EcomCrew Podcast

E527: The Pros and Cons of Building A Community and Content Site

Ecomcrew Premium is finally opening in the next few days! Join the waitlist to get a discount for Black Friday, and get access to a community of like-minded e-commerce sellers. 

With Ecomcrew being open, Dave and I thought it'd be a good time to reflect and compare the differences between a content site and product site. 

We talk about the pros and cons of building a community, the various platform risks in digital businesses that are unavoidable and our personal experiences with getting hit with a Google Update that ultimately led to less visitors.

Here are some timestamps to help you along: 

Video Timestamps:

  • Introduction – 0:00 
  • Migrating out of South California for Ecommerce – 1:02 
  • The Good, Bad and Ugly with Running a Content Site – 6:12 
  • Running a Digital Platform on Your Own Platform – 8:14
  • Platform Risks – 9:14 
  • Amazon is EASIER to Appeal to? [shorts] – 11:35 
  • Getting Shut Down by Google [shorts] – 13:14
  • Google Penalties – 15:00 
  • Running a Content Business vs Product Business – 15:55
  • Amazon Only Rewards Marketing > Quality [shorts] – 16:24 
  • Difference Between Amazon and Google – 20:06
  • Being Labelled as “Gurus” – 23:39
  • Difference Between Ecomcrew vs. Gurus – 30:22
  • Pros of Building a Community – 31:46
  • Cons of Building a Community – 34:29
  • The Full Customer Funnel of Ecomcrew Premium – 35:40
  • Networking with Ecomcrew – 39:07
  • New Ecomcrew Premium Features – 40:35 

Audio Timestamps:

  • Introduction – 0:00 
  • Migrating out of South California for Ecommerce – 1:30
  • The Good, Bad and Ugly with Running a Content Site – 6:11
  • Running a Digital Platform on Your Own Platform – 8:00
  • Platform Risks – 8:52  
  • Amazon is EASIER to Appeal to? [shorts] – 11:00 
  • Getting Shut Down by Google [shorts] – 12:31
  • Google Penalties – 14:05 
  • Running a Content Business vs Product Business – 14:53
  • Amazon Only Rewards Marketing > Quality [shorts] – 15:19 
  • Difference Between Amazon and Google – 18:34
  • Being Labelled as “Gurus” – 22:06
  • Difference Between Ecomcrew vs. Gurus – 27:58
  • Pros of Building a Community – 29:17
  • Cons of Building a Community – 31:40
  • The Full Customer Funnel of Ecomcrew Premium – 32:46
  • Networking with Ecomcrew – 35:52
  • New Ecomcrew Premium Features – 37:11 

As always, if you have any questions or anything that you need help with, reach out to us at if you're interested. 

Don’t forget to leave us a review on iTunes if you enjoy our content. If you have any questions, send us an email at We'd love to help you in any way we can. 

Full Audio Transcript

Michael Jackness (00:59.798)
This is Mike and welcome to this edition of the EECOM Crew Podcast. How's it going, Dave?

DJ (01:00.923)
This is Dave.

DJ (01:07.059)
Going swell and how are you over in San Diego back in your stomping grounds?

Michael Jackness (01:10.002)
I'm doing good. Back in my old stomping grounds. Yeah. It's, uh, it's funny. Like I, I added this part of the trip on, I'm going to a wedding up in LA and wanted to go see some friends in San Diego and then hang out here and landed and it was raining. I was just like, what? Like it doesn't rain here. It's kind of like Vegas. It doesn't rain. And you think of San Diego and like this perfect, beautiful weather. And I like this dream of, uh, eating.

DJ (01:25.687)

Michael Jackness (01:35.626)
at this restaurant that I love over by the airport that's outside and like has this great view of the skyline of San Diego and immediately had a scrap that and go eat somewhere else. But, uh, as it works out, usually like you just go with the flow and we end up having an insanely great lunch yesterday, hung out with a good friend and had a great dinner hanging out with friends and got one more day of that before heading up to the insanity of LA traffic.

DJ (01:59.027)
Cool. I have a question for you. Have you seen a lot of e-commerce capital flight out of Southern California? Because you are the third person I know to have moved out of Southern California due to the taxation and all the other madness that goes on in California just regarding taxes. So I've known two other people in addition to you. So three people in total that have actually moved to Nevada of all places or Arizona, I think for one of them.

Michael Jackness (02:01.345)

Michael Jackness (02:08.93)

Michael Jackness (02:24.47)
Yeah. That's interesting you asked that. I mean, definitely not the topic of today's episode, but we can riff on it for just a second because it is it is interesting. You know, I probably, you know, see it a little bit amplified just because I'm in a now a Vegas kind of mastermind and group. And a lot of them have come from California. One of them came from Colorado, but I think all the rest of them are from are from California and

Yeah, it's interesting. I mean, like I, you know, do my best to not get political on the podcast. But you know, California, I felt like was a little bit much for me. And it wasn't just the taxes. I mean, it was because like, I mean, that I knew coming into it, right? It wasn't like I was all the sudden surprised. I moved here and I knew that it was a higher tax rate. But realistically, it's only a couple points more than my home state of Virginia. You know, it's definitely more.

