One of the amazing things about doing a Where Are They Now? episode of AskPat is being able to see someone you’ve coached take the ball and run with it. And Kyle Chittock, from boltonebikes.com, has certainly done that. When we last talked to him in January, we were talking about how he was stuck at a $100,000 in sales for a year, and now he’s talking about how he might be able to that in a month.
Behind that success is a lot of hard work, but also a shift in strategy. In particular, Kyle’s seen a lot of things happen for him as a result of his shift to YouTube. He made a comprehensive video for his niche and the results have been extraordinary. It’s gotten to the point where competitors are sending him his products to review on his channel, and he made a smart decision to say, “Yes, I’ll review your product but only if you let me give it away after I’ve done it,” which means he gets to collect all of the email addresses.
In this episode of AskPat, we look at how Kyle has been able to turn his business into an overnight success. Specifically, I dig into what strategies has made him successful on YouTube and how he’s been able to use them to grow his business. We also talk about how much growth is too much, and how to keep things focused on what you want to achieve and not let everything get out of control. It’s so amazing to see growth, and I hope you’re inspired by seeing someone take action and reap the benefits.
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Pat Flynn: What's up everybody? Pat Flynn here and welcome to Episode 1,099. We're one episode away from 1,100, which is pretty darn crazy. We're going to get there before the end of the year. So thank you to everybody who has subscribed. Thank you to everybody listening to this. You're listening to AskPat 2.0 and normally, we coach an entrepreneur just like you, but today we're doing a followup with an entrepreneur just like you, somebody who had once been coached here on AskPat.
Today, we're speaking with Kyle Chittock, who was a guy who you might remember had an e-bike store, was doing some e-bike related things on YouTube and online and wanted to grow his income and grow his business but didn't want to get it to grow so big and so crazy. And I'll tell you, I mean the results . . . Oh man, the results that Kyle has experienced have just been amazing. I dug a little bit deeper than I would normally with how those results happened, specifically with some platforms that he's using that have taken off and his strategies on there and just some checking in with him.
I mean this is why I love doing the coaching thing because you can check in with people later and I'm so thankful to have this show, to be a platform to check in with these people, but also share that check in with you too as if you're just a fly on a wall. It just makes me smile so much to see people taking action, getting the results that they deserve, and just helping more people too. So this is Kyle and you can find him at boltonebikes.com or just look up Bolton Ebikes on YouTube, you'll find his stuff. It's amazing and I hope you enjoy this story, the update and all that comes with it. Here he is.
Hey, Kyle. Welcome back to Ask Pat 2.0. How are you?
Kyle Chittock: Doing awesome. Keeping very busy.
Pat: Good, good. Good busy or kind of crazy busy?
Kyle: It's good busy but it's a little bit crazy, I’ll be honest.
Pat: Well, I'm excited to catch up with you. Your episode went up January 17th, 2019 and we're closing in at the end of the year here. So tell us what's been going on. What's been happening since that episode?
Kyle: Okay. I of course went kind of back through and reviewed and listened to myself and cringed a little bit.
Pat: We all do. Not by listening to you by listening to our earlier selves.
Kyle: Right. But yeah, I mean kind of where my e-bike business was, was this side hobby thing I was trying to figure out how do I bump it up to the next level without devoting more resources and more time into it. And basically, not everything, but it seems like everything has changed. Here we are three-quarters of the way through, almost three-quarters of the way through 2019, and it jumps around from day to day, but year to date sales are usually somewhere between four and five hundred percent higher than last year.
Kyle: Yeah. And then basically things are taking off and I'm just trying to hang on along for the ride.
Pat: Well, I'm so thrilled for you. Congratulations on that. That's super exciting. I remember the last time we chatted, we were, like you said, just looking for ways to expand and grow and it seems you've done that. I'm curious to know what, specifically, you did to achieve this growth.
Kyle: If I had to pick one thing that attributed just massively to growth over the last nine months or so, definitely would have to be YouTube. I do not do any paid advertising of any type. And in previous years, probably ninety-some percent of my sales came from Facebook. And it was not Facebook ads, but rather Facebook groups and people talking about my business and my products and sending other people there. Now that has changed to where it's probably like sixty percent from YouTube traffic and forty percent from Facebook.
Pat: Wow, that's so interesting.
Kyle: Definite to growth from putting out more YouTube videos. The YouTube channel has grown. I think I might have just crossed about a thousand subscribers last time we chatted. Now I'm just going past sixteen thousand. And then the video retention, watch time, all those kind of important things seem to be really good. People are watching the videos and then it's bringing them to my website. So that's working very well for me.
