Will Bachman 00:01
Hello, and welcome to Unleashed the show that explores how to thrive as an independent professional. I’m your host Will Bachman and I am so excited to be here today with fellow Seth Godin fan. Rob hardy now, you should go right now just pause this podcast, just hit pause, go to ungated dot media, and you can sign up for Rob’s emails and check out his content. Really great site. And okay, now you can hit play again. Rob, welcome to the show.
Robert Hardy 00:34
Thanks. Will, I’m stoked to be here.
Will Bachman 00:37
So Rob, there’s so much I want to talk about an episode today, you have on gated the missing instruction manual for 1000 true fans, referring, of course, to Kevin Kelly’s idea of 1000 true fans. And you have I want to talk today about your coaching practice some of your products, you have some thoughts around how to find your niche. And you also have some ideas around 95 why 95% of marketing advice is wrong, particularly for creators like us. So let’s start with that. So you were telling me before we started recording, that, like 90 95% of the marketing advice out there is just misguided. So for a creator who wants to build a long term relationship with fans, and not trying to have growth hacks, or just you know, optimize for the short term, but optimize that long term relationship? Tell me why most marketing advice is wrong and how you think about approaching it?
Robert Hardy 01:38
Yeah, well, I should, I should, I guess start by saying that, when I say like, 95% of marketing advices, it may be wrong isn’t the right word, like it’s wrong for a specific context. And that context being, you know, really deeply mattering to a small group of people in such a way that you can make a long term living from it, or I don’t know, like it, or just having that deep well of relationships for, you know, whatever your purpose is. But like, again, when I say wrong, and this is one of those is one of those things where I made every single mistake in the book I got, I got into the online business quote, unquote, like, that’s what the creator economy or whatever we’re calling it used to be called. And like 2014 is just like, let’s start an online business. And I got into that whole realm back in 2014 2015. And I bought a lot of the quote unquote, best practices that I was learning about from guys like roommates seeker roommates at and there’s, there’s a whole bunch of others. And slowly that sort of pulled me into direct response marketing and getting into the world of like, Click Funnels and all that shit, which I I’m sort of like vehemently opposed to the entire world and ethos of clickfunnels. Now, so maybe that’s a rant that we could go on at some point. But the one thing that I always sort of realized, and I always knew deep down was that a lot of these again, quote, unquote, best practices, the things that they say, like this is what works this is how you get an audience to give you money for the creative work that you’ve done. So many of those practices never sat right with me if you know things like using fake scarcity, fake urgency using these dumb ass like hyperbolic clickbait headlines and long form sales pages that have like a little countdown timer at the bottom that you secretly know in the back of your mind is fake. And like, there’s, there’s so many of these little things that I bought into that I didn’t vibe with, but I did them anyway, because I thought that’s just how business is done online. And it really, I don’t know, I’ve had a couple come to Jesus moments over my, I don’t know, six or seven years doing this now. But there’s there’s been a few where I have just like launched something, I’ve done the work to like put together my fancy email launch sequence, or I’ve done a webinar or whatever the tactic of the month is only to just have the entire thing not really work. Have people like tons of people unsubscribe from my list, have people say, Man, this, this doesn’t feel aligned with you, this doesn’t this doesn’t like this, isn’t you? You’re better than this stuff. And to like know that that is true. So I’ve sort of been on a journey over the past couple of years to really, really unlearn a lot of the best practices of marketing online and to figure out how do I optimize this around my values? How do I optimize marketing when relationships are the goal when trust is the goal and again, when building true fans is the goal because like, I don’t know about you, but like that, that’s what I want out of my life is like I don’t I don’t need to be famous. I don’t need to have 10 million YouTube subscribers or an email list or whatever. I don’t want to be a like any kind of mainstream influencer. I Just want to make work that deeply matters to me and, you know, a small group of people online, whether that’s 1000 people or 10,000 people, but I want to do work that really, really matters. And then market in a way that like, not only can I sleep at night, but just feels great, and then magnetically pulls those people in instead of coercing them. So that’s, that’s really the big thing is like, for my set of values, I realized that marketing the traditional way just just wasn’t cutting it. It wasn’t. It wasn’t really vibing with how I wanted to show up in the world. So yeah, it’s just been, it’s just been a lot of unlearning a lot of experimenting, and a lot of Yeah, I guess a lot of trial and error after that. Because once you unlearn everything that you thought you knew, like, it’s kind of scary, and you just have to kind of go out and grope around and dark and figure out what actually does work. And yeah, that’s, that’s all I got there.