But it's a lot of other things. I mean, the overall cost of living here, significantly more expensive. It's more expensive to buy a house. The electricity rates higher, insurance is higher, cost of hiring employees is higher, cost of compliance is higher. I mean, California comes out with new rules and laws, it seems like every year, that you're just like, really? Like that's the thing that you're focused on and that's your most important thing that you know. And it also just kind of comes from like a-

an or of people passing laws, you know, regulating small businesses that have no clue what it's like to run a small business. And that's always really dangerous when like it sounds so simple to like, just fill out this form or just submit this, you know, thing or whatever. And it's, you know, in actuality, a gigantic pain in the rear end. You know, sales tax is like another great example of this in a state like Washington, which I know just because of, you know, grant being up there.

DJ (03:59.004)

DJ (04:05.116)

Michael Jackness (04:19.358)
they have like hundreds of freaking jurisdictions and you're supposed to figure out how to, you know, charge the proper rate for all those different places and then submit it. It's just really, you know, the definition of an undue burden by the means of the Constitution. So I don't know, like I, at some point, as much as I absolutely adore and love San Diego, I mean, it really is a beautiful place. Weather's amazing, tons of parks. I mean,

DJ (04:22.204)

Michael Jackness (04:47.542)
There's, I love the outdoors. There's like, you can be surfing in the morning, which I'm not a surfer, but you can be surfing in the morning and then go skiing like in the same day, you know, it's just like a region full of lots of diversity and natural beauty and cool people, but you know, eventually at some point it's like, okay, I can go run a business, live my life, et cetera. And in Nevada and in Las Vegas, it basically half, half the price. And it's not like it's.

Half is good there. In fact, I feel like my life there is actually been better. I do miss the outdoors and a bunch of other things, which is nice to be able to quickly come back to SoCal. I mean, it's under a one hour flight. It's only a few hour drive. We have lots of friends. I get to stay at their house and I feel like I'm right back at home. So, I don't know. I mean, I feel like we're living the life of all the best worlds at this moment.

DJ (05:36.607)
Cool. So a few California economic refugees in Vegas.

Michael Jackness (05:41.21)
Yeah, I mean, there's definitely, I mean, you're right. There's more and more of the moving there. The thing that that's been a little bit disturbing, you know, for, for me and a bunch of other people there is it is now really ratcheting up prices for a lot of things because you have people coming from California, like myself, like I came here, kind of came to Vegas, kind of disillusioned, you know, you like, you're living in this, this house that costs X and you come to Vegas and the same house is

DJ (05:53.296)

Michael Jackness (06:09.294)
X divided by two, you know, it's like, oh, I can easily afford this. And then, you know, you go for either a bigger home or your one. Back when I was buying our place, there was a bidding warriors, like, I don't care. It's like an extra 20 K, like it seems like nothing compared to the place you're coming from. And so that was happening quite a bit and really pushing prices up, which, you know, is good from the perspective. If you already own a home, that's wonderful. But.

DJ (06:27.887)

Michael Jackness (06:36.554)
I think about things a little bit more holistically, and I worry about a lot of other people who already live there, people that are working more minimum wage jobs or middle-class jobs that get pushed out of homes. That was one of the big problems here in San Diego, is that the median home price here is just so freaking high. And now with interest rates being higher, it's literally not possible to buy a house. You get pushed out of the market.

And so I worry about those things, but overall, again, much happier over there.

DJ (07:08.179)
Okay. So we covered the good, the bad, and the ugly of running a business in California. How about we talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly of running a community and content sites in general, kind of in line with this week is Econ Crew Premium Week. So we're opening Econ Crew Premium for this week only. And yeah, I thought we would get into some of the, yeah, the pros and the cons of running a community like Econ Crew along with the content site that goes with it.

Michael Jackness (07:23.515)

Michael Jackness (07:36.042)
Yeah, that's an awesome segue. Let's start with the content part of it first, because that's just something that I've been doing for such a long time. I mean, quite literally getting ready to come up on our 20th year anniversary of that here in just a couple of months, which is of content sites, exactly. Yeah, which is obviously kind of a nutty thing to just kind of all of a sudden realize that in this other part of my life, that's 20 years and I had…

DJ (07:51.968)
not of e-comm crew, but of content sites in general.

Michael Jackness (08:05.694)
another career before this. So pretty crazy how much time has gone by since quitting my job. But yeah, I mean, I would say that the good at a very high level was it can be quite lucrative, right? I mean, it seems so easy. You put out content, you do it for a while and you get traffic and you make money. And it just seems like the ultimate dream. But the bad is that you're

you're doing it on someone else's platform. It's basically you're living and dying by Google and its algorithm. And there's definitely been some pretty big lows for us of things going to zero. I mean, like quite literally going to zero at least two or three, I guess three times. And by the third time, I've really learned my lessons. So we really focus now on doing everything completely white hat, trying to put out the best possible content, doing what really

Google really wants and thinking about the long game. And eventually you'll win.

