E236: How to Establish Authority in Your Niche

As ecommerce sellers we ultimately want to be seen. That's why we spend ungodly chunks of money on Amazon PPC, Facebook ads, and Google Adwords and Shopping. But what happens if those paid traffic channels become unavailable?

Christian Gravel of Grower Scrog Nets is facing this problem. He has developed a product that helps people grow good cannabis more easily in their homes, and with more states legalizing cannabis, it seems like a viable product. However, marketing for products in this niche is very challenging as there's not exactly a Facebook audience fit for it. On top of that, ad platforms like Facebook and Youtube regulate ads for this niche very heavily.

Building authority in his niche is essential if he wants to be seen, especially since paid ads is not an option. In this episode Christian and I discuss how to most effectively do this.

You'll learn:

  • How to get people to spread the word for you
  • What the ultimate purpose of every blog post should be
  • How to practice writing overwhelmingly great content
  • The 6 essential parts of a great blog post

Christian and first I met when he joined the 5 Minute Pitch. Watch his entire pitch here.

Thanks for listening! Until the next one, happy selling.


Full Audio Transcript

Intro: This is Mike and welcome to episode number 236 of the EcomCrew Podcast. So glad to have you guys along with us today, I think you guys are going to enjoy this episode. This is one of these ones we will have a little bit of a smirk because of what Christian is doing and the niche that he's in. I'll save that for you guys to see in the episode. You'll figure it out as we go along here. But it's a fun interview. This guy had a great smile on his face, which is why I reached out to him when we did the 5 Minute Pitch. This was a 5 Minute Pitch guest.

If you guys don't know about the 5 Minute Pitch yet, it's a collaboration that Scott Voelker, Steve Chou, Greg Mercer and I did, kind of like a Shark Tank, kind of like The Pitch. But basically the winner is going to get a $50,000 cash prize. We won't own any of their business or anything like that. And they can do whatever they want with it to hopefully grow their business. And they're going to get some mentorship from all four of us, which I think will be really valuable. And we're already getting ready to do season two. So if you're interested in that, go over to 5MinutePitch.com and sign up. If you have an existing business or idea, we’d love to hear from you and we'd love to have you on 5 Minute Pitch.

So before getting into today's episode, I do want to do a little bit of a plea and beg and grovel from you guys. If you haven't left a review yet of the EcomCrew Podcast, it would mean a lot to Dave and I if you could take a minute, I know it's a pain in the butt. And I know I'm a bit of a hypocrite asking for this because the reality is, is that I don't really leave reviews for podcasts either. But my hope is that you've been listening to the EcomCrew Podcast for a whole bunch of time, lots of episodes, you've got a lot of value out of it. And I can guilt you into going over there and doing that right now. If not, no big deal, continue to listen to the podcast, I still love you. But it really does make a difference.

The reviews help us get higher positioning within iTunes. And we can use a little bit of a push to get some reviews. So please go over to iTunes. If you don't have an iTunes account, just create one, it takes about five minutes. We never charged for the podcast, we don't charge for our free resources over at EcomCrew.com/free. And the best way that you can pay us back is by taking five minutes and leaving us that review. All right, off of my soapbox, now on with the show.

This is exactly what I've told my staff like the objective is not to rank. That's the result. The objective is when someone reads the piece of content, by the time they get done reading that article. There is no need desire of any kind for them to go hit back and look at the next result.

Mike: Hey Christian, welcome to the EcomCrew Podcast.

Christian: Mike, thank you.

Mike: Of course man, it’s so great to have you on. So just a little background so everybody knows what's going on here, Christian was a guest on 5 Minute Pitch. And if you haven't listened to that episode of the 5 Minute Pitch here, you can go over to 5MinutePitch.com or look for 5 Minute Pitch on iTunes or YouTube and check out the episode where he was on. But basically 5 Minute Pitch is somewhat of a Shark Tank, somewhat of The Pitch. There was another thing out there; there was Elevator Pitch, all kinds of things out there like this these days.

But we wanted to do it because Greg, Scott, and Steve and I did this thing called – oh shit that name the thing of last year but it was similar format and we wanted to start something called 5 Minute Pitch and we were excited to have you on Christian. It was an awesome episode. So we're not going to talk much about what happened on the episode because we want to let people go over and listen to that. But I thought we'd get started today just you can retell your story a little bit, tell people about who you are, what you sell and how you got into that.