Will Bachman 05:58
Okay, so you are now taking a longer term relationship driven approach, and you are now offering, you have a coaching business of helping creators, build that base of 1000 true fans, give us an overview of the process that you do recommend. So, you know, if I was one of your clients, walk me through some of the, you know, kind of just the kind of the overview of your philosophy around this and some of the tactics that you do recommend.
Robert Hardy 06:27
Yeah, so I am irrationally passionate about niches. And this, I think I might pull back a little bit. And, like, I broadly suspect, and this is one of those things that you can like, look at a lot of the trends around the around how the internet is sort of like shaping out. And very often we have like sort of a power law distribution with a lot of really big dominant players and sort of what I might call like, the mass media, the, the, like, the high end of online media and culture. But on the flip side of that, the internet is starting to fragment and atomize people are, by and large leaving, you know, platforms like Twitter and Facebook, like they’re still there. But people are veering off into these, quote unquote, dark forests, places where it’s less toxic, it’s less, less aggressive, less. I don’t know, there’s just so much wrong with like, traditional social media as like a global Town Square. And so people are veering off into these smaller tight knit communities where there is a sense of psychological safety, there is a sense of shared identity, there is room to build real relationships, and really kind of like converge and coalesce around like these really tight knit niche interests, or identities or pains or problems or whatever. So my whole thesis of the internet is that, you know, the what’s happening at the high end with your Joe Rogan’s and you’re like Mr. Beast, and whoever all these people are with millions upon millions of followers, like, that’s the game that the vast majority of creators should not even play. Instead, we should focus our site on the the fragmenting internet and find the niche communities that we really vibe with that, really, that we have, like a deep desire to serve and explore and build relationship within. Because once you, once you identify that group of people that you actually give a shit about and that you want to spend your time creating for and building relationships with and all of that, so much of the noise of the internet just sort of like falls away, and it makes it it makes it so much easier to market yourself to create things that are hyper specific, that are worthy of people’s attention. Because like, ultimately, marketing comes down to like, earning people’s attention, right. And when you are in this, like hyper niche context, that problem almost ceases to be a problem, right? It’s like you just create things that are like so hyper specific for this group of people who are claiming clamoring for specific media. And just on account of doing that you have already earned their attention, you have already created something that is worthy of their time and their trust. And that’s sort of an entry point into building relationships and all that. So it’s a really long, long winded answer to your question, but like my whole, my whole thing is niches like this is this is something that’s organically happening on the internet, whether we like it or not. But I happen to think that this actually is an opportunity for creators to not have to play these these sort of like mindless mass market. Like how can I appeal to as many people as possible games, but how can I appeal to a group of people that I care about by making media that I’m like, General Like the genuinely Stokes my curiosity, and that really, like lights me up. Because I really think this whole niche context is what gives us the best of both of those worlds where we can build a meaningful, tiny business and actually, like, serve a group of people that you care about. Right? Yeah. And relationships that are Yeah,
Will Bachman 10:21
now you’ve got a course actually. And I’ll tell listeners, right now you got, of course, find your niche. right in your website, it’s, you can purchase the course, give us some of the highlights of that, or if we were going to take that course, like, go through it. And this is a big theme on this show, if certainly, we recently had David A. Fields, talk about finding, you know, creating your fishing line, and sort of a similar concept. He’s the fishing line would sort of be an export exposition or a short statement, maybe of what your niche is. But so definitely big believer here that it’s important not to be I am all things to anybody, but I’m serving someone very specific, finding out what problems do you work on? What clients do you want to serve? But give us your kind of overview of how you would guide someone on finding their niche?
