Pete chats with Trevor Young, author of microDOMINATION — a book about leveraging the power of the Internet and social media to build a personal brand and grow your business, and they talk about the importance of creating quality content in this process.
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Conversation with Trevor Young
Dom Goucher: Hey everyone, welcome back to another exciting episode of PreneurCast with me, Dom Goucher and him, Pete Williams.
Pete Williams: Hey, hey, mate. How’s things?
Dom: Hey. Pretty good, pretty good. We’re going to have to change that intro, I think. I kind of like the old ones that we used to do.
Pete: Where I would just give you crap?
Dom: Well, you used to give me crap. Yeah, basically. Let’s be blunt about it.
Pete: Yeah, so should we just start again? Hey everyone. We could have left it in the show. So where do we go from now?
Dom: I was just leaving an awkward pause there. I think I’m just going to leave that one in and we’ll just go.
Pete: All right. Anyway, let’s do the next intro the next time.
Pete: This week, I could be in trouble from you. Maybe. Possibly. I didn’t consult you on a tech decision. A video tech decision.
Dom: And you’re not making it any better really, are you?
Pete: No. Let me give you some context. For those who aren’t part of the newsletter community that we’ve got, you probably wouldn’t be aware of this. But I sent out a video last week. I was going to buy a new DSLR camera, one of those swishy cameras. We’ve got one in the office that we use in the studio there.
But I’m working from home more and more these days because that 30-minute commute to the office now that we have moved is not overly fun. So I only go to the office a couple of days a week now. I’m doing a bit of video at home. I was going to go and buy a DSLR camera so I could get those really crisp shots that have that fuzzy background and be really clear in the front.
I was looking around. About $2,000 or at least $1,200 for the base unit of the camera, and then the lenses and stuff. About a $2,000 investment I was going to make in a camera. You weren’t available at that time, and it was an impulse purchase kind of thing. I was like, “Ah, I want to get this camera today.”
So I put out a tweet saying what’s the best place to buy a Panasonic [Lumix DMC-] GH3, because apparently, according to some people I was able to reach that day, that is probably the best video camera or video DSLR [digital single-lens reflex] camera going around these days.
Dom: And my spirit would have been with you on that decision, by the way.
Pete: Well, that’s a good start. That’s a very good start. To cut a long story short, coincidentally, that same morning, a friend of mine sent me an e-mail saying, “Hey, check out this really cool course on doing a video with your iPhone.” He saw my tweets and thought it might be a better way to go.
So, I threw down a whopping $97 and invested in this little course on how to do video with your iPhone. One of the key things in the sales letter for that product, which is what got me over that huge $97 hurdle, was this training that he had in there about how to create that depth of field and blurred background on the iPhone.
It really freaked me out. So I recorded a video, which we’ll put a link to in the show notes, of me doing this ‘depth of field’ video on my iPhone 4S. It was really cool and I’m really proud of it. I have basically saved myself about $1,200 because I’m not going to buy a DSLR camera now.
For the stuff I want to do in the home office, I’m just going to use the iPhone 4S with a couple of other cool little apps and things that are about $100 in accessories that I’ve purchased as well, off the back of this program. I don’t want to go to the full length with everything they suggested. So I saved myself about $1,200 and then decided just to use my iPhone 4S for some of the HD video that I want to do face-to-camera.
Dom: You see, this is almost like a standard conversation for me with my client. They come and they go, “Oh, you’re going to be really mad at me.” Then they’ll say something like you did which is, “Somebody else said this was a really good thing.”
It usually does go along the lines of, “I couldn’t get hold of you,” which for an Australian isn’t really unusual because the middle of your day is the middle of my night and so on. And you are a bit of an impulse buyer.
Pete: Just a little. I almost bought a new $80,000 dollar car last week which I decided not to. That’s a whole another story. I want to talk about this. Can you remind me, in a couple of episodes’ time, to talk about why I didn’t buy the car because I think there’s a really good lesson in it. That’s a whole another conversation.
Dom: Yeah, we’ll probably have a different perspective on what makes a good deciding factor on that. But yeah, let’s talk about it. But this thing you looked for recommendations and you took them all on board. And then what you actually did was looked at what you needed.
Okay, it was good that you got this information from this course. But I would probably have given you the same feedback that you got from the course if we had talked you through about your requirements. I have been a huge supporter of something that our friend Ed Dale talks about.
It’s a thing he got from Chase Jarvis, which is that the best camera is the one that’s with you. And your iPhone, you’ve already got the iPhone? It’s probably saved you even more than the $1,200 that you had estimated.
Pete: Yeah. Really, the numbers I did was, it’s $1,200 just for the camera. Then you’ve got to buy the lens, which is about $600. Then I’d buy a case, which is $100. Then I’d buy a memory card, which is $50. Then I’d buy blah, blah, blah, blah. Hmm.
Dom: Blah, blah, blah, yeah. And then whenever you want to do anything that isn’t exactly where you’ve got it all perfectly set up, you’ve got to pack it up and track it out there, and rebuild it and put it back together again. And I find people find that stuff limiting. Whereas, you’ve got your iPhone in your pocket. Fancy doing a video? Bang. Done.
Pete: Yeah, exactly.
Dom: So it’s great. I can argue for the Panasonic GH3 for technical reasons and for whatever this, that and the other. But in terms of you want to produce more video, it has to be easy so that you will produce more video, then I think the iPhone solution is brilliant.
And there are some great bits of kit out there now that you can get that are built specifically to support that. Just to explain a little thing, by the way. The thing that you got excited about would be lost on a lot of people. I want to just explain it briefly.
What most people don’t notice when you’re looking at a video (and it’s also true in photography as well) very often the difference between professional photography and professional video, and amateur photography and amateur video, is how much of the image is in focus.
Very few people notice this until you point it out. But they can almost get this tangible feel that something is or isn’t professional. And it’s to do this, with how much is in focus. And how much is in focus is usually a factor of the quality of the equipment that you are using; the quality of the lens and how much control you have.
A professional camera gives you all the control and a consumer camera makes all the decisions for you. And the easiest decision to make is, well, let’s just have as much as possible in focus. And then if we’re all lucky, the thing that’s supposed to be in focus will be in focus.
