From a $1 Million Bankruptcy to $20k in Monthly Recurring Revenue – Productized Service Case Study

Posted by on okt 19, 2020 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

so idols will show with 205 from a million dollar bankruptcy to 20 grand in monthly recurring revenue this is productized service case study welcome to the side hustle show where aspiring part-time entrepreneurs learn how to turn their side hustle dreams into reality because you’re not to 5 may make you a living but your five to nine makes you alive and now your host Nick looper what’s up what’s up Nick al over here welcome to the side hustle show where it’s all about ideas action and results all three are in full effect today with my friend gabe arnold he’s the founder in chief pencil sharpener at copywriter today net a subscription-based article writing service in this episode you’ll hear how he came up with the idea how he landed his first clients and how he scaled the business to where it is today with a team of 50 remote writers and $20,000 in monthly recurring revenue he says creating a subscription model business has turned out to be one of the best things i’ve ever invested my time in it’s led me to grow from barely being able to provide for my family for the first time in my life reaching a six-figure income and the flexibility to truly work when i want to you can find all the notes links in a free pdf highlight-reel with all the Gabe’s top tips for building a recurring revenue service business and side hustle nation comm slash gabe before we dive in let me take a moment to thank today’s sponsor fresh books calm the all new fresh books is transforming how freelancers and side hustlers and small business owners like you deal with your day-to-day paperwork and accounting the award-winning invoicing and bookkeeping software has been redesigned from the ground up and custom-built to save you time money and headache visit fresh books calm / side hustle to start your 30 day free trial today i’ll be back to tell you a little bit more about fresh books plus my top takeaways from his chat with gabe after the interview now their story starts in a pretty low place gabe lost his construction & Remodeling business during the real estate crash and ended up declaring bankruptcy he turned to freelancing to support his family it was absolutely the worst time I like because I got divorced my grandfather passed away my best friend died it was like the worst 90 days of my life I’m sorry to hear that yeah a little rough but I learned a ton out of my you know I learned what a lot of my looks like and how to manage it incorrectly now I know how to manage to a little bit better and then you know kind of walking away from when I was like you know I’m gonna stick with the tech stuff cuz I like that I started building websites and mobile apps and doing like tech health and stuff like that it’s actually what led me to the copier today idea because what I found is I’ve kind of kind of a rough track of all the websites I built through that 10 year period or so and we build over a thousand websites for people and I kept hitting this wall of I would 12 this great design and put in filler text for the homepage or the about Us page or you know services page and then I’d go back if I was building them for you and I like hey Nick can you have any about Us page copy or are you ready to fill us in so we can launch the site and they’d be like yeah yeah you can I’ll get that to you and then I would never hear back on it okay – mm sites and something like that I’m a running log but I kept seeing this problem and I’m like so so what I realized is like the content on the web sites was a huge issue and the real issue behind getting it from the client was either they didn’t have time they had no problem writing or talking about themselves or creating a blog post or whatever it would be but they just didn’t have the time to do it or they hated writing and they’re just like I don’t like to write out on how to write it you know I hated writing at school or whatever their reasoning were and so they get like three lines out of them was it was very very difficult so I would have the project up on the demo server be like hey do you like it we approve it and then you’re like yeah it looks great you know the only thing to do is get the copied written and I’m like all right great like when do you think they’ll be in like ah you know next week or they make up some deadline and I have these projects sitting 100% done on my side but without content and then I’m held up for 30% of the money or whatever the payment deal was on the project yeah whatever the final installment is right it’s like I’m like it’s linking my profit on the project and so I’m sitting here and I’m like this is horrible noe for me because I let me get paid and finish the project but also for them because they’ve invested a bunch of time and money and then this project just completely stalls out we started at that point getting into writing for clients a little bit not in the format that Capri today is now but that’s when I started to do some writing okay like with look I we’ve we’ve discovered this is kind of a pain point for people tell you what let us take care of that for you exactly and then I like I’m like what do people charge for this you know and go through that process and I just started adding like a fee and do a project so maybe a $1500 simple really simple website I had a thousand bucks on it for writing or whatever it was like said of just trying to figure that out and that was that definitely solved part of the problem so like I at least had taken a step in the right direction and in solving the issue but then when we had solved that part it was like okay great at least I’m getting paid and finish and we’re watching these sites when I would go back and look at a site like three months later or six months later and everybody who wants a blog everybody wants to like oh yeah we’re gonna