SEO

#337 – The Future of Authority Sites

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89 min read
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Overview

  • Current challenges online business owners are facing
  • New business model framework that addresses these challenges
  • 3 examples of businesses who are already successfully using this framework

A special thanks to our sponsors for this episode, Digital PR Agency Search Intelligence.

In this episode, Mark and Gael take a look at the current challenges online business owners are facing, and present the framework they’ve created that addresses these challenges. They’ll also break down examples of businesses who already successfully use this framework, and finally, what this all means for Authority Hacker’s free and paid content.

 The 4C Model

 1. Create

 Goal: Get discovered and make your potential customers aware of your existence.

 Tactics:

  • Optimize content types that currently work well on each platform.
  • Adapt strategies as platforms evolve (e.g., from carousels to short videos).

Example: Creating content focused on trending sleep products if you’re selling a physical product like a sleep mask. Integrate the sleep mask within your content to subtly promote it while discussing related topics.

 Platform Examples:

  • YouTube
  • Blogs (Google)
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • X (Twitter)
  • Instagram Threads
  • Podcasts

 Tools:

  • AI tools for content repurposing (e.g., cutting podcasts into shorter clips).

 2. Connect

Subscribers are becoming less critical due to the ‘TikTok-ification’ of platforms, which now focus more on engagement over follower count.

 Goal: Increase content consumption and engagement of your audience.

 Tactics:

  • Measure engagement metrics (eg. time on site, watch time, returning visitors, comment and like rates).
  • Create a loop where creation enhances connection and vice versa.

Example: Continuously wearing a product and featuring it subtly in content to keep building the brand presence.

 Metrics to consider:

  • YouTube: Watch time and comments.
  • Blogs: Time on site and returning visitors.
  • Social Media: Likes and comments per view.

 Tools:

  • Advertising platforms to build advertising audiences based on engagement.

 3. Capture

Large email lists don’t always translate to high conversions; focus on engagement over sheer volume.

 Goal: De-risk your audience by moving them off platform to owned channels, like your email list.

 Tactics:

  • Lead magnets: Offer attractive downloadable content (e.g., PDFs, interactive tools like Notion databases).
  • Retargeting ads: Capture engaged users using platform-specific ad tools.
  • Giveaways: Gather emails through engaging contests.

 Example: Segmenting audiences through targeted offers in organic content yield larger, quality email lists despite fewer overall leads.

 Tools:

  • Gleam.io: Tool for giveaways to gather emails.
  • Opt-in pages.
  • Tripwires (offer cheap initial products).

 4. Convert

Ensure giveaways and lead magnets lead seamlessly to conversion offers.

 Goal: Monetize the engaged, deep-connected audience.

 Tactics:

  • Build evergreen and live launches with scarcity tactics (time-sensitive offers, bonuses).
  • Use email and retargeting ads as main channels.
  • Slow Burn Strategy: Include subtle monetization techniques in non-sales emails (e.g., sponsorship, affiliate links, call-to-actions in signatures).

 Examples:

  • Evergreen Launch: Personalized, time-sensitive offers (e.g., special discounts, or bonuses that expire 7 days post opt-in).
  • Live Launch: Fixed period offers to the entire email list with explicit deadlines.

 Tools:

  • Deadline Funnel: Creates personalized, rolling deadlines for those who’ve opted in to your email list.
  • Email marketing and ad retargeting to keep offers front-of-mind.

Case Studies

Easlo: Sells Notion templates ranging from $9 to $299. Achieves seven figures annually as a solopreneur.

  • Create: High engagement on TikTok (410,000 followers), Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter.
  • Connect: High engagement metrics; consistent loop of discovery and engagement.
  • Capture: Offers free Notion templates via Gumroad, capturing emails through free or optional donations.
  • Convert: Value-packed emails and sales through email campaigns with minimal reliance on timers.

Built with Science: Sells fitness training programs and supplements.

  • Create: Content repurposing from detailed YouTube videos into blog posts and short videos.
  • Connect: High, multi-platform engagement with substantial audience interaction.
  • Capture: Personalized quizzes capturing detailed data and emails, leading to effective segmentation of audience into high-potential buyers.
  • Convert: Follows up with tailored offers and aggressive personalized email marketing, scarcity-based offers, and frequent upsells.

 Guitar Tricks: Sells guitar lessons and membership sales.

  • Create: Engaging YouTube content complemented by SEO-driven blogs.
  • Connect: High engagement through content designed for both video and blog formats.
  • Capture: Free tier of membership, strategic retargeting ads promoting free lead magnets and paid memberships.
  • Convert: Using free membership for engagement, upsell prompts in content, personalized retargeting, and discounts.

You’ve probably seen this coming based on the last two podcast episodes, but with the recent changes in the industry, I think it’s time to update our business model, and that’s exactly what we’re going to be covering in this episode. We came up with the current three-stage site model 10 years ago. That is an eternity in the tech world. Honestly, I say it was quite visionary for lasting that long. But there is no denying that with the rise of AI, the recent Google updates, the rollout of SGE, the growth of social, the slow transitions of blogs from cool community-driven engagement tools to dark content farms, this model that puts the website at the centre of your business is not as relevant as it used to be. Now, the good news is on our end, we haven’t relied solely on SEO for traffic for a very long time. I mean, look at this podcast. You’re listening to Episode 337, and you’ve probably seen our ads, our social posts, our YouTube videos, and all the other mediums that we’ve been putting out. We’ve taken all this experience that helped us generate 8 figures of revenue over the past few years into consideration to revamp the overall business model that’s going to guide how we create content for Authority Hacker on all levels from now on. In this episode, we’ll first look at the current challenges that we are facing as online business owners. Then we’ll present the framework that we’ve come up with and how it addresses these challenges. There’s some bold stuff in there that I haven’t seen anyone talk about, so it’s going to be interesting to see what you think about it. Then we’ll also show you three examples of businesses who already use this framework and are doing it successfully. Finally, we’ll talk about what this means for Authority Hacker’s content, both on the free side and on the paid side. Let’s get started.

Hey, everyone. Welcome back to the Authority Hacker Podcast. Today, I’m with Mark, and we’re going to talk about a lot of changes that are happening in the industry, how the business model is evolving, and how we’re essentially changing a lot of the focal points in our marketing mix to adapt to the new reality of the search market, but in general, the usage of the internet by people that has changed quite a lot since we came up with essentially the original model of the authority site. So a lot of people wanted us to address that, given all the changes in search, in AI, even social media, the usage of people, etc. So this is it. This is the episode where we’re just talking about all of that. And we’re going to give you our impression, but we’re also going to give you essentially how we’re adapting around that and how we’re changing things around. So it’s going to be an interesting one. I know there has been demand for that for quite a while. Are you excited for this, Mark? 

I’m excited as well because this week is, I think, 10 years since we started Authority Hacker. Is it? We’ve been running this model. So it’s quite a good big round number.It’s a good timing. Yeah. Yeah. Adapt things. I agree. I want to say that most of the elements that we had before, they’re still going to be in that model. It’s just going to be different dosage and different things are in different places, basically. But before When we jump into how we’re changing things, I think we need to catch up on where are we in the current search landscape, usage landscape, etc. And how that affects what we’ve been doing so far. Let’s start with the The years one, which is search. There’s been essentially a tidal wave of algorithm updates that have shaken the industry. In the past seven, eight months now, HCU was September of 2023. So it’s been a little bit now. 

That was the big Even before that, there was two or three years where there was a number of core updates, review updates. There was a trend towards that for a while. But as you said, HCU in September was the tidal wave. And then again, in March, the update there made things twice as bad, basically, for some people. Yeah. And overall, I think that’s a marker that search is under attack more than it ever has. So it’s like for 20 years, Google was undisputed as the leader in search with about 90% market share and nothing really could come close or challenge them. Whereas now essentially AI has triggered this code thread at Google, which in turn has made Google go in panic mode and essentially reshuffle everything. And I think we’re seeing a lot of the effects of that right now where they realise that they need to be a lot more in phase with what people want in terms of the content they want to find, if they want to stay relevant as a platform. So really, Google is fighting for its life at this point. Because of AI, it’s inevitable that many search queries in the near future already are going to be answered by AI. It’s a lot of content marketing of when we started the Autority Site Model, having this quick list post, having this quick how-to-guys, etc. It feels like AI is going to do a lot of that in the future, and it doesn’t seem like there’s much chance in doing it, even if we forget the fact that it’s very hard to rank these now on Google compared to how it used to be. So So it was like there used to be this thing where it was easy to rank and you could get lots of traffic. Now it’s hard to rank and AI is very likely to replace that in the future, which means essentially a lot of that content marketing effort is going to generate a lot less traffic. And we have to face that now. It’s been like eight months or something. At the time at which this podcast is recorded, Google I/O is happening tonight, so we don’t know what they’re going to announce, but there’s a chance there will are SG to a lot more people today. And then by the time you listen to this podcast, this has happened already. 

