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The Digital Entrepreneur

Updated 7 days ago

Business News
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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.

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.

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151 Ratings
Average Ratings

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
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Love the podcast!! The Show Must Go On!!

iTunes Ratings

151 Ratings
Average Ratings

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

Updated 7 days ago

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: 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.

Rainmaker.FM is Brought to You By

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

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In 2017, the team behind 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



Rank #2: 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

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

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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?

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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 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



Rank #3: 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.

Rainmaker.FM is Brought to You By

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

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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



Rank #4: 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

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

Start getting more from your site today!

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.

Listen to The Digital Entrepreneur below ...

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Mar 08 2018



Rank #5: 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.

Rainmaker.FM is Brought to You By

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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

Listen to The Digital Entrepreneur below ...

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The Show Notes

Sep 03 2015



Rank #6: 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!

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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 There’s a Contact Me spot there, and you can just get in touch.

Jerod Morris:, 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



Rank #7: 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, Again, it’s just 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



Rank #8: 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



Rank #9: Henry Rollins on the Art and Business of DIY Media

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I vividly remember the first time I heard Black Flag. It was in a kid named Mike Goodman s bedroom, and the record was called Damaged.

That s how it was pre-Internet in suburban Houston. If it wasn t on the radio or MTV, it was invisible–unless some cool kid turned you on to something new (who probably got it from the older sibling of some other cool kid).

And by cool, I mean a misfit who couldn t abide in a Top 40 world.

My first impression was, “Wow, this guy is pissed off!” And sarcastic, sometimes funny, sometimes sad. I loved it.

At the time, I had no idea that the guy s name was Henry Rollins, or that he wasn t the first lead singer of Black Flag. So we can t really say it s his time fronting that band that makes him a personal hero to me … but it started there.

Black Flag recorded, financed, and distributed their own records, set up and promoted their own shows, and created their own merchandise. There was no one in the mainstream music world who wanted to help, so they did it themselves.

The band broke up in August of 1986, just before I started college. Henry carried on in true DIY fashion, using his own publishing and record company to release his first book, his spoken word recordings, and albums by the first iteration of the Rollins Band.

By 1994, Rollins is all over MTV, and he s featured in the film The Chase with Charlie Sheen. And yet, he chooses to self publish his memoir Get in the Van rather than go with a major publisher. In the post-Nevermind world, everyone knows there would be no Nirvana without bands like Black Flag, but Henry is still doing it his way.

Since then, Henry Rollins has become a self-made media personality. He has a radio show on KCRW, a column for LA Weekly, and he shows up as himself on TV shows like Californication (and as a very out-of-character white supremacist on Sons of Anarchy). Plus, his spoken word performances and essays are all over online.

And since my kids are a bit too young for the music and the spoken word, they know him as the guy on the History Channel–the host of the educational series 10 Things You Don’t Know About. Life can be strange as a parent.

The reason why Henry is on this podcast, and more importantly, why he s doing the closing keynote at Authority Rainmaker in May, comes down to this quote from an interview he once did while on tour in New Zealand:

Everything I do, writing, touring, travelling, it all comes from the punk and hardcore attitude, from that expression – from being open to try things but relying on yourself, taking what you have into the battle and making of it what you will, hoping you can figure it out as you go.

Now, I m not comparing what we do as DIY media creators to getting in the van and touring with a punk band. Truth is, with all the tools we have combined with the open access of the Internet, we have it pretty damn easy.

But it s the attitude that matters, and the work ethic. And that s exactly why everyone should be listening to what Mr. Rollins has to say.

In this 51-minute episode Henry Rollins and I discuss:

  • Why he started a podcast, and how he’s producing it
  • The “secret weapon” behind his entire media business
  • What most DIY media people (business or punk) miss
  • What it takes to succeed in business (and rock)
  • What Black Flag taught him about working insanely hard
  • How he financed his first record label
  • The development of his direct-mail marketing plan
  • How his first book was published
  • The trip from DIY scrapper to Grammy-winning performer
  • Why DIY media producers should seek massive distribution
  • The worst thing you can do and be online
  • What Henry is going to deliver at Authority Rainmaker

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The Show Notes

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The Transcript

Henry Rollins on the Art and Business of DIY Media

Voiceover: This episode of Rainmaker.FM is brought to you by Authority Rainmaker. It’s a different kind of online marketing conference; for one thing, Henry Rollins is keynoting. Get all the details at And yes, it’s that Henry Rollins.

Brian Clark: This is Brian Clark, and welcome to the show. Today’s guest is musician, writer, journalist, publisher, actor, television and radio host, spoken-word artist, comedian, and activist Henry Rollins. Did I mention that he just started his own podcast and is kind of a personal hero to me? Yeah.

The reason why Henry is on this podcast, and more importantly, why he’s doing the closing keynote at our conference in May, comes down to this quote from an interview he did. I think he was on tour in New Zealand at the time. Here’s what he said: “Everything I do, writing, touring, traveling, it all comes from a punk and hardcore attitude, from that expression — from being open to try things but relying on yourself, taking what you have into the battle and making of it what you will, hoping you can figure it out as you go.”

Now, I’m not comparing what we do as DIY media creators to getting in the van and touring with a punk band. Truth is, with all the tools we have, plus the open Internet, we have it pretty damn easy. But it’s the attitude that matters, and the work ethic, and that’s exactly why everyone should be listening to what Mr. Rollins has to say.

Henry, thank you so much for joining us.

Henry Rollins: No problem at all.

Why He Started a Podcast, and How He s Producing It

Brian Clark: So, first of all, I was delighted and maybe even surprised a little, given that you have a radio show, and you’ve got a television show, and you just started a podcast called Henry and Heidi. From listening to the first episode, it’s clear that you blame Heidi for the whole thing, but why don’t you shed a little light on that relationship and how that came to happen?

Henry Rollins: Heidi came to my publishing company as a new hire about 17-point-something years ago. On her first hour there, we were already arguing — not in a mean way — but she basically said, “Are you always like this? Because if you are, I’m outta here.” I’m like, whoa.

We agree on most things, but she finds it necessary to discipline and school me fairly often.

She’s come up with a lot of ideas that we utilize at this company, the publishing company. We do books; a lot of the ways we do things are her ideas, and a lot of the ways we edit books and the ways we go after work for me are Heidi’s innovations.

It’s been a really good lesson for me over the years to learn to collaborate with someone and learn to listen when I want to argue. It’s very difficult for some of us to shut our mouths; it s very hard for me, but I’ve learned that Heidi often has the best idea. In fact, you can count on that. When she has an idea, I just learned to shut up and take notes. So it’s been very interesting.

Everywhere we go, we’re always nattering at each other, and people ask us, “How long have you two been married?” We’re not married at all or related in that way. We’re very good friends, obviously, but it’s been an interesting relationship.

And as technology furthers and makes things more accessible to plain old folks, we’ve also been discovering different platforms, more recently like the podcast, which was all Heidi’s idea.

She said we should do a podcast. I said, I need to get a different bit of gear, because I only have one box for doing my voice-over for auditions and my radio show. She said, Get a different box, then. I said, Okay, so I did that. My engineer buddy came in and set it up and gave me some lessons, and we made our first podcast, I’d say, a couple weeks ago, and the thing is incredibly successful, which both of us are still quite confused by; I mean, it does very well.

But that was all Heidi’s idea. We just do our thing; right in the office, we have two microphones and whatever this gadget is that gets us into a WAV file.

Brian Clark: It’s interesting to me, full circle; I remember the first time I heard Black Flag was when I was 16. It was Damaged; I didn’t even know that you weren’t the first singer of Black Flag, that you came from the audience.

Now I want to talk about that a little bit. You did everything yourselves, and then, of course, you’ve been in films, and you’re in radio and television, and now you ve come full circle to where you sit in your office and do it yourself again with your longtime co-conspirator. How does that feel?

The Secret Weapon Behind His Entire Media Business

Henry Rollins: It feels great to have such autonomy and be able to keep doing it year after year and to rely on your inspiration and hard work and the fact that it pays off. When I say that word — pays — I’m very careful with anything that sounds or smells like money. For me, paying off is the ability to do it next year, and the year after, and the year after. Something that is able to be sustained — a sustainable, innovative work environment — is sort of all I’ve ever wanted. And you’ll find that with a lot of DIY companies.

I just want to keep the lights on and keep the ideas going, because I enjoy the ideas more, and executing them, and realizing them. And then ultimately, let’s say you finish a book — the best part about finishing a book is you get it off your desk, and all of the sudden you have an empty desk that you can fill up with a new idea. It’s like building a big ship over and over again; it’s right there when you crack the champagne over the mast of the ship, because that’s what they do, and you set it out, but then you have an empty harbor, and well, let’s get busy, and you get inspired all over again.

To be able to do that year after year, that, to me, is the goal. It is the thing that gets me up early in the morning and has me obsessively working right through the weekend without really noticing, working through holidays. I’m somewhat driven, but it’s not like I’m driven because of the stockholders. I’m driven because I have a lot of ideas and only so much time. Life is finite. Ideas are seemingly limitless. All of my DIY pursuits all come from one basic idea: I want to do this. You have ideas? Well, I have ideas, too. You have to wrap them in steel and take them into the battleground of the role, because you’re not the only person thinking of things.

What Most DIY Media People (Business or Punk) Miss

Henry Rollins: One of the things that a lot of DIY people don’t take into account is that there’s other innovative people who wake up early just like you, and their ideas are good too; you’re all, in a way, competing for a certain bandwidth. There’s only so many people in the world who can be anywhere near what you want to do or what you want to bring them, and you only have so much time, money, and attention that they can bring to any one thing. So it’s you and five other people or more.

What It Takes to Succeed in Business (and Rock)

Henry Rollins: You get a record company; we have really great bands. You know what? There’s a lot of good labels and a lot of good bands. Why should I take your record? All of your getting up early in the morning comes from trying to answer that question. I go into that basic question with the same basic thing I’ve gone into everything, from being on a record label that was owned by the band or owned by members of the band to starting my own company, which I’ve had since 1983, and they still keep going.

It s that single idea of wanting to do something, and you find that you must put every single thing you have into that idea; your DNA, every amount of affection, everything you’ve got goes into those ideas, to where you had no idea you could be that tired and still work. You push yourself, quite often, past any rational threshold of exhaustion or sanity, and realize, Oh, I can do 19 hours. I can still function at 19 hours. It’s not good for your health to sustain that, but you find out you could do some amazing amount of percent more than what you thought. I learned that by being in Black Flag.

What Black Flag Taught Him about Working Insanely Hard

Henry Rollins: I always thought I was a hard worker. Then I joined Black Flag, and then I realized what hard work was, because the people around me — Greg Ginn, Chuck Dukowski — were these work mavens who made me look like a lightweight, so I learned very quickly. It was not easy, and it was a very hard adjustment to make.

Brian Clark: That’s hard to imagine, as hard as we know you’ve worked over the years. Let’s go back a little bit to Black Flag, because you’ve done a lot on your own since then; of course, you sang lead in a band before you joined Black Flag, but it was the whole idea.

In Washington, D.C., where you came from, you’ve got Minor Threat; no one wants to sign Minor Threat. They should have, but they didn’t know. Go to L.A.; no one wants to sign Black Flag, Greg Ginn starts SST. You guys produce and distribute your own records, and you set up your own gigs and your own tours. Was that the learning experience of DIY, or did you already have the mentality before your joined the group?

How He Financed His First Record Label

Henry Rollins: I had a baby version of it from watching Ian MacKaye, who is from Minor Threat, Fugazi. I watched him build Dischord pretty much at his mom’s kitchen table. He was like, Okay, it’s going to look like this; we’re going to do this, and suddenly he’s got a mailing address. There’s mail order. He has to sell things, and how are you going to do that ethically, fairly? How do people get paid?

I watched him navigate all these obstacles that keep you from being a fair and decent person. He’s quite good at it, but it’s his inherent goodness that he brought to the table, and what you see with Dischord and all the bands and all the music he’s produced, which is just unfathomable, the amount of records Ian has produced — it’s kind of crazy when you see how many records have his name on the back — he comes at it from the same basic core.

I’ve gotten the hang of it; I’ve got my own little band, and the second record on Dischord was my band. I financed that record myself; Dischord didn’t have the money, and my band mates didn’t either. I’m the one who had the full-time job. I financed the recording, the pressing — all of it was me, all $800 of it. But in those days, that was a lot of money. When you’re working for $3.65 an hour, that’s a lot of money, but you just do it.

By the time I got to Black Flag, I had an idea: got to have a mailing list, got to be able to get to your people, and all of that. But SST was more formed; Ian got inspiration from SST. He used to get on the phone with Chuck Dukowski and get crib notes. I remember that he was like, “I called Chuck Dukowski of Black Flag today.” I said, “You did what?” These people were from Mars to us. We were like relative hicklets. I said, “How’d you do that?” He said, “I looked them up in the directory.” I said, “You can do that?” I wouldn’t have even thought of that.