Christian: Okay, yeah, my name is Christian, I'm a guy, I live in Colorado. And we're legal to play with cannabis out here, which a lot of other states are now getting on board with as well. I started looking for a passive income a few years ago, outside of work and that's what got me on to selling things on Amazon, just listening to like AM/PM Podcast or Amazing Seller Podcast, stuff like that and kind of white labeled a few things and failed on most everything. I did pick up something in my grow room then ended up selling well and just kind of started thinking outside the box a little bit too is like, what can I actually improve and actually make if I can actually invent something.

And so, I came across a problem I had as a grower using a trellis netting within a grow tent to train my plants called a scrog net, which stands for screen and green. And I fixed that problem by making a flexible version of it, took six, seven months with a manufacturer to finally get it dialed in right and packaging and everything. And yeah, it's been gangbusters ever since just trying to grow it, crushing in on Amazon and Amazon kicked me off last year with drug paraphernalia because I uploaded a video that showed some cannabis in there, which was not a good idea on my part.

So I had to take all my inventory back, relabel and relaunch again. And since then I tried to just grow it outside Amazon as well. So I'm not tied to just Amazon. But I mean, yeah, it's been rough trying to sell it outside of Amazon. Amazon is definitely a beast. So that's why I'm turning to you. I mean, that's why I enjoyed my time on the 5 Minute Pitch, hoping just to get in front of people like you to help me with these kinds of endeavors.

Mike: Yeah, I mean, I definitely enjoyed having you on there as well. I mean, I love stories like this where people are coming up with something that they have a personal interest or passion in and then turning that into a business. It's something we talk a lot about on the podcast. I think that the most successful business owners and especially in e-commerce, whatever it is are fixing a problem in their own personal life.

Some of them invent because their kids are struggling with something or they're struggling with something or their friends are struggling with something, or they travel a lot and they want to whatever, there's all kinds of examples of this in life versus just trying to launch some random product because the numbers in a piece of software say that the opportunity is good where you just have no personal attachment to it. So you definitely have those checkbox is checked off, which is awesome.

Christian: Yeah, yeah. And I mean, my numbers will attest to that. It's hard for me to resell or white label something. I've had more success with my own invention and my own success and a lot of failure as well. But either way…

Mike: Cool. So let's tell people just a little bit about as far as sales and where you're at and what year did you get started selling this thing?

Christian: About two years ago I started selling this, about the end of — yeah near the end of last year, so I actually started selling them. And then I had a fallout with Amazon this summer is when all that went down. And so I created my own website through Shopify, and try to launch. I was like, oh I don't need them. Shortly realized that maybe I do.

Mike: Got you. Yeah, selling on Shopify is even more difficult than selling on Amazon because Amazon has built in traffic. So it can be more fruitful selling on Shopify, I think that all of us would probably rather have Shopify sales. It's just a matter of how do you get billions of dollars of marketing that Amazon has and the built in, the fact that they already have the traffic and the credit cards and the customers. That's just where it's such — so much versus trying to just sell the cricket so far in your own site without any traffic. So going into the numbers of like just say 2017, what was your revenue there?

Christian: 2017 I was still trying to find my way so not too much, a couple of thousand dollars in sales. I can tell you what I'm doing lately, basically now.

Mike: Okay. Yeah, let's talk about that real quick.

Christian: Right now, I just went through my numbers, Amazon the last month; I did about 10,000, a little over 10,000 in sales. That's within US, I did about 80, 120 of it was in Canada. Through my website, I did $780 in sales, eBay about 513 bucks in sales on eBay.

Mike: So your business is like 90% Amazon basically.

Christian: Mostly Amazon. But as you said, I mean, I shall maybe turn it down Amazon, maybe one every couple of days on my website. I feel more fruitful when I sell it myself, I have more personal contact with the customers that I don't have on Amazon.

Mike: So in your estimation, how are people finding you on Amazon? Are they typing in scrog net or some other…

Christian: Yeah, I own that term scrog net basically, or scrog. So scrog net, people find me, flexible trellis net, grow tent net, net for grow tent, trellis netting I'm ranking on as well, which is more of a not necessarily exactly what I am but I rank on that as well. But yeah, those are my main keywords that I rank for. And I have provisional on my nets. My patent attorneys already filed for utility and design. So I got it locked down.

Mike: Awesome.

Christian: He knows a lot about Amazon, so he's protected me. So until I get those, I can't really — I got a couple of people ripping me off now. But like badly, I guess what I mean? So I'll get them once I have my full patent. I'll take care of them. There's like three or four of them. But otherwise, yeah, I mean, they don't sell what I – the volume I sell I guess.

Mike: Got you. The fact that you have a patent, I remember you talking about that, or provisional or whatever, talking about that when we did 5 Minute Pitch. I love stories like that, because it adds such a layered defensibility to your business that most of us can't touch. So I'm quite jealous. The only real negative that I see with the business is the fact that it's cannabis. So I mean, not that I personally necessarily have a problem with it, I'll keep my personal opinions out of it, looking at it pragmatically, from a business standpoint. I've been in businesses before where the government can get their hands involved in this. And it just what's going to happen in the future?

