This week, we’re shaking things up a bit. I took to Facebook and Twitter and asked for questions related to running and growing your business — and got a bunch of really good ones.
Joining me to answer those questions is Chris Brogan, a New York Times bestselling author, professional speaker, longtime blogger, and CEO of Owner Media Group. He’s also been my friend for over a decade, so I’m not that impressed. 🙂
Here are some of the questions we answer (and we don’t always agree 100%, which is fun):
If it was your first year in business (learning online marketing, still side hustling and generally working everything out) and your goal was to escape your 9-5 by December, what would you do in the first 3 months if you had 2 hours a day to work on your biz? And also, what would you specifically NOT focus on?
What tools do you use to design complex sales funnels?
What are the biggest team-building mistakes small business owners make as they scale their businesses to 7-figures and beyond?
How do you balance having several online businesses in different niches? Do you link them together when you tell people what you do? How do you split your time between them?
What’s the deal with the new StudioPress Sites thing? Will Brogan switch from Rainmaker? (Yes, this was a real question.)
What will disrupt content marketing?
Is SEO dead?
And the eternal question … do you wear pants in the home office?
Tune in for great information and a bit of fun with Mr. Brogan and me. He does have the distinction of being the first guest to show up twice on Unemployable, but don’t tell him.
Listen to 7-Figure Small with Brian Clark below ...
The Show Notes
Answers to Smart Business Questions, with Chris Brogan
Chris Brogan: I’m Chris Brogan. I advise businesses, write books and speak. And, man, am I unemployable.
Voiceover: Welcome to Unemployable, the show for people who can get a job, they’re just not inclined to take one. And that’s putting it gently. In addition to this podcast, thousands of freelancers and entrepreneurs get actionable advice and other valuable resources from the weekly Unemployable email newsletter.
Join us by registering for our free Profit Pillars course, or choose to sign up for the newsletter only at no charge. Simply head over to Unemployable.com and take your business and lifestyle to the next level. That’s Unemployable.com.
Brian Clark: Hey, welcome to Unemployable, the show that brings you valuable business intelligence that helps you avoid getting a job for as long as possible. Hopefully forever, right?
I’m your host, Brian Clark, founder and CEO of Rainmaker Digital, the company that brings you Copyblogger, StudioPress, and the Rainmaker Platform.
Speaking of StudioPress, this episode 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 products, digital downloads, and membership programs. Check it out today at StudioPress.com.
This week we’re shaking things up a bit. I took to Facebook and Twitter and asked for questions related to running and growing your business. And I got a bunch of really good ones.
Joining me to answer those questions is Chris Brogan, New York Times bestselling author, professional speaker, longtime blogger, and CEO of Owner Media Group. He’s also been my friend for over a decade, so I’m not that impressed.
Chris Brogan, how the hell are you?
Chris Brogan: Best I’ve ever been. What’s not to love?
Brian Clark: Wow. That’s optimistic. I’m glad to hear it.
How’s the 10th book coming? Congratulations just for writing a 10th book, much less.
Chris Brogan’s New Book in Five Chapters
Chris Brogan: You know, every time I do this, I’ll tell you something that’s true of every book I’ve ever written — including Trust Agents that I did with Jillian Smith — is I get usually about 100 pages in and then I delete the whole thing and start again.
I cannot ever seem to just take the best parts and move them somewhere else. I just go, “Ugh, I have to start again.” That’s true of this book.
This book I had this premise, I had this idea: What if I made this book just five chapters long? And there may or may not need to be sort of a preface and end chapter. But if you do five chapters and you presume about 200 pages in a book, that’s like 40 pages in a chapter.
It’s kind of tricky to keep the narrative going for 40 straight pages. We blogger types tend to write smaller chapters in our books. And so I’ve gone the other way to try to make something cohesive happen.
That’s how the book is going, is I’m sitting around going, “Do I really want to do this? Is it really 40 pages till I get to the end of this chapter?” It’s nutty.
Brian Clark: I like short chapters myself, but that’s maybe my blogginess. I do think shorter books — Seth Godin has been working this fairly well.
If you can get the high-impact aspect of it through in 100, 150 pages, I don’t need to wade through the padded anecdotes. Some of those anecdotes are awesome and all that. But that’s really a throwback to the old-school publishing industry, where a business book had to be 200-plus, right?
Chris Brogan: Right. Well, there’s an absolutely real-world, physical reason why. Because when the book is spine out on the shelf, meaning you only see the side of the book, it has to be big enough that it actually registers to your eyeball.
