Today I’m excited to introduce you to Yaro Starak. You probably know our guest from his popular blog, Entrepreneur’s Journey where he teaches entrepreneurs how to build their business and online ventures. Yaro started using the Internet back in dial-up 1999 days during his time at University. He eventually started a hobby site earning upwards of $1,000 a month before launching a proofreading company where he pulled in 6-figures for doing a few hours of work a day. Today he’s helping lifestyle entrepreneurs start blogging, building sales funnels and selling products.
Born and raised in Australia, Yaro fell in love with the Internet back in 1999 when it was mostly news groups and basic websites. His website about “Magic; The Gathering” featured a fantasy card game he played professionally at tournaments. Its online advertising and ecommerce store eventually landed $1,000 monthly revenue in his pocket.
The venture didn’t pay his bills, but gave him exposure to figure out how to take payments online, getting traffic and building an online business. With a small taste of success, Yaro wanted to do something bigger and settled on a proofreading company he could easily scale as a middle man. Once it was set-up, he spent about two hours a day answering emails and administrative issues.
Yaro estimates he made $100,000 a year on that venture and put about $50,000 in his pocket after expenses. But he lost his passion for it and wanted something more. Around this time, he heard about blogging as a means to build search engine traffic. He didn’t know much about it, so installed one on his proofreading company to learn how it worked.
Quickly realizing how boring writing about proofreading was, Yaro learned enough to figure out how to build a blog and use a content management system. He decided to pick a more interesting topic to blog about and focused on entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs-Journey took off and attracted an audience as he blogged about making money online, getting traffic and building a lifestyle business.
Yaro says he was surprised Entrepreneurs-Journey became his main business and taught himself about copywriting, direct response and email marketing. He began building an income through Information publishing business and affiliate marketing while teaching courses.
Despite his success, Yaro reached burn-out and didn’t structure his sales funnels effectively. So in 2011, he closed down outdated courses and focused on running a software company. Yaro realized he missed creating content and products and felt frustrated by his long 12-hour days with minimal input in the creative process.
He also knew he didn’t want to take money from investors to push the company forward. Yaro realized he was a lifestyle entrepreneur at heart and how good he had it working on information products and blogging with an engaged community around him.
Yaro stepped back into Entrepreneurs Journey full time and made a commitment to create a series of front-end products and reopening old courses. He knew he didn’t want to hawk other people’s products and wanted a community rallying around his own work. Now he’s updating and rereleasing flagship products, creating new ones and helping entrepreneurs become information product leaders in their own niche.
Entrepreneurs Journey emphasizes income diversity and working on a range of products and services if you want to scale to 6-figures and beyond. You simply can’t hit 100k with a $30 ebook. And because you can’t meet the demands of all your customers in one product, Yaro releases high end products catering to the diverse needs of his customers.
Yaro’s current financial goal is to double his income back form his peak years: $500,000. Although the money is an incentive, he admits he would teach entrepreneurship even if he only has 10 customers. Part of that reason is his love of teaching, but the bigger catalyst is to leverage his superstar students’ stories as part of his sales funnel and marketing efforts.
He estimates it will probably take 2 years to hit his million dollar goal, but knows he’ll have to increase his traffic to get there. But he’s also cautious about next steps. Yaro’s focus is more about lifestyle design than becoming a multi-millionaire. He sees what happens when entrepreneurs get on the treadmill where they want more and more money and attract the stress that comes with it. The bigger your business, the more people and variables you need to oversee.
Yaro is an introvert and doesn’t see himself with a team of 30. He prefers keeping his sights on a cool million and enjoying his travel and freedom instead. He also sees being the CEO of a startup as a young man’s game. A lifestyle business can accommodate a family and even a full-time job. He doesn’t see that being possible running a high-tech growth startup.
There’s huge differences in time commitments and physical demands between lifestyle entrepreneurship and running a startup. With lifestyle design, bloggers can attract an audience and focus on email as a direct response mechanism. Writing a few emails can earn $300,000 a year from writing one blog post a week, writing emails and launching products.
As a startup founder, entrepreneurs sacrifice their time, body and relationships. Yaro doesn’t see one being better or worse than the other, but says his personality is better suited for information products. He points out both mediums use same principles, from marketing, growth hacking techniques, email marketing and technology.
Building a sales funnel
Getting started building a funnel all depends on your end goal and what you want to achieve. Although such funnels are more common to blogging, Yaro says more tech companies are thinking about the onboarding process and getting people on their email list. He recommends focusing on lean startup principles and figuring out what part of your company is most important and the fastest way to get a product to market.
Tech companies can leverage educational webinars to help address their potential clients needs and familiarize them with the product. From here, Yaro recommends segmenting your email list and using different information and sales tactics depending on if people bought or didn’t buy. The overarching concept is to drill down your list.
Yaro says bloggers probably already have 3 or 4 products just sitting in their archives waiting to be turned into an information product. He hired a contract editor to take 20 blog posts, put in a sequence with pictures and table of contents and edit it into a resource. He then took a final pass, added some bonuses and released it for sale.
After 10 years of blogging and selling products, Yaro still loves the creation process. He also believes he’ll build a better business and will live longer than his CEO counterparts with less stress in his life and the ability to still make a lot of money. He points to multi-million dollar companies like Lynda as a way growth hackers and startups can look at information products in a more lucrative light.
Whether you’re looking for side income, a six-figure business or hitting the million dollar mark, the end advice is the same. Focus on your strengths and what you’re actually good at.
“Mastery: Robert Green” – The sequel to “The 48 Laws of Power” and based on Robert Greene’s research while writing his best sellers. He analyzed the lives of greats like Charles Darwin, Benjamin Franklin, tech guru Paul Graham.
Webinar Jam – A front-end marketing machine for Google HangOuts developed for marketers.
Go to Webinar – Host a professional webinar from your home office or anywhere else.
Ontraport – An automated marketing automation software formerly known as Office Autopilot
Eric: Hi everyone. Welcome to this week’s edition of Growth Everywhere where we interview entrepreneurs and bring you business and personal growth tips. Today we have Yaro Starak from Entrepreneur’s Journey. Yaro is a well-known internet marketer and entrepreneur that has grown several ventures and has a pretty popular blog on how to grow your business. Yaro, how’re you doing today?
Yaro: I’m good Eric. How are you?
