#27: Pete McPherson, founder of Do You Even Blog? and Online Impact, shares his journey of how getting laid off led him to create his popular blogging website and turn it into a successful online business.
Pete also digs into his growth strategies for his podcast and youtube channel, and how he’s now leveraging outsourcing to take his business to the next level.
To learn more about Pete, check out his website at doyouevenblog.com.
Podcast Episode Summary
In this episode you will learn:
- The perks of quitting the 9-to-5 job,
- The driving force that kept him going through the tough times of starting an online business,
- How to land high profile guests on your podcast (Tip: Promise to hustle),
- His marketing strategies to grow his podcast,
- Why it’s not a good idea to run paid ads to your podcast episodes,
- How he started producing videos on Youtube,
- Why SEO isn’t everything,
- The outsourcing strategies to help grow his business (Hint: a “ridiculous hiring process”); and
- The one piece of advice he would give to Pete who got let go from a startup (Hard truth: listen to your gut).
I didn’t make $10,000 in my first month or my first three months or my first six months, but I was happy. I was fulfilled. I was excited. I was actually reaching people and getting feedback relatively quickly, I would argue…This is what it’s supposed to feel like. And that more than anything else, it made it super easy to keep going. (11:18)
If I were going to be any sort of credible and talk about like making money over the internet, I have to make money over the internet (15:21)
The best place to look (for podcast guests) is your existing freelance clients. Ask for referrals. (26:32)
It’s not very high ROI, in my opinion, to try to get podcast subscribers or podcast growth from paid reach. (33:31)
People are craving original content, interesting content, story-driven content, data-driven content, entertainment-driven content. (40:34)
Go slow, hire slow, take your time, trying to get the right person and the right fit. (43:46)
I will never, ever, ever, ever, ever hire somebody just based off like a resume and an interview like I’ve done. No, no, no. I need to see your work. And not only do I need to see your work, but I actually need to see your work for me. (45:19)
- Noah Kagan’s, of AppSumo, hiring process.
- Advertising a Podcast (A Podnews exclusive series by Sean Howard of Fable and Folly Productions):
Connect with Pete McPherson
Ep. 27: Growing Your Blog on Your Own Terms with Pete McPherson
People are craving original content, like interesting content, story-driven content, data-driven content, entertainment-driven content. I don't care what that is. If you are producing the content you want to make, people see that. It may look 1% different than that other creator who just turned out almost the same piece of content, but he wasn't like that much into it. Man, people could spot that a mile away now and they are drawn to that.
That was Pete McPherson, founder of Do You Even Blog and Online Impact. And in this episode he shares his journey of how getting laid off led him to create his popular blogging website and turn it into a successful online business. Pete also digs into his growth strategies for his podcast and YouTube channel and how he's now leveraging outsourcing to take his business to the next level. Before he and I hit record, I asked him what he was most excited to talk about and he mentioned everything but blogging. So, I joke that we weren't allowed to talk about blogging at all, but that wasn't a problem because we had so many more things to chat about. Pete has an awesome story and a great sense of humor. We had a lot of fun during this interview and there's a ton of value here for anyone looking to grow their online business. I can't wait to share this episode with you. So let's jump in.
You're listening to the Content Heroes podcast, where entrepreneurs, marketers, and creatives share how they build profitable businesses on their own terms by creating content online. And now your host, Josiah Goff.
Welcome to Content Heroes, everyone. I'm here with Pete McPherson, who is the founder of Do You Even Blog and Online Impact. Pete, thanks so much for being on the show today.
Yes, you are very welcome and I appreciate you having me on.
Awesome. So I'm ready to talk about everything but blogging.
I'm alright talking about everything, blogging included, it's just maybe not what I'm most fired up about right now, but yeah, everything except blog, can't do it.
Okay. Okay, good. All right, so yeah, let's start with your origin story. How did you get into the online business world?
Okay, so this is a good story. I'm a decent storyteller, too. This is a good story. Just prep yourself. And it's also very similar to your own, Josiah. So there's that. I used to be an accountant and the reason I was an accountant is because I had no idea what else I really wanted to do with my life. I always tell people I was kind of like funneled through school, like I was really into band and I was a percussionist then. I was good at it and I didn't know what I wanted to major in college, but my parents and counselors and all my friends were going to college. I was like, I guess I need to go to college. That's what I did. And I majored in music and I was decent at it and I got like three years through like you only need four to graduate. I got like three years in and then I quit. I was like, I don't want to do music anymore. What else do I want to do? I had no idea. No idea. So I majored in business for a hot semester. That was super fun. I majored in Italian for a semester. I don't speak any Italian to this day. I failed every single class. They kicked me out of the University of Georgia. It was only for a semester. To be fair, they kicked me out for a semester. They said, get your stuff together, come back. And so I came back. I took a sociology class and then people just were telling me like, you just need to graduate. You can get a job if you graduate, Pete. You can get a job, promise, graduate, get a degree. So I took a sociology class. I liked it. I was like, cool. There's my major sociology. Two years later, I graduated with a degree in sociology. Do you want to just take a wild stab at what year that was in the United States where it might've been hard to get a job as a sociologist?