And that’s the actual reason why books should be around 200 pages. It has nothing to do with the contents or the quality of the book.
Brian Clark: In a world of self-published ebooks, should one be interested in that? That is irrelevant.
Chris Brogan: Yeah, my last book right before this was Find Your Writing Voice, and there’s only 77 pages. And there is no fluff. It is 100 percent action.
This book will definitely be those anecdotes and stories that I’m writing with long words, like you do when you’re a kid trying to finish a high school essay.
Brian Clark: What’s the topic of the book?
Chris Brogan: The whole idea is that to learn how to make a game out of your life and your business. In a little way it’s autobiographical, because what it is telling people is: How did I come along, and how did I do what I did?
You and I both have a very similar kind of genesis in so far as we had real-world jobs. And then one day we said, “You know, we don’t necessarily have to do it this way.”
The five chapters of the book. One is titled “Business and Life Are a Game.” Number two is “Everything Is Smaller,” because I have to rip off Seth Godin in every book I write. He did Small Is the New Big, so I usually write a couple years later my own book with the same title.
“Every Person Is a Business,” very much Jay Z. “Every Business Is a Media Company Plus,” as you well can attest. Then the last one is just “Modern Businesses Need New Skills.”
There you go. That’s the whole chapter outline.
Brian Clark: That’s nice. Looking forward to it.
What else have we got going on in Brogan’s life? You’re going to get married this year, if she continues to put up with you.
Chris Brogan: I know. That is also a big and reasonable ‘if.’ But yeah, we’re planning sometime fall 2017. And we’re possibly doing some kind of a small destination wedding.
It’s really interesting. In the world of Airbnb, you can rent like a villa in some other country like Mexico or something like that, with a staff and everything, like chefs and everything, for less than most people pay for their crappy wedding with the reception being in a VFW hall somewhere.
Brian Clark: Amen to that. I’m doing that for myself alone this weekend.
Chris Brogan: Oh, I like that plan. A villa with a staff? I like that plan.
Brian Clark: Yeah, I’m kidding.
Chris Brogan: I was in.
Brian Clark: If I ever just come into a mother lode of cash at one time then I’ll do the villa with full staff. Sit there and light cigars with $100 bills or something.
Chris Brogan: “You there. Cut my milk!”
Brian Clark: All right, so this show is a little different in that we kind of impromptu just solicited some questions on Facebook and Twitter and said, “Ask us anything.” And we got some great questions. You ready to dive into these?
Chris Brogan: I’m so excited for this. By the way, as I was looking over your shoulder on Facebook, I almost started answering the questions in the comment section. And then I realized, oh yeah, that’s what the show is for.
Brian Clark: I almost did that too. At least, “I can answer that one right here.” I’m like, “Wait a minute, what are you doing?”
Chris Brogan: See.
Brian Clark: Okay. Let’s start with Claire Emerson from Australia. Lovely lady.
Chris Brogan: Yes.
How Chris and Brian Would Escape the 9 to 5 in Only Two Hours a Day
Brian Clark: Asked, “If it was your first year in business — learning online marketing, still side hustling and generally working everything out — and your goal was to escape your 9 to 5 by December, what would you do in your first three months? If you had two hours a day to work on your business?”
Chris Brogan: I’d throw together a really simple site. I would throw together some kind of a newsletter, and I would flip it all the way around and start prospecting as hard as I could.
I would start looking for, who actually needs this thing I know how to do? And how do I talk to them about it? I would probably use something like LinkedIn. I would start looking around even on Twitter search, if I could see somebody that needed what I needed, what I knew how to do.
Then I would start asking them, “How can I work with you?”
One of the strangest things people do with their business is they don’t ask the most basic question, which is: How can I work with you, or what do you need, or how can I deliver on that for you?
I’m just fascinated by that, because to me that’s what you are here for. That’s what you’re supposed to do. So that’s how I would do that, Claire.
Brian Clark: Yeah, does that presuppose a client-based business, or could it be a product business as well?
Chris Brogan: Yeah. I mean, let’s say I sold something. I don’t know, I make beautiful exotic soaps. I would make up a website. I would make a whole page with product stuff. I’d start shooting videos of it.
I would start shooting something to maybe try to separate me from the herd. For instance, maybe my soap is super ultra organic, and I would show a video of me eating it or something. Which would be gross.
Brian Clark: You could put it in a blender.
Chris Brogan: But if you could say, “I can eat this or shampoo with it,” it’d probably separate me from somebody else.
I don’t know. I would do something like Dollar Shave Club did and try to really step out away from the curb from everybody else.
