Bluefire Poker: Getting (And Keeping) Customers Who Love To Pay For Their Membership – with Billy Murphy

Posted on Sep 12, 2012 - 3:41 PM PST

How does a poker education site generate millions in revenue?

Billy Murphy is the owner of Bluefirepoker.com, a website that allows its subscribers to train with top online poker players.

His revenue comes from membership. I’m going to find out how he launched the business, how he grew it while generating revenue, and finally, how he keeps his customers.

Watch the FULL program


About Billy Murphy

Billy Murphy is the owner of Bluefirepoker.com, a website that allows its subscribers to train with top online poker players. His blog can be found at http://foreverjobless.com/

Raw transcript


Mixergy’s audio transcription is done by Speechpad

Andrew: Coming up. You’re not well known, but you need star power to get people to pay attention to your product. What do you do? Today’s guest found an interesting solution to it that just might apply to you. Also, are you the face of your company or do other people represent it to the world? Listen to what happened to today’s guest because he wasn’t the face, he was in the background. Finally, today’s guest, I think at the very end of the interview, pointed out a mistake that I might be making. If you’re copying me, if you’re trying to do something similar to me, especially in the membership space, you’re going to want to check out that last section and hear what he has to say to me, because it just might apply to you. Don’t make my mistakes, well, if you want to call them mistakes. Listen to his feedback and everything else that went on in this interview coming up.

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Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy.com, home of the ambitious up-starts, and the guy who keeps looking down at the audio levels in the intro. I wonder if the audience picks up that when I do the announcement, I check the audio levels too. Anyway, back to this interview. This interview’s going to be about how a poker education site generates millions of dollars in revenue. Billy Murphy is the owner of bluefirepoker.com, a website that allows its subscribers to train with top online poker players. His revenue comes from membership. I’m going to find out how he launched the business, how he grew it, how he generated revenue, how he keeps his customers, and I also want to ask him about his new blog which is foreverjobless.com where he talks about his entrepreneurship. So Billy, welcome.

Billy: Thanks for having me, Andrew.

Andrew: I kind of raced through that intro, but I know that one thing that the audience picked up on is you’re generating millions in revenue. Let’s be a little more specific. I know you talked about the first day revenue from Blue Fire Poker. What was that?

Billy: Well, first day revenue, I think it was probably only a half day’s revenue when we launched, and it was over $30,000 on the first day.

Andrew: $30,000 came in?

Billy: Yeah.

Andrew: All right. And I know you had an incredible early second week, I think it was. What was the revenue for the first and second weeks?

Billy: The first, I don’t know the second off-hand, but the first week, I think we finished out the first week over $100,000.

Andrew: Wow. $100,000 in sales the first week.

Billy: Yeah.

Andrew: OK. I want to find out how you did that. I actually went back to archive.org, and I said what did Billy have on his site before he launched and what did he launch with, and what I saw was, it was an email forum. You want to tell the audience a little bit about that?

Billy: So the forum, you’re talking about, I guess, right before we launched.

Andrew: Just before you launched, yeah.

Billy: It was an email forum. We actually didn’t promote it at all, so I think when we had launched, we had, I want to say 30 or 40 people on our email list. Because we didn’t tell anyone what we were doing, so we went against all the internet marketing tactics of build a huge list, build a bunch of pre-marketing, build up your affiliates, do all these stuff. We didn’t do any of that. We just had a simple lander. Just kind of put it up, and whoever found it . . .

Andrew: So your orders didn’t come from people who you sent that page. No. So I was trying to be too clever there and it didn’t work.

Billy: Yeah. I wasn’t clever. I didn’t do a lot of pre-marketing or any of that. My reasoning of the time which I’m not sure was optimal, was I thought we had something so good that I wanted the buzz to be all on the first day where we launched and everybody just talking about, holy crap, they just launched this thing and we had never heard of it. So we didn’t do any pre-sales. It was all after launch.

Andrew: We’re going to break down the launch process later on in the interview. I just wrote myself a note to make sure to come back to it. One more thing about revenue. What size revenue are you guys doing now? What’s your annual sales?

Billy: To not be too specific, we’ll say somewhere around $1 million.

Andrew: Somewhere around $1 million in sales. Let’s go back and find out how you built this thing up. You had a little ambition in you from the start, from what I can tell. You had a newspaper route that you were too young to have. Can you tell the audience about that? How’d you get it?

Billy: I was nine years old, and you had to be 12 years old to have a newspaper route, so I knew [??] guy [??] in our neighborhood and he was quitting and [??].

Andrew: I think we just lost you there, Billy. I think we just lost you. Do you have anything running in the background that could be using up your bandwidth? No. You just did a restart before we started.

Billy: Nothing running. What part did you lose me?

Andrew: Let’s start from the top of the story.

Billy: When I was nine, you had to be 12 years old to get a newspaper route, and the guy across the street had our neighborhood and was making 50 bucks a week, which was millions of dollars to me as a nine year old. I wanted it. I talked to him and I asked him about the money he was making and I had my mom call the newspaper company and ask if there was an exception they could make. The manager who hires the newspaper carriers came over and met with me and my mom, and I told him I was serious about it, wanted to make money. I’d do a good job. They let me have it, and I started doing newspaper routes when I was nine, and it was awesome. It was tons of money to me, at the time. Fifty dollars a week was awesome.

Andrew: What’d you do with that money as a kid?

Billy: At the time, I just saved it up and the one thing that I spent money on was sports cards. I used to collect sports cards.

Andrew: Baseball cards, basketball cards, that kind of thing.

Billy: Exactly. That launched my next business, years later, just because I was into that stuff.

Andrew: What was the business?

Billy: [??] sports card business, and I started getting into that, I think I was around 17 and I just wanted to get rid of a bunch of cards that I had and I was mainly into basketball cards, and so I sold off the football and baseball parts. I was going to eBay and, at the time, they didn’t have usernames, so much, they had people’s emails as the high bidders. I used to go and basically just pick up every high bidder, or the top couple of high bidders, bidding on anything similar to what I had and then I was emailing those people and saying, “I think I have exactly the type of stuff you’re looking for. I’m looking to get rid of this stuff. If you want it.” I would send out hundreds of them and one guy wanted it and so sold it to him.

Andrew: So you were spamming people on eBay who you knew would be good potential buyers and saying, “I’ve got this. Do you want to buy from me directly?”

Billy: Exactly. I just told them, “I have this collection. Saw you were bidding on the same thing and, do you want it?” The conversion rate on that was .001 percent. It was horrible, but finally got somebody to buy the cards. I didn’t think I was doing a business, at the time. I just wanted extra money for cards I wasn’t interested in. Then , [??] a couple of weeks later, there was a collection that came up in the daily paper, in advertisement for a card collection. My mom or dad showed me it and I was like, “This is awesome.” It was 70,000 cards, which was a lot of cards. It was way more than I had at the time, I still wasn’t thinking about the business opportunity. I was thinking maybe I can have the other guy buy the baseball and football and the other stuff and maybe he’ll pay for enough of the collection that I can just get the basketball side of it for free. I contacted the same guy and gave him an idea of the collection.

Andrew: Bottom line, what size money did you make from this? I always go back to the bottom line, don’t I?

Billy: This specific collection was, I’m trying to think. I think I paid, I want to say $700 for this collection and I’m pretty sure the guy gave me $1500 for two thirds of it, and so I doubled my money and got a bunch of freak art. And then I realized, wait a minute, I think I can just do this over, and over, and over and that’s what I did. And so I did cards the next two years or whatever until I was in college. I don’t know how much I made in total, but I remember one summer I wouldn’t get a job. And my parents were worried, got to get a job, got to get things on your resume. And I was just kind of collecting cards and buying out all these collections. And at the end of the summer I sold one for, I think it was like $9,000. I was 17 or 18 and it was …

Andrew: [laughs]

Billy: So they were a little less worried about me, I think.

Andrew: What was the trick to generating money, to making money from sports cards? Was it picking the right cards, was it finding people who aren’t interested in them and so you got a really great deal on it, was it being persistent about sales? What’s the one thing that did it?

Billy: Yeah, persistent about sales was one, so every time I would kind of have something to sale. I was doing same thing, I was contacting everyone who had ever bid on something similar. And so again it was an efficient time spend, but for a 17 year old it was still better than I can do at a job or anything. But I found a guy in Syracuse, who was buying collections from sports card companies, or buy outs from stores. And so, I would just kind of take stuff that he wasn’t doing anything with and kind of buy it at a slight mark up at these bulk collections. And I was buying so cards that, you can get big deals. I mean, I’m talking, like, I sold one collection that was a million cards. And so, it was, you can take little fractions of a [??] …

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Billy: … on cards, and just multiply, it’s huge volumes and so. And I was actually doing the opposite of what a lot of people were doing. Other people were buying collections and breaking them down, and selling them piece by piece. And I was actually finding super highlight parts of a collection and advertising that as, there’s a Michael Jordan Rookie card in, there’s all these things. And then, people were kind of caught up in the, I need to buy this collection because it has all this cool stuff. Where because I was buying in such bulk and placing interesting pieces into the collection. I was actually doing opposite as …

Andrew: I see.

Billy: … were doing.

Andrew: OK. And you were firing up people’s imagination about, what else could be included in this. But if he’s telling me, this great guy’s card is in here, then maybe in these millions of cards he’s selling me there’s a bunch of other great guys.

Billy: Yeah, it was big lesson in sales, and just pursuing just a [??] …

Andrew: Why, Billy, what was it about making money that fired you up? I keep hearing entrepreneurs come on here and say, that even when I was a kid I used to sell cards, or gum, or whatever. And I wonder, at that point what were you trying to do? Were you trying to buy enough money to impress your friends, were you trying to just see how many bills you can stack up in your bedroom? What was the goal of it?

Billy: I don’t even know. I just always was intrigued about making money. And I was interested how certain people had money …

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Billy: … and other people didn’t, and it just always intrigued me. It was so much about, I didn’t have any big desires to spend a bunch of money. I was never in the, like …

Andrew: Did you grow up in a family that had money?

Billy: I didn’t come from a rich family, my parents both did well. But it was, you know.

Andrew: I see. So it wasn’t that your family did so well that you felt you had to do the same thing, that’s the way life was. It wasn’t the opposite either, where your parents didn’t do so well and, you said, I’m never going to live like this. It was just an innate part of you.