Even before that, I mean, most site owners, people doing content marketing, they’ve seen a gradual erosion of traffic through featured snippets, and then that seems to be dialled up quite significantly in the last year. Even if your rankings aren’t dropping, you’re still seeing less traffic coming from some of those queries. Yeah, it’s like I know Reddit is ranking for everything right now, and that’s the crux. I don’t think that’s necessarily going to last forever. And a lot of big SEOs say that, especially as people get tired of it or it gets spammed because it gets lots of traffic. So the incentive to spam it is a lot higher. It’s not necessarily going to last forever, but it doesn’t mean that when the Reddit period is over, things are going to go back to where they were. Very likely you have an AI snippet on top of most queries at this point, and that’s going to steal away a lot of clicks. And so this idea of mass producing, I call it generic info content on your site in order to get traffic, it’s a lot less powerful. And there’s another thing that’s changing with search is the fact that AI is going everywhere. So I was watching the OpenAI event yesterday and they announced, for example, desktop apps with ChatGPT. So you can chat with it now, the same way as you use Finder on not Finder, but a spotlight on your Mac, the little search bar, you’ll be able to do that on the system level. And you can see your screen and you can talk with it with voice while you’re doing something else in another app and it just answers, troubleshoot stuff, etc. That’s going to put a dent into the traffic that goes to Google itself. So even if Google was sending the same amount of percentage of clicks, because it’s also an Instagram search now. So Instagram search is literally a chatbot for me at this point, which a lot of… I’m not going to use this, but a lot of teenagers are going to use it. And Apple is rumoured to launch essentially the same agents as OpenAI on the operating system level next month at WWDC, which means you’ll essentially be able to talk to Siri that will answer a lot of your questions. You don’t need to go to Google anymore. 

You even get it in cars now. So the new Volkswagen entertainment system has ChatGPT integrated into the car. So you just ask it what you need. Okay, but that’s not necessarily going to affect the business model. I hope people were not googling while they were in their car driving. That sounds pretty dangerous. But it’s also in Windows as well, for example. Actually, laptops now, instead of the Windows key, it’s now the copilot key. And when you click on it, it’s basically ChatGPT in your Windows search as well. And So all that to say that’s going to erode search traffic, furthermore making the idea of creating lots of search content to get traffic less relevant, essentially. And there’s another thing that I feel nobody’s talking about. And that’s the defiance towards Google results. It’s cool to say that Google is shit these days, not just for SEO people, but for a lot of people. There’s been lots of mainstream articles that essentially say Google is getting worse and the public is overall like, I can’t trust what I find on Google nearly as much as I could trust it four or five years ago. And we’ve noticed that in our conversion numbers. So if we look, I’ll tell you, we have a value per lead. We can see it’s not perfect in terms of tracking, but you can see the trends. It’s like body fat on your scale. I’ve seen lead value decreased by 30, 40% from search traffic compared to several years ago. So not just like… And it’s the same like it’s not based on the number of leads, it’s just based on the quality of the traffic. And I think there’s a mix of like ad platforms being so good at finding the people who will convert and stealing these clicks with ads, which This is where I had platforms have performed so well recently. You can check the podcast we’ve done on that recently. And the fact that there’s some defiance towards Google search. So it’s not only sending less traffic, it’s sending less good traffic, in my opinion. And that’s a pretty big problem few people talk I think. And so I think what we can say is when we started this journey, Google was the place where you would find cool content. Even because search intent wasn’t a thing at the time, you could have a different take on different keywords and create something that would surprise you positively. You could also create spam, but you could also create something that would surprise you positively. For example, we used to rank for how to make money blogging, I think, number one for a while. And it wasn’t It was a list of 10 ways to make money blogging. It was actually a data analysis of income reports from bloggers. And we just had like, how much does revenue correlate with Twitter followers? How much does revenue correlate with monthly visitors? How much does revenue correlate with number of lead magnets, etc. So it would give you an idea of what you should do to make money blogging in a unique way. That used to rank number one on Google for how to make money blogging. When search intent rolled out in 2017 or something like this, this post plummeted. It was number 50 or something because wasn’t a list of 10 ways to make money blogging. We even killed it. We replaced it with a generic SEO article, and it did better. But all that to say, while Google was the cool place to find content these days, to find something cool, it’s not the case anymore. It’s like you expect cookie cutter content and utility content when you use Google today, you might find your answer on the page, but you’ll rarely be blown away, mostly due to how heavy search intent is these days. 

And worse still, this creates an environment where the people ranking for these generic terms and generic articles. They’re the higher authority sites. So you have all the DR, 80, and 90 sites just pumping out fairly average content. And then the specialists, the people that really know as a topic, they struggle to get in because they don’t have the authority. And the only way they can compete is by writing something generic like that. Yeah, it’s like Google is the land of mediocrity these days. It’s like you will probably be more You’re likely to see less spam because of this system, but you’re also less likely to be positively surprised, impressed, and engage with a brand, and it’s very much a utility at this point. 

What we’re not saying here is, SEO is dead. It’s worthless. Stop doing it anymore. Do something else instead. There’s still a lot of value. There’s still a lot of people looking for things, and you can utilise it. I wouldn’t be relying on it as the sole place to build your your business from. Yeah, I think this identity of I do SEO and nothing else, this is what’s dying. I think SEO is still a pretty powerful support channel. I will talk about how it can synergise with other channels a little bit later. But Just SEO is just not enough. It offsets the fact that the quality of traffic is, I would call it mediocre now compared to what it used to be, by the fact that if you do well at it, it can send quite a lot of traffic. And so that can be offset by volume and that still makes it a relevant channel. But it’s not like the golden goose it used to be at one point. One, because the difficulty has increased. Two, because it’s going to increase furthermore by the reduction of click-through rate, new widgets, etc. And three, because of the quality of traffic is going down, probably due to a mix of ad platforms stealing the good clicks and the defiance towards Google results. And your inability to actually make something cool for people and rank. You either have to do what ranks or do something cool. But you can do both because Google will not rank it due to search intent, which it’s shit. But that’s Google these days, basically. So that’s pretty much like how to search It stands on Google. Still think it’s okay, but it’s not as good as it used to be. Now, there’s another thing that I think nobody in this industry is talking about that is changing massively. And I think it’s like willful ignorance because it doesn’t fit the narrative of most people. And that is the fact that websites are no longer the centre of your relationship between people and a brand. It’s just not how you interact with brands. And I think a really good example is this podcast. It’s like this podcast is posted on our website. Every single week, we have a new page on the website that posts a podcast and you can go on the website and listen to this. I guarantee you, 95% of people who are listening right now or watching, they’re not on our website. You’re either on YouTube or you’re listening to us through an RSS player, whatever podcast player you’re using, but you’re essentially getting the content distributed to you by a platform. And that’s probably how you maintain most of the relationship with our brand. It’s not by going on our website. I can tell you, because when you check analytics, barely anyone goes on these podcast pages. They’re mostly here for search. Actually, if you search for an episode, you can actually find it. But let me ask people, when was the last time you went on our website? I think most people who would listen haven’t been on our website for many months. Unless we’ve done a launch or a giveaway or maybe a new study or something, like something a little bit interesting, you may be maintaining a relationship with us, but you’re not doing it through our website. Yet, most of the industry is adamant that your website needs to be the number one thing you need to focus on right now. And I think that is a problem. Another thing I wanted to challenge you on, it’s not just with our brand, but open your phone. All phones now have a screen time app. You can see what time you spend on which apps. And look at where the browser is against YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, whatever you’re using for social. You might be using a different mix. I guarantee you, your browser is probably four, five, six, seven on your mobile. It’s not websites. It’s very small. 

And even worse, we are not typical. The audience watching this is not typical of the The average person using their phone, the average person on the Internet, they’re spending way more time as a percentage on these apps, on social media, versus in their browser. We’ve seen this trend six, seven years ago that the majority of web traffic became mobile. In our industry, for our website, it was only two years ago, I think, or one year ago that that 50 % threshold was crossed. So our Our industry lags a little bit in that regard, but even then we’re already there. Yeah, it’s like most people prefer consuming content on these platforms, no matter how well you put your site together. It’s just a nicer experience and you have your feed that’s tailored to what you want and you get everything in one convenient place. And that’s where people discover the cool shit they used to discover on Google before. It’s like the social has become that discovery engine that Google used to be. And that’s something that people rarely talk about in this industry. Obviously, outside, a lot of people talk about that. But that doesn’t mean your website should be shut down and it’s over, etc. It just means the role of the website is changing. It’s not necessarily where you build a relationship and where most of your content is consumed anymore. You can still do it through SEO, by the way. It still can work, but it’s not necessarily the main way. It’s where people to convert. Once you’ve gained their trust, once they want to go further with you, with whatever you’re doing, that’s when they go to your website. For example, I think Kevin is a good example of that. Kevin is very to Epic Gardening. He mostly gets reach to people. His website only gets half a million visitors per month, according to Ahrefs, which is a lot, but it’s nowhere close to what he gets on TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, etc. He gets probably 10, 20 times the reach, 50 times the reach on these platforms because that’s where the traffic is. It’s not necessarily on search anymore. And what’s interesting as well is that the people who actually do that, who actually make their main content live outside their website, tend to do better with Google updates recently. Because I can’t tell you exactly why, because I’m not Google. But what I can tell you is a lot of these people have branded search associated with them. I mean, Epic Gardening, also a good example. It’s like if you look at the website, there’s a shop, but the rest, there’s a lot of niche sites such as use to this website. You would expect it to be tanking, but it’s not at all, actually. And same with another site that I took as an example in a newsletter a few weeks ago called cjeetsrecipes. Com. I really like this one because it has ads, it’s a recipe site. It’s like it would almost fit perfectly into the Mediavine Facebook group right now. And the site grew during the March update, March core update. And I think one of the reasons for that is that he generates lots of, essentially, referrals, social traffic through his TikTok and Instagram, where he has one million follow on each, basically. 

