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James Schramko and Dan Andrews discuss the ins-and outs of successful Podcasting + the difference between affiliate promotions versus true market leadership in the coming years. Dan has a popular podcast called LifeStyleBusinessPodcast.com with his co-host Ian Schoen which has had over one million downloads.
Highlights in this episode:
- Lessons learned from Dan and Ian who have had over a million downloads since 2009
- Setting up a a weekly schedule for podcasting
- How the Comedy intro gets created
- How do you come up with the content
- The power of having a super clear structure
- Forcing yourself through a really tight funnel
- Dans special 8 part show structure
- Why 7 days is easily long enough to create a quality show
- We take a look bend the scenes
- Frameworks are essential for creating productivity
- My favorite app for creating frameworks
- Dans ‘Sam Carpenter + James Schramko’ Cocktail
- The 6 Point Checklist for audio quality
- Can you use someone else’s music in your show?
- The amateur / pro distinction in podcasting and content creation
- See the Chocolate Waffle
- The Ferrari episode behind the scenes stats
- Focus on growing your business
- Tradtional entertainment outlets suck
- Dan the traffic poacher
- Use customer driven requests to rule the business
- Very low friction for getting into tasks
- Habit to make things simple
- Rapid posting technique
- My SnapWorker concept
- Do it right the first time get things done
- Doing it right now can increase your capacity
- Keeping a clear schedule
- Getting an incredible amounnt of things done.
- Email management is a mindset shift
- When you create – hold your feet to the fire and take
- Dan on writing a book
- Affiliate versus authority market leadership
- Why you only need to please 100 true fans
- The problem with the affiliate distribution
- Long term sustainability
- Dan Norris
- The high priced info product circle of marketing that sucks
- Bonus affiliate marketing
- James on making the decision to stop promoting guru products
- TrafficGrab was the start of fair value products
- Adsense Flippers
- Tim Conley
- Brendan Tully
- 25% – 15% to 5% affiliate marketing squeeze with my own marketing system
- LPB Episode 1
- The difference between selling opportunities versus results
- Why biz pop people are always launching
- The anatomy of the Internet Marketing Gold Rush
- Stop buying Crap
- Just deliver a good product that solves the problem rather than bonus stacking
- Don’t target the down and out $2000 products
- How my new business model is helping people build their own business
- I am betting my success on the success of my customers
- Duh – when you empower an entreprenuer you can be rocketing your business
- Keep customers for two or three years
- Framework for show notes
- Why intro music is overrated
- Dans rip sheet for the LBP
- Focus on the result
- Narrative section in the podcast
- What is going on with SuperFastBusiness
- Who better to equip than your best fans
- People have timing signals in their life
- Public deadlines help you publish
- Shout out to listeners
- Adam Carolla
James: James Schramko here, today I’m talking to another podcaster who has been making his way into my iPad mini. One of the very few podcasts that I listen to every single week. Welcome to the show Dan Andrews from Lifestyle Business podcast.
Dan: Thank you James.
James: Thought it’d be good to catch up because we’ve been crossing paths a little bit lately. We both have podcasts. We’re both doing our own thing out there creating communities and content. So we have a lot of things in common. And I thought it’d be good to just catch up and talk about, at this time of the year, some of the things that we’re doing for next year, and some of the things that are influencing our business. I thought it’d be a great discussion for our listeners to catch up with. So welcome to the show.
Dan: Thank you. It’s a pleasure to be here.
James: I might just start off by just doing a little bit of an introduction. I’m sure that many of my listeners have picked up on my Facebook alerts and tweets that I’m following the lifestyle business podcast show, but if you could just give us a little bit of background on that so that just in case any listeners aren’t already listening to it, it’s on my high recommendation list. Tell us all about it.
The Lifestyle Business podcast
Dan: Yeah. Thanks a lot for that by the way. That’s obviously very flattering and it works, so let’s put it out in the open. I did join your SilverCircle because I wanted to learn from you and I found you vis a vis a podcast. So before we get started with any kind of podcast marketing evangelism, that is proof in the pudding right there. So anyway, thank you again for having me on the show.
So, the Lifestyle Business podcast, I started my entrepreneurial journey in 2007, being inspired by stuff like The 4-Hour Workweek. I started travelling while I was running my business. At the time, I was really the only guy I could find on the Internet that was travelling and having a traditional hard goods business with a warehouse, a sales staff and everything like that.
So I just started putting out a podcast talking about it. That was in late 2009. I really could not have predicted sort of what happened. We put ourselves on a schedule. We started putting out shows every week. Over a million downloads later, we have an amazing community of passionate entrepreneurs who are interested in growing great businesses and travelling while they do it.
James: Tell me about your co-host on that too.
Dan: Yes. No mention of the show would be warranted without bringing up Ian, my best friend and business partner. So we do everything 50/50, including the podcast.
James: Now each episode, you have some comedic introduction of Ian. Who comes up with that stuff?
Creativity through structure
Dan: That’s me. You know, a lot of people think that, “How do you come up with the content?” It’s really simple, if you have a super clear structure. I call it creativity through structure, forcing yourself through a really tight funnel. There’s really only eight parts of the show, and they are super elemental. I just have to come up with a simple little joke every week, and I’ve got seven days to do it, so it’s not really that hard as long as I know for seven days that I need to do that.
Same deal goes for the quick tip at the end. I need a final one interesting thing, and I might even pick that up by following you on Facebook or with the “meat and potatoes.” It’s a list of five items every week. So I only need to think of one interesting list of five items every week. So I think as a third party, it might initially look complex and difficult. But when you look behind the scenes and look at the creative process, it’s actually very simple to create.
James: I call these frameworks, and they’ve been powering my business. In the beginning, I didn’t even know that I had them. But I just made them habit. But lately, I’ve been pulling out this reminders app on my Mac, which synchronizes with the iPad and the iPhone. So wherever I am, I can just add a new framework. I actually have a codec. It sounds kind of geeky, but I put F, then a space, and then a hyphen, and then the name of the framework.
At the moment, I’ve got a framework I’m looking at called “interviews.” That means if I’m going to interview someone or will have a chat with someone, I can pull out the framework, and it’s just got the basic stuff like “Tell me your biggest challenge” or “What does next year look like for you?” or “Put a plug fish show.”