Brian Clark: That’s such interesting advice, because I was thinking back to the first three months of Copyblogger. And basically what I did was come up with a content strategy, start writing, right?
People don’t remember that I had to make money other ways that first year. There was no income coming from Copyblogger. So I showed up, two quality articles a week, and then just tried to build the audience.
One thing that I focused on during that first three months goes right to what you just said. These events, almost stunt like, in the sense that it was something that would catch attention.
I tried a couple of things that didn’t really work, and then I gave away that free report in month three. And that was the home run.
I mean, if you look for that catalyst and there’s a unification between something that generates a lot of attention but also demonstrates value, that’s your home run.
It’s hard to find it. It’s not always easy. I think compared to 11 years ago, we have a lot more resources to help people kind of figure it out. But you just gotta be persistent, I think. That’s the focus.
She asked a follow-up to that, which is, “What are the three things you absolutely wouldn’t focus on?” That’s a good question too.
The One Thing Chris Would NOT Focus On
Chris Brogan: You know, I think you and I are both in the content business. And I think that where people try to do goofy things is that they think, “If I just blog enough, then all my customers are going to show up.”
I would say that what I would not focus on, or what I would try not to do, is spend a lot of time just making content. You know, Derek Halpern said — and it was so funny, because he and I disagreed on this for awhile. And I’ve come really around to agree with him a bit more. Which happens often with me and Derek.
He said, “Really work on super-important cornerstone content, and just really work on stuff that you just got to nail down.” I know that’s kind of a Copyblogger and Authority thing too. I think a lot of people think because of successes in the past — like yours and mine, and a lot of other people that others seem to look up to for this — they think that if you just blog, everyone’s going to show up.
That was really totally true in like ’05 and ’06, and stuff like that. But your showing up now — it’s not going to happen. And you have to deliver some kind of other value. I would not spend my time just making content and hoping for the money to fall into my hands.
Brian Clark: Yeah. I don’t think people remember, even back in those days, a lot of my time was spent on content promotion. That was Derek’s point: Create something awesome, and then spend most of the time getting distribution for it.
It’s a different world now than when we were trying to make the big homepage and then trying to keep the server up when the traffic hit. That’s a real aspect of it.
Here’s my advice, Claire. Keep this in mind. All of 2006 and all the way to November of 2007, I had just launched our first product. That’s how long it took.
No one had ever seen me in public until Blog World that November of 2007. That’s like 19, 20, 22 — it’s almost two years.
My advice is — and this is me. Chris may disagree. But I did not spend a lot of time trying to get meetings, I didn’t spent a lot of time networking, I didn’t spend a lot of time talking on the phone.
I focused on execution, and whatever that means in the terms of audience building. I only went out in public because I was asked to speak, and then things changed from that point forward.
But here’s my point. A lot of people think that being a good business person means your calendar is filled every minute with certain work. But also meetings and networking, this and that. And you never leave yourself time to think, to just step back and go, “What am I doing, and what do I need to do next?”
I just saw an article that said 10 hours of your week should be just thinking. I probably do more than that, but that’s how I figure out what to do. Again, that’s me. Chris is much more the networking guy.
But unless you got that base. Like, if I were to try to start speaking before I had those first 20 months, or whatever it was, I don’t think I might be in the place I am today.
Chris Brogan: Yeah. I think it would be sort of fun, someday I may or may not try to make some kind of documentary, or someday maybe a book, that talks about our world and how we kind of all came up.
Because I think there’s just so much misconception. And I think one of the things that people think is that people just started saying, “Hey Chris, you should come speak, because you seem like a nice guy.” Instead of, “I read this really great thing on your blog,” or “I saw this really great article,” or “Your podcast made me think this should be a topic at our big event. Oh, you wrote a book? Oh you should totally come speak.”
I mean, even if I wasn’t trying to be a keynote speaker, the other thing that great content did for me was that people would come up to me at events, and even just great social media. People would come up to me at events and feel like they already knew me.
So I had a great chance to talk with someone who I might not normally, which then led to business. For a really shy, introverted guy like me, this is magic.
That’s really kind of where I spent my effort, was like, “Hey, wow, free meetings with lots of people because I just write things.”
Brian Clark: That’s a great point. Because once I did start going out in public, people did act like they knew me. And they approached me. And same thing: I’ll talk to anyone, but I’m not as likely to approach you. Right?
Chris Brogan: Right.
Brian Clark: That is a good point, because once it started happening … Anyway. Okay, cool.
