MTO16- In the spirit of full transparency, know that this podcast with Jeff and Ben from Dollarsprout contains affiliate links. This means if you make a purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.
You probably know that making passive income online is a great way to create the lifestyle you want.
But most people struggle to make money online or even know where to start. I would like to tell you that all you have to do is work hard and you can do it. But in reality, finding the right strategy is more important to see results.
In this podcast with Jeff Proctor and Ben Huber we chat about:
- How they struggled for over a year to make any money from their online business.
- What their “lightbulb” moment was
- How you can use their “secret formula” to grow your online business quickly.
- What they would do if they were starting from scratch
- Their online businesses: VTX Capital, Dollarsprout and Breaking The One Percent (BTOP)
Buckle up pumpkin, this is a long one with insane value bombs! (Be sure to check out the video below… it’s a game changer)
Be sure to pin this for later…
Part 1- Jeff and Ben’s Background
As you start to listen to this podcast you will realise that Jeff and Ben are just 2 normal guys.
In the next 5 minutes you’ll find out:
- Both Jeff and Ben had University degrees in Science
- Jeff went down the finance route
- Ben had a lot of debt… so started nursing
- They knew there was more to life than working for someone else
It was in February 2015 that they decided to give an online business a shot…
The Start of VTX Capital
During this section, you’ll find out why Jeff quit his job with no proven business model in place…
- They planned to earn $10-$15 per month for a membership model (people could see Jeff’s and Ben’s trades they were making etc.)
- How Ben found an extra 40-50 hours a week to put into it (whilst working full time)
- Jeff contributed 50-60 hours of work each week by himself
- Learn how they avoided burn out and kept up the motivation
Of course, you’ve heard that starting a business is tough. But after reading the title for this podcast, Jeff and Ben’s story may just surprise you.
Here is the stage VTX Capital was at by May 2016:
- They were still making $0 (for 14 months!)
- Jeff had to go back to work just 9 months after quitting
- The membership model wasn’t working
- They had no traffic
Now, let me ask you this… Would you have the cahoonas to persevere if you worked for 14 months before seeing your first taste of success?
The Lightbulb- Dollarsprout was Born
It wasn’t until Jeff went back to work when their lightbulb moment happened for them:
- They stumbled upon affiliate marketing and made a few dollars!!
- In October 2017 Dollarsprout replaced VTX Capital
- After about a year of Jeff working at the hospital, he quit his job again
- Ben took his first paycheck in March 2018 (over 3 years after starting!)
Are you beginning to see how this was not a “get rich quick” thing that Jeff and Ben started?
Affiliate marketing was a huge eye-opener for Jeff and Ben. They realised they had been working hard using the wrong strategy. They hadn’t even heard of it when they started so you will know more than they did just by reading “Affiliate Marketing Online: The Secrets Revealed“.
Part 2- Pinterest- Dollarsprout’s (not so) Secret Traffic Source
If you have ever heard bloggers mention the best “social media” to drive traffic (I use quotes here because it’s not really a social media platform) then you will no doubt have heard of Pinterest.
But you may not have heard of BTOP’s Pinterest strategy.
Find out my own experience of using Jeff and Bens Pinterest course including:
- How long it took me to complete it and implement it
- How it blew my mind (some people say that’s easy to do… I beg to differ!)
- Their on brand/ off brand marketing tips
- How to create pins for engagement vs click through rates (this was eye opening!)
Jeff explains more about why they created the course in the first place and why it only costs $9. If you haven’t used Pinterest before then check out “How to Use Pinterest for Beginners” for an overview of why it beats other social media platforms and the basics for starting.
THE Best Pinterest Tips (You Won’t Even Find This in BTOP’s Course!)
You’re about to see that Ben is literally the Pinterest Don. Imagine what you could do if you really understood how Pinterest works.
In the next 2 minutes you will learn:
- How the smart feed generates content
- Why viral pins will have descriptions that contain “high volume keywords” (at least 99% of the time)
- Understanding how “crawlers” learn what content is about
- Priority is given to “fresh” pins
- How to optimise your pins & descriptions
Little by little you begin to realise that “engaging pins” with “high volume keywords” will always win!
However, the design is what will make your pin stand out when all else is equal.
Listen to Jeff Analyse my Pin!
I was cheeky and asked if these Pinterest criminal geniuses could check out a pin that was gaining some traction for me…
Hopefully, this advice will be able to help you too!
So here are some of Jeffs top tips…
- What do you want people to focus on? (i.e. where should their eyes be drawn to first?)
- Increase Click Through Rate by adding a call to action (CTA)- i.e. a red button saying “Read Now”
- Use a photo of Grant Sabatier if he allows it (people may recognise his face as he’s on a book tour currently)
- If you’re getting traction Make 10 other pins for this article (try different things i.e. empahsising “Make $50,000 in 4 days”… or make Finacial Freedom easier to read)
Are you beginning to notice that Pinterest has no issue with using different pictures and multiple pins for one post?
