Let me put it this way: there’s no shortage of business strategies out there. But what if you’ve tried everything and nothing seems to stick? The key is adapting these tactics to your niche, your business, your audience.
When Matt Giovanisci finally did just that, his business skyrocketed. Now he’s the absolute authority in his niche and he’s bringing in hundreds of new subscribers per day. Best of all, his brand can run without him, so he can walk away whenever he wants.
So what’s the business? Well, he helps people with their pool maintenance. Yes, pool maintenance! In fact, that’s how I found him online after buying an inflatable pool for the kids.
We always say the riches are in the niches, and Matt is a classic example of that. He started Swim University in 2006, and today we get to hear the whole story. We talk about the simple strategy that changed everything for him, Amazon and Google’s ever-changing policies, selling digital and physical products, opting out of new trends, and much more.
Matt walks us through the ins and outs of his business in this episode. It was a fascinating chat with loads of actionable advice along the way — I can wait for you to hear this one!
My name is Matt Giovanisci. I'm self-employed and work from home.
I started a website in 2006 called Swim University. The site now makes over $600,000 a year but it took 10 years.
In March 2015, I started a coffee education website called Roasty. I sold it in 2018 for $55,000.
I created Money Lab in 2016 so I can build more brands, make more money, and write off my homebrewing hobby. Speaking of which, I started a homebrewing site called Brew Cabin.
I design and code all my own sites by hand. Write the words. Film and edit the videos. Produce the podcasts. Illustrate the graphics. But now I have a team that helps me with writing and editing podcasts.
- How Matt turned his pool care website into a full-time job at 24
- The transition from AdSense to affiliate marketing and ecommerce
- Figuring out the logistics of selling physical products for the first time
- The business tactic that changed everything for Matt
- How keeping things simple helped Matt connect with his audience
- Making serious money with ebooks and courses in a hobby-based niche
- How to adapt general business tactics to your particular niche
- Opting out of new trends and optimizing proven strategies
- Matt's homebrewing videos on YouTube
- Swim University on YouTube
- Authority by Nathan Berry [Amazon affiliate link]
- Connect with Pat on Twitter and Instagram
SPI 595: Proving the Riches Are in the Niches with Matt Giovanisci
Matt Giovanisci: Every single time I see a tactic I'm like, “Yeah, but that didn't work for me.” The real big turning point for me was when I basically said, “Okay, let's create a lead magnet that works for everybody who owns a pool.” I created a OTO page or a one-time offer page. And it worked, it like converts like crazy. It's sold more courses than ever and we make way more with our digital products than we ever made through Amazon.
Pat Flynn: That was Matt Giovanisci from SwimUniversity.com, an epic empire. That includes books courses and programs, as well as now e-commerce products, as of late, to help people with their pool maintenance. Yes, pool maintenance. And Matt's bringing in like 600 new subscribers per day through certain tactics and strategies that he reveals for us in this episode, this is session 595 of the Smart Passive Income Podcast. My name is Pat Flynn here to help you make more money, save more time and help more people too. And you know, we always talk about the riches in the niches. Well, this is a classic and clear example of somebody who is doing this very well. And we're going to hear about what he's saying yes to, what he's saying no to as far as opportunities and how he's growing his business. And just all the ins and outs of it. It's an incredible story that starts way back in 2004, in fact. Yes, he's been doing this for a very long time, but he's been pivoting because a lot of things in the environment have changed like how Amazon works and how Google works.
We're going to hear all the insides of it. Again, Matt Giovanisci from SwimUniversity.com. Enjoy the episode.
Announcer: Welcome to the Smart Passive Income Podcast, where it's all about working hard now, so you can sit back and reap the benefits later. And now your host, he's drawn to bodies of water so much, you might as well call him Alanna. at Flynn!
Pat Flynn: Matt, what's up? Welcome to SPI. Thanks for being here.
Matt Giovanisci: Thanks for having me.
Pat Flynn: I'm excited to chat you and I have crossed paths several times at events, especially FinCon, where I saw you speak. I've seen you rap before. I recently found out that you have a very successful pool business, which is what we're going to talk about today, but is that where you started with all this internet stuff? Was it the pool thing?
Matt Giovanisci: Yeah, I've been in the pool business my whole life. It was like my first summer job as a 13 year old. Just kind of like, Hey, do you want a job at this pool store? I was like a friend's neighbor, you know, worked there and she needed kids to stock shelves and stuff. And so, yeah, I worked there and then basically stayed in that industry just worked at that store and then worked at other stores. And then eventually we started to do website design kind of on the side cause I was in a band and we needed a website. Couldn't afford a hired designer. So it's like learn computer stuff very late in life. I mean, Xennials is what they call us, right? Cause we're not exactly like in the Millennial generation, but my computer skills kind of came right when I was supposed to go to college and my dad bought me a computer and I decided to just edit videos for fun instead of doing any sort of college work. And because I was working, I ended up like not going to college and dropping out twice, deciding like, oh, I make plenty of money doing this, and it's fine. And I got into marketing for a pool company and that's sort of where it all started. Cause I'm like, okay, I'm behind a computer. I'm still doing pool stuff. I still have all this knowledge. And I decided in 2004 to turn it into a website. So basically everything I have knew since I was 13 years old, I'm like, okay, I know how to design websites now let me turn that into a business.
