If you’re not a marketer the discipline can feel like a black, box but learning the fundamentals will immediately increase your value as an entrepreneur. More specifically, digital marketing is now part of every business strategy, so to help our listeners understanding how to apply it to their business we invited Matt Wolfe and Joe Fier of Evergreen Profits to break things down for us.
The two friends have been experimenting with online marketing for over a decade, from working for agencies with massive budgets to running their own, they’ve become experts at figuring out how to turn $1 into $10. In our interview we discuss how they generated $40,000 in monthly revenue from an affiliate partnership with their first client and the systems they put in place to repeat this with others.
If you’re new to SEO and SEM this is the perfect introductory episode for you, and we promise to have the duo back on the show to dive even deeper into some of these topics.
Make sure you listen to the very end of the episode where Matt and Joe discuss the tools and technologies that help them execute these campaigns successfully with a lean team.
00:28 – 00:39 We’re with two gentlemen that we met a couple of months ago that really impressed us and inspired us and we knew we had to have them on the show. We have Joe Fier and Matt Wolfe of Evergreen Profits.
2:46 – 2:55 But I wanted to back up a little bit and talk a little bit about how you guys even got into this and started it? Because I know that both of you are multi-time founders.
3:21 – 3:27 How did you guys meet and what made you decide to start this particular business together out of anything that you could possibly do?
3:37 – 3:43 Matt and I met back in band days, not school band, but I’m playing rock shows and stuff like that through some mutual friends.
3:48 – 3:51 We were both guitarists and I was working at his parent’s company.
4:03 – 4:13 So we did content marketing first. We figured out how to make pennies, at first through Google ads and text link ads through our content.
4:31 – 4:40 I mean that’s, it all just like gave us enough of a spark to get inspired to get out of the hourly wage kind of thing
5:09 – 5:27 We’re just like, cool, let’s start our own thing with pretty much no money. And we had enough confidence built through our practice of blogging and just experimenting like crazy with marketing, which is essentially kind of still what we’re doing now. We just feel like we have more of an official business around us, but we still experiment like crazy and still do a lot of content
5:28 – 5:36 Our paths sort of started at the same time and then diverted and then kind of bumped into each other multiple times. And then eventually we just kind of merged our efforts.
5:59 – 6:02 So about six years ago we kind of came back together
6:20 – 6:25 And that’s when we started our agency, which the agency you’re probably referring to no longer actually exist anymore.
6:35 – 6:51 It was a direct response content marketing business. We were trying to get people results with their content. And we eventually phase that agency out because we learned that if we created content for ourselves and our own business, it was way more profitable than when we created content for other people.
7:47 – 8:05 But at the same time we knew we were capable of doing more and we’re really good at the systems and replicating good results. So yeah, that turned into starting our podcast Hustle and Flowchart after starting multiple other podcasts prior to 2010 and affiliate marketing, all this other stuff. So it kind of leads us to this point now
8:27 – 8:36 Vadim: Was there any trepidation going into that first venture together that it might sour the friendship. It’s kind of the classic concern that a lot of people have. Do I start a business with my friend?
8:48 – 8:56 Vadim: Since you mentioned that you had varied skills, how were you guys different and how did you differently to the company?
9:34 – So in the early days that wasn’t an issue. It was just kinda like we’re just screwing around.
10:41 – 11:23 Matt and I have always been very curious to learn, to network. Like we’ve always started networking and connecting with other entrepreneurs that were around the same stage of us. But we’ve always, I feel like we’ve always had connections with folks that are a little further down the path than us as well. So we were able to see that, okay if we keep fostering these skills of content marketing and then injecting a little bit of traffic in there. So awareness and then also conversion, which is get them on an email list and make some money off of them after then we can probably make enough cash to get by at least for a little bit. And I think that curiosity was enough for us to completely take the leap.
12:29 – 12:32 And then we built a startup that eventually sold the Kodak.
12:51 – 12:54 So that’s how we started seeing working together and always supporting each other
14:14 – 14:30 When we say we, we act sort of like brothers. We mean that like the truest sense of the word. Like will we get along? I’d say 90% of the time, but there is 10% of the time where we’re not seeing eye to eye and we butt heads and we give each other crap and then we hug and make up 10 minutes later and it’s back to normal.
16:11 – 16:25 Vadim: Yeah, that’s good. That’s great that you guys were able to figure out each other’s strengths and how to work together. That’s awesome. So let’s then kind of fast forward a little bit to going from this agency business to figuring out, okay, let’s just do our own thing.
