Real Numbers Exposed: “Who Is” Case Study
First of all, I must say that I am an average guy: I have no special skill or talent. 3 months ago, I was a complete nobody in the blogging world but I have been able to grow my blog to receive more than 100 unique visitors per day in less than 3 months, and I have been named on several of the biggest blogs in the industry. Everything I am going to explain in this post is achievable by anyone, so if you want to get a good head start toward success, read this article carefully.
The Various Paths to Success
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There is a huge misconception that most people have when just starting as entrepreneurs. To reach success, you don’t need to have THE good idea. There are several ways to create a successful business:
- You can identify a need and offer an object or a service as an answer to this need,
- You can create a need AND its solution at the same time,
- You can analyze what other people are doing and beat them at their own game.
Learning From Others, The Genesis Of The Idea
One of my best friends, Lekin, is originally a php/mysql/flash developer. He made an observation: in France, there is a huge trend for “revival” parties and concerts. 10 years ago, a lot of 80s-style parties popped up. People were feeling nostalgic about the music they were listening when they were teenager.
So, he said to himself:
Our generation is soon going to be between 25 and 30 years old. People are starting to make decent money and they will probably also be nostalgic of their teens in the 90s. We are from this generation so we are more qualified to know what these people will be waiting for.
He started a business with one partner by organizing parties in a small bar in the center of Paris. After only 3 years, his team is now composed of 6 people and what started as small parties with 50 people now regroups over 5000 people every single month. With tickets sold at least 15€ each, that’s 75k€ each month only from the entry fees. You can also add the HUGE number of drinks sold and you can guess that he is making between 150k€ and 225k€ gross each month.
The lesson he taught me is to analyze what is working for other markets and adapt it to your own niche. Then make it more entertaining, more fun, more professional, more everything than the competition.
Identifying Goals and Finding a Shortcut
I had a huge disadvantage when launching Dukeo: I am not a patient person. When I get something started, I work my ass off to get it working well and to get it working fast.
I knew for a fact that if I had to post every single day during 1 year to see barely 10 visitors per day on my blog, I’d get discouraged.
I had to find a shortcut.
There is no better way to get noticed by a lot of people than getting the attention of the “connectors” (you should definitely read “The Tipping Point” to understand this concept) in a positive and original way (you don’t have a second first impression), and I needed something that would make them want to talk about me and my blog. This would get the crowd’s attention.
There were still a few problems:
- I didn’t know anyone,
- My name was unfamiliar to everyone,
- Big guns are receiving a LOT of messages from people asking for their help.
Standing Out of The Crowd is The Key
The make money online and blogging world is quite saturated BUT there is still room for anyone.
This might sound like a big contradiction when in fact it couldn’t be more simple: there is room for anyone BUT you have to find a way to get out of the crowd. Unless you find an original twist, you won’t get anywhere. (This applies to both blogging and affiliate marketing).
Being aware of that, I tried to find ideas that do exist in other industries but are unexploited in the Internet Marketing niche. To some people, blogs are the new newspapers, so I checked what was going on in the old generation media. And then it struck me: every industry with famous people has some caricatures of these famous people! It did sound almost too easy!
I had my starting point! Caricatures were going to be the hooks that would make people link to my blog and visit it.
Moreover, this idea is perfect for the Internet Marketing industry because all the big guys are very easily reachable. Making themselves available through their blog, Twitter and Facebook is part of their business, and I was going to use that to my advantage.
Idea Development and Talking To Ego
I was going to need caricatures but I also needed to develop the idea even further.
A thing that every big blogger loves is when another blogger talks about him/her. I started investigating the opportunity of doing interviews. It soon appeared to be a bad idea because you need to contact people to interview them, and being a nobody, it would be too complicated to get some answers to my questions. Moreover, there is already an important number of bloggers posting interviews.
In order to talk about these people, I chose to work with biography posts: to write them, all I need is to make some research on websites and compile the information in a well-structured post.
- I include nice graphics and a fun part (the caricature),
- Posts are well-written to sound professional,
- I made sure “Who is” was not used as a series name in any blog in the industry (and “Who is [insert_name]” sounded like a natural research term),
- Biography posts are used less than interviews.
Choosing an Artist
The last issue I was facing before starting the series was getting the caricatures done. As I studied architecture, I learned to draw… buildings. I started looking for an artist which would be both affordable (I was on a budget) and very skilled (if the caricatures were poorly done, I was risking someone taking over my idea and getting it achieved better than the original: me).
I hired 3 caricature artists and spent several hundred dollars to do some tests.
- The first was drawing for a decent price, but the caricatures sucked.
- The second was cheaper and the quality was higher, but the turnaround was too long.
- The third was more expensive but the quality was clearly better and he delivered faster.
I found my artist on the third try!
Starting The Right Way: Picking the First Person
This choice has been really easy to make: I spent a few weeks on Twitter to see how the big bloggers were reacting when they were named by some small-time bloggers. One of them quickly got out of the crowd: ShoeMoney. I noticed that most of the time, he tweeted about posts people were writing about him.
Being a long-time reader of Jeremy’s blog, I also knew about his “Free Shirt Friday” post series and it appeared like an easy way to get even more exposure without too much additional work. Once the caricature is drawn, I can get it printed on any support. It took me very little research to find a quality tee-shirt printer. Getting the tee-shirt done and sending it to the USA was going to have an additional cost. It took me 5 minutes to write a note that I would include in the mail with the tee-shirt.
I was increasing the possibilities.
