Andrew: Hey everyone. My name is Andrew Warner, I’m the founder of Mixergy where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses. I pride myself on doing research on my guests, I pride myself on having the hard to get guests and I also pride myself on being open. I got to be honest with you, Anton, I was looking at your site, and there are two parts of me. There’s a part of me that’s just skeptical. There’s a part of me that sees your site dropshiplifestyle.com and sees at the very top . . . dropshiplifestyle.com, I’m going to go to it. The very top of the site, let’s see if it still says it. There it is 76 spots left to get in.
Andrew: I go there’s no way that 76 is being updated. It was 76 the last time I checked, it’s 76 right now. And there’s a part of me that goes, “Another site teaching people how to do drop ships so that they can have a great lifestyle and get rich quick or get rich and make six figures. How many times do I have to hear the word six figures? Closing the door soon before I say, this is just a little bit too much.” So there’s that part of me.
Then there’s other part of me that goes, “Dude, why do you have to be so cynical about everything? Why don’t you just do like Alcoholics Anonymous, which is, take what you need and leave the rest behind. So why do you have to be so fricking critical, Andrew? Why can’t you just say, “Here’s a guy, he’s building a business. There’s something you could learn from him. How is he getting customers? How is he upselling? What’s the product? How is he communicating?” Just fricking get that.
I should be quieting one or the other and picking who I am, but I have to just accept it. I’m kind of a little bit of both. And so, Anton, that’s where I’m coming from. Does any of that resonate?
Anton: A hundred percent, and honestly, I think you should lean towards critical, and I think everyone should. You know, not just when trying to do business with myself or anyone that I work with but with anyone because I’ve learned the hard way after probably 12 years in business that most things aren’t what they seem.
I will say something funny though. You said, if you went to the site later today or tomorrow, would that 76 be the same? It’s not dynamically updated. We’ve been updating it only about once a day, but that’s only been there since last night. The last time you would have seen anything like that on the site was actually an entire year ago because we do close every year in November right after our live event every year. So that’s actually real, and I’d say we probably have a few days left and then we’ll be closed for probably one to three months as we totally redo all of our content.
Andrew: Because you really want to have a hundred people only in this program, and this is what, version six then you create version seven and anyone in this version gets . . . oh wait, this is version five then you create version six.
Anton: Exactly, exactly. We’ve been doing this for a little over five years, and for the past four years, around the beginning of November, we do shut it down, redo all of the content and then reopen again with the newest version. So once a year and this is that time.
Andrew: Anton, you’re a guy who used to like sell physical products, and we’ll get into the back story of what that is. But as a guy who used to do that, do you ever look and say, “Good God man, I’m now in this world where it’s the same old info-marketers who are all competing for the same people, who are desperate to leave their nine to five. And the nine to five people are our best customers because they actually have money and a desperation to leave, and so we’re all chasing all of them, giving them a dream.” Do you ever feel like that?
Anton: Not really. I’ll tell you why. I think you’re friends with him, but for me, if other people didn’t do what I’m doing now, I wouldn’t be where I am. So I graduated from college in 2006, and in 2007, the book “The 4-Hour Workweek” came out. Sounds like a scam, obviously not. It just gives really good information about, maybe, a different path you could take in life.
Not the most tactical thing in the world, but seriously I read that book and because of that book I transitioned my first offline business to an online business and that changed everything. So if there weren’t people doing this type of thing . . . I’m not saying everyone is going to be able to quit their nine to five, and live on a beach, and be super wealthy but if there weren’t opportunities like this, I think a lot less people would have that freedom.
Andrew: I get it. Okay, you know what, I used to be really skeptical and cynical about Tim Ferriss too. That “The 4-Hour Workweek” title really got me. It felt like it was leading with lazy instead of leading with meaningful work. I felt like a lot of the techniques in the book were a little bit manipulative in a cool way.
Like, “Hey, go speak at a local universities group and then say I spoke at Harvard.” So like Harvard will have a group of students who get together and invite entrepreneurs to come in and speak, you should go be the guy who speaks to that group and then on your website you say, “Go speak at Harvard.” That kind of is what I thought, and I said, “No one’s really doing this.”
And then it was a year or so of doing interviews where I actually saw entrepreneurs who were doing it, people who I respected. I said, “All right Andrew, drop the cynicism. Why do you have to just pick up on the things that fit in with the cynicism?”
All right, I get all that. I really want to understand how you built this business and do that Alcoholics Anonymous phrase which is, get what I want, what I want is I do want to learn how you built this business, how you sell. I could see that your sales process is dialed in. I’ve been, frankly, spying on some of your software like some of the . . . not software, some of the things that you sell.
Like I could see this DSL for 1497 . . . I see a list of every single thing you’ve sold, including testing product. Shopify theme download, 67 bucks. Upgrade to DFY, 2500. I’ve got like as much as I can, and still I feel like I don’t fully know it. There’s enough here for me to be curious about and to learn from, and the same for the audience.
So this interview is starting off very rudely but Anton, I appreciate that you’ve got a good attitude about it. Anton Kraly, the person who you’ve been hearing take my cynical questions is the founder of Drop Ship Lifestyle. It’s a step-by-step coaching program that enables you to build an online business. We’re going to talk about how he started his business and his previous company and learn about how he’s selling online, all thanks to two great sponsors.
The first will help you get your next beautiful design ebook, landing pages etc. Anton, hasn’t heard of them. I’m excited to introduce him, and you to them. It’s called Design Crowd.
The second is a company that will help you hire your next great developer. Anton, had a not-so-great experience with Toptal. We’re going to talk about that in the ad too. But first Anton, thanks for being here.
Andrew: I’m going to hit you one of the questions. Revenue from this business, dropshiplifestyle.com. How much are you bringing in?
Anton: Last year was a little over three and a half million.
Andrew: Three and a half. And before you set on this path of teaching, of selling things online, you were a guy who was in the offline world, and you did something that I remember reading an article about and I dreamnt as a kid of doing it. It was like an Investor’s Business Daily, an article about these guys who had routes. What’s a route?
Anton: What’s a route?
Andrew: Yeah, they would call it route which is like kind of weird, generic term, or maybe I’m getting it a little bit off. But the route is this, the dream is you buy someone’s route to deliver the potato chips.
Anton: Oh okay, okay. Yes, yes. It was the weirdest dream ever, and I’ll tell you how it came about. Where I’m from, one of my friend’s fathers actually owned a delivery business. It was on Long Island, and it was for Arnold bread. And they delivered them all over, and his story was he started this thing super cheap, had one truck, built it into this huge empire and they made a lot of money from it.
For me, straight out of school, not a lot of money, what I had saved from doing landscaping and construction. I thought let me buy a small version of this, see if I could turn it into a bigger business. Honestly, my plan was to sell it and then start opening franchises like a Subway or a Gold’s Gym or what not. That was my original business plan.
Andrew: You know what, let’s pause for a second.
Andrew: I think most people don’t know what you and I know now, which is that it seems like the Arnold bread is getting put into the store shelves by Arnold employees or by whatever the UPS version of local food supplier is, the guy who goes and delivers potato chips, bread, those stupid muffins that stay in bags for years. It seems like it’s owned by the company. It’s not.
They’re actually the person who owns that route that they have a deal with. He is the only person who owns a route. He’s the only person allowed to get Arnold bread and put it on the shelves and if he wants to retire, he could sell that route to someone else. If he wants to expand, he could have somebody else drive the truck, often a relative will drive the truck, he’ll still keep making money from Arnold every time he puts the stuff in the shelves. But he has to now pay someone else to do it and that’s the way you expand.
And you said, “I got to do this.” You actually were planning on doing it as a franchise, which is kind of interesting and you bought your route. My little childhood dream, you actually lived.
Anton: I did.
Andrew: What was it like to do that?
