Many of you have heard my story about getting laid off from my dream job in 2008. I had to find a way to earn an income, so I started teaching architects how to pass the LEED exam on my first niche site.
In this coaching session, I'm chatting with Luis Duque. He is doing something very similar in the engineering space. Luis loves his job and can't see himself leaving it, but he also wants to share his knowledge and help others in his industry pass the PE exam. He hosts a podcast and shares resources and courses through his brand, Engineering Our Future.
So, when you're not looking to build a massive audience, how do you engage people in your niche and find your superfans? With a full-time job and a family, what are the most efficient ways to grow a business?
We discuss all of that today. Luis has already built a small team to help him out, so we look at what his next steps could be. We explore paid advertising and other powerful avenues to help him reach targeted audiences. I also share some of the time-management tricks that help me stay productive.
This is a valuable conversation, so listen in to find out how to use these strategies to take your business to the next level. Enjoy!
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AP 1248: How Do I Grow My Brand as a Parent with a Full-Time Job?
Pat Flynn: What's up everybody? Pat Flynn here and welcome to episode 1248 of AskPat 2.0. You're about to listen to a conversation between myself and an entrepreneur just like you. And today we're speaking with Luis Duque, who is the founder of Engineering Our Future.
Now, what's really interesting about Luis's story is that he has a nine to five job. And he loves it and he does not want to leave it, but he also wants his side business engineering our future, which helps others in the engineering field reach their goals, he wants that to do well and to begin to automate some of that stuff, and he's been doing pretty okay with it.
In fact, it started a couple years ago after listening to this podcast and the SPI podcast, and he's put the work into place to create his own podcast. Again, engineering our future. He does coaching to, again, help engineers reach their career goals, right? Professionals in that level. And what's really amazing is that there's a lot of parallels between the beginning of his journey, which is where he is at right now and the journey that I had with after I got laid off for my architecture job, starting my architecture website to help people in the architecture field pass a particular exam. So you're going to hear me offer Luis a lot of suggestions based on my own personal experience in a very similar realm, helping people pass exams, helping people with their career, and this is very, very good advice because a lot of this stuff, even if you don't help people pass an exam or don't help people with a particular career, there's still a lot of things to pull away from this as far as the tactics to grow an email, list, the tactics to make more sales and do it in a legitimate manner.
So, definitely pay attention. You can find Luis's website and engineering our future over at LuisFelipeDuque.com and his Engineering Our Future brand, and of course, podcast, which you can listen to anywhere of course. And this is an awesome one. This one's really fun.
So here we go, Luis Duque.
Louis, thanks for joining me today.
Luis Duque: Thanks for inviting me. I'm, I'm very excited to have the conversation with you.
Pat Flynn: I'm excited that you're here. Why don't you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do?
Luis Duque: Yeah, so I'm a licensed professional engineer in Colorado.
I, I live in the Denver area. I work as a bridge engineer during the day, have a regular nine to five job. I, I love it. I have a lot of fun. Going to construction sites and doing all the engineering stuff, the math, and, and talking with people and everything. On top of that, I founded Engineer Our Future a couple years ago, which is a platform to educate our engineers in soft skills like leadership, time management, how to find jobs, how to grab resumes, how to prepare for the P exam, the professional engineering exam.
And that has been a journey that really started with the podcast and started with following you and, and seeing all the great things you're doing with your own podcast. Amazing. And, and really just grew into business that two years ago, I, I didn't see it coming.
Pat Flynn: That's amazing, well congratulations to you on the success with, with the new venture and the podcast, and we'll tell everybody where to go to listen to it in just a minute.
But you brought back some memories for me, talking about your job sites and being out in the construction sites and stuff. As you probably know, I used to be in the world of architecture. So, you know, architects and engineers tend to work together quite often. Maybe not always get along together, but hopefully you and I can can have a good show here today.
And yeah. So podcasts and this bit like, how is the business doing? You've been doing it for a few years. Like give us a sense of scale of, of what you've built.