put updates on our site all time and we’re gonna be super active yeah and then the reality is I go back up it’s like a ghost town late like it still has the will be posting something like we would put a little basic post up like we’ll have updates coming soon we just lost our site you know I could go back three months six months a year later and it was the same post and nothing and yeah I think the default work for this hello world there’s basically basically that sitting there it’s sort of like okay so this part isn’t working but if somebody just paid me like a small monthly amount something that’s like pretty painless so that they could have constant new content going out on their specific niche or industry and then they could use it on their blog they could use it for email marketing if they need the landing pages if they needed press releases like written cotton tennis written content like it’ll really matter in a sense where you put it if you have new good information going out that’s kind of where I kept it with the idea I remember it was like early in the year 2014 and one of the things that I’ve tried to do for the last few years with with something you know some overall success I think is everybody does new year’s resolutions all these different things are gonna do I was just tell myself I’m gonna do one thing this year if I can do one thing this year that would be a massive success so I don’t get overwhelmed or split up between different things okay and I remember my one thing that year was like you know what I’m sick of just doing projects like we would be up and we would sell huge projects in the web and like 10 15 even like we sold 80,000 development project the year before that and then like typical service be like we all do this it happens at every entrepreneur that I know like we get completely immersed in the project and forget about marketing and sales and like because we’re totally buried in a huge project and then we come out of that project and we on this huge dry spell we have no money like what happened I was so frustrated and sick of that feeling that the first of 2014 I was like you know what this year I’m gonna create a product because if I can create a product then it will sell in my sleep and I won’t have to worry about it and I can have reoccurring revenue and so with that one thing goal for the year and then continuing to kind of like kick around or push this idea creating content for people I’m like what if somebody just paid me a little monthly fee and took care of all their concept and that’s kind of where the idea came to mind okay did you originally pitch that to those web development clients you were working with there tell me about your first customers for the service offering it was a combination of existing customers and brand new people that I kind of dumb luck I did a couple things right I’m from a tool which was good and I’d always heard and I kind of always knew can always make the most money off your existing customers you can always sell more product to existing customers way faster them go in to find brand new customers so I split it up between existing customers I had like a couple small website projects on where we were just doing some means or small stuff and I went to those folks I said like here’s this idea for 79 bucks a month you can get as many articles as you want there’s a turnaround time for him but in a will write whatever you want Lisa Mallis she’s a time management consultant and she was one of one of my clients and she’s like you know I’m shot that’s awesome and so she jumped on and then 479 bucks a month yeah so that was the first idea okay I feel like you’re pricing the discussion is coming exact yeah and there’s a reason why I did that and and then I’ve learned a ton which we can definitely like and then what you should do when the pricing front everybody’s like a course like yeah I think that’s less than a meal out of most places so she’s like yeah no problem I’ll try and there was one other existing client I can’t rule was and then the other thing I did which ended up being massively successful and I’ve actually kind of adapted this process which I can get into too like on the marketing side is I went to my LinkedIn network and I think I probably had a thousand connections on LinkedIn maybe fifteen hundred not not at all but not a huge huge following or something and I just went through and sort of private messaging people with a really no discrimination of like what industry they were in or what no segmentation or no no thought process to accept but I would just start messaging the people from like a tizzy through my list and like I said I would sound like a Brian I’ve got this brand new service that I’m working on I’m wondering if you’d be willing to take like ten minutes and give me your feedback on it I have this new idea it’s like it’s a bad idea would you be willing to give me some feedback on it okay okay pretty much the message and then I got a really high response that I would say I got like a 30% reply rate to that of interest there’s a couple reasons why I think the response rate was so high one I truly believe like if you reach out with just a sincere honest kind of short note to somebody I think they can feel your your attitude or your tone or like they can feel who you are through your writing yeah and then the other reason to be fair nice is that LinkedIn messaging was a lot different three years ago than it is today however the same approach still does work I just think that it would be more realistic to think if you do it right maybe get a ten to fifty percent response rate at this point okay because it normally will paint your real inbox that you’re up in your email yeah hey so-and-so sent you a message on LinkedIn I’ve got this new project I’m working on do you have ten minutes to give me some feedback on it yeah that’s like if you’re a connection of mine here we have some pre-existing relationship yeah for