Yeah, correct. So I had to figure something else out and I went to a mentor and I'm like, this is like a kind of a friend of the family. He was literally like twice my age. He was a Dean of Business at a private college in my hometown. So I went to this guy and I was like, what do I do with my life? And he was like, you are a musician, right? I was like, yeah, majored in music. Oh, you should do accounting. It's the same thing. So I was like, I like money. I guess that seems like accounting. I'm pretty sure that's what that's about. I'll do that. So I did that and I graduated, I got great grades, straight A's. I got a master's degree in accounting. I studied for, and I took my CPA exam in two months and I passed. And I got my first real job two years later as an auditor in Atlanta, Georgia, $52,000 a year. I can still see the green logo of my offer letter, is the most money I'd ever heard of in my entire life. $50,000 a year, full-time job. So I did that. I got married to my lovely wife. We moved to Atlanta, started this new job, and it was okay. It was a lot of work. And it was a real job. And I was pretty good at it. I got a little bored though and I got a little bit more bored and two years later I left and I got another accounting job and I got paid more and they kept giving me raises. They kept giving everybody with accounting raises. That's just what you do if you're an accountant apparently, which is great. If you enjoy being an accountant, but I did not. So less than four years after doing this, after doing accounting, I started to get really bored. I mean like superior bored. Like I only work like four hours a week sort of bored and I'm just goofing off to my full-time job. I kind of starting blogs. I started my first blog back in like 2009 and it was more of like an online journal and then I did this other one, this other one . Just like little tiny experiments. Nothing ever came of them, but at this point, this is like roughly 2013, 2014 I'm like getting back into blogging and side hustling and entrepreneurship. I'm trying to like figure out a way out. I worked like 40 hours a week, but it's actually just 4, I had to be there for like 40 hours a week.
That's the worst. That's the worst thing they make you be there. But there's like, you know you work an hour a day maybe.
Yep. It was a Fortune 50 company by the way. It's a billion dollar company. And they're old school like no laptops, no wifi in the building. Literally no wifi and no laptops. No, there's no remote work. There's not that. Anyways. so I'm like starting blogs. I'm watching twitch.tv like I'm watching video gamers play during the day cause I'm just so bored. It is a meaningless job. God bless that company. They do the Lord's work, they're great, but I was not fulfilled. And I do like probably a lot of the people listening to your podcasts feel like, like how do I get out? I want to get out of this. I want to start something of my own. I like blogging. I like trying to start online businesses even though I have it found a successful one yet, I'm trying different things. I'm experimenting, whatever. So along this line comes another job opportunity with a startup who is going to pay me a salary with health benefits and all that great stuff. A lower salary by the way, like it was a pay cut, but it's still a salary and I only have to work half time, like 20 hours a week I can work and then the other 20 hours a week I can start to do like side hustle stuff and like grow that up and work on blogs more and spend more time there and I still get the salary. So I packed up my bags with my wife, our child, my wife was pregnant, we have another one on the way we sell our house. We move across the state back to my hometown. By the way, we stayed in my grandmother's house, temporarily. We talked a little bit about this off air. And I take this job, a startup and it's awesome and I worked for like three weeks. I get my first paycheck, like sometime in there. And that's about the time that they told me we can't afford to pay you anymore.
You're super great. I love the work you're doing and this is really cool, but we don't have anybody, we can't pay you anymore. So at this point we've moved, I've quit my accounting job. That was very lucrative. They gave me the American dream, super well-funded there and I had to make a decision. It's like we could move back to a city, Atlanta or New York or Chicago or something. We could try this really stupid and silly, like full-time entrepreneurship thing. So we had a little bit of money saved up. I did well in accounting and we kind of flip our houses. We lived in it. So we had a little bit of savings. We had an emergency fund, but just the situation, and that's what we did. It took me like six months to figure out what the heck I was going to do. But that was like three and a half, four years ago now. And Do You Even Blog was born.
Wow. That's awesome. So that was the beginning of Do You Even Blog, was during that time?
Yep. It was. The origin of that, I guess I kind of glossed over that. The origin of Do You Even Blog is talking about what you're talking about? Well, we both talk about like, digital marketing and blogging and online business and that lifestyle. That's the only thing I actually found interesting throughout all of my online businesses, throughout all of my blogs, which register over 50 plus by the way, just like over the years, like blogs and online businesses. The only thing I found consistently interesting was the behind the scenes stuff was the blogging stuff, was the podcasting, was the creating content, was the marketing, selling products, all that fancy stuff and I kept telling myself like, you don't need to do that. There's already Pat Flynn's of the worlds. There's already the Josiah's out there. The world does not need another meta blogger, meta blogger podcaster or whatever the heck I am. The world does not be born. That's probably still true. Here I am, getting laid off from my job by the way, angry, as all get out. I shouldn't mention that is that it's true. I was like, you know what? I'm gonna allow myself to do what I actually want to do, which is talk about blogging and the first thing I did was I phoned up my friend Bobby, who was one of the most "successful". He made six figures a month from his blog. I called him up and I was like, dude, please let me ask you questions like I need to figure out how to make this work. Like can we Skype, can I call you? He's like, dude, of course. Whatever. Just like, here's my Skype. And I was like, can I record this? And he's like, yeah, it's fine. No big deal. And I got done with that Skype call asking Bobby a bunch of questions. God bless him. I was like, Oh, super fun. This is, I love talking to people about this. And I have reached out to another friend back from my personal finance days named Michelle Schroeder, who's fairly well known the blogger sphere. Like she has her course and she makes like $150,000 a month or whatever it is. I asked her the same thing. I was like, can we Skype and can I record it? And she's like, yeah, it's fine, whatever. After doing like three of these, I was like, this is a lot like podcasting. In fact, this is exactly what I'm doing right now. And that was kind of the origin of the Do You Even Blog podcasts and everything else like kind of came later. I was forced to monetize in month one cause I had no job and my wife had no job. And just kinda hit the ground running from there. That's been a roller coaster, infographics that you see about like entrepreneurship, emotional life, like a high one day and a low the next. That was my life for the past three years, but it's generally becoming more sustainable now.