Pat: That's so great and super encouraging. I know there's a lot of people in the audience who are exploring YouTube. Starting at a thousand back when we last chatted, how many videos were you putting out back then and how many are you consistently putting out now?
Kyle: Excellent question. So I was trying, when I first started out, to do at least one video every week. And sometimes I would get two videos out every week. I've kind of backtracked a little bit, even though the channel is growing faster than it ever has before. Sometimes I get a video out every week, but I'm so busy and just slammed with the rest of the business that sometimes it might be a couple of weeks before I get another video out. Sometimes they come in little spurts where I'll have filmed a couple and they get edited and I'll release them both in the same week. So I don't have a specific schedule like some people do where the videos come out every week at a certain day or anything. But lately that hasn't seemed to matter too much. I just get them out when I can and I try and focus more on the quality of the content and what I'm doing rather than just pumping more videos out.
Pat: That's really interesting. I saw a video come from Tim Schmoyer who's been on the SPI podcast before. He's over at Video Creators. And he interviewed somebody who worked at YouTube and literally asked him, “Hey, what's the deal with the algorithm? Should I be publishing every day in order to maximize the algorithm?” And the YouTube employee basically said, “No, we don't encourage that. We know that the better and the higher quality videos are the things that are going to make things move more.”
You got to also think of the way people consume content. I mean, they can get overwhelmed or they can get to a point where every video that comes out they cannot wait for it and they're drooling for it. And it seems like you're taking that approach based on kind of what YouTube wants and now what their employees even say. So that's fantastic. So I think this is encouraging because I would expect that a lot of people listening would have expected that you increased the rate at which you were publishing videos and you did not. How did you make your videos higher quality I guess is the question?
Kyle: Part of that is just the planning aspect of looking at the videos and what is it the people that are watching want to see and how does it relate to electric bikes. And that's kind of taken a weird turn. There's some things that have happened that I wouldn't have expected. Probably one thing that happened is there was literally one day where I was like, I want to do this video, launch it right towards the beginning of the year where it's ten things you should know before you buy an electric bike. And I kind of made some notes on a piece of paper. I filmed it really quickly, I used a whiteboard for most of it. I didn't even . . . My face wasn't even on camera most of the video. There weren't even electric bikes on camera most of the video. And that video has really done very, very well for me.
Pat: I'm seeing it here. It's the most popular video you've put out and it was only put out eight months ago and has about a half-million views or just close to that.
Pat: That's ridiculous. That's awesome.
Kyle: And YouTube is just recommending it to people on a daily basis pretty consistently, a couple thousand views every day as a YouTube recommendation. So that was an eye opener of there is certain content people are really looking for and questions they have that they want to know answers to. And if I can try and address those . . . I didn't do any selling in that video at all. A lot of people watch that video and they have no idea that I sell electric bikes, which is part of a mistake on my part for not making that clear.
Pat: Could have plugged it at the end or something maybe.
Kyle: Yeah. But that started driving a lot of people as far as I'm kind of a go-to guy for someone they can ask about general e-bike questions. And then what that has done is I've actually had quite a few other electric bike companies reach out to me, whereas normally I might be viewed as a competitor, they're actually saying, “Hey, we would like you to review our bike that we sell.” So instead of working against each other and trying to compete, they're saying, “Hey, we'll send you a bike. You can review it. Tell people what you honestly think.” So I've actually been, yes, selling my own bikes and my own business is growing quickly, but at the same time I've been telling people and talking to people about other electric bikes that are out there.
Pat: Nice. How are you balancing the fact that you also sell—on the surface—a competitive bike, but you're getting these sent to you? What's your positioning when you share a review on somebody else's bike? And how do you kind of talk about your business alongside that? Curious.
Kyle: It's a good question. I had some struggles with that early on. Well how am I going to do this? How is it going to be an unbiased review, so to speak?
Pat: This bike is terrible. Go buy my bikes.
Kyle: Exactly. And that's not what I wanted. And obviously people wouldn't send me their bikes if that's what I put out. Most of the people that do review bikes or products in that kind of niche on YouTube, they charge a fee for their reviews. So the first thing I did is I said, “I am not going to charge anything for the review because I feel like if I'm charging you something then I'm only putting the video out because you're paying me to do it.” I want to put the content out because I want people to trust what I have to say and it just be a hundred percent truth. There's no financial gain behind it, basically. So that was one thing.
But a little twist on that is I've been telling people who have been contacting me and it's becoming increasingly more and more, and I have several . . . I'm waiting for more bikes to show up. I said, “I won't charge you for the review, but I want you to let me give the bike away when I'm done with it.” So that way they get more exposure because there's a giveaway of their bike. And because I'm doing the giveaway, I'm collecting all those email addresses of everybody that enters all of that information. And so I can kind of do some retargeting as well.