sure yeah definitely if you have pre-existing relationship but these were people I had never talked to before they were just straight connections okay super are you are you a lion I am a lion is a LinkedIn open networker basically someone who’s open to connecting with with anyone on LinkedIn whether they know them or not and sometimes you’ll see people put lion in their profile summary or their description on LinkedIn and I first learned the term a few episodes ago in it was a 190 with Rachel Peterson who used kind of a similar method to gave to land her first clients for her social media management business I’ll connect with anybody living in this connection could be valued I could help you with something someday or you maybe want to help me with something so I’m like sure I want more friends than we’re here for me so I reached out with that and so a couple things happened one Ryan came back like was he was one of the first ones and he’s been ever since and I think Ryan introduced me to you but I don’t remember yeah that’s how we first discovered this service so Ryan was in one of the original site hustle nation inner circle mastermind group seized on I think episode 34 of the podcast talking about his SEO side hustle service and it basically was like you’re singing the praises like oh my gosh I found this unlimited writing service it’s awesome I’m setting up like multiple accounts from my clients and he convinced like half of our group to join and you really endorsed it so that was just like the goldmine so that was that was huge because I got to meet you and so many other clients and he was just thrilled and like Ryan his site is WP amplify I mean you couldn’t find a nicer more honest like trustworthy just guy that you want to do business with yeah he’s just become a great friend so I was just like really fortunate nothing I didn’t deserve that or strategy behind like finding somebody you just happen to be like connected to him on LinkedIn he was one of the people that responded to your message yeah so he’s just like he’s like yeah I’ll check it out so like I think I had like a 15-minute conversation max on the phone here’s how it works I’m like this is brand new if it looks like a grapefruit for you that’s awesome you can join the beta and here’s the other thing I’m like I know this is brand new I said if you’re not happy for any reason you’re one of the early folks this can begin and there’s a hundred percent money-back guarantee okay you get into this a month and you’re you’re like this is a worst idea you’ve ever had gave then yes I’ll just give you the money back so the guy don’t ever want anybody to walk away feeling like that was unfair with them yeah okay so you’re getting a couple people like yeah I’ll give this a shot and they’re expecting unlimited articles what does that look like on the fulfillment side are you the one like pounding these out or do you have another writer behind the scenes how’s that look yeah so that was the really interesting part because I was the only writer at that point okay so it was like Ryan and then I ended up he brought me at my first four or five customers and then a few other people came out so that was check verse I think I had like if I look back at the numbers from that month I think I made like $600 there’s something pretty small but all thanks to kind of just that using some outreach process well that’s pretty good I want to bring up something so you see I look I got 1500 connections on Lincoln that’s probably well above the average and so some people want to be saying hey I don’t have that many connections but you do have people in your network of friend of ours just started a Kickstarter campaign didn’t have any social media presence in fact it was like man I really should have paid more attention to the social media stuff but like dude went through his gmail contacts you like had 10 years worth of Gmail history you found thousands of different people that he’d emailed over the years and you sent them as it did one by one kind of filtering a little bit to be like okay this is somebody nice is this relevant at all but you have a bigger network then you give yourself credit for yeah I would agree with that I think everybody does and that’s why I think it’s good to stay in touch and there’s good you don’t do what you can to just be connected with folks because it pays off in the long run if you’ve been around and not burn all your bridges and die the only reason I mentioned that is because for me like losing the company and going bankrupt for a million dollars that happened because I got stuck for a bunch of money myself and then that snowball into just a bunch of bad stuff but I’ve heard a lot of people and made a lot of people really really angry so I basically rebuilt my social network over five or six or seven years I guess kind of thinking about it to get to that point of like having people not hate me anyway geez I mean dad just kind of mentioned that because if you’re not remember doing this on the side or even if you’re getting to the stage where you’re kind of going after doing it full-time you are gonna make mistakes and unfortunately bad things do happen but if you just stick with it and stick to the right things and you can really build a network no matter how large or small that can really be somewhere were you’re contributing value and that you can get value out of – okay so you signed up a couple original clients you’re delivering all the work yourself what’s going through your head at that point this is gonna be a viable thing or is this not worth it yeah this is how I try to implement ideas I turn it absolutely as quickly as I can to see a third of any value so I had thrown up a wordpress site I probably had like two or three hours in I’ve been a long time cost lo fou once you can even use free forms that they’re like a couple bucks a month so like my costs at that point was probably thirty bucks a month max customers would go to