So I’ve got a framework that is a checklist, the same way that a pilot would run an airplane, the same way that a doctor would be managing a hospital. If you have checklists to fall back on, then you can actually free up and focus on that creative stuff.
Can you tell us what the eight points are? I love about your show, I like the little pre-intro, where you take something from within the show and put it before the bumper. I like that little music transitions and stuff. I’ve been meaning to ask you how that comes together but you’ve explained it. There is actually a template.
The 8 parts of the show
Dan: Yes. So this is fascinating because I’ve been making sort of a Sam Carpenter and James Schramko cocktail in my own life. I don’t know why I’ve resisted doing things like you’re talking about, like these frameworks. They make so much sense, I think part of me really resisted them because I thought they might have been cheesy or overwrought. But then I realized some of the most successful parts of my business rely on this stuff.
Just the other week, we had a problem where, you know the biggest part of our podcast audio is ensuring that the need of recording is quality. We were really letting our editor down by giving him crappy quality audio every week. So now, Ian and I have a six-point checklist like a pilot before we start a podcast.
We actually walk through it in earnest. I don’t know, maybe a year ago, I would have thought that was cheesy, but now, I’m listening to guys like you and reading Sam Carpenter and thinking, I’m going to work this system. This is a system that has been proven to deliver value to people. I’m not going to screw it up with my momentary lapse of good judgement. So you know, just as an example before we get on our podcast, we say, “Flip on the task audio or the audio levels between .5 and .7” If you don’t talk, “Is the audio level completely flat?” And we do confirmations back and forth like pilot co-pilot.
In terms of the show notes, it’s a shared document with my team. It’s developed over the course of every week. It’s really simple. There’s an intro, there’s a title, there’s a joke, there’s a tease if you stick around to the end of the episode, there’s a news section, an iTunes shout and shouts around the web, questions from users. So you can see if you just put one piece of content under each structure or piece, you can really start to build out a pretty robust show. Then we have a meat and potatoes, which every week is 5-point list. Then we move on to just the tips, and we outro to music. That’s really it. So that’s a pretty simple list to fill out, given that we have seven days to do it.
James: Are you allowed to use sample music from an artist? Like a little grab of it? Do you get in trouble for that?
Dan: So fair use says that you can’t directly profit from the usage of somebody else’s copyrighted music. So my interpretation of the rule is if you mention the artist and use it to reference the artist, then it’s fine. But if you were to use an artist’s work every single week as a critical element of your show, then it would be copyright infringement. I’m not a lawyer by the way.
James: Love it. See I don’t listen to your show just for that piece of music, but it does add a huge amount of value. For me, it’s a little window into your personality, what sort of music do you like. I’ve started adding little piece of music to the backend of my videos each week with B-roll. I’ve been out roaming around my property here with my camera shooting B-rolls because I want to make it more interesting for my listener.
I’ve directly taken that inspiration from your podcast because I think that’s what makes your podcast good, aside from the fact that we seem to have a great alignment in values and a tremendously aligned business philosophy, which I’d love to dive into around this whole affiliate, authority marketing thing that the transition I’ve been going through lately.
And in part, it’s your community that have influenced me a little bit there through some of the crossover people that we’ve had that have come across and joined us up so to speak. It’s the actual scenario. I do want to talk more about podcasts. One thing you said before is it works.
So you’ve joined SilverCircle. I guess because you must have discovered me through one of my podcasts.
Dan: Yes. FreedomOcean. I spent a week bingeing on FreedomOcean, a quiet riding week in Vietnam. This is a magical thing, to be able to have a week by myself in Vietnam and to have a great book, and then to have found this new podcast, and to walk around. You wouldn’t even know it, but I’m learning a lot from you, and I’m getting used to making value out of the kinds of knowledge that you have. So I’m pretty trained by the time that I get to talk to you on the phone or get to engage with some of your products, and I think that’s pretty magical.
One quick thing I want to say to you about a topic you mentioned earlier, which is adding some of your personality to the content. I think there’s an important amateur pro-distinction. Amateur content generators tend to indulge their content with their personal quirks. So they’ll take time in their show to kind of talk about irrelevant personal issues before they’ve earned that trust or attention.
I think it’s much more of a pro move to actually be delivering value that’s sort of colored by your taste rather than ticking people’s attention to display them your tastes. Does that distinction make sense?
James: Yeah, it’s a good distinction. If anything, I’ve often been thought of as being too dry or direct or just completely business focused. As I’ve sort of put a little bit more personality into my material, I’ve been getting this huge response, probably the most notable was when I was travelling Europe.
Dan: I know already. I know already. You shoved the thing in your mouth. Yes.
James: The chocolate waffle.
The opportunity of podcasting
Dan: Yeah, the chocolate waffle. It’s hilarious. I think this is a big thing that people miss is that guys like me, I’m wholly focused on growing my business and improving my life. I don’t give a crap about the news. I don’t give a crap about reality TV. Like all these traditional entertainment outlets, I’m done with. In many ways, like although tension is getting scarcer, there’s still not enough good entertainment, engaging content for me. I think that’s a huge opportunity for individual publishers. That’s the opportunity represented by podcasting. So yes, I do know about the entertaining content that you’re putting out because I’m waiting for more of it.
James: Another one was the lack of a tripod or any sort of professional equipment. For the most part, the videos were being shot by a 10 year old kid, holding my iPhone, or 12 year old, or the 15 year old, or my wife. Like I had a varying crew. Sometimes, they literally couldn’t hold the thing for that 5-minute shot. Then they’re lowering it, and lowering it, and in fits of laugher. I still included the outtakes in because I just thought it was hilarious.
In fact, there was this one bit where I said, “Whatever you keep focusing on, that’s what you get,” as my daughter was saying, “I can’t hold this any longer,” and it’s literally falling to the ground. But when I introduced that, I didn’t say anything about it, but people started commenting saying, “I love the outtakes.” And I’m like, “OK. Well, that’s interesting.” So in the case of me where I can be quite business minded, it’s OK to bring that personality back in.
