James is back from the States with some secret sauce underground learnings about SEO, Panda 3.3 and ideas on how to make your video marketing more engaging.
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TIM: Welcome back, listeners, to Freedom Ocean. I am one of your hosts, Tim Reid, and over there is James Schramko, freshly back from a trip overseas somewhere, which he is going to enlighten us on. Good day, mate!
JAMES: How are you going, Timbo?
TIM: Good! How are you?
JAMES: Good! All the better for getting out of the house for a week or so.
TIM: Ah, yes! You do like your travel. You miss your family?
JAMES: I do! But I’m around them all the time, so it’s not like I’m in a job every day and then I go away. It’s like when I go away, it’s the exception, not the norm.
TIM: Yup, yup! And mate, how was it? Good trip?
JAMES: It’s great! I think the best thing is the perspective. When you get on an airplane and you fly to another country, you start to hear different accents, you observe different behaviors, you connect up with people who you have relationships with over several years but you see intermittently, you can take little comparison points and see what’s changed with you and what’s changed with them. And I think it’s a great learning experience.
TIM: Yeah. Well, you’ve said that before about your travelling where it’s a good eye-opener. You can never stop learning, I think, particularly in our business. I was talking to a mate the other day who’s in corporate. He said, “You buy a lot of training courses and do a lot of reading and training us. Well, you kind of got it when you’re a sole operator—when I was in corporate, I got put through training all the time, even if I didn’t want to! Now, you kind of got to make a decision to go out there and connect with what’s going on, otherwise you just find yourself stuck in a cave.
JAMES: Yeah. You have to have balance between filtering things that are noise and not that useful to very specific type of learning experiences. I’m continually buying information that is exactly what I want at the time. Like on the weekend, I bought a course about how to build a course and I watched the whole thing from start to finish and made a couple of notes and that’s it; I’m up to speed with that process. Just to verify my own process, which I felt, incidentally, my process is a lot stronger in 90 percent of the areas. But the one thing I took from the course was that I need to get on camera and be more personable and be more interesting. So I grabbed by camera, I said screw it to the studio values and the lighting and the backdrops and everything, I just grabbed my camera and a tripod, went outside, filmed a couple of videos, one of which you just watched. Was it more intimate than normal?
TIM: Well, I wouldn’t say entertaining. It was personable and I particularly got a laugh out of it because about 6 minutes in, the kookaburra at the background started laughing. And for our overseas listeners, the kookaburra is a native bird in Australia that has a call, which kind of resembles a laugh, so it was pretty funny at the time. But I liked the way you’ve done that video, you sitting at the backyard, bit of mic noise, bit of wind noise in the mic and all that. But it was personable and engaging. So I think that’s a good way to go.
JAMES: Yeah, and I wouldn’t have done that video before I watched that course, so it was just saying I didn’t care about the wind noise, I didn’t care about the lighting. But what was important that you can’t see on that video is behind the camera is my 8 year old son just checking if I’m still in the shot and holding up a white board with a couple of bullet points, and it’s great to involve him in that and to drag him off the PlayStation. I’m like, come on, mate! Let’s go and make a video. And I think the skills that they’re learning with this are more important. I can say, “Look, we’ve got this little camera and a tripod, we’re going to talk to it and send it out to all of our customers around the world and they’ll buy more things from us and they’ll also feel we really care about them.” And these lessons, I don’t think they’re teaching this in school, so that’s the coolest part, I think, about that process.
TIM: And mate, I know that 8 year olds son of yours will be in front of the camera before we know it as well.
JAMES: Oh he already has been. He already had his own YouTube channel and doing reviews on apps. But really, they’re very hands on. They even have their friends over, buck around the green screen. They can do things with green screen that half the professional studios probably don’t ever know how to do. I don’t know how to do it.
TIM: So listen, you went and bought a product on creating courses. And it’s funny because a weekend or two ago I also bought a product on creating information products because I really wanted more out of—not because I didn’t feel as though I knew enough. I feel as though I do know enough, I bought it because I really wanted to ratify whether I knew enough, and it did. It was very well put together product, this one, but I did not learn anything new except to kind of confirm what I know was good enough. And sounds like you were the same. You’re better by 10 percent, by the sounds of things.
