Just recently, Medium announced the intention to start charging a $5 monthly fee for an enhanced experience at the popular site. Also, Twitter is considering a subscription version of Tweetdeck geared toward marketers, brands, and other power users.
Robert Bruce and I discuss whether these initiatives will succeed, and at what scale. What’s not in dispute is that a recurring revenue model is the most attractive option for businesses big and small.
Freelancers and solopreneurs hoping to come up with a subscription model are thinking correctly. We offer a few tips on making it happen.
Plus, you’ve got questions, we’ve got answers. Here are some of the listener inquiries Robert and I tackle:
- What happens if Net Neutrality is overturned by the Trump administration?
- You’ve got one hour left in your day — do you create something or better yourself?
- How can unemployable types survive and thrive with employee types?
- Where did the Copyblogger brand, and what it stands for, come from?
- And the crucial final topic … naps — do we take them, and when?
Get that and more on this week’s Unemployable. If you enjoy the episode, please leave a rating/review of at iTunes. You can quickly hop over there by following this link.
The Show Notes
- Medium Wants to Fix ‘Broken’ Media with a $5 Monthly Subscription
- Twitter to Offer Paid Version of Tweetdeck?
- Rate Unemployable at iTunes
The Beauty of Recurring Revenue
Brian Clark: This episode of Unemployable is brought to you by StudioPress Sites, the proven solution that gives you the ease of an all-in-one website builder with the flexible power of WordPress. It’s perfect for bloggers, podcasters, and affiliate marketers, as well as those selling physical products, digital downloads, and membership programs. Check out all the amazing things you can do without tech today at StudioPress.com.
Voiceover: Welcome to Unemployable. The show for people who can get a job, they’re just not inclined to take one, and that’s putting it gently. In addition to this podcast, thousands of freelancers and entrepreneurs get actionable advice and other valuable resources from the weekly Unemployable email newsletter. Join us by registering for our free Profit Pillars course, or choose to sign up for the newsletter only, at no charge. Simply head over to Unemployable.com, and take your business and lifestyle to the next level.
Brian Clark: What’s happening, Unemployable people? Welcome to the show. I’m your host, Brian Clark, founder and CEO of Rainmaker Digital, the company behind StudioPress, Copyblogger, and the Rainmaker Platform. I’m here with the man, the voice, Mr. Robert Bruce. How are you, sir?
Robert Bruce: Oh yeah. I’m good, Brian.
Brian Clark: Oh yeah.
Robert Bruce: How you doing, man?
Brian Clark: Listen to you flaunt.
Robert Bruce: Yeah.
Brian Clark: I’m working on it, man. I’m going to get there.
Robert Bruce: Well, it’s a lifetime of practice, really. If you’ve got 45 minutes, I can go through it real quick.
Brian Clark: It’s funny, because you know how we always make fun of Jerod when we do these shows. But then I did a Q&A with Jerod yesterday, and we made fun of you.
Robert Bruce: What?
Brian Clark: Yeah. It’s just the way it’s going to work.
Robert Bruce: Where is that? Is that on DCI?
Brian Clark: Yeah. We didn’t really make fun of you. We were talking about the secret behind the Robert Bruce voice, and I said, “Birth” — I mean, genetics.
Robert Bruce: Right.
Brian Clark: But you are trained. People don’t know that, though. You’re a trained actor and a trained voice actor.
Robert Bruce: The thing is, though, it’s funny, because that training actually, in this world, especially with the rise of podcasting and how people love just hearing regular people talk, it can actually be a downside. You hear it sometimes. I’m trying to think of a specific example. But you can be too polished in this world that we’ve created and the audience that wants to listen to just two people talking.
Brian Clark: That’s true. But my wife, believe it or not, listens to ESPN radio all day long. Those guys all have great voices. And they’re all guys for some reason. Maybe that’s why she listens, I don’t know.
Robert Bruce: Yeah, you might want to think about that.
Brian Clark: They all have great voices, but they’re also very personable. I understand the voice-training techniques, which are basically just presentation skills at one level — the pregnant pauses and things that you know are done on purpose. And yet they make it so stylistically their own that you don’t feel that.