Eric: Good. Thanks for joining us. So Yaro, why don’t we start off with your background first and then we’ll go from there.
Yaro: Yeah, sure. I was born and raised in Australia although I have Canadian parents, hence Canadian accent. Got on the internet as part of my university studies so I didn’t have any connections before that. I was more of a Nintendo and Sega kid. Then when I started university I got my dial-up account and fell in love with the internet.
That was really the first taste I ever had of, basically, 1999 type internet; news groups, basic websites, no social media, no video, no blogs, or anything like that but, read a lot, fell in love with it, and then wanted to get into internet marketing and have some kind of on-line business.
The first thing I did was start a hobby web-site about a card game I played at the time called “Magic; The Gathering” which any of the geeks will know is a fantasy card game that also has a professional tournament series, a bit like poker. I was a competitive player during my high school days [and] the first year of university. I sort of stopped playing after that, but I started my first website about that card game and it became a money maker. It was a small hobby sort of business. I made a bit of money from advertising and eventually I launched a little e-commerce store on that website as well.
Not a lot of money; $500 a month, a $1000 a month, but I really got a lot of basic training in internet marketing; how to get traffic, how to take payments online, you know, back then it was sometimes just cash sent in the mail; and really learn the ins and outs of how to market an online business which led me to want to do something bigger. That’s when I kept looking for more ideas and eventually settled on a proof-reading company.
My goal with that was to have a business that could scale without me doing the work. I connected proof readers and editors with university students in what I call the many- to-many business model. It’s almost like e-bay where you have many people selling things and many people who are buying things and you’re the middle man and you can scale. That’s what I did with that company. That was my first full-time income business.
Eventually I made about $100,000 a year in sales and I kept about a half of that after paying the editors and the proof-readers. So, it was a good business. Again, it taught me a whole lot. It was a great life-style business. It didn’t require many hours to run it once it was set up. It was literally an hour a day, just check the emails and make sure things were working. That was the job actually, forwarding emails between editors and proof-readers.
Great business, but the problem with it, I just lost my passion for it. I loved setting it up, but I reached the point where I didn’t want to grow it anymore. However, it was my bread and butter, my income so I kept it going and it was around this time that someone told me blogs were good. We’re talking 2004 and someone said blogs were good for search engine traffic. I had no idea what a blog was, in fact, when you hear the word blog you think “It’s just a website. It looks like a website. I don’t see the difference.”
So, to learn what blogging was I stole one from my proof-reading company and it was really hard to write about proof-reading, is the short answer. It’s a really boring subject, so that blog was short-lived, but I did get to experience what the blogging tool is like; the ability to have comments and you write posts in chronological order and some cute little neat tricks like that. The blogs were different from–back then standard websites were just like brochures. There wasn’t a lot of updating going on. It was very basic content.
From that point I decided to start a blog about just my interest in entrepreneurship. It was purely meant to be a hobby. I registered this very long winded domain name with a hyphen in it. Called it Entrepreneurs-Journey.com which is not the greatest domain name especially now that we know more about how to choose a good domain name. But I was still very new to all of this. I started writing about a subject that we all love and by then, having run the proof-reading company, the card game store, and had various other projects, I had a lot to tell stories about. That’s what the blog was.
I told stories about what I’d been doing, how I got attracted to websites, how I made money, just different things as an entrepreneur, and it took off, which was surprising. I didn’t really see it becoming my main business, but I built an audience and I started learning around the same time about direct response internet marketing with things like email marketing and copy-writing.
I started following a lot of the guys like Frank Kern, John Reese, and Eben Pagan and eventually Chuck Nyren, Jeff Walker, and I was also following the bloggers, like Darren Rowse, Brian Clark; these guys were doing great things with blogging. I was combining what I was learning from them. To cut this story, which could get quite long.
Eric: Keep going.
Yaro: It turned into my main business. I sold off everything else I was doing. I discovered a love for writing. I discovered a love for teaching. I turned the blog into to an information publishing business. I started making money, of course from advertising, and also billing and marketing, but also became a teacher of courses and ready info products which got me beyond $100,000 a year to multiple $100,000, to half a million a year, then after a few years I made over a million dollars thanks to this blogging business that I thought would be just a hobby to start with.
It’s what I still do today. I’ve gone around a bit and I’ve had a start-up at one stage too, but I’m still in the world of blogging and helping other people break free from a job by starting their blog and selling digital products and services. That’s what I pretty much do today.
Eric: Interesting. Entrepreneur’s Journey, you said, made you a million bucks in a few years. How much annually does it generate for you right now?
Yaro: You caught me at an interesting point because, as I said, I had a startup, in 2011 I had this great run, 2009, 2010, 2011 where I was just launching a bunch of products. I had some great courses. I had over 2000 students go through them all, but I reached this point of burnout.
I had this plan to do more information marketing, but I hadn’t really structured my funnel very well. I just launched these big courses. I didn’t have different courses. I had a flagship course and that was kind of it. I knew I could do a lot more with sales funnels marketing, but I was burned out. I’d already spent a lot of time creating these courses and I’d been blogging, by then, five years. It was really starting to drag on me and I wanted a startup. It was as simple as that.
I got caught up in the bigger multimillion dollar startup buyouts with all the apps going around and all their stories. I had this idea for a startup for a long time and I decided, “I’ve got enough cash in the bank now.” I traveled the world in 2008 so I decided to check that box. I bought some property. Everything was going good and I thought, “Now’s a great time to do the startup.” I started in 2011 and I closed down my courses because they were getting outdated and I felt like that was the right thing to do. I didn’t want to sell out dated products.
I kept blogging and maintained my income from the blog. It wasn’t quite as large without the courses. I lost a pretty big chunk of income, but I still made in excess of $100,000 a year from the blog and it was a very easy to maintain income. You write once a week and send some emails and do newsletters and still do quite well if you have an audience. So, my focus went to the startup, which was a great experience, but it didn’t become a profitable business.
I spent about two years devoting the majority of my new energy towards this software startup and it was frustrating because I wasn’t in charge of creating products like a software developer. I was just sort of more the CEO type role and that was a completely different experience. As a blogger I created the product, I created the content, it was in my control.
