Nick Loper of Side Hustle Nation - How to Monetize a Content-First Business

Nick Loper of Side Hustle Nation - How to Monetize a Content-First Business

[00:00:00] Jonathan: Hello, and welcome to Ditching Hourly. I'm Jonathan Stark, and today I am joined by special guest Nick Loper. Nick, welcome to the show.

[00:00:07] Nick: Thanks for having me.

[00:00:08] Jonathan: For folks who maybe have yet to hear of you, I probably everyone has, but if they have yet to hear of you, could you give them a little bit of background about who you are and what you do?

[00:00:16] Nick: Appreciate that. I would definitely be surprised if you have yet to hear of me. But for the last 10 years, I've been hosting the Side Hustle Show, which focuses on part-time business ideas, creative ways to make extra money. It's been a wild ride. We have now over 550 episodes and that was started after my.

[00:00:34] Nick: Original side hustle became my full-time thing, and I thought I could just be the guy. This was in the footwear shopping niche. I could be the guy who sells shoes on the internet and was very grateful to have started several side projects on the side from that after leaving the full-time job because a lot of businesses had a finite lifespan on that one and was really happy to have this log of podcast business to fall back.

[00:00:55] Jonathan: Cool. Fabulous. So it's a common theme in the work I do with students in Ville, which is a community I have, there's a lot of software developers, a lot of web designers, but also architects and lawyers and accounts. A lot of people who traditionally would bill by the hour. And one of the important things for folks to do is to differentiate themselves from.

[00:01:17] Jonathan: Competitors in order to not be fighting the Race to Zero with their freelancer consulting rates and be able to charge a premium for what they do anyway. What that leads to is some kind of publishing. So I'm constantly advising people to publish their thought leadership in two forms. Speaking and writing and inside of those two forms I think a mailing list in a podcast are like an amazing one-two punch.

[00:01:45] Jonathan: It's not for everyone, but I think those two really work well together. And I know you've got tons of experience with growing and monetizing a content-first business. And I think it would be interesting, cuz I know there's some folks who think wait for a second, what if I like, I'll get this question.

[00:02:00] Jonathan: They’ll start a business podcast. To build their authority and attract better and more clients, of course. And the question always comes up, should I have a sponsor for the show or should I sell ads for the show, or should I sell ads or sponsored links inside of my newsletter?

[00:02:16] Jonathan: I don't do that. I don't have much experience with it. So I was hoping that you could share your expertise in that area with folks who might want to take that path.

[00:02:25] Nick: Yeah I do. And that's one of the main revenue pillars for Side Hustle Nation these days. And they, lots of people, the outside consultant looking in is why don't you just sponsor it with your own high ticket product or service like, and so there's definitely an argument to be made for that.

[00:02:40] Nick: I just haven't, developed that super high ticket, value product. Yet for the moment it's outside sponsors that are relevant in MO in most cases I've used myself. So that's the path that I've gone. But lots of people will do it the other way This is; this is sponsored by, this membership community, which happens to be mine, or, come on in the water's warm.

[00:02:59] Nick: Or, I'm gonna showcase my expertise on the show, especially if you see it with the, solo-based shows. Whereas I'm teaching for 10, 15, 20 minutes on something that I'm an expert on. And if you wanna learn more, or, by the way, I'm a consultant, I'm available for hire. Go over here to the contact page to book a, book a consultation.

[00:03:17] Jonathan: So what would, if someone was gonna try let's start with a podcast. If someone was gonna monetize their podcast in that way, what would, someone else pay for an ad or a spot and not just advertising your own thing? What would be the surprises? What were there? Can you recall?

[00:03:34] Jonathan: Like surprising things about that when you started doing.

[00:03:38] Nick: Yeah. The surprising thing is how little you'll make until the audience is quite large. It's a game of. Amplitude and frequency. How big is the audience? And then how often can you reach them? And so a daily show with a big audience can do really well before a weekly show. And for me, starting out for the first probably three years before, had any sort of traditional sponsorship, the audience just wasn't really big enough to justify it and to have to be conscious of just how that math and how those numbers works.