It seems like from a business standpoint, things are going in the right direction. But typically, these type of social issues are two steps forward, one step back. So I feel like they'll probably be some period of pushback before it fully becomes legal one day, which is it seems like that that's certainly the path that it's on. And that definitely makes me nervous, because I literally went through the exact same thing with online poker. The government, all of a sudden out of the blue just came in and said this isn't legal. And then four years later, they said it was.

Christian: Yeah, they regulated it.

Mike: Yeah, they regulated and they — they eliminated then they regulated. It's just funny how things happen in life. And for me, life's all about learning experiences. So I look at, okay, I can get involved in one of 10,000 other businesses, here's seven I'm going to like leave alone, right, like things that are potentially regulated by the government. And the ultimate irony that's happened for me is that tariffs now have come in and that just regulates everything, or not necessarily regulates it, but can put a damper on your business in some way because the tariffs could — who knows where things are going to go?

But it's definitely a little intimidating right now, because the government's just blanket carte blanche said all things coming in from China are going to be under these tariffs. So it's actually kind of ironic that even though I was trying to stay away from those things, I still got caught up in it. So you never know in business.

Christian: Yeah. And that's how I feel about cannabis. I know legalization is around the bend. Every state that goes legal, I get more sales out of that state through my own website. I track Amazon as well. And yeah, I don't really sell to many people illegal because I grow in my own house and my neighbor is an ex judge and they complain about skunks and stuff at flowering times. So they know I grow it, they understand it but if it feels illegal, and I could actually get arrested for it. I wouldn't do it; I can barely keep this tension [inaudible 00:12:13].

I mean, I tell the people who are legally allowed to grow it. I mean, like in the legal state, or they have a medical reason as well, too. I mean, I have Instagram followers, I have YouTube thing I do as well and on my website too. I'm not looking to show people how to do anything illegal. I mean, use it legally. But if you want to learn how to do it legally better, that's where I can help out.

Mike: Yeah, it makes a lot of sense. I had to ask a really dumb question from a non-grower. Why does pot attract skunks?

Christian: Oh, it's just the smell, skunk smell. Yeah, no, no, they — my neighbor [overlapping 00:12:53]

Mike: I feel silly guys. It's so funny. I thought you were saying they attract the skunks. It's all right. Anyway, so back on topic. I think I have a pretty good background and probably so is the audience on what you do. And I'm curious, I mean, what can we do to help? I mean like if you were like looking at how to grow your business in 2019 and we're recording this just so everybody knows, we're recording this in 2018, because we recorded the pitch stuff in 2018. But this episode won’t come out until after Christian’s episode goes live in 2019. So by the time this comes out, the time is a little bit weird. But I just wanted to kind of mention that so if there's any of those dates that kind of fly around just naturally in here, but  if you were thinking of what your business in a dream world could look like in 2019, what would that look like in terms of revenue and balance between Amazon and Shopify?

Christian: I'd like — my goal on Amazon is to sell about 10 or so a day, I'd like to do the same off of my own efforts through my website as well. And that's not too hard of a reach. But yeah, I'd like to sell maybe 10 a day or so just off of my website rather than one every other day or three a week.

Mike: So in my fuzzy math that you cheated a little bit for me, because you said that you were doing 10k a month on Amazon by doing about 10 a day. So you're looking to basically get to like 50/50, where you're selling 10 per day on Amazon, and then 10 per day through your own site.

Christian: Yeah, on my own website. Yeah, I'd like to do about 10 a day on my own website. And I don't think that's realistic with the states that just legalized as well. My market has opened up quite a bit for next year as well. There's going to be a lot of home grown rights, I think Michigan, everybody is allowed to grow 12 plants up there. So that's going to be good.

Mike: And if I remember, you only could do four, or was it eight?

Christian: No we can do 12.

Mike: Oh it was 12.

Christian: Six per person, up to 12 per household.

Mike: Got you. Okay, got you. All right, so, in your own words, I guess at this point, what's holding you back from doing that?

Christian: I'm finding my market because I'm a niche product. I sell a flexible trellis netting that it's pretty specific to go inside grow tents or inside indoor grow rooms for people growing mostly cannabis. So, it's hard for me to find people who grow in grow tents for cannabis at home. It's hard for me to find that market, like in Facebook, that's not an ad, or there's not an audience in Facebook. So it's hard for me to find a marketing audience and I keep spending money trying to figure it out and then I'm losing every time.