Pat Flynn: 2004, so we're going way back here. When we talk about like marketing and stuff today, we think of Instagram and Facebook and all that stuff. Wasn't even really a thing back then. And what, what was like marketing back then?
Matt Giovanisci: Myspace, yeah, it was, and I didn't do it for the pool side of things. I did that for my band, but I did a little bit of touring and we were trying to get signed and all that stuff. And it was even before Myspace. When Myspace finally came around, we're like, oh, this is the ticket to fame and fortune. And that quickly dissolved right around that time. And it was after me being in the band where I had this idea.
I literally had the idea for Swim University. I had the domain name and my bass player was the one who kept saying, you keep talking about this idea, but you haven't done anything yet. So he sort of forced me to just sit down, code it, design. And start creating content on it. And at the time of affiliate marketing was the thing.
And ad sense was the other thing. And those were like the two ways that I was decided. All right, I'm going to make money on the website this way.
Pat Flynn: SwimUniversity.com still around still your main gig, which is sweet. And I got in-tune with Swim University during the pandemic very recently. Cause you can go anywhere and we wanted to entertain the kids.
So we got one of those pools, like one of those inflatable pools, like the nicer ones that uses an air pump and all this stuff. And we had it in our backyard and, you know, we had a cover for it. Cause I didn't want like bugs and stuff going into it. But then, you know, after like four and a half days, I opened it up and then like we went in and it's like, why is the water feel different right now. It's like kinda kind of slimy, like, and so I look online for help on like the pool. And of course your face pops up. I was like, yo, I know that guy. He created rap videos at FinCon. He has a pool business and I look into it and I'm like, oh dude, this is like an empire.
Matt Giovanisci: Yeah. I've been doing it a long time.
Pat Flynn: A long time, so early to market.
But even still you've had to adjust like. All the things of swim university right now. Like what, what is it? Swim university.
Matt Giovanisci: So it started as just a site that wasn't even on WordPress. It was a, I literally designed it from scratch in PHP because I didn't even know about WordPress. So I had built my own like mini CMS software to kind of work on it.
And even before that, it was just like single HTML pages that were like all the content
Pat Flynn: I was using, like Dreamweaver at the time.
Matt Giovanisci: Yeah, exactly what I use. I was using Dreamweaver and it was. You know, for the first part of the business, it was just like create articles. I was doing, you know, UAW, right.
Unique Article Wizard. I got a mug from Ezine Articles. Cause I had put so much content on their site for backlinks and it was really just about like getting as much content like crappy content, to be honest. Cause I wasn't a good writer. I literally dropped out of college because of an English teacher.
I had failed English so bad up through high school and even into college. And I was like, I know, right. And yet I chose this profession, so I was writing as best as I can. And it was really just like AdSense and affiliate marketing. And at the time, I don't remember. I want to say I was using double click from Google as an, as an affiliate program.
Pat Flynn: I remember that. Yeah.
Matt Giovanisci: Yeah. It's still around, but it's like all Ad Sense. Like it's all got rolled in the Ad Sense and with YouTube and stuff. So yeah. So the first part of the business was like, just trying to rank on Google, right. By getting a ton of back. To what was already crappy content on my site and the crappy content that I had put out for back links and make money through Ad Sense and make money through affiliate links.
And the idea behind the whole site was a customer would come into the store and they would say, I have a problem with pool algae. I'm. And here I am like a kid teaching adults, how to take care of their, their things. So it's like a lot of power. Right. You know, they would just come in and I would just start putting bottles down on the table and, you know, chemicals down on the table after testing their water and go, here's the order of operations.
And I would write down on a piece of paper, go home, do this exactly how I tell you. And of course they would come back and be like, that was perfect. It worked blah, blah, blah. And so the idea was to just take that idea and put it online. And since I was already literally putting product on the table for them, the affiliate thing made sense.
Cause I'm like, well, if I do an article, that's like, here's how to get rid of pool algae. And then here are the links and the chemicals that you need to do this. That was my process. And so between that and ad sense is where majority of the money came from. And it wasn't a lot, we're talking like a hundred bucks a month.
Pat Flynn: Okay. So very little, but I mean, even still, I mean, that's still great to start out with in 2004, with the affiliate links. Were those coming from the companies directly or it was Amazon affiliate thing.
Matt Giovanisci: No Amazon wasn't selling. I don't even think they were selling. I think they were still selling books, books.
Individual like e-commerce company. So a lot of companies in the pool business where like mail order, so you would get a catalog and then they started putting their stuff online and then having affiliate programs through, I guess, I guess it was Google DoubleClick or link share or one of those pieces.
Yeah, I think the first one was called In The Swim was the first affiliate program that I think I was selling. And that was essentially for many years, I kind of did that and I was still working at the pool store and then I transitioned into marketing for multiple pool stores. So I was like in corporate at that point I had the site, it wasn't making enough for me to quit or anything like that.
