Martin: Hello and welcome to a dedicated interview show for PYB. This week joined by Brian Clark from Copyblogger. And the reason it’s dedicated, probably because we’re chatting off air, I’m excited. He knows I’m excited. I get very excited about these things.
Because Brian has influenced PYB more than Brian realizes. He might realize, I don’t know, because of the business model I have. And I said to him, they’re very successful. And they’ve got a lot of cool stuff going on, and it’s not just about Copyblogger, which is amazing as a business. But it’s also –
We’re going to be talking about authority, by the way.
– but it’s also about a web hosting platform and, I don’t know if we want to call it content delivery platform. We’re going to talk about Rainmaker as well, Brian. But something which solves a problem for people who are content marketers. I’m going to stop talking and come across. How are you?
Brian: I’m doing fine. Thanks for having me.
Martin: Good. I like Nirvana in the background.
Brian: Yeah, this is my very grown up office that you’re seeing here. I try to keep my youth alive somehow, even though it’s fading fast.
Martin: Cling on to those years.
So we were talking about, we begin the interview off air and said, let’s start 1999. Let’s give people a little history. How did you end up doing what you’re doing now?
Brian: Yeah, so it was actually 1998. I used to be an attorney. I practiced for 4 years. Had a great job. All the right things. And I absolutely hated it.
And ’94 was the beginning of the commercial web. So for 4 years, I’m staring at this old boxy, Compaq computer. You know those all-in-one things. The only reason I bought a computer was to get online. Just saying, there’s got to be a way to make a living here.
And like most disgruntled attorneys, I also fancied myself a writer. And I thought that’s what I wanted to do to make a living. And I had this crazy idea that I would quit my job and not write a novel, and not write a screenplay, but try to figure out how to publish online.
Now you can imagine telling your mom that you’re quitting your legal profession to do that. It was pretty crazy. Everyone thought I was crazy. So I started out publishing email newsletters. Back in the day they were called e-zines. This was before blogs really took over.
And I did really well at writing. And I did well at building an audience. At that time it was really easy to get people to sign up for things, which was a benefit. But at that time, all everyone said was advertising. That’s how you make money. And that is hard to do today, much less in 1998 before anything was in place.
So by a year later, I had made about $4 in Amazon affiliate commissions, and I need to find a way to make money. My savings is pretty much depleted. And I read a book called Permission Marketing by this guy, Seth Godin. You may have heard of him.
Martin: That’s the same way that I started.
Brian: So you’ve got to realize, I had never taken a business class. I was a liberal arts major with a law degree. I had never read a marketing book. Permission Marketing was my first marketing book, so I had nothing to unlearn. And I had already got the permission opt-in email aspect going. But I didn’t understand that according to Seth this was an evolved form of direct marketing and you have to have something to sell.
And I was like, okay. So I need something to sell. Well, I still had a law license. I didn’t like practicing law, but I figured I’d pick up a client or two, pay the bills, and figure out the other business model.
So I start another email newsletter about legal issues related to the internet. And it just took off. I’m getting more business than I can handle, much less more than I want. And that was my first brush with what we call online authority in that I was a young authority. I didn’t have the grey hair. I didn’t have the contacts. I didn’t have the network. But I understood the law as applied to this new thing that people were interested in called the internet, and therefore they were all coming to me.
And that’s when I was hooked. I was like, this is amazing! I can support myself with no firm, no other business, no paycheck. And that’s when I got the entrepreneurial bog. I realized I was more of an entrepreneur who could write as opposed to a traditional writer. And from there, I started two more service businesses over the next six years.
Martin: Right. There’s so much I want to ask you. So firstly, I do know that conversation with your mother. Not your mother, my mother. I’ve got a law degree as well.
Brian: Oh okay.
Martin: And in 1999 I started my first online business, called Three Course Lunch, which was delivering in that space before adwords, before search. Search was just sort of spam keywords back then.
And we had a subscription model. And we’re streaming videos. Well, we tried to stream videos. This was before broadband, 56K. But I remember those conversations. I wrote as well. I wrote books.
But what you did, you took your niche authority and you built that niche authority, which then leads us on, because the context is authority. So how did you then move from that, and set up new businesses to a point where Copyblogger launched?
Brian: Once I had success with generating legal business, I was then an entrepreneur, and looking back at it you can always be more critical of it.
