Episode 76 – Be yourself, everyone else has already been taken

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Episode 76 – Be yourself, everyone else has already been taken


My guest on the show today is Eric Rosenberg. Eric is a finance, travel and technology writer in Ventura, California. He is a former bank manager in corporate finance and accounting professional who left his day job in 2016 to make his online side hustle full-time. He has in-depth experience writing about banking, credit cards, investing and other financial topics. He is an avid travel hacker. When away from the keyboard, Eric enjoys exploring the world, flying small airplanes, discovering new craft beers, and spending time with his wife and little girls.


Adam: [00:10] Hi, and welcome to the Good People, Good Marketing Podcast, a podcast about digital marketing and how to make it better so the good people and good organizations can have good marketing as well. I’m your host, Adam Walker, co-founder of Sideways8, a digital marketing agency and 48in48, a nonprofit dedicated to hosting events that builds forty-eight websites for forty-eight non-profits in forty-eight hours.


[00:29] My guest on the show today is Eric Rosenberg. Eric is a finance, travel and technology writer in Ventura, California. He is a former bank manager in corporate finance and accounting professional who left his day job in 2016 to make his online side hustle full-time. He has in-depth experience writing about banking, credit cards, investing and other financial topics. He is an avid travel hacker. When away from the keyboard, Eric enjoys exploring the world, flying small airplanes, discovering new craft beers, and spending time with his wife and little girls. You can connect with him at personalprofitability.com. I almost got that wrong. Let me say it again. personaprofitability.com and ericrosenberg.com. Eric, thanks for joining me on the show.


Eric: [01:14] Thanks for having me. That’s personalprofitability.com.


Adam: [01:19] So I had it wrong in the bio. Oh no, I was missing the L in the bio. I’m so sorry.


Eric: [01:23] No worries.


Adam: [01:24] We just had this whole conversation about getting names right before the interview and then I get your website wrong. All right. First of all—


Eric: [01:29] But at least you got Eric Rosenberg right, so we’re one for two. It’s a good start.


Adam: [01:35] We’re one for two, I’m (inaudible 01:33) five-hundred man, that’s great if you’re a baseball fan. So that’s awesome. personalprofitability.com, people. Alright.` Just so you know, I’ll say like fourteen more times just to make sure of it.


Eric: [01:44] It’s a mouthful.


Adam: [01:46] No, it’s great. I like it. It’s a good URL. Is there anything you want to add to that bio, Eric?


Eric: [01:52] No, that’s me in a nutshell.


Adam: [01:54] Oh man, that’s great. Well, I love it. I love what you’re about. Love the craft beers, loved the family time. I’m all about both, so that’s fantastic. Well, let’s dive in. So, first question: related to digital marketing, can you tell me something that has worked well for you?


Eric: [02:09] Yes. The number one thing that has really worked for me in my online business was focusing on what works. That’s something that I noticed a lot of people don’t do and it’s actually something that helped me triple my income. It’s a lot of what got me more into digital marketing. When I left my day job, I was both a freelance writer and a freelance website developer, and you know, being the finance guy, and having that accounting experience, I was looking deep into my QuickBooks, and I noticed what was essentially the 80/20 rule smacking me in the face. 76% of my revenue was coming from writing from that digital marketing side and about 15, 20% of my revenue was coming from the website development work and the website work was taking to 80% of my time, and probably the contributor of about 90% of my stress. The writing, clearly a lot less time, a lot more results coming in for me. So, I quit the website work, focused on writing exclusively and it has been great for my business. That’s the same kind of trend I’ve done from early in my blogging days. There were some posts I thought would do really, really well because I cared about it, I was passionate about it, whatever the reasoning was, but sometimes some other posts that I thought, “Oh, this isn’t anything too spectacular,” would do really well. So, by focusing on the ones that were performing and replicating that success, and that’s what drove me to where I am today.


