Former online guru, Ryan Moran, joins Jason Hartman to talk about the pitfalls and success of working with marketing and info-publishing in this Internet-fueled world. They discuss topics such as how to optimize product selection and sales on Amazon, as well as how you can use other people’s actions as a chance to work out what’s best for your business.

 

 

 

Key Takeaways
03.58 – Passive income streams are always best when there’s no correlation between time invested and money gained.
06.02 – If you’re selling with Amazon, be sure to think clearly about how you want your products conveyed.
10.01 – Ryan Moran gives some of his more specific strategies for success which worked for him.
16.13 – Look at what everyone else is doing and work out what you can do differently.
18.17 – Like with Google, there are a few key ways to working through Amazon’s algorithm.
22.22 – Before you even think about selling strategies, you need to ask some questions to optimize your product selection.
27.38 – Think about the lifestyle you envisioned and stick to that. Don’t lose your purpose.
30.12 – The longer your vision of success, the more successful you will be.
31.48 – For more information about Ryan Moran, head to www.FreedomFastLane.com and search ‘Freedom Fast Lane’ in the iTunes store to access his podcast.

 

Mentioned in this episode
www.FreedomFastLane.com

 

Tweetables
Contrary to what most people think, you can operate a business without having your face as the centerpiece.
Too many people think that because they can extract dollars, they’re an expert.
To be successful on Amazon, you need good sales, good conversions and good reviews.

 

Transcript

Introduction:
This show is produced by the Hartman Media Company. For more information and links to all our great podcasts, visit www.HartmanMedia.com
Speakers, publishers, consultants, coaches and info-marketers, unite. The Speaking of Wealth Show is your roadmap to success and significance. Learn the latest tools, technologies and tactics to get more bookings, sell more products and attract more clients. If you’re looking to increase your direct response sales, create a big-time personal brand and become the go-to guru, the Speaking of Wealth Show is for you. Here’s your host, Jason Hartman.

Jason Hartman:
Welcome to the Speaking of Wealth Show, this is your host Jason Hartman, where we discuss profit strategies for speakers, publishers, authors, consultants, coaches, info-marketers and we just go over a whole bunch of exciting things that you can use to increase your business, to make your business more successful and more and more passive, more and more automated, and more and more scalable. We will be back with a great interview. Be sure to visit us at www.SpeakingOfWealth.com, you can take advantage of our blog, subscribe to the RSS feed and find many other resources for free. That’s www.SpeakingOfWealth.com, and we will be back with a great interview for you in less than 60 seconds.

Announcer:
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Jason:
Hey, it’s my pleasure to welcome Ryan Moran to the show. He is an Internet marketer, he’s a real estate investor and he’s got a great story. He’s all of 26 years old now, I believe, and he’s coming to us today from somewhere on the East Coast. Welcome, Ryan, how are you?

Ryan Moran:
Jason, thanks so much for having me on.

Jason:
Yeah, it’s great to have you. Give our listeners a sense of geography; where exactly are you located?

Ryan:
Well, apparently I’m on the East Coast of Austin Texas.

Jason:
Oh, I see! I’m glad I asked! Why did I think you were on the East Coast? Was it because of of your interview with Jaime Tardy recently?

Ryan:
Well, that could be because that interview was done in Austin, Texas, so that could be it.

Jason:
Ah, gotcha. Well, the East Coast of Austin, Texas..

Ryan:
We’ll go with that.

Jason:
Good stuff. See how misinformation spreads.

Ryan:
I have an apartment that looks out East, so we’ll go with that!

Jason:
Okay, fair enough, good deal. It looks like Freedom Fast Lane is what you’re focusing on nowadays, but Ryan, you’ve got a fantastic story, and I’d like you to just share that with our listeners, and I’m sure everybody listening can learn a lot from it.

Ryan:
Well, Jason, I came out of the womb an entrepreneur. My first business was when I was five years old – I drew hand-drawn pictures on computer paper and went door-to-door selling them for 1 cent each, and I made 4 cents that night, so 100% profit because my Dad donated all of the materials. Thank you very much! I have had that entrepreneurial drive up to today, and you know, what really drives me is realizing my full potential. I knew fairly early on that I wasn’t going to be able to do that in a 9-5 job. I think that most people realize that fact that they have unrealized potential, being in a position where they’re working for somebody else.