DJ (09:10.903)
So do you think it's possible to run a digital company not based on somebody else's platform in 2023?

Michael Jackness (09:20.366)
I mean, you're relying on something, right? I mean, you.

DJ (09:21.339)
So there's platform risk to any digital company. Yeah. Well, well, not to anything. You want to open up a coffee shop, you don't have platform risk. You may have community risk and geographic risk. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Michael Jackness (09:25.043)
to anything. Yeah.

Michael Jackness (09:35.074)
Well, you said digital business. And even the coffee shop relies probably on digital quite a bit, right? Like you're living and dying by people's reviews. Because a lot of coffee shops get business of, like right now I'm gonna type in coffee shop because I'm here in San Diego. I know what's around here, but I'm gonna look and see if there's anything new. But, or remind myself at least how to walk over there.

You know, it's such a localized, like, I need coffee right now kind of business, and you're relying on Google or whatever other things are out there that help you with this stuff, right?

DJ (10:09.887)
Yelp. So you think the coffee shop has Yelp platform risk.

Michael Jackness (10:13.982)
Oh, yeah, for sure. I mean, it. Yes, I do. I think that it I think it's a world of like, it's impossible to escape digital platform risk. Basically, I mean, I'm sure there are there are things that people can come up with examples. But in my life, everything seems to be, I think, digitally about just about everything. So and certainly online, like I don't think that there's anything that you can decouple yourself from platform risk. And if you're running a Shopify store, you're relying on Shopify as a platform.

I mean, Shopify at any moment could just say, we don't like your types of products for whatever reason, and you can no longer use Shopify Pay or use our site, and now you've got to switch. You're getting traffic. If you're running a Shopify store, you're getting traffic to it somehow. It isn't just magic. And so either you're ranking organically for SEO, and so you're relying on Google for platform there, or you're a social media-based company, and so you're relying on Facebook or Instagram, where you're doing…

you do see ads, so again, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Google AdWords, et cetera. So yeah, there's platform risk every which way. And so, the dream business is diversified across multiple channels, right? Where you're getting traffic from all of those things. But the reality is, is the 80-20 role almost always applies to every business. And I look back to our most successful business with Colorate and…

DJ (11:27.978)

Michael Jackness (11:43.11)
you know, it was really a couple to Facebook. And as Facebook changed, things were getting a lot more challenging. I mean, those guys have done a great job of continuing on and looking for other channels. But certainly, there was a moment there where a lot of our business was coupled to that. And now, you know, right here in 2023, you know, in your case, in my case, you know, we are highly coupled to Amazon as a platform. And the risk, I feel like, is incredibly high.

Certainly not the position I want to be in, but just where we have found ourselves at this moment after selling everything Except for ice wraps and working on building that up and selling it Right now we're definitely in I would say a pretty high risk Period of time that I'm not thrilled about but we'll move forward with nonetheless

DJ (12:32.423)
So the interesting thing when you talk about platform risk and kind of Google versus Amazon, it's funny, everybody complains about Amazon and the platform risk there being suspended. But the platform risk with Google, when all of a sudden they decide to de-index your site because they think that you've been doing something nefarious, there is no appeal process with Google. There is no getting on the phone with seller support. Like Amazon is a walk in the park in terms of not facing that.

event changing moment where your business is basically out of business because of something that Amazon did compared to running a content site where Google can really just close the door on your business overnight. And that's where I think a lot of people maybe over magnify the risk of Amazon because Amazon, they're pretty fair compared, especially compared to Google and even to a lesser degree to Facebook. So, um, I think that is the biggest.

risk and downside to a content site is the fact that there is really no appeal process with Google. If they decide to, God forbid, like actually de-index your site, or more likely than not, all of a sudden you take a big hit through like a content update that was just released a couple months ago, the Google Helpful Update, where your traffic all of a sudden gets divided in half overnight. You can't appeal that with Google. You just have to respond to their algorithm. And that's something people don't really get with Amazon.

Michael Jackness (13:33.838)

Michael Jackness (13:56.506)
I completely agree with you. I have been there with Google. We're talking super high stakes here. Both in the poker days and in between poker and e-commerce, I was doing other affiliate stuff and I had that happen multiple times. It's a pretty sinking feeling when you're making six figures a month and it goes to zero overnight and there's nothing you can do. There's absolutely nothing you can do.

I feel like, again, in retrospect, two of the three times we deserved it. I was doing things where, you know, it's just, you get to, if you can't beat them, join them kind of thing, where you see other people buying links or doing link farms or, you know, a bunch of other crap, doing thing content, whatever. I mean, you just, it's hard to continually sit back and watch people compete with you, cheating, winning.