You know Ian; he’ll meet anybody. Nothing really blows his hair back. He could meet the president and go, “Oh hey, I voted for you.” Nothing really gets at him. So he called Chuck and said, “Well, here’s what I’m doing,” and sent him a couple Dischord records; I think that’s how Black Flag first heard me. We sent him my little record.

The Development of His Direct-Mail Marketing Plan

Henry Rollins: Anyway, SST was more developed, had more catalog, had more time in that arena, and was very ambitious. We were running at it; Ian was finding his way through the forest, and SST was taking the machetes to the dense undergrowth looking to build a super highway. All of a sudden, you’re doing band practice, and they gave me assignments: You’re going to be managing all the press; you’re going to take care of all the incoming mail.

All of a sudden, I had this really full-time, archival, public-relations-man thing going. I’m the one relating to the fans; I’m the one keeping all the fliers. I put that job on myself. I’m the one going through all the mail, getting mail orders, fan mail, taking down everyone’s address for the mailing list, and writing up the newsletter, things like that. It was all part and parcel of doing everything yourself.

You realize very quickly how much labor is involved; you want to do it on your own? Okay, it might very well be more than you thought it was going to be. You’d better be ready, and you’d better be ready to be ready. For me, that’s what it was. It was like, wow, you jump out of the plane, and you land really hard. The first fiscal quarter — for the first three or six months of Black Flag — for me, was doing more push-ups than you’re able to and still somehow being able to do them.

Brian Clark: That’s an amazing story. In my mind, I always thought of Dischord and SST as being these comparable, running-at-the-same-time movements in different parts of the country. I had no idea that Dischord was the startup compared to SST.

Henry Rollins: We bought the first Black Flag record before there was anything else, before there was a Dischord anything. Certainly, SST isn’t the only independent label in the world; we were buying independent-label records from bands in D.C. In fact, it was Skip Groff at Yesterday and Today Records who had a label called Limp. He gave us the address to send your tape to get it made into a record; we didn’t know. Skip produced my first record because he showed me and Ian where the studio is that Ian still works at to this day — different building, same guy.

Skip had a local record store, and local record stores, as you might know, were responsible for most of the independent labels — at least a large fraction of the independent music labels — in the ’50s and onwards. A lot of your doo-wop records? That was local bands, like local to the area code or zip code; the person putting out the record was the local record store.

The same as doo-wop label Time Square Records that s the Times Square Record store located at Times Square in New York. That was a guy; these kids would come in, and they’d literally sing a capella for him. He’s like, “Okay, let’s get you guys in the studio. We’ll get you a rhythm section, a piano player, and we’ll do this. I’ll put out the record.”

Some of these independent labels, you’d get songs that are epic, but they started being sold out of a record store with super local distribution. The guy comes in his car, picks up a hundred of yours, with a hundred of the other guy’s, and drives it over to the next county, puts it in jukeboxes, and puts it in the record stores. All of that is super homegrown.

Where this is key, in Dischord, is that what we were doing was in no way new, but for us it was new. I remember when Ian and I first walked into the recording studio where he did his first demo, and we were looking around like pilgrims: Wow, look, microphones. It was all new land. It was a very interesting new world for us. We got the hang of it very quickly.

The DIY thing was imprinted upon me as the way to do it from the get-go and to have that idea of empowerment by age 18, or thereabouts, is incredible. It’s very instructive to be able to see what you can do, because a lot of people are so awed by everything from a major label to a huge production studio like Warner Brothers, that they are cowed by the immense size and proficiency of these amazing corporations. Warner Brothers, Sony, they can turn a film around, or an album. They can probably rebuild a bridge or send a man to the moon at this point.

But you? With your idea and your crazy garage band? What do you think you’re going to do? The idea of doing nothing probably kept a lot of really good music, independent film, literature, poetry, comic books, or whatever else, from coming to fruition. Because you look at everything and go, “I could never do that.” Thankfully, I was around people who went, “Oh, yeah? Watch this, because, on my own, I would never have done that. I did not come upon it naturally; it was taught to me.

Brian Clark: Yes. Excellent. I remember Black Flag broke up in the summer of 1986. I had just graduated from high school, heading to college. I was like, that figures. College ended up this weird mash-up of Guns ‘N’ Roses and Jane’s Addiction, which was the odd dichotomy of Los Angeles at that time.

Here’s the story that I hear: that you wanted to write your first book, and you did. You needed a company to do that, so you named it after your birthday, 2.13.61.

How His First Book Was Published

Henry Rollins: Yeah, that was going to be one book. I was being witty. I thought I was being funny. I’ll name it after myself, because it is me, and I liked the way the numbers sounded. I felt there would be no other way to name anything that would get to my DNA more than my birthday.

I publish this first little paperback book after saving money from doing a couple runs of a phantom staple book, which, with things like that, you make 500, and I’ll sell them all. Well, you sold off eight, and the rest you just give away. I did two runs of 500 of that, which gave me enough money, along with saving my per diem money from being on tour, to make my first paperback.

I got some good advice from a local promoter; he said, You need a DBA, which I did not know what a doing business as thing was. He goes, Here’s how you do it. I still have my DBA to this day; I never even opened it. It’s in an envelope — you take out an ad in the paper — and I’m sure my people have come in behind all that, and squared it up so that everything is accountable, but that’s how I started.

My first real identity was a P.O. Box: P.O. Box 246, Redondo Beach, California. Now, people can reach me, and I can now take out small ads in fanzines, or I’ll trade you one of these books for an ad in my fanzine, okay. You’d barter. All of the sudden, there’s people know where to get to you. You basically have a presence. This is obviously before the Internet. While I was doing Black Flag on SST Records, I had my own company going, but with no other artist than me on it, it was relatively easy to run. I’d write and publish and store the inventory wherever I was living at the time. It’d be like me and 1500 books I’d be hauling to whatever hall I was camping out in.

Brian Clark: Yeah, so your original spoken word recordings are all published by your company. The first iteration of the Rollins Band, was the record released by that company, right?

Henry Rollins: I basically bought and paid for the first few records. Then we signed to a small independent label, and we did one record with them, and then we left; but the first two, three, four, or five — I paid for. Then we did one on Texas Hotel, and then at the same time I’m doing spoken word albums as well, and I obviously paid for all of those.

Then we signed to a label called Imago Records, which is a major label through BMG. That’s when things changed in that it’s no longer DIY; it is DIY got you to a major label. But at that time, the major label was a very good thing for us, because you have this hyper-ambitious band with what I think are good songs, but our megaphone — you know, my cannon to get me to you — is only so big. The record will go 30 feet as far as I can throw it, but with a major label getting behind you, now you have some wallop. If you have something good, now you just have a bigger engine to take it down the road.

I leapt at the chance to be on a major, and I got some pushback. What are you selling out? I go, “Well no, actually, I’m trying to be sustainable.” Maybe I should have stuck to my guns and said Okay, maybe I should be like Ian, and just triple down on having a record company and staff up and try to do it that way, but looking at what I achieved in the major label world, I truly think I did the right thing.

Brian Clark: That leads me to my next question because it’s very interesting, because think about back to the early 90s. Nevermind happened, In Utero happened; everyone knows that Nirvana never happens without bands like Black Flag, okay?

Henry Rollins: That never happens without a band like MC5 or The Stooges.

Brian Clark: Yeah, right, you’re absolutely right. There’s a long lineage, but did the mainstream world ever actually acknowledge that until after the fact?

Henry Rollins: That happens all the time.

Brian Clark: Of course.

Henry Rollins: People are bigger after they re dead.

Brian Clark: Right. So in ’94, instead of being ignored by radio and MTV, you’re all over MTV, right? The Rollins Band is huge. You were at, I think, the first Lollapalooza — I was there in some city, I think Houston, and yet Get in the Van is self-published. Did you try to get the big book deal? Why wouldn’t they want Henry Rollins and his book?

The Trip from DIY Scrapper to Grammy-winning Performer

Henry Rollins: They probably did. We never sought book deals. I think management was probably too afraid to approach me, because anything to do with management, management gets a piece of the action. I think if management said, “Hey, let’s try and get you on Random House,” he was probably afraid I would have come at him with a stick, which, I wouldn’t have done, but I wouldn’t have said yes. I probably would have looked at him like, “Are you crazy?” because at that point, I had a three-person staff, an office, and we had distribution. We were in the mix. We were doing very well — a very sturdy independent company.

It very well could have been that, say, Get in the Van had come out on whatever major publisher, it could have been epic. I did license Get in the Van the audiobook to Time Warner. I licensed it, I retained all the rights, but I said, “Well, you’ve got it for five years.” They did that deal, and that actually won a Grammy.

Brian Clark: Yeah, I remember that, which is amazing.

Henry Rollins: It’s crazy seeing that thing in our office. It looks like this weird … You? That? It was one of the oddest Grammy awards ever given. A guy like me, writing a book like that, gets a Grammy? That’s just crazy. But, I’ve never been tempted to turn over my back catalog to another company.

I have done two books that were not on my imprint. One was a buddy of mine, over at, I think, Random House. He said, “You know, I work at a really big publishing house, and I’m a fan of yours.” He’s a really good guy. He said, “Look, let’s do a best-of, a portable Henry Rollins. Let me put it out here, and it will get people to your catalog.” He just liked me, and he said, “I just want more people to read your books, and you’re never going to get the same impact with your label that I have with mine, so let me use my label to help get people to yours.” This is one of the more benevolent things a guy could have done for another guy. That’s amazing; he’s a really good person.

And that book, The Portable Henry Rollins, has gotten a lot of people to the rest of my catalog. I sign copies of that book all the time at shows. For a lot of people, that’s the one book of mine they have. They go, “Yeah, I know you have other books but I’ve never … ” I’m like, Eh, you will, or you won’t.

A couple of years ago, I finished a photo book, and I showed it to Heidi. She said, Good book. I said, “So, when do you want to put it out?” She said, “Well, let’s not put it out on this company.” I said, “Why?” She said, “Photo books are murder to set up. It’s just so much of a cash outlay.” She said, “Look, let’s license it; let’s get an agent, and let’s license the title,” and I said, “Well we don’t have to endure bleeding out that much money to produce it.”

Like I told you before, Heidi and I have been working together a long time; her ideas, about 99.999 percent of the time, are the best idea. I was like, Okay ; we got an agent, and the book got placed at a very good publishing house called Chicago Review, and the book does incredibly well.

Brian Clark: There’s this theme through your career. In my world, you have some people who use DIY media, and they really want to break into traditional media, whatever that means anymore. Some people have been incredibly successful at it, because they’re good, but they don’t want to ask permission; they want to take their own path, whether by necessity or preference.

You’ve done much the same thing, but you do have a show with KCRW, which is a fantastic station, and you do have the History Channel, a show which my kids only know Henry Rollins through, because they’re not old enough yet to listen to Damaged or anything else. You’ve been in the films; when I was thinking about this interview, I was so reminded of your cameo on Californication as yourself, and Hank Moody’s over there ragging on bloggers. I’m like, Dude, I hope that’s not what he’s thinking about us.

The role in Sons of Anarchy, could you play someone more opposite of Henry? I mean, is that a kick for you or what?

Henry Rollins: I got some interesting letters about that. “Henry, how could you?”

Brian Clark: But it’s acting! Like you just said, I think it shows range, if anything.

Henry Rollins: Yeah, I mean it wasn’t always pleasant. The guy was despicable, but it was an interesting world to live in for six months. The thing I think is worth mentioning is, I talked about preparing the book and licensing it to a Chicago Review, or doing Get in the Van the audiobook and licensing it to Time Warner. You might think, well, where’s the DIY in that? All the parts were produced here in this office. Everything was DIY-produced and assembled.

I think it’s not a bad idea necessarily to take your homemade whiskey and get it distribution, because the product is still the same, you just have to be careful of how it is rolled out to people. I don’t have a problem with coming up with something here, like the photobook, or Heidi said, Look, let someone else deal with the six figure overhead for producing the photobook, and let’s just concentrate on the next photobook. I’m like, Wow, okay, and that turned into an amazing idea.

Yet the book you see — it’s called Occupants, if you ever encounter that book — what you see is what I wanted you to see. There was nothing held back. There’s no image that I sent them where the book company went , “Oh, no; oh no no no no.” That would have been a deal breaker for me. That would have been the DIY going, “Oh, really? You re censoring me? I’m out.”

I told them when I met them — I went to Chicago to meet with them — and I said, I don’t do censorship. They said, “Oh, we know who we’re dealing with.” I said, Okay. I said, “I’m not trying to be a tough guy, but if you’re going to have problems with anything I’m going to do, either you trust me, and you let this happen, or let’s just tear anything up now and not aggravate each other. We’re adults, and we’re professionals, and we’re all hyper-busy, why waste each other’s time?” They said, “No, you do your thing, and we’ll be here to get it going, and me and this editor worked with each other face-to-face, in each other’s grills for months, and we put that book together. His editing and his help actually made it a far better book than what I could have done. His help was immeasurable.