I finally got frustrated because I couldn’t do that with the software company. It was much slower. We only got to create about 10% of the vision for the product that I wanted. And then we reached the point where we realized we had to get investment money and go hard or we close it down and I didn’t want the responsibility of taking a bunch of money from people on a business ideas. I wasn’t really prepared to put in twelve hour days like a lot of startups guys do. I was over that.
I’m kind of a life-style entrepreneur, two hours here, two hours there, so I didn’t want to take a million dollars from people and then they would see me sitting in cafés for a couple of hours and think that’s how I worked. Then, to bring us up to today, I closed down the startup with my partner and that was about a year and a half, two years ago now.
I reached this point where I was like, “Okay. What will I do next?” and I felt rejuvenated. It was the one silver lining from the startup is that I really came to appreciate how good a business information marketing and blogging is, how it suits my personality really well like; I like to write, I like to be an expert in a field and having a small community around me, and I enjoy being the creator of a product. And I also felt there was a big opportunity in the sense that I hadn’t gone as far as I could.
There was a lot of potential that I wanted to realize with the sales funnel, that I mentioned before, which simply meant that I had products that I needed to get out there and I knew people would want. I made this commitment that I was going to create a series of front-end products and I would re-open my main flagship courses and then I would create some new courses as well. And you caught me in the middle of executing that process.
I finished the four front-end products, but to put this in context to your original question, after the end of the startup I had taken all the ads off my blog, because I was trying to experiment with traffic growth. My traffic had fallen and I was concerned it was because of advertising. I got it back up to where it was and because of the decision to take off the advertising my income obviously had dropped.
I stopped doing affiliate promotions heavily because I just got tired of promoting other people’s products, sending emails to push other people’s stuff and as a result of this whole experience coming back to information marketing. And also because the internet’s become a much more crowded space I decided I really wanted to be about digital products and services and selling my own stuff.
I really get a lot of satisfaction from selling content that I create; reports that I write, courses that I create, coaching that I do. It’s a lot more satisfying to know that someone’s paying money for my creation. Not that I have anything against the bill-end marketing, but at the end of the day I’m just hocking someone else’s stuff. And with advertising it’s the same situation. You’re bringing people to your site and then they’re leaving, clicking an ad, and that’s how you’re making money, which. I like the idea of a community around my work. It’s really rewarding me.
So, part of the decision to re-focus has resulted in a big chunk of income begin taken away from me so I went down to sort of bare bones, $4000, $5000 a month kind of level. That was two years ago. Now that I’ve re-opened I’ve created front-end products, maybe $10,000 a months is coming in, but these are low priced products we’re talking about, a $30 dollar course on guides and I’ve got an Interviews Club which is $30 a month. These are deliberately meant to be lower priced products to get people into my world, basically, but then to become customers.
Eric: The tripwire, right?
Yaro: Actually I do the tripwire technique, but certainly the traditional sales funnel. I’m trying to introduce them to my world with a very high quality product at a low price. So, it’s meant to be less than the price can be, not quite the $7 tripwire formula, but similar in concept. I’m more a follower of Claude Brown. He likes the $29 product because it’s still enough. It’s the cost of a book, it’s what you pay for a book. And that’s what I’ve gotten out of these.
I’ve created the products that I’ve always wanted to have. I’ve done things like buying and selling websites in the past, so I wanted to have a guide on that. I love mindset and productivity, I just didn’t have any products on that so I created a “Mindset and Productivity Guide”, plus I’ve done podcast interviews, what we’re doing now, for many, many years. I wanted to have a product that was about the same things so I created an Interviewer’s Club as well.
All that’s done and right now I’m preparing to re-launch my flagship courses, Blog Mastermind and memberships of Mastermind and those are $1000 programs. As you can imagine your income tends to jump when you’ve got the higher end products. It’s been a deliberate decision to go with the smaller income for the last year and a half. We had money in the bank. It wasn’t like I needed to rush towards getting back to the big numbers.
I really wanted to build a funnel and it’s kind of one of those things where you have to have the pieces of the puzzle in order to create the whole picture. So, I realized that I’m just going to have to be patient and slowly build this and I expect within a year, once the backend is there I can really start to do the proper automated sales funnel process with email sequences leading people from blog to email newsletter to front end products to upsells to continuity, subscriptions, coaching, back-end courses, the high-end coaching. I’ve got a good vision for that I’d really like to execute. And that’s what I’m teaching my students too.
I really think as a blogger today you have to get specific about who you help and what you’re helping with and then go deep. You’ve got to have this range of products and services if you want to get to the six figures and beyond mark because, as I’m experiencing, you can’t do it with a $30 e-book. That’s for sure. You’re going to have the higher end stuff and you should have it because people want it. At the end of the day you can’t meet the needs of all your customers with just one product. You’re going to have to have a range to meet all those different demands. That’s where I’m at now. Not as much money as I’ve made in the past, but deliberately so.
Eric: Got it. What do you think you’re going to be making a month? You’re making 10K now, but when you have your funnel complete what do you think you’re going to be making by that point?
Yaro: It’s hard to say. My own actual goal is to double to do what I did in my peak years. I was doing half a million a year back then and that was with not much effort. It’s kind of scary. When you have the materials and you have a consistent audience I would do a launch two or three times a year and I actually start sending out the same emails. It was incredible. You do one good launch and then you can do it six months later with the same emails to people. You make a $100,000 from each launch because you’re selling a $500 course or two $500 courses, which I was selling at one stage.
You have to realize, you’ve got new people discovering you over that six month period. That’s why this works. They’re brand new to what you’re doing and they haven’t gone through the course yet so they’re eager to learn this stuff. I guess I always want to manage my own expectations so I don’t want to say “I expect to make “this” much money. I guarantee.” What I present to myself is that I will teach these courses even if I only have ten customers.
Honestly, if I have ten people in the program I will go through and create them, I expect to have more, but I’m doing it because I love teaching this stuff as well. And the beautiful thing about the situation I’m in is I’ve had people go through my programs who have actually gone on and had success. It’s been long enough that there’s these ten, to fifteen, to twenty people who are shining stars as graduates of my programs and this is something I’ve not had in the past. I’ve got these people who I can put out there and say, “See, this stuff works.
This guy is making $30,000 grand a month. This girl’s making half a million a year. This woman is traveling around Europe with her family and she hasn’t gone home in six years based on the income she’s making on line. These people took my coaching program and applied that.”