a password-protected WordPress page which has like the simplicity can do they would log in they would have to put their name in the form and then they would say this is what I want written about I would get the email and we just went to an orders email address then I would write the order and give it back to him I mean I remember some nights I would be finished all my other works and then work on this some nights I’d be like writing for like three or four hours just to get all the orders back to people okay was there a specific wordpress plugin you’re using to do the password protection no is literally just on any WordPress page or post on the side where it says visibility there’s something where you can change it to password protected okay and I told people like this is a private password don’t tell anybody what it is because if they only given anybody could have coming in order so it was like oh there’s one global oak okay yeah but no this is actually really good here don’t put the cart before the horse and all the stuff before you need to I know a lot of your listeners and a lot of us kind of digital entrepreneurs were in the digital space but what I see the equivalent of happening is if you think back Peters before the big digital age people would be like I’m starting a business summer in an office I’m putting up a sign I’m getting business cards and doing all this stuff and they had no idea if the business idea was any good and so they’re doing all this busy work unfortunately I see the people in the digital age and even with the brick-and-mortar businesses today they start worrying about like do I have the best login software the best membership area they start doing all this busy work that has nothing to do with proofing out the business model yeah I’ve always trying to like hack it together in the best way that I can just to see if people like that yeah and then I go back and improve and rebuild it you know do whatever I need to do to make it really like as smooth as it should be right so what came next you got the rudimentary site up you’re pounding out articles yeah exactly what are you charging at that point what’s the price point so for like the first 90 days I was under 100 bucks I was like at that 79 okay which was kind of like mimicking what WP curve was that right yeah exactly to back up a little bit before actually kind of kicked it off I’m like I’m gonna build this product and I don’t have a physical product to show I’m not really a developer I’m kind of tacky but on that to the end where I can write a piece of software that’s gonna solve its problems so I’m like wow this is awesome WP curve product ties to service and I’m like I’m good at service I’ve done service my entire life and in different areas so I’m like well there does how many bucks a month the people are paying that why not just give it a try and I figured like worst case I can do some extra writing at that point I’m kind of where things right I was thrilled that I made an extra six or seven hundred bucks a month whatever it was yeah absolutely is a huge list and for people starting to it’s like I always try to remind them like that first customer that pays you 35 bucks a month or whatever it is that’s gold don’t worry about getting to the million dollar mark at that moment in your life just be like man I’m solving a problem people are willing to part with the money for it so I’m on to something so the early pricing that first 90 days was under owner bucks but Ryan was telling everybody about it I was getting more responses from my LinkedIn kind of outreach process and sharing with more customers and people like this is the greatest site you ever they were signing up so I was like this isn’t gonna scale like it takes me however long it takes to write each article type I would time we basically at that point I think we only had 400 articles there were articles and 15 other articles that was the only three things that we offered as far as like content type yeah well we should do for the sake of comparison I’ve had guests on the show the freelance writers if my minimum is like $250 per article and you’re promising to do a dozen articles for $79 a month right so yeah so the premise was I said basically need a little bit of content but there’s a turnaround time for each order type for our articles take two business days in our what articles take longer like so on and so forth okay so that was your way of like kind of throttling that okay yeah because if I somebody comes in like places 100 orders it’s like well I can’t do 102 days now yeah we’ll do we’ll get to him but like we can only do one at a time so the my theory was it would be like a queue order they stacked up in there and so that travel it but I’m like if you need more you can just get another account I’m like it’s no big deal you have to buy another account okay okay so that way it really is on the minute and that was one thing that was a good choice in the beginning kind of is like our branding because we probably like what I love any cats and they would look into it and they would engage with us it was a really good early kind of tagline because it got people’s attention and so what I did early on is I timed myself on how long it took to research and writing articles I wrote about time management I wrote about for some STEM education school I wrote about health and fitness like I wrote about all these different topics and I would tie myself and see how long it would take me to write them and then as we got busier I realized two things one I kind of have a have a magical career of coming into the marketplace with like just rock-bottom cutthroat pricing because it’s one customer acquisition technique that I’ve been able to use well so I go in and I use it here I’m like all right for seven handbooks Andrea’s like we’ll do that by the media attraction and then once I kind of figured out the rest of the business model I raised prices on all the new people and I