Obviously, then you realize, well, maybe we should have been playing a long game and wait for them to get their hand smacked. So a couple of those times really suck. One of the other times was actually just completely unfortunate. We had put this JavaScript on our site. This is back in 2005, before JavaScript was really widely accepted. And it was something where you click the button and it expanded something and there were some links in there. And I think that Google thought that we were…

And we really, legitimately weren't trying to play any games here. And I woke up one morning and we couldn't even find our brand name. Like you would type in Pokersource, which was our brand name, and you couldn't even find us. Like we were just erased. And that was pretty horrible. You know, I look at EcomCrew, and I think the risk of that is basically zero, or as near to zero as it can be. Like we do absolutely nothing, black hat in any way, shape, or form at this point.

And so I feel like the risk to that is zero. What obviously can happen and actually has happened recently this year is, there's a helpful content update or some type of algorithm tweak. I've been through this again, 20 years. They're averaging an update probably every nine months or something, a major update. And so that's what 30 something updates over that time. And yeah, there's winners and losers to every update. And sometimes…

DJ (16:11.769)

Michael Jackness (16:22.67)
It's time to pop the champagne because your traffic doubles, triples, quadruples, whatever when an update comes out and you're feeling like you're in cloud nine. And then there's other updates where your traffic gets cut in half, which has happened to us this year. And I don't know, I feel like it's riding a wave that the next one, we're not doing anything wrong. So the next one, or at some point in the future, will be up and we'll be celebrating again, because we just keep on doing the right things.

DJ (16:51.579)
Well, and I do think that's both a pro and kind of a con to running a content business is, especially compared to an e-commerce business, is that Google for the most part rewards quality. And you talked about e-comm crew taking a bit of a traffic dip. And that's like a one-to-one relationship between the fact that number one, we hired a new couple of new writers who were a little bit green around the edges. So we had to train them. They took some time to get up to speed and we hired some freelancers who just weren't putting out good quality work. And

Google eventually, after a few months, when they make an algorithm update, like you mentioned, every nine months, all of a sudden that quality dip, they punish you for it. But for the most part, if you're doing excellent work, eventually you get rewarded through one of their algorithm updates, which happens roughly every year. And we've seen that with a couple other sites that we run, where we're doing fantastic content and you go to Google Analytics and keep looking at your traffic. It's like, why is nothing happening? Why is nothing happening? We're doing great, great content. And eventually,

the algorithm update happens and you see that hockey stick growth. So Google does a fantastic job for the most part of rewarding quality. And that's why Google is Google. Cause you know, when you click on that number one search result, it's probably what you need. Um, product based businesses often are not rewarding product quality. More often than not, they're rewarding great marketing, which can be at odds. To having a great product. You know, a lot of times that number one prank.

product is just simply they have great Facebook creative or they're gaming Amazon in some way with faith reviews and, uh, and other techniques. But there's not that one-to-one relationship between quality and ranking number one for any e-commerce business, whether you're relying on Facebook, Google, or not less. So Google, uh, or Amazon.

Michael Jackness (18:41.202)
Yeah, I mean, Amazon is so gamed at this point, it's certainly not the highest quality product wins, right? And to a pretty big extent, they just really don't care about that. As long as the customer experience is OK and they're making money, then they don't really care, which is a little bit unfortunate. I wish they would take a little bit more of Google's approach of trying to have the best possible result at the top in terms of it isn't just.

DJ (18:53.116)

Michael Jackness (19:10.062)
a dollars and cents thing in terms of what gets the most sales or what's priced properly or has gained the system. Because Amazon is definitely very easily gamed. We see what people are doing in a black hat way all the time. We hear about that from, we're kind of obviously in these circles. And so search, find, buy.

putting in inserts in the, I mean, we see it when you buy stuff. It's like, how are they even getting away with this stuff? Where, you know.

DJ (19:41.537)
But nobody does search, find, buy anymore. Amazon said you're not allowed to. So everybody stopped it.

Michael Jackness (19:45.326)
Yeah, I mean, we certainly don't do it. I'm terrified to try it. I mean, you go do it once, whatever, like it's never gonna pop up on their radar, but it's pretty obvious when you're doing search, find, buy, right? Like, I mean, you're leaving behind a pretty obvious digital footprint, and if Amazon wanted to do something about it, they could, they should. I don't know why they haven't.

But you gotta deal with Amazon. Again, you're on their platform and dealing with the consequences of that.

DJ (20:27.183)
Yeah, yeah. No, you're, you're dead on. And again, I think the fact that Amazon doesn't punish that type of stuff more often is the fact that again, they have, they're a little bit more lax on suspensions and appeals than somebody like Google is. So they're not as cutthroat as Google is when it comes to punishing bad actors, for better or worse. You know, if you're a good actor on Amazon, and maybe you've

Michael Jackness (20:42.243)

DJ (20:52.923)
bend the rules one time, it's good to know that you're not going to be suspended for life just because of that. But at the same time, bad actors often don't get punished.

