#8: Josh Summers, Founder of Go West Ventures and creator of TravelChinaCheaper.com, shares how he grew what started as a hobby blog into a portfolio of websites that combined bring in over a half million visitors every month.
Josh digs into how the key to his success has been shifting his mindset to thinking like a CEO, and the massive impact that has made on his business.
He also opens up and shares his actual traffic and revenue numbers over the years so you can see what’s possible when it comes to online content creation.
Ep. 8: Josh Summers on Growing to 500k+ Visits Per Month by Thinking Like a CEO
Josh: I sold one of my websites for $120,000. Paid off my first house. I was really excited about it, but that could have been double that if I'd been thinking from the beginning: how do I want to build this and potentially even exit from it? Now I come into a lot of the websites that I either buy or build and see it from the perspective of a media company instead of just a content creator and say, how do I want this to build? How can I bring in team members so that I'm not doing every single bit of this? What are the ways that I can utilize their strengths versus my strengths to make this something that lasts beyond just myself or just what I have the strength and capacity to do?
Josiah: That was Josh Summers, founder of Go West Ventures. And in this episode Josh shares how he grew, what started as a hobby blog into a portfolio of websites that, combined, bring in over a half million visitors every month. I'm really excited for you to listen to this because Josh digs into how the key to success has been shifting his mindset to thinking like a CEO and the massive impact that it has made on his business. He also opens up and shares his actual traffic and revenue numbers over the years so you can see what's actually possible when it comes to online content creation. This is a conversation you definitely don't want to miss, so let's jump in.
Announcer: 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.
Josiah: Welcome to Content Heroes, everyone. I'm here with Josh Summers and he is the founder of Go West Ventures and the creator of travelchinacheaper.com. Josh, thanks so much for being on the show today.
Josh: It's my pleasure. Thanks for having me.
Josiah: Why don't we get started by just telling us about your origin story and how you got into online content creation.
Josh: Absolutely. Well, it started for me back in 2006. My wife and I moved. We had just gotten married and we decided to take a trip and move ourselves over to the other side of the world in China. So, I'm from the United States, Texas to be exact. And people are listening, can't see the video, but I've got like this Texas, you know, wooden thing hanging on my wall. So I'm a proud Texan one of those types of people. Well, we moved out to China and it was a very unique part of China. So if you can imagine, if you can see China in your mind's eye, we were far West out near the borders of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, all of those central Asian places. And so when we first got there, my family asked if I'd be willing to write updates, post it online pictures, stuff like that, just to keep them updated and let them see into this world that we had moved ourselves into. And that's what we did. It became a lot of fun for me. It was at the time, this was, you know, Blogspot when that was, you know, everybody had a Blogspot blog and that's what I did. I would take pictures of interesting cultural events, interesting scenery that we were coming across, telling those stories. And I remember the day specifically, remember the day when all of a sudden I noticed that I was getting this massive amount of traffic and I couldn't understand where it was coming from. And the Wall Street Journal had linked to something that I'd written about a wedding that I had attended. And it was at that moment that I realized, holy cow, there are other people besides my family that are reading this. And I kinda like it. It's a lot of fun. You know what I mean?
Josiah: That's so awesome.
Josh: It took a few years, like that's obviously back in 2006. I mean even SEO and all that stuff was, was kind of in its infancy at the time. And I wasn't making money off of it. But I enjoyed the fact that I was able to introduce a part of the world that most people didn't even know existed. And let them see this people group. There's a people called the Uyghurs that are living out there. They're, they're Chinese, but they don't look anything like Chinese and their culture's different. Their language is different and it was a great place to be and to start my marriage and to start my life as a content creator.
Josiah: That's awesome. So when you had this realization, what was going through your head in terms of like where do I go next? How did you start to put those pieces together?
