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The Smart Passive Income Podcast

AP 1046: Where Are They Now? Jackie Bolen (From AP 1003)

AP 1046: Where Are They Now? Jackie Bolen (From AP 1003)

By Pat Flynn on

This week I have Jackie Bolen back on the show, who last joined us in Episode 1003, back at the beginning of AskPat 2.0. Jackie was having trouble deciding which business to pursue full-on and her indecision was tearing her focus in half. She’s back today to tell us what happened since then, how she’s 4x’d her business, and more!

This is another installment in the Where Are They Now? series that I’m doing here on AskPat 2.0. We’ll be checking in with more entrepreneurs from previous coaching calls in the future, plus coaching calls with entrepreneurs you haven’t heard from yet—stay tuned! And hey, hit me up on Twitter or Instagram @PatFlynn and let me know what you think. Always excited to hear from you!

Jackie kicks things off by recounting the business decisions she’s made since Episode 1003: Why she bought out her co-author, the new company she’s working with, and the results she’s getting. She details some of the tactics that are working well for her—SEO, backlinking, affiliate links, guest posts, and more. Jackie shares the lessons she’s learned from working with other people, including her co-author, especially around expectation-setting. Jackie reveals her plans for the future, including her new focus on conversion rate optimization, and I offer her advice for her next steps. Keep crushing it, Jackie!

If you haven’t picked up your ticket yet for FlynnCON1, now is the time! My first-ever live conference is going down in San Diego, July 26-28. If there are tickets left, you can grab them at FlynnCON1.com.

What You’ll Learn:
Discover tips for choosing where to focus in your business, working with others, and creating business growth.

AskPat 1046 Episode Transcript

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Pat Flynn: What’s up everybody? Thank you so much for joining me today in Episode 1046 of AskPat 2.0. This is the podcast where you get to listen in on a conversation between myself and an entrepreneur like you, who I’m coaching through some sort of pain or problem or issue or next step. These always turn out great, and I’m so thankful because we’ve done over forty of them this year in this style. Before that, Episodes 1 to 1000 were simply voicemail questions that came in with my answer, and I really, really, love these real conversations, and you get to sit there like a fly on the wall.

By the way, you don’t have to just be the fly on the wall that’s listening in; you can actually be coached. If you go to AskPat.com there’s a little button in the middle of the page where you can apply and just leave your answers about your business, and it’s partly random selection, partly based on the answer, so spend some time on that and in the future I may reach out to you and we’ll get you on the show, just like we are today with Jackie Bolen, who was on the show in Episode 1003.

She was one of the first episodes that was conducted in this coaching style, and she had a lot of decisions to make at that point. She was trying to choose between a business, and a business related to Amazon that she just felt pulled in either direction and wasn’t able to dedicate 100 percent of focus and grow either of them, so we had a great discussion in, again, Episode 1003. Today I’m bringing her back on for another one of these Where Are They Now? episodes which, a lot of you have bene saying some amazing things about them.

I’m so thankful, because this was just an idea I had mid-year to bring some people back, so I’m thankful Jackie’s coming back on to give us an update, which involves the end of a partnership in one way, shape, or another, so make sure you stick around and listen to that, plus all that she’s doing now to grow her business by 4x. Oh man, just amazing, so stick around.

Before that I do want to mention and thank the show sponsor for this year which is FreshBooks, one of my favorite companies not just because they sponsor the show but because they’re an amazing software that can help you manage your business finances, removing all the headaches in your business; they helped me, and they are helping millions of other small business owners; especially with the invoicing. You know, invoicing can be difficult. You don’t want to have to go into Microsoft Word or Pages every time individually, and you don’t have a good tacking system.

By using FreshBooks you can create a professional invoice in less than thirty seconds; you can track to see who opens them, who has yet to open them, you can follow-up properly and get paid for the coaching or consulting or from your student or however you use invoicing, so make sure to check it out. And guess what? You can check it out for thirty days for free with a thirty-day free trial all access. All you have to do is go to FreshBooks.com/askpat. If you’ve been hearing this sponsorship throughout the year and you haven’t done so yet, now would be the time before the end of the year. FreshBooks.com/askpat, and just make sure you enter “Ask Pat” in the “How did you hear about us?” section so they know you came from here, and they’ll take good care of you.

Awesome, so here’s the conversation with Jackie. Here’s where she is now. Let’s do this.

Jackie, welcome back to AskPat 2.0, thanks so much for being here.

Jackie Bolen: Yeah, thanks for having me back.

Pat Flynn: So you were one of the first to be coached in the new format. You were back in 1003, and the title of that Episode was, “What One Thing Should I Focus On?” In that conversation we had a lot of options for you to do in terms of where to take your business and stuff. If you wouldn’t mind giving us a quick refresher on where you were then and then give us an update on where you are now, that’d be amazing.

