Andrew: Hey, everyone. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy, where I’ve done interviews with over a thousand entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses.
My focus is tech and software entrepreneurs who have big revenues or big exits. Today I’ve got an entrepreneur who’s not exactly tech, but I read about her story in a Business Insider article that was published about a year ago, how she and her husband were traveling through South America and how they came up with this business idea and how they launched it and grew it and it was actually generating some really nice revenues. I’m excited about the business they’ve put together. I’m curious about it and I want to find out how they did it.
So, the woman who’s going to be telling us how she did it, her name is Caitlin Pyle. She is the founder of Proofread Anywhere. It teaches people how to proofread transcripts for court reporters. That’s the business. I was going to say what the revenues were, but I’ll let her say it. I’ll ask so that we get the most up to date number.
I will though say that this interview is sponsored by the company that will allow you to host any business online, including one that’s very similar to Caitlin’s. It’s called HostGator. And by the company that will make sure that if you want to meet with someone, you can get them because they make it easy for you to schedule with them. It’s called Acuity Scheduling and I’ll tell you more about both of those later.
First I’ve got to talk to you, Caitlin. Good to have you on here.
Caitlin: Thanks for having me, Andrew. I’m excited to be here.
Andrew: Me too. Revenue is what I was going to say in the intro. Give me the annual. How much are you guys doing now?
Caitlin: Well, we’re in our second year, but our first year we did close to $600,000 and we’re way past that already this year. It’s the end of August right now. I haven’t checked this month. We’re running our numbers right now. But we’re about three-quarters of $1 million for the year so far.
Andrew: For the year, for 2016 and 2016 is about 8 months over. But if we were to look over the last 12 months, where would we be? How much revenue would you say?
Caitlin: About $1.3 million.
Andrew: $1.3 million?
Andrew: And what you’re doing is teaching people how to proofread transcripts for court reporters.
Caitlin: Yeah. Largely that’s what we started doing and it’s branched out to a couple business ventures since then. We’ve done other online course sand stuff, but our main revenue is this online course with proofreading.
Andrew: What’s the percentage of the revenue that’s coming from this course that we’re going to be focusing on today?
Caitlin: Right now probably about 80% to 85%.
Andrew: Wow. So, that’s a really solid business. The other thing that I noticed in the article and also I happen to know because of the way we were introduced, it was Ben who was part of The Foundation.
Andrew: The Foundation is called in Business Insider an entrepreneurship community, but it’s more than that. It’s training for entrepreneurs, right?
Andrew: Did that help you at all get to what you guys are doing now?
Caitlin: Oh my gosh, absolutely. If it weren’t for Ben deciding or coming across actually I think he heard your interview with Dane Maxwell, I guess back in 2014, early 2014 when he started to realize hey, we can get in on this. I was like, “Whatever.” But then he gets involved with The Foundation and we start kind of learning together. He’s learning but I’m learning from him, so I’m like learning by osmosis. He starts planting bugs in my ear about what he’s learning. I’m like, “Okay, maybe I’ll start a website.”
So I started ProofreadAnywhere.com in November. He’s still in The Foundation at that point, kind of just coaching me along. Eventually I start an eBook. He’s like, “You know, you can make an online course.” I’m like, “I don’t know how to do that, but I’ll figure it out.” So, eventually I figured that out and two months later I launched it.
Andrew: All right. Let’s slow it down so we go deep into every part of this story. I’m surprised that you were not an entrepreneur, that it took Ben going to–I see you just did one of these like, “. . . No.” You know what? The reason I’m surprised is because I heard from your conversation with Jeremy, our producer, that you’re someone who sold candy growing up, which I did, which many people who are listening to me did.
Then you ended up going into the corporate world, which we’ll talk about in a moment because something really disgusting happened to you there. But first, this candy thing–what did you do in school? How did you sell candy?
Caitlin: Well, I broke the rules. There were some fundraisers going on. I wanted to go to Germany. So I guess looking back I was kind of an entrepreneur. I wanted to go to Germany by myself. I was 17. A lot of clubs and stuff were selling candy. I thought, “I can do that.” I can go to Walmart and buy candy for $1 and sell it for $3 or $4 in my class periods out of a bag just like people doing it in the clubs.
So I did that. I stopped doing it because I didn’t want to get in trouble. I was a straight-A student. I really had a perfect record all through grade school. I did that for a while and made $50 or something, which is a lot of money when you’re 17.
Andrew: That’s the extent of your entrepreneurship experience growing up.
Caitlin: Yeah, growing up until I got into being forced to freelance.
Andrew: Okay. And then you went and you got this job, the one that you were fired from. What’s that job?
Caitlin: So I was working at a court reporting office in Orlando.
Andrew: Doing what at this court reporting office?
Caitlin: Three positions. I started as a receptionist and then six months later moved into the transcript department, where I learned about proofreading. And then I moved into marketing and ended up as a marketing manager.
Andrew: What kind of marketing do you need to do if you’re in a proofreading company?
Caitlin: So, it was a court reporting company. So, we were actually staffing court reporters for attorneys and law offices, things like that. I was proofreading for that office for quality control.
Andrew: And then what kind of marketing did you do to get lawyers to hire you guys?
Caitlin: A lot of ridiculous stuff. I know so much more about marketing now than I did then. We would focus on sending out a newsletter, but it was a really lame newsletter. We had no lead capture. We made marketing materials. We made cold calls, dropped by offices, pretty much begged people to use us. It was kind of pathetic, but I didn’t have any marketing experience at the time. They just thought, “You know how to write copy. You should be in marketing.”
And then they wanted me to make sales calls. They’re like, “I’m not a sales person. I’m a marketer. Put me behind a desk and let me write things, let me create content, things like that.” But we didn’t really get along.
Andrew: So, you were fired. When they fired you, how many people were in the room?
Andrew: And what did these three people say?
Caitlin: Oh my gosh. The manager, the woman who owns the company–lots of thunder in Florida here.
Andrew: Is that what that was?
Andrew: Yeah, welcome back to Florida.
Caitlin: Yeah. So three people, the manager of the company, old enough to be my mother, same year of birth and everything. She said that I was a piece of trash, that I made her sick, my butt was too big to be a person trainer, which was a dream of mine at the time.
Andrew: You said it was true at the time?
Caitlin: I wanted to be a personal trainer. So, that was a dream of mine at the time and she told me that my butt was too big to be a personal trainer. So I was like, “Okay.” She just told me that I had no morals. She felt sorry for my husband because I had no morals. We shouldn’t have children because I had no morals.
Andrew: I was sure when I read all this in my notes that this happened at like a personal gym or something. This doesn’t sound like something that happens in a professional setting, much less one that’s so connected to the law, yeah. So, why did they say all this?
Caitlin: So I was, I guess, more entrepreneurial than I thought at the time. I like organized my schedule so I could be the most productive. They were paying me $16 an hour, which is $2 more than three employees under me. So, I thought that’s not really fair. I was kind of a puppet. There were people that were slacking off on the clock and if they didn’t do their work, somebody else would get the work, so that was kind of the policy. If you’re done with your work, you would go get somebody else’s.
Andrew: So, what did you do?
Caitlin: So, I did all my work in the first three hours of the day and then did whatever I wanted for the rest of the day.
Andrew: Which was?
Caitlin: Which was research personal training schools, figure out how to start my own business, just not good stuff for them, but good stuff for me.