Billy: Yeah, it was just curiosity and interest. And then, once I got to making it I enjoyed having it, I guess as a 9-year-old and similar to when I was 17 doing cards. It was nice to be able to, if I wanted something I didn’t have to think about it because I had the money to do it.

Andrew: Yep.

Billy: As a 9-year-old if I wanted to buy a big box of cards I could just go buy it. Where all my friends would have to wait a year until the next birthday to get it. And things like that were I was, like, wow. It really does change your life being able to do what you want and kind of buy what you want.

Andrew: Here’s something else that I heard about you, that you’re a guy that just loves to learn. In fact you used to stalk people on forums to learn.

Billy: Yeah.

Andrew: What did you do?

Billy: I would, and this was one of the biggest ways I learned.

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Billy: I would go to, at the time it was Rich Dad forums, which is now kind of not the same anymore. But …

Andrew: The forums for the book, “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”.

Billy: Yeah.

Andrew: Yep.

Billy: Yep. So I would literally stalk people. And by that I mean, I would read anything they’d ever written. And it’s always amazing to me more people don’t do it. If you think about all the posts some of these people make. And there’s very few successful people are posting on forum, but the few that do you can find thousands of posts. And so it’s like, there are several books they have already written on the stuff that you want to know. So I would literally read every single post that they had written. Then I would formulate questions and I would say, “Hey, I read this post you made on September 7th. I didn’t understand what you meant by this” and so I would ask some of these questions, so they could tell I wasn’t just some annoying kid, It wasn’t in a way that so they could see that I put in work and I knew exactly everything that they said and what they had done so they actually helped me because they do not get these emails and private messages a lot.

Then I would annoy some people on forums and kind of picked their brains and I realized you put in the work ahead of time people see that you are motivated to learn. So, I just found three or four successful people and I tried everything they said. If it was to read a book I went ahead and did it. Then when I had questions I would ask for the help and specified a page number and a specific topic. It was hard work but it was easy to learn and get acquainted with how people were doing it.

Billy: All right. I can see how that led to BlueFirePoker site where you have people teaching how to play poker better. Let’s get into how you got into poker yourself? Where did that come from? In college?

Andrew: I think it was my sophomore year; I was about 20 years old. I heard that you can play poker online and that sounded cool to me. I didn’t have a credit card so my roommate started the account with $50 for me. I was able to start playing with free money before I started using the $50 in the account. I started learning, I didn’t know how to play exactly, and then when I was more confident I started playing using the real money. I remember, winning or losing a dollar a day and it was awesome to me, thinking this is cool.

Billy: Why you are a guy who was making $50 when he was 9-years-old, you were doing $9000 in baseball and basketball cards. Why did winning a dollar mean anything to you?

Andrew: I didn’t expect that you could make money at this and then it was just a fun hobby. Then it was slowly progressing making more day after day. Wow, I realized that I could make money at this. Then I found out there are people actually making real money at this. So I did the same thing that the forums said about people sitting at the poker table with a lot of money so I asked how did you win all this money, are you making money?”

Billy: You mean on the online poker games, you would see guys with big winnings. You would start messaging them there at the tables?

Andrew: I would talk with them in the chat. I would ask how you have all that money in front of you. . .

Billy: How receptive are they to hearing from a stranger about how they made the money?

Andrew: A low percentage of people, but you only need a couple to give you some advice. Once in awhile I’d find a person waiting for a game to start and they are online anyway so I would ask. I remember one guy who was telling me that he was making $1000 a week. I was skeptical so started picking his brain and asking him what to do and he lead me to some forums and poker books, and did what he said and slowly progressed after awhile was making decent side income while in college.

Billy: You were basically becoming a professional poker player?

Andrew: Yes, but had no plans the first year until I started making about $15 a hour so it was bringing in a lot of money yet. I slowly was getting better and better. I remember coming home for a winter break from senior year and wanted to do a test. So I set aside 4 hours a day to play and did pretty well. So I felt confident that I could go full time after college and be successful. So that got me thinking that I could do this full time and make more money than I could at any jobs.

Billy: What year was this?

Andrew: 2004-2005. I thought people were basically creating bots back then. I knew a developer that would watch people in the room that would know what they were playing and based on that he would be able to play. And I think there were people who were creating bots that actually played for them, bots that filled up the room. How do you win anything back then?

Billy: So there’s always bots and talks of bots. I’ve actually been approached, like, “Hey, will you help me build a bot?” I don’t know the best way to describe it, but if I programmed a bot to play certain ways, it probably wouldn’t be able to out think me because as a poker player you’re constantly adjusting, and you’re constantly reacting to how your opponent plays, so once you kind of figure out how someone plays, you change your style to beat them. So a bot would have much more trouble, and obviously, at this point, technology is getting more and more and more advanced. I’m sure people have things out there that are a little more complex now, but, yeah, back then especially there was not really a concern for it. Your goal as a poker player isn’t to go play players that are awesome. Your goal is to find the weak spots and focus on extracting money from them.

Andrew: All right. You didn’t have bots, even though I’ve seen people with bots. You didn’t have them, you were doing well, and one of the reasons why you were doing well is that you hired a coach.

Billy: Yep.

Andrew: Right? And a coach helped you turn around your game. Did I understand that right?

Billy: Yeah. So I had gotten a job for a few months after college, and I probably was kind of MIA from the poker scene for, at least, five or six months. I was still kind of playing here or there in between the work I was doing, but I was working 12 plus hours a day, so I didn’t really have a lot of time for poker. So when I quit the job to play poker, my first month as a professional I made zero dollars. I don’t know if I could have been considered a professional because I didn’t even make money the first month.

Andrew: Believe me, the first year as an entrepreneur I was making zero dollars.

Billy: So it’s tough, right? I was still pretty confident that I could do it, but I was not as confident in my game. I was definitely rusty, and so I had been kind of stalking out a bunch of coaches that month where I was kind of struggling. I didn’t have a lot of money. I just came off a job that didn’t pay very well, it was a commission-only job, and it didn’t pay very well on the commissions, so I didn’t have much money because I had just got out of college. I didn’t want to pay coaches this big sum of money up front to coach me, and so I got a percentage deal. I found a coach that agreed to do it contingent on–this is how I sold him, saying, “Coach me, coach me”–me playing a massive amount of hands.

Andrew: So as long as you play a certain number of hands, he gets a percentage of all your wins?

Billy: Yeah. The main thing was because if I played 100 hands, here’s a percentage of only a 100 hands to make money on for him. So the more hands I played, the more chance I had to make a lot of money.

Andrew: Because you get better or because the odds change?

Billy: Well, both because the longer I played, the more the variance breaks out, but also because every hand I play, I have a certain expected earn. So if I play a massive amount of hands, then his earning would be a lot higher, as well.

Andrew: OK. All right. And then from there you did $17,000 a month because of that help?

Billy: Yeah, just the second month I made $17,000, and then I kind of pretty consistently could make quite a bit of money each month [??].

Andrew: How do you work with a coach when you’re working with him one on one? How do you work with him so that you improve? What do you do?

Billy: So the way I did it was a little different. So there’s a number of ways you can hire poker coaches, but I kind of knew how I learned best. I would send him all my hands at the end of the day, not all my hands, but all the hands that I had questions on, and I basically would kind of pinpoint where the question was: “Hey, here’s this hand I played. I lost money on it, and I’m not sure if I played it correctly, and I’m not sure if I should’ve been in this hand.” Or, even if I won money in the hand, “Hey, I think I should’ve extracted more value on this hand. How could I have played it better? What would you have done in this spot?”

I feel sometimes coaching can be kind of too general, and I knew exactly where I had questions, and so I would send him 30 hands a day or 50 hands a day, and I would just say, “It can be a short response. Send me exactly what you would do and why.” And then he would do that. I played 88,000 hands of poker, which is a lot of hands, but even when I wasn’t playing poker, I was just studying my notes from him. And so even on an off day, an off day for playing for me would be going to the casino, sitting at the poker table and studying his notes while I waited for hands. ‘Cuz it’s slow playing in the casino compared to online.

Andrew: Was this . . . I see, OK. I’ve noticed that in coaching, in general, that when I go to someone who is going to help me improve my business, if I were just to say, “Hey, my business stinks. What do I do to improve it?” I wouldn’t get as strong an answer, not nearly as if I said, “Look, here’s the page where all these people are coming in, but not enough of them are buying. What do I do?” Or “Here’s how many new members I have every month. What do I do to get them to stay longer?” When I have really specific questions, I get much more useful information.

Billy: Right.

Andrew: All right, so then, you’re playing poker yourself, and then at some point you get this idea for what became BlueFirePoker. Where did that idea come from?

Billy: There were already a lot of people doing poker training and poker coaching. It’s funny the story behind the idea came from . . . I was at an entrepreneur event in Arizona. I got sick or had this basically huge pain in my stomach. So, I was laid up on my friend’s couch after the conference for three or four days. I couldn’t really do anything but go back home. There was just this sharp pain and so, I was couch bound and so I just started jotting down, you know, I was just fresh off an entrepreneur conference and always wanted to start my own business.

I’d been thinking about going into something poker related because I knew the industry well. I just started jotting down all these ideas for what would become BlueFirePoker. And all the pros who I thought could be great coaches. All these marketing strategies I could implement that nobody was doing. I had these ten pages of the yellow legal paper of just all these ideas . . .

Andrew: Do you still have them today?

Billy: Yeah, you know what was funny, I found it like a year, I guess, a year after launch or two days. You know it took us about a year to launch. Two years after I’d written it and I actually found my page with my projections based on . . . because I kind of had an idea of what other people were doing in the industry and . . .

Andrew: How did you know what other people were doing in the training industry?

Billy: Well, one person came out and said what they were making, which baffled me at the time, because they had no competitors. And then, a lot of other competitors came into the market. I knew some of those guys pretty well. So, I heard from some of the coaches and they were talking about, ” You know, hey, I think this site brought in this amount of money.” I was surprised that it brought in that much and then . . .

Andrew: And the coaches would know because the coaches got a percentage of the sales?