JAMES: Well, this is the thing and I’ve got to tell you about this hilarious sequence of emails I had recently with a guy. There was a guy trying to buy one of my products and it’s not available at the moment, the Master Mind. He was ready to spend $1,000 for me to teach him about his business, and he’s stuck in a very low six-figure and wants a seven-figure business. So I wrote then back to him and said, “Look, in the meantime, why don’t you grab Wealthification?” And I send him a $30 coupon and said here you go. And he emails me back and said, “This is probably a bit basic for me. I don’t think I’m going to learn anything.” And that’s like my warning signal. Okay, alright, so he’s not even prepared to risk $69 to potentially learn something or even just validate that the things that I know can generate a million dollars, he’s doing every single one of them, bar none, and so there must be some other reason. He’s not even prepared to do that. We went back and forth about 13 times and in the end I said, “Please, don’t buy the product, don’t join Silver Circle, we’re not right for you. You have a massive problem around risk and you want the heat from the fire before you put the log on the fire. It doesn’t work that way! In fact, here’s the deal: go and get the Go Giver and read it because it teaches you this. And if you don’t love the Go Giver, just send me an invoice. I’ll buy it for you so you have no risk!” Now, guess what he sent me back?
TIM: Oh, don’t tell me he sent the invoice?
JAMES: “I’ve got that book; I’ve got lots of books like that.” I’m like, “Have you read it?” “No. I might read it.” I’m like, you know, I’m ready to throw furniture now because people just…they handicap themselves to spite themselves and this guy’s been stuck on $100,000 for 11 years and he wants me to help him improve it but he won’t even venture forth for just a little bit of cash. In my case, I’ll spend exactly that amount without question on a product that I probably felt that I had completely covered and I’ll still extract the gold from it from a guy who knows a lot less about some of the things that I know. But the one thing I took was spice it up a bit more for my videos. And I implement immediately and I’ll make that habit. It’s there now. I’m going to be rolling around with my little handy cam everywhere making videos and trying to inspire and engage my customers. I sent out 3 new videos today.
TIM: What was the specific learning, James? What was the specific learning around video? Was it literally instead of doing—like do less Screen Flow stuff and more face to camera stuff, is that it?
JAMES: The specific learning is that some of my products are as boring as [bleep] and I have to make it more interesting. That’s the bottom line. I’ve got to make it more exciting, more interesting, and more fun.
TIM: Okay. And is that through face to face video? Give me your Top 3 ways that you’re going to make your products more interesting?
JAMES: I’m going to change the locations of my videos to keep people interested, so they’re like, “Oh, that’s interesting!” Because you know, I live on 5 acres. I could come up with a thousand different sets for my videos. I’m going to mix between face and slides so that I can transition. One of the videos that you haven’t seen today is me on camera introducing my Screen Flow presentation and then after the Screen Flow, come back to me on camera wrapping up the things. So it’s more like a little TV show. So I guess that’s the second thing. I’m going to mix up the format. And the third thing is I’m just going to put out more content, get a better flow to it. Smaller batch sizes, less worry about hooking up all the different wires and stuff. I’m just going to try and roll with it more frequently because I think the more interesting ghetto-style videos are actually what people want to watch. They don’t want the corporate, polished presentation all the time. There’s a time and a place for everything, but I’ve now got enough traction with my customers that they really appreciate the no BS, straight-up, this-is-how-it-is sort of approach.
TIM: They just want Jimmy Schramko!
JAMES: That’s it! And I am me all the time. I’m the same person everywhere, whether I’m on stage at a conference, whether I’m talking to you on a podcast, or whether we’re sitting there having a beer, I’m exactly the same person. I think they would like to have more access and I want to share my stuff.
TIM: I might send you a few ideas as to on the 5 acres, Schramko, property where you could be doing it. One place comes to mind. Last time I was there, there was a snake up in the horse stables and I’m just wondering if it’s still there, whether maybe you could do some kind of just lounge alongside it, looking really cool, talking traffic and just have your friendly snake alongside you. I think maybe even a bit of nude work out in the bottom paddock could make it interesting—
JAMES: I don’t know about nude work, but the gardener did tell me there were two red belly black snakes just out the back here today. And my wife’s quickly grabbing for the camera. I’m like, “Hang on, just let me go and check your life insurance policy before…” She’s like, “Nah, they’re harmless! It’s not like they’re brown snakes.”