Andrew: I see. So, you were trying to figure out how to create a personal training business while you were working for them and because the majority of your time was spent on that and not on working for them, which they were paying you for, that’s why you’re something like–and I’ve got here–“You’re a sack of trash, you’re a disgusting pig, etc.”
Caitlin: Despite my glowing review. They loved my productivity levels. I got a crap-ton more done than everybody else in the office. But if you work really fast, you should be able to work that fast for 40 hours a week.
Andrew: Wow. And then they also got some money from you?
Caitlin: Yes. She threatened me and she said that what I was doing was illegal. It’s not. She said, “I want you to write me a check.” I was 24 at the time. I was like, “Okay, how much?” I just wanted to be over with. She’s like, “$2,000.” So, I wrote her a check for $2,000, which I’ve made back a lot of since then. But at the time it was a lot of money because she said–this woman drives an Escalade, lives in a 9,000 square foot house on a lake in Dr. Phillips, Florida. She’s like, “$2,000, you stole money from me.”
Andrew: Is it her company?
Andrew: Okay. Wow. I don’t even know what to make of that exactly. Did you ever end up building this business? Did you ever start becoming a physical trainer?
Caitlin: Yes. I was a personal trainer for three years. I was good at it.
Andrew: Okay. How’d they find out is what I was going to ask? Did they look through your email? What did they do?
Caitlin: No. They had access using software, something called like Spectre or something–not a sponsorship. They could actually see everything they were doing. It basically records everybody’s screen all day every day. They were doing a check and looked and then they saw–
Andrew: That’s awful. I start to think of all the other things they might have noticed too.
Caitlin: Yeah. I know.
Andrew: All right. So, then you become a personal trainer. You actually do well at it. But it’s not strong enough. So, you and Ben are starting to think about what do we do next and you have this idea that you guys should start a company and once you do well, you say, “Then we’ll go to South America,” and we can even live over there, and you turn to Ben and say, “You know what? Instead of waiting, we can do. . .” what?
Caitlin: Well, it was a little different from that. I was proofreading at the time full-time, kind of doing it on the side independently with personal training.
Andrew: You mean independently as a freelancer?
Caitlin: Yes. I was a freelance proofreader for two years. I was making over $40k, which is more than I made at my management job. So, that was good. I thought, “Let’s go to Ecuador. I can just proofread.” I was going to be all Ecuador the whole time because it’s really inexpensive there and all that. But then we started the business and income just blew up and we’re like, “Why do we need to stay in Ecuador for a year just because it’s cheap. Let’s go visit all the other places on our list, ever-growing list.” So, that’s what we did.
Andrew: Okay. And that’s when you were doing freelancing as a proofreader. And at the same time, you started building this business, am I right?
Andrew: And the first thing that–sorry?
Caitlin: I proofread for about three months after we launched the course until I went to New York for a week and realized I was still making money even while I was in New York, then I told my clients I was retiring and I haven’t proofread in a year and a half. I haven’t needed to. So, it worked out pretty good.
Andrew: When you started creating the eBook, how did you know what to put into this 30 pages? Since that’s the origin, let’s talk about that.
Caitlin: Yeah. Good question. So, I sat down and I’m like, “I’m going to write down everything I could think of that I could possible conceive would be needed and you’d need to know it to be able to do this job. It ended up being 30 pages and it was not anywhere close to what you actually needed to know. It worked. It was the minimum viable product.
Andrew: What did you sell it for?
Caitlin: I sold it for $68 and then I sold it together with some training for $150.
Andrew: How did you get people to pay for it?
Caitlin: I think that’s a really good question. I still don’t really know. I did some weird marketing because I had no idea what I was doing, kind of bootstrapping the whole thing. I went on Fiver and I found people who did proofreading and I told them about my site and I actually got a few people to buy from that way.
Andrew: Wait, so, someone was doing proofreading on Fiver and you had messaged them. Instead of messaging them to ask them about how to hire them on Fiver, you said, “You know, you can make more money if you do this bigger proofreading job.” Some of them paid for it.
Andrew: What about Craigslist?
Caitlin: Craigslist, so I didn’t know that you couldn’t post–I live in Orlando, I can’t post in the New York one, so I got banned from Craigslist for a while for posting ads. I had no idea that was wrong, but I’d get flagged immediately because my IP or whatever.
Andrew: And that got you some customers?
Caitlin: Say that again?
Andrew: That got you some customers?
Caitlin: Yeah. It got me some people. Some people got onto my list. They thought it was a job I was offering. They didn’t read the ad. So, some people gave me some flame messages like, “F-you and your $150 product,” this, that and the other. “You didn’t read the ad. I specifically said it was an online course, an eBook, learn about it.”
Andrew: Did you post it in the help wanted section? Is that why?
Caitlin: I didn’t post in the help wanted section. I posted in I think small business or something like that. I don’t remember what I posted. But it definitely wasn’t in help wanted. People would go and look for things like editing, writing, proofreading, whatever and they’re going down the list of everything and they don’t care what it is. They’re like, “I’m going to email this person. I want the job.” I’m like, “You didn’t even read the article. Even if I was hiring, I wouldn’t hire you because you don’t know how to read.”
Andrew: That’s why some of the best advice I ever got was if you’re hiring someone online, ask them to just respond to a question, it doesn’t matter what, just to see if they’ve read the question or if they’re sending out the same emails to everyone. It can be something like, “By the way, tell me your favorite color.” Just like that, and that’s the first screen they suggest. You sold how many copies of this eBook?
Andrew: 17, that’s it?
Andrew: That’s a lot of hustle for 17. How did you know there was more to this? Why didn’t you say, “Hey, you know what? Only 17 people want to buy this, I’m going to just move on with my life.” Why didn’t you say that instead of continuing and creating the site that we’re going to talk about?
Caitlin: Well, that’s another really good question, actually.
Andrew: They’re all really good questions. I’m a pro.
Caitlin: You’re really good at this, Andrew. I don’t know. I didn’t really know. I did know because people were asking me a lot of questions about the book. They’re like, “Why don’t you know this?” I’m like, “Because I didn’t write it in the book, duh.” So, the book was not good enough. I either pull it down. I actually ended up pulling it down because I was like, “I can’t keep selling this because it’s going to keep creating more work for myself.”
I’m selling this for $150. People are spending a crap’s ton of my time asking questions. It just needs to be a better product. If I make it that way then I can do way less work in the future, which is totally what was happening now and it’s paid off. We decided to put into an online course instead.
Andrew: Did you also start to see that people who were doing online courses were making bank?
Caitlin: Oh yeah.
Andrew: Was there one who kind of stood out for you?
Caitlin: No. Actually, yes. Who’s that guy who does–oh, the Create Awesome Online Courses, David Siteman Garland.
Caitlin: My husband told me, he’s like, “He made $130,000 in four months,” or something like that. I’m like, “I could never make that much money.” Well, now I can make that in a month and I’m like, “I can do it.” I didn’t know that at the time. That was just the biggest pipe dream for me. That would never happen. It’s a really general, more wider audience product on proofreading, but apparently people really like proofreading.
Andrew: I like that you found such an interesting or actually not interesting, very boring niche. It’s just interesting to me because it’s something I never considered to do. Like what David is doing with Create Awesome Courses, I get it. There are people who want to create awesome courses. There are people who are doing it. There are people who are wanting to copy their success, but this is completely different. But I also understand the excitement when you see when someone else is actually making money that you realize, “I can do that too.”