I was, I, to be honest, when you work in pools all day, the last thing you want to do is come home and like, write about it more. You know, so it was mostly me fiddling with the site, like what I enjoyed, but there was a moment I want to say like 2007 or maybe even a little bit later than that, I got invited onto Martha Stewart's morning show on Sirius to talk about pool care.
Cause they had found my site. But at the time I had a pen name because I didn't want my name on the site because I was worried that my boss would find out that I'd have this site. So I decided I'm like, well, I don't want to go on Martha Stewart as a fake person. So I decided to go through my site and change it to my real name and be like, okay, I'm going to be a pool personality now.
And I took the day off. Cause I'm like, my site is going to blow up. It's going to be the best thing I've ever done. And of course it did not. But a couple months later, my boss found out that I had been on that show multiple times, after that I got invited back like four times. And then he found out, cause my name was out there and barred me because I had the site.
And I still wasn't making money from it again and not, not enough to quit.
Pat Flynn: Oh, what a lost opportunity for him. He had the opportunity to have you help his company. But nope.
Matt Giovanisci: And that was in my brain. And if he would have offered, I would have said yes, and I wouldn't be here today had he made that decision. Now from there, I just worked at another company. Totally different industry, not even in pools anymore for about two years doing marketing, just same, same stuff. Just not in pools. And I got laid off. I think we have a similar story. So I got laid off. Took that opportunity to be like, okay, I got a business loan from the government is the way that I looked at.
And decided to just take a year to make Swim University full-time and that's exactly what I did. You know, at the time I was making decent money for my age, which I think was 24, 25. I was making like 60 grand a year without a college degree, which I thought was like more than all my friends. So I had a BMW.
I had a brand new condo that I bought. And as soon as I got laid off, I decided sell both. And I moved in with my brother, you know, cut my expenses from like 4,500 down to like 1300 a month and used all that time to just write articles, film, videos, and beef up the site create products. And this is around the time where I found your stuff and was just like working out, losing weight, listening to Smart Passive Income.
I was like really into your site and Think Traffic would the two sites. Got me over the hump. And then after that it was, you know, I stopped doing AdSense and now, I mean to not tell the whole story, but flash forward, I stopped doing sponsorships. I stopped doing ad Sense. I don't like ads on the site. It just feels very web 1.0, right.
And double down on affiliate marketing, hard switch to Amazon and started creating my own products. I started with two eBooks and then transitioned those into courses. Today. We have four video courses on the site. We still do affiliate marketing, but sure. You're aware as, as Amazon just sort of over time, just keeps cutting and cutting commissions.
So now it's affiliate marketing. YouTube was, we did a lot with YouTube, so we have a decent subscriber base. We're making decent money for. And our digital products, our courses, and then this past year has been e-commerce.
Pat Flynn: E-commerce like literally creating your own pool related products. Right?
Matt Giovanisci: Correct. Yep.
Pat Flynn: Okay. We'll get into that. Cause I've dove a little bit into e-commerce and it's a totally different beast. I'd love to get your take on that for sure.
Matt Giovanisci: You were a part of the inspiration for that too. The SwitchPod was absolutely like, oh, okay. Cause you know, I was, I hung out with Caleb a lot and when he did that, I was like, oh, okay, this is, this is cool. This is next level stuff, which I like.
Pat Flynn: Well, let's just get into it. Like what did you make?
Matt Giovanisci: I didn't do what you guys did because I wanted to just get my feet wet. And I just white labeled one product.
Pat Flynn: Much easier to do than like invent something.
Matt Giovanisci: Yeah. And with pools, like, I didn't have an idea. Right. I didn't have like, oh, I have an idea for this pool brush. That's going to revolutionize the pool industry. I just was like for a long time, I thought, especially too, after the Amazon thing happened where you're like, I'm putting these products on my site and I'm telling people to use them because I trust them.
I've used them in my whole. And yet Amazon is only paying me 3%, right. Nowadays. So I'm like, okay. And then I tried to find other pool related affiliate programs that paid more and I did, but they keep cutting their program. They keep stopping them. So I'm constantly playing this game of whack-a-mole in the affiliate market, in my industry, you know, I was always afraid to sell my own product because I'm like, well, how do you ship this?
Who's going to do customer service. We're a team of two people and I've been a really small team. This entire time. And that's been a philosophy of mine. Cause I don't want to be a manager. I'm not a manager. I'm a, I feel like a, more of a creator than a manager. I just didn't want that job. And so for two people, I'm like, we can't do this.
It's impossible. And I ended up listening. Well, I didn't actually listen. It was, there was a guy that got interviewed on the Niche Pursuits p odcast. And apparently had mentioned me. And then the host of that show emailed me and said, Hey, you should listen to this. Cause this guy had mentioned to you.
And then he said something pretty interesting, which. He called me out and said, if Matt from Swim University were to ever get into physical products, he would crush. She would dominate because he's already built this trust of education and helpfulness through his YouTube channel blog, email list, all that.