Adam: [03:37] Oh, that’s fantastic. I do the same thing with blog posts. I’ve got a personal blog and I’ll write this very passionate post that I’d like really put a lot of thought into it. I’d been marinating on it for a week or two or three and it gets no response at all. But then I’ll write some ridiculously silly blog posts. Like I think one of my most popular post is “Five Reasons Having Five Kids Isn’t As Hard As You Think”? It’s consistently the top post, almost every day on my blog. And I’m like, I just wrote that on a whim, like it’s not even that big of a deal and yet that’s what I’m becoming known for in a sense. Like I’m known, but that’s what’s there but these other like really in-depth sort of heart posts, they’re out in the wind. (unclear 04:19) get it.


Eric: [04:21] Like five ideas, seven ideas. There’s actually been some studies that numbers that end in an odd number performed better on those list posts.


Adam: [04:29] I believe it.


Eric: [04:29] So if you’d had four kids, your post might not have done so well.


Adam: [04:32] That’s right, yeah. If ever end up with six, I’m gonna have to go straight to seven just so I can have good posts.


Eric: [04:37] You’re going to need twins, for marketing purposes.


Adam: [04:39] Yeah. I’ll be like, “Baby, for marketing purposes, we got to make sure it’s twins. Come on, what are we doing here?”


Eric: [04:44] See, I only have two kids, so a post like that wouldn’t really work for me. I need to have a third. Odd number. That’s the key.


Adam: [04:51] That or if you can count your spouse as a kid, but that doesn’t usually go over well. So you might want to avoid that.


Eric: [04:56] We have two dogs. I guess if you could just have an odd number of pets to counterweight an even number of children.


Adam: [05:06] I like how you think. This is great. But I love that. I love what you’re talking about because too often in marketing we get so hung up on tools, or trends, or tricks, or what our friend is doing that’s working, that we forget to look at the data and understand what are we doing that’s actually working, and what can we do to double down on that and make that better and promote that more? If there’s a piece of content on our website that’s already performing, why don’t we advertise it? Why don’t we post about it on Facebook? Why don’t we boost that post on Facebook? Why don’t we see how far we can get with that one piece of content, instead of just letting it sit there and die?


Eric: [05:41] Or at least do something similar again and see if that’s an isolated thing, like why is this one piece of content doing well compared to everything else you’ve written lately. Maybe your readers really like that specific topic. I did a series of posts a long ago comparing different personal finance tools, and those did really, really well for me early on. Where I thought people would have wanted to read— I used to do net worth updates. I still do income reports at personalprofitability.com, so I always thought people want to see when you get really personal and expose all that really private data. That’s what I thought, but they really wanted to know which free personal finance tools would be better for them. So I just kept writing more and more of those and they did really well for a long time.


Adam: [06:26] Wow, that’s fantastic. I love that. I love how you’re thinking about that. Okay, so let’s move on to our next question. Related to digital marketing, can you tell me something that is not working well that we can learn from?


Eric: [06:41] Bitcoin today. I’ve been to a couple of ICO conferences, so Bitcoin is on my mind. In digital marketing, I think the thing where people get hooked up and what’s not working, and it’s kind of the opposite of my last answer, you see something out there that you want to emulate and people— A good example, I look up to Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income. He’s a friend and he does so well, so I’m always looking up to what he does, and every once in a while, I want to emulate and do something similar, but I don’t want to rip off what he has exactly. I have come across websites that they use the same theme before he was selling a copy of his theme, which now he does, but back in the day when someone just stole his colours and his logo’s and everything. So I let him know, “Hey Pat, someone ripped off what you’re doing.” What that really is is it’s being so unoriginal. There is so much content out there today. Odds are if you come up with a new idea, there’s chances that someone might have come up with a similar idea, but try to be original, try to stand out on your own, don’t just look at what other people are doing and regurgitate it. I mean, that’s what they’re doing in Hollywood right now. Have they come up with an original movie idea in the last few years, or just watching the eighties again? Which is kind of fun, right?