TIM: Ah no, just a red belly! They only take 3 hours to kill you!
JAMES: She said, “They probably won’t kill you if they give you a nip.”
TIM: Hey mate, one of the things…one of my not limiting beliefs with video, but one of the things that every now and then stops me from producing as much video as I’d like to is that I love editing but I find it’s a real time suck, and I’d love to outsource my video to somewhere like, say, the Philippines where they get a lot done for less. But it’s like how do you transfer those large files?
TIM: Yeah, I know, but it’s like sometimes you’re talking Gigs-worth.
JAMES: Well, even on a crappy internet like mine, you can still transfer a Gig overnight, between when you go to sleep and when you wake up.
TIM: Yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s a good point. That’s a good point.
JAMES: But I will point out that every single person in my team, bar none, has faster internet than I do. And we’re on team Dropbox which has enormous capacity. We never run out of capacity. There’s like 7 Terabytes or something ridiculous.
TIM: Okay, so that’s what you’re doing. You’re squeezing off the footage and then uploading the raw footage with a bit of a call sheet into Dropbox, is that what you’re doing?
JAMES: No, I just edit it myself! I just plug the camera into my iMac and trim the front, trim the back, and stick a little transition. That’s for my face to camera work or my own Screen Flows. I film and produce every piece of Traffic Grab and Wealthification and all my sales videos, every one of them. What the team do well is that they go and cut them up and produce them, and that’s a different process altogether.
TIM: Hang on, I don’t understand that. So cutting up to me is editing. What are you doing versus what they’re doing?
JAMES: I create the masters, the actual products, and what they come along and do is they cut it into little pieces for the purpose of promotion and traffic. So when you see a YouTube channel of mine, like user SuperFastBusiness, that’s got about 30 Wealthification snippets on it. I didn’t put them there because that’s not very leveraged for me. My team member will go through the product and cut it up into small pieces and load them up individually and then they go on and post every single one of them to the Wealthification blog and write a post about each one. So that’s me creating the product and then them basically sweeping after me and creating the traffic. And that process is so powerful that in the last 2 weeks, Wealthification is on Page 1 of Google for the phrase Business Strategy out of like 27 million results. It’s phenomenal!
TIM: It is phenomenal. What a great result!
JAMES: It is a great result. I do have a side story about this product that I purchased. Would you like to hear this one? And it relates to my travel overseas. I arrived at the venue in Virginia. It took me 1 day to get there. And for people in America, they think that’s a long time. For people in Australia, we just accept that it takes about a day to get just about anywhere.
TIM: That’s just down the road!
JAMES: So I put my bags in the room and then go down to the bar, as you would. And I got introduced to a nice guy, my friend Ed O’Keefe is there, a lot of our listeners know Ed O’Keefe. And he introduced me to this guy called Noah and he goes, “Oh this is Noah. He has AppSumo”. I said, “Hi, Noah! I love the unsubscribe thing on your email thing, the guy in the picture.” He goes, “That’s me!” And he goes, “Hang on, why did you unsubscribe?” And I said, “Well, I just don’t want like a deal of the day every day. That’s not my thing. If I want something, I just go and get it.” I said, “What I would rather have is an RSS Feed with your daily deals because I would put that into my Speed Dash, which has an RSS reader, like a little widget.” And he goes, “Thank you.” Anyway, guess that this guy’s topic is as an expert speaker at the event.
TIM: This is Noah?
TIM: I’m going to have a guess here because I’ve been emailing back and forth with Noah the last week and you don’t know that, so that’s quite interesting that you’ve mentioned someone somewhere out there in the world. But what would his topic be? He’s very good at copy. I’ll say copywriting.
JAMES: It was how to build an email list of 700,000 subscribers.
TIM: So that’s how many he’s got?
JAMES: Just about, yeah.