And he does his name's Andy Humphrey and he has a sprinkler site. He does, he sells sprinkler systems as the e-commerce site, and he's been on shark tank and it turns out like just small world stuff where he was one of them. Bigger inspirations from the very beginning. Cause he had a site called EcoMowers and I thought that it was such a great idea.
Like you're going to sell old school, push lawnmowers that just cut grass, but label it as an eco-friendly option instead of using gas and whatever. So that was one of the early inspirations too, for some university. So full circle. I get in touch with him and he kind of becomes my mentor in this e-commerce space and gives me advice on like, Do a white labeled product start small, do one thing, make sure it's cheap enough to ship.
And if it's consumable, win-win right. If they can keep buying it. And I was like, all right, but I don't how I don't, I'm not going to go to China. Like, do I have to, where, where do I go? I have no, I don't know anybody. And he was like, well, I know somebody. And so he puts me in touch with this guy who does pool and spa chemicals who turns out I've known for a long time. He was just in a different industry in the pool side of things. So I've had dinner with him multiple times. He just worked in magazines before he did e-commerce. So long story short, I took two products that he manufacturers in the United States and white labeled them, and then bought a small quantity about $5,000 of an investment into like about 400 unit.
Put up a Shopify store, send an email and sold out.
Pat Flynn: And then how did you feel after that?
Matt Giovanisci: I was like, oh, well now, like I should have done this sooner. Yes. Well, I think, you know what to, I don't know if the infrastructure was there because maybe I'm wrong about this, but I had two people kind of like handhold me, cause I said, I don't, I know how to do this.
I ran retail stores, so I know how to buy inventory. I know how to. But I don't know how to ship things. They told me about a company called Deliverr.
Pat Flynn: 3PL?
Matt Giovanisci: Yeah. And I learned that term last year and I was like, okay, so there are a network of 3PLs, so you send it to one place. And then they kind of split it up between like four different warehouses across United States.
And it connects with Shopify. So every time a Shopify order comes in, they just, it just magically appears at their door and everything's connected. And so I was like, that just blew my mind because I think. Well, then I could send them anything. I have a little home brewery in my house and I started making custom glassware with my logo on it.
And I got these cases like just shipped to my house. And then I was like, well, wait a minute. So I could take this case, send it to this company. And then all of a sudden I have a product in a Shopify store that I could sell is pretty mind blowing. Right? Yeah. I'm like, oh, that's, that's really easy. And again, even with customer service, I was really worried that I was just going to be behind the computer all day answering question.
But that's not the case. It's just people really like it. So I was like, okay, okay. Now it's going to be capital intensive. And you know, we have to scale this thing, but again, it's still just two of us, so I have to keep it small and manageable it.
Pat Flynn: Keeping it lean is smart. Cause it can be very easy at this point to go, oh, that worked, let me 10 exit.
Right. And then all of a sudden there's 10 X capital. That's being invested. There's 10 X of your energy being expended, I think is really smart of you to just start small, like your mentor said, and kind of, you can grow to wherever you want to go. And for those of you listening 3 PL means third-party logistics, which solves like all the problems that Matt was talking about as far as like shipping and storing and stuff.
That's the thing that I thought. Inventory and e-commerce, she was like, well, I'm going to have to clear space in my garage to hold all these things. And then like, I'm going to have to go once a week to the post office. And then I'm going to have to receive all these returns. And like, it's just going to be a nightmare. I don't even want to touch it.
Matt Giovanisci: And that's exactly what I thought too. And that's why I stayed away from it for so long. It makes sense because if I'm selling something on, you know, if it's an affiliate link and Amazon's paying me 3%, but if I owned that product and sold. My margins would be like 50% at the very minimum. Right? Or maybe even lower than that. And that would still be awesome. So I knew it was like profitable if you will. And it was like a good smart move, but because it had so many other layers on top of it of like, yeah, where do you store this stuff? You've got to pay for warehousing. You got to do all this stuff.
It's a whole new business, but it feels more, I'm being honest. I've been on the internet and doing internet things for so it just feels real. It feels like I have a real business now.
Pat Flynn: Yes, dude. When I saw people using the SwitchPod in the wild for the first time, it was like, this is such a different feeling then the thousands of people that have gone through my online courses, which are still awesome and have helped people and we get positive feedback, but to see somebody using the thing that you've made it just like you said, For whatever reason feels definitely different and feels more legit, right? Like legitimate.
Matt Giovanisci: And just having it on my shelf. It's a bottle. It's a chemical right now and it's not, I didn't design it or anything, but it's my label. It's my name and everything. And looking at it on my shelf. I made something real in the real world and not just like a digital thing, which has been great. I mean, you know what I mean? But it's just feels again, I've been doing this for over a decade and it's a great business, but this past year I was like, I feel like it's doing it all over again.
Right. It's like starting, it's like that fire that you once had. In the early days now is like back and I don't know how long it'll last. It's still just cool to be like, I've done that too, right? It's like another, another notch on the belt.
Pat Flynn: Amen. I love that. Let's go back in time a little bit. You said that you mentioned that you had courses and such, I want to know what it was like to launch a pool related course.
