Today I’ve got another interview in the $10K series. This is a series of interviews with entrepreneurs about their first $10,000 in sales. And today’s guest, like some of the others, has blown past $10,000.
I want to introduce you to a guy who breaks down tough concepts into short mottos that he lives by.
Bryan Harris, the founder of Videofruit, which creates videos that help companies grow their business.
Update: Here are the files Bryan talked about.
Bryan Harris, Videofruit
Bryan harris, the founder of Videofruit, which creates videos that help companies grow their business.
Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of mixergy.com. It is home of the ambitious upstart. And today I’ve got another interview in the $10K series. This is a series of interviews with entrepreneurs about their first $10,000 in sales. And today’s guest, like some of the others, has blown past $10,000, but I still want you to get to hear how he earned the first $10K.
And the interesting thing about today’s guest is he and I have actually known each other because he’s been in a Mixergy community for a long time. And I asked him what he gets out of listening to Mixergy, why he’s able to actually use it.
And a cool thing happened while he was telling me in private what he does with Mixergy interviews, he got an alert on his phone. I said, what’s the alert about? He says, you know, I get an alert every day with my motto for my current obsession for the year.
And I realized that that’s why he gets so much out of Mixergy interviews and out of so much of life. He takes really complicated ideas, and he breaks them down into formulas. And then he further condenses them down into mottoes that he reminds himself of with this alert on his phone. And I wouldn’t be surprised, as we got to know him, with visuals around his office.
All right. So I’ve talked him up too much. Let me just get right into the introduction here so we can hear his story. The entrepreneur is Bryan Harris. He’s the founder of Videofruit. They create videos that help companies grow their businesses.
One of my favorite kind of videos that they create are those explainer videos that, again, take tough concepts and make them easier to understand so that your potential clients understand why they should be working with you.
He also happens to teach a course that offers step-by-step formulas to help you grow your business using videos. We’ll hear about how he built that business. I’ll pry and ask him really challenging questions about where his revenue comes from. We’ll see how much we can find out and how much revenue he has.
And it’s all thanks to my friend, Scott Edward Walker. He is the entrepreneur’s lawyer. If you’re looking for a lawyer and you’ve got a start-up, check out walkercorporatelaw.com. Bryan, welcome.
Bryan: Welcome. I kind of fell into a trance there. I thought I was watching a podcast at this point for a minute. I didn’t realize I am actually being interviewed. This is an honor, Andrew.
Andrew: Well, thank you. It’s good to have you on here. And you know, I’ve got a really nice breakdown because you and I did a pre-interview of how you built this up. And I love the step-by-step process that we’ll take in this interview. But none of it would have happened if not for this job that you had before, and your request of them about SEO. What was that?
Bryan: Yes. And this was, I guess, late 2012, maybe September of 2012. We had come from [TD]. I had been there a year, and I ran the e-commerce division of the company. It was an engineering firm that specialized in conveyor. And we were switching websites.
They had an old archaic website that was completely static. But we had 10,000 skews in inventory that we wanted to sell on our site. And we had good traffic up front. So I’d convinced them to upgrade. We were going to Magento and WordPress and had this nice new site. And I warned them, I said, hey guys, you need to hire an SEO firm. Because I don’t know anything about it. I’ll just be upfront, you know, to make sure all your rankings don’t go down. And they didn’t. And they went down.
Andrew: They didn’t, and because of that, where are they now on search results?
Bryan: Oh, I looked a couple of weeks ago, and they were page 20= plus on several of their high priority keywords. I mean they were completely off the grid. But they’re number one on Google AdWords which means they’re spending 5/10 bucks a click right now on that very competitive keyword.
Andrew: So it must be very frustrating. You’re working a company. They hire you because they trust you, but they still aren’t listening to what you’re saying. And that’s one of the reasons why many people decide, hey, I’m going to go be an entrepreneur. Is it that they were cash constrained, or did they have money to spend on the site?
Bryan: No, I think they oversimplify that. They oversimplified what it took to get to number one in Google. Honestly. And it’s way more complex, and it gets more complex every day. And that happened to the day we launched the site. Within a week or so, Penguin or Panda, or whichever one was out in early 2013 hit, which hurt them even further, because they were doing tons of black hat techniques.
Just like any business owner needs to be cocky and think they know everything, you know. To a degree, you have to have that element to push back the resistance and the negativity. But they had that to a fault in a lot of areas.
And what it does is kill their ability to hire really good people and to keep them, because I don’t want to work in an environment where you don’t listen to the things I’m good at. And you put me in charge of something but you’re not going to listen to me when I give you advice on how to improve it.
In any company, you’re going to have that to a degree, because somebody else owns it. But when it happens time and time and time and time again, and negative result after negative result after negative result, eventually you’re just, like, yeah, it’s, like, this isn’t the place for me. Like I got to leave.
Andrew: And by the way, while you’re feeling this, you still couldn’t leave. We’re going to hear about part of this story while you were still there. One last thing about this before we talk about the moment that you decided to take off with this business. The buy buttons. What happened to that?
Bryan: We had spent all this money. We had spent $30,000 plus. Because, not only did we have to inventory all these 10,000 skews. Because basically we had a big, literally an excel table on the website that listed some stuff out. But we had over 10,000 items we were selling. It was a complete nightmare. There’s no way you’re ever going to sell all of that.
So we put all this time and energy. We got another warehouse. We moved 100+ trucks of inventory over there. Cataloged everything with a bar code as it went in. We spent tons of effort. Tons of manhours doing it. We get ready to launch the site and we get an email from the owner saying, hey, I want you take all of the BuyNow buttons off of the website. So nobody can physically buy anything on the website anymore. We’re selling high dollar products. It’s all 1 to 2,000 plus all the way up to 100,000.
We’d probably sell half of our inventory under $1,000. But people don’t want to call you for it. They don’t want to do it. So, that just was completely… What’s the down side of leaving them? It’s just stuff like that, constantly. It just didn’t make any sense at all.
Andrew: Okay. A small taste of what was going on over there. And then, you read an article by Tim Ferriss. A repeat Mixergy interviewee back in May, 2012. What was the article about?
Bryan: Yeah. This was before the website launched and everything. But, the annoyance factor had started to creep up. Several things had happened and you know. Just a little bit of discomfort. I’ve always been an entrepreneurial type of guy.
So I read this Tim Ferriss article and it was written by Chad Moretta [??]. He broke down the process of how he built iPhone apps. He laid out the process, talked about how he mocked them up, how he hired a programmer and marketed them and that whole process.
So we’re sitting back in our back office cubicle and a buddy walks in. We were slow at the time. He said, hey man, we ought to build an iPhone app. I said, really? Well, that’d be cool. So let’s do it. Then we started on the process of building it. I think three months later, that was like April or May of 2012 Around August I think we had wound up launching two of them at the same time. Which is a terrible mistake. Both of them completely bombed. I think they cost $1200 a piece and we made maybe $800 total back on them.
Andrew: That’s not a complete bomb. $1200 and you bring in $800. That’s not bad at all. I mean especially for a first one. What was interesting to me, and we talked about this before the show, was the process that Chad took is what opened your eyes. You used to think, I have to create everything or else I’m not a creator. Chad and Tim Ferris opened your eyes to what?
Bryan: Yeah, it opens your eyes to something. It’s another principal that I’ve always known. I’ve been in construction sales for a while. I was selling wood packages to houses to building contractors. So the concept exists in that industry that if you’re a general contractor that doesn’t mean that you are the guy out there laying the concrete or swinging the hammer. You hire people to do that.
And I just never connected the dots on programming and building online applications or iPhone apps or anything. I never connected the dots of using that theory, but using it to make iPhone apps. And Chad, whenever I saw that article everything just synced in line. I had another one of those epiphanies later coming to video which it just for some reason didn’t connect in my brain.
But this light bulb went off and I thought, hey all I have to do is be able to write a blueprint. If I were to use housing terminology. But I can give somebody a blueprint and go hire a builder. I’m basically a general contractor for this application. That’s what we did with those two apps. We wound up building two more just a few months later that wound up doing really well and still do good today.
Andrew: Lets go slowly because I really want to understand this, and not blow past this first experience. You read an article. Unlike most people, you’re a doer and you took action on it. The article showed you how to be a guy who creates a blueprint and has someone else build the app for you. You said that you blew it.
