About This Episode
Sam Gavis-Hughson, owner of Byte-by-Byte, joins me to discuss how to take his business to the next level. We talk about guest-posting, podcasting, and how to price coaching services, and Sam creates a game plan for his content strategy going forward.
What You'll Learn: Strategies for increasing web traffic, how to price online coaching, and how to hone in and focus on the most important aspects of your business.
AskPat 1004 Episode Transcript
Pat Flynn: Hey. What's up everybody? Pat Flynn here. Welcome to Episode 1004 of AskPat 2.0. AskPat 2.0 is the show where I go deep with business owners who need some help. We get into deep conversations about problems, pains, struggles, and I offer advice and I coach people through the process.
Today we're talking with Sam Gavis-Hughson who owns Byte by Byte. That's B-Y-T-E, not bite like eat, because he helps people who are coders and developers get hired at places like Google and Facebook and whatever technology firm needs that kind of help. He helps train people with the interview process and the resume creation process to land those types of businesses and those jobs. Super cool business, and he's looking for help on how to grow and expand because he feels a little tapped out. He's done a pretty good job growing his business, and we're looking to help him even further. That's exactly what we're going to be talking about today. Plus, a few other things.
Before that, I do want to take a moment to thank today's sponsor, FreshBooks, who is sponsoring all of AskPat this year. Super cool company; one of my favorites. I use them myself for invoicing, for keeping track of my business expenses and income. It just makes it very easy, come tax season with all the administrative stuff. That's really what they do; that's what they help with. If you're self-employed, sometimes just thinking about the admin and the paperwork, creating invoices, calculating expenses, those kinds of things, they just put us on the edge, but this is what FreshBooks helps us with.
They are so obsessed with making their cloud accounting software so ridiculously easy to use that it'll literally transform how you feel about paperwork and how quickly you get it all done. It's done just that for me. You can create a perfectly-branded estimate or an invoice, which just takes about thirty seconds. Project proposals: You can create an outline of your project, scope of work, timeline for your deliverables, all those kinds of things. There's no more switching software—it's all inclusive. No more fussing with style and formatting—it's all built in. There are so many more amazing ways that FreshBooks can help you. I really want you to check it out. You can actually get an unrestricted free trial for thirty days. All you have to do is go to FreshBooks.com/askpat and just enter “Ask Pat” in the “How did you hear about us?” section. Once again, that's FreshBooks.com/askpat. Make sure you enter “Ask Pat”. Very cool.
For now, let's get into the coaching call with Sam Gavis-Hughson from Byte-by-Byte.com. Here he is.
Pat Flynn: Hey, Sam. Thanks for coming on AskPat. I appreciate you for taking the time today. Welcome.
Sam Gavis-Hughson: Yeah. Thanks so much for having me, Pat.
Pat Flynn: Yeah, absolutely. Really quick before we get into this, tell us a little bit about yourself and your business and what you do.
Sam Gavis-Hughson: Yeah, absolutely. I've been running my business since the beginning of 2016. It started as a side project for about a year and a half and then transitioned into full-time halfway through this year. I run a blog called Byte by Byte, which is Byte-by-Byte.com, not bite like eating an apple.
Pat Flynn: Eating, right, right.
Sam Gavis-Hughson: Yeah, I help software engineers interview for jobs. This is something where it's a very technical process. You have to write code as part of your interview, and people just really struggle with it, so I help them make that process a little bit easier.
Pat Flynn: That's very cool. What's your favorite part about that process?
Sam Gavis-Hughson: The people getting the jobs, for sure. It's like, getting that feedback from people, “Oh my god! I just got a job at Google” or “Oh my god! I just got a job at Facebook,” is just such a cool thing to hear.
Pat Flynn: That's awesome. You're a developer and a coder yourself?
Sam Gavis-Hughson: Yeah. I was a software engineer for a couple years, studied computer science in school, and spent all the time preparing for interviews myself, and realized that most people don't have the knowledge of how to do this properly—so let me help them do that.