I think a lot of people listening have their niche businesses, but in many ways don't feel like either they're qualified to create a course or a course wouldn't work. How did you make a course or courses work for you?
Matt Giovanisci: It started as an ebook that validated the course idea. Well, so this is where my story is a little bit like, so, so basically I have all the, like the references to.
I decided in after the pool season one, I forget which pool season it was. If I'm being honest.
Pat Flynn: There's pool seasons?
Matt Giovanisci: Yeah. Well, not in California, but everywhere else in the world, I guess. I'm from the Northeast and yeah, you close your pool in September and you open your pool in may.
Pat Flynn: Ah, Yeah, thank you for that. You know, bringing them back down to earth.
Matt Giovanisci: Yeah. So there's like, there's literally for the five months that, you know, things are great and that, and that translates to the website too. It's not, this is our time right now as we're recording this, like we're peak, right. So pool season's over. It's like September and again, I'm listening to you.
I'm listening to Corbett. Nathan Barry's doing his thing before Convert Kit. He's doing designer stuff. He had a book out and I believe there was a moment. I don't remember the exact year, but he came out with a book called Authority. Right. Which was about creating an e-book.
And in that book, I read it and I was like, okay. So he makes a book, but he's not selling it for book prices. He's selling it at 50 bucks, a hundred bucks and having these different pricing tiers. So I'm like, all right, that's what I'm going to do. And I decided to do it in hot tub care. Cause that's the Swim University's kind of split between pool care and hot tub care. Right. And you know, our hot tub business is much, much smaller, but it kind of carries us through the winter a little bit. Right. Because a lot of people use their hot tubs in the winter. So I read the book and decided, all right, I'm going to create the hot tub handbook was my first ebook and I'm going to sell it for 50 bucks, like way higher than, you know, whatever didn't sell any didn't work, put it out, you know, however, I put it out, probably not, well, I probably did not promote it well, cause that was pretty at the time. Very anti sales tactics. I was just like, I'm here to create helpful stuff. And so, you know, I'm just gonna put it on our website and it should sell.
Pat Flynn: And you had traffic and you had an audience and you know, that kind of thing?
Matt Giovanisci: I was full-time at this point. So like I was making probably 40 grand a year just from Amazon. Right. So that was the first year when I got laid off the first year, I was like, if I can make 40 grand a year, I'm good. I mean, obviously I didn't get to keep all that money, but I was like, that's a job for people. And that was my first year. And so I decided, okay, I'm going to create this book and I'm going to follow the rules of laid out by Authority. It didn't work. And I kind of felt defeated and thought, you know what? It works when you're selling how to make money, but it doesn't work when you're selling a product that's like how to just keep your pool clear, because honestly you want to swim in it. You don't, you're not into the hobby of caring for it. You want it to be clear and clean for your kids. That's where it ends. It's like how many people are in the vacuuming, their house as a hobby. It's not a hobby. Right?
Pat Flynn: I want the information now and the result now I'm not going to like dive into it.
Matt Giovanisci: Yeah. And I think it's like, you know, Marie Kondo, it's where it's like, you watch that show and you're like, I've watched it. I know the drill. I'm good, but I'm not into it. Right. I'm not going and cleaning other people's houses for free as a hobby.
So I put that out. It didn't work. And so I decided, you know what, I'm just going to drop the price because I don't know what else to do. And I dropped it to $29 and all of a sudden it started selling and I went and I didn't do anything different. I was like, okay. I think my audience, and this is where every single time I would listen to, to you or to Corbett, or even to Nathan it's like, you guys were always talking about a different industry than mine.
And my, I always felt like it's like back in the day, it would be, get in front of other people's audience. And I'm like, well, there is no other pool audience. I can't do that. Or like start putting your stuff on the forums. There was no forums. I didn't have any of that. So it was another one of those moments where I was, oh, my audience sees e-books as real books. They don't spend, they spend 20, you know, when they turn the back of a book, it says us 29, Canada, 30 or whatever. And so I figured that was the reason, right? The reason they just, they see it as a book and nothing else, they don't see it as like, oh, it's going to revolutionize, change, that's an ebook. Um, and a lot of people at the time too, we're like, when is my book going to arrive? I'm like, you already got it.
Pat Flynn: Yep. I've had that too with my architecture stuff.
Matt Giovanisci: Yeah. It's like, you'd never put in your address. Right. So how was I supposed to send you a book? That was a moment where I had to like, literally put on the book. This is a digital product only like this is a PDF, essentially. Yeah. So from there it worked and it started selling, but again, it would a fraction of what I was making from affiliate model. But I decided to keep going. I created a pool book at the time I called it the art of pool care, which then I changed to the pool care handbook just to sort of match the other one.