Let’s talk about what you did right. And then what you wish you would have done differently. Because I want to learn from what you did right. How did you get an app that was in your head, blueprinted, and out the door?
Bryan: Oh, man. I still have this sketched notebook paper. One of the coolest things you can ever do, whether you make money on it or not, is to have an idea. Draw it. And then X number of days later for it to be a real thing. Like when you build a house. That’s a cool process. When you walk in there. You see a blueprint. And then six months later, you are living in this thing. That’s just really cool.
So doing that in business, I had never done from scratch to that before. So I literally took a notebook piece of paper. I think we used a white board at the time. We stayed after work or we did it over lunch or something. We were brainstorming ideas of what we would do.
At the time there was an app. I can’t think of the name of it now. But it was really popular. You would guess logos. So, it would have a portion of a logo up there, and a portion of it removed. You would type in what you thought it was.
Andrew: This was the iPhone app that you created.
Bryan: That was one that was popular at the time. We wanted to do something similar. We figured if people liked guessing logos then we’ll do slogans
Bryan: So we did. We [??] slogans so, “just do it”, we would have just, and then a space for do it. We came up with a list of a thousand of them and put it into a game form and it was a really cool idea and the concept was proven. I still don’t know why I didn’t succeed. I’m not sure on that. But the process is really cool, of drawing it.
And I literally used Keynote, and once I drew it on a piece of paper I used Keynote and [??] a Keynote template, I think Keynotopia. [??], put them together and you literally just drag and drop and make it exactly how you want it to look on your phone, every screen of it.
Andrew: So, sketch it out on a piece of paper, get Keynotopia using Keynote and you can actually today use Keynotopia with Powerpoint but the point of it is you use two apps, either Keynote or Powerpoint, to design what your app is supposed to look like.
And they just let you drag and drop the elements, the drop down menus, the buttons, et cetera, So you can give it a nice look without having to be a designer. You create that, you add some instructions and then you pass that on to a developer, am I right?
Bryan: Yeah, it’s all about the specs, it’s all about how well you can communicate. So if you can draw them every aspect of what this thing looks like. I would shoot a video with me with Keynote on the screen and me talking and walking them through. I click this button, I want this to happen, I want this animation to occur.
So your application is as good as you can describe it to somebody else and once you have that package it’s a matter of going to any number of sites and finding somebody that’s good and going through the interview process of finding somebody…
Andrew: Do you still have the spec sheet?
Bryan: I believe I do, yeah I saved almost everything so I’m pretty sure I do.
Andrew: So if someone asked you for it in the comments would you feel comfortable sharing it with them?
Bryan: Yeah, even if I don’t have that particular app I do have quite a few that I have designed since that I can send along. Because that’s really cool to see. Seeing Chad’s really helped, I don’t know if he shared his original mockup but those really are effective.
Andrew: One of the reasons why I want to see those is because I like the way that you think and I think that you think in an organized way. So I’m not pretending that what you’re sending out is the perfect example of how to do things and that you wouldn’t adjust it if you could look at it. What I’m suggesting is that it’s going to be a good example of how this process is done and if someone in the audience can just ask for it in the comments I’d love for you to link him up if you feel comfortable, cool?
Bryan: Absolutely, and you can use it for anything you see on the computer, a website, an application, anything. You can use that exact same method for it.
Andrew: And the part that I’m really good at is understanding your process. The part that I can never communicate is the details of the actual spec sheet. And if we can see your spec sheet, we can see what you’re thinking. Do you describe what a button looks like or do you just leave the image? Do you have a text that says it? How long is the text? All that stuff, if we see that actual spec sheet, I think it will be helpful.
So it only cost you $1200 to get this thing going. You put it up in the app store. You said: “I can see what worked”. Tell me one thing that you wish you’d done differently, now that you’re more experienced, you’ve learned and you can pass on to my audience.
Bryan: It’s to be weary of partnerships. I’m really good friends and still am with the guy I developed the app with. But I think Paul Graham said that being in a partnership is like being married but without the sex. It’s like that but maybe worse, because your philosophies on everything have to line up. You can’t just have an urge and go do it. You have to pass it by somebody now.
Everything gets watered down if you’re not careful and that’s one of the first times I’ve ever had a partnership so it probably still wouldn’t have done well so I’m not blaming it on that, I’m just saying that was a contributing factor.
Andrew: Give me an example of something that got watered down because you had a partner?
Bryan: Promotions. So the second app we did was the caption app, and that just allowed people to [??] in a picture. We had a group of pre-populated captions that were kind of funny and you could post it right to Facebook or Twitter or whatever. So just the design of the app, you know, I had something I really liked and wanted to run with.
Everything takes like five times longer because you have to text it over: “Do you like this? Okay, Let’s do it”. It increases your workload a lot. and if I had to do it again I would be in charge of design, he would be in charge of promotion. Leave me alone on design, I’ll leave you alone on promotion. Just having clear defined roles, and neither of us knew what we were doing. Doing it again without the knowledge would probably turn out the exact same way. But that’s just something to be mindful of.
The second thing is just promotion of your app. You need to have a plan on how you’re going to actually get people to download it. Just uploading it to the app store probably isn’t good enough. Now, you might turn into Flappy Birds, and you literally have no idea. You turn on your bank account the next day and you made fifty thousand dollars. But that most likely, 99.9% of the time, isn’t going to happen. So if not, what are you going to do? And we didn’t have a plan for that.
Andrew: All right, this is really good advice. One is if you’re going to have a partner think about what the responsibilities are going to be when you get started so that you’re not both second guessing each other, and the other is think about ways of getting customers other than just being in the app store. Do I have that right?
Andrew: Okay. Great. So that didn’t exactly set you free from the job that you weren’t happy with. It didn’t set you on the path to wealth and to be on Mixergy but it was another step towards it. The next step was, let me see if I can take a look here. Was the next thing that you did, was it the Web apps or was it the Five O’clock Club?
Bryan: Yeah, yeah. Email-O (sp?) and Gmail-O (sp?) were the two next steps.
Andrew: The next ones.
Andrew: So this is your decision to step away from the app store and go into the broader internet with web apps.
Andrew: How’d you get the idea for the two apps that we’re going to be talking about now? The two web applications?
Bryan: So Truelo had come out, truelo.com. It’s a cool project. It’s on the net. If you don’t use it now, I’d recommend it. It did come out some time in the recent past. I don’t remember the exact dates, but I was using it for work stuff at my current job.
I was using it to manage those apps we built. We were using just as a to- do list, project manager. But one really big paying point was, all of these contractors we had hired and even amongst our own communication, we’re getting all of these emails but we couldn’t tie it up into our project management Trello at all.
At the time, Trello had no way to send email to their application. So a good friend of mine is an enterprise level software developer. And we had always looked for opportunities to work together. Nothing has really ever synced up before but I was just talking to him about Trello, and I was like, “Hey, man. This is one big pain point that I have.” And at the time, and I think they still do. Trello has an open board for all of their development.
And you can see all of the features that people have suggested, the ones that are up to be developed, the ones that are in development and the ones that have been launched. And you can go in and literally see, they voted. Once they put a card in there of ‘I want email to Trello integrations,’ people would vote whether they like it or not.
So I think at the time, there were 600 maybe 1,000 people had voted for it. And I was like hey, I have the problem, somebody else has the problem. I like it, let’s build it. So we wound up building, I think, Gmail-O came first. And Gmail-O is a chrome extension that you install and it puts a little button, right beside your compose button that says “add to Trello.”
So you click and email, click add to Trello, it gives you a pop-up, you hit OK and it sends it off to your Trello board so it really expedites your workflow. You get all of those outsource contractor emails and all of our stuff into Trello to use.
Andrew: Okay. I like that you validated this. That you didn’t just say I have this problem. Great. The rest of the world must be the same. You validated it. Why did you decide to go with a Chrome application first?
Bryan: That’s what I wanted. I wanted a button in Gmail. I thought that would work for me.
Andrew: So that’s the first thing you released and then, how did that go?
Bryan: It went well. It wound up, I think the peak of its revenue was around $400 to $500 a month. As a recurring monthly fee, I think it’s $5 a month. I’d have to go to the website to see. We don’t manage that a lot anymore. It kind of just runs itself. We update bugs every now and then as Gmail kind of changes their UI. But besides that, it just kind of is a self-running thing.