Anton: It was terrible. So at first, I thought it would be at least a good experience for what it was and something I could build but the one that I bought was for a bakery in Brooklyn, New York. What I basically bought was the rights to the territory of Nassau County which is where I’m from.
So the way the business side of things work is I had my wholesale prices and I had my locations, and I could get any locations I wanted in my geographical area that I had the rights to. So the day started with me going into Brooklyn, loading up this truck with all the products, all the cookies, everything that they make there, then going back out to Long Island. Going to these grocery stores, filling the shelves, trying to convince them to buy more, trying to get better endcap space and trying to grow this thing.
I realized quickly I didn’t like sitting on the BQE every morning at 5 a.m., and I didn’t like dealing with these store managers because, I wasn’t aware of this, but a lot of them they’re not the happiest people in the world. When I was there as a 21-year-old trying to negotiate for their shelf space amongst like huge competitors, they were like, “Get out of here.” So yeah, it was a hard lesson to learn but it was an interesting one. Not what I thought it would be.
Andrew: The part that excited me was, it cost $25,000 to buy a route. As a kid, like you, I had all these like snow shoveling businesses and selling candy businesses and I actually had built up a little bit of money. I think it was $17,000, $18,000 by the time I was 16 years old, in the bank just sitting there. And you can’t really do much with it. I tried to buy real estate because I’d hear these guys on the radio say you could go buy real estate on the cheap. No one took me seriously there. But the route I thought if I get a little bit more money, I could actually buy.
That’s the fantasy that I had. A real business that I could buy for $25,000. The revenue would have come in for what, a percentage of the bread that you put in the stores or price for bread.
Anton: I wasn’t even doing bread. I was legitimately selling cookies.
Andrew: Oh it was cookies, okay.
Anton: So the way it worked is we would sell them a case, and there were different skews. Based on what skew it was, we would earn somewhere between, I think it was like, $3 and $8 per box, per case. So basically, we had our invoices, the store signed it then the actual bakery paid me out every week based on my sales.
Andrew: All right, and then you read “The 4-Hour Work Week” like you said. I hate to come at it from a cynical point of view so you’re able to absorb the lessons, and it shifted your business to online. What did you do then online?
Anton: So I always wanted to do something online because this was back again 2006 when I was first thinking about this, but I always thought you need all this money to start anything. I thought you had to have more than $25,000. But the main takeaway I got from that book was that you could start a Yahoo store, I think they’re still around, but back then you could start a Yahoo store for $29 a month. I was like, “Okay, what do I have to lose?”
So I built a website called New York Cookie Shop, I took some photos and uploaded all the products that I had access to from the bakery and turned on Google Ad Words, which was cheap. It was ridiculously cheap back then. Within a few weeks that little website that cost me $29 was making more money than what I had spent $25,000 for. So that was just the huge shift that turned me into online business and specifically to e-commerce.
Andrew: You know, I’ve been trying to look at the site, but I think you have a robot.txt file on there that limits archive.orgs visibility into it.
Anton: Yeah, not when I sold back. I started it in 2007 is when I turned it to an online business and I sold that with everything else, with the truck, with everything.
Andrew: Oh really?
Anton: 2008. Oh yeah, I was quick to move away from that.
Andrew: So all combined, was it still the Arnold cookies that you were selling?
Anton: No, it wasn’t Arnold. That was my friend’s father’s business. Mine was just a different bakery in Brooklyn but I was selling Arnold.
Andrew: I apologize.
Anton: Sure, that’s fine.
Andrew: For some reason it stuck in my head because I know the brand actually.
Anton: Right, right.
Andrew: It was still their cookies, the stuff that you were putting on the shelf, you were taking and putting online and selling online. I got it, I see. That where the revenue is coming in.
Anton: Exactly. Yes, yes. Not long at all after I started doing this, well I’m getting sales, I’m making between $5 and $10 per order, let me try to sell more expensive products. And then I started building more and more of these stores. As soon as those took off, there just wasn’t a reason for me to really spend my time on these less expensive products, so I put that business for sale and sold that along with a website, that went as a package.
Andrew: Well, how much did you sell that business for?
Anton: It was just over 25,000. It really wasn’t that much. I kind of screwed up in the sense that I’d let the stores kind of disappear. Once I started making money with the website, I didn’t want to do the route portion of it anymore. So I was neglecting that, and the person that bought it kind of had to reestablish those relationships. But they also got the website with it and that potential. So yeah, it was kind of just like, “I’ll get my money because I’m not [inaudible 00:13:21] . . . ”
Andrew: So [inaudible 00:13:22].
Andrew: Got it. And then, what’s the business that you had that hit, what did I see in Forbes magazine 1.2 million in revenue, what was that one?
Anton: Yeah, just all different home goods. So if you’re familiar with wayfair.com now, they used to be a website called CSN stores. There’s another huge website called Hayneedle. I think Hayneedle does like, last time they reported it was years ago, but it was like 500 million in sales a year. And Wayfair does, I think last year they did like three and a half billion.
So they all also have these micro sites that all sell like a specific type of product. Then they have these conglomerate sites that list them all. I was building the home good sites but in very specific niches. So instead of having everything on one domain, breaking it up into different websites basically.
Andrew: I see Wayfair, I never heard of them before. It’s just home goods. I could buy pillows from them, I could buy furniture from them for my living room. I see, and so they create small micro sites featuring just a handful of stuff. So it might be like a fun kid’s room or an elegant dining room for yourself and that’s what the whole site is. Did you partner up with them and do affiliate with them or was that drop shipping?
Anton: No, no, no. So interestingly enough, I didn’t know what drop shipping was when I was doing the cookie website. I didn’t know that was a business. I just knew I wanted to sell more expensive products, and I think I went on Google and typed in, “How to Find Products in China.” I found the website Alibaba.
At first, I was importing. I had taken the money that I had from the business sale and I basically preselling items on Yahoo Stores and then ordering them from China. By the time the containers got there, to the States, I would ship out products, maybe between 8 and 12 weeks after the orders were placed.
After I did that for a while, I started to get inquiries from different brands that were in the States already, and they said, “Oh I found your store that sells platform beds, do you know we have these and you could sell our products.” That’s when they started, basically, telling me, “Listen, you don’t have to buy them from us, you don’t need to have them in stock. We have a warehouse, they’re there. If you sell them, you pay us this price and we’ll deliver it to your customer.” So that’s how I found out about drop shipping.
Andrew: I see. What’s one of those sites? I’d love to look it up on the Internet Archive.
Anton: They’re still up, and they have new owners so I don’t want to give any urls out because I’ve sold them and people paid good amount of money so I don’t want to like call too much attention to them. But yeah, all different things. I would say if you go to Wayfair and click into almost any category, the same exact type of products.
Andrew: And you’d had how many of these different sites?
Anton: We built dozens of them.
Andrew: Okay, you know what can you put it in Skype chat. I won’t say what it is so that we won’t [inaudible 00:15:46] to them but I’d love to see what your design was, to get a sense of what the business was.
Anton: Sure. Yeah, I’ll give you a couple of them.
Andrew: I’ll bring up Skype Chat for you right there by sending a “Hi” over.
Anton: I think I see it in the corner.
Andrew: Now these collection of sites . . . yeah, I’ll let you type that in. This collection of sites you also sold?
Anton: Also sold? Yes.
Andrew: You sold that collection of e-commerce sites back in 2011?
Andrew: How much did you sell that for?
Anton: A good amount, almost half a million.
Andrew: All right.
Anton: I’m going to put two sites in.
Anton: Yes, yes. I’m going to put two sites in. One of how they used to look, and this was a sold one. And then I’ll also put in a site that we run now so you can kind of see how they look now but we don’t really share the ones that we’re running now either. So the first one’s an older one, the second one is a current site.
Andrew: Okay, and you don’t want me to talk about either one but I will take a look.
Anton: Right and the newer one you could see how much better they look. Now we run on Shopify. The old one is still on Yahoo Stores.