I love it. Man, I can so relate to your story and I know so many people in the audience can, too. So what did that look like in those early days? What causes you to keep going other than needing to pay the bills, right? What caused you to not give up? Why did you keep going and not just go try to find another job?
This is going to be a little corny. I swear it's the truth. I found it joyful. Like, I finally found my calling. I truly believe that. I'm not making, I know it's super corny to say, like I kind of what to vomit now that I'm saying it, but that's honest to God the truth. Like no, it was not immediately like a six figure blog. I didn't make $10,000 in my first month or my first three months or my first six months, but I was happy. I was fulfilled. I was excited. I was actually reaching people and getting feedback relatively quickly, I would argue. And that was something I had left throughout all of accounting, throughout all of college, throughout every job since then I was like, this is what it feels like. This is what it's supposed to feel like. And that more than anything else, it made it super easy to keep going. I mean it was frustrating as crap, don't get me wrong. And figuring out how to make it work financially, sustainably, more than just like the occasional like Bluehost affiliate link income or whatever. That was stressful and anxiety producing for sure. But it was never a second thought. It wasn't like a six month experiment either. It was like a, this is what I'm doing now. And it's going to work. Monday, I gotta make it work because this is what brings me joy and fulfillment. And the only other thing I'll add to that. I was very lucky that all of my, like surrounding families saw that. Like my wife noticed it. It's kinda hard not to notice really when you go from like small sucking accountant to actually, I do what I love now. I know it's dramatic, but that is the truth. My parents saw it and my friends saw it and it was a little bit easier to keep going until it actually made financial sense, so to speak. I swear to God that's the truth.
Man, that's so awesome. Yeah, I can remember it wasn't too long ago. I was getting a little bit frustrated. I recorded an episode about this recently. I just kind of getting burned out with some aspects of the show, as much as I love doing Content Heroes. And mainly it was doing the solo episodes that were just like completely burning me out.
Cause yeah, cause I loved the conversations. Well, so first of all it was mainly because I was doing them the night before so I didn't have time for someone else to edit them. So I started editing them myself. And that's just like those little details. There's like really fast way to burn me out.
That's not fun when you like set a self-imposed deadline either, like right, tomorrow's Wednesday. I need to get that podcast out. Yeah.
Yeah. So I was feeling a little burned out on that part of it and someone posted in the Content Heroes Facebook group, Hey, I just found your podcast and I was on a road trip and I binge listened to like the first 22 episodes and I got something valuable out of every single one, like keep up the great work. I'm like, this is amazing. This is why we do what we do is we're putting something out in the world that's helping people and that's lifting everyone up and so, yeah, I can totally relate to that feeling of this is my joy. This is my calling. I don't think it's corny. I think it's a truth.
You said it was a Facebook message?
Inside of the Content Heroes Facebook group. Yes.
Did you screenshot it? You saved it? Print screen?
Okay. Yeah, that's important to keep that stuff. Come back to it later when you haven't had one a couple of weeks. I did like a little boost.
Yeah. I saved it in my phone. I sent it to my wife, you know. I posted it in our Slack channel. All that stuff. Yeah.
So let's talk about, you've started, Do You Even Blog, you have committed, which I think that is another really key factor. Like what you talked about is like you burned all the boats. There is no going back, right? You in your mind, this is all there is now. And that is what it takes to be in for the long game because this is a marathon, not a sprint. And so once that happened, what was your kind of next steps? Like how did you start growing your business?
To be fair, I wasn't actually brave or courageous enough to burn my own bridges or my own boats. Either one.
Either one works.
I had no boats or bridges. They burned themselves to the ground. Anyways, so two things, number one, I knew if I wanted to have any "authority". I hate that word. To be fair, I've always considered myself more of a journalist, quite frankly. I like to leech other people's success. I'm half joking, but that's true. But I knew if I were going to be any sort of credible and talk about like making money over the internet, I have to make money over the internet. In fact, I had to do it in month one like legit, month one and so I did a very small amount, $51 that was my first month. That was me hustling other creators and bloggers I had known years before and be like, sponsor my podcast, sponsor my podcast, sponsor my podcast, I made $51.
Sounds stupid. And it is. And I spent that money on domain hosting right there. But that was like a decent sign and something to also show people just like, hey, this is possible. It's stupid. That's a small amount, but it's possible. That was number one. Number two, I knew some people would argue with me on this. That's totally cool. For me personally, I knew products, my own products specifically, we're probably going to be the fastest path to sustaining Do You Even Blog as a business but freelancing, it's still a heck of a lot quicker and I probably had to supplement, so I did both of those. Like that's like the two-pronged approach I went with. I was like, okay, first I need to figure out how to get at least like one or two decent freelance clients. Even for just like a couple of hundred bucks a month. I'm not looking for like a 4K like, I don't need that. Like I just need something right now so I can legitimately put food on my table. Step one like this has to happen else, I go back to accounting, so I did and I hustled and I worked hard to get, who is my, I can't even remember my first freelance clients. The first six months was kind of like a rollercoaster, trying out new freelancing things, writer or that's actually not what I'm best at and best at like doing some like behind the scenes like website and WordPress and tech work and Elementor and that design work. I could do that. I did that and I ended up making probably maybe like $10k to $15k over the first like maybe like six months or something like that. That's more than enough just to like make your wife on board. If I'm honest with you. And the other thing was like, okay, what is my product? What is my product? I have a whole blog post I can send people to if they want to learn more. But I knew it was going to be probably monetization or SEO related because those are the only two areas of blogging where I myself had kind of figured things out and actually seen a little bit of success with it. People were really big into Pinterest at that time. I don't know if you remember this, 2017 and mid 2016 it's like early 2018 was like Pinterest traffic group boards. Let's try that. And I sucked at that. And I couldn't talk about, which is unfortunate, but like SEO and also like monetization, like affiliate marketing and launching stuff and selling stuff. I can talk about that. So my first product was in month three or four of Do You Have a Blog, it was like September, 2017 I created this product. It was kind of like a miniature course, but it was also like, I don't know, it was complicated. It was a bad product. But I pretty sold it and made like $2,300 and I'm like, month four I'm pretty happy with this like $2,300. That's like couple of weeks salary or whatever. And since then, on and off it's been this process of iterating, adapting, like trying to figure out how to make that work. And I've also thrown in some more experimental type of products. Again, mostly my own products, like I do a little bit of affiliate marketing. I've never shown ads on my site cause it's a weird niche for it. And yeah, my strategy is mainly just came down to freelancing to make it sustainable, which I did and I was able to do and I tried some different clients in there and work on my own product, which was originally like just course. And then it was like a course and a membership community component and then I switched it around and again I switched it around, switched around. It's a separate story. We could talk about why that was a terrible idea that backfired massively. But since then that was the entire strategy. Freelancing, make sustainable, figuring out what the heck to sell of my own, like my own digital products. Figure out what that is. I forgot how to make it better and figure out how to sell it better over the course of time. Does that answer your question?
