Now, this isn't one of those podcast where we bring on famous entrepreneurs simply to celebrate their success.
Instead I have them take us back to the very beginning and delve deeply into the exact strategies they used early on to gain traction for their businesses.
Now if you enjoy this podcast please leave me a review on iTunes and enter my podcast contest where I'm giving away free one on one business consults every single month. For more information, go to mywifequitherjob.com/contest.
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Now, before I begin I just want to give a quick a shout out to this episode's sponsor, Bigcommerce. Now, Bigcommerce is a fully hosted shopping cart platform that allows you to set up your own online store in minutes.
As most of you probably know, I teach a class on how to start a profitable online store, and Bigcommerce is actually one of the shopping carts that I highly recommend in my class. Now, here's what I like about Bigcommerce. Unlike other competing platforms, Bigcommerce doesn't really nickel and dime you with every little shopping cart feature. When you sign up, you immediately have a fully featured and extremely powerful shopping cart at your disposal.
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Simply go to www.bigcommerce.com/mywifequitherjob, sign up and you'll instantly receive one month free. Once again the URL is www.bigcommerce.com/mywifequitherjob. Now on to the show.
Announcer: Welcome to the My Wife Quit her Job Podcast. We will teach you how to create a business that suits your lifestyle, so you can spend more time with your family and focus on doing the things that you love. Here's your host, Steve Chou.
Steve: Welcome to the My Wife Quit her Job Podcast. Today I'm thrilled to have Antonio Centeno on the show. Now, Antonio is someone who I met at the New Media Expo in Las Vegas a couple months back, and I'm really glad that I did.
Now, Antonio runs the popular site www.realmenrealstyle.com which is a site that helps men educate themselves and build a wardrobe that best complements their style. He's also a regular contributor to The Art of Manliness. Now, Antonio's blog gets a ton of traffic and he also has a very strong YouTube volume of over 250,000 subscribers.
Now, it's funny. When Antonio and I first met and he told me about his website and his YouTube channel, I immediately got self-conscious about what I was wearing which I think was an old ratty T-shirt and jeans at the time. Anyway, not only is Antonio well-dressed but he's a very cool guy, easy to talk to, down to earth. With that, welcome to the show, Antonio. How are you doing today, man?
Antonio: I'm doing good, Steve. If I remember the meeting, you weren't wearing a suit but you definitely were not wearing a ratty T-shirt. You looked sharp. Your hair, if I remember correctly, was perfect. You had it slicked back. You were looking good, and you actually had nice shoes, if I remember correctly.
Steve: Thank you, Antonio. I appreciate that. I generally do not actually do too much about my appearance.
Antonio: A lot of guys, they think that that is the case but we don't walk outside naked, do we, or if you do, you often times — in California I know you'd get arrested.
Steve: You know us Californians.
Antonio: Yeah. But it's something that I find it's a door. It's a way for me to reach men, in particular although 10% to 15% of my audience are women, but I find that this is a great way for me to show them how this one thing, when they make a change, can affect their business, can affect their personal relationships, can affect their confidence, and that's where I get excited about.
Honestly, Steve, clothing doesn't mean that much to me. It's about helping these individuals become what they know they can be. I get really excited when I get all these success stories because it starts with the clothing but it leads to so much more. They go up and they speak to that woman that they've been almost invisible to but she noticed issues. And all of a sudden he had the courage to talk to her, and a year later they're married or a guy that wasn't doing well at work, wasn't getting recognized. All of a sudden he started dressing the part so he can be a customer facing rep. The next thing you know he's getting promoted twice in the period of a year. And all of a sudden he's making three times more money than he ever was. These guys come back to me, and that's what I get excited about.
Steve: Antonio, I must say that you stood out in the crowd right away, not only because you were wearing a suit but because you kind of held your way in a certain way that I knew that you were important, so to speak. So when you sat down next to me I was like “Okay, I got to talk to this guy,”
Antonio: Yeah. I've seen you multiple times at the conference. I'm like “That guy looks familiar.” I think you said your website. Boom! I know it. I found you on the web. I remember reading your story years ago when you started off. So it was mutual. I'm very happy that we're able to connect.
So for your audience, what can I give them?
Steve: Yeah. So the reason I wanted you on the show specifically was because you have such a strong YouTube presence. But before we kind of get into that, probably some of the listeners out there don't know who you are, and so I was hoping you could give a quick background story, how you got started and how your journey led to Real Men Real Style because I understand you used to run an e-commerce store as well. Do you still do that?