didn’t in this case have to raise prices on the old people because the new customers carried the deficiency on the existing customer okay like you guys are you guys are gonna be grandfathered in but for new people it’s gonna be higher yeah so at that point it went off the 97 and then I think I went out though under 50 and then at this point our front page pricing is 297 and we’ve actually raised prices every early on we raise prices every six months and now we evaluate prices once a year this point okay so taking up on the price you’re calculating you’re kind of like how early rate doesn’t make sense at this rate so we gotta raise this and then the word is kind of spreading to new clients and what else were you doing on the marketing front to get the word out and kind of grow this thing beyond just yourself so I was really fortunate to have six months or a year before I started this idea connected with one of the founders of open table on LinkedIn I sent him the same message but about a another idea that turned out to be just the dumbest idea I’ve ever come up with but he was fine he’s like he’s like yeah he’s like I’ll take a look good with these like I’m always a bit like startups and stuff like that and his name is Glenn and he’s very successful very wealthy like really great with startups he took two or three hours and kind of laid out for me how to build a SAS model business like the pricing that you need and usage in SAS the assumption is for people sign up and one person uses it and software is a service business models and then during that process I told a my position I’m like I’m trying to move away from this project income because honest I’m not making good money at the cash flows up and down so bad that I’m struggling and I said so I did sound like I can come up with an idea and then put $5,000 a month in the facebook ads every month for it or anything like that I’m like I have no marketing money so he’s like well that’s no big deal I rarely spent that kind of money until year 2 or 3 or whatever it is he said all you need to do is just go out and get affiliate partners and so he walked me through setting up a basic affiliate partner program even without software in a sense just even using like coupon codes and then he talked to me about how to like go out and prospect for other JV partners or affiliate partners I started kind of understanding how that worked before I even saw this idea but then when this idea came up I was like okay here’s how I can scale this without having a huge marketing budget cuz I don’t have that you know so early on yeah so you’re kind of paying on performance and even no software needed like honor system right no referral code tracking like yeah you know but it’s expensive on the back end because it’s eating into your margin yes so early on we were paying 50% of the first month to the affiliate partner as long as a customer like renewed to the second month but then over time I realized we hadn’t really nailed down retention as well as if we wanted to we have these other factors so sometimes we would do all this work and I looked I mean like five bucks because as we grew I’ve easily brought in more writers and the team had been growing and so it was great cuz always making money except for me but after kind of figuring that out I started kind of adjusting the percentages we were paying and then we ultimately moved to where we just decided hey we’re gonna pay a monthly percentage for every month that the customers on because then my affiliate partners benefit from reoccurring revenue and I don’t lay out a bunch of money and the client cancels millisecond month and I made no money in the whole process so that was kind of how like you mentioned like the pay-for-performance kind of affiliate marketing model is really successful as long as you are taking a good look at your numbers and your profit – obviously that’s the whole point in creating something anything specific did to go after affiliates are trying to recruit people to do the marketing for you I always tell people LinkedIn as a goldmine because what I did is there is a huge affiliate marketing group in LinkedIn I joined the group and I just started connecting with and messaging people in the group saying like hey I’ve got this product we’re looking for affiliates we pay X dollars right now my best affiliates are making this much money would you be interested in talking about this and affiliate marketers get approached with offers all the time so you’re selling to them obviously you gotta go through it but out of that I got some good responses and ended up connecting with more affiliates okay interesting yeah that approach has been really really successful as far as just direct outreach I’ve done all the sales for the product until very recently they’re just the last few months we’re finally at the stage where I’ve got a tight enough process on the budget to where we’re starting to bring in a couple sales folks to do a little bit sales on it you know outside of me now is it a product where people like want to get on the phone with you before they sign up or do they just say at this price point we’ll give it a shot one an affiliate makes a referral we rarely talk to the customer before they sign up what I’m doing direct outreach then I end up doing some more personal phone call or thing like that okay so the affiliate channel is one channel the direct outreach is another Channel describe what that looks like the direct outreach approach is like I get into LinkedIn and find something that’s in the digital marketing agency connect with them reach out and say hey we have over 50 writers on our team and they’re all us-based we can write about any type of content and just kind of like start the conversation and just say this is something that would be a value to you via messaging through LinkedIn and usually some follow-up calls as well sorry say that again it was a group owner on Lincoln oh no I’m sorry the direct