Yeah, definitely. So how did you go about getting an audience? What did that look like in the first year or two?
Oh, first year or two. Well let's talk about the first couple of months. So the first couple months, by far, I don't know if this is good advice or bad advice for new creators, specifically new podcasters, in general. I managed to land some pretty decent guests, I would argue. And they were bigger names it turns out in retrospect that getting people on your podcast, it's actually fairly easy compared to a lot of other mediums. Just cause it doesn't take them a whole lot of time. Like I asked somebody for their time and they come on for an hour, a few emails back and forth. They come on for an hour and then they're done. They don't have to edit as like a guest post. They don't have to like review it and determine if it's going to go live or not. It's just you show up for an hour, you're done. Really realize that and neither did my audience. So when I brought on people like Neil Patel or like even like a Nick Loper or Michelle Schroeder or any of these people that I had in the first like three to four months of the podcast, people were kind of impressed by it. Oh, who's this guy. This Do You Have a Blog guy coming out of nowhere interviewing Neil Patel? But which by the way, it was the worst interview I'd done in the history of Do You Have a Blog, it's terrible. We can talk about that later if you want to, but that contributed the most easily, easily, easily, easily to my growth in the first six months, was getting fairly large names on the podcast. And if you go back and look, that was, if people want to like talk about exponential growth, it's always fun to look at your exponential growth period. Sometimes it's like a little bit later, people like slog around for like six months to a year and then they like take off maybe one day and mine was the opposite. My last year has been like super slow going. It's super slow growth. But my first like six months to a year, it was like exponential growth. Like ASAP. It was awesome. So at first it was podcasting, six months podcasts, deep dive. There wasn't a deep dive podcasts in digital marketing. By deep dive I just mean like longer than a pre scripted 20 to 30 minutes podcasts episode. It didn't exist. I was the first one to come along with like 90 minutes of an interview. And by the way, I've very lightly edited because I was lazy. Not because I'm super good. And that was good. So that contributed the first six months after that was more of an SEO strategy for about, I'd say the first 18 months only because again, that growth like slowed up. Podcasts continued to grow, don't get me wrong, but I was impatient, for one thing and two driven. That sounds like a positive word. And three needed to make more money faster, and so I was like, okay, if I'm doing this full time, I can't just do a weekly podcast. I got more time on my hands, I've got to do more. So started getting back into written content. And for about a year there I went pretty all in. I managed to do about one podcast episode a week as well as, I have known, yeah, how many blog posts? Not a ton, maybe 1.5 a month on average, but I was sitting the SEO game hard. I got lots of pretty organic back links from the podcasts in the first several months. I kind of use that to catapult things a little bit right off the bat. And then I updated old content. I stayed on top of my like site optimization speed, all that great stuff. I did a few more guest post outreach and stuff like that to try and get links and tried to work with some other brands to do like more content marketing and getting featured in places and producing code. It was like SEO for about a year. And yeah, that's it. There's no more complicated anything during that time. Podcasts, trying to get great guests for the first six months. That did a huge number podcast weekly, trying to like maintain that growth for about the first year or 18 months. And then I personally just kind of like triple down on SEO for months, like six through 18 awesome.
So I have a few questions in there. I would love to hear about one, how you went about getting some of these great guests. It's one of the things I did before our call is I went back and kind of looked at the early days and I saw that you had people like Neil Patel and John Lee Dumas and those folks. So I'd love to talk to that. I'd also, if you're comfortable sharing, like talk about what the podcast look like in terms of growth and actual stats and downloads in that first year or so. Before we get into that, I really want to hear about why that interview with Neil Patel was so terrible.