Antonio: I've pretty much turned that off but I'll take a step back. So I grew up in West Texas. I don't come from a family of style. I grew up in a trailer park, so I guess you can call it a type of style but no. I was just a kid who grew up in a trailer park, West Texas. We feared tornadoes, yada, yada, yada. But I did go out to California during the summers. My parents were divorced. I learned a lot about wow, there's a whole world out there when we go out to Thousands Oaks.
Now, fast forward. I ended up going to college in Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa, a small liberal arts school. We take one course at a time. I didn't know what I was going to but I knew I wasn't going to go to med school. I tried to go to med school and all of a sudden I realized “Wow. I do not like the organic and chems.”
I ran into a Marine Corps recruiter. That's when my life, I think, went down a very different path than I planned for. All of a sudden I'm in the United States Marine Corps. I'm at OCS training. I went through. The next thing I know I'm finding myself in Iraq. This is before the war so we went right in there. I was with 3rd Battalion 1st Marines. We went through Nasiriyah, Al Kut, and then over and took Baghdad.
So I'm able to leave the Marine Corps as an officer of Marines having learned a lot about leadership. For the first time I had my first custom suit, and that was my Marine Corps uniform. I learned what it's like to actually wear a suit of armor and to feel like “Wow! I feel great.” When we would have the Marine Corps birthday, I would go out on the town and I would feel like $1 million. When people would look at you and you're your medals, you're wearing your uniform, know it what makes you just look — I mean I would never get so much attention from women as we wore our uniforms. That's, I think, when it dawned on me the power of presentation.
Now, like most things we learn in life, you learn about something and then you forget about it, you move on. So I went to business school at University of Texas after living in Ukraine for a while. My wife's Ukrainian. I was running a nonprofit over there right after the Marine Corps. Over at business school in Texas I started getting excited about entrepreneurship.
I met a number of people that do amazing things, guys like the founder of Southwest Airlines. I can't remember his name. The guy came. I loved his presentation. He walks into a building. It's non-smoking. He's smoking a cigarette. He doesn't care. He's like “I just gave $5 million to this school. What are you going to do?” I'm like “I like this guy.”
Everyone else wants to go down consulting. Everyone else wants to go down investment banking. They're making it sound like this stuff is exciting. I couldn't become an Excel jockey and get excited about it. So I'm like “I like this entrepreneurship thing.”
I ended up speaking with a guy. I had some custom suits made by a traveling tailor. He explained to me he's from India, had a fourth grade education. He was making half a million a year after 35 years of building up his customer base, and he only works six months out of a year. I'm like “You know what? I have more than a fourth grade education.” It took me back to that Roosevelt quote about if you have a high school education, you'll steal a rail car. If you have a college education, you should be able to steal the whole railroad. So the idea is “Okay. I can do this and I can do it quicker.”
So I went in to the custom clothing industry as a mercenary. My whole goal is simply to make money. I saw there was a hole in the market. I knew a little bit about custom clothing. I just felt that there was opportunity there. That did me pretty well but what I learned very quickly is that it's a hard industry. It took me about five years to figure out that my business model of scaling it up wasn't going to work especially if I wouldn't be able to free myself in the business.
So at about that point I started to pivot. I created my own marketing company called Real Men Real Style because I wanted to get traffic to my website. That's when I realized that marketing side in the men's sphere was a lot more profitable, scalable and enjoyable than what I was doing.
So that's about the time I turned off A Tailored Suit. It still exists as an information portal. It gets about 70,000 people a month to it. But Real Men Real Style, we get about close to a million visitors a month. About 35,000 a day, our YouTube channel gets that, sometimes more, and then I've got a couple other men style Q&A websites and things like that. So all in all I have a daily audience of about 80,000, 90% men. I leverage that to sell my information products, to sell my Kindle books, to sell my courses, affiliate linking, and all the various different ways your audience has probably heard. I learned through the school of hard knocks how to make money.
Steve: I was just curious. A Tailored Suit, was that like an e-commerce store or was that a brick and mortar?
Antonio: It was an e-commerce. So I was the middle man. I had a partner over in Bangkok when I first started my company in 2007. I traveled the world. I went to London, Bangkok, Hong Kong. I had tea with about 200 tailors. I identified about five or six that I could possibly partner with. I had 20 custom suits made, tore them apart. I ended up finding two people I could partner with, and they were my backend.