Here’s a quick question: Sales-funnel design from Bob Farnham. Do you use any sort of tech tool to map out your sequences, your strategy. Or paper and pencil?
What do you use?
Chris’s Strategy When It Comes to the Sales Funnel
Chris Brogan: Not even a little bit. I mean, paper and pencil is probably the closest I could say, Bob.
What I do is that we have somewhat complex sequences sometimes inside of our email service provider right now. What we do with them, for instance, is if we put up a sales page or something on Rainmaker, and someone clicks on the sales page to take a look, and then they don’t do anything with it. Because we pass cookies back and forth with our email provider thingy, we have a little wait timer put in. We wait 22 minutes, and then we say, “Oh hey, I noticed you were checking out that page. Is there anything I can answer for you?”
If you hit reply, it goes right to Rob or me or whatever. If someone doesn’t say anything back, a couple days later we’ll say, “I know you were checking this out. We just wanted to know, is there anything we can do for you to help you decide? Here’s a little video,” or whatever. We do lots of sequency-type stuff.
When someone signs up to our newsletter, we made a new process, where we broke it into three different steps. When it comes to the sales funnel, we actually suppress people for nine days after subscribing to the newsletters, so they can get a little bit of content in their belly before we sell them something.
Even if I really want their money, I will wait as long as I can. Because I want them to really understand what the feeling is to be part of Owner Media from the content site.
I guess those are probably the most complex things. When we do ourselves processes for courses and webinars and our online group, Owner Insider. What we do is, we just have really simple sequences that we send out for mail. Where I’ll write some content, see if anyone bites.
Rob will write Codal content with a little tiny “Hey, by the way, check this out.” I’ll do the same. Then on the last day, we’ll hammer it with either two or three emails saying, “Look, you dope. Get the thing quick.” Very ripped-off, Jeff Walker product-launch formula, only done our way. That’s it.
I don’t have really complex sales funnels. We’re working more this year again with content upgrades. We’re working more with, how do I take excited people from Instagram and Facebook and bring them to where I want them be? But that’s about it.
Brian Clark: Yeah, Bob. We use a SAS service called Lucidchart, because sometimes they can get kind of hairy. That works well for us.
I understand that Drip has built-in sequencing. I haven’t used it. I’ve just heard that.
But Lucidchart is really cool. It’s not expensive, and it’s a great collaboration tool if you’re working others.
Okay, our friend Tara Gentile says, “What are the biggest team-building mistakes small business owners make as they scale their businesses to seven figures and beyond?”
The Biggest Scaling Mistakes Small Business Owners Make
Chris Brogan: OK. For a minute I was using the term ‘team building’ to mean what it means inside corporations. Which is, you know, “Let’s do trust falls.”
Brian Clark: Nah, your team. Business team.
Chris Brogan: Yeah. Like growth. How do you hire someone new, or whatever?
There’s a really wonderful book written by the now departed, rest in peace, Felix Dennis called How to Get Rich. Felix did a publishing company in the UK. He was one of the UK’s richest dudes. In the US he did a lot of publishing as well. The only magazine that most of us would know would be Maxim. But he’s done tons of other magazines as well, like computer ones and stuff, so don’t judge him just by that.
He said, “Overhead walks on two feet.” Meaning if you hire someone, then you have to fund them. You have to support their revenue and salary out of your small business.
My own personal mistake was I hired way too fast back in 2010 or 2011 and could not sustain everybody. And I had to let a bunch of really good people go, because I realized I was working my head off just to pay salaries. And it just wasn’t going to work that well.
Then I could say that as you start to grow, Tara, one of the things I see a lot of people try to decide they’re going to do, they’re going to hire a salesperson. Because they “suck at selling.” And it never works, like almost zero percent of the time works.
Because the salesperson, it’s hard to incent them appropriately. If you are not good at selling, then you’re good at incenting a salesperson and getting them to drive the show in the way you need them to. Instead, what you end up with is sort of a partnership. And that almost always ends in sort of a soreness.
If you don’t hire a salesperson, the next type of person you hire is some kind of grinder who does all the little stuff. And then you realize it’s really hard to pay for that person, because they’re not revenue-generating.
The Trick for Your First Hire When Scaling Up
Chris Brogan: The magic trick, if you could, is hire a revenue-generating person first. Or hire someone that’s going to produce something that you know you could sell.
Ultimately if you’re running the business, you have to be the salesman-in-chief. Otherwise it’s all going to go bad.
Brian, you probably have a lot of experience in this. I mean, you went from you to — I don’t know how many people you have there now. I think it’s like 81,000 or something.
Brian Clark: 65 or 81,000.
