Don’t start with Facebook ads

Happy Sunday! Today I wanted to share my thoughts on traffic, especially when you are just starting. Just a heads up before we start, though. I understand traffic and have been hands-on with it historically, but I’m by no means an expert. I like to focus on the overarching strategy, and while I am at times involved with the bells and whistles, it’s not my specialty. Let’s get right into it.

Traditionally, folks will tell you to start with Facebook Ads and scale – maybe branch out to Youtube Ads or affiliates eventually. On the surface, this sounds like good advice, and often time it is. But for many companies, there’s a better way.

With Facebook Ads, you run interruption-based advertising, meaning your customers aren’t seeking out your service; you’re coming to them. Their algorithm is so good that it may be exactly what you need, but generally, targeting and getting your potential customer’s attention isn’t easy.

When starting something new, I try to avoid interruption-based advertising altogether (with the exception of retargeting ads). Instead, I like to be right in front of the customer when they are actively seeking out a solution to their problem, which we can solve. The easiest way to do this is through Google pay-per-click ads. Think about it; if someone is seeking a solution to their problem that your service can solve, they’re essentially a warm customer. The pitch is easier, and there’s less work when it comes to the ad creative. Plus, you’ll probably end up paying less to acquire the customer.

The problem? It’s probably not that scalable. Although this depends on your product, market size, and industry, at a certain time, you’ll max out how many people are looking up keywords you rank for. You can consistently keep spending, but there’s minimal room for growth and increases in your budget. That’s when I’d start exploring additional traffic sources. Still, hopefully, before that point, you’ll have perfected your message (which may change a little bit with colder traffic) and acquired some customers at a lower cost.

I know this isn’t a foolproof plan and is relatively simple, but for most, it’s a better approach than starting with Facebook Ads. It’s what I do, and I’d recommend you do too.

My approach to reading

Today I wanted to go ahead and share my approach to reading. Although this seems like a relatively straightforward process, it seems that quite often, when I share this with people, they are surprised.

Last year, I aimed to read 52 books. When I set out to do this, I knew just reading books front to back wasn’t going to do the trick. I had to figure out a way to get through books quickly while still retaining everything.
About four years back, I went through Howard Berg’s speed reading process (in fact, if you take a look at his webpage, you’ll find a testimonial from me, along with a very old picture). Although the process defiantly works, I found that it wasn’t all that enjoyable, and I struggled to comprehend all I was reading in the long term (it still doesn’t hurt to give it a try, though. I know some people who rave about it)

I also tried a pretty unique process two or so years ago – although I got through books slower, it did help with my retention. I highlighted everything that stood out to me as I went along and then took pictures of these passages and sent them to a voice actor or assistant. They would then read these aloud, and I would listen to a recording of excerpts from books every few months. That didn’t last long because although I guess I retained a bit more, it wasn’t all that necessary and was defiantly a pain. 

I’ve also tried Blinkist multiple times (for those who don’t know, they’re just cliff notes, but you have the option of listening to them). I just logged into my account, and here’s every book that I completed when just using Blinkist normally.

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And here’s what I’ll tell you – the only lessons I remember from this list are Rework, Give and Take, and Creative Schools (and a tiny bit of the Airbnb Story). Why? Well, those were the three books from this list that I read. With those books, I read them after listening to the Blink, but I wondered what would happen if I reversed the order. After reading the book, I could listen to the Blinkist every six months or so to re-enforce the lessons. So that’s exactly what I tried.

But, believe it or not, I had never really tried the Audiobook thing either (not sure why). I gave this a try but found I had to follow along with the book too. I also found that Audiobooks are incredibly slow. I tried speeding then up to 1.5x, and it was still about the speed of a Youtube Video or Podcast or normal speed. I sped it up to 2x speed. Still pretty slow. I’ve found that 2.2x-2.5x speed is the sweet spot if that’s all I’m doing, and about 1.7-2.2x speed is the sweet spot if I’m doing something else at the same time. This may be too fast for some and too slow for others. Find your sweet spot and run with it.

Finally, I found a process that works for me. It’s pretty simple but allows me to get through books the fastest while comprehending what I read and putting it into practice. Here it is;

1) Order the physical book & audiobook – Yes, this can get expensive. But either way, I like having a copy of every book I’ve read so I can refer back to it down the road. If you aren’t like me, you can always check the book out from your local library or buy a used copy. You can even buy an Ebook version and load it on a Kindle or Remarkable.
I’ve also found that you can return unlimited books to Audible, as long as it’s within a year of when you first bought it. Plus, as long as you return it after seven days of purchasing the book, the author still gets a royalty. I try only to do this if I don’t plan on rereading the book or didn’t enjoy it, and hence still have 41 titles in my Audible library as I write this, and have paid over $600 to Audible in the past year (between credits, one-off titles, and subscriptions). This doesn’t include the thousands I’ve spent buying the books, lots of which from their parent company, Amazon.

2) Listen to the audiobook while following along with the physical book 

3) Every few months, listen to/read the Blinkist

4) Occasionally, I’ll re-read the entire book a year or so later

And that’s about it! I’d be curious to hear if any of you have a process of your own for reading, and perhaps I’ll incorporate some of your tricks into my process.