And sometimes I will throw in a referral link or an affiliate link and just try and make that as clear as I can that I have these bikes that I sell, but here's a bike that's different from what I offer. So if you're looking for this type of bike, you should buy it. Basically, I'm going with the approach of I would love to sell you one of my bikes, but I would much rather you buy the bike that's going to make you the happiest and it's the best fit for you. If I don't have it then you should buy it from someone else.
Pat: I love that. It's very similar to . . . It is and it isn't to my physical product, the SwitchPod. And it's like we're on paper a competitor to Jovi's Gorilla Pod, the bendable tripods, but we say kind of the same thing. Hey, we didn't build this to compete with Jovi. This is for the people who want to take their camera with them and pack something light and easily flip it out to a tripod. But if you need something that wraps around poles, if you need something to wrap around a tree for your outdoor videos, do not get our product, go get the GorillaPod. So we're in support of them, too. And it sounds like you're doing basically the same kind of positioning,
Kyle: Right. Yeah. Yeah, very much so.
Pat: That's great. I'm on your YouTube channel right now. Bolton Electric Bikes or Bolton Ebikes for those of you who want to check it out. You can go to his videos, sort by most popular, and you'll see that ten things to know before purchasing your first e-bike video. It's kind of obvious why this is doing so well because e-bikes are a thing now. We're seeing them on the streets of Austin and San Diego in large cities now that you can . . . Kind of like one of those Lyft or Bird scooters. Now they have bikes now. And people want to get their own, but they don't want to buy it because it's a big purchase without any information. I mean you have to watch this video if you're going to buy an e-bike.
Kyle: Pretty much. Yeah. I think that's why it's doing so well is it applies to anyone buying any type of e-bike.
Pat: That's excellent. Okay, so business is going well, you're using YouTube a lot, sixty percent of your traffic and potentially customers are coming in from YouTube. How has this affected your own product business? I would imagine with more volume comes more work sometimes. What have you been doing to handle that?
Kyle: Right. In the previous call that was kind of one of my big things is how do I increase the volume of sales without increasing the work? And there were a few changes that I was kind of testing out, and some of those have grown exponentially and are a much bigger part of my business now. And also trying to get some more passive income coming in was part of that, too. I still would say that the passive income—what I would consider truly passive portion—is very low. But I remember when I last talked to you, I had gotten maybe like a dollar in Amazon affiliate sale.
Pat: For the tools, right? We talked about the tools that you could recommend along with the bikes?
Kyle: Right. Yeah. And I've certainly been slowly incorporating that into the channel when it makes sense and adding those things. And the Amazon things may be up to fifty dollars a month, and YouTube ad revenue is well over five hundred dollars a month. And then the other referral links and things from bikes or other products I've been mentioning have been adding up. So it might be getting close to where it's approaching a thousand dollars a month in what I'd consider truly passive income that's going to keep coming whether I put more videos out or not.
Pat: That's great.
Kyle: So that's steadily been growing. And then as far as the bike sales, one of the things I had really talked about was I was just starting to get bikes that were built complete overseas. They show up ready to go. They come into a warehouse, they're in a box. So when someone orders one, I can basically just send an email out to someone that says, “Hey, please ship it to this customer.” So that's cut down tremendously on the workload of getting bikes prepped and shipped out. And I still do that with certain models, but I charge accordingly for it.
So, basically, I've been able to increase the volume of my e-bike sales, which is increasing my average order cost from where it was about a hundred dollars on the average order. Now I'm selling e-bikes that may be as much as twenty-four hundred dollars. But there's not more work involved. So that has played a huge role in increasing the sales. The support and the questions have increased. So I brought somebody in to help answer emails and support questions. That way I'm not the only one that's responding to all those things. So that has been a really big help and kind of a funny, I'll make it as short as I can, story about that.
After being on AskPat 2.0 last time, I wish I could remember his full name, but Abe if he's listening, I did take your advice. I had somebody call and say, “Hey, I heard you on AskPat, here's a couple of suggestions for your business that I think could work for you.” And one of them was a service he mentioned called InboxDone where all they do is just focus on answering your emails. So they have people who are based in the US that are just really good at answering emails. So I started using their service and I've increased their hours to help me.
But basically I've slowly just starting adding people in, and that's where the challenges are starting to come from now is, as things are growing even bigger, where it's like oh boy I got to start adding more people . . . But I did add it up the other day and basically if I add up all the help that I have or email services and all of our hours combined, we have about forty hours of work being put in each week. So it's kind of like one person working full time is making this business operate right now. And compared to the amount of revenue that's coming in, that's just insane to me that that's all it's taking.
