If you’re building an industry marketplace, listen to this

I’ve been fascinated by marketplace sites, partially because they’re so tough to create. And partially because I wonder how they still exist in the world today. You would think that people could just go to Google, search for what they’re looking for.

Well, today’s guest started a marketplace and it’s working.

John Doherty is the founder of Credo which allows you to find and hire the best SEO, PPC, Facebook ads or other digital marketing providers.

John Doherty

John Doherty


John Doherty is the founder of Credo, which allows you to find and hire the best SEO, PPC, Facebook ads or other digital marketing provider, and EditorNinja, which offers professional editing services at a flat price.


Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy, where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses. Oh, I was hearing all kinds of weird feedback. You didn’t hear that? Did you, John?

John: Yeah.

Andrew: No.

John: You glitched out a little bit.

Andrew: Yeah, that’s what it was. It was like feedback, like a robotic voice. That voice, John, who you just heard is running a marketplace. I’ve been fascinated by marketplace sites, partially because they’re so tough to create because you need two sides of the marketplace. Partially because I almost feel like how do they still exist in the world today? You would think that people could just go to Google, search for what they’re looking for, in this case, find the digital marketer that they’re looking for and go with them, but it doesn’t work that way. John’s site, John Doherty is the founder of Credo. What he does is he’s got, yes, a list of agencies and freelancers who can do your Facebook ad buying, your search engine optimization, your . . . ? What is it? Pay-per-click is another one, all that digital marketing needs.

He’s got agencies and freelancers who do that, but instead of you going to his website and browsing and then checking in with them and interviewing them, the way it works is you just contact him and his company, and they’ll understand what you’re looking for, and then connect you with the right company or the right individual to do that marketing work for you. And I’m fascinated by how this business is doing. I’m fascinated by how he put it together. I feel like this is an opportunity for people to take and run with in other industries and other specialties. And so I want to find out how he did this. I especially want to find out how getting fired seems to have put rocket fuel behind him.

So John Doherty and I are going to find out how he did all that thanks to a . . . I’m actually just going to do one ad here. I think one that’s really appropriate for this interview, it’s ClickFunnels. If you’re creating landing pages, ClickFunnels is a software to use. That’s what I use and I love it, clickfunnels.com/mixergy. John, good to have you here.

John: Thanks for having me, Andrew. I really appreciate it. It’s been a long time coming. I think we were supposed to do this a few months ago, and my dog got bitten by a rattlesnake that day, and I had to cancel the interview, so I’m really glad to be here now and the dog is fine.

Andrew: What happened to the dog? That dog is fine?

John: He’s fine. He just got bitten and he’s all good. You’ll probably hear him running around.

Andrew: How do you feel about sharing your personal revenue?

John: I feel fine about it. I’m a pretty transparent guy. So it’s been an interesting year with revenue too.

Andrew: What do you mean? Where are you guys this year? Let’s say 2019 closing out with what?

John: Yeah, 2019. We’re going to close around 350k, 350k.

Andrew: And how much of that is profit?

John: Let’s see here. About 10% to 15% right now. Something like that.

Andrew: Okay. Okay.

John: We actually had a few months earlier this year where we were extremely unprofitable, which led me to make some changes in the business, which have been very good. But, yeah, it’s interesting because I’ve been through a bunch of business models and a past business model I was running at about 60% profitability, which was awesome. But I was dying as a, like, just time and sanity, and all of that. And so it’s been interesting lesson.

Andrew: So higher profit margin, but a lot more exhausted. But wait, that means that you’re doing $50,000 or so profit?

John: Forty to 50. Yup.

Andrew: Wow. For all the work that you’re putting into the site.

John: Yup. Right now. Yeah.

Andrew: How long have you been doing the business?

John: So the business has been around since February 2013 when I first launched it. I’ve been working on it full time since September, end of September 2015.

Andrew: And at the time you were working at Zillow, right, when you started?

John: I was at Zillow Group. Yup.

Andrew: I feel like I should . . .

John: So I started at working for an agency in New York, and then I went to Zillow Group for a couple of years, and then started working on it on my own.

Andrew: What was the agency in New York?

John: It’s called Distilled. So it’s an SEO and digital marketing industry based in London or, sorry, agency based in London, but New York and Seattle offices. So I worked there for two-and-a-half years.

Andrew: You know, I was looking at your past, I’m wondering how you got into digital marketing. You’re a guy who at nine years old wrote a novel. Is that right?

John: Yeah. Yeah. I wrote a novel. It was a fantasy novel about a kid that ends up living on an island. And he basically raised himself on an island. So I wish I could find that manuscript. It’d be super fun to publish now, but . . .

Andrew: You lost it?

John: I lost it. I have no idea where it is. It was on, like, my parents, you know, way old computer in, like, the mid-’90s. So . . .

Andrew: You know what? I lost a bunch of my data because I was so aggressive about using security to lock it up and make sure it was all private, and now I can’t even get access to it.

John: Yup. That’s how it goes. There are whole companies, Andrew, that will take your, like, locked hard drives and get to your data off of it.

Andrew: Number one, I don’t think that would work. What was I using? True Disc or . . . I forget what it was called, that software that’s now not existing. Number one and number . . . So I don’t think they could break into that, unfortunately. TrueCrypt, I think is called. TrueCrypt. I mean, I’m putting it out there because maybe somebody out there has some . . . Yeah, TrueCrypt. Somebody out there knows something about how to break a TrueCrypt encryption. But also I don’t trust them with that data. If I encrypted it, it means it’s super private. I don’t want them to have it. It’s just for me. That’s true. Did I just glitch out on you again?

John: You did. Yup. I gotcha.

Andrew: All right. If it keeps happening, we’re going to reconnect. So that’s impressive that you did that. It sucks that we both lost so much of our data. You then around 17 started blogging. It seems like you were really into writing. Am I right?

John: Yeah. Yeah. And I still love to write, Andrew. I mean, I’ve published . . . This year, it’s been less because of all the business changes, and hiring, and all that stuff. But I’ve published over half a million words on the Credo blog in the last three years. You know, so I’ve written basically five books on the Credo blog and guides and such. So I love to write. I actually consider myself a writer before I’m a marketer. So it’s just that at the end of the day, it’s what I enjoy the most. And it’s what I default to.

Andrew: What do you like about it? I like it when I’m in a groove, but when I’m not, it’s super painful. And I’m often not in a groove.

John: Yeah, it’s a good question. It’s always come easily to me. I used to actually have a habit where I wrote 250 to 500 words every single day, no matter what, which just let me . . . I mean, a lot of it that comes out as bad, but then I also get good stuff that comes with it. So I actually talked about this with Rand Fishkin one time. Rand has been a friend for a long time. I know he’s been on the show. And we were talking about writing and I was like, “I think you’re like me and that you just write to get thoughts out of your head.” And he’s like, “Yeah, absolutely.” So it’s actually kind of, like, a sanity exercise for me that I’m just like, I’m writing notes on my phone or on my computer or whatever. And it enables me to get thoughts out. And then I also come from a family of teachers. Three generations of my ancestors have been educators. And I love to teach. I love to share what I’m learning. So writing and teaching kind of go hand in hand there, especially on the internet.