Why don’t we do a quick sponsorship message and then I’ll come back in and talk about how you started that first course? The first sponsor is a company called HostGator. I’ve actually been working with HostGator now for over a year. They must be doing well because they keep coming back and buying all the ads we have.
HostGator is a company that lets you host your website really inexpensively. They have good tech support. You can call them and talk to them on the phone. You don’t have to file a support ticket. The site is actually just up. It will stay up as opposed to some of these hosting companies that still haven’t mastered that.
But instead of me talking endlessly about HostGator, let me ask you this, Caitlin, still within the commercial so we’ll come back deeply into your story, but you built your first course on WordPress. HostGator, of course, will allow people to host WordPress sites. What are some of the plugins you used when you wanted to turn your WordPress site into a course distribution platform?
Caitlin: Yeah. So, my number one recommended one is WP Courseware by Fly Plugins. It works great with WordPress. It’s obviously made for WordPress. It’s so robust. Their support, like HostGator’s is just amazing. I just emailed the guy this morning twice and he’s already fixed my problem.
Andrew: WP Courseware?
Caitlin: Yeah, WP Courseware.
Andrew: What this does is it lets you put videos up. It has–actually, beyond putting videos up and breaking up your videos into modules, what else does it do that you like?
Caitlin: It allows me to create courses–not courses, courses obviously, but quizzes. And it could block people’s progress. So, there are some other types of courseware that you can create quizzes, but it won’t block people’s progress. If it’s a performance-style course, then you want to be able to say, “If you don’t pass this, you can’t access the next module.” It’s really robust, so I really like that plugin.
Andrew: Okay. So, you’ve got that plugin on. Do you have anything for membership so that you restrict access just to people who paid?
Caitlin: Yes. I’m using Paid Memberships Pro on Proofread Anywhere, and I also would recommend MemberPress highly because it has a lot of functionality.
Andrew: What’s the difference between MemberPress and Paid Memberships Pro?
Caitlin: I think MemberPress has a lot more options. You can do a lot more with it. I wish I had known about it. There are a couple of things it can’t do that Paid Memberships Pro. So, for example, you can sell just a portion of the course, so they’ll be able to see the entire course with Paid Memberships Pro, but only have access to the first two modules. So, it’s kind of a marketing thing where they’re like, “Okay, I got through the first two modules but whoa, look at all this other stuff that I could get.”
Andrew: And that is what you do, right? You sell the two modules individually or people can upgrade and buy the rest of them?
Andrew: Got it. And what’s the plugin that lets you do that?
Caitlin: Paid Memberships Pro.
Andrew: Paid Memberships Pro. Okay. Anything else that you do to your WordPress site to turn it into a course distribution platform?
Caitlin: You have to use integration. I use WP Affiliate for my affiliate plugin. It’s really easy to use.
Andrew: I never heard of that one, WP Affiliate. That allows you to give people a commission every time they sell your course. Okay, which by the way is so freaking good for SEO. I started looking you up and I’ll tell you what keeps coming up, like a BlogSpot website or a mommy blog website.
I think, “Why are all these people writing about Caitlin?” And then I mouse over the URL that they suggest and I see there’s an affiliate link back to you, so what they’re doing is writing about their experience with this course and hoping to make some money by sending people over to your site.
What it does for me as a researcher is it makes it really hard for me to find anything that’s negative about you because all these people are writing positive stuff because they’re collecting affiliate commissions. It’s really an effective tool. I don’t know why more companies don’t do that. Frankly, I should do that too.
Caitlin: It is true. People have emailed me before and they’ve said, “I can’t find anything negative about you.” And I really don’t think there’s anything out there that I know of.
Andrew: Well, you said that when you started, there were some people who were flaming you, people who wrote hateful things online. So, I said, “Let me go and look for that. Let’s see what she’s talking about.” I couldn’t come up with any of it because some of your affiliates were writing about you.
Caitlin: They do it in private Facebook groups, so it won’t come up on–
Andrew: I hate that about Facebook groups, that I can’t search them. They’re so restricted. All right. So, if anyone is listening to us, I’ll close out this commercial by saying if you’re interested in doing something like this and you want to host it on WordPress, it’s really easy to do. Go to HostGator.com/Mixergy. They’re going to give you 50% off their hosting package. And you’ve got all the tools that you need right here in this interview so you can actually get started really fast.
HostGator.com/Mixergy–they’re giving us here at Mixergy 50% off. No one is offering anything like this. If you find it cheaper, go ahead and get it. I know I had a guest on here who has HostGator as a sponsor too. He was upset that he couldn’t get 50% off from them. They’re not offering to anyone else.
They’re offering it to us, I discovered, because we said a lot of times when people listen to Mixergy and I refer them to HostGator, they forget to add the /Mixergy at the end. Or what they do is they add someone else’s slash at the end because that’s the last one they remember even though I’m the one that convinced them. We need some way to really be able to track.
There wasn’t an easy way to do it, so HostGator said, “How about if we give you the best possible deal so no one has an incentive to use someone else’s URL?” I said, “Sold, let’s do that.” Anyway, so, HostGator.com/Mixergy. I’m glad that they’re a sponsor.
You created the course. How did you know what to put into the course? What was your method for figuring out how to do it?
Caitlin: I listened to my people, man. They emailed me and would be like, “I don’t know how to do this.” And then somebody else a day later would be like, “I don’t know how to do this.”
Andrew: Who are your people, 17 people who bought the eBook?
Caitlin: Well, I sold the course. I started selling the course two months later. It started with those people and they helped me figure out what was missing and then I launched the beta version or version 1.0 version of the course. Then as more people started taking that and asking questions, I realized there are still holes in it. So, ever since I’ve just been adding to it whenever I felt it was necessary. We add something at least once a month.
Andrew: And when you add to something, how do you do it? Your videos are already pre-created, aren’t they?
Caitlin: Right. Usually it’s not all videos. There’s a lot of text. If you’re going to be a proofreader, you’re going to have to like to read. So, there’s a lot of text involved. We do create new videos from time to time. We have about five hours of LinkedIn tutorials, how to use LinkedIn, social media, things like that. So, those are added in later, much later, about a year later and different handouts. We’ve added several worksheets to test your punctuation knowledge. We’ve added new tests and quizzes, things like that.
Andrew: I see you’ve got a marketing module here. I see what’s another one, the billing module. When you let people edit, what software do you use to allow them to try to edit or to mark up a transcript?
Caitlin: We use a little app on the iPad called iAnnotate and it’s $10 and it really does everything you need.
Andrew: So, your members need to get that on their iPads.
Andrew: So, they need to have an iPad too.
Andrew: And then they get their iPad. They get that app. You give them an assignment to proofread a transcript. How do you get that work back to you to know that they’ve done it right?
Caitlin: So, we actually don’t because we have quite a few students. We don’t request that they send us every single transcript back. There are 3,000 pages, so multiply that by 1,500 students that we’ve had over the last 18 months. It’s really not manageable. But we give them an annotated practice transcript. So, they actually get to look at it side by side and see my page and their page.
Andrew: I see. So, they grade themselves. Got it. There’s no desktop version of that? People actually have to have an iPad, huh?
Caitlin: There are desktop annotators. You could do it on Adobe PDF Pro or whatever, but it’s so much faster and easier to use the tools in iAnnotate, so we just highly recommend it over the alternatives for your efficiency. You’re going to make more money the more pages you can do, so why wouldn’t you want the best software?