Billy: Yeah, some of the coaches had deals like that where they either knew and would talk about it and that was how I found out. Coaches on other sites were, like, “Hey, we’re doing this much and I know because my percentage was this.” And so, I heard some of the numbers and I was like, wow, that sounds like a good business to be in. And I thought there was a way to do it better compared to what was out there. And, so…

Andrew: Essentially, I want to ask you what you had in mind for doing it better. But, essentially, the sites that were out there were doing, what were the key elements? There was a membership that people had to pay, right?

Billy: Yeah, a lot of people do it the same way we’re doing it. It’s coaching but it’s through video format. We don’t serve one on one coaching. It’s like you can see them playing. It’s a membership site so you can see our pros playing. And you can see their hold cards. It’s kind of like you’re looking over their shoulder. They’re teaching you, as they play, exactly why they’re doing what they’re doing and how they’re extracting more money out of players. How they’re . . .

Andrew: But, is this what other sites were doing at the time?

Billy: Yeah, there were a lot of . . .

Andrew: There were. So, you signed up for other people’s sites and you saw that they had coaches who were well known poker players who were playing poker and narrating their game?

Billy: Yeah, there was already, I want to say there was probably 25 to 30 people doing it before we even got in. There are only a couple bigger players, but there were a lot of those sites out.

Andrew: And from what I saw, it’s essentially, they’re showing their computer screen, which is where their game is. They’re talking about who they’re playing against, why they’re making that decision, what they think of the other person’s approach, that kind of thing. That’s what all these sites essentially were?

Billy: Exactly.

Andrew: OK. And, so you saw that and you said, “I can do that, too. I’ll get my own coaches. They’ll do screen sharing.” What other elements were going to be on there, blogs, forum?

Billy: Yeah, we have blogs and forums but the only [??] is the videos. That’s what people sign up for. I mean the blogs and forums are kind of . . . They’re not that well trafficked. Not that people don’t visit them. People are interested in some of the blogs and forums but the video is what gets the people coming to the site.

Andrew: You saw that and you had ideas for making it better. Before we get into how you wanted to make the marketing better, what did you have in mind for making the product better?

Billy: Before we launched, when I was initially putting the whole idea phase together, some of the complaints in the market was that a lot of the guys people were signing up for never made videos, and it was a good strategy from a standpoint of, ‘Keep costs low.’ Where sites were signing big name players, barely having them release videos because they cost a lot of money, and the attraction on the sites where players were barely releasing videos and then the rest of the videos [??] videos of other pros that nobody knew. In my mind, there was a huge gap where, “All these people are signing up for big name players, to learn from and they’re not really getting that. Why don’t I just put together a team of only players people want to learn from,” and there’s 25 to 30 [??], no one had filled the quality niche.

Andrew: You had them commit to a certain number a month?

Billy: The pros? Yeah. Basically, I got a list of 50 guys that I wanted to recruit. Ended up launching with a team of five or six.

Andrew: Got them here on the site. I’ve got a screenshot of that, too. I got Phil, Neiman, Jason Three, Martin four, Ryan five. Those are the experts who you had on there.

Billy: I think there’s a sixth, Don, and then that was it. A lot of competitors had 50, 60 pros, sometimes more and that’s the reason I got into it because there was no reason to have a lot of guys that people weren’t signing up for [??].

Andrew: Even the first version of the site said, “Quality over quantity.” That’s the thing that you saw. You said, “All these other sites have a few pros. The pros don’t do enough. Everyone else is tossing way too much garbage in. Let’s just focus on the pros, and they’ll do a certain amount every month, but that will be guaranteed.”

Billy: The other sites would have their big guys making six videos a year where our guys were putting out six videos in six weeks.

Andrew: Anything else about the product? Did you want to step people through the education process? Did you want to break it down differently?

Billy: Honestly, we didn’t have a step by step. The only thing I made sure to do was, there’s different levels of the games and I wanted to have one guy who crushed their level so it wasn’t just high stakes guys. It wasn’t just low stakes guys. It was low, mid stakes, high stakes [??] who were killing it. If you’re a low stakes guy, we had what you needed. If you’re a high stakes guy, we had what you needed and it was the highest quality. The one thing I did a lot differently was I didn’t offer many games. We only offered cash games, and so we didn’t offer tournaments. We didn’t offer sit and goes, the other two forms of poker and the reason for it was I wanted to try and make sure that this is the site to be at for cash games. It’s the only site you would need to sign up for, and if we filled in all this other stuff, we’d be another very good option for poker training, but I want it to be obvious in the beginning, “This is the only place you sign up for cash game training.” Over time, we expand to [??] games, but I just [??] that to stand out for us in the beginning.

Andrew: I’m still going to hold off a little bit on marketing because the next thing I want to understand is about the software involved. You went to a team in India that you found on Elance and you said, “Build me this.” Essentially, this is a membership site, today, anyone can get for under 100 bucks using WishList member and a free WordPress site. You wanted to build that whole thing yourself?

Billy: I didn’t know of a lot of options, like out of the box solutions. A couple I looked at, I may have looked at that one. I may have looked at a couple of other ones, but they didn’t do what I needed them to do, or at least what I thought [??].

Andrew: I don’t think they existed at the time. There was a big hole in the market at that time.

Billy: I didn’t even know what I was asking for, so I was on Elance and just started talking to them and got all these bids and finally picked a company. It was the worst experience ever. It should have taken two to three months to launch. Took nine months, and it was a nightmare. I mean, it was at some point they said it was too much work and they stopped working on it and got, I guess, they call it like holding your code hostage until we upped the payment and I said no. I wouldn’t do it. So, there was a period of probably one or two months where there’s actually no work getting done. We were just kind of waiting and then I started looking into other people. I said, hey I need this decision by this date. If you don’t pick up the work, we’re going to go to somebody else and they started it up again finally. Nine months later, we had a site. As you can see, probably on the [??]

Andrew: [??]

Billy: It was very simple. It wasn’t any awesome looking site or anything like that. It was just kind of simple but it did do what we needed it to do.

Andrew: What do you advice someone else who’s going to hire a developer off Elance to build out his first version what do you advise that entrepreneur to think about to avoid your problem?

Billy: Make sure you click the escrow button because I forgot that one and we didn’t-

Andrew: You were paying up front essentially?

Billy: So, I paid half up front and the other half was on the back end but I didn’t have it in escrow and I contacted Elance a bunch and they said oh no problem just around our problems we were having. They said oh no problem you have it in escrow right. I said, no, I don’t and they said, I can’t help you. They were the least help that anyone could possibly be. It was just [??] you didn’t have it in escrow they weren’t worried about your-

Andrew: Did you learn anything about the way that you screened out this company, about the way you speced it out for them, the way you stayed on top of them throughout what should have been two months but what actually ended up being nine months?

Billy: The biggest thing is know what you’re asking for. I think. It was definitely partly my fault because I was a total newbie. I had never run all my business never built a site. So, when I asked for something it was pretty general and shall I say I need a membership site. What does that even mean to a programmer? They don’t know what that means. So, they know they can give you a membership site but it was so- Working with people that English isn’t their first language and it was very- If you say you want one thing they’ll send you something back kind of word for word what you said but not even anything that you had in mind. So, it was like-

Andrew: Oh, I see.

Billy: It’s probably a bad example but if I say I want a button on this page they might send you a page back that’s like the whole page is a button. So, it they don’t understand they don’t think in the way that-

Andrew: I see, it’s technically what you asked for but it’s not at all what you need.

Billy: Yeah, so that was a pain. So, I think, yeah, if I were to do it again I may kind of do a video series for them and kind of walk them through exactly how I need things and where I need them and compare them to other sites and show them. I think if I was to do it again I think that would have saved months off the time.

Andrew: It cost you $16,000 to build this?

Billy: Yeah.

Andrew: Again, how far we’ve all come in technology word press is free, wish list member cost under $100 boom your done, and there are so many other methods of doing it too. You say that the first version looked crappy.

Billy: Well, I mean, yeah. I don’t know if it looked crappy but it was simple. It’s really yeah crappy simple. It wasn’t it wouldn’t blow your mind if you came to it from a design standpoint or anything like that. It was just kind of a plain page and with I think the blogs on the side and a couple maybe one or two videos that you see as examples and that’s about it. It was pretty simple. Yeah.

Andrew: OK. You needed to get coaches. I know here the bigger the name guest that I get on for interviews the bigger my audience. The bigger who’s company who’s founder teaches on Mixergy Premium the bigger the audience. How do you get big named guests in poker when if they’re strong, I mean big name pros in your world, if they’re strong they’re going to make hundreds of thousands a year just playing poker. They don’t want to be a part of a site and collect a percentage of your earnings.

Billy: Yeah it was hard and that’s why, you know, I mentioned I had a list of like 50 guys that I intentionally wanted on the team and it was… One of the big things, as you mentioned, are these are guys a lot of them are 20-years-old and making a half million dollars a year. So, it’s not like I can come to them and say I’m going to change your world financially because these guys are in their 20s living in mansions and it’s how are you going to do much for them that they don’t have. They kind of have the lifestyle they want they don’t need much more money. They can make as much as they want playing poker. So, it’s always hard, and some guys got involved for publicity. I mean, to be involved in something that could potentially be big helps them a lot from a standpoint of potentially getting sponsorship deals which are potentially big money for some players, just kind of what to get their name out. Some of these guys want a lot more coaching clients, you know, one on one coaching, so putting our name out is one of the, you know, as a pro for a site that’s very exclusive, like, we didn’t have just tons of growth. We just had a couple guys. If you were one of the couple guys that really helped your credibility for getting more clients. So, it wasn’t just the pay that I could offer. It was kind of all these other benefits that they can receive.

Andrew: How did you split revenue up?

Billy: For four players?

Andrew: Uh-huh.

Billy: For pro?

Andrew: Uh-huh.

Billy: It varied. I mean, most of the guys now are on a per video. Early on it was a handful of guys. I think we had three or four guys who got a percentage of some of the video sales and some shares in the company and things like that, and so they benefited in the upside of the business.

Andrew: So what share of the business did you end up owning?

Billy: I can’t get too specific about it, but it was pretty good. It was over half.

Andrew: Over half you owned?

Billy: Yeah.

Andrew: OK, and today, over half still?

Billy: Yeah.

Andrew: Same amount as before?

Billy: Yeah.