That kind of proof is very powerful. We all know that “before and after’s” are one of the most powerful forms of marketing. You really believe something when it’s not just the person selling it who’s gotten a result, it’s his or her’ students, or customers, clients, whatever it is, actually getting the results too. I’ve gotten that now and I know the right people who put in the effort that that kind of result’s possible. It was good for my own self-confidence to find these people and see that they did the work and now they’re making the money and they’ve got these great blogs and great businesses.
So, I plan to really market heavily with them. I already have gone and seen them all and I’ve got case studies of them and they’re going to be heavily involved with my email marketing campaigns for these courses. Like I said, the goals is to get to a million a year in the next, probably two years. I know to reach that point I’ll need to increase traffic.
Today I will very likely be going Facebook advertising, and e-webinars as a conversion tool because it’s going so well for so many people. Right now I don’t. I’m kind of half proud of the fact that I was able to get to half a million a year without ever buying any ads. That’s pretty amazing, but I’m realistic. If I want to go to a million a year, five million, whatever it is I feel like is enough, then—it’s about volume.
You need to reach more people and I can only reach a certain number of people with my existing blog, but there’s so many more people out there you could reach. But I’m cognizant of the need to build a converting platform first. There really is a strategy behind this. You have to build a funnel. It really is. You have to make sure your costs convert, you have to make sure you have a good product so you don’t have a high refund rate, you have to teach them, create them first as well, create the sales pages for them, create these email sequences and do all that work as well as create a great earning webinar, if you’re going to do webinar marketing. And then you go and buy the traffic.
You don’t buy the traffic and hope it will rise. It’s create something that converts then go out there and get the traffic for it. That’s kind of where I see it going. But I really want to be clear about something, I’ve never been about the big numbers as the primary goal. I’ve always been more about life-style design then about multi-millionaire, mainly because I’ve seen what happens to people when they get on that treadmill of, “Well, I’m making a half a million dollars I want to make a million. I’m making a million and now I want two. Now I’m making two and I want ten. I’m making ten now I want fifty.”
You always have another level you can reach. Things tend to get really stressful at the big numbers because you have to hire people and in my experience the more variables, especially when it comes to hiring, the more stressful a business you have. There’s only so much outsourcing and hiring that you can get away with that to have a small business at some point you have to get really significantly involved with a lot of other people and to me that, I’m an introvert. I don’t see myself having this team of thirty people. It’s just a cause of stress. I like the freedom.
I actually think it’s hard to spend a million dollars a year as an individual unless you’re the kind of person, of course, that wants to buy the jet and the really big top end of the stuff. I’m quite happy with the ability to travel, having that sort of freedom, but you can throw five grand a month in accommodation you can live anywhere in really good style. You can Airbnb it and I sit in café’s with my laptop and that’s the kind of life-style I want. I don’t want to go and have to an office, even my own office. That’s really important to me so deliberately keeping things small and elegant is a big part of the process. That’s why I’m looking at using email more than people as a way to automate and grow. That’s a primary concern for me.
Eric: It’s really interesting, a lot of people, you talk a little bit about a life-style business and other people talk about growth businesses where they run a startup and you start to scale really quickly, you get VC funding, you pour money into ads and all of that. Can you explain the difference between a lifestyle business and a growth business?
Yaro: They’re very different actually. I’ve done both. My startup was designed to go after that massive growth multimillion dollar exit. In fact my partner with that startup is now in San Francisco. He went to the 500 Startups [crosstalk 00:24:46] his next startup and he went through Start Make here in Australia to get to the States so he is really and truly is in that world. And man, it’s stressful. The guy is sleeping two hours a night and working really hard.
I think it’s a young person’s game to begin with, to be a CEO of that kind of startup; where a life-style business; you can do it with the kids and the husband and the wife and even the full-time job. There’s a lot of people get started and they do it at night or in the mornings and you couldn’t do that with a startup. In terms of a high-growth tech startup you’re not going to be able—well, you won’t get funding because nobody will give you money if you’ve still got a full-time job for starters. That’s just ridiculous.
But as a life-style entrepreneur you’re trying to create an income stream that’s very high leverage, low labor, near passive, I don’t think you can be pure passive, but certainly near passive. I experienced that from the get go because that was my goal; avoid the 9a.m to 5 pm job. I saw startups and I was very excited to be involved with one, but I noticed that because of my own personality, I’m a big fan of what’s called the alternating rhythm and energy management.
Eben Pagan talks a lot about this and he talks about other people who teach about the alternating rhythm, which simply means that your body has all these two hour cycles attached to it. So you’ve got the circadian rhythm, your sleep cycle in twenty-four hours or two lots of twelve hours. The alternating rhythm are different parts of your body that function in two hour bursts and the studies show that you have a serious degradation in the quality of your work after two hours of concentrated work.
It’s almost like you’re silly to try to force your body to do more after two hours. You need to actually significantly change tasks and use different parts of your body to rest the other part. That’s the key part, is resting. It’s how you recuperate in order to work some more. And I found, having grown up really watching how my body feels, I did notice that, I spent two hours in front of the computer writing code to design a website and my end was fried after that, so I always change tasks. I would go from writing to cooking, to exercising to reading, to socializing to working again, to sitting in cafes to walking. Just keep breaking things up.
That really doesn’t lend itself well to a high-tech growth startup. You have to be prepared to sit in an office, even your garage, whatever it is, twelve hours a day and if you’re a code monkey, you just doing that – I couldn’t do that. That’s not my strength, that’s for sure. But even as a CEO, manager marketer role I couldn’t do those long hours to make it work. I might have pushed myself when I was in my early twenties just because that’s what you do in your early twenties, but certainly not today I wouldn’t do it.
It’s different goals, different lifestyle choices, do you want to really go hard on one thing, and devote—to basically get out of whack, out of balance for the sake of your startup? Or are you looking to create basically an income stream that you can spend two hours a day to maintain it once [it’s] built.
Like my proof-reading business, the first one I had, it was really, once it was established, I built the website, I hired an admin assistant, I hired the contract editors, I had emails come in because I had a bit of traffic from search engines and I put up posters on campus. That was my main job actually, putting up posters in campuses. The work, once the admin assistant was hired was almost nothing, was literally two hours a week. I just had to respond to questions that she couldn’t answer, but she would forward the emails between the clients and editors and I found myself with a lot of time.