Jackie Bolen: Yeah, sure, so my question back then; it was about a year ago I guess that we talked . . .

Pat Flynn: Yes.

Jackie Bolen: I had two things on the go. The first thing was all these websites and books and stuff related to ESL teaching. I used to be an ESL teacher in Korea for a number of years, and then I also had started a bunch of Amazon Affiliate websites, and it was fine having both of those things obviously, in my portfolio or things I was making money from. But I just felt like my time was really divided and it was hard to really make any of those things really, really as good as they could have been because I just am one person. I just didn’t have time to manage that at all.

Pat Flynn: Right, and we talked a little bit about potentially hiring somebody or even cutting one of those things off to focus full-time, or other things like that. I definitely recommend you go and listen to that episode, Episode 1003, but Jackie, give us an update on how things are going now.

Jackie Bolen: Yeah, sure, so some big things have happened quite recently in the last couple months, so for all those ESL teaching books that I had, I had a co-author. It was a good partnership, but I’ve actually bought her out of her share of those books, so that was a lot of money up-front, but now they’re just all mine to control or to do whatever I want with, which is freeing not to have someone else . . .

Pat Flynn: Yeah, good for you. That’s so cool.

Jackie Bolen: Yeah, so I did that, and then as soon as I finished that I actually partnered with another organization or a group of people who, they’re building a portfolio of websites and of digital properties I guess. Just basically the way it works is that the baseline of profits that I’ve earned over the past few months, I’ll always continue to earn that, but then any money that those ESL teaching websites and those books make above and beyond that, we’ll split the profits, so basically they’re just taking it off my hands and making it better and optimizing it, and doing that whole thing, so I’ll continue to write a little bit of content for it and answer emails for my auto-responder series and stuff like that. But yeah, it’s basically out of my hands now, and so I just hope that I will make more money from those things without actually having to have those things just on my mind all the time or have to think about them or worry about them, so yeah.

Pat Flynn: That’s an amazing solution there. I mean, what a blessing to have that as an opportunity, and you took it and that’s great and I wish you all the best with that. I can’t wait to hear how that all goes, but it sounds like the perfect opportunity because it sounds like it’s freeing up a lot of your time for something else.

Jackie Bolen: Yeah, for sure, so it’s early days for that, so I’m not entirely sure what the results will be. It’s only been a couple months, but yeah, I hope it will be fruitful; a fruitful partnership for the years to come. But now that that’s off my plate, I’ve started focusing almost 100 percent on the Amazon Affiliate websites I’ve done, and one in particular I’ve been working on quite steadily since the last time I talked to you, so yeah, results are good. I actually just checked the results before this phone call, so I compared October 2017 to October 2018, and my visitors on the one particular website that I’m working on are three times more organic searches, and then back then I had 4,000 keywords in the Top 100 and now I have 16,000, so that’s four times more keywords in the Top 100. And then my profits from that website are up about four times year over year.

Pat Flynn: So, yeah.

Jackie Bolen: So, some big results for sure.

Pat Flynn: Congratulations.

Jackie Bolen: Yeah, thanks.

Pat Flynn: That’s amazing. Do you mind if I ask you some questions that—you don’t have to get into the details of what niche you’re in or anything like that, but I’m just curious. When you say you now have time and you started working on that website, what does working on that website mean? How are you able to get better results?

Jackie Bolen: Sure, so for affiliate websites like that, the two main things you want are just to be adding a whole bunch of content, and not just random content. It needs to be quality content that’s actually answering people’s questions and helping people, so I’ve been focusing on that, and then through adding a whole bunch of new blog posts just based on the keyword research I’ve been doing, and then also upgrading pretty much all my old articles that I had, like for example if it was 500 words I would increase it to 1,000 or 1,500 or 2,000 words just depending on the topic, and I made a whole bunch of videos on YouTube and added those to all the articles.

I made some custom images on Canva and optimized the alt text and things like that, so I’ve bene working hard on that and then the other thing is building links, so I stay away from the black hat SEO and any sort of spammy things like that . . .

Pat Flynn: Yes, as you should.

Jackie Bolen: Yes, as everybody should, actually, if they don’t want to get hit hard by Google penalties. So I’ve been focusing on outreach to other bloggers in my very general niche, so I’ve talked to some personal finance bloggers and health bloggers and a whole bunch of different people and have just gotten guest posts on their websites. So I just try to write articles that offer a bunch of value for the readers and yeah, then of course I just get links back to my own website and some traffic from their website to my website through that, and it’s been very successful. I’ve done maybe 100 in the past year or something like that, so it’s gone really well, definitely.