Andrew: I saw this. What year was this?
Anton: That I started it, 2007. And that I sold it, 2011.
Andrew: Oh, I see. You know what, there’s a fricking Yahoo Store design that did not change since Paul Graham and his partners created it and sold it to Yahoo. It’s so disappointing that they stayed so flat because they had a lead. Amazon had a lead, and they kept and grew that lead.
Yahoo had a lead and they just let it go because Yahoo for some reason insisted on being a content business, and so they brought in content CEOs, they brought in content sites. They focused on that, and meanwhile they had the software that could have been like Shopify. They could have been like Squarespace. So disappointing.
Anton: Right. Yeah, no they should have been Shopify. They had everyone. Back then, like that was the go-to platform. Last time I even looked at it, I mean it has been years ago but it looked the same as it did when I first started with them. Obviously, there’s so much opportunity they missed out on when you see how big of things Shopify is doing now, which is the only company [inaudible 00:17:50].
Andrew: All right, the second domain that you sent me that’s what, so the first domain just Shopify . . . sorry not Shopify, the first domain was all Yahoo Store. If anyone had ever seen a Yahoo Store, it’s exactly that. The same layout, the same font, the same fricking everything. The second one is your current store. I see that it is on Shopify. This looks beautiful. Why aren’t you talking this up? This looks hot.
Anton: So one of the things that we do with our programs in Drop Ship Lifestyle is show people how to go out there and do research on other sites. Basically, not just copy them but find out who their suppliers are. What happens basically, as soon as someone hears something’s working, like anyone and I’m guilty of this too. You know you’re out with your friends and they’re like, “Oh, I’m doing this and it’s working.” A lot of people think like that’s the only way and I have to do that. And that’s one of the only product types that work.
For that reason, just to avoid unwanted competition from everyone because these stores they do very well. It’s a big part of the business as well.
Andrew: Yeah, I want to understand why this store does well. We can talk around it without . . .
Andrew: Can we talk about what the product is that you’re selling.
Anton: I’ll say it’s in the home niche, its lighting. Then I’ll send another one that’s in, I guess you can call it fashion but not exactly.
Andrew: You guys sell these things too so is this using the theme that you sell?
Anton: Yeah, but it’s very customized. So one thing about the theme that we sell is that you can basically do whatever you want with it. So if you just put it on your site, it wouldn’t be like the Yahoo Store example where they all look the same. So once you put it on your site, you can take it from there.
Andrew: It’s more [inaudible 00:19:15].
Andrew: Oh this is a backpack business. You know what, I need a good backpack, the problem I have with my backpack is I got it after cycling, like cycling behind this guy on Valencia Street. I love this backpack so much. I’ve tried to catch up to him. I finally caught up to him, I got the backpack name from him and I kept it in mind then my wife heard that I asked him for the backpack name and she bought it for me as a gift. It was really cool when he was the only person on Valencia Street and all of San Francisco with that backpack. Now everybody’s got it, and so I feel like such a copycat. So I’m kind of looking at new backpacks.
All right, I want to talk about my sponsor and then come back into this. I’ve got to be honest also with you about me. I’m selling content too and I’m not asking you “Do you feel like a fraud selling content?” Because I’m sitting back like better and holier than thou. I’m conflicted too. Like I started out in this world where physical products were the thing to do. Where if you have a route where you’re selling like cookies door-to-door, you could build that into something and that was really meaningful, and they were like a handful of people who were the teachers, the people who were worthy of paying to learn from, and a handful of them actually done something like, what’s his name?
Why am I blanking on his name? The guy who ran GE, who wrote a few books that were just phenomenal books. GE CEO book. Why am I forgetting his name? I’m Googling it right now. Jack Welch. Jack Welch for example. To me like Jack Welch, leadership and management, that was the ultimate. And they’re a handful of people like that and then there were a bunch of people who were just fakes and I thought, “Maybe I want to do Mixergy as a way of tapping into the people who are real, who don’t have time to do these.”
Anyway, so now I’m conflicted but at the same time I have to recognize the world is changing, I have to learn, I have to deal with my conflict and sit with it internally and find a way to build a product that I could be proud of but also be aware that if I screw it up . . . I’m trying not to curse much.
Andrew: If I screw it up, I could end up being like the kind of people that I don’t respect. And they didn’t just wake up in the morning and say, “Hey, I don’t care about respectability. I don’t care about doing something I love.” They kind of are like inching their way into it and I constantly worry that I’m going to inch my way into a life that I don’t want.
Anton: Well, I’ll tell you with Drop Ship Lifestyle, like people follow us for years before they sign up. So our business growth has been very slow and it’s for that reason. I tell people, you know, if you’re not ready, if you don’t know this for you, if you don’t trust me, just don’t even do it. Don’t do it. We put out at least one blog post a week. I typically post to YouTube once a week and just tell people once you’re ready, once you’re there, then sign up because there’s so many of those scams out there. I don’t want anyone that’s not comfortable with it.
That’s actually how I started this thing. After I had sold that one website I showed you, plus a network of stores that kind of went along with it, I thought, let me find a network online, right? Like a community of e-commerce entrepreneurs that I can connect with about what to do next.
Andrew: We’re going to get into that in a second.
Anton: Okay, cool. Let’s do it.
Andrew: I want to save that story and lead into it and go into detail about how you came up with this idea but yeah here’s the thing about DesignCrowd, I heard about them forever, but you know what? There’s so many sites where you can go out and get design. So when they sponsored, I was kind of like, “Well, tell me what makes you guys different.” And they said, “Here, go. We’ll give you a free account. Go fricking try it and you’ll see it.” And even though a lot of my design sucks, I didn’t try because I’m intimidated by design. I said, “All right, they’re just like everyone else but they’re the ones who are paying me or want to pay me.”
And then I finally one day said, “Why am I dealing with ugly design for my podcast? Why don’t I just go to DesignCrowd and I don’t need their fricking freebie. I don’t need their hand out. I’ll just go with my credit card. It costs practically nothing.” So I went on DesignCrowd and I filled out their form which was just like three sentences, and I said here’s what I like, copy the color of the top business podcast which is green. Copy it exactly.
Put my face on it because apparently if you have your face on it, it makes people like it but use the one with me punching because I think it’s action, it catches people’s attention and it’s me because I got my meditation beads in there. It’s not so much a punch like as my meditation bead. And put the word, “Startup Stories” in big because no one knows what the hell Mixergy is. Why would you lead with the name Mixergy? Lead with the benefit, which is startup stories. If you’re an entrepreneur, you want to hear stories of people who started up.
All that I could do in my sleep. I don’t have to have a design sensibility to do that. Copy their color, do this. So here’s what I got. I got dozens of different designs. I totally forgot about it. On Monday my assistant and I were going through my email, we saw dozens of images. What the hell is this? And if it wasn’t my assistant looking over my shoulders as I did my email I would ignore it because I’m so tied up in knots about design. How do I pick the right one?
But she was there and she’s there to make sure that I answer all my e-mail fast. I click through, “Wow.” They all had it the same color green. Some of them had pretty crappy design but it’s very easy to go in and tell them, “Hey, this is not what I was looking for. That’s not my face. Whose face are you getting over here?” the “Startup Stories” is too tiny. Who can read light white on light green? Dude, step it up.
So I kept giving the feedback and then there was one guy who came up with yellow. I said, “Whoa. I actually asked for green. Copy the leader, so the people kind of mistake my podcast for theirs but I like this yellow. So I then said to a couple of other people, “Go with the yellow.” And then I ended up with this beautiful design all because thousands of people had an opportunity to create my design. Hundreds of them, I think, ended up creating a design for me.
I gave them feedback and they came back with more design. Actually no, it’s dozens of people, hundreds of designs from them. I kept giving them feedback because it’s very easy when something sucks to go, “This sucks.” It’s very easy when something grabs you in the gut to say, “Grabs me in the gut,” and why. The rest I kind of ignored because I don’t know what else to say to them. I know I was supposed to give them feedback but sorry, I had nothing to say, so I ignored them.