Brian Clark: I think that’s what I was trying to ask; in one sense, it may seem that your tolerance of traditional media companies might be thin, and yet I think that people are more scared of you than perhaps they ought to be, because you seem like a fairly agreeable person when it comes down to it.

Henry Rollins: Yeah, I just want to get the work done, and I guess to some people, I might be intense or whatever, but I’m not the one getting drunk and punching holes in walls and shaking my wife. That’s just so not ever going to be me.

Why DIY Media Producers Should Seek Massive Distribution

Henry Rollins: The point I want to hammer in is that the intent of the book, whether it came out on my imprint or in Chicago Review, which is a very fine company, the intent was still the same. I want to make this book, I want you to check it out. I want to connect with you via this book. The intent of the actual product, the meal, was cooked with love; it’s just getting the wider audience to serve it to.

You might find this fascinating. If you have an original pressing of the Damaged record, which are fairly hard to come by now, you will see a sticker on the back — a hand-placed sticker — and that sticker is covering the MCA logo. What’s SST — little ol’ SST Records — doing with a massive MCA logo on the back of the record? Greg and Chuck did a distribution deal for that album with MCA. This, to them, was the epitome. This was the zenith of the idea, to take your underground, DIY, unapologetic, unrestrained effort, and give it the biggest possible distribution. It backfired, because eventually, the president of MCA heard the record and went, No.

Unfortunately for us, we had already printed the cover, so we had to go down to the pressing plant and put stickers on 25,000 records ourselves.

Brian Clark: Oh, my God.

Henry Rollins: It was me; Black Flag members; Raymond Pettibon, the great artist; Spot, the producer; members of Saccharine Trust; the Minutemen; and any other band or friend. It was a huge undertaking. We’re in some warehouse with pallets of 12-inch boxes of records. It took days. “I’m hungry,” “Shut up.” You’re like, Okay, because we have to get it done. That’s the reason you see the stickers.

Even in those days, Black Flag was trying to get the big distribution, because, in our minds, why shouldn’t we be next to Led Zeppelin? What, we’re not in the house? I went to a record store and couldn’t find your record; why not? We should be as big as ABBA. Screw you; we’re comin’. When we found out that that wasn’t going to happen, we’re like, Okay, we just have to get better with independent distribution, which, for an ambitious band in those days, was so frustrating, because these distributors, their hands are tied. Everything is minimized, and truncated, and small, and tied off, and nailed to the floor where the bands are rip-roaring with ambition.

You’re young, you’re angry, you’re writing four songs a minute; everything is at this incredible metabolic rate. Everything around you is like, “I’m sorry, the battery ran out … My mom said I couldn’t go.” All these kind of piddly excuses for why you can’t take your Lamborghini out into the world and floor it. You’re like, “No, there’s a thing, the guy said you have to sign this.” There’s a lot of frustration, but the autonomy negated the frustration. You realize the frustration was part of the thing that kept you burning the midnight oil. Okay, you’re not going to let me in? I’m just going to build a bigger ladder. Hell, I’ll dig underneath the wall and come in, but I’m comin’.

Eventually, you find a way to break through, and that’s the differences from them to now. Ambition is the same, innovation’s the same, in that, some people are going to come up with really great ideas like Twitter; things doing pretty well. But nowadays, with the Internet and the ability to reach a massive amount of people, you have hundreds of thousands of listeners to your podcast on any given time.

Imagine trying to reach them through the USPS, like we used to do with the mailout. We used to lick stamps and put them on the newsletter and send them out in hopes that someone would read it. We’d get about 20 percent of those things coming back two weeks later, return-to-sender, because that guy had moved. I’m like, Wow, how much money did we just spend on that? That was hundreds of dollars.

Now, we have a publishing company. We had to teach ourselves how to sort zone mail to save money. It’s a bitch to learn to do that, but we did it. You’d send out thousands of these very ambitious 11-by-17, double-sided, laid-out, beautiful mailing list newsletter things, to watch duffle bags of them come back. You’re like, Okay, that was like, $11-1300 we are never getting back. For a little company, you might as well just light our cars on fire. We just couldn’t afford it.

The small DIY person had a great idea: “I want you to hear my band.” Bandcamp. Let me hear your record for free, and if I like it, I’ll buy it. At least for me, I have bought so many records from bands because they let me hear their music online. I bought seven records from some crazy Russian band the other day, because I could listen to all their music for free online. I heard couple of songs and bought their entire catalog. That’s the big difference between when I was young, and the young innovative DIY person now.

Brian Clark: I alluded to that at the beginning; it’s almost like, What’s your excuse? You’ve got this amazing opportunity. That’s really what turned me away from being an attorney a long time ago, thank God, to give it all up and try this Internet thing, and it worked out, but only because I was willing to do it all myself for a while and then pretty much stick to my guns.

Let me ask you this, because there s this example of Black Flag and punk in the ’80s as being this really marginalized subculture compared to the mainstream. Now we live in a world where everything is fragmented, every little world view, and everyone can choose who they want to listen to. On one hand, that s an amazing opportunity. On the other hand, you have to realize that you have to speak to your people only, and ignore the rest of the world, and a lot of people struggle with that.

It brings to mind, when my parents walked in my room and heard Six Pack, and they did not detect the irony. Neither did a lot of my less-than-stellar friends in high school, who were like, “Yeah, let’s get drunk.” They didn’t get that it was sarcastic. How do you deal with being misunderstood? Does it bother you?

Henry Rollins: Years ago, about 20 some years ago, I met a PR person who became my PR person for many, many years. She said, “You’re not all that well-represented in the media. They have this idea that you’re some drooling stupid psychopath when you can actually articulate yourself pretty well. It’s going to take a while, but we’re going to teach these people that you can finish a sentence. You’re going to do a lot of interviews for the next few years, and it’s going to be a lot of work, and it’s going to take a lot of time, and it’s going to be to your great benefit.”

The Worst Thing You Can Do and Be Online

Henry Rollins: In those years, things changed dramatically. So, I think one must be very, very clear, in a world where we communicate all the time, but we don’t always speak. What’s funny in an email might be sarcastic to the other person, whereas I think I’m being funny, and I somehow offend you. If you know this, if you go online, movie stars, politicians, et cetera apologize all the time:”I’m sorry that thing I said went over the line.” Did it? Well, that’s a whole other discussion of what that line is. “I thought I was being funny.” No one thought you were funny. Whoops. When that whoops is a tweet that is was read by 750,000 people, that’s a big oops. And it’s a big mess to clean up.

What do you do? Do you not say anything? Do you censor yourself? Or, do you just maybe take a moment before you open your big mouth realizing the stage, the platform on which you can now launch invective, or anything else, is huge. People are reading; they are listening. They wake up in the morning and their brains are moving.

I try to choose my words carefully. Believe it or not, the Internet, and the fact that everyone’s in each other’s business if they want, has not necessarily led me to censor my thoughts, but to actually try and develop them more, and be very, very, clear when I speak.

Also, for different publications — Rolling Stone Australia, the LA Weekly, different newspapers hire me for a thing here a thing there — a bunch of people are going to read that, so you better really read it over again, and make sure that’s what you want to say. For me, the idea of clarity, and clarity of purpose, is very important in the DIY world. To me, we do a product, no matter what you’re doing, if you’re not making the world a better place, if you’re not making it cleaner, safer, happier, kinder, less painful … screw you.

That’s all well and good, but if you are going to innovate, make my world better, and if you want me to buy something, sell me good stuff. Not only will I tell a friend, but I’ll come back. But don’t be a jerk and don’t fake me out. Don’t lie to me. A guy like me? I’m very easy to fool, because I want to believe you; I want to think, he’s or she’s got a great idea. I’m in. If you want to run around, do a run around on me, you can do it, because I’m not going to please you. I’m not going to always be looking.

So if you’re going to enter into this brave world of entrepreneurship or innovation, I think the best ideas of these people come from a basic goodness. Even Oppenheimer, who had some big regrets at the end of his life — a lot a questions at the end of Oppenheimer’s life — he went at it out of science and innovation and curiosity. The DIY person these days can touch a lot of people. You should be careful with that sword you can very easily wield with the startup of a website.

You hear — I don’t know if you ever do, and I wouldn’t recommend it there are some extreme podcast people as far as white separatist groups, and extreme political opinions as to what foreign policy should be, or the way Americans should conduct themselves — stuff that is really repellent. You know, arguably, I defend it, because I defend the First Amendment, but the Internet allows a neo-Nazi group to get to every single person who is so inclined, who has as little as a cell phone.

If you want to do good, you might be able to do a lot of good, but if you want to do bad, you can wreak havoc. To me, the worst thing is to wreak mediocrity. If you can be eh, then you can reach a lot of people with your eh. I can’t stand eh, I can’t stand it. Life is too short, so either blow my mind or leave me alone.

Brian Clark: Well put. This has been excellent, Henry, and I want to be respectful of your time, but if you can give us just a quick preview of what you’re thinking about your presentation in May.

What Henry Is Going to Deliver at Authority Rainmaker

Henry Rollins: What I want to do is I want to come completely from the truth, which would be my experience — my very long experience — in the DIY world. The good parts, the bad parts, what has succeeded for me, what I learned. I’d love to save any interested person in that audience some time, some time and some heartache: I got a broken nose over this one; I think it’d be great if you didn’t get one. I’m going to tell you when the things fell down and went boom, so maybe you can write that one down, and never do anything like that, and not waste great amounts of your time and money.

I’m no expert; I’m no business analyst. But I’ve been in the business world with profit and loss and all of that for many years, yet I come at it with a very punk-rock, DIY, analog attitude. I want your time and attention. I want to make really good stuff for you. Good radio, good book, good whatever: I want you to dig it. However you like that thing that I do, I want you to like it, be able to use it, and have it be a vitamin for your life. Getting that good intent into a thing that gets across to someone else, that’s an interesting journey.

I’m going to talk about my personal journeys on all of that: the why, the how, and the fact that for almost thirty years now, I have been sustaining companies that are benevolent engines. They do good things and have allowed me to do incredible things that I never thought would come my way. Heck, I raise money for causes because people who know me for my company, they now want me to do this charity thing. The doors to all of this DIY stuff is opened, where, by thinking for yourself, by being brave, you can have some interesting times, and I dare to say some fun. So many people don’t aspire to much; you can really unleash the great energy of your brains.

The fact that you are really good at something — people should be able to capitalize on that, as should you. That’s what I think should be the paradigm of the DIY spirit; let’s do good stuff. Especially in this age of things being so rapidly uploaded and accessible; let’s give ’em really good stuff. Maybe the people in that room can make this the best century we’ve ever had. Maybe this will be the most war–free century we’ve had — we’re not off to a great start — but maybe it’s these people with their great inventions who turn the thing around.

I’m certainly not looking to people of my dad’s age for innovation; he must be 80-something by now. He’s not a dumb guy — he’s a PhD — but at 80-something years of age, you know, I’m not expecting him to get up, launch out of his chair in the morning like I’m looking at some 23-year-old. I presume I’m talking to potential leaders and people who are going to influence others, like me; I’m always looking for someone to tell me something good. That’s what I think I’m speaking to, and that’s basically what I’m going to be putting across.

Brian Clark: Excellent. I love it. Henry, thank you so much for your time and your wisdom, and again, as I promised before we went on the air, I will not be a big freak of a fanboy when I get to meet you in May, but I am looking forward to it, you can tell.

Henry Rollins: I can, and I really appreciate that. I must apologize again for being 18 minutes late calling you; that’s so not me. I like to say I put the punk in punctual. These auditions get you really nervous.

Brian Clark: Just so everyone knows, Henry is reading for a new role, and he was so absorbed in the script, he was a tad late. I couldn t care less, frankly.

Henry Rollins: Well, I appreciate that, but I get so nerved up about this stuff that I forget everything around me. I looked up at the clock, I’m like, “No.” I don’t like to be that guy, but I was, so thank you for having some room.

Brian Clark: The punk in punctual — I’m going to remember that.

Henry Rollins: Yeah, I love that. I hope I came up with that. It was either me or Mark Twain.

Brian Clark: (laugh) All right everyone, that wraps it up for this week. Hopefully we will be seeing you in May in Denver at the conference. Henry’s going to shut down two days of incredible education with the kick in the ass you need to get it done. If not, I will at least talk to you next week. Take care.

Mar 02 2015



Rank #10: 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?

Rainmaker.FM is Brought to You By

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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 and author, to guide you through the right ways to create a sense of community, regardless of the environment.

Listen to The Digital Entrepreneur below ...

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Important links from this episode:

Feb 15 2018



Rank #11: Can Social Media Drive Sales, or Is It a Waste of Time?

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Many online marketers are frustrated with social media as a sales driver. But if you approach it the correct way, it can have huge impact.

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For many online marketers, social media is a great way to engage with customers. However, when it comes to driving tangible financial results, it can often fall short.

But before you dismiss social media as nothing more than just a function of sales support, realize that social media can be instrumental in driving revenue; if you approach it the right way.