Pat Flynn: Good for you. How does one who has an affiliate website about a particular product or niche, now do you even begin that conversation with another person who has that influence, who has that brand, who has those channels? I can imagine it being, for a lot of people listening to this, very scary because it’s like, “Well, what value do I have to give to them? How can I actually make this a win-win versus a ‘hey, I’m just doing this to help me in my business’?”

Jackie Bolen: Well, something that I’ve found really successful is if I did the cold call, like if I just contacted some random person and they’ve never mentioned any of my products before, it was actually quite difficult because they’re like, “I don’t even use that product. I don’t even know what that is. Who are you?” It was just, some people would accept or reply back, but I think I just got a lot of no responses.

So I use a keyword tool called Ahrefs, and you can sign up for alerts based on keywords, so just with their basic plan I think they give you ten or fifteen keywords. I picked my money keywords for that website and then I get a daily email about other bloggers and other websites who’ve mentioned those words in their articles, so once I get that then I go to their website and I check out their article and then I’ll send them an email with something like, “Hey, I noticed you mentioned blah, blah. I have a website related to that. Are you interested in me doing a guest post?” I customize the email with their name and the URL of that article they wrote, and yeah, so far that’s gone really well because then I know they’re interested in that product, and they’re writing about that product, and they’ve done that in the past couple days, so yeah, that seems to help for sure.

Pat Flynn: Do you position yourself as an expert on that product, and what you’re doing is you’re giving them even more information about it?

Jackie Bolen: Yeah, for sure. So in the niche that I’m focusing on there’s three websites in the world that review those products and I’m one of them, so there just isn’t that many of us doing that actually, so I guess I would consider myself an expert in that niche. So yeah, that’s how I do it.

Pat Flynn: On that guest post, you’re not including affiliate links, or are you? Or are you just trying to get traffic back to your website?

Jackie Bolen: No, I never include affiliate links in those articles. My purpose isn’t really to make money from those guest posts. My purpose is to get backlinks back to my website just so I can increase—because backlinks from other related sites will make my site more authoritative and will hopefully increase my overall rankings in Google. So yeah, that’s my main goal.

Pat Flynn: That’s really good. I love it, and it seems like you have a system down and you’re all in on it, and I’m just so glad, because compared to the last conversation we had it was like, you weren’t sure if one was more than another and now you’re 100 percent in this one and the other one’s still going though, because it’s automated. That’s passive income at it’s finest right there, so congrats on getting to this point. That’s amazing.

Jackie Bolen: Yeah, thank you. Yeah, I’m really really happy with it, just buying out my co-author and then partnering with these other guys. It was pretty amazing. It was just a huge relief, actually, to not be holding that on my plate on a daily basis, so yeah.

Pat Flynn: What did you learn since working with other people? I think a big strategy here that you’ve talked about a couple times is the partnership with this new group, and you had a co-author and a friend that you had worked with. I think a lot of people are in solopreneur mode, where they’re just by themselves, and in my eyes I feel like you can never do this completely on your own, but it’s very scary to have other people involved in your work. It’s like, sometimes people compare it to dating and marrying other people. That’s your partner, so it’s a hard decision sometimes. What has been your best take-away, or what has helped you through the partnerships you’ve created and the way that you handle other people related to the businesses that you have yourself?

Jackie Bolen: Yeah, sure, so I think one mistake that I made with my co-author that I fixed with this new partnership that I have is just not being clear about expectations. So my co-author and I were great at writing books together and we got along really well. We actually wrote around I think twenty books and we never fought about it; we never were angry at each other, which is actually amazing. We edited, and so we’re like, “That’s really crappy, you’ve got to change that,” and we went through that whole thing and actually are still friends. But we didn’t really have any clear expectations about an exit strategy or about expectations for marketing the books or any of that kind of thing, which was a little bit of a frustration because I just felt like we had this partnership that was just going to be forever, and I don’t know.

It was just a bit frustrating to me, and I just didn’t like it that much, so I was actually quite happy when I made her an offer to buy her out and she agreed to that. It was just a relief, like, “Okay, this is clear and it’s not like this gray, murky zone,” and we actually never signed a contract or we never even put anything in writing, so I would recommend to your listeners to not do that. That’s definitely not the way to go, and it all worked out thankfully because we’re friends and we’re both quite honest people I think, and it was fine, but for this new partnership that I have it’s all very clear in writing who’s responsible for what, and what my role in the business is, and what their role in the business is, and what happens if we decide we want to sell that and who can decide that, and all of that kind of thing. I feel way better about it, so I guess that’s the main thing.