That’s the reasoning. Seriously, that’s it. Get as much in focus as possible in different distances away from the lens. But this professional quality, if you watch any film on a big screen or even TV programs, you’ll see that the thing that you’re supposed to be paying attention to is in sharp focus.
And everything else either in front of or behind of it is out of focus by varying degrees. And yeah, for a camera geek like me, it’s a very exciting thing for somebody to make it straightforward for a non-technical person like yourself.
They have come up with this method that you can use so that you can get that effect. So you’re getting a professional video effect from basically what’s a consumer-grade camera.
Pete: Which blew my mind. I was as much of a tech geek that I’m not, or that I am, depending on which way you want to look at the coin. Yeah, I’m all about good results. So I wanted to create a high-quality video to set myself apart from other people and make myself and the quality of our production really, really high.
So I was going to go and invest $2,000 in the camera. It’s expensive; but at the same time, $2,000 is not a huge investment for what I wanted to do with it and how I could justify it. But yeah, you’re absolutely right. I was able to get the exact same result or 90% of the weight of that result.
You’ll be able to tell if you watch the video when you go to PreneurMedia.tv and check out the show notes for this episode. Watch that video, which I encourage you to do. It talks about this a little bit more in depth obviously. It’s only about 10 minutes, I think. But you’ll be able to see this depth of field, and the focus and anti-focus, and the blur and stuff.
It’s not completely 100% crisp if you really want to be nitpicky and you are a high-end photographer-type person. But for the majority of the audience, it’s going to be blurred in the background, which means the person they are going to be focusing on, me and what I’m saying, which is the key idea of all this.
And you’re getting that with your iPhone that already exists. It’s not even an iPhone 5, which I don’t even have. It’s still an iPhone 4. It’s a previous model iPhone, and it gives me exactly what I want. So it’s not all about having the latest gadget. It’s about getting the most out of the gadget and having the gadget that’s right for the job.
Dom: Absolutely, and this is the advice that I give everyone. People expect me to give them a shopping list that would put a big dent in their bank balance. But at the end of the day, unless what you’re trying to produce needs that, I’m all for use what you’ve got, literally. If you have already got an iPhone, great. You’re streets ahead. Let’s get on and film something?
Pete: I still fulfilled my impulse buying that day and I bought a whole bunch of accessories that is recommended now. Probably 95% of the stuff I bought, it’s not really needed, but I still wanted to fulfill that urge I had.
But the good thing is I bought a whole bunch of kit (probably five or six different individual items) that is going to make stuff even more fun and enjoyable for me. That whole thing cost me $150, I reckon. Max of all the extra accessories I bought for this thing, because it’s the iPhone. Whereas, if I had bought the same accessories for a DSLR, $500.
So I still had to fulfill that impulse urge I had that day. But also I got the video done, and yeah, I’m waiting for some deliveries over the next couple of weeks. Some things that’s going to come. I’ve already started drip-feeding through. It’s like Christmas every second day in the office where I get a new piece of kit arriving in the mail.
Dom: Cool. And the important part of the story there for me is that because there’s less technology involved, less pieces of equipment, less buttons to press, less of all this; there’s less procrastination.
Pete: Very good point.
Dom: You got on there. You just got on and got it recorded. Now we’re kind of going on about this, but this is something that I think is an important lesson whatever it is that you’re doing. Whether it’s video, which I think is about as high-tech as most of our audience really would get involved with themselves.
Maybe a website might be equivalently scary and technological. But I think most people are more scared of video than anything from a technology point of view. And so the reason why I think this is valid to talk about now is just this lesson. That whether you’re a shiny kit freak like yourself.
Or you’re just somebody that’s trying to get started and trying to find the right thing, the best thing to get you to the next level. It doesn’t have to be about spending a lot of money on a lot of equipment and a lot of things. In fact, sometimes, it can get in the way.
Pete: Yeah. Now one last thing before we get into the interview with Trevor [Young], which is the key focus for today’s show. And again, we’ve got a bunch of his books to give away, so I’d stick around to the end of the show to hear about that. I want to just quickly, if we can, bang off a whole bunch of quick ideas of how and where our listeners can use video.
Because quite often, you would talk to someone and they’re like oh yeah, video is great for you. But it doesn’t fit for me. So I wanted to just bang off a whole bunch of ideas of why someone in some unique businesses would want to go and check this out and start doing video in their business.
In a position like you and I, Dom, where we take time away from our core businesses to the podcasts, and the blog, and videos and things like that. People can understand that because they can see what we’re doing and say, “Yeah, if I was educating people and teaching, I can see how video works.”
It’s pretty obvious there. But one of the examples that Jules [Watkins] uses in the actual program that I have suggested and we use ourselves is he does little commercials for clients on his iPhone. There’s a bike store example that he walks through of how to create a little online commercial for a bicycle store, a retail store using the iPhone.
If you have any retail store, throughout the outdoor-gear store that we work with on and off, if you have something like a bike store or you have a clothing store, you could do some really cool video highlighting the outfits that you have in the store or some buying tips and some buyer’s guides.
Or how to change a tire for your client when they buy a bike: “Hey, check out our YouTube Channel. We’ve got a whole bunch of maintenance tips on there in video format.” If you’re a lawyer, you could do a whole bunch of quick tips and advice videos on divorce and estate planning, and your legal requirements.
A whole bunch of videos like FAQs. Sit down and write out the most frequently asked questions you would get in your business, in your industry. If you’re an accountant, what are the five quick most easily implementable tax reduction tips that you would give your client? And record a three-minute video for each one of those. Put it on your website, make it your blog posts.
Make it part of a YouTube Channel. Dom, this is your world much more than mine. Can you think of any other things off the top of your head of different video ideas? Just to spark some people and have them thinking about, if it is very, very easy. Very, very frictionless. And they’re using the device they’ve already got in their pocket, how they can use video in their business?
Dom: Absolutely. A great one and underneath all of this, the really important thing. People might think “It’s only an iPhone and I need to be really professional.” I read an article today which was an excellent summary about the difficulties caused by the perception of people about video because of traditional broadcast TV and film.
People have this idea that everything has to be up to that standard, all right? And you need to get rid of that. You need to get into your head the fact that it’s the content that’s the important part. If you are informing somebody of something, it’s that information that’s important to get across. Not perfect setup and everything else.