Luis Duque: Yeah. So at the beginning you just kind of started with the podcast. I just wanted to see. If I, I could do it frequently enough. I was starting every two weeks.
Again, a lot of work behind these scenes and, and obviously with a full-time job, a family of, of three children. So it's, it's a lot of things that are happening behind the scenes. So the first thing was more like, Okay, am I gonna be able to sustain this? After that, it was more like, I'm gonna increase the frequency, start a, a weekly episode. I started to learn a little more things, focusing more on the newsletter, focusing more on the website articles, a little more on social media and, and, hearing the feedback in that second year, that's when I passed my P exam. Creating a lot of content from that really gave me a idea of just share more about that.
People really interested in learning how I passed the P exam. I did a little bit unconventional way in terms of like not taking a course that was teaching me. I'm preparing for exam. I kind of just did it all myself. I've been following people like Thomas, Frank, like that are just really amazing in productivity.
People, I just, I was sure that I could do a better job than these other places were, we're doing. So I did it myself. I got all the experience. And create a course after that. And it's been doing great for affiliates. I think last year I made about $25,000 from zero the year before that, so that was great.
This year is about five to 10,000, so it's a little less. I've changed a few things, but that's kind of where I'm at. The newsletter is about a thousand people. I've been enjoying just having that outlet of communication with them and just kind of what I'm learning, what's up in the engineering world, and just kind of having that two avenue conversation, which I know, you know, it's great.
Pat Flynn: Yeah, yeah. No, well that's amazing and I love that. So where do we go from here? Let me know how I can help you. What's on your mind?
Luis Duque: Yeah, so I think the main thing I, I'm struggling the most with is obviously having that time and money to do all the things that I wanna do. I enjoy the conversations. I enjoy helping people.
But at the same time, I have a family. I have a full-time job. I enjoy doing engineering. I don't foresee myself leaving engineering time soon, so, The things that I've struggled the most is just trying to find the time to put into the podcast and put into these courses that I wanna be doing, helping people and coaching and, and doing all these sort of things while at the same time, just being present with my family and having a successful career as an engineer.
Right now, I think I put about five to seven hours kind of early in the mornings to write the newsletter, articles, plan for the podcast and do all those things. I have a few people that help me with like show notes and and editing, which is great.
And yeah, I'm just kind of figuring out what, where should I focus more on to just build that audience that is really engaged. I know I don't need a audience of a hundred thousand people to make sustainable, but how do I engage with those little people I have that I know are engineers that are exactly my niche and how do I engage them?
Pat Flynn: This is a great question. You know, so oftentimes when we talk to people here on the show who have a business, but they just don't have the time. We start to dive into, Okay, well where could we potentially get time? So you had already mentioned that you do not want to quit your job, which is a constraint now that we know, because that's oftentimes where people can get some time back.
Right? They can maybe go part-time or sometimes people quit. I got laid off. We know net that you wanna stay there, you're loving it. Why change it? Right? So we know we have that constraint. The other constraint, very important, I'm grateful you mentioned, was you wanna make sure you're still there as a husband and a father for your kids.
So we're not gonna bend on that and you're not gonna take time away from them. So that leads not a ton of time left. So with that time you have remaining, there are some things that we can figure out. How do we become more efficient in certain manners, right? And you know, this is sort of an engineer. There's things that are more efficient than others in your production.
How are you able to become more efficient? So that, that would be number one. Let me ask you really quick, cuz this is where we can get most of the time back if you aren't doing this, but are you batch recording your podcast episodes?
Luis Duque: Currently, I don't. Just because of like, I don't usually have like four hours of time where I can just sit and record like four episodes.
I am bringing a co-host for the show, which will help a lot, take that burden off primarily of me, and we record every other week together. And then he does some recordings on the off weeks and I do some recordings the off week. So there you go. That's, that's been great. I do try. Often do back to back interviews, at least is having two interviews back to back and that's work great on like Monday evenings.
But I don't have like a four hour chunk where I can just see it and record like five podcast episodes.