That one did much better. Cause I have a bigger audience there. I kind of learned my lessons from the first book. Everything was sold through Gumroad at the time. So it was like the quickest way I could do it. Maybe set up a sales page through the button on. And then it was like, I don't remember what, what sparked it, but it was like, when you think about courses and books, right? If you were to look at The 4-Hour Workweek, as an example, which is another like huge inspiration for me. Right. As well as everybody else, I feel like at least in our generation. So if you were to take that, that book costs 24 bucks, right. It's cheap. But if that book was turned into a course, it would be worth thousands of dollars. Right? Just because it's a course and. I'm like, well then does that mean that I can make a video course and charge more than a book? Just because my audience can, they see the difference of that? So I decided to do the pool one first, I flew back home in New Jersey. My friend's brother had a pool and we spent a week just filming the entire thing.
And then I came back, edited it all, put together, bundled it with the book. It actually at first it was separate. And then I eventually bundled it long story short now. Both books are bundled with a video course. And so I have those two are my flagship courses. They're both $97 each. And then I have two other smaller pool courses.
One's about pool closing that happens sometimes in the East Coast. And then there's just money saving tips, like extra money, saving tips, little mini upsells. And so that's been the four products we've had that for years now. I mean, six years, seven years, and this past year, because Amazon started to tank in 2020 for us, the digital products completely took over because I started to implement more sales tactics, better sales pages, better funnels, and raise the price of the course added more content to the course just made it be for your better.
And just started to do real internet marketing when I always sort of avoided that for the longest time.
Pat Flynn: Yeah. You mentioned that earlier that it felt, feels kind of sleazy or you just didn't want to fall into that trap, but now you're kind of doing it. How are you comfortable doing it? Or what parts of it are you okay doing and where are you still steering away from?
Matt Giovanisci: So there was somebody who said to me, like, you know, you made something good. And the way that people buy things, you know, I was always afraid to give a discount. Like I just, I was like, oh, that devalues my product. You know, I'd rather have bigger packages or whatever.
I never wanted to create a funnel where I like dripped out emails and like said, you got to wait until the next email to get this. And, you know, just that kind of marketing. And I've tried so many different tactics, you know, and I'm just like, none of this is really working for me. And this is the same old story from my business.
Every single time I see a tactic. I'm like, yeah, but that didn't work for me. So what, what can I do differently? And people said that well, because you're not actively selling the super helpful thing. Less people are going to find it and you're not helping them by not, you know, you're not selling and I don't have to do sleazy things. I just have to just put it out there more and just put it in front of people's faces more. And so the real big turning point for me. Was when I, I followed Miles Beckler because people were like, you know, that guy is just putting all this content out there. And I was like, okay, let me just see what he's all about.
And I decided, you know what, I'm just going to try what he's doing. I'm just going to do it, not think about it. And the whole idea was I was going to focus on collecting more email addresses, which I've always done, but I was just never aggressive about it. And I decided that that was the future of the business because obviously Amazon taking a hit at me. Google's done that millions times to other people. Um, I've been pretty safe most of the time, except maybe like early 2008. My biggest converting page on my website was my thank you page. After you signed up, I basically said, okay, let's create a lead magnet that works for everybody who owns a pool.
You know, I test it like three or four of them and I picked one that. And then I created a OTO page or a one-time offer page. So when someone subscribes, they get to this page and I give them a 24 hour, half price discount. If they don't buy fine, you know, they get free content forever. And I mentioned that a million times, I say, look where two people, the mom and pop operation. We're just trying to keep the lights on. The course is super valuable. If you want to shortcut, you know, all the steps that we lay out for free on our website and YouTube channel. And it worked, it like converts like crazy. And it's sold more courses than ever, and I don't get returns. Like people don't return it cause it's, it's affordable. I mean, we're only talking 50 bucks, right. For a full course and full book so that, yeah, all of a sudden it kind of coincided with. Amazon cutting our commissions, where we went from 70% of our revenue came from affiliate marketing on Amazon and 30% came from our digital product sales to literally flipped.
So now 70% comes from digital products. And 30% comes from Amazon and we make way more with our digital products than we ever made through Amazon.
Pat Flynn: And more recently adding the e-commerce part of it, which is growing and expanding.
Matt Giovanisci: And it's, and it's all to avoid ads because every single time, every single month, somebody emails me and says you make a lot more money if you threw ads on your site. And I'm like, I, I know, I know, but I just don't want to live in that world. I don't, I don't know.
Pat Flynn: So epic to hear the whole story and to hear how it's going and to get into your mind about like, why you made certain decisions. What's working right now to help you grow your email list and start that funnel like today?
Matt Giovanisci: We haven't changed in probably two years.
I've redesigned our cheat sheet. So we have, we have a cheat sheet for both pool and hot tub. It's old. I mean like the content is I've had it for years. I did it as an infographic back in the day, memories that use backlinks to get, to get backlinks. So I had a huge infographic that I made for both pool and hot tub.
And I ended up taking a lot of that content and re designing it into a cheat sheet because I had tested, you know, a work, um, like an hour long water chemistry workshop as a free giveaway. I tested a checklist. I tested, uh, multiple videos. And yet this like one page cheat sheet just worked better and it's packed, you know, it's tons of information and I over-delivered too.
