How do you turn your side-gig into your full-time gig? What are some of the basics of understanding SEO? And how do you launch big ideas such as an e-course?
In this podcast episode, Joe Sanok speaks with Tommy Griffith from ClickMinded about all things SEO and how you can scale your practice online whilst giving your clients the most value.
Meet Tommy Griffith
Tommy is the founder of ClickMinded and has been in the SEO game for a long time, with over 10 years of experience. From previously working at PayPal for two years as the SEO manager to then working at AirBnb for four years, he now successfully runs what used to be his side-gig.
ClickMinded is a digital marketing training course for marketers and entrepreneurs to learn SEO.
In This Podcast
In this podcast episode, Joe Sanok speaks to Tommy Griffith about how he took the leap to go full-time with ClickMinded, understanding the basics of SEO, giving your customers the most value and how to launch big ideas.
Take us back to PayPal and AirBnb and why you decided to go out on your own
It wasn’t the easiest decision for Tommy. In fact, life was pretty great working at AirBnB, and it had won multiple awards for being the best place to work in the country. But while Tommy was working there he started a side project teaching entrepreneurs SEO on the weekends in San Fransico.
This was around the time that the online course revolution was beginning. It only seemed natural to turn this physical class into an online course.
A few years into the business, the side project ended up generating more revenue than my salary.
With his side-gig making a stable income, an inspiration to succeed as an entrepreneur and after some careful consideration, he decided to leave AirBnb and go full time. Tommy says it was a tough decision, but he always had an itch to make the jump from an employee to a business owner.
What are some basic tips to understanding SEO?
One of the most useful things you can do before you even begin your business is to use third-party tools to do your keyword research and figure out what and how your audience is searching for things.
This way you’re looking at the demand and understanding what are people looking for. Then you strategically create content around that and solve their problems. You can use this checklist to help you.
You want to overinvest in keyword research in the beginning because it can set your entire digital marketing strategy later.
Doing so also helps you understand if what you are wanting to create is even in demand and needed.
You have to have a very honest conversation with yourself, if no one is googling for what you are creating, are you really answering your customers needs?
It’s all in the data. It will tell you if you’re actually going to solve people’s problems. Remember, small search volumes aren’t necessarily a bad thing.
Sometimes, if you own a bunch of those tiny keywords as a clinician, it can help you then get tons of clients.
Launching big ideas and e-courses
Creating an e-course or a content offer is a great way to share knowledge with your audience, as well as scale your business. Think about your sales funnel, and have a primary offer and a secondary offer for customers who aren’t fully ready to convert yet.
When setting up a sales funnel and looking at your traffic, you need to treat it like a regular human relationship. Give your audience tons of free value in exchange for their contact details.
When someone doesn’t know you exist, the only purpose is to move them from not knowing to knowing. And then when they know you exist, it’s to move them into liking you and trusting you.
Lay out many different offerings for your user, do the necessary keyword research and have a solution that solves their problem for each step of the way. Let the data drive you into answering your customers’ needs.
So there you have it, go take action and work on building things that will make an impact in your practice.
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Meet Joe Sanok
Joe Sanok helps counselors to create thriving practices that are the envy of other counselors. He has helped counselors to grow their businesses by 50-500% and is proud of all the private practice owners that are growing their income, influence, and impact on the world. Click here to explore consulting with Joe.
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This is the Practice of the Practice podcast with Joe Sanok, session number 394.
Well hello and welcome to the Practice of the Practice podcast. I am Joe Sanok here live in Practice of the Practice world headquarters at the base of the Old Mission Peninsula in Traverse City, Michigan. We officially moved out of the Radio II building, sold my practice back in June, did Slow Down School in July, wrapped up my final counseling appointments and now look at me. Location independent, hanging out here in my awesome home office. I have this cool shiplap on one side, got some cool art that I hung up two dry erase boards, standing desk I built in the corner to save some space and a beautiful view of my backyard. And Hey, if I want to go give my wife a hug or make a sandwich, I can just walk downstairs and do it.
It’s so awesome. Right now, it’s awesome. We’ll see how it goes, you know, living and working together. But so far, it’s been great to just have a zero commute, you know, I mean I have to drop the kids off at Summer Camp and at school and things like that, but it’s awesome. I really am enjoying it and those of you that have followed my journey know that for a long time I have been kind of moving in this direction and in selling the practice to Nicole back in June, that was the kind of last big step. And yes, now we’re off to the fall.
I batch record these as you guys know and so, do a lot of interviews kind of throughout the summer. And then, doing this week’s podcast and we’ve got a bunch of podcasts this month because I just have a lot of content to go through. So, I think we’re having eight podcasts this month, a total, maybe it’s seven, but a lot of things coming up. If you are starting a practice, Next Level Practice, the cohort for the fall opens next week. So, Next Level Practice is our membership community. We only open it up a couple times a year and if you miss it, you miss it. Because we want people to be in this group that supports each other.
You know, over 30 e-courses, how we have live events every month, you get tons of support for starting a practice. It’s the most comprehensive membership community for starting a practice. So, if you want to do that, head on over to practiceofthepractice.com/invite. Also, next week we have two webinars, two live webinars, all about how to grow a private practice to a 100K in two years. So, if you go to practiceofthepractice.com/100Kwebinar, you know, the people we work with, they tend to hit a 100K well before two years. But you know, we want to kind of pace it out for those of you that maybe still have a full-time job and things like that, but I’m going to walk you through quarter by quarter exactly what you do.