JAMES: So anyway, the point is my first words out of my mouth is that I’ve unsubscribed from him, which is kind of funny.
JAMES: But here’s the other thing, he sent me an email. He said, “Here’s your RSS Feed. Thanks for your suggestion.” I put it into my Speed Dash and like within a day I made a purchase because I was just scanning my Speed Dash, I saw the course that I wanted, How to Build a Course, and I grabbed it. It was just that it. So basically, him being open to a suggestion and implementing it created a purchase from someone who wasn’t going to buy generally because I don’t fit their system. So there’s a few lessons in that. But also, I think we’ve become pretty good friends now with that sort of interaction, also the ability for me to be extremely direct and blunt rather than a boot-licking suck up. He’s probably appreciated it as well.
TIM: I like the AppSumo, it’s an interesting site, and what I like about it particularly is the way that the copy’s written and it’s got a real personality about it.
JAMES: I said this is the benchmark and I said them like months ago. I said this site is the benchmark for how to have a good conversation with a customer if you take yourself too seriously, and they are pretty good poster child for not having to be corporate bureaucratic flashy blah, blah, blah. They just say it how it is. And I actually like the site. I think Noah’s got a fantastic business, but he’s very smart as well, obviously. The way that he thinks is good, and he was the best presenter at the event that I went to and the whole audience resonated with his message. And a lot of it is what we’ve been talking about all the time. It’s about not being the same as everyone else.
TIM: And that whole AppSumo thing, it starts with a name. The name and the visual identity of that whole website then let’s him be kind of cheeky as he wants to.
JAMES: It’s strong and it’s irreverent and they do a lot of things we talk about, like actual business things that have their own dashboards behind the scenes where they really strongly track their metrics. The main thing they care about is how many email subscribers they have. That is their number. And everything they do is to drive that number; it’s on their dashboard. So if you go back to several episodes of ours, we talked about looking at your numbers, tracking your metrics, knowing what’s important and how you want to measure it, and that’s exactly what they do. And they do it quite well, particularly in that sort of quantity.
TIM: So James, you’ve been hanging out with some internet marketers from other parts of the world. I imagine you had the odd “a-ha moment”, which is, it’s not easy for you to have the a-ha moment. But have you’ve got two or three that you might be able to share with us?
JAMES: Well, let’s start with Noah. His main message is don’t copy directly because you won’t win. So it’s never a good idea just to try and rip off someone else. And I get a lot of people ripping off things of mine, even down to the entire website, I discovered last week.
TIM: You did?
JAMES: But it happens a lot! But I do question like what are they thinking? How could they possibly think that that is a good strategy? Because it’s okay they sort of have the basic thought, “Well, James’ site sells $1 million a year. I’ll just copy that!” But it doesn’t really go much past that because do they know how it runs in the background? Do they know if they’re copying the winner or the loser? And then how do they differentiate from me and what happens if we both get wiped out of Google because Google says, “Oh no! I’ve already seen this!” And they actually favor the other guy’s site. You know, stranger things have happened. So it’s not a good idea to directly copy anybody. Take the idea but make it your own! It’s like when I got the idea of mixing up my videos. I’m not trying to copy the guy who teaches that technique. I’m just taking the idea but them making it my own and turning it into my style.
TIM: Well, I would have thought that was a pretty obvious learning. But you say—
JAMES: But it’s not obvious, because this entire industry is of people who model and swipe, and if you think about copywriters, if you think about all these NLP crazies, they’re all talking about I’m going to model and master and clone and copy and swipe this thing and replicate it. There’s a lot of copying going on. There’s a lot of unoriginal crap out there. So I don’t think it is that obvious.
TIM: Just hello to all of you NLP crazies! (laughs)
JAMES: Yeah, I love you guys, NLP guys!
TIM: Okay, mate, what else you’ve got? Give us another one.
JAMES: It’s just that I haven’t found any NLP people that are actually successful. That’s my main gripe with that. Because they’re too busy copying people who are supposed to be successful but probably aren’t.
TIM: What about is there an SEO—what’s happening in the world of SEO and Google?