In this 23 minute episode, Sean Jackson interviews Katy Katz from Marketing Refresh to discuss the current state of social media, including …

  • Why the promise of social media as a sales driver has failed
  • The true ways to measure social media’s impact to the bottom line
  • The right way to think about social media as a part of your online marketing mix
  • And the key metrics you need to create to align your efforts for real financial results

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The Show Notes

Oct 26 2017



Rank #12: Three Misconceptions About Modern SEO That Confuse Content Marketers

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What’s the reality of search engine optimization after the Google Hummingbird update? Can someone destroy your business with negative SEO? Did Google kill the concept of AuthorRank when it eliminated the Authorship initiative?

For these types of questions, there’s no better person to ask than Danny Sullivan, founder of Search Engine Land and Marketing Land, CMO of Third Door Media (producers of the popular SMX conferences), and a veteran search engine expert of 20 years.

Today’s show is just a warmup to Danny’s presentation at Authority Rainmaker 2015, May 13-15 in Denver, Colorado.

In this 32-minute episode Danny and I discuss:

  • His search engine expertise dating back to 1995
  • What the next generation CMO will focus on
  • The biggest misconception about Google and SEO
  • What’s (really) working with SEO right now
  • The ongoing power of the humble hyperlink
  • The true nature of good SEO practices
  • Is Google “AuthorRank” really dead?

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The Show Notes

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The Transcript

Three Misconceptions About Modern SEO That Confuse Content Marketers

Brian Clark: Hey everyone. Welcome to the show, as always. I’m Brian Clark, founder and CEO of Copyblogger Media and today we have a very special guest.

I’m really excited that not only was I able to convince this very busy, smart person to appear at our conference, Authority Rainmaker in May this year but as a little bit of a warm up to that, we are going to have a conversation with him today about search, SEO and Google. He is one of the most knowledge people in the work on all of those good topics.

Danny Sullivan is the founder of Search Engine Land, Marketing Land and is Chief Content Officer at Third Door Media. That’s right Danny, isn’t it?

Danny Sullivan: That’s right.

Brian Clark: That is correct.

His Search Engine Expertise Dating Back to 1995

Brian Clark: I’m just going to kick it over to you a bit because you have been doing this for so long, that I think a lot of people don’t realize how early you started paying attention to search engines. So take us back a little bit.

Danny Sullivan: Sure. I was actually a newspaper reporter back in the early 90s and had left to go and start doing web development with a friend of mine because we had seen the Internet and wanted to be part of it.

As part of that, in 1995 we had clients that we would list and get put out onto the web and we would promote them to the search engines but nobody really understood how they worked. And one client, was like “Why am I not at the top of the listing?” because I didn’t really know and no one actually knew. So I took some time to go through and do some research and try to see what had some of the common things were that caused people to rank tops or not rank tops and published all that out there, as what I called a Web Masters Guide to Search Engines.

I did this to try and help people understand some of the common things that they should be doing and it just rolled along from there and I’ve been doing it since.

I am the founding editor of Search Engine Land, where we try to cover everything that is happening in the search marketing space, and we also have Marketing Land, where we expand on covering digital marketing because they are not so separate anymore. People who are search marketers a lot of the times want to know what’s going on with digital marketing and you have digital marketers, who need to know search marketing. So we wanted to cater to the broader audiences as well.

Brian Clark: Absolutely. I think a lot of people are familiar with your conferences, Search Marketing Expo (SMX) and I think I spoke at the Marketing Land conference, which was really excellent. What else does Third Door Media do? Are there other lines of business?

Danny Sullivan: It’s primarily conferences and we have the SMX shows that you were at. And thank you very much for that.

We do one social media oriented show that runs in the fall in Las Vegas and we also have our MarTech (The Marketing Technology Conference) series that launched last year, which covers the marketing technology space. And then of course, the two websites, Marketing Land and Search Engine Land.

We also have a marketing services division, which is where we have contacts of people who are wanting to get in touch with different people, if you are an advertiser or whatever. So if you’d love to reach people who are involved with SEO and what not, then you can go through our marketing services division. They look at our audience to see if there is a possible match. For example, we can get messages out to let people know that you have a white paper that you want them to know about and if those people choose to say, “I want this specific information,” then they can get it.

Brian Clark: Excellent. So with the MarTech conference, Scott Brinker is working with you guys on that. Is that correct?

Danny Sullivan: Yeah.

Brian Clark: So that’s coming at the end of March, so let’s make sure that we point that out. Do you have the details on that? Boston, right?

Danny Sullivan: The first one we did was in Boston. The next one is happening in San Francisco, right at the end of March and that’s going gangbusters. It’s a big, huge exploding space where people are interested. You know, there has been talks about the idea that the next CIO will actually be your CMTO (Chief Marketing Technology Officer) because things are merging together so much.

Brian Clark: It’s so important. The tools are getting more powerful. Often the complexity, the application or execution require that hybrid of technologist and marketer. We’ll make sure we link that show up in the show notes.

The Biggest Misconception About Google and SEO

Brian Clark: :Let’s get to the topic at hand and as someone who’s been trying to make sense of it all for 20 years, you know better than most, that SEO, search, Google, is all a big mess of confusion to a lot of people. We have a lot more people commenting on what works, what doesn’t, what’s the best approach to SEO, so I want to focus on that with you. And really let’s drill down into the stuff that people are getting wrong because there is a ton of things that we need to do to do things right but if you are coming at it from the wrong perspective from the beginning, it gets really difficult to do well.

In your mind, what do you think right now, post Hummingbird, is the biggest misconception about Google and SEO?

Danny Sullivan: You know, it probably hasn’t even changed in pre-Hummingbird and for a lot of people for years and again, it will depend on who you are. If you are an advanced SEO, this probably doesn’t apply to you but if you are somebody who maybe thinks you are an advanced SEO and you are not, or you a playing with it, then it may do.

And that’s the idea that, “I am going to somehow reverse engineer the algorithm and I am going to go and find the exact right formula. I’m just going to manipulate the hell out of it, and rank number one.”

I think that’s a misconception because to me, SEO has never been about trying to outwit the search engine. It’s been about trying to understand what the search engine likes and make sure that you are friendly to it. And those may sound to some people as being exactly the same, right? Well understanding what the search engine wants, isn’t that outwitting it? And I would say, no.

Search engines, if you go back through time and you try to look at all the changes they have done and all the signals that they want to reward, they are consistently trying to do one thing, and that’s figure out what human beings like about websites and reward the ones that are deserving of it.

And so, as an SEO, the more that you are trying to create a side that is not natural in that regard, or you are trying to do things that go beyond what a human being would like, the more likely I think that you are going to get yourself into trouble and you are going to miss the point of SEO.

So good SEO is doing things that humans want. That means like, when you talk about why you want to make sure your site is crawlable, in part it’s because a human being might want to find a page that you have on your website. If a human being can’t find the page because you don’t have any obvious links to it, then the search engine itself isn’t probably going to find the page for the same reason.

And therefore, it’s either not an important page or there is something wrong. So then the wrong SEO move to that is, “I’ll create a site map and I will make sure that the site map is all a bunch of hidden links. Then I will be able to feed it all these pages that I want the search engine to know, but I don’t want the human beings to see.”

Where as better thinking SEO is, “Oh no, this is an important page. I want to make sure that there are visible links that go out to it, so that people can locate it.” Having said that, there are ways for you to provide the actual site map link files and you should do that as well. To some degree those might be invisible but those things were not really intended or designed for the idea that, “I’ll make up 100 pages, one for each city that I do car rentals out of, so that I have a page for each city and then I kind of go with it from there.” One of these kind of nightmare situations that you sometimes see.

By the way, links is another example of that. People understand that the search engines like links and they still do like links. It’s still important to have good link profile pointing at you but then the wrong headed SEO move or misconception is, “Well if I just need some links, I will go out and buy them or use a service and I will get a whole bunch of them. Or I’ll concoct a way to generate a bunch of links for me very quickly because maybe I’ll do an infographic and I’ll embed my link in there with certain keywords I’m hoping to be found for.”

Whereas a more natural approach is, “Yeah, maybe I did the infographic and I left it for people to link how they want to.” And surprise, when Google went through and did their Penguin update, these were the kind of things that got hit. The idea that people who had managed to spend all this time building up links with exactly one word leading back to their website, might have found themselves getting hit. And part of them getting hit is because it’s not really natural. That’s not how people normally link.

Brian Clark: Yeah. That’s an excellent topic because it seems to me that after Penguin and it getting incorporated into the broader algorithm, the whole concept of trying to look natural just makes that type of linking building and/or buying, a tougher job.

Meanwhile, people like me, and I guess really like you, you were a journalist, that’s how you came to this trade. So you’ve always been a content guy but the thought of building links like that makes me queasy because I’m a writer guy. I’d rather create something for people and hopefully it works that way. But, we hear everything about signals, social signals and the metrics and all the data that Google has. Google+, Google Analytics etc but the link still matters. How does Google really factor in the fact that because of the mainstreaming of social media, people don’t link like they used to?

Danny Sullivan: We don’t know. And by “We don’t know,” and I don’t think they necessarily even know what their long-term strategy is. I have described links as being like the fossil fuel of search ranking signals and they still work. You can pump them into your search engine, literally, and it will get you to perhaps where you want to go but it’s very, very dirty polluted, there’s a lot of junk and a lot of crud.

So in order to make this sort of like a tar sands thing that we are getting now, into something that you can actually make useable, they’ve got to punch it through a bunch of filters. And that’s what we have seen Google do over the past decade, is add more and more ways to filter out all the crud from the link signal. Penguin being the latest of it. It’s like our super duper centrifuge. We’ll put them all in there and we’ll try and see what still sticks to the wall and that can be used. And so that leads over to what Hummingbird was all about and why that’s important.

With Hummingbird it was as if Google literally took their search engine apart. I mean, people hear about a Penguin or they hear about a Panda and they identify that with penalties and they get that’s our filters, so when they hear Hummingbird, they sometimes think that it’s somehow one specific type of thing that Hummingbird is doing.

Hummingbird was an entire rebuild of their search engine and it was as if they said, “Yeah, we know this link signal is really bad, it’s this bad fuel. We’d love to have our solar panelled car. Or we would love to have a car that can run on multiple kinds of energies.” So that’s what they did. They built a search engine that supposedly can do that.

It’s hard wired in there, so if they want to use solar energy or let’s say that social signals are a solar clean kind of energy or whatever, it can do that. Or if they want to use liquid natural gas, they can pump that in there and they have got a fuel cell, and they have got all these different things that are wired in to the core architecture, now so they don’t have to try and bolt stuff onto it. But by enlarge, it’s still using gas, or it’s still using links. But what they may be able to shift to, that’s what we are all waiting to see.

I long suspected that they would shift over to using more social signals. It doesn’t mean that I think they get away from the link signal entirely and it doesn’t mean that the social signal is less polluted, or is somehow not polluted. I think any signal that you get out there can be gamed but I think with the social signal there is a lot of advantages to it.

I did a piece once, where I talked about “when everybody gets the vote” and the idea that social allows you to do that. So Google uses links because when they started they thought, “Well links, it’s sort of like the democracy of the web and when you like something, you link to it, so we can count up the links. We will weight the links. We’ll do some other things but then that way kind of everybody votes. And I said, “If you think links are like the democracy of the web, then that’s like thinking democracy in America was fine when you had to be 30 years and older, white and land owning, in order to be able to vote. It’s democracy.”

Brian Clark: Right.

Danny Sullivan: Because most people don’t link.

Brian Clark: Yes.

Danny Sullivan: Like in the way that they’ve traditionally done.

You don’t go to a great restaurant or have a great experience with a product you purchased and think, “This is wonderful. I’m now going to go out and write a blog post about it. And, I’ll make sure I write the blog post about it and I’ll double check to make sure that the platform that I use doesn’t some how put no follow on all the links and prevent them from passing credit.

Plus, I’m savvy enough to think, that I’ll also make sure that I use a very descriptive link to just kind of help this extra site because they did such a great job.” It’s like, “No, nobody does that.” So you’ve got some who will go out there and do that but there’s a huge amount of great votes if you will, that don’t get counted because that’s not how they link. Although, the way people do tend to link is with social actions. “I like this restaurant. I literally will like it on Facebook.”

Brian Clark: Yep.

Danny Sullivan: Or, “I’m at a place and I checked into it.” Or “I saw something that I liked, so I followed them on Twitter and I tweeted out that I like this sort of stuff.”

I think social offers an important new kind of signal that can be used to figure out what is good and what should be rewarded on the web that enables many, many more people to vote. Also to be able to vote with some accountability, because the social accounts themselves start to build up authority.

You know who these people are, and yes, they can all be manipulated, but so can websites. I think the social accounts can be manipulated, but more controls, or easier ways to detects that, will come. That the social signal will start to become more and more important but it’s taking it’s time to get there and hey, I could be wrong but Hummingbird is supposedly engineered so that it can take advantage of that, if that’s one of the things that Google wants to do.