So, that’s practiceofthepractice.com/100Kwebinar coming up. And those of you that have been following me on Instagram, maybe have heard about Podcast Launch School. So, that’s something that I’m going to mention here, but we’ll go into it farther down the road once we kind of do a soft launch to a couple people that are more on the inside. But we’re going to be launching an e-course that is all about how to launch a podcast and I’m so excited about it. But if you hear this and you’re like, “I just want to hear more,” you go to podcastlaunchschool.com and you’ll just read a little bit about what’s coming up there. So, tons of really cool things that are happening. You know, we’re brainstorming as a family now that location is not determined by where I work.
What we want to do and as I’ve mentioned on previous podcasts, we’ve thought about getting RV. I think it might be an Airstream. That’s what we’re thinking, and then kind of travel and meet a bunch of you, hanging out at Slow Down School with all these people that have been listening to the podcast for a while and just growing like crazy and people in my mastermind groups and one on one consulting to hang out with them in person on the beaches of Northern Michigan. Just reinforce for me how much I love what I do, but even more when it’s in person. And so, you know, we’ve got Killin’It Camp coming up in October. Right now, we have 121 people coming to that. I’m sure that’s only going to grow. By the time this goes live, it’s past the regular price tickets so, I’m sure you’ve already heard all about that.
But crazy awesome things happen here at Practice of the Practice. Well, today I’m really excited because we’re going to be talking with Tommy Griffith, and he’s talking SEO and e-courses and all sorts of things that we oftentimes kind of don’t think about in our private practices. Those things that can really level us up. For me, the podcast, e-courses, membership community, it’s built these streams of income that genuinely help people but also helps me go beyond just kind of individual consulting work or even the counseling work I used to do.
It’s really important to think through this stuff because you know, e-courses for example, I’m sure there’s things if you helped, say parents, in counseling and imagine those parents went through your perfect e-course before they came in for their first session and they were prepped and they were ready and you started just weeks or months ahead of time. How much more effective your sessions would be? And you know, the more that we start to deliver value before we even hang out with our clients, it really, really, really helps. So, we’re going to be talking about all sorts of things about being an entrepreneur and, I just loved this conversation. So, without any further ado, give you Tommy Griffith.
Well, today on the Practice of the Practice podcast, we have Tommy Griffith. He’s the founder of ClickMinded, a digital marketing training course for marketers and entrepreneurs. He was previously SEO manager at PayPal and Airbnb. Tommy, welcome to the Practice of the Practice podcast.
Exactly. Totally. So, holy cow. So, when I see PayPal and Airbnb, let’s start there because I know that those are some pretty significant companies to work for and to leave those companies, this is a pretty significant decision. So, take us back to kind of that time there and how you went out on your own. [TOMMY]: Yes, sure. I’m definitely not on the private practice clinical side at all, but a lot of the audience that are just starting the entrepreneurial journey, I can definitely relate with working for someone else and then making the leap. But yes, I, and by the way, I would have loved some clinical help throughout all this process in the last two years. That would’ve been really helpful. Where were you two years ago, Joe? I mean, come on. [JOE]: Yes, you know, it’s so funny because it’s like one of the most common questions we get in Next Level Practice, are people that are in a full-time job, kind of starting that side practice and like, “When do I make that jump?” I think that’s one of those things that whether it’s private practice or any other industry, you know, when you have a job that maybe you thought that was the job you wanted someday, and then finally you get it and you’re like, “Wait, I want to leave this thing.” I remember I got a job at a community college and it was like the golden handcuffs. I had a state pension if I retired from there, awesome healthcare, predictable like summers and it’s like, “Why would I leave that?” And then I did and I’m really glad that I did. [TOMMY]: Right. Yes. And I have a very, very similar story as well. But yes, I studied finance in university. Absolutely, none of what I learned throughout my entire life, graduated when the banks were crashing back in 2008 and, I was one of these people, you’re familiar with the book, The 4-Hour Workweek? [JOE]: Oh yes. I just read The 4-Hour Body and was doing that a little bit. That’s why my muscles are bulging out of my shirt and didn’t quite work as well as Timothy Ferriss had said, but I followed it. But yes, 4-Hour Workweek. Yes, that was a transformative book for me too. [TOMMY]: Yes, it’s a fascinating book. It really kicked off a whole mindset shift for a generation of entrepreneurs I think, and I was one of those as well. The basic premise, it’s a little out of date now, but the basic premise is still pretty strong, which, it kind of started the remote entrepreneurship revolution. A lot of people using remote virtual assistants and building internet businesses and things like that. And I kind of read this book and got very excited about it, like a lot of people and went out to go create my first product. I wrote a very dorky eBook and, I started, I said, “Okay, I need to figure out how to get this to the top of Google,” and ended up teaching myself Search Engine Optimization, right? Getting it ranking for my primary keyword.
I started selling the book for $10. Nobody bought it. I dropped the price to $5, nobody bought it and then I increased the price to $47 and 250 people bought it, which was a kind of my first step into internet marketing. I did a bunch of things, tried business, worked at an agency and nothing ended up working. I was traveling while I was doing that and ended up coming back and it just sort of right place right time. And I suddenly ended up managing Search Engine Optimization at PayPal at a pretty young age.
Was there for two years, made the switch over to Airbnb and managed Search Engine Optimization there for four years. And then kind of, while I was there, I started a side project. I was teaching startups SEO on the weekends in San Francisco, was renting a coworking space and physically teaching on Saturday mornings, teaching startups how to get their sites ranking higher in Google and generating more traffic.