Best case scenario: ShoeMoney could blog about the “Who is” post and/or he could post about the tee-shirt. Worst case scenario: My name and brand are “just” appearing on his radar.
Everything was ready to get things going!
Return on Investment: Here Comes The Numbers
I started publishing the “Who is” posts, and all I can say is that the reactions were really different from one post to another, both in terms of traffic and value. The following data is not intended to rank the various people based on the traffic they sent back because traffic is absolutely not the only value I got back from these posts.
- 02/09 – ShoeMoney twitted about “Who is ShoeMoney?” (24 Visitors)
- 02/15 – John Chow twitted about “Who is John Chow?” (23 Visitors)
- 03/05 – John Chow featured Dukeo’s tee-shirt in a Dot Com Pho – 0:45 in the video
- 03/09 – Shawn Collins twitted (two times) about “Who is Shawn Collins?” (6 Visitors)
- 03/15 – Zac Johnson linked to “Who is Zac Johnson?”
- 03/24 – John Chow twitted about “Who is David Klein?” (13 Visitors)
- 03/24 – Jonathan Volk posted about Dukeo’s Caricatures (229 Visitors)
- 03/25 – ShoeMoney featured Dukeo’s tee-shirt in the Free Shirt Friday’s (54 Visitors)
- 03/29 – John Chow featured 3 caricatures in a blog post (8 Visitors)
- 03/29 – John Chow, Zac Johnson and Jonathan Volk featured Dukeo in a Webinar – 1:50:22 in the video to 1:52:40 (22 Visitors)
- 04/25 – Zac Johnson posted about Dukeo’s Caricatures (27 Visitors)
- 04/26 – Missy Ward posted on Facebook about “Who is Missy Ward?” (37 Visitors)
- 04/26 – Missy Ward twitted (two times) about “Who is Missy Ward?” (38 Visitors)
- 04/26 – Shawn Collins twitted about “Who is Missy Ward?” (19 Visitors)
- 05/03 – Tyler Cruz posted about Dukeo’s Caricatures (180 Visitors)
As you can see some people reacted pretty well and either helped me spread the word at the time of the post, or even made a full post about Dukeo while some others didn’t react at all.
I’ve been a little disappointed when I saw that Darren Rowse, dk, Frank Kern and Joel Comm didn’t react at all to the caricatures, the “Who is” posts or the tee-shirts they received in the mail, but you can’t hit a home-run each and every time!
By far, the most enthusiast person was Jonathan Volk and the post he made on his blog brought a HUGE number of visitors to Dukeo.
An interesting fact is that the number of visitors brought by posts about Dukeo made on other blogs is almost directly proportional to the way Dukeo is linked into the post. For example, the posts made by Jonathan Volk and Tyler Cruz included several links to Dukeo, some of them being deeplinks to articles, brought an important quantity of visitors to Dukeo. On the other hand, the post by Zac Johnson (who has a bigger blog than Tyler) brought a really low number of visitors probably because it does include only 1 link to my homepage with the anchor text “dukeo.com”.
I must add that Shawn Collins gave me an amazing piece of advice to help me grow my reach: posting the caricatures on Facebook and getting people tagged in them. As soon as I implemented Shawn’s advice, I noticed a consequent increase in traffic to Dukeo (42 visitors in the first few hours).
There is a lot more than just traffic to these posts. A good illustration is the “John Chow case”. I could sum it up like this:
Website visitors are lazy!
There was no direct link to Dukeo in John’s posts so I didn’t notice any spike in traffic. He didn’t bring the biggest number of visitors to Dukeo, but in term of branding, being featured in a Dot Com Pho video was huge because he was wearing the tee-shirt I sent to him. I now have access to a video of THE John Chow wearing one of Dukeo’s tee-shirt.
Time To Talk About Money: What About Price?
Let’s do some quick math:
- Shoemoney tweet: $100×2
- Shoemoney review: $1000
- John Chow tweet (x2): $117×2
- John Chow review: $500
- Zac Johnson review: $500
- Jonathan Volk review: $375
- Tyler Cruz Review: $275
- Total: $3084 (this doesn’t include the tweets of Shawn and Missy as they are not selling them)
As you can see, it would have cost me about $3084 to get the same exposure. It’s also important to notice that if I didn’t have these caricatures and the “Who is” post series, I doubt the big blogs would have accepted to make review posts about Dukeo.
- Caricature cost + print on shirt + delivery: $140
- Actual Price: $1680
Benefits of Dukeo’s Strategy: Traffic And Brand Awareness
One of the most important benefits of my strategy is that the “Who is” posts make me and my blog appear on the big guns’ radars. Once you get noticed, if you don’t screw things up, you start building bridges that could lead to future business opportunities.
Another important aspect is that the caricature are staying on Dukeo and they are copyrighted. This means that they help getting some exposure for Dukeo as well as adding valuable content to Dukeo itself. (I’m already working on new ideas to use these caricatures even further.)
What’s Next ?
I know this post may sound like the end of the experiment, but it’s not. The “Who is” posts are not going to stop. I found a good rhythm and a working recipe, which is exactly why I am putting the same effort and dedication each week to write another post in the series. I try to always be nice when I’m contacting people to get them featured on Dukeo (It may be the 15th or the 20th person I contact to get feature in the “Who is” post series, but for them it’s always the first time I’m contacting them!).
As I have had a lot of requests to make caricatures for people, I am launching a competition where everyone will get a chance to get their own caricature! (Click image for details)