Robert Bruce: Yeah, right. Well, it’s give and take. You’re right. I was born with a particular voice. You were born with a steel-trap mind. I personally would take that over a nice voice — the ability to think critically out the womb. And you did hone that. You did study. You have practiced that.
Brian Clark: I had a pretty high processor speed when I was young and really bad software, if you’ll get the message. Now, the software’s better. The processor’s a little slower.
Robert Bruce: Have you heard of a product called StudioPress.com? The software is improving all the time.
Brian Clark: Ah, nice work in of today’s sponsor. We’ll get to that in a little bit. But let’s get rolling here.
Recurring Revenue: What Does It Take to Succeed and Scale?
Brian Clark: We’re talking about recurring revenue. What sparked this topic for us today — other than it being fantastic and something we’ve worked really hard to achieve — but news that Medium is rolling out a $5 a month subscription option that will provide an enhanced experience to subscribers. The free content will still be there, but they’re effectively using their content to sell a subscription service, classic content marketing. What do you think?
Robert Bruce: I think it’s good that Ev Williams and others like him, this is evidence that they do not hate money. They undeniably built a cool product over there. But for some reason, this section of entrepreneurs — even though they’re insanely wealthy, some of them only on paper — they seem to be averse to doing business in a way … like offering something for sale.
In this case, offering a $5 a month subscription. So yeah, I like it. I don’t know all the details. It looks like they’re going to offer a $5 a month subscription for highly curated ‘better’ content, better stories. We’ll see how that turns out.
Generally, I think it’s great. It’s a lot better than ads, I’ll tell you that. And as you have said so many times and we know by experience, the subscription model can’t be beat.
Brian Clark: There’s also some news that Twitter is going to start charging for, I guess, enhanced TweetDeck functionality. We’ll talk about that in a little bit. But it is interesting because Ev is saying, “Let’s save online content.” Yet one of the biggest distribution channels for that content is Twitter, which relies on advertising as well, and it’s not doing quite well. They’re just basically trying to be Facebook with a radically different model, and that’s not going to work.
But here’s why I think this is going to work for Medium. It remains to be seen. Execution is everything. It’s a very small rollout. In fact, I didn’t even hear about this until I was checking out a site that talks specifically about subscription revenue models.
Ever since the current regime took office …
Robert Bruce: Subtle.
Brian Clark: Subscriptions to The New York Times, The Washington Post, big major newspapers, have skyrocketed because people want to support the investigative journalism that they feel is needed with the current administration. So that’s a good sign. I’m thinking Ev is looking to that as a sign that if, “I can also cultivate, curate, a real news aspect of Medium that people trust … ” — and they talk about, obviously, a wide range of topics.
So you can imagine that you could choose to get an upgraded personal development experience, or a startup experience, or political news experience. Five bucks a month isn’t a lot. Now, we are getting subscribed to death because everyone wants a recurring model.
And this is the lesson I think for we little guys. If it’s important enough, they’re going to pay you instead of someone else. You have to prioritize what you do, and therefore, that’s what you have to do to get a recurring revenue model. You have to become indispensable to that person’s life, one. Or the desire to support you — which I think the newspapers are getting a healthy dose of both at this point — and the work you do is a driving motivation for your audience to do that.
Robert Bruce: Yeah, and in this case, like you’re basically talking about The New York Times and all these different paywalls that more and more people are willing to pay for, for that specific kind of journalism. I like this, too. I don’t like, necessarily, that it’s tied to a particular corporation who can do as they please, obviously.
In the best-case scenario, they are charging the subscription that will fund as New York Times’ corporate, that potentially could fund independent media of all kinds — journalism, teaching, all of that — because the $5 will go towards those writers and those creators.
The last bit of what you said there, you were talking about the idea of how you get there. And I’m thinking, “What does this kind of news from Medium mean for the little guy?” You could say in your experience with Copyblogger, the long time you went before revenue, consciously, Medium you might be able to argue the same thing.
We don’t know what’s going on in those offices. Maybe they were consciously waiting to make a decision like this. But the point is, there was a lot of free stuff that got sent out of a high quality that led to this moment where they are able, to your point, to charge for this subscription.
Brian Clark: Well, yeah. And they got other people to do it for free.
Robert Bruce: Yeah, in their case.
Brian Clark: I mean, come on.
Robert Bruce: Right.