But just about a couple weeks after that, we started getting a lot of emails that saw Gmail-O and said ‘hey, I want a way that I can just do it on my phone. That I can do it if I have Safari or Firefox.’ It was a Chrome only extension. And we were thinking about maybe we’ll make an Outlook plug-in, a Safari plug-in, a Firefox plug-in.
Now you have all these things that are doing $400 or $500 a month which is decent, but you’ve got to support all that. So now we had the idea, why don’t we make a web app and we’ll give you a custom email address for each of your Trello lists so you can name it what you want.
You can do whatever, so if you’re on your phone, you can just forward your email to this address. Kind of like EverNote does, and I’m sure DropBox and YouTube, WordPress, does it, where you can send posts via email. Especially that concept just for Trello. So we built that app really quick. I think that app costs 500 bucks. We outsourced all of that.
Andrew: 500 bucks is all it costs you to build that.
Bryan: Yes. So 500 bucks and Harris, my partner, put up the website for it and has done some backend stuff, but I mean less than 10 hours in a year and a half. Not much at all.
Andrew: That’s fantastic. OK. Gmail-O, how much did that cost you?
Bryan: Gmail-O was $200 or $300.
Andrew: $200 or $300 for Gmail-O. $500 for Email-O. Let me just, before I get into what the revenue is today for it, I want to explain because, I think most people in the audience know Trello but I get so bothered when I don’t understand what’s in an interview and no one explains it so I’ll tell you this.
Trello, it’s basically this collection of cards that are each organized. It’s a web app that gives you a collection of cards that each organized by column and you can decide what each column represents and you can add as many cards as you want.
So for us at Mixergy, we have a column of to-do that Anne Marie has for herself. We have a column with the one most important thing that we need to do, and there’s just one card on that. So this week it’s we have to talk to customers and ask them why they signed up.
We have another column with suggested guests that we can’t invite right now because we’re too booked. And so every time we have another guest idea and we can’t ask them to come on right now, we add a card underneath that column that says, get that guest in.
The problem is every time we want to add a card, like, let’s suppose you mentioned, I don’t know, Chad Moretta, and I hadn’t ever had him on, I would have to go into Trello and log in and then add a card under potential guests and type it in myself.
Versus I live in email. Maybe the request to have Chad on comes to me from email, all I would have to do is forward it to an address that you give me and it automatically pops under the right column in Trello. That is an amazing idea.
It’s a simple idea and it costs you under $1,000 to do it today. We’re now fast-forwarding to March, 2014. Roughly, what kind of revenue do you get from that?
Bryan: They’re just over $1,000 of recurring revenue a month coming in. And I’ve added a third app in there. It’s a MAC desktop app that sits in your menu bar, so you don’t have to have a web browser. You don’t have to email at all.
Andrew: You did that, too? I saw that.
Bryan: Oh, yeah.
Andrew: When I got into Trello, I got obsessed with Trello as soon as I signed up for it. I saw that. I didn’t realize that was you. Okay.
Bryan: Quick Trial actually doesn’t do as well. I think it does about $300 a month. The thing is, I haven’t promoted it. These things could be optimized so much better. I’ve thought of selling them off just because I feel a little guilty because I’m not taking care of them as well as they need to be.
But, yeah, I mean it’s the same thing. You start with a mockup, and you draw it, and you write a spec and you send it to a guy who can build it. All of those are, combined total, I think all of those wound up being $1,000 a month. They cost about $1,000 to develop all three of those applications. Combined revenue per month is around $1,200 to $1,400 a month for each one of those now.
Andrew: For each one. Wait. So overall.
Bryan: For all three.
Andrew: For all three. Okay. I want to be clear about that.
Andrew: So every month you make more than it costs you to make them?
Andrew: Okay. And this is not a hic, but it’s another step forward in the evolution? Right?
Bryan: Oh, yeah. Yep. Stacking bricks.
Andrew: Stacking bricks. Right. The idea of stacking bricks means what?
Andrew: It’s making sure everything you do in business stacks on top of each other. Making sure it’s either a principle or a skill. You could’ve done it before, but then it just builds on each other.
So if you’re building iPhone apps today and you go start a crossfit gym tomorrow, there’s probably not a lot of overlap in that. And the more fine- tuned you get with your long-term vision for yourself and your business you’re doing, the more you’ll see those things converge on top of each other, where you’re really stacking on top.
In the beginning, I don’t think there’s any way to literally go vertical. Because you don’t know. You might have an idea, but when I was doing, building Bustacap, that second app, the iPhone app that busted. Like I had no idea how to make the videos today. Literally, no clue.
But I tell you what, a ton of the skills I used in building Bustacap are completely relevant to this. So whether it’s a skill or a principle you’re building on, making sure everything you do is stacking. And the better you get, the more relevant everything you do will be to each other.
Andrew: Okay. And the reason I wanted to pause and emphasize that, to really highlight it is because, at the top of the interview, where I said that you absorb a lot of knowledge from the internet and from good people. And you come up with a small motto for yourself that you repeat.
This is one of those mottoes that you just kept repeating over and over again, stack the bricks. And it comes from Amy Hoy. We want to give her credit. I love Amy Hoy. There’s so many people out there who are charlatans without really good knowledge behind them who pretend that they know everything, and blog and they sell stuff. And they basically mislead people.
Amy Hoy is good people. She’s a real developer with real knowledge. And she’s so good that she’s never going to make the hundreds of millions of dollars that other people do who will rip you off. But she’s also never going to be on saltydroid, for example, the site that catches scam artists.
She’s really good. And so you take that idea, that stack the bricks, and you just keep repeating it to yourself like a mantra. Right? Stack the bricks.
Bryan: Yeah, absolutely.
Andrew: If you ever had a go creative crossfit gym idea, you’d break yourself of that quickly because you keep repeating to yourself, stack the bricks. Am I right? I interrupted you, but I want to make sure that I’m accurate here.
Bryan: Oh, no. Absolutely. I literally have it sent to me in a text message every day at 7:00 a.m. So I use it, this, then that. And every day at 7:00, it takes me that to remind me. So I usually have a yearly thing like that. I’ve been doing that for a couple of years.
And it just kind of gives you focus and makes sure that, you know, you’re kind of going the direction you want to go. It’s kind of like setting goals, except it’s more kind of generalized.
Andrew: Perfect. And I’m glad also that you said that it’s not a perfect stack. We’re not talking about every single thing has to fit exactly like Lego pieces that are perfectly aligned.
We understand that there’s some process of trying to figure out where you’re going in life, and along the way you’re going to go a little bit sideways. But I see how everything that you’re doing is building. Actually, before we go on to the next point, I have to say that this whole interview is sponsored by Scott, as I said at the top of the interview. Scott Edward Walker, is entrepreneurs lawyer.
You can make mistakes when you’re building apps, and, you can cover yourself. You can make mistakes when you are writing a blog post, and, you can always go back, and, edit it, but, there’s certain business mistakes that are really too expensive to undo. If you’re going to be in business, and you’re going to get a lawyer you want a lawyer whose seen those mistakes. You want a lawyer who can protect you from them. That’s why I recommend, Scott Edward Walker, of Walker Corporate Law.
If you’re curious about him. If you’re in the market for a lawyer go check out walkercorporatelaw.com. You can always email him too. Tell him that I sent you. He and I are friends. His email is email@example.com.
Bryan: I more thing before we move past that is, Hiten Shah, he tweeted this the other day. He said, experience informs intuition. Gary Vaynerchuk, always talks about trusting your gut.
I think those are two really important things especially as far as the stacking brick concept, is that the more experience you get the more you should listen to your gut. Even if it doesn’t make logical sense sometimes to do something, sometimes you just need to do it, and, things will happen. I’ve found that many times in the last two years is really good.
Andrew: Then we come to December 2012, right. These apps were in October 2012. December 2012 you go to something called the 5 O’clock Club?
Bryan: Yeah. The Five Club.
Andrew: Five Club. What’s the Five Club?
Bryan: John Acuff, is a local Nashvillian. I live in Nashville, Tennessee. He’s a New York Times best-selling author. At the time he worked for, Dave Ramsey, and, was in his speaking group, and, wrote a blog, a couple of popular blogs. He had written several books, and, spoke for, Dave Ramsey.