Chris Brogan: Whoa.
Brian Clark: No, just 65. But my first three businesses, I tried do everything. And I always was the marketing guy. I was really good at it, and then I’d get more clients than I expected. And then I’d kill myself, because I had no processes whatsoever.
I talk about this all the time on this show, because it happens. I think it happens to almost everyone. So my best advice — and Tara is a rainmaker, right? I mean, the way she writes, she brings in that audience, and she needs to be that person.
Not that you can’t have supplement to that. Obviously I’ve got Sonia and Jerod and Robert. But she’s the center of that brand. From my perspective, depending on how well … Well, forget that.
That’s your job, and I think you need an operations person to manage growth. Now that can be scary. Because like Chris said, that is not a revenue generator. Certainly not from the beginning, other than it frees you up to focus more on products, on audience, on selling more.
That’s why Tony Clark was my first partner back in the day, 2007. It was me, Tony, and Kim, who handled support. If you really look at it, that was a microcosm of still what we are today. Except for all the developers. That was a component that we added, obviously, as we got into software.
Not having to be the primary team builder. I certainly attracted a lot of people, but I did that with content, right? It’s kind of a bonus that that was attracting prospects, but it was also attracting people who wanted work with us.
Okay, Amanda Cook: “How to balance having several websites, online businesses in different niches. Do you link them together somehow when you tell people what you do? How do you split your time between them?”
I mean, you’ve gone in and out between multiple projects. Are you super focused now?
Balancing Multiple Sites and Businesses
Chris Brogan: Yeah, I’m pretty focused. I mean, I keep trying to do my little side projects and stuff for fun. Like I launched a site called NerdFront.com. I wanted it to be where I talk a lot about nerdy stuff, like video games and movies and stuff.
And then I realized that I just didn’t have much of a business model for it. I just did a little bit of gentle affiliate marketing, and it didn’t exactly knock the world over. Because as much as people like nerdy stuff, they’re not like, “I really can’t wait to see what Chris thinks about this Flash T-shirt or this Star Wars mug.”
Brian Clark: Yeah, I know.
Chris Brogan: Just not a business.
Anyway, to answer the question for in general. What I would say is that if you have lots of different disparate affiliate niche sites or something like that, then I would make a media group, kind of umbrella, if you wanted to talk about them at all. So you could make the Amanda Media Group or whatever. I think that what’s kind of fun about that is that then you can show off all those projects.
Sort of like the Coca-Cola Company. Coke.com is different than Dasani, is different than Honest Tea, and all that. They do have their own separate standalone brand pages, but then they also have the mother ship that shows off the breadth of the organization. I would consider doing something like that.
I don’t currently support lots of multiple niche product–type things. I think it’s a potential business maker, because you can sort of build up a lot of stuff. But I feel like it’s so hard to get traffic to any one site, that at this point I’m more or less just doing, you know, “Come to Owner Media, come to Owner Media.”
I’m getting ready to launch a new podcast that I’ve been threatening on and off for a few months. But this one will tie to my book and sort of my message going forward. I’m going to throw that into Rainmaker as well underneath Owner.Media. Because the way I feel is that I just want even more reasons why people should come to my primary site.
I’m split to two sites at this point: ChrisBrogan.com, because I can’t not have that, and Owner.Media, because that’s where I really want people to go in the end.
Brian Clark: Yep. That’s good advice. For me it’s really, I’ve got three things. There’s the big thing, which is Rainmaker Digital. That’s what makes the money. Copyblogger, StudioPress, Rainmaker Platform.
I’ve got my podcast that you are currently listening to, Unemployable. But it’s really quite congruent with what we’re doing at Rainmaker Digital. It just talks to a certain type of customer and prospect that we have. It tied in well with the whole Rainmaker FM project that we had.
So there’s not a lot of conflict there, because even though it’s mine, it benefits the company.
Then finally, there’s Further, which is completely out of the ballpark as far as talking about personal growth and stuff like that. I’ve told you this before, Chris. I legitimately just do that because I want to. I have no authority in that field, and I never expected anyone to look at me like some Tony Robbins start. Because you know me, I’m not that guy.
It’s been incredibly helpful. Number 1, for my own goals. Number 2, curating and teaching people what you learn is a great way to internalize that information, and people actually do start seeing you as a form of editorial authority. Number 3, it grows on it’s own, and I don’t really do anything about it.
Someday, maybe, it will be a ton of business. But I think that really helps that you see the economic potential. But you don’t need it, and you don’t have to push it, and you don’t have to kill yourself. Because you’re doing it for the sake of doing it, even as in the back of your mind going, “Oh this could be big.” Right?