Robert Hardy 11:12
Yeah, I love this question. And I, I should also mention, there’s an article on the site. It’s like 5000 words long or something like that. That is basically all of the good stuff from the course pulled out. I’m like, one of the values of the whole site is to default to generosity always. And just to give away the vast majority of the good stuff, right? Because it’s one of those long term plays and building trust and actually being worthy of people’s time and attention. But the broad overview of the process is that very often, creators start with the question like, what is a profitable niche that I could go into? My whole thing is that if you are playing the long game, if you are playing this game, so that you can build relationships do work that you care about, and all of that good stuff. That is the complete wrong question to start with, because, you know, it’s, it’s really not hard to find a, quote unquote, profitable niche. They’re, they’re everywhere, right? The internet is fragmenting and you can spot these things popping up, it literally all over the place. So the the problem, though, is that if you if you just commit to whatever niche you find, that you think is going to make you a lot of money, very often that you aren’t just going to have the emotional stamina to really play the long game. Because if you don’t have the that sort of innate curiosity, that that ability to stick it out for a year or two, and really get in the trenches with people and to build relationships, and to be a member of all of these communities that exists within any given niche, then you’re not going to really have be able to like reap the rewards or pick the fruit that comes from playing this specific game. So my whole process, broadly speaking, is to first audit yourself, do a bunch of free writing, do a bunch of meditating, get some coaching to figure out what it is that you actually care about the problems, you want to solve the various elements and bits and pieces of your identity. The I know there’s, there’s a lot of different, like end points into this for how to like reverse engineer a niche from your existing identity and psychology and all of that. And all of that is in that article I mentioned. I don’t know, you might be able to just put that in the show notes. Yeah, well, once you Yeah, once you have a just a hypothesis for what your niche might be, I generally recommend doing some research. So going and generating a few keywords. So let me let me bring a just a practical example to this. Yes. What do I give some examples? I love that. Yeah. I am freakishly obsessed with coffee. Like you know, third wave coffee or like, just really like high end coffee. I’m kind of a hipster I have my like pourover and my like little gooseneck kettle and I grind my beans by hand it’s a whole the whole thing. So if I were to decide that this is the thing that I really want to explore, this is the thing that I feel irrationally passionate about or compelled to compelled to just make media about. I would generate a few keywords around coffee so I might do third wave coffee I might do you know single origin coffee, there’s a couple others I would take those phrases those key phrases pop them into the Google’s as I call it, and start combining that with different keyword modifiers. So I do like single origin coffee plus blog, of scroll through scroll through document all of the various sources all of the people find it who are talking about these things and then you know, you know single or like third wave coffee plus podcast or YouTube or news letter or Amazon or YouTube. And this is a process that I call keyword roulette. And I love that it is, it is extraordinarily tedious and time consuming. But as you go through it like this is how you uncover the entirety of an edge. And I have a whole process for like documenting everything you find and makes, you know, making sense of all of it and figuring out how big the niches are making an estimate and how big the niche is. But like this is this is one of those absolutely foundational pieces for me, where not only does it validate that the niches there, that it’s hungry, that people are congregating around these topics, and that they’re hungry for media. But it also gives me a huge leg up for figuring out the people who I want to connect with and build relationships with. Because like, this is one of the like the most obvious marketing strategies ever. Like instead of having to build your own audience from scratch, very often, the best way to do it is to build relationships with people who are already influential, who already have the attention and trust of the people that you’re hoping to serve. And to find ways to work together that are mutually beneficial. And by going through this keyword roulette process, what you essentially have is a big ass list of potential collaborators and friends and relationships, that you can then pump into a like a CRM, or you can use it however you want. But this is one, it’s just such a, I don’t know, it’s just such a foundational thing for me. And the other, I guess, get back to like how you, I guess, like, clarify that this is your niche, the other piece that I recommend, because it is such a it is such a commitment, it is such a like something that you really want to be sure that you’re going to vibe with these people and you’re going to enjoy spending your time on. So once you validated that, it’s that it’s real, it’s there, it’s not a figment of your imagination, there is a market here. The final step before committing is just to immerse yourself in it for a while to jump into the communities to talk to people to have conversations to consume the media. Because if you dive in, and subsequently learn that you just despise being here, that it drains your emotional energy that it just kind of sucks. That’s, that’s a pretty clear cut signal that, yes, this niche might be profitable, it might be like a really viable business opportunity. But for for you as an individual who wants like, whose goal is to build relationships and create stuff you care about and sort of live this fulfilling existence, it’s probably not a good fit. So I’d say like, that’s the, that’s the broad overview of the process, I’ve got some other bits and pieces to it. But so it’s audit yourself. Find like make sure that the you know, come up with a hypothesis, make sure that hypothesis bear some resemblance to reality. And then immerse yourself in the in the market to make sure that it is a good sustainable emotional fit. And you actually want to be there over the long term.
