Got a Question for Entreproducer? Ask it Right Here.

UPDATE: Thanks for your great questions everyone! Looks like there are at least a few episode’s worth here, so we’re organizing them into basic categories right now. We’ll publish the first one soon …

If you haven’t already heard, we’ve been working on something big over at Copyblogger for the last few months.

We’ll get back to our normal schedule over here shortly, but I’ve been wanting to do a Q&A episode of the Entreproducer podcast for a while. So, let’s get to it …

In the comments below, leave your startup, audience building, hyperlocal, entrepreneurial, content, native advertising, and/or general business-type questions, and Robert and I will pick a handful of them to answer on the podcast sometime next week.

NOTE: If you place your full name in the comment, we’ll assume you won’t have a problem with us using your name on the podcast.

Until then, abide

Here’s what Entreproducer covers:

  • The business, revenue, staffing, and legal models that move you from content start-up to success.
  • Audio and video profiles of the entrepreneurs and companies that are pushing digital content innovation.
  • Tips, tools, and tactics for getting online content to work for you, no matter how you make money.

Get the Entreproducer multimedia email newsletter delivered weekly … no charge.


Comments

  1. I want to know about product development and the type of products one can create to build a business online

  2. My company is growing via franchising and as we ramp up these efforts, I’m being bombarded by requests for information, etc. How do you find the fine line between overkill/TMI with information about your company and leaving enough mystery to engage interested in parties in contacting you?

  3. I would like to hear about the process of seeking out and obtaining venture capital for startup ideas. What is the process like? What are some places to turn to? How much do you have to have built-out before it is feasible to even ask for capital? How do you overcome the paradox of needing the money to actually build the concept (you need to hire a team to build it because you can’t do it yourself) and actually having something viable to show investors/venture capitalists so that they will bite?

    Thanks for your time and your insights! Looking forward to it…

  4. Copyblogger Media extensively utilizes audio content placed on the various sites; however with the exception of Entreproducer I don’t see much utilization of Podcasting. What are the reasons for this? I assume it is related to which option helps develop the best SEO ranking / authority. But as an absolute amateur blogger I’d really like you to address this topic.

  5. In regards to building a hyperlocal media site:

    — Is the direct sale advertising model dead?
    — If all signs point to yes, ideas on how to monetize such sites?
    — What are the highest performing niche topics to use as a foundation for growing a hyperlocal site?
    — How do you compete, in search or otherwise, against the Goliaths such as local news media and large sites like trulia etc.

  6. How do you practically work yourself out of your business — or at least the parts you don’t enjoy?

    I’ve read the E-Myth and love Michael Gerber’s wisdom in building systems. But I want to know how you, Brian, apply these concepts to building businesses that scale. Are there some uniquenesses of doing this online that we should be aware of?

    And how do you build systems that don’t undermine the human connection you’ve built with your readership/customer base?

    Feel free to answer any or all of the above. I know it’s a lot.

    • Tom Malcolm says:

      Hi Brian and Robert,

      Jeff’s questions are similar to my own:

      I want to:
      1) scale my business
      2) build systems that allow me to NOT be there 24/7, after the business is airborne.

      To do the above requires outsourcing of course and hiring people
      Question – How to do the above without loosing the style and flavor (my brand) I’ve built. I know some obvious answers might be, “well you interview people and find those that are like you, etc.” Can you provide a more comprehensive answer?

      Also I plan to sell the business in 10-15 years as a nice, concise “package” deal.
      What are some best practices going into a startup, where the end goal is to sell in the future. I understand 10 – 15 years “these days” is an eternity in internet years, but I suspect there are some business fundamentals that probably don’t change over time.

      Thanks guys!!

      Tom Malcolm

  7. I’d like an i depth review of the pros and cons of all content marketing platforms. WordPress, hubspot, infusionsoft, ontraport, and the others. Although I’m a copyblogger fanboy and own all your products and services I recently cancelled my time slot with a top WP designer because I felt I may be better suited for a hubspot all-in-one solution. But I’m still open. The sales lion guy published a comparison, but its convoluted and not well thought out. WordPress seems like a DIY solution where I would work with many different solutions to do this and that. I’m on board with content marketing but need to understand more of the pros and cons to each solution.