Brian Clark: So the type of subscription success it’s going to take for Medium to be viewed as a success is quite large. That’s why I think it’s going to work on some level. We don’t know if it’s going to work on a level that works for them. But they took so much money, right? And the investors expect a 10x return, at least. So Twitter, it’s a mess, but they went public before anyone could figure that out — so the con works again.
But for the little guy, it’s a totally different story. For example, you have a freelancer who’s tired of takin clients, and they are looking to create a paid community or membership site with training, a small SaaS, or hosted application. I still think back to ConvertKit, Nathan and those guys. Who in the world would think that you could succeed with a new email service with just how crowded that space is. Now, ConvertKit I don’t think will ever become MailChimp, but do they have to?
Robert Bruce: Nope.
Brian Clark: From what I understand, Nathan is very happy right now. And that’s an even bigger success than most people need. If you want to make $100,000, $200,000 a year with a recurring model, that’s what you want to try to shoot for. You want to come up with that because you don’t have to keep constantly selling new people to have a stable, recurring income every month. That’s the key.
Retention is where even giant companies make all their money. And yet, we are kind of in the space, especially if you do client work, you’re always having to find new ones. It can be exhausting in addition to just doing the work.
We’ll talk about recurring revenue more in the future. There may be other business models that you want to work on first, especially if you’re just moving from client work to a more product or more passive form of revenue. But I really strongly will always advise people to constantly think of what is that thing that I can get a reasonably small group of people to sign up for because it’s important to their life and they want to support me due to that whole ‘know, like, and trust’ aspect that comes from content marketing.
Robert Bruce: Yep. Let me ask you something about Twitter real quick. This is something I and I’m sure many people have been thinking for years. It’s like, “Make me the dang CEO tomorrow, and I will turn the money on for Twitter.” It’s so simple.
For years, I have in my mind thought, “Just offer, don’t charge everyone, offer a $10 a month or $5 a month premium service with great analytics and the Buffer-like ability to schedule Tweets.” Even things like domain mapping, it seems so simple because they had done the hard work of creating a brand that everybody wants to be around and use.
Brian Clark: That’s like WordPress — remember when that was free?
Robert Bruce: Yep.
Brian Clark: And then they added domains, and then they added premium upgrades, then WooCommerce. Yeah. Matt’s a smart guy over there at WordPress, but it’s not rocket science, either. That’s what I would do. That’s what you would do.
Robert Bruce: They’ve got the brand. They’ve got the product. Certainly, there’s some upgrading that needs done. But it just seems so simple. Especially when you look at a company like Buffer, it’s like, um, excuse me, they’re doing just fine over there, revenue-wise, everything.
Brian Clark: And now, Edgar has, I think, passed them because they charge more and offer a feature that Buffer should have copied two years ago, and they won’t do it. I don’t get it.
Robert Bruce: These little companies have proven out all of these other paths, and instead, I got to look at a dumb ad for I don’t even know what. Some of them are so bad.
Brian Clark: All right, Robert. Breathe, breathe.
Robert Bruce: Anyway. Exactly. It’s simple. And I’m not a smart business guy, c’mon. All right, how about we move … unless you have any other comments on it.
Brian Clark: No, I think it’s time to move on.
What Happens If Net Neutrality Is Overturned by the Trump Administration?
Robert Bruce: Go to some questions here. Thank you, everyone who left questions on Brian’s Facebook. Mr. Garrett, Chris Garrett was the first to pop up here. He asks “Brian, what would you suggest if the worst fears about net neutrality being neutered are realized?”
Brian Clark: Chris, if the audience doesn’t know, works for Rainmaker Digital in a senior position, much like Mr. Bruce. I think he’s worried about his job. Do you think this is why he’s asking this? I don’t know.
Robert Bruce: Do I need to start selling tomatoes on the side of the road here?
Brian Clark: No, no. Let me assure you, Chris. I do not see any sort of impact on us because of this.
Now, net neutrality basically means that Internet service providers have to treat all traffic and sites equally, much like a utility — so electric service, the telephone, all of these services that are considered to be just an indispensable aspect of life.