In fact it was kind of challenging back then because I didn’t know what else to do with my life having created this income stream that paid my bills and I had almost every day free. It was like–well I had more ambition so I decided I wanted to go out and make more money at that point because I wasn’t making enough in the proof-reading company, but that carried forward and when I grew the blogging business, once the blog was established and once my email list was established I reached this point where, to be absolutely honest, I was trying to emulate those email marketers that I mentioned earlier, like the direct response guys.
I remember hearing stories how they would write an email and make $30 grand, which $30 grand would just come back to them after writing one email. And I was like, “That sound’s really good.” What a great situation where you’re just writing emails and you make money. That was the point when I added email marketing to my blog. And through that combination; of the blog to grow the relationships and attract people to my email list, and the email list as the direct response mechanism, I was able to basically write one, or two, or three emails and have $10 thousand to $20 thousand come back, and my own launches to have a $100,000 to $150,000 come back.
Besides a few concentrated periods like during the launches and teaching the courses, for the majority of the year you eventually would just write one blog post a week, write one email a week, maybe two, and you’re pulling in $300 grand a year from that effort. That’s pretty good. What else do you want to do with your life? That’s when you actually start wondering. Some people just want to grow a bigger business, some people want to learn guitar, some people want to travel, [and] some people want to be with their kids.
It’s really up to you, but it’s about having a life-style that enables the power of choice. I think the tech startups it’s more about throwing yourself into something that intentionally could lead to the kind of money you never need to worry about work again. But you kind of sacrifice a lot of things in your life in terms of your body, your health, certainly your time, your friends, relationships, and that’s fine for some people. I see where they’re coming from. I would have been happy to have done that when I was younger as well.
But it’s two different types of people that, strangely enough, they all use the same principles. We’re all using the same marketing, always using the same growth hacking techniques to get customers and clients and reach people. We should also be using the same email marketing and copywriting and technology and all the same tools and that, it’s just the goals are slightly different, and the strategy is different. The tactics are the same.
Eric: Totally. I originally started out as an affiliate marketer and went into the tech startup world. It’s totally different. Everything you said, you’re working ten to twelve hours, I was working seven days a week, and it’s just like, Man this is – You feel like you’re making an impact, but at the same time it’s “What am I doing to my body.” like you said. So, you’re totally right.
Let’s dive a little bit into building a funnel because everything, like I mentioned to you, when you’re with a tech startup you have all this VC funding, they want you to go, go, go. Let’s get some paid ads and let’s go. No one ever talks about, especially in a tech world, you don’t talk a lot about funnels, [and] you don’t talk about copywriting. This is a long winded question, it’s a loaded question actually. How do you get started building a funnel?
Yaro: It depends on your goal as always, on what you’re trying to achieve before you do anything. What I found interesting is a lot of tech companies are starting to realize that the whole onboarding process is email driven. It really is about getting people onto the list and then getting them to use the software platform through the email marketing process and getting good at segmentation too.
Does a person register for an account and not use the service? Send them these emails. Does a person register an account and use the service but then stops after two weeks or only uses half the service? Then send them this sequence of emails. It’s really about segmentation targeting and making sure you’re sending the right messages to the right people at the right time.
That takes a while. You have to start to think about where the holes are and what you’re doing and what’s the 80/20 rule? I really believe in the power of that. Looking where the lowest hanging fruit is. What’s the part of your company that’s the most important that you could target your funnel on. For a software company I think one of the primary things is asking yourself first; are you doing any email marketing.
The idea with the funnel is; get people first to engage, then start to break them off into branches based on actions, and that’s what you always do. In my case with information marketing it’s pretty straight forward. You get people on to some sort of free based email list, giving them a free report, or writing a sequence of emails, or it could be a webinar for a lot of people, and then you’re trying to get them to buy a product, some will, some won’t.
Those who buy a product then go on to the “I want” the product list which will then send them a sequence of messages that takes them to the higher end products. I think for tech startups one of the best examples I could talk about is webinars. I think a lot of tech startups, especially if you’re a web based application, not necessarily a mobile one, but a web based one you might do an educational based webinar to introduce people to the whole concept that you help solve and you get people to how you solved it, so what you’re tool does.
And then the webinar itself is kind of like the central marketing piece that you can define everything else about your front end funnel on. Simplest examples are: send messages to people who complete the webinar – well, there’s different layers, there’s the people who finished the webinar and bought, people who finished the webinar and didn’t buy, people who only made it to a certain point in the webinar and bought, and didn’t buy.
So you just have these channels that you send different information to. If they made it to the end of the webinar and didn’t buy, you send them this sequence that addresses the biggest reasons why people don’t sign up for your service. You are probably becoming aware of the roadblocks, the questions going on in their head that are stopping them from making the decision to buy. You just address them one by one through the email sequence, bearing in mind they’ve already gone to the webinar so they know the basics. You don’t have to teach them that part anymore.
If they’ve only made it through the halfway point then you might be sending them the replay of the webinar. You say, “Hey we notice you didn’t finish the webinar. Here’s the replay. Make sure you watch this point because it’s really important.” And then you follow up with them after that. Then there’s the people who buy. Obviously you’re trying to get them to use the tool.
They’ve watched the webinar, buy at the end of it at some point, went through it, you send them all this “Welcome” information and then you’re monitoring them for interaction with what you’ve created and then you send them different new materials based on whether they’re actually using the tools you have available. You can show them. You can go as granular as you like with this.
But, like I said, it’s about choosing the goals and then deciding what the 80/20 goal [is], the one that drives your income. It’s almost always getting people to actually engaged and then dealing with the rejection points, whatever it is that stops people from buying and making sure your addressing them through email, through blog posts, through videos, through podcasts, things like this and keeping them engaged with your work.
And email’s just a carrier. It’s just a transmitter of the information. Like I said, you can do this endlessly, but if you drill down, make sure you have a list and if anything, two lists, the buyers and the non-buyers, that’s the starting point. You don’t have that you’re doing something wrong.
Eric: Okay. Cool. That’s interesting. I didn’t know that you could actually segment your emails based on people reaching a certain point in a webinar. I’m not sure which software does that. Why don’t we kick this off! So, what’s an important software that helps you? What do you use to help you build your funnels and we’ll go from there?