Mike: Yeah I mean, I think it's going to be really tough. I think it's pretty niche. I mean, if I had to guess, I don't have any stats on this. But let's just say you got the population of Colorado, which is like for round numbers, it's a million people. And I don't know what, 30% maybe, would throughout the year smoke cannabis. I don't know what the number — you might know better than me but it starts narrowing down the state pretty quickly at 300,000 people, recreational at some point throughout the year, let's just say that are smoking or consuming it in some way, but what percentage of those people are interested enough to start growing it on their own? I mean, it's got to be a fraction of that? I would think it would be a pretty small part of the pie.

And as you said, it's not an audience on Facebook, you can't target cannabis growers. So it becomes — I think that Facebook ads, honestly, in my opinion, would be just completely out. I think it becomes — you might go to advertise as something like people that like high times, or something like that. But even again, how many of them are actually going to want to grow it because you have to want to put the extra time and effort into it for one reason or the other.

I mean, if you are just messing around with it a couple times a year just for again, recreational, you're not going to have the interest in growing it. I mean, I would imagine it's, again, correct me if I'm wrong because I'm not into this deep enough to know, but I would think that the people that would be interested in it would be the people that are consuming enough of it. They might be either doing it A, to grow it cheaper, or B, they want to grow it better, and they're aficionados in a way that either one of those two things are really important to them.

Christian: Yeah, you're absolutely right there. The growers — I belong to as many grower groups as I can, obviously, to help market myself, and I just — it's a passion of mine. So I like to hang out with like-minded people as well. So in Denver, there's a pretty big grow population that we share information, we trade strains and trade information. It's kind of like craft beer was when that came out, everybody had their own specialty. And same with cannabis, some people are good at this, some people are good at this type of thing. And, yeah, it's definitely more of a niche type thing. You got to be passionate about it to grow because it's not — it takes a lot of time. It's not easy, you know what I mean. You can go out to the store and just buy it. So why grow it and why brew your own beer if you can just go buy in the store.

Mike: Right. I think that beer is on a…

Christian: You just buy your own special.

Mike: Yeah, beer is like the perfect analogy with it. I mean, it's probably the exact same qualities for people that are really in the beer that why not it's kind of a cool thing to do. So one other question before I start kind of rattling off a bunch of ideas at you, do what Facebook and Google, YouTube etc. policy is on this stuff? I mean, are they with it or?

Christian: Facebook blocks me quite a bit on ads that I try to run. I have two different Facebook accounts. I got one for all my grow information for my grow groups, you know what I mean? That I can share my grows and my things with and grow my community online within them. But then I have one for my website that doesn't have too much exactly for cannabis that I can actually use for marketing efforts. Because I can't use my other Facebook page grower whatever for me marketing because it’s got too much cannabis use on there. I got my grower scrog nets, actual Facebook page I use for marketing. I still get blocked half the time It's really 50/50.

Sometimes I'll try to throw an ad in just for my net show and my peppers that I have in there just to run a national campaign on that. And they’ll walk me saying it's like an inappropriate material or something like that. So it's hit or miss. Sometimes they allow, sometimes they block it. YouTube's okay, they kicked a bunch of growers off a while ago. So who knows what's going on with YouTube? Google ID okay. I don't really have too many problems on Google. Google Shopping I do well in. Google ads, I do find in and that's where I'm getting most of my traffic from just direct Google searches be able to search scrog net or something or scrog nets. I rank like top for scrog nets. I guess my SEO is good on that. But for some reason scrog net, I don't rank as high up. That, I need to fix as well.

Mike: Got you. Okay, cool. So I think I have enough background on what I think if I was in your shoes, how I would approach this. And it for me, I would be thinking about the long term. I wouldn't really be thinking about the short term with this particular opportunity because it's in its infancy. I think, again, I mean, this is just personal opinion; it's hard to know exactly how things will shake out. But it seems clear to me that over the next 20 years, or whatever the number is 50 years, I don't know how long it will take, but I just think that this will be legal countrywide, whether you like it or not, I think it's coming. I think that the popular opinion is over 50% of the population wants this.

People are getting pretty intolerant to people getting locked up for drug charges like marijuana, and I see most states, even if they have a moral issue with it, they probably want the tax revenue more than any issues they might have with it. So I think that things are kind of pointing and direction where it's going to just continue to get more and more popular, which is great for you, especially because you're at the, I think kind of still the early stages. I mean, there's only what, six, eight or nine states or whatever it is now that that it's legal recreationally. So I would be focusing on like a very big content play and like personality kind of play.

