FEATURED DOWNLOAD: Read and download the full transcription of Episode 48 with Gaël Breton. This episode will teach you how to jumpstart Authority Website building.
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Gael Breton is the Co-founder of Authority Hacker , where he and his business partner share their strategies from online business and teach people how to build an ethical, long-term business in the online space. They used to teach how to “cheat” Google through backlinks and SEO, but their focus for the last 2 and a half years has been on educating people, through case studies, how to succeed online by solving people’s problems.
Topics of Conversation:
[0:00:14.8] Show Introduction
[0:01:10.7] Guest/Company Profile
[0:09:30.6] Strategy on starting out your authority website
[0:21:05.8] On Launching the Membership Website
[0:24:05.0] E-mail List Response
[0:26:54.8] Statistics on users
[0:35:19.6] Recommended Tools
[0:39:37.8] On the Use of Affiliate Links
[0:40:31.7] Authority Hacker and the future
[0:43:50.3] How to Contact Gael/Wrap-up
Reach out to Gaël:
[0:00:14.8] STEPHEN: Hey, guys. Stephen Esketzis here from Marketing on the Move and I’ve got Gaël Breton with me today.
How are you doing?
GAËL: Hey, pretty good. How about you?
STEPHEN: Yeah, good. I hope I just said your surname right. I’m always failing with surnames.
GAËL: Yeah. It’s as I’ve lived in many countries and everyone has kind of their way of saying my name, so it’s okay. It’s a French name. Normally the name is “Gaël Breton.”
GAËL: Yeah, but I just take whatever they say.
STEPHEN: You’re missing a couple of accents there. I think, don’t they usually put as an accent on one of those letters if you got to emphasize it or something?
GAËL: Yeah, there’s like two little dots on the “e” to make it sound like “eh” not “uh” in French.
STEPHEN: We’ll make sure to include that in the transcription when it goes up in the website, so people could pronounce it the right way. But yeah, so awesome to have you on then.
So I came across Gaël’s website, Authority Hacker. So tell us a little bit about what Authority Hacker is. Tell our audience a bit what it is and how you got into it.
[0:01:10.7] GAËL: I mean, mostly, it’s just like as to commenting, what we figure about building authority sites. And you know, authority sites are a bit of a volatile, fall in a lot of things.
So like people would say Mashable is an authority site. And on the other side, people would say like Fitness.com is an authority site. But they’re quite, quite different, you know. They monetize differently.
They publish content differently, etc. Mostly, what people call authority sites are like big sizes, a lot of content about one topic?
That monetizes one way or another, and that’s pretty much what I and my partner are trying to build. And we’ve been doing that for three years now.
And we’ve learned a lot in the process, and we’re just sharing our perspective.
But you know, we’re not talking from like the perspective of like someone that’s running a big, like, blog-like, you’re thinking about posting something.
We’re talking about people that could literally boot strap that with a little bit of their savings and quite a bit of their time basically.
STEPHEN: Yeah, that’s awesome. I mean, I came across, I think it was through—but I can’t remember that. It must have been like a blog post or something you put out and some may have popped up in Google and I came up and I’m like, “Man, this is awesome.”
The content you guys put out is really like quality content and it’s stuff which is like you say some blogs sort of do it half-assed, like they’ll do it not bad and then you say others, they go full out and they’ll put probably in, they’ll have like the images, the featured images, the way they structure the posts, and that’s what I saw with you guys.
You had everything sort of structured and ready to go, so you obviously had an idea behind what you were doing and you had the system.
GAËL: Yeah, I mean, it’s a lot of work to produce one of these blog posts, but I mean we treat them as business assets. Once they’re done, provided the information does go out today, which it does happen in online marketing, a lot less in-house which is the other site we work out, then you can use that to capture, to like get in touch with people like I did with you basically, like again, and again, and again, so it’s worth putting the time in.
And every extra inch that you go on your content, like above your competitor, is what brings the most results. I mean, it’s like walking out, right? It’s like crossing a goal. It was like, “Oh, it’s like they’re less throughout.” That just builds all the muscle.
STEPHEN: That’s it.
GAËL: That’s basically the same thing.
STEPHEN: Yeah, I love that. I love that idea, how that idea is wrapped up. I think that’s really cool because I think the biggest one that you’ve—because I’m part of the your membership sites, so you’ve got a membership site as well, if you guys want to find out more about it, I think is it pro.authorityhacker.com?
STEPHEN: Yeah, so you guys can go check it out there if you want to have a look. It’s pretty awesome. And I’ve been involved in that about a month ago or two now.
And yeah, it’s been awesome content. But one thing that I noticed is you go through like how you actually put together your content. So you had one. I think your biggest poster was saying, it was the one on like how to make money blogging. I think that’s the one you’re talking about.
GAËL: It’s 15,000 words, so yeah, I don’t think I want to do more than that.
STEPHEN: Yeah, that’s like a book almost. That’s like a short story. So…
GAËL: I mean, it’s like a lot of analysis straight, and if you want to do-basically what I did is I took 15, I think?—no, 23, I think—23 big bloggers, but then I went deep into how they make money, like two people that had income reports, so it wasn’t much easier for us to go get the data.