[00:04:07] Nick: It is the Wild West, so there's no. Set in stone pricing metrics. If you have a really niche audience that you're the only game in town that reaches these particular people, and you know this company really needs to sell into that crowd, then you can command, a premium rate for that. But if you have a broader topic and a broader audience, then you know there's this downward pressure.

[00:04:30] Jonathan: Yeah, it makes total sense. I know what you just said is totally true. And you know that if you have a sort of niche show, then you can, you don't have to be handcuffed by the industry standard. What's this? What’s it called? Clicks per million or

[00:04:42] Nick: Yeah, the cp oh, it's a $25 CPM. Cost per thousand listens or

[00:04:47] Jonathan: but it's, so a lot of times I think people imagine that. I actually know this is true, so people say I don't wanna pay for a podcast. I don't wanna put too much money into this show. That's not air quotes making me money. And so they think, oh, maybe I'll throw some ads in there and then that'll cover the editing, the editor or the hosting, or my time or whatever is getting burned up in that.

[00:05:08] Jonathan: And, I literally teach a, launch a podcast in five days, course to get people out of their own way and to start doing this. And it comes up a lot in that workshop. People are like, oh, I don't wanna spend the time to edit this and I don't want to spend whatever it is, a hundred or $200 an episode to get it edited.

[00:05:23] Jonathan: So I'll just throw ads in there, and it'll all magically work. What, zero listeners starting it's brand new, so can you give. I don't know, like maybe your, just from your experience, like how big was your audience or how many downloads were you getting per episode before it started to make any kind of reasonable sense to put in the time and money to look for sponsors?

[00:05:44] Nick: It was probably around the same time. It was probably early 2016 and maybe it was 5,000. Listens an episode, 10,000 listens an episode at that stage where you, the revenue would, like you said, it would at least cover. The editing expense. It would and probably was, it was profitable on top of that too. So I had the same editing service for years and very gracious that they haven't raised the rates over that time.

[00:06:08] Nick: So there's some level of inflation or maybe I'm grandfathered in at, at these early rates cuz they like to say, Hey, we have the Side hustle show as part of our client base, but. The, I edited myself for the first years, and this was probably a mistake of not spending the, the half an hour on YouTube to actually learn how to do it.

[00:06:25] Nick: Cuz it was like, oh, just, I'll just, hey, the audio, I'm coming in louder than my guest. It's I'll just amplify it. It's like just below everybody's earbuds out and, there's some, little audio, audio, even tools like a phonic, like they can make you.

[00:06:38] Nick: Much better for next to nothing. And you can figure that stuff out. And even tools like descript can just, erase it from the transcript, where the conversation went off the rails and it'll edit it out of the audio or video. Like the tools have become much easier if you were to go the do-it-yourself route.

[00:06:55] Jonathan: Okay. So I feel like I'm gonna, I feel like I don't want to necessarily talk people out of the idea. Of getting sponsors, but I do want them to be eyes wide open. So if there are, they are thinking, no, I really want to do this, I want to be a sort of media first play. H how would someone go about getting sponsors?

[00:07:14] Jonathan: I guess it sounds like a dumb question, but is there like a way to do it? I've never, I've literally never tried this, so I have no idea.

[00:07:20] Nick: Yeah. Oh, so I, I'll give you the, what I had my genius idea early on, and then what actually ended up working was I would go to the archives. I actually had my virtual assistant go through the archives of Entrepreneurs on Fire Daily Business Podcast in a similar niche. She created this list of, 50 or 7,500 or.

[00:07:39] Nick: Of sponsors that John had on his show and okay, here are the five or 10 companies that you know, I like that I am a customer of myself or, otherwise would be a good fit. And then from there the trail kind of went cold. Like I had a really hard time reaching decision makers at these companies.

[00:07:57] Nick: Or you'd get a response like, oh, our ad buying agency. Handles our, handles, our media, buying and it's okay, what do you have a contact there? It it was, became really difficult, really fast. What ended up working instead was, putting the podcast out on these different podcast ads, sales agencies.