So the worry here is that Mr. Trump has chosen a new chairman of the FCC who is very against net neutrality, which means he’s very in the pocket of large ISPs like Comcast, Time Warner Digital. I don’t even know who they are anymore. Comcast is all I get to choose from, which goes to show you that utilities become monopolies almost naturally.
So the interesting thing that happened under the Obama FCC guy was that they strategically actually ceded some power, ironically — for example, the power to prevent legislation that allows ISPs to sell our private data, which just actually did happen. Net neutrality is still in place. But they ceded some of that control to make the Internet be deemed a common carrier, like the telephone lines, which is why ATT was broken up back in the day.
The new guy doesn’t like net neutrality. He might not do his best to enforce infractions on it, which is going to be a huge amount of bad PR when the public finds out. But the thing is, if he just tries to change the law … for example, eliminating the common carrier designation, that was upheld in court.
He may do it, but it’s going immediately to court. It’s going to be there for a very long time. And after the midterm elections, who knows, the shift in power may be pronouncedly different if things keep going the way they’re going now.
So the long and short of it is, I’m not worried about it. If it’s ever going to have an impactful detrimental effect, it’s going to be years from now, and we’re going to have time to understand the new landscape.
But I also don’t think net neutrality is as big an issue for the small business person. They don’t want to cripple the little guy because of how important that is to the economy. What they want is to allow Comcast to show preference in speed to Hulu, which it owns, instead of Netflix. But the irony there is that Comcast has the deal with Netflix now where they’re showing Netflix through their own on-demand channel.
So it’s something to be aware of. It’s something to pay attention to. It’s not going to happen tomorrow. Even if he tries to start tomorrow, it will never take effect maybe ever.
Robert Bruce: So, Chris, the best thing is, don’t worry now, but buy silver bars and put them under your floorboards just in case.
Brian Clark: Yeah, that — and invest in VPN networks, which are maybe going to become popular.
Robert Bruce: Right. Bitcoin, blockchain, all of it.
Should You Worry About Your Browser History Being Sold?
Robert Bruce: Okay, so this ties in a little bit to Lori’s question. You answered most of that similarly.
Brian Clark: The whole them selling your browser-ing history stuff, I’m certainly not interested in that data as a marketer. There are ways to opt out of the new provisions that used to be opt-in. There are technological ways to protect your browser history. Google’s mandate that sites move to https means that your ISP can see that you went to that site, but they can’t see what you looked at.
I’m not saying it’s not evil. I’m just saying it’s overblown, and there’s ways to protect ourselves as consumers from being spied on. People don’t realize Facebook and Google have all this information. The ISPs just want it, too.
Robert Bruce: Right. They’re bouncing back and forth between what’s worse — the corporation or the government being able to look … I mean, we know. It’s all out there. My take is, it’s all being not only monitored, but why are they building these massive server farms out in the middle of the desert? It’s all out there. It’s there forever. Privacy is over. Get over it.
Brian Clark: And this is why you don’t leave the house, and you have tinfoil over your windows. I get it.
Robert Bruce: That’s right. Tinfoil wallpaper.
Naps — Do Robert and Brian Take Them, and When?
Robert Bruce: Okay, so Loren Baker has a great question, and that is, “What is the best time in the afternoon to take a nap?”
Brian Clark: I don’t know about, Loren, but I don’t take naps. Real entrepreneurs don’t take naps.
Robert Bruce: Wow.
Brian Clark: Okay, I’m just kidding. I really don’t take naps, mainly because I just can’t sleep during the day. And if I somehow manage to sleep during the day, which means I’m very sick or I went out the night before with you, then there may be a nap, but then I’m not going to sleep at night, which is why I don’t let the nap happen. I have a very tenuous relationship with sleep. It runs me, and I am a faithful servant so that I get to be unconscious.
Robert Bruce: I like Thomas Edison’s take here. He would sit in an upright chair– well, I guess every chair is upright, except for Lazy Boy recliners — and hold, I think it was either marbles or some kind of steel ball in his hand and had a pan on the floor beneath that. You could do this a thousand different ways. As he would nod off, the thing would drop from his hand and clank, clank, clank, wake him up. He used it for ideas, idea getting.
But there is also a lot of stuff out there about the power of the five-minute nap, this whole thing with the power of a few minutes.
Brian Clark: How do people go to sleep that fast? I can’t do it.
