AskPat 254 Episode Transcript
Pat Flynn: What's up, everybody? Pat Flynn here, and welcome to Episode 254 of AskPat. Thank you so much for joining me today.
We're going to go right into today's question right after we talk about and thank today's sponsor, which is FreshBooks.com. They are sponsoring this episode today. Thank you, FreshBooks. You are amazing, because not only are you sponsoring this show, but you are helping me manage my finances as well. For those of you who have a small business and you're making money, you're spending money, you're invoicing, FreshBooks is the best software you can use to make all that happen and make it so easy for you, so you can spend less time getting headaches and stressing over managing your accounts and stuff, and more time doing the stuff you need to do to make money online. If you'd like to get FreshBooks and try it out for free for seven days, a seven-day free trial, you can go to GetFreshBooks.com. Over a million small businesses are using it, and even award-winning mobile apps. You can check all that information in your business on the go as well. Again, GetFreshBooks.com and enter “AskPat” in the “How did you hear about us?” section.
All right, let's get to today's question from Talia.
Talia: Hey, Pat! Thanks so much for what you do. I love, love, love your podcast. It's so helpful how you cut right to the chase at answering people's questions, which are oftentimes so universal, so thanks! Okay, so I have a question for you that's been holding me up big time. I run Party in My Plants at PartyInMyPlants.com where I blog, make videos, and individually coach people on how to eat healthier without, well, hating their lives. My struggle is with engagement, sort of. You see, my audience loves to read and watch my content and make the recipes I post, but they aren't the type, really as a whole, to post, comment, tweet, or share any of it on social media. They don't shy away from writing me personally about how much they love what I put out there, but they're not big online people in the sense that they don't get the whole ebook, digital program, online contests kinda stuff. I've asked around and even surveyed a bunch of my audience members, and they literally subscribe to other newsletters but mine. They follow no other blogs, and they've never bought an ebook. When I asked them what type of product I could create that would help them achieve their health goals, they all—every single one of them—said, “A book.” A physical, go-to-Barnes and Noble-and-buy-it book. I know they're huge consumers of free information online, like BuzzFeed-type, Mashable stuff, but they don't, apparently, want to buy helpful digital content or programs online. My question is: How the heck do I have an online business when all my audience wants to do is secretly consume and implement my helpful information? Do I even have an online business? Am I totally screwed? Thank you so much, Pat. I can't wait to hear your answer.
Pat Flynn: Talia, thank you so much for the question. First of all, congratulations. I'm going to say congrats to you, because you do have fans, and that's awesome. Whenever you have fans, you can make things happen. Maybe they are not quite engaged on your website right now, but they are spending the time to send you notes of thanks. That is huge. Every business should want those, and a lot of people would kill to have that, so congratulations. That's awesome; you're off to a great start. Perhaps we could talk a little bit about increasing the engagement on the website, which I think will help, but I also want to talk about this idea of, “Do you have an online business to begin with?” What you could do to potentially monetize, and other ideas beyond your audience that you can do to monetize as well?
First, let's talk about engagement. Engagement is important, but I wouldn't necessarily determine the success of your brand based on engagement. A lot of people have the issue of having a lot of traffic come into their sites, and people are obviously there, but they are silent. Just not communicative at all. People feel like their sites aren't as good or maybe are complete failures because nobody is there talking. They see these other sites where there's this thriving community and there are hundreds of comments and things like that. Obviously, that's what we all want, 'cause it's kinda cool to see people talking when we run a post and have people comment, share, tweet, and things like that. That's so cool. It's such a cool feeling, but if that doesn't happen, that doesn't mean that you're not doing well. You can absolutely do well without that; it just so happens that you might be in a niche where people, like you said, aren't really used to doing that. That's okay. There are a lot of other sites out there that are the same way that are still performing extremely well.