  8. I’m curious about how best to help my business (No Meat Athlete, right now a blog that sells logo apparel and digital training products) make a leap to much bigger game, in the way Copyblogger did in eventually becoming, as you say, a software company.

    I can envision selling branded energy bars, protein powders, etc., doing live events, having race groups across the country … all sorts of things like this. But they all seem to require more capital, employees or mainstream distribution channels than I have now.

    I guess what I’m wondering is if I should keep bootstrapping or try to make this a more traditional startup that seeks funding. I’ve heard you discuss this before in Entreproducer interviews, but I’m interested to hear what you think about my particular situation.

    Thanks guys; I love the podcast and everything else you do.

    Matt

  9. Sonny Soomal says:

    Hi there

    1)If your main service aims to be the middle service of an industry (like mint or kayak), then is building a middle aggregated content sister site or sub brand (if there is not one already like a drudge report) a much better way to quickly grow an audience (like you say don’t acquire users build an audience) in a crowded vertical as you sit ontop of all other original content sites as that go to (as we have seen rise of summly, waavi etc) and not be another number in content producing site/magazine.

    2) f like mint.com they buit their sister brand/blog mint life to grow their userbase 9 months prior to launch.
    What is the best time to and most authentic way to inform you users (and get many across) on the content site you have to your main service site like mint.com did?

    thank you from a big U.K fan of entreproducer

  10. How do you provide content or information which is helpful for your clients, but also helps you when they are searching for a solution to their problem. How to answer questions which may not be local in nature, are the core of your business, but you need to be ‘found’ locally since there is a brick & mortar component to your services.

  11. How do you market “free” when so many other content providers (not just bloggers, but authors and musicians too) are doing the same?

  12. How do you take a service which is hyperlocal (bricks and mortar service) and discover a component which can be marketed more broadly over the internet?

  13. My question goes to monetization of hyperlocal sites…

    In one of your podcasts a month or so ago, you were talking with a dude from Dallas (sorry – lazy guy alert, forgot his name and don’t want to go look) and you, I believe, asked him if he was using a retainer model to monetize his sites.

    Can you help me understand the retainer model. Is it to charge businesses that complement your target audience say $100 per month or something to have the ability to produce content on your site, and then charge an additional amount for all content produced…or is it something different. Say, you just pay this much per month, quarter, year, and you (the business) have a place to publish content.

    Over and Out. Word.

  14. Is there any working hyperlocal model that is not built around advertising and real estate sales/referrals?

  15. I’ve been fascinated with your My Boulder site. It’s giving me a crazy amount of ideas of what I can do with my own hyperlocal site and I love the complete lack of advertorial sleaze.

    But then, what is your revenue model for the site? I’m missing it. Or are the articles really advertorials and you’re doing it very, very well so I can’t tell?

  16. Any thoughts/experience on the minimum population size for a hyperlocal media site?
    Obviously it depends on how it is to be monetized but would be interested to learn about people’s experience.

    I tested an idea out last year, and having listened in since the ‘Entreproducer is back’ podcast have been really enthused and re-launched it (based around Genesis framework of course!). Happy to say that we’ve already seen some payback – in terms of leads for our web business, but wondering what will be the limit to potential size.

  17. Is it possible to build an effective content business when the audience is naturally short-term? I run a resume writing/job search business and have peoples’ attention only while they’re looking for a job. Once they find a new position, they naturally move on. This seems to make it hard to build a large, loyal audience but I know you once worked in real estate and I assume there are similarities. I’d be very interested in your thoughts.

  18. I HATE doing anything other than what I love. WRITING, WRITING and MORE WRITING.

    Yet, we all must do the technical stuff, ie. set up blogs, add opt in pages, linkbacks etc. I also do not like SELLING products, yet this is how I earn my keep.
    SO, until I can afford assistance, how do I DO IT ALL?

    Thank you!

  19. A company I’m advising, a technology company that has been very successful selling to the enterprise, is actively entering a new and very trendy, hot market that is still early stages (think Content Marketing in 2008-9). However, at these early stages there is already a cool kids club established of prominent bloggers, writers, thought leaders.

    I’m advising them to take on a content marketing approach, and I think the best approach to enter this market is by leveraging their unique experience and knowledge in the technology area they know, and enter this new hot area using an approach you took with Copyblogger, Brian, the intersection of the new market with their traditional area of expertise. In other words, they would not try to compete with and be another “me-too” in this new area, but start to insert themselves in the conversation, via in-depth articles, reports, podcasting, from their unique point of view.