I would want to become like the de facto OG in this space where everyone is talking about Christian in all of these forums and just like you're the number one grower and you get the most whatever. I mean, again, I can't speak the lingo, but the most yield out of your plant or the best buds or the most concentration and THC or the desk tier [ph]. Again, I don't know exactly what it is that people are looking for there. But you can position yourself as the guy.

And if you think about other niches like this over the last 20 years, as digital marketing and just blogging and things like this come to fruition on the internet, the people that have been there since the early days of something like the early days of how to start a blog, or how to do SEO, or how to do WordPress, or whatever, whatever niche it is, these guys would become incredibly well known, like internationally well known. And they're like tens of millionaires several times over.

And I think that you're in that same position. So now we just be thinking about it from that angle, I'll be spending my time on how can I produce the absolute best content around this and the rest of it will come because traffic is always going to be money. And that topic will probably produce revenue for you in ways that you've never even jumped over other partnerships and sponsorships and etc. And then as you develop more products potentially in the future, you'll have a built in set of customers and stuff like already there.

So that content probably would consist of both written content on my blog, continuing to be an influential player in social media, if there are events or conferences and things of that nature that people that are interested in this stuff go to. I would be going to those things and also making sure that I'm speaking at them. I'm on stage and becoming that personality. And you have the perfect personality to be that guy. Some people don't fit into that role very well. But I mean, you are just very charismatic and outgoing and well-spoken and just likable. Like for the five minutes that we have with you, on 5 Minute Pitch, I can only imagine if you were speaking to a group of people that were your people in this for 30 to 60 minutes on stage and really just cultivating that angle of it.

And then the next step would be the YouTube part of it. If you can produce a channel that's not going to be threatened, that gets shut down. Because I mean, you don't want to put all the effort into creating a YouTube channel that YouTube might take umbrage with and just shut down and throw away all your work. But what won't ever happen is they'll never shut your blog down. You can create a blog and content around things that people are searching for organically. And if you do this effort in this work now, you'll rank number one for scrog net and scrog nets and how to grow marijuana and like every other term in between, if you write like really epic content.

And there's just a lot of stuff about that. I mean, it's got to be three to 6,000 word posts that have lots of images and diagrams and are just way better than anything else that's ever been written about the subject, and include some videos in the post and link out to other resources and focus on quality over quantity. I mean, it might be a situation where you're only releasing one post a month like over 2019 where you only post 12 things in your website all of next year. But every piece of content is a leapfrog over all the other pieces of content that's ever been written about this subject and you again become the personality in this space. Or like again, everybody that's a grower knows Christian no matter what. They’re home smoking, like man, Christian taught me how to grow this pot. I have never met the guy, but he's a legend. And I would be focusing on trying to become that guy.

Christian: Okay and how do you promote like — because I have some blogs on through my website? How do you promote that blog or do you just match or let your SEO rank itself? Or do you actually put it out through newsletters or via the social media channels as well to kind of drive traffic to it?

Mike: Yeah, I mean, there's lots of SEO tricks on how to promote this stuff. First of all, again, just to re — I want to reiterate and make sure that this is probably the most important thing. It has to be like a leapfrog over the competition basically, anybody else who has ever written anything about it. So it can't be a 300 word, 500 word, even 1,000 word blog post that's just kind of written a half ass. It has to be something that just goes into a ton of depth about a niche piece of the pie of the subject that you're writing about. And it's just, again, images and illustrations and video and a table of contents at the top and it just an overwhelming great piece of content.

So once you have that, people will naturally want to promote it for you, they'll naturally — when they find that piece of content, they'll naturally want to link to it, and promote it. But you can also go out and there's all sorts of ways of going out to someone else that's in a related niche, but they don't run necessary write about that particular thing and say, hey, look, I've written this article, I just wanted to share it with you, it might be something you want to share with your audience. Obviously, making sure that you're capturing people's email address as they come to your site, and so you have their contact info for the future, you're sharing it over social media, and it's one of these things where it's very slow going to begin with.

It's really the exact same model that we have taken with EcomCrew — or you were on 5 Minute Pitch so that Greg took with Jungle Scout’s blog and that Steve took with My Wife Quit Her Job and that Scott took with the Amazing Seller. All this started as one post on the blog somewhere and has grown into really big businesses for all of us, because we just stuck with it and we're persistent. And I think all of us have become that personality in the space that we're in. And I think that it's very much akin to that. So it’s just being willing to help people as much as you can in that industry, making relationships and a name for yourself.

