Timbo rapid fires some questions question at James amongst some whacky sound effects from Liam (our loving Editor):
- What is article spinning? And is it a good strategy?
- When should you use article spinning?
- What have been some of the ah-ha moments from your recent launch of Fast Web Formula?
- What are some of the hot topics being discussed?
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TIM: Welcome back listeners to episode 40 of Freedom Ocean. I am one of your hosts Timbo Reid and right there is James Schramko. Good day James!
JAMES: Good day Timbo! Do we get like a special sound effect for number 40?
TIM: You do. You do. Absolutely! I don’t know what it is but as Liam our wonderful editor listens to this. He’s going to drop in something spectacular.
TIM: Now mate, I’ve got a very special date in half an hour which I cannot be late for. Do you know what it is?
JAMES: I’m going to suggest maybe it has something to do with your wife?
TIM: Correct! Spot on! Spot on!
JAMES: Because there’s very few things that Timbo doesn’t flex for.
TIM: That’s right. But my lovely wife will be sitting in a local restaurant going “Where is he?” if I don’t get through this. So we’ve got a bit to cover.
JAMES: Let’s do rapid fire, I like rapid fire.
TIM: Rapid fire, I agree. I agree. We have been accused in previous iTunes reviews of rattling on a bit. I can guess who they were referring to in those reviews but we’ll let our listeners guess about that one. This show I want to talk very quickly about spinning, article spinning. I want to talk to you and get a sense of how you and your private forums go in which I know the answer to that but to give us some insight into what’s happened in the first week and then we got a couple of other things. So mate, spinning, I sent you a note. I sent you a note earlier this week. You sent out a note suggesting on Buy with Bonus that there’s this great new spinning software. I came back to you and said “Hey isn’t Google on to spinning now as part of their updates?” and you came back and said “Yes, but it is still fine for Web 2 stuff when you do it with precision.” So two questions mate, can you just clarify for our listeners what is article spinning and what do you mean by “It’s okay for Web 2 stuff if you do it with precision.”
JAMES: Yeah. So article spinning is where you basically change the article around that that’s the spin part to make it different, a different version of the first one. Now, it’s really not encouraged, right? I’d just say that straight out. What you should be doing for Google is fantastic content and it should be handwritten and it should be amazing and that’s what’s, especially with the things like the Penguin update, they’re on to all sorts of web spam, they don’t like it and they especially don’t like 5 versions of exactly the same article even though it’s worded differently. So I just want to overlay that. Ideally, you’re writing everything by hand. Let’s put the context here.
You got the email from my affiliate bonus site where we tests things, where we put up tools that we’ve tested and we have potentially used in our business and I say potentially we would use that tool if we’re doing a lot of spinning. But we don’t do a lot of spinning in our own business anymore. But there are customers who like to spin and will continue to spin and if they were using the previous spinning tools that were available then they would definitely like the new one because it’s got a lot more sites behind it, it’s got a lot more intelligent ways of rephrasing things. And so what I meant by if you’re doing precision spinning is you really need someone who is a great writer to actually sit there and control the tool and make sure that it’s putting good output. And let me just give you a classic example. A WordPress website, it could be used for a really good original content. It could be used for spam blogs.
So, it’s not the tool. It’s the operator and the intent. So, if you are going to use spinning tools and the reason you might use one is if you’ve just have very limited resource or you need to stretch content out, say you just can’t afford to pay $15 an article which is what you should be paying for a really good quality article, somewhere between $10 and $30.
TIM: How long is that article?
JAMES: 400-800 words, maybe 900-1000 if it’s really well-researched and amazing. But good content pieces go up in price. So some people stretch it out a bit and they’ll spin it and they’ll use it for some of their buffer sites, maybe they’ll put it on a Squidoo site or a WordPress or a Hub Page. And if that’s what they’re using it for, they setup a little base that they could then use to get some links across to their other site or to build extra traffic to increase their presence on the web then that’s what they might use it for. But I just want to say that we really don’t go down that path anymore. We hand rewrite sentence by sentence and paragraph by paragraph instead of using the tools. But if we were using tools, we’ve tested this tool, my team said it’s significantly better than the other tools in the market and we take it through that rigorous process. The email you got was actually written by one of my team members. It was setup automatically by my team member and it went through the whole product betting process of testing, measuring, approval, because there are some people who still use it.