The most popular episode by far was the Ferrari museum visit. That resonated a lot with people, and I think, to me, again it was like we’ve tapped into some other brands’ emotion. They do such good at emotional selling, the Ferrari brand. When you combine that with your own show, it just took on Facebook with that particular piece.
Top 2 critical elements
Dan: Yes. There’s two critical elements here. Number one is with the Ferrari piece, the moment you said that, I immediately thought, that’s the traffic piggyback technique. I love this idea of basically poaching traffic from other sources. This is in particular useful for timely topics. The two biggest blog posts I’ve ever written were from poached traffic. I basically did rip off versions of viral articles. And leveraged the fact that people were already asking for that kind of content. People already want Ferrari content. They’re asking for that. So if you can find a way to dovetail your content into that, that’s a traffic piggyback.
I think another way to look at this outtakes issues, and I was thinking while we’re talking like there needs to be a Schramko behind the mic show is that these outtakes are actually narrative elements. There’s sort of a hidden value to podcasting that people don’t talk about a lot, which is giving people vision, giving people ideas of what to do.
Your recent thread in SilverCircle, “Fly on the Wall”, I don’t know if I can reveal the inside or goodies, but being able to watch the way you think and how you make decisions, and how you go through life is really useful actually. More so than you just coming with a silver tray and giving me all this information, I actually like to watch how you operate. I think by offering some narrative elements in your content, you can give people an idea and a story to follow.
James: That one doesn’t feel so self-indulgent and that is because I was literally sitting next to Brent at a conference on the weekend, and he said, “Steve O and I, we often talk about what you do just when you don’t think anyone was watching.” He watched me build a slide deck that I was presenting on the next day, and I put it together, I don’t know, maybe 30 or 40 minutes from scratch with a framework again. I’ve got a simple framework. I drew out on one piece of paper a grid , and I’ve covered it with the format why, what, how, what if. I have an introduction, my three or four main points, and then my summary, and I tied the summary at the result into the introduction, and I created, and then I presented it. And then post event, I’ve leveraged it, turned it into a bonus and it’s own product.
So he then suggested, start this fly on the wall. So when I’m posting about crap that I do, like I was out there on the weekend filming with a 60-frames-per-second camera, me shooting a stuffed teddy bear with my archery kit, when I’m sharing that personal behind the scenes what I’m up to thing, then I don’t feel bad because he actually asked for it. So it’s a customer driven request.
I actually feel amazingly cathartic about just sharing that stuff, and if it is of use to someone, well great. But it’s actually quite nice journaling. I imagine you’re probably the journaling type.
Dan: Well, yeah. I mean, I think this is fascinating though. I think it would be interesting. This podcast sometimes, I mean I wonder why you’re interviewing people and they’re not interviewing you. I think you have this black box of interest and intrigue around you. People want to figure out what makes you tick, and I think that that’s what’s so interesting about that forum post, which I think is absolutely fantastic.
I mean I would have thought to ask for it. It might have been a ridiculous request but now that I see it, I love it. One of the things that I’ve noticed, a success trait that I’ve pulled out from watching you, and I see in a lot of people that are successful is that you seem to have a very low friction point for getting into tasks. It’s almost a habit for you to make it as simple as possible to get started. Like the way that you do email or forum responses for example. You treat it almost like an instant messenger. So it’s like it’s not this big deal. It becomes something that you can get into very easily and then create more results for yourself and for your customers. So that’s just one secret sauce I can share with the audience. Behind the mic.
James: Yeah. That’s an interesting distinction because I do. I just had a look yesterday. I’ve posted nearly 5,000 posts in my FastWebFormula forum. I started in January, but I think I opened it up in March. So that’s in a 9-month period. And in my old forum, I did about 10,000 posts over four years. SilverCircle’s got a lot but I do have this flash instantaneous method. I even registered a domain once, which I called Snap Worker.
But from my general management days, I literally had a front and a back door to my office. The back door of the office went to the keyboard for all the cars in the dealership, and the front door was to the sales floor. I had 21 sales people, 4 managers and a couple of valuers in my team. And they would walk through my office all day to the point where in a brand new office, the carpet wore out within a matter of months.
So I had that many interruptions into my office that I became really good at microtask or micro-focused burst of instant decisions. It’s the same methodology I used to keep my inbox down to nothing. I can deal with emails instantly with a short, quick, direct response. I think it is a habit. Another little mental trick that I have, if someone does ask me something, I know if I have to do it a few times or if I have to come back to it, it does actually build in size and it does start to get annoying on your conscience. I keep having this echo of something my father would say. It’s something around, “Just do it right the first time.”
Like if you take a few clothes and they have to go to the laundry, I can walk past the pile of clothes to go downstairs and come back up. It can keep being there annoyingly, or I’d just pick it up the very first time, take it straight to where it needs to go, and it’s done. And there’s no more energy expanded on it. So sometimes, just doing it right now is the shortest possible path that’s going to use the least energy, but that does amazing things for your capacity. It can really increase your ability to get to stuff.
I was literally sitting in my computer an hour or so ago and I’d cleared my inbox and posted to all my forums, and I had nothing else to do except go and create content, that’s why I contacted you and said, “Hey, I’m ready a little bit early if you want.” I have nothing else. Today, the only appointment I had was to talk to you, and that is it.
Dan: Fantastic. Yeah, I agree man. At the end of the day, one way to look at business is just getting an incredible amount of things done to any means possible, whether that’s personal productivity, hiring, any point of leverage you can find and in particular, when it comes to your expertise, having as much capacity as possible is really critical. So I really look for stuff like that and try to change my mindset.
Last week, about four weeks ago, I kind of hit a point where I needed to re-evaluate my inbox tactics. It’s funny how it works. It’s just a mindset shift. It’s a whole new set of kinds of emails in my inbox that get a different set of consideration now based on the kind of volume that I’m seeing. So it’s really all about mindset. Mindset can have an incredible impact on capacity. Let’s put it that way.
James: Yeah. It’s a mindset that drives that system. And then the system can take care of it. So let’s loop back onto that other topic. You were concerned that having structure would reduce your creativity. I think that that actually increases creativity and productivity. So I like this mantra that routine sets you free.