[00:08:14] Nick: So Advertis Cast is one, it's owned by Lipson, one of the largest hosting companies. Gumball is another one that has sent some deals over. And then a lot of deals at this point come in direct Hey, we, we've been listening to the show. We think it's a good fit. And some of those sponsors have been around for.

[00:08:29] Jonathan: There you go. So people wanted to do this. In most cases, they're gonna need you think five or 10,000 downloads per episode for it to start to make time, invest sense for time investment. If you're just doing everything yourself.

[00:08:41] Nick: I, I don't want to, because that's a big audience, and so you don't wanna discourage people from going, starting earlier, but more likely if you are smaller, you're gonna know who the players are in your space, like who would be the perfect advertiser fit. And so creating a custom package for them where it's not just based on the number of impressions, it's based on.

[00:09:00] Nick: Social media support. It's based on, email marketing. It's based on, holding a live q and a. Like really playing it up hey, it's a whole package, not just, we're gonna deliver you 20,000 impressions.

[00:09:10] Jonathan: Okay. So what were the things that, but certainly having a bigger audience, the bigger the audience, the better, like you said earlier. So how would you, what would you say to people who wanted to grow their podcast listening audience?

[00:09:25] Nick: Yeah. The framework that I look at this through is called Climbing the Listener Pyramid. So if you imagine a fourt tiered pyramid with strangers on the bottom, then listeners, then subscribers, and then fans, and so every piece of content that you create is trying to ascend people along that pyramid and recognizing that the biggest part of the pyramid, unfortunately, is strangers, people.

[00:09:45] Nick: Don't know you exist. And it's that battle for discovery that really every content creator I is fighting in podcasts in particular, have a uphill battle here. Because just of the barrier to, I don't know, it's hard to get somebody to, first of all, click on your thing that, and then discover, oh, it's audio.

[00:10:04] Nick: It's a podcast. Okay, so now I gotta find my podcast app. I gotta find, I gotta search for your specific show. I gotta scroll down to the specific episode you're talking about. If it's not, number one on the list. I gotta carve out the 45 minutes of my day to listen to you. It's a big ask in a lot of ways.

[00:10:18] Nick: And so that title is really important. It's gotta be really compelling to get people to, to click in. And that was something I was really grateful to have discovered early on where, I would be, and so I interviewed a guy in his claim to fame, was I earned enough money on five. To buy a house.

[00:10:35] Nick: And I was like what could you possibly be selling on five or, for $5 that you would afford you that, that luxury? And he's Nick. It's all about the, he was an early disciple of Jonathan, he's like all about the value-based pricing. Okay, it starts at $5.

[00:10:47] Nick: That's like the, the PDF or the audio file that you already created. But if they really want your time, that's in the upsells and that's when you create the custom packages. You do all this stuff. But that was, and that was the title of the episode. Like how this one guy earn enough money on fiber in his first year to buy a house rather than, how to start freelancing on fiber or, cause I would go on podcasts and they'd do what you're supposed to do.

[00:11:07] Nick: They'd say, Nick, hey, thanks so much for joining me. Your episode is live today. Here's the link if you wanna share. And it's like 33, Nick Lo. And it's who, this is not compelling to anybody. Nobody knows who I am. Like, what are you gonna learn? What are you gonna take away from this from this episode of tuning in?

[00:11:23] Nick: So think about that the listener transformation or the audience transformation. What are they gonna get in exchange for their time? And then for me it was like Gorilla Marketing. Like I didn't have any audience to speak of in the early days, but it was, I had. Five or 10 years of email history and LinkedIn history and Facebook history of just, a network that had been accumulated through work and friendships.

[00:11:43] Nick: And so it was one-on-one outreach to be like, Hey, I just started this thing. I know you might not be in the market for a side hustle, but if you know anybody is, every download helps. Every download helps boost me up in the algorithm. I would love if you check it out or share it. And that was getting up to that first like 50 download day where it's I.

[00:12:02] Nick: Reasonably confident I have gone outside my own circle of influence at that point was very, which was very nerve wracking. Now there's strangers listening to this. What if they think it sucks? And that was scary. But trying to, get somebody to give you a chance, like to get, take that first step on the pyramid up to that listener step of the pyramid, and then from there, Trying to convert the deliver what you promised in the title, try to get to the point quickly.