Josh: For me again, we first moved out there in 2006 and we ended up staying out there for about 10 years and I remember this point in time where a Lonely Planet author came out to visit. He didn't come to visit me specifically, but when he came out to do his research for that area, he found me online and he connected with me and we went and had coffee. I remember talking with him and I want to give you guys a little bit of context here because the region that we were at, it's twice the size of Texas. It is a huge region. It takes 24 hours on a train to get from one side to the other side. So we're talking about a massive region and this Lonely Planet writer had come to me and he was asking me what he should go see in two weeks time so that he can write about it. I remember thinking two weeks, by that point, I'd lived there for like five or six years. I was like, yeah, I don't even feel like I'm qualified to write this book and I've lived here for five years traveling around. You think you're going to do this in two weeks? And the more I dug in, the more I realized that's how Lonely Planet works. I tell all of these travel guides work because they just send these people in and they've got to do this shotgun approach where they learn from the experts, but really they've just got to hit the highlights and then get out of there if they want to make any money. And it was at that point that I realized, I think I might actually have something to offer here because if this guy can do it in two weeks and come out with something that's worthy of the Lonely Planet, then for my five, six years of experience, which then became 10 years of experience, I can actually come up with something that really helps people. And that was the birth of a book that I eventually wrote and published. That became basically what was one chapter of the Lonely Planet, I turned into a book. And you know, the subset of people that go out to that region is very small. So it's not like I'm reaching millions of people, but the people that did want to go out there, there wasn't good information on that region and I filled in that gap and was able to help people reach that part of the world. That was kind of the start for me. And at that point I was starting to try to do some research into what exactly do I want this to become like, is this something that could actually become something that supports me? And that's when I started building a couple other websites, Travel China Cheaper being one of them that was more, instead of being focused on one section of the country, it was the entire country, right? So all of China, which was a little ambitious, but I think what helped was the fact that I was very specific about my audience. And I think that's one thing when I talk to a lot of different content creators, they maybe don't know exactly who their audience is and so they speak to an extremely wide audience. But if you were to ask me, who are you speaking to? I'm speaking to people between the ages of 25 and 45 who have not yet ever gone to China and are planning their trip. Maybe they haven't bought their tickets yet. It's a specific period of time. It's a specific type of person. And I'm aiming to help that group. And by doing that, what was just this small kind of side project that I started back in, I think it was back in 2012 that Travel China Cheaper website now receives over a quarter million views a month off of only, I mean I think it's only about 120 to 130 actual posts and pages that address problems that that specific person would be running into. And then writing a book off of that and then publishing that and then all of those kind of feeding into each other. And that's what's been really a learning process for me along the whole way. But it's been really good.
Josiah: That's awesome. So did you have a background at all in writing or online marketing or anything like that?
Josh: I graduated with a business degree and I think that that's definitely been helpful. I'm a creative by nature and that I love, I've always been a musician. I love music. I went to school in Nashville. I found out that I wasn't quite that good at music, but that was a good way to find out instead of trying to make a career out of it and then fail. But I think for me what it was is that it's been a process of, gosh over 10 years now, and I think you ask anybody and even some of the people that you've had on the podcast already, I've heard them say, you see some of my videos, you know, on YouTube from when I very, when I started and I sucked. And that's the same way with me with my writing and all that other stuff. And that's part of why one of my processes for my content now is I have a weekly process of updating old content so that it does become better. And when I learn new ways to make it better or new ways to do SEO [inaudible] the stuff that I wrote a long time ago that may not have been good at the time, but it's still valuable information can be found and can be useful and can be updated and optimized today. And so part of my content strategy, not only creating new content but finding ways to update the old content on a regular kind of processed basis.
Josiah: That's really awesome. I'm curious when you are in that, those kind of beginning phases, I know you touched on that you sort of drew a line in the sand and said, this is the specific group of people that I'm helping and here's how I'm going to help a lot of people when they're getting into content creation, that's a difficult thing for them to do. Like kind of getting over that psychological barrier of saying no to all of these people so that I can say yes to just a specific few and help them. I'm curious what about that decision was hard or easy and what do you think you really gained from making that choice?