Adam: [07:57] (unclear 0:57).


Eric: [08:00] Like, the nostalgia thing is fun but be original. It’s important when you’re doing marketing.


Adam: [08:03] I like that and I do like your first answer. Bitcoin is definitely not working well, but glad and (inaudible 08:11) too much. So that works out fine. I think you’re right. It’s like I mentioned before; we look at other people, we see friends, we see acquaintances or just complete strangers, and they’re just crushing it with this very specific thing that they’re doing, and we think, well, why don’t we just do that and then we can just crush it as well? And that may be true, and it may not be true. I think very often it’s not true because the set of circumstances that we’re working within are not the same set of circumstances that they’re working within, or there’s a difference in personality, or structure, or technology, or whatever else. And so, I think we have to do exactly what you mentioned, is we have to see what we can learn from these individuals and then repackage it to be ours, to be original, to be interesting and then push it out to the world.


Eric: [08:51] To be original, I’ll use a quote I’ve heard before, I don’t remember where it came from, the quote was “Be yourself, everyone else has already been taken”. So don’t try to rip off anyone, just do your own thing, and put your own flair, your own flavour on it, and have fun with it.


Adam: [09:10] Yes, yeah. Be who you are. That’s great. Okay. So last question then. Related to digital marketing, can you tell me something you are excited about?


Eric: [09:17] Yes. I am so excited about all the new stuff happening with video right now. YouTube is about fifteen years old, so it doesn’t seem that cutting edge or that new, but high-speed, unlimited bandwidth, smartphone plans where people are watching a live video are newer. It’s been coming over time that people have been getting more and more into video on mobile, but we’re finally getting to that point where it’s becoming cost efficient for the average consumer to watch a YouTube video when they’re out and about rather than just when they’re on Wi-Fi. And that is such a big opportunity. Because we’re taking what has for so long been eyes glued to a TV, was the only real video channel we had for marketing, other than previews before movies or something like that, to something that’s in people’s pocket sixteen hours a day, when they’re not sleeping, and probably within arm’s length twenty-four hours a day. So, anything that we can do that will engage people and get them excited and entertained, while also educating. The edutainment, that’s kind of a funny word, but that edutainment of teaching people while entertaining them with video is such a great content marketing tool and a really fun and exciting way to connect to audiences.


Adam: [10:36] I’ve never heard that term, edutainment. Is that your term or did you pick that up somewhere?


Eric: [10:41] I picked it up somewhere along the way. I don’t remember where it came from, but it’s essentially what I do for a lot of what I do in personal finance writing. If I just write your boring blog posts about bank accounts all day, people aren’t going to want to read that. They want to have it relate to them. They might want to laugh. They might want to feel something, so whenever I’m writing about a bank account, I have to find a way to make it entertaining as well. That’s why a lot of people listen to podcasts. That’s why podcasts are so exciting. It’s that personal connection you can get with people, and that story you can start to understand from whatever they’re trying to do. So, if you’re trying to sell something which you know, digital marketing, that’s what you’re doing. If you can put that story in it and really build a relationship with your target customers, that’s when the sales are happening.


Adam: [11:30] Right. Wow, that’s fantastic. And it’s interesting that you call that edutainment and it’s a combination of teaching while entertaining people. So I actually have another podcast called “Tech Talk Y’all”. And the point of that podcast is, it’s me and a co-host every week, so it was always just the same two people. It’s not interview style. And we refer to it as a tech comedy podcast because essentially what we’re doing is we’re talking about current tech news, here’s what’s happening this week in technology and start-ups, but we’re just cracking jokes the entire time and sort of entertaining one another, and by default entertaining our audience as well. And we’ve seen a lot of growth in that just because people will tweet at us and tell us like they’re listening to it while they’re walking down the street, cracking up, people are looking at them like they’re crazy. They’re getting information while they’re also being entertained. So, it’s both fun and informative at the same time, which I think is really hard to do. But they’re really exciting, you know.