The main thing I wanted to do when I quit my job was to have no staff and no structure because I was so pegged into that nine to five cubicle slavery that I wanted to have nothing. As I’ve built back routine and created habits around it, I’ve actually discovered this greater capacity to have relaxing time when things are taken care of automatically and they become habit. So that’s that one quick daily meeting with my team makes me relax for the rest of the day knowing that they’re all focused on the thing that is best for the business that day.
Having little checklists for, say when someone comes into SilverCircle, I’ve got a checklist to go through that takes care of business. It means I won’t miss a single thing and that I’m able to easily find areas that we can focus on and not have to just wing it. And as a salesperson, I had a system as well. Even though it was a very simple system, on the back of my calculator, I had a telephone script. So that when someone would call me for an inbound sales inquiry, all I had to do was turn my calculator over, and I had my prompts there, which were the main six or seven things that I had to know to be able to sell a car. So relying on systems has actually been one of the major foundations for being able to build up everything that I’ve got.
Dan: Absolutely. I mean I couldn’t agree more. I mean for me, it’s something that I knew and I even wrote about it back when I was starting my first business. I think when I started my second business, which is based around my writing, I had a mindset shift which was just back into the old routine. I just don’t want to deal with the crap anymore. So I’m going to jettison all that stuff, but now I’ve come back to the hard-won one lesson again.
Maybe something similar with what your father said, if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing. And don’t mess about with it. So put your best energy into it. And for me that means don’t reinvent the wheel every time. Don’t figure out everytime. Don’t waste your willpower on simple stuff that you can make a list for. Do the same thing. Just like I said, when Ian calls me on Wednesday morning to do the podcast, I pull up the podcast checklist and there’s 25 items and we go through them every week and then I can use all my leftover willpower and decision making energy to add to that, to work the system, or to embellish it or to add a creative flair within that system.
The way I actually have a mental framework for thinking about it, which is especially for content creators, have a voracious input. So take in whatever you want. It’s kind of like the Atkins diet. Eat as much as you want. Let yourself a longest leash possible, but when you create, hold your feet to the fire. Stick to a system, stick to a legible way of producing content and gradually shift that as your audience gives you feedback rather than just doing whatever you want when you wake up in the morning. That’ll turn your productivity into your creativity.
James: You’re writing a book right now. I imagine this would be a handy thing for you to have on hand.
Dan: Yes. I have noticed that the book project has squandered a lot of good energy because I don’t know what I’m doing. I’ve tried to look for systems and guides, and I think it’s just to cut your teeth kind of thing, and I also need to decide the kind of book that I want to write because this is a career change for me definitely. I’m thinking, based on my experience thus far, that I will try to produce or I will produce two books a year at 30,000 words.
To give you an idea, a book like The 4-Hour Workweek is probably like 65,000 words or 70,000 words. So about half that size of a standard business book, and put them out twice a year. So have a more of a serialized kind of approach to high end content. I was talking to a blogger friend who has, I’m not sure how many subscribers she has, but not too many, but she’s got a small, loyal audience, recently put out a legitimate ebook, 25,000 words. Probably the kind of thing that you can create in a month. And 20,000 downloads in the first weekend. So I do think that there’s an opportunity for putting out premier content. The opportunity for that to get picked up by distribution channels that might not pick up stuff like podcasting and blog posts.
James: Yeah. I think a book is a great thing to have. I’m in the same process of putting out a book. But I’ve taken a radically different approach. So it’d be interesting just to sort of benchmark the two different ways to go about it, see what happens, and then my thing is it doesn’t matter which one is right or better. It just matters that in the end, to be able to analyze it all, figure out what the next thing that I should be doing is based on everything I’ve learned to that point.
I do want to cover this other idea. Recently, I switched off my affiliate program. It happens at the end of the year, but I made the decision to integrate my marketing to bring back control of my brand and to earn the follows and to earn the links from other people, which has been tremendously successful. It already is in its last few weeks.
In the small part, because of the support that your crowd have been doing, we did an interview, which was great. A lot of the people in your relates sphere have sort of picked up or given me some credit for the “OwnTheRacecourse” ideas, and given me roll links. I have actually made sales from it.
So firstly, a big thank you. Secondly, what are your sort of thoughts on this? I know you’re quite passionate about authority market leadership. Can you give me sort of a window into the mind of Dan Andrews and where you see things going over the next year?
Authority market leadership
Dan: Yeah. I’m not sure how cohesive my thoughts are. I don’t have a super broad range of experience. But just as an observer, I noticed that, and I’m not talking about the Bluehost or the Market Samurai or the larger products that are looking for distribution out there. I’m talking mostly about service providers and the information marketers in the middle who are seeking to get their products out to a broader audience.
To me, the best way to build a great business is to have great products number one, and to have a passionate custom base, like one of my favorite articles is 1,000 True Fans by Kevin Kelly. I’ve written a follow up on it called 100 True Customers, and I’m actually working on one called 10 True Clients. So this is going to be a part of my book.
If you can please those 100 true customers or 1,000 true fans, they’re going to do all the sales you need for them. With the case between me and you, of course like you’ve given me a lot of value so I have no problem passing on great products to other people. The problem with the affiliate, tacking on say a 50% affiliate commission for people to pimp your products for you, which is pretty common, is that your signalling that it’s an inefficient product, that the distribution channel is incredibly expensive, and that you’re asking your customers to foot the bill for you.
To me, this always seems so boldfaced on the surface. Just because people aren’t writing blog posts about it doesn’t mean people aren’t thinking those. Because of course the internet marketing dogma is slap an affiliate program and of course incentivize people to go pimp your product, that’s going to make it better. I never felt that way when I looked at the internet, when I looked these products and thought, well this guy is charging $500 for it but I know why this person put it on their blog if they’re not getting paid $250 for it. So now I’m being forced to pay an extra $250 for this product because I read about it on this blog.
That can’t be good for the long term sustainability of this product. In the niches that I followed, there has been no such thing as long term sustainability, except when it comes to products that have reached some sort of scale. I think your products would have been a notable exception as well as the skilled service products like Bluehost and stuff like that. Yeah, that’s kind of the general idea but I’m actually more curious to see how my philosophical wankerdom sort of played out in your real life case.