[00:12:24] Nick: All of the good, podcasting, best practices stuff, but trying to convert that listener into a subscriber, both an audio subscriber and an email subscriber Hey, this is something that's worth tuning into again and again. It's always something interesting, valuable, beneficial, et cetera. And then, some compelling reason to get on your email list for a lot of years that was, a PDF highlight reel of the episode.

[00:12:46] Nick: That's what we called it. Hey, you're out walking the dog, you're at the gym, you're driving in the car. You're not in a great place to take notes. Don't worry. We did it for you. If you want all of the juicy nuggets that my guest dropped today, we've got those all in a downloadable free format for you.

[00:13:00] Nick: Just go over to here and you can punch in your email. We'll get that right to you. And that's, that was really the inflection point for the business and the podcast. So this was a little over a year into the show. It took. Seriously, 14 months to figure this out, that, a podcast does not a business make, it's a content marketing channel for a business.

[00:13:18] Nick: But that was, it had muscled my way, through grit and determination to have a thousand email subscribers after 14 months, but within three months of turning this on, it was 3000, within six months it was 6,000. Within 12 months it was 12,000. It was really big turning point for the business, and now all of a sudden I, you could I turned the anonymous listening audience into people actually have contact information for, I could promote the next episode.

[00:13:41] Nick: They've got something in their inbox, they can easily forward to a friend. It was a really important point. And listenership didn't drop. That was the other thing I was afraid of. Oh, if I'm publishing this in text format or emailing people about it are people still gonna tune in?

[00:13:52] Nick: That didn't really happen. So that was the next tier from listeners to subscribers.

[00:13:57] Jonathan: Cool. Okay, so that's a good segue into the mailing list. The sort of that channel. Why do you think it's so important to. Have that mailing list like that you, I'm sure it was work to create those sort of content upgrades and drive people to share their email address with you. Why did you go to that trouble?

[00:14:13] Nick: Gosh, it was, probably the most important thing that I've done. We're at the whims, I'm in a period of time where the Google algorithm is smiling upon me and I'm, happy to get while the getting's good. But I also realize that doesn't last forever. Where the email list is something that I have a little bit more control over.

[00:14:31] Nick: I can hit send and reach, now over a hundred thousand subscribers, which is just crazy to, blast out to a stadium full of people. it's, you don't, surprisingly, you don't hear back as much as you would until you screw something up and they're like, you have, you had a typo in line two?

[00:14:46] Nick: Whatever.

[00:14:46] Jonathan: Yeah. Link's broken.

[00:14:47] Nick: exactly. Links broken. Thanks. But super, super important just to have a little bit more control over your audience and be able to communicate directly with them instead of relying on them to proactively, go out and download or for the, the YouTube algorithm to show you to somebody or Google to, have this article made discoverable a really, I.

[00:15:06] Jonathan: Yeah. Preaching to the choir, I was just curious if you had the same experience. I think a mailing list is huge for so many reasons. How often do you send to your list?

[00:15:15] Nick: Typically once a week as far as a newsletter update type of email, which is usually promoting the latest content and some interesting fines on. The internet you might also like this, and this. And actually added another revenue stream over the last year or so, which was a sponsored link in that, you might also like section.

[00:15:34] Nick: And so that's been an interesting little incremental edition. Not something that is necessarily gonna, cover, pay the mortgage or anything, but it's a little something. And then the other thing, like when somebody signs up for the first time, there's a multi week welcome series.

[00:15:49] Nick: I call it my long-term nurture sequence that hopefully bubbles up some of the best content over the last 10 years. Hey, if you're new to this stuff, you might not have seen this, and this. And just trying to bring that to the forefront for new subscribers.

[00:16:01] Jonathan: Yeah, I do a similar thing on mine. It's my, I call it my onboarding sequence orientation. Cool. So what was the, so you said the sponsored link is just something new you're experimenting with,

[00:16:13] Nick: Yeah, and there's a couple marketplaces that help sell these. So again, similar to the podcast sponsorships, some of these are sold direct. Some of those are sold through different agencies that facilitate this sort of thing. So paved, I think it's, maybe. A newsletter. Sponsor, broker. And then Swap Stack is the other one that has sent some deals this way.