Pat Flynn: I love it. You're providing an amazing service for people. That's really cool. How are you helping them through that process?
Sam Gavis-Hughson: Right now, I'm actually beta testing a course that is hopefully going to launch in January. Other than that, I do one on one coaching. That's really the primary mode of income right now, is one on one coaching with clients and helping them through that whole process.
Pat Flynn: One on one. Why are you exploring courses on top of one on one?
Sam Gavis-Hughson: A couple things. One is that I had a lot of . . . I actually launched an ebook, following Ebooks the Smart Way, back in August and had a lot of really good feedback from that, so I wanted to scale up from that and just do something that was a little more involved. It's the same . . . The course that I'm testing is the same topic, which is this very narrow area of coding interviews called dynamic programming. The book covered that topic, and then the course is digging a lot deeper. I had a lot of requests for this content, and I felt like doing a video course and getting that depth to it would make a big difference for people. It seems like it has so far.
Pat Flynn: Cool. You're running a beta program for the dynamic coding course?
Sam Gavis-Hughson: Yeah. Exactly.
Pat Flynn: Cool. What's on your mind?
Sam Gavis-Hughson: I'm testing the course right now and everything's going well. I'm a little bit burnt out from doing the course because it was a lot of effort to build that whole thing. I'm doing everything myself since I don't have that much income and can't afford that much help. I want to take a break from doing the courses—I'm going to come back later next year, but really looking to go and build my audience, because I'm at a decent point now. I was building it over the last two years, and with the ebook launch, really helped in particular. I'm at about 2,500 people on my email list right now, and 7,000 to 9,000 views a month on my website. I just feel like the best thing that I can do to improve sales for the course and improve the top of my funnel for my coaching and everything is to bring in more people. Also, I can help more people that way. I'm just a little past the point where I know exactly how to grow the audience. It was easy early on—Facebook groups, reaching out to people one on one, basic SEO stuff—but I feel like I'm starting to hit that barrier where I'm trying to figure out where to go next.
Pat Flynn: Cool. Anything else on your mind?
Sam Gavis-Hughson: That is the main thing.
Pat Flynn: Okay. Let's figure out how to get more people to find your stuff, essentially.
Sam Gavis-Hughson: Yeah. Exactly.
Pat Flynn: How have you been attempting to do this?
Sam Gavis-Hughson: I have . . . Primarily what I've done in the past is 1) not much, but 2) posting on Facebook groups. There are a couple Facebook groups that are very niche for this topic, so there's literally one called Coding Interview Prep, which has probably . . . It had 10,000 people in it last I checked, but I think it's grown significantly since then. It's a substantial group, and that's sort of where I got started. There's also a subreddit, but other than that, I've been planning to do guest posting, but haven't done it at this point. That's one of my big goals for the beginning of 2018.
Pat Flynn: Why are you considering guest posting as an option?
Sam Gavis-Hughson: I did one guest post, exactly one, when I launched my ebook. That has performed really well. Also, the biggest source of traffic right now for me is search engine traffic, which is great, but I have very few backlinks. I feel like if I could get that authority, that would greatly increase the traffic that's already pretty good.
Pat Flynn: For sure. I think that's a smart thing. In addition to guest blogging, something that's really popular and often working even better now is guest podcasting. What's really cool about the . . . It's dynamic programming, right? Which is like, a very specialized niche within the programming space?
Sam Gavis-Hughson: Yes.
Pat Flynn: Whenever somebody has that kind of superpower in that mini niche within a bigger niche, my eyes open up because there's so many opportunities to get in front of people who may on the surface seem like a competitor, but you actually go in there and help them because they don't have this dynamic programming experience or knowledge in that space. You could go to another person who has a number of coders, for example, in their audience and help them by being the expert on dynamic programming and offer that as a value to them and their audience. It becomes a really—not super easy, but a much easier pitch when you want to get on somebody's show, or you're pitching a guest post, because you have this specialty. Definitely make sure that that's known when you do reach out to those people. I think that's going to be a big strategy moving forward for you. Even before we get into even more tactical stuff, what are you hoping to achieve? How much traffic do you want?