James: We both have a mutual friend Dan Norris. The first I became aware of him was I got a Google alert for my product Traffic Grab. I went and looked at the YouTube video review of my product and lo and behold, he was reviewing it for his customers, recommending they buy it, and he was not an affiliate and had no intention of becoming an affiliate. This was quite unusual. Later on, he joined my community and he’s also in your community. He’s interviewed me and you interviewed me and then he’s one of the influences I guess. He’s a guy that said, “Hey, you should have a look at this.” He also recommends me other people. In which case, I’ve usually sort of just been there or just about to get there myself.
That whole philosophy was good but what you articulated with the inefficient marketing system, it hit the nail on the head for me because with those $2,000 products, I actually found that somewhat disgusting that they would just pay $1,000 to someone else to promote it, as you say, “pimp it.” Back early on in my affiliate marketing, that was the thing to do, was to sell those products with the whole product launch formula thing. But I quickly discovered that it wasn’t good for people to have those products. And that then as videos emerged, how they really feel about their affiliates, they’ve classified them as their A level and B level affiliates and then how systemized it was to just go around, and around, and around. I call it a circle jerk.
But anyway, where they share those customers, the only people prospering are the ones in the very first ring, and everyone else is really just a bottom feeder or a victim in some ways. Aside from the fact that people can make up their own mind to buy or to not buy, the only saving grace in my case was that I always gave people a bonus. In some cases, the bonus was me helping them on their business, a personal coaching, or things that would assist them get a really good result. So I felt good about that side of it, but I felt bad about the actual product itself until a few years ago. I decided not to promote guru products anymore, and just thought, you know what, I can do a better job of this myself, and I just created my own products. And I went to the market with a fair value approach.
The overwhelming feedback I had from products like Traffic Grab, which I sold for $79, whether that was a $2,000 product, sold for $79, and it really was a big, single finger pointed up at those guys who are ripping people off. And that product sold thousands of copies and formed the foundation for the community that I have now. And it also, interestingly, propelled my done-for-you services business, which as you’ve also identified. There’s this huge need for people who should not be doing it themselves, who aren’t suited to running a team, who might know how to do it, but just really need someone to supply it for them.
That business is powered along, too, in the last year or two. So I guess from my own point of view, the thing you mentioned about inefficient distribution was the most resonating point and the second thing is the support from your own community, guys like the AdSense flippers, guys like Dan Norris, and Tim Conley; they’ve all come from that same sort of environment and that’s the support that I guess I needed for that last step.
But over the last two years, I’d weaned my affiliate percentage of turnover from 25% to 15% to 5% because I’ve got a very efficient marketing distribution arm with my own team. My team are traffic specialists. They build high-converting websites, and they can rank anything. So that’s been our own growth. In the end, the people who squish my face around into the wrong proportions and misrepresent my brand or even worse, just pass off as me, just scraping people and adding no value, that really got under my skin, to the point where when I finally had an affiliate fraud happening while I was away, then that was it. End of story. And I don’t think I’m likely to revisit that affiliate program in the immediate future.
Dan: You know James really, this conceptually could be a 5-hour discussion. The affiliate model, especially the $2,000, with a thousand dollars worth of gravy on top, is really more suited to selling opportunities than it is to selling sort of specific solutions. So the problem with opportunities, this incredible amount of frontage, so they’re sort of for anybody, and they’re kind of at anytime, and that’s why people that are in the opportunity space, sort of quizzically can constantly launch in sort of the same thing over and over again.
They’re not really doing anything much different. So I think I have this article that you might find fascinating. It’s called “The Anatomy of the Internet Marketing Gold Rush.” I think part of the reason that I latch on to what you’re doing and to what the AdSense Flippers are doing is that I see you guys as manifestations of the fourth generation of Internet marketing. I basically list out a bunch of examples of stuff of differentiators between these generations. So that might be a cool thing to link up to in this podcast.
James: Yeah, I’ll put a link to that. I have read it and I really enjoyed that. It was part of the idea formation behind it. I agree about the opportunity guys. A lot of them come to me privately and ask me to help them fix their broken business because they’ve become launched dependent.
When I was in Mercedes-Benz, a really interesting thing happened. Mercedes-Benz came to Australia in the 1960’s and set up a distribution, which was run by the factory and then about six or seven years ago, this guy ran a sale, and we’d never run sales and there was always high value in the marketplace and there was no discounts on Mercedes-Benz, and it wasn’t expected and that’s just how it ran. And this guy did a big discount sale. I believe that was when the whole market was finished from then on.
I see sales all the time in the marketing. It makes me a bit sad but they became promotion dependent and it just trains buyers to hold back and wait for the big sale. So that’s one aspect of it. Secondly, it takes the whole focus of value. I think people should be building real businesses and a promotion is just a spike. It shouldn’t be the whole business. I had this lady come to me during the week. She spent tens of thousands over the last year or two, not made a single dollar back, and she was looking to get SEO for an MLM company that she just joined last month, and she pretty much wanted a guarantee of results and that I would be finally able to get her some money back.
This is the scariest part for me, she denied that this thing was even an MLM company. I said, “With this MLM stuff, you really want to consider if this is the path you want to go down.” She said, “No, it’s not an MLM company.” It is an MLM company. She says, “No. This is affiliate marketing.” So they’ve even gotten so sneaky in this particular company to push the whole focus away from it. But this lady had zero business experience. And it’s kind of sad to think with all these launches, they only work because there are so many people out there who just keep loading up their credit card and buying the crap.
Dan: Yes. And those people aren’t great customers either. I mean there’s always been this dogma that, you know, the beginners … I think it’s all BS. They’re selling to affiliates, they’re not selling to customers. They kind of convince people to put up affiliate websites. It’s all crap. This is like Microsoft dead. Right? It’s like, it’s fine. It worked for them in 2007. It’s not going to work for people looking for opportunities now.