[00:16:31] Jonathan: And from a time management standpoint I have heard, again, don't have a direct experience, but I've heard that there's, a fair amount of administrative, there can be a fair amount of administrative back and forth with. The people who are buying ads, how much, if someone was going to do this, like how automated has it become over the years?

[00:16:49] Jonathan: Is it just like very simple thing for you to include a sponsored link in there, or is it like more just how much work, I guess is what I'm wondering?

[00:16:57] Nick: Yeah, always better. It's similar to the podcast ad, like always better if you can have a, multi-month campaign where, you know you have three or four copy rotations that you just plug in there. On a, whatever their turn comes up in the cycle again. But a lot of 'em through these different marketplaces are one-off campaigns.

[00:17:13] Nick: And so there is a little bit of back and forth more so through paved cuz they have their own kind of like open tracking pixel that they want to show in there. And you gotta send a test campaign, make sure the copy looks good to the advertiser, but less so with swap stack. Hey, this is the copy.

[00:17:27] Nick: Paste it in there. This is the link to use. You're good to go.

[00:17:30] Jonathan: Is it like a, and it has is like an affiliate link or They can tell, it's must be unique to you.

[00:17:35] Nick: Yeah, I think it's a kind of a redirect tracking link, so they could say, oh, you drove 150 clicks or something.

[00:17:40] Jonathan: Got it. Cool. All right. So I don't know, does that, does it feel like, it sounds it doesn't sound like a lot of work, but it sounds like not the kind

[00:17:49] Nick: It's not zero. It's not zero, but it's not, I don't know, in terms of an hourly rate, I think it's still pretty, pretty strong.

[00:17:56] Jonathan: Okay. That's fair. All right, so if we, so what are the big parts of your content empire? So the podcast has to be huge. The mailing list is obviously huge. Are there other things going on that, other channels that you're publishing through I don't know, YouTube, TikTok, LinkedIn?

[00:18:13] Nick: Yeah, YouTube is a kind of a growing, YouTube is huge, but it still feels like kind of this blue ocean for me cause historically haven't paid much attention to it. So trying to play around with shorter format interviews over there. Dedicated kind of YouTube first content a lot of times repurposed from blog content just to say there, hey, there's a video component.

[00:18:31] Nick: Let's have double the chance of being discovered in search and hopeful. Improve the perceived value of that written content page in the search results. And then, really just in the past few months, having my assistant start to slice up the podcast episodes to create YouTube shorts, to create TikTok videos.

[00:18:47] Nick: And I, have yet to really. Hit the viral lottery on really any of those. But it's out there, they're doing their thing. So it's growing and you see the you see the view time creep up, you see the subscriber base creep up. I don't know, putting it out there. But really the primary channel outside of the podcast has been the blog, for lack of a better term, like blog.

[00:19:05] Nick: I think a blog is like a personal journal, but more of, building out this library of hopefully helpful question and answer keyword, intent-based content through the Site Hustle Nation site. And again, this is a period of time where the Google algorithm has been smiling upon me and it's Okay, this is great.

[00:19:21] Nick: And realizing it took a long time to kinda lean into the fact that, the podcast audience and the blog audience are lar they're not a lot of overlap there, which I, for the first several years of the business, I figured they were one and the same. But the podcast audience, these are.

[00:19:36] Nick: These are my people. These are, the entrepreneurial people, they tune in week after week and you build this relationship with 'em. They're hanging out, you're hanging out in their earbuds. It's a really, it's a really cool place to be. The blog audience in contrast, is much more transactional.

[00:19:50] Nick: It's, typing a question into Google, solve my problem today, give me the answer now, and then I'm off to do my thing. They're the people signing up, in. I don't know. I don't have hard data on this, but they're more likely to be the people signing up to deliver for Instacart or something, and there's an affiliate program for that versus the podcast audience.