Will Bachman 18:07
Can you share any examples of people that you’ve coached or people that have gone on this journey? And maybe sort of what like, what was their starting? Sort of area of focus? And and what was the nice that they ended up with the hope really, you know, make that real for us?
Robert Hardy 18:25
Yeah, so this is a, like you, you just brought up a really fascinating point, which is that these things always sort of iterate over time. I have a couple of good examples of people who’ve gotten into the gun into the weeds only to realize that they hate their niche, like there was one filmmaker I was working with last year, who actually made an entire feature film, you know, this is a many, many 10s of 1000s of dollar project, they made it finished it and decided that their needs, their niche would be people who are interested in polyamorous relationships, did the research there is in fact a thriving subculture online that exists around that topic. And only, like he came to find that so many of the conversations and like the Facebook groups and everything else were kind of toxic. And he didn’t want to spend his time there is basically a lot of people, you know, complaining about their romantic partners and you know, working through personal drama that just wasn’t they just wasn’t fulfilling to him. So that was one of those like, Oh shit, this hypothesis didn’t work out things. And like that’s, that’s it, there’s a doing this in the context of filmmaking is is generally is harder because the economics of filmmaking are so messy, you know, it takes very long to make them film. It takes a year or two to make a feature. There’s so many moving parts, but Let’s see, what else do I have? One of my coaching clients right now actually is started going wider for his niche he, um, he initially got into the parenting for, for kids with special needs he has a daughter with short What is it I forget, I forget what the what the disorder is. But he initially started looking specifically for groups around, you know, around parents who are dealing with these very, very, you know, specific serious issues. And what he found was that, again, it just didn’t vibe. So what he’s essentially started doing is is broadening out his his niche and looking for groups that resonate specifically around fatherhood, and who are looking for thoughtful long form essays on because he’s a newsletter writer. So that’s one example. But like, I even just like use myself as an example for this, I have. I have another project right now, that is in the political space. And my original niche hypothesis was political depolarization. Because like, I look around at the US political landscape, and it’s a raging dumpster fire of toxicity. And I was really looking into this space, and it is it does exist. But I’ve, I’ve sort of pulled back from like, wanting to exist in that one specific space. And now I’m essentially like, this is something I advise people not to do. But I’m essentially creating my own niche where I’m pulling in people from, from that space from the rationalists, like rationalist, and post rationalist niches, from a quote unquote, intellectual, dark web, and pulling people into this other ecosystem that I’m trying to build. But these are all things that you can only really do once you get into the weeds and start figuring out, okay, what’s here? How does it resonate with me? What do I have to say? And, you know, just just iterating over time to really figure out what it is that that allows that puzzle piece to fall into place, so to speak. Alright, great. So a lot of listeners of this show are independent consultants, independent professionals, and the kind of your guidance on finding your niche, you know, definitely resonates. Right. So rather than doing because I’m, I’m often encouraging people to start some kind of regular content creation platform, whether that’s a podcast, or a blog, or writing LinkedIn posts, whatever. And particularly a newsletter, whatever you’re doing, then, you know, a newsletter can support those, right. So if you’re doing a podcast, you can send out a weekly email or bi weekly email, something like that. So let’s say listen to the show has now gone have gone through this process and thought about and found a niche, let’s say, you know, they may have started out with, oh, animal health in general, but then they’ve, they’ve, they’re, maybe they’re serving that industry. But then they said, No, I really want to make it around like canine health, or, and then they say, Actually, I want to get even more specific, and it’s like, I want to be the organic dog food newsletter, right. And that’s the industry industry I want to serve. So they’ve really narrowed it down. So now someone has found