Here’s the thing. I think that a launch is like the Internet version of a billboard or a Super Bowl ad. I mean traditionally, these things have sort of worked and stuff but I mean I think if you have to do the big sale and scream loud about what’s going on, that’s a barometer that your product isn’t working out. You’ve got a long-term sustainability issue. And so if you’re sitting around on your back office concocting sales, what you need to be doing is concocting stories and better products or better conceptions that are worthy of people’s attention. That’s a long-term strategy.
Sitting back, figuring out clever ways to scream your product about your product is really a symptom that your business is heading downhill – or it could be. I don’t know if I can make a universal statement. But I think one of the things that you said to me, you gave the analogy of when you make an offer, it ought to be that you’re just dropping it into a magnet, into a sort of a bowl of metal shavings and the ones that have the right qualities, you’re going to stick to that offer. And then they’re going to pull them right back out. It doesn’t have to be, especially nowadays, this big, loud, screaming affair.
So I mean it’s part of what attracts me to what you’re doing and I love the way Dan Norris sells as well, because look I get it. I’m a good customer. I just need a good product. I need a good solution. I don’t need some big bonus and sale. I mean when you look at these people, and these people are coming out of the woodwork now. We know these people, the Brendan Tulley’s, the Dan Norris’s; these people are the best customers because they are prepared to achieve ROI, they have real businesses, real cash flow, they have audiences and customers that they can share, you can do partnerships and work with them. These are the customers we’re looking for, not the down and out last $2,000 guy. That will be the last $2,000 they spend and the last $2,000 you get.
James: You know that is so interesting because here’s the kicker: When I’ve switched my focus off the affiliate program, I’ve switched it on to my reseller program and I’ve had discussions with you about my beliefs that people should be focusing on building a real business. And the success of my business now rides on my ability to help other people create and build their own business, where they have the customer relationship, where they build an asset they could sell, and where they have it efficient enough that they can keep a nice profit margin.
I see myself in the responsible position of being able to supply them high quality sustainable, scalable, valuable services so that they can build on top of but it’s no flash in the pan. It’s not like I make money off the first order. They’re very time and energy intensive in the beginning to train a reseller, and I know a lot of people who happily charge $25,000 to share their license or their franchise system.
In my case, I don’t charge people to come and be a reseller, and I’m creating training materials for them now. I’ve already shot the first two videos and we’ve put together a resource page. But I’m banking my success on the fact that I can help these people create their own businesses and go out there and serve people and create value for them.
Dan: And again, you know, it’s almost like the best answer’s always, “Duh.” It’s like, when you were describing your sales process at Mercedes-Benz. There’s all these blow hards on the Internet looking for content, telling you about being a great salesman and stuff. And your strategy was to listen and to understand the customer and then to give them the best product that they need.
This can be a doubly powerful and simple “duh” technique in the entrepreneur space because, I mean, when you empower an entrepreneur, you’ve set off a rocket. I mean it’s one thing to drop a Mercedes in a guy’s lap but maybe he sells one to his cousin and his sister. But man, an entrepreneur, they could have thousands of customers. Or they could have an incredible future ahead of them.
I just look at, James, some of the people that I’ve been hanging out with. A lot of us back in 2009 or 2008, we were just trying to pay the rent and just happy that we were able to travel and everything, and now we come to fly into these meetups in Bangkok and stay in a nice hotels, and these guys have million dollar businesses. And that happened in a span of three years. So these are the people, we’re talking about long-term relationships, well you can keep a customer for two or three years. You’re talking about some incredible upside potential. So I love this model. I absolutely love the model. It goes down to the classic success maxim, too. If you can bring enough success to other people, it’s going to come to you, too.
James: Yeah. I think that was a Zig Ziggler thing.
Dan: That’s it.
James: So, I know we could talk for hours because we like to talk.
Dan: Is there anything useful I could say?
An exercise of Dan’s show note template
James: Everything you say, I’m just nodding my head. You know, this is fantastic. I’ve swiped your show note infrastructure. Timbo with FreedomOcean used to send me a Google doc with the episode. He’d give me sort of a topic he’d want to talk about, but I wouldn’t get to find out too much about it until just before the show. But I love this framework you’ve got. Like I will literally sit down with my reminders app and plug this framework in and work on making my show better. I’d love a closing exercise here. Maybe if we can have a look at your show note template.
Dan: Oh yeah, I’ll send it to you.
James: OK. That’s like when you put the checklist from OwnTheRacecourse on your site. It probably helped a lot of people start creating that authority for themselves.
Dan: Absolutely. Yeah. So let’s just post in on this blog post. How do we find this blog post? Search for Dan Andrews – James Schramko podcast, and it’ll come up?
James: Well, let’s do this. Let’s do this exercise now. Let’s go through the checklist and apply it to this particular episode. Our show notes for this episode were pretty simple. It’s two guys talking and exchanging some ideas about podcasting and the shift in marketing authority from paid salesman. That was sort of the basic plan, 10 seconds before we went recording.
Dan: That’s right.
James: How we intro the show?
Dan: What? I’m confused.
James: How should we intro this show? This particular episode.
Dan: I see. I have no idea. You want me to try to make this show better?
James: Yeah. We’re going to run it through your template now. We’re going to fix it up, make it good.
Dan: I see.
James: This is like a workshop here.
Dan: I see. So OK. Well, if you have on of your ninjas, come in and take the funniest line out of the show and drop it before the intro music. That will be a fun, little preview, and it implies too you that there’s something cool coming up.
James: Cool. Got it. OK.
Dan: And then, when you introduce the episode, you could, if you have a standard introduction, you could preview something that they’re going to learn or that’s going to come up later on in the show; something that they might not know about, something that has a sort of a mysterious black box quality to it.
James: Is that the tease?
Dan: It could be the tease. Yeah. Or you could, a lot of people would go back and after having interviewed me, then you do a quick intro. Just a small little pet peeve, if you intro somebody on a podcast, don’t leave the intro portion of the interview in anymore. Just get right into it. Too much fluff in podcast. No need for all that.
James: Yeah, I think so. I know one podcast that has no bumper, no intro. They just start talking.