Yaro: Well, I’m not a webinar user yet but I do know Webinar Jam is one tool that combines with Google Hangouts. Obviously people know Go-To- Webinar. It’s been a de-facto webinar tool. I’m pretty sure you can get some plug-ins that will allow whatever email marketing platform you use to integrate with Go-to-Webinar to pick drop off points and send certain messages depending on what they do or don’t do.
I do know that Webinar Jams does that by default. It will tell you and you can then say “Subscribe people to this list if they dropped off early, subscribe them to this list if they made it to the end” and so on. And that’s just a piece of software that’s on top of Google’s free Hangouts on the Air tools. That’s pretty cool.
There’s a few tools though. There’s an area that’s becoming more and more crowded with options so I’m sure you can look around. I do like Webinar Jam though. I use Office Autopilot or Ontraport, as it’s changed its name, and that’s my email marketing, customer relationship management, shopping cart, all in one, membership management, it really does everything for me and it’s quite powerful in terms of segmentation rules.
You can trigger a lot of different rules based on does a person click a link or not click a link. For example, something simple. I can send [someone] and email and if they click the link they’ll go into one sequence of messages. If they don’t click the link in the email they go on to another. So, they might be opting for the free report but they didn’t click the download button in the email they got to give them the free report, so then you can say, “Here’s why you’re not doing it. Here it is. Make sure you read page ten because it has this.” until they click the link and they move on and actually downloaded the report button.
Me personally, I spend more time on follow-up sequences that are segmented based on content type. I have front end products that are about certain subjects; buying and selling websites, blog traffic, mindset and productivity, and those are different needs. So a person who already has a blog will probably be more interested in traffic where a person who’s just getting started might want to buy something, a buying and selling guide is relevant.
I have these three email courses that you can opt into that will take you through a series of blog posts specifically related to that subject and then an automated mini-launch occurs in the second week after they join the sequence. The first week I’m saying, “Here’s some information about blog traffic. Sign up to join the blog traffic list.” Second week, “Here’s the guide. I’m running a special for this week only if you want to grab it. Be one of my subscribers.”
And then I might stop it there and some of my lists I’ll have another two weeks after that of more information and another chance to join. So, I’m using launch techniques in the sense that there’s scarcity, emergency, or discount price with a deadline, and that’s all happening through automated email sequences, but those sequences stop the minute they buy or the minute they complete the action. In my case, if they buy the guide they’re moved off the free traffic sequence and on to the “I bought the guide” sequence.
And then the next step would be to send them an onboarding type of email sequence for the product because you don’t know whether they bought the product and used it. You obviously want them to use it. So you would then have a sequence of emails that highlights some of the best stuff in the product.
You might throw in some bonuses that weren’t advertised prior to that, and once you’ve made sure they’ve engaged with the product, you can move on to actually upselling the higher end course and things like that. There’s a lot of tricks and techniques in terms of tagging people and flagging them and putting them in from one sequence to the next. We could do an entire interview the power within the tool like Ontraport.
Infusionsoft does a similar thing. It’s also very powerful. There’s quite a few out there. In my world Ontraport and Infusionsoft are the main two that people use in the email marketing / blogger world. It’s quite powerful. It’s beyond, for example, an Aweber or a Get Response which are email auto responders which can do a lot of moving people from one list to the other and that sort of segmentation, but they’re not all in one tools. They don’t have the shopping cart function, or the membership site function, or all that sort of customer relationship management so it’s a different step up, but you’re paying more for it as well. It really depends on where you’re at.
I recommend beginners go to something like AWeber or Get Response and then graduate to a bigger platform. Outside of that there are so many tools now for doing this kind of segmentation and the thing is it happens at all levels. You’ve got split-testing on your website copy, getting them to opt in to the actual free lists to begin with. Then you’ve got the management of the list, and you’ve got the split-testing of the copy for the product being sold, there’s so much stuff you can do you really have to get good at the 80/20 rule.
This, for me, is such a guiding principle because there’s too much you can do and I need to make sure that I’m picking tasks that make a difference and give me clarity because I need to discard a bunch of stuff otherwise I get overwhelmed so I pick the most important things based on my strengths.
I’m a good content grader so I’ll always spend my time on tasks that are more about giving people content and using that to make sales even if I don’t have the best headline, for example, on my opt in forms, or on my sales page that having spent a lot of split-testing time there, but I go where my strengths are and as the business grows you can get more of that stuff done, but like I told you before I’m in the middle of building this funnel app. That’s where I’m at now.
Eric: Okay. Cool. So, key take away from the audience, we got launch report right here and we got Webinar Jam as sort of main one and there’s a thousand other tools. When it comes to creating all these—you’re creating all these information products, you talked about getting burnt out before. How long does it take you to create a course for example?
Yaro: It depends on what size. Those courses that burnt me out they were $500 programs, they were six month training courses. They weren’t super huge. One of them was 27 lessons, each lesson was 3000 words plus those videos and I made audio versions of them. It’s kind of like writing half a book, I guess in that sense, but that might sound daunting for some people, but as a blogger you can bang out 2000 words in an hour. I
t’s about sitting down there and getting it done. The good thing about what I do is you can create 10% of a course, then launch it, get customers in, make some money, and get paid to create the rest of it, and also create the rest of it with the first group of students so they’re actually giving you feedback as well. The guides that I recently released are the lower priced front end products.
I made use of content report quite heavily in that so actually having written the blog for almost ten years now, about six or seven years when I started thinking about doing this, I went through my blog and said, “You know I can take these ten articles and that can be the basis of the guide. I’ve got enough content there. I had to edit them together and write some new stuff, but there’s probably 70% of the content already there, which was a pretty big deal.
Any person who’s listening to this who is already a content producer you’ve probably got three or four products in your archives ready if you spend the time to put them together. I hired a contract editor to do that for me. I said, “Here, take these ten, twenty blogs posts, put them in a sequence, let’s get some table of content, put some pictures, do your best to edit it together, bring it to me, I’ll do a final edit, I’ll add to it where it needs to be added, I’ll change it.”
So, it’s a bit more than just ten blog posts linked together, but that’s the basis of the report. Then I created some bonuses so it was a lot quicker this time around to create these resources. I basically created three e-guides, fourteen interviews, six action plans, and another six bonuses to go with the three e-guides. That’s four products. That took me probably about a year to do it all. Bearing in mind that I was still running my blog, traveling a little, moving to Melvin, moving back to Brisbane, went to Sidney for a while. It’s not like a full-time occupation by any means, but it’s a former private product creation.