16:50 – 17:03 Sergei: So how did you decide what content you’re going to create, what the first steps you would take to actually systematize it and have it be scalable and you know, anything else that you want to include in those first couple of months that you actually started going toward this kind of business model?
18:07 – 18:33 I do remember the sort of very beginning of when we decided to shift out of an agency business and into doing it for ourselves. And that was when we had this one potential client that we were talking to. They own a software company. We went to him and we quoted him. We said, Hey, this was outside of the scope of that other bigger agency. We just went direct to him and said, Hey, we’ll run all your content for you to help promote your software for $5,000 a month.
18:34 – 18:43 Do you want to do it? And he said, okay, well let me think about it. And then he kinda came back to us and tried to negotiate the price down and it just didn’t work for us. It didn’t make sense. There wasn’t enough profit baked in.
18:50 – 19:15 Now this software company, a couple months later, decided to offer an affiliate program where you can go and promote their product and they would actually give you 50% commission on sales if you sold their software. It was a $600 product. So every software we sold on it, we made $300 off of it. So we went, okay, well you’re not going to hire us as an agency. Why don’t we just go sign up as an affiliate and do what we were going to do anyway?
19:15 – 19:52 So we went and we built a website. We built a whole marketing plan. We started creating content around this software product. We started doing SEO. We started buying paid traffic to our website that sort of promoted this software product. And within three months of setting this up, he was sending us checks for about $40,000 a month. Wow. So he had the option of paying us $5,000 a month to run all of his content for him. He turned us down on our offer. We started selling it for him as an affiliate and he started paying us 40,000 a month instead and we went, this is better.
20:38 – 20:54 Vadim: You guys are getting $40,000 a month. Yup. So that’s three months of setup and turning on the engine with paid spend and SEO. Can you talk a little bit about what systems you created to be able to drive that kind of traffic and actually convert that traffic to paid software sales?
21:12 – 21:46 There was SEO, there was Facebook ad traffic and there was Google ad traffic. So those were the three traffic sources that we focused on. So basically step one was we went and created a whole bunch of content around this software. So we bought the software, we owned it ourselves, we used it in our own business. That’s kind of key to making this sort of strategy work is you got to know what you’re talking about, so you’ve got to use this stuff. So we actually owned it, used it, we still use it to this day in our own business. It’s a great piece of software. So we just started making tutorials around it. We started making videos of us walking through how to use it.
22:03 – 22:13 We would always do a video along with a blog post. So you know, we’re trying to capture, if you start with video, it makes it way easier to repurpose that content to all different channels, which is a big piece of what we do.
22:14 – 22:23 We started creating this content around it and then the next step was we went and started buying Google ads to the name of the software and competitors of the software.
22:28 – 22:34 Not every product creator will let you do this. But we actually had permission from the product creator to actually run ads with their keyword.
23:30 – 23:56 And then with Facebook we essentially just did re-targeting. So anybody who viewed our content about this software, they started seeing retargeting ads from us, you know, pushing them back to where they can buy the actual software. And that was pretty much our approach. The content was mostly for the SEO and a place to drive the Google ad traffic to. And then Facebook was purely just retargeting and anybody who saw our retargeting ad on Facebook, we were pointing them to where they can actually buy the software.
24:02 – 24:16 Vadim: Was there any fear that you’re going to spend a ton of money on paid and then you won’t make that 40 grand that month? Or did you kind of roll it out slowly and test it out as you’re going along to where you were relatively confident how the numbers would scale?
24:18 – 24:20 Yeah, I mean it was a rollout. It was a slow roll out.
24:23 – 24:33 I think in business, like we kind of always have that fear of like, are we going to be profitable if we spend this much money, is it going to pay off? But in the beginning it was a very slow kind of ramp up thing.
24:46 – 25:15 We’re always trying to lead with value and you know, we’re constantly surveying our lists and we know our list of people, you know, typically they’re entrepreneurs or founders, they’re software creators, they’re folks that want to get their brand and message out there and obviously make sales with that. So we always test with our email first or any other audience, like a Facebook group could be one or a messenger bot, you know, subscribers, anything that you can actually put an offer out there and test the waters that way before doing paid traffic.
26:12 – 26:17 But I don’t think we’ve ever, ever spent more than about $5,000 a month on ads
26:22 – 26:27 And with SEO, that’s actually our number one traffic source over a period of time.