But at that time, I was just really driven to succeed at a business that wasn’t law. So I had managed to figure out how to support myself. That’s step #1 for every entrepreneur.
So I started looking around and said, what’s another industry where you can make relatively large amounts of money and do it in a unique way? And I looked at real estate and decided to start a real estate brokerage.
But of course, I’m totally bootstrapping, have to do it my way. So it was completely virtual. It was just websites, and rented telephone lines, because what happened in 2001 was called IDX, which was a release of the MLS onto websites. And you could pay a subscription to a provider to do that. And I was in Dallas, TX at the time, and they were one of the more progressive MLS associations.
So I knew that buyers were looking online for home listings. The competition didn’t know a landing page from an email list. They were sending all the traffic to bad Re-Max home pages. It was just really easy.
Now 5 years later when I was completely burned out, I was making more money than if I had stayed an attorney. I was making more money than a lot of the partners in the large law firm than I had left. So I had something to prove to myself, but I’m working myself to death. I had no ability to delegate properly. And I didn’t really care about real estate. I chose it because I knew I could succeed, which isn’t necessarily bad as a step along the path, as long as you realize that the path continues on and you’ve got to do something maybe that pushes you a little bit more.
So in 2005, I got out of those businesses. I basically sold it to my business partners on a pay-out plan, which never do that. There’s some advice right there, because I did not get anything. I did not have a big stash of cash when I started Copyblogger. But I did start doing what I wanted to do, which was only online.
No more offline business marketed online. It was going to be an online business where we figured out something to sell online. And I said, well, okay, what do I know? And again, we didn’t call it content marketing back then.
Apparently Joe Pelusi had been calling it content marketing since 2001, but I didn’t accept that until 2008. But really that’s what Copyblogger was about. It was the merging of copywriting and content to make content more engaging and spread. This was pre-main stream social media, but we had Digg and Delicious, you remember, all the social media news sites.
So that was one aspect to it, which I think people were really interested in, and that’s why Copyblogger finally took off. But the part that was kind of heresy at the time was saying, oh, also you should not sell advertising. You should sell products and services.
And the existing bloggers at the time, half of them just thought I was Satan. And then of course, now, look where we are.
Martin: But Seth Godin says the same thing. Any change, no you can’t, because you’re altering the landscape for people. You have to do it differently.
Brian: But what the existing guard of bloggers didn’t realize is their audience was interested in what I was saying. So whether they linked to me in a nice way or they linked to me in a bad way, the audience came over. And that was really the beginning. And I didn’t sell anything for almost 2 years, because I had people say, you built this audience. What are you going to do with this?
And my answer was always the same. I’m going to listen. I’m going to figure out what they want to buy. And then I’m going to make it and sell it to them. And that was literally the model. Audience first, product and services later based on demonstrations of problems and desires as opposed to an abstract market kind of thing.
It’s a real audience. These are real people that I’m interacting with them.
Martin: For those that wonder why I’ve been influenced by Brian, you’ll know, because it’s taken me two years and three months before we launched anything with PYB money-wise apart from consultancy.
And it’s like, you build up the audience, build up the search results. Let it naturally come through that people are paying attention to your stuff. There’s loads of bits here. One of them I want to come back to is your lot, you and Chris and so many of you, you’re at a point now where you can be very open with us about what’s going on in terms of business.
I want to talk to you about meditation, after. But before we get there, coming back to the difference. What I see is you’ve got a cool business. Copyblogger. And Damian is a great writer to join. You’ve got great things going on. Did you start off you doing all the writing yourself and then bringing more people on?
Is it your voice that’s still throughout it in a way?
Brian: Yeah, well it’s been nine years now, and it did start with just me. I wrote everything. Now again, this was 2006 and now we take the concept of guest writing, and multi-author sites, and blogs being more like magazines than blogs or personal journals or whatever.
So I broke every rule even when it was just me. But back then it was you write every day, never more than 250 words. And it’s a conversation where you’re just commenting on other stuff. So of course, naturally I write 100-word educational articles, twice a week, and sometimes it would be conversational. But it was education.
It was designed, I wrote in series, too, which was another thing. So 10 of the first post are now known as Copywriting 101. And I was writing it like I would write book chapters. So I’m the only one in our space who’s never written a book, which is irony, but I’ve written probably 4-5 books worth of stuff.