Andrew: Okay. So, the first groups of people came from Craigslist, from Fiver. Now that you’ve got this course, you’ve invested so much of your time into it, how did you get people to come and sign up?
Caitlin: I worked with affiliates.
Andrew: Right from the start it was affiliates?
Caitlin: Yeah. Somebody emailed me. I think she was a B-school graduate or something and wanted to start monetizing her blog. She somehow found me. I’m not really sure how at this point but she wanted to become an affiliate of mine. I was like, “Okay, let me figure out how to set this up.” I Googled how to create an affiliate program and found WP Affiliate and set it up and tested it and all that. Then she was my first affiliate.
So we launched and she got her first commissions and I’m like, “What if I can just contact other bloggers?” I used Alexa to find out what their ranking was, see how popular they were. I found several really big bloggers, Money Saving Mom, The Penny Hoarder. Those were some of my affiliates. They have amazing reach. Penny Hoarder is like the one of the Inc. 5000 fastest growing companies right now.
Andrew: I never heard of Penny Hoarder before you. I looked you up on SimilarWeb to see where you were getting your traffic. That’s your number one referrer outside of Google and social. They have 3.8 million subscribers they say on their website.
Andrew: They send you a massive amount of traffic.
Andrew: So, when they link to you, is it a blog post they do and that’s how they promote you? What do they do?
Caitlin: So, it actually is a whole company. So, it’s not just a blogger. He’s quite amazing. He has bargained for a higher commission rate for it and he earns every penny of it. There’s a blog post about me, “How to Make $17.50 an Hour as a Beginning Proofreader.” That’s the main one. And then he also adds me to different blog posts like “17 Weird Ways to Make Money,” “32 Ways to Make Money in Florida.” He does Facebook ads.
Andrew: Wait, he’s suggesting that you write those articles or he’s doing it?
Caitlin: He writes them and includes me in them.
Andrew: Got it. So, he’s doing “17 Ways to Make Money in Florida.” He links to you and maybe 16 of the other ones are also affiliates and that’s how he does it. Then he buys ads to that page.
Andrew: I see. What a clever model. He’s also just doing a standard WordPress site. It’s just a freaking blog. It’s unbelievable that he’s doing that well.
Caitlin: Yeah. I’ve been doing kind of the same thing. I promote other people’s courses now. I have like “Five Best Ways to Earn Money from Home That Actually Require a Brain” and I get tons of traffic on Pinterest with that article.
Andrew: I’ve got to ask about Pinterest. That might be the highlight of this interview. I buried the lead by not saying that you’re also really doing well on Pinterest.
Andrew: I’ve been hearing from people that they’re actually getting freaking customers from Pinterest. You have a company that you work with that helps you do that. I’ve got to also stop looking at Penny Hoarder. Now I’m looking into them to see, “Does he really have 3.8 million?”
Caitlin: It’s addictive.
Andrew: It is. He has really pretty articles. It’s really easy to read. It’s clear. The photos are good at capturing my attention. But the number at the upper right is the thing that got my attention the most, 3.8 active subscribers. I like that he uses the word active subscribers.
Then I went to SimilarWeb too to see is this BS. Anyone can put 3.8 whatever they want on it. No. According to SimilarWeb, he has 15.75 million subscribers between May and July. I hate that SimilarWeb doesn’t give me just a clear way to see the monthly. Oh, 5.25 million–they do, actually–5.25 million people to the site a month. That’s pretty freaking impressive.
Andrew: All right. Maybe I should talk to him and get him to do an interview too. Do you know him?
Caitlin: Yeah. We email and stuff. I emailed him personally to ask him to come on board as an affiliate guy. We’ve had our ups and downs. He bargained with me and then he emailed me earlier this year to say, “Hey, I want more.” And I said no. I still got a ton of leads from him. I just think if I’m giving double already, don’t ask for more. You’re one of my best highest paid affiliates, but. . . So, we’ve had our ups and downs, but he’s a really nice guy. He’s just got a big staff now, so it’s a little harder to get a hold of him, but I think he would be a great interview.
Andrew: Impressive. When we free up some space, I’m going to hit you up for an intro to him. When you were just reaching out to people asking them to link to you, did you tell them what to write? Did they write it? Did you give them any guidance?
Caitlin: Yeah. So, that’s really key and something that people ask me about starting their own business and finding affiliates and stuff I always tell them you have to give them some social proof. You have to not create work for them. You have to make it a no brainer to want to partner with you.
So, you don’t just tell them, “Hey, I’ll give you 15%, 20%, whatever your affiliate commission is for promoting my product.” Say, “I will work with you to create some unique content that will benefit your audience. Anything I can do to help, whether it’s doing an interview. . .”
Interviews are actually really great. You know that. They’re great on paper as well. They’re great for SEO. But it’s better than a guest post. I don’t like doing guest posts. They’re not as effective. But interviews are amazing because it’s the blogger–so, Money Saving Mom, Penny Hoarder, whatever, introducing you to their audience that already trusts them, not saying, “Here is so and so, she’s going to make a sales pitch.”
They’re asking the questions. It’s much more trust-building than saying, “I’m tired today. I’m going to let so and so write a post for me instead.” That’s kind of the error that some people get, like, “Oh, this is a sponsored post,” or whatever, whereas if it’s an interview, even if I write and answer the questions myself, it still appears more friendly, I guess.
Andrew: I see. So, you’re saying if you have to write a post, you’d much rather write a Q&A post where you’re the questions and answering them yourself.
Caitlin: Yeah. But it looks like the blogger is asking the questions.
Andrew: Got it. Right. That makes sense. That also explains why you have that really polished looking PDF that I saw on your site somewhere that says, “I do interviews. Here are some topics I can talk to you about.” One of them was Pinterest, another one was I think just proofreading in your business. That’s what it is. It’s you trying to get on other people’s sites as a way of linking back to you.
Andrew: What else was effective? So, doing interviews was effective. I’m guessing if the interview gets an affiliate question, they guide it more towards a sell, right?
Caitlin: Yes. So, we have a 90-day cookie. If there was a sale made within 90 days and they get commission for it, the cookie expires and they’re still on our list. If they buy a year from now, we’re going to get the credit because we’re the ones that ended up pushing them over the edge. The affiliate didn’t quite make it, but we got them on our list anyway. That’s the way it works–90-day cookie is the way it works.
Andrew: And Affiliate WP does that?
Caitlin: WP Affiliate, yeah, you can change how many days the cookie is alive for.
Andrew: I think it’s actually called Affiliate WP even though the convention usually is WP and then whatever the product title is. It’s really confusing with them.
Caitlin: There are two. There’s one called Affiliate WP and one called WP Affiliate. WP Affiliate is by Tips and Tricks HQ.
Andrew: I’m glad that I said that. I kind of felt like a jerk for correcting you. That’s helpful, actually. I see it, by TipsAndTricks-HQ.com. That’s the one that you like. Why do you like this one better?
Caitlin: I really like that it was pay one time and get to use it on as many platforms as you wanted. When I first started, I had a lot of limiting beliefs. I was like, “Yeah, this isn’t going to work. I don’t want to spend a monthly fee to use this. I don’t want to use Kajabi or whatever it those different platforms are.” I didn’t know it was going to work, so I wanted to spend as little money as possible in case it tanked. I really liked WP Affiliates’ kind of up front, honest, “You’re going to pay one time and then it’s yours.” You can pay for support if you need it, but it was really for my budget it was perfect.