But then, we ask questions like, “Do women make more money than men? What’s the median versus the average?” So for example, the average income for men is like three times higher, but the median is actually higher for women, you know?
So if you’re a woman, you have more chances of making $10,000 per month than a man, I mean, for the people that report their income obviously.
But if you’re successful, a guy, you make like three – four times more money. So we ask all these questions and just try and figure out, you know, what’s working, what’s not working, we actually list all the full programs they use and like all the products, the stuff that seems to make the most money, etc., basically.
STEPHEN: Yeah, that’s crazy. So when you guys publish it, so that’s 15,000 words, how long does it take you to write something like that?
GAËL: Three weeks.
STEPHEN: Three weeks, so it’s almost like three weeks of your life into one blog post which is pretty crazy. So-
GAËL: Yeah, I mean, by the time I push “publish” button, I just did not want to hear about that thing anymore.
STEPHEN: I can imagine. So let’s just say, a month, because you need a month to relax after you write something like that, you can probably push it out and recommend 12 of those a year, at that caliber, do you think that’s probably-
GAËL: Yeah, it’s probably—like I would probably mix it up because, I mean, I do a lot of SEO, right? And it seems like you found us through search, so I guess that’s working.
So what we do is like we have one of these like every quarter or something, and then we produce “smaller pieces.” On Authority Hacker, these are like 4,000 – 5,000 words. But these are like way more keyword-oriented, I mean, this one was like “How to Make Money Blogging” was like one of the biggest keywords in the industry.
But I’m not afraid to actually go follow like no keyword at all for these ones. These ones are just my PR basically and the other ones that I’m going to acquire links to my site and then I’m going to follow up with like five – six of these like 4,000 – 5,000-word article that are targeting my keywords, and then this is going to have a piggy back ride on this big piece I just got, all the attention is going to ring for these keywords and I’m going to get traffic to my sites, collect e-mails, etc.
STEPHEN: Yeah, so there’s a big game play behind this, so I just randomly read them. So all the time, planning goes into this.
GAËL: Yes. It’s just like you just want to come in your industry and you want to figure something out that nobody else has figured out or presented better, right? Because that’s something that a lot of people completely ignore with their site is the formatting of the content.
And I’m going to go as far as saying that formatting is more important than the content itself because people read more the content—
STEPHEN: If it’s not nicely laid out.
GAËL: –especially when I write 15,000 words. I am not stupid. Probably like 5% to 10% of people that land on that page actually read the whole thing. The rest of people, but it’s pretty funny, people are just like amazed the way it looks and the way it’s organized and the way we format things, and they just share it even if they didn’t read it because it looks cool.
GAËL: And so, we get all that traffic and we get all these people, even opt-in for—that’s why we put the whole directions for the opt-ins are like way up in the post because we know that people stop way before. But there’s that thing about really long, epic, in-depth content that people, maybe even will show even though they actually don’t read it.
STEPHEN: Yeah. See, that’s pretty nuts? I think when you go to that much effort, I guess people, yeah, they want something that’s nice to read and easy to pick up. They don’t want just a book with full of black and white text in a line.
GAËL: I mean, especially like—I just want to mention online marketing, as much as I think what I’m writing is quality, people that are just like, “Oh, I’m just going to read this blog,” I hope they’re not basing their business on just finding my blog post because that would be a terrible, terrible way of running your business.
So they’re mostly looking to be entertained and so what they want is they want to project themselves into being one of these successful bloggers in that case.
And so that works pretty well and there’s that value of entertainment and dream that walks pretty well with our target market. I could do that with like, fitness trainers for health sites, for example. And yeah, I bring this entertainment, and then people share it, it makes them look good when they like show these crazy data, etc.
And so, yeah, like these big pieces where you want attention, it’s like they’re usually not “how-to” pieces, unless you make a really, really, really good “how-to.”
STEPHEN: Yup. So it needs to be in-depth. So let’s start with this. Like, let’s say you’ve got—because I know there’s a lot of listeners out there, they’re probably thinking about starting an authority website, whether it would be for like, themselves, so like my own, www.stephenesketzis.com, it’s not like a brand, there might be other listeners out there who want to sort of build their brand or build an authority site, let’s say you’ve got, say, let’s say $10,000 in the bank, how would you go about splitting that up at the beginning of your journey?
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[0:09:30.6] GAËL: Okay, so here’s one thing. People, they’re like, “Oh, I want to build an authority site.”
Authority sites have a lot of content. Let’s figure out how to produce the first hundred pieces of content. And we did that initially when we started building authority sites with Mark.
But I’ve actually gone away from that. Actually, when you start this site, nobody is expecting your next post, like nobody cares, whether you post once every three weeks or once every two days, in the end, nobody is going to read them because you have no followers, no nothing.
So actually—and I’m probably going to do a case study in 2016, like starting a site from a scratch with an unnamed brand as well, just to show people—but actually, I would actually spend lot of time just producing very few pieces of content, but big impact full ones only. And I would not even bother with the keyword ones initially.
STEPHEN: So just sticking to those real keystone, cornerstone content pieces?