JAMES: Well, what’s happening is several thousand blogs have been wiped out from some of the popular blog networks, especially the darling childs of the industry. And a lot of rankings sort of dropped or disappeared or been completely switched off altogether, the indexing like on a mass scale. Google’s rolled out Panda 3 point something, maybe 3.3, and a lot of the people in the SEO world are panicking and they don’t know what to do. I’m really not surprised and I’ve been saying this forever. If you listen to any of my stuff about SEO for the last 6 years, it’s have original content and don’t try spammy cheap tricks because they’re going to come unstuck and all these people with scraped sites, scraped content, cheap-ass Fiver links ,SEnuke, bot profile, like of course it’s going to come unstuck. It’s the dumbest strategy ever to build your business on that. So some of these people are not sure what to do now. Luckily we always run tests. I have domains set up that just have links from each of the places that we know to get links from and each of the tools and we subscribed to just about everything in the marketplace and we can log into those sites and we can see are the links still indexed and 4 or so of them, all wiped, completely gone, even slapped some of our test domains. We’re just sitting on a separate server, like we really isolate them and put them in a separate bucket altogether from the rest of our business. And so we get pretty early warning on this and adapt, so that’s probably the biggest news in SEO. Google want to see valuable content and they want to see social signals now because they sort of have to participate on this social thing.
TIM: So what underlies the Panda update 3.3?
JAMES: Well, I think there are two things. They do favor the human reviews. I think they have an algorithmic change that sort of looks for patterns and it puts things on like a notice, sends a warning, and the second stage is they might send someone along to actually verify it like a human. And then they’ll turn it off—
TIM: Like a human?
JAMES: Yeah. Like an actual human. I think that—
TIM: Crazy Google.
JAMES: Yeah! They’re looking for sites that are heavily loaded with ads above the fold or that have no useful content whatsoever or that just look like crap, like from a design perspective. So I think the days of mass blog networks are numbered. You need to have link diversity, you need to have great content, and you need to put the effort in. So it’s certainly shaken up the industry and its put people like me in a fantastic situation where we actually have quality supply.
TIM: Okay. So that’s what’s happening with SEO. Any other a-ha moments?
JAMES: I had a few. Like one thing is there seems to have been the actual speakers for this event were less of the old make-money-internet-marketing wah-wahs, the red headline set, and more of the more real businesses. Like AppSumo is a real business, a tech startup that basically does the deals for courses, but they’re sort of like a publisher and they cooperate with product owners and they sell other people’s stuff, but they’re really obsessed with the marketing and the customer experience and getting that email list and driving sales, so that was quite exciting to watch. There’s a completely separate angle there. The people from Mindvalley were there and they were talking about how they get ripped off so often that they’ve decided to make everything open source. And firstly, the interesting thing is that they confess that a few years ago they were on the ropes, which you don’t find out about until years later, but it’s safe to mention it. And secondly, I think it’s just the play. It’s just a play to get market share to be open and authentic and stuff, but I don’t know. The whole product thing sort of build on a lot of hippie stuff like remote viewing and monks and stuff. So how good the information is or how scientific it is, I’m not certain, so I’d have to investigate that a lot more. But they’re going to sort of open all this stuff. They want to take a stand against these $2,000 info products and all the bad gurus who have been ripping everyone off. So that’ll be interesting to see how much traction it gets, but I guess because people aren’t going to be paying for it, I suspect that it won’t get as much motion as they think it will. And I wonder how they’re going to monetize it is the other thing.
TIM: What was that site? Mindvalley?
JAMES: Yeah, Mind Valley Labs or something like that.
JAMES: Quite a leader in some of those circles. I’ve seen them a few times, but he’s got quite a big team there, got a whole bevy of Russians down there. I’m not sure what the story’s there, but it’s a lot of Russians going over to his place in Malaysia.
TIM: So mate, you travelled out now for the time being or are you off somewhere else shortly?
JAMES: Oh, no I’m off again on the weekend.
TIM: Hey! Where are you off to?