So just bear that in mind. But an example that I gave, in fact, to our decorator. We have had a decorator in this week. We were talking about this very topic, about the use of video. He said, “Why is that relevant to me? I’m a painter and decorator.” And I said “Imagine in this day and age that we’ve got economic problems and people aren’t spending money.”
What he had come in to do was to just touch up the paintwork in an area of the house. It wasn’t stripping all the paper off and all the paint off, and starting from scratch. It was literally just painting over and refreshing the paintwork. I said, “If you’ve come in here and very quickly with your iPhone walked around and shown this area before you started, and then shown the area now after you finished…”
I mean, it literally was visibly a better environment. It was brighter and lighter. Just because he had refreshed the paintwork. And I said that’s a fantastic advert for your services and it’s educational for people who might feel that they can’t go the whole way for a redecoration or whatever.
Pete: Great idea.
Dom: It’s like a discount way to improve your environment in these economic times. So you’re doing a positive thing for people. You’re giving them a bit of brightness in their life. And somebody is going to take you up on that. Somebody is going to go, “This guy is really helpful and really useful. What a great idea, coming and painting my hallway.”
Pete: Yeah. He could have easily then grabbed the camera and gone, “Dom, we have just done your house. Can I get a quick testimonial off you?” He can really quickly, out of his pocket, record a 30-second testimonial which Jules does talk about how to do in his program as well. I still can’t believe he’s only charging $97 for it, but that’s something completely different.
That’s a whole another issue; we should talk about pricing one day on the show. But testimonials, we can do that with our phone system business. We can do the before and after videos, and how professional we are about rolling out the handsets, and testimonial videos from the clients. In the e-commerce side, we can do a whole bunch of product videos.
We can sit there and do unboxing videos for each of our headsets, and show people how to unbox a product and connect it to their actual phones. We can do that all on the iPhone with high-quality, high-definition. And with some very easy editing on the iPhone, have it cleaned up, intro’ed, outro’ed, and pushed to YouTube, all on our device.
Dom: Absolutely. The testimonial thing was the next thing I was going to say. I have recently been speaking with a great friend who does a lot of work helping small businesses in Tasmania. Michelle and Simon, and I’m saying that out loud.
I’m giving them a shout-out because Michelle listens to us while she’s training for her marathons and triathlons, and whatever else. And so, she’s out running and listening to this. Michelle, I’m talking about you.
Pete: Michelle, I’ll give you a quick tip. Pick the next light pole and push hard from now to the next light pole. There you go. Just make your way a little bit harder when you run.
Dom: Look at the value we add on this call.
Pete: But we always talk to Michelle.
Dom: Michelle was telling me that her and her husband Simon, part of what they do, they get funding from the government to help small businesses down there and they need to report back. What the government really likes them to do is to get feedback and testimonials from the people that they have helped.
And she said that it’s so easy for them. They just make it part of their routine. And this is something that we talk about all the time. We talk about having scripts, and checklists, and things when you go and you do quotes, whatever it is, part of your business.
You have a checklist. Your people, your call operators, telephone operators — you give them checklists. Things that they need to ask people. Things they need to do. I’m sure if you wanted to do testimonials, you would give that as part of your checklist to your engineers.
And that’s what they do. They have a checklist, and one of the things is that they make sure they get these testimonials. They get them with their iPhone. And it’s there, it’s just in their product. They have always got it with them. They just pull out their iPhone. Their response rate for testimonials is phenomenal.
They get such great feedback from the people in the government that they need to report back to, simply because they get these testimonials. And the reason they get them is because they’ve got their iPhone in their pocket. Full loop on that one.
Video, as I always say, it’s my business so I would do. But it’s great to come from you where it’s not your core business. And I think you made a great find there with that course, Pete. I think it’s a brilliant thing to put it together to educate people, to use this everyday gear to get a professional result.
Pete: I was nervous I might get into trouble. Awesome, dude. Awesome. So let’s get into the interview. Let’s get into the actual meat, today’s conversation.
Dom: Yeah, yeah, sorry. Here we go.
Pete: It’s a good lead-on because you mentioned video is a great way to create content. And Trevor Young, another good old Australian (it’s good to have some Aussies on the show every now and again), has written a great book called microDOMINATION.
It’s got the longest subtitle in the world which is: How to Leverage Social Media and Content Marketing to Build a Mini-Business Empire Around Your Brand. On the surface, content marketing is everywhere. Everyone is talking about content marketing.
But there’s some good stuff that Trevor and I cover in this conversation that really helps people identify that the content is not the business. And this is something that I say a lot and hopefully, people are getting this. With so much talk about content marketing, so many people are getting confused that the content is their business.
That they’re in the business of creating content. And that is far, far, far from the truth of successful people, and successful businesses, and successful brands that Trevor talks about. The whole idea here is that you have to have a business model. And this is something that I’m working with a couple of writers on.
Rather than writing, I’m producing a book. I’m not writing it myself; I’m getting a whole bunch of writers to contribute to write a book about business models. Because I think so many people are very, very confused about the difference between marketing and a business model.
So I’m getting this report and stuff written up. But it will probably be a few weeks away yet because I’m in the process of getting it all done. But it’s going to have a whole bunch of different business models that people can look at and go, “This is the type of business I want to create.”
I want you to be clear on your business model. This is when social media and content marketing comes into it, to drive eyeballs and prospects to your marketing funnel and your business model. The actual creation of the content, the blogging and the writing and the videos, the social media — that’s not the business.
That’s the marketing of the business. And Trevor and I touched on that in this conversation. So make sure you look at it with that lens and that context on. That will hopefully make all this stuff that Trevor talks about in microDOMINATION and that we chat about here in the conversation a lot more efficient and effective for you guys.
As we said in our last episode, moving forward with our authors, we are making sure we get copies of their books we can give away to you guys. So stick around to the end of this interview with Trevor and find out how you can get a physical hard copy of Trevor’s book sent to you in the post from me personally. Stick around to the end of the conversation, and I’ll let you know how you can do that.
[Pete’s interview with Trevor starts]
Pete: Well, Trevor mate, thank you for joining us on PreneurCast.
Trevor Young: Thank you, Pete.