Books don’t have great SEO. But freely distributed valuable content does. And writing in series like that and aggregating on these content landing pages, if you search for content marketing or copywriting or what have you, that’s why we rank so well. Those resources were like book quality stuff.
And that’s what we have to aim for if you’re going to do content marketing.
Martin: Right. I’m going to come to permissions marks in a second as to how you’ve done that and how the site is structured. But before we get there, let’s talk about the SEO bit.
Beforehand, I said, what are you an authority on? And really I see you Brian as an entrepreneur now, because you’ve got these other things that you’re doing. But I went and did a bit of search. Brian’s all over the place. Copyblogger, the results, the authority of that site is fantastic. So for content marketing, I think you’ve got top marks for content marketing.
It’s solid. What you’ve just said for everybody watching, I’m going to rephrase it, but you’ve got to deserve it. You’ve got to make the content good enough to be #1. It’s got to be there.
Now what you did, the best content, it’s evergreen, though.
Brian: And that’s another thing. Another thing that I kept trying to hammer home, because when blogging was new and social media was new, it’s all new and different. It’s all different. Human nature has changed.
No! Human nature is exactly the same. One of my favorite quotes is that technology does not change human nature. It amplifies it. So, and look at what Buzzfeed has done. All of this stuff is like, duh! Now.
But trying to tell people this stuff in 2006, half the people were intrigued and half were like, I don’t think this stuff you’re telling me from the 1920s and Claude Hopkins and scientific advertising still works.
Oh yes it does. Even more so.
Martin: And you’re re-contextualizing it to some extent for this space.
Brian: You had to. And that’s why, I know some really smart copywriters and people from the traditional direct marketing industry and they just never got the internet like I did. #1, I had nothing to unlearn. Remember, being clueless is a benefit sometimes when you come into a new context.
So it was really easy for me to take the fundamental principles and apply them in a new context of the internet, and that’s what Godin did with Permission Marketing. You don’t buy mailing lists. You build mailing lists. And it’s got to be permission-based, opt-in.
Martin: Well let’s look at Copyblogger on the permission marketing, because when I arrived on Google+ just over 3 years ago, I built opt-in lists using circles. And I was like, why aren’t people using circles like this. This is kind of cool. You can email the right people and you get the engagement. And everything I’ve done is really built from that foundation.
When I went to Copyblogger, which probably within a month or two of arriving on Google+, that’s when I first came across, I just went [agog], holy crap! This is great! Because it applied all permission marketing techniques I knew and I was looking at over here.
And you’ve got resources, enormous amount of free resources. So that’s the first thing. You give away –
So let me ask a question. Are you leveraging the same content in search to get the search results and then given that pack as well on the back end when people sign up?
Brian: Well each of the pages that we try to rank specifically for, those key phrases, originally those were content landing pages that were like book chapter indexes. And you just linked to each installment.
But you stick around long enough, you can repurpose your content. So we took all those tutorials, we updated them, we put them into e-book form, (and this was a couple years ago), and then we turned those landing pages (which still rank) into registration pages.
So if you want to learn more about copywriting, you’ll get this free e-book and 16 others. And all you have to do is register here. And that was a big shift for us away from the opt-in newsletter approach to list building and more to this registration and access, which has a lot of psychological components to it, not to mention that we got used to registering online if we want a certain experience.
What’s Facebook? Facebook is essentially a membership site, if you think about it. If you’re not logged in, you have one experience. If you log in, you have another. And that’s what my Copyblogger is. It’s a content library. But it’s a free member wall that uses our own technology. And so our email opt-in rate went up 400% after we made that change. It even shocked me.
But it’s just a metaphor that is more trustworthy than opt-in and be spammed which is what people think of sometimes when they think of newsletters.
Martin: And you’re making it about them.
Brian: Always. That’s rule #1.
Martin: Now, authority. When did it become the paid version, well not paid, paid content, the community side of it and the events and all that, when did it become the name authority?
Brian: Well we had started using the term authority years ahead of it. So when I talked about that switch to My Copyblogger, that’s when authority, the membership training program launched. And they’re both on the same backend. So when you opt-in for the free stuff, you see all this other stuff, but you can’t have it until you join.
So it kind of markets itself without a lot of hard pressure sales or anything like that.