outreach stuff I would just search for people that were owners at a digital marketing agency or owners at an SEO company or somewhere where I know they that they need content written okay okay and then I’m connect with them and find their contact information and just start start to reach out to them okay this is an interesting angle so not not necessarily targeting the end user but targeting somebody who deals with lots of end users the agencies yep exactly so that was very successful I’ve always just try to look and say okay who has the greatest need for this and who is probably struggling to fill me an end-user is not as valuable as a prospect to go after comparatively just because they may only need three or four blog posts a month or they may not really see the heightened value whereas a digital marketer or SEO company they know they need an original great content to do their job right so it’s like air that they need to survive so I would go direct to people with those type of titles and LinkedIn I still do that that’s very effective you know I’d somebody respond back or they’re ten they’re like I need 200 articles a month I carried awesome we can do that for you okay please where’s before okay I’ll do it when stuff comes in like that even early on I am always like alright great we’ll do it and then I go figure out and then the other thing that I’ve done real successfully is Google and Industry so like top SEO firms and then find their contact information reach out to them and do that so between LinkedIn and between just like looking in top lists in an industry that’s been real successful the kind of variation that I’ve started to do a lot more of it it’s a lot more effective because you get straight to the people that need your help the most is joining a Facebook or LinkedIn group this kind of works in both places well that’s targeted around that I know has people that would meet my services and so like I’m in one called the seeker team I think you may be in there oh no it’s a pretty big group this is that Chris program this yeah exactly and so then I go in and I’m just in the group you can just search for help and I’ll go through and look through all the help requests like somebody will say like hey I need help with my blog or I need help with you know some sales copywriting and then I just kind of say hey I’d be glad to help you with this private message me and we can go from there and what I do is there’s kind of like two parts of my thought process and why this is very successful one I truly believe like if we take time to give and serve and help other people and just put value out there and that’s an important thing to do and it comes back to you over and over you know the law of reciprocity is just huge so you’re just literally going to little search box in the corner of these Facebook groups and searching for the word help you know love it it is like I just shared this with my private mastermind group before they caught us I’m like I never shared this lately so I would share with that and I’m gonna share with everybody aside also because it’s the coolest easiest thing to do it cost you $0 I love it so I would help in there and it’s great to find like real estate has groups writers have groups entrepreneurs have groups marketers like sales and marketing groups between LinkedIn and Facebook you can find thousands of people in your niche and then you just put help in and if I saw you in there denying that poster man I really need help with like some ideas for my blog post or I really need help with this sales page I would just say hey like private message me I’ll give you a hand and what I do is I’ll spend 20 30 minutes helping them do it completely for free and be like hey if you have anything else just let me know and that’s it there’s no sales pitch whatsoever and then what happens to ten twenty thirty percent of those people they’re like that was awesome thanks so much can I pay you and then I’m like no it’s okay if you ever need my services let me know and we can talk about it what I found happens more and more like if I were to do that it helped like 10 or 15 people a day I don’t have exact numbers on this but this is kind of like my god I’m what I’ve done then like two or three will come back again the next day or later that week or be like hey you know I hand that something else and I’ll be the great you know what this kind of falls into where I don’t want to push you into our product or service because we can help you the best that way and then those people convert really well and you get a conversion of 50 or 60 or maybe 80% even because they’re like this person knows what they’re talking about they were willing to help me for free you have all this goodwill and so they’re more than willing to try an engagement with you yeah okay so that’s kind of like the involved LinkedIn or Facebook outreach process that we’re doing a lot more of now and some of the folks on my sales humor doing and really all it requires is you being one to just help them serve and care for somebody else out there like you know you that needs help and then having some expertise in the area because you can’t offer to help somebody if you don’t actually know how to do it that doesn’t just blow up in your face obviously right right right tell me about bringing on writers to fulfill this work as the client base has expanded in maintaining the quality that part is probably the best part of this project you know this this learning process for me because it helped me learn something incredibly valuable that I apply across the board now and everything I do so I have this kind of theory that there’s two customers and in every business and that’s your customer that you sold the product to and then it’s your team who needs the work and as long as you’re effectively selling to both groups then you’re gonna be fine there’s all these writers forums like jobs like everybody’s always looking for writing work and when I