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You’ve taken the leap and turned your passion into an online business. But what do you need to do next to turn it into a success and keep it that way?
It’s one thing to get traffic to your website or blog, but how do you convert that traffic and get them to become customers and loyal fans? Figuring out how to keep them interested and engaged is the key. Try breaking it down into multiple steps and funneling your followers through the process. This process can also help weed out the ones that aren’t as serious but will leave you with a loyal band of raving fans in the end.
Josh and Jill Stanton said “screw you” to their 9-5 jobs created a successful online business where they encourage and teach other business people how to do the same and take control of their time and expertise.
Rich: We’ve got a first here on the podcast today, We have 2 guests in the studio today. And when I say, “in the studio”, obviously they’re remote and I’m here in Maine. But Josh and Jill Stanton are the cheeky cofounders of Screw The Nine to Five, their little slice of the internet where they teach unsatisfied 9-5’ers how to take their skills from their day job and transform them into an online business they love.
Now just before I introduce them and welcome them to the show, please understand that they have potty mouths and this may not be the cleanest show you’ve ever heard. But with that being said, Josh and Jill, welcome to the show.
Jill: Thank you so much, I’m pumped to be here.
Josh: It’s great to be here. I can maybe control it myself, but I definitely can’t control Jill’s mouth.
Jill: Yeah, that’s true.
Rich: It’s like deterrents of the internet or something.
Jill: Don’t act like you’re not impressed.
Rich: That’s how we became such fast friends.
Jill: That’s very true.
Rich: Alright, so tell me a little background. How did the two of you meet and how did you decide together to screw the 9-5?
Jill: Ok. I’ll keep it short and sweet because normally when I tell this story I’m like, “And then..and then…” Ok, so I was living in Toronto at the time, and Josh was living in Beijing, China managing a team of software developers for a product he had at the time. And his former business partner and I had met in Toronto, because I was moving to Australia with a girlfriend of mine, and he was Australian.
So they were saying, “Oh, you should meet our buddy, Josh.” And I was moving in like, 2 months, so I was like, “Well, is Josh hot, I’m not going to waste my time?” So we all met up and Josh was just so not impressed being set up on an apparent double date. And he wouldn’t even talk to me the whole night, or at least for ¾ of the night. He wouldn’t sit beside me, he wouldn’t sit across from me. So obviously I was like, “Oh my God, I have to marry this guy!” So we just ended up hanging out for the next 2 weeks and met back up in Vegas a month later, just to see if things were still cool. Then I moved to Australia with a girlfriend of mine, and he went back to China. And then showed up on my doorstep in Sydney. And that was that.
Josh: I love how that was the short version.
Jill: It’s just a fun story, I love telling it.
Josh: So in relation to how we got into doing what we’re doing today. So Jill was actually bartending at the time, and her way out was she got in touch with her boss and he actually needed some social media stuff done – and they kinda sucked at Facebook and Twitter and all that kind of stuff, which they do in Australia – and she proposed the idea that maybe she could manage their profiles for all his restaurants. And of course he said yes and she stopped being a bartender after that.
Then when she went back to Canada she then decided that she was going to do that full time. So she just went out and contacted a bunch of bars and restaurants and eventually was making a full time living and just managing social media profiles and working from home.
Jill: I’m a hustler, I’m a hustler.
Rich: So how did you take this and then the two of you coming together – your Wonder Twin powers activate – and turn it into Screw The Nine To Five?
Jill: Well Josh had been working online for about 4-5 years at that time, and I had just gotten started obviously and I was working with clients and I just kept watching him have all this free time and making all this money. And I was sitting there slugging it out 6 days a week for clients who just ran my life.
I think we were just on our balcony in Toronto one day and I was like, “I just want to fire my clients and do something completely passive. And we just started talking about setting up a website together and we decided to give affiliate marketing a try, because Josh had sort of dabbled in it. So we set up our first affiliate site together, which was the skincare site, and poured all our time and energy into that.
Over the course of that year we started to build and scale and really refine our process. Right at the beginning of 2013 – right after we got married – we decided to move over to southeast Asia and doubled down on our efforts, cut the distractions a little more and lived somewhere cheap where we could really invest in our business and scale it up. And over the next year we built another 30 websites until we were making some serious coin, and then started teaching that with Screw The Nine To Five.
Rich: Alright, so you took everything you learned from these 30+ websites that you developed and basically turned it into an online resource where you could educate people into building their own online business so that they could screw the nine to five, right?
Josh: Yeah, it’s kind of funny the way that Screw The Nine To Five started. We only started that website because we wanted to meet up with other people who were in the industry and it’s kind of like a business card or a way to connect with other marketers. There was no desire, initially, to start a business around it. But then all of a sudden we started getting a lot of traffic to that site. We were just talking about some of the things that we were doing with our business, and living over in southeast Asia and a lot of people started to engage with that.