Andrew: You were homeschooled, weren’t you?

John: Until high school.

Andrew: I’ve been thinking a lot about homeschooling. I feel like there needs to be a new way to do it. Somehow something that connects with teachers on the internet, so that it’s not all the burden on the parents. But what did your parents do right with you as homeschoolers?

John: Yeah, so I think what they did right, so it was a very, like, Montessori sort of environment, where not, you know, just study whatever you want, but, like, if you feel like doing math first, do math first. If you feel like doing science first, do science first, but then also, you know, some structure within that. So I think the thing that they did right and a reason why, you know, my brothers and I have done well is because . . . So my mother’s an educator. She’s actually still an elementary school gifted teacher. So she was constantly learning with us, like, literally studying the night before to teach us something the next day.

And so I think what they did right really was that, you know, she knows how to teach. She knows all the pedagogy and all of that. And so she wasn’t having to learn all of that as she went. And so I think that really set us up for success and, you know, taught us to kind of get into what we’re really interested in. They kind of let us be free, you know, to study what we were interested in, learn the other stuff that we kind of had to learn. But, like, I was never going to take advanced biology in college. Right? Because that’s not me. You know, I was a technical writing major. So I think that that really set me up well for success.

Andrew: So you’re working at an agency in New York and people kept coming, and asking you for what?

John: So I was working for this agency, was doing SEO consulting, SEO content marketing, that sort of stuff for big brands. And then I had smaller companies coming to me, you know, that were way too small for Distilled. Distilled was in the multiple thousands, I think, like, mid-four figures at that time for their minimum budget. I don’t know what it is now. But these companies that have, like, $1,500 a month or $1,000 a month . . . And I actually remember . . . So you’re based in San Francisco, right?

Andrew: Yeah.

John: So one of my clients from Distilled, a co-founder of a company called Grovo, one of the co-founders, his parents were real estate agents up in Marin County. And so they basically hired me to do SEO for them. They only had, like, $1,000, $1,500 a month. And so I did that. I got them ranking number one for Marin real estate, which is hilarious because then I worked for Distilled, you know, later. But I was working for these companies, you know, kind of moonlighting on the side, you know, nights and weekends, kind of doing some SEO consulting. And then, you know, kind of got to the point where I’d gotten a raise. You know, I was making more. I didn’t need the money and was kind of tired of doing it. And so that kind of turned into what is now Credo.

Andrew: And it’s people saying to you, “Who should I hire? Where do I go?” And you were making one-off recommendations for a while there and then you said, “Okay. I think this could be a little more.” And from what I understand a little more at first was a spreadsheet.

John: Yeah. Yeah. I literally went and created a spreadsheet of people that I knew in the industry that did good work. And some would come in and say, “Hey, I want to work with you.” I’m like, “Sorry, I’m not taking consulting.” “Who should I work with?” “Here, let me introduce you to a couple of people.” And we’ll just kind of sling intros via email. And then basically the story goes, and it’s completely true, is that I had a lead in the Provo, Utah area. And my friend Brandon runs an agency there. They’re still customers of mine. And I emailed Brandon and was like, “Hey man, I have this intro for this lead. They’re right down the street from you. Would you like it?” And he goes . . . I said, “Would you be willing to pay me $50 for this intro?” He goes, “Yeah. What’s your PayPal?” Three minutes later, I had 50 bucks in my PayPal account, personal PayPal, of course, sent him the intro. He closed it, made thousands of dollars off of it. I went and bought a domain name and threw it up on some shared hosting that I had. So in the black since day one.

Andrew: And that was the first business model, the first customer, the first everything. What was the website?

John: It was hiregun.co, which I don’t even own anymore, but you can find it on the Wayback Machine. It was awful. It was terrible.

Andrew: What was so bad about it?

John: I mean, it was a basic WordPress template. And I kind of hacked in, you know, different colors and that kind of thing. There’s nothing that made . . . Like, I’m not a designer. My wife’s a designer. I am not a designer by any stretch of the imagination. And so, like, I remember I had two buttons. I had, like, a green button, like I’m looking to hire and a bright red button. I’m, you know, looking to get work. So, you know, showing, like, the two sides from the start, but it was just like glaringly ugly.

Andrew: So then as I see it now, oh yeah, it is . . .

John: That’s good, right?

Andrew: It’s standard blog design. I don’t think that it’s bad. Let me see if I click on one of the buttons, I guess I’m taking over to a form. It’s not beautiful. It looks like a blog. As somebody who is selling marketing services, why didn’t you say, “I can’t run with this. It’s got to be much better than this. This is a representation of what I could do for my customers”?

John: Yeah. It’s a good question. And really, you know, I’m all about shipping something, ship an idea. You know, I get an idea in my head, I’m like, “I can code. You know, I can do all these things. I can get eyeballs on it.” And basically my thought process was, Andrew, it’s ugly, but if people still want it, that means that it’s a need regardless of the fact that it’s ugly. And so, then, you know, I can make it work better. I can make it . . . You know, designers will cringe, but I can make it prettier, right? I can make it look more trustworthy, all of that, and grow the business, you know, that way. So I’m all about put it out in the marketplace, see if there’s demand for it, see if people will pay money for it, and then actually put time into it.

Andrew: And did people find it? Did they pay money for it?

John: They did. Yup. Yup.

Andrew: How did they even find it?

John: Google. I mean, I’ve been in SEO for a decade now. I mean, a lot of referrals as well from other places, from, you know, Moz and places like that. But yeah, Google as well.

Andrew: What was the first business model?

John: The first business model was straight, like, pay me for an introduction sort of thing. Just, like, you know, lead, you know, not really . . . I mean, obviously I cared if they closed or not, but, like, I didn’t get anything if they closed. It was literally just like, you know, 50 bucks for an intro sort of thing.

Andrew: So I pay you money, you make an intro and if it’s not good, it’s on me. I’ve lost the money.

John: Basically.

Andrew: Oh yeah, I see. It is just a straight-up form on your site and one of the pages has three different forms on it because on the margin of the WordPress site, there’s a form for getting email updates and then another one for hiring a consultant. And that one page does look like it has way too many boxes and it’s hard to follow.

John: Let’s just say I’ve become much better at design and user experience in the seven years since.

Andrew: I’m with you though. I like the quick launch. So this was 2013. Is it soon after you launched this that you got that Thanksgiving email?

John: Yeah, that was . . . Well, that was . . . Thanksgiving 2015 is when I got that. So it was two-and-a-half years later after I went out on my own.