And over time, the links come in. I've become friends with really just about everybody in this niche. And without asking them, they link to our stuff all the time. It is just the natural progression of how things work. And it's never been like, oh, if I become friends with Steve, he’ll now link to me, because that's not how I am and it was never the intention. I like the guy for who he is, and really enjoy hanging out with him. He’s super smart and I appreciate the opportunity he gave me to come speak at Seller’s Summit and be on his podcast and other things. But it's because I was willing to just go out of the way and do these things that we even became friends or got in touch to begin with. So this stuff naturally progresses, if you continue to put yourself out there and go above and beyond in every opportunity that you have.

Christian: Okay, so write some good blogs that are helpful within the industry and it'll find its way basically.

Mike: Yeah, but I mean, again, it's like just — I mean that's I think the base climbing. Again, another example of this, the way that we got on the map with EcomCrew was that we wrote a post about how to fix BigCommerce’s broken check out. They had some – this is back like 2015 and there were some bugs in their checkout and I had talked to them about and they didn't fix it. So I wrote a blog post about that that was like super comprehensive and in-depth. And it started circling around the internet because it was the best piece of content about that. And then even BigCcommerce, they reached out to me and wanted to work with me on how to rectify the issue themselves.

So it all does, I think start with really good content. But the thing that helped propel us was that at any time if anybody wanted me to be on their podcast, and I never asked the question of how many listeners do you have? I never get highfalutin, I'm not going to be on your podcast, it's always yes, I'll go do it. I'll go speak at your event all, I’ll write a guest post for you, whatever things I can be doing. And you slowly start to build a reputation because you write something or get on that one person's podcast and that person has a lot of friends that are in the industry. And eventually your name comes up and then from there someone might listen to the podcast, and then they tell somebody else and your name comes up.

This is how — I mean, I was just talking in the Traffic and Conversion Summit, possibly speak there in 2019 if not this year, because it's coming up too recently, maybe 2020. But that'll happen because again, because I started at the beginning, saying yes to everybody. And the way that that actually came to fruition is Ezra Firestone mentioned my name to them. He was like you got to get this guy on stage. It wasn't something that I actively had to reach out for because I have a reputation of when I go to these things, I try to represent the company that's having me the best of my ability.

I don't go there to promote my own stuff; I go there to — go out of my way to help everybody. Part of it again, is just natural. That's my personality, and I want to do that stuff. But it's also a great lesson in how you can become that guy in your industry and over the next couple of years, really positioning yourself in a great way.

Christian: Yeah, that makes sense. I mean, I've been too focused on just driving traffic to my website rather than creating good content that people can use. And, yeah, it gives me a different perspective on it, for sure.

Mike: I mean, I think that if you got to pay your bills, it's one thing right? If you got to sell these things to pay your bills, everyone's got to fight to survive and do that. But if you have the time to kind of take the strategy I'm talking about here over the next six to 12 months, it's one of these things you plant the seeds now and they become worth a lot more and no pun intended with the seed thing, but they become worth a lot more later, right? I mean, this stuff takes some time. And I think that I just really see like there is opportunity for you because it's rare to have all these circumstances come together where you're early in a niche.

That’s how it was for me an online poker. We made the money that we did, because we were there at the right time. We were early. We were right at the beginning of this poker revolution, not just online poker, but just Rounders had come out. It was at this this huge movie, everybody wanted to play poker in 2004, 2005, 2006, and I was there at the exact moment that that happened and did all the things I was talking to you about. I mean, podcasting didn't exist at that time, but all the other stuff. And because of that, grew to be a name in the industry. And we grew really quickly a seven figure brand and eventually eight figure brand off the heels of that, but it was because we were around at the right time.

So I see that for you. And on top of it, you're like way the hell more charismatic than I was at that stage. I mean, you're just a really likable guy. I mean, like all of us in the 5 Minute Pitch can’t start talking about you after the pitch, because you're just a really cool, dude. And I think that that goes a long way. I mean, think of all the introverts or the people that have really weird personalities, and all these different things that are also probably doing the exact same thing. They might even be better than you at doing it, but you got the personality to really leverage, and I think that that can be a huge thing for you.

Christian: Okay, I'll use that to my advantage then.

Mike: Yeah. The only other thing I can think of just real quick as far as other short term wins, I mean, if Google will let you do it, if you can do Google AdWords…

Christian: Yeah, I do Google ads now. I just ran my first Google Shopping ad. I got all my stuff on there, it took forever, I guess they were really debating whether to let me on there at all. But they let me on there and they got for my peppers.

Mike: Nice.

Christian: Yeah, I have some, I don't know, I mean, I got $200 in sales, but it was $141 ad spend. So I mean, it's not a win by any means. But that's better than anything I've gotten off of Facebook ads, for sure. That's the closest thing I've gotten.