I really think that’s something that you have to get good at if you’re an information marketer. Growth hackers get really good at lead testing. That’s one of the things that startups have to be good at. You’ve got to get your MVP, you’ve got to be lean, I think is the most important thing, and that’s what information marketers have to do to. You have to pick what’s the quickest path to get a product to market.
Often the quickest path is actually just sell a product before you have it and that’s something you can often do. You can sell coaching tomorrow if you just put a page up and say, “Hey, I’m a coach” and put a buy button next to it. Then you can record that, turn that into an information product and away you go. There’s always leaner ways to do things if you ask yourself.
I’m still trying to perfect this process myself. I look at what’s slowing me down, what’s taking too long right now? And I go, “My sales pages are taking too long. I need to speed up that process. I know I’m putting too much effort because I don’t need the kind of sales pages I’m using.” A lot of it comes down to personal preference and not actual smart decision making, so bottom line, it doesn’t help business but I like having a free sales page. So that’s an area where I can definitely get faster and leaner and do more with.
That’s really important for every entrepreneur whether you’re a life-style or a startup or a blogger. I’ve been doing it, but it’s something you can spend as long as you need to satisfy your customer. At the end of the day you have to put something out that your customer actually gets a result with. So, that can be a six month course or it can be a ten page report.
You only know until you start serving your people and to your target what level of sophistication they’re at, what they’re doing, how they’re currently doing it, what’s stopping them from getting it right. Getting to really know your customer is always the first step, finding the needs, and the wants, and the sophistication of their current situation. It gives you the intelligence to make the right product and you can define everything from that point forward.
Eric: Okay. Great. Do you happen to have a course, like a funnel blueprint or something that you could share with the audience? Maybe I can link it as well.
Yaro: The funny thing is bloggers have not been very good at creating funnels. It’s primarily and advertising platform. People build these magazines and they put ads on them. That’s what blogging has been. So, not a lot of bloggers are sophisticated information marketers. Because when I started selling products I think I was one of the first people who actually, as a blogger, relied heavily on email marketing, launches, information products.
There’s a lot of guys who had blogs, had advertising, did affiliate marketing, even sold e-books, but they would just write a blog post and sell their e-book. There was no launch process, there was no e-mail marketing. It’s come a long way since then. Certainly people are more sophisticated, but a lot of people don’t really build out funnels.
My second flagship training course, which is not available, it will probably be out the second half [or] quarter towards Christmas time this year once I finish my blogging one, that’s what I really want to focus on. So, I’ve got these two programs; Blog Mastermind is about setting up the blogs, setting up the email list, using it to sell your first digital product or service. That’s like your basic funnel; Funnel 10. And the second course Membership Mastermind is about building out the digital delivery of a range of products and services, and the emails and sequences to move people through the sequence.
The short answer is there’s not something I can send you right now, depending on when people to watch this, later in 2014. The best thing to do, and I’m actually about to read through and edit and sending out the new version of my free report, “The Blogs Profit Blueprint”. That is, by far, the best entry level for the whole subject of selling products and service using a blog and email list. You can easily grab that at blogprofitsblueprint.com or google my name Yaro, Y-A-R-O. That’s the easiest way to find me.
Eric: Got it. Okay. Cool. We’ll be definitely looking for that. Let me know when that thing’s up and we’ll definitely link to it and promote it as well. Cool. In regards to, I guess we’ll wrap it up with a few more questions here. What’s one piece of advice you’d give your twenty-five year old self?
Yaro: Interesting year to choose. My twenty-five year old self had already had the card game website and blueprint business, doing well, but not so stable a six figure income. It’s amazing the difference between $50 grand a year and a $100 grand a year. You get a $100 grand a year, especially as a single guy you really have a lot of freedom so you can do pretty much anything you want with your life with a $100 grand a year, especially if you’re making it on two hours a day worth of work, which I wasn’t at yet. The blog business and what I did after that sort of really took me there.
I felt pretty confident at twenty-five because I was already making enough money to live off and had a couple businesses under me. The one thing I would say is; it’s hard to teach this because you don’t know until you go through the process, but I had this concept, I call it the Holy Trinity of what I desire from a business. I wasn’t as clear on it then as I am on it now, or that I have been for the last five or six years. Those three things in the Holy Trinity are, not the Father, Son, and the Ghost. It’s the amount of money you make, so I desire a certain amount of money.
I really felt that I was capable of making multiple six figures, millions of dollars. I knew that was possible. I wanted at least a $100 grand a year because I wanted to make more than my friends who had gone off and gotten jobs. Simple as that. You often compare yourself to your peer group and that’s what I was doing at that time anyway. You try to make your bare minimum to start with, but first point of the Holy Trinity from a business is you’ve got to make enough money.
The second point was it has to be very low labor; very freedom based. I guess that’s where the life-style business entrepreneur in me came out. I really did want something that—it couldn’t be nine to five. I didn’t understand the point of deliberately being an entrepreneur to avoid a nine to five job to create a nine to five job that you’re just the boss of. It didn’t make sense to me because I really felt that–
Once I ran an English school It was a little project I started because I’d gotten involved in this government grant program and the best part of that program you have to show a consistent income and my business at the time, the proof-reading one would draw for me income around the summer holiday period because no-one was studying, no-one was writing papers, so I had started English tutoring as a means to supplement the income and keep showing that income and it started to do alright.
Typical entrepreneur I started ballooning my ideas, I’m going to rent office space, hire teachers, and have this big English school. I started that process and actually went and rented some space near downtown Brisbane where I lived. I went to the office, hired one English teacher as a contractor, and then tried to get students into the space.
I realized very quickly in the first few weeks that I have to be at this office, open the doors, in case a student would walk in if there were classes on. And I wasn’t nine – five, I slept in too much, I probably did ten till four, but I still had to be there. I was like, this is not what entrepreneurship is to me. This is just a job I’ve created that I’m wholly responsible for. It’s worse in some ways. So, I’m losing money on the rent and if I’m not here to open up the doors, nothing happens.