At that point we decided to turn that into a business and start teaching what it is that we’re doing right now that’s enabling us to make some pretty good money and live anywhere we want to live in the world.
Jill: Yeah, but that came after a few humiliating failures because we didn’t really know what the screw was going to be. I mean, we had the idea on our wedding week and we were like, “Screw the wedding. Let’s just register this right now and start brainstorming.” And for the first year we just really flailed about trying to figure out what it was. It wasn’t until we tried to launch our first product and failed that we were like, “Oh, maybe we should teach what we know.” And what we know is affiliate marketing. After we did that everything changed, and it really started to pick up steam.
Rich: That’s interesting. So obviously one of the things that people need that you’re teaching them is how to generate more traffic to their website. – Segue – So that’s really what I want to talk to you about today. Enough of this relationship stuff, this ain’t the Dr. Laura show.
But anyway, let’s talk about traffic. I know you guys are experts in this, so can you share with us and our listeners, what are some of the best ways we can drive traffic to our sites?
Josh: So it depends on the site. When we’re creating these affiliate sites, that’s the whole goal of that was to get traffic from Google. With my background I spent a lot of time in ranking on Google doing SEO and stuff like that.
Jill: I call him our “SEO Ho”.
Rich: Why don’t you just shorten that to SE-Ho?
Jill: Oh my god, mind blown.
Josh: Ok, that’s my new nickname for now on. Thank you very much, Rich, I appreciate that. So what we figured out was when we started Screw The Nine To Five, we realized that that type of site is very different, so there’s lots of different ways you can kind of get traffic. So for us, the major way that we develop traffic to Screw The Nine To Five is through Facebook ads. And I know that you probably talked about this a lot.
So what we had to discover is we went from doing everything free – like do some guest posting and that kind of stuff – to then moving towards paid traffic. And we actually lost a lot of money initially when we first got started, which is usually the case for anyone who’s first getting involved with paid traffic and they don’t understand the return on investment with it.
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Rich: So when you talk about the return on investment with it, is it that there’s a learning curve and you just kind of have to take your lumps when you first start out?
Josh: Yeah, so we just thought what we’d do is just throw a bunch of ads up and get a bunch of traffic to our site and then just hope for the best. We just hoped that people would buy our products and services on Screw The Nine To Five.
But we weren’t actually tracking properly what those return are going to be. So if we’re spending $100 on Facebook that day, out of that $100 that we spent, how much have we actually got back in terms of people purchasing our products and services on our website.
Rich: Alright, so you’re starting to track it. So obviously now you’re getting a little bit better return on investment. Are you learning from the mistakes as you go along?
Jill: Oh yeah. We really started approaching it from a position of we want to have something off the backend of it so we wanted to have a certain funnel set up. And it’s the exact same thing we do with free traffic. I honest to god believe that one of the best ways to build free traffic – especially when you’re first starting out – is guest posting. Or obviously hitting other people’s podcasts or web shows.
Rich: Oh my god, are you totally using me right now?
Jill: Yeah. I thought that was apparent.
Rich: It is now.
Jill: For our paid traffic, we really wanted to approach in a more methodical, thought out way where we could get them into our site using a really hardcore lead magnet, then change that relationship from subscriber to customer using a simple trip wire. So we started implementing this funnel that could help us not just monetize the traffic we’re getting from FB ads, but start to measure it in a smarter way.
Josh: I’m going to jump in and move a little bit further from what Jill’s saying there. What we discovered eventually was that we obviously thought traffic was a huge problem. That’s like the #1 problem with an online business, getting traffic to your website. What we realized was the big problem wasn’t actually traffic but it was converting that traffic. Actually, once you spend money on that and get those people to your site, can you get a return? And if you can get a positive return then it’s relatively easy to get traffic, you just have to learn different methods. And certainly Facebook is one of those. You’ve also got YouTube and lots of other paid traffic methods as well.
Rich: Alright, so let’s kind of talk through this because this is what I was talking about. So, it’s easy for us to say, “Use Facebook ads, you’ll drive better traffic to your website.” But will you give me one example of a type of ad that you might have run, and did you do any split testing on this? Did you send people to a squeeze page? What kind of offers were there? Would you just dig a little deeper and give us tangible examples of what you did that were successful for you? Or maybe something that wasn’t?
Josh: I’ve got a really good example of one that we’re just starting to run now. So what we’re doing now is we are running traffic to a .pdf download which is relevant to what our audience wants. One of the things we teach, one of the products that we sell is that affiliate marketing. So we’re creating this tool kit for affiliate marketing. We’re running traffic from Facebook in order to get people to sign up and download that toolkit. Once they’ve purchased that toolkit, what’s really important from there is that we indoctrinate them into the Screw The Nine to Five. So we want to bring them into our church.