But wow, I ended up with a design that looks great. So that’s what DesignCrowd is. You tell them what you’re looking for, you give them a little bit of guidance. You can speak natural language, you could tell them what you’re looking for and then they get to work. You need a podcast design, they give it you, ebook design, they give it you, website design, they give it you. Now, you and I, Anton, have designers so why would we need DesignCrowd? Because our designers keep thinking the same thing. They’re going with our direction giving us the same thing. With DesignCrowd you get a collection of people. Each one will take the same instruction and go off in their own path.
All right, if you guys are listening to me and you see that I’m going off a little bit longer on this ad than I should, it’s because I love them, because I’ve used them and I’m urging you to try them. Don’t do what I did for a long time which is just ignore this and say, “Okay, I get it.” Do it, try it. Do what I did that day when I just had a scotch in my hand, Olivia was out of the house and I just filled out a form to see what would happen if I got designs from DesignCrowd. And if you go to the special url, they’re going to give you up to $100 off. Go to designcrowd.com/mixergy, designcrowd.com/mixergy.
You’ll like it, Anton. It’s good.
Anton: All right, I’m going to check it out. Love services that make our life easier so I’ll give it a look.
Andrew: You know what, here’s the thing by the way as a podcast . . . you podcast, right?
Anton: I do. I just started but yes.
Andrew: One of the things I’m noticing is podcasters do is they copy Gimlet media. Gimlet decided they’re going to have music embed underneath their commercials. And so that way, they could separate the content from the ad. So I’m seeing other people do it. Like David Plotz from Slate Political Gabfest now has this loud jazz music underneath him every time he does an ad and he’s just reading directly and I realize what it is.
They’re trying to say, “I’m just getting paid to do this. I have to read this paper. Listen to the music. This shows that it’s not really something I care about. In fact, I’m going to be so boring because I’m reading from the paper that I’m going to stay on script and the music will maybe entertain you.” I just cannot get to that level. I got to either feel it in my gut and love it which means that the downside is I talk a little bit too much or I got to just tell him, you know what, I can’t take your money.
Anton: I think most people usually skip those little music sections.
Andrew: Right, here’s what you do, and frankly guys if you’re listening to me you should learn this even from me. When I yap a little too much about something that you don’t care about like a sponsor just hit the 15 second forward button. If you’re using Overcast app, use the 30 second skip button and just skip me. Get to the part that you care about. All right, I got to rant when I care. All right, so you sold that business, you made about half a million dollars. Did you do anything fun with that before you got into the next business?
Anton: Nothing special, honestly. I kind of had it relatively easy even with those businesses, the first network of stores. Probably working between four and six hours a day. So I already had a lot of free time. I already had moved to a place that I liked where I could play golf a lot. So didn’t do much. In fact probably got too lazy.
Andrew: [inaudible 00:27:50] golf.
Anton: I thought I would take time off and then try to get back in. Yes, golf. Played a lot of golf.
Andrew: I tend to get into people’s personal lives, so I’m going ask you. Did you sleep around a little bit? Did you feel like a, “Hey, I’m Mr. Moneybags now, I got enough time and I can go out”?
Anton: No, no.
Andrew: No, none of it.
Andrew: All right. Are you married?
Anton: I’m married now, yeah. I got married about a year ago.
Andrew: Were you at the time?
Anton: No, no. I was single at the time actually. Yeah, I was single. But no, life didn’t change much to be honest.
Andrew: Just golf.
Anton: We were running the businesses for four or five years already. So not to say, “Oh, I’m this super wealthy guy,” but things were going well already so it wasn’t like all of a sudden, “Oh, what should we do with this money?” or “What can I do now?”
Andrew: All right, did you do it as an asset sale or did you do it as a full-on business asset sale?
Anton: Asset, yeah.
Andrew: When you do asset sale, when you sell your whole business, they get everything including the debt. You get to just pay 15% or so of that in taxes. When you do an asset sale, you keep any strange debt that you might not have told them about. That’s why they do it. They get the assets that they care about. Do you pay taxes of 15% on that? What’s the tax situation on that?
Anton: I have to ask my accountant.
Andrew: Well you can tell whether you’re paying roughly 15 or roughly 50, right?
Anton: Right. I think it was closer to 15. Not sure what else got worked into that year’s taxes but I think it was closer to 15.
Andrew: All right. This is capital gains tax. I actually don’t know whether it’s 15 or not, but I think it’s roughly 15.
Andrew: All right, so then you said to yourself, I need a community of people where I can talk to about what my next thing is. You went to Warrior Forum which I’m fascinated by. What was Warrior Forum like? I’m fascinated because I’d like to interview the founder but the guy keeps saying, no.
Anton: The original guy or the new guy?
Andrew: I didn’t even know there was an original or new guy.
Anton: Yeah, they got sold for a few million a couple years ago to a company from Australia. But I went on Google, typed in e-commerce forum. That popped up. Basically, what I saw was a lot of people that were talking about e-commerce, that were talking about marketing. I knew from years of experience that none of it really made sense.
Some of it was okay information but a lot of it was just totally ridiculous and out there only to sell people stuff. And because I had time, I guess, and not much to do, instead of just closing it, I started to comment on different threads in there. Sometimes I asked questions. Sometimes I just said like, “What are you talking about? This makes no sense.” Yeah, I spent a few days on the forum and people started to like my comments, send me private messages.
Andrew: What’s your username? Is it the same as your Skype name?
Anton: I think its Anton Kraly. It’s either Anton Kraly or it might be Anton Lewis which is my middle name. I think its Anton Lewis. Yeah, I haven’t logged in a few years but I’m sure I didn’t delete my profile or anything so that will all be there. Yeah, I started to answer questions and then I made one post because I got all these private messages and the post was about like my story. How I turned that $29 investment into Yahoo Stores into a business that by our third year was doing over 1.8 million in sales and then that one just became like this mega thread on that forum.
Andrew: I’m sorry. I was actually still checking out what you’re doing. It looks like at one point it was the same as your Skype name and then you were changed by the moderators because you asked the moderators to change it because it’s kind of weird for people to be referring to you by a made-up name.
Anton: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Is it Anton Lewis?
Andrew: But now I see you as Anton Lewis on the site and you’re in there. I’m looking at the others.
Anton: That’s what I thought.
Andrew: I’m sorry, as I was spying on what you were doing back then. Location Saigon from New York.
Anton: Saigon, so yeah, I haven’t updated it in years. I [inaudible 00:31:19] in Vietnam for a while.
Andrew: Here’s what’s weird by the way about Warrior Forum. I hadn’t been on it in years so I didn’t realize that they were shifting to like a Reddit design where you can upvote the post. But in addition to the Reddit design there’s also this forum that’s still so old world that your Facebook name, like there’s a link to your YouTube video, there’s a link to your Twitter account, there’s also a Facebook link that’s just your numbers. You know how Facebook [inaudible 00:31:45] numbers?
Anton: Oh really?
Andrew: It’s a mix of old, a lot of old design actually. Okay, so what was it that you were saying? You built a business within the Warrior Forum?
Anton: Kind of I guess. As I would post there, I started to get people that messaged me, and then I started to just answer messages and answer questions there. Then I thought, you know what, let me just go ahead and actually put this together into a series of videos. So that’s what I did. I made a series of videos that shared what we do, we build businesses.
Andrew: That was the beginning of what now is Drop Ship Lifestyle?
Anton: Right, right. What I would call, version one.
Andrew: Okay, how much did you sell that for?
Anton: Under 50 bucks.
Andrew: That’s a thing actually that I noticed. That people go to Warrior Forum, they participate in the conversation and then they sell. Apparently, some of them have their whole sales page in there. The only thing that happens outside of Warrior Forum is the payment to PayPal or to some shopping cart.