I think a few different reasons in retrospect. It's something I've thought a lot about because I've found that somewhat fascinating. So I just pulled my stats up. We can take a look about that in a second. So I have a theory, which I don't know, this may be controversial or not. I don't know Neil personally, so I can't actually tell if he's a good guy, bad guy, nice guy, total D bag, whatever. I have no idea. But I know that it wasn't like super thrilled to be there. We'll just put it that way. That's the nicest way I can put it. But I think that's probably accurate, too. I was a new creator. He never heard of me and rightfully so, like he was just there to, you know, he was kind of being nice by coming on my show, I'm sure. But that was also like a little bit of, okay, this guy seems to be talking a little slow and this is like, it's supposed to be like a longer podcast. Like I'm not really excited about that. He wasn't that excited to be there. And quite frankly, if I'm being honest, I just wasn't a good enough podcast host to make it work. There are things I would do now that would probably salvaged the episode by making him more comfortable, honestly and just like working in a more natural conversation and more prep. For one thing, I would be a better podcast host now. I wasn't then. Literally he got bored. I was super bored and I was like, I don't know if, like this is just terrible podcast. This is a terrible, I don't know how to do it. And there was one point where I asked him, I was like, Neil, who are you learning from right now? Like you're the master at some of these digital marketing stuff. Who do you follow? Who are you learning from right now? What books have you been reading? What podcasts do you listen to? And his answer was like, almost verbatim, man. I have just on the street marketing like I just learned from marketing, dude, I'm just like marketing, marketing. I just learned from marketing and I was like, what do I do with that crap? I don't know. I'm sorry Neil. Anyways, the podcast after about 20 minutes and I called it a day.
It was mostly my fault to be fair. But it was, it was bad. It was bad.
You've just described like what I always fear would be my experience when I started the podcast, like getting on oh, so hopefully I've pushed past the point to where that won't happen, but if it does, obviously it is salvageable because you're still podcasting and you're still growing your business and all that, but that's a great story. So let's talk about how you went about getting those guests in the beginning. Like what was your strategy for that?
I have two things. Number one, the referrals are strong and this is so silly. People hear this a million times, no one does it. Everybody forgets. It's so silly. I don't care if it's like getting new freelance clients. The best place to look is your existing freelance clients. Ask for referrals. If they know anybody. The best way to get Pete McPherson on your podcast is to ask Nick True. Like Nick true, who else would I reach out to to be on my podcast? And the Nick truce says, Pete McPherson, you should reach out to that dude. I'll pay you later, Nick, thank you. But that's the only thing I could think of that I remotely did on purpose during that time. The first guest was like Bobby and the second guest was Michelle and I was like, Hey Michelle, I just spoke with Bobby who I know you're friends with and close with. I had them on my podcast, can I interview you? And then, and the next guy was like, I have no idea who it was, actually, I don't know. I was reaching out to my buddy Nick Loper, I'm actually like really close with him now, but at that time I was like, Hey, I just had like Michelle Schroeder who I think has been on your own show. And Bobby Hoyt, I don't know if you remember him or not, but he's like a millionaire. Just had these people in my show, will you come on mine? And the next guy I was like, Hey, I've had Nick Loper and Michelle and Bobby Hoyt on my podcast. You want to come on. So that was number one. I literally did that. It sounds wrong to kind of say like stepping up the fame ladder, the influence ladder, and that's terrible. That's not really what I was going for.
Well, let's be realistic though. Like it's how you do this, right? Because, because that's what you're talking about kind of in the beginning. Like there's this social trust that is required to get people to, you know, actually pay attention to you. And so that's part of it. Like that's the strategy. I did the same thing, starting Content Heroes. It was very much like the first couple of people were like, yeah, I'll be on your show. And then I asked them, Hey, who else do you know? And that's how I ended up with my entire guest lineup. Because before that I was like, I don't know how I'm going to get people on my show. And then I just started asking the people who agreed in the beginning and it was like, I haven't really had to do much work to get people on the show.
So you just hit on something super powerful. There is not only like just name-dropping for social proof, but actually asking your guests maybe like I did this after the episode was over, like after we start recording, I would always say something like, do you mind if I ask you like a selfish question? And everyone's like, Oh sure what do you got? I'd be like, who else do you think I should have on my podcast? So we'll see who would be a good fit. And I literally just like sit there and my notes and write down all the names they said. And half the time no one would be able to think of anything, but they'd be like, Oh, I'll email you later. And sometimes they do, sometimes they didn't. But that this is just a great way. And some people even offer like, Hey yeah you want me to like send you an intro email or introduce you or whatever. So what you just said sort of strategy. You're a smart guy. I like that.
Thanks. I appreciate it.
Oh wait. One more thing. Point number two. And this is something that is again kind of stupid. If people are going to be like, Oh, but I swear no one does this enough. Promise to hustle. And here's what I mean by that. When I reached out to these people like Neil Patel, I still have the email by the way. I should like screenshot it, send it to you for show notes or something. I still have the email. It was something, something, will you come on my podcast hashtag social proof paragraph like I've had John Lee Dumas on my show or whatever that is. And then underneath that I was like, I am dropping ad spend behind each of these episodes, which was true during that time. I only did that for like four episodes, but when I sent him that email, it was absolutely true as like I'm promoting it on this platform, and this platform, and this platform and I've growing my email list, it's currently doubling every month at this stage and this, I was like, I am going to hustle to put this out into the world. Like I would almost literally say that. Like I'm working my butt off. It sounds stupid. But people saw that and they were like, Hey, like I literally got comments on a few emails back. It's like, dang, you're going hard at this or stuff like that. And I was like, yup, I am. And I told people that because people want to know that it's not just going to like disappear into the podcast, internet, blogosphere, whatever. They want to know that like, Oh, this guy's actually doing this and wants to push it out to grow to get more eyeballs on it. They appreciated that. So I think more people should do that.
That's awesome. That's great advice. Yeah, I don't see anyone doing that or I don't see anyone being so upfront and like calling out of like, because you're essentially saying if you agree to be on my show, this is the contractor entering into with me of I am going to do everything I can to get your message and your story out. And being really upfront about that is a great strategy. So let's talk about what the growth look like for podcasts in the first year or so.