    Are there any considerations you think we should keep in mind with this strategy? Our goal ultimately is to attract clients in this space, or convince old or current clients that this is the way to go.

    Thanks!

  20. Hi,
    I own online form builder service and want to sell few limited copies of the project source code how can I find people who may be interested in to buy my project copy?

    My best reagrds,
    Valera

  21. What do you think about Clickbank? Thanks.

  22. On the topic of hyperlocal:

    How can a sports blog make this happen? I’ve ran a hyperlocal sports blog for three years with little success. I am struggling to find out how to implement some of the strategies you have suggested here.

    Any thoughts?

    Thanks

    Todd

  23. I would love some explanation of your thought process as well as tools you use in general to run the business – especially where you have had issues in the past

  24. I want to know more about becoming an expert. How do I convince my audience that I have credibility, without getting a degree/certificate in that area? And how can you make yourself stand out from your competition when it seems that everyone offers the same information?

  25. I’m curious about how a musician or novelist might use the ideas from Entreproducer and content marketing to build an income and increase sales.

    Thanks, love the content so far.

    Keith

  26. Hi, actually at least 2 questions:
    1. content as text is very important to give a better ranking, but all the designs are build around pictures and/or where the pictures are placed on the pages. How can use these pictures to get more attention….?
    2. How often should you add a post to your blog?

    Thanks in advance, I really like all the work you guys do for all those “lost” sitebuilders and keepers.

    jaap

  27. I would like to hear your thoughts on having a personal brand versus a company brand. One thing I’m trying to figure out how to mix and match the two. When you have a goal of selling a company or having it run without your presence, it’s important that you, as the person, aren’t too attached to it so you can walk away from it.

    On the other hand, we all know people connect with people – not with brands.

    From my observations, it seems like businesses that have strong personalities from the beginning centered around a person (usually ONE person) usually take-off much faster than businesses that focus on the brand first. I suspect it’s because the business has a face. It’s one person that you instantly can connect with and build a relationship with.

    You can’t do that right away with a company brand. It seems like that takes more time and consistency. For example, when I think of Problogger, I think of Darren Rowse. If he’s gone, I’d doubt I’d check Problogger ever again. His name is too attached to the business. Just like Rand/Seomoz or Leo/Zenhabits.

    I guess what I’m trying to ask is – when you do content marketing (I know you hate the word…) as your primary form of marketing, how do you build the company brand while leveraging the personal touch of a person without being too attached?

  28. You talk about lean principles for product development and building audience. Have you implemented the lean production system to writing and publishing content? It would be a good method to reduce frustrations of creative folks and improving efficiency.

  29. Hi there Brian,

    Love what you are doing.

    Quick question:

    You talk a lot about how using social is a great way to build and grow an audience. But, what if the niche I am in is a health topic that people don’t really want to be “liking” or “tweeting” about? Should I just forget all social media and focus else where?

    Looking forward to hearing about your take on this… using social for the not-so-social topic?

    Kindly,
    Monica

  30. 1) Audience building: What are some good ideas you’ve seen for bringing content into the real world. For example, a yoga teacher I work with has classes every week where he gains new fans, but I produce a podcast for live sound engineers and don’t have a regular place to promote it in the real world. P.S. I had a meetup group for 6-months, but few new followers out of the process.

    2) Monetization ideas for musicians/songwriters: If people aren’t buying music anymore, what are other ways I can create value with my artwork?

    3) Monetization: Build many revenue streams with affiliate links and small products VS sell one high-end product every year. I would love to hear examples of both.

  31. Hi guys. My question is about independent fiction authors building an audience. In particular, I’m thinking about what you’re doing right here, Brian, with your goal of writing a book on Entreproducer. Putting aside your built-in advantage of already having an audience who would naturally follow you here from Copyblogger, what would you say are the critical steps for a burgeoning author to build an audience–and a business–around their work?

  32. One more question: what happens when content marketing becomes so mainstream that you’re one of many producing quality, informative, valuable, entertaining content in your industry or niche?

  33. Hyper Local: In your opinion, what’s the ideal sized market to create a hyper local website?

    bonus question: Do you still think real estate is the ideal way to monetize it?