Just to explain that reference, the Mediavine Facebook group. There’s a lot of people in there. Mediavine is obviously this big ad platform. A lot of people in there lost a lot of traffic. A lot of people there built these sites, pumping out somewhat generic content to match search intent, because that’s what was working. That’s what Google was ranking. And so over the last 6-9 months, a lot of people in there have been hit, a lot of people complaining about that. The content on cjeetsrecipes. Com isn’t a million miles away from the types of content you would see on some of these sites, yet it hasn’t been hit. Yeah, I mean, it’s still like you could argue that he does this stuff, he has original photos, etc. It’s done well, right? But a lot of sites that do see as well. 

There are plenty of other recipe sites. The problem with is it’s an inherently generic topic. Let’s not go down this road at all. Let’s not go too much into this. It’s like a lot of sites of the similar level of quality got hit and this site did find potentially because of that, because of that engagement that people have. I think his brand, like CJ Eats, I think on Ahrefs is like 1,400 searches per month, which is quite a lot. Ahrefs tends to underreport this quite a lot. So he has quite a bit of branded traffic. But the reason why the site building industry has been avoiding this reality of like actually people consume content on these platforms is because these platforms, especially the ones with the most traffic, so like Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, etc. They send very little referral traffic back to your site. It’s very hard to drive people from that platform to your website. They need to be quite engaged, right? They have all the traffic and they don’t share much of it. You can do it through links in bio. So like people tend to have this link tree pages where you click on the link in the bio and it’s like you can download the lead magnet or you can go check what they sell, etc. But there’s not much else. There’s not many other ways to drive traffic. So this leads to a business model problem. A lot of people in our industry have focused on essentially ads and affiliate to monetize their websites. But the problem is like, if you’re monetizing with ads, you need lots of referral traffic to your website in order to essentially make enough money. Therefore, these platforms where everyone is now converging don’t make sense for you to invest in because, well, you need all that traffic and they don’t give you any of that. And so that’s the problem people have had. Same with reviews. It’s very hard to you cannot put an affiliate link on a TikTok review or something like this. It’s not possible. And as a result, since you can’t lead the traffic to money, people have not invested in these channels that are now part of every big brand, big site, etc. So if you look at the ad business model, for example, there’s a triple slamming of this, right? It’s like on one side you have AI answers popping up in search that will replace a lot of that info content. On the other side, you have big publishers fighting for what’s left, like you’re fighting with Forbes, etc. All these people, they’re pretty good at SEO at this point. And they have high domain authority. And on the third aspect, you have essentially less traffic to search thanks to essentially AI being absolutely everywhere in Instagram, on your OS, etc. And that’s going to, over time, erode some of the traffic Google gets, in my opinion. The one thing that’s like, to be fair to this debate, I want to point one argument, is that as ad clicks go down, it’s very likely the price of clicks will go up because of supply and demand and the way the bidding system works on AdWords, etc. It’s like, probably you get less traffic, but you get more clicks. But I don’t think it will make up for the massive drop in traffic coming to this business model. So it’s pretty grim overall. Reviews is a little bit different. It’s like, There are a few people who still make it work. So NapLab is going up in a recent update, for example. The highest traffic ever, according to HS right now. Of course, I’m saying that it might change. So hopefully at the time at which you’re watching this, it’s still There, but they’re doing well. We have pro members still doing fine with affiliate sites, but there’s a many people got hit or just struggled to rank against big brands at this point. If you want to do a review site at this point, you need to be super legit. You need to have all You have no products in hand. You need to be on YouTube. You can get, I feel, clicks on YouTube as well. It’s doable. It’s not as good, but it’s doable. 

It’s really expensive to do this properly. We had ratings. Com on the show, and they’re talking about they have a massive warehouse with the inventory of all the products they’re testing. They spend millions of dollars every month just running the business. And that’s somewhat out of reach, especially for beginners doing this for the first time. Even Derek, he has a huge house and he has 100 mattresses there or something. It’s just as hard as any other business, maybe harder, due to the instability, I would argue. You can grow and understand because there’s an update or whatever. And so it’s more possible than as, and I think there will be a place for extremely good reviewers in the future to do okay. But the level of difficulty is cranked up massively, I would say. Right now, talking about these challenges, like most I call it guru advice on the notes, is diversify your traffic. Right. It’s like I was watching some I’ve seen some videos of many people in the industry. The answer is diversify your traffic. Get traffic from Pinterest, get traffic from Facebook, etc. I think it’s terrible advice. 

It just feels like people are burying their heads in the sand towards what What’s really going on here? It’s not a traffic problem. It’s a business model issue here. Yeah. I mean, the thing is, we said TikTok, Instagram, etc. Don’t send much traffic. And the reason why is because this traffic is extremely valuable to them. The more they keep people on platform, the more money they make from ads. And I understand that there are some of these platforms that still send decent traffic right now. Namely, Facebook pages seem to be working very well right now, and Pinterest. Both these companies are public companies, have shareholders, and are expected to make more money in the future. What has worked for every other social platform so far was reducing referral traffic to show more ads and increase their bottom line. There is no world in where this does not get plugged eventually and they do not essentially release an update and reduce the referral traffic significantly overnight. 

Which is something they’ve done multiple times before in the past. So It really feels like you’re just kicking the can down the road here. Yeah, exactly. This one is a little bit of a prediction thing, but this year is election year in the US. During the last two rounds of election, Facebook had a lot of trouble for spreading fake news. It’s been a problem, and when they’re being interrogated at the Congress, etc, it’s something that always comes up. Referal traffic is essentially the mechanics through which Facebook fake news gets spread on Facebook, right? I don’t want to make any predictions, but my little sense tells me that something’s going to happen before, like a month or two before the election, and they could be reducing referral traffic significantly to prevent fake news from spreading and bad PR for the social network, basically. Pinterest, a bit different, but Facebook, I’m a little worried. I might be wrong on this, though. Overall, though, social platforms make more money not They’re offering traffic. They want native content so that they can show ads alongside it. They can make money. And then people who do that will be rewarded with way more reach than people who send traffic outside the platform. That’s just how it works. That’s why link posts don’t work very well. And so that’s what we were saying. It’s dangerous to really amuse. 

Just to be clear here, we’re not saying these things don’t work or they’re inherently bad. They work right now. It’s the reliance factor that’s the issue. 

For so long, site owners have They’ve been entirely reliant on Google, and then they’re essentially going through this process now to become entirely reliant on this one hacky Facebook trick right now. And then inevitably, that’s going to go away. So it’s not a long-term solution to your business problems. That’s what we’re saying here. I agree. It’s like that friend who always dates assholes and gets in abusive relationships and then jumps on to the next one after. That’s how it feels right now. I feel like my friend just found someone new to date and it’s not going to go well. I know it. I can’t tell that friend because they would get mad, but it’s like, I know where it’s going, right? So that’s how it feels right now. And so that’s why you were hinting out earlier. I think the real challenge is to change the business model. We need a business model that works in this new paradigm where there’s little referral traffic, where people spend time on these platforms and consume content there and want to consume content there. You can try to force your site down their throat, but they don’t want it. Proof is you’re probably watching this podcast on YouTube, not on our website. And we’re not even trying, right? We link to YouTube on the email. We don’t even link to the website anymore. We We need… And so therefore, we need a business model that does not put your website at the centre of your business. The website still exists. It’s still there, but it’s more a tool for conversion than it is the centre of your business where people spend most of their to interact with you. We want a business model where we can plug all the main traffic sources and it can potentially work. So I want to be able to do SEO because SEO is still pretty good. And it’s not perfect, it’s not as good, it’s not as easy. But if you look at the money spent on the end of our on it, it can be pretty good still, especially if you’re waiting for the right keywords. So I want to be able to do SEO. I want to be able to do ads because my feeling is that ad platforms are going to be the most protected against and the way people go around because all these platforms, they still want to make money. And the way they make money is selling ads. So if you can use ads for your business, you can essentially survive. If you’re making a profit and you have this synergistic relationship with these platforms where they make money off you, but you make money off them. I want to be able to be on social. I want to be able to… But not just Pinterest and Facebook, not just the stuff that refers traffic. All social, where people really are, where my audience is. I want to be able to be on Instagram. I want to be able to be on TikTok. I want to be able to be on YouTube. I want to be able to be on all these places. And it makes business sense. I can tie this back to money, even though these platforms don’t generate lots of traffic back to my website, which I shouldn’t care that much anymore because my website is not the centre of my business anymore. Another thing that’s quite important is a business model that can be an AI answer. So if I say, I don’t sleep well, I need to sleep better. It’s like you might get some information, but you can also be referred to a product or something like AI. For example, if you ask AI what is our best SEO courses or something, we’re in a list, for example. And so as a result, because we are part of an AI, and so we’re part of this new paradigm of internet where AI sends traffic back your way, basically. 