Andrew: Same percent? OK, so they still own it even if they’re not on the site anymore.

Billy: Yeah, a number of guys were investing and they left early. They didn’t invest all the way but yeah.

Andrew: So, here’s something that I saw. I did a Google search for BlueFirePoker up until December 31, 2009 and I saw a note on a site called The Player, Play, the letter r.com and it said Phil Galfond launches training site BlueFirePoker and it talks about the signup fee and so on but I was noticing that some people said that it was his site that was being launched and he was one of the pros. What’s the deal there?

Billy: Yeah, so, my goal from the business when I started was build a business and I thought that promoting the pros instead of myself was a lot more beneficial for the business. If I came out and said that I’m launching this site, what did that really mean for potential customer? It doesn’t really mean anything. So the pros, we had three or four guys who were pretty known in the community so those were the guys who were doing interview and kind of giving the headlines to them because it was way more beneficial for them and for the business and I told them when we started, I said I don’t need any publicity from doing this. I mean this interview is the second time I’ve even talked about.

Andrew: We couldn’t even find a freaking picture of you. I wanted for my notes, a picture of you but you are so low profile online we couldn’t even get that except for one black and white that you use on Twitter, Facebook.

Billy: Yeah, right, so and that was planned. And that was on of the benefits to the guys coming on to. I said hey, I don’t want publicity for myself. I’m not in business for any of this for myself. I like doing business and I’ll give you guys all the publicity. I don’t need any and that was one of the benefits is I wasn’t trying to take a lot of the headlines. Any opportunity for an interview or something, I gave it to the pros.

Andrew: And the downside is, as we’ve seen, when he left a few months ago, site traffic I see here, according to Compete, tanked. It didn’t tank, it dipped considerably.

Billy: So the initial guys that we launched with, zero the same guys are making videos for us and so that’s a downside because a lot of people come up and say, oh my gosh, everybody’s quitting BlueFire. It must be going out of business or something because nobody knew who I was. So that’ the downside of it is kind of getting everybody else the spotlight and staying jut behind the scenes doing the business. I found the downside was a lot of people in poker forums are, oh my gosh, they must be going under and the dip is, so there’s multiple reasons for the dip. One is the poker economy in general right now is really bad. There’s something called Black Friday that happened about the same time, and it was a lot of the sites that a lot of the players played at don’t offer it for U. S. players anymore.

So part of the dip is, that’s the main part of the dip is all the training sites, I know all the other owners really well, and all the training sites kind of got hit the same day basically and so, but in regards to the other pros, we don’t have any of the same guys right now as when we started and so it was for fans and for customers and for potential customers it was kind of like oh my gosh what does that mean? Everybody left? So that was a big downside and I kind of looked back and should I have done it differently and now yeah, I’m like maybe I should have put my name out there a little bit so people know hey, I’m the person behind it.

Andrew: So you would start off with giving them all the attention but then start giving yourself a little bit more recognition at least on the site?

Billy: Yeah, I think that was an error on my part because there’s a lot of benefits to it but a lot of downside to it as well that I learned.

Andrew: Let me do the same search with y our name and BlueFirePoker for everything until 2009. OK, it comes up. It comes up as the CEO. All right, so let’s talk about marketing. You paid heavily both in time and money to build your site. You worked the phones, email and form and everything you could to get the pros and you got them on board. Now you got to get customers or else the whole thing is worthless and getting customers is way harder then getting guys in India to build a site for you and getting pros to accept a percentage of your winnings and a share of your business. So, talk to be about what you did before you launched to get customers.

Billy: I mean the easiest thing was not in marketing. It was spending a ridiculous amount of time recruiting the pros because that made up have a more valuable service then the competitors. So, the extra time, getting the right guys on board was kind of marketing in itself that kind of spread word of mouth marketing and people signed up initially just because of the guys we had on board. I mean a lot of the guys Neiman, Phil, Jason and Martin were big name guys in poker and they kind of had their own circles, their own following.

Andrew: I see. Like if I said, Richard Branson’s starting a site with me where were going to teach entrepreneurship people would just find it. I wouldn’t’ have to buy a lot of ads. Richard Branson well, he’s, what I guess what I’m asking is, how do they have their following? How do people even know? Where in your world are people communicating and finding out that the guys who they admire are going to be teaching on this new site that Bluefirepoker.com?

Billy: It was a little easier probably then other niches or industries in that the poker community is kind of condensed at least professional poker players. There’s a couple of major forms, a couple of major news outlets so there’s really not a lot of places that we had to get it known that we were coming out. So that’s why I mentioned the day, it was easier. I didn’t have to do a lot of …part of the reason I didn’t want to do it is because I knew I’d get in front of our potential customer base right away. So, if you have a couple forum posts, a couple new outlets mention you it’s going to spread pretty quick. So we were all on all of the poker sites within the first 24 hours because if you have it on the first couple of sites, everybody else kind of finds their info from there anyways.

Andrew: I see, all right. So that helps. What else did you do before you launched to get customers on the day that you launched?

Billy: Literally zero. I mean we didn’t do anything. So, I mean, we were, we basically, I mean the pros, you know day of, obviously we had the pros start talking about it, blogging about it, kind of getting interest and just kind of saying well, if you having trouble because the forums they were kind of putting it as the profile on the blue fire poker team or had the blue fire logo and so we got in trouble from the forum. They wanted us to pay a bunch of money to be able to do that.

Andrew: Which forum was this?

Billy: Two plus Two which is a big, major poker forum.

Andrew: I see. So they were already on their chatting and they changed their logo, their icon to your logos and essentially they were promoting through that forum. I see. That makes sense. And so we were going to launch on this day come and sign up. It wasn’t hey, go enter you email address on that forum that you and I talked about?

Billy: Before or the day of?

Andrew: Before.

Billy: No. There was not like, we had no [??]. I basically told all our pros, don’t say anything about what we’re doing. And so like literally no one I don’t think knew anything like this was coming out. I mean the team of our guys did and that was it.

Andrew: And then boom, day one. In retrospect, would it have made more sense to do a lot of promotion ahead of time just to say we’re going to launch and give people a date and have them excited about it?

Billy: I don’t know. I mean, I think there’s pros and cons because since I knew I could get in front of the community right away I don’t think there’s a huge downside as to what I did and I think, I don’t know if it would have happened with us or not but I know a lot of companies, I see all this pre- launch stuff and by the time it launches I’m kind of board with it already. Like it’s kind of like get the excitement up, this company coming out in the pre-launch and then it launches and it’s like you got to resell them all over again and why it’s awesome. Where when we launched…

Andrew: I see.

Billy: I’m like, oh my gosh, I can’t believe these guys are training like, instant sign ups where as I wonder if some of the hype wouldn’t have happened day of if it would have happened. Obviously there’s a huge benefit to building a huge list ahead of time and doing all that. So, you know, over all it’s probably way, way more optimal to build a list, but I don’t know that there was a huge downside on doing it the way we did because we knew we could get in front of our audience.

Andrew: You charged $100 sign up fee, $99.99, plus $29.95 a month. How’d you know what to charge?

Billy: We wanted to charge a lot more. The only reason we charged as low as we did, we’re the most expensive site and we thought that we had the best product, but we’re like, “We can’t really make it five times what everybody else has and ten times.” But because the people who initially got in it charged so low to start, and that’s where all the pricing fell. A lot of people are charging a lot cheaper. A lot of people do no sign up fees. We did the sign up fee and the monthly fee and we’re the most expensive site. I think there’s maybe, only one or two other sites you can have [??].

Andrew: Why a sign up fee and a monthly fee?

Billy: The sign up fee is two things. From a business perspective, I think, to some degree it helps when people commit. They’re more likely to stay on. If you sign up for 130 bucks, to pay a second month of $29.99 is not as big of a deal. If you do one month, the second month you’re paying twice as much as you did. It’s a bigger commitment, it seems like, where if you put the $100 investment in, you’re more likely to stay on and want to learn. The other part, too, is we have a ton of content on our site. We have over 1000 videos now, so it’s bad for our current customers. If other people could just come on for 30 bucks and look at everything that somebody else has been paying for the whole time, so it’s your entry fee to get in because you get access to all our backlog content, too. So you could watch 1000 videos if you wanted. We let our people download everything, and we didn’t want people to come in and take everything for 29 bucks, 30 bucks and leave, where it’d be a disservice to our customers who are [??] about paying it every month.

Andrew: What is the incentive for someone to stick around when you actually give seven days free, and then you charge on the eighth day $100, plus $30 for the first month? Wouldn’t it make more sense for someone to say, “I’m going to stick around for seven days. I’m going to download everything. Work the weekend to download it all and then I’m going to cancel?” What do you do about that?

Billy: We have a download cap in the free trial. They can only download ten videos and as soon as the trial is over, they can download unlimited. We’ve had people do that. We had a lot of people email and say, “I want to download way more videos and I can’t.” You know they’re just there to take everything during the free trial. We tell them, ‘There’s a reason we have that in place, so people don’t game the system.’

Andrew: What do you do with someone who does pay the $130 and they download everything and cancel? The reason I ask is, I know I’ve got this issue, I think everyone in the membership space has to consider this. What do you do to keep people staying on when you’ve given them the convenience of being able to download everything?

Billy: We have, right now, at least one video a day coming out. There’s a lot of new, good stuff coming out. A lot of new content videos that we haven’t put out before. We sign new pros. We have them putting out content, so if you want to keep getting access to the most relevant content, it makes sense to stay on. And the games today are a lot different than they were three years ago. If you’re watching a video from three years old, it’s probably higher quality content now than three years ago, or more relevant to your games.

Andrew: You also have sessions where the education goes on over time. Where you need to wait until next week to finish what you just started learning this week. Do I understand that right?

Billy: We have a lot of series.

Andrew: For some reason I couldn’t think of the freaking word “series” as a way of explaining what I was talking about.

Billy: We don’t strategically set it up this way because different people are signing up everyday, but if we have a really interesting video during your trial, and it’s a series, you’ll probably want to stick around and see the rest of it. Maybe we have a [??] now, two or three videos a month. Maybe that series will last six weeks, or however long. Gives incentive to stick around, and maybe [??] more of what they’re doing in that series.

Andrew: I’m looking at my notes here to see if there’s anything else. What else? What other tactics help you get people in the door and then help you get them to stay longer?