  34. Peer deep into your crystal ball and share what SEO in the future looks like.

    I followed the Copyblogger series on Rel=Author closely and believe it has the potential to be a game changer allowing great writers to have a strategic advantage over the corporate content farms, but I never felt the concepts were fleshed out fully from a strategic point of view.

    How do we skate to where the puck is going rather than where it has been? You guys have historically been quite good at that so your insights would be appreciated.

    What are the most important strategies to practice for organic traffic beyond just content marketing which has already been well explained? What is the next cut deeper looking forward?

    Thanks.

  35. My question is–what do you do when you’re creating a new product, you launch an interest list and 85 people join it immediately! But then when the product actually comes out, you get crickets. What gives? What the hell did I do wrong? I thought it was either the price (which was reasonable for what the product was) or maybe my sales page didn’t speak to the right audience, but I figured with 85 people being interested that was pretty hard evidence that it was a product worth creating.

  36. I’ll admit it — this is a selfish question. I’d love to know your thoughts on launching a book as a platform. I plan to write a book between now and the first quarter of next year, and I’d like for it first and foremost to be an interesting read, but secondly, I’d like it to serve as a platform. It would be a practical business book with concepts that can be implemented, and I’d like to monetize it on the back end with webinars, further trainings, courses, etc., that help readers to implement the core concepts.

    Thanks!

  37. How local do you have to be to be considered hyperlocal?? Do you have to be marketing in the same building, shopping center, neighborhood, town, county.

    We have a new local-centric online magazine about life in the communities surrounding a medium sized lake. Our advertisers will come from three towns of varying sizes plus a good sized unincorporated area surrounding the lake. Would we be considered local or hyperlocal?

    Thanks in advance for clearing this up. We may want to link to this post and/or podcast as a service to our advertisers looking for guidance in their strategies for web-based marketing.

  38. What is the best business model for a freelance writer. I blog and write website copy for 5-6 clients. But My goal is to create additional/steady income streams that won’t keep me chained to a keyboard 24-7. I have a website for my services and I have links to some affiliate products (mostly yours), but I need a more effective and more profitable business model.

  39. A couple of months ago I started a hyperlocal website similar to the YourBoulder.com

    My question is – how long should I wait before trying to sell the idea of sponsored content/native advertising to local businesses?

    What’s a good size audience/traffic numbers? Do I even need that or do I just sell the idea?

    I’m thinking of spending about a year trying to build an audience first, while testing “free sponsored content” with coupons/promo codes for local businesses we write about – so we can see how our audience responds – and so sponsors will know that it works.

    Could it be too soon to try something like that?

  40. Another quick question…

    Got any good ideas for premium content that would help build an email/subscriber list for a hyperlocal site?

  41. Okay – one more and that’s it, promise…

    With something as “new” as sponsored content, how do you begin determining how much value this offers to sponsors/advertisers? In other words, how the hell do I figure out how much to charge?

    Standardized content packages? Based on the kind of content that’s created? CPC or CPM model? Should there be different rates for different types and sizes of businesses?

    Thanks dudes

  42. Goal Setting.

    How do you all go about setting goals for your business, in terms of traffic, social outreach, sales, email lists, features for products, etc? More importantly, how do you prioritize these goals and decide how to invest your time and energy to accomplish them?

  43. I am a publisher & author and have been writing my blog since 2006 on the topic of Christian Living. I have taken the advice of copy blogger and other gurus but still have trouble with traffic and subscribers. Some days are obviously better than others, but a challenge. I have written content and offer free ebooks etc, but its a slow process. Im now looking into monetizing my site with eclasses. What advice can you offer to increase traffic and subscribers? Any advice on monetizing at its best?

  44. Bob Smith says:

    Brian,

    I am developing a hyperlocal site and blog (as you have encouraged). But I am struggling with 2 key rules that Copyblogger has preached: 1.) find the pain and problems of your audience; and 2.) use guest blogging to expand.

    My town is 50,000 people and Google search stats show that there is potential (30k+/mo. using town name in search). I will not be short of positive copy material, because I know the subject (Washington Township) intimately.

    Can you give me some examples of pain and problems that would be addressed on a blog that talks about “all the good things going on in the community”? I am struggling with “what keeps people up at night”, except property taxes and that is not my focus.