All these things here are turning things around. Instead of fighting against the platform to get what you want out of it, your incentives are aligned with their incentives, whether that’s from a content perspective, what their users want on each platform, or from a monetisation perspective on what makes them money. Yeah, exactly. Because the loop Holes will be plugged eventually. We see that. We sell that with the big sites as well. It’s like when big sites started to do SEO, people were laughing. Like, they’re trying to do our stuff, etc. It’s funny, etc. And fast forward five years, people struggle against these platforms massively, even though they were inefficient initially. And it’s the same for these platforms as well. It’s like there might be holes, there might be things, et cetera, and you can chase the next loop hole, but you’re going to be back to that situation where your traffic drops 90% tomorrow, one day. One day it’s going to happen. 

It’s not even 90. It’s even more brutal on some of these platforms. It’s literally 99.9% of your traffic can be gone overnight. Not even a gradual decline. Just they turn it off. It’s happened before. One thing that I want to say as well is I feel like a lot of people are focused on where they’re going to get traffic. If you solve your business model, traffic becomes so much easier. You spend more time fixing your business, but in exchange, traffic will become easier if you can actually plug all these things, and you can plug anything new that works, basically, because if you don’t need referral traffic, then the opportunities are very big, right? So with all these changes, what seems pretty clear to us and what we’ve been hinting at in the past few episodes already, so you probably see where we’re going at this point if you’ve listened to them, is that we think essentially the way to do that is going to be to sell something to your audience. And the goal is going to be using these platforms or wherever the traffic is to get as many eyeballs as possible and engage them so that a small percentage of a few of them eventually finds you through these links in descriptions, through these pinned comments, through ads as well, retargeting ads to people who engage, etc. So think about it that way. Instead of having traffic to a blog post that you might have before and then you’d have a popup that would come and maybe 1-2% of people would join your email list where you could further monetize them. The eyeballs are now off your site. They’re somewhere else. Or they can be on your site if you do, if you pick SEO as a channel, but mostly they will be off your site. And one or two % of people will choose to click on essentially whatever CTA you have there or go wherever you point them at inside your content, and you will actually be able to further monetize them, similarly to how you were doing with your opt-in popups, for example. And that’s very much the way we’re looking where we’re essentially displacing a lot of our content effort from the website to where the traffic is and playing the algorithm of these platforms to do that. 

I guess what you’re saying is that instead of people relying on their website as being their business and that’s everything, the brand becomes this superficial thing that goes above not only the website, but all the other platforms as well. And that is what people emotionally connect with. Yeah, it’s I mean, basically you don’t care where people are as long as they get attached to you and essentially, they keep consuming more of your content, and then eventually, they take the call to action that you’re putting in front of them. And your website is going to be part of the mix, but it doesn’t have to happen on your website. And it’s quite freeing because getting a thousand views on Instagram, getting a thousand views, whatever, is so much easier than getting a thousand visits from SEO at this point. While they won’t convert as well, especially on TikTok or short form video, conversion rate is very low. Long form video, it’s pretty close, to be honest, to compare the conversion rate. But getting a thousand views on YouTube, for example, 10 times easier than getting a thousand page visits from SEO on a new site compared to on a new channel. I mean, look at how It’s like a news channel, right? It has like 10 videos, not 12 videos at this point? 12-13 videos, yeah. And we’re already passing 10,000 views. Right. We have a bit of an audience initially, but still it’s a brand new channel. And most views come from YouTube recommendations at this point, not from the email list. The email list only contributes to maybe 10% of them. So it’s like, yeah, that shows that. Anyway, let’s just jump in. So we have this 4C model that essentially is going to be the main framework that we’re going to be running the entire business from. It will I’ll get a lot of tactics into this, but let me just run through each of the main steps and tell you what they do. So the reason it’s called 4C is because there’s essentially four words starting with C that show you the four steps that you’re going to have in there. You’re going to have the creation of content, which is essentially… The goal is is going to be discovered. Get in front of people, get their eyeballs, go where they are, whichever platform that is. The second step is going to be connect, so that’s going to be engagement. So the goal is to just get down the rabbit hole and have them consume more of your content. It can be on platform. They don’t need to hit your website at that point. The third step is going to be capture. So the goal is going to be to segment your audience and take them off an algorithm-based platform. So most of these platforms have strong algorithms that can kill your reach. The goal is to take them off to essentially de-risk it. And finally, the convert phase is going to be to deepen the engagement and to monetize the audience. That’s pretty much the four phases. Now, we’re going to go a little bit deeper into that. 

The interesting thing here, though, is that most people that you follow, if you’re following us, if you’re following anyone in this industry, they already do this. This is the model they follow. I think it’s not so much like we’re evolving into this. It’s like we’re already doing it. We’ve been doing this for years. Yeah, you will recognise it, and we’ll show some examples a little bit later so that people are like, We’re talking about theory now. Let’s talk about examples after. Let’s jump onto each phase, talk about how they work and what’s important about it, and I will show the example. The Create phase, as I said, the goal is just to get discovered. The goal is just that People know you exist. And as we said, these platforms are the place where people find cool content. It’s like Google not so much because search intent… 

Just to point out, when we’re talking about platforms, we classify Google as a platform, but it’s one of many platforms, just not the only place you should be going. Okay, fair. Your content allows you to essentially use many angles to get discovered. So very much like the way you’re watching YouTube or us on YouTube, for example, we talk about many different things on the podcast, allows people to discover us. Same with pretty much any topic, you can do that basically. And the point of this is because you only focus on discovery, you do whatever works today. So if carousels work very well on LinkedIn and that’s what you’ve decided to do to get discovered, you’re just going to optimise the process of creating carousels to get discovered. And then if next month it’s actually LinkedIn decided to copy TikTok and started to promote short videos to give them massive reach, then you can do that because your only goal for these steps is for your potential customers, the people who down the line will be converting at the convert phase, know you exist, right? So, yeah, examples of that is YouTube, your blog. So Google, short form videos, text posts like LinkedIn, Facebook, X, threads. There’s lots of places where you can just write and still get lots of reach, actually. Podcast as well. This podcast is a good example of the content that you can distribute. You can have it on RSS, you can have it on YouTube, you can cut it in short. We use a tool, an AI tool that does that for us. It’s super helpful. And that’s pretty much it. The goal of Create is no pressure, just get discovered, get in front of people, right?

But then this is connected to the connect phase. And the connect phase is essentially pushing engagement. Your goal is to get people to consume more. The people who are discovering you to consume more of your content, go down the rabbit hole, right? So So getting discovered is not enough. Especially, I think short form video is a guilty of that. You can just swipe a hundred short form videos and you close your phone and you have no idea what you just watched. You have no memory whatsoever. And so the goal is to if you get discovered, but you don’t connect with people, that’s going to do nothing for your business. Like you might get you can get a little bit of that revenue, but these platforms don’t pay very much, to be honest. Like even I mean, on your blog, you can do that, but outside Not so good, to be honest, and I wouldn’t bother with that. So that’s why you focus on the time on site if it’s your blog, the watch time if you’re on YouTube, the returning visitors on your site, returning viewers on whatever social media you’re doing, etc. The rate of commenting, how many comments did you get per view? How many likes did you get per view? That stuff. The idea is to get some feedback on what people are actually vibing with liking. Because if they do that, the point is like, we don’t care about likes, right? Likes don’t make us money. But the point of that is that if people do that, then the platform takes notice and gives you more discovery in exchange. So you have that loop where if you create and you get the connexion, then you get more discovery. So they essentially loop with each other. And that’s how you grow, basically. And that’s what Google is trying to do with SEO, right? Is they’re trying to essentially pick the stuff where people spend the most time on, click the most on on the search, etc. And push that with the updates, that’s the user engagement, and try to push down the stuff that has low user engagement. That’s the thing. Now, subscriber is also a good connect metric, but I think it’s not nearly as important as people think. Again, like the The Authority Hacker News channel is a good example. It’s like we have a lot less, I think we have 2,800 subscribers at the time we’re recording, and we get the same reach as channels with 100K plus subscribers. And when we do a good video, we have a chance to do well. And that’s the perk of shifting that focus right now is that social media has changed as well. And while it was very follow-up dependent and it took a long time to get going, if you create the right content today, you’ll get lots of free reach really quickly because it’s essentially been TikTok-ified and it’s all about how long people watch. And that’s why making this a main step into your funnel, essentially, is extremely important. Another thing I want to say as well is in this connect phase, you can start building advertising audiences. So remember I said we want advertising to work for this business model? And if you’re selling something, you can. And you can already start, essentially go to the ad platform of whatever platform you’re using and say, well, if people have engaged with my content, I want to be able to show them ads. And usually that is the ads that will lead them to the next step, which is the capture phase, right? Before we jump into the capture phase, though, I want to talk about business models and how you could maybe do a little bit less of it, because I know a lot of beginners would be like, I don’t have a product or I don’t have anything to sell. It’s difficult, etc. You could essentially just stay in this create, connect, loop forever. And you could make some money. You’re basically a content creator at that point. If you create and connect, you can make money from the Amazon platform, which is pretty low, to be honest. But you can make money with affiliate and sponsorship. And that’s like secondary income sources. It’s not nearly as good. But it’s like if you wanted to get started that way, that’s not the way I would get started. I would probably get started with the product and regress to the content. But you could do that. The risk, though, is that the same thing happens as happened on Google, which is the platform changes the algorithm, your reach falls apart, which happened to a lot of YouTube channels, Instagram, pages, etc. And then you lose stuff. And that’s why most people should at least run the next step, which is capture, right? And capture is segment your audience and take them to a non-algorithm-ruled platform, essentially derisking your audience and taking them down to your email list and actually to your ads, to your ads or audiences. That’s the two main channels that we’re going to use. And that’s where the website starts coming into place, right? You tend to send people to your website for this step. They go in an opt-in page or they go to what we call a tripwire page, which is a cheap product. Now, this is a bit of a tricky phase because that’s the phase that the networks tend to not like. You’re taking people off their platform. That’s why you need to be quite careful. If you’re just trying to sell something right away or even a freebie right away in a piece of content and there’s a link in there, they’re going to kill your reach. Even though you have lots of followers, you have lots of reach in your previous content, as soon as you do that, they’re pretty smart, these algorithms, and they will kill your reach. So usually the way this works is you create content like you usually do. And then in the middle of the content, you hint at people like, oh, there’s a link below that you can go download this or you can go buy this cheap product I’ve just made if you want to check it out. But it’s really a small part of a bigger organic post that is full of value so that you maintain your reach. And that’s the challenge as a creator is that to take people off platform, you need to be a little bit sneaky and need to maintain your engagement metrics. Otherwise, even though you’re able to generate lots of views, etc. Of visitors, it’s going to be very hard to take them away from that platform. And these platforms are going to fight you for that. I’ll be honest, that is the tricky part. 