Robert Bruce: Yeah, you got to be tired.
Brian Clark: I’d spend an hour trying to go to sleep for five minutes.
Robert Bruce: Yep. All right. Speaking of sleep, Brian, I want to talk a little bit about website hosting. I did a little Googling around recently, and this is something that we’ve been thinking about for a lot of years.
People hate, hate having to host their own websites. They hate web hosts. They dislike all of the problems that can come. It’s almost this thing of also where you find a good place and things are okay even if you got the common problems of things getting hacked — and that stuff happens, of course.
But it’s almost this thing of, if you succeed, you are punished. There’s some really good web hosts out there, but in a lot of cases, you get a huge spike of traffic or your traffic grows more and more over time. Logically, you’re going to have to pay for what you’re using, of course. But sometimes you can get shut down. Sometimes you’re hit with a huge bill. But also, just the general distaste and disgust for the problem of having to host your website yourself.
This is one of the big ones that we talked about and kept going over with the idea of StudioPress Sites — and yes, we’re talking about StudioPress.com here. This hassle, the bummer of having to host your own website … a lot of great services have popped up, especially in the last few years, where they kind of take that away from you, all of those problems, and they host the website themselves.
But when you do that, especially for WordPress people, you lose all the power and flexibility that WordPress is all about — not to mention having to port everything over to a whole new content management system.
So here’s what we’ve done. We’ve created StudioPress Sites. A lot of you have heard about this. We’ve been going here for a couple of months, and things are going really well. This is one of the big responses that we’ve gotten is how great it is to not have to worry about, we call it ‘zero hassle hosting.’ There’s a lot of great points about StudioPress Sites that we talked about in the past, and we will continue to talk about.
But if you’re tired of that hassle in your life, in your business, check out StudioPress Sites. It’s at StudioPress.com. We worked very hard to try and take care of that hassle for you, so you don’t have to think about it anymore — and without losing any of the good stuff of WordPress. So StudioPress.com, check it out.
Brian Clark: Well said, sir.
Robert Bruce: Well, it’s a headache.
Brian Clark: Hosting was the worst part of my life before we started doing our own hosting when we created Synthesis back in 2011. It was always the worst part. If your site goes down, you’re done. You just wasted the potential of that great content that made the site go down, attracted the traffic or whatever.
You’ve Got One Hour Left in Your Day — Do You Create Something or Better Yourself?
Brian Clark: We got a good question from Tom Webster over on Facebook. Why don’t we tackle that one?
Robert Bruce: Okay. Brian, “You have one hour at the end of your day,” Tom says. “How much of it do you spend on your brand creating content, and how much on advancing your skills? Getting better at what you do? I think this is a pretty key question for the solo entrepreneur especially, which I’m not,” he says. “But still interested.”
Brian Clark: Yeah, that’s such a great question. I don’t mind that Tom has a job.
Robert Bruce: You don’t mind that I have a job.
Brian Clark: I know. But Tom doesn’t work for me. Tom doesn’t do anything for me except we both listen to Yacht Rock on Sirius XM during the summertime.
Robert Bruce: Yacht Rock.
Brian Clark: Ironically or un-ironically, you decide.
Robert Bruce: Man.
Brian Clark: It’s like the best kind of ’70s singer, songwriter stuff. Anyway, we don’t want to get into Yacht Rock. It’s not the season quite yet. But yeah, that’s a great, great, great, great question.
Here’s my answer. Mornings are for creation, and afternoon, early evening is for getting better at what you do. For me, that is generally spent reading. So I am terribly unproductive in the afternoons if I have to write something. That’s why I try to schedule meetings for noon or after. Recording this podcast, noon or after.
Anything that I can do where I can somehow get the motivation from an external source. Yes, we have to record the podcast. Robert’s here. Yes, we have to have this meeting. Everyone’s waiting. I can do that kind of stuff, but I don’t want to do it first thing in the morning because that’s about the only time I can really be productive at actual content creation, brainstorming ideas, outlining what that might look like in preparation for whatever. You get the idea.
But then in the early evenings or afternoons, that’s when I have to also take a step away, if I can, from phone calls and such and just sit down and read. It’s interesting how hard that has become. But I’ve really made a focus in the last six months or so, less social media, more reading — to the point where it’s almost no social media and a lot of reading.