Don't use engagement as a way to meter the success of your brand, but you can increase engagement by doing a few things: obviously, incentivizing your audience to do that, and if they don't know how to do that, then what you want to do, like you want to do if they don't know how to do anything, is train them. Tell them exactly how to do it in a step-by-step fashion. I've seen a lot of people do this on their sites much better than me, actually. When somebody has to do something like, for example, subscribe to a podcast, which is something quite technical, they actually shoot a video and show somebody step-by-step. So easy that a third-grader would be able to do it, and that's kinda how you need to approach it sometimes. People online aren't the smartest people in the world. I'm not trying to offend your audience or anything; this is just in general. People need to be told what to do, but beyond that, people need to be told how to do what you want them to do as well. I feel I do a pretty good job of doing that on tutorials and blog posts and things like that, but I could go even further if I wanted to, and I probably should sometimes. For instance, when people subscribe to newsletters, when people download certain things that they get, and perhaps, when they … There's so many. Subscribing to the podcast is probably the best example I could give you. Train your audience. If there's a certain thing you want your audience to do more than anything, if you think it would add value to the community in whole, train them. Shoot a video on exactly how to do that.
Tweeting and sharing is obviously a benefit to you as well, and the thing you have to realize about that is: Do they have Twitter accounts? I'm not sure if you've asked them on their survey or if there's a way to find out, but if they don't have Twitter accounts or it just doesn't seem like many of them have Twitter or have any platform to really share on, then I wouldn't even focus or waste time on that. That's something I actually learned myself when getting into the food truck industry. Not as a food truck owner, but somebody who created a site for food truck owners at Foodtruckr.com. The interesting thing about that site is people who are on that site own food trucks, but they don't share either. The reason they don't share those articles that I write for them—my writer writes for them too. Sorry, I want to make sure I give credit to Nicole. They don't share them because they would be shared with their customers, which isn't the same audience, so I don't even really ask them to do share anymore. Yes, there are buttons there and I make it easy to share, but I don't force it, and I don't really even give them calls to actions to do that. That sort of happens on their own if they want to share it. Sometimes they do, especially if I feature a specific truck in a podcast episode, for example. They'll go ahead and share with their audience because they know that they're getting featured on a big site and things like that. They're happy to share that with their potential customers and people who follow them on Twitter, on Facebook, but generally speaking, they don't share, so I don't waste my time doing that. I find out what I can do to better help them, and that is with more articles and more podcast episodes, so that's where I spend most of my time.
I would make sure that even though it's frustrating sometimes when you don't get engagement, if you know people are enjoying it because of the letters that people are sending you, and the notes and the emails, then keep doing that. That's sort of along the same lines of what I do, because I collect handwritten notes of thanks from people. That's my gauge for whether or not I'm actually doing stuff right. I always look out for those. I don't necessarily ask for them either, they just happen to come into my email. Excuse me, not my email — although, I do get thank you notes in my email — but the handwritten notes. The ones where people take the time to actually send me something. They actually pull out a pen and paper or buy a thank you card and write in it. That, to me, is just, “Wow, okay. I must be doing something right,” and I feel like you know that you're doing something right too.
Now, it's just kind of breathing in and out and trying to think of and explore different options for how you could serve your audience and how they can serve you back. How can your audience, who you've been serving, serve you back? I think that's an important thing to think about. It's a lot of reasons why online businesses fail, is because … Going back to your earlier question, are you actually an online business? Well, if you're not selling anything, you're not a business. You need to sell something or have some sort of way to generate an income and monetize. You don't necessarily need to sell something. Smart Passive Income, I'm not really selling anything at all, but I am an affiliate for products. That's one avenue of income that you can go through. Although, I think another one that might be even better for you and your particular post, and I know this works well with a lot of food bloggers, there's an upcoming interview on Smart Passive Income with the people over at PinchOfYum.com, who actually posted an income report. They get a good amount of income from sponsored posts, so having other companies pay to get in front of that audience who may not pay you back themselves, but because they're there and there are numbers and they're ravenous and they like what you have to say, they're going to listen to what you have to say. Then these companies that come in are likely to want to get in front of the audience as well. That's where you can earn a little bit of an income as well. I said “as well” I think like five times in the last minute, so I apologize about that. Do you have an online business? Yes, I think you have the start of an online business.