TIM: Well, we’ll put a link in the show notes for this one for, on episode 40 for, that tool people are going to have a look. Now mate, you’ve had a massive week. You did a bender last night four thirty (4:30) responding to every single forum comment in the new group. I can always sense when I talk to you through the week at what level. You’re always pumped. There’s just various levels of being pumped and you’re pretty excited about what’s going on with this new community you’ve created. So, maybe share some insights, maybe share, look, here’s the thing, I know it’s good, right? I know it’s having an effect on the people in there and we’ve seen the amount of people joining up through Freedom Ocean. It’s fantastic. So, tick all the boxes. What have you learned as someone who’s done this a number of times before, you create an online forum, a private membership group, whatever you want to call it, where have the “Aha!” moments been, where have you gone “Geez, didn’t expect that” and give us a couple of insights.
JAMES: Okay. So, my biggest “Aha!” is that I’ve built a good community, a very strong community and by eliciting the responses to why people joined so that I can really understand their motivation and their challenges so that I can solve it better, it’s brought a tremendous amount of feedback that I’d really didn’t know, people have listened to my recordings from 3-4 years ago, people saw me in London or speak in Detroit or have been listening to, there’s a huge Freedom Ocean thread in there, they’re big fan of yours Timbo.
TIM: Stop it.
JAMES: Basically there’s a lot of list equity or customer equity. I’ve built great relationships and I know, so the biggest “Aha” is that it’s validating my thinking. And my thinking was always that I want a lifetime customer that I will grow with my customer base rather than just park myself at, I’ll teach new people, I didn’t want to peg myself as I teach new people, they grow up and move on. I want to teach intermediate and advanced. That’s my special market. And so I’ve put a little filter there.
I said it’s ideally not suited to brand new people and the people in there are just so amazing. They’re passionate. They are inspiring. They’ve got great stories. But I guess I realized it was sitting there the whole time just like when I quit my job by asking a few people to come on and do web marketing with me. These people were sitting there the whole time ready to be in the community and I had all the products lined up in my hosting account and that was sort of separated into little pieces but I just basically wrap my arms around everything. I just went out. I reached out. I grabbed all of my products, put them into one big pot and then I reached out to all of my customers through my 160 segmented list we went counted last episode and I sent out two emails to pretty much everyone who’s ever bought anything from me before or who listens to a podcast.
The first one’s saying “It’s open.” The second one saying that the gift certificate’s about to expire and on my analytics there’s this huge V, there’s a spike where people came on the first part and it lowers down over the first 3 days and then it jumps back up at the end for the last 2 days. And the membership, I think we opened say on Tuesday night, by Sunday it was up to 115 members and I was ecstatic. A hundred was my target. And by Monday, we were up to 240 members. We now have 250 something members in there one week from the day that we opened. And mind you this is, in the meantime, I’ve still been making podcast recordings, I’ve still been doing my silver circle group, I’ve still been running my services businesses with my team and still squeezed the weekend off, read some Kindle and watched The Voice. So, this is without the big Hoopla launch. This is without any special big promotion, without huge partners, I’ve just got my little affiliates and friends who like my things, and it’s just been really heartwarming and I’m mega, mega excited about the possibilities with this community, about being able to help a few hundred people all at once and I just got a grin from ear to ear because I love it.
I love going and answering these questions and I’ve fixed the major strategy mistake that I mentioned in the previous episode. So, if you haven’t listened to the previous episode, I think it was 39, we covered my motivation. But I’ve fixed the strategic error and I’ve realized that this was the right strategy and it’s now been validated and I couldn’t be happier.
TIM: Hate to be negative, but have you had any complaints?
JAMES: I haven’t had a single complaint.
TIM: Have you had anyone suggest improvements or give feedback to you in any way?
JAMES: Definitely yes you get members come in. It’s usually always the perfectionists. They’d like to have something organized a little more this or that. They make suggestions. But then it’s okay to get feedback. You just, you’re going to have to decide if that’s relevant or not. My response to that is, I’ve been running forums for 3 years, I have been participating in them for 6, I have posted nearly 10,000 posts in my other forum, 1000 in my silver circle forum, and 3000 or 4000 on the Warrior Forum, and 1000 in another forum. So all of that, I’ve probably done somewhere between 15,000 and 20,000 posts. I know how forums work and I know human behavior. So, I accept that a new person coming in who has a particular way of organizing things would want it to be just the way they want. But it’s not how humans operate from my observation and I’ve tested and tested and tested things like that.