GAËL: Yeah. I would make like one every month, and then I would do a couple of, instead of doing these posts on my site, I would probably just do guest posts.
GAËL: And I would make my homepage like an opt-in page probably.
GAËL: So that people would actually click on the guest post and opt-in and it’s just like optimized for that. Maybe I’d retarget them so that I get the most people opt-in. and would do guest posting, so build my domain authority, and at the same time, because I’m building connections with the other sites as I’m doing guest posting, then when I publish this really, really, really epic pieces of content, well, I know the editor there, I can get them to start sharing it around and start building these few relationships that I have through guest posting.
And you could get them to actually start spreading their content. So I would probably just start with that. And the thing is most people will not like that because it’s hard and you start with the hard part. But the truth is, if you want to start with the easy part, oh, let’s figure out how to make a 1,000-word article and make a hundred of them.
Most likely, you will produce 50 of the posts and get no traction, abandon the site, jump on the next shiny object.
STEPHEN: Yeah, that’s so true.
GAËL: So what I recommend is frontloading the hard part because once you’ve made it, you’re like, “Holy shit! I spent all this time doing these crazy frontloading stuff, now I gotta make this work,” and you’re way more invested in your project as well. So it’s a bit of self-management as well. And it’s just smart of it because as I said, you can take your time for the content.
STEPHEN: So let’s divide it out. You’ve got $10,000, do you spend that on like the design of the website? Do you spend it on plug-ins? Do you spend it on hiring a writer? How do you it?
GAËL: I mean, I’d buy a few tools. You know me, I like swipe-ins, it’s pretty cheap. I mean, like for a $150.
STEPHEN: Yeah, for $150/
GAËL: For $150, you have like probably one of the best opt-in plugins for all press. You have a really good landing page builder and you have all these elements that you use for this fancy formatting.
And I would just use one of those things because really, to build a brand, it’s not really about the team, it’s about just like creating a color palette and just having these kind of like identity, maybe like hire a designer or something for like $500 and get into like, I use mascots a lot on our sites now.
STEPHEN: Mascots, yeah.
GAËL: I just like it. People recognize it. And most importantly, when you do advertising to people that you have in your site and know your brand, well…
STEPHEN: It will stick like anything.
GAËL: Exactly. And the cost per click is much lower.
STEPHEN: Yeah. That’s awesome. I loved your mascot by the way.
Do you want to reveal where you got it from? Did you get it custom designed?
This took me so long because I came to this website, I think probably it was a year ago now or six months or whatever, and I was like, man, that mascot is sick. They must have paid thousands of dollars to get this designer do a mascot and then make like a portfolio of designs.
And I was so jealous. I’m like, “Man, it looks amazing.” And then I asked him, and what did you tell me?
GAËL: I just say that I got him on Shutterstock. That’s how I got it.
STEPHEN: It’s like I paid a year like $4 per mascot, per image, they’re already done.
GAËL: Yeah, I mean, about a few, I thought it was $50 or something, right?
STEPHEN: That’s nuts.
GAËL: So yeah, you can actually build a brand for very cheap. I mean, literally like the theme I had is a theme you can buy, it’s part of these right in our themes, so it was like, it was $140, I think.
You have that, which I think is good enough personally. Then you just pick a couple of colors, I recommend like the color, Adobe kind of website, and they actually have premade color palettes for websites, and you can just go and snag one there and just tweak your site to actually reflect these colors and just make everything with these colors.
That’s how you build a brand. You don’t need a fancy designer or anything. You do it yourself.
GAËL: But then, you can spend money in cool things, so for example, my next link bait, my next like big post like that is actually like, the question is “How to Rank in Google?”
But that’s very vague, but I’m actually worth clicking 500,000 webpages on Google and have hired a data scientist to actually come up with the answer to questions like do social shares really help rankings? Or what’s the correlation between back links and positions and stuff like that.
And so, like, try to actually put some real numbers and things rather than just say, “Oh, it’s important to have back links.”
STEPHEN: Yeah, I think that’s one thing like especially with those longer posts, it’s like backing up with statistics and numbers and comparing-
STEPHEN: That’s what really stands them out and makes people wanna share it, because when you see a number like, “Man, the median for women is so much higher than man.” That sort of will make like, “Oh, the women shared it.”
GAËL: Yeah, it’s interesting, right?
STEPHEN: It might be interesting to have someone else share something else.
GAËL: And you know, newspapers can take it and use it for a story and people, when they want to make a point in another blog post, they also take it and use it for their story, and that generates back links and shares and people talking about you.
And you constantly get attention for this. So actually, just coming up with statistics and stuff, and you know, for that job, I mean, I think it’s going to cost me $2,000 between the servers, the proxies, the data scientist guy etc.
There’s a lot of random stuff coming in, but if you can create one post like that to start with, it’s like you are going to have an audience like from day one as soon as you release that.
STEPHEN: Yeah, I think it’s all about, with the whole blogging in general, it’s all about standing out and doing your own thing. You don’t want to be like the other guy. Like you said, you don’t want to be the guy that just looks for 100,000 blog and web posts and launches it and gets bored with it.