Pete: How has it all been going? The book has been out a few weeks now, and all going well?
Trevor: Yeah, it’s starting to build momentum. Anything to do with book marketing, as I understand it and what I’m going through, is that it’s just lots of different activities. So I guess if you went back five or six years ago, you probably just did major press-type activity.
And today it’s like just talking with podcasters such as yourselves, and bloggers, and writing guest posts, and tweeting, and having some interesting little promos along the way, and competitions, and giveaways. So it’s the sum of many parts, my friend.
Pete: Absolutely. I’m sure we’ll get into it a little bit later. But I do want to know later on how you have been going with Wiley. Because they published my first book, what was it, seven, eight, maybe nine years ago now. It’s been a while. And yeah, as you said, things have definitely changed compared to what we did or didn’t do at the time with my first book.
It was pre-Internet marketing, so to speak, in the book business. Some interesting conversations were had between myself and the Wiley marketing team at the time. “You’re paying me to write a book on marketing, but you’re not taking my advice on how to market the book.” It was interesting, so we might get into that a little bit later.
Pete: But the topic of today is microDOMINATION, your new book. Do you want to give a bit of context and explain what the book is all about, rather than me doing a terrible job at it?
Trevor: Okay. Well, you’re right. It’s called microDOMINATION. The title is a little bit abstract, but the subtitle is reasonably long but says what it is. And it covers the whole cover of the book too, which is good. The subtitle is How to Leverage Social Media and Content Marketing to Build a Mini-Business Empire Around Your Personal Brand. So I’ve got that off by rote now.
Pete: Very nice. Let’s break this subtitle down to give some good context maybe. It’s all about social media and content marketing. It’s about using the Web and all the platforms that are out there and available to build some revenue stream in business around yourself and your voice, and your message. Is that a fair rewording?
Trevor: Yeah, it’s pretty good. What I did was that I had four cornerstones of it. So it was about develop your platform, build your personal brand, grow your business (and in this case a multi-income stream business), and then live the dream or live the life that you want. So putting the business into your lifestyle, versus the other way around.
What it is, I have looked at what I call the ‘rise and rise of a new breed of creative entrepreneur.’ And I have called them ‘micro mavens.’ These are, as I say, entrepreneurs who are leveraging the power of the Internet, social media technologies, using content marketing to build a platform for their personal brand. And often, this is on a global scale.
But along the way, they are creating these flexible and sustainable businesses that they can operate literally from anywhere in the world. So some choose to just work from home, others choosing to create brick-and-mortar businesses. And some people just travel 80% of the time and still run their businesses. So it’s a sweep across all of that.
Pete: Yeah, and one thing that I really enjoyed from reading your book was the use of the word ‘business.’ And this is going to sound really strange. But I’m sure a lot of listeners to the show have heard me ranting, get on my soapbox many a time about this whole thing: there is no such thing as Internet marketing.
You’re running a business of some sort with some business model that just happens to, in most cases, only use the Internet as your path to market. So many people who write and talk around the same area as you, they’re talking about information marketing and Internet marketing.
And I like your deliberate choice of the word ‘business,’ because that’s what it is. From my perspective, and I’d love your take on this, Trevor, people that do think of it as a business and treat it as a business have more success because they are going into it with the right mindset. Is that a fair assumption from your research and things writing the book?
Trevor: I think so, and I think we’re starting to see a lot more of that now. I think when a lot of these guys started, it possibly wasn’t as much of a business. And the pioneers and the guys who have been doing it for a while, they’re now getting smarter and more strategic as they have gone along.
That’s why people who are following in their footsteps and can learn their lessons from them, that’s why they can now look at it more strategically and as a business. So yes, the guys that are out there doing it now have they have been doing it, they have been in this space for a number of years.
If you look at someone like Darren Rowse who is ProBlogger. When he first started blogging, there was certainly no business model there. But as he got into it and built an audience, and learnt the eBook publishing trade and that type of thing, the businesses have started to organically grow. So I think that’s where we almost owe a debt to these micro mavens; they have been paving the way and we can learn a lot from them.
Pete: Darren is a great example. But I guess to give it some more context for the people who haven’t read the book yet and don’t know what they are, and who they are, and what they do; it’s generally all about these micro mavens.
Blogging is their primary platform. You said before that the first thing you need to do is establish your platform. Is it generally around blogging and the analogies in the way you’re talking about it?
Trevor: Yeah, I mean everyone has got a blog of some description now. Some might prefer to podcast more, some might prefer to use video or do video interview shows. But the blog is the hub, and they have all got that. But the other thing is that a platform also includes your followings on social media channels.
Your e-mail database. So the aggregated audience across all of those channels is your platform. There are multi-arms, but yes, they evolve on a content hub from. Had they not started with that, they probably would never have gotten the audience that they got.
Between the blog and the content marketing side, and for blogs, say, a podcast or video, and the social media channels — it’s the combination where you can start building a community of fans, followers, advocates, supporters, enthusiasts for what it is you do.
You can start doing that on a global scale. And that’s when you can start taking it to another level. Because the people who do like you also promote you and share your content, which allows you to grow with even more scale.
Pete: Yeah. So from a traditional sense, looking in on this, generally this whole micro maven and microDOMINATION model is fundamentally a publishing model. Is that correct? You’re becoming a publisher of content through a blog or a podcast.
And then getting that content out through the social media platforms and things like that. So when looking at it from a business model perspective, you are fundamentally talking about publishing and becoming a publisher on the Internet.
Trevor: Correct. The publishing allows you to earn the attention of people. If you’re a solo professional working from home, it’s very hard to reach a broad audience through advertising. So by finding your niche and what you stand for, and understanding your space, and participating and creating content with passion and zeal, and being out there, and connecting with people.
It’s not just about putting the stuff out there, but it’s about creating the content and going to meet-ups. A lot of what you do online should be replicated offline as well. So it is pretty much the combination. But content, yes, you’re right, is at the heart of it.
And giving that good free premium content again and again, and again. Brian Solis is one of the micro mavens I cover in the book. He has written a number of books, bestsellers. And he is with — it’s not a trends consulting, but it’s a consulting firm called Altimeter Group, a research and consulting firm.