Sam Gavis-Hughson: Just doing very back of the envelope calculations, and I've been going through Ramit's Zero to Launch, which has been great, and the numbers that he suggests targeting are roughly 10 percent conversion from website views to your email list and then 1 percent conversion from your email list into paid subscribers. My goal for this year is to do twenty course sales a month, which, backing that up, is 20,000 visitors, which also seems like a very attainable goal within the next year, if not the next six months.
Pat Flynn: Essentially doubling or 2.5-ing your traffic?
Sam Gavis-Hughson: Yeah. Exactly.
Pat Flynn: Your traffic right now is mainly just coming from SEO and a few posts here and there?
Sam Gavis-Hughson: Yeah. It's coming probably 50 percent from SEO, and then roughly 25 percent direct traffic and 25 percent referral traffic.
Pat Flynn: Okay. I think really what we need to figure out is, based on those numbers, what's the plan of attack?
Sam Gavis-Hughson: Yeah.
Pat Flynn: How often are you considering—let's start with the guest post/guest podcasting, if you're open to that, which I would definitely recommend. Plus, because those things last a lot longer and those are evergreen things that people love because . . . Let's continue talking about this really quick. The podcasting thing's really interesting. You don't necessarily need to have your own podcast, although that's obviously an option too, but you'd be creating something completely new.
I would always recommend that, when somebody's considering creating something like a podcast, to get on other people's podcasts first, just to see the power behind it. What's really cool about that is people can hear your voice, they can hear how you've helped others and can kind of get a taste of what it might be like to work with you. We'll dive into your course offerings and how those are structured, versus your one to ones in a minute, but for coaching specifically, if that's something you want to continue to bump up, it's going to be much easier to do that from a podcast episode where people are hearing what it's like to . . . What your vibe is like, anyway. I definitely agree with that.
What is your plan of attack for guest posts, and now guest podcasting, if that's something you're doing?
Sam Gavis-Hughson: Just to go back for a second, I've actually heard . . . I did a bunch of YouTube videos, which is sort of how I was getting started, and I absolutely heard from people, from coaching clients that like, that was the thing that convinced them that I would be a person that they'd want to work with, because they were able to see me, the way that I do things. I definitely agree with you that doing podcasting would be an awesome thing.
In terms of how I'm planning on approaching it, I need to bump up the consistency not only of guest posting and guest podcasting, but also posting on my own site as well. I'm trying to come up with a good, more structured approach for me to write individual posts and write higher quality posts in addition to that. I guess I'm actually not sure, and I'd be curious to hear your input, in terms of how I should balance the writing posts for my own site and doing outreach on other sites. I was thinking of roughly targeting once a week for creating some sort of content somewhere, whether that's on my site or on other people's sites, and was thinking maybe that would work out to one guest post and three posts on my site per month, but I'm honestly not sure what the right approach is to that.
Pat Flynn: I have some ideas, but I'd love to hear from you what you feel like the right rhythm would be. Is it three and one or . .. Why do you feel like you need to have . . . What's the current rhythm on your site right now?
Sam Gavis-Hughson: The current rhythm is . . . It was once a week for a while, and then as I was doing the course, I dropped off. It was really the problem. I'm trying to get back into a once a week rhythm. I think that probably consistency is the thing that matters most, and I don't have any problem with sharing content that I write or podcasts with other people with my list anyway, so maybe it makes more sense to aim for a two and two approach where it's more evenly split. For the SEO purposes, I obviously want to build up more content on my site. I think I have maybe twenty or twenty-five posts right now. Having been doing this for two years, that's not a lot, so I want to build that up, but I also think that there's a ton of value in going, reaching out beyond just my site. Maybe a two and two would be a good approach.e
Pat Flynn: Since lowering the frequency of blog posts on your own site, have you seen a parallel drop in anything related to SEO?
Sam Gavis-Hughson: No, not at all.