Billy: Some of the [??] stuff I do is a little outside the box. I’m not sure if you’ve heard of the Obama Challenge that I did. It got on Fox News, so giving a quick…

Andrew: This is when people, when politicians said what?

Billy: Yeah. So it was kind of in the news already that… There was a big debate whether poker was a game of luck or a game of skill and kind of the big thing was they were trying to… One side was trying to outlaw poker and the other side was trying to regulate it and legalize it, because it was a game of skill. Poker is different than other games in that there is a skill, so you can win or lose based on how skillful you are at it.

And so I kind of wanted to latch on to the story that was already in the news, and so I challenged Obama to a game of poker. And I said, ‘I’ll give you a million dollars if you can beat one of our pros’. And with the logic of it being, well, anybody would accept that bet if it was a game of luck, because you have a 50/50 shot at a million bucks. So the money would go to the charity of his choice, if he won. And I think we opened it to any member of Congress.

And so, I actually got two people touch base with me who were representatives. They wouldn’t say who they were with, but supposedly representing people in Congress, and they really wanted to know if it’s serious and the details. And I said, “Yeah, it’s very serious. You guys won’t beat our pros.” And other people started picking this up and talking to me about… “Hey, if this really goes through, we can help you get this on TV.”

Andrew: I see.

Billy: So it kind of started spiraling off, like I almost… Obviously, there is a risk there in offering a million bucks, but the upside was startlingly huge, that these people were willing to kind of help back us and help get us on TV, because they had they’re own, obviously, agenda that they wanted publicity for. So other people were kind of trying to latch on, now, to our story.

Andrew: What else did you do for marketing? You said that before you launched, you had a lot of ideas for how to market differently.

Billy: In terms of?

Andrew: Getting new users in. Getting new customers.

Billy: In terms of publicity stuff? I mean we did other stuff that… I mean that one ended up on Fox News, which helped us a lot. I did another one where Michael Vick was just getting out of prison, and I offered him a contract to become a BlueFire pro because none of the NLF teams would offer him a job. And so it was another, kind of, latching on to a news story. It’s relatively easy compared to what a lot of people think, because people are already talking about it in the news. So if you give them a relevant topic… And reporters are always looking for a story, right? So I basically just hand them their work that they don’t have to do and so…

Andrew: You said, “Hey, I’ll give Michael Vick a quarter million dollar contract to come and teach poker on my site.”

Billy: Yeah. We were going to have our pros train him and then he would be kind of teaching people about the process of becoming a professional poker player.

Andrew: I see.

Billy: And I kind of spun it as… The press release was, “He’s a professional athlete, so I think he’ll make the transition well.”

Andrew: [laughs] But those are really good for bursts of attention.

Billy: Yeah.

Andrew: Do they also translate into new orders? Are people coming in and signing up because of it?

Billy: So, I don’t think we got many customers from the actual viral marketing bullet. What happened was, it created a kind of second wave of publicity in the poker circles. And what I mean by that is, we just had launched… So I think the challenge to President Obama, I think that happened within a month or two after launching. We were on Fox News, and so all of a sudden people are seeing this site that just launched and saying, “Wait. Holy crap, these guys are on Fox News and they’re a poker training site. Like how are these guys…”

Poker sites, in general, don’t get national attention, so for this random… What people thought was this little, tiny poker training site to be on Fox News just after launching, it was kind of… It created this second wave where all those same people who talked about us when we launched, now it’s a second wave and it kind of helped put us on the map because we’re constantly getting the poker headlines. So it wasn’t necessarily the signups from Fox News, but it was the signups from the poker community that came from Fox News.

Andrew: I see.

Billy: We kind of got all this free publicity on the back end, again, in those channels.

Andrew: I see the Michael Vick story got picked up by BlackSportsOnline.com, TotalProSports.com… Coinflip, I see, wrote an article about it. PokerInsta.net, I’m guessing? I don’t know these sites.

Billy: I heard that supposedly… I never heard it, but supposedly somebody texted me and said, “Hey, we just heard you on ESPN Radio. We heard of your business on… You know one of my buddies…” And I never heard it, but a lot of the media, they don’t tell you if they’re saying something about you. They just kind of…

Andrew: Do it.

Billy: So I never knew… I didn’t even know when Fox News was airing the story about us. The poker forum just kind of blew up. It was like BlueFirePoker was just on Fox News and . . .

Andrew: All right. So I see how it adds credibility and how you get customers from the sites that are reporting about the news, but that’s just still just a short pop. What do you do to get customers in day in and day out? If you’re running a membership site, you need new members. What did you do, and what advice do you have for the audience who are doing it, too?

Billy: Yeah. The biggest thing I can say is there’s not really a trick. A lot of people are looking for Internet marketing tactics to get people in, but the biggest thing for us has been word-of-mouth marketing. And so the [??] marketing basically just helps to scale the word of mouth because more people now about it, but then the value of the service we’re providing has been the biggest marketing generator to buy 100X times anything else. So if people are willing to go to your site and you actually give them value, they’ll go out and say, “Holy crap, this is the best thing that’s helped me in my poker career.” Constantly on forums and poker blogs, if you come across our name, lots of times it’s, “I just signed onto BlueFirePoker, and I watched these videos, and it’s helped.” Or, “I just signed up, and I . . .

Andrew: How do you make sure to get people the results they’re looking for?

Billy: Well, number one, we sign guys that we know can win. We have a very strict process for getting pros in. A lot of pros we try and sign up to be a pro for us we turn down and other sites sign them. And so we . . .

Andrew: But even if they’re pros, it doesn’t mean that they’re great teaches.

Billy: Sure.

Andrew: And even great teachers don’t do very well when they’re just putting their stuff out there for the world. There needs to be some process that turns great doers into great teachers and some process for getting feedback so that you know what the audience is thinking as they’re wrestling with the issue and whether you’re helping them with the video. What’s your process?

Billy: Yeah. You said a big thing, too, is that the same with any other industry, a lot of people are very good at it but don’t teach it very well and vice versa. There’s a lot of teachers who are slightly better at teaching it as they are doing it, and so we try to get people who can do both very well. So when we get a pro who wants to make videos for us, I’ll send it to several of our other pros, and they kind of say, “I don’t think he’s going to be good, and here’s why.” Or, “He’s really good, and here’s why.” And so if we get a consensus that, “Hey, we should bring this guy on board,” we bring him in, and I let a couple of our top pros help decide because they know better than I will on who will make a good fit.

Andrew: I see. So a part of it, a big part of it, is the selection process. But do you also have a process for making sure that once you’ve hired someone who’s good, he becomes even better because they’re on your side, because of your process? I’ll tell you what I mean because it’s an issue that we’ve wrestled with here at Mixergy. I get great entrepreneurs on to teach the topics that they’re good at, so if I have, for example, someone who’s especially good at talking to customers and extracting their pain, we can’t just have him give a list of bullet points. We have to have him break down his process into a natural logical progression.

For each step in this process, we make sure that he articulates the step clearly, that he attaches a story to it that both adds credibility and illustrates the point and is then also memorable, and then we walk him through the whole process. And before we even do that today, we go to the audience, and we say, “What issues do you have around this topic? How are you planning to use it?” And there’s this whole process that we’re developing over time for making that person into a great teacher. Do you have anything like that? What do you?

Billy: If you watch one of our videos, I think a lot of people would expect for us to just talk generally about poker, but when you talk about the processes, some of our videos, a pro will talk for an hour about two hands. And so they’ll talk about every step of the process, their thought process, throughout the whole hand. In regards to the process of videos and how to make the pros better, customers will give feedback, and they’ll say, “I didn’t like this.” Or, “I like this about the videos.” And we’ll constantly look at what people want, and we can look at how many people viewed certain videos and look at the feedback. And so we can see really popular concepts: Did one video blow up? Are there 20 comments and 20 ratings on a certain video, but 0 on this one?

Andrew: So ratings and comments give you feedback?

Billy: Ratings and comments are really big indicators. About six months ago, maybe, we did this huge, huge breakdown of every single video for a couple of our pros, and we broke down exactly the ones that people were wanting to see and the ones they weren’t. And I would send it to the pros and say, “Hey, it looks like people are really into this kind of video from you. Could you make more videos on this type of concept? Could you do it on this type of game? Could you maybe not make video series so long.” Because we’ve found… And this is kind of interesting… The series that you mentioned earlier, it would drastically drop in the views and the ratings if series got longer. Where you’d think it should be staying the same because people who liked it would want to keep seeing it, but we saw it drop off where people almost just want something new and exciting.

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Billy: So they’ll want to check out something new, as opposed to part seven in the series that is less interesting. So we found a lot of details by going through and checking every rating, every comment, and doing a breakdown per player, and giving the player specific feedback, the pros.

Andrew: What’s your strategy for dealing with piracy?

Billy: So, yeah, that was a big thing early on where I was… It was really frustrating and we got stuff stolen from, a lot, in the beginning. And my strategy then was trying to figure out, OK, what do we do? We better stop this. My strategy now is, do nothing. And the reason is, I think people drastically overestimate the downsides of piracy.

So the way I look at it is, if people are going to steal our stuff, they’re not the people that are going to pay for it anyways. People who need it for free, and they just kind of need to take it, I mean, number one, maybe they’ll get a virus from wherever they’re downloading it from, and if you want to pay 30 bucks a month to make sure you’re getting it from the actual site and all that, it’s probably…

For the guys that have the money to pay for it, they’re going to want that security, probably. But the guys who aren’t going to pay for it, if they view it anyway, it’s from stolen content. I don’t view that as a lost revenue source, because they’re probably not going to pay for it anyway. And also, maybe our videos can help them get better and make more money, and then one day he’ll say, “Hey, I should sign up for BlueFire. I’d make more money now that I can afford it.” And there are benefits to being involved… Being a paying member, we’ll do member reviews for videos where we’ll take a member’s hands and we’ll go through and we’ll have our pro break down their game. So there are site benefits to…

Andrew: So they do screenshots of their play, and then they show it to the expert who then gives them feedback?

Billy: Yep. Exactly, yeah. So if you’re stealing our content, you won’t get any of those type of benefits.

Andrew: What else? What other benefits are there like that?