The last thing we want to do is get those people downloading that toolkit and then pacing out, or just trying to sell a product to them after that. So what we actually do, we actually have a long process of bringing them into our audience. So what we do is we send them an email, the first email that we call the “indoctrination email”. And in that one we get them to do certain things So, ‘like’ us on Facebook or join our Facebook group, sign up for the upcoming webinar, make sure they download the toolkit. Like Jill said, whitelists are emails so it doesn’t show up in the promotion folder, it actually shows in their proper inbox.
Our goal is once we spend that money on that traffic, we want to bring them into our community, we want to actually build a strong relationship with them. One of the other things we’ve also tested out in the past is asking them to reply to our email and answer the one, specific question. What that does is it actually improves deliverability in the future when you start emailing them. That’s a really important thing.
For us, traffic hasn’t really been the big issue, but actually converting that traffic, that’s been the big struggle that we’ve been working on.
Rich: Alright, so let me just take a step back. So you created some Facebook ads, you did some targeting, we’ve got somebody and now we’re driving them to a squeeze page where there’s nothing else besides the offer. In this case, the example you’re giving me, there’s an affiliate toolkit, a .pdf document.
Just out of curiosity, is this something that’s 1 page long, 50 pages long? How much time and energy went into this freebie product?
Jill: It’s 12 pages long and we created it over 2 days. And then we got out VA to put it all together. So it’s everything, all the tools – paid and free – that they need to create the kind of affiliate sites that we teach.
Rich: Excellent. And it certainly starts if they want to learn more they can certainly learn more. But it also sends them an email which asks them to take some sort of action, thus that first, little “yes” to get them moving further down the sales funnel.
Jill: Totally. And on the .pdf we hit our webinar at least 4 times.
Rich: And is this an “on demand” webinar”, or is this you keep on putting out fresh webinars all the time and you just tell them when it is?
Jill: We actually do weekly. Twice weekly is what we’re moving up to. We dig live webinars, we dig the energy. So for us they’re fun. So we constantly push people towards live webinars.
Rich: Ok. And you mentioned earlier some sort of tripwire. Is this already something we’ve spoken about or is this something you guys are getting to?
Jill: No, we haven’t already spoken about that. So the current one that we have for Screw The Nine To Five – not for the niche site stuff – is called Idea Inspiration. Because the people who come to Screw The Nine To Five, well, we have 2 branches for that. There’s affiliate websites and there’s also very much a personal brand. So taking what you know from your 9-5 job and turning that into an online business.
And one thing we really started to notice and hear a lot from our audience was, “I don’t know what to do. I know I want to start a business online but I’m not ‘passionate’ about something and I don’t have an idea. I just know I want to do it.” So Josh and I were like, well what happens if we started offering quick fire, 10 minute calls where we give them an idea or we give them some sort of clarity around their idea?
So once we started implementing, those started flying. Probably because it was 10 minutes on the phone for $20, so it actually became slightly overwhelming and we’re kind of looking to go a bit more passive with it. It was hugely responsible for not only changing that relationship from subscriber to customer, but then converting people from those tripwires to our other core offers, like Screw U or our 30-day Online Business Plan.
Rich: For those listening at home, the Screw U isn’t “you” it’s Screw University. Just so everybody understands that.
Alright, so talk to me a little about, we get these people to buy into our lists and subscribe, how do we turn them into raving fans and what does that mean to you, the idea of having raving fans?
Jill: Ok, so what we do is very much in that indoctrinate email. So we say, “Welcome to the Screw, this is what we’re all about, this site is for you if xxx. It’s not for you if xxx.” And I tell them that if this isn’t jiving for you, please unsubscribe. I’m not of the mindset that a big list means a really profitable business, I’d much rather have a smaller, tighter knit community than a blown out email list that no one really gives a s*** about. So I invite the unsubscribe.
And if they’re still with me by then I say, “Join our Facebook group, introduce yourself, tell us what you’re here to do, reply back to this email and let us know where you’re currently at and what you want to do online,” and I start building that community right off the bat. So I’m in that group a few times a day. I know it’s not scalable, but I truly believe it’s the reason we have the community we do who call themselves the “Screwpies.”
It’s a real tight family almost, and it’s crazy that it’s a Facebook group because it doesn’t feel like that. People are in there giving each other feedback, asking questions, supporting each other, encouraging each other, and that starts to build a movement because everyone there is united by the same purpose of trying to “screw their 9-5.”
Josh: So let’s talk about traffic in relation to that then. So what we’re doing is we’re building up a community on a free Facebook group. Facebook groups get far more reach than Facebook pages do. A Facebook page is like 2% or less than 2% reach, which means we put a post up on our Facebook page and if we have 1,000 people on that page, 2% will actually see it. That’s just crazy.