I had to create sales. I created a website where you could enter your measurements, you could enter design of the suit, and it would be delivered to your door within a few weeks. In 2007, that was a great idea. There's only one other company in the world, two maybe, that were like me.
Fast forward, 2013; there are 200 companies like this. It's a much harder market. Everyone else is taking investment capital. I'm still growing organically. Honestly, I wasn't going to play that game when I knew my competitors had money to spend, and rebuilding their sites every two months, and could focus on increasing those conversions, and use pay per click advertising. I really was at a point where I didn't truly understand the value of a customer. I was not sophisticated enough to play in that role.
Steve: I was just curious though. I mean it sounds pretty scalable too though, your e-commerce store or was it not?
Antonio: I would say it's not. It wasn't scalable because I didn't control the backend. So it's like I could have orders coming it, and then I would guarantee them that it's going to be there in three weeks, and then my partner would — because he's got other partners, he would say, “Hey, sorry. The machine broke. It's going to be six weeks until I can get you anything.” Literally, I have to refund, apologize for things out of my control. I realized I didn't want to be in that sphere. I didn't want to be in that area anymore.
Steve: Okay. Then you decide to start Real Men Real Style. I know you got a ton of fans. I don't actually see a whole bunch of ads on your site. So is it mainly just your own info products and affiliate offers?
Antonio: That's true. I allow ads on my Google videos, and that brings me anywhere from a couple to a few thousand dollars a month, and that's nice. But my goal is to sell my own products.
I think it was Ryan Deiss or somebody talked about the importance of owning your own products because even if you promote a great affiliate system — but like for me, is a great affiliate system. I'm proud to be associated with him, but I still only get a percentage of what he sells. When I sell my own products, I get 100% of that, and I like that a lot better.
Steve: Okay. So in terms of your sales, how do your YouTube property and your blog kind of tie together? Which would you say generates the most sales or do they just kind of work together? Which is your more valuable property is what I'm trying to ask.
Antonio: My blog, of course, because I don't own anyone that thinks they own like their Facebook page or YouTube page or Twitter account. You don't. Twitter can shut you down. YouTube, every day I go on there. I know that they could turn off my channel and I saw it happen. Have you ever seen that six pack shortcut guy?
Antonio: A couple of years ago his channel got shut down for a couple days. Now he's a darling of YouTube. It's like a $30 million a year business of which half of that placement is on YouTube ads.
Steve: Mike Chang.
Antonio: Yeah, Mike Chang. He got shut down. It doesn't matter how big you are. If YouTube doesn't think you're playing the game or if somebody says you're violating things, they can shut you down. So my goal is always to get them off of YouTube, get them off of Facebook, get them off of Pinterest which Pinterest, believe it or not, is my number one referrer of traffic, but get them off of that and on to my email list because I own my email list. I use Infusionsoft. I started off with AWeber but Infusionsoft is really where I build my email list now, and I own that.
Steve: So did you start out with your blog or your YouTube channel first?
Antonio: I started off with the blog first, and then YouTube was how I differentiated the blog from anything else out there. If you go back to Michael Porter — have you ever studied him?
Steve: I did not. No.
Antonio: Yeah. He's a business guy. We talk about unique selling positions and stuff like that online or having an advantage. He wrote the book Competitive Advantage back in, I think, early 80s, late 1970s. So go find that book at Harvard Business School Press.
He talks about three ways to differentiate yourself. One of them is being unique. The other one is offering an amazing service. The other one is price. I knew I did not want to compete on price. So my thing is to offer amazing service and to offer a unique position.
I realized that there was only one other guy doing video. His name was Aaron Marino. I looked at his videos. Honestly, I was like “This guy sucks. I could do better than him.” What's funny now is he's one of my best friends. We started a conference together. At the time, I was jealous.
For maybe a year and a half, I didn't put out a video. I kept complaining. My wife, she just said, “Shut up or put up. You need to go out there. If you're going to do it, you do it.” So I started creating videos. I said I was going to create 10 and then I created 100 then I created 200 videos in 200 days. It's one of those things. You got to give it a fair shake.
Gary Vaynerchuk, he had someone complaining on Twitter once that “Hey, I've tried a million ways. I can't make this work.” Gary twits back to him. He was like “Really? You tried a million ways?” He's like “No. I didn't try a million.” He's like “Well, maybe you tried a hundred.” He's like “No. I didn't try a hundred.” “Maybe you tried 10.” He only tried it once, yet he complained he tried a million ways.