Pat: So what's the, and you don't have to answer this, but I'm imagining it's a crazy sort of per-hour rate if you were to calculate it out.
Kyle: Yeah, I haven't done that. I know, throwing some numbers out there . . . Last podcast I was talking about how revenue was kind of hovering around a hundred thousand and it kind of stuck there. One of my goals right now is to do a hundred thousand in sales in one month and I'm really close to that. So that gives you an idea of how much it has changed in just a short nine months.
Pat: Yeah. Well, congratulations first of all on all that growth and for maintaining a fairly small workforce to make that happen. I'm curious, moving forward, how big do you want this to go? This is the fun and interesting part where you could probably . . . And I don't know what you need or your life or anything, but a lot of people at this point, they go okay, let's 10X everything, let's go big, and go huge. And then they get to that point where they're just like, I'm way too big, bigger than I ever wanted to be. Because they just got so enticed with the success that they've had and they see other people grow. But then, I had a guy named Paul Jarvis come on my podcast to talk about his book, Company Of One (Amazon link), which was like, “Hey, you don't need to grow. Growing is not always the answer. Why not create systems to stay where you are and be okay with that?” For whatever reason, we always want to keep “growing,” right? [Full Disclaimer: As an affiliate, I receive compensation if you purchase through this link.]
Pat: So curious just your thoughts on where you're at now with all this and where you want to go.
Kyle: I do not want to have a large corporation with hundreds of employees. That's not very enticing to me. The overhead and all the people management, that side of things is rather daunting, and it just doesn't sound appealing, honestly. So I would like to keep it smaller. I would definitely like 2020 for the business to be multimillion dollars. And I think compared to this year's growth, that's a not a huge leap. So I think that's within the realm of possibility. I've kind of been backtracking, figuring out, okay, how many bikes do I have to sell to do that much in sales? And then based on how efficiently things are running now, how many people would it take to get there?
Pat: That's the question. And as you create these rules for yourself, that's the most important thing is you have these boundaries that you are setting yourself up with. For example, Nathan Barry, who is the founder of ConvertKit, I mean that company has went on to become a multimillion dollar company. [Full Disclaimer: As an affiliate, I receive compensation if you purchase through this link.] It was a number one software company in the Inc 5,000 or whatever, but he said to himself, “The rule is I'm never going to hire more than fifty people.” And we've even had board conversations about this. “No, but if you want to grow to this number, it would help if you had more people.” It's like, “Nope, that's my rule.” And so they're staying very lean. They've been able to instead grow by finding other means and being creative versus just a let's hire, let's hire, let's hire. And it's created a really cool thing in the company culture. I'm proud of being an advisor to that company. But having those rules for yourself, too. “I will never” blank is so important. So it's cool that you're obviously starting to have this conversations with yourself.
Kyle: Yeah, and I don't have a hard, fast rule that says I don't want to have more than X number of employees. Right now I feel like if I hired one person full time, that would be so many more hours than what we're putting in now that it can handle the kind of the next step of where I want to be. But where I'm a little torn and not sure what to do is I am definitely all over the place and have tons of ideas and a little bit of a squirrel syndrome.
Pat: Don't we all.
Kyle: And so reading through different books and things like Rocket Fuel (Amazon link) and about integrators and starting to look in that, I'm trying to wonder okay, well I probably am at this stage where I need things to be more organized before it grows further. Otherwise, it's going to be this big disorganized company. And I don't want that at all. So I have talked to somebody who was kind of an integrator and a coach. And one of my things is I feel like that could be the right thing to do right now. But he's also very expensive. So that's one of those things I'm looking at is is that the right thing to do at this point to make sure that I am hiring the right people for the right things going forward? Or do I do what I'm doing now, which is just kind of winging it and see what happens? Which doesn't sound very good.
Pat: I think organization is definitely key and if you need help for that, then just wave the cost benefits of that, right? So how much would you be investing? What is the expected return on that? Making sure there's an ROI there with coaching and help like that is really important. Before we finish up, and again, thank you for coming back on and giving us this amazing update, Bolton Ebikes find them on YouTube. This has just been an epic conversation, Kyle. Thank you.