Michael Jackness (21:02.286)
I think that Amazon and Google are different from the perspective of like Google is really incentivized to have the best possible result, first, second, third kind of thing, right? Because as you said, they built this reputation of having the best results. And so like, it's almost a joke to go to Yahoo or Bing or whatever else is out there, because the results are just a joke. They're really not very good. I don't know why they can't copy the same ideas and algorithms to…

to make it better, but they haven't. And so Google really is the best product when you're searching for something, you get answers really, really quickly. And it's pretty rare these days to click on a top three result and it'd be junk. It does happen, but it's pretty rare. And so they're highly motivated to do that because then they make their money off of more and more, everyone comes to Google to get answers and also on that page are all the ads. And you know.

above the fold and on the sidebar and every which way you choose. You know, for Amazon, they're not incentivized that way. They're incentivized to how to get people to spend the most money and buy those products. And so. You know, the best product showing up at the top is not necessarily their number one objective. Their number one objective is how do we extract the most money off of people coming to our site, looking for this product and making the sale? So they're looking at conversion rates or.

or other metrics to make those decisions. And so again, that's why I think it's a little bit easy to game that if you want to do black hat stuff, which is unfortunate. I really do think that they would be better off long-term because I do think that eventually they're going to get a reputation of when you buy, this has all happened to all of us, you buy something, you think it's going to be a good product and then it's a bucket of junk that shows up because it came from Amazon. And eventually I think that's going to come back and bite them in the rear end.

DJ (22:59.403)
Yeah, totally agree. Now, kind of pivoting here to two things. Number one, I want to talk about the pros and the cons of running a community. And before that though, talking about content sites and e-concru in general, here's kind of a loaded question. How do you feel about kind of being labeled a quote unquote guru when it comes to running e-concru, whether or not, you know, me or you are a guru. How do you feel about that label?

So this is something me and you have talked about offline before is, you know, I think you're more comfortable with it than I am. I hate having that label because it gives us sense that, you know, you're trying to act like something you're not and you know, all the every word of wisdom to life in the world and it comes across as very inauthentic, I think to a lot of people when they label you as a guru, they think that you're just trying to pretend something.

Michael Jackness (23:29.389)

DJ (23:56.959)
pretend to be something that you're not. And again, we can debate whether we are quote unquote gurus or not, but how do you feel about that label?

Michael Jackness (24:06.45)
Yeah, I mean, that word probably has a pretty negative connotation to it, like whether you're trying to or not. And for good reason. I mean, there are a lot of people just like people are black hat gaming. Selling on Amazon, there's a lot of people that do a similar thing when it comes to selling information, selling the dream on the internet. There's been tons of this over the last decade or two. And so I don't know, like, I mean, we have been very careful and deliberate about

never being in that bucket. We've never once said selling online is super easy and you're a fool for not getting online and selling on Amazon because anybody can do it and make tons of money. Our thing is that it's actually pretty damn hard. I mean, and it gets harder every year, but it's also very rewarding and it's still a good way to make a living. We've done pretty well over the years. There's a sense of camaraderie in e-commerce specifically.

that doesn't exist in anything else that I've ever done. Because anybody that's been selling online for at least a year has had the same realization that I'm just talking about, where it is pretty difficult. Versus in affiliate marketing, when I was exclusively in that space, there's definitely an aura of like, this is super easy, and you start to get like, there's like an entitlement level there or whatever. And…

A lot of the characters that are floating around that space have never really been given a good dose of reality of other businesses in life. And then also everyone's competing for the same exact thing versus an e-commerce. It's pretty hard to be competing for the same thing. Obviously there is someone else selling ice packs and gel pens or truck tents or whatever. But most people that you come across in e-commerce are selling something completely different to you.

and have been in the same struggles. Like it's until you have to deal with Amazon seller support, you don't really understand the struggle and how it's real to try to get something accomplished with them. And so when I run into someone that's been through that or it goes through it constantly, again, there's like an instant camaraderie because you know what a pain in the rear end it is. And some of the ridiculous things that customers will ask for or try to pull on you or.

Michael Jackness (26:30.082)
you know, products getting lost or damaged or having to deal with logistics or during COVID or having to deal with employees or warehouse workers or all these different things that, again, until you've been through it all. And I still ask myself some days, like, what the hell am I doing, like trying to sell physical products when the affiliate stuff was so much easier? But again, I feel like e-commerce is way more rewarding. And so it's lucky to be at a point in my life where I can…

chase that rather than just the money.

DJ (27:01.007)
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, it's interesting how that evolution of the word guru has kind of evolved over the last few years. You know, it really wasn't a thing seven or eight years ago. You know, when we started this podcast in this blog seven or eight years ago, I've never heard the word guru, it was just, hey, two guys are running a blog and a podcast talking about running e commerce businesses. Somehow, and at some point, it evolved into

two guys talking about running e-commerce businesses turned into being gurus, which I think actually kind of hurts the industry overall because there are a lot of people that deliver a lot of good content about running an e-commerce business because it is hard. And where do you draw that line between being a guru and just providing advice? Like is, are they gurus when they're giving small business advice? So I don't know how that word came about. And I guess…

Michael Jackness (27:34.231)

DJ (27:58.515)
how it came about is a lot of people trying to take advantage of people through YouTube ads and annoying Facebook ads saying, Hey, join my course and get rich overnight by doing nothing. I guess that's how it evolved. But I think it does hurt overall e-commerce knowledge and just bettering your business by having that word because I think it does deter a lot of people from just providing great content.