There’s plenty of ways to do that, though, with offering value, lead magnets, free content, that type of stuff. Exactly. Because you’ve already built that relationship with them, you’ve connected with them, it’s so much easier to get them to take action on that. There’s just some random person coming to your SEO article that doesn’t know you and doesn’t trust you yet. It’s not just that. It’s like they’re also much more likely to take action further down in your funnel. So it’s like your numbers of emails or leads collected may be lower than it is with SEO, but because the connexion is stronger, essentially, they’ve been consuming lots of your content, they’ve engaged, and so they know you, they’re much more likely to do whatever you want them to do later. So even if you have 10 times less leads, but they’re 10 times more engaged and likely to convert, you might end up in the same position even with trickles of traffic. And that’s what’s quite important. It’s like, forget traffic. Traffic is a vanity metric. It’s a bad way to look at this. Number of leads is too, as well. I’ll tell you, on authorityhacker.com, we have some articles that generate lots of leads. But they’re bad leads. Like, they just don’t buy anything. They’re not interested in purchasing. I get some replies sometimes to our email like, who are you? What is this? So it’s like, and that’s that’s something that you get to learn the hard way. It’s like a big email list is not necessarily a good email list, whereas this is going to generate maybe a smaller email is about a better one. Right. But all that to say, like you can use freebies. So downloads, PDFs are probably I mean, they can work maybe for recipes, something like this. They’re pretty old right now. Like I like, for example, the idea of creating notion databases and something that’s a little bit interactive for people to download. I think that’s cool. And that’s more likely to be interesting to people. You can also not even pitch in your content and just do organic content for engagement and just run retargeting ads to your lead magnets. The platforms are fine as long as you pay, and usually you still get a pretty cheap cost per conversion. So if you’re struggling to convert your organic audience into leads, you can just pay for it. And that’s fine. It’s a cool tactic to do as well. And you can just focus on high engagement social as long as you get good return on ad spend on your retargeting. You need to make sure you engage the right people. Otherwise, that’s not worth it. And you can promote cheap impulse by offers. So trip wires. We’re really talking cheap stuff on social. We’re talking like seven dollars or something like this. Like cheap, cheap stuff. But the idea is just, again, build a quality email list. And another tactic that works really well on social to grow your email list from there is giveaways. There’s a platform that we’ve used several times called Gleam.io. And you can say I’m giving away, like if we did, for example, we’re giving away one year of Ahrefs pro account or something. Just go in the link in the description and enter the giveaway. And one condition to entering the giveaway is to give you an email. We get lots of emails, for example. And like this podcast would generate hundreds of emails just doing that. So giveaway is also a pretty cool tool. It’s not as powerful as the lead magnets and the trip wires because it doesn’t segment as well. And you just get freebie seekers that are not going to convert. But it’s a cool way to grow your emails from there, actually. And the point as well is like the offer you’re making should be in line with what you’re going to offer in the next step, which is the convert step. So most likely you’re going to be trying to sell something to these people after they’ve opted in. So if you’re trying to sell them a yoga course, for example, then maybe it’s a three day yoga workout plan that you offer as a freebie. And so if people are interested in but not in yoga in your audience, for example, then they might not opt in. Whereas the people who are interested in yoga and are more likely to align with the offer that you’re going to essentially put in front of them after, they will opt in. And so that’s a way to segment your audience into different funnels and make different buckets, even if you go quite broad with your content. And being able to go broad with your content is what allows you to essentially increase your reach. So now we jump onto the last phase, which is essentially convert. Now you’ve taken people off platform. You can reach them via their email and you can retarget them with ads. So it’s like you know who they are and you know you want these people to buy your stuff. They know you as well, which is quite important and will make them very likely to convert. So again, email and ads, that’s really it. Now, how do you do that? Well, there’s several ways. There’s, first of all, evergreen launches, which I think is probably one of the best places to start for a lot of people because it can generate trickling income. And the way an evergreen launch works is it’s simple. When someone enters your email list, you offer them a special offer on the product you’re selling. That can be an info product, that can be a physical product, that can be a service if you want, whichever you’re selling. And you put a Timer on that. So you’re like, okay, for the next seven days, either you give a discount. So you can do that by anchoring higher prices on your website and then just having a special landing page that offers a discount. Or you can offer a bonus, for example. Let’s say on services, it’s quite hard to give discounts, for example, because the margins are lower. But I’d be like, oh, you get a free consultation call or something that might cost you something, but in exchange you get a customer that will jump in because of the essentially scarcity that you’re putting in. And you use a tool like Deadline Funnel. And so what it does is it connects to your email system. And when people opt in, it creates a deadline of seven days for them. So it’s going to be like, oh, they updated on Monday. So next Monday, the deadline ends for this customer. And this is a personalised Timer, basically. And then you’re just going to run a bunch of emails to these people to remind them. You’re going to run retargeting ads to them. And a lot of these people are going to convert or at least show interest in your offer if your offer is appealing enough to them. That’s step one. I think that’s where I would start if I was doing this. You can do live launches. Live launches is basically the same thing, a special offer with a bonus, with a discount, or just something that closes that is not available otherwise. And then you just email your whole email list. You’re like, Okay, for real, not personalised Timer, but I’m making a real Timer from the 31st of June to the 17th of July. And then for that time, people can to get this special offer that I’m putting together. Again, scarcity will help you get people over the line, basically. 