Pat Flynn: Sure. Okay. That makes sense. A, that could be like, okay, we can't figure that out. That's okay if nothing else can move. I love that you're hiring or working with a cohost, cuz that was gonna be another thing that you can do to get time back, is let's get other people to help.
And so you're, you're already doing that. You've already solved that problem. You have some people helping you with show notes already, so you're being as efficient as as possible there. The only other thing I would offer, I'm not saying this is what you do because maybe it's not possible, but if you, for example, was able to negotiate with, I don't know, your family for example, and say, Hey, the first Thursday of the month, I need a five hour block of time. I just need that so that I can get all the podcasts done for the whole month. And then you're there still the same amount of time, but just more consistently later. So we're just kind of moving time into different places and that that has worked for some people too.
Many times you can, again, I don't know the situation, but by asking for that block of time, you can give something else later. Cuz for example, same thing happened with me and my wife. I had asked for a large block of time on the beginning of the week to be able to do my podcasting. I record on Tuesdays so I have like a four or five hour block of time.
This was before the kids started going to school. Cuz when the kids are older you get a little bit of time back at least. So I'm, I'm guessing you have like young kids. How, how old are your kids?
Luis Duque: The oldest one is four right now.
Pat Flynn: Oh, okay. So, yeah. So, so they're all, they're at home, right? They're, they're at home.
So by being like, Okay, honey, like I know this is a little bit more work for you, but I need a block of time at the beginning of the month, but. I'll take the kids and then you go hang out with your girlfriends at the end of the month, right? Or something like that, right? Again, I'm just making up that that's what me and April did and it worked really well.
Again, might not be possible. I'm just saying there are ways that you could sort of work together with people around you. My mind goes to, so the problem we're trying to solve here is we just want amplification of what you're doing. We wanna find new people. And so the, the podcast is gonna remain consistent.
Finding time to insert course creation could work in the same way that we just talked about, finding a little bit of time here and there when you can, or just chipping away at it. But as far as amplification, I think you might be ready to start exploring paid advertising. I think that might be the best way to invest, not time, but a little bit of money to be able to have that amplification happen. And you probably know this listening to the podcast, but there are ways that you can build campaigns and systems that just require some money up front to be able to then hopefully get more money back, right? If you put a quarter in, you get a dollar back, and eventually, Okay, let's put two quarters in.
Let's get $2 back. Let's put four quarters in, let's get $4 back. It takes some time to develop those systems. Like I imagine there could be a funnel that you could create. For example, where, and I remember this cuz I remember when I was first getting started, I learned from somebody who was teaching the project management exam.
So not the engineering exam, but you know, another exam. And they were generating leads by offering a free practice exam. It was like a hundred questions that you can get for free that were like on the test and he was getting hundreds of new leads a day and he was spending maybe $50 to do that a day to get a hundred leads coming in.
But he knew that if one of those 100 people bought his course, I mean, he's already making a profit. So you see kind of how I'm trying to like figure this out because if you have already a product to offer, you could take some of that, reinvest it, and then all you need to do at that point, I say that like it's easy, it's, it's gonna take some figuring out, but you use Instagram to target engineers and now they're all seeing your free practice exam or something, or another thing that you have to offer, or you target Google Ads For anybody who looks up engineering exam on Google, here you are right underneath with a free practice exam that you can bring people into. So how does that resonate with you? I know I've been doing a lot of talking, but I just wanted to, to share that and, and see what you think.
Luis Duque: Yeah, I, I think that's something I haven't really explored a lot just in terms of ads as, as someone that I. It is like didn't go to school, didn't it? Is been in this for a couple of years. It just seems like, sure, I don't know what I'm doing when I'm getting to the ads. I've done a little something similar in terms of getting leads.
That's how I grew the newsletter to over a thousand people in like three or four months by sharing like a sneak peek of the P, course that I put together, just like a free version, which just like three, four emails. Nice. That got about 150 people into that course. And obviously this promoting the main course after that, given that discount.
