind the scenes discussion on how — and why — you should create a digital marketing agency.

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In 2017, the team behind Copyblogger.com launched a digital marketing agency … after 11 years of writing about, and teaching, content marketing to others.

In this episode, we interview Brian Clark and Ed Bardwell to discuss the reasons behind the creation of this new business unit and the ideas they use to stand out in a crowded market.

If you run a marketing agency — or just considering it — then this episode will reveal the tactics and ideas that you can use to launch your own effort.

In this 35 minute episode, Sean Jackson and Katy Katz share the insights and ideas behind the launch of Rainmaker Digital Services with Brian Clark and Ed Bardwell.

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Dec 14 2017

34mins

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Does Traditional PR Really Matter Anymore?

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Lee Odden from TopRank Marketing shares his insights on the intersection of PR and online marketing

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In the past, traditional PR held a unique role — usually independent of the marketing department. But now, the role of PR has evolved — forming a symbiotic relationship within the online marketing framework.

But while PR has evolved, the core of the techniques used in PR matter more than ever — creating great stories and engaging with the publishers that matter.

And no one is more qualified to explain this evolution than Lee Odden from TopRank Marketing.

In this 32 minute episode, Sean Jackson and Katy Katz interview Lee Odden to discuss the role of PR in online marketing.

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Dec 07 2017

32mins

Play

The Current State of Search, Social, and the Open Web in 2017

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An in-depth discussion on the intersection of search, social, and the open web, and how you can prepare for the future.

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Search and social marketing are a cornerstone of online marketing. But as the open web changes with the growth of Google, Facebook and Amazon, how should online marketers react?

In this 34 minute episode, Sean Jackson and Katy Katz interview Rob Garner, the author of Search & Social, to discuss the future of search, social and the open web.

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Nov 30 2017

33mins

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How to Protect Your Online Reputation When Disaster Strikes

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Tony Wright from WrightIMC shares his insight and tactics for protecting your online reputation when it matters most.

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Reputation management is an important part of online marketing management. And with so many online avenues for people to respond to, protecting your online reputation can be difficult.

But if you follow the guidelines outlined in this episode, you will be prepared to protect your online reputation when it matters most.

In this 31 minute episode, Sean Jackson and Katy Katz interview Tony Wright to discuss the keys to success for online reputation management.

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Nov 22 2017

31mins

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Does Online Marketing Suck for Women?

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A power-house round table discussion with three of the most influential women in online marketing.

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Being successful in any industry takes a lot of hard work and luck. But sometimes, it takes a lot more.

While the online marketing space has a large number of women professionals, the challenges and issues they face to succeed can be daunting.

Joined by our new co-host, Katy Katz, we take a deep dive into these issues with a panel discussion with some of the most influential and successful women in online marketing: Christine Churchill, Rae Hoffman Dolan, and Sonia Simone.

In this 46 minute episode, we discuss a variety of topics & issues, including…

  • If there’s an advantage to being a woman in online marketing
  • How the pay gap between men and women affected their decision to start their own business
  • The controversy surrounding the lack of women presenters at conferences
  • How to handle inappropriate situations
  • And the mental state any woman (or man) must have to succeed

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The Show Notes

Nov 07 2017

46mins

Play

iTunes Ratings

152 Ratings
Average Ratings
138
8
1
3
2

Awesome way to prep for an interview

By Olivareza - Mar 14 2018
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I started listening to this podcast prior to a job interview (applying to become a digital marketing strategist), to offer potential talking points. I easily go overboard on articles and information and by listening to contained 45 min episodes I could absorb it more organically and speak more confidently. I feel so much more at ease and prepared. Thanks!

Keep Going Brian!

By mariojann - May 21 2015
Read more
Love the podcast!! The Show Must Go On!!