Josh: I think the big thing for me was at that point trying to decide how I wanted to move forward with all this stuff because you can go a number of different directions. You can focus 100% on SEO and just do your keyword research and say, what's going to bring me the highest number of visitors, which can then translate to the highest number of ad dollars or the highest number of affiliate sales. You can go down that road and it's not bad. I mean, I have a couple of websites where I do kind of focus more on the SEO side, but there were, especially for this one where I was, I was dealing specifically with this group of people that I knew I could help and saying, okay, I've got to stop and say that for the moment, at least as I'm planning, this isn't about me. I want to see how can I make this about the people that I'm creating this for? And in that process, that's where, you know, we always hear when we're, when we're listening to people that are talking about doing online businesses that, oh, you got to create an email list. Oh, you've got to, you know, maybe create a community, a Facebook community or something like that. And these are all great things in there. Things that I recommend. Obviously people do as well, but the reasoning behind that is not necessarily, I think oftentimes that gets lost. You create the email list because that's the business thing to do. That's the marketing thing to do. You've got to own your list instead of giving it to Facebook or somebody else, but I think in the end, it's actually, if we think of it through the lens of because this is going to be the best way to serve that audience. If I can create a community where people feel like they can come and ask a question about traveling to China and they don't have to wait for me for a couple of days to be able to find the time to answer that email, they can actually get a response from somebody else who might know the answer even better than I do. Then I've served that community better by hosting that space where they can all get together or with email if I can set up an automated sequence. Yeah. Obviously that helps me from a marketing perspective and obviously that helps engage my audience. But if I do that well, I am serving them by giving them content. Obviously, I want to be able to segment and I want to be able to provide them with content that they want or need. But if I do that well, then I am giving them what they need when they need it because I know that audience and I know what they need and if I've got those two pieces of expertise or if I've got that down, then the way that I do it isn't as important as just looking at it from the perspective of this isn't about me making a whole lot of money. So for example, when I'm thinking about new pieces of content to write, there is a component of my brain that goes to: Is there a way to monetize this? And there isn't always. Sometimes there is, but sometimes there isn't. If there is, great, but if there isn't, I don't necessarily want to shelve that idea. I want to then look at that through the lens of - but will this still be useful to the audience that I'm trying to serve and does this fit within my content strategy and can this lead into anything else that I'm trying to help with or serve this group of people? If that makes any sense.
Josiah: Oh, absolutely. And what I love about this as I can see and feel like the passion and the heart that you have for the people that you are serving, that you are creating content for, you're absolutely right that it's so easy when we're in the business mindset to just turn people into numbers. Obviously we have to make money in order to keep serving people, but at the same time, if that becomes our primary motivation, then one, you're never gonna really see the growth that you want long-term. But two, I feel like that's when people really start to get burned out. I know when I've gotten into that realm and my business, like that's when I got the most frustrated and the most burned out and had all my energy sapped. And the best way I found a turn that around is to stop asking, how can I monetize this and ask how can I help this person? That's fantastic.
Josh: And one of the mental shifts that I've had to make over the years that has been probably had the biggest impact on me and on my business is actually taking in and changing my mindset from I am a content creator, which is by nature very kind of self-focused. I create and people, we put a lot of our ego into that, for good and bad. But stop thinking of myself as a content creator rather as I am the owner of a media company. And this media company because of what it offers, I need to make decisions that affect this media company and I kind of need to extract my own ego and myself from all of that. So instead of being a writer, I'm a CEO. Instead of being an CEO, I'm looking at it from the perspective of a chief marketing officer and how can I look at this better and seeing my role more from extracting myself, not because I don't want to be a part of it, because you know, a lot of the things that I do, just like a lot of content creators, it's my face, I'm on the YouTube video or I'm in the pictures. It's not about that. It's a broader vision for what I'm trying to do. And you're seeing this happen all across the board. Like for example, for those of you in the finance world, there's Dave Ramsey and yeah, Dave Ramsey is the face of that. But if you've noticed, he's actually got an empire where there's people that are doing retirement. There's people that are doing other parts of that where he's, he's slowly extracting himself so that if he were to go away completely, the empire still exists. I've been listening recently to some of the things that Pat Flynn has been talking about and he's doing the same thing where he's trying to say, okay, how can I make this more than just about me? And I think we were talking about that from the perspective of our audience. How can we serve our audience by not necessarily making it all about the business side and how it benefits me, but we can also do that from our business side of things. It's not all about me. How can I step back and look at this from a 30,000 foot view and say, okay, where do I want to take this media company? I've sold websites before. I sold one of my websites for $120,000. Paid off my first house. I was really excited about it. That could have been double that if I'd been thinking from the beginning: how do I want to build this and potentially even exit from it, right? And that came with a YouTube video that had my face on it. Like that sale was an interesting one for me and one I don't regret. Even though I think that it wasn't as beneficial as I thought it was, but now I come into a lot of the websites that I either buy or build and see it from the perspective of a media company instead of just a content creator and say, how do I want this to build? How can I bring in team members so that I'm not doing every single bit of this? What are the ways that I can utilize their strengths versus my strengths to make this something that lasts beyond just myself or just what I have the strength and capacity to do.