Brian Clark: Yeah, absolutely. When you think about social sharing of content, each of those is a link, it just so happens to also be no followed, if it’s any sort of reputable search engine.

The Google and Twitter Firehose Deal

Before we move on, I want to talk more about dirty links, a very salacious topic. So Google and Twitter are reinstating the firehose deal, yes?

Danny Sullivan: Yeah. They did reinstate it. It hasn’t actually gone live yet but the deal is in place for it to come back.

Brian Clark: I still think Google+ is obviously of great value and we’ll talk about that later, but Google+ is not a Facebook killer. When are Google and Twitter going to get married?

Danny Sullivan: Ah well, that’s hard to say. I would have thought they would have gotten married long ago, right?

Brian Clark: Yeah, me too.

Danny Sullivan: And I think it becomes harder now that Twitter has gone public because you know, they are probably even more expensive. And I’m not certain that they will. The deal was signed.

You know, there is some bad blood between the two companies in various ways and that’s one of the reasons why it took so long for this deal to finally get signed. Now that they are a public company, you do what makes sense for your share holders but I just don’t think Twitter sees their future as going in there to Google. And also I think Twitter sees their future very much as, “We can grow and be independent and be out on our own.” So as much as Google perhaps may want them, I don’t think that they are thinking that they want to go there. And I also don’t think Google is at the point where they think they want them.

Brian Clark: Yeah. Well Google I think, if they have the data, they may be happy. I mean, because ultimately that’s what they are looking for. But it’s also a huge ad platform.

Danny Sullivan: It is but Google could get that data now. It’s easier if you have the firehose but it’s not for Google to go through and figure out, “Oh, right. This page had X amount of tweets. This account has this many followers.” This is basic scraping. They do stuff that’s even harder than that.

Brian Clark: Yeah.

Danny Sullivan: So the data would certainly help them. I think it especially helps them in that if they need the real-time stuff, you know, when you have the firehose coming in there, that’s a hard thing for them to do, which is grab a tweet within the second that it happens, so you can then make sure when someone does a search on your search engine, that you have it. With the backend analysis they can do stuff like that.

But I also kind of don’t know that they necessarily think they need it so much. I’m not saying that they think Google+ is the end all and be all but I just feel like they are kind of stalled with what they know what they want to do with social.

Brian Clark: Yeah. That’s a good point.

Danny Sullivan: I had this Google+ meal and it didn’t go down so well.

Brian Clark: Yeah, exactly.

Danny Sullivan: I’ll never eat again.

Brian Clark: Right. I know all the consternation that caused all of us, which we’ll touch on.

Danny Sullivan: Yeah.

The Ongoing Power of the Humble Hyperlink

Brian Clark: Here’s another thing. There was a huge amount of confusion around, and I think there is some merit to the topic, but I want to get a feel for how bad it is. And when we talk about bad links, bad neighbourhoods and negative SEO, which is effectively, for those who aren’t clear on that topic, your competitor generates a bunch of dirty links, throws them at your site, Google thinks you’re a spammer, penalizes you and they rise above you in the rankings.

Now I have heard of a few legitimate cases of people I know, who this has actually happened to, at least according to them. Now how big a problem is this? How easily can someone ruin another website by buying or generating bad links at it?

Danny Sullivan: First, back a bit, it’s not new. It’s been out there for almost as long as I can imagine and it has come up in the path to sometimes tag different names like Google Bowling and stuff like that. But it kind of came back out into the forefront with Penguin because people started saying, “Wow. This renewed push to punish for bad links, well what happens if somebody buys me a bunch of bad links?”

And then Google’s like, “Well, as we said, it’s always very unlikely that that will happen.” So then people were like, “Right, well I’m going to prove to you that it can happen” and they go out and they do it. You do get these cases where it can happen but I don’t think it’s an issue for most people. And by most people, I mean virtually all the people who have reputable sites that are doing well and that have been carrying on.

I say that because you haven’t seen that kind of an outcry. You can get these occasional weird things that will happen but you know, if it was just that easy to take out a good site, with a good link profile, you’d hear a lot more noise about it and a lot more complaints.

Where I think it becomes an issue is if you are a site that is not necessarily an essential for Google, or that you are not essential in your space. You don’t have a really good back link profile to overcome the sort of link attack that you might suffer. You know, you don’t have this other natural thing that kind of goes with it.

Then I think you are in more danger about it and you know, it’s still a concern. It concerns me. I don’t like the idea that somebody might be vulnerable to this type of thing, even if they are a small website that just hasn’t had a good chance to really build up profiles that are like that. And I would far prefer it if Google, rather than punish people for links that they think are bad, just don’t reward them.

Brian Clark: Right.

Danny Sullivan: That to me is the equivalent of vote buying, right? So you can think if you found somebody was buying votes and you absolutely knew they stuffed a ballot box, then maybe you would say, “Right, you don’t get to be a candidate anymore. You’re out of the election.”

But if you just come across ballot box stuff and you don’t know who did it, then just throw out the bad ballots. That’s the safer and cleaner solution that doesn’t generate all this sort of stuff and I kind of said that repeatedly to Google, and I have written about it, and that just doesn’t go. They seem to feel like they need to have this sort of penalty kind of aspect of it and I hope that will change because if it does change, I think it will be harder for people then to come up and start talking about the negative SEO stuff that comes up. But I do think for most people it’s not worth your time to worrying about.

Brian Clark: Yeah but you do make a good point though. So if you don’t have an established link profile, you are probably not ranking, so no one cares about you, to attack you. If you do have a well established link profile and you are ranking well, you are a target but it’s less likely to work. It’s sort of what we are hoping for here.

Danny Sullivan: Right, and you do get these horror stories. I had one person say, “Send it to me.” And I think this is the kind of stuff that is terrible, where somebody gets a threat that “If you do not purchase this type of thing or whatever, we will attack you with all this stuff.” So then they are like, “I better pay off this protection because I’m afraid what might happen.”

I think a lot of people can safely ignore that sort of stuff and they will be carrying on just fine.

Brian Clark: Excellent.

Danny Sullivan: And you know, I think of all the things that you have to worry about on the SEO front, I wouldn’t be sitting around freaking that someone was about to do negative SEO on me and that’s going to be the end all and be all.

Brian Clark: Yeah. Good perspective.

The True Nature of Good SEO Practices

Brian Clark: Okay, so again, you are a long time journalist. You have always been a content person. Interesting to me. I started preaching, effectively what has always been the Copyblogger approach 9 years ago, and it just took Google a while to catch up. And now some of our mutual friends, who have typically worn the darker shade of hat, are now you calling themselves content marketers. You knew it was going to come, right? I mean, you’ve been preaching it forever.

Danny Sullivan: Oh sure and you know, there is a bunch of mysteries with that too. You have some people who are saying, “A good SEO is also a content person.” Or “It’s more about the content, than it is about the SEO.” And then I think you have other people who are like, “Maybe it’s sort of the same thing, where we are all content marketers now or whatever.”

I don’t think it’s as clear cut as that. I think a good SEO understands that the foundation of their success comes from having great content. But it doesn’t mean that if you are the SEO, you have to the person who also is a content marketer, or someone who comes up with all the great content.

In a lot of cases, it may work if you are the same sort of person but there is so much that goes on with SEO. It can be a full-time job, that to then turn around and say, “Now you are going to be the content editor and you are going to have to solicit great content. You are going to have to write great content.”

And you know, “Hey, I’m trying to write a million page website, where I am making sure that we are being spidered properly and people are still doing the basic site architectural stuff that should be happening, that is out there and dealing with new spotlight tags.”

I think it can be fine for you to just be an SEO. I think as you have seen this change come in where — not just content marketing has grown — but digital marketing has grown into social and other areas, that you have some people who say, “I can’t just be an SEO. Or you’ve got to be more than that. Or we are not SEO’s anymore, we are all this other stuff.” I think the answer really depends on who you are. It’s fine to just be an SEO.

If it is literally taking up your full-time work to just be focused on how your site is being crawled, the kind of content you have coming in. Is it being optimised well? Are we getting all the things tagged up the way they need to do? And so on. There are companies that are big enough to where if it’s not just a full-time job for one SEO, then there are multiple SEOs that are involved with it.

So if you really are being consumed with core traditional SEO stuff, that’s fine and you don’t need to feel like, “Oh dear, I’m screwing up because now everybody says I’m supposed to be a content marketer, an inbound marketer and all this other stuff that is supposed to be there.” That’s fine. Nobody says to the social media marketer, “Oh by the way, now you are a content marketer.”

Brian Clark: Even though content is what works in social.

Danny Sullivan: And that’s the core but what I think happens is, that in whether you are a social media marketer or an SEO marketer, you understand that you have to have that foundation and if you are not responsible for it, you are working with the people who are.

Brian Clark: Yeah. The analogy is like film production. You know, the screenwriter doesn’t do makeup, production and direction and all this.

I guess the person who is just starting out, a single site, a single content creator, the good news is that at least post Hummingbird, it’s easier I think than ever to focus on content. As long as you understand that things like keyword research, it’s a language that your audience is using. Don’t even think about SEO yet but you still need to know how they choose to talk about these topics.

Danny Sullivan: And that’s an example where your core SEO foundation goes in to help, say, your content people. Because your content people might not be thinking in that regard. So they might not be considering what people are after in order to determine the kind of content that they should write, or if they do write the content, they might not be thinking about the ways people who might actually be searching for it.

And while the keyword research stuff has gotten much more sophisticated now, where you know, if you don’t use the exact words, you are not necessarily dead in the water, it’s still helpful to understand the language of your audience.

And so that’s an example where the SEO can go back and help other people. And this goes to the idea again that, “Oh well, you know, if you are an SEO you have to be all these other things.” If your job is to actually create content, you are probably not spending all the time thinking about all the ways to find out how you can do keyword research. You are probably more focused on, “How do I actually create the content?”

Brian Clark: Yeah.

Danny Sullivan: And nobody would say to the content person, “And you better be an SEO as well.” But what you do tell content people is, “You ought to understand some fundamentals to SEO and understand some fundamentals of social media.” It’s the same thing with SEO. “You should understand some of the things that are going on with content.”

Is Google “Author Rank” Really Dead?

Brian Clark: Yeah and that’s an excellent kind of bridge to what I want to talk about because I think there was this, I don’t know, and certainly people like I championed it as, “Look, Google is really serious about content and that was Authorship.” And then we all put in the tags and people talked about Author Rank in a way that they didn’t really understand. Everyone was looking to the future, where the content creator matters as a ranking signal. I know you have some very interesting views on this. Yes, Google ended it but does that mean that identity, when it comes to content, is irrelevant?

Danny Sullivan: No. And while Google ended the overt Authorship aspect, they actually said that they might still be doing it behind the scenes.

So while Authorship, as a formal display aspect of Google came to an end, the idea that an Author Rank may still be used, so determining who authors are didn’t. And in fact, I think in Google News, they can still may occasionally list actual authors that are there.

So I think Authorship is going to remain important and that Google is going to continue to look at what they can do with it. I just think that the way they ask people to signal them, who’s an author and so on, will change. And some of that I think is just a result of dealing with the fallout from Google+.

But I think you have got a search team that kind of had Google+ thrust upon them in some ways and might have thought, “Well we can figure out Authorship just fine, thanks very much. We don’t need to have all these other things put in there.” And kind of wanted to get back to just doing it that way. So I think that Authorship has not gone, but how Google calculates it, is simply changing.

What He Will Be Talking About at Authority Rainmaker

Brian Clark: All right. Can you give us a little bit of a preview of what your talk in May at Authority Rainmaker will be about?

Danny Sullivan: It will be an amusing and all encompassing. No.

Brian Clark: A staggering arc of heartbreaking genius.

Danny Sullivan: I will expand a bit on what’s been going on with the whole Hummingbird situation and I will also talk a bit more about what we didn’t get into on this call, which is what’s been going on with this whole entity search thing. The idea that Google really understands beyond just words.

I’ll also spend some time talking about what’s going on on the mobile space and why I think people need to be really thinking about that mobile experience. And how that all comes out into play. Plus, I’ll explore a little bit about what’s going on with the direct answers that happen out there.

You know, Google is morphing into almost being an answer engine, as we used to talk about. That you are not actually searching and then clicking and leaving, but they are actually just giving you answers. And there are concerns I think, and rightful concerns about, “How does Google get these answers because Google doesn’t actually know anything? And yet you do these searches and here’s an answer right at the top of the page.” And “Oh, here’s a link to where it came from.” But you probably don’t click on that anymore, which is great for Google and great for Google’s users but not so great for the people who actually power the answer.

Brian Clark: Yeah, it really changes your content strategy because if Google can answer for you, that may not be a question you want to be focusing on.

Danny Sullivan: Exactly.

Brian Clark: Well I can’t wait to see you in May. I may actually see you out on the west coast at the end of March, so we will keep our fingers cross for that. But thank you so much for your time Danny.

Danny Sullivan: You’re welcome. Thanks for having me.