Something like this, for example, like you don’t know anybody else hiring a data scientist, going through servers, putting a blog post together, that’ll be thousands of words, and actually like having the story to back it up. And then what you can even do, like from there, you can even repurpose that into a podcast and say, “Now, do you wanna know what it was like hiring this guy and going through the process to find out this post?”
And like all this stuff, that’s what the people really love. They like that behind-the-scenes, they like that process which is unusual. I think those are the things that stand out.
GAËL: Yeah, I mean, I like that you talk like that you say that people should do that one thing because I’ll be honest, since we actually show URLs on our site, I wish we had the housing mission site and stuff, a lot of people copy us. A lot of people literally just think that they need to put “hacker” in their domain name to do well.
STEPHEN: No way.
GAËL: And if you’re listening and you’re thinking about doing that, I mean, I’ve never seen a single person doing that and be successful.
STEPHEN: You will find them. You will negatively SEO them.
GAËL: No, I will do nothing because usually they fail on their own, right?
STEPHEN: Yeah, that’s true. It’s true how it works that way. It’s funny.
GAËL: But unless you’re like “Rocket Internet,” which I like to gauge that crooked Groupon and Zappos and all these things in Berlin, unless you’re these guys, do not run that business model.
It rarely, rarely works. Just like, I mean, you can take that idea and just run it into another niche, so for example, you could go in a fitness niche, and start like talking to a gym and start getting, and actually buying excess to their stats and like make interesting things, how many people have really used their gym membership and stuff like that?
STEPHEN: Yeah, I mean, like their code of business is to say like what’s the average weight of the people who use their bench press without the gym every day? What’s the average?
GAËL: What’s the average press, and also, what’s the average weight of people that are signed up to a gym against the people who does the average of people in that country?
STEPHEN: That’s cool and that’s interesting and people, like you said, like will reference that and I think that’s the sort of stuff that you don’t see often. But because that extra hurdle, they’re a little bit harder, people just can’t be bothered.
GAËL: Yeah, that’s basically. But that’s amazing because it means that anyone that listens to this podcast can take it and take this kind of ideas and just apply it to pretty much any niche actually. We actually did one.
I remember we work for a plumber when we had an agency before, and we worked for a plumber. So it’s like the least sexy niche ever, right? And they were in Seattle.
And the thing we did actually with them is we called the water company in Seattle and we made an entire article on what would happen if everyone flushed at the same time during their break in Seattle. And like some pretty crazy stuff would happen, actually.
The sewage would be flooded and water would go in the streets and stuff like that. It would be a mess, right? And literally, we interviewed these guys and then made an infographic representing what would happen and stuff like that.
STEPHEN: That’s pretty cool.
GAËL: And this has got a lot of the whole coverage from doing that, you know.
STEPHEN: That’s not funny.
GAËL: So it’s just like, ask questions and don’t write a boring and have somebody like, have data to back up whatever your claim is, because most people actually don’t back up with anything unless they’re scientists.
STEPHEN: Yeah, I think one thing as well is work to your strengths. I mean, you guys authority websites inside out now. You’ve been doing it for a few years, whereas for example, me, I make sales funnels, so I work on that strength. With the other guy across the road, if he tries to get into authority websites or sales funnels, he’s not going to do as well as we would because we’ve done this for a long time.
GAËL: It will take time, yeah.
STEPHEN: Yeah, and you’ve gotta go through and you gotta learn it and you gotta learn the industry. But I think people just go work to their strengths and then you compare that with whatever you’re doing. So for example, if you’re doing numbers about like plumbing, if you’re a plumber, for me to get into the plumbing niche and start writing that piece of content, it’s going to be a lot harder than someone who’s a plumber. So like you said, be different but also work to your strength. I think that’ll save a lot of time.
GAËL: Yeah, I mean. There’s also one thing, it’s like, as I said earlier, if you’re able to, you can literally say the same thing as other people by just designing better and you get a lot of attention anyway.
And I’m going to say it first, it’s like some of all our posts on Authority Hacker that didn’t invent anything, some of them, they have like new interesting stats, etc. But others, to be honest, is like, well, I’ve learned things from other people etc., but I’ve just presented it nicely and they’ve done really well.
So this is also like one thing that can work as well is just like, well, if you’re just really good at writing or really good at designing or anything like that, just use that as well.
You don’t even need to like come up with your insight in your industry to do that.
STEPHEN: Yeah, but it takes time to design it, so that I think is why it makes you a standout and do so well because it does take that. Trust me, I’ve been there as well. Like I tried to use that throughout things, content builder, for the first time, and it took me forever.
I was like, “Man, this is—I don’t know how they do it.” So I’m learning, I’m getting there. I’ve gotten someone else to do it, so they’re getting there. But that’s the thing, you’ve gotta put that effort and to get above what everyone else is doing and make it stand out.
So you’ve also got, let’s move, you’ve got the membership site as well which you launched recently.
How did you go with that?
What was like a launch from?
How many opt-ins did you have?
Who did you launch it to and what was the process to get your membership site off the ground?