And he calls it ‘relentless giving.’ And I like that because that’s a certain mindset to be able to do that again and again, and again, and again. I think in a traditional sense, people with information loathe to give it out.
Pete: Yeah, absolutely.
Trevor: So there is that, I’m trying to find another word except for ‘paradigm.’ But unfortunately I’m going to have to drop that one in. This, it’s pretty much a paradigm shift.
Pete: Yeah, this is again my take on it. And I’d love your take on my take, for want of a better term as well.
Trevor: A ‘retake?’
Pete: A retake. There you go. I think the use of the term ‘content marketing’ is used really bad in this sense. In that, the way I look at it, if you’re a traditional business, you might sell hypothetically; you’re a rock-climbing retailer or an e-commerce site. Using content to market the core business makes sense in terms of content marketing.
So you might interview rock climbers and write about different rock-climbing routes and places to go climbing, and all that stuff, in an effort to drive traffic back to your e-commerce site. So people will then trust your brand and buy the harnesses, and the climbing shoes, and the chalk, from you.
I think content marketing in that sense makes a perfect description. Whereas, this is my personal take, when people who are becoming publishers as their business model, this micro maven-type business they’re trying to build; I don’t believe it is content marketing.
You are just becoming a publisher, and that is what you do. You publish content. It’s not about marketing. You have to then take the next step and market that content you have written. So it’s not content marketing as a core thing, what you’re doing. You’re becoming a publisher.
And then having to work out and use places like social media and real-world networking events and things like that to drive traffic back to that content you have written, which is the source of your relationship and the income. What’s your take on that?
Trevor: It’s a good point. And I think and as we know, content marketing is growing extremely quickly and it has been talked about in all manner of circles. There are these two sides of the content marketing that I see. One is that, that exact one about the rock climbing with the online store.
You do the frequently asked questions, and your cornerstone content and all of that stuff. That’s geared to really be helpful, but it’s basically around your business. Then you’ve got the thought leadership content. This is content where you are putting your ideas out there.
You are gaining probably more of a following because you go down a certain path. People who share your worldview in your industry or in your space that you operate in, they are the people that are starting to follow you. I think they’re starting to see a splinter of that.
And thought leadership content has been around — I have been in public relations for 20 years; we were doing it 20 years ago. It’s just now that the barriers to entry from a technology point of view have plummeted, and people’s behaviors have changed. So their media consumption habits have changed. But if we look at our rock-climbing guy; now perhaps you haven’t got a business yet.
But you’re a rock-climbing enthusiast, and you know people, and you’re setting up a blog or a video TV show on rock climbing and how to do it, and interviews with other rock climbers, and your cover events. So you become a go-to resource and a go-to person for rock climbing. In that space, you’re starting to become a micro maven. You’re putting your content out there.
You’re becoming a thought leader in that space, a go-to resource. If I look at the micro maven, they’re probably doing that first out of passion. And then they work out a way to monetize it. Whereas, the other way, you’ve got the business first and you’re using content to market. So I think that’s probably the key distinction between the two.
Pete: Yeah, and I think that’s a great distinction. This is an issue that I see so often talking to people at events or wherever it might be, is that they go into this micro maven business model, so to speak, where you are monetizing content purely aiming to generate revenue.
They don’t go about it from a passion perspective. So they say, “I want to go into writing about,” let’s say “rock-climbing as the enthusiast,” quote on quote, with an aim of monetizing that. But they have no business model of how to monetize that in mind before they start.
I see how it works really, really well for the Darren Rowses and the original mavens that you spoke about before who started writing it from a passion, and who built up an audience off the back of their passion and then finally monetized it.
But then for most of these people, it was two or three years of consistent content production and publishing this stuff before the revenue really came in on any significant level. Is that a fair point?
Trevor: Yeah, that’s very fair. And I think that’s the thing that separates the micro mavens from others is that it needs the passion. They’re doing it for free anyway.
Pete: Yeah, and this is a really, really risky thing I see for a lot of people. And you address it really well in your book, which is great; you’ve got to understand how you’re going to monetize this at some point. Because you talk about the third path of becoming a micro maven is the growing your business.
I think for a lot of people, they need to understand what business they’re going to grow in six months’ time. How are they going to monetize this later down the path before they get into it? Otherwise, they get lost and they start running from one idea to the next idea online, and they just don’t achieve anything.
Trevor: I think with microDOMINATION, what I have attempted to do is by showing what people have done before them, that you possibly will cut down. The path is set out. Even though I have called it a ‘blueprint’ in the content.
These are the things that you can do based on what these other people have done in advance. Let’s go back to the rock-climbing [example]. And I might start using that one. Our rock-climbing friend. So they’re passionate about it. They do it on the weekend, maybe they work in a call center or they’ve got a gig somewhere else.
And this is what they love. They’ve got a passion for it. They’ve got expertise in it. They’ve been doing it for years in terms of rock-climbing. So that expertise side of things and passion is there. And so they start this side hustle thing. It’s out of pure love for what it is, and getting involved.
And then over time, what this person might find is that they start getting invited to things because their audience is growing and they’re getting known within their niche. So maybe there’s a video that has been done on rock climbing and the producers of that send them the video to give some videos away.
Then they’re asked to speak on a panel. And then all of these little things start happening as their influence grows. Then once their audience becomes bigger, then it becomes, well, I’m speaking. I’ve got a coaching thing in terms of having a rock-climbing boot camp.
And then you start maybe becoming an affiliate salesperson for or an affiliate site, to sell rock-climbing gear because you are attracting many rock climbers to your site. So that is that organic thing of how it starts. Where microDOMINATION is filling the gap is if you could see that ahead of time, you’ve got a bit more of a path laid out for you.
Pete: Yeah, which I think is fantastic. And this is one of the things you touched on before, that you brought it out in a book. And this is probably a big friction point for a lot of people, is this whole, “Well, I’m not an expert.” Or the whole expert authority differentiation.
I would love you to talk around that a little bit because I think that will help break down barriers for a few people in terms of how can I go and monetize something that I’m only passionate about? That I’m an amateur on a weekend?
Trevor: Even if it’s you love coffee and we both know, at the moment, coffee is a big thing. So maybe you create something and you become a coffee maestro, and you go to five cafes a day. You record them all meticulously, and you interview baristas and coffee roasters, and you know where the beans come from, and all of that side of things.
