Today I’m excited to welcome James Schramko to the show.
James is the founder of SuperFastBusiness.com which is a business that teaches you how to quickly make your business more profitable.
He’s got a great story, having come from being a car salesman at a BMW dealership to having an uber successful online business. And his online business has had different iterations to what it is today, which you’ll hear James talk about.
Now, I invited James on today because I knew he’d offer a different perspective on paid traffic. My goal here with the show is to give you ideas and viewpoints and strategies around paid traffic and James definitely offers a different one here today.
In his business, James has fine-tuned a system for marketing his content without the need for paid traffic. Well, James does invest in it but not in the traditional sense that we generally talk about it here on the show. And he teaches his methods to you today.
In Today’s Episode, You’ll Learn:
- How and why James moved away from affiliate marketing where he was spending upwards of $7,000 a day on paid traffic to a more systemized and focused approach towards content marketing… and how this shift dramatically improved his life.
- How he sold hundreds of seats to his live events at $1000 a head without using any paid traffic campaigns.
- James shares how he defines the word “paid” when it comes to marketing your content with paid traffic and it’s probably not what you think.
- He shares his exact process and systems for how he’s created a content marketing machine in his business .
- James breaks down all the roles in his team and why he calls them the Octopus Team.
- And he shares tips for how to take a step back from your business so that you can have a lifestyle that you enjoy.
An interesting discussion here with James today and one that will offer a different viewpoint on paid traffic.
James’s website: superfastbusiness.com
owntheracecourse.com – Training and a checklist on how James set up his team
Reserve a free spot for Rick’s Facebook Ads for Beginners: How to Create Killer Facebook Ads On Less Than $10 A Day webinar: fbadsfornewbies.com/webinar
Rick’s Facebook Ads flagship training: The FB ADvantage: Automated Facebook Ads Made Simple
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Transcript of Today’s Episode
Rick: James, thanks for joining me here on the Art of Paid Traffic.
James: Thanks Rick, great to be here.
Rick: We’re going to take people back a little bit and move them forward to what you’re doing right now. You used to be doing a lot of paid traffic on a daily basis, more on the affiliate marketing side. Now you have a really good process down for your content marketing.
Let’s first go back to when you were doing a lot of paid traffic on the affiliate marketing side. What did that look like for you in your business?
Rick: It was a pretty simple model. I was looking for offers that I could convert and make a profit on and I’d drive as much traffic as I could to that offer.
I had a large spreadsheet on a big piece of paper. Every day at 2 o’clock, I’d log into all of my accounts and I’d see how they were performing. I was using everything from Google AdWords to Ad Bright to Seven Search and all sorts of other micro search engines. This was about 8 years ago. It was a daily routine that I really had to keep an eye on. I was using Content Network as well back then. There were start ups that have been and gone since. I was also using CPV.
Rick: It was obviously working pretty well for you because you did that for a while. Were you just by yourself or did you have a team working for you?
James: It was just me and I knew all the ins and outs of the platforms. I was spending up to $7,000 a day on traffic. It was intensely competitive. I’d wake up one day and find that someone had replicated my entire AdWords campaign. They were bidding against me on the same phrase.
The main problem I had was that I sold so much of this product that I was promoting that they went broke. They actually couldn’t fulfil and they had to refund their sales. They left me short on the last few commissions. I lost a fair bit of money at the end. It was like this merry-go-round that was high intensity, it was thrilling and exciting but I felt a lot like a day trader. If you take your eye off the ball, it can smack you in the face when you’re buying a lot of traffic.
Rick: Is that why you shifted out of it?
James: I realized that it’s not that passive and it’s not that leveraged of my time because it’s such high intensity and it felt short-term and I wanted to build a more long-term element to my business.
At the same time as making sure I was promoting recurring offers and building my own products and services, the other way to fix it was to diversify my traffic methods. I’ve tried pretty much every traffic method you can imagine, from designing software to use as browsers to having classified ads, YouTube videos, I’ve tried so many different things. What I’ve found is I like doing content marketing. It’s something easy for me, it’s sustainable, it’s evergreen and very efficient. My whole marketing cost for the business is something like $3000 a month to drive all the sales that we make. That’s just employing a team to help me process the content.
Rick: That’s for superfastbusiness.com I’m assuming?
James: And Silver Circle.
Rick: You shifted out of the affiliate business, moved into really focussing on your own sites and the content marketing process for that. What does that process look like for you?
James: For me it looks really simple. I create a piece of content and give it to the team via DropBox. For example, we might be talking about traffic, I would take my side of the recording, put it in Dropbox and probably in a week from now I’ll end up with an infographic on the top 10 tips for driving traffic to your business or ‘Why Content Marketing is a Great Traffic Method’. They’ll come up with some angle from it. They’ll bullet point the recording, turn that into an infographic, send it to me and I’ll read it as a podcast.