[00:20:10] Nick: Much more I'm gonna build my own thing, if that makes sense.

[00:20:12] Jonathan: Yeah. Yeah. Totally. Huh. Okay. So would you it sounds like you have a whole bunch of, little, I don't little is not fair, but it sounds like a lot of, I don't wanna say the word little, but I guess it's the word. It's like a little streams of income versus what, like you said earlier, the big ticket, it's not like you have a big ticket consulting offering that you're, you're trying to have Three to seven really big clients per year.

[00:20:39] Jonathan: You have legitimate like customers, like audience, so it's natural that you've got a lot of little purchases and it seems right? Is that fair to say?

[00:20:49] Nick: Yeah, that's actually the topic of this week's episode. The 15, 16, 17 different income streams. And not all of 'em are very big at all, but they do add up to be a full-time, a healthy, full-time six figure living. But the, and it's worth that, honestly, it fills me up like it's super rewarding.

[00:21:07] Nick: Be able to have conversations like these and to be able to turn the mic and ask people like how did you build that? How'd you come up with that idea? Where'd you get your first customers for That was very interesting in 2013 and still is, peaking that curiosity now, 10 years later.

[00:21:22] Nick: But the. I like, I, I take no offense to the word little I call them like mini digital assets in a lot of ways. Like thinking about each piece of content that you create as a little, as a little micro business that you send out into the world to do your bidding. And, the YouTube is a great example of that.

[00:21:39] Nick: I've been surprised at the shelf life of some of these videos, and sometimes it's the dumbest solving your own problem and one. Just years ago, it was like how to keep Dropbox from, taking up your local storage space. Like it's supposed to be cloud storage.

[00:21:53] Nick: Why is it on by hard drive too, right? And it was a simple little checkbox. So it's like a one minute screen recording video that still, it gets views, it gets, now that the channel is monetized, it still earns revenue every month. An example of these little mini digital assets that go out there and can earn revenue and subscribers and income over.

[00:22:12] Jonathan: how do you, you've mentioned a VA a couple of times, like how do you keep track of all this stuff? It seems like a, it seems like a lot of things to keep track of it, at least for me, I'm used to a smaller number of, And certainly when I was doing consulting, I had like maybe two or three clients a year tops, and it was just so easy to keep it all in my mind.

[00:22:31] Jonathan: It's, and maybe it's just a personality thing. I'm not good at a like lot of little details. It feels like it would be a lot of little details to keep track of and tend to. Is that a myth or is that, am I imagining that.

[00:22:41] Nick: For the most part, once something is published, it's published, especially on the podcast cuz it's such a pain to go back and change it. So once that's done, it's done. On the written content side of things, this is where it does get a little bit. Tedious and I have yet to build a really great system for it cuz it's a lot of this stuff requires constant updating.

[00:23:00] Nick: Is this still accurate? Is this still, the list of items that you would recommend for topic X, Y, Z. And so that's where it becomes painting the Golden Gate bridge where by the time you get down with your list, it's time to start over. Back in the beginning. I use I'll look at the Google Analytics and say, which of these high priority posts lost traffic over the last 30 days?

[00:23:21] Nick: And okay, you probably lost a little bit in the rankings. It's time to bump that up, update the timestamp on that, and just update that content and give it a little refresh. So it's much faster than creating something completely from scratch, but to still take some time. So we rely heavily on. Google, you just Google Sheets.

[00:23:37] Nick: Google Docs to track, what's coming up on the podcast in terms of the guests and the sponsors and what, what stage of the process are we at? And that's, I don't know I definitely could probably benefit from a more streamlined or elaborate system, but it may seem like they're more work than there actually is.

[00:23:55] Jonathan: And so you have just the one va or do you have other folks working on

[00:23:58] Nick: I've got a very lean team of, on-demand specialists, is what I'll call them. They don't necessarily know each other, but they all connect through me and a lot of through agencies. Podcast editing is through an agency. The, one of. Virtual assistance is through an agency called Okay, relax.