So the point is if you're going to do anything, you need to give it a fair shake, and that's what I did with YouTube. It wasn't until I put 200 videos that I hit my first million views. Now we're closing in on like 20 million.
Steve: Wow. Antonio, what you're experience with those people is not uncommon. I get people who come to me and they say, “Hey, e-commerce is not working.” And then when I dig a little bit deeper I realize that they've only been doing it for like a couple of months. That's just not enough time to establish any sort of business.
Antonio: They see the best out there. Pat Flynn, he's a great guy, a good friend of mine. They see John Dumas. And they see these numbers because they put out their finance reports. They think that this is normal or that this is doable within 18 months or six months.
John, me and I are partners over at High Speed Low Drag. This is a former Army tank officer. This guy has been through a lot. He works seven days a week. He's the hardest working man I know. There's a reason why he is as successful as he is. Pat Flynn, he's pulled back on the number of hours he works now but he used to work crazy hours. He's dedicated. He's an amazing person.
Those results are achievable but they're not typical. People need to understand that you can get to that point but it may take you five years. It may take you 10 years. Making money online is not simple.
Steve: It's funny. You mentioned that when you started your blog you wanted to differentiate yourself but you chose to do that on a property that you did not own. I was just kind of curious. In the very beginning it takes a lot of time to do stuff. So how did you kind of juggle writing actual blog posts versus doing videos? Which did you prioritize in terms of content in the beginning?
Antonio: Jay Baer talks about this, how to create one piece of content and then create eight more pieces from it. My strategy now is that. I start everything with bullet points in a video, and then from that article will be created, show notes, transcripts, podcasts. I already had hundreds of articles that I had written over at The Art of Manliness, at A Tailored Suit in our style guide section. So I simply created videos that were based off of those articles because I already knew that content super well.
In addition, in my emails I always ask the second question I ask which I stole from Derek Halpern over at Social Triggers, is to ask people what your biggest problem. People love to tell you their problems and they love to complain. Guess what. That is perfect information. You could read off word for word in a video and solve that problem, and other people are going to love it. So right there, you'll never run out of ideas if that's what you use.
As to what is my priority, initially, it was the written content. Now it has become the video. I stay on YouTube even though I don't own it because it is the best platform right now for a video for reaching out. Although Facebook video is blowing me away in terms of engagement, but like YouTube, I don't own it. Facebook is always about pay to play.
Steve: Let's talk about that a little bit. So you've been dabbling with Facebook video. So you just have one piece of core content. You create a blog post out of it, a podcast and then videos all around the same theme. And then you post it on all of these platforms.
Antonio: That's how I try to do it. I try to scale as much as possible. I'm actually pulling back on the amount of content I'm putting up because I don't have enough platforms to share it all on. I've got to find out ways, because we've got some great content, on how to better distribute it.
Steve: Okay. In terms of just YouTube, your growth to 250,000 subscribers, was that kind of organic or did you do anything special to accelerate that process?
Antonio: There are a lot of things that you want to do in a video. So make sure you got a call to action. I find that when I ask people to like, I ask people to subscribe, I don't have to do it as much anymore but if you don't do that in a video, you won't get them to take action. In addition, you want have certain incentives for them to do so.
But again, my goal was always to get them over to Real men Real Style. I've got a nice little opt in page and I've got a free e-book which that e-book has been downloaded over 200,000 times. So if you think about that, we've collected over 200,000 email addresses. We got a great free e-book that I really could sell but it's something that I just love giving away that great lead now because it sends an immediate sign of goodwill and it's something that's powerful enough that other people passed around.
Steve: Okay. Just in terms of your income sources, your own product is the primary source from what I'm hearing then?
Antonio: I also have premium sponsors. I've got a media kit. Whenever someone comes to advertise with me, I'll put it out there. I charge $5,000 for a video. That turns away a lot of people. Here's the issue. I used to not have that. You could send me a great $500 pair of shoes and I'll try to do a video for you. The problem there is those $500 shoes, unless I resell them, I can't use them to pay my rent, I can't use them to pay my mortgage, and my employees don't take that as payment. Now I've got about seven people that work for me. I've recently cut back but I used to have almost a dozen. Those are contractors. I've got them all over the world.
It was something that I realized “Well, I need to have more liquid cash because I'm making commitments, and people aren't always valuing.” I'll never forget. Once I flipped that switch, yes, I had to say no quite a bit more but all of a sudden I had companies saying, “Sure. Not a problem.” All of a sudden you're getting paid $5,000 for a video, $4,000 for an article. It allowed me to do a better job. All of a sudden I'm able to hire a content manager, and I'm able to work less.