And then I also put out like this summary that I created when I actually took the exam last year, and I think that has over like 1200 people in it. I'm getting a lot of through that of the thrilling team and people sharing everything I think that those posts usually get about. 150 to 300 to 400 comments every time I, I post it.
So I feel like I'm getting that right. It's hard for me to then sell the actual course to all those people. I think so far I have like six people that are going through the course, which obviously is not nothing. And I'm very grateful for them. I've chatted with them and everything, but how do. Then give them the value proposition of this course.
I know there is nothing else like this in the industry and engineers struggle with time. Kind of we'll be talking about here. Some people have family at these stage and careers, and I'm giving them the tools of like how to study so they don't have to sacrifice all of that stuff.
Pat Flynn: Yeah, I mean, the positioning of the course is really important and. The same way that I position my courses. It's, you know, you could spend all this time and figuring it out on your own. You could spend money going to different in-person events and other things that you can do to learn this stuff or it's all right here and it's this price, and you can get it right now. All access.
I think you're at the point now, you're, you have the podcast, you have the authority, and you have the, the program. Now we just need to connect those things together, and I think that if we, if you approach this in the way that Tim Ferris kind of quizzed me when I was approaching business, which was if this were easy, what would it look like?
Right, Louis? Like if we were to build a system that people can find you from and get interested in the course, well then you just need to bring more people and can spend money on ads to put more people into that funnel. Maybe we could build this out together. If you had a, a lead magnet that was worth, you know, signing up for an email for, maybe it is a preview of your course or a free access to a lesson or something.
Something that really gets a person to go, Oh, this is a obvious thing for me to sign up for. Right? They get into that, they get some value, and then, two weeks, they get an email from you every other day or a couple times a week talking about the course and also what it has to offer within it. They can unsubscribe at any time, but you're providing value along the way.
You're teaching and you're, you know, essentially you want the course to be offered in a very natural way that is just a part of a conversation with your subscribers. I really do believe that you have all the pieces and you be able to do it, and if you just map out roadmap, if they start here, this is where they enter. Okay, let's focus on getting people in there. Okay. From there, they go here and they're in the emails and they're clicking to open those emails. Okay, let's just focus on building that out. And then finally it connects to the course. I really do think that you'd be able to make it work, so that would be one way to go about it.
And the, the other thing that also I was thinking about, I just actually had another AskPat interview right before this, and this was a solution for them as well. How might you get in front of audiences that already exist and provide value to them? How might you be a guest on another podcast in, in the engineering space?
How might you work out a deal with another person who has tens of thousands of engineers on their list and do a JV partnership on your course this time. How might you help a YouTuber who has a large engineering audience and give them something that can then be passed forward to their people who are gonna be taking the course?
And then if they want more, they can come to your podcast or your course, or your, your channel. Getting in front of people who've already spent those years building trust and getting their endorsement can, can fast forward a process too.
Luis Duque: Yeah, and I've been on there is a, this company called School of PE, which they literally, that's what they do in affiliate for them.
I've been on like two or three other podcasts, so I've tried to do those things as well, which I think has brought some people over to like my network. I am part of the American Civil Engineers, a huge organization just for civil engineers. I feel like I'm doing those kind of things.
I don't see kind of the results. I've seen certain like spikes and certain times of the year where more people listen to podcasts, more people visit the website, more people are engaging with the content. But I haven't been able to like pinpoint where is that really coming from, like what specifically I'm doing to get those people into my system and maybe just mean I just need to do a better job of creating that sequence of emails.
Over few weeks to just kind of show the value proposition for the podcast, for the course, for deciding for the exam, and just kind of what you're saying, just walking them through that process that once they get like the last email and like I offer them the course one last time is an obvious answer that they're gonna purchase it.
So maybe I do need to work on something like that and just do a better job of creating that funnel to just having that course be the main product I'm offering and maybe the future expands to other things.
Pat Flynn: And, and make that process as easy as possible for that user. And that also helps you with creating less things.