He had tweeted out. I’ve followed him, and, I don’t think I’d ever met him before, but, he just sent out an email one day that said, “Hey guys. I want to meet at 5 o’clock because fear hasn’t woken up yet. I want to meet at 5 o’clock, and, just talk about what you got going on.” So, I drove out there.
Andrew: Wait, because fear hasn’t gotten up yet. What does that mean?
Bryan: He said, start whatever you’re doing at 5:00 because fear doesn’t wake up at 5 o’clock. You can’t even put your shorts on yet at 5 o’clock much less be scared about what will happen if, which is, like, the ultimate paralysis. Just get up at the butt crack of dawn, and start working.
You’ll be half way through your day before you even realize what’s happening before you can second guess yourself. I literally still get up at 5 o’clock every day, and, do that. That’s really good.
He wanted to have a meet up just randomly on a Friday in December. I think it was like the week before Christmas, and, I show up, and, there were, like, a 100 people there. I thought there might be 10, or, 15. There’s 100 folks there. I was, like, wow, and, it was really good. John, spoke, and, then we had break out groups, and talked. I mean, very laid back, just hanging out, meeting other people in Nashville doing cool stuff.
I went home from that meeting, and, over the next couple weeks I was getting a lot done by waking up early. So, I had an idea that I would make an app for John that was branded in his name, and, everything, but, it would be called the Five Club app. Every morning at 5 o’clock it would enable, just has a big red check. You can still download it in the app store, just type in Five Club app, or, John Acuff. It comes up on either.
At 5 o’clock, 5:00 on the dot it opens. At 5:01 it disables, and, you can’t use the app at all. You can check in, and, it registers you as being up at 5o’clock. You can comment on people’s statuses, and, stuff, but, super simple. I mocked it up just like I had the four other apps that I’d built.
At the January Five Club I took it to him. I said, “Hey, man. I want to make this for you, and I want to talk about it on the Dave Ramsey Show. I want you to talk about it at conferences you talk to. I want to be your thing, but, I’ll support it.” He was, like, “That’d be great, man.”
The app costs I think it was $1,000, or $1200 to build. That came out of my pocket. He didn’t pay me to build it, or, anything. Yeah. That was the Five Club. I thought at the time in January of 2013 when I was getting ready to build this, Gary Vaynerchuk, was starting to brainstorm a name for his new book, which came out this past fall. The name winded up being Jab, Jab, Jab Right Hook.
Well, early on he had sent out a tweet where he was trying to figure out what the name should be, and, at the time he was thinking he would name it, Ask, Ask, Ask [??]. He would name it, Give, Give, Give, Ask, which is the same concept. It’s the concept in his book. It’s the idea of giving value, giving value, giving value, and, then someday asking for something in return, and, not being ashamed of that when you do.
So I wanted to use that concept on John of giving something. One day down the line, perhaps, there could be some benefit for me, but, that isn’t the main point of getting something out of him, but, he has a big platform. He has a big audience, and, if he shares that my names all over it, and, I’m trying to start this app company. I’ve built four apps in the last eight months then I can probably get a lot of business out of this.
So that was kind of the thinking behind doing it for free, using, John. It was a [??] I believed in. You shouldn’t just go pick some random person you don’t know to do it. It was somebody I had a connection with, although, very loosely, and, I wanted to kind of have him behind me.
Andrew: All right and so he says, “Yes! You go and create it.” The app makes sense to me the way you described it, but you can’t describe it this way to everybody. So what do you do?
Bryan: He sent me an email and said, “Hey Bryan…” This was in April I think? He had done this big Time Square kickoff party. They drove a bus up there and rented several of the big billboards around time square and were having a kickoff party for the book and the week before that, he sent me an email and said, “Hey, I’m getting ready to throw down the blog.”
He has several hundred thousand readers and emailed it out to everybody. I was like, “Hey man, before you do that, let me make a video for you, just explaining what the app does. Because some people probably don’t get it and I’ll make it short, 30 seconds, and be cool.”
So I started trying to make the video and a decade ago when I was in college, I had made a couple of videos that were very much just homemade jobs and I was like, it can’t be that hard, but for his blog and his readership and the direction I was going in the beginning of 2013 of having a very app-centric business, I wanted to make sure it was really good.
So after two to three days of hacking around on it trying to get something that looked good, I came to the conclusion that it was absolutely terrible. It really just sucked. That was like a Friday.
Well, Saturday comes and I think the blog post was going out on Tuesday, so it was just a few days away and I had nothing and I didn’t want tell him, “Hey man, about that video, I can’t do it.” I was sitting in my chair, in my living, my wife had gone to a baby shower and I had an epiphany. I should apply to making this video the same process I use to making these apps.
So with making an app, we’ve already talked about that, you do a mock up, you write a big spec, and you hire somebody to build it. Just do the same thing for your video. So I went out and found a video that I liked, mocked it up, wrote a spec on it and hired a guy to build it for me.
Within a day or maybe it was two days, I had this video for $30 that looked really, really good and I’ll give you a link to it and you can show people what it looks like. I knew how hard it was to create a video and I knew I just spent 30 bucks and just less than 48 hours and had this killer video and it was just a light bulb and I was like all right.
My experience is I’ve been around entrepreneurs for a while, my intuition was fairly good, so I trusted myself that the idea of making videos this way…other entrepreneurs jut need to be doing this because explainer videos can really help your product and service, but the barrier to entry is they cost five to ten grand on the low side. I can show you how to make one for $30. I need to tell people about that.
Andrew: And so, that’s the epiphany. You do it, he has it and now it’s actually time to get some money off this. April 2013 is when you built this video for 30 bucks. You decide, I’m going to start doing this for other people and you got your first client around there? Is that right?
Bryan: Yeah, I just happened to be on Facebook, I think it was that same weekend I was building this app and I think it was all fresh in my mind. I was excited about it. It was kind of another level of excitement. I just knew this was something. My gut was telling me this is good and I was on Facebook and a buddy of mine, I had no idea, but he had started an ad agency, a PR firm. I grew up in Mobile, Alabama and a guy that lived there; he was running his mayoral campaign, to try and put him in office as the next mayor of Mobile and had a very long shot of getting it.
I mean, the odds the demographic; everything was stacked against him and I saw that I was like hey these videos are really cool. He just talked about them launching an app for this mayoral candidate. Let me email him and see if he wants an app for this video.
So I emailed him and said, “Hey man, I can make these cool videos for you and put it in your Facebook campaign and email it out. So he did, I think I charged him $500 for it and it was the exact same template I just used for the one that I had just made for John and then we started a relationship.
We had made 20 or 30 more videos after that between April and September for his candidacy, we put on Facebook and email and the guy ends up getting elected and the guy is now the mayor of Mobile. I wound up signing a freelance contract with them for managing their social media campaign, which we did some really cool and fun stuff throughout it. Yeah, one thing after another lead…
It’s the stacking bricks concept, you know? Just one thing kind of rolled onto the other and that was my first. My first Videofruit sale as a video and my first freelance contract as Videofruit as well.
Andrew: There’s a blog post on some of the social media things that you guys did and one key fun idea that you did to help him get elected or your friend did. It’s on blog.videofruit.com.
One of the things I love about your blog, Bryan, you take concepts like this and you take stories like the way that this politician became mayor and you break it down into simple formulas that other people can apply and that are actually, even if you don’t apply them, they just help us understand the process that someone else went through. And actually, it’s called the Letterman Formula. That’s the name you gave it.
Bryan: Yeah, yeah.
Bryan: Yeah, so . . .
Andrew: I’m Googling as we are talking to make sure that I’ve got the right one.
Bryan: Yeah, I tweeted this out after I posted. That’s probably my thing I’m most proud of, minus all of the ads from Videofruit. That little campaign we had there was just really cool. It was fun.
Andrew: You have kind of an- I don’t know if I’d call it Infographic, but a formula graphic on there. What does that cost you to make?
Bryan: I make it myself, in Keynote.
Andrew: Keynote is fantastic.
Bryan: Keynote for everything. Thenounproject.com. Nathan Berry[SP] told me about that. Actually, I read it in his book. You can download cool icons on there for cheap or free, so I just came up with a basic template in Keynote, and I make it in 10 to 15 minutes right before I [??]. . .
Andrew: Thenounproject.com is where we can get that.
Bryan: Good resource.
Andrew: So, I’m curious. If it costs you thirty bucks to make a video, what do you end up selling it for?