Feb 25 2015



Rank #13: 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 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.

Voiceover: The Digital Entrepreneur is brought to you by the all-new StudioPress Sites, a turnkey solution that combines the ease of an all-in-one website builder with the flexible power of WordPress. It’s perfect for bloggers, podcasters, and affiliate marketers, as well as those selling physical goods, digital downloads, and membership programs. If you’re ready to take your WordPress site to the next level, see for yourself why over 200,000 website owners trust StudioPress. Go to Rainmaker.FM/StudioPress right now.

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



Rank #14: 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?


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



Rank #15: 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.)

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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

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

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, 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 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



Rank #16: 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



Rank #17: The 5 Elements of the Modern Marketing Website

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What are the essential elements that a website must have to create a user experience that leads to successful digital commerce? We introduce them in this week’s episode.

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

Start getting more from your site today!

In this 19-minute podcast, Brian Clark and Jerod Morris discuss:

  • Why email still isn’t dead
  • The important benefits of adaptive content (and why mobile responsive is no longer a “nice to have”)
  • Why the “access experience” has become a must
  • How to create courses that serve as the perfect lead magnet
  • Why you need to test … everything

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The Show Notes

The Transcript

The 5 Elements of the Modern Marketing Website

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

Jerod Morris: Brian, typically when you and I record, I’m actually pretty jealous because you’re somewhere beautiful like Colorado, and I’m usually stuck recording from my home office in Dallas. Today, I’m actually recording in San Diego, overlooking the ocean, and I’m not going to lie. It’s pretty sweet. I get finally now why people move out here.

Brian Clark: Yeah, I generally don’t turn down opportunities to speak at conferences in San Diego, yet that’s exactly what I had to do and sent you and Caroline in my stead. Now, I got a little nervous when I saw a Tweet from Caroline saying, “Why don’t I live here?” She’s one of the few people that actually lives here in Boulder. I’m like, “Oh great, what did I do?”

Jerod Morris: I don’t want to break any confidences or anything, but she’s been talking about it quite a bit. You might be careful.

Brian Clark: Yeah. Well, all right. If you move, you’re moving to Boulder. I don’t care what you say.

Jerod Morris: Yes. There’s no disputing that, not at all. Okay, in our last episode, which was the first of The Digital Entrepreneur, we defined that term, and we discussed who actually is a digital entrepreneur. Today, you and I are going to transition into a five-part series that we have planned that will discuss the website, the online presence that a digital entrepreneur needs to succeed.

This is an idea that you’ve been kicking around for a while. What was the genesis of it? Take me back to the beginning, to where you started thinking about this, talking about this.

The Why Behind This Episode

Brian Clark: If you really want to go back to the beginning, it would be 2010 when we formed the company and decided we wanted to build an all-in-one solution. Now, in 2010, it was literally a different world compared to now.

Yet along the way, we saw things changing. The cool thing about the way we develop products, but specifically software, is that, if it’s not something that we would use, then you don’t build it. First and foremost, it’s got to be up to the level of stuff that we would actually use.

Over time, it took us a while to build it, obviously, being a bootstrapped company without the war chest of funds to draw from. But it was a great thing. Number one, the picture of what Rainmaker Platform should be became much clearer as time went on.

Number two, the type of people we’re trying to help, the small businesses and the very small businesses, have finally come to the point where they’re willing to look again at technology investment coming out of the recession of 2008. That really clamped things down.

You saw that all the marketing automation activity out there went upstream to the enterprise. Eloqua marketing, or even HubSpot, went after the bigger companies. That left a bunch of people hanging dry to a certain degree, but that’s changing.

When we talk about digital entrepreneurs, though, this is a specific use-case because that’s the kind of company that we are. The platform reflects a lot of that functionality for purely digital businesses–even though it’s, obviously, very useful for professional services or other types of traditional businesses.

Jerod Morris: Yeah. That’s what the Rainmaker Platform allows you to do–build this modern marketing website, which we’re going to talk about. Let’s discuss these five elements that you’ve come up with for a modern marketing website. The first one is email, right?

Why Email Still Isn’t Dead

Brian Clark: Yeah. This is not a commercial for Rainmaker Platform, don’t worry. Literally, you’ll find that these are the bedrock elements that you have to have. I don’t think anyone is arguing that email is dead anymore. The fact that we had that conversation over and over and over, over just the 10 years that Copyblogger’s been around, is somewhat humorous–but also somewhat annoying.

It shows a fundamental lack of understanding about how things work by well-intentioned, but somewhat naive social media pundits. They didn’t ever really have any chops in the digital world. They didn’t build real businesses. They were pontificating about the impact of social media, which has been, of course, huge.

It’s hard to even quantify how much things are different now that social media’s gone mainstream–but it did not kill email. We have our favorite statistic, which still holds true. Email converts to sales 40 times greater than social media promotions–40 times, not 40 percent. Some people get confused, 40 times. That’s a gigantic ratio there.

Jerod Morris: Yeah. I believe that’s a McKinsey number that you’re citing right there.

Brian Clark: It is.

Jerod Morris: Okay, that’s email. What’s interesting as we go into the second element of a modern marketing website you and I talked about this actually last week. You originally had these two in separate ones, and we talked about it and combined it, which is adaptive content–which includes a website being mobile responsive.

The Important Benefits of Adaptive Content (and Why Mobile Responsive Is No Longer a ‘Nice to Have’)

Brian Clark: Yeah, I almost wanted to carve those out. We jumped on responsive design very early from a mainstream perspective with StudioPress. That was important because, to this day, Jerod, if you go to a site on your phone and you get hit with that tiny little text, you have to really want it not to hit the back button. It has to be mission critical.

Jerod Morris: Yeah.

Brian Clark: But when you think about this concept of adaptive content, first and foremost, the site itself has to display the content. It has to adapt to the device you’re on, first and foremost. We’re not even talking about choosing amongst the best content to serve up to someone, which is the more sophisticated definition.

First and foremost, if someone wants to read an article or check out your homepage or your sales page and they can’t because they’re on a phone, or even a tablet where the experience is substandard, you’re going to lose that sale. You’re going to lose that visitor. You’re going to lose that audience. Really, it wasn’t too long ago that responsive design was considered cutting edge. It’s mandatory now. Even Google will designate whether your site is mobile friendly or not. It’s a must have.

The fact that I still run across this many sites, day in and day out, on a mobile device that I can’t consume the content is just shocking to me. These are major sites, too. It’s not just mom and pop.

Beyond that, though, the next step when we talk about an adaptive experience is, how do we give people the logical and best next step for where they are on the journey that they’re on? How do you become the choice, ultimately, for the product or service?

Well, if you’re the one who serves up the next step in an uninterrupted fashion, then you’re going to win. If you’ve got someone at a certain point in the journey and then they go find the next step somewhere else because you couldn’t deliver it, that’s another way to lose the sale.

So ‘adaptive’ sounds kind of neat, cool, and cutting edge, but it’s really one of those necessary elements of modern website survival–getting to more of your prospects with the right information at the right time, no matter what device they’re on, and then closing that sale.

Jerod Morris: Yep. In other words, the right piece of content at the right time for the right person in a format that fits the device that they’re on. That’s what we’re talking about.

Brian Clark: Yeah. That’s really been the melding that you and I came to not long ago. It seems like design and content are two different things, but it’s really one thing when we talk about a website.

Jerod Morris: Yep. We’ve got email. We’ve got adaptive content. The next is the ‘access experience.’ Talk about that.

Why the ‘Access Experience’ Has Become a Must

Brian Clark: There’s a lot of things here. One, if the definition of content marketing is giving away content that you could have sold, that it’s so good that people would have paid money for it, then one thing you’ve really got to look at is offering up online education, a course, in a proper learning management system, and all of that as your lead magnet.

The cheesy free ebook or just ‘sign up for our newsletter’–things that have worked in the past–it’s getting tougher out there. That, of course, is something that you would have to register as a protected form of content.

It really goes to, what are our most valued experiences online? You have to register for it, and you have to log in to experience it–Facebook, Twitter, Google, Amazon, Apple. It’s important psychologically that you emulate that–that you are a login-worthy destination for people.

Then the final point here, which we’ll talk in more detail, it solves the cookie problem that marketing automation has. Again, when people are accessing you on different devices, you need an identity point that allows you to understand, “Oh, this is the person who was here before on their Mac, and now they’re here on their iPad or their iPhone.”

The logging-in aspect of that, it’s no mistake that Facebook and all of these other big web properties want you to log in. It’s a functional thing. We don’t think about it, but it’s also an identity thing. I’m not trying to be creepy here. I’m trying to say use the ability to know who’s there to provide a greater experience. That’s what people are looking for.

Jerod Morris: Yeah, and that allows you to smartly adapt the content, as we talked about before. You’ve talked about this a lot–the importance of the ‘logged-in experience’ and getting people to register to log in with you. Then you need something valuable to compel them to join, to log in. You actually mentioned this already talking about courses, and that is a lead magnet. Why is that such a good way, a good offer to get people to log in and have that access experience with you?

How to Create Courses That Serve As the Perfect Lead Magnet

Brian Clark: This is what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to solve a problem and/or satisfy a desire that go hand-in-hand. Online education is a $15 billion a year industry and growing fast. What kind of experience are people willing to pay for? That has always been, to me, the guiding principle of, “What is it that I need to offer? What kind of experience can I give someone?”

And I’m eating my own dog food even on my personal project over at Unemployable. I set out to record those three webinars as a bonus–no pitches, not selling anything–for the early audience, but I knew I was going to group that together and turn it into a course going forward as I try to attract a larger audience–because it has value.

It’s not some shoddy, half-attempt at getting your email address out of you. It’s like over-deliver, over-deliver, and maybe you’ll listen when I do have something to sell, if ever, at Unemployable.

Jerod Morris: Yeah. That very same model was followed with the original New Rainmaker podcast, where you and Robert took those initial episodes, put that into a course with some webinars on there. It worked great and built that list, got people to log in. That’s exactly what you’re looking for.

Brian Clark: It was. We launched our biggest product, or service really, with what was essentially a reformatted podcast into a course. That was more of an experimental thing. I didn’t know how it was going to work out, but it was definitely instructive in our go-for-it strategy because we did say, “Oh my goodness, this really worked well.” The old adage of educating people enough to do business with you, you saw that in spades.

Jerod Morris: Well, and those are really useful examples. Just for people that I’ve talked to, creating a course, brand new out of nothing, can seem intimidating sometimes, and that’s where you don’t have to do that. Both of these courses that you’ve just talked about, they came from free content that you were going to create for projects.

Brian Clark: They were both repurposed.

Jerod Morris: Exactly.

Brian Clark: So I’m doing a podcast, but I know that I want a course eventually. I’m doing some webinars a couple of years later, but I know that I want it to be a course. So you plan with the end in mind. I knew the theme each time, but I was doing the work for another reason anyway.

To me, it’s so much easier a pill to swallow, than sitting down and going, “I’ve got to do this work in addition to the other work I’m doing.” No, make it your work. Just be strategic.

Jerod Morris: All right, we’ve talked about email, adaptive content, the access experience, and then courses as lead magnets. Now, tying all of this together is testing. You’ve got to test everything.

Why You Need to Test Everything

Brian Clark: Yeah. We’ve definitely done our share of testing over the years, but I don’t think we can say we had a culture of testing. We were always building. We were always launching. We were always trying to maintain our regular content flow. Sometimes, something’s got to give, and that was the thing that we so often said, “We should test this but … ”

As you know, and you’re neck deep in it, Joanna Wiebe is on board helping us out. I’m so excited about all of it right now–being able to take what you’ve built and put it out there. You shipped, but now you get to optimize. I just want to impress upon people that this is where the magic actually happens. You discover things that you really didn’t realize, or you had an intuitive hunch.

We’re right a lot of times, but I guarantee you we’re going to find some things we’ve been wrong about–and, hey, great. I’m happy about that.

Jerod Morris: Yeah. It’s been great. I’ve learned so much just in the last month. And It does. It’s energizing. It really is, so I can’t wait to move forward with it.

Why This Episode Is Just the Appetizer Sampler

Jerod Morris: Okay, this episode, Brian, it was like an appetizer sampler where you get a bite of each one of these. Over the next five episodes, now, we’ll dive into each one of these, go into more depth, really get into how all the digital entrepreneurs out there can use these concepts and these ideas to help further their businesses.

Brian Clark: Yeah. I want to share a combination of best practices in each area, mixed in with our own experiences, our own case studies as a digital commerce company. To a certain degree, these elements are universal–regardless of the type of business that you have. But this podcast gives us an opportunity to be very specific about, “This is what it’s like in this context of selling digital products and services.” That specificity is going to be very helpful.

Jerod Morris: Yes. Brian, it’s beautiful outside. I’m thinking I may go take a walk by the water before my next appointment for the day.

Brian Clark: You go to the beach. I’m going to go skiing. Well I don’t ski, actually, anymore. I’m just saying that to sound cool, but it doesn’t matter. I’ve got a great view. You’ve got a great view. That’s all that matters.