[0:21:05.8] GAËL: I’ll be honest, I didn’t expect it to do really well for the launch, because my strategy is basically to take, there’s like many mini-courses inside essentially and the strategy is to like take some of these and sell them as to prioritize frontend behind opt-ins on blog posts.
That’s like the core strategy on selling this membership. Doing the launch, I was like, “Eh, I’ll just do it but whatever. Like 10 people will buy it.” And actually, we made over 250 sales and the churn rate is less than 5% actually.
STEPHEN: That’s huge. Not a huge churn, but huge like, revenue.
GAËL: Yeah, so the sales were all right, I think, it’s nice. But what’s really, really, really interesting is the churn rate actually.
Actually, I read a blog post on the top tile engineering blog, and these guys are like engineers and they’re crazy about math and stuff. And they basically figured out that the number one metric to walk on continuity offers is retention rate.
If you can nail your retention rate, you can just be average sales and you’d still do really, really well, much better than the people that argue that sales but have a shitty retention rate.
STEPHEN: Though it’s much cheaper to retain a customer than to get in front of the new one, so if you get all of them for that much longer, then you’ll be in the game.
GAËL: Yeah, so that got me really excited. But I mean, I spent like six months on it, obviously not full time, but quite a bit of time. And we’re also pretty hands on with members as you can probably tell.
We actually answer questions, etc. It takes a bit of time. But retention is everything in a membership, so that’s something we really invest in and we really like engage with people, etc.
We actually call most of people one-on-one, etc., so it’s quite a lot but it’s working pretty well. So the launch was literally like no big deal. I literally just put a video that my friend, Shane, basically recommended to do to give him credits for an icon builder.
He’s actually a friend of mine and he was like, “Oh, yeah, just do a video with PowerPoint and just like talk on it.” And he just guided me through his sales page and stuff. And we had something like 8,000 e-mails back then, we have quite a bit more now.
But when we launched, it was something like 8,000 e-mails. But you know, some of these were opted in a year ago, right? So the level of wants that they have is definitely not the same was when they opted in two weeks ago. So we need to be aware of that.
But yeah, basically all I did is I made a better price and basically called it better initially, where I just like opened it up and there would be a bunch of glitches. And I just put a deadline on it and I just have in my e-mail list to forward essentially.
STEPHEN: So what was the process of hammering your e-mail list?
Did people get pissed off at you for saying “You’re trying to sell us all this stuff now?”
What was the response like?
[0:24:05.0] GAËL: Not really. I had the experience of selling on all of the sites as well and so on. So it was like, well, I mean, first of all, look, these blog posts are produced for free.
They take days and days and days. And at some point, you need to make some money. Plus, the blog is still free if someone is not happy and look, some of our blog posts are better than many paid products. So go ahead and take that and don’t buy the membership if you’re not happy.
And if you really don’t want to hear about that, then feel free to unsubscribe. It’s like this is a free service, I’m just promoting my membership after having provided value further.
Yes, I didn’t really feel bad at all. But really, nobody was really mad about it, so it’s not something that came up. I think like one person complained, but out of 8,000, it’s pretty low.
STEPHEN: I was about to say that you’re always going to have one.
GAËL: Yeah, exactly. But you shouldn’t get super offended about it. It’s just some people just think that what we’re basically doing is for fun and it’s okay. And so, yeah, I put a hard deadline and unlike most on my marketers, I actually respected my deadlines, so I didn’t have to go like, “Oh, there was an extension because so many people asked me.”
And I understand, it makes more money, but we’ve always based our relationship with our list on trust, you know.
GAËL: And since we’ve not been using all these tripwires, etc., then I just wanted to establish that when we set a deadline, there’s a deadline. And that’s the way it is.
And trust me, when I turned it off, I saw all the failed payments, like I saw at least 15 failed payments in the next hour. And I didn’t let them in, actually. I was like, “Well, you can pay the new price,” because we didn’t close it. We just increased the price, right? So we’re like, well, now you gotta pay $47 a month instead of $38.
STEPHEN: Yeah, I would say, that’s $9.
GAËL: So it’s actually $9 and I think I’m delivering quite a bit of value, so I think it’s still a very good price.
STEPHEN: You know who gave the fuck complaining about $9, that they’re not a good fit for them, they should stop anyway.
GAËL: Exactly. And I’m sorry, I’m like, “Look, if at $47, you need to use the refund or you need to use all that stuff, then this is called “Authority Hacker Pro,” this is for people that make it their job.”
And it’s a business expense and it’s pretty small at $47. And so, yeah, it’s okay.
I just turned a few people off, some people were quite mad at me. But next time I had a deadline, people will know that it’s a real deadline. And since we’re going to do many more promos throughout the year, because we’re like, we’re still ramping up our system but we’re actually probably going to be releasing one tripwire per month on that site. So that’s going to add up quite a bit actually.
STEPHEN: Yeah, that would be awesome. So what were the numbers, if you don’t mind sharing? Do you have the numbers that you started from initially? So you had 8,000 opt-ins at the beginning?
[0:26:54.8] GAËL: Yeah. Then, I don’t know exactly how many sales, but something like 280, and we get something like 30 refunds in the end, right? So 280 sales out of 8,000 people. And I e-mailed like five times or something.