Andrew: All right. And so, meanwhile, as you’re doing this, you’re still working at different companies. No, actually, it looks like office lead at SEO consultant. Is that where you are for a while and then you were working at Zillow?

John: That was Distilled. I was their office lead in the New York office for a year and then I went to Zillow for about two years.

Andrew: What’d you think of Zillow as a company internally?

John: Zillow is great. I mean, obviously, Zillow is a consortium of brands. It’s a bunch of brands. They have, like, 9 or 10 public-facing brands now and B2B brands. I mean, the Zillow executive team at the time was phenomenal. You know, I was very lucky to work closely with them. You know, some of the smartest people I’ve ever met and worked with and some of the best people I’ve ever met and worked with.

Andrew: What made them so good? I actually didn’t know that they had other brands. Zillow I know is the company that’s, as soon as you get to someone’s house, you go to Zillow to see how much they paid for their house.

John: Exactly. Yup. Yup. Yeah. They own . . .

Andrew: That’s how you find out.

John: Yeah, but they own Trulia. They bought Trulia when I was there. And I moved over to that brand about two, three months later. Hotpads.com is the first one, first brand that I worked on there. Trulia, Naked Apartments, StreetEasy in New York. Yeah, they own a bunch, and they’ve acquired more since I left.

Andrew: So these are real estate sites.

John: All real estate and rentals. Yeah.

Andrew: With different models for how to find what you’re looking for. Got it.

John: Yeah. You got it.

Andrew: Okay. So then what did make them so smart? What did you admire about the way that they worked? Let’s learn from the way [inaudible 00:15:16].

John: Yeah. It’s a good question. So I report . . . Yeah, I learned a lot. I mean, I got to work with Spencer Rascoff, who’s the CEO and Amy Bohutinsky, who was their CMO was my boss for 18 months. You know, I got to spend some time with Rich Barton, the founder also founded Expedia and Glassdoor. So, like, I got to work some incredible people. Spencer co-founded Hotwire. So I got to work with some incredible, incredible people.

The thing that I really learned from them about running a company. So one major thing was that, you know, most companies will have kind of an imbalance in their executive team, right? Where, like, one team kind of owns all the purse strings, right? Like, they make the final call. But Zillow it’s really well-balanced, product engineering, marketing, HR, like, all of that, all had an equal say at the table. And they were really good, and the exec team had worked together for a long time. So they very much respected each other with disagree, and then ultimately come to a decision, and walk away, and go get it done. So that’s something I’ve wanted to do in my company where, like, I don’t want marketing to dominate it. Right? I’m a marketer, but I don’t want it to be necessarily marketing first or engineering first or product first. You know, we need to balance all of them and work on the one that matters most in the moment to make the biggest impact on the business.

Andrew: Okay. So you were working there and then what happened that led you to leave?

John: Yeah. So I was leading marketing and growth on hotpads.com. And I grew a marketing team. And we were growing the business, you know, traffic was growing, everything was growing. And then basically I had the opportunity to move over to Trulia because we had acquired them. They needed help, you know, on the rental side. And so I moved over there and basically there was a bunch of stuff that went on, man. The thing that started kind of the end of it was the general manager at the time who brought me over, told me four days after I joined Trulia that she was leaving to go to Pinterest. So I lost the person that was going to be my boss, that was going to be my advocate, went to reporting to a VP who had been long time at Trulia. And basically, long story short, you know, as happens after acquisitions, they decided to reshuffle stuff, decided they didn’t want a marketing team on the rental side, a dedicated marketing and growth team on the rental side, didn’t want to put engineers towards it, and all the positions were full-on kind of the for sale side that was also going to take over rentals. So,I and a few people that have worked for me at HotPads that came over all got laid off.

Andrew: Wow. How’d you feel at that point?

John: It was mixed. It was mixed. It was a little bit like . . .

Andrew: What do you mean?

John: “Oh crap, I just lost a six-figure tech salary. What am I going to do?” And it was also . . . It’s kind of a relief because I wasn’t super happy. And, you know, I’d been wanting to do my own thing and I’d been kind of saving up to be able to leave and do my own thing. So, you know, I was given a few months of severance and kind of use that as my funding to get Credo off the ground.

Andrew: Let me take a moment to talk about my sponsor and then we’ll come back in. I’m curious when we come back about why you didn’t feel like, “Oh, I’m a failure. This is not working.” Why didn’t you let that lay off get you down? But my sponsor is a company called ClickFunnels. What do you know about ClickFunnels, John?

John: I know that they are an incredibly successful company based up in Idaho. I really respect Russell Brunson’s stuff, and I know that they help people easily create landing pages that sell stuff online.

Andrew: So I thought of them as a landing page company too. What they do is beyond the landing page, they also help you get the sale. So, yes, you can get somebody’s email address and they’re phenomenal at that. You pick a template and you know it’s going to work because they’ve tested it. I like that on the second page, I get to drag and drop a credit card form and know that I can sell something. And at first, I’m always like, “Should I really sell on this? I’m just collecting email addresses,” but I’ve discovered that you could actually get sales from that first flow. When somebody gives you their email address, they’re often at a point where they’re likely to buy. And ClickFunnels makes it easy for them to purchase.

The second thing that I’ve noticed is it tells people, “I’m selling something. Here’s an example of what I’m selling,” and it sets the stage for an experience where they’re comfortable being sold in the future. It’s the difference between walking into a museum and then suddenly having somebody spring up and sell you something versus walking into a store where you know, “Yeah, at some point, I’m here to buy and I think it sets expectations well. As somebody who’s done landing pages, works with marketers for so long, what advice do you have or what’s worked for you on landing pages? We’ll use that as the hook for this ad for ClickFunnels.

John: Yeah. So what I found is something we did recently on Credo is we used to have our full directory showing everyone that’s within the network. And we basically decided to narrow that down to kind of close that down so that instead of, you know, for example, going into a grocery store, right? And you’re presented with, like . . . So used to live in Europe and they’d have, like, five different barbecue sauces. You go into a store in the U.S. and it’s just, like, 500 of them. Right? But I prefer just having a couple and, you know, knowing enough and then like, “Hey, you know, let’s put together a custom one or whatever.” So we closed down the directory. And basically said, “Here’s an example of who’s in there. Here’s how the system works. Contact us to learn more. And [inaudible 00:20:15] just to help you find the right person.”

Andrew: I’m noticing that on your site, so . . .

John: And basically doubled.

Andrew: Oh, sorry. And you’ve doubled? Before you talk about the results, let me just explain what I see. I go to getcredo.com and I see all the different things that you guys do. Like, I can get somebody to manage my Google ads, I click the link to get somebody to manage my Google ads. And instead of seeing a list of people who will do that, yeah, I can see who you’ve worked with and who’s used to your company. But what I see instead as the main feature of the page is a form that says, “Tell me about your needs.” I fill that out and then it goes to you. And so what you’re saying is . . .