My approach to writing copy

Over the past week or so, I’ve been silent. I’ve been trying to get in the habit of writing at least something for Hey World daily, but have been struggling to do so. It seems I have multiple half-baked posts in the works but nothing fully done.

I’m accepting the fact that some posts may be longer than others. And that’s ok. For example, my last post on unsaturated business ideas clocked in at 1,555 words, and a post I’m working on now about churn is even longer (and it’s not finished yet). Today’s however, will be shorter.

I titled this my approach to writing copy, but it’s really more than that. It’s the process of going from an idea from a product or campaign to getting it launched on a webpage. It focuses on my ideology around copy, but I cover all aspects of the process. It might surprise people, because even though I would not consider myself a great copywriter, I write all of the copy for my companies, or at least the first draft. So let’s get right into it.

Step 1 – Brainstorm ideas

I like to use this time to get clear on what it is we are offering and selling points around that. I’m not necessarily trying to think of hooks or clever phrases, but rather our key offerings, answers to objections, and more. I jot these down in a folder on my notes. Recently I’ve been trying MyMind, though, so we’ll see how that works out (if you want an invite code, shoot me an email, I have a handful left – first come first serve)

Step 2 – Start writing

After about a week of brainstorming and tossing around concept ideas, I start writing. This is a time, I know. I know food who can get a sales letter done in an hour without any upfront works, and then there’s others like me who prolong the process. If this is an entire website or campaign, I focus on the centerpiece first, however, I often find writing emails in between can give me inspiration for other mediums.

I use Instant Scripts to help in this process — I’ve used Funnel Scripts before, and for 80% of things it sucks. Although it’s a great tool and software and I’ve seen people who’ve done awesome things with it, in my opinion, it’s too “direct responsy”. Not only that, but I like being in the drivers seat, and inputting text and getting an outcome of that text in a template isn’t my favorite.

But writing with a blank canvas can also be stressful. I don’t use any of Instant Scripts template functions, but I do leverage the features that allow you to get ideas and high converting phrases using the / key, along with the feature that allows you to easily move paragraphs around.

During this phase I focus on turning my ideas into hooks, and jotting down ideas for the rest of the copy. That’s it.

Step 3 – Finish writing

This process takes place over the course of about five days for a long sales letter, and just one or two for shorter sales letters. During this time I take the hooks and turn it into copy. Everyday I look through what I wrote the previous day, make revisions, and than move onto the next chunk I want to write. I kinda hop around during this phase.

Step 4 – Final touches

I send my copy into Day to Day Aid for grammar edits and a second pair of eyes. Than I send that off to our awesome designer who turns it into a tangible webpage using Webflow or WordPress.

Normally, I’ll send her a few pages for inspiration or a layout structure I have in mind. She’ll take the copy and make it drastically more interesting & professional. We then apply what we’ve learned from A/B tests historically. After the first version is done, I’ll take a look at it and make changes myself or send revisions to her to make. After a little back in forth we’re ready to launch!

And that’s about it. Of course we run split tests and make changes down the road, but it’s a pretty simple approach. I’ve learnt that when I rush copy it’s not my best work, and doesn’t convert. It takes about an hour a day for a week or so, and is well worth it.

Unsaturated business ideas

At least once a week, I get a message from someone looking for guidance on what business they should venture into. Be it an old colleague/report or a connection from a few years ago in between projects; I’m always excited to advise on what I’ve seen working lately (hint; it’s not Amazon FBA, SMMA, or Dropshipping).

Before I go into it, I want to address why it’s not any of the for-mentioned things. They all worked at one point, but you have what’s called the first mover’s advantage with any opportunity. Eventually, as more and more people get into any industry/opportunity, it becomes saturated. This may take years, but at a certain point, it’s bound to happen. 

One last thing — I’m not guaranteeing any of these will work, and they all involve a certain amount of risk. Some of these I’ve done myself (or they’ve been a piece of a business I ran), and some I’ve just seen work for other folks. This is meant to be a very rudimentary level to point you in the right direction, not to give you everything you need to know about any of these models. 

1) Buying companies
I’ve always been attracted to this model but have never had the time to commit to it. You buy a company (or two, or five, or 10) and either hold it in a portfolio or flip it. If you’re starting with this model, I’d look for a company with a few of these factors;

  1. Low multiple – 1-2.5x would be an excellent sweet spot.
  2. Consistent revenue – Stay away from a company with most revenue in Q4 or a company that relies heavily on flakey outside factors.
  3. High but reasonable profit margins – 50 to 80% is a good range.
  4. In an industry, you understand
  5. Has to room for improvement & growth

I would use a tool like Flippa when starting, and eventually, you can find great deals elsewhere. Recently I had the opportunity to connect with Nathan Sykes who’s entire model is private equity – I’d check out his Hey World to learn more about the model, in addition to watching some YouTube videos and grabbing some books. 