STEPHEN: That’s awesome. That’s a pretty casual launch, like you’re saying.
GAËL: Yeah, it’s super casual.
STEPHEN: And that’s a pretty solid number.
GAËL: I was like, whatever. This is not my core strategy. I didn’t want to spend a lot of time.
I really wanted to spend time on actually getting a few people in and nailing down the retention, this is really what I’m focused on right now. I’m not really caring about how much money we’ll make right now because I know I can just turn on PPC once we have good retention.
GAËL: And so, yeah, I did that and I say something like 15% of our sales were yearly sales.
STEPHEN: What price were they out?
GAËL: That was $280.
STEPHEN: Yeah, okay. So even that, that’s pretty good just upfront cash, if any commitment from a lot people, I mean that for you guys can go straight into hosting or to whatever.
I mean, it’s not like a ton of cash, but it’s enough. It’s a significant amount that you’ll be able to do, like use it and invest in it for the website and for other things as well.
GAËL: Yeah. I mean, it just gives us—I mean, we were already making money with our third marketing, like the site was already around $5,000 a month with our third marketing or something. So everything was paid for and we were okay.
So we’ve sold an agency not long ago, Mark and I don’t really need money right now. And so, it was actually, everything was paid for and given the fact that we also live in Budapest, we can actually but live on this money actually. So it was just like, it was just because like to challenge myself on that content. So yeah, it was okay. I think in terms of revenue, like it was a little bit on the 40k, I think, for the launch. And monthly, it’s like a little bit over 15k, I think, right now.
STEPHEN: Which is very solid. That’s still awesome. It just showed you they’re like putting that time when you build that relationship.
Were you emailing your list ahead of that time? So were they a warm list or was it pretty much just email them whenever a blog post came out or?
GAËL: I was just emailing the blog post, to be honest. I still need to build a lot of our email backend which I’m working on right now.
We’ve done it on our other site, well, on this site actually. Authority Hacker was just a side project initially and it’s like slowly becoming something now, well, actually, that site is really making us almost a quarter million a year.
We probably should stop taking it seriously, and so we are. But since we really like the same way we craft our posts, we like to be really in detail. And we’re very subtle in the way we do things.
Then, we use a lot of like segmentation in our email automation and so on, and mapping it out and creating it takes a long time. So yeah, that at least was literally just getting, I guess, blog posts, so far.
STEPHEN: Yeah, it’s funny.
GAËL: Which is like once or twice a month maxing on.
STEPHEN: Yeah. And to be honest, even with my list, I was kind of the same. Like I just e-mail blog posts and pieces of content, and people on my list, if you’re listening, you know that exactly the same, ones like, I think my autoresponder right now is probably about three emails, and it’s just like, “Hey! How are you doing?
And then some value around the website, and then I sort of never speak to you again until there’s a new blog post or podcast or something like that.” And then, now recently, because I’m launching this funnel builder, which I think I told you about. That’s coming out soon and my autoresponder, I’ve been—just like yesterday, I think I spent all day working on it. We’ve put together like—it’s going to be over 20 something emails long. And segmenting this and that, and it’s so crazy because once you build that rapport, imagine like getting an email from you or from me or from whoever every single day, and you just see it at the top of the inbox?
I think it’ll make just a huge difference of positioning and everything like that as well. So it would be interesting. I think it’ll be like a crucial thing that I’ve underestimated for ages.
GAËL: Here’s one automation that nobody should get lazy about though in terms of email, it’s the content ones, so if you probably visit our “check out” page for “Don’t Buy the Product within 24 Hours,” we’ll actually like send a very casual e-mail saying, “Hey! If you need something, go around with the checkout.”
That is responsible for a lot of that because as soon as you start talking personally to people and they know that you know they’ve expressed interest, it’s like they need to tell it to your face that they don’t want it.
They don’t want to buy it. And it’s one of these things we’re also just maybe like there was like one little resistance that you can just kill with literally a 100-word email, because they’re like, “Oh, I didn’t sign up because X.” And then you just type, “Oh, don’t worry. This is inside the membership. We will cover that next month or something.”
STEPHEN: I think just an email in general is just so valuable, because, say, like 8,000 people, now you know you’ve got their emails, so whatever action they’ll take on the website, you can now email them and say, “You’re on this page.
What did you think of this?” Like you can customize so much content-
GAËL: Like marketing as well, right? So for example, one thing I like doing is like—so I just get on blog post formatting, for example, on this blog post. It casually mentions these great content builder thing at the end, but it’s not hard pushing.
It’s like 90% value, 10% showing the product with us. But what I can do is like I set up an automation and like, “Hey! You checked out my formatting post yesterday. I just wanted to reiterate these stuff is awesome.
This is how I build all my sites etc. You should definitely check it out and I highly recommend you take these options etc., etc.” So you cannot add value if you are hesitant and you can like push people again to your call to action while there is a context, because they were consulting something related to it.
STEPHEN: Yeah, and then it’s like, how did you find it? I don’t know if you know your numbers on that, but did you find that you’ve gotten people replying or talking about it and you think it’s increasing awareness for that?