So it's kind of almost like a catch-22 though because you're wondering how much traffic do you need, at what point can you do this. I would recommend at an early point putting together a professional looking media kit. I even say yes to somebody that but I don't charge them. I do that occasionally with a nonprofit or somebody that stands out for military veterans or people that have prostate cancer or things like that. I can show them that “Hey, this is what I normally charge” so they realize what they're getting. You've got to put value on your services and what you offer because no one else will.
Steve: So would you say that this YouTube channel and sponsorships has become a significant source of income outside of the products that you sell?
Antonio: Yeah. It's like 20%.
Steve: Okay. At what point were you able to solicit these offers? Did they come to you? What's your strategy for getting these offers in the first place?
Antonio: At this point they come to me. It really was a reaction to getting so many people reaching out and wanting to guest post, wanting to advertise, wanting to place things in there. We've even taken this to a whole another level. Now we have a conference. The goal of the conference is simply to bring in all of our advertisers in other content creators so that they can strike deals together. Our super fans are just there just to hang out and have fun.
Steve: Okay. If you can take us back to just the very beginning when your YouTube channel was just starting to get a little bit popular. Did you actually go out and seek these deals or were they still coming to you?
Antonio: I wasn't seeking them. I'm in a sphere. I say it specific enough that we were attractive to them. You have to look at what kind of an audience you're getting in front of.
So I have a friend. His problem is that most of the people that he attracts are 14 to 20 years of age, and they really don't have much to spend. So he's got to figure out other ways to monetize.
My audience is usually between the ages of 20 and 45, sometimes even a bit older, and they're mostly men, and they are looking to make purchases. So if you got a shoe company, if you have a necktie company, if you got an app that is going to target men, then we're a great company to work with. They can very quickly figure that out.
I just found that because now our traffic numbers are so great, opportunities keep coming to us. We're now trying to do a better job of reaching out to other companies. I'm very careful with that because if a company doesn't understand the power of online marketing, it's going to be a hard sell. So I'm still going for the low-hanging fruit which has been companies coming out and reaching out to me.
Steve: So how did you get your first sponsor? Did they come to you?
Antonio: My first monitor, it was a friendship started. It was a bag company. They were called Blue Claw Luggage. They were just getting started. We agreed that they would pay a set amount per month and we would create two pieces of content for them. What's funny is after a year of doing this, more opportunities came my way. I'm always trying to get people to come into a long term relationship because the amount of time that you've got to sell a premium sponsorship, ideally what you want to have is a larger company.
One of my best was Lee jeans. We had them for about a year and half. That worked out really well because for them it's about awareness of their brand. Blue Claw was a great company but they always had to see a direct return on investment. So that's the danger with smaller companies is that it's oftentimes performance-based versus larger companies. They don't need to see the direct performance. They just need to build brand awareness.
It's two different types of sales channels in my opinion, but we found that both of them were coming to us. We're able to strike a deal and make it work. I always tell people “Try to get in for a longer term deal.” You want repeat customers.
Steve: Just based on what you said, I'm just kind of curious how you convince the smaller customers who want direct response. Do you do offer any sort of guarantees when you put out one of these videos or can you suggest certain numbers that they might achieve?
Antonio: I can show them a little bit of backend. I link over to Quantcast so they can see the numbers. I also show them examples. Our media kit has a few testimonials in there. I can show them some backend stuff. They often look at our social media, the numbers that we get there. Because we get so many offers now, I haven't had to pursue those too much.
There are no guarantees in life. When you get married, there's no guarantee. When you have kids, there is no guarantee. I'm sorry. I can't guarantee this but I can show you that this is what we've done and this is who we've worked with. It's a great offer, in my opinion, if I can get you that return on investment that you're looking for.
Steve: Okay. Earlier you mentioned that in your videos you want to bring people back to your site and yet you have a whole bunch of subscribers. So do you have two calls to actions in your videos or are you just mainly trying to get people to your site but then they just happen to subscribe anyways?
Antonio: I have to admit, I experiment with my call to actions. We probably need to standardize it a bit more. It's been six months that I've brought on a gentleman who edits all my videos. He's been working on that. So we can now link directly from the video over to our Real Men Real Style. I usually do try to get them off though. We've got like well over 250,000 YouTube subscribers. To me, that number, honestly, is a false number because a lot of those, they've been on there so long. YouTube changes that up too because it used to be that they would always get an email from me whenever I put out a new video. YouTube has changed that up a bit.