2) Drop-servicing
This is a model that has become relatively mainstream over the past year or so. The idea behind a drop-servicing company is that you take an in-demand service – say a whiteboard video – find a freelancer to create it, mark it up, and offer it as a standalone service. Then, on the backend, your goal would be to offer similar services as upsells or get them on a continuity plan. 

A few things to keep in mind with this model;

  1. It’s always easiest to sell to warm traffic – rather than using interruption-based marketing at first, use Pay Per Click advertising. 
  2. If possible, niche down – you can always expand your target audience later.
  3. Don’t work with freelancers long-term – with freelancers, you are essentially working as a project manager and ensuring quality control – that’s your only competitive advantage. With enough scale, bring things in-house – this will help with profit margins, quality control, and consistency. 
  4. Use a tool like Service Provider Pro to take orders, manage clients, and more.
  5. Use a tool like Clickfunnels for your marketing.
  6. Offer one product on the frontend – don’t try to do too much.
  7. Pick a service that’s not too saturated that a customer may want every month, quarter, etc. (the goal here is to build continuity) 

Another method of drop-servicing is white-labeling services from somewhere like The Hoth. I won’t go too far into this, but it can be a great option, especially if you want to be more hands-off. 

3) PLR
This seems to be the model that surprises people the most. Believe it or not, entire websites are dedicated to providing pre-created content that you can Whitelabel and sell as your own (and no, you can’t sell it on Amazon/Kindle). There are essentially three different ways you could use this content — the first is by offering it as a lead magnet; if you have another product or an affiliate marketing offer to promote, this could be a great strategy. The second is bundling it with other products/services to make the offer more enticing. And the third, and probably most obvious, is by just selling it on a platform such as Shopify, ClickFunnels, or Clickbank. I’d check out Lenny Banks for more about this model. 

4) Flipping Instagram Accounts
This is by far the sketchiest and probably one of the most saturated opportunities on the list. I’ve tried to mess around with this twice – once I lucked out big time, and another, I got the run-around by the seller. But I’ve seen it work for many people, so I figured I’d include it.

Here’s the model – you buy an active Instagram account within a specific niche. You could either run it for a few months and then sell it or flip it right away. Typically, you can find Telegram groups to buy accounts in, and then you could either try to sell it in another Telegram group or on a site such as Insta Sale

I’m by no means an expert on this, so seek professional advice (aka. YouTube videos or a $10 Udemey course) before doing this. A few things I do know you should be careful with when doing this;

  1. Always use a Middle Man – this person will facilitate the transaction and ensure you don’t get ripped off. Hire this person yourself rather than relying on the other party. 
  2. If you are buying with PayPal, buy it as a service rather than friends and family – won’t let the seller talk you out of this.
  3. When transferring ownership, make sure you don’t get locked out of accounts due to IP differences & that the original email address used to make the account is included in the sale. 
  4. Don’t buy accounts with less than 10,000 followers.
  5. Verify engagement – ensure followers aren’t bots and are from 1st world countries.

5) White-labeling software
This has got to be one of my favorite’s on the list. Most of the time, when I do this, I’m either using the tool internally or bundling it with another offer, but I’ve seen people sell software they’ve white-labeled independently.
 
This is when you use a marketplace like CodeCanyon to find a pre-built software, pay for it once, set it up on your hosting, hire a developer to make changes (if any), and then sell it. It’s not effortless, but with some hard work, you can get something going.

I’ve bought a variety of software (you could say I’m addicted) – I’ll share a handful of things I’ve snagged;

As you can see, if you messed with any of the demos, these are all great pieces of software. Here’s my advice to you — if you are going to go down this route, do one of three things;

  1. Niche down – Rather than trying to be the best website maker, become the website maker used by every small business owner used in your town of 20,000 or every salon owner. This would also allow you to promote specific products, including affiliate offers, on the backend. 
  2. Compete on price – Yup, I said it. I believe that 90% of the time, this is a horrible idea, but the fact is that your feature sets of a software you just bought for a hundred bucks aren’t going to compete with that of a company that spends millions every year on product teams. That’s ok – some companies thrive off this. In general, one doesn’t use Crisp because they love the feature set — they use it because they can’t afford Intercom.
  3. Bundle it with another offer – I know, I know, I keep saying this. But you may be able to combine multiple of these business models OR create an original product to bundle it with. 

If you don’t go down one of those three paths, you’ll have to make a lot of noise – a significant endorsement, an exciting marketing stunt, or a new feature not offered by a competitor. Even if your numbers work out at first, I guarantee your churn will be higher than competitors who spend millions on R&D. 

I hope at least one of these models interests you. I’d encourage you to do more research of your own on them. Let me know how they work out!

Yes, the link for Lenny Banks is an affiliate link – it’s not common I promote courses, and his course is exceptional. If you don’t get value out of it, he has a 14-day refund policy (I guarantee you his team will take good care of you, but if they don’t, email me personally, and I’ll make sure it’s sorted out). If you can’t afford his course, please don’t buy it — learn for free or with a Udemey course instead. The links for Service Provider Pro and Clickfunnels are affiliate links as well.