GAËL: I mean, literally, like now people sometimes don’t even know that, the link is now affiliate. People literally now email me and like, “Oh, can you please send me an affiliate link?”
At the same time before they buy something to get to me, because I always surround everything with value and content and stuff, and they’re supposed to be literally, they’re like, “Oh, I want to buy this. Can you please send me your affiliate link?”
They just wait to buy whatever they want to buy until I send them the link. So yeah, I mean, a lot of people, I helped ones, then they just come back to me every time they want to buy something. They’re like, “Can I get an affiliate for this? I kind of wanna buy it.” And you just become—it’s pretty easy.
I mean like for five minutes, a lot of these things pay direct in commissions and stuff. I’m more than happy to just do that a few times a week and building it whatever my recurring income is, you know.
STEPHEN: Yeah, and affiliate stuff, I mean, with the blog this big, when you get a name Authority Hacker and you gotta grow it, let’s say, next year or two years from now when it’s even bigger, like those recurring commissions are just gonna keep coming in so that’s no extra work for you.
And I think that’s one of the other biggest ways to monetize this side is you’ve got membership, you’ve got affiliates, what else is there? There’s probably advertising. I don’t know if you wanna bring in advertising?
GAËL: No, there’s no advertising yet. So we did a podcast and I did a terrible job at setting it up technically.
And therefore, we were not ranking in iTunes and so on and the growth was just not good enough for my taste. So it sucks, but I’m probably gonna relaunch that because a lot of people loved the podcast and love that we actually just talk about stuff, for example, blogging, there’s zero hype in the way I talk about things, and a lot of people like that. So this is coming back for some people who are wondering.
And at this point, I’m probably going to be introducing sponsorship, so that’s probably how we’re going to be selling advertising.
STEPHEN: I mean, you could even do—I don’t know how much you guys would do, but let’s say if someone’s doing a launch, would you do a specific post for that launch or for that product? I mean, obviously you want to do ones that are sort of evergreen and will always be there, something like Thrive, but other ones that you…
GAËL: Yeah, most products I don’t like usually. The truth is a lot of…
STEPHEN: I mean, your recommended tools, I guess, that’s probably the ones that you recommend.
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STEPHEN: That would be a good blog post for you, the $50,000 case study.
GAËL: Yeah, I can get to that. I wouldn’t be too deep into so much stuff. But most of the time the people that want me to promote them are not the people I like, and so I don’t actually. I just respect the audience above anything.
And I turned down a lot of money, like literally now, I have like mails per day from companies that want me to promote them. But so far, I think we’ve done it with like two in one year.
STEPHEN: So that’s gotta be pretty impressive.
GAËL: Yeah, I basically choose who I want to work with. So for example, I’ve worked with Atrust quite a bit lately. And this is a tool I use and I love this tool. And I was like, “Hey, I want to do that. Check out some of my previous work, etc.”
And these guys literally just provided me with three licenses, it was worth of like $7,000 or something, plus a lot of things like the API access for the case study I’m doing now, a lot of things.
They actually emailed my post, so the entire list of 150,000.
STEPHEN: Yeah, I got your email. I was like, “What the hell?” This like Authority Hacker in my inbox. You’ve got taken care of, yeah.
GAËL: Because I’m so picky and because I go so in-depth with what I choose to work with, and I don’t choose to review a lot of things, but when I go into promoting something, I do it like in a very, very honest way for the audience, but in a very deep way as well.
GAËL: And that allows the companies to actually also want to invest a lot of resources into working with me. And that’s definitely the way I want to go about promoting things. So I could probably make a lot more money promoting average tools like Relaunch out there, but that would be very short-term already.
STEPHEN: Exactly. I think it also brings down the quality of your website. I mean, your longer posts are much more valuable and would stick around for a lot longer.
GAËL: I’d rather people buy—I mean, basically, Authority Hacker Pro, if I keep going at it for like a few years, there’s going to be so much churning in that. I don’t think people will need to buy anything else actually. Like I produce something like 20 videos per month or something.
And all of them come with templates and step-by-step screenshots, annotated stuff for every single thing we teach and everything is very actionable.
So most likely, in terms of like the information, I probably just cover a lot of it in Authority Hacker. And then, the tools and stuff, then yeah, I’m happy to sell the tools I choose.
STEPHEN: And that just, yeah, it works with you. But I think that’s the best way of going about it.
GAËL: Yeah, it’s less money now but hopefully in the future, it builds. And usually, when you build authority sites, I think for people who listen, it’s quite interesting, you always have the option to make more money now that will kill your growth.
STEPHEN: Exactly, yeah.
GAËL: And one example would be advertising, you know. Imagine that you have no funnel, no product, you don’t really know the affiliate offers in your niche, etc. It would be easy to just like plaster CPM ads everywhere on your site.
You should get like a few thousand visits per day, you make some money. But the truth is nobody will link to you, nobody will share your content anymore, all that stuff, because it’s gonna look like shit.
GAËL: And so you’re kind of fooling yourself in your foot in exchange for a little bit of money right now. And you will always have this opportunity to make more money, but I mean it depends.