Andrew: It was $49.95 one-time, click a button and get it. Their website does not look as nice as the other one.
Caitlin: I didn’t even go to the other one. I was like, “Oh, this one is great. The reviews are good, so I’ll try it.”
Andrew: So, if I see WorkFromHomeHappiness.com, MoneySavingMom.com, MakingSenseOfCents.com, those are all people who are doing affiliate links to you?
Andrew: What about when I see you on LifeHack.org? It seems like you also do some content marketing. Is that content marketing?
Caitlin: Yeah. So, I’m sure you’ve heard of Help a Reporter Out. I have one of my team members–we have a small team of four people–one of them is going to go through the HARO queries and pick out the ones that look useful to me and she sends it to me in an email every day and I pitch the request. So, I’ve been in Fortune. I’ve been in Fast Company. I’ve been in Business Insider, I think twice now.
Andrew: Okay. Man, that’s powerful stuff. So, you have one person on your team who just looks it over and looks for opportunities.
Andrew: I should have my assistant do that. Let me email her right freaking now. I hate when I do this, when I listen to my own interviews and I got lost in some project while I’m an interview, I feel like, “That’s just dead air.” At the same time, it’s just so worth it. Hang on, Andrea. . . Sorry?
Caitlin: It’s so time-consuming to go through and see a bunch of stuff that’s not really relevant to you and I just gave it to her and I said, “This is what I want you to do, just copy and paste everything that looks–I reject most of them, but some of them–I just responded to one about Glamour Magazine about women between the ages of 20 and 40 that had a huge shift in their life where they started making a lot of money. I’m like, “That’s me.” So, I pitched to Glamour Magazine yesterday and we’ll see what becomes of that.
Andrew: Got it. How much of your time is spent promoting versus interacting with your members?
Caitlin: Way less time promoting just because it’s very much on autopilot right now. I know we’re going to talk about Pinterest in a minute. That’s on autopilot. My affiliates are motivated. I don’t have a lot of competition with proofreading. So, if people are interested in proofreading, there aren’t very many options, so they’re going to come to me.
So, I don’t have to do a lot of promotion like contests or anything like that. I’m going to start doing that soon as things slow down, if things slow down. But not a lot of time spent promoting just because I have a lot on autopilot right now. We don’t have an ad budget right now. We could. We’re using our affiliates and working with them. They’re like my commissioned sales people. They do all the marketing. They do all the promoting.
Andrew: What’s the most effective tip you gave them get them to send you more customers?
Caitlin: Probably the interview, just doing the interview and answering those questions well and then giving them tips on sharing on social media. But I learn a lot from them, which is the funny part.
Andrew: What do you learn?
Caitlin: How to use Pinterest. I saw all of them were on Pinterest. I’m like, “I need to learn how to use this.” They were doing great using the scheduling apps for Pinterest and Facebook. I would email one of my more effective affiliates and I was like, “Hey, how are you doing your Pinterest?” She would say, “I’m using this.” So, I’d start researching it. Every now and then I’ll ask her a question.
I’ve learned so much just from the people that promote for me. Ironically I’m making more money than they are because I’m selling a course and not just making affiliate income. I’m still behind them in terms of total blogging experience, although I’ve been blogging for a year and a half. It’s definitely a great way to make money if you can sell products and really harness the affiliate income and things like that.
Andrew: All right. Let me do a second sponsorship message and then get into Pinterest. I always felt like I knew Pinterest, but I didn’t realize how much traffic Pinterest can send over. I talked to Bryan Harris of Videofruit the other day. He said that he’s starting to really obsess about it because a good friend of his started showing him his numbers, really raw internal numbers to show how he’s getting massive amounts of traffic from Pinterest. I didn’t realize Pinterest could do that. But what Bryan has to do is now go back and adjust all of his old photos on the site or have somebody do it and you have do to something like that, so we’ll get into it.
First I should tell everyone about one of my favorite tools, one that I’ve used for freaking years. Do you know this, Acuity Scheduling?
Caitlin: I know it through you.
Andrew: You do?
Andrew: Oh good. I hope that this is going to change lives. It’s definitely changed my life. It used to be so hard for me to book interviews with people because there was way too much back and forth about scheduling. At some point, busy people who have to schedule things with you are just not going to waste their time on it. So they would kind of drop off and I would think maybe it’s because of me, maybe it’s because they don’t like Mixergy, maybe they don’t respect my work.
In reality, though, I was just making it too hard. I remember when I interviewed Paul Graham, I asked him why so many of the Y Combinator sites look the same. He said, “You’ve got to make it really easy for people. You’re battling the back button. If someone’s on your site, they want to go back to where they came from and if you don’t make it easy for them to say yes, meaning try your software, they’re not going to do it.
So, the thing about Acuity Scheduling is now when Caitlin booked an interview with me, she didn’t have to go back and forth with me or my assistant. I just said, “Look, do you want to do an interview? I have some new interview dates. Here’s a link. Go pick the one you want.” She saw my calendar, complete with all the availability.
She picked the one that she wanted and then she added some information like her Skype name, so I knew to contact her here and boom, it was done. She got a reminder via email. She got the interview on her calendar. Did you put it on your calendar? It’s totally okay if you didn’t.
Andrew: You did?
Caitlin: I did. Yeah.
Andrew: Yeah. I always do that too because otherwise I forget. Same thing when I rent a Zipcar. I always forget, “Did I get it for 7:00 a.m. or 7:30?” If I add it to my calendar, I remember. So, that’s what Acuity Scheduling does.
So, how is it helpful? Let’s suppose you’re listening to me right now and you say, “I want to actually get on the phone with affiliates to see if I can convince them to work with me. That’s what’s working for Caitlin. I want to try it too.” These guys are too busy. They don’t know you. They don’t want to waste time trying to–they don’t even want to talk to you. But if you make it easy enough and they’re finally willing to say yes, then you get them on a call.
Here’s how you make it easy for them to say yes–send them a link to your calendar using Acuity Scheduling and they could pick the time they want, they could schedule it. Because they pick it themselves, by the way, they feel more of an ownership over that time and are more likely to show up. It’s so easy to use. I put it on my website so it looks like it’s part of my website. People think I coded it up myself, or at least they used to. Recently when they started sponsoring, I added a link to them saying, “This is using Acuity Scheduling.” But otherwise, people wouldn’t even know.
If you have customers and you want to welcome them and onboard them properly, Acuity Scheduling will help you get on a phone with them. If instead of selling on your website you have a click here for demo, let people schedule the demo on your site. If you’re a coach and you want people to book time with you, Acuity Scheduling will let them not just book time, but also pay.
And if you’re a gadget person like I am or a software person who just wants to integrate everything, Acuity will integrate with just about anything–Infusionsoft, it will integrate with AWeber, it will integrate with Zapier so you can connect with all kinds of other apps–beautiful, beautiful tool.
Go do this–here’s a special URL that they created for us because Acuity Scheduling is created by a longtime Mixergy fan and a Mixergy Premium customer. He created a URL for us. It’s at AcuityScheduling.com/Mixergy.