I just want to really emphasise that with both live launches and evergreen, it’s the scarcity factor that’s helping get people across the line and take action. It makes all the difference in the world if you have some scarcity aspect to this versus just having the product available there to buy anytime. Everybody’s going to say, I’ll buy tomorrow. Yeah, that’s what you do. You capture these people and you have a plan. But And actually talking about not scarcity, you can do that as well. And that’s why I call the slow burn. And so the slow burn is, well, when you have your email, you should let people know about your new content as well. And maybe you write a newsletter or something like that, just a way to keep in touch with them. So you can’t just be selling, selling, selling, selling, selling, because otherwise there’s no reason to open your emails anymore. There’s no reason to engage with you anymore. So you need to share stuff. Quite often, if you’re making high quality free content on the create phase, that’s enough to share with people. People are happy to just be send out. If you don’t do that, you probably need to put some effort there to give some value. But the idea is you can still put monetisation in these emails that notify people about new content. So there’s two ways to do that. There’s sponsorship. I mean, three ways. Sponsorship, which essentially someone pays to be on your newsletter. If you came to this podcast with the email, there was a sponsor, like Search Intelligence sponsored it. You’ve probably already seen the sponsorship at this point in the podcast. And that is one way you can make money. The other way is affiliate. So again, I don’t know if Deadline Funnel has an affiliate programme, but I could probably plug the link in the email as well if I wanted. And that would monetise is a little bit, not a lot. But the third way that works quite well is what I call the slow burn. And that’s basically at the end of your signature, put a list of call to actions where it’s like, oh, do you want this? Click here. Do you want this? Click here. And if you check our emails, for example, we have that for Marketing Pros. So we are in partnership with a recruitment agency in South Africa called Marketing Pros. They’re great. We have a lot of our staff that was hired from. We truly believe in them. We think they’re awesome. One of the things we do is we promote them and we promote them in the signature of the email. And just when you receive a notification from us, there’s a link at the bottom under the signature. And it’s not like it generates tonnes of clicks and tonnes of interest every time we email, but because people repeatedly see it, the brand gets in their brain, they might search for it, they might click on the link, and eventually that generates some demand for that product. So you can monetize every single email that you’re sending to people in some way. Some are going to make you lots of money when you do live launches and you send a closing email, for example. That’s probably a lot of money. Or some might make you trickles of money, like the slow burn emails, for example. So that’s pretty much the convert phase. Obviously, there’s all the fun option and again, that you can plug in there as well, like upselling, You can do lead generation, slash applications, etc. I’m not going to go through every funnel tactic, but you get the idea you can run the email list and heavily monetize it because people… And you’re allowed to do that because of the engagement you’ve generated in the first two steps, right? People would… You could not just create email addresses and do that. That doesn’t work. I see people do that. It’s stupid. It’s illegal in many countries as well. And that’s not going to work. The point and the reason why it works is because of the effort you’ve put in create and connect. That’s why it works. And then the capture is really the transition between connect and convert, really. That’s pretty much what it is. And so this is pretty high level. So what I suggest is we jump onto some examples of sites that do We’re doing similar so people can go and check them out, right? Let’s talk about the first one, and that is Easlo. So Easlo is actually a one-man company. So we’re not talking about a big brand or anything like that. He’s a solopreneur. I think he’s in Singapore from what I know. And And what he does is he sells Notion templates. So he just goes on Notion, makes nice dashboards, etc. And he sells that. They range, I think, from $9 to $299 for, I think, his most expensive. I think he makes seven figures per year doing this, by the way. So it’s a pretty cool business. He doesn’t do any SEO. All he does is short form videos. So TikTok, Instagram and YouTube. He does He does longer form videos on YouTube, and he does Twitter. That’s all the content he does, right? But his short videos are probably his most popular. He has 410,000 followers on TikTok for a Notion guy, I know a guy who talks about productivity software. And not productivity, one software. It shows you that you can niche down potentially more than you would in SEO, by the way. But yeah, his short videos are really cool. Some of them have 900,000 views and more. That’s his best one, but still it’s pretty cool. So they get lots of engagement. If he gets that many views, he gets distribution. Some of his videos have 200 comments, 100,000 likes, lots of comments of people saying they love it, they love something about how to use the tool. There’s a bit of a cult around notion, right? It’s an interesting tool. You could not do that with every tool. But for some tools you could, Photoshop, etc. It’s possible. How he does the capture is quite interesting. He actually He has three templates, right? He has five free templates. He has the Nose dashboard, the content calendar, the student dashboard, the habit tracker, and journal. And so he basically has this, he’s on TikTok, right? So he just has one link in his bio that he can use for capture. He just tells people to go click it in his videos. You click it and you get this link tree type thing where you get to choose which template you want to download. And then it sends you to Gumroad, which I was surprised because he’s getting pretty big for Gumroad. Gumroad is like a free, a free checkout. Not free, but like they charge you a percentage of the sales. But you can give the, you can name your price if you want, basically. So people can either download it for free or decide to make a small donation to him. I’m assuming he makes no money from that. I’m assuming everyone’s downloading for free. But it’s interesting that he does that. And they take 10% of your money, by the way. So it’s pretty, it’s pretty rough. But still, he collects emails that way. People go there, name a price, usually zero, gets emails. And then he essentially emails you after that. He doesn’t even run ads. I’m like, he could make so much more money. But the way he does that is one value emails. So he doesn’t have a blog or anything. So he basically just writes short emails. One of the emails I can show you on screen now is the list of his productivity tools, for example, for content creation. It’s just full of affiliate links, by the way. So he probably makes some money from that as well. And the second one is, again, he does I don’t know if it’s a live or if it’s an evergreen launch because I couldn’t tell. He does not use Timers, which I think he could make more money that way, too. But yeah, he just runs sales to his templates, basically, and his sales pages are cool. And he’s making seven figures per year with this tiny funnel from short form video as a single entrepreneur. There’s no employee whatsoever. 

Completely without SEO as well. Yeah, no SEO, right? No SEO, just social media that does the heavy It shows you that you can generate a pretty big email list and an engagement just from the links in profile. Like he has a big email list and he does well just from that. And the thing is like he’s doing, he’s pretty smart with his freebies because they’re usually like a, a, a gimp down version of like the paid version of the template that you can upgrade to. So again, the segmentation is pretty smart. So it’s like if I download the notes template, he will send me like the premium notes template, etc. So yeah, pretty good on how he does that, basically. 

So he’s essentially just focusing on capturing people who are interested in the thing he’s going to offer, and then it just makes selling so much easier. Yeah, because he’s segmenting, basically. The segmentation is quite powerful. So that’s pretty much the first example of a site that would do that. And you can clearly see the create, connect, capture, convert phases in here. We’ll talk about another one that’s a bit bigger now. He has a team and it is built with science. They do SEO, by the way. I’m not saying we’re giving up on SEO. Seo is a big part of this business. It’s quite different. So I like it. So Built with Science, it’s a fitness training company started by a guy called Jeremy Ethier. He’s a YouTuber, initially, and he sells workout programmes and supplements. So info products and physical products, basically. And like his angle is that he talks about, scientific-based workouts. There’s like studies behind what he does, etc. It’s like it’s very science-based, which is why it’s called Built with Science. So as I said, he started as a YouTuber in 2017. Not that old, actually, for having 6.5 million subscribers. Pretty good. Again, this guy is a bit bigger than his flow. He has a team around him, etc. He’s gone quite very… He wasn’t big until two, three years ago, to be honest. Kind of exploded there. And what I like is that, okay, he has great videos. They’re very good. But he has a very cool content repurposing system. And so that allows him to hit many channels and plug. You know what I talked about? We want a business model where we can plug all these channels. It’s pretty smart how he does it because he does first the videos. He’s still like a YouTuber first, but then he repurposes the information as blog posts. So I don’t think he writes this. But it’s written like a YouTube video of it. The intro doesn’t have the keyword. It’s written for engagement, etc. It’s very, very inspired by the The YouTube video. And you’ll be happy to hear that he went up in a March core update. So it’s like it’s not very optimised. And I mean, he went up a bit. I think he starts at like one. 125-130,000 organic visitors, and he finishes at 1:50. So it’s like a little bit up according to Ahrefs. And so, yeah, that’s a cool repurposing. But what he does as well, he also repurposes his videos into short form videos. So it’s pretty smart how he does it. So he He has these fancy effects when he does these videos, so it shows the muscles working, etc. So he reuses these assets, but he gets a new script for each short video. So it’s like it sounds like a dedicated thing, not just a cut of the original video, but they use all the graphics of the YouTube video. So he just stands in front of a camera. Someone wrote a script for him. He reads that, and then the video editor just slams stuff he’s done on the YouTube video on top to illustrate what he says. And That works extremely well for him as well. He has 669,000 people following him on TikTok and one million on Instagram. 

This is a really good point, I think, as well, because a lot of people get scared when they say, Oh, I have to do not just one platform, not just SEO, but six or seven different platforms as well. That’s six or seven times as much work. It’s not. It’s the content idea is the challenging part, coming up with something good to say. Each platform just has its own presentation style or format, and it’s more just adapting one idea to several different places rather than having several different ideas. And that’s a big thing for us right now that we’re thinking about is this content repurposing and how do we take something where we spend lots of time and lots of effort, probably much more than we would have on an SEO page, for example. Essentially, we’re proposing enough times that it makes sense to spend this much resources into a piece of content so that you can generate something extremely engaging and you maximise the engagement. It makes sense for your company, basically. So all of that to say that, obviously, if he has these numbers of subscribers, etc, his engagement is through the roof. People love him. You read his comment section, people are Some comments have almost 300 likes. To give you an idea of the level of engagement he gets, if you want to see how to make a good… 