certain to see is like you said some people will charge $250 to do a writing project or $100 or it’s $50 for a teeny little article and my belief about that was that people had to charge a lot of money for a project because they didn’t know when their next project was gonna be yeah so if they could land a project this week or two or three then it was great but they didn’t know if they were gonna have a project next week and so that’s kind of like the freelancer approach there’s nothing wrong with that but that’s kind of what I identified in that audience that I need to do a track so I was like well what if I can go to a writer and say like hey if your quality is good and you can follow our procedure and process then you can make two to three to five thousand dollars week with us and would that be attractive to them to clarify that was 200 to 500 dollars a week with the top writers maybe earning up to $1,000 a week and everybody I approached them out they’re like yeah if I could have consistent work them then it’s great and you have the ability to do that because you have clients signed up on consistent monthly recurring billing exactly so like I know my guess was early on I’m like I think I can keep people on an average of three months and I was able to achieve that and now we’re like crossing the six-month retention mark and our goal for my ear is to be like nine plus months because that’s kind of a big big step there for us but so I can go to the writers like I know you’ll have work every single week all you have to do is turn it in within the time limit that’s you know on time and everybody’s I should clarify like everybody’s working from home like I don’t imagine you have in Cleveland and some call center office everybody’s like typing away no we’re a hundred percent remote team so we have we have absolutely no overhead and everybody they’re all freelance contractors because it’s technically set up right they can work whenever they want however they want as long as they do their work so everybody works from home basic requirements is like you have a computer and a good internet connection that’s pretty much it like there’s no there’s nothing crazy we do have degreed trained editors and journalists and stuff on our team now for some specific hire and packages and things like that but we don’t require somebody to already have that writing degree right like that and you put the people through like a trial process like how do you judge if somebody is good enough or fast enough writer yeah one of the greatest assets that I’ve been able to create on this company that I replicated and other things that I do now is there’s a completely automated onboarding process if you hit our do you love the right page where you so make your resume and application the next step takes you to a how-to videos on how to finish your application and we asked for two sample writings and they have to read our writer guide and this is how we do our work these are our quality standards this is what the pay is this is the expectation of how fast things are going to be turned around and we build everything we have as a flat rate pay scale if you are a writer who’s really good and really fast you make really good money they make effectively like I’ve talked to some of my best writers they make effectively anywhere from 25 to 35 dollars an hour flat rate you mean like per article with a UX don’t yeah exactly okay so some people it’s not fit for and that’s completely fine but before they even get to the part where they have to submit two sample pieces for us to finish that step two of the application they read through our manual it’s completely explained they know what it’s going to be like to work with us and like expectation of if you do well here’s your opportunity or if this isn’t a good fit you would go through the training really I can’t write that fast and so I’ll probably make three dollars an hour whatever it would be you have more supply of writers than you have demand for writing so somebody goes through this automated onboarding process what happens I imagine you can have your back-end kind of flooded with writers yeah early on it was a little bit harder to broker writers and like I would go out to Craigslist and I would go out to writing job boards and like I had to look because I didn’t know where they’re at now we get like a couple applications a day and after they submit the samples one of my managers will look at the content make sure they file everything and just follow the process correct the writing is good and then if they’re selected to come on board they actually go through another three-hour training about everything in depth because we said okay we do want to hire you and need to go through the rest of this process to get there okay okay so there’s not just everyone just can’t sign up like there is some sort of human manual review there yeah so they’re all they’re all manually reviewed and then after they go through all that successfully that’s about maybe five or ten percent of the people choose to or have the ability to even get all the way to the end there and do it successfully so that filters out all the people that aren’t if it or aren’t good writers or whatever it is and then when they get all the way through their training then they are actually given a couple internal assignments usually and then we monitor what comes back and we’re just doing our final check to make sure that it’s still a great fit and that they’re gonna be a good fit for the team we got a dialed in now a nominee on the chemo it ranges were up and down but we’ve got over fifty writers all the time in it and then we have a couple designers and developers for some other kind of things that are going on but it’s pretty good-sized Wow super cool what’s next on this just kind of continuing to grow the subscriber base yeah so we continue to do the same kind of process of outreach that we do directly we’re focused more on growing our