Used to be, you could almost email people through YouTube. You can't do that anymore. That's why I like owning my listing, getting them off of there. Now it's a number that some people get fixated on. I do keep it public because I know certain companies will look for that. To me, the big metric is really whenever I send out an email, how many people can I direct to a website or get to make a purchase or get to take action and join a course or a product.
Steve: Okay. When someone sponsors one of your YouTube videos, you actually send out a complementary email blast as well driving people —
Antonio: No. I wrap that in. So I got everything in my media kit individually priced, email podcast, video, blog article. If they want to then buy a package, then we can wrap it up. I do notice that it's much more effective if I put together a video with an article and wrap it with the email blast, and that's what I usually sell because I like to wrap those up together. Then I try to wrap it into a three-part where we do it over three months because you need to warm people up to accompany. It's one of those things that you can't just expect them without ever seeing this to just buy. Online people like to get touched or they like to see something multiple times.
So I also try to work with companies that are smart in doing things like remarketing because then if someone goes to their website, they can follow them around the web. So I'm also careful about what companies I work with because if they don't understand remarketing or retargeting or any that other of Facebook type of stuff, then I don't think they'll be able to effectively use our advertising.
Steve: Okay. That makes total sense. I noticed that too with the info products that I sell. Oftentimes it requires multiple touches. I had people sign up after following me for years, actually, before finally deciding to sign up.
I'm just curious. I just signed up for your email list today to get my 7 Deadly Sins manual. Thankfully I'm not violating too many of does. I was just curious how you run your email list since I haven't had a chance to go down the entire funnel. How do you kind of structure the emails that you send out and what frequency do you send them out at?
Antonio: I need to do that better. We're actually reviewing it right now. I would say, definitely, I am going to get you used to getting emails from me. We send out an email immediately which you received in one day or you'll receive one that will ask you what's your biggest style question is. The second email, I'm going to go ahead and start making offers to you, and then I'll run you through a series of emails in which I'm making offers. I'm telling you stories, I'm telling you why this matters but I'm still sending you to my sales page. My goal is to get you to make a purchase and to get you in there.
I'm going to actually lengthen this and add more information marketing into it. We're about to launch a new course called The Personal Image System. So I'm going to want to integrate that more. I'm going to double the triple length of my current drip response. Now I'm moving towards a schedule of emails from me and go out on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. I want to make sure that my sequence kind of trains you up for that. I want people to get used to getting more emails from me.
People ask what's the best time or how often should you send an email. It really comes down to what have you conditioned your audience to expect from you, and are you delivering value pretty much every time or are you making an offer.
Steve: Antonio, I was just on Pat Flynn's podcast for this. I lengthen my autoresponder sequence from nine emails to about 30 emails, and my conversion rate, 3x-ed. I was making 3x the number of sales than I was before. Clearly it works.
Antonio: Yeah. I use this as an excuse. I'm moving over to my new product but we've got so much. I've used broadcast way too much. I want to pull back from using broadcast. They're a lot of work. People just tuned out of broadcast but it's about recency.
Do you follow Jermaine Griggs?
Steve: I do not but I've heard of him.
Antonio: Yeah. Jermaine Griggs, he talks about recency all the time. When someone signs up for your email list, that is the best time to engage with them. Those first few weeks, they are interested. My problem is I've got people on my email list, and I've taken off a lot of people that become nonresponsive because after a few months they've moved on. They don't care about style anymore. They went through the interview. They got the job. Now they're focused on their job. That's great for them but it's bad for you because you end up getting a lot of deadwood on your email list. And you need to get those people off.
Steve: Absolutely. I went through your site pretty in-depth before this interview. I like how you set up this start here page. I actually went ahead and watched your video. It told me what your entire site was all about. I thought that was just an excellent introduction. I like the way you structure that because then I was introduced to all your products. I got to hear you speak. I got to know what you look like. So I thought it was just really good the way you had that set up.
Antonio: Thanks. I feel bad. I need to update. It's one of those things that you get so many things on out plate. I know that I haven't updated that start here for like two years. That's the beauty of an online business is that it does force you to think in systems and it allows you to create something that if you create it in a timeless manner, it can live on. Literally, years later somebody is watching that and they are getting a feel of what everything is about.