Josiah: I love that. And I'm really curious about when you made that transition, that mindset shift, how did you notice that effect? Can you kind of more on personal level in terms of how you felt about the business, in terms of how you felt about as personal as you feel comfortable getting, but like I found in my life when I have those kinds of shifts, it's never just about the business, right? Because the business, the thing that I thankfully learned early on in my business, my business is a direct reflection of me and so if I want to grow my business, I have to grow myself first. And anytime I've had these sort of shifts, it's never just about the business. So, I'm curious like how that's helped you see things differently overall and not just in the business space.
Josh: Yeah. Well, I mean one of the biggest thing that it changed for me because all of us as content creators, I think, or maybe I'm alone in this, but I've heard it before, is that we all tend to think that I'm the only one that can do this with this business. I can't extract myself from this because if I did, nobody else could do that. And that shift for me of going from a content creator to the owner of a media company open just this part of my brain that said, if I'm a media company, having a team would actually be useful and I can use that team to do things more efficiently than I can by myself. Sometimes even better than I can by myself, even though I like to think that no, only I can do it this, well, you know, I found myself doing that way too often and I still find myself holding on tightly to things that I, as a CEO should not be doing. Like if you were to go to a company, let's say you were to go to, I don't know, AT&T right, and you found the CEO making inside sales calls because you know he knows how to make that call. More than likely he would have a much better success rate than your average inside sales guy. No doubt he knows the company better. He can speak better. He's got more experience than an inside sales guy, but he's not the right person to do that job. There is a reason that that role exists and there's a reason that that CEO is where he's at is he needs to be effective during the strategic side of things. And for me, that shift into more of a strategy viewpoint of the business. It was a huge one and I think it's opened up a lot of things. Like I said, the team, but also I love that feeling of I've got four people that work with me and that feeling of being able to support them and their families and now thinking from the perspective of not just how can I serve my audience, but how can I work on the personal and professional development, my team, how can I make sure that when they leave because they're not going to stay with me forever. I know that. How can I make sure that they leave having been better for working with Go West Ventures, that they are better professionally, that they're better personally, that it's just been a positive thing and all of that comes from, to me, that shift of I'm building something that's bigger than myself. I'm building a media company. It's not just, hey, how can I get myself in front of a camera and say something cool and make myself feel good about it? Not that YouTube is a bad thing and not like I do that so I'm not downplaying anybody on YouTube that's listening to this right now.
Josiah: That's fantastic. Now that you've made that shift mentally and inside the business, what does the business look like now versus 5-10 years ago when you were just kind of starting out? You started with 1 website and now you're up to 16. It's great that you took on the CEO mindset because you personally handling 16 websites sounds like a nightmare. What does that look like? As comfortable as you are sharing whatever you can, what does that journey look like to get to where you are?