Anton: Yeah, I think we had a sales page in there but I also didn’t know any info marketing at that time so I found ClickBank and we were in a ClickBank marketplace and on Warrior Forum also.
Andrew: All right, so you know this exists. What was wrong with this that you decided I also have to, not just create my own mini course with videos, it was just you talking over PowerPoint, right?
Anton: Sure, sure.
Andrew: What was it about this that made you say, “I got to create my own anyway. I have to go and create another community. I have to do more than what’s working here.”
Anton: Well that’s what I was doing. When you don’t you know own the community, I guess, you can’t control the conversation which means there’s still going to be those other people that are trying to sell their thing, I guess. And in my opinion, it’s not worth anything. So I started to get more and more people coming in, started to get success stories, started to get testimonials, started to get people kind of spreading the word.
So at that point our website was building through our original customers and it kind of just got to a point where I realized, “Okay, this is a real business. This is more than a post that I update every once in a while.” That’s when kind of started to shift focus to turn it into a real business by, not only adding more content, doing our blog, doing YouTube. We started doing live events, started going on other people’s podcasts to spread the word and that was really it. Just by having those original people come in and really asking for it I guess.
Andrew: The nice benefit of being on Warrior Forum, I’m now going through and looking at your old stuff, is you actually get to see the cynics, the concerns, the everything.
Anton: Oh sure.
Andrew: So there’s a guy named Robert X who says, “Only two hours left to buy Drop Ship Lifestyle at 50% off, should I do it?” And now you get to see, not just your friends responding, but also other people’s concerns with it and other people’s feedback with it. And then there are other people referring other products in there too. So it’s a good way to at least get feedback from people early. What did you learn about creating the product from this kind of feedback from people?
Anton: I’ll tell you, the first time I put it up there and had like order button on it, $30, something like that, I was so scared of what kind of feedback was going to come in. Even though it was not that expensive but I don’t know, what are these people going to say? Are they going to like it or are they going to say I did a bad job with the slides? Are they going to say it makes no sense?
But, what I learned is people are probably overly nice because from our customers we got really good feedback and even now, as we’re going into the newest version, we have to really push them to be like, “Okay, what do you want? What could be made better?” I learned that usually customers are really nice and people that are cynical, that don’t give it a chance aren’t. So that was a big lesson.
Andrew: Wow, and I see you even put some videos from the course in there. It’s you, sitting in front of two Macs. It looks like two screens with your PowerPoint slides. All right, I’m getting too deep into Warrior Forum now.
Anton: Yeah. That was my office out in Vietnam.
Andrew: I got to go beyond this thing. We’re going to go bigger.
Andrew: Bigger, means a bigger course. That’s actually on my site. That’s not being sold on Warrior Forum. Bigger means a community that I get some control over. It’s not just any person who wants to can jump in and be critical and start sending people away. You then bought dropshiplifestyle.com. Is that the first domain?
Anton: That’s where, yeah, the version first version Drop Ship Lifestyle was.
Andrew: What did you learn from going from that version one to the next version about how to teach better, how to communicate better? What was the change?
Anton: So basically, version one, what was good about it is it got people doing the same style of e-commerce that we do. A lot of people that drop ship do all the express, they drop ship from China, they don’t think that you can actually have basically an online retail store which is what we’ve always built. So version one was good because it introduced people to that concept and just opened their minds to like that as a possibility, but as people went through it definitely realized like there were holes.
Someone that’s never ran Google product listing ads before, if I make a 20-minute video and say, “Hey, here’s how I set up a campaign.” They’re not going to even know what that means. So it went from like a 20-minute video on let’s say PLAs to a four-and-a-half-hour course that’s diving deep into our campaigns, that’s showing exactly how we do everything. So kind of just expanding on what was there, so that anyone could understand it.
Andrew: PLA is product listing ads?
Anton: Yeah, Google product listing ads.
Andrew: Got it. Okay. I get it. You know what, I do assume that people know a lot of the stuff that they don’t when they’re just jumping into this stuff. Even campaign, I just assume everyone knows it but frankly I think the word campaign comes from Infusionsoft, and so I assume that that’s the way that everyone else is thinking. Or drip marketing. People don’t know that stuff, so you decided I got to get really basic with them. How do you know that? What kind of feedback led you to that?
Anton: That was feedback. The people that were seeing success early on with that first version, they were already marketers so they were able to kind of just get the, I would call it foundational level of here’s the type of site we build, here’s what we do to optimize it for conversions. Here’s the type of suppliers we get and then here’s how we get traffic. And they were able to kind of incorporate their skill sets with what I was teaching and make it work.
But for that person that sees, “Hey I could build an e-commerce business,” has never built a website before, has no idea how to do anything even close to, I’m not technical, but even close to technical, they would go through it and they would get lost early on. So that’s really how. People just saying like . . . seeing the results those people that have experience versus those that didn’t.
Andrew: All right, our producer talked to you before and one thing that I was surprised by that you told the producer is the next step you took was you created an in-person event. Why in-person event? I think I’m a little too hesitant about in-person events but maybe I shouldn’t be. Why did you do it?
Anton: So at that time I was living in Thailand. I was literally sitting on the beach after scuba diving with a friend that’s also from the States, lives out there. He was actually one of my students, built a really successful business and we’re sitting there like literally drinking beers, watching this amazing sunset. And he was like, “Man, I can’t believe there’s not more people from the course that are out here and that are doing it.”
I said, “I’m really not because it took me years of having technically being location independent to actually go out there for like an extended trip.” I thought why didn’t I do it earlier and it wasn’t because of money or because of time, it was because I didn’t know anyone. I didn’t know where to go. I was scared.
So I thought let’s actually go ahead and tell people that this week is blocked out for masterminds and whoever wants to come out here from our community, they can come out. We’re going to have fun, we’re going to do the diving. We’re going to go to the parks, we’re going to see the tigers. We’ll do all that. But we’re also going to spend the mornings working on our businesses together. So it was really just to give people that probably were scared and wouldn’t do it on their own, an excuse to see that part of the world and to see if it was for them.
Andrew: Were you charging for the retreat at the time?
Anton: I think it was $97 that year. Yeah, it was 97 bucks.
Andrew: So they just had to pay to get themselves out there but once they did, for 97 bucks they got to work with you directly. That’s super cheap.
Wow. So they got to work with you directly every morning and then they would pay for their scuba diving or whatever else they did.
Anton: Exactly. We call them like excursions, they were paying for that.
Andrew: How many people did that?
Anton: I think the first year maybe like 140. There was a lot.
Andrew: A hundred and forty, dude.
Anton: I thought it was going to be 10 people. I really did.
Andrew: That’s not an easy trip. That’s not like going to Florida.
Anton: No. It was a big ask, and out of that 140 or so, a lot of them stayed. I was telling people, I was like, “Listen, let this be your entry point and then if you want to say, there’s a great community in town. Here’s where you could live. Here’s where you co-work,” and a lot of them did.
Andrew: And they ended up staying and living there?
Anton: Yeah, a lot of them are still there.
Andrew: [inaudible 00:40:21] a bunch of people who were students of yours who are all in the neighborhood.
Anton: Right. There’s many of them there today still.
Andrew: All right, let’s talk about Toptal. Toptal is a place where I’ve said is my sponsor that helps you get developers. You had an experience with them Anton. I asked you not to hold back. Talk about it. It doesn’t sound like it’s the most positive experience but you were smiling and you seemed happy about it.
Anton: No, because I think it was because it’s better if a company is honest with you and tells you how they could help. Basically, my team was working to create a software and we wanted to use Toptal services because heard great things about them from friends and seen a lot of their content. I know they put out great stuff, so I got in contact with one of their sales reps and she spoke to me and asked me a bunch of really good questions.