But yeah, I don’t remember the year. But I did a, and I remember Chris Garrett, who’s now a member of our team, indispensable, he was doing Authority Blogger. But the whole concept of Authority Site from the Google standpoint. And then authority, the psychological principle, the influence principle from copywriting and marketing and all that.
To me, that was just the perfect word. I mean, that really epitomizes how you resonate with people and also do well with Google. And this is before Google had really caught up to where it is now. Post-Panda, Post-Penguin, Hummingbird.
But Copyblogger from Day #1, you better write for people. Google’s going to catch up with you. And then now, all my hard core SEO friends are like, you were right, and now I’m a content marketer.
Martin: I’ve got to give a shout out to Eric Enge on that one.
Brian: He’s a good guy. He’s one of the good guys.
Martin: And Mark Traphagen as well. I know he’s watching.
Martin: I’m going to tell you know. So I wrote, going back probably – and everybody who’s around PYB will remember within days of this happening. I wrote in my little black book, I go through one of these every 6 weeks. I know, that’s a bit weird. But I carry it around with me everywhere.
But I wrote “authority.” I just came out with it. I was on my friend’s boat. And I was kind of scribbling, and I started doing associations.
Brian, this goes back a few months now. And I went, genius. I hadn’t seen it until – that is the summary that people go, this helps you become an authority. It helps your content become an authority.
And that helps you then be known as the authority because you’re found in search.
Brian: But it’s interesting because it really turns the concept of authority on its head, because authority is something that is traditionally bestowed or you have authority because you work for the state or you’re a police officer or you have a credentials, so you’re a professor or an attorney or whatever.
But online you earn your authority, and you use that to build an audience by demonstrating that you know what you’re talking about and that you care, as opposed to claiming.
And you still see people flailing around claiming to be this type of expert and that type of thing, but not demonstrating it. And they’re ignored. And they don’t understand why.
Well, that’s what online authority means. You’ve got to give away that free stuff to even have a shot at selling some stuff later.
Martin: And that’s, as everyone knows, that’s why I didn’t charge for anything until like 2 years and 3 months in. Every piece of content then got amplified, surfaces in search, and people find it from outside of my reach and my network. And people go, well this is the person to go to for Google+ marketing.
Well let’s talk about the burn out-y bit. You’ve got to work really hard. You’ve worked really hard to do all of this. You’ve worked hard as the content writer and doing the job yourself, but also as an entrepreneur.
How do you know when to stop because you’ve got the Rainmaker platform coming out now? Let’s talk about that and meditation. How are you managing your life?
Brian: It’s actually much better now, because I have an amazing team, unlike 2001-2005. I learned to delegate.
So looping around to what we were talking about before, it was a one-man blog. And at the time, no one had guest writers. You wrote your blog. And I wanted to run more of a magazine, because I’m into media more than I’m into marketing. That was always my original thing, media creation.
So I brought in other voices. And the audience responded really well to that. Of course, now everyone does that. But I always wanted to build a brand, not just build a brand. Like this whole personal branding thing, I’m not the type who likes to be out front. And yet, despite everything, my boat has always risen at the same time with everything else. But it’s only because we build and create things for other people. We focus on them.
So as far as when to stop, in 2007, when we launched our first product, which was a training course, people were begging me at that point to sell them something, which is odd. Because you always think that no one wants to be sold to, but if you build up that trust and authority with people, they actually wanted something.
And then the next year we got into the WordPress space. I was a WordPress user. It was great compared to the old HTML and FTP days. But it was still difficult for non-tech people, non-coders. So we got into that space. Brian Gardner actually pioneered the whole premium WordPress Space, and now he of course is also part of Copyblogger media.
But to me, a couple of years earlier I was a big fan of 37 Signals. And they had shifted from a design firm to a software company. I just thought that was so remarkable. And I remember saying to myself, it’s too bad you can’t do that. But of course, that’s exactly what I wanted to do and did by finding the right partners. We’ve never taken venture capital. We only started 9 years later experimenting with advertising. It was all content and audience driven.
And it was always the audience who told me what they needed next. And part of it, so I don’t sound like I’m so prescient, is I am a member of our audience. I’m a content creator, who can handle some technology, but I’m not a coder. I’m not a technical person. And that’s really kind of guided us. So between 2007-2010 I launched 4 different businesses. Four start-ups off Copyblogger. Each one hit 7 figures in revenue within a year.