Jerod Morris: Yes. Let’s go enjoy it. We will talk to you next week on the next episode of The Digital Entrepreneur.

Brian Clark: All right, Jerod, take care. Take care, everyone.

Feb 18 2016



Rank #18: 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, 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, and then, 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



Rank #19: How the Integration of Content and Commerce Creates a Winning Difference

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Last week we talked about the concept of native commerce as a way to create content, build an audience, and ultimately find out what people will actually buy. It s about creating a unique experience for the right type of person, but how does that happen?

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I realized shortly after last week s episode went live that we had just explored the idea of creating a seamless, valuable experience for our ideal customers and clients. We use an integration of both our content and our products and services to make that happen.

So, I called in a favor on short notice to get Robert Rose on the show. He s the Chief Strategy Officer at Content Marketing Institute, among other things. Notably, he s also the author of Experiences: The Seventh Era of Marketing which makes him the perfect guest following last week s episode.

Listen to The Digital Entrepreneur below ...

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The Show Notes

The Transcript

How the Integration of Content and Commerce Creates a Winning Difference

Voiceover: Rainmaker.FM is brought to you by The Showrunner Podcasting Course, your step-by-step guide to developing, launching, and running a remarkable show. Registration for the course is open August 3rd through the 14th, 2015. Go to to learn more. That’s

Brian Clark: Hey, Rainmakers. Welcome to another episode of the show designed for all you digital entrepreneurs out there. I’m Brian Clark, founder and CEO of Copyblogger Media.

Today, we’ve got another very special guest, and hopefully this turns out to be the perfect follow-up episode to last week’s show. Let me briefly introduce him before we get into what that was all about. Robert Rose, many of you may know him. He is one of the other big personas over at Content Marketing Institute along with the ineffable Joe Pulizzi. Ineffable — you think he’d like that one, Robert?

Robert Rose: I think it depends on how you spell ineffable.

Brian Clark: I didn’t even catch that. Very nice. Very quick. You Californians — you ve got to look out for them.

Anyway, he’s the chief strategy officer over at the Content Marketing Institute. He’s also the co-host on This Old Marketing Podcast with Joe. He’s a senior contributing consultant for Digital Clarity Group. In particular, we’re going to talk about Robert’s second book today, which is called Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing. We may touch a little bit on Joe Pulizzi’s upcoming book, Content Inc.

Of course we will all be in Cleveland, wonderful Cleveland, in September for the big show, Content Marketing World, the biggest show. Robert, thank you so much for joining me.

Robert Rose: Thank you, Brian. This is super fun. I’m super-happy to be here.

Brian Clark: A little behind the scenes here — I hit Robert up on a Friday afternoon. This show will be out on a Thursday, and we record on Monday, so lots of warning, right? You just sit around basically waiting for podcast interview requests?

Robert Rose: When Brian Clark calls, you jump. That’s the rule that all marketers should have.

Brian Clark: Thanks. Check. Mail.

Robert Rose: You got it.

The Audience-First Model That s Becoming Increasingly Popular among Startups and Why It Works

Brian Clark: It occurred to me on Friday, as I was revisiting last week’s show and having read Robert’s newest book, Experiences, that he was the perfect next guest. It was a long shot, actually, despite what he says, that I was able to get him, and I appreciate him being here on short notice.

Quickly, for those of you who may not have caught the last episode , and also for Robert’s edification, last week we talked about this maybe new buzzword or phrase, native commerce. Robert, are you familiar with Thrillist?

Robert Rose: I am. Sure. Yeah.

Brian Clark: It’s a great story. They obviously built the audience first, had an advertising business model, and discovered that one particular advertiser, JackThreads, a clothing line for hipsters — which is a good match for Thrillist, let’s face it — they were advertising over and over and over again. Anyone with any kind of marketing background or advertising background, especially in direct marketing, if you see the same junk mail over and over again, pay attention. It’s working, because someone is spending money to keep showing up.

Thrillist basically said, Let’s look into this closer. They do the due diligence and see the revenue that’s being generated from the channel. They acquire JackThreads, and in five years, they go from $8 million in annual revenue to $100 million and become contact marketers, right? Much more lucrative model. I think that’s one of the best just dollar-to-dollar ads-versus-commerce type spends ever.

Last week’s guest was Ryan Deiss, and he explained that to me. I hadn’t actually heard that story. I said, “Okay, it’s content marketing.” He said, “No, it’s something more, because there’s such an integration between product and media in the content.” I’m sitting over here going, That’s content marketing. This is what I want to kick over to you, to begin with. I realize that he’s seeing a disconnect, because content marketing done well, that s what I think of. That’s how our business was built. You build the audience first.

That’s why I mentioned Joe’s new book, Content Inc., coming out in September. He’s basically talking about this model that is becoming more and more the norm at the startup level, which is, you start with the audience. You figure out what they want to buy, or in Thrillist’s case, you acquire what they are buying, and then you’ve got a successful business, as opposed to the old product-first model, where you build it and then you pray that someone wants to buy it.

The disconnect that I’m seeing is that the way we think about integrated product/content marketing is the way it should be done, and I think Ryan was saying, But that’s not how it’s being done. You’re doing content marketing if you write some articles for your website or you start a podcast. That doesn’t mean it’s effective content marketing. He went on and on to talk about creating experiences, like why Bass Pro Shop will never get killed by Walmart or Amazon, as the case may be.

That was when I said, “I’m taking for granted that you’re creating the right form of experience,” because let’s face it, it’s all an experience. It’s just not a good one, very often. So I’m going to kick it over to you right there.

Robert Rose: Sure. What a great team-up point. Ultimately, what we’re talking about here is really a chicken-and-egg sort of idea, right? If you’re looking at this as a startup company or as a company that has just introduced a product into the market, building that audience first is an easy perspective to have. Maybe not one that can get executed well and maybe one that’s extraordinarily difficult, depending on your product or the value you’re trying to create.

But it’s different than if you’re a business that’s been in business for 25 years or 10 years or five years, and you’ve already got a product out into the market and you’re looking to, How do we evolve our marketing to actually address this exact issue?

You’ve got a really interesting situation with JackThreads getting acquired there. We’re starting to see that more and more, where instead of trying to actually organically build something from the ground up — because there’s nothing saying that Thrillist couldn’t have said, “You know what? We could build our own JackThreads and take years to do that and duplicate the success and editorial strategy that they’ve got and build our own audience so that we don’t have to advertise there any longer, or quite frankly, we could just acquire them.”

Layering Products, Content, and Experience as a Differentiation Strategy

Robert Rose: We’re starting to see that more and more, especially from e-commerce companies, especially from those companies that have products out there that are sort of being threatened by the Amazons or big boxes of the world and where they can actually create a more compelling, integrated experience in its totality.

That doesn’t mean just an editorial experience. That could mean a physical experience. It could mean events. It could mean all manner of things that cross over the boundaries of physical and digital, but to create something that’s differentiated, that, quite frankly, an Amazon or somebody that’s competing with us and threatening with us can’t duplicate.

That’s really the value of acquiring something like JackThreads. The editorial is great. The experience itself is great. And we can layer over this idea of an e-commerce layer to it. They are not the only ones out there. This just happened with a publishing company in Australia that actually did the exact opposite. They were a publishing company that then acquired a product company to do the exact polar opposite of this, where they’re now layering products into their editorial strategy to differentiate themselves as a publisher.

We’re starting to see this real merger — Joe has talked about this for a long time — this real integration of product and media to become different types of content-driven experiences. Of course, this is what we talk about a lot in the book.

Brian Clark: You just nailed it right there: integration. Yeah, it’s an integrated process. It was a light-bulb moment for me in the sense that maybe people aren’t getting the integration, and I’m taking it for granted, the old curse of knowledge thing.

Let’s unpack this a little. If I hear what you’re saying, that it’s a different process, I agree when you’re starting as an existing company or maybe even an existing line of business, something that you know people want, and the only thing you’re being innovative about is your marketing and creating a better experience than Joe Blow, okay? To me — and of course I’m a big advocate of what we’ve done since 2006 and how we built our company — the easiest companies I’ve started were legal services and real estate brokerage services. I knew people wanted them. All I had to do was create a better experience.

If you’ve ever seen, for example, most broker or realtor marketing with the Glamour Shot on the bus-stop bench, I was like, This is shooting fish in a barrel. This was 2002, and I had, over the previous three years, figured out a lot of stuff. But to me, that wasn’t hard at all. Yet I think I hear you saying that a lot of enterprise-level companies or even mid-level or small businesses, they’re doing business. They just need to catch up to the 21st century, and they’re struggling. I found that easier than creating something new, feeding off an audience.

Why Smaller Companies Have an Advantage over Larger Companies in Creating Innovative Experiences

Robert Rose: It’s exactly right. You just nailed it. Joe and I have talked about this, where this is truly the advantage that smaller companies these days have over larger enterprises. The larger enterprises, I can tell you from my own experience that they are having a real problem unwinding the classic purpose of marketing, which of course has been to describe the value, in ever-cleverer ways, of the product or service we put into the marketplace.

They do the bus ad. They do — whatever industry they’re in — their version of the bus ad or the Sunday circular or the TV advertisement or the banner ad or the email or whatever collateral-driven approach they have. That is their purpose, and unwinding that to get to what you’re really talking about, which is, How do I create something that is beyond the product or service I’m putting into the marketplace but that adds value to the experience for the consumer?

It’s one of those things where — and you understand this better than most, honestly — How can I add value to that consumer’s life? Maybe they buy from me, and maybe they don’t. Maybe they purchase something from me down the road. Maybe they purchase something from me today. Ultimately, my goal is that I can differentiate against everybody else that’s out there with the bus ad or the circular or whatever they’re putting out there by creating a more valuable experience.

Content is a great way to do that. There are certainly others. Uber has disrupted an entire industry by simply having a different interface and a better experience into taking a car from Point A to Point B. Airbnb has created a completely disruptive experience by making it a better experience to actually go stay in a remote location.

You start to really cross a boundary, especially in businesses that have those traditional approaches. Is that marketing, or is that product development?

That’s where the big companies really struggle with this, because quite frankly, it hasn’t been the remit of marketing to do this, historically. But for startup companies, it’s everything. There is no separation between those. There are no siloes that have been built up over time, so it seems completely natural to say, “What we’re going to do is we’re going to create a better content-driven experience that differentiates us in the marketplace,” and that is your shooting fish in a barrel, because quite frankly, none of the competitors are doing it.

The Big Difference between Traditional Marketing and Content Marketing

Brian Clark: I’ve been think a lot, even before your book came out, but you said the struggle between traditional marketing and what you’re supposed to be doing now. To me, traditional marketing was a promise of an experience, and content marketing begins the experience.

Robert Rose: That s exactly it.

Brian Clark: That’s the simplest way I can put it. On the last episode, we had this real-world analogy where someone comes into a place. They’re having an experience. And then they exit through the gift shop. I love that, because think about how well certain companies — not the traditional company, but certain companies, everything from theme parks to the Bass Pro Shop or whatever the case may be — they’ve designed that entire space in this experiential mode.

I remember there was a book. Do you remember this book? Fifteen years ago I think, The Experience Economy? People were talking about this forever. I think this was very much pre-content marketing. To me, again, as a scrappy entrepreneur type as opposed to the enterprise budget, content is the best differentiator, what marketing and advertising were supposed to do. Back in the good old days where you actually could have a USP: My toothpaste has … Wait, what did Ultra Fresh have? Remember that?

Robert Rose: The stripe, right?

Brian Clark: The stripe, yeah. It’s meaningless, but it was a differentiator. I think that content is the differentiator now, because everyone can replicate everything. Go to China. You can get it done. Look at someone’s service model. You can copy that. But content and the voices, that’s what’s unique. That’s all we have left. But it matters, because it does a better job at traditional marketing.

Robert Rose: That’s exactly right. It is, in fact, the only differentiator that’s left. The experience that we can create, the content that we can create that surrounds the product or service, is really the only differentiator because, quite frankly, just as you said, the product, especially in today’s technology-driven world, can be replicated. If it can’t be replicated by your neighbor, it can certainly be replicated in another country, maybe in a digital disruptive way.

Those relying on your product differentiation to scale and to provide for continuous competitive advantage is just a flawed strategy, and there are companies that are washing up against the shore of that every single day, that have said, We can’t be disrupted because we have first-mover advantage or We have a better product.

A better product does not necessarily mean success, and today, especially, with the sort of world flattening and all that kind of stuff, the idea of creating a content-driven experience … I use that word a lot, because certainly, just as you were saying, the experience economy has been out for 15 or 20 years.

Customer experience management, or CEM as an acronym, has been around just as long, 30 years in fact. Customer experience management in its totality takes everything into account. If I’m selling shirts, the difference between wool or cotton or whether I’m going to have a hang-tag off the collar or the hang tag is going off the sleeve, those are all part of the customer experience as a practice and a product development mode.