I became obsessed from a very young age about passive income streams that weren’t correlated with my time. There was not a correlation between how much time I invested and how much money came into my pocket as a result. I became fascinated with this at age 14 or 15 – I was reading real estate books and business books, but I had my first success when I generated an online business that went to six figures very, very quickly when I was in my college dorm room. I was just blogging and promoting products and doing affiliate marketing for a long time, and somehow, Jason, I got lumped into this group of people that was one of those make money online guys, which I never wanted to be. I had all these associations, though, and I kept going down that path until one day I was like ‘I never wanted to be one of those guys’, and I decided I didn’t want to be one of those guys anymore.

About two years ago I retired from teaching Internet marketing and I’ve been building what I consider real business since then. I have a yoga products company, I have a men’s health and fitness company, I have a supplement company, and then I take those profits and I invest those into other sources. We can get into that in a second.

Jason:
Yeah, fantastic. You know, that first business you had where you were selling the hand-drawn images for a penny – if we had adjust for inflation, that’s got to be a good 20 cents nowadays!

Ryan:
You are absolutely right.

Jason:
So that’s still a big business. Okay, so gosh, a yoga products company. Tell me about that, I love yoga.

Ryan:
My yoga products company is called Zen Active Sports. We produce yoga mats, towels, blocks – yoga products, and we use them.

Jason:
Do you manufacture them?

Ryan:
We have someone else manufacture them, and then we have them sent to Amazon. Amazon does our fulfillment and we do all of our order taking online.

Jason:
Why is that separate from other businesses where you’re selling products on Amazon?

Ryan:
That’s a great question, and I did that for two reasons. 1: Because they had different partners, and 2: Because I wanted them to be sellable entities. I spent 7 years in an industry that was info-marketing, and it had my face on it. That’s fine if you want to have a lifestyle business or if you have a message that you want to bring to the world. I don’t think that is the case for everyone, although it is the case for plenty of people. I still have a blog and a podcast that has my name on it, although I don’t sell any products currently, but I think most people get into the info-marketing side of things, following the guru model when it’s not necessarily the type of business that they want to be in. I started new businesses that didn’t have my face on them and didn’t have any face on them, and that is a more sellable business than a guru business. In order to be sellable though, they need to be segmented from other products and services that are going on. I wanted them to be a sellable entity and not have my face on them. That’s why we separated them from our business.

Jason:
That’s a good idea, and it’s really smart, Ryan, that you thought of that strategy in advance. That really is a sellable business, and that’s awesome. I guess I should ask you – take the conversation wherever you want; do you want to tell people about how you became successful as an Internet marketer or about the guru business from which you’ve retired? Or should we jump in to what you’re doing now?

Ryan:
If we take the conversation that way, I know your audience is definitely into info-publishing, but I will say this – I made a big mistake trying to grow my info-publishing business and I lost a whole lot of money taking some risks that I should not have done. I learnt a lot of things not to do on the info- side of things, and that was things like hiring too fast before it was necessary and, I would say most importantly, not really dialing in the numbers of my conversions. There was the sense a couple of years ago that just about everybody could throw up a video sells letter at the time and all their buddies would mail for it and everybody would make a whole bunch of money, and then you’d move onto the next person.

In my circle, I knew all of those guys who were making a bunch of money by doing that process, and I thought in order to duplicate the success of somebody else, let’s do what they’re doing – this was my young, naive brain, although this was also what was basically taught in our little circle. We thought ‘If you want to have success, duplicate what everybody else is doing’. The model was ‘throw up a product, put a video sells letter on it and get all your buddies to mail for it’. That was interesting because I found on the inside that it wasn’t quite like everybody marketed it to be. When I decided that I was done with that industry, everybody in that industry was kind of saying ‘This is great, look how much money we’re making, post it on Facebook I’m so happy’, but when I decided to quit, everybody was like ‘I’m so jealous of your ability to just walk away from this industry because I don’t want to be in it.’ That’s interesting because it goes back to that idea of some people not wanting to have their face on businesses and some people not wanting to be gurus. Some people just think that’s the only way to do things, and that is not the case. There’s plenty of other ways that you can do that and operate it as a business without you having to be the centerpiece of it.