I know that it was like a couple of hundred and month one, which at the time I was like, you know what? I'm feeling pretty good about this. I got a few here. Okay, here we go. How about this? I've got my October 2017 blog transparency report. And $762 gross, I made that month. And I should have a podcast download screenshot in here. I got 2,000 downloads that month. That was like month four, month three I'm not sure. Sorry. I could have prepped all this. People can go search for it, that's for sure.
That's okay. We'll put it in the show notes. Okay, so were you seeing a lot of engagement from those ads you're running in the first few episodes? I'm really curious about that cause I've tried, one of the strategies for the launch for the Content Heroes podcast was we did a giveaway and got really great engagement and like really great ROI in terms of cost per lead and all that on the ads for that, but I haven't actually tried running any paid traffic to the episodes themselves. It's all just been organic growth. So I'm curious what you saw from that.
No, no is the real answer to that. It should be noted also that I'm pretty skilled at Facebook ads. Like I worked for a Facebook ad company for awhile and have spent tens of thousands of dollars on Facebook ads. I'm a pretty skilled, I know my way around. I have consistently been able to get super low cost per click to podcast pages, like half blog goes half like podcast show notes as well as some of the things, we talked about conversion campaigns later, but specifically for podcasting. No, and the reason being is I was like, okay, cost per click. Well, Facebook traffic, cold traffic is generally less quality anyways and then you're asking people to not only like load the page but also press play or click a button to go over to Apple podcasts or Spotify or whatever that is and most importantly continue listening or subscribe. It's just a nightmare. And one of the things that is a buddy of mine released, actually it's a guest post, it's podnews.net, James Cridland, he runs podnews. It's a daily podcast newsletter is brilliant by the way. I don't subscribe to a lot of newsletters but his is good. Some guy ran an experiment with like Facebook ads, Pinterest ads, Google ads, like trying to figure out the average cost per subscriber. It's fascinating. I don't have all the stats in front of me, but the bottom line is it's bad compared to like dropping $800 for an ad on like overcast.FM is a podcast player. People can like buy ads directly there. It's like way more expensive upfront, but you actually, you a lot cheaper cost per subscriber. I don't know. It's an interesting guest post. People can go look that up. But to answer your question, no, it's not very high ROI in my opinion. Trying to get podcast subscribers or podcast growth from like paid reach.
That's kind of what I assumed but so I'm glad. I'm glad to hear that. I didn't waste it a bunch of money on that. Okay. So let's transition a little bit because one of the things we talked about before the call is that you've really started to shift. Not necessarily shift focus but focus more on your YouTube channel. Can we talk about what that's looked like for you and how you've doubled down on that?
So it should be noted that the honest truth is that I haven't spent a whole lot of time trying to grow the podcast in over a year. Like I can rattle off like five or six different podcast marketing strategies that would help me grow downloads. I haven't done any of them. And part of the reason is I don't really feel compelled to do so. Another part is it's a lot of work and I like doing other work which we'll get to in a second and the same can be said for SEO. So about this time last year I was still going pretty hard on the SEO train. Organic traffic was growing, referring domains of backlinks we're continuing to grow. I had what is possibly the blogging world's most lucrative keyword, how to start a blog, which we all know results in some sweet posting affiliate referrals. Well, I had my post at the bottom of page three ,and then the top of page three, the bottom of page two, the top of page two eventually like the bottom of page one and I was doing pretty good, like I was on track. I was starting to like impress people and get some clickthroughs or whatnot and it just kind of sucked. I was working on some other things and it wasn't satisfying. I kind of get stuck. It started taking me longer with more work to see the same kind of incremental results and the honest truth is that I had a conversation with my mastermind buddies and I got to thinking like if I'm going to have, this was like five, six months ago, I've got to think of like if I'm going to have a breakout, exponential growth, not going to say like forever but for like I need to break out of this a little bit. I don't think it's going to be through SEO. Like, I've done everything I can. I had my good buddy Brendan Hufford who is like, a leading SEO, you know, like as a man, I had him like he's a good friend, he like dove into my site for free, didn't charge me thank God but like ran all my content through all the fancy software he uses. Like I'm a mediocre SEO, he's like a legendary SEO. And he was like, you've done everything you can. I am super impressed by your content. It's like interactive. It's engaging, it has like cartoons in there that I like made myself and drew. And it's like super and gave me, well thought out. It used to be 20,000 words, now it's 12,000 words. I've edited it. It's the perfect piece of content. There's nothing else I can do. Except for like spam people for backlinks or whatnot, which I'm not willing to do. So that SEO game kind of started to become like small incremental growth for a lot of work. And I didn't want to do it. I still don't to this day. I have zero interest in doing that. I don't want to blog anymore. Not right now. I don't want to work on SEO. I don't care about further optimizing my site. I don't care about trying to generate backlinks. That is not fun to me. It's really not fun. I like producing linkable content. There are SEOs in your audience, like maybe they'll understand what that is. I kind of enjoyed that, but in general, like this is not where I want to be spending my time. So podcast, growth kind of stalled, I don't really care to do anything more than I'm currently doing. I just like doing the conversation right now and it's still growing. And I got a nice podcast sponsor, like I'm pretty happy with that. I just don't care. Blogging, SEO is kind of the same thing and it would require a lot more of my time and energy if I really wanted to break out and make it grow. I don't care. It's not what I want to be doing right now. YouTube, YouTube is something that I told myself in 2018, I was like 2019 that's going to be the year for me in YouTube. I love making videos. I've been making videos since I was in 10th grade. I love editing. Like I'm one of the idiot people who like actually enjoys the process of editing. I can spend all day editing video. I love it. And I think I'm good at it. Like I'm naturally just kind of drawn to being on video. Like I enjoy doing it. As of 2019 man. That's going to be my year for you too. And it didn't do anything with it. Like legit, nothing. And so winding down 2019, coming up on October, I launched my private membership community hashtag onlineimpact.co, There's my little plug for the day. And it was like, okay, what do I do now? Like I got several months to serve these students in here, try and make this program grow or from the top of funnel stuff like acquisition, like eyeballs, what do I want to do? What I think is actually going to like bring in the biggest ROI for my time right now. And I was like, I guess I knew it last year. I'm gonna hit the YouTube train and I'm only like did we fare two months into 2020 and maybe like three months into the YouTube strategy. But I've been super happy with it thus far. And if nothing else even results aside, just I think I have a competitive advantage in YouTube land because of video content. Quite frankly, not cause I'm the most smartest YouTube ever, which I'm not, not even cause I'm the best content producer ever, which I'm not. But I have a competitive advantage here for my time and my money that a lot of other creators don't have. And it took me entirely too long to figure that out. But now I figured that out. I'm happy doing video content. I love making it, I love producing it, I get great feedback from it. It's helping me grow like it's actually working more so than broadcasting or SEO ever have at least at this point, at this stage and I couldn't be happier. I hope I gave some nuggets of value in there, but the honest truth is I needed to try something new. I needed to make a shift cause I wasn't happy with how I was spending my time and the results I was getting. And number two, I felt like I had a competitive advantage that it wasn't taking advantage of, that make any sense whatsoever. I have competitive advantage of, and now I'm trying to like remedy that.