They will take the podcast, top and tail it, put it up to our iTunes publisher and transcribe it, then put an opt-in for people to get the PDF version of the transcription, make the infographic shareable and when it’s published, I’ll syndicate it to my social media and email list. That’s pretty much the entire process from start to finish.
Rick: The important part of that is putting the initial process in place and having a very clear system in place?
James: It’s like building a train line between San Diego and Los Angeles. Once that info-structure is built, it’s easy to roll that train back and forth. That’s the system part of it. It is a one-time set up. Once you have it going, you don’t have to be involved in it that often. What I’ve found that works is having a few people in the team that can cross train, you can have someone leave, someone join and they can be trained within the team. This is a replication of what I used to do with sales teams in the past. It’s getting standard operating procedures, telling people what result you want and then refining that system. Then you can step away from it when it’s working properly.
Rick: Take us through what roles you have of the people that are doing these tasks.
James: One is a Project Manager/VA type person who is the closest to you in terms of serving up things for approval, co-ordinating, giving instructions for the team.
You’ll typically have a designer on board. This is one area where most businesses severely miss the point. Designers are absolutely critical now. You want to have an on-board designer that can standardize your designs and roll it across everything you do, whether you design you T-shirts to your website logo.
You’ll have a content person who is good at writing, who can transcribe and write bullets and do call-to actions. They might have basic copywriting understanding.
My web master’s whole job is to look after the site, when we add products or pages, to update the theme, to make the site run fast, to keep the server working properly, to make sure it works well on a mobile.
Then you’ll have someone who is good at the cart-type functions, the tech bits of integrating videos, emails, automation sequences, tags, CRM system, looking after audios, etc.
You might have an editor who does video and audio.
They are the main roles that seem to be involved in my publishing division.
We call it our octopus team. We treat our blog like the head of the octopus. Every time we do posts, we build tentacles that bring people back to our site. There are opportunities to pin info graphics and put them on websites. A lot of customers take the embed and put it on their own site.
Rick: There’s a lot of effort on your team’s part. If you’re spending about $3000 a month or so on the team, how are you measuring the success and the output and the results of what this team is doing?
James: We measure our opt-in rate, we measure how many emails we’re sending each month. We measure unique visits to our site over 30 days.
We also get a weekly report of how many podcasts are downloaded. Of course, I’m getting my sales numbers, revenue is driven from our content marketing. It’s quite a clear correlation.
If we want to sell more of a particular product or service then we highlight those aspects in our content. If we want to sell WordPress websites, they will work closely with the website team and we’ll talk about website design themes for 2015 and we’ll publish an info-graphic on that.
If we want to sell SEO services, we’ll talk about an optimization guide.
So we can tailor our content around the topics that our audience are interested in.
Rick: You’ve done paid traffic in the past with the affiliate stuff, you have this great process in place for your content marketing, are you using any kind of paid traffic at this point to further amplify that content or is this system working so well for you that you don’t need to be making that investment?
James: You don’t need to do anything else if you do the content marketing well.
I do amplify it a little bit. The easiest way to do this is to put a re-marketing cookie on your website and follow up people who hit your shopping cart page but don’t buy. Also I can turn this up a little bit when I run my annual live event. From our annual live event I think I spent something like $1400 on Facebook ads just to people who have visited my checkout page and who are in my database. I think we’ve sold around $30,000 worth of tickets to those people. It was a really good ROI.
I worry more about straight profit because that’s the ultimate metric. People get too focussed on having a big ROI percentage but it’s irrelevant if it’s only a small dollar amount. I like to go for the big wins.
If you want to start dialling it up too much, you start to get into this administration problem where you spend so much time and energy formulating campaigns, co-ordinating with our advertising rep (you shouldn’t be running your own AdWords or Facebook ads these days, it’s far too specialized) – When we have experts come and speak at my event on these topics, their knowledge is so deep, it would be silly to think that you could do that and run your business as well, especially when the platforms change so much. I would highly recommend hiring a specialist. You’ll get a much better result if you can brief them properly and if they’re competent.
In my case, I don’t want to be spending a lot of time coming up with campaigns and looking at the metrics and shuffling the money around. It’s much easier to have a very clean, simple, efficient system. It’s the same sort of advantage that I got when I let go of my affiliate program. Way less administration, way less issues around brand depredation and way less fraud, just when I turned it off. I’m happy to accept a little bit less sales with a lot less headache. That’s what it boils down to, it’s a consideration that I think a lot of business owners haven’t put much thought into. That is, what kind of business do you actually want?
I want a business that allows me to work not much more than 20 hours a work, that lets me surf every day that doesn’t bring me stress and strain that I can sustain for the next decade. For me, turning down a little bit of that paid leverage means that it’s turned up my life quality a lot.
Rick: That’s an important concept that a lot of people, including myself – it’s very easy to forget that. I left the corporate world at the end of 2012 to do my own thing. You can get very easily caught up in working all of the time and losing sight of why you did this in the first place.
