03:42 – Amazing post-Maldives update
06:54 – Unlearning the norms
09:42 – The innovation that doubles revenue
14:08 – Going from ebook to hard copy
17:40 – Just start creating
21:07 – The next innovation is…
James S.: James Schramko here. Welcome back to SuperFastBusiness.com. This is Episode 615. Today we are continuing the journey with one of my previous guests. If you look back at Episode 570, quite a long time ago, we were talking about how to start and grow an online membership from scratch. And I brought on a special guest, James Eager, who I’ve been working with in SuperFastBusiness over the years, watching him grow from the start to something pretty amazing. And today we have some special news to share. But first I’d like to welcome my guest, James Eager. How are you going?
James E.: Hey. Great to be back, James.
James S.: Thanks for coming back. I invited you back to just update us with your story. What we found is that your first stage of the journey of setting up a membership was a really vulnerable and gutsy share back in January, and it resulted in inspiring a number of people to start their own journey. And so I’m very grateful that we’ve been able to get a few new members arrive at SuperFastBusiness membership who were inspired by that podcast and would also like some help on their journey.
Now, you’re in the UK, I’m in Sydney. We covered a whole bunch of stuff in the previous episode, and we actually produced a helpful online membership checklist, which is available at Episode 570. But today, the big news is this: now, I’ve got to know you quite a lot better since January, because apart from our regular interactions inside SuperFastBusiness (especially in the private coaching), we have met in the Maldives. You came along on the Maldives mastermind and actually featured in our episode about the Maldives mastermind, right there at the very introduction. You had some great moments there with your cabin mate, Julian, who rumor has it has is now sporting a pair of hot pink budgie smugglers, he got presented with a pair by a fellow Maldives guest. So it was really great being on that cruise together. Did you have fun?
James E.: Yeah, it was an absolute blast. It was kind of just so inspiring to spend a week with just such smart people and just be able to chew the breeze with people who are at varying different stages in their journey of entrepreneurship and building their businesses, from I guess, guys like me who are sort of in the earlier stages of putting a business forward, through to kind of Brendan who’s just smashing it out of the park and just doing some incredible stuff. So it was just one of those kind of real eye-opening experiences.
James S.: Yeah, it’s so good. When you have some people, they’re doing seven figures a month, you can’t help but follow some of the breadcrumbs they lay down for you, right, James?
James E.: Absolutely. There is a hot trail to follow. And especially when you look at some of the mindsets and the strategies that they’re using, the way that they think, their thinking is just, as you said to me, once it starts to upgrade your software, I quote, and it’s so, so true.
Amazing post-Maldives update
James S.: Now, I think you’re downplaying your own success to some extent, so I’m going to let it fly. But you know, at the stage you’re at where you’ve already set up your own membership, you’ve got your product selling, you’ve got income coming in, this is how you support your family, you already know so much more than the average member. But maybe running around people who have big businesses might make you feel at times that you don’t, but I think the great fact is that a lot of people online are struggling even to make their first $10,000 online. Even $1,000 is without, you know, it’s not within grasp of many people. It is a difficult business to be in. And that’s why I love having guests along to share their stages of the journey.
But you just had an amazing stage of your journey since you came back from the Maldives. What happened?
James E.: So, month one after getting back from the Maldives, that was… I keep struggling with the word “Maldives” or Mal-deeves, as we say, in the UK. Anyway, since getting back from the first month, I had the best revenue month ever that I’ve had, which was great. I just notched it up a bit, took some strategies from the Maldives, like pushing pricing, getting a bit more daring with that kind of thing and seeing the results which came in there. Then literally, November that’s gone past, I have doubled revenue that month, which is an incredible feeling to do. So it’s an amazing thing to see such results from taking a trip like that, because I’m certain it’s no coincidence.
James S.: Yeah, I’m sure it’s not, because I saw you running around the boat with your exercise book and that, I know the look – it’s that look when you’re hearing stuff and it’s a bit confronting and challenging and you’re just trying to process it, you know, that look? The, you know that this is the way it has to be. And it’s really scary, right? It’s scary to think.