Pat Flynn: What do you feel, now that I've framed that for you, might be the way to move forward?
Sam Gavis-Hughson: Based on that, it sounds like doing just guest posting might be the way to go. The one caveat is that I would worry over time that it would drop off. I haven't seen a drop off yet, but it also hasn't been that long since I've been posting. I would certainly want to . . . I feel like it would probably be necessary to continue at least posting with some frequency, even if that's once a month, just keeping fresh content on the site, but maybe that's not true. Maybe I should just be doing guest posting.
Pat Flynn: I mainly frame that because the one guest post, three on your own, scared me a little bit because I knew that the SEO wouldn't have dropped since focusing more on the course stuff, which I think is a smart move because you're focusing on higher value stuff and offerings and assets that you've built for yourself over time. I think two and two, in my eyes, would work really well. That way you could even bump up the SEO a little bit more. It's not going to go down. It may even go back up as you continue to be consistent with that. Once every other week would be a great rhythm. I think, for me, that also is cool because you're switching it up every week. It becomes new every week and you have a new person that you're writing for, perhaps every week. It becomes fun and exciting and never gets dull when you have that interim between your own stuff in there. I think two and two would work.
Going back, is that something that's possible, though? Can you create a rhythm to actually make this happen? This may have us consider, “Okay, I can't do four, but I can do three,” because I want to work backwards from what you have available.
Sam Gavis-Hughson: Right.
Pat Flynn: If you were going to, or when you begin to create this content now, how is that going to be created?
Sam Gavis-Hughson: What I'm experimenting with right now is basically a four week long post-writing process that overlaps each week—
Pat Flynn: Mm-hmm, I do the same thing.
Sam Gavis-Hughson: One week I'm doing the outlining and then the next week writing, next week editing, next week all the auxiliary stuff. Then I'm outlining one post while I'm writing another post and editing another post. That's what I'm experimenting with right now. It seems to be working pretty well. I'm trying to dedicate a lot more time to writing the posts because in the past, I've been very high level with the posts and I just don't think that they're as valuable as they could be. I'm trying to dedicate more time to writing much more in depth content. That's creating a much longer process, but that doesn't mean that I couldn't still publish on a weekly basis somewhere.
Pat Flynn: Yeah. I think going higher value with the posts, you're going to get a lot more bang for your buck by putting a little bit more time and effort on a much longer, in depth post versus just surface level posts, which could change the frequency of how often you post. I would much prefer that you have the higher value content out there, not—I don't want to say waste time with just the shorter, like you said, just surface level articles, but definitely creating a rhythm is great.
I'm so happy to see that you have a system in place already. I'm not surprised though, but I think it's smart to continue to do that. I would absolutely make sure to stick to that schedule. I think it's really important that you honor that and have specific—even days where, or times during the day where you know exactly what you're doing so that you don't get off course. Maybe it's just going to be an experimental thing too. I think that's the other thing I want to offer you, is the fact that this doesn't have to be a permanent commitment, but it can be more like a print where you just, for a short time period, you're really focused on this so you can see what the results might be. Then you offer yourself a little bit more time back on the other side of it to focus on other things or readjust if needed. Perhaps you might need more time. Maybe it's only one post a month on each, I don't know. I think it's going to take just doing to learn.
Sam Gavis-Hughson: Yeah, for sure.
Pat Flynn: Because we can create plans all day, but until you . . . I think it's a big lesson for everybody listening. You can plan all day, but until you start doing, that's when you finally start figuring out what really is going to work here. I think having a plan to start will give you a baseline to then readjust from, so that's great. That feels good to me in terms of your outreach and also continuing to focus on your own site's content too, because you still have visitors there. You want to show them that there's new stuff too. I think that's a really, really smart approach. In terms of your course offerings, because we also want to focus on, “Okay. What happens when people come to your website? How does this all work?” “Currently, how are you getting people into your coaching program?” is what I wanted to ask you.