If you have a big tax bill and you’re going to go to prison if you don’t pay it, then put some that on your website. Otherwise, there’s often like a longer-term solution that will bring you more in the end.
STEPHEN: Yeah, I agree. So let me ask you we’ll start wrapping it up pretty soon. But a couple of important questions I got left is, with your membership site, would you be opening it up to affiliates at all?
Would you run an affiliate thing where people can recommend people through or does that make sense?
[0:39:37.8] GAËL: Yeah. I have that same program already, but once again I choose my affiliates.
STEPHEN: Yeah, okay. Cool. Alright, so it’s more hand-selected, very like whatever.
GAËL: Yeah, I know them and I can email them and there’s basically five or six right now. I might advertise at some point, but there’s going to be a screening process.
STEPHEN: It’s going to be pretty under wraps. I like it. So what lays ahead for the next 12 months with Authority Hacker, with your health site? What’s the name of the health site again?
STEPHEN: Health Ambition. Yeah, and it looks amazing, by the way. I remembered when you showed me during the membership site.
STEPHEN: -Like, “Man, looks stunning.” You’re like, “Nah, but we’re going to redesign it. It looks like shit.”
GAËL: Yeah, that’s what I was going to say. Actually, I’ve been working in the last two days on that. And we’re actually launching membership there as well.
But we’ve partnered with someone who has credentials and stuff. It’s not straight into content.
[0:40:31.7] GAËL: But, yeah, actually Health Ambition would definitely have the intention of making, finally getting to like the high-five figures with us. Now, it’s like low-five figures. And we’ve been stagnating a bit this year actually. We’ve been trying to figure out a lot of things. And also, Authority Hacker took quite a bit of my time this year.
But yeah, I’d definitely want to make this a six-figure a month website. So we’re launching a membership. We’re launching a bunch of tripwires. We’ve been practicing a lot on like VSLs that we’re doing better and better at that. Mark, my business partner, is really good at it now.
And Authority Hacker, well, I’m going to probably keep just working like I am right now without promoting too much for the next two – three months, still nail my retention rate which is really what I wanna figure out. Then, I’m probably going to be rolling out a few funnels in the meantime as well, but nothing super crazy, but then I’m probably going to be pushing affiliate webinars a lot.
GAËL: And then after that, I’ll probably be rolling out Facebook ads.
STEPHEN: And get some cold traffic in there.
GAËL: Yeah, because… Yeah, I just need a profit maximizer and I need a $400 – $500 upsell at the end. And the tripwires are pretty easy to pick because it’s a collection of mini-courses in the membership, so it’s pretty easy. I’ll just tweak them a little bit.
GAËL: And then, yeah, basically have a pretty decent chain of products to start selling on top of two recommendations.
STEPHEN: Yeah, I love that. I think that’s a really good sort of empire you’re sort of building there. And it means now, like you can scale that up for the next five, six, seven years and it will just keep growing and getting bigger and bigger consistently.
GAËL: Yeah, that’s the idea. A lot of people build a website but take shortcuts and eventually two years later, you see them again and they’re just like “started a new project,” i.e. failed the previous one. And so-
STEPHEN: And I’ve got to admit. Back in the day, like that was probably me, and I’m sure you’ve probably been there as well, but-
GAËL: For sure, I like them all the way, you know?
STEPHEN: Yeah. It’s fun.
GAËL: But it’s the truth, you meet these people that you didn’t talk to for six months or one year or whatever.
STEPHEN: And they’re all excited for him.
GAËL: Yeah, exactly. They’re excited for this new project, but it basically means the previous thing has failed. And you’ve got to be honest with yourself. When you just restart something new every year or two, you’re probably not gonna go very far. I mean, even Facebook is 10 years old now. So…
STEPHEN: That’s nuts.
GAËL: So yeah, you need to be able to commit to a project for like a bunch of years if you wanna make it big eventually. I actually hope that we’ll be in the thousands of members at some point in Authority Hacker. And that could be pretty good money, you know?
So yeah, that’s basically the idea. But everything that’s quality and we’ll see it just takes quite a lot of time. And most importantly, when you run a business, you realize that really, you can only spend 20% or 25% of your time on content and development, and the rest of the time is just catching up with everything else.
STEPHEN: Yeah, exactly right. So I think it’s going to be an exciting journey ahead. I’m looking forward to data scientist getting amongst your blog posts. You’ll have to shoot it across, I’ll make sure we link it up. But yeah, we’ll add to the show notes. Is there any way people could reach you?
Best way to get in touch with you?[0:43:50.3] GAËL: Uhm, I’d say probably like, well, the contact form on Authority Hacker or just Twitter actually. I use Twitter to chat a lot actually.
STEPHEN: Cool, awesome. We’ll make sure that we’ll add those to the show notes and people can reach out to you if they need to. But it’s been awesome having you on, man. Thanks for sharing the value ones with your authority sites and yeah, it’s going to be an exciting year ahead.
GAËL: No problem, thanks for having me.
STEPHEN: Awesome. I’ll speak to you soon.
GAËL: See you later.
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