Josh: Absolutely. And I will say that other 16 websites, only five or six are like on a weekly basis updated and then the others are not so much, but still even with five or six one person by themselves, it would just be impossible to try to run all that. And I think the biggest thing for me here is in order to make that happen, we as content creators, we take it all on ourselves and we understand the responsibility and we know that we're dragging this thing up the hill because nobody else is going to do it for me. I can pay a VA in the Philippines to do stuff, but they're not going to break their back dragging this thing up the hill. I'm the only one that's going to be willing to go that far and do it. But what I can do is I can start creating processes. And I think as I grew, what helped me scale, what helped me be able to take one website and then add another and then buy another one, sell this one is to create processes that allowed for people to come in and come out and for me to document exactly what I'm doing. So that one, I don't get overwhelmed with what I have to do next. I know, okay, well next is this step and this step, but also so that I can utilize my team to take over part of those responsibilities. Probably once every, probably happens about twice a year. I'll sit down, I track my time religiously. I try to know exactly how I'm using every single bit of my time and when I pour over some of those reports, one of the things I'm looking for is what are the things that I'm doing that I could easily turn into a process that either somebody else could do or could be automated in some way or that just by nature of turning it into a process, it doesn't take me as long because I know exactly how I'm going to batch process this because I always do emails on Mondays and Fridays, my weekly emails. So there's, there's other emails that I do in between the week, but if I get emails in that don't require an immediate response, they go into another folder. They, I don't even want to see them in my inbox and they only get replied to on Mondays and Friday's like, just little things like that that helped me to tighten up my time, but also create a process that would scale over time. Because you know I've had over the past three years, I've had maybe five or six people that have hired on and then thankfully I haven't, I've only fired one person, but the rest, it was just kind of a natural, what happens in business, people come, people go and I want people to be able to have those SOPs, those, what does SOP stand for? I'm drawing a blank all of a sudden...
Josiah: It's Standard Operating Procedures.
Josh: That's it. Yeah. My Standard Operating Procedures where they can just take that and go. I remember one time I hired on this new lady, I knew her. She's a sweet lady who had nothing to do with the fact that she's a sweet lady, but I spent a week training her and I didn't record any of the videos. I didn't write down any of the processes and a week later she quit on me because she decided she was going to go travel. And I just remember slapping myself in the head going, why did I not, as I was going along, just record the videos, use Loom and record what I'm showing her and then make that something to where I can just plug somebody else in. Instead it was like many hours of my time that I lost in that whole process.
Josiah: Man. Thankfully I got some good advice early on in my to do exactly that. Otherwise I probably would have the same thing happen to me and the very first hire I made was a VA, by the way. Her name is Ghia, she's probably listening to this. Hi Ghia. She's awesome and the very first thing that she did for me, I literally did just that. I took Loom, actually I didn't even know about Loom. I had her go research the best easy recording tools that is screencast. She gave me Loom and I got on. I just started thinking through like here's all the stuff I have to do and I recorded myself doing it. We went through each video and created a standard operating procedure and we have a whole list of them. Probably don't utilize them as well as we should but at least we have them there. I did the same thing for this podcast. I've got, she did it for me, too. Like I went through, I recorded a video. This is all the stuff that I have to do. Like, right now I'm producing the podcast myself mostly because it's fun for me and eventually I'll get to the point where I'll do less and less of that but we now are using Process St. and 'cause you're going to sign like checklists and people can go through them and collaborate on a little easier. Yeah. I have one for the podcast like from the time we scheduled this interview until the time that it gets released and promoted, there is a checklist for every single thing. Even though I'm the only one doing it right now, it's even super helpful for me because I don't have to think about it. I just come in.
Josiah: This is all stuff that gets done, which is really great because there definitely have been some times when I'm just like doing this at one o'clock in the morning. It's the only time I have time for it. And then definitely would miss steps if I didn't have that checklist.
Josh: One of the books that I've been reading recently, or just re-reading is one by a guy named David Allen called Getting Things Done. The artist's stress-free productivity. It is a classic. And one of the things that, it's a good reminder I think for anybody is that a lot of times we don't realize that even that stuff that we do on a regular basis takes up processing power. And the more that we can offload that processing power, the more space we have for creativity. So even if you don't have a team creating those processes so that you know exactly that things aren't gonna fall through the cracks. And so your brain doesn't have to keep running and thinking, how do I make sure that this doesn't fall through the cracks? You can give your brain the confidence that you're going to get it done in a way because you've got the process. Then it can free itself up to be more creative.
Josiah: So in terms of numbers, if you're comfortable sharing those, what does it look like for traffic for you with your websites over the years and how that's translated into revenue?