Michael Jackness (28:22.858)
Yeah, I mean, there's definitely an underworld in this industry of people who are just full of crap, right? That like, A, haven't been there themselves and B, they're just trying to sell courses, and they can care less about people's success with that. It's even if some percentage of people ask for a refund, it's still just because it's kind of like 100% margin business.

you know, in theory, it's far from that. Obviously we have staff and other things that go into it, but when you're the guru type person and it's just, you buy our course and you're gonna get rich and you have the material there, I mean, the reality is that a lot of people don't ever fully go through the course, right? They buy it, a lot of people, you know, they have good intentions, but they don't actually put the effort into learning and going to do it. So…

It's just kind of like a gym membership. A lot of people buy it, but then, or a treadmill, when we used to sell those, they buy it and don't ever fully utilize it. And so unfortunately, we see that with e-comm premiums some as well, not to the same extent that I think that some of these other people that I'm talking about are, but like you buy the course, you don't ever really fully utilize it. And even if the people that do fully utilize it, it ends up being way more difficult than the messaging. You know, it doesn't align, because it isn't that easy. Like, I mean, it just isn't.

DJ (29:39.665)

DJ (29:45.115)
Well, I think where we've done a pretty good job of separating premium to and avoiding taking on members who might not make the full use of it is we do definitely try to target people who are already quote unquote sold on the dream of, Hey, okay, I'm going to run an e-commerce business. This is going to be my thing. Like I'm not looking for the next business idea. And I'm kind of in between starting a juice it franchise or running an e-commerce business, like they've decided, okay, I

Michael Jackness (30:02.22)

DJ (30:13.595)
I'm going to do an e-commerce business, whether I do it as a side hustle or whether I quit my full-time job and do this full-time, people are already sold on the idea of e-commerce and they just need to get a little bit better at it. So I do think that's where we do a lot better job with retention because people have already, again, like I mentioned, bought into the dream and they just need a little bit of tweaking to their strategy to take their e-commerce business to a little bit higher level.

Again, that can mean different things for different people. It can mean going from a thousand dollars a month in sales to 10,000 dollars a month in sales, or it can mean going from a hundred thousand dollars a month in sales to a million dollars a month in sales. But I think not selling that dream does definitely help us keep our retention rates higher. And I think overall premium members get more value out of it already being committed to the idea of running an e-commerce business.

Michael Jackness (31:08.722)
Yeah, and I think that it's nearly impossible to be successful in e-commerce, just doing it completely on your own without any sort of mastermind or community or bouncing ideas off of people. There's just too much, too many moving parts to have figured out everything on your own and things change too quickly. And so I think that that's the funnest part of running Econ Group Premium.

constantly sharing things that we're doing, but we also learn as well, which is kind of cool, right? I mean, like there's a lot of times where people in our community or students that are sharing back and you learn things, you know from them There's also something what's that?

DJ (31:50.703)
Well, the old adage, the old adage, the best way to learn is to teach.

Michael Jackness (31:55.414)
That's right. Yeah. And it's so it's been, it's been pretty cool. And the only thing I find for myself is it's, there's nothing more motivating when you get up in the morning than like, I got to go figure out something cool today because I have to share, I have to share something next week or next month or whatever. Um, and so it, it kind of forces me to, because it's, it's easy to just be like, I'm not going to do that today, or I'm going to go do something else. You get lost into something else. And so if I running the community, we're,

DJ (32:07.556)

Michael Jackness (32:24.49)
we kind of constantly have a fire under our rear ends to be uncovering something new, constantly, right? Whether it's some new ad type or how to save money with logistics or finding some new service provider or toll. Sometimes it's even just the smallest of tips. Sometimes it's something more major, but it's constantly forcing us to evolve and be at the forefront the best that we can be.

DJ (32:55.367)
Yeah, yeah. I mean, it forces us to be proactive and find interesting things to talk about. Also, when somebody asks a question, they pre-submit a question like, oh, hey, Mike, what do you think of DSP ads? And maybe your initial thought is, you know, I tried them three years ago, and we had no luck with them. But I wonder how they're doing now. And then you start to reach out to your network and you say, hey,

catch, have you tried DSP ads? How are they doing in your business? And he says, you know what, actually we're doing okay. In this one category, this other category is not doing well, but you're forced to actually go out and find answers to questions maybe that you don't know the answer to. So I mean, both has that proactive part of it of finding cool things to talk about, but also making sure that you are able to provide really good answers to questions that you might not know the answer to. And leveraging on that network and.

Michael Jackness (33:41.038)
Mm-hmm, yeah.

DJ (33:44.8)
and all the people that you know in e-commerce.