It was just sort of right place, right time with this online course revolution that I know you’re very familiar with. We were talking a little bit about some of the online course stuff you’re working on, but yes, I turned this physical in-person class into an online course. Are you familiar with Udemy? [JOE]: Oh yes. [TOMMY]: Yes. So, it was sort of an early instructor on Udemy and that ended up becoming, it sort of evolved and evolved and evolved and we kept filming new versions of it every year. And yes, two years ago, well I guess maybe a few years in the business, the side project ended up generating more revenue than my salary, and two years ago, I left Airbnb to go full time on it. So, it’s been pretty crazy. [JOE]: Oh yes. I remember that moment when I was, I had left my corner office view of the water private practice where I worked five to 10 hours a week and had, you know, a group practice going on the side and I was going back to my basement office at the college of no windows and it was like, “I made more money in this five to 10 hour a week group practice than I made all year at this. What am I doing here?” Same sort of thing. And you know, my parents, they worked in a school system, my in-laws worked in a school system. It was always you work hard and you do well and someone hires you. So, this entrepreneur thing was so far from anything I had even considered. What was helpful in that transition for you? Like was it just that you already had the numbers and the traction or how did you make that decision to leave? Was it easy? Did you consider it for a long time? [TOMMY]: Yes, it was a brutal decision and it was very, very tough. I mean, Airbnb won all kinds of awards multiple years on the single best place to work in the country. A lot of these tech companies, especially, they’re more like all-inclusive resorts, right? Breakfast, lunch and dinner, are the smartest people you’ve ever met. The stock options kept going up like the Bean Bag chairs and Hammocks and the MacBooks, like it’s crazy. It was a dream come true, but yes, I had always sort of had the itch to make the jump. I had, I was in a tough spot because I loved my job and was working on really interesting stuff.
I mean, both PayPal and Airbnb are two of the largest websites on the planet and so like, when you make changes to stuff, you can see a massive impact in traffic and you can do stuff that you as an individual could almost never do. So, it was an amazing opportunity. I was actually, I stayed longer than I even wanted to because I liked the job and I was still sort of felt unaccomplished but I was actually very sick of the city. I was so over San Francisco. I lived in San Francisco for six years and I’m not sure how familiar you are with it or if you visited much, but I was just so ready to go. I love to travel and, I think one of the biggest things for me was really itching to get out of the city. So, it was kind of more of a personal choice there.
The other thing I think was I had tried when I first got out of school to start my own business and failed miserably. I was 23, and I just did everything wrong. I mean everything like borrowed money from friends and family, was working on an industry I wasn’t familiar with, spent way too much time launching the product. I did everything wrong that you could’ve done wrong. And so, I was, my wounds were fresh and I knew exactly how bad it could go. So, I think I took extra-long in making the jump and I, the revenue from my side project had been higher than my salary for probably two years before I had made the jump. That’s probably longer than most people need but I was pretty cautious in sort of making that jump. [JOE]: I’m with you. When I had run the numbers so many times, that’s the minimum number of consulting clients, minimum number of counseling clients with a minimum for my clinicians that were working for me to replace my salary. Every time I did the numbers, I’m like, “Is it really that low?” Like it’s, that’s all it would take to replace it. And I remember my wife finally saying, Joe, “I don’t want to hear about the numbers again.” Like I had run them so many times and same sort of thing that I just, you know, I needed to run them over and over and way too long. That’s a good year if I left, you know, to think of myself being a year ahead of where I am now, but it’s like all part of the process too. [TOMMY]: It’s interesting. So, do you regret that? Looking back now, do you wish you left earlier? [JOE]: I loved that job and I feel like I really did make an impact on the students and, I don’t know if I regret it. I have a hard time with regrets just in general. I feel like I learned a lot from it, and just learned that jumping before I’d probably feel ready is just a natural inclination that I try to avoid. And so, I think it’s more just learning from it and pushing back on that natural tendency to be really risk averse. So, even finances in our family, I’m usually the breaks and my wife’s usually the accelerator and that’s kind of unfair to her. She would say, “No, I don’t want to just spend money. I’m cautious too.”
But between the two of us, I tend to be the person that says, “Well, hold on,” and so, even just, we’ve been dreaming about this idea of getting a camper at the end of this month. At the time of this recording, I’m going to be completely location independent. I just sold the counseling practice on Friday, and so, we’re dreaming about getting a camper and just going to national parks with our kids for a year and doing the podcast from a camper. But my risk averse side is like, well, do we want to put all that money into a camper and take our kids out? So, like, I have this adventurous side, but I also then have this very practical side that I realized that doesn’t help me out sometimes. [TOMMY]: That’s really interesting. I think it’s so easy to rerun it back in your head and go back in time, right? Like it’s being an armchair quarterback and it’s not fair because it’s stressful, right? But the, I think what’s interesting, and I did this accidentally and you may have done it accidentally too, but it may have benefited both of us. A friend of mine, his name’s Dan Andrews, he runs his entrepreneurial group called the Dynamite Circle, and he coined this term called Exit Velocity. I wrote about it in this blog post I wrote recently about my whole journey, but he, I’m just pulling it up here. He calls it his exit velocity.