So, with the forum, this is the thing people need to understand and we did cover it in our forum episode maybe more than once. But the community shapes the forum not you. As much as you want to say it’s going to work this way, the community moves in certain directions and innovations come and they’re inspired by members. So I celebrate and welcome people’s ideas, I even test them and if they don’t work then we just shape it a new way, we pivot a little bit. But some of the innovations members have actually innovated were local meet-ups. So we have a local meet-up section. I’ve been doing this for years now. I go and meet my members face to face and already from 250 people, we have local meet-ups happening in Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney, Canada, the UK, New Zealand. It’s just phenomenal. This thing just came from nowhere, within 7 days, it’s something epic.
TIM: What were they doing? Are they organizing it within the forum or they’re using meet-up?
JAMES: No, there’s a forum section, you just put the area and meet-up and members of their own bat with no extra charge just go and, they go meet in a pub or they meet in an office and they talk about internet marketing and internet business topics.
TIM: James, what are the, what’s the popular topics? Give me the top 3 most talked about topics right now.
JAMES: Where to start, so people looking for strategy outline.
TIM: But they’re not newbie’s.
JAMES: Everyone’s a newbie unless they think they’re an expert and then there’s really no hope for them.
TIM: Right. Where to start.
JAMES: Where to start, “What’s the best way to make use of this resource?” that sort of question which is a great question. There’s always, SEO is a hot topic of course because a lot of people derive their income from it. Conversions is my surprise delight. We’re getting a lot of discussion about tracking, sort of things you and I talk about.
TIM: Yeah. We had a long discussion last night about conversions.
JAMES: Tracking links and how to know where your money’s coming from. There’s already 1000 threads in there. There’s 1000 posts already in a week. So, anything you could think of has probably been started. People are asking about everything from eBay stores right through to good books to read. The other highlight for me is most people who have joined, I think there’s a 16-page introduction thread so far, people are just saying “hi, welcome”, this is who I am and why I’m here. And the highlight for me is they’ve bought all the bright shiny objects, they’ve spent thousands with gurus got nothing and they’re attracted to this community because it’s made up of genuine people that’s not hypie and the information is more business related, it’s not promising an instant payoff today but it is promising good solid foundations that propel and drive a normal business. There’s discussions in there about Michael Porter’s Five Forces and SWOT Analysis, this competitive research. These topics generally not covered in your push button software.
TIM: You’re finding that the way you categorize the threads, we talked about this in the last show which was by the different live events that you’ve done, there were some other threads as well, but is that proving to be the best strategy?
JAMES: So far I’m really happy with the layout because people are finding the bits that relate to them. I’ve given them a diagram of how their business looks from a helicopter view. It’s like a big circle. And then when people ask a question, I’m actually listing the resources that are relevant to that and pointing them to them. And then they go over there, watch it and then posts underneath the video. So, it’s actually working out exactly how I predicted it would work and I’m very, very happy with that. And I’m going to continue to add courses and that’s exactly how I’ll do it. I’ll add the course. I’ll have one post per module. So that people can watch the module and then comment under that particular module and I think that was what was missing from my membership where I just had a lot of videos and no capacity for people to comment. I think an embedded video membership is awesome.
TIM: What’s your split in the kind of profile of the member because I know one of things that makes what you share different is it’s a business and is it a forum full of internet marketers or is there a split of internet marketers and business owners who realize that a lot of this online strategies, a lot of their internet marketing strategies applied just as equally to the bricks and mortar business and more of the listener that I have on small business big marketing. What’s the split?
JAMES: All internet marketers are business owners.
JAMES: Okay? So let’s get that clear. That’s really what I’ve been trying to say to people. Internet marketing, marketing is just, it’s a channel. The internet is where they’re doing their business but they have to have a business so this is their foundation. If in terms of the split, somebody actually already posted a survey to find out how long they’ve been doing internet marketing and what it’s showing is that there’s a very experienced group here and that’s, basically, if you wanted to learn this stuff, this group of a couple of hundred people who know what they’re doing will move you forward faster than any textbook or faster than trying to learn this piece by piece one at a time because I would say I would have to look up the thread. But more than half the members have been doing this for a couple of years. In fact, how long in the game, I just found 53% of the community have been doing it from 1 to 3 years, 40% more than 3 years, 6.6% less than a year.