Like we promoted at the top of our website and at the bottom of our blog posts, that's pretty much it. The other thing that we've gotten into in the last two years is running Facebook ads to towards it. You know, mostly just retargeting people who didn't sign up in the first place. And that's been our strategy for at least for the last two years, and we get about 600- 700 subscribers a day. Well, in, in this time of year.
Pat Flynn: Right. Because everybody's looking for that info right now. It's still dude. That's epic.
Matt Giovanisci: Yeah. And you know, about 3% of those people, maybe closer to like three and a half percent convert into the course sales.
And then after that know, if they don't do that in the first 24 hours, they get an onboarding sequence, which is basically seven days worth of like, just super, super helpful emails on pool care. And then they get put into an evergreen newsletter every single year that gives them information when they need it twice a week.
And we publish a weekly YouTube video, which also contributes to our subscriber growth because we promote our cheat sheet in every video. And yeah, it's kind of just all sort of funneled into the, download our free thing, get on our email list because that's where we can deliver direct value over and over and over.
And we only have the one digital products, so they get hit once and it's like, okay. Bothering you every second with new course or a new thing. Yeah, it's the well-oiled machine at this point.
Pat Flynn: Now you can optimize, right? Cause you're not coming out with a new course every single week or month or something.
And because you're focused on. Your YouTube and your SEO and maybe a few ads here and there. Like how does, final question, like how does social play a role on top of this, if at all?
Matt Giovanisci: It hasn't. Unless you consider YouTube social, which I don't this year, I was like, maybe we should try reels and Tik Tok.
Maybe that would be for us only because like, what else am I supposed to do? Like w everything's kind of running, I'm doing the ads. I'm doing Google. Facebook ads, you know, not spending a ton of money we're talking like maybe 50 bucks a day. Right. Um, just to kind of keep it front of mind for people and, and again, all retargeting at this point.
So I thought maybe we could do that. And I'd set up this whole experiment where I was going to do a video a day for 30 days, and I got maybe seven days into it. And I was like, no, this is brutal. Could I hire somebody to do it for me? And like repurpose our content and put it. Yeah, I could do that, but I don't know.
Really, the only social we do is that whenever we publish something new, it kind of automatically gets published to Facebook and Twitter. And that's pretty much it.
Pat Flynn: Well done. First of all, I mean, you've been at this for a very long time. It's definitely not an overnight success, but you've continued to optimize.
You've continued to sort of hone in on what it is that's working. You're now. Experimenting with some e-commerce stuff. And I imagine there's going to be some more products coming in the future.
Matt Giovanisci: So again, this is the same thing I did with the digital product where I started with hot tubs, because it was smaller.
And if it failed, it wouldn't be such an epic failure. And it was usually at the end of September is when I have some breathing room because we're publishing as much as we can in the summertime when it's active. The same exact thing happened where I had heard that podcast in June. So literally yesterday.
So June 2nd. I heard that episode. And then it took about till the end of September to finally have something in stock to sell. And we started with hot tub products because I knew that by the time I would get those products season's over. So let me do that. And again, the list is much smaller. The audience is much smaller.
So again, it wouldn't be such an epic failure if I, if I didn't, you know, and. And so I had, I bought more product in November so that out and then supply chain issues happen and it took three months to get more. And we're now at the point where we have three hot tub skews, we have a clarifier, a detox product, and a filter cleaner, which is new.
This. I decided, well, let's try the pool's side of things and see where we get with that. So we have two products coming in stock, little too late. It's like we're right at the peak. So I'm like waiting for it to just appear. So we have a water clarifier and a flocculant for pools, and we also made our own pool brush to try.
So again, small orders, just testing it this year to see, you know, and I'm not even going to email my list because I'm afraid. I'll email and we'll sell out before we could reach other people. So, so this year is still a test for the pool side of things, but I feel like it's the future on how we really scale this business because we can only publish so much content on pools.
You know, we've covered the gamut, we've done it all, you know, and now it's just kind of. We're just micro. For example, there are keywords that have now appeared in our keyword research studies that were never keywords two years ago because the pandemic made everybody buy pools and your, you know, case in point right here.
So like all of a sudden your search terms are much higher than they've ever were. So now it's like, okay, we have to fill in those gaps, but once they're done, you know, we kind of treat our website more like a textbook that is updated every year, rather than like a magazine where we're publishing new articles all the time.
So it's sort of like a giant resource. And as long as we can operate our business through ads and through email and our website, obviously, you know, kind of stay relevant in search, hopefully get into social media too. Then it's like, okay. Yeah, it's pretty much that. You know, it's maybe like a once a month kind of maintenance mode thing for the, for the two of us.
Pat Flynn: Have you ever thought about selling the business?
Matt Giovanisci: We had this goal this past year where we're like, Hmm, what if that were to happen? What would our lives look like after that? Steph and I are running the business and it's like, we don't even own a pool or a hot tub. I, you know, I I've personally taken care of. I want to say thousands of pools when I was in Jersey and here, I mean, now it's like millions because of we're doing it through content, but yeah, all our videos are animated.