[00:24:17] Nick: The, you've been a customer there for years. They're awesome. The, tech side of the business is handled by a service called Zen, WP and other kind of website insurance. If something breaks, if you wanna make a tweak, you can just, you have somebody to message instead of, shoot, now I gotta start tinkering with WordPress code and hopefully, hit refresh and hopefully it doesn't break the whole thing.

[00:24:37] Nick: Have. Assistant who is the general admin assistant who's doing the uploading of the podcasts into YouTube. She's in my inbox, so she's handling light customer support, email filtering, email triage. Really, you know what's gonna be important. Make sure that I see that stuff. Handling. Admission into the Facebook group cuz that's been a newer top of the funnel entry point where Facebook has started recommending, the Side Hustle Nation Facebook group to a broader audience.

[00:25:04] Nick: We're like, that's cool, we'll take those people and hopefully try and introduce them to the broader ecosystem. But lots of little things. And then another in my other assistant is the, video editor person who's now slicing up the podcasts and doing that. Lots of all very part-time and all very on demand, but lots of different people in different parts of the business.

[00:25:24] Jonathan: Wow. Okay. That's cool. Is the Facebook group you just mentioned, is that, so does Facebook have like ads in communities? I don't even. Is that something that's monetized directly or do you just see it as part of the people moving from the strangers area of the pyramid up to, listeners, I, is it a funnel into the podcast and the mailing list and the blog and all of that?

[00:25:43] Jonathan: Or is it a different strategic move?

[00:25:46] Nick: Yeah, it funnels into the email list when people request to join. So I found this really cool tool about a year and a half ago called Group Leads, where it integrates directly from Facebook into active campaigns. When somebody requests to join the group, you can ask them three questions and I ask, do you have a side hustle?

[00:26:04] Nick: If yes, tell me about it. And would you like to receive my best stuff over email? Click here or, enter your email. And that automatically pushes it over to Active Campaign. And so that's been another driver of incremental, probably hundreds of subscribers per month.

[00:26:18] Nick: Probably not thousands, but incremental subscriber base there. And now, I have something I can proactively contact those people and say, Hey, the latest episode, or Hey, I made you a custom. Playlist or you, here's the greatest hits playlist. You gotta check this out if you haven't listened to the show before.

[00:26:33] Nick: Facebook, I still believe is probably a top five site in terms of traffic, which means a top five search engine in terms of volume. And so the way I think about it is when people are searching my primary keyword of side hustles or side hustle ideas, like I would love to be discovered there.

[00:26:47] Nick: And the group is one of those channels that is that is discoverable through Facebook search.

[00:26:53] Jonathan: It's it's, I'm getting, I'm like noticing my internal reaction to a lot of the, everything you're saying is great. It's it makes perfect sense. It's really smart. It's it's so not me, but I'm sure that I'm getting stressed out just thinking of all the little details.

[00:27:08] Jonathan: But I am positive that there are people listening who. Who, for whom this is a great fit. Folks who align more with your style and are, I should probably check out more stuff from you cuz this is I'm like getting overwhelmed, just listening to

[00:27:24] Nick: I'm sorry. I'm sorry to be stressing you out. And that was my like hesitation to do the Facebook group probably started in 2015. Do the, does the world eat another entrepreneurial Facebook group? How much time am I gonna have to spend moderating this thing? All of these doubts in my mind, and at this point, have a awesome team of volunteer moderators in my assistant handling the, admission checklist kind of thing.

[00:27:46] Nick: Is this person a obvious scammer or a scammer? Do you know decline if they seem like. Actual real person okay, we can admit them into the, to the group. But yes, it does. And again we're almost 10 years into this business. None of this happened right out of the gate. At the beginning it was blog, podcast, and a team of zero.

[00:28:05] Nick: It's doing everything myself and then slowly try and extract different elements that don't really light me up or don't really that, that don't require my nec my necessary e.

[00:28:16] Jonathan: Got it. How much time are you creating a lot of, the podcast is, sounds like that's new every week, but are you creating a lot of new content on the blog or is it more like the Golden Gate Bridge where you're just keeping stuff up to date? So do you spend a lot of time creating new stuff outside of the podcast?