What do you think happens when you have super-engaged people that love your shit and are following you in all these different places? They buy from you. Well, it’s not so simple. And that’s why we’re going to talk about the capture phase. Because in fitness, we’re all different. We all start from a different point and we’re all trying to get somewhere else. So it’s like someone might be fit and try to be super ripped and everything, and someone might just be overweight and just trying to be normal. And so he needs to get out to all these audiences. And it’s challenging for him to sell fitness products when people have such different goals and have different needs. So he has this wide pipeline of people But then he needs to make sure he offers them something that’s quite personalised so that they feel it’s worth their money. And so he does it in a pretty smart way. He uses a quiz funnel. So on all his platforms, the main link is sending people to a quiz, which is like, let me build you a custom workout plan. And you go through that quiz and it’s a long quiz. It’s like, for example, I did it. I’m not going to tell you what I answered. But you basically have photos and it’s It’s like you have to click on the body that represents what you look like the most. You also have to click on the one that you want to be the most. You talk about your eating habits, you talk about your workout habits. You feel all that stuff in. It’s pretty long. It took me like five minutes. Towards the middle, they captured your email as well. So it’s like you click next, next, next. At some point they’re like, we’re going to build your workout plan, but to send it to you, we need your email. And they captured your email. So again, capture face. But they have so much data on you at this point because I haven’t answered all these questions. And he pretty much has like different landing points for that quiz. So if you’re like skinny fat trying to get in shape, you get a specific landing page. Whereas if you are already in shape and trying to get ripped or something, you get another landing page. And he actually has a mini calculator. So, for example, I was, there’s a screenshot, so I’m going to say I was like, I want to be 15 % body fat, but I don’t want to diet too much or something like this. It’s like it calculates when you will reach that goal as well. So it actually shows that to you on the sales page. So the sales page is not like insanely powerful, but it is giving them lots of information about you and it’s personalised, right? And I think that is quite powerful as a way to segment people. You know how I told you the capture phase needs to segment? That’s segmenting. That’s very, very well done. Lots of Facebook ads in fitness do that actually. And so you get offered the programme at the end. It costs between $67 and $149 depending on the versions, which is quite a lot for work plans, to be honest. But I mean, he has a big team, so I assume he’s doing quite well in terms of sales. And because they captured my email address, again, flash sales are inundating my inbox after opting. And that’s the thing. It’s like these like, bénévolent YouTubers that you see that give lots of value, etc. I like that because he does that on one side, but on the other side, you’re on his email list, he’s going to sell pretty hard to And I like that. He’s understood that this phase he can sell. He can sell hard, basically. So what I take away from this funnel is one, repurposing your content is really the key at this, especially if you want to build multiple traffic pipelines. And if therefore traffic is scarce, to be honest, as we talked about this at the beginning of the podcast. So I think YouTube is a pretty good main content channel to repurpose to many different channels because you essentially get a long-form content that you can cut in short, that you can make an article from, etc. The quiz funnel, it’s great. For fitness, it’s really good. It allows him to take a wide audience, talk to everyone in his free content, and then just exactly have something for everyone that feels personalised when you start getting sold to. And he is relentless at selling on his email. I get lots of emails with lots of offers for upgrading for all of that. I actually bought one of his programmes a long time ago. He upsells very well as well. So overall-The thing with doing that as well, it doesn’t feel yucky because only the people who are opted in and further along that process are seeing it. 

It’s not like you discover his content for the first time and it’s pasted with ads for his products every five seconds or something like that. And the CTA is just a free quiz, right? It’s light. That’s what I was saying. You can’t hard sell on free content. And he gets that. That’s why he gets so much rich. He’s just like, hey, if you want to know, if you want to reach a specific goal, go take the quiz in the description. That’s it. And the rest is just free content. And it’s good. It gives away a lot of the stuff that would be in the courses, actually. Okay, let’s do the third one, the third example, which is guitar-tricks. Com. It’s a much smaller site. They’re not as big as Built with Science. I took a solopreneur, a big guy, and then these guys, I would say, are in the middle. And they teach you how to play guitar. So again, classic hobby thing. And they sell a membership, And so the Create phase, again, they start with YouTube. I think YouTube is one of their main channel. It’s pretty smart. They both have like lessons in there, but they also have like how to play like this famous guitar guy or whatever. So that they made content for the platform, right? And that gets lots of views. Some of their videos have like 5 million views or something. So that’s pretty good for learning how to play guitar. And they do the same thing as Jeremy, where they take their videos and they make blog posts from it as well for SEO. And I really like that because I think it puts SEO like quote unquote, where it belongs in a new paradigm of things, where it’s like it’s part of their traffic source. I mean, they get like 100 and maybe 110-120,000, less than 120-110,000 visits per month according to Ahrefs. And again, they went up in the update. No ads, no affiliate, probably that’s why. It creates content. Because the content is based on a YouTube video, it’s almost more engaging. You know, like when you write a YouTube video, you have to be engaging. And And so it’s different. It’s not like a freelance writer who doesn’t care who wrote the article. And that probably converts better for them, even if it gets maybe less traffic. 

Also, I think it works quite complementary just in the niche to video in that you have the cords and the… I don’t know what you call them, but where you’re supposed to put your fingers on the guitar or something like that. And so once you watch the video, you can go back and get those from the blog post, and it’s easy to consume in that way. So they’re really adapting the format. They’re adapting the content idea to each format to complement it well. Yeah. And so the way they actually capture you once you’ve engaged with that content is they offer a free level to their membership, and they actually retarget you as well. So they run ads as well on Facebook. That’s how I found them actually. So the Facebook ads library. So it’s like, yeah, organic plus ads together. I like that. Again, now we’ve hit social, we’ve hit SEO and we’ve hit ads. I’m happy with that one, basically. So, yeah, they will target you to either free lead magnets or to the free level of the membership. Now, they do something a bit different, which is because they give you a free level to the membership, if you opt in, they It’s like another level of connexion before they even sell you if you haven’t converted yet. You were offered to convert, but you haven’t. Let’s imagine worst case scenario. There’s literally a full course on playing guitar in their membership for free. I went through it and it’s like, I don’t know, 15, 20 lessons in there where you can just go through and you get really a feel for what it’s like to be a paid member. But what’s really cool is that this membership connects, but it also converts because if you click anywhere where you don’t have access with the free level of membership, you essentially land on a… It looks like a lesson, but it’s really the video is a sales video. And there’s a button on there to upgrade your membership, which I think probably works quite well for them because people get… If they actually use it and get started on the free stuff and they click and they’re like, I wish I could do this and I can’t, and then just upgrade to that. And that works quite well for them. They also, if you’ve taken the free membership, have a retargeting app that gives you a discount, actually. So you get followed with 60%, 20% off coupon that you can apply to upgrade. And they have your email because you sign up for the membership. And so they have scarcity-based evergreen campaigns like we talked about. I have a screenshot of an email where they give you a coupon code to 20 % off. Actually, that made me come up with a trick. It’s like, if you want to save money on anything you buy, check their ads on the Facebook ads library because you’ll probably find their best coupons there. Because I could get it cheaper that way. So again, pretty smart. They use celebrities, how to play like a celebrity on YouTube to essentially get lots of views, attract lots of eyeballs, get discovered. They have a free version of their membership, which again is a light call to action. And it’s like replacing a lead magnet. And then they use retargeting and ads pretty smartly at different points in their funnel to essentially take you to the next step, both to opt in, but also to convert through coupons. And they use their email as well. So very cool, like middle-size website and cool marketing Leading, actually. 

Quick question for you in this. Two of these three examples are courses, essentially. Is this model really leading people down the course direction, or how broad can they go with their products? I think you can go quite broad. So it’s like, I mean, I was thinking of this company in DC, we go to DCPK over here. And I was thinking of like, Menta Sleep, for example, which is like this sleeping mask. I think you have a testimonial for them on this. 

Brilliant. Yeah. Best sleeping mask in the world. So I was like, okay, how do I do that for Menta Sleep, right? Like, if I wanted to sell this physical product, it’s like you can absolutely do content on sleeping, for example. So for example, this week, 8slip has released their new 8 sleep mattress cover, which is this air conditioning for your bed. Probably a cool review they could do. Like, oh, we tested it. It’s about sleep. People care about sleep quality if you do that to get views because there’s actually lots of attention around that. They can get stuff. But you would be wearing the mask every time you test it. The product would be in there, etc. And then, I mean, the lead magnet is potentially an info product in this case. So you almost make a course or something on sleeping or something like this. And you give that away for free. If you’re a physical product company, you can give away the knowledge for free. And so you make something like that. You’re like, Oh, we actually hired a sleep expert. And he’s going to, through these eight video lessons, he’s going to teach you how to optimise your sleep environment to maximise your restness, be more productive. People opt in for that, and then email retargeting ads to buy the mask, and the mask is part of the course as well, for example. 

What about a situation, though, where someone doesn’t have a product to begin with? Okay, well, if you don’t have a product, it’s a little bit less good, but you can run affiliate through your email list and potentially even through retargeting. But if you’re doing that, it needs to be high paying affiliate. You can do Amazon affiliate with that, etc. It needs to be a high paying offer and you can run that inside your content as well. So if you’re making content that does tutorials, etc. It’s quite easy to essentially use things and affiliate them under it and be a creator. Now, we’re going back a little bit to the business problem question, the business model question, where it’s like, yeah, it’s like this can work, but it’s one of the changes I think that’s happening is people need to have something to sell much earlier in the process than they used to have in the old three-stage model for websites. The internet is leaning that way in terms of who’s getting visibility, is people who have a solid business behind, or you could be a content creator, but then you’re platform dependent, you might You get hit by platform changes, etc. You can be on email list, sell sponsorship, and do affiliate, but the revenue is going to be quite a bit lower, in my opinion. 

I think one of the things that really surprised me over the last 10 years is how people, or a lot of people, were quite reluctant to build a product, to start a product, to create something, when it’s really not that much different from just creating content for your blog or for YouTube. It’s a good info product. Yeah. 