Sam Gavis-Hughson: The way that it is right now is actually terrible. It doesn't really funnel people in at all. There's just a page, people can find it and they can email me, basically. There is actually a place now where you can schedule like a fifteen-minute consultation directly, but that's the extent of it. I definitely think there's a lot more that I could be doing there.
Pat Flynn: The reason I say that is because it seems like selling your courses are going to be a big goal for you next year. You said you wanted to sell twenty a month?
Sam Gavis-Hughson: Yeah. I'd love to do twenty a month in just the courses, at least by the end of the year, and then certainly try to bump up the coaching as well, and also affiliate sales, but that's a whole separate thing.
Pat Flynn: You have the audience to really crank on all those things. Now it's just understanding the customer journey. Where I wanted to go with coaching is that coaching—people who have coaching and then offer a course are setting themselves up for some really good success because the coaching program can anchor the course. There's going to be a number of people, hopefully—not hopefully, but like, your coaching program is maybe a little bit out of their price range, right?
Sam Gavis-Hughson: Mm-hmm.
Pat Flynn: Now you have this downsell essentially, which is your course, which is self-driven. You definitely want to differentiate how much access people have in coaching versus how much access people have to you in the course, but it becomes a very clear, “Oh, man. I can't afford Sam on a one on one, but I can get him a little bit and all this amazing content at this price.” What are you actually charging for your coaching right now?
Sam Gavis-Hughson: $100 an hour basically, but I do it in packages. It's either one month or three months, which would be $500 for one month or $1,200 for three months, but it's certainly underpriced. The plan is to raise the price.
Pat Flynn: When are you going to raise the price?
Sam Gavis-Hughson: ASAP—whenever I have another client. I don't really have the pricing listed . . . It is listed on my site right now, but the plan is to take that down because it doesn't really reflect what I'm doing now anyway. I usually do the pricing on a per-case basis anyway, and so just whenever I have my next client, potential client.
Pat Flynn: You need to raise the price of that. When you consider what it is also, when we go back to, people may have forgotten, but what it is you're actually helping them do . . . you're helping them land jobs at Google and at Facebook. To pay you $100 an hour for that, it kind of has a perceived value of, “Well, is Sam even going to give me a lot of great information here? I'm not really sure.”
If you were to charge, for example, $300 an hour or maybe even $500 an hour, then I know I'm going to get some really good stuff. Yes, you are probably going to have people say, “I can't afford that,” when they could have afforded you before, but the whole point of building an online course is to be able to serve those people with it so that you can have more time back to either focus on those higher-level clients and give them that white glove experience that you could potentially offer them through this whole process, but also be able to serve all those other people on a more scalable level. How does that ring to you, in terms of you're going to be coaching less people, but at a higher and premium price point, better able to serve them, but then you're still able to help people through the course that you have?
Sam Gavis-Hughson: Yeah, I think that makes absolute sense. I think the key thing for that is going to be driving more people into the top of the funnel for the coaching so that I'm actually getting through the people who can afford that price point. I've been a little bit skittish to raise the price too much because I just don't have very many people reaching out to me about that, which is mostly because I'm not really marketing it in any way. I think if I market the sales, if I market the coaching better, then I will have more people in the top of the funnel and that will make it much easier for me to say, “Okay. It's this price if you want to do the coaching, but I also have these courses that are at a lower price point.”
Pat Flynn: You know there's some people out there who have coaching programs that have zero students, like zero one to one students? They are there solely just to . . . Of course, if they were to have a student go in, they would coach them, but they charge a ridiculous price point so that they don't have students because they want people to go into the online course.
Sam Gavis-Hughson: That's very funny.
Pat Flynn: They market those coaching programs to share the value that you could have with them one on one, which, like I said earlier, anchors the online course price. I agree with you 100 percent. You said it yourself, it wasn't even my idea, but it was yours to really focus not just on getting more traffic to your website, which I think is important and we've tackled that already, but it's, “Okay. When people get to your website, how are they getting into all that you have to offer? What's that experience like for them to see that and notice that you have this coaching program?” It's going to involve not just your website, but your emails and your autoresponders. These are things that you can definitely get to a point where you can begin to automate a lot of this. I think for higher level coaching, if you still wanted to get to that level, you would need to, especially when you raise the price point . . . You're already doing this. It's crazy to me that you're also offering fifteen-minute consultations for $100 coaching. Now that fifteen-minutes makes sense to me at a much higher price point because it'll just take one person to say yes to really make up for that time and serve you.