The amount of professional and entrepreneurial momentum you have when quitting your job and starting a new venture. Momentum can come from a variety of sources, investment capital experience, anchor clients, industry knowledge and connections, AKA unfair advantage. And so, it’s kind, I didn’t realize this, but yes, the way I’m thinking about it now is like you’re loading, it’s just a running start, right? It’s like you’re loading up a cannon and it’s all about how much you’re sort of tilting that canon back and pointing it up into the sky before you light it, you know? [JOE]: Well, and that’s such a good point because I think when people have a full-time job, they can take risks. Like they can have their rates be three times what they actually think that they’re worth and if nobody buys it doesn’t matter. But if it’s, if you only have that, you’re like, “I just got to get clients in,” or “I just got to sell e-courses,” or whatever your thing is. So, I actually wonder now that you’re saying this, maybe that did allow me to take risks because I didn’t care if I succeeded or failed and then got that running start more than if I had left that full time job a year earlier. [TOMMY]: Exactly. Yes, and I wouldn’t doubt that at all. For me it was, yes, on one hand you could say, I was looking like a worse, having not made the jump when I could have put, on the other hand, I had just done it the other way where I had no exit velocity, where I had no running start and it was horrible. I ended up failing and having to go get a full-time job later. So, you can’t run the simulation twice. [JOE]: Right. Well, I want to kind of break up the rest of the interview into, I want to hear about some just basic SEO tips because that’s one thing that you are just an expert on and it’s always changing. I think that that’s going to be highly valuable for whatever goals people have. But then I also want to kind of talk a little bit more about big ideas, e-courses, those sorts of things, because a huge section of the audience, they’re sitting in counseling sessions or in their chiropractic office or massage therapy, wherever it is. And they’re having the same conversation with people over and over and they realize that there’s an opportunity there to launch a big idea. So, I want to also go into kind of launching big ideas as part of the interview too. So, let’s start though with SEO. What are some of the kind of basic things that people should know and what are a few of the more advanced things that people should know? [TOMMY]: Yes, sure. So, we could, I mean we can talk about this all day. [JOE]: Yes. You do more courses on this. [TOMMY]: Yes. This is, I’ve been doing Search Engine Optimization for about 10 years. Yes, I think the big, and maybe we can link up, we have a strategy guide, an SEO checklist we could give you for your users so they can check it out. I think the big thing I like to; we can give you a checklist of all the things you should do on your site. But the thing I think especially kind of new internet marketers should focus on the most is keyword research. The basic idea here is we use third party tools to figure out how people are searching for things. And I like to do, we did the same thing at PayPal on Airbnb and I did this on my business now, and like I’ve done this for family, friends, businesses or local coffee shops, but you can use keyword research to do what’s called total addressable market sizing.
You look at the whole universe of potential keywords your customers are Googling and you create content around that, right? So, I like to overinvest in this part of the process. So, you know, mental health practitioner Traverse City, Michigan, right? How many people are searching for that? That’s like a bottom funnel sort of keyword, but you can go up and up and up and up, like, you know, marital problems — [JOE]: Marriage counseling or, [TOMMY]: Yes, but even higher sort of moving up in the funnel, you could go even higher, right? Like, difficulty talking with wife, right? Or, children — [JOE]: When should you leave your spouse? [TOMMY]: Right. Exactly. So, you sort of do all, you can do this entire universe of stuff, right? The basic idea here is by over investing in this. It’s not even just an SEO play. Keyword research I really love because it’s, a lot of bloggers and new business owners and people just getting started on their business, the way they go out and create content for their site, it’s like the shower thought process. Like they wake, they go take a shower and like, “Hey, I should write about this.” And I really don’t like that. I like taking a much more quantitative approach where you’re looking at demand, you’re looking trying to lay out how people are Googling things and then solving your customer’s problems there.
You can create that content and all aspects of it. So, the basic idea is, when you do this total addressable market sizing with keyword research, you lay out the entire universe of possible things your customers are Googling and then you create content that answers it. And it’s not just SEO. It gives you a better idea of, “How should I position my business, right? What kind of products should I be offering? What kind of customers should I be targeting?” And you can use this content again and again and again and again.
It can be YouTube content, can be your email marketing, you can post it on social media. It’s not just driving traffic from Google and people searching on their desktop. It can be used for a lot of different things. So, we could talk about the actual mechanics of how to get that page ranking, whether or not you should put the keyword in your title and your heading and in your images and things like that. But I think the basic big takeaway for people just getting started is you want to over invest in keyword research at the beginning because it can set your entire digital marketing strategy later. [JOE]: I’m glad you start there. Like, I think about our YouTube strategy and Sam, she does all this research and we have this whole content calendar for every month. So, then I take just one kind of big block of time and record all four videos because we do a weekly YouTube video and she’ll do something like, you know, the basics of private practice. Like how to set your rates, how to set up your phone system, and then there’ll be also more advanced kind of things. Then she’ll have in there how many people are searching for which search terms. And so, if I know those search terms when I go into the filming, I can then make sure that I’m weaving that content around that search term so that people really are actually getting what they’re searching for.
Then, she also finds related videos and then our team will go in and kind of comment on those people’s videos. Not to just drive people to us, but like, “Hey, great video about how to set your rates. This is really great information.” So, to me that makes it that when I show up to do a video, all that back end has been done by my team and then we’re hopefully going to rank a lot higher and faster and be the next recommended video because we’ve actually done that front end research on it. [TOMMY]: Exactly. That’s exactly it. You got, do you want to teach the course instead? Do you —, [JOE]: It’s actually it’s all Sam. I put her through Sonny, I forgot Sonny’s last name. She has YouTube for Bosses (I think is what it’s called) course. That’s like four or $500 and I bought it for myself and then I’m like, “I don’t want to go through this or manage this. I want Sam to,” and so, then Sam went through it and she has rocked it out and now she’s helping other clinicians do that as well. So, now that’s with Sam. So yes, it’s super cool. [TOMMY]: Yes, that’s exactly how it works. And I think the other thing too, and this can be very traumatic for new entrepreneurs, the other big aspect of this is sort of in the idea validation mode. So, a question we get a lot of the time is, “Hey, okay, tell me, I took your advice. I’m using a keyword research tool, I’m typing in all the things into it that I think my customers are searching for and everything is very low volume or not existing at all. What should I do?” This can be a very brutal moment when you’re first starting your business. And this is why I really like keyword research as a sanity check test on whether or not you should move forward. Because a lot of people say, “No one searching for the product I’ve created. What should I do?” That’s, I have a very brutal direct feedback.