Bryan: It depends. Now I do several different types of videos, but an explainer video can take on many shapes or forms, so if you want something super-custom, where you have some ideas and a story-board of your own, and we’re going to build it from scratch, the most expensive one I’ve ever done was three thousand dollars.
Now, that exact same video, if you take it to somebody that is explainervideos.com or somebody like that, it’s going to cost you at least five thousand dollars. I think Tim Ferriss spent fifty thousand plus on the launch of his chef book a year or so ago. So, they have a vast range. My product and services cover a specific niche of people who can’t spend that much.
I have the course that you can buy that teaches you to do them exactly like I do. I have tons of free information on the blog. You can probably piece it together just off of that. But if you want the really targeted, super- detailed version of how I build apps and build video, they’re basically the same, then you can do that. It walks you through that process. You can build on for thirty bucks or $100.
Andrew: So here’s one example that I have from before. By the way, I went from using the web to research everything so that I can add more detail to your story to suddenly, as soon as you talked about the noun project, I’m now clicking around on all of the frickin’ icons. I’ve just bookmarked it so I can shut that down.
Bryan: They’re really good.
Andrew: You told me before we started, I’m going to give one example. Video, thirty bucks, and you told me who you sold it to for $500. Is that typical, or is that unusual, and that’s why you told me? To kind of blow my mind?
Bryan: No, that’s kind of a going rate. I mean . . .
Andrew: Thirty bucks to make it, using a site like [??] et cetera, five hundred bucks is what someone will pay for it.
Bryan: Thirty dollars is probably on the low end of what they cost. Probably the most expensive one I’ve done was one for Quicktrailapp.com [SP], that’s the Mac-based Trello app. There’s an explainer video on that site, and that one cost $200. I didn’t have a template file to base it on.
I just took Apple’s video for G-mail. Or no, it’s the new tab system they set up, you know, where they have the promotional tabs and all that, so I took that video. I loved the style. I found my own music to it from audiojungle, and then, there was no template to base it on, but I just did screenshots of the entire video and said, “Hey. On this screenshot, I want this. On this screenshot, I want this.” I paid a guy. And that one was $200.
I would have probably sold that for around eight to nine hundred, had I done that custom for somebody. And all of that is on the low end. I’ve been charging less to get business, because I’m in the beginning. My long-term, Videofruit’s long-term, isn’t in being a massive explainer video production house. That probably isn’t where it will go.
Andrew: You’re not going to compete with Lee LeFever and his site?
Bryan: Yeah, I have a buddy who runs a little dragon, and he’s a legit video guy. There’s a massive skill set in doing that and doing that very well. I totally respect that. There’s a massive place for those people.
But for people who are building an app for the first time, they can’t afford. . . they can’t even touch that guy. They’re not even in the ballpark of him. But for a couple hundred bucks, you can. I mean, Quicktrail’s app sales increased by two hundred percent when I put a video on the front page. I couldn’t have paid five thousand dollars for somebody to do it, but I can pay two hundred, or I can pay thirty.
It’s focusing on people who are listening to this, who are in the cubicle stuck like me. Those are the people who need an explainer video the most, but can’t afford it. So this is a way to get it cheaply, and get all of the effects of it.
Andrew: Okay. I can see how you make one for yourself, and you see that sales go up, so you understand the value of it. I can see how you sell it to someone else and you understand the value of it. You do not, though, want to be in the business of creating videos. It’s not your passion. It’s something that you happened to get into because of the Five O’clock Club that you are part of. Excuse me, I keep calling it Five O’clock. The Five Club.
Bryan: There you are.
Andrew: So then you take another step toward getting you to here, where you are today. We’ll find out what that means for revenue, what that means as a business overall, but that next step is a course. But you don’t create the course where you teach people how to make videos. You do what instead?
Bryan: Yeah, so this totally comes from Noah Kagan, monthlyonek.com. If you’re in this boat, that’s a really good place. Literally you don’t need more knowledge than that. If you’re looking for more knowledge you’re just delaying a press. One thing Noah teaches is validating what you do and that’s huge.
We kind of did that accident with gmail and email. I didn’t know that’s what I was doing. We saw there was demand, we saw there were people looking for it, so we built it. In explainer videos we were the same way with (?). I went into the monthlyonek Facebook. I think, at the time, there were a couple hundred people in there. It was pretty early in that process.
There’s three or four thousand people in there now. So I went in there and posted it and said, “Hey guys, here’s a video I made.” I gave an example, which is huge for pre-selling anything, give an example. I suck at copyrighting, so there’s probably 10 grammar mistakes in there. I posted it in there and said, “Hey guys, here’s a goamroad link.” Gumroad’s a really cool way to sell stuff really easily.
I don’t use PayPal, I had bad experiences with them. If you want it, check it out. I think it was selling it for $29 to begin with. I just detailed out what the course would do, what they could make from it, and I got, I forget the exact number, around 20 sales within the first week for the course.
Obviously, I did it that way to sell pretty easily. I don’t even know if that was super intentional, but it happened to be the perfect group to post it in because the monthlyonek group was full of people that that course is specifically targeted for which is entrepreneurs that are just getting started or on a super tight budget. And that’s who was in that monthlyonek group.
So perhaps if I would have posted it in a group with people who are further along at your stage, or Noah’s stage, or Amede’s stage, they probably wouldn’t have been near as interested in that kind of thing. That group just happened to be super interested. There’s a principle there of finding groups of people that your product is focused on and telling them about your stuff.
Andrew: And you didn’t create the course. You were selling the course for only $25, which is a shockingly low number, but I get it. You then have customers. You launch the course. The thing is, though, I don’t want to just go from getting those customers to launching the course, because I have someone in my community who pre-sold and he’s got 25 orders of his book and he’s excited for a little bit.
Then he had this moment of, oh my goodness, I know how to deliver on it. Right? You had that too. Can you get real with me, before you talk about how you overcame it, just get really personal about what that felt like.
Bryan: It really sucks, honestly. I don’t know how to describe it really well, but you know you owe these people something. I was still selling it. I would get an email on a Monday, “Hey you sold another $29.” I moved it up to 40, 90, and now it’s even higher. With (?) that doesn’t exist for $97 dollars and all you have is an outline for it, man like I got to do it. But at the time, I had a day job and it was pretty discouraging.
So I came home at night and I had been hustling for a year hard. Honestly, I was tired. You can’t keep that faith up indefinitely. I even took a couple of sick days, worked on it, made major progress in late May. Then I had a trip I went on in June and came back from that. Coming back from that trip, it was a week-long mission trip, it was super intensive I came back and literally from the end of June until the course launched in October it was literally like pulling teeth to get stuff done.
I don’t know what that is because mentally I knew what I needed to do. I outlined, done the hardest part which is kind of framing out the content. It was just a matter of just shooting all the videos and me talking into a webcam like this. It finally took, the week left my day job. I have a friend who’s trying to get his doctor’s practice and get some online stuff, he wanted to come to my house on Fridays to start working with me just to have some motivation and structure.
Literally, I told him about it and told him how I needed to get it done. He’s sitting right behind me and I’m having to make these videos, because there’s no way I can be an example to him at all and him knowing I’m procrastinating on this. That’s all it was, complete procrastination.
Andrew: You know, it’s in a resistant, right? Sometimes when we get started with something really important, an inner voice keeps us from doing it. What I’ve had people say to me when I talk about it this, maybe that’s your gut telling you that you should just not be in this business. Maybe it’s your gut telling you that you should not be teaching, it’s for other people. You’re shaking your head no. How’s that different from the gut you told us to listen to at the top of the interview?
Bryan: You have to listen to your gut outside of the circumstance. Any time you get in the middle of something, there’s probably going to be resistance. Seth Godin talks about the dip. That’s going to happen. Like, it’s happening right now with Videofruit, and I’m pushing through it harder than I’ve ever pushed through everything. But it’s going to happen.
You can’t make a decision unbiasedly about something inside of the situation. If your gut told you before you started it was a good idea, people have bought from you, like, people… you had an idea, people paid you money for it. There’s no way, before you even deliver it, you can say it’s a bad idea, logically, at all. Like, your voice can say it all you want.
And I kind of… like, my second model this year is called Break the Seal, and that’s kind of… it’s the idea of just doing it for the first time. Like, I’d never created a course before. Never written a course. I suck at writing. I’m a halfway good teacher sometimes, but never online, never any of that.