But you’re on that boat with someone who spends $140,000 a month on Facebook ads. And I know that flipped your brain, right? Because it’s a lot more than most people, and certainly some people out there are probably spending one and a half million dollars a month. But being exposed to that, it just makes you think and reflect about your own business. So I know one thing you did since you came back is you started increasing your advertising campaigns. And lo and behold, you made more sales.
James E.: Yeah, absolutely. When I started winding up the ad spend, sort of some magical stuff started happening. We’re full of so much, I guess, kind of rhetoric and stories within, I guess the online world of people have had great success. And it’s sort of, I guess, quite emotionally hard to believe until you have that yourself. And you see that one thing that really works, you call it in your book, the offer that converts. And I just found a great message-to-market match. And when I put that to traffic and started amplifying, the results just came in, it was nuts sort of getting up in the morning a month ago and waking up to 20 sales, that kind of thing. So from that first position of when you’re trying to start a membership site, and you could only dream of getting 20 sales, to doing that overnight, it’s a nuts feeling. But the great news is, to anybody that’s listening to this, it’s completely possible if you persevere and you’re a dog with a bone trying to figure this stuff out, because it will come.
Unlearning the norms
James S.: Yes. And I like that, dog with a bone. You do strike me as persistent. And I think some of the growth that I’ve seen in you is peeling off some of the layers from your prior industry where you were a professional musician, not a magician, although maybe you are. I don’t know. I’m still yet to see the magic. I know you can play bass guitar very well. And in in that industry, like any other industry, there are norms and accepted principles. And in the online space, especially having your own business, you have to peel some of those off, and you can work in a less restricted environment. Could you give me a couple of examples of things that you had to unlearn or approach in a different way?
“Working with minimum viable products is a crazy concept.”
James E.: One of the things that the musician breeds in you is that you are a perfectionist, and the idea of working with minimum viable products is a crazy, it’s a crazy concept to get your head around. I mean, I’ve been in recording studios where you’re touching up every little single detail. It’s about perfection. I’ve been on professional West End shows where you’re covering the main guy and you’ve got a tolerance rate of, I don’t know, half a percent, if that.
And so that way of thinking (whilst I definitely think there’s some benefits to performing at life at that high level), when you get into the marketing game, it’s all about testing the market and being able to re-navigate quickly and seeing the results you get back, rather than kind of getting bogged down in this perfectionist mindset. And that’s one of the things that I’ve worked very hard to strip out of myself, to recognize that kind of behavior and try and just re-navigate whenever that happens.
James S.: Yeah, I’ve definitely seen you become bolder and to take a few little risks that ultimately don’t have huge downsides. You could bump up your ad spend a little and maybe you lose your ad spend. That’s about it. And sometimes, you don’t. Sometimes, you actually make sales. It must have been shocking for you to realize that you’d actually made more sales than what you’d spent, and this is scalable.
James E.: Yeah. It was literally with cold traffic I was working with. Over that month, I found that the most profitable. And there were points when I was doing a two to one return on it, and that was a crazy thing to watch. You can literally make money off Facebook ads rather than having to go negative on the front end to go positive on the back. To see that in action was quite an extraordinary thing. And then to start tweaking the funnel based on the learning side, or you got going, OK, well what can I do to this to just crank it a little bit? And so those ideas from everything, I’d start a lead over the years and the conversations I’ve had in the Maldives started kicking into action and I’m going, OK, based on this idea, I could try this. And some of it worked, some of it didn’t. But over that month, I tightened up the funnel and it started to achieve some really, really good results.
James S.: You didn’t rest there, you went along and you doubled your best month ever, the following month, with a real innovation. Maybe you could share with us the innovation and what gave you the idea for that.
The innovation that doubles revenue
James E.: Yeah, the innovation is writing a book. And that’s something that you’ve been a real champion of over the past year or since you’ve released your book. And if you said to me back in January when we recorded that first podcast, having done my first year of membership, and with a five-month-old baby, that kind of thing, “By the end of this year, you will be a ‘published author’ with a book out there,” I’d said, “You’re nuts,” particularly because in my mind, it was a positioning thing yet again, I’m dyslexic. And so for English when I was at school, writing a book was for the people who were in class 3A, not 3C.