And Talia, I wouldn't freak out. I think you are off to a great start and I would explore these other options as well, but I would also see what you can do to train your audience to help pay you back. What I mean by that is, like I said earlier, giving them videos and actually instructions on how to do certain things. Like, if they do have Twitter accounts and Facebook accounts, on how to share and obviously, making it easy to do that on your site as well. If they're asking for a book, then I would give them a book. A physical book can be an option, although, I would utilize Amazon. I feel like at least a few of them are going to have the understanding of what it's like to buy something on the Amazon. If not, then you train them. Show a video of how they can purchase your book to Amazon and get it sent to their Kindle if they have a Kindle, or their device if they have a device. And you could utilize CreateSpace, which is a partner with Kindle to create physical books. People can order on-demand physical books based off of what you upload onto Amazon. That could work out really well too, so they can get that physical book. I definitely think you should create it. If it's being asked for it, you gotta do it. I waited too long when I started Green Exam Academy to deliver an audiobook after people started asking for it, and I wasted a lot of money and time by not doing that when it was being asked of me. So, do that. I think it could work out well for you. Really, there's no way to know if it's going to work out unless you do it. I would much rather live knowing that you gave it a shot and it didn't work out than not doing it at all. There's a great quote today that I'm going to share with you at the end of this that has everything to do with what I just said there, so stay tuned for that.
Talia, I hope this answers your question in some way, shape, or form. Love to hear more from you and everybody else out there. If you'd have something you like to add to this conversation, use the Twitter hashtag #AskPat254, and feel free to add to this conversation to help Talia out as well. Talia, you can search for that hashtag to see what people are saying or even add to it as well: #AskPat254. Thank you so much. You are totally doing things right, I feel. I love the domain name, and I also love that you already did a survey and you know exactly what you need to do. I think you're there; you just need to do a little bit more training and experimentation, and also explore these other avenues of income as well: sponsored posts, affiliate marketing, and things like that. A course, a membership site, maybe that's not in order with this type of audience, but sponsored posts, affiliate, book sounds right up its alley. Talia, an AskPat t-shirt is headed your way for having your question featured here on the show. Thank you again for sending it in. For those of you listening, if you have a question you'd like potentially featured here on the show, all you have to do is head on over to AskPat.com and you can ask right there from that page.
I'd also like to thank today's sponsor, which is FreshBooks.com. Don't use this cruddy software to help you manage your finances. It's too important, especially if you're doing any sort of invoicing. If you want to look professional, you want to invoice your clients, your students, whoever you're invoicing, your company that you're working with for consulting work or whatever, make it look professional. Make it easy for yourself by using a software like FreshBooks to help manage it all for you. Like I said earlier, you can have less stress and less headaches, and more time and head space to work on the things that you need to work on to grow your business. If you'd like to check out FreshBooks and check it out for seven days for free, head on over to GetFreshBooks.com and enter “AskPat” in the “How did you hear about us?” section. Again, that's GetFreshBooks.com and enter “AskPat.” Thank you so much again for listening in. I really appreciate your time, and if you have a second, head on over to iTunes and leave a quick review, an honest review for the show. Go to iTunes and enter “AskPat” and find me there, and leave a rating and review. It goes such a long way. It does matter in the rankings, and it helps other people find the show as well, and know that it is something for them. I appreciate you for that. Again, head on over to iTunes and think about writing a review for AskPat.
Like I said, I'm going to end with a quote. This quote is from somebody unknown, but they are awesome, because this quote is awesome, and that is, “Don't let the fear of what could happen make nothing happen.” Thanks so much for listening in. Take care. See you in the next episode.
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