So you become an expert; just by doing that, you’re becoming an expert. Where you become an authority, I believe, is you take it up a notch. And that’s when there’s a million experts in a million fields, but the authorities are the people who are out there sharing their knowledge, and interviewing others, and even putting the spotlight on other people, on other experts.
You’re being seen to be becoming an authority because you are right in the middle of it. So by blogging and being on podcasts, which might lead hopefully to some media interviews, etcetera, etcetera; over time, you would become being seen as an authority in that space.
You certainly probably weren’t an authority when you started. But because you have put that work in, you’re becoming seen and perceived as an authority. And with authority comes visibility and influence.
Pete: I think too for a certain part of the marketplace, there’s room for authorities that aren’t experts. If you’re the publisher, so to speak, if you look at some, certain different business magazines or any niche magazine for example.
Most of the people who are employed at that magazine aren’t passionate about where they work. They might work at a music magazine. They might not be musicians. They might work at an athletic a running magazine. They may not be actual runners themselves. But they can write, they can interview, they can talk about running.
Trevor: And they’ve got access to people.
Pete: Yeah, and you could do that as a micro maven to a slightly different take on what you talk about in the book. But you could become someone who’s just passionate and become the publisher because you’re monetizing this. You can become the person who interviews people and writes about all those things. And your site, your brand can become an authority even though you’re directly not an expert to begin with. And that expertise can grow on the other side of the coin as well.
Trevor: That is 100% correct, yeah. You can build authority in a space by being the interviewer and the observer, and there’s a lot of authors out there and that’s part of what they have done. They’ve seen a space and they have interviewed people. Or they have done research and they have interviewed. And by doing that, they have joined the dots, and that’s what’s made them the authority in that space.
Pete: I think Malcolm Gladwell has a kind of take on that that he has written some very authority-based books in different niches, so to speak. But he’s not really an expert on psychology or anything like that. But he’s just a really good journalist and writer, and publisher of content.
Trevor: That’s right. He is. And he is an observer. He is curious and he is an observer. And I think one thing that micro mavens are is that they are curious people.
Pete: In terms of taking this to the next level then and building out your brand, how do you go about once you take that authority or expertise, and try to build that brand out? What is some of your advice for that?
Trevor: The content is an ongoing play. It’s a matter of becoming better and smarter with your content, and building it and building that audience. So the content is an ongoing relentless thing, as Brian Solis would say. I would find a book and all indications and every bit of research that I have seen is that having a book enhances your credibility and builds your brand.
It’s a validation of your thinking. The fact that you have had to put one together, as you know what it’s like. You need to have clarity around your thoughts. But if a publisher publishes you, and even if you’re publishing yourself today; if a publisher does it, that’s third-party validation.
And it’s not that easy to get a publisher. So a book, whether you self-publish or not, is a big calling card. It is a big business card. But the other thing is, if I look at all the micro mavens, virtually all of the ones that I looked at, there’s about 26 of them. And I have looked at hundreds of others as well. But I’ve only just picked 26.
They’ve virtually all got books. So that’s a key thing. That’s a critical thing. And from the book then, you’ve got something to talk about, that you’ve got themes and ideas to be shared and discussed. And that takes things to a next level. I think using social media to connect with people and not just push stuff out, but to share links and information, and to help people and to connect is very important.
And public speaking, I think, once again, micro mavens probably don’t set out to do public speaking. But most are professional speakers these days because they have been asked to. So all of these things roll on together. So a micro maven is likely to have a book or a digital course or they might run a brick-and-mortar business.
But there will be speakers, there will be consultants potentially at some point, or coaches, or mentors. That’s the space that they play in. And it’s all based on their knowledge, and their expertise, and their passion.
Pete: Something that’s a really good differentiation point that you made there is that you talked about the book under building your brand. Not under growing your business. And I think so many people who go into this game think that the book’s going to be their monetization strategy.
And that’s not the case. If you’re going to go and publish a traditional book, particularly with a publisher, it’s very, very rare to make money off the book itself. It’s a positioning thing. It’s a way to grow your brand that you can then, on the back of that, grow your business, which is the next step that you talk about.
By paid public speaking gigs. Doing the consulting. Maybe creating some of your own digital products or courses. But the book itself primarily in most cases is a brand builder, not a revenue generator.
Trevor: Correct. Blogging, particularly in Australia, but also overseas, is going along like crazy and growing. But people see the media start covering bloggers and they see that, “Oh, these bloggers are making money from their blogs.” And it might be a couple of one-offs doing that.
But they want to get in. They want to build a blog, to monetize the blog. You don’t monetize the blog, you use the blog to build your personal brand. And from that, people buy into you. This is not a multi-author blog or an online magazine. This is a blog that you run as an expert in your space.
And so people buy into your brand. So if they’re going to book you to speak, even if they’re going to sponsor your blog, they’re sponsoring you, the person. And the blog underpins the personal brand. And then the personal brand underpins the business.
Pete: Yeah, that’s it. We’ve spoken about developing your platform and building your brand. And we have spoken various times already about the monetization on the business model. The last point you make in the book is about living your dream. What’s that all about?
Trevor: It ties up the end nicely. Because ultimately, people, and I think this is what the Net has allowed us to do, is to have that flexibility and freedom. So on one hand, it’s a book also for the times. There’s a lot of people out there who are unhappy in work. And we see the stats. I think I’ve got one in the book where it’s something like 80% or 90% of people according to one survey were looking at changing jobs.
If you go into the city of Melbourne or any city, and watch people come out of the underground at about eight o’clock, and no one is looking up and looking happy. So there’s a lot of people not wanting to do the drudgery of a nine to five. And I think the fact that the tools are out there now to help people be flexible and work virtually, and some are doing it to an extreme.
Look at someone like Natalie Sisson who has got the great moniker of The Suitcase Entrepreneur. She basically travels for much of the year, living out of her suitcase. But she still runs a very solid sustainable business as a result of that. And she uses all the tools. She has virtual teams. I think it was last year she went on a big bike ride through Africa so she was out of contact a lot of the time in terms of Internet contact.
She had to set the business up in advance so it was working so she could do that. I think we would all love to be in a position where we can work around our lifestyle, and not the other way around. It’s good in theory. It’s good in theory, but you need to be able to do it.