You will be grateful to me for introducing you, but I’ll tell you something else. I was introduced to this by Bob Hyler. I’ve told you guys about that before. Bob changed my life by introducing me to Acuity. I’m always grateful to him for doing it. If there’s someone out there who you know who needs this software, tell them about it. They will thank you the way that I’ve been thanking Bob for introducing me to Acuity. Go to AcuityScheduling.com/Mixergy.
You know, Caitlin, by the way, just a note about my sales pitch here–I think I’ve gotten better at the sales pitch, but I also think that now that I’ve gotten so excited about the product and so articulate about it, I’m throwing lots of words out at the audience when I’m pitching a product. Does it feel like that to you, like it’s way too much, Andrew? Just calm down, tell a story, talk slower?
Caitlin: No. I don’t think so. I’m kind of the same way. My friend who was just here over the weekend said, “You can sell anything.” I’m telling her about my new kitchen appliance or whatever. I’m spewing all this stuff, how much I love it. That shows your passion.
So, the more you can be you about something you really care about instead of trying to do what other people say what you should do, be all professional–you had me wanting to buy Acuity. You said people could pay you for your time. I do coaching, so I was like instead of PayPaling and then scheduling, it’s like, “Can I combine this?” Yes, I can. So, I’m going to look into that.
Andrew: And it’s 45 days free. So, you don’t even have to pay. All right. Let’s talk about Pinterest. You told me how you discovered it. Before we get into the details of how to do what you’re doing with Pinterest, what does it do? Is it sending you new customers, sending you traffic? What’s going on with Pinterest?
Caitlin: So, Pinterest is the only social media platform that was created specifically for sharing content. Facebook is not really, it’s a social network and you can share content, but then it just goes down, down, down, your newsfeed and people forget it almost instantly. They see it. They scroll past it. They don’t ever see it again unless they go to your wall or whatever and then scroll down your wall.
So Pinterest is different because if somebody sees something they like, they can repin it and then it goes to all their followers and then their followers can repin it, so it’s kind of just like a tree. It just spreads. I always say it spreads like a cancer, the good kind, across the internet. It can live forever. So, I have posts that I posted forever ago that are continually getting spread when somebody else sees it and then somebody else Google’s something–they don’t Google it, but they go on Pinterest search. It’s its own search engine. Pinterest results come up on Google as well.
So, people used to Google for a discount code and something that somebody posted on Pinterest would come up every single time. It turned out to be an affiliate totally breaking the rules. So, I revoked their affiliate status. But they had used the word discount code on their post or whatever and they were kind of hijacking their affiliate and all that stuff. But it came up on Google every time somebody Googled for a Coupon code for my product. It’s very, very powerful. If anybody is trying to market content of any kind, you need to be on Pinterest.
Andrew: What’s your Pinterest name? I’m going to Pinterest.com/what if I want to see you?
Caitlin: It’s a little complicated because they limit the number of letters. I will read it out to you because I took out all the vowels, pretty much–Pinterest.com/PrfrdAnywhr is me. I just crossed over 10,000 followers and it’s only taken me eight months to get there. I had like 1,100 in December.
Andrew: I can’t believe that I actually was able to follow all those letters to get it right. I do see here that 60, according to SimilarWeb, 68% of your social traffic is coming from Pinterest. It completely dominates.
Andrew: Completely dominates even Facebook. Twitter is not even a factor for you, but Pinterest is huge. So, let me take a look. I guess I’ll take a look at Best of Proofread Anywhere. So, these are images with text, like “Why this Popular Writer Uses Transcripts to Save Tons of Time.” That’s the headline. And it’s just printed on an image and now someone is going to pin that thing?
Caitlin: Yeah, if I pin it in the right places. The ones at the top are kind of new. So, I haven’t really tried to disseminate them a lot.
Andrew: Let’s suppose you wanted to disseminate this. Let’s say that this was a really good post on your site. I can see how you made it into something that’s shareable on Pinterest because you’ve now created an image that has the headline in it, that has a nice design behind it. I can see the pencils, the computer behind it. IF you wanted to spread it, what would you do?
Caitlin: It’s a little complicated, but once you get it set up, it runs like autopilot, it’s awesome. I use a little app called BoardBooster.com.
Andrew: What is it called?
Caitlin: BoardBooster.com. It’s basically a scheduler. You can setup–you want to join group boards. We were talking about Penny Hoarder earlier. He’s huge on Pinterest. He’s got some group boards that basically if you become a member of or contributor to certain group boards, you get access to other people’s audiences.
Andrew: Because if they’ve created a group board, they can post to it but so can I. Are they actually going to allow you to post something that’s as what seems like self-promotional as this article about yourself?
Caitlin: Yeah. Everybody does it. It’s just you want to make sure your content is useful. So, if it’s something about why this popular writer uses transcriptionists to save tons of time, it’s going to be valuable content. It’s not just like, “This is why Proofread Anywhere is some awesome. This is why Caitlin Pyle is great.” It’s not that kind of self-promotional, but it’s useful content. So, people go on Pinterest looking for good ideas. They go on there looking to change your lives. So, if you create your content, it’s on that.
Andrew: So, you join these group boards, you then post your stuff on there. Each one of these images links back to the article. Of course, in the article there’s an opportunity to join your list and to buy, etc. How do you find the best group boards to be a part of? Is there a shortcut for that?
Caitlin: Yes, there is, PinGroupie.com. You can go on PinGroupie and use keywords to find relevant group boards, get a bit creative. Don’t just type in money if you’re looking for stuff about making money. Type in income, type in earnings, things like that.
Andrew: Let’s suppose I was into chatbots. I don’t think that’s going to exist here, but let’s try it. Chatbot, one word–I’m on PinGroupie.com. Nothing came up. How about if I do it as two words? No. Actually, what if I do a search for more generic? I’ll go with startup. There it is. Okay. Now I’ve got startups as one of the responses. This is a group–oh, I see. So, there are 63 collaborators on that. That means a 64th might not be too hard. But this one only has 1,800 followers. So, I probably don’t want that.
I just keep going. Maybe it’s entrepreneur. Let’s see how many people are in that? Oh, now I see some pins. Now I see some boards with a lot of collaborators and more followers. Got it. Now what I want to do is ask who. Let’s see this Best of Entrepreneurship board. That has some good followers. How do I find the organizer on there?
Caitlin: So, if you actually click on–I’m on my profile here so I can walk you through it. I have a couple of my own.
Andrew: Oh, I see. Here’s what I did. I saw there were three images of people who are in it and then a number 45, meaning there are 45 people who are running it. There is BackpackAndALaptop as a creator. So, that’s the person I would ask.
Caitlin: Yeah, the very first picture on that line of pictures is the creator.
Andrew: Okay. And then do I then just go and follow BackpackAndALaptop, which I’ll do right now and I can message him or her? Yeah, Chloe, I can message Chloe?
Caitlin: Yeah. It depends on their settings. They might have in the description of the group that you have to send an email, you have to follow me and make a comment. They have different things you have to do, so you just have to read it and try to get added that way.
Andrew: What am I reading in order to find out, the description?
Caitlin: Yes, the description.
Andrew: Okay. “This board is dedicated to the best quotes, stories and ideas about entrepreneurs. Please add something you think is relevant and note the spammers will be removed. If you’d like to be added to the board, please send me a message.” Got it. So now, he has all these followers. She’s got 11,000 followers, 12,000 almost. All of them will then see me in their feed. I see. Okay. Wow. You’re giving me a lot of good tips here. What else would I want to do here?