Dan: It’s awesome. I think intro music is the most overrated thing in podcasting. It’s totally irrelevant. Nobody cares. Everybody knows it’s you sitting there with a microphone. There’s no illusion of professionalism. It’s all BS. Everybody knows you have some corny ass headset on right now. You might have a cool mic. But you know what I mean, like everybody knows we’re just sitting around in our living rooms hanging out. So you’re not kidding anybody with your fancy radio intros.
So if that’s holding you back from podcasting, don’t let it hold you back. Turn on your iPhone, put up a decent USB mic, and start talking “the message.” I think that’s all it takes.
James: What about a joke?
Dan: You know, I don’t think jokes are that important. It would depend on your personal taste.
James: You guys played a trick on me the other day in your podcast. You sampled my voice and talked about how it made you want to pay more.
Dan: That’s right. So I think you know, my feeling about that is that I don’t get a ton of feedback about stuff like that. I don’t think people care that much. I think they think it’s nice, as long as it doesn’t become a distraction. Sometimes, I spend all this time trying to come up with a funny bit, and it’s just like, “Man, we should really be focusing on doing some research.” I’m always impressed by the seriousness of my audience. Even though I’m being a little bit of a jokester, people really care. I mean they’re trying to take their business forward. So they don’t want to spend too much time with you mucking around.
That said, I do think it would be cool for you to have a narrative section to your podcast. So I really want to know what’s going on for James Schramko and your business. I mean I showed up … because here’s the problem with interview format, is it can become non sequitur. I mean like, here’s a random guy I called. Well, why did you call him? Well, because I needed some content. Well, he’s really smart at this thing. OK, fine. Well, what’s going on?
I want to hear like, what’s going on with FastWebFormula? Where are you? When is the next SilverCircle going to open up? What are you thinking about doing with your affiliate program? Like that to me is really fascinating. It’s a narrative element. And then when I get on that, open up my podcast device, I get to see that, “There’s a new episode of Internet Marketing Speed,” I’m curious. What’s going to be happening? So I think that narrative element helps to string together the show and helps to keep people coming back and people to be involved.
Shout out to listeners
James: This is fantastic. How important is it for shouting out to your listeners? I know you do that a lot. I even commented on your podcast, which I very rarely would do.
Dan: Yes. You know we have an incredible amount of user interaction or whatever you want to call it. But we’re actually just talking with our people. Because part of it is we know who these people are. I always thought it was … part of what the LBP came from was sort of a frustration with current podcast. I felt like people are almost like willfully ignoring their audience in the effort to have a more professional show or maybe a more timeless show or all that kind of stuff. But I was really coming more from a radio background.
If you listen to famous content producers like Adam Carolla, again this is the game that we’re in, right? We’re the Howard Sterns of the next generation of Howard Sterns but more focused. There was always this element of narrative, like what’s the engineer doing? What’s Bob doing? What’s Robin doing? I was a big part of the show. Same deal with, you look at the Adam Carolla podcast, just sold 10,000 bottles of Mangria, which is this new alcoholic beverage. And see I know about this stuff. I can tell you about this because I’m following the narrative and I actually just sent in one of my portable bars with custom printing on the side. It’s a $2500-marketing stunt. I don’t know if you know about that. I make portable bars for a living.
James: I know because of the narrative. And I know you make pet furniture.
Dan: And I also make keyboards.
James: And I know you’ve got events all around the world next year in Europe and Asia.
Dan: And it’s funny because you know I gave this presentation at my Bangkok meetup and one of the stunts I pulled during the presentation was I gave a complete sales pitch for Rob Walling’s HitTail. And the point was that because Rob had given it to me in the form of a narrative, I had no defense mechanism against hearing the pitch for HitTail. But I understand deeply what this product does and how it can benefit people. So I mean if that isn’t a sales pitch for the narrative format for the podcast, I don’t know what is.
I can sell you James’s products. I can sell you Rob Walling’s product. Who better to equip, without ability, than fellow entrepreneurs and people that are big fans of yours?
James: Well I think in my case, my SuperFastBusiness channel is only me and it’s a way for all of my customers and prospects to find out about all parts of my business, which I do podcast. And interestingly, I still get more downloads from the audio than I do from the video views. I might get 500 or 600 video views per episode, which is not many, but it’s high frequency, but I get more downloads. I’ve just cracked the 1100 or 1200 downloads a day on iTunes from my various shows.
Dan: Yeah. From my perspective, I’d even say that when someone downloads my audio onto their device, that’s like them giving me their mailing address.
James: Yeah. Especially if they synchronize it.
Dan: Yeah. I mean they’re going to so much trouble and effort. And then the crowning achievement, at the end of the day, they’re actually listening to me speak into their ears for long periods of time. A marketer’s dream is the cynical way to look at it. But it’s also a true revolution. It’s absolutely fantastic that I don’t have to watch “The Oprah Winfrey Show” or “The Price is Right,” or whatever crap is on TV in the morning that I can listen to James Schramko, a guy who’s years ahead of me in terms of experience and success, and I can learn directly from you. It’s entertaining and I get to follow your story. It’s an absolute revolution. To be a part of it, in and of itself, is the less cynical answer. Just as an amazing thing to be a part of.
James: That’s like my burger Friday. It’s got the “Lifestyle Business” podcasting session as well. If you didn’t put an episode out, I think you’d have a backlash. How have you stayed so focused with your regular weekly. Do you just have a set time no matter where you are? Is that how it works?
Dan: Well, part of it is that we do it just like you were saying with your speeches, we do it just in time. We do it the last minute every week, and we publish at 8 p.m. Asia time on Thursday evening, so it’s Thursday morning Eastern Standard Time. We selected that time not because it was strategic in terms of launching but because it was the time that we felt most likely to be able to succeed at every week.
Since we made that mantra, I think we’ve messed up – once. And there was a backlash actually. A lot of friendly notes. People saying, “What’s going on?” “Are you OK?” But it’s really been important for us to stick to that schedule. Not only for audience, there’s expectation. People actually do wake up. Not everybody is just constantly connected to the Internet. There’s timing signals in their life are important. They go to iTunes on Thursday mornings in order to get the program. It also adds sort of a more of a communal element.