affiliate base at least 50% of the businesses from affiliates so we’re continuing to grow that and then we’re finally at the stage now where probably you know in first quarter we’ll start to do some paid advertising for the service okay we have a few years of history you know kind of like what your retention rate is gonna be you kinda know your lifetime value you start playing around some paid ads yeah exactly well very cool I should use this opportunity to mention that I am a former copywriter today customer that was a cool service Ryan turned me on to it like he did with everybody in the mastermind group and I’m also an affiliate of theirs so Gabe understand you have a special offer for side hustle listeners yeah so I’m just super excited to be on with you today and I and I love the community you’re inside us one so we are offering a half off price if you go to Capri today dotnet slash side hustle then you will be able to see what we have there for you and then we’re gonna be in a couple bonuses in there that we don’t probably give away there’s something you want to check those out appreciate you put that together for you’ve been copywriter today net / side hustle and gay let’s wrap this thing up with your number one tip for side hustle nation I think my number one tip is when you’re getting started with any idea like this what you want to do is as quickly as possible get to doing the work of selling idea and validating it with real dollars and so that’s the number one thing I tell people to do is mock up a one-page sheet of paper that says what you’re gonna do go out and tell people hey would you be willing to pay me for this great if you are it has 100% money-back guarantee because I want to make it successful if it’s not I want our relationship to continue to be a good one so I’m gonna be right back well very very cool game thank you so much for sharing some of these marketing hacks and excited to see where this thing is gone you know from zero to pretty significant business now helping 50 people earn income on the side and helping probably hundreds of customers get content further I mean helping lots of businesses on both sides some very exciting stuff this edition of the side hustle show is sponsored by fresh books I’ve been telling you about their innovative cloud accounting service for a while which by the way started as a side hustle the software was built specifically for freelancers side hustlers and entrepreneurs like us and was just redesigned from the ground up to make it even easier to use so let’s talk about invoicing for a minute because everybody needs a way to get paid and this was the feature that first drew me to fresh books number one it takes as little as 30 seconds to create an invoice no formatting no formula is just simple clean professional-looking invoices you can add your logo and color scheme so that your invoice reflects your brand second there’s even an option to set up recurring invoicing and billing so if you want to sell a subscription service like Gabe you’re all set next if you’re working on a big project you can ask for a deposit up front so you’re not left holding the bag for the full amount and having a client that wants to stiff you at the end so here’s the deal freshbooks is offering a 30-day unrestricted free trial four scientists will show listeners to claim it just go to freshbooks comm / side hustle or enter the side hustle show in the how did you hear about this section that’s fresh books calm / side hustle for your free 30-day trial RI my top takeaways from this chat with Gabe it alot of takeaways hard to narrow down to just three but here goes number one cap your network and oh there’s a really common theme but I thought was interesting to hear how Gabe turned to LinkedIn into Facebook to find his first clients and a 30 percent response rate might seem high but when you’re in the trenches and getting seven out of ten people ignoring you I can tell you there was some perseverance today or two to get through that takeaway number two practice just-in-time business that means not building out the perfect infrastructure before you have any customers he you just heard him say hey look here’s my one page explanation of what I’m gonna do will you pay me for this the perfect infrastructure is one that lets you get paid takeaway number three what’s your one thing this year Gabe said his singular focus for 2014 was to build a product build something for recurring revenue to stop the feast or famine a freelance cycle he was having in his website building business and he made that happen by hustling his face off to validate this idea and deliver the work remember he said for two months he was the only writer on staff now with 2017 right around the corner got me thinking you know what’s mine one thing for next year what’s my singular goal and more importantly what’s yours what are you gonna get done no matter what notes links and a free pdf highlight reel with Gabe’s top tips from this episode or at side hustle nation comm slash Gabe and if you have the need for constant new content and want to give copy writer today a shot be sure to take advantage of Gabe’s half off the old four side hustle show listeners at copywriter today net slash side hustle now at that price don’t expect Pulitzer prize-winning journalism or like truly epic pieces I’m afraid you’re probably have to write those yourself but for a steady stream of native English written articles pretty tough to beat if you do sign up to send me a note let me know and I’ll send over 365 blog post ideas to get your creative juices flowing and to make sure you have plenty of title probs to send over to those guys thank you so much for tuning in until next time let’s go out there and make something happen and I’ll catch you in the next edition of the side hustle show hustle ah thanks for listening to the side hustle show at www.sciencedenmark.com [Music]

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