John: You got it.

Andrew: . . . instead of showing the directory where I get to see the different people that I could hire and instead of flooding me with information, you’re just taking me to a form where I could apply to connect with you. And as a result, what happened?

John: So we have that. We also have dedicated pages for, like, PPC and all of that. You can find that through the top nav, couple of clicks. We doubled inquiries.

Andrew: Doubled inquiries, meaning what?

John: We doubled leads, doubled the number of people that were contacting us looking to hire someone.

Andrew: Got it. And if they don’t . . . Oh, I see. So, either way, you had a form, but now you move them to form right upfront. The first thing that somebody sees when they’re expressing interest is a form where before it was, “Here’s a little more information on what you were interested in,” then fill out the form. Got it.

John: Exactly. Or they land, for example, on our, like, PPC company’s page, right? And before it would just be like, here’s 50 different PPC companies. And people are just, like, browsing and I don’t know who to contact, whatever, and they just leave, versus now they see nine and more information about how the marketplace works and, you know, stats, and testimonials, and all of that. And then it’s contact us to find the right person. They can’t even contact someone directly through our site. They have to contact us and then we match them up with the right people.

Andrew: And why is that working so well do you think?

John: Because, I mean, I think before we were getting, a lot of people are just kind of coming and doing research. They’re, you know, a bit higher in the funnel but then also it’s a little bit of, like, curiosity. It’s like, well, who else is in there? Like, who’s the right fit for me? You know, it’s not choose your own adventure. It’s actually like, here’s the right fit for you based off of what we know about you.

Andrew: All right. People can obviously create that on ClickFunnels. If you go to clickfunnels.com/mixergy, they’ll let you use their form builder for free. You’ll create your own landing pages, where, yeah, I think you can increase conversions. I’d like you, John, to try ClickFunnels, at some point.

John: I’ll try it.

Andrew: I know that you normally do it all in WordPress. But, man, there are so good. It would be interesting too if there’s something that you can sell someone as soon as they fill out that form, even if it’s, like, put down a $5 deposit, I found that then that gets people to be more bought in. Look at you. I feel like as soon as I said that, you adjusted your seat and you got uncomfortable. You’re uncomfortable using these builders, aren’t you?

John: No, I’m not uncomfortable. I actually have a bad back and so it’s shifting my sit. But I am uncomfortable using them. I mean, we’ve talked about that. Like, I was trained as a web developer before I became a marketer. And so I have all the tools on my site to do that kind of thing but, hey, because you told me to take it for a spin, I’ll take it for a spin, and I’ll report back. I have some stuff I can sell on there. All right, so . . .

Andrew: I’m with you. I hated it too because I want to own the whole thing. And so, with WordPress, I got to just own my pages. I got to take them out, but the numbers spoke for themselves. I was able to increase conversions. I was able to make adjustments faster. And then I used some of their things that I thought were gimmicky, like that order bump where you just check a box and you could buy more than . . .

John: An upsell.

Andrew: Yeah. The little order bump upsell. So, anyway, I just love all those features. Clickfunnels.com/mixergy for anyone who wants to go try that out for free right now. Why didn’t you feel like a failure after getting laid off and think, “I can’t do this”?

John: You know, I wish I had a great answer for that. I don’t know why I didn’t feel that way. I was actually . . . There’s my dog barking. I was actually kind of excited about trying to do my own thing. It had been a long time coming. You know, I’ve never been super happy being an employee. Don’t like having a boss. You know, kind of have always had trouble with authority. And I was like, “You know what? Like, I think I can make this work. I think I’ll give it a go. I’ll see if I can make it work.”

I actually remember telling my wife that evening, she met me at the dog park and she’s like, “How was your day?” We had just gotten back from a vacation in Europe, by the way. So we were, like, jet lagged. She’s like, “How was your day? First day back at work?” And I was like, “So I got laid off today.” And she’s like, “Wait, what?” And so we talk about it and she’s like, “What are you going to do?” I was like, “I think I’m going to give . . . ” You know, at the time the company was called HireGun. “I think I’m going to give HireGun a go. I’m also going to do some SEO consulting.”

So I picked up, I had signed an SEO consulting contract in two-and-a-half weeks and low five figures audit and was like, “Okay. Like, worst comes to worst, I can just consult on SEO.” And yeah, you know, also said, “Okay. I have three months of runway. If I am not making revenue in two months’ time, I’ll go back and I’ll get a job.” I turned down multiple directors of marketing jobs, Andrew, like, offered to me. And I just didn’t want to do it and I didn’t have to.

Andrew: How did people find out about you? How did they know that you were available?

John: I literally just tweeted it out. I was like, I had about 16,000 followers at the time, something like that.

Andrew: And you’d say . . .

John: And by Thursday . . . Yeah.

Andrew: You said, “I am fired or I got laid off”?

John: I said, “Announcement . . . ” I actually found the tweet the other day. I said, “Announcement, I’m no longer with Zillow and exploring SEO consulting opportunities. Let me know if you want to chat.”

Andrew: Wow. Oh, that’s impressive then.

John: So I did that on a Tuesday and by Thursday, I had to stop taking phone calls because I had too many inquiries.

Andrew: I bring this up a lot but I wonder if I would feel like, “Oh, I failed so much. Do I want the world to know? Maybe I should just quietly solve this problem before I tell people.” I know it’s not a healthy way to think, but I have to acknowledge that’s my first instinct sometimes.

John: Yeah. And I mean I was that way too. You know, I was a little bit scared to put it out there. You know, I didn’t say I got fired. And then, man, I was talking to other people, other entrepreneurs, and I was interviewing some people for my podcast the first season, and, like, six of the first nine people I interviewed had all gotten laid off and started their companies because of that. And I was like, “Okay. this is a common thing but, like, it’s kind of a pariah that we should actually talk about because it happens to more people.” That’s why I kind of use that as, like, you know, it’s a big part of the story, but it was scary. It was scary to share it. It’s scary to be transparent. And those feelings of like, “Oh I’m a failure,” just haven’t come for whatever reason.

Andrew: When you went all-in on it, what changed or what did you change about the business?

John: Well, I cleaned up the site because it was full of errors. It looked awful. So I cleaned that up. I migrated hosting, moved from shared hosting to a much better kind of premium host. WP Engine, I think it was. And then basically, yeah, started building out individual pages, started doing all the SEO things I know how to do to drive leads, got people into the supply side. So actually built it out . . . So the first launch was profiles, public-facing profiles on the site. And then so I got those live and then did a launch on Product Hunt, which was great. I think that’s actually why I was served a cease and desist and had to rebrand. Because I did that launch and caused, like, a buzz and then got a letter from a lawyer.

Andrew: And the difference was every agency and freelancer who was in your network was now on your site with their own profile. And that was the big launch.