    And incredibly, there are no local/regional blogs that have a significant audience, so the guest blogging strategy would be questionable.

    Thanks so much for your thoughts.

    Bob

  45. Lenny Ramirez says:

    I am curious on what you’d do different, or what you’d share as a mentor, if you were putting your first development team together, like the people working with you for Scribe and the WordPress StudioPress stuff.

    I guess some questions are, how I qualify them? should x project take as much as they say? You get the idea on the challenges you faced that first time.

    Thanks for this opportunity! Greatly appreciated.

  46. Steve Price says:

    Hi Brian and Robert,

    In one of the recent Entreproducer podcasts Brian describes: being an affiliate, being sponsored, native advertising, advertorials etc. I’d like this clarified a little further please – sorry if I am the only one being dense.

    In particular I want to be clear about the legal aspects of a website owner declaring that you are, or may, receiving money from the link destination sites in the form of commissions or “introducer” fees (which I assume is the case with the real estate MLS links) – or in the form of website/article sponsorship on the native advertising posts.

    I notice YourBoulder.com doesn’t declare any vested interests and am sure that you would if you needed to.

    Regards,

    Steve Price

  47. One more question….

    If I’m a fiction author-entrpreneur (entreproducer.com/author-entrepreneur/) what kind of content should I produce to build an audience before releasing a product? For example, if I’m writing a supernatural mystery thriller, what kind of content would be effective for build my mailing list?

  48. Hi guys,

    I’d like to know (roughly) what size population you feel it would take to support a successful hyperlocal type website.

    For example, my town has a population of about 12,000 people. That population supports a newspaper, three radio stations and a bunch of realtors, so I would assume so but would love your take on it.

    Let’s define “successful” for this exercise as a business than can generate at least $100K per year. I’m open to any of your suggested models (native advertising, partnering with a real estate agent, etc.), short of actually becoming a real estate agent myself.

    Thanks so much! I’ve really been enjoying the Entroproducer content so far and look forward to more of it moving forward.

    Best,

    Jesse

  49. Seems like most of the comments boil down to: niche, best monetization channels for each particular niche, and actual case studies of what’s been tried and worked. Don’t know how well it works for a podcast, but I’d love to see a table with those columns! Also the big question seems to be how to change the mind-set of “How to label my site and reach a pre-set income requirement?” to “What problem can I solve for someone?”

  50. Tom Malcolm says:

    Hi all,

    this has to do with video on my site:

    To youtube or not to youtube?
    (as opposed to self-hosting)
    Why or why not?
    Or is this a kind of “it depends” kind of thing?
    If “it depends”, please explain.

    Thanks!

    Tom

  51. I’m looking into building a hyperlocal website based on running here in Portland. I know the real estate industry is king when it comes to hyperlocal, but have you seen other industries work well?

  52. Hi all!
    As a freelance marketing copywriter, I love working with entrepreneurs and small business. However, most of my clients are larger companies because, unfortunately, most small businesses don’t have the budget for quality copy writing, especially on an ongoing basis. But I can see that they need the help. I try to give breaks to small business when I can, but I need to make a living, so I can’t work with them as often as I’d like to. And frankly, they can be difficult to work with, because they aren’t used to working with writers, and it’s hard to convince them that good writing is worth the standard rates for their projects (whereas large companies are used to the going copy writing rates and have processes in place for working with writers). I’d love to find a way to offer them my services at rates they can afford, but haven’t found a model to do that. I see a lot of copywriters offering training and courses to small business to teach them how to write great copy, but I’m seeing that one of the biggest challenges small businesses face is having the time and the staff to produce content. I hate seeing them going to the content mills or 5 cent a word writers, but I can understand why they need to. Any insights on how entrepreneurs/small business owners and professional copywriters might be able to work together to solve their need for more content?

  53. The backlash I’m hearing about content marketing is that it’s time and talent expensive.

    That is, if you want great content, be prepared to spend a lot of resources producing it, and even then your company will have to spend money on Facebook ads and the like promoting it.

    How do you plan for an control the costs of a content marketing program?

  54. How exactly do you make your websites mobile devices friendly and available for the mobile visitors? Do you use a certain plug-in or any optimization?

  55. Tom Malcolm says:

    What does quality content cost these days? Emphasis on “quality”.
    This question is with regards to both purchasing the service of content writing and selling it.

    Tom