Mike: I mean, I would invest some time into that. If Google is going to let you do Google Shopping and do AdWords, I think that because it's not a competitive niche right now, like the actual growing part of it I don't think is hyper competitive so that the bid shouldn't be super high. And the numbers you're telling me, if that was your first results then you have a lot of opportunity, because Google is tough to kind of start optimizing and getting everything just really dialed in. I mean, there's like Google — there's just a zillion different settings that you'll learn over time to dial things in and really optimize the best your abilities.

So if you're able to actually get sales and conversions without knowing a lot about it, I'm optimistic for you on that. And I would definitely be running those ads, because I think that that's an evergreen source of traffic for you and something you can learn without having to — and it won't take up your entire day. So I think you can spend your day, an hour or two a day as you're learning and working on Google AdWords and Google Shopping and dialing that in, adjusting your bids accordingly and narrowing it down by states or even cities, or there's hundreds, if not thousands of different exact keywords and stuff you can bid on. And again, targeting by even location or times of day or devices and all these different things, kind of you can get really out of hand, but that's how the best Google Shopping or Google AdWords ads end up coming to fruition that are profitable.

You can spend just a little bit of time doing that. And then also, make it a point every day to write 500 words, 750 words, whatever the number is that you feel like you can sit down at a computer — because it's tedious, it's really difficult to write great blog content. But if you just chip away at it every single day, or five days a week, or four days a week, whatever it is, you're going to set yourself up for like I said, if you can put out one really epic piece of content per month, where you're spending the time to write five to 10,000 words, which is a lot. I mean if you do 500 words a day, that's 10 to 20 days right there just writing the content, and  having an accompanying video or two or three to go with it, hiring a graphic designer to make some graphics and stuff to go along with it, just making the piece of content just really, really amazing. At the same time, you can also be doing Google AdWords, and I think that that's a prudent thing for you to do.

Christian: Okay, so I got to learn how to write. Okay.

Mike: That's a skill in itself. I get it. It'll come. I mean, obviously you're literate. It's not that that's the issue, it's how do you write in that format? And how do you do it in a way that it's entertaining. And then all of us go through this phase. I promise you'll get through it as well. I went through and I still have this problem of is it good enough or my inner posture [ph] syndrome kind of issue goes on. I do that with the podcast and everything. A lot of people have these issues with this stuff and you're going to go through that too.

But you will get better at it just as much as I've gotten better at writing, at speaking, at doing the podcast, I can see a noticeable difference from episode one of this show to now. I can see a noticeable difference from the first time I spoke in public to the last time I spoke in public and also the written content that I put together over the years, you just get better with practice, it's the whole 10,000 hours thing. And the best time to start was yesterday, the next best time to start is today.

Christian: Got it. And any kind of tips you can give me as far as learning how to write a good blog post. I mean, anything that's written out there, that kind of tells you how to write a good blog post or?

Mike: There are — you can probably do some Google searches. But I can tell you pretty quickly the things that really matter with this. So you're going to want to have a concise, clear and concise two to five sentence introduction. Very important, let the reader know what it is that they're going to learn in the article, keep them kept activated. Then have some type of imagery maybe table, a table of contents, it depends on the type of article and exactly what you're writing, how in-depth it is, etc. But a table of contents does really well to break things up and show people all the highlights of the things that they're going to see within the article.

Again, high up on the page, either a video or some images, and then break things up into bite size chunks like hit enter twice or whatever to get a space in between lines, at least every like two to three sentences. You put things on the page in very bite size small chunks, use headings, H1 tags every few breaks, just kind of people will scroll through — you need to make it so if they're just scrolling through relatively quickly and only reading your headlines that they can get the gist of the article and almost get the answer just by looking at the headlines if that's all they want to really look at, or at least it is stops them in that section and they'll read about that thing but it's really key to break it up to people.

If you just make — if you write the article in the same format that you would write a novel in, it will fail like miserably fail. Blog content that does really well is broken up into micro sections throughout the page. And you can write or just do a Google search about this and it'll I'm sure very quickly turn up a lot of really good articles and examples of how this is done best. But that's definitely my high level tip in two minutes.

Christian: Okay, makes sense to me. It's better than anything I've got. I got a couple blogs on my website now. But it's more like children's books, I think but I’ll look them up.

Mike: Right. Go first things first, I would go back and update those posts. They're already there, make them better, make them epic, make them like, make it so people when they read it — and this is exactly what I've told my staff, the objective is not to rank, right. That's not the objective, because that's the result, the result will be ranking. The objective is when someone reads the piece of content, if they've searched for how to grow marijuana, by the time they get done reading that article, they're an expert in how to grow marijuana. You've answered their question, there is no need, desire of any kind for them to go hit back and look at the next result. You've answered definitively that question so well, that again, they know exactly how to do it and they want to tell other people about it.