Eric: [12:21] Podcasting is such a great medium for that type of interaction. I listen to so many different podcasts. I was actually just at a podcasting conference a couple of weeks ago called Podcast Movement. So I was hanging out with podcasters all day. It was a really fun place to be. There’s history podcast, so a lot of people think history is so boring, but all of a sudden if you throw a couple of friends having cocktails, while talking about history on a microphone, it becomes fun. It was a show I’ve been liking lately called “This Podcast Will Kill You”. They just finished their first season a little while ago, and it’s two public health professionals. One’s in med school, one’s working on a master’s degree, and they start each show with a “quarantine-i” , and they talk about a different disease. I’m learning about medical things, about history, or about something that I would have not ever thought, oh, I’m going to go listen to a podcast about diseases. That wasn’t something that just came to mind one day, but I’d heard about it. It looked fun and I laugh half the time when I’m listening and I’m learning something the other half of the time or both. It’s such a great thing we can do as marketers.


Adam: [13:29] That might be one of the best podcast names I’ve ever heard of: This Podcast Will Kill You. That’s just amazing. It makes me want to subscribe just based on the name alone.


Eric: [13:38] That’s how I felt. A doctor told me about it. I’m like, oh, well you know what you’re talking about if this is a medical podcast. And she’s really funny, so someone whose opinion I trusted.


Adam: [13:48] Well Eric, this is great man. Let me see if I can recap just a bit for our listeners to have some take- `aways from this conversation.


[13:55] Related to digital marketing, you said what has worked well, focus on what works. Really study and understand what works and then be willing to let go of what’s not working, so that you can look at the content that works and you can either promote that content or you can create more content similar to that to really see what’s catching your audience’s attention.


[14:14] For number two, what’s not working that we can learn from. First Bitcoin—I’ll give you that—second, emulating other people’s success. Just don’t be a copycat. Nobody likes a copycat ever. When we’re little kids and you know, you do that thing where you’re a little kid and just copy everything the next person says, that’s annoying then, it’s annoying now. It doesn’t work in marketing, but instead learn from what other people are doing and then pick the high points of what they’re doing and then integrate that into what you’re doing, be original, give it your flavour, your take on it so that you can be who you are and present that to the world.


[14:46] Then number three, what are you excited about? You mentioned that YouTube is fifteen years old, and yet it seems like video, in a lot of ways is a very new medium because of new technologies, because smartphones, because of increased bandwidth and all that sort of stuff. In particular you like it as an edutainment portal for teaching people while also entertaining them via video. Did I miss anything in that recap?


Eric: [15:10] No, that all sounds great. It sounds like what we talked about.


Adam: [15:14] That’s great. It is great. And it was fun too man. Well Eric, man, this is so good. Do you have any final thoughts you want to share with our listeners?


Eric: [15:20] I don’t know. Thank you so much for having me on. If you are interested in any personal finance stuff and like what I had to say, I have a giveaway. It’s at personalprofitability.com/bootcamp. That’s a no strings attached free video series to get you started on your path to personal profitability.


Adam: [15:37] And let me say, personalprofitability.com, personalprofitability.com, personalprofitability.com.


Eric: [15:44] You’ve got it, you’ll never forget it now.


Adam: [15:45] I think I’ve increased my batting average now, so I’m feeling a little better about it. So Eric, this is great man. I love to have you back on the show. Thanks so much for joining.


Eric: [15:53] Thanks so much for having me.


Adam: [15:58] Thanks for listening to the Good People, Good Marketing Podcast. To get more resources about digital marketing, make sure to go to goodpeoplegoodmarketing.com, where you can find more podcasts, blogs, and other fun resources. Also, if you want to find me, your host, you can find me on Twitter at @AJWalker and on my blog at adamjwalker.com where I blog about leadership, productivity, habit building and the craziness of having five kids. Thanks, and tune in next time.

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