So it’s very much that was the mindset which I was in. But I started throwing caution to the wind. And this book really was completely by accident rather than design. Many people in my position as an educator tend to write a book because they’ve got some piece of life’s work that they want to get out there, regardless of whether it’s got any sort of credibility in the marketplace, or maybe a publisher has approached them and said, Can you do this? But I came at it from a different angle of analyzing the market and going, well, what do they need?
I’ve done lots of deep dive surveying of my list and analyzing the data. And some really interesting things happened. I’ve traced back how this all happened, bucketing out the market, and I found four fairly clear buckets in there, which was really cool. I then went through and did what’s called a confirmation survey, where you get your list to sort of self-select which buckets they’re in to check that you’ve analyzed it right. Slightly smugly, I nailed it on the head and I thought, yeah, this is really good. I’ve got this got this absolutely nailed.
But then this is where the really curious thing happened, is I put a quiz funnel together off the back of this, put it to cold traffic, and one of the buckets just rocketed. Rather than what I was having before, which I was quite smug about, which was 20 percent of the market, and everything evenly distributed with the 80/20 rule, it was like, one bucket just kind of came out at 45 percent. And that was learning music theory. And at that point, I started to look, going, there’s something in this. And it’s something that I haven’t already covered in the educational material that I’ve got in any depth. It was almost like a bit of a blind spot that I was going to deal with at a later date. And that was what started the journey.
And it kind of just, something there flipped and I go, well, why don’t I write this as an ebook, it’s probably the easiest way to test the market and not make a whole video course if this doesn’t work. And so I literally put it to my list and said, Pre-order this ebook. I wasn’t going to write the thing until I was 100 percent sure it was going to work. I put it up at a really low price, like $10. And within four or five days, I’d pre-ordered 100 copies. So by that time, I was completely committed.
James S.: Wow. So you’ve done the validation and you’re in progress. Now you have to produce it. And you produced this hard copy book as well?
James E.: Yeah, it started off as an ebook. This was just total navigating the waters, shall we say. I released the version one, the minimum viable product of this, and I put it out there not knowing what anybody was going to think. It was, I don’t know, 50 to 60 pages long. It wasn’t an epic or anything. And so all those kind of anxiety-related questions, going, is this long enough, or whatever, was kind of in there.
But incidentally, I got all the content, the topics I was going to cover, from asking the list what their challenges and frustrations were, etc. So I knew that the content was really sort of on the point, shall we say. But I put it out there, and the feedback I got was incredible from the people reading it. And it was a real experience putting this book out. Then I put it to the list, and it just started selling straight away, and it was really kind of really, really good.
So fast forward, I guess, a month or two after I get back from the Maldives, I was on another webinar, a Facebook ads one with, I think, Keith Krance. And I took some pricing strategies that he was teaching, because I thought, Hold on, wait a moment – this can apply directly to the ebook. Because he said, “This is a great way just to kind of balance out your ad spend so that you’re not going negative. This is a really good strategy for that.” And so I did that, and it just started selling straight away, and this is brilliant.
Going from eBook to hard copy
And then something tweaked in my mind that Ryan Levesque said, that the one thing that changed his business was going from the ebook to the hard copy book, because I think that business had quite an older demographic, and I seem to have an older demographic that I teach online, too. So I thought this was worth a go.
When I started seeing this selling all the time, it was like, how do I figure this out? And doing fulfillment for the first time was tough, because I didn’t have a clue how these fulfillment companies worked. So I kind of figured it out, and I got about 90 percent of the way there and then something happened, something got in the way. And then late one Saturday night, I just got the bit between the teeth and thought, I’m going to make this happen. And so I did it, and lo and behold, the physical book which costs four times what the ebook costs started selling straight away.
And as you know, the trigger which made me go, I’ve got to get this fulfilled, was the real emotional moment which I didn’t bargain for, was I had a proof sent through. And I opened the proof and it just absolutely blew my mind seeing something I’d written and created in hard copy. There is like this crazy transformation that happens from something digital that’s on a computer to something tangible you can hold in your hand. And it was like, hold on, I created this. Am I an author now? I’m not quite sure. But I’ve certainly written a book.