John: Publicly displayed, they could be contacted through there, all of that. Yeah. But I also had the offer of, I will help you find the right person. Right? If you don’t want to, like, browse all these profiles, just contact me and I’ll help you, right?

Andrew: And what was your model then, at that point?

John: That one was . . . So the first model was 10% of a closed project for the first three months, which is a terrible business.

Andrew: You had to trust, number one, that they would actually pay you, right?

John: Yeah. Yeah. So I don’t know, I probably had 25 or 30 profiles on the site and I was just keeping in touch with them, just using a CRM to track all of it and basically told them like, “If I find out that you screwed me, you know, out of a commission, then I’m going to remove you off the site.” It happened one time. That’s it. That’s all. As far as I know, that’s the only time it’s happened in the history of the company.

Andrew: How’d you know that it happened? How’d you find out?

John: Because I emailed the person that had signed them and they were like, “Oh no, we stopped working together and I just heard from the client that they just signed a new contract.”

Andrew: Got it. Okay. All right. So that model was bad because?

John: It was bad because my revenue was churning out every three months. So I was basically, like, restarting from scratch every three months,

Andrew: They continue work together, if you have a really good deal, you’ve lost that customer.

John: You got it.

Andrew: Okay. That makes sense. So then, what was the next model?

John: So the next model was . . . It was basically a lead gen service. So people could sign up. It was kind of almost like SaaS pricing, where there were like three different levels of pricing based off of how much you paid us. You got a certain number of . . . You could contact a certain number of projects per month. So it was like 100, 200, and 375, something like that, which worked . . . It worked better. So, to put numbers into context, I was doing, as of March or April 2016. So, like, seven months after I launched it, we were doing $3,000 to $4,000 a month in revenue and by the end of 2016, we were doing $16,000.

Andrew: Wow. Okay.

John: So it worked a lot better. There were challenges with that too, I mean, churn. People on the lowest level were churning out, you know, pretty hard because honestly, we weren’t doing a good job of making sure that they were closing, right? People always say, I ask agencies, “what’s your number one problem?” And they say leads. I’m like . . . but what I found is if we send them leads, they have trouble closing them. So their number one problem is actually sales, not getting enough leads.

Andrew: I see. Right. You’re just passing it on to them, and it’s on them to close the sale, and they don’t have a direct relationship with the person. They may not know where they can push and where they can’t. All right. So you noticed that was a problem. How’d you handle it?

John: Yeah. So what we did was I started working with a business coach and basically we launched a higher level, a higher tier, that was, like, 500 bucks a month, something like that, contact more projects, but also, you know, we’ll personally introduce them to you. Right? It was literally me emailing them like an introduction. And then that was working well. And then we were like, “You know what? Let’s go for broke. Let’s launch a higher model.” So it was like, it was a couple of grand a month and basically, like, we will work with you to help you close these clients.

Andrew: Meaning you will get on a call with them, with your client, with the prospect, and close them.

John: So I’ve never gotten on the call with the agency and the prospect, but I would talk to the prospect, and then basically introduce them, and then following up on both sides, reviewing proposals, all of that. And coaching the agency along the way and being like, “Hey, they told me they have, let’s say $2,500 a month for SEO. You just pitched them at seven. Why did you do that?” Right? Like, “You’re not going to close that. And I told you they had $2,500, so why did you pitch them at seven? And so some coaching like that and they just started closing infinitely more work.

Andrew: Got it. By the way, I’m looking at the iterations of the website over the years. It is great that you’re such a prolific writer because you’ve written a lot about this. When you said who your first client was, I can actually see a screenshot of your first PayPal revenue from that client because you wrote a blog post on Medium and included that. So I get to see all of that. The thing that stands out for me is throughout, it’s all WordPress. It’s a WordPress site even . . . Am I right? Even when you were putting up profiles for different agencies and freelancers, it was just a WordPress site.

John: It’s still all WordPress, Andrew.

Andrew: Yeah. Yeah. That’s so impressive. It’s a whole business model, a whole business built on WordPress and you’re just keeping it simple. A page, if I’m right, if I’m understanding right, every time you had a new agency, you’d create another page, make the profile for them. Right?

John: You got it. It’s a custom post type, but yeah, it’s a new page with a profile for the profile.

Andrew: So then the new model, how did that work for you?

John: So that model worked, it worked really well. I got some . . . So we ended up doing that and then we also had another one that was, like, 500 a month plus commission in perpetuity on the project. And so . . .

Andrew: But what do you mean 500 a month plus commission?

John: So, basically, they paid us a retainer to send them to work to prioritize sending them work. And then when they closed work, I literally had, I still have Google sheets, of like, these are the projects that were closed and then the commission every month. So, basically . . .

Andrew: Interesting. Every month you keep the client, you get paid 500?

John: No. Every month that they kept the client, we got a percentage of still get a percentage of what the client is paying them.

Andrew: Wow. All right. Who’s the business coach and what was it that helped you figure this out with the business coach?

John: Yeah. So that business coach was Andy Drish.

Andrew: I know Andy. Really.

John: I think Andy, like, introduced me to you at some point. But yeah, yeah, Andy was my coach for about two years and he really helped me, you know, get a lot more sanity in my life, realize what I wanted out of entrepreneurship. And then, yeah, we grew it. So our highest month, on that model was, like, $46,000, something like that in revenue. I mean, he helped me substantially grow it.

Andrew: Now what did he do? I feel like Andy is incredibly bright and there’s a lot of BS involved in being online, and he just doesn’t . . . I felt like he needed to do it, or he thought he needed to do it. He needed to put up a front, but he’s better without the front just being himself. And I think he felt a little bit gross putting up even a tiny front, you know what I mean? Even tiny pretend that things are . . . that he’s like a superstar, this and superstar that.

John: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, Andy is a great guy. And, you know, he really did a lot for my business, did a lot for me personally. So he’s a real dude, right? And he’s trying to do things right. He’s trying to live a great life. So, basically, Credo was still kind of a service business, and so he really helped me kind of double down on that, and obviously dramatically increase revenue but, you know . . .

Andrew: Can you be more specific? What did you have from him? Sorry to interrupt. What did you get?

John: Yeah. Totally. So one thing was basically, the big thing was basically realizing what is the actual value that we’re giving to people. Right? And then basically how do we charge for that value? So, you know, I was sending people, I still send people, I mean, I have one agency on Credo that is billing about $2 million a year from clients that we’ve sent through. And we have another one, like, around a million. And then I don’t know, 6 to 12, between 500K and a million. So, you know, charging them $375 a month, like, it doesn’t really make sense. And so, basically, we went and we did the research and said like, “Okay. You know, what are these leads worth to them? Like, moving forward, what is the value here?” And then the ones that realize that, like, we were too cheap and we can provide them better, you know, services by charging them more agreed to do it. So that was one big thing. Another one is honestly, he taught me how to do product launches. He taught me how to do price . . .