The conversation basically ended with her saying listen, “I don’t think that you’re ready at this point to work with one of our designers.” I’m not technical, so I didn’t have everything really mapped out the way I wanted it and she said, “What I’m going to do is I’ll send you an email and I can recommend a few companies that can help you put together what our developers would need to build the best products.” So I actually appreciated it. I mean she rejected me but she also saved me money because if she just let me go and worked with her developers, I probably wouldn’t have a great product. So I thought it was a good experience.
Andrew: Yeah, I think that for a long time when I said that you could hire a developer from Toptal, people thought of it as, “I could get my CTO from Toptal,” but that’s not the way they want to be thought of. They don’t want to be thought of as the person who creates your product. They want to be thought of as the person who slides into your team or the team that slides into your existing team. They want someone to do some code review and so on, which is why many people on my audience have been rejected.
I’ve been clear about that. It seems like they’re starting to move into the full product creation process but I want to check in with them about that before I talk about it. For now, what they really are good at is saying, “Hey, you have a team of developers, you need another good person. Or you have a CTO and you need another hire. You have a co-founder, who is a technical co-founder, you need somebody to be the phenomenal developer who’s probably even better than your technical co-founder. We have that.”
So Toptal has prided itself on creating this collection of developers in their network. In fact, there was this guy, I can’t find it right now. He put a post on Medium to say, “I almost got into Toptal. It took me so long but at the last minute, going through their process I had a client that I was taking care of and so I wasn’t giving the Toptal evaluation process my all. And as a result Toptal rejected me, but I am going to work hard and I’m going to get into Toptal in the future.” That’s how badly great developers and designers want to be a part of the Toptal network. They’ve created this barrier to entry, they make it hard for people to come in, so people who are really good work like mad to get into their network.
So if you’re out there and you’re looking for a developer, it’s not for everyone, it’s not every situation but if you’re looking for a developer, I urge you to go talk to Toptal. Faster than finding a developer on your own. You’re going to get highly screened developers who are the best of the best and they’re very proud of the fact that they’re in Toptal because Toptal is basically making it hard for people to get into their network.
I was going to call them pricks but I’m trying not to curse [inaudible 00:43:33], but they are because you know what? They can’t be nice. They can’t just say, “Hey, you know what you are developer, we’re part of the developer community, we love everybody.” They’re not like that. They don’t have that love in their heart. You know what they have? They have that shark. We have to be the best. Why aren’t you the best?
They even bought an ad from me, a bunch of ads. As you could see, their ads are doing well. I said, “Okay, now what?” He goes, “We want to know exactly how much.” I go, “Dude your ads are doing well. Why do you need to figure it out?” “We have to figure out to the dollar. How well are we doing? How many people are not using the Mixergy url?” I go, “Dude, calm down.” But that’s who they are. They can calm down, they have to do this.
Anton: That’s why they are winning.
Andrew: All right, if you’re out there and want to sign up, go not to toptal.com but go to toptal.com/mixergy. When you go there, you’re going to get 80 hours of Toptal developer credit when you pay for your first 80 hours and that’s in addition to a no-risk trial period of up to two weeks. I’m intentionally reading that fast. I don’t want you to sign up for the freebies, I want you to sign up because you get good service and great developers from them. Go to toptal.com/mixergy. “Top” as in top of your head, “tal” as in talent. toptalom/mixergy. All right, it is kind of awkward to sit there as I do that ad sometimes, isn’t it?
Anton: It’s all right.
Andrew: Look at my passion man.
Anton: I know, I know. You’re so excited about it.
Andrew: Oh, I got another. Do you know Baby Bathwater? They’re going to sponsor soon too. I think I’m going to get on fire about them.
Andrew: I don’t know what these guys do. You know what I was going to say what I think they do there?
Andrew: It’s just a bunch of entrepreneurs who get together in a ski mountain. I think they might be like . . . forget it, I’m not going to say what they do. I’ve got to find out like what I’m supposed to say. It’s like a trip. I got to go out there. I got to see them. All right. You now had a site, you now had to bring people to your site yourself, how did you bring people in? What’s your process?
Anton: So we do a lot of paid traffic, but not until a couple of years ago. The first few years were a lot of content really. So still participating on forums online. I live in Austin now. I’m in Texas but I lived in Asia for about four years and there was a lot of other people out there that are building businesses or trying to build businesses. So I think it was a lot of organic growth. Just by having my name in that community as that guy that does ecommerce that has an online program that helps people with it. Yeah, it was really organically.
Andrew: You know what, I’m seeing things like you did a Udemy course at some point. That’s kind of a way of bringing people into your world, isn’t it?
Anton: I didn’t publish one on Udemy. It might be an affiliate thing. I’m not sure.
Andrew: Jumpstart Success to Drop Ship and Lifestyle Dropshipping. Oh buy somebody just crammed a bunch of . . . that’s not you?
Anton: That’s not me.
Andrew: $10. They have 72 ratings, pretty high ratings, 702 students.
Anton: I think that is an affiliate that teaches a lot of the basics and then in there is basically saying you should sign up for Drop Ship Lifestyle.
Andrew: So Johnny [inaudible 00:46:25] that’s the name of the person. You know that person as affiliate?
Anton: Yeah, he’s a successful student of the course and he promotes it as well.
Andrew: I see. How effective is the affiliate program for you?
Anton: So at first, we were on ClickBank and what happened there was they don’t recommend most people start on ClickBank because it’s an open affiliate program. So whoever wants to promote it can promote it, and what you get there is a lot of people not representing your brand authentically or saying what you would like them to say and kind of making income claims, especially in our case. Saying a lot of things that just weren’t true.
I mean we had people posting reviews about how we’ll help people drop ship on eBay and Amazon and that’s not mentioned one time in anything I’ve ever said. So it can be good for us. It’s the best if we only work with people that are members of our community and that are already successful. So the people that we want promoting, they’re in the course, they have a store, they’re making money and if they want to tell someone, we’re more than happy to pay a referral fee.
Andrew: Oh, interesting. So you open up your affiliate program to anyone who’s in the course. If they want to make money by promoting this . . . interesting.
Anton: Yeah. Not even anyone in the course. Anyone in the course that is successful and that has a platform already.
Andrew: So they have to have a website, they have to have . . .
Anton: Either a podcast, a YouTube channel, a website, even a Facebook audience.
Andrew: And then you [inaudible 00:47:40] them to be affiliates.
Andrew: And then what’s the sales process with them? Are they sending people to a webinar? Are they sending them to a sales page?
Anton: No, we use Infusionsoft as well. So in Infusionsoft they have a list of different urls they could send people to. If they want to send them to an order form, the home page, a blog, a page with videos on it, they could choose whatever is best for their audiences.
Andrew: Okay. And they send people over to it. Do you give them any . . . I guess, tell me more about that because that’s an interesting thing to take your graduates and turn them into affiliates of the program. What do you do to help them sell it? What’s your process with that?
Anton: So we really don’t do much. Our website, I guess, when all of our funnels convert pretty well, so if someone sends someone and that person is interested, there’s a good chance they will eventually join one of our programs. But again, we’re looking for the students who already have those audiences and they’re basically just saying . . . let’s say you joined Drop Ship Lifestyle and you built a store and it made you an extra $3,000 profit a month. If you wrote a blog post and said, “I just signed up with this guy Anton. I’m making an extra $3,000 profit a month and it’s really cool. Check this out.” Like that’s what they do.
So it’s very natural, and that’s why we like to keep it that way. We started with an open affiliate program but we don’t want the videos on YouTube that say, “Is Drop Ship lifestyle a scam”, “Watch this before you buy”, “Don’t buy yet.” We don’t want any of that. We want authentic people with audiences that have results. Lost your audio here.
Andrew: It looks like Johnny F.D. even created a domain for this. Antonmethod.com. [inaudible 00:49:20] and then that sends them into get the free training. And as long as they get the free training, they’re tagged as coming from him. He’s affiliate number three in your network?