Congruent helps, but you can’t force it. Like, I’ll post my Further issues on Twitter and Facebook, but that’s it. People like it, so it’s okay. But I don’t try to force subject matter.
I always think of you, Chris, because you are the social media guy. And you didn’t like being pigeonholed. And then you really got into fitness and wellness and health. And we hope that our audience will just follow us to wherever we go. But it doesn’t always happen.
Chris Brogan: Right, yeah. It’s interesting. I am so willing to take really sharp 90-degree turns with what I’m doing in my presence. And say, “Hey, let’s all go there.”
I shook people off at every turn. I can tell you that part of getting older and wiser, and partly just kind of settling a little more into how I could package all of who I am and all of how I represent the world, I certainly don’t take those 90-degree turns as much anymore. I’ve more or less started guiding people to the next shift in what I’m trying to talk about.
Shaking the social media label was really hard. It felt like being like a child actor or something. You know, I felt like the Macaulay Culkin of Twitter. There’s a visual, right?
Brian Clark: The funny thing is, do you imagine little McCaulkey or crackhead McCaulkey?
Chris Brogan: I think both. I think I look like fat crackhead Macaulay Culkin.
Brian Clark: I called him ‘McCaulkey.’ It’s a shortening of the two names.
Chris Brogan: I like it, really. I was going to go with you, but I didn’t.
Brian Clark: “Wait, that’s not right.”
Chris Brogan: Sounds right.
I think I’ve had such mixed results about that too. I mean, even on your own stage, Authority, I did a speech where I more or less just showed off a bag full of numbers. I got such weird reactions to it.
And it was really kind of fun, because I was just like, “Here’s some of my numbers from some of my projects I did, and I want you to look at them with me. Because I think they’re kind of neat, and I think you could learn something.”
I did that same similar type of thing differently at Social Media Marketing World one time for Stelzner’s crowd. Every time I get the same sort of face — which is like, “But Chris, this isn’t ‘How cool is Snapchat?’ This is like, I don’t know, what’s it called — business?”
I’ve said for a really long time that, yes, the tools are really cool. And I’ve always been kind of jazzed about how we use them. But I’ve never been interested in just talking about the tools. I’ve only wanted to talk about what could we do with them.
My fitness thing. One of the things that I wanted was to say, “Look how we could use these tools for this.” And people just didn’t really turn that corner with me.
That actually kind of goes back the last question we had, which was, “What would you do with a lot of disparate things?” I guess I should have started some kind of fitness site, but it wouldn’t have panned out. I know I could not have kept the crowd going. I’m glad I didn’t. I’m glad it died on the vine.
Brian’s New Project
Brian Clark: Gotcha. Okay, so Jeff Korhan has obviously been paying attention to my submarketing. So he says, “I can ask you anything? If I may be so bold, is Chris going to stay on Rainmaker or consider moving to this new StudioPress product you are preparing to launch?”
Now, I must say that Chris and I decided to do this podcast because I did reach out to him about our new StudioPress thing. And we were planning just to have a call to talk about it. And then we were like, why not do a podcast?
I guess I should explain what this thing is. I don’t think Chris is going to leave Rainmaker, because he’s an advanced marketer, and maybe this is not up to that. But that’s not my call. The question is for Chris.
Anyway, so the new thing is called StudioPress Sites. The best way to describe it is a hybrid between an all-in-one website builder such as Square Space, but yet still retaining the flexibility with plug-ins and themes and whatnot that WordPress provides, obviously.
We kind of saw this hole in the market, did a lot of talking to our existing customers: “If Rainmaker is not right for you, what is?” This is what we’ve come up with.
It is not like traditional WordPress hosting. Because, for example, with Squarespace, you get a bunch of traffic. You don’t get that extra bandwidth bill. It’s a SAS, right?
StudioPress Sites is like that. And yet you still have the flexibility to, in one click, install all these included plug-ins and great stuff like that: 20 HTML5-automized themes. You know, just like a website builder. Advanced SEO functionality, lots of other great stuff.
Chris, what are your thoughts?
Chris Brogan: Well, so let me pretend for the sake of the audience — I’m totally not pretending — that I don’t fully understand the differences.
What I presume is, this is the thing I wanted for some other projects. When I launched NerdFront, there was no way I was going to put it on Rainmaker. Because I knew it wasn’t made to make thousands right out of the gate.
I always tell people: Rainmaker is my ultimate. All my platform runs on Rainmaker, because I like the merchant stuff. I like all these other things I could do. The LMS has been really important to us, etc.