And then here’s a really interesting thing – I put it up on Facebook, just my personal Facebook at that time, saying, hey, I’ve written a book. And I put a bit about the dyslexic thing, because it’s just totally true, because it blew my mind that this kid which couldn’t spell for toffee in England when I was back at school could write a book. And I put it up there, a picture of me holding the book. And I just got so many comments, and from real sort of left field sources, from other professional bass players, which I kind of know a bit but not brilliantly, congratulating me on my achievement. And it was just a real moment of going, this really is quite something that I’ve achieved here and it was all from, all rather this accident rather than design, by looking at what the market wanted and responding and pre-navigating and working at figuring out how to do it.
James S.: Yeah, such a special moment. I was going to play a joke with you and say, “Who would have thought a pottery book would have done so well in the guitar market?” And I’m sure you had someone check your spelling.
It’s wonderful hearing you talk about the influences you’ve had, too. I’ve had the great privilege of being involved in coaching both Ryan Levesque and Keith Krance, and they have great stuff. It was really transformative when I applied that bucketing system to the homepage of SuperFastBusiness. But what it all boils down to is being relevant and what Keith’s good about (and he actually is a Maldives alumni, he actually came on two years ago and shared what was working then), he’s always got great ideas and top-level Facebook innovation.
So you’ve combined the idea of being relevant for your customer with a new innovation. You know that that demographic likes to print things off, and you’ve gone and created this thing. And I remember when you shared with me that picture of your book, and I shared with you a picture of my first DVD set from 2009, and I can relate to that feeling of creating something.
And I knew early on when I started online that I would have to record audio information, and my big challenge was how crap my voice sounds and how to actually do it technically. I remember going out and buying a Dictaphone and recording an information product with someone about pay per click advertising, and then selling that product.
“Just start producing something.”
Just start creating
But I do encourage someone listening to this, if you haven’t already started publishing information, if you’re scared about the way you sound or that you can’t spell properly, if you have dyslexia or you don’t feel comfortable on camera, I encourage you, just start producing something. You may be very surprised about what could happen next. Because here you are, James, you’re making, probably, I’m just going to guess somewhere around four times more than you were at the beginning of this year. And that’s now the new baseline. That’s where we start from, and you’re into serious territory now where this business is actually a pretty amazing business, and I imagine you’re pretty comfortable about coming back to the Maldives next year, which you’ve booked for.
James E.: Yeah, man, I’m totally, totally into it. I’m really looking forward to that experience of being with the characters that are going to be on that boat, and hitting them with kind of new vigor and the perspective of having done it before, and what to expect, and the results that could potentially happen off the back of it. It gives you that confidence just to go for it, be more daring, as you said I’ve become, and just see what happens.
So much of business, I guess, is a risk, and you don’t know what’s going to happen. And for me, that’s the real excitement of getting up every morning and not knowing what the landscape is going to look like in three months’ time or six months’ time. That’s what makes life exciting for me.
So I’m definitely kind of, yeah, ramping up to the Maldives next year. I’m totally, totally excited to be around the people that are going to be on that boat and seeing what’s worked for them, and how that could potentially be applied to what I do, and the other sort of coaching and consultancy work that I do now. Because all of this just feeds into how I can help other people as I go forward.
James S.: Yeah, you’re actually on that boat with my very first millionaire student, which happened, probably, oh gosh, probably nine years ago. Around about that time, my first student cracked a million dollars a year and he’s an English guy as well, so that’s fantastic. And there’s also a world-level copywriter on that boat. So you’re going to come away with some fantastic installations to try on your business.
And I love seeing you move through that role. I truly believe that you learn the most when you teach. And now that you’re helping other people, you know, navigate these sort of treacherous waters of self doubt and strategy and trying to hook up a campaign to get a return on your investment, it’s going to be a great opportunity for you to learn and to build your marketing and business skills. And then you apply the lessons back to your own business.
I’m learning so much from the people who I coach these days, because they’re out there. I mean, put it this way, we’ve just listened to this podcast episode, and the big clue here is, if you don’t have a physical book, that would be a great place to start. In fact, I’m so passionate about it, I asked Allan Dib to come and talk about how to publish a book at the next SuperFastBusiness Live event, April 2019 in Sydney, and there are still tickets available for that event. And a book has transformed me, it’s really transformed his business, too. I was just speaking to him earlier today, and I could not believe the number of books and Audibles he’s selling now of The 1-Page Marketing Plan. And he’s a previous guest of SuperFastBusiness. But having that great book is a game changer. It just changes absolutely everything.