Yeah. And the ceiling, the revenue ceiling that this gives you on your business is that it’s 10X what you can ever do selling other people’s products. Yeah. I mean, the thing is, obviously, not all niches are made for info products. It’s not always easy. Again, you were mentioning, but when we’re preparing this, like VPN, for example, quite hard to make a VPN info product. I don’t think that’s the niche where I would bother. But the trade-off is you have high paying affiliate offers. So you could be just creating content and promote these offers there. And there’s lots of people on YouTube, for example, making good money from VPN affiliate programmes. Now, VPN is a specific niche because it’s quite hard I don’t want to build an email list in a niche where people care about privacy. So it’s probably like the except. I probably should have picked another example, but I think I’ll point out the points when it doesn’t work. But in most niches, you can also build an email and de-risk the platform. The problem is if you don’t have a product, you can’t make ads work for you, I think. And ads are like, they’re not making your business, but they make everything easier. If you can take people from the engagement phase, from the the next phase to the capture phase with ads, for example, it makes it very easy to bridge these two without killing your organic reach. And they only make sense if you make enough money. Same from the capture to convert. It’s like if you can retarget people with something to sell, you’ll make a lot more sales than if you just rely on your email list. So it’s like this multiplicate effect of ads really makes it worse to have your own offer, even if that means more set up-time for people, usually. That’s a drawback. Actually, that’s one of the main drawbacks of this business. It’s like it’s how to run multiple businesses at once because there’s just much more moving parts. And you need to care about your niche. You can just outsource that to AI at this point, I guess, and just not care and not know anything and produce bad content because then you will have no connexion. People will not engage with your content. People who consume this content on social, they know this stuff. They care about it. If you make bad content, they will catch you right away and they will call you out. So that’s the drawback. And obviously, if you sell something, you have customers and you have a responsibility towards them. And so that’s something that you need to be ready for. You’re running a business, basically. 

Yeah, but I mean, you have to do all that stuff if you want to be successful now. Anyway, even if you’re a review site, the NapLabs and RTINGS.com of this world. Exactly. They care about the customers. They build that community. They have that interaction. They interact with them. In an engagement anyway, yeah. Exactly. 

Yeah. Yeah, exactly. If you want to do well, you’re going to have to do that anyway. If you’re just I in my notes, I were like, if you do create without connect for a platform, you’re basically a spanner. You create content, you get reach, but people don’t like it, basically. That’s what it means. It’s like that’s what platforms are trying to get rid of. It’s like, and I don’t think Google is right, but I think that’s what they try to do with the recent updates as well. They try to remove the content people don’t engage as much with. Apparently, people engage with Reddit. But yeah, it’s I think that’s what they’re trying to do. And that’s what all social platforms are trying to do. If you’re just a creator without connecting with the audience, platforms are trying to get rid of you. If you are creating and connecting, then you are an asset to that platform. You increase engagement with it, which increases their ad revenue. They want you around, basically. So you’re going to have to do that regardless. So yes, that is a bit more involved than where it used to be. The trade-off is you get new tools, new traffic sources, and you get to be where where people are on the internet without caring too much about site traffic like you would with advertising or with pure affiliate site model, basically, which makes it more flexible. 

I think most importantly, you can make 10 times as much money as you ever could hope to before with a business that people love, that’s sellable, that’s scalable, and you’re just resistant to whatever new technology comes along, pretty much. I mean, in the last episode where we talked about iPhone photography, and they make 20 million a year now, essentially with that model, except they’re much more like Adreliant, but it’s very similar. They create content for their ads, their tutorials, their everything, etc. Except they just pay for distribution because they make so much money, basically. But it’s very similar. So, yeah, it’s more involved. But you essentially get something that you trade the involvement for stability. That’s pretty much what you’re doing. And you can still plug in these second resources of revenue, like sponsorship, We run Authority Hacker. This episode is sponsored, right? It’s like, okay, great. Extra source of revenue. You can run affiliate as well. Like when we have a relevant affiliate offer, we’ll throw the affiliate link in. It’s not like how we make most of our money. I don’t care that much for affiliate revenue, but it’s one way of doing it. It adds up and you diversify your revenue that way. So if you want stability and if you want to still be able to do good money, we think that’s the best way to go because it’s much more in phase with how people use the Internet today. It’s much more It’s much more in phase with the AI revolution. It’s much more in phase with the decline of referral traffic from most platforms, and much more in phase with the fact that people don’t spend that much time on websites anymore. It’s part of it, but it’s not the content hub it used to be, basically. 

So what does all this mean for Authority Hacker? What about our content? What about our products? What about what we’re doing here in the podcast? What’s going to change? I mean, it’s funny because we’ve talked about this 4C model, et cetera, but the reality is we’ve been doing this for quite a long time on Authority Hacker itself. It’s like, as I was telling in the problem section of this podcast, when was the last time most of the listeners have been on our website, et cetera? We do podcasts, we do YouTube, we do social, we do short video with clips of the podcast. I think we can do better. Actually, the next guest is probably we’re going to talk about short form video because that’s something I want to learn about. We do social media, we do paid ads. We do email. We do email. So we are very We’re pretty much going to talk about all these things because we actually have over a decade experience in all these things. And while our main focus was SEO almost exclusively as a traffic source for a while, we feel that with this change in the market, it’s a good time to open up to the other things. So we’re going to talk about that. And the funny thing is, if you look at the SEO industry in general, most people that you probably follow, you probably don’t really follow them on their blog anymore. You follow them on their YouTube channel. You might follow them on social media, on Twitter, or not really Instagram, but maybe like threads. Linkedin is probably a big one for the industry. And it’s like the SEO industry talks about SEO on social rather than actually finding each other with SEO. And so it’s really a business model that everyone does already and we’ve done for a while. So we’re going to talk more about that. This is probably going to make me want to do a bit more experiments and share that as well. Like I was talking about short form video, for example. It’s really something I want to figure out. There’s like really cool tools these days with AI and with, for example, CapCut is a really cool AI-based video editor that allows you to make really easy short form videos and so on. So I’m looking forward to try more things because there’s more incentive to share them with the audience as well. So that’s very much what at least the free content is going to be on Authority Hacker. But what does it mean for the courses and for all the training that we have on the member area? 

Well, it’s a good question. And we’ve actually always tried to push people beyond beyond just building an affiliate site, to teach them how to connect with their audience, capture their email, sell them things, right? That was some of the content, the very first content on Authority Hacker back in 2014 covered that. Three-stage sites, yeah. Exactly. 

Stage one, stage two, Exactly. And we do teach people in our courses to think in those terms. But the reality of the market for the last seven or eight years has been that it’s just been so easy to create an affiliate site, maybe throw some on there, put up some cheap content from a freelance writer, and then sell it a couple of years later for six figures. We’ve done that multiple times now and shown that in our case studies. But while SEO works, it’s the business model that doesn’t necessarily work so much anymore. So that’s what needs to change, and that’s what we are going to be changing within the content of our courses. Yeah, we’re still going to do SEO, so we still have content that is in production right now around SEO. Actually, people still use Use a lot of the knowledge we have in the courses for SEO, but they don’t necessarily apply to an affiliate site. So for example, there was a tweet this morning of someone who tweeted that he used our keyword research premium content to actually find keywords for his WordPress plugin and used it and managed to increase his sales, for example. So this stuff is still okay and we will probably extract it and repackage it in different ways in the future. And we’re still excited about SEO in general. So we will still have that stuff. But we will also be working on We’re going to learn that helps people transition to this new business model, where instead of running affiliate and ads, which definitely Google hates at this point, we’re going to be helping you come up with offers, put something together and create a business model that actually makes SEO and these other traffic sources viable and build that stability for people. 

I also want to point out that we got in this game not to make a bunch of money. It’s a nice benefit, but we got in this game to help people. And it’s really important to us that the people that buy our courses and buy our products are happy. That’s why we’re maybe the only course in the industry where we actually have a proper refund guarantee. You’re not super happy with our products in the first 30 days. You just email us and we give you all your money back. It’s real simple. We want people to be happy. We do it a lot, too. 

I actually looked up the statistics of this this week. I probably shouldn’t share this, but we’ve given out over $1.4 million in refunds since 2018. 19. So that’s like 233K a year. Probably not the best financial decision, if I’m being honest with you. We’ll be richer if we do then. 

It makes people happy. And that’s the most important thing. We want people to have a good experience here. So while we acknowledge that there’s a lot of uncertainty in this industry right now, but we still want people to be happy. So effective immediately, we’re doubling the length of our refund policy so that people can get value out of the tactics that are still working while ignoring those that don’t. And after For 60 days, even if you watch the entire course, you can send us one email and there’s nothing else to do. You get all your money back. It’s as simple as that. Yeah. So I think this is going to give people plenty of time to essentially decide if they find value in there or not and decide if it’s for them or not. That’s pretty much where we’re going with this. There’s a lot of new stuff coming up that is going to be a lot more in phase with the new stuff that we’re working on and that’s still working right now. Other than that, that’s pretty much it for this episode. I hope you guys enjoyed it. We’re excited to actually talk about all these a new topic. Starting next podcast where I have a guest, Samy, that we’re going to talk about getting Instagram traffic and how he funnels that to his sales funnels with emails. He actually also uses, I think, marketing. I was preparing the podcast today and I was seeing that he’s actually mixing affiliate and product sales. So I’m pretty excited to see how he does that and how he uses a platform that is not known to send lots of traffic out to website to actually still generate traffic and make sales funnels that are doing pretty cool. So that’s pretty much what’s coming up next time. We hope you enjoyed this episode. We try to be as honest and transparent with you guys as possible. And if you did enjoy, don’t forget to subscribe, like, and we’ll see you in the next episode. Bye-bye.

about the author
Hey I'm Gael, one of the guys behind Authority Hacker. I make a living working from my laptop in various places in the world and I will use this website to teach you how you could do the same.

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