Michael Jackness (33:48.214)
Yeah. So I mean, I think those are some of the pros. I mean, I think in terms of cons and some of the things that have worn on me over the years, I mean, there are, you kind of get personally invested in the people's lives, right. And in their success. And so it's always just disheartening when someone doesn't make it for one reason or the other, or they have something bad happen to them. Like their account does get suspended or they get sued or they

one of these types of things that just happen in business or in life, they get sick or something happens to their family or themselves or whatever. And those things are tough. Like I have a really hard time with that stuff. And with the size of community that we have, it happens on a pretty regular basis. You think about like on any one day, like something bad happening to anyone is probably pretty small, but like over time.

Like we all have something that goes wrong in our lives in one way or the other, and sometimes it's more major than not, but at scale it's often, you know, when you put together a larger group of people. So for me, I've always found that to be one of the most difficult parts.

DJ (35:03.631)
Well, it is interesting. You're kind of talking about the full circle. Like somebody starts an e-commerce company and some life changing event happens where, you know, they get divorced or, uh, God forbid, you know, either they pass away or somebody critical in their company passes away. But you also have the other spectrum where we get the emails from people saying, Hey, you know, I'm canceling my premium membership because I just sold my business and I'm going to take a couple of years off. Uh, you know, I'll circle back to you guys in a couple of years, but

Michael Jackness (35:26.568)

DJ (35:30.103)
I'm good for now and I'm just going to take some time off and relax with my family. And we're going, we're going to go live in Spain for a couple of years. And that we always joke about it, uh, both between me and you and our employees is like, that's the complete funnel right there. Like they joined premium because they need a little bit of help, you know, their business started and then they're members for a couple of years or maybe longer than that. And then eventually they sell their business, uh, with a good out count.

Michael Jackness (35:38.636)

DJ (35:56.175)
not because it's a distress sale or anything, but because this is going to be a life-changing amount of money that they come into by selling their business. And it's like, all right, we did our job. We completed that entire sales process.

Michael Jackness (36:09.27)
Absolutely. I mean, it's pretty wild because we've been doing this now for five, six, seven years. I'm horrible at time. I've lost track. But it's something in that range. And so certainly now, there are people that are going full circle. We've gone full circle several times ourselves since we've been running this. Starting businesses completely from scratch and selling them, buying businesses and selling them. And so it is neat. Yes, there are lots of people who have…

been on that journey and it's pretty awesome.

DJ (36:43.343)
Yeah, a little personal story too. A few months ago, I'm at an Amazon at the Amazon, uh, boost conference in Seattle and went to a networking event and this girl walks up to me and she's really well known in the e-commerce community now. I'm not going to say her name. Uh, she's been on shark's tank has one of the best board games, uh, or best selling board games on Amazon. Uh, probably a lot of people listening to this know who I'm talking about.

And I'm excited to meet her. Like, oh, I've seen her so many on shark's tank and I see her posting in a couple of groups that were both a part of, and I'm so excited to meet her. And she locks eyes on me at this networking event. She goes, Dave, it's good to finally meet you in person. I'm like, what? Don't you remember I joined premium in 2016 and you guys really helped me in those first couple of years that I thought. And then I remembered the name. Oh, that's right. And of course, as soon as I got back, I went through all our old emails and looking at.

Michael Jackness (37:19.918)

DJ (37:36.359)
countless emails that we had back and forth with her, you know, nearly six or seven years ago. And she, I don't think she even had her product picked out at that point. And she literally went from, you know, batting between garlic presses and fishing rods and ultimately settled on some board game to going on shark's tank and, you know, just absolutely killing it on Amazon. So that's just one of those really rewarding things that you get out of running a community like this.

Michael Jackness (38:09.678)
I think I'm still here. I heard all that.

DJ (38:14.327)
Yes. Yeah. No, you're still here.

Michael Jackness (38:14.546)
You can still hear me? Okay, man, my brows are just like… I was like, the audio was like… It was doing like max headroom, so I don't know. Hopefully everything recorded okay locally, but I did get all that, so I'll just stop for a second and continue.

DJ (38:20.772)
Yeah, you got choppy there for a minute.

DJ (38:27.322)

DJ (38:30.984)

Michael Jackness (38:32.138)
Yeah, I mean, those are easily my favorite stories, right? Of running these communities. I mean, again, some people that have come full circle, a lot of times you're down in the weeds of just answering emails and helping people while you're trying to run your own businesses and forget years in the past that, you know, those interactions happened and it's definitely pretty freaking cool.

DJ (38:59.359)
One other observation I've had over the few years of doing this is whenever we do like a meetup and we meet a bunch of premium members, I always realized, geez, you know what? I like almost everybody here. Like, you know, I would actually go out for a beer with them. I thought, wow, it just must be everybody in e-commerce. And it's not. And I realized how that happens is that people who are attracted to joining premium probably, you know, they kind of like us. They hear it. Well, at least you. They hear us on the podcast or the reader writing or reader emails.