Robert Bruce: I’ve been having that conversation with a lot of people, by the way. A lot of people moving back to — well, even physical books — but just the idea of slow this train down in terms of information and good information.
Brian Clark: Yeah, but I think the key point here to Tom’s point is, if you’re not making that time that allows you to take yourself to the next level, but also just most of my ideas come from places you wouldn’t think of. We talked about this before. I’ll be reading some nonfiction that has nothing to do with business, great idea. I’ll be reading a novel, and I’ll see something that relates back to the business.
So you’ve got to let your brain go to a different place because that’s really where creativity comes from. It’s not just very pointed course-taking, business-book-reading, or whatever the case may be. It’s just finding time to explore ideas that can give you relevant ideas right back to you.
Now, I will say, sometimes you’ve got to get something done at night. And during the early days of Copyblogger, I actually used to write a lot at night because I was trying to make money some other way while I nurtured Copyblogger until we launched our first product in 2007.
So the only way to really get me to produce creative work at night is with a good bottle of red at my side, and that’s not necessarily the healthiest thing in the world. But I turned out some good stuff in the early days. As I’ve gotten older, I’m kind of like, “Lets stick to the morning.”
Robert Bruce: It might be worth the unhealth to get that good work out.
Brian Clark: Some of the classic Copyblogger posts like the 10 Steps to Becoming a Better Writer, I’m sure I was blurry-eyed at the end of that. But it was a nice little poem, and for me to write something like that, you kind of need a little inspiration.
Robert Bruce: What are you going to do? You going to grow old? C’mon, versus writing something like that? Give me a break. The bottle of wine is totally worth it.
Brian Clark: All right, all right. Well, you’ve been cutting back yourself from your bourbon habit.
Robert Bruce: Yeah, I have. It’s not even been a conscious thing. I’m spending more time with coffee.
Brian Clark: Like I said, morning.
Robert Bruce: I’m getting old.
Brian Clark: You shifted to morning.
Robert Bruce: Right. If I had my way, I would work mornings, take all afternoon off, and then come back at night. Maybe that’s something where everybody’s different. We’re built differently. It’s interesting to hear you talk about your take on this, too, though, because it is very different. I’m essentially worthless in the afternoons.
Brian Clark: Yeah. Afternoons are my worst. And again, I have to draw motivation from the fact that someone else is depending on me, either to do the show or to have our editorial meetings. Then, you have the invariable spontaneous conversations that come up from what’s happening that particular day.
So you can only control a part of your day or maybe two parts of your day. The morning is one for me. And then, into the evening, I’m trying to even replace my Netflix habits with more reading. It sucks that TV finally got really, really good because it was easy for me to not watch TV before.
Robert Bruce: Yep, nothing to watch.
Brian Clark: I mean, there was nothing. You occasionally watched a movie that you loved. That’s it. But now, there’s so much good stuff.
Watching TV before bedtime, some people fall asleep to it, and other people have insomnia because of it. But if I’m reading late enough at night, I’m going to sleep because it gets very tiresome at that part of the day.
Robert Bruce: How about we do two more quick answers — two more questions, two quick answers?
Brian Clark: All right. I was going to cut it off here and save those, but you’re right. Let’s do it.
How Can Unemployable Types Survive and Thrive with Employee Types?
Robert Bruce: All right. Rhea Drysdale asks, “How do the unemployable play well with the employed?”
Brian Clark: Yeah, Robert, how do we get along with each other? I don’t know.
Robert Bruce: We kind of have to, right? We have to.
Brian Clark: Well, we’ve talked about this before, in two ways. In our culture, I think we’ve got a ton of unemployable people, including yourself, who just happen to find an environment where you’re allowed to operate independently within parameters, within a structure that’s not as maybe Wild West as being out on your own. Yet really, you have the freedom to create. The freedom to get things done according to how you see fit.
As long as things turn out, no one’s telling you exactly what to do. We do have processes. I know sometimes those drive you crazy, but we kind of need some parameters. But other than that, I mean, talk about your day. I don’t know because you’re in Oregon, and I’m in Boulder. Talk about what your day looks like.