But if I were just going to do something on a whim, there’s no way I would invest in that Rainmaker price point just for something that I think might be kind of fun. I mean, maybe if I won the lottery or someone rich dies and gives me their money, I would.
To me, that’s where you start looking for something more like what StudioPress Sites is going to have.
The split in the road, basically. Rainmaker is like the big flagship admiral product I’m assuming, where the merchant stuff, the LMS stuff, and all of that other stuff that you bring to bear — that’s why you go with Rainmaker.
You pick StudioPress Sites if you’re doing something that’s kind of more like a starter project. Or if you’re doing something more like you don’t need all of the bells and whistles. Is that where we’re going with this?
Brian Clark: Yeah, I think so. I mean, Rainmaker is completely locked down and self-contained. Because as we talked about earlier, once you get into these complicated sequences and automation and all of that, that is all you can worry about. You can’t be worrying about tech and maintenance and all of that.
Rainmaker really is a much more sophisticated, and frankly more expensive, product. And it’s getting more expensive. In fact, we may go to software with a service with Rainmaker with a lot of the indications that we’re seeing.
But there’s a completely different aspect of the market that we were just completely missing. And we had the good fortune because of the StudioPress design business to have hundreds of thousands of people to talk to.
There’s a lesson right there. Regardless of anything about StudioPress Sites, talk to your customers. They’ll tell you amazing things that will let you know which direction you need to go in.
Just head over to StudioPress.com if you want to check that out. If for some reason we did not launch before this airs, well …
Chris Brogan: We’ll get there.
Brian Clark: I’ll tell you next week.
Chris Brogan: Wait, Brian I have one last question about that, and probably useful to people who are here. I pay for my mom and dad to run their mom-and-pop Pow.com site on Rainmaker. But of course it’s way more weapon than they need.
Can I port between the two? I mean, I assume it’s just the same as WordPress, right? I could just hit export and then import, right?
Brian Clark: Yeah. And actually, we can handle migration for you, given that it’s an in-house project.
We’re going to have lots of incentives with great pricing on migration if you don’t want to do it yourself. For example, the plug-in that makes migration easy in WordPress is $99, and I think we’re going to do it for you for less than that.
Chris Brogan: Nice. I like that I could probably go both ways. So if I start something on StudioPress and it becomes my mother …
Brian Clark: Yeah, and that’s what I … For example, Further’s on Rainmaker, and I’m not using most of the capability. Unemployable is on Rainmaker, and I am.
So for a personal project, newsletter focus like Further, StudioPress Sites would be perfect to start there. Then once I got into more advanced stuff, I always have the choice to move up to the more sophisticated solution.
Chris Brogan: Awesome.
Brian Clark: Okay, we’re going to do a lightning round here because we’re running out of time.
Got a few either serious or not-serious questions. Jim Kukral wants to know: “Pants in the home office, yes or no?”
Chris Brogan: Almost never.
Brian Clark: At least not nice pants.
Chris Brogan: Yeah, I mean sometimes some gym shorts or something like that. But, I mean, no one’s here.
Brian Clark: Yeah. I keep telling people who are like, “When are you going to do video?” I’m like, “I didn’t get into this thing for you to see what I look like at home every day. Because it’s not good.”
All right. Jason Miller, head of content marketing over at LinkedIn: “What will disrupt content marketing?”
I’m not sure if he’s trolling us or not, but let’s answer him.
Is There Anything That Will Disrupt Content Marketing?
Chris Brogan: First off, I’m really impressed with what LinkedIn’s been doing with content. People ask me about Medium all the time, and I go, “Medium Shmedium.”
I say, if you want the kind of feel like that, go to LinkedIn every now and again. At least you’ll get some business out of it.
I think that what will disrupt content marketing is, I think any day now we’re going to just get sick of garbage content. Any day now. I’ve been predicting this for years though, and I’ve been wrong.
I just saw Jay Baer release some information saying what people really want, and in most industries they want listicles. I was so depressed to read that, but I don’t know. I keep holding out that really deep-felt, heartfelt, “I’m here to help you, I’m going to change your life with this” kind of material is going to win out.
Brian Clark: It is. No, you’re right. Because I’ve been talking about this with this content marketing strategy series I’m doing.
More and more people are buying based on the values and the congruency of personality with the person or business. Because so much stuff is undifferentiated when it comes down to the actual product.
We always try to do that as well. But we live in a tribal society, and it’s getting worse. And people are going to do business with the people they connect with. And how else are you really going to do that as a little guy, or even a medium-size business, without content?