That’s a bad sign, right? Like, it can be this horrifying moment where you and I, this is why I really recommend people do it before they start their business, before they create their product. Because you have to have a very honest conversation with yourself about, you know, if no one’s Googling for what you’re creating, are you really solving anyone’s problem? Are you actually answering your customer’s needs? And so, keyword research can be heartless and brutal because it’s just data. You’re just getting the quantitative data on what people are searching for. But it ends up being a really good test for whether or not you’re actually solving people’s problems.
[JOE]: Yes, I love that idea of making sure you’re doing that research before you kind of launch your product as much as you can. I would push back on part of it for counselors, because I think about even if 50 people a month are searching, marriage counseling, you know, if you are ranking number one, two and three for three different blog posts on that and you say, “Oh, it’s only 50 people.” If you own that 50 people and half of those people call you, 25 people, and if they come 10 times, you know, that’s an extra probably 25 grands for your practice. And so, sometimes, and obviously listeners need to kind of figure out for their market, sometimes if you own a bunch of those tiny keywords as a clinician, it can help you then be able to get tons of clients because it doesn’t take that much to actually fill up a counseling practice. So, yes. [TOMMY]: Absolutely. And there’s no, you’re absolutely right and small or low search volume is all relative. It’s all based on customer lifetime value and we actually talk about this all the time on our free webinars and our YouTube channel and things like that. We have, it’s funny, people show up to our courses and webinars and they say, they ask exactly what you just pointed out. They say, “What search volume should I be targeting for?” Two people will ask the same question. One of them is selling a $10 eBook and one of them is a class action lawsuit attorney that goes for a $10 million lawsuit. It’s like, I hate to tell you this, but you guys are apples and oranges and it’s all about [crosstalk] [JOE]: Apples and a baseball. I mean, you know, it’s so funny how people just want the single answer. What are some, just bullet point a couple of the top tools that, and people can then research them outside of listening to this, and we’ll put it in the show notes. What are just some of the top tools that you’d recommend for doing this kind of research? [TOMMY]: Yes, so the two big ones I think are kwfinder.com and ahrefs.com. They are — [JOE]: KWfinder and, what was the second one? [TOMMY]: kwfinder.com and ahrefs.com. A H R E F S.com. It’s a tough pronunciation. It’s — [JOE]: Yes, that’s a crazy name. [TOMMY]: Yes, it’s the formulation for, that’s how a hyperlink looks in the HTML code. A H R E F S, the nerd. It’s kind of a nerd joke, but those are the two best tools. HREFS is probably the best, most comprehensive SEO and digital marketing tool in general but KWfinder I think is actually the most intuitive and user friendly for keyword research, getting started. Both I believe have free trials or freemium trials, but those are my two favorites. [JOE]: What about the, like Google Keyword Planner or Google Trends? Is there kind of any place for that in that or would you say just jump to these other kind of third parties? [TOMMY]: Really good question. So, Google Keyword Planner was the sort of canonical, single best tool to use for a really long time. It comes from Google. It’s the Google AdWords paid advertising tool and it’s where SEOs got all of their data for years. I used this tool for years. The problem is unfortunately it’s gotten much worse. Google is obfuscating the data, they’re like, sort of, they took away a little bit of the data and they give you less data if you’re not spending a lot with them already on ad-words. [JOE]: Okay. [TOMMY]: So, on top of that, they don’t do a lot of these things these other third-party tools do. These other third-party tools are looking at your competitors. They’re giving you metrics that they’re coming up with. So, KWfinder and HREFS are in my opinion, much better. Google Trends is okay to sanity check and get an idea of maybe seasonality or if something recently happened. It shows you the trends, you know, some like Chloe Kardashian did last week or something like that. Like, that’s okay. [JOE]: Well, an example, Google Trends that really helped one of my consulting clients is when I was helping Clay Cockrell launch onlinecounseling.com. We looked at Google Trends to see worldwide when were people searching online counseling. And we found that for some reason over the last three years, every July in India, there was a huge spike in search for that. Then we did a little digging and we found that for whatever reason, there was a really large newspaper that didn’t article about online counseling like every July for some reason. So, just to know that and to know in regards to targeting online counseling to people that live in India, that was something I never would have even thought of. So, that was just a great big picture kind of thing it’s probably not the nuance that you would get from the other ones. [TOMMY]: Well, yes, and actually KWfinder does this as well. They include the monthly seasonality, so, you’ll see it in there. I view Google AdWords, Keyword Planner and Google Trends as sort of these siloed sources of data. And I really like KW finder and HREFS because they include everything. [JOE]: Yes, and I mean, when Google has an economic interest in getting you to spend money, that data may not be as legit as someone who doesn’t. [TOMMY]: It’s a great point. [JOE]: Yes. [TOMMY]: That’s a very great point. [JOE]: So, we’re going to provide a bunch of kind of checklists and those sorts of things as well on the show notes page. I know that you have a bunch of sweet resources that will pass on to people, but I want to transition into talking more about e-courses and when people have an idea that they’re experiencing in their private practice that they think this really could be something outside of just the one on one counseling or with couples, but you know, whether it’s an e-course or launching something bigger, talk about e-courses. Share kind of your insights and what you’ve seen people do or what you’ve experienced in your own career. [TOMMY]: Yes. So, I am incredibly passionate about this. I am an online learning nerd. This is my business now. My first online course was created in 2012 but I also take, I’ve probably taken a hundred online courses over the last two years. I also formerly taught at a grad school and so I’m very passionate about this, specifically because I think many graduate school master’s degrees are completely unnecessary, completely overpriced, and could be online courses. So, I’m super passionate about this stuff. I think this stuff is going to change the world. I think it’s going to be, it’s an amazing opportunity for entrepreneurs. It’s a great way to scale out knowledge to people. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with this guy’s name, Naval Ravikrant. [JOE]: I feel like I’ve heard his name. I couldn’t tell you. [TOMMY]: Yes. He’s an incredible sort of Silicon Valley investor kind of guy. But he’s recently, the last few years gone on, he’s got like a meaning of life. Why are we all here sort of angled to him and on a number of different podcasts? I absolutely love him. He’s coined this term around, he’s really huge on Twitter as well @Naval. Great resource on Twitter. He’s coined this term around this idea of permissionless leverage and it’s the idea that you can use code and media to scale yourself out to infinite copies. We’ll probably get to this later in the interview, but yes, the idea, okay, one on one counseling, of course, a lot of the times in person it’s irreplaceable.