Then we did some shuffling around, but essentially merged those 4 companies together to form Copyblogger Media in 2010 because we wanted to build something bigger. And that bigger was the Rainmaker platform. And it took us 3.5 years to build it, but from a marketing standpoint, with Hubspot going way expensive, and SquareSpace affordable but not really powerful like our customers need, there’s this huge market just waiting for us.
So it couldn’t have worked out better. They always say you’ve got to build fast and get to market. We built slowly, a step at a time, built a hosting service called Synthesis first to make sure we had that flawless before we tried to launch the broader software as a service.
Martin: We use Synthesis. And it’s fantastic.
So could you explain what Rainmaker is for people?
Brian: So using the two examples, Hubspot is an all-in-one website solution plus marketing automation CRM all that kind of stuff. At the other end of the spectrum, SquareSpace is a website builder that makes simple, pretty little websites. So ours is more in the middle. Not for large companies, but for small- to midsize- companies. It’s good for people who want to build membership sites. It’s got content optimization tools built in, keyword research tools, landing pages, all the things you would have to assemble plug in by plug-in, theme by theme with WordPress is all in one place.
Plus it’s completely managed and updated by us. So what’s the number one reason people get hacked? They don’t update WordPress. They don’t update their plug-ins. They’re dealing with a plug-in person who doesn’t care quite so much. And bad things happen.
So we eliminate all of that while providing all the tools, completely hosted, in one package. And of course, we’re just about to roll out our own marketing automation components, a true learning management system for sophisticated online courses. It’s basically the platform that I want as me today because for the last, I don’t know 6 years, starting out as a DIY’er and then building a team, they stopped letting me do anything. So I forgot how to do it.
I became helpless. And yet they say I’m Rainmaker’s perfect use case, because I just started another site of my own. First time I’ve done that in a long time. And I run it completely myself. Don’t need any technical help. It’s awesome. And that’s where we see the rest of the market going.
WordPress is huge, but there’s a lot of people out there who understand that they need to create content, get online, have a sophisticated site. But they don’t understand any of that. And they don’t want to deal with that.
Like your dentist. He doesn’t understand what a plug-in is. And I also see that coinciding with consultants, service providers really become the go-to person providing content creation, design, all that kind of stuff. And then Rainmaker takes the development work out of it, because a reseller can just push a button and have a complete, ready-to-go site.
So that’s what we’ve been working on. That’s been our vision. We released it last year. It’s been, again it’s another 7-figure line of business, growing fast. So we’re really encouraged that we called it right on what the next phase of the website is for content marketers that is.
Martin: How easy is it to build your own website on the Rainmaker platform? That’s a nice, open question. Well done Nicki.
Brian: Well like I said, if I can do it, it’s pretty easy. And yeah, right now my site is very simple. But I’m going to add the membership component. I’m going to do all sorts of cool stuff with it, a podcast. All this kind of stuff is all included. We just launched an entire podcast network on the platform. So it’s really super powerful.
And yet the functionality is point and click do-able. And we’re going to make that functionality even easier and more intuitive. That’s our constant process. Get feedback, find sticking points, and improve.
We’re trying to take that out of the equation. Instead of spending 3 hours trying to figure out how to solve a problem, you’re creating content. That’s what matters. Not the infrastructure.
Martin: Cool! Got a few other questions. Quick shout out to RainmakerPlatform.com
Brian: I would love to own Rainmaker.com, but we do not.
Martin: You can also go to Copyblogger.com. What about your site that you just built on that?
Brian: That’s called Further.net. And I guess this is, I’ve never started a personal blog. Never even had a desire to. So of course this is a project I just do for fun at the moment. But of course it’s very audience-focused, just like everything else I do, so I suppose it could be a business someday.
But it’s really just me writing about something that has nothing to do with Copyblogger, expect that I went ahead and it’s a curation project. So it’s in personal development, in which I have no authority whatsoever. So I just find cool stuff. I read lots of books. So I’ll write a feature article, usually about some books that I’ve read.
Then I’ll provide the latest links in various areas related to health and wisdom and all these good things that we all need to get better at. And it’s just a weekly email letter. So 15 years later, I’m right there at email newsletters again. And that’s proof that email did not die and it’s not going to any time soon.
Martin: I’ve got a question about authority from Alexander, which we’re going to come back to. Before I get there, I wanted to check this with you before we started. Numbers.