You know, we have B roll that we've used over the years, so we thought maybe we'll sell it. We'll go really hard this year. And we kind of went a little too hard on being honest. And we're now thinking, well, we can just kind of keep this in maintenance mode for a little bit. Go as hard as we did, because we were hoping to gain some like mystical attention from potential buyers.
And I feel like that was just a really stupid, it's not a smart goal, right? It's like, it's a real kick in the teeth. Cause you're just like working really hard and publishing and no one's knocking down your doors. So there was no real goal to achieve there. And so I think we're open to it, but we would like to get to a place financially where if we were to sell it we could basically retire forever.
Pat Flynn: That's awesome. I mean, these things are funny where you're like, you know what, we're not even going to try to sell them anymore and then guess what? You're probably going to get opportunities to do it.
Matt Giovanisci: Yeah. And that's kind of where I feel like we are, but I wouldn't sell it until we reached a certain number per year because I kinda feel like that there's one number in my head, and it's big, where I'm like, okay. I wouldn't technically have to work ever again. I am still going to cause I have no other mode and speed. I have two other businesses that do well. I would still have income, but it would basically allow Steph to kind of pursue her own passion. And I would just still do the same thing, just not in pools.
Pat Flynn: Incredible congrats to you and Steph for what you've built and for what's coming.
I want to thank you for coming on the show and sharing very openly, how it's gone and what you're up to. And what's coming next. If you could tell everybody where they can go to find you obviously SwimUniversity.com, but you have other things going on. What else can people explore that you have to offer?
Matt Giovanisci: Yeah. If you have a pool or a hot tub, hopefully you already know about Swim University. That would be good. But I talk about all of this in real dark detail MoneyLab.co is sort of my homebase, for doing experiments sharing challenges. This is my hobby, right? Pool's not my hobby. Just something that I know a lot about business and homebrewing are my two big big, big hobbies.
Pat Flynn: Nice. So MoneyLab.co. Is the brewery stuff like available for people to check out too? Or is that just like literally for you on the side.
Matt Giovanisci: I have a website called BrewCabin.com and if you're into it at all, or if you're just into just YouTube stuff in general, I have a YouTube channel called Brew Cabin as well.
There's five videos on there. They all took me three to four months per video to make they're kind of like miniature art pieces. I have a video where I do like a 2001 space Odyssey full, like epic on brewing a beer. And it's just crazy. And then I did like a property brothers meets fight club parody, where I built a Keezer.
And I don't know, it's just was like a lot of like crazy ideas. So that's kinda, you know, think going back to the whole, like selling of Swim University. Which may or may not happen, but the idea of like, I just kind of want to, I, you know, I've, I've been a creator. I would love to do more of that. It doesn't make any money.
So for me to spend time writing scripts and filming stuff, that's insane and silly and writing music, I've write all the soundtracks to the, yeah. So it's, I would love to just do that full-time forever and not have to worry about, you know, making money from it. Cause I know, I, cause I don't want to, honestly, like I know I could. It's like, I'd rather it just be like this art center.
Pat Flynn: Yeah. I love it, dude, man, it was so good to catch up with you today. Thank you so much. And I hope we get to cross paths in person again and hang out and share a beer together at some point.
Matt Giovanisci: Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for having me on.
Pat Flynn: All right. I hope you enjoyed that conversation with Matt.
As you can tell, just such a humble and awesome guy who knows how to teach this kind of stuff. You could find him MoneyLab.co, but obviously if you have a pool, definitely check out Swim University. If you haven't seen it already on YouTube, as you were looking for information, just like I was during the pandemic.
And that's how these things happen, man. People are looking for information and if you can be there as the niche business and the authority to help a person through that and get a result, or finally clear up their pool, whatever the version of a pool is for your audience, you know, you could win. And I love how he's experimenting with e-commerce and stuff too.
So, Matt, thank you so much for. Matt Giovanisci from SwimUniversity.com. And if you enjoy this episode, let me know on Twitter, Instagram. @PatFlynn, would love to hear your thoughts. And if you've ever ran across Swim University, the reason I asked that last question is just because he's built the business in a way that is very sellable.
I mean, it's, it doesn't even necessarily even include him anymore in it, which is why I was just curious when I was checking up on him and seeing what it was doing, I was like, wow. He's built something amazing here. So hopefully this inspires you. It definitely inspires me. And it's also, you can see he's keeping it simple and he's purposefully opting out of new things so we can continue to optimize what is working.
So I love this episode. I hope you enjoyed it too. If you want to check out all the links and everything mentioned here in this podcast, on the website, head on over to SmartPassiveIncome.com/session595. Once again, SmartPassiveIncome.com/session595. Thanks so much. I appreciate you. And I look forward to serving you the next episode.
Until then peace out, take care, and as always Team Flynn for the win!
Thanks for listening to the Smart Passive Income Podcast at SmartPassiveIncome.com. I'm your host Pat Flynn. Our senior producer is Sara Jane Hess. Our series producer is David Grabowski. And our executive producer is Matt Gartland. Sound editing by Duncan Brown. The Smart Passive Income Podcast is a production of SPI Media. We'll catch you in the next session.