We’re rehashing our WTF series for the new site, to look back on what we’ve learnt since then, and share what we’re looking forward to now.
Building on the first series, we’re now in the process of conducting follow up interviews with ALL of our past SEO pro interviewees. We want to chart what we’ve been up to in the two and a half years since, and whether our business practices and outlooks have changed. Hopefully we’re all a lot wiser, smarter and richer…
Anyways, you guys can be the judge of that. To refresh your minds, you can find John’s first WTF interview with the great Dave Chesson below. Enjoy!
March 2016 – WHAT THE F**K MAKES YOU TICK? WITH DAVE CHESSON
In approaching 2016, I knew my year was going to be rammed with amazing new moments. Anticipating the upcoming projects i2W is planning this year, my busy travel plans, planning a stag-do for my best mate later in the year, and balancing all of life’s expectations, I am constantly asked about how I manage all of my plans.
But as I work day-in and day-out with so many talented and amazing people across the globe, I am constantly wondering the same thing of so many of my colleagues. Notorious online entrepreneurs continue to create and do amazing things every day, and as we all reap the benefits of their amazing skill sets, do we ever stop to understand the method behind all the madness? Or maybe even the road that it took to create so many of the amazing tools we use on a daily basis?
Recognising amongst so many of our great readers an intrigue or fascination that brews behind closed doors, I set out to better understand exactly what makes so many great online marketers tick. Not only what is the driving force behind their products and visions, but what they have coming up in their businesses, what tips they have for us, and any other interesting information they may want to share about their life experiences.
So – I spent about three weeks petitioning people I admire, requesting an interview with them. Not really knowing what or who to expect, I heard back from multiple people and have been interviewing, transcribing, and creating amazing blog posts that will hopefully benefit all of our amazing followers at i2W. After spending time editing these insightful and thought-provoking interviews, I feel like all of us will be the better for understanding their stories.
Our first blog post is going to be my interview with Dave Chesson, the founder of kindlepreneur.com and guru of everything eBook. Talking about Taylor Swift, being an author, and karaoke, my interview Mr. Chesson proves to be enlightening, inspiring, and a great starting point for our series, What the F*ck Makes You Tick?
John: Many people start their online careers while working a day job, and I don’t think that many manage doing that while being in the Navy. What did it mean to you on a day to day basis trying to manage both?
Dave: Well, I think the first thing was making sure that I set up my priorities right. I mean, to kind of do two jobs at the same time could also mean that you would start to fail in other areas. For me, I’m also a father, so I got to make sure that I’m devoting enough time to the kids. Now, when I started to realise that I had to balance all these things of being an online marketer, a Navy guy, a father, a husband – it came down to making some sacrifices, you know? It was cutting out movies, cutting out TV shows, being more proactive with certain things around the house, and creating schedules.
J: That sounds pretty full on. For many people, being unhappy with their day job is what creates a drive to achieve an online income. It sounds to me like you are pretty content with what you’re doing. Where does the drive to excel online come from?
D: Well actually, you know, it came from the passion. I mean, I started doing this because I had some time, I was geo-bachelor, which means the military sent me to South Korea without my family. I was trying to find something that would be a legitimate passing of time. You can’t send back to your wife and children, “Oh yeah, Dad’s gone out to go to the bars with the South Korean Navy”, or, “I’m doing karaoke again”. You know? That just wouldn’t be a happy home.
So I started looking for something that would be a good use of my time, maybe even make some extra income on the side, and I just found that I absolutely loved it. What I was working on and the challenges that were presented were just absolutely exhilarating. So, at that point it really started to grow into something even more. And I think the big step was when I started calling it my career and not a hobby.
J: When you began with this, what came first? Did you discover that there are people making money writing eBooks, and then you looked into how that’s done, or did you first write something, and then say “Oh, how can I market this?”
D: Actually, the way it started was, I built all these niche websites, right? And I was just like everybody else, finding these low competition, high traffic key words, building out something. But the thing was, that all I was getting was a couple dollars a month, or at most $70 a month from one website. And that’s depending on Google AdSense, Amazon Associates, any other little filler affiliates out there. I was like, “There’s got to be a better way. And there’s got to be a way for me, somebody in South Korea, to create a product that can’t be physical. But what do you do?”
That’s when I realised that writing my own book is creating a product, and if I’d just spent all this time creating a little niche website about some subject, it really wouldn’t be hard to just sit down and write a book for it, too.