Jason:
Yeah, fantastic. That’s good advice and it’s good to know. Drill down a little bit Ryan, if you would, and give us some of the more specific strategies that you used to become successful.

Ryan:
For me, I was very much into relationship marketing. I focused very heavily on developing relationships with my customers and my prospects. That was different among the industry that I was in and again, I’ve made lots of mistakes along the way. When I started to do what everybody else was doing, which was pretty much promoting everything and having your own products focused only on how much money they were making and on how much value they were creating, I found that I made way less money than when I focused on really dialing in what was best for my prospects and my customers.
For example, my open rates and my click-through rates went drastically down when the amount of content and relationship that I was creating in my email newsletter and on my blog was also going down. That was almost impossible to recover from, but yet I found that when I gave more, people purchased more. That was interesting because most people who are into info-products. They see it in terms of numbers and they assume that if you get a lead, you want to extract as many dollars from this lead as possible, and then it will go away. What I found was that when you provide value to that lead before asking for any sale or in the process of selling, you make a whole lot more dollars from that lead, and that explained to me why I had felt so dissatisfied in the info-product space.

At the end of things when I kind of just copied what everybody else was doing, I felt so dissatisfied as though there was never enough in this space. I found that there’s just a completely different philosophy when you approach a business with a notion of ‘How much value can I generate?’ versus ‘How many dollars can I extract?’ One is a mentality of ‘I’m going to get as much as possible, I don’t have a need to get more and more’, and the other is ‘I already have, and I am basically creating a bigger pie for everybody’. I decided at that point that I only wanted to live and have businesses in that abundance mentality, rather than the mentality of ‘I just need to go extract as many dollars as possible.’
As a result, I made a lot more dollars.

Jason:
Right, absolutely. That’s a great philosophy, and unfortunately, it’s all too common in business and especially the fast-moving world of Internet marketing. A lot of the first gurus of Internet marketing, I think, really had that terrible mentality of just ‘churn and burn’ type of business. A few of them – I won’t mention any names – are still big gurus nowadays, but it’s good to think like a real businessperson instead of this, I’ll call it hokey Internet marketing of Version 1.0.

Ryan:
Right, and so many people are rehashing the same things over and over again and not providing any real value. They think that just because they can extract dollars, that makes them an expert. I’m talking specifically about the business info-publishing world. It’s like – I did a launch and now I’m a businessperson and I can teach you how to do this. There’s so much rehashing and there’s no new value being created. I decided I wasn’t going to go into that space until I felt as though I was creating from a place of abundance, and that’s when I started my business.

Jason:
Yeah, good stuff. Share, if you would, what you’re doing on Amazon. This is a big area and Ryan, we haven’t talked about the Amazon side of online businesses very much, and I know you’re careful to say that you don’t have an Amazon business; Amazon is simply one of your channels. It’s obviously a big, giant channel, and so I think it deserves some recognition there.

Ryan:
Absolutely.

Jason:
First of all, what products are you selling on Amazon? Obviously yoga products, right?

Ryan:
Yeah, so I keep some of the businesses quiet, but I use the yoga products company as my open example. We’re selling mats and towels and blocks. The important thing to know about Amazon is what you said: it’s a channel. I think that most new entrepreneurs, and even some people who are mid-way through their journey, will benefit from looking at what channels are they specializing in in order to create consistent revenue. This was a question that once I answered, everything kind of fell into place. We all have a stream of customers coming from somewhere, hopefully – that’s why we’re in business. When you’re looking at entering a new business, it would be wise to look at what channels there are already with customers purchasing products that are similar to yours. Put your energies on that channel.