“Having a great book is a game-changer.”
The next innovation is…
So you’ve got this. I wonder what’s next for you, James? You’re helping a few people here and there with their own business. I know I’ve recommended you several times to people where I thought you’d be a good fit for what they’re trying to do. You’ve got your physical book, you’ve got your campaigns that are converting, you’ve got a pretty strong sense of your audience now. Have you got any innovations you’re going to try that you’re excited about?
James E.: Next innovation for me is going to be actually writing another book. I think I want to test one of the other buckets that I found from right when I first started doing this stuff. Thankfully, I’ve got most of this stuff already mapped out, because I’ve made it as video courses. But naturally, I’m going to go back, survey the audience to see if I’ve got any blind spots that I missed there. So I want to see if publishing another book, what results that brings. At this stage of the game, I’m actually not 100 percent sure.
My latest innovation as of yesterday is my book is now published on Amazon, I had the email through confirming it about 10 minutes before this call, that if you go to Amazon.com or wherever in the world, you can buy my book. So it’s investigating new publishing platforms.
But then, I’ve taken some tactics that I believe I might have learned from you. It’s the bonus chapter idea, so that Amazon can sell my book, and then they can pick up bonus material by visiting my website, which then introduces them into, or further introduces them into my ecosystem. And I guess it’s all those little tactics that you pick up from being around kind of high capacity guys like you who have seen this stuff before, and can point you in the right direction. So that’s the next stage of the game.
And now I guess it’s getting to the point where I’m starting to really look at tightening up the website. Having had this success with the book, I now 100 percent have this confidence that the material I produce to help people play the bass guitar for beginner to intermediate is really, really, really spot on, because the market has validated it. So any challenges I have, our marketing-based challenges that I’ve got to figure out of how to get this now in front of the right eyeballs. Any of that kind of doubt and anxiety of, are these products any good, or anything like that, is now sort of really gone. I mean when you’ve sold a thousand copies of something like that, that’s pretty sort of a good indicator that something’s working.
James S.: Yeah, that is a pretty good indicator.
You know, where I’m at to now is, I’ve just got back a video that the incredible Tom Breeze, his team put together for me for my own book, Work Less Make More, and I’m going to start promoting that on YouTube. I’m going to be listening back to Episode 563, How to Promote Your Book on YouTube, and I’m going to also run that on Facebook and I’m going to see if I can drive those book sales, because I know that brings people back to SuperFastBusiness.com, and I’m really grateful for that.
If you don’t already have a book, check out Episode 560 where I had a good chat to the lovely lady Kelly Exeter, who helped me put together Work Less Make More, and we talked about the process of what was involved. So there’s some really good episodes that relate to these topics.
If you want to start doubling your business and then doubling it again, try some of these things we’ve talked about. And James, as always, I just want to say thank you for being so raw and genuine and sharing this journey, but also for now helping others, because I think that’s a good thing to do as an entrepreneur, is to put some of that energy back into the people who haven’t quite figured it out yet. And I’ve certainly done well out of helping others, and I’m sure you’re going to have the same experience.
James E.: Yeah, it’s a great thing to do. And it’s a really natural fit for me as an educator to be helping others with their businesses. And it’s something I really love, I get a great buzz out of helping people in that respect and helping them achieve results.
James S.: There you go. And just in case you listen to this and you want to learn bass guitar, you’ll want to check out James’s site, ebassguitar.com, and he’s actually pretty good at that as well. You got too many talents, mate.
James E.: Oh, you’re too kind.
James S.: There you go. That’s Episode 615, been speaking with James Eager, our friendly Englishman bass guitar expert. He’s doing really well with his online membership and his information products, and hopefully we’ll get James back to talk about what he’s been up to in the future. I’m looking forward to seeing him again in the Mal-divz, or the Mal-dives or however you want to call it, and thanks so much for joining this episode.
If you want some help with your own membership or information product, then of course, SuperFastBusiness membership is a great place to hang out with me and other members, just like James Eager.
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