Josh: Right now across the board, I manage about half a million visits per month over the different websites with the majority being Travel China Cheaper, which is about 250,000 a month. But I will say before we go too much further into that, I've been building some of these for almost 8 to 10 years, so that's not something that just because I'm good at SEO or anything like that, that it just happened or because I'm an amazing writer, it just happened. I think that it's a process of time and part of that is learning as well, not just the time that's needed for something to rank in Google or for an audience to be built. But also time for me to learn my craft and to better understand how I can utilize my strengths to do this even better. So you know, if I were to start this website now I'm sure I could do the same thing that I've done in just a couple of years as opposed to six to eight years and I'm sure that anybody has done this would probably say the same thing 'cause it's a huge learning curve. Real decide. No right here. It blows my mind. I see some universities that now offer like a social media degree or an SEO degree and I'm like are you kidding me? Like, I'm constantly having to learn this stuff. I just went to an SEO conference last week just to continue this learning process. I don't see how a degree would make much difference but off my soapbox, sorry.
Josiah: It's obsolete by the time they graduate, right?
Josh: Exactly. I don't quite get it. But because of that, you know, obviously I wasn't making enough to live on for the first few years and nor was I trying. It was more just a side fund project where I was writing about a place where I was living and the adventures that I was having. So I had the luxury of not necessarily having to make it a full-time gig or have it replace any sort of income that we had. It started off, this is back in obviously 2010 to 2012 where it would make $5,000 a month. Again, this will age me here a little bit, but you know, I would get $1,000 here or there from somebody that was buying a link off of one of my posts, you know, so they do a paid link placement, something that I wouldn't do now. I mean that happens still, I'm sure, but it's not quite as accepted as it used to be. And just kind of going along and slowly plotting along. And I think that over time that jumped up to let's say $1,000 a month. And most of this coming from what's known as affiliate advertising, which I'm sure a lot of people that are listening to this know exactly what that is. And it was all natural. I wasn't looking for a product and saying, how can I push this? I was looking at my audience and saying, well, what exactly do they need? What did I use? Here it is, and then working with those companies, some of whom had affiliate programs, some of whom didn't, and we created one together just because I was trying again to serve that audience as best as I could. Fast forward to today, I've published a couple books, mostly travel books, those generate about a thousand dollars a month in sales, which in the scheme of things is actually not a lot of sales, but the thing is it adds credence to the websites having a published book. The books themselves have, links back to the website and the affiliate links as well, and so it just kind of, it further promotes what I'm trying to do with the various web entities that I have. I've got advertising, one of my YouTube channels that'll make about a thousand dollars a month as well, just in Google ads. But the big money for me right now is in affiliate sales and that's where I'll generate, depending on the web property, I'll generate anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000 a month per website. And again, what's fascinating is if you do this right, and I've heard somebody else say this on your podcast as well, Josiah, where they say affiliate sales, it sounds like a bad word or you know, something like that. But when you actually start to get emails from people, and this happens to me, emails from people thanking me for suggesting them to purchase these different products, you realize that if you do it well, it is a service that benefits all three parties involved. Obviously, it benefits the company that's selling the service. Obviously, it benefits me because I'm getting a payment from it. But if done right, it definitely benefits the person who's purchasing the product because they genuinely need it. And it is genuinely helpful. So if you can find those places where it's a three way win, win, win, that's gold to me. And that is where I've ended up, thankfully being able to make the majority of the income is in places where not only am I selling it to people, but they come back to me and say, that was so useful. What else do you have that would be useful for me? Right? And so again, putting on my CEO hat, I'm having to step back and say, okay, I've served this audience well before they go to China. What can I do after that? Like, do I want to compete with Lonely Planet? I'm not sure I do, but how can I continue to serve that audience? And so that's vision down the road, trying to figure out how I want it to do that. So you know, a little bit of behind the scenes here. So I'm working with my team to develop a website specifically for ex-pats in China, right? So serving the people that are going to be moving there because there's certain things that are different about what we would do for living as ex-pats versus if you're just traveling there for two or three weeks, you want to learn the language, you need to know how you can get mail or how to ship things from, you know, your home country. Like all these things are different things that you think about and there are other opportunities to both serve the audience and to have, you know, income as well. So that's kind of looking forward, trying to think strategically about what's going to best serve both the business and the audience.
Josiah: Oh, that's great! Before we kind of wrap up here, I'm curious, you know, you alluded to a few started today, you do it in a couple of years versus like 10 years. If you were to give advice to people who are just getting started, what would you say like what would be some of your biggest takeaways or your biggest lessons that you've learned that can help them make the biggest impact in the shortest amount of time?