You can’t afford to do three years of primetime spots like Apple did with the ‘Get a Mac’ campaign, right? Content marketing is the way to make that connection.
I think it’s more important than ever. I think we’ll see less content production.
SEO is harder, so a lot of people are going to look at other ways to build their audience. Which means you create smaller amounts of really high-impact content, not listicles necessary. Necessarily is what I should say.
Of course, Bill Hartzer: “Is SEO dead?” He’s definitely trolling us. I mean, Bill is one of the smartest people on SEO you’ll ever meet. And I think he knows the answer to that.
What’s your perspective, though? Are you even thinking about SEO?
I think that’s a better question. SEO is not dead, but is it as important to you as it used to be?
Chris and Brian Discuss the Viability of SEO
Chris Brogan: Do people who listen to your podcast think it’s a big ad for you? Because I’m so scared to answer the way I’m really thinking.
This is what I really say to people all the time. If I weren’t on this podcast, not talking to Brian Clark — there’s no making out going on right here. I always say the same thing: I have Rainmaker, so I don’t actually think about SEO.
I know that’s such a jerk answer, because it sounds like such an ad. But that’s really literally what I do.
Now I’ll say the second part of this is – because Bill is already throwing up in his mouth. I can tell you that the way I look at SEO is this: I try to write a title that is somewhere between something someone would actually type into Google and something someone would actually read.
I do not like clickbaity-type titles for the most part. I think that they’re silly. But, by the way, I also click the hell out of them on places like Facebook, so I’m obviously stupid too. For my own writing, I write things that I think a human would actually cue to.
Second, in the first paragraph or so, I try to reiterate all my points. And I have been paying a little bit more attention to, how do you write such that Google will pick it up nicer in their search? Every time, for instance, you bring Danny out from search engine land and marketing land to your events.
Every time he talks, I always – Dan Sullivan — I always just go, “Oh my gosh, I need to do that!” That’s really that intent and extent of my SEO.
I do not do a lot of the things that one needs to do for SEO. Partly because I trust that Rainmaker, between the mobile functionality and the fact that it does all this other stuff behind the scenes, will help me. And partly because I just keep believing that if you write really good stuff, then people are going to come.
That’s why I used to get invited to all these SEO events. They were just like, “How do you write content that a human would read?” It just turned me on, because I was like, “Thanks, robot wranglers. I have a purpose.”
Brian Clark: Yeah. First year of Copyblogger, I’m like, “People, Google is going to get smarter. Write for people. That’s what they want, so that’s what you should be doing regardless.” And, of course, it happened.
On one hand, Google is much better at figuring out semantic intent, so you don’t have to be so obvious with your keywords. On the other hand, keywords are the language people use when they think about a topic, so you should be using that language as well and understanding your audience.
I have always said, even if search engines didn’t exist, keyword research is like a gift. It’s a marketing research gift, so take advantage of it.
I will say this: SEO is not dead. I do know that a lot of people have stopped caring about it because of low-cost social advertising, if you’ve got it down right. You’ve got your attraction content at the top of the funnel, you’ve got your opt-in that’s just perfectly suited because you understand who you’re trying to talk to.
It’s more about marketing fundamentals than it’s ever been. And I think that’s the only evolution. I think some SEOs out there are some of the best integrated hybrid marketers that we’ve got going out there.
Chris Brogan: Yeah. Well you know the other thing is, now that I think about it a separate way, anyone who’s listening to this thinking, “Oh, I could just write and not ever think about the technology or the math.” You’re dead.
I say to marketers and PR people all the time: If you’re not studying marketing technology, you’re a fool. Because it’s not enough to just write anymore. It’s always going to be this hybrid for the rest of our lives that you have to know some things.
Brian Clark: Absolutely. This was fun man.
Chris Brogan: Yeah, well you know, we don’t talk enough as it is. So if I have to be a podcast guest to get you to talk to me, then I’ll totally do it.
Brian Clark: I’m just going to make you show up every month, and then we’ll talk about other stuff. Maybe in front of everyone, which should ruin both of our careers.
Chris Brogan: I like that plan. New Metallica album, that kind of thing. We’ll just keep covering the really important stuff.
Brian Clark: Exactly.
Thanks man, I appreciate it. We need to run. We are out of time.
Thank you for listening. I will set something up so we can solicit questions more often. And maybe if it’s not Brogan every month, maybe we’ll have a revolving guest chair of hot-seat people that we can ask questions of.
Anyway, thank you for listening. And as always, keep going.