Mike and to a lesser degree Dave, and then they join premium. And so there's already that, you know, if they like us, probably we're going to like them. It's not, you know, where they absolutely despise us. And they've been sold on some YouTube ad or Facebook ad. And that's why they joined. Like they probably already had a connection one way with us. We've never met them. And if it goes one way, you know, somebody likes you, probably you're going to like them back. And so it's just a really neat way to actually meet people that you actually genuinely like.

So it's been a great networking opportunity for me in that regard, which again, we talked about this before, this back and forth momentum that you get where, yes, we teach, but we also get to learn, and the same thing. We actually get to improve our network by running a community like this.

Michael Jackness (40:12.566)
Yeah, absolutely. Couldn't agree more. So we're already way over time. I think it also is probably since Premium is opening up next week or whenever this goes out, I'm not sure exactly the date, but opening up soon. One of the big things that we've changed this year just kind of based on some of the things we're talking about here is we're moving from a monthly webinar to weekly. I think that waiting.

a longer period of time between being able to ask us questions and talk about things is not really conducive to running a business that needs help now when you need it, right? And so we're going to be doing this new format where every week we'll be sharing a tip or something that we're seeing in our businesses. Again, it pushes us to do more and also open up the mic as we always have or Q&A for any questions that you have. And so…

We're just trying to make the community tighter, both our interactions with our members and members' interactions with themselves, to help out with things as they come up way more frequently. We do put an asterisk on weekly because realistically doing 52 of them a year is probably not realistic with holidays and traveling. So the average would probably be in the…

DJ (41:33.823)
Yeah, well, the caveat is it's every week without a US holiday in it. So, you know, Labor Day, whether it fall, there will be no webinar, even though it's a Monday holiday, there'll be no webinar, which normally takes place on Wednesday at 10 a.m. Pacific time.

Michael Jackness (41:38.017)

Michael Jackness (41:47.53)
Yep. So I think it's an average of three per month. There's some months that have five weeks in them, five Wednesdays or whatever, and so there'll be four of those months. But on average, the idea is it's more or less weekly and being able to just really amp up the frequency of that I think is going to be a pretty big difference this year. I'm curious to see how things look this time next year when we're talking, because those webinars have been pretty awesome. It's an opportunity for us to…

directly interact with people in a real-time way, where email is just way more impersonal.

DJ (42:27.263)
Well, and you use the word webinar and that's probably not the right word. I mean, I really consider them masterminds because people can turn on their microphone and their camera if they're brave enough. And a lot of people are and they get on and they just chat with us kind of like we're chatting right now. But at the same time, you can also pre-submit your question via email. You can just ask in the chat box.

during the mastermind. So I consider it more of a mastermind than a webinar. Webinar implies that it's just Mike and Dave talking. It's really a mastermind where you can come in there and ask any question you want. You can also learn from other people. So I consider it more of a mastermind session more so than a webinar.

Michael Jackness (43:04.874)
Yeah, I agree. I think I just so used to using that word, but you're right. I mean, it's either like an office hours mastermind, something way more interactive than a webinar, because a webinar kind of implies one way communication or some sort of PowerPoint presentation, which we certainly aren't doing.

DJ (43:12.254)
I am too. I know what you mean.

Michael Jackness (43:29.346)
Cool, yeah, so if you're interested in that in any way, head over to slash premium. Either the wait list will be open when you get there or excuse me, depending on the time that you're listening to this, either the registration will be open. And we'd love to have you over there. If not, just again, as we always say, like listening to the podcast and supporting us by just consuming our content actually helps as well. Cause that's again, running a content business. That's kind of the whole.

Holy grail is having visitors in traffic, so we definitely appreciate it.

DJ (44:04.263)
Cool, yeah, and it'll be limited to the first hundred people. So yeah, join while you can. And it does close again, depending on when you're listening to this, closes on Cyber Monday at midnight. So whatever date that falls onto, I think it's November 27th, I shouldn't really say that out loud, live on a podcast. But whenever Cyber Monday is at midnight is when it closes.

Michael Jackness (44:25.754)
I have pulled up my calendar and confirmed that it is November the 27th. slash premium. Dave, thanks for coming in, doing a podcast with me. Happy Thanksgiving for those in the United States and for people like Dave in Canada, you know, happy Thursday. Oh yeah, it's funny. Thanksgiving is actually my favorite holiday. I really enjoy the whole tradition of Thanksgiving, people getting together, you know, traditionally it's like, you know, time to be.

DJ (44:31.675)
There we go.

DJ (44:43.311)
everybody else happy Thursday

Michael Jackness (44:59.97)
Think about what you're thankful for. So for me, I love reflecting on all that. You know, there isn't the pressure of exchanging gifts, it's just about eating, which I love to do, and hanging out with great friends and family. And I don't know, like I just think that there's a lot to be thankful for. It's been a pretty crazy year, but in a good way. And so definitely, I find myself every Thanksgiving day, either in the morning before heading to dinner or afterwards.

thinking through things and compared to this time last year it's been a huge difference. So very thankful this year.

DJ (45:41.627)
All right, happy Thanksgiving, Americans.

Michael Jackness (45:43.387)
Bye everybody. Until the next one, happy selling. 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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