But if you can, you know, turn Joe into a million different copies of Joe and scale that into an online course, you can have a really, really, really massive impact on your users in a really scalable way to grow your business. So, that’s exactly how I started as well. You know, sitting in a coworking space or in a coffee shop in San Francisco in 2012 teaching one-on-one or one on two, and then turning that into an online course where we now reach tens of thousands of people. It’s been life changing for sure. And I’ve had a lot of fun doing it. [JOE]: Yes. So, for a typical practice owner, what might that look like? [TOMMY]: So, I think the big, I mean, we could talk about the details and the mechanics of doing it at all and the applications and plugins I use and all that but, I think the one big thing to think about is, as an entrepreneur is your offer and where that is. So, if you’re not going to give up the private practice, I really like this idea. I have a friend who runs an entirely different business, but he scales out. He’s a CPA, like a remote. He helps people set up international businesses and incorporation and stuff like that. And the way he thinks about his offer is he has his core clients, which is like his primary offer where he’s doing one on one counseling and that’s like his highest dollar product and he doesn’t give that up.
But then he gets a lot of phone calls and a lot of, you know, for lack of a better word, tire kickers, people who call and email and ask questions and then they don’t sign up, right? It’s too expensive or whatever. But they have a lot of the same questions over and over and over again and he actually created an online course for that, right? So, it’s price is significantly lower than his face to face counseling but the basic idea is someone calls him, they don’t sound like a good fit as a client, they have the same questions that everyone else has, but from a purely business perspective, he doesn’t want to necessarily leave that revenue on the table.
So, he created an online course for like the medium tier, right? It’s like a sort of the 200 to $500 price range and he pushes all of the, “I’m not ready to be a client yet,” type of customers into that. And then you could even scale it down even lower if you want. You could end up, you could do the, you know, the $50 eBook, the $500 course and then the X thousand-dollar individual consulting thing. That would be one way to sort of set it up. [JOE]: Yes. One way that I often frame it out, and I probably stole this from someone, so if you know who I stole it from, feel free to tell me. It’s the sandwich approach of if your core product is kind of the middle of the sandwich, what happens right before someone decides to do that that will help them make that decision and move them along that process that’s an opportunity to sell a product at a lower price? And then when people are done with that, what are the things afterwards? What’s the support that they need when they’re done? So, for me, that’s been really helpful to think about. So, if someone joins one of our mastermind groups or if someone does individual consulting with me, what’s the next step afterwards?
So, is that going to be a Facebook group for people that have done work with me? Is that going to be a conference, is that going to be some sort of support call or a kind of larger Q&A call? And before they join that what do they need to do to scale up their practice to have it makes sense from an ROI perspective to invest 500 to $2,000 a month to join one of those products? For me that’s helped me really think through over the years of like what are the things that we can offer from the moment someone says, I want to start a practice.
So, we’ve got our $17 one-year practice plan, then Next Level Practice, which is our membership community and then it kind of goes all the way up from there, filling in all those gaps. So, in thinking about a private practice owner so, let’s say you do EMDR and you work on trauma. What do people need to know before they come into that? Or if people aren’t ready to make that commitment, you know, what could you do to teach about trauma through an e-course or something along those lines. [TOMMY]: Interesting. Yes, that is a very comprehensive sales funnel that you have there. That is awesome. Like I said, if you want to teach our courses, that would be great. [JOE]: Well, we’ll talk about, yes, doing some swaps. That’d be fun. I think you would provide awesome value to our Next Level Practice community. We have an ‘Ask the expert’ every month where we bring in an expert where they can have access to people that would be thousands of dollars per hour. So, we’ll have to figure out a little swap there. It will be awesome. [TOMMY]: Yes. I think one thing that can be really helpful, especially for people that are just getting started and you just alluded to it, as well, is this idea of, when you set up a sales funnel, most people familiar with what a sales funnel looks like, top funnel, middle funnel, bottom funnel. The way — [JOE]: For those that don’t maybe just give quick bullet points of what that means. [TOMMY]: Yes, sure. The basic idea, you think, if you visualize right now an actual funnel, and your business is at the conversion or ends up at the bottom of your funnel, top of funnel, let’s say your physical brick and mortar shop. Top of funnel people is like people walking by your shop or maybe just walking in for a moment and sort of browsing. Middle funnel is, “Oh, I’m picking up,” you know, it’s a t-shirt shop. “I’m picking up the t-shirt. I’m looking at it. I’m trying it on.” And bottom funnel is, “I’m bringing it to the register. I’m asking about the price. I’m asking whether or not it’s polyester cotton and I’m just about to buy. Maybe I’m asking for a promo code but I haven’t converted yet.”