I think we can really over, it's so easy to overcomplicate this. Just like you can overcomplicate the, the construction of something, right? Like how do we make it, simple, down to the fundamentals of what's gonna keep this thing up. And if you take that approach, the other thing that I think can help you if you do build this, or if you already have some sort of entry point into course eventually is find one person who you can just say, Hey, you know what? I'll give you, I'll give you free access to my course only if you tell me how this process is for you and where you get hung up. What's confusing? How do you feel about it? What's wrong with it? You get them to go into that beginning part of the campaign or funnel and you, you just check in on 'em and say, Okay, do you, do you know what to click on next?
Do you know where to go here? Or do you hear, I've done that a few times. One person can just unravel the entire broken system. Right? And it's like, it's so hard cuz we're, we're inside the bottle. We can't read the label cuz we're inside the bottle. So having one person on the outside do that for you, it can reveal the holes.
Right. And that would be a good exercise I think for, for you at this point. Cuz you have, again, you have all the components, you, you have what you need and, and that's why I started with ads cuz I'm like, we just need to get more people to find you. And that's something that doesn't require a to of time once you figure it out, it's just some investment that you can get back.
Luis Duque: So, Yeah. And I wanted to touch on that just briefly in terms of like, what have you find is more, The greatest return on, on investment, I guess getting into podcast and maybe paying other people in the, in the field that I'm in to just promote the work. Actually Google ads or Instagram ads. What's been your experience?
Pat Flynn: Well, in my experience, and then also with my students as far as ads are concerned, it really depends on the niche, right? Some mindset based kind of programs work really well on Instagram and and Facebook, right? Because that's where people connect emotionally with these things, right? But for more logical based things like my architecture exam stuff, your exam stuff, other people's more information based stuff I find works really well, google ads can work really well, Google AdWord, because people are literally searching for answers. They're willing to pay for those answers to get to the transformation faster. So that's number one. As far as like audience growth, in addition to that, I mean, guest podcasting continues to just blow me away with how impactful it is.
Actually, I saw a, a post on LinkedIn today about somebody whose business just changed overnight because they were a guest on one person's show that could work really, really well. Here's where marketing works best and what, what I try to focus on, because I'm not a great marketer, to be honest, I don't write the best copy and I, I'm still learning how it all works even after this much time.
But when you create something that's so obvious that a person needs to get, again, I'm, I keep going back to cuz I'm remembering Cornelius from my friend, from the PE exam. You created this a hundred question exam that like you'd be an idiot not to get that right to help you, right? It was just so obvious that that is what that audience needed to start with and it was free.
I mean that blew everything up for him. And, and so like if you had the most obvious, like if anybody who's taken the exam, like here's what you want to happen in the future. Somebody who's worked with you, they have a buddy at work who's like, Hey, I'm gonna take the engineering exam. They go, Oh, well I know exactly where to point.
You go to Luis cuz he has this thing. That's the only place you need to go when you take that approach, like things happen automatically because you just have the best stuff that people need to have. It's almost like they would be silly not to to take it. You wanna create that.
Luis Duque: Okay. Yeah. Yeah. And I think that's kind of what, obviously I should be aiming to.
Again, I've done a few things. I'm just kind of experimenting. I've just been in this for a couple of years, don't really know where I'm going, which is, I, I think it's, it's been a great experience as an engineer. Learning the communication skills, managing a business on side just has helping my day to day job.
And I think not only that, but has just made me a better engineer overall. And I, I shared a lot about that in, in podcast and everything, so, yeah. That's cool. Just having, Yeah, having that like my key entry point where it's like, if you really need to pass the exam, maybe it's your second, third, fourth time technique exam, you need to go to Louis.
Cause he has the best resources, he has the best community that is going be there to help you in any area. And maybe that's where I need to be focusing on kind of as, as a point or as a goal in the future.
Pat Flynn: Like what's, what's the one thing that everybody's just gonna like obviously know? I bet you could create something that just the entire engineering world or or people in that space would just be like, You're silly not to use this to help you study for this exam.