JAMES: Oh, I’m going over to visit my amazing team and do some training and product development and socializing, just catch up with the new faces and just move the business forward to the next stage because it is—I hate to keep rubbing it in, Timbo, but we’re having a phenomenal month again. It’s another record. We’re up 20 percent on last month, which was up 20 percent on the month before. So at our rate of growth, we really will have a completely different business in 6 months than what we have now, and we’re continuing to scale. But to scale, we need to make sure we lock in our knowledge, we need to make sure we have fantastic communication, and we need to be very clear on our growth metrics to make sure that we’re actually having customer retention. And we need to know the next 3 steps for product development within the segments of our business. That’s something I’m super excited about. I’ve got a whole week scheduled with my different teams and leaders and it’s just going to be like week-long workshop and they’re just cool people, they’re fun and exciting and they’re energetic and they’re really interested in this stuff and they get it and we always implement some cool stuff, so every time I go over there, we come away with like an amazing experience and the business just grows to the next stage, so that’s why I keep going back.
TIM: Could you ever imagine living over in Manila?
JAMES: I’m not sure. It’s a different place. You know, I like visiting places. I think anywhere is probably great for a few weeks. It’s probably the months or longer that would start to change the way that you feel about something. But I’m not the one to rule anything out these days. I think from a business perspective, there could be some advantages for living overseas for a year or two, if you’re ever going to sell up assets or if you really want to get hardcore into developing. You still can never replace face to face and that’s what people miss, you know? I have a face to face relationship with almost every single person in my business. I’ve met almost everyone who works with me and I think that’s vitally important. And I’ve met just about every business partner face to face. So that’s why I should still go on an airplane, even if you’re in an online business.
TIM: Good point. Good point. Well, mate, I reckon that is it for Episode 36 of the Ocean. There’s plenty in there we were going to cover. We didn’t set this up at the start because we got right into your travels. But we are going to talk about it in a future episode. We’re going to dissect our successful affiliate site and you are going to share how you ended up getting 10,000 subscribers in an offline business many years ago, which I think sometimes it’s nice to get offline, isn’t it, and talk about what happens above the line?
JAMES: Yeah, I think it’s very exciting because that’s some hardcore, real business and there’s so many applications for offline business and that’s what I’ve been enjoying the most about working with offline business owners through my business stuff. It’s nice to be able to work in both worlds and so many things carry across. It’s amazing—
TIM: It is amazing. Absolutely is amazing. Well, it’s one of the things that underpins Freedom Ocean from my point of view. Whilst I’m the guy with lots of questions regarding internet marketing, I’m also he guy who spends most of his working days with businesses that are offline. And so many of these learnings that we talk about on this show are applied in bricks and mortar businesses. Incredible!
JAMES: Yes. So if listeners want to listen to Timbo as the expert, they need to get across to…
TIM: SmallBusinessBigMarketing.com, Australia’s favorite small business marketing show. Well, according to iTunes, anyway.
JAMES: That’s a great show! I listen to it.
TIM: Good on you! Good on you. Well mate, that’s excellent! Good to have you back. Sad to hear you going again. We might do another next week from Manila. We’ll get some ninja contributions. We tried to get them to speak last time but they’re a bit shy.
JAMES: We’ll get them after a few rounds of videoke. I’m sure they’ll loosen up a bit. We’ll get a bigger sample size this time, too.
TIM: What is videoke?
JAMES: It’s karaoke converted to Manila language, you know, like Tagalog. They just have different names for stuff. Maybe there’s a patent war with Japan or something, but it’s just karaoke.
TIM: (laughs) On video, obviously.
JAMES: Yeah, it’s a video with the words in the songs and you sing poorly.
TIM: Cool! Well there, I love it.
JAMES: You have to sing out of tune, I think that’s the rules, so that’s seems to be how everyone does it.
TIM: We might have a Freedom Ocean videoke one day, just you and me. Let the listeners vote.
JAMES: If my team were to sing you a song, Timbo, do you have a favorite?
TIM: I do like Country Rode, Take Me Home or Bridge Over Troubled Waters. (laughs) Always a favorite on the karaoke circuit.
JAMES: We’ll see.
TIM: Alright. I’ll leave it to them. Surprise me. Well mate, thanks James! Listeners can go to FreedomOcean.com and get all the madness there and transcripts and all the other stuff. So until next time, see you later!
JAMES: See ya!