So I think a lot of my resistance was I just hadn’t done it. Like, I just hadn’t literally gone through the motions. I had to listen to people talk about it, which is completely different. But I hadn’t physically done it myself before.
So I literally broke it down into small steps. My task on my notebook that day… I keep a notebook. Every day, I write down a list of what I’m going to do that day physically on paper, not in Trello. Of what I’m going to do, and physically cross it off, because there’s, like, some kind of satisfaction in that. But my task was turn on the webcam. Like, that was my goal for the day. Because I knew if I got it on, the chances of me actually doing it were good.
It’s like, if you want to run, put your shoes by the door. We’ve all heard that a million times. But it really… it works. And if putting the shoes by the door doesn’t work, put them by your bed. Like, break it down to the smallest point, to where it actually is something…
Andrew: And so “Break the Seal” means if… like, there’s all this greatness inside you. It’s sealed up in a jar, almost, right? And if you could break the seal, then it could come out. And breaking the seal is the small step of turning the webcam on. It’s the small step of putting your sneakers on if you’re going to go for a run. That’s what you’re talking about.
Bryan: The small win. Any… if your big thing isn’t working, and you’ve been writing it on your to-do list for a week, make it smaller. If that doesn’t work, make it smaller. And, you know, make it as small as you can until you do it one time, and then keep working it so that you can keep doing it.
And the next time I create a course, it will be a whole lot easier, because I’ve turned on the webcam, I’ve… I know all the WordPress crap to throw up, and actually do it. So there’s so many things that you have to do that you don’t even think about. But once you go through the process, it takes 10 times longer than it will a second time. The second time is so much easier.
Andrew: Okay. May, you pre-sell it. October is when it launches. For a long time in there, there’s pressure. There’s inner resistance. There’s your personal battle with procrastination. Feeling your self-worth, maybe you were questioning it. Does that feel right?
Bryan: Oh, absolutely.
Bryan: Everything you’ve ever heard, that happens, no matter how hard you don’t want it to. [laughs]
Andrew: And then you break it, and you launch the course. Revenue from the course… do you feel comfortable sharing that with my audience?
Bryan: Yeah. It did… well, let’s see. To date… it’s right at $20,000 to date, and that’s from October of 2013. So that’s, I don’t know, four or five months or something. But the price has moved from $29, now it’s $397. And it’s funny, because I do more monthly revenue now at $397. Now, I sell… I don’t sell near as many, but I have less customer service, and less to do. And that’s always… I’ll probably keep playing with that price. But yeah…
Andrew: I saw that you were hesitant to say the price earlier, that you said, “I went from $29 to this to this. And then it’s higher today.”
Andrew: But you didn’t give the price, because you wanted some wiggle room to experiment with it. True.
Bryan: Yeah. Yeah.
Bryan: So that’s [??]. And I really… by the time you listen to this interview, I don’t know what it’ll be, because I’m… like, one goal for this year is to turn it into a book. Kind of do the Nathan Gary approach, where you have a book, you have a next step up, and you have your big course. Because I think I can double or triple my revenue just by having a lower price point and a different type of offering. I think I’m leaving a lot of money on the table with that.
So that’s something. That’s kind of an ongoing thing. It’s another Break the Seal thing. Like, I had all my videos transcribed in January. Guess what I’ve done since? Nothing.
Bryan: [laughs] Like, I need to rewrite it all, basically. But I’ve never done that, so…
Andrew: Are you in Tennessee?
Bryan: Yeah, I’m in Tennessee. I’m in Nashville.
Andrew: Do you want someone from my audience to come in as an intern and learn from you, and help break the seal?
Bryan: Bring it on. [laughs] Bring it on.
Andrew: All right. Someone from the audience, volunteer in the comments. If you’re in Tennessee, and you want to hang out with Bryan, and… actually, no hanging out. I hate hanging out.
Andrew: Hanging out has its place. Actually, I do it maybe once a week, or after work. During work, no hanging out. Be there, help him directly beyond just being there, and you’ll learn something from him. All right? [??]
Bryan: Even if you’re on Skype, works too.
Bryan: I said even if you’re on Skype, that works, too. Some… anybody, yeah. I’ve just never been through the process, so it’s painful, man. It’s just… the first time you do stuff, the pain is so much higher.
Andrew: I get it. That’s October, you launched it. October 2013. September 2013, you leave your job.
Bryan: Yeah. That was a big deal. I…
Andrew: How did it feel to leave your job? And it wasn’t just because of the course. We’ll get to why it happened. Hold off on that a moment.
Andrew: But how did it feel to go in and say, “Forget it. I’m gone”?
Bryan: I mean, it was tough. I’ve failed before, man, like, I, I had in twenty, in 2009, I had moved from Mobile where I grew up to Nashville because I got married. My wife had a job up here so we came. I kind of came on a whim, had an idea for a business. I was going to start on this consignment car lot in 2009. Look up how car sales were in 2009.The graph goes very down very sharply. [laughs]
So I was actually shut down by the city a month into that after committing to a three month lease and so I did that. And then I went straight into selling stuff on Ebay. Nashville’s a good place for yard sales, and I was selling stuff there. About a year and a half into that, Paypal seizes or freezes $20,000 of mine in my PayPal account. I’m basically kicked off eBay because I can’t use PayPal anymore.
Then I got the job at the conveyer company in the beginning managing their eBay account. [laughs] So, you know, so I had had two back to back failures basically in business. I’ve learned a lot but they were [??] big ego hits. There was no way around it, like, I was in no place to start a business or do anything with business. I need like a rest and coasting time [laughs]
So there’s the thought in the head of what happens if you fail and I’m about to leave this job. It’s a really good job, like, if you’re going to be in outside sales in almost any industry, like, you really couldn’t pick a better industry to be in, like, it’s, the earning potential is in the, is in the high six figures.
So, like, it’s really good and I’m, I’m about to, like, walk out the door, like, Bryan in 2009 would kick Bryan in 2013 for leaving this job. [laughs] And that’s in the back of my head. I’m, like, “All right. If I lose this big cont- lose a couple of contracts and video fails, like, what am I going to do and, you know, so .. Luckily, we had given ourselves some running way. We’d had gotten out of debt in 2012. We had done that for hard core for four years since we got married, me and my wife. And that was a big deal for us.
So that, that alone gives you room to do stuff. We can keep our expenses low if we need to. But even, even if all that happens, even if we’re out of debt, our income’s low, my wife’s working, like, I don’t want to be dude that quit his job, started a business, it failed and he’s, like, at home looking for a job while his wife’s working, like, man, I really don’t want to go there. So, that’s in the back of your mind.
Andrew: I see it and then you still go ahead and you do it anyway. Did you wife make you second guess it or was she supportive?
Bryan: Oh, no. She’s the most supportive person you could ask for, probably to a fault. I was way more worried about it than she was. [laughs] So, yeah, she’s totally cool with it. And, and an important part of that was making sure you and your spouse are on the right side of your dream. Don’t put your spouse on the other side of what you’re doing.
That is the worst mistake you could make because your business could be a success, if your spouse doesn’t like it, it’s not worth it. [laughs] It’s not worth whatever happens for that so making sure your own [??] if that takes you another year to do it, take a year. Like, it’s not worth pushing it and all the consequences that come with that. Like, I love her way more than I love business and I love business a lot. [laughs]
So you know having her on the same page, being out of debt, having her have confidence in me went a long ways.
Andrew: You have a great chat of the two of you on Videofruit. The one [laughs] where you said I don’t think she, she’ll be happy that I posted it. But you guys look good together and it’s, it’s a sweet photo of the two of you and I can see why you’d, you’d want to stay, why you’d want to stay on the right side of her.
Andrew: Frankly, I don’t, I don’t see you doing better. [laughs] You might as well [laughs] stick around.
Bryan: I’m with you [laughs].
Andrew: I was wondering if I should even say that. Take a look at you guys if you are on this site…
Bryan: … her around, can’t get better. So…
Andrew: Look at what Neil Armstrong, look at the post called what Neil Armstrong taught me about L.A. [laughs] and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Okay. The thing that pushed you over the edge had to do with heat and [??], we mentioned earlier. What happened?