26:39 – 27:09 And the big key there was creating content consistently. And that’s why like this carries over to our podcast now. That’s why we’re producing so much consistent content. We know the real money is the SEO, it’s that it’s the keywords associated with the features, with the products. It’s all these different FAQ [inaudible] or, or should ask questions, things that you might see in your support come in. Often we literally made tutorials and in videos around and blog posts around every single thing that we saw as a question.
27:15 – 27:36 Well there’s sort of like this early mover advantage when it comes to SEO too. So this particular tool, we were some of the first affiliates to start promoting it. We were there very, very, very early on when this particular software came out. And so we were able to create content around this tool and rank it within weeks because there wasn’t anybody else making content around this tool.
28:07 – 28:24 Sergei: So what would you say then to an entrepreneur, let’s say who wants to follow this content strategy to try to sell a product, you know, consistent content to try to rank in SEO and maybe drive a little bit of advertising to it as well. What would you say about the type of tests that you should run to test efficacy?
29:42 – So what we do when it comes to testing is we’re going to make maybe two landing pages, but they’re going to be completely different. Different videos, different headlines, different buttons, different call to action, right? We’re going to test more at that macro level. I only feel that it’s valuable to test at a micro level. If you’re sending, you know, tens of thousands of people to your site a day, then you know, then it starts to become statistically relevant.
31:04 – 31:15 And it’s just, we’re looking for like the least resistance in the very beginning, the least friction and then we’re doubling down on that 20% that’s bringing, you know, the 80% of results for it.
32:43 – 32:45 To be an entrepreneur, just to be blind.
34:08 – 34:20 If you’re spending money on Facebook ads or Google ads and you know, maybe they’re not working in converting into sales, you’re actually still getting exposure on your brand. So no matter what, it’s still kind of a win.
35:15 – 35:53 We legitimately have a ton of ads running right now that don’t even have calls to actions that don’t even link you off to a website where you can buy stuff from us. They’re just videos of us giving little tips and strategies and Hey, here’s a cool clip from our podcast. Things like that that we’re spending money on every day knowing that we’re not going to totally be able to quantify the value of running this ad. We just know that in the future it’s going to return in some other way. Like there’s some big opportunities that have landed on our plate lately in the realm of speaking and putting on conferences and being involved in really, really large conferences that have come as a result of our brand.
35:56 – 36:14 Another thing that we do, this is sort of a little sneaky trick that we do in our business is when people go to book in to be on our podcast, we retarget all those people with ads to videos of past podcasts we’ve done. We’re trying to get our brand in front of the people that we want to get to know someday.
36:55 – 37:02 But I guess if you were going to give like a one to two minute explanation of elevator pitch of the company is now and what it became, how would you do that?
37:14 – 37:23 So at the core of everything we do is we love to experiment with marketing like crazy. We love to create content.
37:28 – 37:41 So we love to essentially just give away our results. We want to be free with the things that we’re learning and that we choose to educate in the form of all of our content. So at the core of everything we do is we’re marketing educators.
38:20 – 38:30 Yeah, I mean there’s been a lot of evolutions, but at the core we’ve always been experimenters and teachers, right? So we’re just constantly experimenting with everything we hear.
38:48 – 38:55 The medium in which we deliver content has evolved and these days our favorite medium for delivering content has been podcasting.
39:35 – 39:43 We’re really just an education company, but we experiment with everything we can think of to basically come up with the content of our education company.
41:03 – 41:13 So as marketers, what advice would you give to the entrepreneurs that are listening of tools that maybe they know about that are really popular and still useful today or maybe that they aren’t aware of that really help you with your process?
41:22 – 41:26 Otter, otter.ai for the voice transcription app.
42:09 – 42:28 So the way I use Otter, which is like a mobile app and I think there’s a desktop app as well. Free version can give you a lot. So I’ll export that text, throw it into word doc or right there in an autoresponder and pretty much mold my email and just shortcuts my kind of creative time by like half or more, which is amazing.
42:39 – 42:53 Our team lives in Slack. We’re in there constantly. I love AirTable. It’s how we keep all of our podcast guests organized. We know what sponsors are on each episode. We keep their bios stored in there. We keep their headshots stored in there.
43:00 – 43:16 Loom is how we train our internal team. We have hundreds and hundreds of loom videos about our processes for our business so that when we bring in new team members, we just send them links to loon videos that we’ve made that show various ways we operate in our business.
43:38 – 43:49 Another one would be many chat, M a, N, Y, C, H, a. T. so that’s a conversational messenger bot that hooks in with Facebook and I think some other platforms.