Steve: To actually hear you speak and the way you dress and the way you hold yourself, I thought that was key, especially for a site like yours.
Antonio: That's why video has been so successful for us because we get out there and we show we're real person. It really has helped with sales. When I went from having just no video to having video, I found that sales of my e-products increased three times. I'm not going to say that's held up for three years. I do believe in the power of video sales.
Steve: Absolutely. Can we talk a little bit about traffic?
Steve: So where does all your traffic come from or the break down?
Antonio: Mostly Google organic, the vast majority, Google organic. That is a good thing and also a bad thing. Good thing because it's free. Bad thing, if they changed the algorithm, things could come crashing down. So I'm always trying to figure out ways. I would say don't be afraid of pay per click. If you have something to sell and if you can actually figure out what the value of a new customer is, then you can always pay for that. That really has been useful for us.
About a year ago we started focusing more on infographics. That has really helped out in a space which not a lot of people were creating new infographics or images. So we went out there. I hired an artist from the Philippines. Now I have an artist in Ukraine. She's now helping create amazing infographics and banners and images. In fact, if you spend some time on my website, you saw that it's very banner heavy. I use a lot of image. There's not so much wording although once you get to the text and the articles, there's tons of wording. My homepage is mostly made up of banners just arranged in ways. I find that, visually, that's what I wanted.
Steve: I assume that you done that because of Pinterest, some of the larger graphics that you have on some your posts.
Antonio: It wasn't so much about Pinterest but we do go back and we pin them. You give and take. I have noticed that because we were doing well on Pinterest, I wanted to have more images. When I made the hire for my latest artist, it was about she could crate these type of banners, and she creates 10 to 20 a day. These are so great for Facebook, for posting. Any time we post anywhere, we use these banners, and that's much more attractive than just assuming that Google Plus or Pinterest is going to grab the right image. We actually create that image. I try to have some strong copy.
I'm an educator. I'm not so much an entertainer. I guess three ways of getting traffic online is you're an educator, you're an entertainer or you're basically providing the latest and greatest. You're engaging with the latest news. I'm a bit of an entertainer. I would say not too much, but I'm deftly educator. I love that space because when what I educate and talk about is timeless. We were talking about I'm going to take a trip to Ukraine. I can step away from my business for a few months and it will be fine. I could technically step away from my business for a few years and it would be okay.
Steve: I'm just curious. You mentioned that a large portion of your traffic is Google organic. Is there anything that you did to kind of accelerate your search rankings or was it just kind of based on content?
Antonio: I focus on creating the best content in the world for a very specific niche and area. If you put in a question and you find an e-how article, I pick on them a lot but I feel because I read and so useless that I don't even know what you just said. I get ultra specific.
I talk about how a man over the age of 40 who's recently divorced, how we can dress better and how to be more confident. Now, I can tell you, that's not for most men but if you are a man over the age of 40 and you're looking to start dressing better because you're going back out in the dating scene, that article is a godsend. You're going to share it. You're going to love it. You're going to pay attention to it. Each of my articles is probably only written for 5% to 10%, the most, maybe 15% of men, and that's by design because I want to be useful and I want to be relevant for the men looking for that particular answer. So that helped a lot.
The other one is I gave away some of my best content. I write with The Art of Manliness. I've always given Brett some of my best content. I started writing with him when he first started off with eight articles. I believed in his mission. I've always given him some of my best content. That's perfectly fine because that website is gets like half a million visitors a day. So it just sends me a good amount of traffic of very high quality traffic. It is probably one of the portals that people tell me how they found my website.
Steve: Okay. So to summarize what you said, it looks like you focus kind of on the long tail of search for your articles. You focus on very specific topics that might not necessarily be as difficult to rank for, put out great content, and then be content just kind of naturally ranks itself because it's so specific.
Antonio: Yes. It's more long form. So we're getting into 1,000, 2,000, 3,000 words, and we're specific to wording.
Steve: Yeah. I noticed that. Yeah. Was it just kind of luck that you and Brett kind of hooked up early on before his traffic really took off?
Antonio: What do they say about luck? Preparation plus opportunity. I'd written 50 some articles for A Tailored Suit. He reached out to be via my blog in A Tailored Suit. He said, “Hey, you seem to know what you're talking about. I have this blog. Would you like to come write with me?” I like to always think I'm the only guest poster that Brett has ever reached out because he gets tons of requests all the. I'm like “Okay. I like your mission. You're a nice guy. I'd like to put my stuff somewhere else. Sure. I'll write for you.”