Caitlin: So, you want to setup board booster, but you can’t do that unless you have really good content. So, if you go to my or anybody’s board, you see the content that I created as Proofread Anywhere. When I first started doing Pinterest stuff and I said I’m going to learn this, I had really horrible images. They were really bad. I had somebody recreate the images for my post.
Andrew: So, every single one of your posts, which would have like what we have at Mixergy–a small photo of the guest and more text. Every single one of them had to have a big image that would look nicer on Pinterest.
Caitlin: Yeah. It needs to be a tall image. So, I do 1,000 x 150. So, 1,000 wide, 150 tall pixels. Yeah, they are longer and you see them on the screen. The horizontal ones appear really small. People scroll past them faster. So, you have to have really good content, really good images and then once you have that, you want to have your profile setup, board setup on your profile with pins on them and then you want to start looking for your group boards.
Andrew: So, you look like you’re active. Have some pins on there that makes people understand that you’re not there to spam.
Caitlin: Yes. Your first thousand followers are the hardest, but once you pass 1,000, then people are more likely to want you on their group boards and things like that. But then once you have all that setup and you have good content, more than maybe eight or ten pieces of content, then you can start joining or setting up BoardBooster and using BoardBooster to autopilot what stuff gets pinned to your group board. So, I don’t sit there and pin 40 times. I set it up on BoardBooster that I want these pins pinned to these boards at this time and it just does the same thing every day.
Andrew: Like Buffer but for Pinterest.
Caitlin: Kind of, but you only have to add it once.
Andrew: What do you mean you only have to add it once as opposed to what?
Caitlin: To your board. You can have a list of pins. I have a list of my top seven pins and I post those same seven pins every week or every day, but only one or two get pinned a day, every week to a set of group boards. So, Penny Hoarder, for example, has some really popular group boards with a ton of followers on them. So, I pick my best and highest performing pins that get the most conversion and maybe have affiliate links in them and I set board booster to automatically pin only those pins to my most popular group boards. So the most repinned, most clicks, just get the most traffic. Then it just runs.
Andrew: I see. So, you’re saying once you post it to your Pinterest account, you then can set up BoardBooster to pin it to other group boards. So, it’s not like you’re posting–got it. And the person who you hired just created a bunch of images that basically each one of these images could have worked with any one of your articles except the one difference is that the headline is pasted on it.
Andrew: There’s actually software we use that automatically takes the headline and can put it on an image?
Caitlin: I like that.
Andrew: I forget the name of the software and it does require some coding, so it might be cheaper to hire someone to do this. But it’s definitely possible to automate that. I see they’ve got a bunch of images here. They’re not necessarily directly related to any one of these posts, but they’re related to your topic.
Andrew: Who’d you hire to do this? Is there a company that will create these images?
Caitlin: So, now I make them myself, but I hire someone to teach me how to do it. We use Cava and it’s super easy to pick your fonts. It was just a freelancer that I met on Pinterest or through another blogger. I was like, “Hey, I need some help setting up Pinterest. Who do you recommend?” She recommended a startup blogger that helped me with images and then I took over. So, I make them myself now, for the most part.
Andrew: I see. So every time you post something instead of just leaving it at a headline and a photo and some text, you say, “Let’s all go to Canva and create a Pinterest image.”
Andrew: By the way, I’ve been using Snappa.io for Facebook for creating images on Facebook. It is so freaking good. It even does Pinterest now. I was looking to see. I imagined that they had it, but frankly I’m just blind to Pinterest. So I never even looked to see what Snappa had for Pinterest because I didn’t care. Now I see. Do you do anything else on there, like maybe quotes or something else just for the sake of getting–
Caitlin: Followers? I did that in the beginning, but now I don’t really do that. I keep everything relevant to my brand. I think you can set it up on autopilot on BoardBooster where you have a board that you create with like 100 different posts on it and then on BoardBooster, you can set it up to loop. So, you don’t have to continually add pins on it. It will take that same board of 100, 500 pins and then just loop one every day from the bottom to the top-type thing. So, that can be setup on autopilot with BoardBooster as well. That can help you get followers.
Andrew: Who do you talk to about Pinterest? Where do you get tips like this? Who do you talk to? Is it just your affiliates or is there a network somewhere? Is there a Facebook group? Is there something else?
Caitlin: So, I heard about BoardBooster through Side Hustle Nation. There was a blogger on there who was talking about BoardBooster kind of like the way I am now. She’s now one of my affiliates, TheBusyBudgeter.com, Rosemarie Groner. She has a great Pinterest strategy. It’s a low cost kind of eBook that she has.
Because I was an affiliate and we were going to be working together, she gave me a copy of that and I went through that like, “Wow, this is great.” She’s got videos and stuff that go along with an eBook that show you how to setup BoardBooster and shows a checklist of things you need done before you can start with BoardBooster, things like that. We’re including it also in our online course.
Andrew: Wow. That alone is worth the whole interview right here.
Caitlin: Pinterest is about 30% of my total traffic and I’m not paying for any of it.
Andrew: Wait, 30% of your traffic is coming from that? Is it leading to sales, do you know? Can you measure that?
Caitlin: Tons of people say in my sales funnel, day one is free intro course, I say, “How’d you find me?” So many people say, “I found you on Pinterest.”
Andrew: Can we say like 40% of your sales are now coming from that, 30%?
Caitlin: I don’t know. Yeah, probably about that.
Andrew: Somewhere around 30% at this point already. How long have you been doing this?
Caitlin: Eight months.
Andrew: Wow. Okay. Eight months of pinning, discovering, repining, getting invited. I see. Okay. So, it’s not exactly free because it does take time to do all this, but now it’s on Autopilot for you.
Caitlin: It’s great. Yeah. I check in and I see how things are going and I make changes. I add things when I have new posts, things like that. But as we’re setting it up and adding, it’s all done.
Andrew: I’ve got to follow you now on this. I’m going to follow your board, follow you. I should get more into Pinterest. You see, I never really care about anything until I find out that someone’s growing a business with it. That’s when I get fascinated. Man, you put in a lot of work into this. I’ve got like a Fun with Words board you put together, a Non-Grammar Giggles board you put together. Are you actually enjoying this? Have you gotten sucked into their cult of Pinterest?
Caitlin: Kind of. But I don’t pin regularly anymore. If I see something funny and happen to be on there, I’ll pin it to that board just to get my followers excited about it. There are a lot of grammar geeks out there. I didn’t know that when I started. But there are a lot of people out there who are really annoyed when people make errors and they think it’s funny when there’s a typo on a billboard, things like that. I’m like, “Okay, these are my people.”
Andrew: Right. It makes sense that they would be. Where was I? Now I’m going back to my notes. The haters we talked a little bit about. Did you buy someone else’s site too and rebrand it? Did I understand that right?
Caitlin: Kind of. I didn’t buy the site, but I bought into the site. So, I approached her. I was actually one of her affiliates. She had some online courses, was using E-junkie or something like that to promote it and she was using GoDaddy to build her site. She should have used HostGator. It was just a really bad site. But I was selling for her. I was kind of promoting it to my audience and they were making sales.
One day I couldn’t fall asleep one night. I was in Ecuador last July or August. It kind of hit me over the head like a ton of bricks like, “What if I invest in her?” The idea came in my head, “If I volunteer to completely redo her site, take over her marketing for a portion of the profits, will she say yes for that?” So I pitched it to her. I asked for 40% of her revenue and she said yes. We launched that in January, TranscribeAnywhere.com together.