You’ve got some numbers on the site. You’ve got 100K customers with Copyblogger.
Brian: It’s 160K.
Martin: This is a very successful business. The model you’ve got works very, very well. I was listening to one of your podcasts, great podcast, and you were like, it’s digital marketing. It’s got margins in it. Without going into the details.
It’s a very, very successful business. It’s a good model. This is why we’re looking at the model for ourselves. Now, the question becomes, I don’t know whether you want to say. Traffic levels? Are you happy to say what those are?
Brian: Email is more important than traffic. So converting more people. So I think 500K people a month or so. They’re certainly big. But we’re really good at converting, since we made that switch, more people onto our list. So that list is about 200K people. And then we’ve got the broader Copyblogger audience, which includes RSS that I don’t even know anymore, because I don’t pay attention to that.
I will say we grew 33% last year to $10M. So whenever someone says, what metrics do you track? I’m like, revenue. Profit.
But that’s the general ballpark. Of course I talked about earlier, we just launched another authority site that’s all audio. It’s Rainmaker.FM. And it’s all podcasting. And for us, we’ve always been very text-focused. Part of what we do is teach people how to write.
But the broader universe out there is very focused on audio because it’s portable, and you can listen to it without staring at a screen. You can work out, go for a walk, drive, commute on the train, whatever the case may be. And an odd little fact. In 2005, I don’t remember if you remember the first wave of podcasting when it was way too early, but there were venture-backed start-ups, podcast networks like there are now. Adam Curry, the former MTV VJ was big into podcasting. And that was an alternative way to go for me rather than Copyblogger.
Now how bad a decision would that have been, given what we know how long it actually took podcasting to go mainstream? But yeah, we’ve been podcasting here and there on Copyblogger since about 2010. But the text-based content always worked well with the existing audience. So we didn’t take it so seriously. But then a little over a year and a half ago, I realized it’s not about – we need to still give the current audience what they want and prefer. But it’s about finding a whole new audience as well.
So that’s what brought us to go pretty heavy into podcasting.
Martin: How do you know you’re making good decisions? Because that’s been critical along the way. I’m sure you don’t make all good decisions, but you’ve made a lot of good decisions.
Do you talk to people? Do you have little mentor group that you get together? What’s the process? Is it just you?
Brian: Not just me anymore. But it’s a lot of watching, listening, and thinking and then we say within the company we just do what’s indicated and that’s why we’ve never launched anything that’s failed. That’s simple, but it makes it sound easier than it is.
And it’s really about, some people think about productivity as you’ve got your to-do lists and you’re getting things done left and right and you’re constantly busy and you’re shaking hands and you’re taking phone calls or whatever. My approach is completely different in that I try to keep the noise out as much as possible, to have time to explore a decision and make the right one.
So my favorite Albert Einstein quote, not that I’m comparing myself in any way, but I just like that he said this. He said, “it’s not that I’m so smart. I just stay with the problem longer.” And if there’s anything I can boil it down to, I stay with the problem until I know.
Now, some things do better than other things. And we also have to make sure that we’re just not playing it too safely. But at the same time, we’ve got 50 people who work for us. And that’s 50 families. And I feel an obligation to make good decisions for them, too, not just some abstract idea of growing the company.
Martin: Great answer. Let me come to Alex. She’s been waiting patiently. So what about this? Sounds like part of becoming an authority is being the first one to the party. Is that absolutely necessary?
Brian: No. I totally disagree. And one of the biggest things I’ve been preaching since the beginning of Copyblogger is positioning, which of course is a marketing and advertising bedrock.
You may be talking about the same thing as someone else, and you may be talking about it after them. But #1, you’re you, and that’s automatically unique. No one else can be that. So one thing people struggle with is just loosening up and being themselves and realizing that not everyone’s going to like them. But the people who do like you will like you a lot, and that’s the goal.
Because you’re never going to please everyone. And yet you see it all the time. There’s this bland, watered down, I don’t want to offend anyone type content. Guess what? Everyone gets offended all the time now. So find your tribe and lead them. And don’t worry about the rest of the people.
In fact, you don’t have haters you may not be trying hard enough. I seem to attract them pretty easily.
But no, it’s not about being first to the party. You could look at scores of people that came after Copyblogger who have built solid businesses. Some of them were our guest writers. Some of them weren’t. They’re talking about the same stuff. But they position themselves differently, not only as individuals but whatever their title is.