I'm a big believer that when you put out quality, people will find you. There's always a need for people going the extra mile, for people that are putting out amazing content. So if you're specific, you put out amazing content, and you make sure it's marked so that it can be ranked in the search engines and found if you're going to do well.
Steve: Do you guest post for many publications or is it just primarily The Art of Manliness?
Antonio: Primarily The Art of Manliness. I have to be really careful. It's one of those things for young kids. Guest post takes up a lot of time, and I'm really not at that point. I will occasionally create a video or I'll conduct an interview with somebody because that is usually within a one-hour timeframe. I'm pretty careful about who I'm going to guest post with.
There's also now this expectation that you send traffic to your own guest post. So you put in all this work and then you're sending traffic to a website that doesn't get any traffic. It really doesn't make sense when you're getting big dollars.
Steve: Right. That makes sense. I was just curious. We've been chatting for quite a while. I did want to touch on your conference and how all that comes into play because running a conference is a lot of work. Do you do not just from a community perspective or is it actually to try to improve your business monetarily?
Antonio: It's a bit of both. I'm not afraid to make money. I think making money is a great thing. If anyone disagrees with that, they should go read Rabbi Lapin's Thou Shall Prosper. It's a great book. He did a video series on why making money is important. So I never shy away from that. The goal of the conference was to take what we're doing online offline and to get people together.
One thing that has really helped accelerate my success is building true friendships. Anytime I'm driving through the state of Oklahoma I stop and I see Brett. Anytime I'm out in California or I'm driving around, I stop and I make time for people. I had a buddy pop up. I hadn't seen him in 15 years. We served on the Marine Corps together. He's four hours away from me one way. I give him 24 hours notice. I pull my son out of school. We're taking a day trip to go meet a good Marine buddy of mine.
So I think that people need to make time for those human relationships. I didn't see anyone doing this in my sphere so I created one for it. There is fashion blog or fashion conferences that are about catwalks and stuff like that but nothing that was geared towards men that wants to get practical advice to bring the retailers, to bring the content creators together, to bring the super fans together, and that was the goal.
Steve: Okay. The reason why I asked is because I've been thinking about starting a conference of my own but just the sheer amount of work is kind of daunting. So if there are already conferences that kind of cater to what you want to do, is it necessary to start a conference or should you just be going to more conferences in the first place?
Antonio: First, you want to go to some conferences and you want to see the difference between a good conference and a not so good conference. I've been to both. That was the one thing I wanted in my conference; that it would not suck. So that was number one.
I also had a great partner, Aaron Marino over at I Am Alpha M. Many people perceived him as my competitor. This guy has been on Shark Tank. He's an amazing PR man. He's got an amazing business. He's now a great friend. He's the only person in the world I can commiserate with what it's like to have people tear apart your style on YouTube.
We started 10 months before the conference. We met every week, maybe five minutes, other times an hour. We would talk about what needs to be done this week, and we would do it. When you have 40 meetings like that, you get a lot done. I can tell you that I didn't feel the conference was that much work partly because I had a great partner and partly because we started it and preparing for it early. It just happened. It was a great. It was a lot of fun. We're going to do it again.
Steve: Awesome. Was this the first time you launched it?
Antonio: It was the first time we had it truly as a conference. We had it one time in July, and that was just an impromptu meet up out of actually what was called VidCon. VidCon is in Anaheim California. About 25,000 people come out. We saw the power that conference, but also that conference sucked from the perspective of if you paid $500, you really didn't get much. What I did get is a perspective on what the power of video, the power of interacting with your super fans, the power of having brands meet with content creators. And that's what I wanted to create in my industry.
Steve: Okay. Antonio, I want to be respectful of your time. Gosh. I learned a lot about how your business works and everything that you do, all the little details that you can kind of think about in order to create a thriving business like Real Men Real Style. I really appreciate that.
If anyone who's listening wants to be able to get a hold of you or find you online, where can they find you?
Antonio: Steve, I always recommend my contact form, and the reason being, I have a little bit fun with it. They can go check that out. That email will go right to me.
Steve: Okay. Sounds good. Antonio, thanks a lot for coming to the show. I really appreciate your time.
Antonio: Thank you. Bye-bye.
Steve: I hope you enjoyed that episode. Antonio is the perfect example of someone who has built a very strong brand on YouTube as well as his own website, and is now reaping the rewards. It just goes to show that you really need to put yourself out there right now and start creating a following.
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