I’ve already got the attention. I’ve already got the traffic. I might as well use it as a funnel towards something even better, which is a solid product. So, I wasn’t so much like “I want to write a book,” but more or less like, “I’ve got all this traffic. I know I can do more with it.” And that’s when I started getting into self-publishing.
J: It makes a lot of sense, because people want to get into product ownership. There’s a huge drive (at the moment) for people to go into fulfilment by Amazon, where people invest thousands of dollars into buying product (from China mostly) and shipping them to the Amazon fulfilment centre. Whereas with an eBook, the biggest investment really is the time that you have to put in, right?
D: Absolutely. Or in a lot of cases, people will just hire ghost writers. If you know that there is a market; that there is a key word that is high traffic and low competition; and all you need is that product because nobody else is writing it, but people will want it. You could even cut out that time period and hire someone to write it. I don’t personally do that, but I know a lot of people that do that on a mass scale.
J: Yeah. Well, exactly. It’s a scaling thing. If I can write one book in a week, but I can hire 10 people to write 10 books in a week, that’s pretty straightforward. Now, would it be fair to say that Kindle marketing is almost like a forgotten gold mine. I see people promoting all kinds of courses and materials, you know, for marketing on Google, as well as ranking products on Amazon, but not half as many promoting eBooks. What do you think that is?
D: From the eBook market, I think a lot of people have started to become disingenuous about it. Four years ago, there were only 500,000 Kindle books on Amazon, alright. Now, fast forward to today; it’s over 4 million. That’s ten times the amount of competition that now exists.
So, the things that people were doing back in the day that were really doing well and making people money, they don’t work anymore. Now, a unique aspect to this is being somebody who knows how to drive traffic to a sales page, instead of just depending on Amazon’s traffic. You see what I’m saying?
So, a lot of the normal writers out there, they’ll get this feeling of “I want this book. It’s in me. I need to write it” And they write it. They sit down, and they publish it, and nothing happens. No sales; no nothing, because there’s just so many mouths to feed in Amazon. If you’re depending on Amazon’s traffic, then that’s it. And you could say that about any search engine. Not just Amazon, but you could even go as far to Udemy or Fiverr, whatever has a search engine and a product page. You could think about it this way; if I could drive traffic, if I could control traffic to my sales page, then these are really great ways to create some quick products and make more money.
J: Yeah, and that actually brings me to the next question because to me that makes complete sense as a marketer. But on your blog you use a line, I think it says “one doesn’t have to be a great writer to be a bestselling author.” To me, that makes complete sense, but my girlfriend (who has a Masters in English Literature) is surrounded by people who have written great pieces of content, but have never seen a buck from it. I guess that [statement] really, really has a huge influence? The fact that you know how to drive the traffic.
D: Absolutely, that statement that you quoted, actually there’s a story behind it and it involved Guy Kawasaki.
Now Guy had just come off of having this big conference speech and there’s this lady sitting down at the bottom and she’s holding his book. She’s like “Look, Mr. Kawasaki, I’ve got a doctorate in this subject matter. I’ve been working in this area for a very long time. I’ve written many books. I read your books and they’re not… I mean they’re okay, but they’re not as good as mine. I have way more information. I don’t mean to be a jerk about this.”
And Guy nods his head and he’s like, “Yeah I understand that. But you know what, I’m not the best author, I’m a bestselling author.” That’s what it’s really all about, people judge a book by its cover. They judge products by the way it’s presented. If your book is terrible, I mean seriously if you can’t write, or you don’t speak English as your primary language and you’re trying to sell a book in English, over time your product will not sell. You could be the greatest marketer in the world. You have to have something.
But in truth, I think the most important thing, especially for authors out there, is the understanding that you have to be part author and part marketer if you really want to sell your own product, AKA your book.
J: I think that really applies to a lot of different industries now, you know? I mean, I just read a blog post by Marriot, the hotel chain, and they were saying exactly the same thing. These days we’re not a hotel company anymore, we’re a marketing company that happens to have a hotel chain. I think it applies very much [across] the board, because people don’t want to be sold to anymore in the same style that they wanted to just two or three years ago.
D: Let me further that a little bit more. Taylor Swift said that in the music industry, it used to be that you would create your CD, you would sign a record deal, and then you would get your fans. But today, if you want to make it in the music industry, you have to first get the fans to be able to get the contract. That truly is a part of a lot of industries, not just with music. Same thing with Kindle, if you want to become a published author, publishers want to see that you have a fan base, that you have a following.