Back in 2006, Copyblogger meant something. It was a distinguishing approach that was complementary to Problogging. And that’s how Darren Rouse and I became friends and remain to this day. I came after, and yet I took a different approach that had value without tearing down anyone else. It was this also.
That continues to this day in fields that are much more crowded like health and wellness, also very lucrative. Every day a new star is born because they just come at it from a different perspective. So the way to success is not to emulate who came before. Learn from them, and then do your own thing in your own way. Find your audience.
Martin: And it’s the audience that makes you the authority.
Brian: Absolutely. It’s granted from them. It doesn’t come from you.
Martin: So this is all familiar for those of you that around PYB. David Amerland, listen to how aligned what Brian is saying to what is said about find your uniqueness. Go out there, do that thing, let people fall in love with you, your brand, and let them amplify your content. It surfaces in search. You then are shown to a wider audience as the person to go to for that particular subject matter.
So great. Awesome. I’m just going to bring this up, because I think it’s important for everyone to see just to make sure it was right.
Paul dropped this in Rainmaker Pricing, Billed Annually, is that right?
Brian: That’s correct.
Martin: It wasn’t myself and Brian sat down before and said Martin’s going to plug Rainmaker. It wasn’t. I think you’ve got to understand, the price point that’s at, if you’re looking for a solution, and you’re looking at a good business model, go and check it out. Because Brian is, put it this way, if I was starting now, first thing I would do is go and be checking this out. It just happens we’re building on Infusion Software. So much higher price point and does other sorts of things. Go and check it out.
Brian: Synthesis is also an alternative, which is why we continue to maintain it. We continue to make sure we had hosting down perfect. But now it’s $3M in revenue on its own. So you don’t just ignore that.
But yeah, that’s a different type of person. I mean, Copyblogger is on Synthesis and it’s built with all the parts that Rainmaker is built out of, but there’s no real reason to move it over any more than there’s a reason for you to.
People like Chris Brogan did move. Chris Stucker just moved over, because they loved that hands-off, the fact that we maintain everything for them, and it accomplishes their goals. So it really depends.
But yes, if you’re just starting out, this is the most brain-damaged-free way to have a very powerful website without messing with all the stuff that you’re not really, that doesn’t make you money.
Martin: Awesome, so last few minutes, everyone has loved this Brian, so thanks for making the time and for being so open about everything you do. It’s great.
Last bit, what are you an authority in? Because I think it’s now. I’m going to give you my view on this. Copyblogger is an authority site in so many different areas.
I think it’s on helping people to find their voice online and to monetize potentially using what you’ve done with Copyblogger, which is permission marketing into a product or service type thing.
That’s for me. Now you’ve already done it. You’ve gone ahead. You’ve proven that this can work. And you’ve given all the people the infrastructure to do that.
Brian: Well earlier before we went on air, you said I’m primarily an entrepreneur more than a content marketer or writer. And I think that’s correct. But I’m a certain type.
Because when people think these days about entrepreneurs it’s like, how much money have you raised? And I am fiercely independent and never wanted to go ask someone for anything, which is why I love the internet. It’s freedom to do, to publish media.
And that is my expertise. Media-driven entrepreneurism, or as I like to say it, media companies with a better business model. We don’t sell advertising, or we certainly wouldn’t make that the only thing.
Now if you look around at the modern media company today, given the state of online advertising, which seems to keep getting worse, although native advertising and podcasting and video advertising are a few bright spots there. But still, it’s not the same as what they did in print with those nice, pretty advertisements. It doesn’t work that the way on the web.
So if that’s what I have authority in, I think that’s it. I came to the internet to create content and to build audiences. I wasn’t thinking in terms of businesses necessarily, but that’s what you have to do if you want to get paid. So it was a natural outgrowth of wanting to create. I think that’s my main driving force, to create stuff.
And if it were 100 years earlier, I probably would have been a real estate developer. But when you look at not asking for money or not asking for permission, the internet and building websites and building software, that’s truly amazing. And I just feel lucky that I got to do it.
Martin: There you go. Everybody, I know you’ve enjoyed it. So thank you Brian. That was Brian Clark. Absolutely wonderful.
Brian: Thank you. This has been fun.
Martin: Thanks Brian. Thank you all!
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