Bryan: Yeah, so this idea of giving, giving, giving, giving, then asking. I did that with [??] with Jon Acuff and that was kind of a thousand dollar give, a big give and, you know, that hurts a little bit but I got some business off it and things went well. Well, when I went into Videofruit, I wanted to use the same concept because I think it really works, like, really well.
When I was in outside sales, the more time I put into a proposal, like, don’t worry about getting more leads, worry about doting on your current leads even more. Like, write them a ten page proposal and give super amounts of details of what they could do different in their business.
Neil Patel has a really good post on this on Quick Sprout about how he built his first SEO of business and he, he emailed the investors in VC backed companies SEO tips and not just, like, “Hey, I want to do your SEO.” It was, like, you know, a two thousand word email with screenshots and arrows and, you know, schematics and all kind of stuff. Like, that catches people’s eye.
You probably get five hundred emails a day of people wanting to blog post and do all this other junk but if somebody sends you a custom made Infographic video about an Infographic you put out, like, that catches your attention.
Andrew: We did that, you did that with me. Yes, you took the Infographic that Lemon Lee created for us, the one about how to look good on video on a webcam and you, you animated their Infographic.
Bryan: Yeah. So I did that. I went through a series. I think I did this about fifteen times. I went through just big guys that I respected, you, KISSmetrics, Neil Patel, specifically, Jay Baer, Marcus Sheridan, Derek Cowburn, just, you know, Gary Vaynerchuk, and I just made a video. I didn’t ask them if I could make a video. Don’t do that. You don’t need permission to do that.
I asked Seth Godin one time if I could make an app for him. And he said, “No.” And I said, “Why?” And he said, “Because free stuff always creates ten times more work for me.” That’s probably the best e-mail I’ve ever gotten. And I said, “Thank you.” And I haven’t talked to him since.
So I just started. I got an e-mail that said, “Hey Neil, I make Infographics. Can I make an Infographic for you? I just sent you an Infographic.” And that shocks you. And when I sent Gary Vaynerchuk one, he was, I think, the first one I did like that. He had a very popular YouTube talk. It was his “Web 2.0″, where he says, “Smurf it up.” It’s a popular quote of his. I took it, and I made a kinetic typography video.
It’s the one that has the words moving around, and looks really cool, and has a voice over on it. And I just emailed it to him. I said, “Hey Gary, I love your stuff. This is my favorite talk you have. Here’s a video.” And he tweeted it multiple times, put it on his YouTube channel. I still get links to Videofruit from that video. And I just started doing that. Well, one of them I did was for Neil Patel and KISSmetrics.
And, I just went to their website, to the most popular Infographic they have. And it was on how colors affect purchases. And I turned it into a video. And I did the exact same method. I think it cost me $75. I just found a good guy, and he created a video from it. And I sent it to Neil at KISSmetrics and said, “Hey guys, I love your stuff, love your blog, love [??].”
And over the course of two or three months, that turned into an ongoing contract, which kind of lead me to the point of leaving my job. So, KISSmetrics wanted me to start a weekly video series for them. Kind of like what SEO Moz does, or Moz does, their White Board Friday. Where it’s kind of in person, teaching about something to do with their industry. And I’d never done that before. So, I’d done all this animated stuff, but I’d never done an in person thing – this kind of screen-shot-slash-in-person.
So there was a lot of procrastination going on there, but we had talked about a price, we’d agreed on a price of what we were going to do it for. And I just physically didn’t see the bandwidth of my day, of working the day job and doing this. And it’s a good contract, I make a decent amount of money on it. And it was either stay at my day job and lose the contract, or lose the contract, and stay at my day job. Like, both of them couldn’t happen at the same time.
After a week or two of struggling and a little bit of putting them off a little bit, they finally paid the invoice. And I’m like, “Well, all right. I guess this is it.” So I sent in the notice and it’s been really good ever since. So it’s . . .The business has gone well, and I’m just trying to do things right, you know. Just do it the way . . . I’m just trying to fill the holes that I see, and that people want. And it’s really worked well.
Andrew: What would it cost you to turn my Infographic, or, Lemon Lee’s Infographic, based on what I’ve learned as a guy in webcam – what would it cost to turn that into a video?
Bryan: Less than $100.
Andrew: Less than 100 bucks. Wow.
Bryan: Yeah. So it’s just giving these $75, $50 to $100 videos. I’ve found a couple of guys. And the HR process of that, like, I think that’s minimized. You read blog posts about that. “Just outsource that.” Like, it’s not quite that easy. Like, finding good people, and vetting them, and the process. Like, that can be tedious.
That’s almost an art form in and of itself. And I’m not the best at it by any means. I’ve gotten better as I’ve done it. But, yeah. Finding good people can be tough. And finding good, cheap people can be even harder. [laughs] So that’s probably a Mixergy course in itself, is learning how to properly hire people. If it’s not already, it might be.
Andrew: It’s funny you should say that. We have a couple of courses on that.
Bryan: [laughs] Do you?
Andrew: And I should recommend that if you’re interested in those courses, or if there’s anything that we’ve talked about that you want to take to the next level, we do have a series of courses that are all available in one nice little package, at MixeryPremium.com. And I see a few courses about how to create mobile apps, and also how to launch them.
For mobile apps, we have Mike and Quack. People seem to like their course about how they build mobile apps. There’s another one: App Savvy. One of the top app makers, Ken Yarmosh talks about how to lay it out, how to . . . What am I thinking of? . . .Wire frame it. I couldn’t come up with the word. Wire frame it, send it out to outsourcers, have it developed, and so on.
And then there’s one other one that people overlook when it comes to app and web app development in general. It’s a new one by Rob Walling, where he talks about how he gets the user users for his web apps. What he does to get people to try it out, to get people to talk about it, and to get people to become active, ongoing, recurring customers. Rob Walling is fantastic, and he came on and talked that.
Bryan: I listened to that one the other day, and that one’s really . . . I like that guy. He’s really good.
Andrew: Isn’t he amazing?
Andrew: He’s another one of these guys, very quiet. . .
Bryan: He’s legit. I like his style. He’s really good.
Andrew: He’s not one of these super slicky sales people who makes you feel like he’s going to change your life overnight. But there’s substance to him. And if you talk him, and if you learn from him over months, then you’ll become a much better person, and then you’ll become a much better person, and, you’ll be able to build your business. You’ll be able to actually get customers, and, so on.
I wonder if the difference is, Bryan, that it’s about doers verse talkers that, Rob, is a developer whose actually launched his products. You created web apps, as opposed to people who have nothing, but they have courses, and, nothing but.
Bryan: Yeah. There’s definitely a difference in just how, I don’t know. I don’t know if it’s personality because there’s probably people that relate to those people. I just don’t nearly as well.
I like people that are little quieter, and, a little less trumpeting of what they’ve done. Although I probably do that to some degree. I try to find people that I like their style, and, the way they’re doing things because a lot of people think when they’re starting there’s a particular path you have to follow, and, there’s just not.
There’s so many ways you can do it, and, for me I just try to find people that are doing it the way I like it. And not that it’s the right way, but, it’s the way I want to do it. And Rob is that way. You’re that way. Noah’s that way. I just want to put those people in my ear, and, have their influence on me.
It works its way, intentionally, or, not, and, the way you do things. At the end of the day if I have successful business I’d much rather be making a lot of money doing it the way I want it versus making more money doing it in a way I feel bad about. It’s not worth doing it that way.
Andrew: It’s all because you do listen to these people, but, you don’t get obsessed with just listening. You condense it into formulas, into mottoes that you repeat over, and, over. Every day you get an alert, and, then you just stack the bricks by taking action a little bit every day. A little bit every month. Even when you have a bad week where nothing happens you continue the next week, and, so on, and, so forth.
I’d like to ask you to try an experiment with me, and, then I want to ask you the question I’ve been kind of hinting at, which is where are we today revenue wise, but, here’s the thing.
So I’ve got a group of people who are experimenting with something similar to what you’re talking about, this motto that you repeat over, and, over. We just call it a mantra, and, it has something to do with what, Guy Kawasaki, told me in 2008. One of my first interviewees. He said, look, many people have this elaborate plan for what they want to do, and, you’d be better off with just a mantra. Just one thing. This is what the company does, and, you do it, and, you just say it over, and, over to other people. You say over, and, over to yourself.