Pete: Yeah, I think it takes time too. This is not one of those things, ‘go quit your job tomorrow and start blogging and you’ll replace your income in three weeks.’ It’s definitely going to be that thing where you have to build that platform, build that brand out which can take time.
But if you’re catching the train to work for the next six months, well, why don’t you write an article every day and start publishing a blog post every single day about something you’re passionate about? And over time, you will start building that audience where you can start monetizing that audience.
And then at some point, like Darren did, the ProBlogger; he then was able to quit his job and take the blogging stuff seriously because there was revenue coming on the side. He realized, take a bit of a pay cut for a while, continue to work hard, and that’s going to increase the revenue by being able to dedicate more time to it. But you can’t just cut the cord and make the jump straightaway. It’s a medium to long-term play.
Trevor: It is, it is. And to build a brand, a strong personal brand and to cut through it; while the tools are there and it has never been easier, there’s still a lot of noise.
Pete: Yeah, absolutely. So speaking of noise and cutting through, I want to change up a little bit and talk about the book itself and getting the book deal. Because looking from the outside in, my guess would be that because of the PR Warrior blog, which you have been writing for a number of years now has built your own brand and your own awareness. That’s probably one of the key reasons and leverage points that were able to get you the book deal. Is that a fair guess from the outside?
Trevor: Yeah, that’s fair. I’m not in the micro maven stage of anyone that I mentioned in the book. But that’s when I looked in the rear-view mirror. I was going through a lot of these things that I was looking at these people and I was doing public relations for 20 years. But a lot happened with the blog.
Not in the early years, but when I look at the blog, and getting on Twitter and building my platform from there, you start getting asked to speak. And then from speaking, you build a broader profile. You get a Twitter following. And the media come calling for quotes.
All of those things start knitting together, and that’s that building of that personal brand. But it all started for me with the blog. So I had a platform, and as you are probably aware, publishers love authors now with platforms because they have seen how publishers can market their book to the people who are following them, and their community of followers and advocates.
So yeah, I met someone from Wiley, the Acquisitions Editor, at a function and it was really submitting, you still have to do a book proposal. But having a platform really helps. I did do a mini eBook on this, about 5,000 words just to really test the theory, and to put it out there and see if there was some acceptance of the idea.
And this was a few months out from getting the deal. So I put it out, and what I did is I just snuck it out. I didn’t go really too nuts on it. I did it, it was a PDF eBook. I got it out there, and I did a TweetReach report. That’s a report that monitors or evaluates how far a tweet has traveled for example.
And I reached quite a few hundreds of thousands, if not a million, people. I can’t remember off the top of my head, but it was pretty high. It just went nuts. I got a few high-profile people giving me some nice plugs. Let’s say it was hundreds of thousands of people that were reached.
So I could create this beautiful little report and send that into them just before they have a quarterly acquisitions committee meeting. That’s where they decide what books they’re going to go with and commit to. You kind of want to nail it the first time.
You don’t want to really be going back to that three months later. That was something that I had there where I said, “I have put out a little mini eBook that discusses the themes in a really broad sense, a really good take-up, and look at the Twitter coverage we got for example.”
Pete: Very cool.
Trevor: I don’t know if that got me across the line. I don’t know, but it certainly didn’t hurt. I guess, I’m lucky I’m in PR, that I could put together a reasonable case in terms of the marketing. And to be honest, I really feel for authors who haven’t done any of this in their life because it it’s pretty daunting for me and I have been doing it for 20 years!
If you haven’t, it’s pretty tough stuff. So once that was it, we got the deal started pretty much straightaway. I wrote it in three months. I had about a week’s break before the editing started. And that was just before Christmas last year. The editing process is pretty full on. I had advance copies so they sent them over, a handful of advance copies by the end of January.
So this whole notion of big publishers being slow probably knocked that one on the head because that was pretty damn quick. I started in August; and by the end of January, I had a preview copy in my hand
Pete: Fantastic, mate. How have you gone about taking it from the January preview copy all the way through to it being on the bookshelves in the airports and [similar places] that it is now? What have you done to market the book?
Obviously, appearing on shows like this is getting you a lot of exposure, which is great. And we encourage the audience to go out and check out the book. The website is microDOMINATION.com?
Trevor: microDOMINATION.com is a blog that I’m setting up to discuss the themes and to keep the brand going. That will be an ongoing thing because there’s so many themes and so many elements involved. The goal there is to make that almost a sub-brand and a multi-author blog.
I have put some cornerstone content on that, that really expresses what the book is about. But there is a book website, just a very simple one called microDOMINATIONbook.com. It’s got a free book excerpt and [links to] where you can buy it. I just didn’t want to confuse the two too much.
Pete: Very cool. So what else are you doing?
Trevor: As you are probably aware, in these days of books, in terms of book marketing, you start marketing early while you’re writing the book and you take people along on the journey with you. Social media tools allow you to do that. So when you’re looking at the cover, give people a sneak preview of the cover.
If you have been interviewing someone, or writing, or doing some research, and then you can talk about them online and say I’ve just been researching this great micro maven and she’s got interesting things. And then do links to them. You’re always putting out little tidbits along the way in advance.
That reaches a certain amount of people. But certainly, not a major amount of people. But my strategy was to hit my community and get a bit of ripple effect happening from that point or from that perspective. We had a launch event just before, in the week before Easter.
And that was just as the book was just about to hit stores, and I was lucky enough to be able to get several of the micro mavens who I have covered in the book. So ProBlogger Darren Rowse, Valerie Khoo, who I know you have had on the show, the author of Power Stories.
Trevor: And Nicole Avery who writes a blog called Planning with Kids. She is a real shining light in terms of the micro maven in Australia and what she’s doing. So we had the three of them on stage as a panel, and I was on stage too. We discussed elements or themes, again, of the book. It’s about the themes that people are interested in and not necessarily the book per se.
So it’s not about shoving the book in people’s faces; it’s about discussing the themes and attracting people to the launch event who are interested in those themes. And so, it was producing of content. From that, we trended on Twitter, we got more blog posts. That was probably a bit of a lynchpin underpinning everything.