So depending on who the person is, they either want to hit like on the post, or share it with their friends, leave a comment or link to it if they're a link reader. So that's the bar. When they come to that article, are they doing one of those things? And if they do one of those things and they do that consistently, Google is really smart. And it doesn't even take that long, it's actually shocking. You can skew these results really quick.

Christian: [Overlapping 00:41:09] longer links for my website. And when I first opened up my website, I couldn't find it on Google's like 70 pages down. Now, just searching scrog nets or whatever, I’m the first thing up there.

Mike: Perfect. So that shows you exactly what I'm talking about because right now you're the best probably or one of the best for that. But you can take it to a whole another level. And you're just ranking for scrog nets, but it'd be better to rank for how to grow marijuana, or how to grow the best marijuana or how to grow marijuana at home or whatever the search terms are that you would go out and research. Those are probably like…

Christian: Everything around scrog nets or trellis netting, yeah.

Mike: Exactly yeah. So I mean, I think that the future is bright for you. I think there's a really amazing opportunity I think five years from now, and several more states have passed this. And it'll even — I think the initial thing is states, they get legal, so the initial thing is I'm just going to go buy it and try it. So some portion of the population is going to try it and really like it, you're going to get more and more people over time that are going to want to try growing it at home, that's not something that necessarily happens immediately.

So I think, again, you're in this early infancy stage of all kinds of things playing in your favor. And if you look at Google Trends, more and more people are searching for this. You are riding the right wave that I think has got a very long runway and this could be like your forever business, right? I mean, this could be something that just becomes something beyond your wildest dreams, I think you really have that opportunity.

Christian: Sounds good to me.

Mike: Awesome, any other thoughts or questions?

Christian: No, that was pretty much it. I was just stuck on how to figure out how to market my thing. But that makes more sense. I’ll go and focus a little bit more in Google Shopping, since that's where I can actually learn about it and check my keywords and make sure that's right. And then content is king, right? So get good content out to more people and I'll sell more products.

Mike: Exactly. I mean, just unfortunately, normally my answer would be here's how to do Facebook ads, but I think that that's…

Christian: Overlapping 00:43:15] me half of my things and I just get a terrible return. And honestly, I mean, if no one in my grow groups or stuff, you don't want to use your name and growing, it's still kind of taboo. Instagram is fine because you can make a fake account name and stuff like that and everybody shows pictures of what they’re growing and talks to each other that way, but they don't network as much on Facebook with their real name where people can actually find them.

Mike: Makes sense.

Christian: So growers are still kind of secretive about what they do. So that's a weird niche.

Mike: Got you. Cool, man. I wish you the best of luck. Let's definitely catch back up again after the 5 Minute Pitch thing comes out.

Christian: And did I win? Is the check in the mail or?

Mike: Sorry, I can't talk about that.

Christian: Let's find out later.

Mike: I'm sworn to secrecy but it was definitely awesome having you on.

Christian: Hey, this is all I wanted anyways, just to meet you and get some insight and how to better run my business. So I appreciate that. I've already won for you calling me.

Mike: Awesome. No problem. I appreciate you coming on. It's been a great episode and I look forward to hopefully meeting you in person sometime.

Christian: Yeah, definitely. Thank you.

Mike: Cool. Well, have a great weekend and if you ever anything else, you know where to find me.

Christian: Okay, thank you.

Mike: No problem, best luck to you.

All right, guys, I hope you enjoyed this interview with Christian. I know I did. The guy is just awesome. I wish him the best of luck in his business. Doing the 5 Minute Pitch was one of the things that just made my 2018. I'm already looking forward to doing it with Steve, Scott, and Greg in 2019. And one last reminder, if you heard me at the beginning asking for a review, if you have a chance, head over to iTunes, leave us an honest review, it really does help. Stop what you're doing, take a minute and do that. We really, really appreciate it. Next time I see, I'll buy you a beer if you let me know you left a review. It really means that much to us.

We love doing these podcasts. But we also want to get as much exposure as we can for it. It’s kind of the entrepreneurial spirit. You don't want to see the podcast just be stagnant or go smaller. We want to take it and make it as big as we can. And your five minutes of help leaving that review will help us get there. So until the next episode everyone, happy selling and we'll talk to you soon.

Michael Jackness

Michael started his first business when he was 18 and is a serial entrepreneur. He got his start in the online world way back in 2004 as an affiliate marketer. From there he grew as an SEO expert and has transitioned into ecommerce, running several sites that bring in a total of 7-figures of revenue each year.

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