For us, when we started the yoga product business, we went to Amazon because people were already spending money on Amazon for yoga products. There was no need for us to create an e-commerce store and then try to drive traffic to the e-commerce store because that channel didn’t exist yet. There’s no need to build a channel when there’s already a channel where people are spending money for the exact products that you’re selling. You can build a channel later, once you have the revenue and the cash-flow in order to do that, but when you’re starting a business, the low-hanging fruit is ‘Where is there already money being exchanged for your product or service?’

In the info-product world, this is affiliates and click-bank, or affiliates and other info-product marketplaces. For physical products, right now it’s Amazon. There’s also some others, but Amazon is the big one right now. If you’re in retail, it’s your traffic flow into your store or the location of your store. Where are the channels where people are already exchanging money for the products or services that you are offering?
When we went onto Amazon, we said ‘Okay, what do we need to do in order to make a splash into this marketplace?’ Well, we need to have good copy on our listing, which most people did very poorly on. We needed to have good reviews, which most people managed very poorly. We needed to have good images, which most people did very poorly on. Just by doing those things, we were able to capture a large piece of the market share, just by doing things a little bit differently than most people.

Until the last year or so, most people had been treating Amazon as kind of an extra vehicle for sales. You have big brands that are selling in retail or they’re selling online and then they put them on Amazon in order for it to be an extra vehicle for sales. The volume is there now where it doesn’t have to be treated as just like this extra piece. It can actually be the centerpiece of the channel that you’re going after. We decided to take that approach and it was kind of like doing Google SEO ten years ago, where you could throw up just about anything and it would start ranking on Yahoo and Altavista.com, for those of you who are old enough to remember altavista.com. Amazon’s kind of like that, where if you just do a little bit of optimization, you can capture a large percentage of the marketplace right now.
As a result, you can have that be the centerpiece of your business and a new place for the cash-flow that you can invest into other channels and then grow that business.

Jason:
I’ve got to concur, Ryan, because I can’t believe how many people selling products on Amazon just don’t have good images or they don’t have enough images. It’s so easy to correct that, and they’ve definitely missed sales from me and I’ll buy a different product because of a lack of images. It’s just an easy thing to do.
What tips can you give on optimization on Amazon? It’s another SEO situation.

Ryan:
Amazon is obviously a little bit different than Google’s algorithm because Amazon doesn’t look at links, they look at sales. We can think of sales as our links as far as search engine optimization goes. If you want to rank high in Amazon, you need a few things. You need sales, you need good conversions and you need good reviews. Amazon’s algorithm is a little bit of a mystery, just like any algorithm out there, but we know a few things about it. We know that when something is getting a lot of sales, it ranks higher. We know that when it has a high conversion rate, it ranks higher. We know that when it has a lot of good reviews, the conversion rate and sales go up so naturally, there would be an increase in your ranking.

But there’s a chicken-egg issue here, right? You need sales in order to get reviews, but you need reviews in order to get sales, so what do we do? We decided to be aggressive in our review strategy. We would give away as many units as it took in order to get people interested in the product, we would do very steep discounts on products in order to get enough sales to have people that would come back and review the product. We were comfortable operating in the hold for a while in order to get that nucleus of sales to review our products to the point where our conversion rate would be high enough in order to get organic sales.

We aggressively recruited those sales with discounts and giveaways and promotions and advertising, and that really set us apart because we had sales that were feeding the algorithm, we had reviews that were feeding higher conversions which fed the algorithm and a combination of all those three makes a big difference in where you rank on Amazon.

Jason:
Right, and where did you do those sales and promotions? Were they off Amazon or on Amazon?

Ryan:
You have to be through Amazon, so Amazon has to see them coming through. Our promotions came from mostly pay-per-click advertising, whether it was on Facebook or Bing or directly on Amazon’s platform – they have a pay-per-click platform, so we were just driving traffic from paid sources to either a landing page or straight to the Amazon listing. Usually it was to a landing page that would pre-sell them or offer a discount or something to make it a very attractive offer, and them send them to Amazon to complete the purchase. By doing that, we’re feeding the algorithm in multiple ways because we’re sending outside traffic, which can play a role in the algorithm, we’re spiking sales, we’re getting a high conversion rate because of a discount or because of really good copy, and we’re obviously going to get reviews from those sales. Altogether, that starts to feed Amazon’s algorithm.