And now it’s doing lots of guest posts for blogs, podcasts, I love podcasts; so I’m very happy to do any or all of those. And traditional media stuff; so I was on Sky Business News last week. I’ve been on radio and that type of thing. So there will be traditional media as well. I’m not someone to say it’s all online. I think traditional media is still very powerful.
Trevor: But now we’ve got multiple channels, multiple channels.
Pete: Very, very cool, mate. Well, let me ask you one final question. It’s the same question I ask every single guest we have. And that question is, what is the one question I didn’t ask you but I should have?
Trevor: Oh, that’s a tough question.
Pete: It stumps everyone, don’t worry.
Trevor: The one question I think we could have delved more into is how people get going on a blog and what’s the first thing that they do.
Pete: Okay, so what is that first thing they do? Let’s delve into that.
Trevor: Yeah. I like the idea of being on Twitter and some of your social channels first. So if you’re not on that and you go straight to a blog, I think it’s really good to be doing it in parallel. I think Twitter to me is still the number one thing to broaden your reach and your network.
And while I was planning a blog, if I wasn’t on Twitter or even if I was, I’d be upping the ante and really getting involved in Twitter because that allows you to connect with people globally who in all likelihood you would never get to meet.
And start gravitating to people who are in your space and you are interested in. So when your blog does get up and running, you’ve got some people already to talk to about it. So it’s about building your audience before you need it.
Pete: Very, very cool. Awesome, mate. Well, Trevor Young, author of microDOMINATION. Mate, I really do appreciate your time coming on this show. It’s a great book and I really encourage everyone to check it out at microDOMINATIONbook.com.
Trevor: Thank you very much, Pete.
[Pete’s interview with Trevor ends]
Dom: That was great, Pete. I really was glad that you talked to Trevor about the content marketing thing because it is an up-and-coming topic. You hear a lot of people talk about content marketing. But there is this perception; you said it, we said it in the intro. And you and Trevor, I think, discussed it quite well. But there is this perception that the content is the business.
And that’s a very rare thing. The reality of it is your business is your business. The content is this vehicle, this conduit, to getting something done. And that’s a really important perspective, so I was glad that you talked about that in that interview.
Pete: Cool. Awesome, man. Well, I think it was a great conversation. Another co-Wiley author as well who published my first book, which is nice and cool to support the Wiley family as well.
Dom: Folks, by the way, we don’t just get authors from Wiley. Any authors else from different publishers, please contact us. We are happy to have anyone on that has got something to say that’s relevant to our audience.
So just drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. And we’ll set something up. But Pete, we said at the beginning, again this time, Trevor’s publisher has given us some copies of the book to give away. But how do people get a hold of a copy of the book?
Pete: Basically, the angle, the leverage point that I was able to use with the publishers as they approached us to get on the show; they know that our audience is huge. We have 38,000 or so, which is amazing and I thank each and every one of you. I really appreciate your ears and your eyeballs.
We said, if you want to get your author exposed to our community and things like that, give us some copies of the book that we can give away. So what we’ll do is that if anybody helps share the show or support the show, you get an entry to win a copy of the book.
We’ve got four copies of Trevor’s book to give away this week, which is really cool, for anybody anywhere in the world. We’ll post it to Uruguay, to the middle of America, to South America. No matter where you are, we will send you a copy if you are lucky enough to win. To enter all you need to do, as I said, is support the show.
So it could be leaving a comment on iTunes, which helps get the exposure for the show up on iTunes with more listeners, which helps the publishers and authors get more exposures for their book. Share the show on Twitter. Grab a comment the best quote out of the conversation and share it on Twitter.
Post it on Facebook. Write a blog post about how much you love PreneurCast and what you have learnt from the conversation with Trevor. Whatever you do to help us get exposure. Maybe you’ve got a newsletter at least and you can say, “PS guys, check out this new interview with Trevor. It’s fantastic.”
Whatever it might be that you can do to help support the show and get exposure for our guests and ourselves gives you an entry. Then all you need to do is e-mail us at email@example.com. Let us know what you did, and you have been entered into the contest.
And then Dom and I will pick three or four people who have done something cool. It doesn’t have to be the most exposure. It doesn’t have to be the most in-depth work, whatever it might be. Anything that we think is funny or cool or helpful, whatever it might be, we’ll pick three or four people.
Some at random as well. No matter what you do, you’ve got a fair chance. We will give away and post you in the mail a copy of microDOMINATION, Trevor Young’s book. So enter as many times as you want. Enter every single week, if you want. There’s no restrictions around that. And it’s just a way to help you guys out, to say thank you for helping us out and getting more exposure for the show and our guest.
Dom: Yeah, I’m really liking this new direction that we’ve got here. We love to have interesting people on this show, just to break it up a bit from you and I just kind of giving each other shit. But it’s great that we can also now do more, give more back to the Preneur Community the ability to give out these copies of the book.
And we’ll always be on the lookout for things like this that we can do. We’ll plug anything we can really. And it’s completely open, folks. Every little helps. Don’t think, “Oh, well, I haven’t got a mailing list,” or whatever. Everybody has got an audience of some kind somewhere and every little helps.
Just let us know. It’s firstname.lastname@example.org. Whatever it is that you have done, and we’ll look at everything as we always do, and we’ll pick some people and we will get something out to you. And in the meantime, if you want to get in touch with us, the show as always lives out at PreneurMedia.tv.
You can listen to the show, download the show, get the show notes out there. That’s really the place to share things from if you want to pick things out of the show and share them out from PreneurMedia.tv. If you want to get in touch with Pete or I, it’s email@example.com.
As Pete always says, and anybody that you ask will attest to this; you send us something, we will get back to you personally. Pete loves his little audio recordings. I’m not so, I tend to type my responses. But trust me, if it says Pete or Dom on the bottom, we wrote it.
Pete: Absolutely. All right, guys. Well, thank you again for being part of our community and listening to the show. We’ll catch you next time for another edition of PreneurCast.
Dom: Thanks, everyone, for joining us. See you soon.
http://microdominationbook.com/ – Trevor’s site, dedicated to the book
http://www.preneurmarketing.com/online-marketing/how-i-saved-1204-yesterday-thanks-to-ivideohero/ – Pete’s depth of field video he recorded using his iPhone 4S
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