Anton: Yeah, yeah. So that’s a perfect example. So if you go like his website, his blog, he’s had a blog for, I don’t even know, seven years. He used to just be like a Muay Thai guy. He used to be about that, then he started doing online businesses. So he writes about that. He writes about how he travels. He writes about how you know he lived in Europe for the summer and things like that.
So there’s a really good value for us to have him as one of the people that’s promoting us. Again, for him as well, we have a premium product so he makes a nice amount of commissions as well by referring people our way.
Andrew: I see. He’s showing a photo of you and how he said that for a long time he thought you were a 48-year-old guy.
Anton: I know, I know.
Andrew: You must be a really young guy because a photo of you is just, you look like you’re 25 in it but . . .
Anton: I turn 33 next week.
Andrew: All right. So your process is, someone comes to the site, they get the free training which is email delivered . . . the email that sends people to a website where they watch some videos, they get the video training. Then once they do the video training, what’s the next step?
Anton: They can purchase one of our courses.
Andrew: How? Is it direct to purchase?
Anton: Yeah. If you go to the website right now, so literally as of yesterday it changed when you click Enroll, what page it goes to because now it’s going to the “We’re Closing” page. If you would have clicked it yesterday morning or anytime in the past year, you would see different options and different programs that we offer.
The first one we have, I would call our basic program, that’s all of our video trainings. The next level up is all of our video trainings along with three months of coaching. That’s 12 coaching calls, one-on-one coaching calls. Then we also have a done for your program which is all of our video courses, all the coaching calls, plus we’ll build your site, we’ll set up your social media pages and launch your first Google product listing campaign.
Andrew: What do you charge for that?
Anton: $5,000. Just under $5,000.
Andrew: Okay, and you’re still setting up their site for that.
Andrew: That’s a good price. You said you’re using Infusionsoft, I’ve got this page I want to send you that’s going to blow your mind. Where do I find it? I’ll find it later. Page that basically shows everything that you’ve ever sold here. Tell me if this does not blow your mind, check it out. Go click that. That’s the weird thing. That Infusionsoft is such a weird piece of software because they’ll have a page like that fully exposed to the world, broken images and everything because nobody in Infusionsoft loves this page.
Anton: It looks like a Yahoo Store.
Andrew: [inaudible 00:51:58] every fricking product you ever sold. Including like I could get your coaching two months for free using that link.
Anton: Because we have it like a free trial and just lists it as zero?
Anton: Oh, Infusionsoft. Didn’t know about that one.
Andrew: Let’s see what you’re doing, how you upgrade people, the whole Shopify theme. You offered it for $47 at one point.
Anton: I wonder if some of the zeroes too are products we’ve deleted. Some of them shouldn’t be zero.
Andrew: Because the team should be testing to see if the sales page works, what happens after somebody buys. You talk to them, they’ll hide that page for you.
Anton: Yeah, I will, I will. Thank you.
Andrew: [inaudible 00:52:37] exposed, screw it let people see it. But I don’t have as many products and haven’t experimented as much as you have, and frankly maybe even I should get rid of mine. Infusionsoft, you guys could do so much better. Yeah, look at that, you’re going through memory lane seeing every product in there.
Anton: Yeah, yeah. There’s a ton of it. It’s like every offer ever. Yeah, there you go. I didn’t see our done for you, but I see it now. Yeah, I’m going to send them an email.
Andrew: Teach me something now, you open me up . . . what have you learned that the rest of us can learn about selling products like these? About when do you upsell? What do you upsell? How do you keep a customer who’s lost, who wants to cancel, any of that? Teach me a little bit.
Anton: So I’ll say, we’re not big on an upsales. If someone just joins one of our normal programs, when they’re in the member’s area, they’ll see an option if they want to have our team build their site. They can add that in. But we don’t have like a whole, big upsale funnel. I’d say the biggest thing that’s changed business in terms of revenue besides becoming a premium product and making it much more robust and in-depth and charging more, obviously that’s the easiest win. If you could build out your product more, have it solve the problem better and charge more, you’re going to make more money. It’s pretty simple. But the biggest thing that’s had in affect in our sales is webinars.
Sure everyone does webinars and it’s for a reason. Like I resisted for years of doing it and then once we started to be able to do them and live specifically because we’ve tried the Evergreen webinar format, and for us conversions just plummet.
I think a big reason for anyone to do them is not just to deliver the content and to be able to explain your offer, but really the last 30 minutes where it’s a Q&A session, and people can ask you whatever they want and you can prove to them that you actually know what you’re talking about and that you care enough to give them an answer. It might be something they’ve been thinking about for months or years or no one’s ever been able to explain to them before. For us, that’s had a huge impact on our sales.
Andrew: And you do Q&A at the end of it, how often do you do webinars?
Anton: I’ve done at least on average one a week for the past year.
Andrew: Wow, one a week.
Anton: Yeah, and that’s if I average it out. Some weeks I won’t do any, some weeks I’ll do two but I’ve done over 50 webinars in the past year.
Andrew: And so you’re ads now are going out promoting this webinar because that’s a really good way . . .
Anton: No. So we actually don’t do that. I’ve learned that as well.
Anton: Because what would happen is people they’d register, we would get leads for relatively cheap and definitely affordably but then they’d get on the webinar and they wouldn’t know who I am, and they wouldn’t have a reason to trust me. They’d watch it, but they wouldn’t buy and our attendance rate also dropped big time because they didn’t know.
Andrew: You know what, I get that now too. I’ve been doing webinars and they don’t know me from Adam and it’s just like . . .
Anton: So, yes. So what we do is we do run ads. We definitely spend money on traffic but we advertise different little . . . whether they’re free video courses or free reports or just something of value. Something that that person can consume and then if they do consume it, assuming they go through it, they’re going to at least be willing to get on the webinar they register for and then when an offer is presented it’s not like this cold thing of, “Who is this guy and why is he trying to get $2,000 from me?”
Andrew: So it’s not an ad to a webinar where you’re promoting the $2,000 course. It’s an ad to a product.
Anton: To the free product.
Andrew: And then once they get the free product then they’re on the mailing list. The mailing list is what tells them about the webinar and that’s what gets them to show up.
Anton: And then we still do have advertisements to webinars but those are for people that are on our e-mail list or people that have visited our blog multiple times or people that have watched my videos on YouTube. So that warmer audience, people that know me already.
Andrew: And why do you do it every week instead of every other week on average? It seems like there’s a reason for doing it frequently.
Anton: We went back and forth. It’s really just because it doesn’t take that much time to do. I do them in about an hour and a half, including the Q&A session. It’s a really valuable way to spend an hour and a half in terms of revenue and in terms of having everyone that just found out about me in that past week have a chance to ask all those questions that they’ve been writing down as they’re watching my free videos or reading our reports. Yeah, it’s a good way to spend time.
Andrew: Do you do partner webinars too? Does that work for you with affiliates?
Anton: I never have, I never have, no.
Andrew: I didn’t even ask you anything about drop ship. Why don’t I do a couple of softballs on that?
Andrew: What should we know about drop shipping as a business? How do we set it up? Can you give me an overview of it and then one thing that will be useful to someone who’s been curious about getting into drop shipping?
Anton: Sure. So drop shipping is a method of fulfillment for e-commerce stores. So basically, what it means is you accept orders, you don’t have a warehouse, you’re not shipping them. Wherever they are in the world, someone is shipping that to your customer for you. It’s not like an affiliate deal because you’re not earning a percentage, you actually get the money. So if someone comes your website and buys something, it’s going to your bank account then you’re paying the supplier, whoever they may be, to fulfill it. So pretty simple. That’s like 101 level.
As far as like what that brand could be or who that fulfiller can be, you’ll see different business models. Some people try to drop ship from eBay to Amazon or vice versa. That’s like an arbitrage method of drop shipping.