That taught me that I was really much more interested, certainly digital businesses. I didn’t want physical office space. And also low labor. It had to be highly leveraged low labor or near passive life-style type income streams. So, those two things, low labor, passive income stream, that makes you at least $10,000 a month. That was the sort of thing I was going for. And the third one, which is probably the one that I was still struggling with the most at twenty-five.
Like I said, I don’t know if I can teach this to anyone, but it’s certainly something to think about. I didn’t have a business that actually leveraged a passion of mine, it didn’t leverage a core strength of mine which was really something missing. Everything I’d done prior, like the proof-reading business; check two of the boxes. It was making not quite enough money, but it was close to what I wanted and it was very, very low labor. I really ticked that box, it was almost completely hands off, but I didn’t really want to grow any further because I didn’t care about proofreading.
Once I set it up I enjoyed being the entrepreneur, but beyond that, being the growth manager, no interest in it whatsoever. The card game website I started it with a passion for the game and that was good. It was something I enjoyed, but I grew out of the game, simple as that. It didn’t make enough money. I lost interest in the game.
Sometimes it was low labor, sometimes it was a lot of work to go send cards and keep stock and inventory and things like that. I was slowly learning that there are better business models I could use that would enable me to tap into these three things and have something that was brilliant money, highly leveraged, low labor, and I really cared about the role I had in the company that I wanted to keep doing. This is really important. All those businesses to me were three years to five years.
By then I was over them. I didn’t want them anymore. Blogging I’m still doing and I’m about to get ten years and I still love doing it. I always enjoy the blogging process, the creation process, creating information, being a leader and an expert in this nice little niche community that I exist in and that’s something that’s really important. Especially after going through a start-up in the more recent years to see what the alternative is and how good I have it in this space it’s really cemented the fact that I like to write.
That’s my creative ability. I need to be doing as much of that as I can and that’s where I can make really great money from it. I might not get the Instagram or the website buy out and have the $1 billion get the news completely incredible amounts of money and that’s a rare outcome for any tech start-up, but I think the actual life-style I lead doing this kind of business is a lot better and I’ll probably live longer as a result too, I think, because it’s a lot less stress. And you can make a lot of money.
That’s the thing. I look at the leaders in this space, the information marketers who are doing really well. There’s a couple of companies like Quora and there’s Lynda these are $200 million a year companies and they’re just information marketing businesses. I don’t necessarily look at them as the kind of company I want because they have a lot of employees and they’ve gone big. I look at people like Eben Pagan as a really good example, or Frank Kern.
These guys have essentially been one individual who have a series of products and services, they’re great marketers, great copywriters, they reach a lot of people and sell multiple thousand dollar products and they have $10, $20 million a year businesses and it’s very low labor, there’s not a lot of employees. I think they’re almost all contractors or certainly for Frank, I don’t know if he has any full-time employees, but it’s mostly just been him, kind of like a super high-paid consultant in some regards and Eban Pagan he’s got this information product businesses that he built.
He’s a great content creator, but he’s also really good at leveraging the internet to reach a lot of people. That’s where I’ve seen the potential for my own growth. There’s no reason why I can’t get to a $10 or $20 million business just off the back of my own brand if I tighten all aspects of the funnel and get a lot better at getting more traffic and a lot of conversions.
I can probably do that without full-time employees. I need some contractors, I’ll definitely need to get some great people at buying traffic, and split testing, and copywriting, things like that; things I’m not great at, but if I have the product and I’m proud of the product then I just have to reach enough people and that kind of size business is realistic and that $10 million a year, I don’t know what to do with that kind of money. I don’t know, what would you do with $10 million a year, Eric?
Eric: That’s a good question. I don’t know. I think, put it in the bank. I guess the short answer would be, my take away here is that you focus on what you’re actually good at, right?
Yaro: And at twenty-five I didn’t know yet. I guess to go back to your original question I’d tell my twenty-five year old self to start thinking more about that because you’re not going to be at it long enough if you don’t find something you’re actually good at as well.
Eric: Got it. So, final question here. What’s one must read book you recommend to the audience?
Yaro: I thought about this one before the interview. There’s so many books and I really think people should target books based on whatever they’re trying to solve. If you’re trying to get growth in a start-up, then study growth tech stuff. If you’re trying to grow a blog study blogging stuff. For me one of the best books I recently read and I definitely recommend it.
It ties into what I just said about finding what you’re good at, but also because I’m what we call an authority blog teacher, I teach people not to build an online magazine full of multiple writers. I teach people to build a blog that they’re the expert, they’re going deep in their subject matter, they’re leading a space and because they love it and want to be the expert at it, that’s all about becoming a master at something.
The book that’s really great on this subject, I recently finished, I’m an audio book reader though, I don’t read so much, I listen, is Robert Greene’s “Mastery” which has in the last couple of years, when it came out it got a lot of exposure. He does a lot of really good research of historical figures and tied it into concepts. “Mastery” on the surface is a really simple idea.
You have to pick something that you’re going to devote basically your entire life to mastering because it’s like a ten-thousand hours or a ten year process of going through an apprenticeship and learning from other people, learning from what’s accepted practice in your space now and then finding your space in that industry and then where you can innovate, where you can actually do new things and lead.
And that’s when you can do really well. And when you reach that point at mastery, thanks to the internet you have an incredible potential for a huge business as well. Certainly in information marketing as a mastery you exist as a teacher, you can do incredibly well. If you’re a master programmer and you know what you can do with software today, the great thing is you can do this from your home.
And if you’re willing to share, you decide to become a master at then the world’s your oyster. That book was really both practical and inspiring and actually entertaining as well. I love those sort of [mouth in Gladwell 01:00:58] books where you get a lot of history and a lot of stories being told to back up a point which are very applicable to what you’re doing. It’s the perfect combination. It’s a big book though. Be prepared, it’s not a short read. I think it’s a twenty-hour audio book too, so, it’s a long one.
Eric: Got it. So, put it on 2x speed, cut it down to ten hours, you’re good to go.
Yaro: Do 3x speed.
Eric: 3x speed. Okay. I’ve never actually done 3x speed. I’ll have to try that. Okay. Cool. So Yaro, I think there’s a lot. I think this is one of the better podcasts here. There’s a lot the audience can learn from you and I think we definitely need to have you on the show another time. Thank you so much and I hope you come join us again soon.
Yaro: Appreciate it Eric. Thanks for having me and good luck to everyone listening in.
Eric: Alright. Cool.