Billy: I mean, I’d say that’s one of the main ones. We do Q&As once in while. So we’ll say, ‘If you’re a member, send us any of your question and we’ll make sure that most of the questions will get answered.’ And so a pro will do a 45 minute session or an hour session, just going down the list of a bunch of questions.

Andrew: On video, looking at the list of questions that you guys gave them?

Billy: Yeah. Exactly.

Andrew: OK. But you did, at one point, get carried away, didn’t you? Maybe, I’m… Yeah… I’m pausing for a second because I don’t like that I said the phrase, ‘carried away’. But there was a time when you were really trying to hunt down thieves and pirates and torrents, and what happened there? How long did you spend on it?

Billy: So that was in the beginning. I don’t know that I spent a ton of time. I probably spent, like, mental time stressing about it, figuring out what to do, but I met with a lawyer and tried to see what we would have to do. And these guys who are stealing it and putting it out, were in random countries that it would take so much hassle and money to actually shut them down, that is was not going to be worth it at all. And I actually emailed… We emailed the guys who were stealing it and said, “Hey, please stop stealing our stuff. We spend a lot of time and money putting this out.”

Andrew: And what did they say?

Billy: I know that one guy, specifically, who is trying to do this as a business model, he was actually stealing it and selling it cheaper. I don’t think he was doing very well with that model, but he wrote back and said, “No, I prefer to sell it…

Andrew: [laughs]

Billy: But thanks for your email.” And it was just very casual and I said, “But you’re stealing our stuff, blah, blah, blah…” And it was just… He was very casual that he would steal it. His business model was stealing and he was totally OK with that. It didn’t phase him one bit.

Andrew: Affiliates… Very effective for getting new customers?

Billy: No. Not very good. I thought that was going to be major source for us, but the issue in the poker community is you can make so much more money as a poker affiliate. Where people don’t want to push a training site when, as a poker affiliate, you can get… If you’re pushing a room, maybe you can get a several hundred dollar CPA, where a poker training site will pay out 50 bucks which is very good for a product like ours, but other people are getting at least four times as much for a lot of the poker rooms. We thought we were going to get all these major sources and a lot of people want way, way too much for… They want you to sell their soul to be able to promote you in the industry. And so we didn’t want to do that. And so people wanted to, you know, “Hey, if you give us a part of your company, we’ll help promote you and do all these things.”

So a lot of the benefits that I thought we would get from affiliates weren’t there. But we probably have several hundred affiliates and it barely moves anything for us. It’s still… Almost everything we have comes from word of mouth.

Andrew: What about ad buys?

Billy: Nothing. I don’t spending money on marketing. It’s all viral marketing. Any of the things I do for marketing is viral, which will then kind of turn into word of mouth through the poker communities.

Andrew: What do you mean by viral? Things like the Michael Vick idea?

Billy: That stuff. Yeah, we’ll do that stuff. But, I mean, we’ll also do stuff… We’ll put out things that are maybe a little different, a little more interesting than other people are doing. We bought a poker documentary. We are going to release that on our site. So everybody gets talking about that stuff because nobody else is doing it.

We actually, just recently, did something very different. We had this 20 part series, which is not really a documentary, but it’s kind of all the interesting questions that people wanted to know about our pros, and what’s the most money you’ve ever won, and what’s all this stuff. And so we put together a 20 part series on all of our pros. And so each video is, I don’t know, 15 minutes or so, and it has every one of our pros going through and talking about, “Hey, the most money I won is this. This is what happened.” Just those type of videos have a chance of, maybe, not necessarily going viral to the extent that you and I think about it on the Internet, but here in the poker communities, a lot of people talk about that kind of stuff. Because it’s easy to fill all these gaps that nobody else is doing anything, and then you get talked about because you’re the only one doing it.

Andrew: All right. I’m looking here at my notes to see what else I want to talk to you about. I want to ask about Forever Jobless, but before I ask about that, I’ve got to ask, why did Phil leave? I mentioned him earlier as one of the pros. He was the one who was most identified with the site. He left, partially, through his series. He said, “I’ll have to finish this series somewhere else.” And there was never, as far as I could tell, a clear explanation. What happened?

Billy: Yeah. The finishing the series somewhere else, that was… yeah, not entirely true.

Andrew: What do you mean?

Billy: I don’t want to get too into it. I can’t get too into why he said that and why he kind of did that. And the reasons why he left, I don’t know if I can get into that.

Andrew: What can you say about why he said that? I mean, just because the stuff is otherwise hanging out there.

Billy: Yeah. And a lot of people have wondered why did some of your pros leave? The biggest… And it sounds like a generic answer, but he wanted to move on to other things. And I think the one thing I can say is, I think it wasn’t making him enough money that it was worth it. I mean guys like him are making millions from poker.

Andrew: And so he asked to make more money and there just wasn’t enough in the budget?

Billy: And that was… One of the big reasons was… It was… Yeah. A lot of money stuff, yeah.

Andrew: OK. And so that’s why he said, “I’m going to take this somewhere else.”

Billy: I can’t really get into it too much because… Hey, you still there?

Andrew: Yeah. There we go. The connection went down a little bit.

Billy: Yeah. So I don’t know where I lost you, but I can’t get into it too much why he kind of spun it in that way. But, yeah, that was…

Andrew: What’s your take on it?

Billy: On him leaving specifically for…

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Billy: I mean, he can’t make it… He makes way more money playing poker than he can make through BlueFire stuff. So from that perspective, it makes a lot of sense. If it’s monetary, then it makes way more sense to just play poker, focus on poker.

Andrew: So why take his comment off the message board when he said, “Hey, I’m leaving and I’m going to do this?”

Billy: Yeah, that was… And I don’t know how much I can get into this. So, basically, what we did was we moved a comment. It was in a blog and we moved it to the forums. And so it was, basically, we could get in there and respond, and people would see our responses. And people said, “Oh my gosh, they’re deleting things from the message,” and all we had done was move it to the forum. And we were communicating, saying, “Phil’s leaving, blah-blah- blah. The site’s still going to be fine.” People went and there was a lot of spinning with things that I can’t get into as why people did them, but that was a big thing that, the way it was spun around his leaving. The same as anything else. Everybody picks it up and starts talking about it and so it looks like, “BlueFire must be trying to hide that he’s leaving. They don’t want people to know he’s leaving.”

I was in a position where I couldn’t talk about the things that I knew and so it puts us in a tough spot because, ‘They’re not saying anything. They must [??] something back where it’s you’re only going to come out either seeing things that you can’t say, or of coming off really bad. I waited to come out with a statement and people were like, “They must be hiding all these things.” It made us look bad, but I think it was better to handle it that way than coming out and saying, “No. Here’s what’s really going on,” and reacting how I wanted to react. It probably would have been worse for us reacting that way than waiting, making a statement. Obviously, everyone wants to know every piece of information. They want to know everything about the insides of our company and all that, so you’re never going to please them by your statement on things that they want to know all about. I’m not happy with the way it was spun, and we couldn’t really respond like we wanted to, but at some point I’ll probably be able to talk a little more openly about that stuff.

Andrew: What has to happen for you to be freer?

Billy: A lot of money type stuff.

Andrew: Negotiated with him, and then you guys can decide how you’re going to talk about it?

Billy: It’s still ongoing. [??] stuff where I can’t come out and say, “Here’s what happened” and I [??] have loved to, but it would have helped us [??] kind of people see a lot clearer and see what was going on. The fact that you can’t say anything about what’s going on is very, very tough. It was stressful because we didn’t know he was making the announcement. He didn’t tell us he was making the announcement and so that day it went up and got [??] to find out that he made an announcement, which was, [??] wasn’t very happy about that, that we didn’t know that he was making it that day.

Andrew: It puts a lot of pressure on you.

Billy: We didn’t have anything prepared. That’s why it took several days to respond to anyone because it was not planned, the way it happened.

Andrew: It’s funny. When a site goes down, for example, non-entrepreneurs say, “Those jerks. They don’t care enough to keep their website up and those jerks, they’re not even telling us why the site is down.” Entrepreneurs have experiences, like me, for example, where a few weeks ago the site went down and I didn’t realize until Bob, my mentor, said, “Andrew, why don’t you just tweet out that the site is down and that it’ll be back up, and send an email internally to the Mixergy team to let them know the site is down.” I realized, “Those guys whose sites are down and aren’t telling us aren’t being jerks, they’re busy solving the problem.”

Now when you experience it as an entrepreneur, you understand, “This is what happens when you’re running a business. You can’t address every issue properly.” I sat down. I wrote down, “For next time the site goes down, what do I need to do?” I’m really so stressed about bringing the site back up that I’m not thinking about how to address all the side issues. “Let me give myself a checklist of things that I need to do so that I can solve it in the future.” The point I’m making is, I understand your point of view because I’m an entrepreneur. I understand your situation, but I also want to learn from it. How do I protect myself from a situation like this as I build my business? What do I do to either keep this from happening to me, or if it does, and I am thrown a curve ball, how do I react to it properly? Based on your experience, what do you think?

Billy: The number one thing we mentioned earlier is it would have helped substantially if I was the face of the site, as the owner. Would’ve helped a lot, and so the fact that a lot of people who were either customers, or potential customers, didn’t know me, so in their eyes it was some random business guy doing these things that were hurting the site, rather than they didn’t see it from there was no other person involved. It was just somebody. It wasn’t like I wasn’t like…

Andrew: Ah, I see, yes.

Billy: And so it wasn’t oh this random owner of BlueFire who we don’t know because there was obviously some of the people knew me on the forum, BlueFire Forums, and this like that but I wasn’t in there posting a lot and doing a lot of those things because it wasn’t, you know, they were there for poker related things most of the time and so that was the number one thing the number one downside. Remember we talked about there was downside in doing that not putting my face up there, not putting my name out there, not reaching out enough to customers or just the community in general where most of the only people who even know that I was the started Blue Fire were the pros, other owners of poker sites that we talk to and affiliate relationships with, and some friends and that was it. That was the total amount of people who even I ran this business.

Andrew: I see so to avoid this you’d say get out there as an entrepreneur. Let people know that you’re running this company.

Billy: Yeah, definitely and that was the downside and definitely when you’re moving forward in other businesses it’s something that I’ll definitely do and kind of put my name on it, put myself out there so that the people can see like yeah this yeah I’m behind it and any issues you can talk to me rather than kind of talking to a person behind all these people that they don’t even know, they didn’t know me. So, it was a lot tougher.