Sam Gavis-Hughson: Right.
Pat Flynn: You know what I mean? Tell me what you need to do.
Sam Gavis-Hughson: For the coaching, I need to build out my . . . Certainly, putting in my email autoresponder would be a great way to present that, and just make it more clear on my website. In terms of building the audience, guest posting twice a month and posting on my site twice a month and focusing on quality content over just churning out content. Those are going to be the main focuses.
Pat Flynn: How does that sound to you?
Sam Gavis-Hughson: That sounds really good.
Pat Flynn: Is that something that you feel is possible to do?
Sam Gavis-Hughson: Yeah. I definitely think that's possible. My goal for the next year . . . This is my 100 percent focus. I'm really going all in and just trying to do the absolute best that I can. I think that's totally doable.
Pat Flynn: I love it, Sam. If you're going to say yes to this in terms of sharing your coaching program a little bit better, just at least having people know it exists, because then when you come out with a course, they'll be like, “He has this coaching program, now this course. Wasn't able to work with him on coaching, now I can get into this course.” If you do that and also the content creation like we talked about, what needs to stop? This is like, let's create boundaries so you can do these things. Are you doing anything that maybe you shouldn't be doing that's taking up your time that you can pull from to do these other things?
Sam Gavis-Hughson: One thing, that kind of doesn't count because I've already mostly stopped doing it, but I was doing a lot of YouTube videos working through specific practice problems. That's something where I built up enough of a library that it's no longer a critical thing.
Pat Flynn: Cool.
Sam Gavis-Hughson: Then I think that the other thing that needs to stop—or start, depending on how you look at it—is that I need to just focus my time better. I know—off the top of my head I know how I should be doing things, but I'm not always doing a good job of applying them. I think just focusing my time. I've been writing first thing when I wake up in the morning, which has been a godsend.
Pat Flynn: That's awesome.
Sam Gavis-Hughson: It's been the best thing for my writing productivity. Continuing to do that, and being more consistent about that I think are the main things that are going to give me the space to do all this.
Pat Flynn: Yeah. To sum it up, Sam, to be blunt: You need to stop messing around.
Sam Gavis-Hughson: Yep.
Pat Flynn: You're about to get serious with this. I can feel it; I feel like you can feel it. What was the most useful thing about this call for you?
Sam Gavis-Hughson: I think just putting it into a more clear lens and reframing everything, and breaking down what are the key things that I need to focus on. Now I know I'm going to do this, this, and this, and I'm not worrying about all the million different things that I could be doing.
Pat Flynn: Alright. Everybody listening, do you hear Sam there? He's figured it out. You need to figure it out too, because you're probably doing things that are extraneous that you don't need to do. We figured out Sam's goals. We worked backwards from that. Sam, this was a really great call because you knew a lot of what needed to happen. We just needed to surface it all, and here we are. I'm stoked to follow up with you in the future, and we can check in on you and see how 2018 runs for you, but dude, you're set up for some major things this year. Really happy to talk to you. Again, thank you for being open and honest and transparent with us today.
Sam Gavis-Hughson: Yeah. Thanks so much, Pat.
Pat Flynn: Alright. I hope you enjoyed that call with Sam. Sam, good luck to you, I wish you all the best. I'm looking forward to reconnecting with you later in the future so we can see how well you did, and let us all hold you accountable for that work that we talked about. I'm glad that you had some clarity there at the end too. Remember, it's all about just pulling out the things that you know are going to help you the most, that 80/20, the 20 percent of things that are going to help you get 80 percent of the results. Finding out what those things are and then doubling down on those is really what's going to make the biggest difference. Keep going. Thank you once again.
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