their niche, right, or they at least have identified it. And I love your point about the keyword roulette of doing the research, finding out what other content is being generated on that topic. So you can start thinking about who might want to have a guest on your show or a guest on your podcast, or someone you want to interview. So you’ve done that research. Talk to me now about some of the tactical recommendations you have. For someone who wants to, you know, let’s say create a newsletter, right? In terms of any specific tools, you like to use any about ways to go about it? Typically, those rambling question, but typically, people that I know will, you know, you know, some of them, some other consultants will start a newsletter mainly to send it to their just existing clients. Or maybe they’ll, if they connect with someone on LinkedIn, they’ll add that person perhaps. But maybe there’s other ways to think about building an audience or getting known in a space. So for a independent consultant who’s found, identified the niche that they want to serve, what are some of your tactical tips on where to go from there? Yeah, there’s so many places that we could take this question but like let’s let’s hone in on on the newsletter example. Because it’s a I guess it’s a pretty common thing to do these days. Although, like one thing, like you almost certainly know this as, like a guy who has been running a podcast for a long time and has a shit ton of episodes. There are very few things that are as efficient and kill as many birds with one stone as starting an interview podcast where you can use that as a pretext to go out into the niche and interview people that you want to build relationships with anyway. And then you can use that as as content. Like it’s such a an efficient, beautiful thing. But let’s I don’t let’s pull back and just talk about talking about newsletters. For starters, I you know, generally speaking, you have to start by doing things that don’t scale, like reaching out to some people, one on one who you think might might, ideally might actually vibe with this thing that you’re talking about, right. So if it is, like the organic dog food newsletter, ideally, you, you know, find people who have dogs in your life or who you know, have dogs and who have this sort of like, predisposition to think about health and nutrition and all of that. And you’ll get them on board early. But from there, and this is really where the real grind starts. Because the growth of these things is often much, much, much slower and more tedious in the early days. The the, I guess the there’s so many things you can do, like you can run Facebook ads, you can do whatever my preferred approach is taking the or like taking the organic sort of immerse yourself in the community approach. So I would look for communities of dog owners online, I would look for newsletters that I could, you know, get into or like podcasts that I could be interviewed on YouTube channels that I could be interviewed on in these communities, I would start having conversations with people talking about these things around or go organic dog food. All the while very likely having just a very simple specific landing page setup with a clear call to action and a clear value proposition that makes it like 100% unambiguous like what this is and who it’s for. So it might be something along the lines of like I send a weekly digest that is for dog owners who want their pups to thrive because they’re eating organic food. Like that’s a that’s a really shitty example. But like, you get the example like you wouldn’t necessarily like you couldn’t look at that, and have any sense of like, Oh, I have no idea what this is or why I should care about it. And this is, again, one of those, it’s one of those things that stems from being hyper specific about who your niche is. Right.
Will Bachman 27:35
Right. And just to clarify, Rob, for this for our audience here, it would probably be not so much for like the dog owners put some Yeah, but someone would be more, say, you know, I write a weekly digest of news of interest to like the organic dog food industry, right? So it’d be people in that industry who are manufacturing it or selling it or retailing it or, you know, making the raw ingredients or whatever, right? Yeah. So you say you so you have a landing page, it’s super clear, and then easy for him to sign up to join the newsletter. Do you have tacticals? Like, what sorts of specific tools do you recommend? Because you’ve spent a lot of time and helping independent filmmakers and others build audiences like, do you like HubSpot? Or is there you know, how do you build a website with Squarespace? Like, what are some of the specific tools that you recommend?