Andrew: What do you mean product launches and . . . ? Tell me more. How . . . ?

John: . . . changes and pricing launches, mostly using Jeff Walker’s launch formula.

Andrew: Oh, really? How do you . . . Sorry, our connection’s getting a little bit funky here, which really is bothering me. You’re saying he taught you how to take this stuff that digital marketers use to sell info-courses and use it to sell services? Like what? Like what? A sequence of emails? What?

John: Yeah. Yeah. Sequence of emails. And remember I’m an SEO guy, right? Like, I come from the SEO world, so I didn’t know how to do product launches. I didn’t know how to launch new features, launch new pricing models, all of that. So he taught me basically the email steps, you know, email sequences, that kind of thing, you know, to launching, you know, that new model going from $375 a month to $2,000 a month. Like, that’s a 5x increase. And I had 10 people buy that on the first day. You know, it was insane. So I actually didn’t realize it was mostly, like, the launch formula until about a year or two later when I was reading “Launch,” as I was preparing to launch that the marketplace earlier this year, 2019. But I mean, it’s magic. It works so well. So he taught me a lot about that. I still use some of those email sequences that he wrote for me in launches today.

Andrew: Wow. And then you said, it seems like you also help you on a personal level. Am I right?

John: Yeah. Yeah. So it was a lot about like, “Okay. What are you doing now? Like, what is your zone of genius?” So he got me tracking my time. You know, what am I doing every 30 minutes, like, for a full week? And then looking at what should I outsource? What should I send to an assistant? What should I keep doing? Where my time best spent. And so I now do that every quarter. Every three months I go back, I look at where’s my time going and then basically can I pay someone else to do the stuff that I’m not best at.

Andrew: What’s an example of something that you didn’t realize that you were wasting your time on until you did this?

John: For example, invoicing. Like, I should, like, taking the time . . . And obviously, if you don’t invoice, you don’t make money. Right? So, like, at the beginning when you’re, you know, just getting started, you’ve got to be doing it yourself. You have to be doing it yourself. But after a while, it’s like, okay, there’s, you know, 50 invoices just in this month or 50 charges to run in Stripe for commissions, why can’t I just have a spreadsheet than an assistant that I’m paying $15 an hour, it goes and runs all of those for me? Right? Because otherwise, I might have to go put them in and it probably takes me an hour or two hours, and it distracts me from other stuff. So things like that that are just like their operational stuff that I just . . . I’m not an operational person. Right? I like thinking long-term. I like doing marketing. And so the more I can focus on that, the better off I’m going to be

Andrew: Do you have a door that you can close to keep the barking [inaudible 00:38:02]?

John: Yeah. Let me try it. Yeah.

Andrew: Let’s give it a shot. All right, while he’s doing that, I’m going to tell you again, my sponsor is ClickFunnels. If you need to create landing pages, frankly, if you need pages that convert strangers into customers, clickfunnels.com/mixergy. This is kind of a personal thing to ask you about, but do you have a period there where you’re suicidal?

John: I’ve had periods in my life where I had those thoughts. Yes.

Andrew: So what is it like for you when you feel it? What do you hear?

John: Yeah. It’s a good question. It was basically . . . So the big one that happened was about three months after I went out on my own. And it was basically like . . . Yeah. I was, you know, getting the business off the ground, had realized the challenges of the first business model that I had and, you know, was consulting but wasn’t super happy doing that. Like, was making great money, but was, like, this isn’t what I want to be doing. And so it was really like . . . It was literally the thoughts of, like, the world might be better off if I wasn’t here, is basically what it was. But, you know, my family has a history of depression. I’d been through it before. And so I basically just told my wife and just let her know what was going on. And so started working with a . . . We were still based in San Francisco, which I didn’t love San Francisco. So, you know, we got out there end of that year. But I started seeing a therapist. And then also . . . So something a lot of people don’t know about me is I’ve had four concussions. So I’ve had some, like, basically TBI, traumatic brain injury is what concussions are. So I’ve had a few of those.

Andrew: How’d you get four?

John: Extreme sports.

Andrew: Skiing and skateboarding.

John: Okay. So all self-inflicted I guess, but basically that’s messed with my brain chemistry. So brains produce basically, an enzyme that regulates your mood. My brain doesn’t produce that enzyme. So I was very up and down, like, within an hour I could be really high and then really low. So it’s not bipolar because that’s like longer periods. And so I started taking an over the counter, I’d buy it off of Amazon. So I started by taking this over the counter supplement. It’s called SAM-e, S-A-M – E. And I’ve been taking that now for four years and it stabilizes me every single day. Yeah.

Andrew: Wow. That’s it. And so no more thoughts?

John: Take [400 00:40:26] milligrams every single day. I haven’t had any more suicidal thoughts since then. Yeah. I’m not going to say that SAM-e caused that. Right? I’m not a doctor. But yeah, it’s been much, much better. And I’ve just learned to ride the entrepreneurial roller coaster, Andrew, you know? Like, we all experience that. And I’ve just learned to be more comfortable with the . . . You know, when you’re on a high, that’s great. You know, when you’re low, like, you’ll come out of it too. And so I’ve just gotten better at riding it.

Andrew: I don’t get to that low. I do get down. And for me, it’s having other things going on that helped me. And I know that I tend to be an obsessive person, so I tend to focus on one thing to the exclusion of other things, which means that when things aren’t good with that one thing, I don’t have other things to distract me or at least I didn’t. Then I got married and had kids. So that’s kind of a distraction. I run and I push myself to do more of that. That’s a distraction. So I get other places where things are going well. I wonder what would happen if things weren’t going well with my kids and with work, then, like, that double whammy might keep me from running and then boom, I don’t know where I would go.

John: Yeah. Yeah. You never know. You really don’t. But I think it is important, I mean, getting out and moving, having other things. Like, I have a wife, I have, you know, our daughter’s almost eight months old. So, you know, we live in Colorado now, so we’ve been here for about three years. So we get outside a lot. You know, I get a lot of sunshine, get outside a lot. I think I have to assume all of that has helped.

Andrew: I forgot to ask you about the Credo name. So, at some point, you relaunched the site around Thanksgiving and we started talking about it before and then you get an email?

John: Yup.

Andrew: What was the email? This was back when your company was called HireGun?

John: Yup. Yup. So we rebranded. Well, yeah, so this is . . .

Andrew: Because?

John: Well, we rebranded on January 16th because we launched on Product Hunt and two weeks later, we landed in Virginia where I’m from for Thanksgiving. And I pulled my email and I have a cease and desist letter in my email. It’s like 6:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving Eve and had a cease and desist letter basically saying, “You’re infringing on our copyright. You need to give us your website, everything now.” And I was like, “What?”