Josh: There's a few things. First, I would recommend, it's cliche to say this, but I'll dive in deeper, but you know to serve the audience first. And like I said that sounds cliche, but what I mean by that in this sense is let's say you're starting something from new. When I would start something new, I would probably look at it from and try to develop content based on what I know and what I think should be done. Going at it again and what I'm doing on my newer properties right now is actually taking an audience that I know or finding an audience and asking them, surveying them and saying what exactly is it that would be beneficial or useful to you instead of assuming that I know best, maybe even just because you know, I've done it, but I'm just me as a group of people, what exactly would serve them best. And so that's one way that I would do different. I just went through a content audit on one of my websites, my China website, one of the other ones that had over 400 posts and me and another guy that was doing it with me deleted 200 of those posts because I didn't do that well. I wasn't actually answering or serving a question that they had. I just was serving my own purposes. Hey, you know, I went on a trip to this place and it served no value whatsoever and so I deleted and redirected, did a content audit and kind of just purged myself a lot of that content. But that leads into the second thing that I would say for those of you that maybe do have a lot of content already, is don't be afraid to either completely redo, get rid of or update that content. Don't think that just because it's already been published and even if that content is doing well, that if you mess with it, it's going to totally screw up your, let's say your rankings in Google or something else. More than anything. I've found that by updating the content, Google will reward that or my audience will be thankful that it now is up to date. And likewise taking some of the content that wasn't even being viewed at all and deleting that and kind of getting rid of any website bloat that I had has seen a 25% increase in my traffic on one of my websites just by deleting all of that content. And then the final thing that I would say, this is something that I'm still learning, but it's something that I think that all of us as content creators have to grapple with at some point in time, is to be confident in your identity. This is bigger than you may think. Think of it in this way. If someone asks you what do you do and you kind of hesitate and you don't quite know how to answer, you know, I kinda or you maybe change the answer based on who you're talking to, whether they're tech savvy or they're not. And if those people like their eyes glaze over. So it's like that to me would chip away at my confidence. It's like, I know I'm making money at this, but nobody understands what I'm doing. I can't explain it well. How do I write this on my LinkedIn profile for goodness sake's, all that stuff. But being able to find a time where I could sit down and say, okay, you know, what is my identity? I'm the owner of a media company and my goal is to serve this audience or to make a living for my family. Or like just kind of getting down to the nitty gritty of it personally, and I'll just share this with all of you. My goal honestly has very little to do with business. My goal is to be able to do, how would I say this? My goal is to be able to live in any context that I want. I live in Thailand right now. That's where we're talking from. Serving in whatever way that I want to do, let's say nonprofit work. I want to be able to do that without having to worry about the financial side of things. That's my kind of why. That's my identity. I am a business owner, an investor for the purpose of allowing myself to be generous, not only with my money but also with my time. And the more that I can be specific with that about my identity and be confident in that and the more that you can be confident in the fact that let's say somebody says I'm a YouTuber. In some ways that kind of sounds childish. It's becoming more and more of an accepted thing, but to say I'm a YouTuber, people still, whenever I say that, they kind of look at me weird. It's like, oh, you're one of those people that just kind of throws videos up online to be confident in the fact that, no, I am a content creator who helps people or entertains people or whatever it may be. Be confident in identity because that's going to show in the type of content that you create and how you present yourself whenever you do create that content.
Josiah: Oh, that's so great, Josh. Before we wrap up here, could you tell us all where we can find you online?
Josh: Sure. Honestly, I don't have a personal place. If you wanted to find me on LinkedIn, you can find me under the, it's Josh S. Summers, so linkedin.com/in/joshssummers. If you want to see some of the work that I'm doing online, you can go to travelchinacheaper.com to just kind of see how I do what I do. There's another one that is farwestchina.com that's another one of the family of China websites that I own, but yeah, you can find me anywhere along there.
Josiah: Awesome. Thanks again so much. This has been really great. I really appreciate it Josh and hope you have a great day.
Josh: Thanks, I appreciate it. Thanks guys.
Josiah: 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 enjoy 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.
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