Andrew: What is it called?
Caitlin: TranscribeAnywhere.com. So, she teaches people how to transcribe.
Andrew: So, she’s basically doing what you’re doing. No, she’s doing transcription, you’re doing the proofreading. This site looks good.
Caitlin: So, I had that.
Andrew: I’ve got to go back to Internet Archive to see if it looked like a piece of garbage before.
Caitlin: Go to ZoomTranscription.com. It’s still there. I hope she doesn’t listen to this because she knows it’s a bad looking site.
Andrew: Oh my goodness. This looks like really in 1998, this would have been good. Even in 2003, it might have been good. Wow. She even has the powered by GoDaddy button at the very bottom, which they put on the site. Now the site looks hot.
Caitlin: I know, right?
Andrew: It might even look better than your site. This looks good.
Caitlin: I know. I really like it.
Andrew: It’s probably just even a theme. That’s the thing about WordPress. Sometimes I get like amazed by how good a site looks and then I realize it’s just a WordPress theme but they made it look good.
Caitlin: So, that’s Genesis. Everybody uses Genesis. I had a designed do that. So I get 40% of her revenue. We started in January. We launched that in January. It’s now the end of August and our revenue is about $130,000. So it has grown much slower, but she’s thrilled about it, even still.
Transcription is not new to the work at home world. So it’s growing a lot slower. It didn’t take it by storm the way proofreading did. Nobody had ever heard of it. But she’s really happy. She’s been able to quit transcribing herself. Even after she pays me, she still nets about $8,000 a month, which is more than what she was getting as a freelancer, so she’s really happy.
Andrew: And you’re kind of working on this now, right? You want to teach people how to do this, how to create courses. Here’s the thing that I copied into my notes from the Business Insider article I mentioned at the top of the interview. The last line said–it’s a quote from you–“If Ben and I can do it with a tiny market no one’s ever heard of, I think a lot of people could be just as profitable.” So, you want to help people be just as profitable. What other topics do you think could take your model and apply it to?
Caitlin: I think anything. We have a couple of students that we were training and a friend of ours, a couple friend of ours, they have three kids, he makes a full-time income from home flipping flea market items. So, we kind of took them under our wing and they were beta testers for our program. He created FleaMarketFlipper.com under our instruction and they’ve been making sales like every week now.
It took them a while to get started. I pushed them hard to do Pinterest. Since they’ve been doing Pinterest, they’ve seen their sales go up with their eBook and their online course. So, they’re not huge yet. It’s hard with three kids and she just had a baby four months ago, but they’ve really been hustling even still. I’m proud of them.
Andrew: Okay. So, you’re teaching the methodology of coming up with a topic, turning it into a course? Is that what it is? What are you teaching?
Caitlin: No. It’s a step after you come up with a topic. We help people figure out whether their idea is viable and you give them tips on how to verify it, validate the idea, things like that. But usually it’s somebody who’s a freelancer like I was. I was proofreading transcripts for court reporters on the side and I was making money doing it. Now I’m making money teaching other people how to do it too.
So, Robbie and Melissa, my friends at Flea Market Flip are doing that as well. If you’re a professional writer, a virtual assistant and you want to create a course on how to make money doing that, how to get clients, how to build your skills, things like that, you can really do anything.
If you’re benefiting somebody, if you’re giving them some kind of value–saving time, losing weight, those are the big ones, and making money, if you can tie it into that somehow and give them some major value, you can sell it. You just have to market it well, be authentic. You can’t just throw crap out there, so you really stress high value and high quality.
Andrew: Where do I find out about this?
Caitlin: You can go to TheWorkAnywhereLife.com. My husband is actually the manager for that right now. But we have a course called Monetize Your Genius. And you could also monetize other people’s genius. I don’t know how to transcribe. But if you have a friend who knows how to do something and you don’t know how to do it, but you want to get into helping them monetize, then you can do it together. So I’ve done that twice now. I have another site as well that I just launched in the same realm doing the same thing.
Andrew: So, if I did Mixergy in a different way, this is the part where I might make a commission. At the end of talking about how you did all this and teaching a lot, I could say, “And if you go to TheWorkAnywhereLife.com/AndrewWarner or whatever or Mixergy, then you’ll also get something special, then as long as they’re going to go, you might as well use my URL and make money off of it and you keep track of it. I see.
Caitlin: You can do that. We have a program.
Andrew: I know. I still don’t feel that’s the best for Mixergy, but I could be wrong. Anyway, I’m doing the exact same thing. I might as well make some commission off of it. The only thing that keeps me from doing it is I want to be able to push you to a place that makes you uncomfortable. I want to feel like I’m not here to be your friend but be the audience’s friend and advocate.
I feel that at some point I might decide that if I’m getting paid, I might as well just not talk about something that’s a little awkward. You had nothing awkward. I told you. I looked for the negative stuff and I couldn’t find it. In some places I could find it and I don’t want the person at the end to say, “I’m paying you. You should be nicer.”
Caitlin: Right. I don’t care. I like airing my dirty laundry because I like it when people know that I’m a real person.
Andrew: Like what? What’s dirty laundry that we didn’t get to right now?
Caitlin: So, me getting fired, that’s pretty dirty. That’s like the dirtiest laundry I have is getting fired and making those bad mistakes.
Andrew: What’s the company that you got fired from?
Caitlin: Well, I don’t–it’s been five years. Can I get sued if I say it?
Andrew: I have no idea if you can get sued. My guess is–no?
Andrew: It’s not on your LinkedIn profile, is it? Sorry?
Caitlin: I don’t want to be like slandering people online and stuff because I just want to have like a beacon in the night, like if you’re suffering and people are treating you like this at work, it’s not okay. Humans should not talk to other humans the way I was spoken to.
So, I talk about my story not to make people who work there still–I still have friends that work there–I don’t want to make them look bad and spread trash, even if it is the truth, but I want people to know it’s not okay if they’re in my situation. You need to get out of there. Better things can happen. The funny thing is the woman who fired me and said all these things, she gave me my very first transcript to proofread. So, if it wasn’t for working there, I wouldn’t be a millionaire right now.
Andrew: Wow. Okay. That’s why I also don’t like to get into fights with people. It doesn’t pay off. You never know who’s going to be a good friend or end up sending you business or whatever. All right. Thanks so much for doing this. Before we close out, I should tell people that if they want to go check out your website, it’s at ProofreadAnywhere.com.
And my two sponsors are the site where you can host your own course or own anything, frankly. Go to HostGator.com/Mixergy. You’ll get 50% off. And of course, give that to your friends if they need a website or to get a better hosting company. And if you want to actually get people on the phone or meet with you in person or pay for coaching, anything you need to schedule with people, AcuityScheduling.com/Mixergy. It’s really good, AcuityScheduling.com/Mixergy.
Caitlin: Thanks, Andrew.
Andrew: You bet. Bye, everyone. Actually, before we go, thank you to The Foundation for making this happen. That’s who we reached out to and put it together. They are out–is it TheFoundaiton.com? Did they get that?
Caitlin: I think it’s .io.
Andrew: Actually, they did get TheFoundation.com. But when I started it was like TheFoundation.io or at one point it was TheFoundation.co. I guess at one point they paid for TheFoundation.com. Thanks so much for doing this. Thank you all for being a part of it. Bye, everyone.