And so I did some quick research there on the plane and was like, okay, like, you know, you can negotiate this stuff back. And then I got on LegalZoom and talked to a couple of copyright lawyers, and they were like, “Yeah, they have a case here.” As I basically just emailed them back, I was like, “Hey, you know, this is my situation. I need three months.” And they were like, “Okay. We can give you three months, you know, to rebrand.

So they were actually like . . . They were cool about it in that way, I guess. Yeah. So, over the next couple of months, I basically went searching for domain names and brand names and all of that. And basically settled on Credo because it’s short for credibility. And, you know, in the digital marketing space, there’s a lot of people out there that, you know, I’m sure you get the emails every day, “$99 a year SEO. Hey, buy links on my blog,” you know, that kind of thing. And, you know, I started the company because I was tired of seeing my friends hiring bad agencies and, you know, getting hurt by them. And so, you know, I wanted to create a place and this is still what gets me out of bed every single day, create a place where great companies can hire great agencies or great consultants, hire the right one that they can be quite confident is going to grow their business.

Andrew: I hate to go back this far, but I’m impressed that LegalZoom was so helpful. I just don’t think to go to them. I always think I should go find a lawyer. But I guess for basic things, like what we often have is the first set of questions going to LegalZoom would be phenomenal. And you were actually able to talk to a real lawyer there, not just get forms from them?

John: Yeah. Yeah. I talked to a real lawyer. They had, I assume they still have a network. I think I had a subscription and I think I formed my first LLC through them, my California LLC. So I had access to all of this and just hopped on the phone with a couple of trademark or copyright lawyers and it was super helpful.

Andrew: Wow. I guess they kind of have a part of their business is similar to yours where they connect you with lawyers, the way you connect other people with marketers.

John: They do. Yup.

Andrew: All right. I want to close it out with two things. The first is what advice do you have for hiring a marketer? And then the second thing I’d like to know is what do you think about someone taking this model and applying it to something else? I can think of a few different businesses that this might work for. But let’s start with the first question, which is, if I wanted to hire somebody to buy ads for me at Mixergy or do my SEO, what would I look for?

John: Yeah. So there are a few things and we have all this baked into our vetting process. So everyone in our network has this. So we look at them across three different levels and you should look at them across three different things. The first one is results, the second one is professionalism, third one is culture. So results . . . So, for example, Mixergy, you’re advertising . . .

Andrew: Wait, we’re . . . Sorry.

John: You know, site . . .

Andrew: I lost you there for a second. You are saying I make my revenue from advertising?

John: Yeah. Exactly. So you’re an advertising supported site, right? So you should only hire someone that has experience working with sites, content sites like yours that are advertising supported. If they don’t have that experience, they don’t understand how to grow that, then you shouldn’t hire them. And that’s just number one. So, in ours, we actually, in our vetting, we ask them for a couple of clients that they’ve done work for. Who’s the client? What’s the site? What was the project? What are the results you saw? And then who is your point of contact? And we actually contact all of them and make sure that that client would recommend them. And then we take a look at the client’s metrics and all of that. You know, in SEO it’s easy with like SEMrush and stuff like that. SEMrush also gives you, you know, Google ads insight, that kind of thing.

And then professionalism. We take a look at their deliverables. What have they delivered, right? Is it like a screaming frog export for SEO, or is it actually like a well written up document that’s branded that has recommendations, that have prioritizations, all of that because that’s what someone should get.

And then on the cultural side, we do a call with everyone. So don’t hire someone by just emailing with them, especially if you’re going to be paying them multiple thousands of dollars a month. You should be talking to them. Right? They should be communicating with you. You should have a phone call with them at least monthly, probably every two weeks, once you’ve actually hired them and reporting on results. And the reason why we do the culture call is because we only want to work with great people. And, you know, someone might be great at running Facebook ads or Google ads, but your personality doesn’t gel with them. And so you’re just not going to have a good working relationship.

Andrew: How do you write that down in your CRM to get a sense of what the person’s like? Because my personality, I don’t think it’s enough to say it’s got to be a good person. I think that there’s, like, a hands-off approach that I have that someone needs to be comfortable with.

John: Yeah. Yeah. Totally. So the way we really do that is in a way . . . What I look for when I’m having those phone calls is really, is the person . . . ? Like, do they come in and do they just try to kind of dominate the conversation or, you know, are they actually, like, asking questions and, you know, curious about things? Are they actually trying to understand, you know, how does Credo work and what kinds of clients are you getting, and that kind of thing? I’ve found just over the years that when someone is very, like, they dominate the conversation, you know, they’re like, “Look, this is how it is.” I’m like, “That’s not going to sell people,” right? Like, you might close a couple of clients, but if you’re just dominating it, not ask them questions, how are you going to send them the right proposal and therefore close them into work?

Andrew: So you’re looking for a specific type of personality because you have found that most of your clients work well. You’re not giving them a personality test and then giving your clients personality tests, and then seeing who matches. It’s not that.

John: No, but that’d be a funny test.

Andrew: Right. Okay.

John: What’s your Myers-Briggs? What’s your Enneagram? And then, no, we’re not doing that. It’s . . .

Andrew: So you’re saying if . . .

John: . . . much more, like, an interview.

Andrew: If I’m running . . . whatever company I’m running, whatever product I’m selling, I need to find somebody who’s done work with that type of business, with that type of product and then see the work that they’ve done before and more than the work, talk to the clients they’ve worked with before and then see the way that they express the work that they did. Is it just an email describing it, or is it professional document with clear metrics with clear explanations of what they’re going to do? That’s what I should be looking for if I’m hiring someone.

John: Yup. Yup. Totally.

Andrew: What about for Facebook ads? I’m assuming a lot of it is very similar?

John: Yep.

Andrew: What other tips can you give me that are more unique to Facebook ads to maybe starting with Facebook ads?

John: Yeah, so Facebook ads is interesting. So there’s a couple of ways to do it. So, if you’ve already been running Facebook ads, you want to get an idea for the kinds of ads that they’re running, there’s a couple of things. One is you can go in and you can basically see all the ads that accompany is running on Facebook. You know, so we could go and we could look at all of the ClickFunnels’ Facebook ads, and see what they’re doing, right?

Andrew: Because it’s on their Facebook page. I’m going to go to ClickFunnels’ Facebook page right now.

John: Yeah. It’s under . . . Yeah. It’s somewhere on there. I forget exactly where it is now. They changed around the UI. But you can see all of those and so then I would ask them like, “Okay. Who put together the creative? Who wrote the copy? How are you measuring it?” Right? And so, you know, if they’re like, “I’m just, like, running the targeting and all of that, I’m not actually doing the ad creative and the copy.” And you’re like, “Well, I need the ad creative and the copy too.” Right? So, like, how do I get that done? This person shouldn’t do it. Like, they don’t have experience doing that. So I think that’s a big one.