Robert Hardy 28:34
Yeah, I have many opinions about this. And I’m sort of coming around to the view that it very much depends on on your values and what you specifically care about, because like any set of tools you choose is going to come with some benefits and some trade offs. And it’s really up for you to wait around in that complexity and figure out like what, what makes most sense for you, given what your objectives are, and given what your specific values or priorities are. For me, I email marketing, I am a major Stan of ConvertKit have been with them since like 2016, they’ve only continued to impress me continue to grow, continue to turn the tool into a really, really badass hub for for automation and segmentation and personalization, and all these things that that I care about is a pretty prolific email marketer. But again, like if, if your goal is to find a couple high ticket clients or like if you are in this this consulting rain for like this, the consulting game, something like HubSpot might very well be a better option. And I haven’t spent much time in HubSpot to know exactly what it does, but like you might want something that traditionally acts more as a CRM and then layers on all of these additional messaging tools on top of that, because like ConvertKit for For like, everything that I love about it is not a CRM, like it doesn’t really give you like, you can create all sorts of custom fields and whatever. But like, if you really want to CRM, it is not the tool to use. So that’s that’s one thing for websites I have you used Squarespace, it’s pretty good, it’s fine does the job. I recently took a like, I know there’s, there’s obviously WordPress, I have nothing but hatred in my heart for WordPress, despite the fact that it powers like 27% of the internet or whatever. Like, I find it extraordinarily clunky. And, and slow and unintuitive. And on the fact that there are so many different components that you need to bring together between hosting and security and all the plugins and a theme, all of which sort of act independently of each other, there’s so much room for like entropy and breakage and just like mayhem and chaos over time that I just, I just can’t, I don’t I don’t do it. But right now, my, my big thing is ghost, I just I love ghost, I use it for three different sites now. But primarily, that’s because it’s simple, and it just allows me to write, it doesn’t it doesn’t give me the leeway to go in and like tinker with a bunch of design options or whatever. Like once I get it set up. The only thing you can really do with ghosts is publish and send newsletters and things like that, which, for a master procrastinator and overcomplicate her and relentless tinkerer, such as myself, that is a much healthier option. It gives me healthy constraints. And it’s also just a lovely way to publish. So I don’t know that I really answered your question other than to say like, it’s complicated, and everybody needs different tools for different reasons. But yeah,
Will Bachman 31:53
okay, so I’m not familiar with ghost. So that is a tool for creating a blog and also a newsletter, or what is ghost? Exactly?
Robert Hardy 32:02
Yeah. Well, are you familiar with substack?
Will Bachman 32:04
I’m familiar with substack. I subscribed a few there.
Robert Hardy 32:06
Yep. Yeah. So ghost is basically like a professional version of substack. Like, like substack gives you like the training wheels. Like it’s essentially like super easy to set up. But once you get in, it’s, you know, you’re stuck with a very small handful of design options. And as you like, you can’t really connect it to Zapier, you can’t do really anything. You have zero control over your branding, your business, your user experience, your design any of these things, which for a marketer, like me is pretty unacceptable, especially if you and you also have to give substack 10% in perpetuity if you decide to charge which, given how limited of a tool it is, I think is asinine. So ghost is essentially like a professional version of substack. You can, you can use it just to set up a blog, you can use it to set up a blog slash newsletter hybrid, which is basically what substack is where like every new post you publish goes to the web as well as to people’s emails. And that’s how I’ve been using it. But it also it just has so many more robust features on the back end. And on the fact that you can connect it to Zapier and and whatever else is highly extensible, and just an all around better option for anybody who’s serious about writing and publishing and wants to build a business around it. Like, you know, substack might be fine, like starter wheels, or like training wheels or whatever. But like ghost is ghost is where it’s at for like, like a long term tool that will grow with you and help you actually get to where you want to be.
Will Bachman 33:45
Okay, so so that’s what you’re using to where you do some of your writing and you can have, it’s easy to sign up. It has a signup tool, etc. If people want to know you mentioned Zapier a couple times with ghosts like how are using Zapier, like what sorts of integrations would you do?
Robert Hardy 34:01