Andrew: That’s where you list something on Amazon and if someone buys, you buy for them from eBay and eBay guy ships it out.
Anton: Buy from Walmart. Exactly. Or on Walmart. Yeah you try to find a price discrepancy. And people do that and they get sales, but that’s not a real business. It might be a way to get like a few orders and try to get money quickly but I don’t like that. So that’s one method so people are aware of it.
Probably the most popular method, in the past year or so, of drop shipping is using AliExpress, which is owned by Alibaba. Basically, all the big brands in China will have a lot of their little gadgets on there. They’re not even private label, there is no label. It is what it is. You’re buying a fidget spinner or like a miniature movie projector, whatever it is, they’ll just ship it to your customers.
The problem with that model, in my opinion, is that there is long shipping times so it’s going to be two weeks. So figure at least two weeks even if it’s shipping fast. The products usually aren’t that high quality, not saying products from China aren’t high quality but these are companies that sell cheap things and they do crazy volumes, so expect customer complaints, expect customers wanting to return and expect the supplier in China to not care because it’s not going back there.
So the third major model is what we do which is literally just being an internet retailer. So if you walked in to a Target and you see different products on their shelves, that’s what we do except we do it on Shopify. You go to our website and you see other brand’s products. We don’t drop ship from China, we work with suppliers in the States because that’s where our business are. Our students that are selling in Australia, their brands are in Australia. We always sell high ticket products.
Andrew: Like what?
Anton: So like the websites I sent you, at a minimum . . . let’s say furniture, okay.
Andrew: Or lighting.
Anton: Right, lighting.
Andrew: It’s like lighting that would work for the home and office, a specific type of lighting. That is the kind of thing that you’re saying because it costs more money?
Anton: Yeah, it’s going to cost more money. So with a website like that where people are constantly adding to build their cart value up, we want it to be at least $200. Closer to 1,000 the better. The reason is, we pay for traffic. So I mentioned Google product listing ads, that’s our highest converting source of traffic, but it’s not free. You pay to get clicks so you need to have enough money there.
Andrew: Amazon ads that send traffic to your site as opposed to the Amazon store?
Anton: No, no, no. So if you go on Google, just like Google home page, and I don’t know type in like . . .
Andrew: Oh you mean those ads at the top. If I type in anything. Like I was looking at the new Pixel phone, I got a whole bunch of those product listings, that’s what you recommend people buy.
Anton: Yeah, it shows you the product image, it shows you the product name, it shows you the price which is huge because the people that click those they know it’s a shopping ad. They see everything, they see the image of the product they’re going to land, they see your store name. If you’re running any promotion, they see the promotion there too, so those things convert like crazy. But you have to make sure you’re selling a product that’s expensive enough so your margin is there where you can actually afford to acquire customers. So yeah, that’s really like the foundation of everything that we do.
Andrew: Is it just that source of ad? I don’t see anything else. I’m trying to search, I’m using SimilarWeb to see where you get traffic to that site, the lighting site that you sent me. It hardly has any traffic so SimilarWeb can’t report much on it. Is there anything else that you’re doing? Do you do any SEO, content?
Anton: Yes, but basic SEO, but I would say that’s important. So with these sites we don’t get that many orders, you know a few orders a day but with an average order value of around a thousand bucks, like that’s kind of the goal for most of these. We’re not trying to sell thousands of units every day, and we are only trying to get traffic if it’s super targeted. So one of the good things about PLAs is the traffic, it’s coming from brand names, from product names, from skew numbers so by the time someone’s searching for whatever it is we’re selling, then they see an image of it, they see the price, they see the store name. They convert very high.
So we used to put a lot more focus into SEO and we used to pay a lot of companies a lot of money and we ended up ranking for a lot of keywords. The problem was they were too generic. So people would click it, they go to the site, they would click around, they would leave. So now we just focus really on very, very targeted searches. That and then getting them to convert in short amount of time once they find us.
Andrew: I see and even Facebook ads don’t work for you guys. It’s mostly Google.
Anton: No, just for just remarketing with very, very small budgets. Again, we don’t have that much traffic to begin with but for like a cold lead on Facebook to a product page where they’re going to spend a few hundred bucks, it really doesn’t work.
Andrew: Where’s a good place to find drop shippers? I saw that you include your list of drop shippers in your program and if someone’s certified they get access to drop shippers.
Anton: The easiest way is to find the companies that you’re going to be competing with. So let’s just say for like Wayfair, I just went to Wayfair, I’m on their home page. Let’s say you want to sell rugs. So I clicked on rugs and then I’m going to go to area rugs and their category and going to wait for it to load and then on the side bar. It didn’t load for me. Let’s go. Okay, here we go. Then I’m going to click buy . . . where is it here?
Andrew: You know what . . .
Anton: Rug size, [inaudible 01:02:52]. Yeah, when you pull up the side bar menu, it actually shows you like all the brands they sell for in that category and in any category you’re in. So that’s really how.
Andrew: You just go to the brand and you say I want to sell it for you. Sorry.
Anton: Yeah, no. You Google the brand name and they’re either going to have a contact form or a phone number and you’re going to call them and say, “Hi, I’m calling from antonsrugs.com. I’d like to carry your product, who should I speak to.”
Andrew: And they often have drop shipping programs in place.
Anton: I tell people, I know my program is called Drop Ship Lifestyle and whatnot so people could find it, but you shouldn’t use the word drop shipping or the phrase drop shipping. It’s like forever but it has like a negative connotation associated with it.
Andrew: What is the right word then?
Anton: Just say you work with Internet retailers, non-stocking dealers.
Andrew: Non-stocking dealers?
Anton: Yeah, sounds a lot more professional. They like that better.
Andrew: You know what, I was doing it for one of the sites that you sent me as we were talking. There was a backpack that I liked, and I went to see what the website was for it and I think I found the site of the manufacturer and I see their phone number on the bottom. And so if I wanted to create something like yours, I would just call them up and say . . .
Andrew: Got it. All right, if anyone wants to check you out, the website is super easy. It’s just dropshiplifestyle.com. How do you feel this interview went before we close it out?
Anton: I think it went well.
Andrew: Was it a little tense at the beginning, was it a little awkward?
Anton: I don’t know, I was fine.
Andrew: You know what, I saw that you were fine. I’m glad that you were. I like to get the tough part out of the way so that it feels a little bit easier to have a conversation that isn’t this thing of why aren’t you addressing the elephant in the room.
What I realized personally, and this is me just evaluating myself here, it does create a little bit of an awkwardness. For the first 20 minutes of the interview, I said, “Oh man, is Anton okay right now?” I’m kind of like constantly checking you out to see are you okay. Can you continue? Was I offensive? Was I now getting the best interview that I can? Was it a bit of a distraction constantly wondering that in the beginning?
Anton: No, I felt fine.
Andrew: I think you held up really well with that kind of questioning and I think that for some people it brings out the best. I think for you were just, “All right, I got to deal with this dick for a little bit. I’m okay with that.”
Anton: I’m good.
Andrew: All right, dropshiplifestyle.com, check out Anton’s free course on that site and just keep scrolling around like I did. You get lost in his world for a little bit, in the whole drop shipping world. And my two sponsors are the company that’s going to create really beautiful designs for you. And I say designs, a lot of them. You only pick the one you like, guaranteed. Go check out designcrowd.com/mixergy.
And if you want to hire a developer, go do what I’ve done and so many other people have done. Go check out toptal.com/mixergy. You don’t buy on their site. You schedule a phone call on their site with someone who will talk to you about your developer needs and then they’ll help you find the right people and you don’t start with them until you’re fully satisfied. Go check them out toptal.com/mixergy.
And finally, we’re updating the audio and video on this, so guys if you’re hearing anything that you don’t like, anything that you do like, please tell the team. They’re sitting there waiting to see their report card from you listeners. So please contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Anton, thanks for being on here.
Anton: Thank you.
Andrew: Thanks everyone.