What I really love about that is like most people would say, Oh, I have a brand that's called Do You Even Blog? So that means I have to blog. You know, that has to be my primary focus and you're just like, I'm not feeling it, so I'm just not going to do it. I don't have to do that. Like it's your business. You make the rules. Right. And that I think so many people in the online business world and entrepreneurial world, like they miss that. They feel like they have to be beholden to whatever other people's expectations are. Which are most of the time just like made up in their own heads. Right? And so then they feel trapped and then they get burned out and then they get resentful and then they quit. And so I love that you're not doing that and you're just like, Oh, I'm going to do what I feel good about. And that is the key first and foremost, is you have to feel energized by the stuff that you're doing. If you want to keep doing it. So that's great.
Not only that, but I got one more for you. Not only will that make your content business immediately more sustainable because you actually enjoy it that much more, but it's 2020 man. There are more like YouTube channels and podcasts and blog starting every day. We all know this. It's more competitive than ever and rightfully so. That's fine. People are craving original content, interesting content, story-driven content, data-driven content, entertainment-driven content. I don't care what that is. If you are producing the content you want to make, people see that. It may look 1% different. Then that other creator who just churned out almost the same piece of content, but he wasn't like that much into it. Man, people could spot that a mile away now and they are drawn to that. They are drawn to that. The best content I've ever done was the crap that I like didn't even mean to. I was like, Oh, I'm in growth mode. I'm trying to do my SEO, I'm trying to do these keywords for YouTube and all this other stuff and then I have an off week were kinda like Josiah, want to get something out tomorrow. I don't know what I'm doing yet. I should probably put something together. I'll just do this stupid thing like over here, that's been some of my like most shared content because people are like, Oh something refreshing and original. And I'm like, how did I mean to do that? Like I bet to do this keyword optimized crap. Like what happened? That's been some of my more shared stuff. I think people can see that and I think they crave that so I wish we could all focus on that more. It's just so easy to get caught in that trap man. Get back into, I gotta do X, Y and Z cause I bought a course that told me how to do X, Y and Z, yeah. I built your charge too. But that's tough.
So Pete, I'm really curious about what your business looks like now and where it's going. Like how are you getting into the next phase and looking ahead over the next year or two and how are you looking to grow exponentially?
That's a good question. So outsourcing is obviously the name of the game, but I will fully admit I haven't got this part figured out. On your podcast right now and say like I don't have all the answers with this, but what I do have, which is somewhat interesting is a track record of somewhat failure. And failure in a good way. Meaning like stuff I have learned from. So it's been just the past. Oh I'd say like three or four months where I've actually, you can actually see it right now on my homepage, doyouevenblog.com I did that little thing where right after my logo I added is hiring and then I put like a little underline it. So this is like Do You Even Blog Is hiring. I just now started to try and optimize this process to higher contractors specifically like I ain't going for full time people and part time people and I might not ever, talk about that later but I'm just now trying to piece together like how on earth do you find somebody, no one's ever going to care about your business as much as you do. I think we all pretty much get that. And I think that's wildly true, but how do we get somebody who is willing to invest and like kind of stick around longer rather than just like a one off like project I just hired on Upwork or Fiverr sort of person, which I don't want. Like how do I find that person? And by the way, like I don't have like a $10,000 a month budget to like outsource anybody. I literally have to start small and one position at a time. And again I don't have all the answers but I can't tell you what I've learned. I've learned a few things. Number one, anybody in my position or probably anybody, like even generating more revenue, it might be going through the same sort of stuff. Go slow, hire slow, take your time, trying to get the right person and the right fit. I've heard this advice before by the way, unlike business podcasts or in business books.
And yet we don't listen to it.