The one suggestion that I have for you based on my life as a squirrel who has a lot of things in the can and things that I want to do and more and more ideas popping up every day. And I shared this at at my event at FlynnCon to everybody and it really resonated with people. I didn't invent this, I just took it as inspiration from others and other companies. But it's what I call the twenty percent itch rule. And that means that I have eighty percent of my time dedicated to what I know I need to do, my responsibilities, my main stuff, everything I know I need to do, I get it done, eighty percent of the time I'm working on that. Twenty percent of the time I'm allowing myself to explore, to experiment, to try new things such that even if they were to completely fail, I would be okay with that because I'm exploring, I'm scratching that itch that I have.
And that allows me to not feel like I'm always doing this same thing over and over again. And the SwitchPod was an example of something that happened as a result of that twenty percent time. I've had many other things that have failed as a result of that, too, but even that's okay because I'm learning as I go, too. And so typically it's Monday through Thursday, I'm working on my stuff. Friday is my exploration day and that's a day I can always look forward to to try new things, whether it's try a new platform or check out this new idea or just read something about something that has nothing to do with what I'm doing right now but it's something I'm interested in. And that has made me feel like, okay I'm actually able to be a little bit of a squirrel, but it's kind of controlled, if that makes sense.
Kyle: It does. And I do remember hearing that at FlynnCon, so I'm thankful that you reminded me of that because I've been kind of thinking of something along those lines. I definitely need to make that a hard fast rule for myself. That's something that I do. And not to get too off topic, but I'll just put it in a little plug for you that I will say, FlynnCon was definitely the friendliest group of people I've ever seen anywhere. So I did sign up for it again and I'll be back next time.
Pat: Oh man, I just got the goosebumps. Thank you. Dude, thank you for that kind plug. It was just great to have you and it's going to be fun to have you again. I mean, we've learned so much from that first go around, but like you said, it was just for whatever reason we've been able to attract some amazingly friendly people. And even the introverts in the audience were like, “Oh my gosh. I felt like I could be here and this felt like home to me,” which was really cool. So thank you for that. So hey, I know you got a lot of work to do or some new fun things to explore, potentially. So I'm going to let you go, but one more time. Where can people go to find out more about you and what you have going on?
Kyle: So they can go to my website, boltonebikes.com, and that's spelled B-O-L-T-O-N, and then e-bikes with an S. And that's the same for Facebook pages. I have a Facebook group if they want to talk to other people who have e-bikes. And then, of course, the YouTube channel is Bolton Ebikes altogether as well. And I would say out of all those, go to Bolton Ebikes the YouTube channel and watch some of those videos if you have any interest in e-bikes at all and I think you'll find some good information there.
Pat: Awesome man. Thank you so much for coming on again and best of luck and we'll see you back in San Diego next year.
Kyle: Perfect. Thank you very much.
Pat: Alright, I hope you enjoyed that Where Are They Now episode with Kyle Chittock from Bolton Ebikes. Look up Bolton—that's one word—and then Ebikes—all one word—on YouTube and you'll see his stuff, his growing YouTube channel. And if you wanted to filter and find that really popular video, the one that sort of took off, you'll see it. The thumbnail's not the best. And the quality's not produced in a studio. And yet it still has been able to help him get these results. And he did, he did. He took action. He did. That's the thing.
That's the separator between him and those of us who are just listening and kind of want things to happen. He's taken action. I know a lot of you are taking action too and the thing is you just got to keep going because it could just take that one relationship, it could take that one video, it could take that next blog post. It could take that connection to really be that hockey stick curve that you're going to see in the future for yourself. So keep up the great work.
And Kyle, thank you so much for coming on and sharing this update with us. Hope to check in with you again in the future and I appreciate you so much for all the wisdom and the kind words as well about FlynnCon. I hope you all join me at FlynnCon next year, actually, with Kyle at flynncon2.com. That's coming up next year, if there are actually any tickets available. I record these ahead of time and currently they're selling but they're not sold out yet. But they might be at the time that this recording goes out. So we'll see. Flynncon2.com. Get yourself a nice little Christmas present. Come to San Diego with you and bring your family too. We have some stuff for kids as well. You can read more about it at flynncon2.com.
And, of course, make sure you subscribe to the show if you haven't already. And you can also apply to be coached on AskPat, and then maybe come back again if you have an amazing transformation just like Kyle did, and come on twice. So Kyle, kudos to you and to everybody else taking action. There's so many stories to share and many that are coming up, actually. There are more recorded, already edited, already in the hopper for you. Coming up next week we have, to commemorate Episode 1,100, another Where Are They Now. One of my favorite of the bunch, actually. I rearranged it based on the order that I interviewed to be a landmark episode. Because what we talk about next week is incredible with somebody who just . . . I can't even explain. You have to subscribe. Please subscribe because it's going to be awesome. Thank you so much. Team Flynn, as always, you're amazing and keep going. Team Flynn for the win.