When it comes down to just starting a new Facebook ads account, I’d like to ask people, like, “Okay. How . . . ? I ask agencies, like, “What do you charge for setting them up? Right? And what do I get for that? Like, do I get the ad creative? Do I get the copy? You know, do I get the targeting? Do I get all of that? And how do you go about doing that and show me some other companies you’ve done it for?” So that’s usually how I tell people to start out. If you’re just starting a new channel, don’t hire someone for 12 months to do it for you. Get them to build out the initial strategy and start setting you up [inaudible 00:50:30] success.

Andrew: And now I’m kind of hunting . . . [crosstalk 00:50:33]. I’m hunting to see what ClickFunnels’ ads look like. They’re so good with their ads. That Russell Brunson, like, Instagram account just seems to follow me everywhere, and I’m so fricking compelled by it. But now, I . . .

John: Let me see if I can find them.

Andrew: I’m trying to see where it is too. And I go down these rabbit holes sometimes.

John: Yeah. Me too. Let’s see what Google tells us.

Andrew: Yeah. It used to be on the left margin, I think.

John: Yeah. Google still says it’s in the upper left corner. Let’s see here. But yeah, the point is you can see all of them. You can see all of their ads. You can see what’s working. You can see what’s not. It’s great for competitor analysis as well. So that’s where I start.

Andrew: Okay. What do you think if someone picked this up and said, “You know what? I think I could do this for another space for . . . ” I’m trying to think of a couple of different ideas for what this would work for. For some reason, social media comes to mind, photography comes to mind, social media posts that are well designed comes to mind, video production comes to mind. If someone were just say, “You know what? I’m really into video production. I want to create a network where you can find someone who’s going to produce your video.” What advice would you give them for copying your model for that space?

John: Yeah. That’s a great question. And, you know, some companies have, there are other similar companies, you know, similar models to us out there and other spaces. But what I would tell them is, you’re . . . So we call it our network, right? So we’re not a directory. You know, we are a marketplace but I call it our network, our network of agencies and consultants. And I like to tell my team that our network is our net worth. So, if you don’t have great people in there that you’ve vetted them out and that you’re constantly getting feedback on from them, your business is going to fail just straight up. So you need to take vetting very, very seriously and then focus on making those people successful. Right? Making them as much money as possible by helping them send better proposals, by helping them, you know, get better on the phone. I don’t know, you know . . .

Andrew: So it’s not enough to just say, “I’ve got this network. I’m going to match, make, and move on.” You’ve got to see why they lost a sale that you pass on to them. You’ve got to see why when they started working with someone, at some point, they stopped, and then find a solution for them.

John: At least at the start. Yeah. Yeah. To get that initial traction, that’s what you have to do because then you’re learning the things like, okay, all videographers have these five main problems. Right? It’s getting enough clients. It’s invoicing. It’s, you know, whatever else.

Andrew: And then see if you could do that for them or help them do it better themselves.

John: You got it. So the reason why we built the marketplace version of Credo is because the two big problems we identified, Andrew, with marketers is number one, getting enough leads. And as we’ve talked about closing enough leads. So those two kind of go hand in hand. And then the third one is forgetting to send invoices.

Andrew: They forget to do it.

John: I was flabbergasted. Yeah. They forget to send invoices to their clients for the work that they’ve done. And I was like, “We can take that off the table. We can guarantee that you get paid,” because clients that hire an agency through the Credo network, they’re paying them via escrow through us. So we hold the money in escrow. The agency does the work, reports on it, and then we payout to the agency. So the agency is guaranteed to get paid and the client is guaranteed that they’re going to get what they’ve promised to pay for. And if they don’t, then their money is protected.

Andrew: I wouldn’t have thought that that would be such a big issue for them. It makes sense.

John: I was gobsmacked. I was so surprised.

Andrew: And it’s phenomenal for you because now you get to understand exactly how much revenue is passing from your clients to the agencies and freelancers that . . .

John: You got it. You got it.

Andrew: And how’d you know that that was an issue for them? That’s not something that people admit or even recognize. They just think, “I got far behind this time or I’m just terrible at this. I don’t want anyone to know.”

John: Yeah. I surveyed them. I used the launch formula survey strategy . . .

Andrew: So what’s your biggest problem? Sorry, continue, I interrupted.

John: Yeah. So I have a list of, you know, low four figures, marketing agencies, and consultants. And I emailed them and I was just like, “Hey, John, from Credo here, trying to figure out how we help you grow better. If you wouldn’t mind, reply to this email and tell me what your biggest problem is.”

Andrew: Wow. That is such a good way to do things. I hate forms. I thought you were about to tell me. I got a form out there and people filled it out and told me that.

John: I think I’ve done that as well on Typeform, which I love. But yeah, most of it was just, reply to this email.

Andrew: You know what I like is I like getting on calls with people as, like, a consultant or help you think through the problem because when they’re getting on a call with you and asking for help to think through the problem, they’re being really open about the problem because they’re trying to solve it. Obviously, you can’t . . .

John: And so I like that manual match and that’s what we do now. Someone contacts us, I hop on the phone with them for 15 to 30 minutes, talk through what they’re looking to hire for, how they’re going about it. And then we actually introduce them to two. We don’t just say like, “Here’s your person.” We say, “Here are two that are qualified. And then they interview them, they get a proposal with them from the system, all of that.” So it’s a little bit different from Toptal.

Andrew: I think Toptal does that too.

John: And how that works. But yeah, they do actually. You’re right. Yeah. They bring you a couple and you choose the one you want to work with.

Andrew: They get you on a call with a couple of people largely because even if two people do the same work, you still want to get a sense of whether you work well with them and then there’s always some little thing that you hadn’t thought of that comes up on a call. So it’s impressive that you do that.

John: You got it. You got it. So our models the same. Yeah. And I like that because it’s really valuable to them. So we consult with them a little bit. We’re talking to our agencies all the time and it really helps kind of bring up the quality of the whole marketplace.

Andrew: All right. The website is getcredo.com for anyone who wants to go hire marketers, right? That’s your sweet spot.

John: Marketing agencies and consultants

Andrew: And it’s no longer . . . You guys don’t do social media. Didn’t you have a social media part for a while there?

John: Yeah. I mean, we have, you know social media advertising. What I found, Andrew, is that people that are looking for someone to post on social media for them don’t have much budget. So there are great freelancer marketplaces out there for that kind of thing but that’s just not the niche that we’re filling.

Andrew: It’s hard to get really good quality stuff that way by just hiring somebody to post on your Twitter account.

John: It is. It is. Yeah. And it’s not part of an overall strategy. It’s not going to work either.

Andrew: All right. I want to thank the sponsor who made this interview happen, ClickFunnels by Russell Brunson. I freaking love that guy, but everyone loves Russell. I don’t know what it is clickfunnels.com/mixergy if you want to go try out their software. John, thanks so much for being here.

John: Andrew, thanks for having me.

Andrew: You bet. Bye, everyone.

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