James: It’s so common. Once quick test for people is to install Rescue Time on their computer and pay attention to the weekly report that it sends you. It’s free and it shows you where you spend your time. If you’re disgusted by the amount of time you’re spending on some of the sites you’re on, it might be a wake up call. My business is so different now than when I was an affiliate marketer, logging in at 2 o’clock to see if I’ve blown $1000 today or not.
One day I turned on the content network and I’d spent an extra $3,800 overnight. Luckily I made sales that corresponded with it but quite often I’d let campaigns overrun or it was sending traffic to a dead page. It’s easy to burn money if you’re not paying attention.
The amount of attention you have to put on paid traffic is significant. You can create a less stressful business. What I call my business is a low pressure system, it’s easy to sustain.
Rick: I want to finish off here with one question, you mentioned about the team. If someone is not able to hire that many people, in this audience, people have a successful business going, they’re looking to scale things but maybe they’re not at a place yet where they can add 4 or 5 people to their team. If you can only choose 2 people, in what roles would they be?
James: It might make sense for people to hire a service to do what I’m talking about, which is what we do for other people. If they’re budget conscious, they’re maybe not approaching it the right way. You can’t be half pregnant on this. 2 people won’t really get you all of those skills sets so you’re going to have to be getting something else outside. It could be as simple as getting transcriptions, where you might pay $1 a minute.
It depends how much content you plan to produce. It depends what type of content. If you’re going to be predominantly video or audio, you want an editor. I know podcasters who edit their own shows and that’s ludicrous. To sit back and listen to your own stuff for another hour or two is such a waste of time. I would definitely say an editor. If you don’t have an illustrator, that’s fine, just take original photos with your iPhone. Don’t put those cheesy stock photos of people shaking hands, I think the world’s had enough of those.
I would get a Virtual Assistant or a Project Manager who is able to help you co-ordinate publishing of the post and getting an idea from you of the way you want it to be run.
You have to think of it as a publishing house. You wouldn’t be out there rolling the machine, printing the newspapers and loading the van so there’s no reason you should do that on your online business.
I would say any of the components that need to get done, given that you’re probably doing the feature part – but that also is able to be done by other people, you can take guest post submissions, you can hire someone to screen, review and edit content and publish it for you. The whole point is you can automate your publishing to a high leverage point if you want to.
Rick: This has been a really interesting conversation, it’s a little bit of a different angle than what we’ve been talking about. Thank you for that.
James: The people who I’m coaching in their businesses who used to be straight Facebook advertising agencies are now combining content marketing, organic marketing with paid campaigns. When you have clever targeting and relevant landing pages and specific articles that address the challenges of your audience, it’s very powerful. You don’t need volume when you have good quality. That’s why people with small email lists and relatively untrafficked websites, if they’re hitting the mark, they can do this on quite a low budget.
It might be you in the beginning but the idea is to document everything that you’re doing and then to start handing it off to the team.
Rick: Just quickly on the Facebook ad agency example that you just mentioned, they’re moving into the content marketing space and moving out of just running ads, are they creating content around Facebook ads for their audience or is it more that they are solving the problem of automating leads and sales for their customers?
James: One of my students was working with an account that had 26 Facebook accounts stopped for advertising. Her solution was quite simple, it was “Let’s take a different approach to this, let’s put organic posts, let’s start content marketing to your Facebook audience, but we’ll also combine it with your other social media and your blog posts and we’ll boost them with different types of advertising options”.
Types of options change all the time. Sometimes you can promote posts, now you can enhance videos, which his apparently the thing to do right now on Facebook. The whole point is it starts with good content, which is why we dig deeper into the content. You’ll see video marketing experts at my events talking about making documentaries and emotional sales pieces. That’s how I sell my live events, making a documentary and sharing that through the content marketing channel. That combined with my email list, which is just from my own blog, we can fill a couple of hundred seats to an event at $1000 a head without any actual campaign as such.
Inside superfastbusiness membership, I’ve got the guy who helped me with my CRM system and I have the guy that helped me with the video to come and present the case study. They presented the case study of behind the scenes and they combined the email sequences with the videos. We reveal the entire campaign and that’s available to members, they can join for as little as $79 per month.
That’s a great example of showing people how you’re doing what you’re doing and being transparent. It’s a powerful way to be marketing.
We had another presentation at that event where we a guy who has only been in the business for 2 years – he’s doing this for major corporations and helping them build video sales funnels that have case studies and experiences that move customers through pre purchase, purchase and post purchase. That’s where the conversions are through the roof, the results are stratospheric, because it’s a different approach to what everyone else is taking.
Most companies want to run Facebook or Google ads. Their budget might be $500 a month. It’s just such a lame approach. It’s not the way to get on anymore.
Rick: This has been really interesting. I’m so glad that we took another direction. I’m going to go to your site right now.
Thank you so much for coming on today, it’s been great.
James: Thanks Rick, I really appreciate you having me on the show.