Andrew: All right. That makes sense and it does bring me to foreverjobless.com, your site. Where did the idea come from for that?

Billy: So, I’ve been thinking about doing either a blog or a book for years, and I saw kind of the same gap in the poker training market that in the blogging world it was all kind of the make money space online I saw people teaching to make money online are not making money. They only make money from selling the make money information and there weren’t a lot of people who knew how to make money.

Andrew: That pisses me off, too. That these guys who are so slick they’re such great talkers. I mean, they would watch the two of us talk here and they’d laugh at us for being amateur communicators meanwhile they stink at business but they could talk and make you feel like they know everything. Like they belong on TV, like they’ve got this confidence, and people end up paying money to learn from them. So, you saw that and you were just as bothered as I was.

Billy: Yeah. So, before I started when I was thinking about doing the blog, I had a list and I still have it. I’m still adding to it of probably, I want to say, like 700 blogs and it’s all make money space, internet marketing space kind of that space and I went through the list and I literally found maybe five to ten people who knew how to make money yet 700 were teaching how to do those things. So, there was huge, huge, huge gap of… I have kind of a quote that I guess I’ve said it a couple times and people seem to agree with it and it kind of makes some of the other bloggers angry I think, but, most of the people who make money don’t blog and most of the bloggers don’t know how to make money.

That’s the big thing that there is this gap that everyone teaching it they’re selling, if you look at their sites they’re spamming all sorts of products and that’s how they make their money. They don’t [??] from actually making money. They don’t make it from building businesses and doing these other things and so a lot of people who are inspiring and people who want to learn they run into this trap that they’re learning from the people who actually don’t know how to make any money. So, the only things they’re learning are these random spammy Internet marketing tactics that they miss the whole concept of actually here’s how you build a business. Here’s how the people who know how to make money make money and they just learn here’s the way you spam your list the best. Here’s the way you put ads on your site. These things are wholly irrelevant to making money.

Andrew: I’m looking at your site. Am I missing something? I don’t think you’re selling anything. Do you have ads on here that I’m not noticing? No, it’s a personal blog with the one photo that we were able to find of you online and just you telling what you’ve learned.

Billy: Yeah and it was that kind of thing. I didn’t want to come out and sell things. Like I don’t… It’s more of, my two main goals for this site are to kind of help people trying to make money online because I felt like there’s a lot of misinformation out there and the other thing I wanted to meet a lot of other entrepreneurs that they’re doing [??] cool things where you’re being behind the scenes for so long I haven’t met as many entrepreneurs as I want to and I figured if I put some ideas out there people I might want to meet would get in touch with me and vice versa and…

Andrew: Apparently they have. I see you end up getting, what is this, 204 comments, 122 comments because I guess people are coming from BlueFire.

Billy: No.

Andrew: No?

Billy: So, I actually sent an email to some of them, some of the BlueFire customers, but initially it was again same model as BlueFire almost no promotion. My whole focus was on the content and then I would basically say, ‘Hey, I have this,’ and then kind of word-of-mouth would spread again and, now, I’m starting to do, you know, interviews. And things like that help get the traffic but, other than that, it was kind of the same concept that if the value is there, and you can get the word out, people will come. I use a lot of . . . I’m not buying a lot of lists to get anyone there, anything like that and it’s . . .

Andrew: What’s coming up? What’s a blog post that’s coming up? Give me a sense of . . . Because you launched this, about two weeks ago. By the time this is up on the site, it’ll be a little bit older but you’ll still have your best days ahead of you. What do you have in mind? What are you drawing people over for?

Billy: Yes. So, I’m planning on putting up a lot of stuff. I got into an e- commerce business. So, I started getting into all of these stores, built that business up very quick. We went from 3K a month in revenue to 40K a month within nine months.

Andrew: Can you talk about how you did that, here?

Billy: Yes. I’m going to talk super openly about how we did that, how I outsourced everything, like I didn’t actually do any of it.

Andrew: Is that the store that I’ve got in my notes here?

Billy: I think that’s one of them. That’s one of stores that I bought.

Andrew: Tell us a little bit about it. I know you’ll get into more details on your site but tell us a little bit about what you did, so we can get a sense of how you are as an entrepreneur outside of poker.

Billy: I think the story that you’re referring to, that I talked to Jeremy about, was . . .

Andrew: Jeremy, our producer?

Billy: Yes. So, the one store that you’re talking about, the seller was selling this package of sites. So, they were selling it. Right? So, I would approach all these people who owned a lot of stores. I would say, “Hey, do you have any stores you’re not doing anything with? Yes. I want to buy them. I want to buy your crappiest stores.” So, they would just have these junk sites. They maybe had 20 stores, 50 stores, 100 stores. I said, anything that you have, scrap sites, just sell them.

Andrew: These are crap online stores, and there are people who own dozens of online stores?

Billy: Yes. So, I would just have to seek out all the people who I thought, kind of had like store empires, and I would just be like, “Give me all your stuff that’s no good.” So, this one guy had a deal for seven sites and said, “I’ll give you the seven sites.” One of the stores specifically caught my eye. It was kind of throw-in in the deal. I looked at it and it was getting a decent amount of traffic and I said, “Why is this not making money? This one has no money,” and he said, “You know, I bought the site for…” I think he bought it for $18,000, however long ago, a year ago, two years ago and the supplier had shut them off. The reason they shut them off was because he didn’t run a brick-and-mortar store, which is strange, but some suppliers won’t supply you unless you also have a brick-and-mortar.

So, we called the manufacturer and, basically said, “Hey, is there any way around this?” They said, “No, you have to have brick-and-mortar to do this.” So, literally, one phone call later, we called a similar store, that sold similar things in the area, up in Austin, and we opened the pitch, “Hey, we have this store that we want to sell things on and the supplier is not letting us sell it unless we have a brick-and-mortar store.” We said, “We don’t want to compete with you. Will you help us out?” And, they said, “Yes. You know, it’s too competitive already. We don’t want more competitors. We’ll help you out.” So, the supplier never said we had to own the store. So, we basically, kind of had a partnership, where there wasn’t a partnership. It was just, “We are going to use your store front location as kind of our [??].”

Andrew: I see.

Bill: So, we just use their location and then, we actually took things down to the store and my guy Jordan took pictures of it, of him in the store. Then, we sent them to the supplier and we said, “Here’s our store front.” So, then we were able to start selling on the store. And, I think it was last month or the month before, we were making $8000 on a store where it was making zero when we got it. We got it as a throw-in, in the package of stores.

Andrew: I see.

Bill: Yes. This is a lot of stuff and if you . . .

Andrew: What kind of stuff were you selling on the store?

Bill: We still sell stuff… I don’t want to give the specific one because the supplier doesn’t know that we…

Andrew: You don’t really have a store front?

Bill: Yes. Right.

Andrew: So, what kind of products are you selling on there?

Bill: We sell kind of every… On all our stores, we sell stuff from like baby products to furniture, to outdoor equipment.

Andrew: So, the store sells all that, that kind of variety?

Bill: No. No. No. It’s a certain niche store

Andrew: OK. What’s the niche?

Billy: Yeah. I just don’t want to give it up in case… Because it’s one product in particular, so…

Andrew: OK.

Billy: …people would know…

Andrew: What you’re saying, even if you talk about the kind of product, it would be so specific that you’ll give it away.

Billy: Yeah. It’s too specific, yeah.

Andrew: All right. Let me do a quick plug here and then I want to ask you a question. I want to ask you one final question. Basically, it will be for advice for me and other people who are in a similar business. But the plug is for Mixergy Premium, where if you’ve listened to this interview and you’ve said, “Hey, you know, I really admire what Billy did by building up his own membership site where his professional trainers teach poker.” If you say, “Hey, I’d like to create a membership site for myself, too,” I want you to know that if you’re a member of MixergyPremium.com, we’ve got courses where you can learn the basics of creating a membership site, including a course taught by Daniel Hemel of Endurance Nation, where he breaks down the process of creating a store… excuse me, a membership site.

We also have the founder of WishList Member… Actually, the same plug-in that we use here on Mixergy to run our site… Stu McLaren. He teaches how to get customers and how to keep them in there. And Noah Fleming who we hired, our consultant here at Mixergy, who helps us with retention. He teaches how to get your members to stay on as members longer.

So, basically, we’ve covered the big issues you’re going to need if you’re going to create a membership site. And if you’re already a Mixergy Premium member, just go to MixergyPremium.com and take those courses right now, and you’ll learn them directly from entrepreneurs who make their livings, who build their business in this space. And if you’re not a Mixergy Premium member, go to MixergyPremium.com. I guarantee, you’ll love it. MixergyPremium.com.

All right, Billy. So, I’m in the membership space. Hopefully, the person who just heard me right now is in the membership space or will be. Retention… Getting customers is something that we all talk about. In fact, that’s universal for all businesses, I think, how do you get customers? But retaining customers is different for the membership space than it is for, say, someone who’s selling furniture. What advice do you have for us, in the membership space, on how to keep our members longer?

Billy: I mean, for you specifically…

Andrew: You got something for me specifically?

Billy: Yeah.

Andrew: Oh, hit me.

Billy: I think you give too much away for free.

Andrew: OK.

Billy: And it’s good and bad, I think. It kind of creates this moat, because other people can’t really come into this space because you’re giving so much away. It’s like they couldn’t come in and give the same stuff away and have people pay for it. So it’s good in that sense. But I almost feel like… And I talk to a lot of people about this, because I love what you do with Mixergy and it’s awesome. And I always talk to people and they say, “Hey, do you have a Mixergy Premium?” And everyone I talk to who loves Mixergy doesn’t have one, because there is too much for free and they can’t even watch all the stuff you have for free.

And so I feel like you could retain all those members and get more members if you had less and almost… Something we do for BlueFire is we show like the first two minutes of a video, and if they’re interested they’ll sign up. Where, you’re giving it all away for free, which is awesome for people who want free stuff. But it’s almost too much, I think, in terms of… I feel like you could not only get more customers, but retain them longer because people stay on and then they see, “Oh, well, he’s giving all this stuff away for free. I don’t need to stay a member.”

Andrew: I see.