TIM: Interesting! Mate, that’s sensational. No wonder you’ve been operating in a very high level for this last week?
JAMES: Yeah, you know, looks like…
TIM: You know, the holiday.
JAMES: I’m living a permanent holiday.
JAMES: I’m still having all my Christmases and everything. I bought a fantastic camera the other day, a beautiful Canon 60D and I’m making really crisp pictures.
TIM: Yeah. Look out for James’s new crisp pictures.
JAMES: I’ve got new microphone equipment. I’ve adjusted the levels even. You’re going to get some really high quality output and I’m putting them into this community. But I’m also using this as a news strategy. You’ve seen some of my news videos?
TIM: I have.
JAMES: They’ve been getting better.
TIM: Tell me mate, so you’ve done some live events. We get, I, certainly through small business big marketing, get requests when’s your next live event happening and we do also get them through Freedom Ocean. Any thoughts on taking what you’re creating online and doing some face to face stuff? I know you and I have touched on it previously.
JAMES: Well, the whole foundation of fast forward formula was it was originally a live event and then I had 1, 2 and 3. And most I have ideas about what I’d like to do for 4. I haven’t locked something in yet. I still get that bug out of my system a little bit with my silver circle intensives. So, a fast forward formula has about 250 people. A silver circle intensive is about 5 people and I think there’s probably, I have a desire to do something smaller than fast forward formula and bigger than silver circle intensive like a one day 20 people or something so that you can share enough information but still make it intimate. I’d be interested in doing something like that and I think there’s a huge overlap between your podcast and my podcast and our podcast. Because when I speak to Noah Kagan on internet marketing speed, that’s every bit as business as a small business big marketing, they still need to know about minimum viable products and they still need to know about how to grow your business. So, it’d be fun to do something that’s sort of a hybrid event.
TIM: Well, let’s uhm, I’m going to put it out there. Here we go on the hop, no planning involved here but okay. So, what can we do then? Let’s get people’s opinion. Guys, if you are listening to this and you think. You know what? Business owner would love to get a little bit of James and my action for a day probably Melbourne or Sydney, James, I’m reckoning. Well, let’s just see where, if there is any interests and where it comes from, put it on our Facebook or respond to the show notes on FreedomOcean.com or just reply to any email that you get from us and I’d like to see whether people are interested in that because certainly for my business going forward, I love the live events, I love connecting not only with business.
JAMES: Tim that reminds me that the Freedom Ocean thread, we’ve nearly caused traffic crashes and stuff, the mp3 version of our fast forward formula session.
JAMES: Yeah. It’s a real favorite and episode 38 is a real favorite too.
TIM: That’s nice.
JAMES: Which we both think was one of our best. They say we’re actually getting better.
TIM: Getting better with our age.
JAMES: I have lost one fan though. I upset somebody on the last airing.
TIM: I lost a fan. We lose the odd fan every now and then. You can’t take it personally.
JAMES: I’ve got a turnaround story. I know you have to go. Remember a few episodes ago I was being stalked a little bit by my friend who wanted to join but was being a bit negative?
JAMES: Anyway, he joined and he’s been sensational. He’s actually, I think he’s finally lowered the barrier to everyone bullshitting him and causing him a loss of money for no gain and he’s embraced it and he’s an implementing machine and he told his wife that I’m a Godsend and that it’s really going to be the thing that turns his business around. So, sometimes it’s okay to dish out, to be direct even if it’s hard for people to hear because if you can break through, you can get an amazing result.
TIM: Mate, I actually, I’d give you another story that supports that. I spoke about a year ago at an event and I had a heckler. Not a, it was small event, it was like it was a group of about 25 senior management people, business owners, and this guy heckled and he heckled and he heckled and he questioned everything I had to say and he was getting to a point where he was like “Watch I’m doubting myself” this guy is really pulling me up in everything I’m saying. At the end of the event, he came up and he said, he gave me his business card, he said, “I’d really like to do some work with you.” He subsequently became a really valued client for the next 6 months where we broke through some branding issues that he had and it’s interesting, sometimes those people who are asking the questions and proving difficult are just really wanted to get clear in their mind that you are the right person for them.
JAMES: Yeah. They’re just expressing that inward frustration and you’re the current target.
TIM: Yeah. Have a go!
JAMES: Everyone else has worked him up until now and you cup it. That’s a great story.