Yeah, so I’m trying to keep my business as simple as possible, which I feel like I’m about to explain all the reasons that it’s not simple. So the whole front end of my site is on on ghost. When somebody signs up through ghosts, they’re added as a member within the ghost ecosystem. But then through Zapier, they get added to my ConvertKit list where I have some pretty intriguing things that I’m building out in the background in terms of automations. And like fun little email journeys and sequences that people can go through when they when they feel like it. So it’s like, oh, you want to learn about positioning this week? Here’s a little three to five day sequence about positioning or like whatever, I’m still figuring out the nuts and bolts of this but like that’s something that I would never be able to do natively in ghost. Beyond that, I have a community and mighty networks. That is also where all of my courses now live. So bait I get If somebody buys a course for me like one off, they automatically get added to this mighty network and to the course within the network. If somebody joins my list, they will get an invite to the community because it’s like the community itself is free. And if somebody joins as a paid member of ungated, whether annual or lifetime, I have those two options, they will get added to specific areas within the mighty network. So those are really the three tools for me at this point is ghost, ConvertKit and mighty networks. And depending on on what actions somebody takes on any given, you know, any given point in my site, or in my in my creative universe, so to speak, I have Zapier doing all sorts of intriguing shit in the background. Okay, what are some of your tips to make content more shareable, so make it more likely that recipients are going to want to forward it on to somebody else and say, hey, check out this podcast, blog posts, white paper, YouTube video, etc? That’s a really good question. And I think the really really unsexy answer to that is to run away from being a commodity like this is one of the core principles that I that I lean in to is like, I think, no matter what industry go into what niche there’s a maybe like a natural predisposition that we have to chase the best practices to, like, Oh, this is how you write a blog post that gets that gets clicks and get shared, and you follow the template and you use the slightly click Beatty headline and all of that. And, to my mind, like, the more you rely on best practices, and the more you sort of do what everybody else in the niche is doing, the less fundamentally shareable it is, so there’s a to bring this back to Seth Godin, who you mentioned at the very beginning, like, he has a phrase that has really, really stuck with me recently. And that’s just that an acknowledgement that any work that’s truly worth doing, it’s gonna, it’s gonna matter to somebody that’s going to give them a new insight that’s gonna create some sort of meaningful transformation for them, or whatever your goal is. Any work that fits into that category might not work like so is says phrase is just real. Like, he says, this might not work and to really lean into that feeling of uncertainty. So for me, the things that most often get shared and talked about and that people are like, Oh, man, this was great. I, I feel this way, too, is when I am running away from playing it safe when I’m doing something that feels extraordinarily out on the edge where I feel that little jolt of hesitation and like oh shit when I’m about to hit Publish. And that’s one of those things. It’s, it’s not really a sexy marketing tip. But it’s more just an acknowledgement that whatever, like, we’re all products of our environment, right. And we’re all products of these, like, everybody is screaming at us, like, just follow this simple six step process, just follow my bulletproof content formula, or whatever the hell. And the more we buy into those types of frameworks, the more unremarkable are and like I mean, that in a very fundamental sense, like unremarkable, like our work will not be worthy of being remarked upon. When we rely on best practices, so there for me, like the thing that I have discovered over and over is that when I lean into an edge and do something that is a little bit scary and uncertain, that’s when people actually talk about things and share. So yeah, it’s not it’s not a very sexy tip, but it’s the one that I keep coming back to. And I’m trying to lean into more with my business because again, there are a million people in the creators creating for creators niche or whatever you want to call this space. The meta meta creator niche. Yeah. Tell me a little bit about your coaching practice. Yeah, so this is something I’m making up as I go along right now. Like I’ve so let’s, I don’t know where to even start with this. I’ve been doing sort of like high ticket coaching and consulting largely in the filmmaking space for years. And it has always been extraordinarily difficult for me I thought I needed like, like to really master the art of sales calls and to have like really, like really finely tuned. You know, like, like this And that like messaging campaigns and like application processes to prequalify people and like all of these things. And when I jumped into the new, like ungated business a little over a year ago, less than a year ago, what does it now may? I don’t even though man time makes no sense. But actually, I’d say about six months ago now, I was talking to somebody just on a on a random whim, somebody I met who is now one of my clients. And what he said was essentially, man, it would be really cool if you had a bunch of case studies on your site, like really good, meaty, long form case studies. And it got me thinking about, about offers that I could create where that would be the natural byproduct of me working with people. So without doing any of this, like, tedious over planning that I’d done in the past, where I really dialed in an offer and like build a, all these funky processes and whatever, I just sound send out an offer to my list, it was like, it was like 100 people at the time, because I had just gotten started. And within a few days, and like the basis of the the basics of the offer was like you and I worked together for a year. I you know, we help you with all of these like really nitty gritty, unsexy things that help you get to where you want to be where you’re building deep relationships with your fans, where you’re creating content that satisfies the hell out of your niche and all of that. And in return for doing this for quite a bit less than I would normally charge for a year of coaching and consulting or whatever. I’ll do it for a reduced fee, but you have to document what you’re doing every single month. And we are going to essentially start tat like piecing together these long form case studies. where