Pat Flynn: Yeah, sounds like a lot of weight lifted off your shoulders so you can not just time-wise focus on what you need to focus on, but just mentally focus on what you need to focus on.

Jackie Bolen: Yeah, for sure. I don’t have to think about it. It’s just happening without me having to really do anything related to it, and without having to worry about, “Oh, what if I want to sell those books, or what happens then?” Everybody knows how that’ll work, I guess.

Pat Flynn: That’s so great. So what’s next for you?

Jackie Bolen: Oh, what’s next? I think I’m going to just keep going with that one website of mine, and I actually just have started getting into conversion rate optimization, because I’m getting a ton of visitors and a ton of traffic from that website, but I feel like I’m not actually making as much money as I hope that I would. My conversion rate on Amazon is only something like 4 percent, which, I don’t know—it just seems a bit low, so I am doing some split testing and heat maps and all that kind of thing, so I’m just in the very initial stages of setting up all those tests and stuff, so I hope that will just increase my profits, because I’m at the point where there’s not a lot more content to add to that site. I can keep building backlinks, but I want to take advantage of just the traffic that is already coming, because it’s quite a large number of people: 15,000 visitors a month right now. That’s a lot, so I should be making more money than I am, so that’s great.

Pat Flynn: Yeah, and I think conversion optimization is a very smart thing. Often I recommend people doing that sooner than later, because you can get as much traffic in the world as you want, but unless that traffic’s converting for you, then why are you doing it? So I think you’re at a perfect time to do that. What tools are you using to help you with that?

Jackie Bolen: I actually just started using VWO, I think it’s called.

Pat Flynn: Visual Website Optimizer.

Jackie Bolen: Yes, and then I follow the guys at ConvertIcon. I think his name is Kurt, and then Chris, and I follow their blog and watch their videos and stuff, and yeah, they have a lot of helpful stuff there. They also offer services where they do CRO for you, but I’m hoping just to learn actually how to do it myself. So yeah, those are those two things I use.

Pat Flynn: I love it. Well, we’ll keep up and hopefully get a pulse from you later in terms of how that’s going, but Jackie, thank you so much for coming on and telling us how things are going and the education to go along with it. If there’s anything I can do to help you, always let me know, and thanks for the inspiration.

Jackie Bolen: Okay, that sounds great, Pat. Thank you.

Pat Flynn: All right, I hope you enjoyed that episode with Jackie. Jackie, congratulations on making what was probably some tough decisions, but especially with this new partnership that’s coming up. I hope that that works out and I hope to stay up-to-date with what you’re up to, so keep me posted and potentially we’ll have you back on the show to share with us how successful you’ve been with your Amazon business and probably get into some new fields and industries in that space, and I just want to congratulate you for progressing and all of you for listening.

Hopefully you’re inspired by Jackie and the other Where Are They Now success stories that we’ve had. People who were coached early in the year—starting in Episode 1040 we started bringing people back with Lisa and then we’ve got Meg, and Gianna, Stephen—Walid’s story was amazing. Last week we had Ethan on, so thank you to everybody who’s just loving this show. I appreciate you so much. You’re motivating me to make sure to continue this in 2019. If you want to just give me a quick shout out on Twitter or Instagram @PatFlynn I’d just appreciate it very much, and also of course a review for the show on iTunes, which would be really helpful, especially for the newbies who are all getting their iPhones and devices this Christmas.

They’re all going to find podcasts and search for podcasts, and if they see some cool reviews from people like you, they’re going to be more likely to listen, and my goal is to help change lives of as many entrepreneurs as possible, and you can help me in that journey too, because Team Flynn, you’re amazing. That’s why you’re Team Flynn. We’re all in this together. I may be the team captain, but you know what, the team captain passes the ball to you sometimes and then you header it in, and then we do a little celebration on the soccer field and we dance. We have a good time.

That’s what it’s all about, and by the way, at FlynnCON1 we’re going to do some of those things together. We’re not going to play soccer, but actually that would be pretty cool. Maybe another year, but if you haven’t gotten your ticket for FlynnCON yet, check it out. It’s an event that I’m putting on, the first big live event conference, although I’m going to be calling it a performance really. It’s going to happen over a two-and-a-half day period between July 26 and July 28 of 2019 in San Diego, and you’re invited. If there are tickets left, all you have to do is go to FlynnCON1.com. First of all, see if there are tickets left, and sign up there before they go away, because by the time I’m recording this we’re still in early November. They’re almost sold out, so we’ll see, but hope to see you there. If not, maybe the year after, and we’re going to have a lot of fun.

Anyway, thank you guys, I appreciate you. I look forward to serving you in next week’s episode. Until then, love you guys. Team Flynn for the win.

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