Like, this is so valuable. And then your name's attached to it and people who wanna go deeper with you in the course, it's there. I think you can get tens of thousands of people to join that email list and then you start that conversation with them from there and make it simple. That's the other thing.
If you start complicating what that is, like, Oh has this, and it has this and it does this, it's a, then people are like, Well, that's too much. What if it was just, again, I keep going back to this and you, you can use it, or maybe there's something else, but it's like, here are a hundred sample questions if you're taking the exam you wanna know what these questions are here, and that's, that's the conversation starter. Then you follow up and say, Hey, if you've got a bad. Great on that practice exam. Well, hey, I'm here to help you. Here's, here's what I could teach you. I think that'd be a cool, like sequence.
Luis Duque: Yeah, and I mean, obviously I wanna focus on this, but I, I enjoy more the process of like studying the, the behind productivity and everything.
How much you think I should focus on, like just getting this first to be like my product that everyone knows me by instead of trying to do some other products that maybe compliment what I'm doing right. And maybe just distract me from focusing this one thing right now.
Pat Flynn: Yeah. I mean, it doesn't even have to be difficult to create. I mean, you can just make it easy. Maybe it's 10 questions. For example, it doesn't have to be like a hundred questions. A hundred is kind of a lot. That's the carrot that brings people in, right? Sometimes you need to give people what they want first before you actually can give them what they need, because they might not know they need that until you give them what they want and they go, Oh, that's hard.
Or, I don't know what I'm doing. Can you help me now, Louis? So, yeah. Okay. Productivity and all that stuff. Now it starts to like be attractive because people aren't looking up, how do I become a productive studier? They're, they, how do I pass the exam? That's what they want. That's the carrot. And then you give them what they actually need.
So that's, that's the way that I would approach it.
Luis Duque: Okay. Yeah, that sounds great. I know we're at the top of the hour here, so really appreciate your feedback and everything. Again, an inspiration. Be taking some of your courses. Following the podcast for a while, so this is amazing. Unreal.
Pat Flynn: Thank you, Louis. I, I appreciate you tell everybody where they can go to listen to you and find your work.
Luis Duque: So my podcast is called Engineer Future, all about helping students and young engineers in their careers from applying to jobs to passing the the P exam and the FE exam. And they can find me LuisFelipeDuque.com. And I have a lot of resources, mainly for the P exam, but as well just kind of career related and productivity as well.
Pat Flynn: Nice. Engineering Our Future. Go ahead and check it out and listen to it on wherever you listen to podcasts, all the platforms. On YouTube as well. Thanks, Louis. Appreciate you.
Sounds good. Thank you.
All right. I hope you enjoyed that conversation with Louis and like I said earlier, a lot of parallels with my own story, so I'm excited to see what he does and especially with the funnel building and the the list growth.
I think there's so much opportunity here. And big shout out to Cornelius Bitchner who I don't even know if he listens to my podcast anymore. He used to, but he was the OG podcast guest, first podcast guest that I ever heard on any podcast. Who told the story of how he generated six figures, helping people pass the project management exam to become a project manager, of course.
And that inspired me to get started. And now we're just, as I said in the last episode, keeping those ripples going and helping those who are wanting to get started with whatever it is that we have an expertise in that we can help them with. So, such a cool story. And Luis, I look forward to connecting with you in the future.
Speaking of future Engineering Our Future is the name of his brand and podcast. You can find his website at LuisFelipeDuque.com. That's LuisFelipeDuque.com. Thank you so much for listening in. I appreciate you and I look forward to serving you in the next episode. Until then, cheers, peace out. And as always, Team Flynn for the win.
Have a good one.
Thanks for listening to AskPat at AskPat.com. I'm your host Pat Flynn. Our senior producer is Sarah Jane Hess. Our series producer is David Grabowski. And our executive producer is Matt Gartland. Sound editing by Duncan Brown. AskPat is a production of SPI Media. We'll catch you in the next session.