And then, the bottom of the bottom is I’ve purchased, right? And, laying out your business in this way can be very helpful. What a lot of people do, a lot of people make this mistake, especially internet marketers, is they don’t treat their sales funnel like a regular human relationship. And my favorite example of this, a while ago I met a life insurance salesman at a party and it was the worst experience of my life. Like it was just, you know, I’m at the party, I walk in the door two minutes and it’s like strong handshake, aggressive eye contact. Like, “Hey pal, let’s talk about your finances. Do you have time tomorrow or Thursday for a coffee meeting so we can get you into this policy?” And it’s just like, “Dude, it’s too much. Calm down.”
A lot of internet marketers do this. They buy traffic or they do a little bit of Search Engine Optimization and they send it all immediately to their sales page, right? This is the equivalent of walking into a bar and saying, “Hey, my name is Tommy. Nice to meet you. Let’s go get married.” It’s just too much. And so, what a lot of people can benefit from when they’re setting up their sales funnel is treating their traffic like a regular human relationship. The first time they’re interacting your business or coming onto the website, it’s, “Hey, how are you? Nice to know you. I’m Tommy value, value, value, value, funny story,” or like things like that. Middle funnel is, “Hey, let me give you a bunch of value in exchange for a way to contact you again. What’s your phone number, what’s your email address?” Something like that. And then bottom funnel is, “Hey, let’s go out for dinner sometime,” like we’re warming it up a little bit.
And so, it sounds to me like you’ve sort of laid out your business like that as well. Your podcasts would be a great example of top of funnel. “I need the content of the blog posts on your site,” or, “Are your YouTube videos all free?” Tons of value for the user with nothing in exchange. Middle funnel is getting closer. “Hey, give me your email address.” Something else, and then like lower dollar products you could say are middle funnel, bottom funnel, right. The $17 one-year practice book you just mentioned, and then like the kind of more expensive products that deliver even more value are the actual core offer. So, that sounds like a very reasonable logical sales funnel. It treats the users like a regular human relationship and it’s not too aggressive. [JOE]: Yes. I often describe it, you know, I think a Zig Ziglar first that people do business with people they know, like, and trust. And if you lay that on top of the funnel, even going back to the dating thing. So, when I was in high school, there’s lots of girls that didn’t know me. So, in fact most of the world doesn’t know me. So, the girls that did know me is a smaller group. So, they knew that I existed. And then the amount of girls from that that liked me, well that gets even smaller and then those that trust me gets even smaller and then finally I ended up marrying my wife. So, I think that the way I often explain it is when someone doesn’t know you exist, your only purpose is to move them from not knowing, to knowing.
Then when they know you exist, it’s just to move them into like, and then from like into trust. And then if you think of it that way, that idea of “I just met you, I need to make the sale.” You’re right. You don’t have permission to do that. And it feels super weird. I mean, how many times have you, whether it’s a used car or life insurance or any of these different types of encounters, furniture. Oh my gosh, you walk, we used to have this thing where we go into this one furniture store that will remain unnamed and we would play this game to see how long we could avoid getting talked to. We would like duck behind like furniture and we’d, it was just this game to see how long we could go without the furniture person talking to us because it was, we knew it was going to be a hard sell and it didn’t feel good. [TOMMY]: Yes. It doesn’t feel good. No one likes it, and yes, when the, that’s just sort of the game we play. This is the most successful internet entrepreneurs. They do this. We follow the, it might look crazy to some people on the outside, but there’s this great financial blogger I love. His name is Rameet Satie and — [JOE]: Oh, I love Rameet. He’s awesome. [TOMMY]: Yes. Okay. You know him. Yes. We are very close to his model as well, which is 98% of everything we produce is free, but if our users want the results faster or they want something specific, then we do the paid product. And so, we end up doing a lot of work for free and we’d just expand our top of funnel as wide as we possibly can. And it gives us a lot of room to work with. It’s grown our email list a lot, it’s given us a lot of leverage in other places and it’s paid back in spades. But it all starts from treating all of that traffic, like regular human relationships. [JOE]: Yes. And I think that that really is what people are paying for. It’s speed. So, you’re providing more organization through an e-course than if someone read all the blogs. Even if you just have taken everything that’s on your website and organized and said, “Here’s the top nine blog posts. Pay this money and we’ll walk you through this process,” and people are like, “Well, the knowledge is out there.” It is by how much is your time worth if you spend five hours dinking around trying to figure it out versus just pay the money, go through the e-course, know that it’s right and then move on. [TOMMY]: Exactly. And that’s a great point. Everyone says this as well because we’re doing this now, right? We are competing with, yes, we do digital marketing training for marketers and entrepreneurs. We are competing with thousands of free blog posts and YouTube videos all the way up to courses that are between $10 and a thousand dollars all the way up to $100,000 master’s degrees in digital marketing. So, there are, and this is probably applicable to any business Like, any of your listeners that are listening now and thinking about their practice, they’re going to be Googling. If they Google their primary keywords and they see a bunch of free content, they might get dismayed. But I would argue against that.