Robert Bruce: Well, no. I think I’d bolster what you just said. It’s true. And it’s interesting, this company that you guys have created. See, here’s the problem. I’m ruined. It’d be really tough to go elsewhere into certain cultures that I know exist out there without doing my own thing — because you’re exactly right. There is stuff that I’ve got to deliver, and all of us have to deliver. As long as those basically are delivered, there’s no micromanaging. There’s no hanging over.
Now, if I don’t deliver, obviously that’s going to be an issue, but it’s a pretty interesting way to run things. There’s a lot of companies that do it this way, but you’ve got to be able to trust your people, which takes some doing and takes some getting to.
But yeah, you’re right, as long as things are done. And these processes that we’ve all built up over the number of years, it’s pretty straightforward. As long as those things are done, it seems all is well.
Brian Clark: Yeah, and it’s not true for everyone. When you say “the right people,” not everyone can operate with this level of autonomy. They just can’t. And they’ve been trained to be cubical slaves, and that’s what they’re used to. They say they hate it, but if you take them out of it — and we’ve seen this only on a couple of occasions — maybe it’s a discipline thing, self-discipline. I don’t know. But you have to choose the right people. That was your most important point, and to your credit.
On the other hand, if you’re a solo and you’re working with freelancers, you’re really kind of working with kindred spirits. So I think in a lot of ways, that’s a more natural progression beyond, “Okay, it’s just me. Now, it’s me and a VA. Now, it’s me and a designer and a freelance writer.” That, to me, is a progression that is not as painful as long as you, again, remember that you need processes to deal with that.
But once you get to the point where you’re like, “I need to hire an employee or multiple employees,” I often wonder if that doesn’t just shake up the mindset of the entrepreneur to the point where they start saying, “Okay, now I’m going to lord over you, monitor you, and watch everything you do.” That’s why things start to go wrong — in my opinion, which is why I never did that.
Where Did the Copyblogger Brand, and What It Stands For, Come From?
Robert Bruce: Last question. Claire Emerson asks, “When did you start creating the brand or the identity of Copyblogger, or did it just come about organically?”
Brian Clark: Hmm, that’s an interesting question. So I’m assuming she means not the word ‘Copyblogger,’ but what it stands for. I can talk to both. Let’s do it in reverse. The identity of what Copyblogger stood for, for day one, was organically formulated from the three successful businesses I started before Copyblogger. That’s when I learned, basically — put the audience first. Build your credibility. Become a likable expert. Then make an offer. So that’s what Copyblogger was about, and two years later, that became known as content marketing.
The actual name Copyblogger, which I often make fun of these days was a play on ProBlogger, which was Darren Rowse. It was a newish site, but in existence for at least a year at that point. And it was meant to complement what Darren was talking about — commercial blogging, making money from content. Well, he mainly talked at that time about making money with advertising. It wasn’t until years later that he got more into ebooks and stuff — which, again, qualifies as content marketing.
So it was meant to complement that, but also differentiate in two important ways — that applying copywriting techniques to your content will get your more traffic and a larger audience, more subscribers, all of that. And then, number two was the sell stuff, not advertising — which became known as content marketing.
So the whole idea for it was very organic based on me looking out there at the nascent commercial blogging scene and saying, “They’re missing something important, and I know it.” That’s just spotting an opportunity. It doesn’t sound that earth-shattering at this point, but at the time, a lot of people were like, “This is really interesting and useful, and I’m going to pay attention to this guy.” Thankfully, or we would all be unemployed.
Robert Bruce: I’d be pushing a broom somewhere, mumbling.
Brian Clark: In a shoe shop.
Robert Bruce: That’s right. Selling shoes. Whatever it takes. All right, so we got some good news in this time. We got some insight. We got some Q&A. Well done, sir.
Brian Clark: I appreciate it. And I appreciate you making me show up to record this.
Robert Bruce: Anytime. Processes, right?
Brian Clark: Absolutely.
All right, everyone. I hope you enjoyed the episode. If you would like to ask us a question, go to Unemployable.com/Ask. I think you can do the recorded version there. I’ve also put a form on that page. So if you don’t want to hear yourself in glorious technicolor on the show, you can just submit a written question, and we will answer it that way.
But until the next episode or until we’re able to help you out by answering your question, thanks for listening, and keep going.