No, I did podcasts that are like yesterday I spent like four hours today editing a few episodes of put it together show notes and making my own featured images and doing every part of the process. I did podcasts that are like yesterday, well I've tried to do the whole like hire somebody ASAP before and that did not work in. It actually costing me a lot more time and mental energy and money now that I think about it than this whole new process of like, take your time and I'm doing this specifically in a few different ways. Number one, leave my job openings up now. I just started this like three months ago like don't get me wrong. I'm still new. I'm not taking those bad boys down like I have right now, a podcast editor, a YouTube editor, and like a writer, like an SEO content person. I'm not taking them down. I don't care if I like hire somebody or not. In fact, I've already tried out three people for those things. I'm not taking them down. The reason being, it takes a while to like accumulate enough people who are interested and filter through it to like really good people. And then number two is, might be the last lesson I've learned. I'm stealing this straight out of, there's a book called Who, I think it's just who like W-H-O and my buddy Noah Kagan at AppSumo was ridiculous in his hiring process. I stole some cards out of their books and now I kind of make people go through some, oops. To be Frank, I will never, ever, ever, ever, ever hire somebody just based off like a resume and an interview like I've done. No, no, no. I need to see your work. And not only do I need to see your work, but I actually need to see your work for me. Not like your portfolio. Not like your past podcast video, not your past articles that you've got to rank like that stuff. Great. I want to see that first too. But no, no, no. I need to see you produce work for me before we do anything. So I always start with at least one test project now. At the moment I've seen really fun things happen from that. I just love letting people off the hook as well. Like I'm not hiring anybody like this is a project, this is an experiment. This is like a one off thing just to see this. If you don't hear back from me it doesn't mean you were even bad. Like I'm doing this with a bunch of people. I'm taking my time. Like I've tried to make all those expectations clear upfront. And then yeah, I do one project or at least I have so far with a podcast editor and YouTube editor and that sort of stuff and then after that my goal is to be, again, I'm being really clear with these people. My goal is to kind of have like my own like little black book full of contractors for these roles. I want to have people that are kind of open to doing business with me as needed but that I can call on if the time presents itself. And again I'm being honest with these people like this is not full time. It's not part time. Like I'm looking for my own, I'm holding up my cell phone right now, people can't see it. I'm holding up my own arsenal of contractors that I can reach out to on any given moment and the reason being is not only because I'm super smart, savvy business owner, but it's also because I'm an entrepreneur and my blog isn't like a seven figure business and so I might have months, right? Actually don't have any profit and not only that, but I might actually just have an off month in between product launches where I'm not generating that much money. I can't afford to pay anybody. Like today, I edited my own podcast. Like I have a guy now who is really good, charges me a fair price. He does a great job. Like I edited my own podcast today because I'm pretty sure it's going to be a lean month and I got two months before I'm going to see like another bigger pay day in my business. And so I think that's the last thing. Is just like really trying to think through what my own business needs for the short term and longterm and how I could best facilitate that. That has taken me a long time to kind of like work through. 2019 was like the year of Pete trying to like hire people and weird things and it not working out whatsoever, but it's gotten better here recently trying to build that little black book of skilled contractors. I hope that was helpful.
Yeah, definitely. So if you had one piece of advice that you could go back to Pete, when he got let go from a startup, what would that be?
Go back to accounting, bro. I'm half joking. Part of me would have said do that, but start Do You Even Blog. Again, I said this earlier, like I had put that off for literally years because I was scared quite frankly. I was just fearful. I was like, I'm not going to make it. That's why I didn't start. There's too many other bloggers, just too many other times they do, Pat Flynn's and anybody. I mean you name it, right? The big guys, there's too many of them. I was just fearful like I wasn't gonna make it so I didn't start. I would tell Pete to probably either go back to accounting and start doing a blog or I could, I was half joking the other half with that would probably be to Oh man, this is a little corny, but this is the truth jump on YouTube sooner. That's kind of what I enjoy doing. I even edited video before that, but I like felt like I needed to do SEO. I need to do SEO cause I'm talking about blogging. I named my brand Do You Even Blog? Like I need to do this and I needed to, people asking me questions about SEO and I didn't really want to answer them, but I felt like I needed to and I'd probably tell myself to like, you know what? You can talk about SEO sometimes from your YouTube channel. That's the content you want to produce. Why didn't you start a year earlier? Why didn't you start two years earlier when you released your first couple of videos? Yeah. Now that I think about it, that's my advice. And it's not YouTube. I think that could apply to anybody out there. Chances are your gut knows what the hell it's talking about. If you something that you really feel called to do or you really want to be doing, chances are you should listen to that. Or at least try to experiment with that a little bit. I'd say.
Love it. Well, as promised we didn't really talk about blogging and I love it.
I was sweating bullets there for a second.
So before we hop off here, Pete, can you just share with everyone where they can find you online?
Yeah. DoYouEvenBlog.com. There you go. It's all there. I spent a long time on my homepage. So if you're wanting to go like pay me money for stuff or if you want to like opt into my email list, you do it right there. That's fine. Or if you know, if you want to check out free content too, you can do that. No I kid, but everything's right there. DoYouEvenBlog.com.
Love it. Oh man, this has been fantastic. Always a pleasure. Thanks so much for coming on the show, man.
Josiah, it's been a pleasure man. And by the way, you have a great, great, great brand name. As soon as I heard it I was like, Oh, I like that. I don't even know what it was, but I was like, sounds good. It looks good. I don't know. It just made me feel good. You're doing Lord's work, man. Thanks for having me on your show.
Hey everyone, thank you for listening to the Content Heroes podcast. I just wanted to take a second and let you know that we have some amazing guests planned for the coming weeks, so if you haven't already, go ahead and hit subscribe so you can make sure to catch every episode. And if you enjoyed today's episode, go ahead and leave a five-star review to help make it easier for other content creators to find and enjoy the show. Lastly, I'd like to invite you to join our Content Heroes Facebook community where you can connect with other online content creators to share, learn, grow, and have fun. To join the group, just visit contentheroes.com/facebook. Once again, that is contentheroes.com/facebook.