I would say exactly what you just said, which is that you’re selling speed, you’re selling, the trust that you provide there, there’s always going to be the free version of it. But in selling the speed or selling your angle on it or selling whatever your unique value proposition is on it is people, we sort of overestimate the free competition. Like, people do this all the time with their businesses and I would not be dismayed, even if there’s a million blog posts that are free on your topic, I can guarantee you you have something unique that you can offer that your users will love. [JOE]: Yes. You know, Harvard Business Review put out, I think they call it the value pyramid. It was a year or two ago. What I love about it is that talks about all the reasons someone will buy a product and so, even by paying for a product, there’s a certain status that someone feels, even if the external world doesn’t know that status. They feel like it’s something more. I mean your $47 book sold and the cheaper one didn’t.
There’s a certain status and that’s one of the many kinds of value propositions. It’s part of that pyramid, and so, people perceive the price, they perceive the offer, the speed, all of that when they’re buying, whether it’s an e-course or counseling or something else. [TOMMY]: Absolutely. Actually, it’s so funny you bring this up. I’ve had this discussion with other entrepreneur friends as well, and I’m fascinated by this because we have, we actually just recently decided to, you know, sometimes when friends would ask or we get emails all the time from people in third world countries and refugees and people that were asking for access to stuff. And we were very liberal for a long time with giving stuff away. You know, we had 50 Syrian refugees that had made it to Europe and had asked for access to the course and we gave everyone access to the course for free.
We had friends and family ask for the course and they give it to them for free. And we went and looked at the data. No one follows through. When you give users access for free, whether they’re from a desperate, desolate situation in a third world country or whether they’re an upper middle class kid in Fairfield County, Connecticut, no matter who they are, where they’re from, they don’t respect the product if they don’t pay, if they don’t have to work for it to some degree. And then, you know, all the results follow. They don’t do it, they don’t get what they’re looking for and it’s absolutely fascinating to me.
So, we’ve decided to stop doing this and it’s because the users aren’t acting on it. They’re not getting any value out of it. If they don’t do it, they don’t, they don’t respect it. And so, it’s really interesting to see that as, I can’t explain it. Maybe you can explain it. You’re much, you have your finger much more on the pulse on this world than me. But yes, we seem to be wired to sort of, not value things unless we have to put some sort of work or effort or money behind it. It’s really interesting. [JOE]: Yes. We’ve done that with Next Level Practice. We get probably an email a week saying, ‘Can we join for a discount?” And I think also if I was to do that, it’s then saying I don’t believe in the ROI for this 88 bucks a month. So, if I genuinely see people over and over paying $88 a month and then going from just a couple of clients a week to 15 and they’re making four grand or more a month, I can then say, “Honestly, most of our people are making way more money than they were by paying that $88 a month. Like, if you get one new client, you’ve paid yourself back for that and we have tons of free content that you’re welcome to go listen to or read or watch. But we believe so much in the ROI with this that we want you to pay for it.”
And I think most people understand that and most people respect that. Of course, you get the people that push back and then it’s like, “Well, how about I just ban you from the website?” No, just kidding. Well, I feel like we can go on for so long, but the last question that I always ask guests is, if everybody, if every private practice owner in the world were listening right now, what would you want them to take away? [TOMMY]: So, I am a huge fan of laying out sort of what we talked about before, which is many different offerings for your business based on what’s best for the user. I really liked this idea, especially for private practice owners of doing the keyword research to figure out what your customers are looking for but having a product that solves their problems at each step of the way. You could have that top gold level sort of individual consulting thing, that medium tier online course, that $10 eBook and laying all that for your users from a business perspective, but really starting with what is solving their problems, who is your customer avatar, what are they searching for, and laying out that whole map of keyword research and figuring it out even before you get started because letting the data drive you to answering your customers’ needs can be really helpful. [JOE]: Oh, that’s so awesome. Well, Tommy, you had mentioned that you’ve got some digital marketing strategy guides and some other things. How can people connect with you? How can they connect with your work in case they want to go deeper? [TOMMY]: Yes, at clickminded.com, Twitter I’m at @tommygriffith and we can give you a few links to some freebies for all your users in the show notes if that’s cool with you. [JOE]: Awesome. Thanks, so much for being on the Practice of the Practice podcast. [TOMMY]: Thanks Joe. Appreciate it. It’s fun. [JOE]: So, go take some action. Work on things that will actually make an impact in your private practice, keep leveling up, keep pushing yourself, but also realize that one of those secrets to killing it is actually slowing down. It’s like a one end of the spectrum. We’ve got Killin’It Camp and on the other end we have Slow Down School and that’s how we have to live. We have to slow down and recharge and then go kill it. So, don’t forget about those things. We’ve got that a 100K webinar over at practiceofthepractice.com/100Kwebinar. That’s a live webinar I’m doing two times next week. Also, Next Level Practice doors open on Monday. So, that’s practiceofthepractice.com/invite to make sure that you get those things.
We have to give an amazing shout out to Brighter Vision. I’m so excited. Brighter Vision is actually a sponsor of Killin’It Camp. They’re doing a website lab the whole time Killin’It Camp’s going on. It’s going to be helping people with their websites, whether or not they work with Brighter Vision, which is so cool. So, brightervision.com/Joe to get a free month. Head on over there to sign up for Brighter Vision. They are going to help you in so many ways to have a beautiful website that attracts your ideal client. Again, that’s brightervision.com/Joe.
We have some awesome people coming up. We’re going to be talking about all sorts of things around continuing to level up, hyper niching, we are going to be discussing the five questions that I get most often, so tons of great content this month. Make sure you are subscribed and thanks for letting me into your ears and into your brain. Have an amazing day.
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