TIM: Yeah. And then they become advocates then they’re the ones out there saying “You got to check this guy out.” So it’s good. And you know what? It also makes, not that I’m suggesting listeners that everyone start hammering us with every question in the world but it makes for a good relationship when things start like that. I certainly I found that it makes for a much more open and honest relationship. So, we should start a dating show.
JAMES: I don’t know about that. I had a very direct and honest relationship with my daughter’s teacher last night at parent teacher night.
TIM: Yes you did.
JAMES: I don’t know how she’s going today but it could be a bit of drama.
TIM: I said to you Jordan will now be absolutely excommunicated from the school.
JAMES: She’ll be alright.
TIM: She’ll come home tonight saying “Dad, Mrs. Jones didn’t speak to me today.”
JAMES: I couldn’t take it Tim. The school system, it’s training people incorrectly.
TIM: Yeah. Well, James, tell it to the hand mate because really someone like you, you just got to home school, it’s as simple as that. In fact, just rip them out of school and just give them a life education, put them out on the street I think. If anyone’s going to do it, it’s you.
JAMES: The English teacher was upset with her for repurposing content and being too tightly segmented on her target market in a persuasion exercise and the teacher said to me “You know, with respect, I have 20 years’ experience in this.” And I said, “Well that’s exactly my concern.”
TIM: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
JAMES: “What could you possibly teach her about persuasion? You’re telling her to be general and go for a broad market. You want her to use complex and flowery language and you want her to reinvent new content each time. That’s exactly the opposite of what actually makes a success.” She’s an entrepreneur.
TIM: Did you finish that rant? Sorry mate, you go.
JAMES: You stepped on me. It’s alright.
TIM: I was going to say, did you finish that rant saying “Do you know who I am?”
JAMES: I did not but that’s the line they like from the event. She has no idea who I am.
JAMES: She said my daughter’s under confident. I said, “Okay. But she’ll stand up in front of 200 people at an event. She’s not under confident. She’s just not engaged and you haven’t earned her respect. I want you to work harder on it.”
TIM: Hello to all you teachers out there.
JAMES: Hello to all good teachers. It’s only this one teacher. The other ones were awesome. One actually told us what was wrong with her before we even had to mention it.
TIM: You could get that teacher on Freedom Ocean do you think for an episode?
JAMES: I think she’d be too scared.
TIM: How to create compelling content in the 1880’s.
JAMES: How to polarize.
TIM: Mate, it’s 26 minutes and 47 seconds and I’m getting a bit sweaty because my lovely wife will be waiting shortly. So hey listen, well done. I mean that. I think anyone who can create a community in a week with 250 members, it deserves a pat on the back, insert applause and I do like the idea mate. I’d love to do something live. So listeners, if you are interested in a small group, joining us for a small group, we have no idea what this means yet but it’s just something that’s come up so put it in the show notes or respond to an email or hit us up on Facebook.
JAMES: I think we should be fair too. It wouldn’t be a $50 ticket price.
JAMES: I want to just frame that properly and make sure we don’t have misaligned expectations.
TIM: Yeah. It’s not going to be.
JAMES: But for a small order like that, it’s probably going to be closer to probably $1000 or somewhere between 500 and 1000 I think to make that reliable.
TIM: Alright! We just let’s get a sense mate. We’ll dip the town in the water and see if there’s interest. And if there is, we can bring that together pretty quickly I’d imagine. So, mate, love your work and I think we got a few listener questions building up so, I can feel a couple of listener question episodes coming our way and until next time. Guys, if you want to join James’s community by the way, go to FreedomOcean.com
JAMES: Click on the banner.
TIM: And click on the banner and you are right in there and as Freedom Ocean listeners you get a pair of floaties which just keep you buoyant for those 2 days.
JAMES: Tim will be shipping them to you.
TIM: Actually there’s a nice piece of merchandise. If there are any merchandise companies out there and want to ship us a 500 branded Freedom Ocean floaties then bring that right on. Alright mate, love your work.
JAMES: That’s a little bit strange Timbo.
TIM: Yeah. It is strange but not as strange as some other things that we’ve done on and off the air. So, love your work mate and see you next time out in the ocean.
JAMES: Alright and have fun and good day with your wife. That’s very sweet.
TIM: Very sweet of you to even acknowledge that. Thank you.
JAMES: See you mate.