like, somebody can come to the site and like say, so there’s this guy Lyle that I’m working with who is the guy who’s writing the newsletter about parenting and whatever that I mentioned earlier. Like, I want to newsletter ret writer to be able to come to this and like say, oh, Lyle started at 400 subscribers at the at the beginning of 2020. And oh man, he had a few really rough months where the growth was, was really stagnant. He was trying things he was trying to get on podcasts and nothing would seem to move the needle. But Oh, look at that somewhere around June, things really started to tick up and oh, look by the end of the area’s 5000 subscribers. So I think the like the main motivation for me, it was really to help people play the to like to help more creators realize what the long game looks like. I wanted to create these these case studies that actually demonstrate what the long game looks like. Because so many of us are seduced by by these stories of overnight success like this, one simple trick will double your conversion rate or whatever the hell. So that’s, that’s kind of where I’m at with this coaching practices. I think I have like 12 clients now we’re all doing, we’re all doing this sort of deep work, this deep foundational work around like identifying niches and creating stuff and iterating on their positioning and creating content and all of that. And just documenting the process and showing how slow it generally is in the early days. But that’s the thing, right? Is this, this foundation that you build early on? Like there’s so much happening beneath the surface that like once that that I know that seeds sort of germinates and sprouts out from the soil like it becomes it becomes pretty powerful, but a lot of creators give up in that early stage where it feels like all the work you’re putting in really isn’t paying off. So yeah, I don’t know that that was a great answer to what I’m doing with my coaching right now. But like it’s it’s just amazing that it came about organically to me, like it’s something I’m experimenting with this year is trying to be a little bit less rigid, trying to I don’t know, not meticulously plan everything and to just run a lot of little experiments and see how they go. And man let me tell you, it’s such a freeing way to live compared to how I had been before it’s such a freeing way to run a business and to get useful data about what you’re doing. Because I I don’t know I don’t think I ever would have run a coaching program like this where it not for the fact that I was like, open and curious and playful and just like iterating on things in real time. So yeah,
Will Bachman 44:42
I love that I love the way you’re building that coaching practice. And I would be so curious to see you gonna build on your filmmaking training to turn some of those into like craps or some video along the way, maybe interviewing you You’re you’re coaching subjects along the way and be able to make some kind of, you know, video at the end that that strings them all together with some sort of stop action progress, right? Yeah, along the way, like no a documentary.
Robert Hardy 45:16
It’s funny that you bring that up because like, just in the last few days, I’ve been like, you know what, I should probably start a YouTube channel. And yeah, it gets me thinking like, Yes, I want to share ideas and share. I don’t know just all of these tactics and strategies and ways of thinking and whatever. But like, this is another great kind of content. And like just something that I’m already doing that, screw it, let’s just hit record on our next zoom call. And, you know, add that as content. And it’s like, this is the real shit that nobody is ever really talking about. That is kind of becoming my brand at this point, right is, is like, I’m the guy who’s going to tell it to you straight, who’s going to tell it to you like, who’s going to be upfront with you about the fact that doing the creator life, whatever that happens to mean to us is never going to be an overnight thing. There’s going to be so much self doubt and uncertainty, you’re going to try things that don’t work. You might go through months at a time where you’re working your ass off, but the needle doesn’t seem to budge in any kind of meaningful way. Like that’s how it was, for me, that’s how it’s been for kind of the past year is I’ve kind of started over with ungated and tried to build it from scratch. But like, it’s finally to the point where it’s really pick it up and people are starting to talk about it. Yeah, man. It’s really good stuff.
Will Bachman 46:36
That is fantastic. Well, I think that would be really cool. a YouTube channel that lets us follow the progress of these folks as they go along in real time would be amazing. So Rob, we mentioned at the beginning, but certainly one link is ungated dot media for people that want to check out your site. Any other any other links that you’d want to share?
Robert Hardy 47:01
Oh, goodness. So I have, like this might be completely contrary to the context of this conversation. But I mentioned my political site, where I’m sort of exploring what it means to be like a responsible, responsible citizen in a world that’s gotten kind of insane. So that website is citizen within calm. And there’s a newsletter and a couple other things that I’m doing there that is really just about exploring and figuring out how to be more thoughtful and curious and non dogmatic and non like, outright ideological about everything that’s going on. So that’s citizen within what else and I have a site called filmmaker freedom that I’ve been running for years that I kind of ignore now, but it’s still there. There’s still courses, people still find it organically. So if you happen to like making films and really want to get into the weeds on how to self distribute filmmaker, freedom is pretty rad.
Will Bachman 47:58
Fantastic. Well, Rob, thank you so much for being on the show today.
Robert Hardy 48:03
Thanks for having me, man. I appreciate it.