Billy: [??] because I talked to… A decent number of my friends are either entrepreneurs or want to be entrepreneurs, and every one of them–100% of them–watch Mixergy, and close to 0% have the premium. And the only reason is because, man, there is just too much for free. I can’t even watch that much. And that’s the biggest thing for Mixergy that I see. And like I said, it’s great because if I wanted to get in and compete with you, I would have a really hard time because it’s like you already have this huge moat and you’re giving it away for free. So I couldn’t offer the same content and charge for it because you’re kind of creating the moat with all that free stuff.

Andrew: You know what? You’re right. That is a big challenge, and frankly, even once you sign up for the membership part and you say, “OK, I didn’t have access to all these courses, but I got a ton of courses down that I have access. That’s a whole lot and how do I find the time for it?” Do you think I should, maybe, do something in addition to the content, like a community, and that becomes the thing that people pay for? Do you think that…? Is there a way to do it without scaling back the stuff that I give for free? Is there a way to add something to the paid members that would be more valuable, maybe, than the free stuff?

Billy: I don’t know. Off the top of my head, the one thing I can think of and I haven’t really thought it through, so I’m not sure if it makes sense, but if you did, maybe… And this works as kind of a win-win, too, for you… Is that, maybe, when guests come on, you do a free interview like you do for everyone and then maybe you’ll get people that agreed, right, because it’s good for me, it’s good for other people to come on, it gets people to know what we’re doing and our sites.

Maybe, you say, “Hey, in agreement for coming on, will you give me a 10 minute in-depth or a 15 minute in-depth, after the interview?” Then, immediately after this interview would close out, a popup screen would come out and say, “Hey. Here’s the questions that I got him to answer that were way more in-depth about this, this, and this.” So maybe, do it like a dive into a lot of like deep topics and stuff people don’t want to talk about. Maybe, some of that stuff, in terms of the learning, if you save that for “Hey, we have another 15 minutes under the premium channel, if you want to sign up and get this in-depth.”

Maybe, for example, for mine you would say, “Do you want to find out exactly the steps how he got on Fox News? Do you want to find out exactly how he recruited the pros?” And things like that, where other people would get very interested off certain topics. Then it wouldn’t be touched on in- depth enough to say how exactly would they do that, but the guest gives you 10-15 minutes to go extremely in-depth. So it’s a good trade for you and for them because you’re giving them the interview, which is great publicity, and then they’re giving you premium content. It’s a great up- sell, because they just heard that person, so they’re interested. They’re going to buy right then.

Andrew: That makes sense. That makes sense. I was even thinking, as you were talking about how you get specific answers for your members, from the pros, I thought, “Well, maybe we could even tie that into it, what you just suggested.” Have people bring their specific issues up, and I’ll ask it after the interview. That would only be for premium members.

Billy: Yeah, I wonder if there’s a way you could almost have this separate email or separate form for each interview, and any member who listens would sign up and say, “This is what I want to know.” Then the interview guest agrees to come back for however long, a 20-30 minute session, and you say, “Here’s the questions our members wanted to know. Would you be willing to answer these?” They come back, and you kind of have this agreement ahead of time, “If I bring you on for an interview, you got to help me out on the back end.”

So then your members will have not only specific questions answered, but as you know, probably a lot of people have the same exact questions. So they’re going to be issues in the same thing. There are maybe three or four questions where people will be, like, “I really want to know that, and could you go deeper?” Then you just have a bunch of free… It’s great for you, because you’re using the free thing.

Since you have a big enough brand at this point, you wouldn’t even have to pay people to come on. Like, you have free training. Except you get all the money, because you use the “Free” as leverage to get the guest on because you have a big audience. So you kind of use the free videos instead of your payment. It’s kind of like a marketing payment for them.

Andrew: You know what? I am so glad that I asked that question. The reason I asked a specific question like that is because earlier in the interview, I realized, of course, whenever I ask for specific help from entrepreneurs, as opposed to just saying, “Hey, how do I grow my business?” If I ask something specific like this, I get more useful information anyway. So that’s why I felt the pressure to come up with this specific question.

Billy: Right.

Andrew: Anyway, I’m glad I asked it. This is really helpful. So, thanks for doing this interview. I hope I get to meet you at some point in person. Until then, like everyone else, I’m going to go and check out your site, and I’m going to like them all to it, of course. It’s ForeverJobless.com, that’s Billy Murphy’s website, his blog where he’s going to be talking about business. The site that we’ve been talking about up until now is called BlueFirePoker.com, if you want to poke around there and see some of what we’ve been talking about.

Billy, it’s great to meet you. By the way, the reason you’re here is because your fans are insanely rabid. They are so good that they kept following up with me. First of all, they recommended you, then they recommended you again, then they recommended you again, and then they followed up and made sure that I connected with you, and I’m glad that they did.

Billy: Well, that’s a marketing strategy in itself, right? Trying to get, “Hey, will you tell Andrew to…”

Andrew: I was wondering, actually. So you did suggest that.

Billy: I had asked, I’m on a forum, and I said, “Hey, you know.” I think you and I had talked like two years ago and we had talked a little bit about BlueFire.

Andrew: I’ve got to search here in my inbox where I was looking for… Well, I don’t want to read any of the emails, but yeah.

Billy: One of us was traveling at different times, and we just never caught up. Then I emailed you back and said, “Hey, you know, now I’m in Austin and can do an interview. I just launched this blog, I’d love to come on.” Now you got so popular that it instantly goes to a “Hey, here’s where interviewing requests go,” and I said, “Oh, shoot. I don’t even have a direct contact to Andrew.” So on the forum, I said, “Hey, I’m thinking I might do that interview [??] that I was thinking to do a while ago.” So people, I think, tweeted you and messaged you, saying “Hey, you should have Billy on.”

Andrew: Yeah, actually, I saw that you or someone else recommended you in the forum that we used to suggest guests, but it didn’t come up until yesterday. I mean, we’re still working through that list of suggestions in order.

Billy: Oh, really?

Andrew: And it came up, maybe not yesterday, but this week, and when we saw it, I had to tell Andrea, “No, he’s already booked. He’s a great guest, you’re going to notice that you’re going to want to book him, but he’s already booked.” So we didn’t. But yeah, it is a lot harder to get on now because so many people have come on. That’s a clever idea, actually. That’s awesome

Billy: Yeah, thank you.

Andrew: All right, cool. Well, thanks for sharing that. Thanks for doing this interview. Thank you all for being a part of it.

Billy: Yeah, thanks a lot for having me on, Andrew.

Andrew: Cool.

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  • http://twitter.com/BillyMurph Billy Murphy

    meant to say “2nd tier pricing members get to pick the questions”

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    I didn’t notice. Fun catch.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Thanks, Dennis.

  • MakeItHappen

    Great interview!
    Actually i was one of Bluefires first customers.
    So i can absolutely confirm that Billy offered with his site GREAT value. He managed to get an absolute poker superstar on his coaching team which alone was a big USP but all the other coaches where also really great.
    Not only had Bluefire great value but they were able to show it to potential customers right away. Also it’s kinda funny… Billy could have charged 10x more per month and it would still be a great investment for any motivated and ambitious poker player.

    If you can apply the knowledge from this interview into your own business there is no reason why you couldn’t do what Billy did and i think that’s the great thing about it.

    I also what to say thanks to Andrew for choosing Billy as an interview partner. Great choice! I by the way also love the questions to ask. I remember your interview with

    Ryan Allis the founder of iContact which was as well a great interview with good questions. BTW i am wearing rubber bands like Ryan Allis because of this interview back then. ;)

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Thanks.

    BTW, find a way to tell Ryan what you’re doing. Ping him on Twitter or email or any other way. I think he’d be proud.

  • http://twitter.com/lpdelat PaintedTrim

    Billy, can you please speak a little more on evaluating risk, and not let emotions run amok. How to stand cool and logical even with fear, doubt, etc. Thanks man!

  • Avis

    Very inspirational interview, am trying to build a business from scratch. I learnt alot from your interview. Especially the part about hiring people to build the website and hiring coaches/team members.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sendohzk Cia Zhi Kai

    Another great interview as usual.

  • splok

    Thanks for the interview!

  • http://twitter.com/BillyMurph Billy Murphy

    Thanks Avis. Ya, outsourcing is a difficult, but important skill to learn.

  • http://twitter.com/BillyMurph Billy Murphy

    That is a really hard question to try and sum up in a paragraph or two. I actually have a very long post coming out on the blog on that subject within the next month or so. After it’s up, if you have any questions let me know.

  • http://twitter.com/BillyMurph Billy Murphy

    Thanks!

    Agreed- the value Mixergy provides is pretty absurd compared to others in the market. AND they charge less(and often free)

  • http://twitter.com/BillyMurph Billy Murphy

    Thanks Marc!

  • http://twitter.com/BillyMurph Billy Murphy

    I actually debated charging 10x as much. Since all the competitors were so much lower(we’re still the highest) I thought it’d be difficult to sell that to others. I think we may have been able to get 10% or more members to sign up at that price point, but overall a very different business model. Fwiw, I would rather start high, than start low though, so I think it would have been okay to try. I’ve seen others in many industries start too low, then try to raise prices and people take offense. Where, if you start high, you can lower much easier than the alternative.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Thanks.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Thank you.

  • sports_mike

    Billy, if I were you, I’d be more on the offense instead of defense when talking about the turnover on your coaches. To me, you’re like a sports team general manager who has superstars coming and going on your roster. Sometimes you need to change out players to build the team. It’s not about any one superstar player, but it’s about building the best team that you can with the money that you’ve got to spend.

    Your job is to improve the overall quality of the team for the money that people pay you. Sometimes that means you let a superstar go on to something else but that frees up money to back fill with new coaches. I think most sports fans can relate to that analogy.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    He’s been incredibly gracious, but I understand what you mean.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    I heard that was a possibility. I hope they work it out between them.

  • jr_sci

    Andrew, I totally agree with Billy. You can really scale up your premium membership with those in-depth ideas.

    @Billy: Your interview has more comments than any other inteviews of recent times. that proves it all. Good one man.

  • http://www.facebook.com/heathmont Tim Heath

    Billy – what was / is your mix of customers, US v rest of world? did you have considering releasing “foreign lang” videos? great interview btw.

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