So with a Facebook group we’re pushing up to around 1,000 people with that and a lot of them – I don’t know exactly what the number is – it’s got to be at least 50% of the people inside that Facebook group will see our post every time we put them up in the group. Which means that if we want to put a post up that’s going to be linking to one of our most recent episodes for our podcast.
And 50% of those people- so 500 people – which actually turns out to be more people than our Facebook page – which has 32,000 people who are following it – they’re going to be more likely to see that and click on that, especially when you’re getting a lot of traffic from that Facebook group.
Rich: That’s fantastic. And it is interesting how years ago everybody moved from groups to pages, and now it seems – for at least some of us – that groups are the way to go because that level of engagement is there.
Jill: Yeah, absolutely, and they get notifications for it and you can just reach them so much more easily. And another thing is I’m sure Facebook will change it at some point, but while it’s still hot, I just encourage people to make the most out of these groups as they possibly can because right now they’re just gold.
Rich: Yeah, I completely agree. We were talking to Kate from Entrepreneur On Fire and she thought so as well.
One of the things as I was going through your website I notice that you’ve got all these different products and you’ve kind of referenced some of them before, or some of them are online courses, some of them are 2 on 1 calls, others are in person meetups, you have these 30 day courses. Is that part of your evil, master plan to get people to become raving fans? Is there an “onboarding process” you have in mind when you created these different types of classes and offerings, or was it more like you just wanted to offer different things to different people?
Josh: No, it was very strategic. Aa Jill says, we have 2 sides to what we teach on Screw The Nine To Five. We have the passive income side, which is affiliate marketing. Then there is how to take your 9-5 skills and turn it into an online business. It’s more of a long term business model that we’re teaching with that.
So the strategy for that second model is – we really thought about this in depth – the first problem people have is coming up with an idea. The second problem is whether or not their idea will actually make money. So we actually show people how to validate that, and that’s why we have the trip wires, so get people on and tell them that it will or won’t work for whatever reason.
After that the next goal – once we have a validated idea – we need to create a plan. And that’s why we have the 30 Day Online Business Plan, which is a live, daily action challenge. So every, single day they’ll get a new video, a new lesson, and also they’ll get workbooks they have to fill out. So at the end of the 30 days, they’ll then have a completed business plan ready to go now where they’re ready to start a business but don’t know how to do any of that stuff, and that’s where Screw U comes in.
Screw U is the how, it’s showing them the step by step by step process, creating a website, building traffic, email lists, getting products, all that kind of stuff. Everything you need to know if you want to build a profitable, online business.
Rich: This is great, and it’s almost like a pyramid where obviously the free stuff you’re giving out attracts the widest audience as they move further up and they have to spend more money, seemingly, to get more of your attention. More and more people will opt out, but at the same time what you’re really doing is you’re refining this to a core group of raving fans, while still supporting a larger community. And generating different streams of revenue that way.
Jill: Yeah, absolutely. It’s been good and it’s been kind of fluid. The way we’ve tried to design it as our opt in as a quiz on how to take your job and turn it into an online business. And then immediately they get asked if they want to join our free, online business program, and then from there they get pitched the 30-day online business plan. And then from there they get pitched Screw U. So we try and take them through the whole journey.
Rich: Yeah, I really liked that one minute quiz that’s promoted on your homepage on how to take what you’re doing right now while you’re stuck in cubicle nation, and create some sort of online dream. So that was very clever.
Speaking of which, I know you guys have a lot to offer, we just talked about some of it. Where can we send people who are interested in learning more about Screw The Nine To Five?
Jill: The best way to connect with us would be over at ScrewTheNineToFive.com. Or you can hit us up at the Screw The Nine To Five community on Facebook, and I spend an insane amount of time on that group.
Josh: You can find that by just going to ScrewCommunity.com.
Rich: Awesome. Josh, Jill, it was great having you on the show today. Thank you so much for sharing your information.
Jill: Thanks for having us, Rich.
Josh: Thanks, man.
- Check out Josh & Jill’s website to find out how to transform your 9-5 job into an online business, and see what tools they’re sharing to help you achieve that goal!
- Is Facebook your thing? Then check out Josh & Jill’s page there!
- Speaking of Facebook…Rich referred back to a previous interview he did with Kate Erickson of Entrepreneur On Fire, which talked in greater detail about Facebook groups. If you missed it or want to listen again, check that out here.
- It’s not too late to get your tickets to this year’s Agents Of Change Digital Marketing Conference. What other incentive do you need other than knowing Rich Brooks will be there speaking, as well as an impressive list of experts in the digital marketing field?
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