[00:28:33] Nick: Not as much as I'd like because this is actually a really important driver. If you can stack up these these evergreen articles that just stick to the first page of Google sometimes for years, like that's a, that's a really powerful asset to have. But I've had a hard time. Delegating that and have tried a few different in fits and starts, like trying to outsource that content production.

[00:28:57] Nick: But, it comes back and it's that's not, it's perfectly passable, right? But it's that's not how I would phrase it. Or is this really, first page of Google worthy? I really, you really gotta polish this up to, to create something that is gonna rank, it's gonna stick there.

[00:29:10] Nick: And so I spend a lot of. Editing that after the fact. And so we'd love to figure out, the repeatable system and process to have somebody else write this stuff. Cuz I've got the keyword research list, which is a ton of fun to do. And oh, look at the search volume on this. And oh, it's really low difficulty, like really confident that I could rank for this.

[00:29:28] Nick: But it's then I look at the. Four or five hours that it might realistically take to create that thing. And it's ah, I don't know. So it's much easier to justify updating the thing that slipped in the rankings versus trying to create something completely from scratch.

[00:29:39] Jonathan: What are the, just outta curiosity, is there something that you notice? So for folks who would love the idea or love the Sound of Evergreen article. What are those usually like? Super long, detailed, how-tos or is there any pattern that you see with those that Google seems to like at least now?

[00:29:58] Nick: Yeah, definitely the how-tos were a thing. And that's what we'll try and do with podcast episodes when it's relevant. So we had Brian Scudamore on the show, he's like the founder of 1-800-GOT-JUNK. And so it was how to start a junk hauling business is how we titled the episode and detailed, how to start a pressure washing business, how to start a window cleaning business.

[00:30:16] Nick: And so we have those types of articles and try and beef those up to rank, not just in, the podcast search engine, but also in Google and say this. This episode is about, and this is a great resource and it's also multimedia. You got audio, you got the written version. But it's definitely a challenge to do that.

[00:30:31] Nick: The other format that still works is the listical format, so the site ranks well for, ways to make extra money or side hustle ideas

[00:30:40] Jonathan: Yeah, 17.

[00:30:41] Nick: for introverts and stuff like that. And it's kinda surprising by that stuff. Still does really.

[00:30:47] Jonathan: That's, that. It's been true for a long time, so I guess it makes sense that it wouldn't wouldn't just go outta style overnight.

[00:30:53] Nick: Yeah, and they're relatively easy to create cuz you're like, I can create an outline for this in five minutes. Especially if it's something that you have some topical authority on. And then it's just filling in that outline and maybe you can copy and paste from something you've already written and just re rework it a little bit.

[00:31:09] Nick: So there's. Some acceleration tactics there, but it's still like the formatting and the, internal linking and the, all of the other little behind the scenes stuff that goes into SEO is the time consuming part.

[00:31:22] Jonathan: Got it. I think you just gave me the show title, which is How to Monetize a Content First Business with Nick Lopper, side Hustle. Cool. I'm sure we could talk all day about this stuff, but but where can people go to find out more about what you're doing and perhaps listen to your podcast or sign up for your mailing list?

[00:31:39] Nick: Yeah, of course would love to have you tune into the show. It's got the bright green cover art with my mug on it at the moment. You can find it in any podcast app if now I did warn you there's over 500 episodes, so if you go to is where you'll be able to get your own curated.

[00:31:54] Nick: Customized playlist. Just answer a few short questions and I'll spit back out. Hopefully five 10 relevant episodes to you that you can add to your device. You probably already have a business, so normally I would plug side hustle You'll probably pass that stage. So definitely would encourage you to check out the podcast and the specifically the episodes on growing the types of freelancing, consulting, productized service businesses that you're in.

[00:32:18] Jonathan: Perfect. This has been awesome. Thanks so much, Nick. All right, folks. That's it for this week. I'm Jonathan Stark, and I hope you join me again next time for Ditching Hourly. Bye.

Creators and Guests

Jonathan Stark
Jonathan Stark
The Ditching Hourly Guy • Author of Hourly Billing Is Nuts • Former software developer on a mission to rid the world of hourly building