I think what you’re going to see in the next 8-12 months is kind of a consolidation in the market place of Amazon. Just like every market consolidates, you’re going to have people realizing that they can do things in order to rank on Amazon like what we’re talking about, and you’re going to start having people optimize and it’s going to get better and better and better.
Right now, in my opinion, is the perfect time in order to start optimizing your businesses if you have physical products for sale on Amazon, in order to rank for those keywords that you know are going to generate sales.

Jason:
Yeah, good point. That is constantly going back and forth. What about product selection, Ryan? Is there some unique product out there or some tip on how to pick the right thing to sell? That’s a big part of it. I know tons of people are doing weightloss-related things and white-labeling of stuff, but is there a certain niche that makes more sense than others?

Ryan:
I try to avoid trendy things. I want to be in markets that are going to be around 5 years from now, and a company that is interested in buying you is going to want that too. If we look at this from the perspective of building a company to sell it, then I think we start to get much more clarity about what types of markets we want to be going into. If we look at things like staying power, is the market going to be around 5 years from now? We look at volume; is there enough volume in order for this to be a sustainable business? Is there any pending FTC regulations or government changes that might hurt this industry in the next year or two? Is this a fad that is going to be hot for a while and will then go away? Are there return customers? These are the types of questions that I like to ask as I’m starting to create a business.

I want to be relevant in 5 years. My side rant is that there’s a big product right now that’s really popular on Amazon – it’s the garcinia cambogia supplement. People are making hundreds of thousands of dollars selling this, but in 6 months that’s going to be gone, or at least greatly minimized. With all this flood into the market place, you have higher competition and you see a lot of things. Dr. Oz is getting into trouble over some things that he’s said about certain supplements, so that’s an industry where if you want to go in and take advantage of a trend, that’s fine. If you see it as a cash-flow or a lifestyle business, that’s totally fine. You’re basically an opportunistic entrepreneur at that point, which is totally cool. But if you want to have staying power and be relevant in 5 years, that’s an industry that you probably don’t want to build the centerpiece of your business around.

Again, if you want to take advantage of an opportunity or a trend, that’s fine as long as you’re not depending on that to be your staying power for the next 5 years. That’s not the type of company that somebody would acquire in most cases. I’m looking at volume, I’m looking at customer passion, I’m looking for repeat customers, I’m looking at sustainability, I’m looking for compliance with government regulations and I’m looking at what would someone else value in order to purchase a company. Ultimately, I want to build a company to sell it, because I want to have that option and I don’t want to get stuck in the type of business I was in a few years ago. That was all centered around my face, but I can never exit that business. I know so many people who would love to exit their businesses, but they can’t because their income is now dependent upon them being present in their business. That was not the type of business that I wanted to have.

Jason:
Right. I do want to comment on that, though. It’s not impossible to sell a guru business with your name on it. I published my first book on personal branding many years ago, and it is harder and there are some definite nuances to it – it’s not like selling a franchised business or something like that that’s just a generic thing, but it’s not impossible, is it?

Ryan:
It’s not impossible, but it is significantly harder. As a result, if that company wants to continue growing that business, then you’ll often be required to keep doing what you’ve been doing, even after the business has been acquired.

Jason:
Right, good stuff. Any general life tips or life lessons you want to close with, or any suggestions for entrepreneurs?

Ryan:
Yeah, I think that most entrepreneurs have a part of their brain that is looking for the point in which they have the ability to piece out, to check out and say ‘I’m done, I’m safe, I’m secure for the rest of my life now.’ I have found that this is a thread among a lot of entrepreneurs, and what I have discovered is that most people think ‘If I just had X amount of dollars in the bank, or if I just had $1 million, then I would be safe and secure forever and I would never have to worry about money again.’
I have discovered that that type of security that so many entrepreneurs want, even though we say that we’re not wired by security, we all have this part of our brain – it’s called the reptile part of our brain. It’s the croc brain and it desired to be safe and secure, and that does not come from a certain amount of money that you earn in a plop. It comes from cash-flow and it comes from the ability to generate cash by your own accord. The way that I have satisfied that is by being strategic in my investing. I know so many entrepreneurs, Jason, who make so much money and then blow it all either maintaining an image or by expanding their lifestyle to the point where they have to continually work ridiculous hours that we never wanted to work. That’s why we’re entrepreneurs! The way that we solve that is by strategically investing into other things that don’t require us to show up.