I tell my team to, they do weekly reports. Even if they write the reports early, I have them deliver the reports at 5 p.m. on Fridays so that it pulls the whole team together at a certain moment in time. Same thing with having a publishing schedule for your blog. People can expect that content but more important than that, is that it forces you to produce. And that’s the name of the game. If I don’t have that publishing deadline, every other “Lifestyle Business Podcast” wouldn’t go out because I’d feel stupid, and ashamed, and have that sort of sick feeling in my stomach that: did I say something stupid? Am I wrong about some of this stuff? And you know, I can cut the suspense. Yes, I did say something stupid, and yes, I am wrong about some of this, and you know, it’s fine. I’ve got to get it out because I made that commitment Thursday morning. So that’s been the most important part.
James: Yeah. I know if I don’t make a video every day or two, I start getting twitchy. I’ve just got to film something because I’ve been doing it for, I don’t know, more than six months now, over 100 and something videos. You just get into that routine and I’m happy with that. I’m cranking up FreedomOcean a little more. You’ll be pleased to know. We just got an agreement to do that weekly, which is awesome because I’m ready to roll.
Dan: It’s a great format.
James: And of course this one we’re on now is Internet Marketing Speed where I have my feature discussions and it’s got a good frequency happening as well now. So spinning three plates. Each one has a slightly different audience, but hopefully they’ll find each of them. I hope they will go and check out lifestylebusinesspodcast.com. That’s for you, Ian.
Dan: “Lifestyle Business Podcast.” The unfortunately named.
James: Right. OK so, give us a final, inspirational, a-ha, big tip; something that listeners can take action on today. They’ve listened to us ramble for a little while now. What’s the big conclusion. How do we finish this one on a high?
Dan: All right, I’ll say this, this is something that I’ve been working on a little bit, is this idea of “ready, fire, aim,” and how important that i when it comes to content generations. I call this the Action Jackson philosophy. Just like I was saying with my podcast every Thursday morning. I mean it’s not easy. Sometimes, Ian and I are generally on the other side of the world. Sometimes I got to stay up like 12:30 in the morning to do it. I’m not crying about it, but sometimes it’s tough.
But now I’ve gotten in that routine where it’s my favorite hour every week, and at the beginning it was really just an arbitrary decision to do it. And that’s this idea of “ready, fire, aim,” and Action Jackson. If you believe that content marketing can be good for your business, of course it can be. Stop thinking about it. Stop over-analyzing. Just have a simple format. And have a simple timing frequency. And just do it for eight weeks. Do it for eight weeks and don’t think about it.
You’re going to feel stupid. I will cut all the suspense for you. You’ll feel stupid, you’ll feel humiliated, people are going to hate you, your mother is going to call you and tell you what the hell are you doing? All this kind of stuff is going to happen. It’s going to be awful. But eight weeks later, sit down and take stock, and ask yourself: is it working? Can you improve it? And how? And that’s it.
You don’t have to think about the stuff too much. If you do, it will be the disaster to your creativity. So that’s the other element. On the front end of the episode, we talked about how structure can give you creativity and on the back end I think, once you put that structure in place, you have to consider it arbitrary and just deliver on it. And that’s the way that you’re going to get the good information.
You’re not going to get great information on your content by over-analyzing it in your mind. You’re going to get good information by putting it out there and seeing the data, hearing it from other experts, and refining it as you go along.
By the way, if you want to get an idea of how this can work, just go back and listen to episode number one of the “Lifestyle Business Podcast.” It is awful. It’s awful. It’s fantastically awful. It’s worth listening to because that’s how you get started. And you just keep going.
James: I’ve heard this reference by Dan Norris before, and I’m quite curious. So I’ll put a link in the show notes to that. I’ll see if I can find something that I’ve produced that’s crappy as well. You don’t have to look very far. My first video update, I think was to FastWebFormula members. It was dreadful as well. The sound quality.
When you go to video, and audio, and lighting, you just add in all these extra dimensions of difficulty, but I can say it’s worth chipping away. I probably only in the last week have got to a production level that I’m happy with, with sound, lighting, lenses and b-rolls, and music. it just takes a while but it’s so worth doing. You just get traction in your community. It powers your business.
You also move ahead of everyone who’s just happy to slap out a few hundred words on a blog post. You just move miles ahead when you go into more rich media.
Dan: That’s it. And also worth “googling” of the equal odds theory, which is the idea that those who put out the best content also tend to put out the worst content. So it can be a volume game. It can be an interesting mindset shift to take a look at things like that and to try to disassociate your feeling or your ego from how your content is received, or how you think your content is going to be received because that can just be poisonous to your creativity.
James: Love it. And it’s awesome. And as a tribute to the “Lifestyle Business Podcast,” I’m going to see out this episode with a music track. What do you think about that idea?
James: We’re going to be listening to Karma’s “Relent,” the new unmastered track called “Unbound.”
Dan: Good for them. Aren’t they lucky? I would love to hear by the way, while this music is playing in the background, I would love to hear an artist complain about the fact that their music is being appreciated and shared on a podcast as elegant and as notable as this. I can’t wait. The nerve of an artist who’s going to raise a stink, or a record label. I mean, what a great marketing opportunity, by the way. I can’t wait until some record label says, bring it on. I can’t wait.
James: Thanks, Dan!
Dan: Cheers guys!
Quality audio checklist – Use “Better Touch Tool” to Split Screen Audacity and Rip Sheet
1.Flip on test audio. Are your levels between .5 and .7?
2.If you don’t talk, is the audio level completely flat?
3.Test your audio.
4.Listen back. Are you sure the input is from your best quality mic?
5.Does your mic have pop guard or situated away from your mouth?
6.Confirm your computer is not plugged in and away from ungrounded outlets.
SHOW NOTES TEMPLATE
This week’s drops:
______ (overtop the business in intro) at the beginning.
______ “yeah buddy!” (at the very beginning).
LBP # _ _ – TITLE
Intro : Yeah buddy / Thursday / LBP / We believe building a business is the best way to get more personal
freedom and opportunity / Captain / Co-host / A man who…
If you stick around to the end of the episode…
News / iTunes / Shouts / Questions:
Meat and Potatoes –
Just the tips…
– – – – – – –
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