Let me see if I can find the way that he explained it. Here it is. A post from 2008. Create a mantra for your organization. For him back then Alltop was going to be the digital magazine rack. Not a big description of what it is. With a digital magazine rack. So, you could come to him, and, say do you want to add Trello functionality to it. No. We’re the digital magazine rack. So, he’s focused on the mantra.
Here’s the thing that I’d like to do if you’re up for it.
Andrew: I want to send you a set of beads like this, and, if you could try one of these mantras everyday using these beads, and, give me feedback after a week I’d really appreciate it, and, we’ll see if we can teach what’s worked for you to other people in the Mixergy audience, or, if it doesn’t work we can adjust it as a community, and, find a better way to do it. Do you have a mantra that now you’re getting text messaged once a day?
Bryan: Yeah. Definitely send it over. I’ll check it out. What I get texted every day is stack the bricks, and, break the seal. So, 7:00 a.m. everyday that’s sent over. Actually, I have one in the evening too. I went with two this year. The other one is, winners have systems, and, losers have goals.
Andrew: [laugh] That’s a great one.
Bryan: Because I’m trying to systematize a lot more of what I’m doing, and, focus on steps instead of the long out there thing. You got to have both of them. So, it’s not an absolute thing, but, focusing on systematizing what I’m doing is pretty important. So, those are two things that are, I think one of them’s at 7:00 a.m.. The other ones at 7:00 p.m. every day. So, at least subconsciously that’s like working. It’s doing something.
Andrew: Bryan, I had something similar to that, too, at Mixergy. I had chaos here, and what I wanted was systems, but I didn’t want just systems for the sake of systems. I didn’t want to keep leading people by telling them what to do day after day via email. I wanted to have a system. I felt like if I could remind myself to do it once a day in the morning when I journaled it was OK, but, it wasn’t enough.
I would walk into work every day. Let me get my camera on myself. I usually only look at the guest, and, not myself. So I’ll bring my camera. So here’s how I would do it. I would walk into work, and, I would say, I lead with systems, and I move a bead. I lead with systems, and I’d move a bead. I lead with systems, and I’d move a bead.
I really would feel it. I do lead with systems. Frankly, when I showed, Joe my editor here, how to edit it was way of me leading him, and, guiding him, and, giving him direction with the system. It was this doc that showed you, and sketch, which I know you like. Step by step image, sketched up with arrows, describing what to do, next image with arrows, describing what to do next, and, so on. I gave him guidance with systems.
So I walked into work. I lead with systems. I lead with systems, and by the time I walked into work into the office right here where I happen to be, I wasn’t upset at how overwhelming it was. I wasn’t upset at how everyone wanted things from me. I wasn’t confused about what to do.
I know what to do. I lead with systems, and, then I naturally started to build out my systems. So it’s just like one round at least a day, move a bead, feel it, so it’s not just “I lead with systems” BS, but, I really lead with systems.
Andrew: That’s what I’m about. When I come here to do Mixergys, the reason that your interview is good, I think you saw part of my process when I pre- interviewed you myself – there’s a way that I’m telling your story. It doesn’t just happen to come out. It’s because there’s a process here. Right? I lead with systems.
And the audience didn’t just walk away from this with some value because we happen to have some kind of chemistry here today. It’s because there’s a system here that I led this interview with, and that I help lead them with. And so, it all comes through because I got really in touch with it, and I got obsessed with it, and I use these beads to do it. I’d love to buy you a set of beads, have you experiment.
If you give us some feedback I think other people can learn. Even if what you say is, “Andrew, this was on my wrist and the whole thing just felt silly. I never did it.” That’s still feedback because then we’ll know to un- silly it.
Bryan: No. There’s even been psychological studies that have shown, like, if you know mentally you need to do something, but for some reason you can’t get yourself to do it, if you just go through the exercise, like, if you just… I can’t think of an example. If you just go through and do it, you will start liking to do it more. Like, that just happens.
Andrew: You mean if you mentally go through the exercise and do it.
Bryan: I think Rabbi Daniel Lapin, he has a book called “Thou Shalt Prosper” that talks about that, and that concept is ground in science.
Andrew: All right. Well, this is an interesting experiment to see. Sometimes science fails me.
Andrew: We will see if science, hitting the realities of your life, the realities of all the obligations that you have as an entrepreneur, the realities of your attitude about, do you want to even wear something on your wrist – I don’t know. We’ll find out if it works.
I’m going to ship one to you personally, and we’ll get your feedback, and I’d be happy if the audience is curious, to say it. By the way, I keep saying to the audience, “If you ask for it in the comments, we’ll tell you. We’ll link it.” Because sometimes I go through all this – I forget what it was, it was someone who, I think he offered a spreadsheet or something in the interview. I went and I hunted him down after the interview.
You know, people are stressed after the interview. They don’t want to really think about it. They just want it to happen. They’re a little too nervous about their performance, that they say “um” too much, they [???] too much. So they don’t want to talk to me. They want a little bit of decompression from Andrew.
So I went and I hunted him down, and I got this file, and I put it up on the site, and not a single download. So I figured, “You know what. Why am I chasing stuff down that people don’t want? I’ll put it out there. If people want it, they can ask for it in the comments.” And then, I don’t have to hunt it down.
Then there’s pressure for you because the audience is going to ask you for the spec sheet that you sent out, right? It’s not me putting it, it’s the audience asking it. Same thing here. If anyone wants to know about whether these beads work they can ask me, and then I can give it. But I won’t just give it because I imagine they want it. Alright. Final question. This is a 10K series. We obviously have gotten past the first 10,000 in revenue. Where is revenue today?
Bryan: From, I guess you can go back to May, but I guess I’m kind of counting from October of 2013 until today, it’s right around 50K. Right around $50,000.
Andrew: 50,000 dollars? And it’s recurring. We’ve started fairly recently, right? A few months ago. Do you have a sense of – I mean, you gave it to me and I have it up on the screen, but, do you want to break it down – what your recurring revenue is roughly? Or do you want to just lump it together and give it to people?
I promise you that if you were open with me before, I wouldn’t reveal your secrets. You can share what you feel comfortable with.
Bryan: Oh, sure. I don’t mind at all. So, I haven’t tabulated it all up. These are kind of rough. But, around 6,000 dollars a month in recurring, retainer type of contracts. So, video work, or social – I do some social media consulting. I actually have an app going right now that is a third party thing that we built last year.
Now they want a second edition, too, and that’s a six month project. So counting all that, that’s about $6,000 a month. The course does between $2 to 3,000 a month. One of my big goals is to double that, and one of the strategies is like we talked earlier, to put it in a couple different forms and have some different price points.
And then around $1,000 to $2,000 on apps. Some of those are split between two people, but, you know, there are a couple of those out there that are doing it. So, all in total, it’s around 10K a month.
Andrew: Around 10K a month. The website is Videofruit. And there is also blog.videofruit.com, right?
Bryan: Yep, that’s it.
Andrew: If people want to connect with you, that’s the best place to do it.
Bryan: Yeah. And I’ll email you all of the downloads, the mock-ups, everything I can find on that. Maybe some budget sheets of what it costs. So, anybody that is interested in that – that concept can apply to tons of stuff, so it’s pretty, for me, depending on what phase you’re in, that stuff can be like the thing that gets you going. Like, it can be really good.
I think sometimes people think they’re ready to start, but probably not. Like, somebody asked me the other day, you know, “What if you go through Noah’s course or your thing and you still don’t have any ideas?” It’s like, you know, it might just not be right for you right now. Like, maybe you need to wait a year like I did.
I had to go work a job for three years to get to the point where I was ready to start something again after a couple failures. So you might just not be ready yet. But, you might just need somebody to show you some particulars, some particular skills or particular processes to help you.
And for me with several things right now, like, that’s keeping me back from some things. So, maybe by me sharing that, that can kind of push you over the ledge, and help you to develop some stuff that I’ll use later. Because there are several things that I’d like to exist that I just don’t want to mess with.
Andrew: Videofruit.com. Bryan, thank you so much for doing this interview. Everyone out there, thank you so much for being a part of it. I urge you find a way to connect with Bryan if you’re interested, and don’t ask for stuff. You know, except for the stuff that we offered in the comments, you can ask for. But generally speaking, honestly, when you follow up, use that Gary Vaynerchuk/ Bryan Harris approach of give, give, give, give, and then ask.
Andrew: Alright. Thank you all for being a part of it, as always.
Bryan: Thanks, Andrew.
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