So, you need to understand this concept, and that goes for fans as well as traffic. I mean, we could just change those words around. If you can get the traffic, then you can get the sales. You don’t get the sales without the traffic. With big industries like Amazon, you’re going to have that. You’re going to have all these people that are competing. But being a marketer and driving your own traffic, that’s key.
J: If I want to write my own eBook, do you think it applicable that now that everything is moving more and more into the social space, if somebody who maybe doesn’t need a long lifecycle of this product, they would be able to generate something similar using a social marketing like media marketing?
D: No, I don’t think so. Because with social media marketing, if you really put in a lot of time to really push all, then sure. But when you talk about doing advertisements, like say you want to do Facebook advertisements to your book page, remember that a book at the most is probably going to be like $9.99, but really you’re looking at like £2.99 per price, so it’s not going to be a very going return on investment.
Let’s go back and talk about that website. See, I don’t go through and see each as a step. I see them as parts of validation. So, when I create the website, if it is successful and gets lots of traffic, then the next thing I’ll do is I’ll start marketing somebody else’s book on Amazon, so that I can see if I’m getting clicks. I can see if it’s converting because I’m using my Amazon Associate account. These are validation points. So, I could build a little website and it’s like, “Okay, we’re only getting like 1,000 people a month and it’s not a good group.” Move on a make another website. I’ve got AdSense, so at least I get something for that effort, but I’ll make the next website.
The next website, bam, I’m getting like 7,000-8,000 unique great buyers. So then I start putting some Amazon Associate links in there and, boom, I see that people that are going to this website are buying my competitor’s book, now it’s worth my time to sit down and make that book, put it together, cut the competitor out, funnel the people to my page. Now I have a true long-term passive income.
J: Yeah, that’s really amazing, and I guess that once you have that following, especially if those people like your book, you’re going to be able to sell all kinds of stuff in the long term. No matter if it’s another book, or if you have some Amazon product or whatever.
D: You can definitely build off of that. Build authority. But like I’m a niche website guy, so I write under pen names, and I just move on. So, I don’t even need to further it out, which you absolutely can.
J: For somebody who wants to do this in 2016 and they’re just starting now, other than by reading your blog, where do you reckon somebody should start off so they don’t get overwhelmed and try to do everything at the same time?
D: Well, knowing that a lot of your readers out there, I would say that most of them know their SEO, and they can at least create a website. I would say most of them have probably created their own website, but maybe have not thought about writing a book. So, to those that are out there that have these niche assets (these traffic generating assets) I want you to take a deep look and think about whether or not there is a book out there or if there is competitors out there and if they’re making money. And make that step.
Self-publishing is pretty easy with my website Kindlepreneur.com. I actually don’t focus on how to write books or publish books, but how to take advanced tactics selling books. There are a lot of free resources out there to help you with that. If you don’t have a website, you know it’s always a great time to start. Start building those websites, doing a keyword research, and again think of them as validators; validate whether or not that it’s worth the next step and move on from there.
J: Yeah, that’s brilliant. I think that that’s exactly how you said that. A lot of people have these assets that they have never thought about using to generate traffic towards an eBook, and I think that a lot of people may also be overwhelmed trying to think that, “Oh god, I have to write 15,000 words or 20,000 words in order to make this eBook happen,” and have never thought about being able to outsource that potentially, which I assume is pretty hard.
You regenerate a lot of content for people and it’s really hard to get somebody who can write a decent thousand-word article, let alone 15,000. Lastly, when it comes to actually marketing your eBook on Amazon, do you think that one of the biggest steps that is, again, the optimisation of the product page?
D: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, when we’re talking about these niche websites, that’s an external source of traffic, right? But, do remember that there are millions upon millions of people shopping on Amazon all the time. By the way, that’s a great traffic source because people go to Amazon to buy. They don’t go to read a blog post. They don’t go to pass the time. They go to there to buy something. So, you definitely want to tap into that source.
Now, one of the things that I talk about in my SEMrush articles is that the best way to rank at the top of Amazon is to have an amazing sales conversion rate. People go in, type a keyword into the search box, they click on your book, and then they buy it. That’s the greatest proof to Amazon that you deserve to be higher. And tailoring your niche website to do just that is really an important step. My website supplies traffic to my page and people buy it because they’ve been presold on it before they get there. I have higher conversion rates, therefore my books immediately rank higher in the results. And, now that I’m higher in Amazon, I’m getting all of Amazon’s traffic, so now I’m getting all this traffic and all these sales. And that’s a good thing
J: Brilliant. Thank you very much.