I talk a lot about investing in passive cash-flow at www.FreedomFastLane.com because I think it’s an important thing for entrepreneurs to start to think about – how do I sustain my lifestyle outside of the business that I have to show up and operate? I’m not in this to show up for 40 hours; I’m in this for the type of life that I envisioned when I became an entrepreneur. I know you know that because you invest as well, but I think most entrepreneurs are blind to the fact that there is freedom outside of just working in their businesses. It can come from passive income streams that you invest into on a regular basis as well.

Jason:
Yeah, I agree completely. I’m not sure if it’s your favorite, but I know you’re involved in real estate investing. I think income property is the ultimate investment. You know why, Ryan? It’s because when we talk about Internet-related businesses, or at least using the Internet successfully in any business – every business is an Internet business nowadays, or it should be. What that comes down to is leverage. You can create a lot of leverage in your business and your customer acquisition strategy, and that’s a very powerful tool.

The same is with income property – it’s just the most historically proven asset class in America, I just love it. It offers a lot of leverage and it’s something that has absolute universal need, so passive income streams outside of one’s business are very, very important. You have your business, or your businesses, and that’s one part of it, and then the other part is your investments. Those are investments that offer leverage and control.

Ryan:
Those investments can come in multiple different forms. Some people will invest in other private businesses that they’re not involved in, and then get either royalty checks or equity splits or whatever it is, and that’s great. That’s a great source for investing – that’s the shark tank approach.

Then there’s things like real estate investments which we talked about, and then there’s things like dividend-paying stock. If you know your numbers and you know what you’re looking for and you have a long time-frame, that’s an option. That’s something I invest in every month too. I think one thing I learned from investing that we can also apply to business is this rule: The longer vision of success that you can have, the more successful you will be.

If we look at something like the stock market, a lot of people are nervous to invest in the stock market because year over year, there can be a downturn in the market. If we look at 2007-2008, if you invest one year, the next year it could be significantly less. If we look at 10 years, if we look at 25 years, if we look at 100 years, the longer time frame that we can have, the better our success looks. This is true in real estate too: we have appreciation, we have increases in rents. This is also true in business – there’s so many people who say ‘I’m starting this business, how do I extract as much from my customers as possible in the short-term so that we can earn more money?’ and then they get into this habit of always operating from that place, from the short-term thinking. If we have a longer view of things, the longer the vision of success we can have, the more successful we’ll be. If we start doing things that build our brand equity, that build our customer loyalty, that build systems and automation, there are things that don’t necessarily benefit you immediately, but they benefit you immensely in the long term and they free you up from this thinking of short-term, never really growing and seeing meaningful progress. The longer the vision of success you can have, the more successful you will be.

Jason:
Absolutely. Good point. Ryan, give out your website, tell people where they can find more about you.

Ryan:
My website is www.FreedomFastLane.com, I also have a podcast which you can find on iTunes under the name ‘Freedom Fast Lane’. We’ve been rocketing up the business charts lately; it’s been really really fun and exciting. Since I’ve retired from having products, I just give away all my secrets on the podcast. Again, the name is www.FreedomFastLane.com

Jason:
Excellent, Ryan Moran, thanks for joining us.

Ryan:
Jason, thanks so much for having me.

Outro
This show is produced by the Hartman Media Company, all rights reserved. For distribution or publication rights and media interviews, please visit www.hartmanmedia.com, or email [email protected]
Nothing on this show should be considered specific personal or professional advice. Please consult an appropriate tax, legal, real estate or business professional for individualized advice. Opinions of guests are their own, and the host is acting on behalf of Platinum Properties Investor Network Inc. exclusively.