Even in the book, Carla and I draw a boundary around this. We say, We’re not here to tell you how to develop your product. What we’re here to talk about is how do we, marketers, create an additional valuable experience — content-driven or otherwise — around the product, separate and distinct from the product, that differentiates your approach to solving that consumer’s need or want? That’s the real difference here, is that what you’re doing, what people buy these days, is that approach.

Every single step along the way — from the first time they meet your brand till the time that they’re getting nurtured as a lead to the time they become a customer to the time they become loyal and evangelistic, and quite frankly, will share our story across all the platforms that we’ll never have the capacity to be on — that’s the brass ring here. If we can create great experiences at each one of those layers, then we win and ultimately have a shot at getting to that evangelistic mode where the customer is sharing how wonderful we are at solving their problem.

INBOUND this year, HubSpot, they’re going to have 10,000 people show up to that thing. They’ve created an experience with the idea of INBOUND that has differentiated them across so many different ideas.

Brian Clark: Yeah. That’s excellent. You and I were chatting briefly before we got on the recording about Sally Hogshead, who is fantastic.

Robert Rose: Fantastic.

Brian Clark: Different is better than better.

Robert Rose: I love that. I’m so annoyed that she came up with that line. It’s such a great line, and it’s so true, and it’s so wonderful. Yes, different is better than better. There’s a wonderful book, by the way, called Different by Youngme Moon, who is a professor at the Harvard Business School.

Brian Clark: I have that book. Yeah. It’s good.

Robert Rose: It’s just a delightful book.

Why It s Important to Think Like a Media Producer to Create Value

Brian Clark: Your book, start with your book, obviously. I think once you get it, from the things you explore and experiences, you go back and you look at positioning in a whole new way. I’ve been trying to teach people positioning for a decade, because it’s so important. I think the battle is won or lost right there, and with a content brand as opposed to product or service, again, to me, it seems easier.

You have to think like a media producer. Friends was different in its way and became a huge hit. But when you start thinking about, How can I make a different radio show or TV show or magazine? it’s almost like it makes more sense, because we’re all immersed in the popular culture, and therefore, all these examples, once you realize that they’re actually relevant to you, might help. I don’t know. What do you think about that?

Robert Rose: I think that’s exactly right. Even a slightly higher look at that is, What value can we add to that consumer’s life that nobody else can? Of course it should align.

I’ll give you a concrete example of this. I worked with a small financial services company, and this is not a big sort of Goldman Sachs or Merrill Lynch type of company. They’re eight people. They are consultants, but basically their job is the same as a Goldman Sachs or a Merrill Lynch. They teach people how to buy low and sell high. That is their remit, that they are offering their service to their customers as consultants and managers of a fund.

How do you differentiate against all of the huge, huge ocean of content and facts and everything that’s out there that’s commoditized in that business? What they recognized was, their mission — their why, if you want to go the Simon Sinek way — was not to help their customers be better investors. They understood that it was bigger than that. What they were really trying to do was help their customers be better people, and if they could help their customers be better people, it opened up a whole new world of opportunity for them to create value for those customers. It didn’t mean that they stopped doing the core thing that made them money. That’s what they’re really good at.

What they could do is wrap around all of these things. They started to do things like something as simple as a book club. They recognized that their customers didn’t have time to really understand what they should be reading, not from a thought-leadership perspective, but just the classics and Shakespeare and comedy and what they should be reading. They started this book club service that they offered out. It’s the number-three reason that their clients renew every year now.

Then they parlayed that and created this whole physical event now where they have a customer event, not to exhibit how thought-leadershipy they are and why they’re such smart investors, but they invite poets and musicians and people who are doing great work in South America and all this kind of stuff and letting these people interact with them. Of course the conversations turn to things like economies, and What’s going to be the future of technology? and all this kind of stuff, but it’s wrapped like a TED conference, to help you be a better person. That’s the number-two reason that their customers now renew every single year.

The number one, of course, is the wonderful information they get. Now, those are the top three reasons that their clients are renewing every single year. That’s something that Goldman Sachs just is not going to duplicate. Their competitors are not going to duplicate that. It’s just something totally innately valuable to their customers that they can deliver that nobody else can.

Brian Clark: I love it. I love it. Target aspirations: who do they want to be? What’s the life they want to lead?

Robert Rose: What’s the emotional connection we can have? Why do they care about us, right?

Brian Clark: It’s the old copywriting thing at its essence: benefits, not features. Yet we all tend to fall back into what you want is a mutual fund. No, I don’t want a mutual fund. What I want is enough money to hang out with my grandchildren and watch them grow up.

Robert Rose: It’s the classic Ted Levitt. People aren’t buying a nail or a hammer. They’re buying a hole in the wall. That’s what you’re really trying to deliver value against.

Brian Clark: Think about how J. Peterman sells a sweater. It’s not the sweater. It’s the lifestyle that surrounds the sweater. My compatriot here, Robert Bruce, once bought this sweater, and he had to share with me the paragraph that got him to buy it, because it was him. They nailed Robert. He lives in the Pacific Northwest, and he was standing on a craggy cliff overlooking the frigid water. He’s like, I had to buy it, man. It was me.

Robert Rose: Reading his copy of Wuthering Heights.

Brian Clark: Exactly. Exactly. It’s always been that to some degree. I love the fact that you guys call your podcast This Old Marketing Show, because another theme that we’ve had for the last 10 years is, don’t listen to everyone saying the sky is falling. Fundamentally, human beings are still the same. The context has changed radically, and their sophistication and entitlement has changed radically, and you have to go with them, right?

Robert Rose: I love that line.

Robert s 4-Step Process for Defining a Content Mission

Brian Clark: I’m going to put you on the spot here. If we accept that we’re all creating experience of some kind, just most of them aren’t that good, and they’re not that tied to our actual business objectives when dealing with actual human beings, give us the Robert Rose three steps, five steps — give me a listicle.

Where do you begin when you need to take that step back and say, What’s the right desirable, valuable experience that I have to begin to initiate here?

Robert Rose: I’ll put it this way. It’s in my workshop. It’s a four-step process, actually, and it gets to a content mission or a differentiation, if you will.

First of all is understanding, what is it we want to do? What is our goal? I live in Los Angeles. This isn’t show business. This is not the show Friends. This is content marketing. This is trying to drive a business goal. What are we trying to do?

In many cases, I find that businesses don’t really understand. Are we trying to become more aware? Are we trying to put more butts in the seat? Are we trying to close more, better leads? High-quality leads? Are we trying to create more loyalty? What is the problem we’re solving? What is our goal?

Secondly, who is the person that can help us satisfy that goal? That might be a customer, but quite frankly, it might be an influencer. It might be an influencer to that purchase decision, not the actual buyer of the product or service itself. You said it well: who are they as people? Not as a target demographic or a segment, but who are they as people? What are their needs, their wants? What do they long for in the day? What does their day look like? Who are they as people?

Then third, what unique value proposition, what unique value, can we deliver to them separate and distinct from our product or service? What do they need? What value can we deliver to them at that stage that would satisfy that original goal that we have? In other words, what value can we deliver to them?

In the case of the financial services company, we can deliver them the value of a highly curated, educational stream of books that they should be reading. What value can we deliver to them? Inherent in that, it has nothing to do whether it’s a website or a social media track or a blog or a printed magazine or whatever. It’s what value? What is the story? What value can we deliver to them?

Finally, four, what makes that different than anything else they can get? If you start to look at that, you go, Wow, that really looks like a product-development methodology if we really start to look at that.

I would really encourage people to look at the product development methodologies that are out there, because that, to me, is what marketing is starting to more resemble. It s the agile, lean startup idea of a media product that we can create that differentiates us in the marketplace and ultimately drives to a profitable business action: either selling more of our stuff, differentiating us in the market for awareness purposes, creating more loyalty to our product or service, or creating an evangelistic state where they’re out there sharing their story with their friends and family.

It all starts with those four things, which is really understanding what it is we’re going to develop, what unique value we’re going to develop for those consumers.

Brian Clark: Excellent. Excellent. This is a true story. It still amazes me to this day. I was doing Copyblogger for about a year and a half before I hooked up with Tony Clark — no relation — who is now our COO, but he was my first business partner. We created the first Copyblogger product together.

We started a conversation by him coming to me and going, “You’re doing what I would call agile or lean content development.” I’m like, What is this guy talking about? He’s a software developer, so he was well steeped in agile and lean. This is before The Lean Startup came out. I was doing it intuitively because I didn’t know what the audience wanted. It s a real-time environment, so I had to depend on them to tell what they liked and what they didn’t, not by asking, but by watching.

Of course, our product development is exactly the same process. It’s weird that you brought that up, because I don’t think I’ve heard you say that before. It’s very close to the same process, because you can start with your best guess, but you’re going to find out what reality is pretty quickly. If you choose to ignore it, you do so at your own peril.

Why Assets Must Be Tied Together by a Strong Editorial Strategy

Robert Rose: That’s a great point, even in its simplest sense. If we take that all the way down to its simplest expression, because when I talk about this … The second half of the book is really the methodology that we prescribe that looks at that. I say, Let’s pretend you’re a business-to-business small company, and your idea of content marketing is to build a resource. We’re going to build a resource center. This stuff is going to be gated with a landing page. Great. I get it.

The way that that resource center typically gets built, from a marketing lens, from a campaign-oriented lens, is we say, We’re going to run a campaign, and we’re going to create an asset to support that. We’re going to run another campaign, and we’re going to create an asset to support that, and on and so forth. Rinse and repeat all throughout the year.

What ends up happening, and I can tell you that this is what I mostly fix when I talk with companies these days, is that they look back over their 12 months or 24 months of content production, and some of the assets that they created were great. Some of them were, Ah, they’re fine. Some of them were not great. Some of them were created in too rushed a manner. The overwhelming thing is, none of them are connected. It’s just 24 different kinds of assets.

There’s no connection. There’s no reason that the twenty-third makes the eighteenth more valuable or that the first made the eighteenth more valuable or anything like that. Instead, I say, If that’s your goal, to create this resource center, what does that resource center represent? What unique value to the consumer does that resource center offer? Is it a university? Is it an academy? Is it a path of training? If everybody read everything in your resource center, would they be a more valuable profession? Would they be a better person? What valuable thing would that resource center represent?

Then, if you start working backwards — very much like in an agile, lean startup What are all the component pieces that that would need to encompass? Now you’ve got yourself a pretty interesting editorial strategy.

I guarantee you, if you create those assets in that connection, and if they’re really focused on delivering value to that consumer, they will inherently be wonderful direct marketing pieces. They will inherently be very valuable and support all the lead-generation and awareness-building and all that stuff you want to do as part of a campaign-oriented approach, but you’ll be building toward this wonderful, valuable thing, so when you look back in 24 months, you’ll go, We’ve built this amazing thing here that’s really valuable in and of itself. That’s the real magic.

Brian Clark: Okay, two things here. If that’s not the best reason to go pick up Experiences … I think a lot of people. They’re getting it conceptually, but it’s more of, Okay, now what? Like you said, the second half of the book does a bit of a deep dive on that.

Robert Rose: Full caveat there: my books tend to be focused more on larger companies.

Brian Clark: I was going to say, it’s written for the enterprise reader. I picked up on that right away, but Robert and his co-writer are excellent writers, so you’re not going to get lost by that. At least I don’t think so.

Robert Rose: I hope not. I hope not. But I do want to throw in that caveat because it’s been mentioned to me a couple of times that it feels very big business.

Brian Clark: When I started reading it, I was like, Man, I know all the money that’s at the enterprise level. I know why everyone goes upstream. My passion is to work with smaller businesses, so for me reading, I’m like, God, I’m glad I don’t have Robert’s job. He’s really good at it, though, but I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to have to convince corporate people to do anything, because it’s a whole different world, right?

Robert Rose: It is a different world, but it’s a fun one. I enjoy it, I have to say. It’s a fun one for me. Trying to untangle that ball of twine is really an interesting challenge for sure.

Brian Clark: That’s putting it generously.

Robert Rose: Yes.

Brian Clark: The second thing, I’ll let the audience decide, but I think my hypothesis that you were the perfect follow-up guest is correct. We’ll have to wait and see. So again, thanks for the short-notice appearance. I appreciate it. If Pulizzi’s not treating you well, you can always come over here, okay?

Robert Rose: That’s a very kind offer. Thanks for that. I’m going to go use that for leverage right now.

Brian Clark: I’m going to get some sort of threatening email from Joe later. If he wants to go to war, tell him he can be Biggie, but I’m Tupac, all right?

Robert Rose: There you go. I like it. I like that very much. That’s awesome. We’ll showdown in Vegas.

Brian Clark: That’s right. All right, everyone. Thanks again for joining us. I hope this was informative. I learned a few things. I learned some different frames around which to think about the right experience. Again, I recommend the book Experiences: The Seventh Era of Marketing. Thanks, Robert. Enjoy the rest of the week, and I will see you in Cleveland shortly.

Aug 13 2015



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