Some ideas for what background image to use to add context were:
- a picture of the book cover
- Grant’s van in the desert that resembles financial freedom
- a picture of a podcast microphone
Here are some of the new pins I have created using his advice.
I’ll let you know the stats after a week or so (please do ask… I have a tendency to forget to update these things!)
Optimise Content That’s Getting Traction from Pinterest
There’s really just one main piece of advice here:
Think about what your goals are for a piece of content before you write it.
There’s a few different goals you may have for every article you write:
- Gain email subscribers (i.e. create a specific opt in)
- Drive affiliate income (i.e. Affiliate link for what you are writing about- can you make an image with more flair than a button that catches people’s eyes?)
- Lead people to buy your own products
- Link your Youtube channel or podcast etc.
Are you beginning to see how it’s much easier to do this before you write the article rather than going back over it? Check out BTOP’s article on repurposing content if you still want more.
IMPORTANT- Group Boards & How Pinterest Works
There was one amazing piece of advice Ben gave here if you are interested in getting more traffic from Pinterest:
Aim to reach a targeted audience rather than a large audience
Quality always wins on Pinterest in the battle between hyper quality vs audience size!
The boards that your pins are pinned to really matter i.e. if it’s on a “spam board” it will be really unlikely to feature on the smart feed.
Group boards in the past were phenomenal, but they have been toned down due to people abusing them.
As you absorb this information you will realise that group boards have not been phased out altogether. But they won’t have the impact that they used to!
Hence it’s important to use:
- Personal boards (make them specific i.e. “Blogging Tips to Drive Traffic for Beginners”, rather than “Blogging Tips”)
- AND high-quality group boards.
Tailwind Hacks to Find Quality Group Boards… and Drive Insane Traffic
As you continue to listen to this podcast you’ll start to get excited about what Pinterest can do for you.
It’s important to note:
- Pinterest analytics shows you which content is performing well
- Tailwind helps you to see if a group board is still performing well
This video on how well the group board is still performing shows you what Ben was referring to:
Ben and Jeff only use boards with a virality score of 1 or higher. Therefore, pins should get re-pinned at least once on here.
Note- Ben mentions this is slightly superficial as it only shows repins and not clicks on your pin. You may be getting 10 clicks per pin on a group board but this metric is not possible to track.
You probably know that group boards with dozens or hundreds of contributors tend to perform poorly.
But if they have less than 15 contributors they tend to perform better as a general rule. However, this doesn’t mean they’ll be high quality!
Tailwind saves so much time. It’s possible to schedule a whole months worth of pins within a few hours and use Tailwind Tribes to find that super targeted audience Ben was talking about. You can try 100 pins for free and get $15 worth of credit when you join Tailwind through this link (affiliate link).
Part 3- Scaling Dollarsprout
The key takeaway from this section is:
Pinterest helps with SEO
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) has “exploded” within the last year for Dollarsprout. But it can take 3-12 months+ to rank well for any given keyword.
Pinterest is a great way to accelerate this process and get traffic early on.
Jeff and Ben ended up doing the exact same thing they did with Pinterest for SEO on Dollarsprout…
They studied the pants off it!
Ben says that finding medium volume keywords with low competition has been a crucial part of rapidly scaling their business.
This has helped Dollarsprout go from 30,000 search users/month to over 1 million organic searches every month!
Shut the front door! I know right…
The key was then to turn readers into email subscribers
And then turn them into paying customers. Simples…
If you’d like to learn more about keyword research then check out “How to Find Keywords for Your Website“. Their research into this has been a huge factor for scaling their business.
What Does Dollarsprout Look Like Now?
Once Dollarsprout started earning more money they could scale and start to employ more people.
Personally, I think this is where Jeff and Ben have shone compared to other online marketers who have started to make a bit of money online.
Jeff mentions how he remembers hearing Kyle Taylor from thepennyhoarder.com recommend that online businesses should invest half of their income back into the business. So that is what the Dollarsprout has done.
This is how Dollarsprout looks now:
- Ben and Jeff work full time
- 2 full-time editors that are salaried with benefits and the full shebang
- They have about a dozen freelance writers
The more you listen to the podcast the more you will realise that they don’t have all their eggs in one basket. So if one affiliate partner removes their services Dollarsprout won’t get burnt.
Have you noticed that Ben and Jeff utilise their time and outsource more and more work to give them more time to do high-level thinking? Check out “Save Hours of Time with these Resources” to find more apps, websites and plugins that will save you much more time, hence, make you much more money!
Jeff makes a disclaimer here:
You do not need to go for the same targets and size of business they have built.
Saying that here’s the bit you’ve probably been waiting for. Dollarsprout’s current stats (May 2019):
- 1.4 million page views
- 900k users
- 80% from search engines
- Revenue- just under $240k
Do you remember they try to operate at a 50% profit margin? However, because they are growing so quick they are keeping more than 50% currently.
Now, let me ask you this… Would you be comfortable spending $120k in one month on expenses?
They admit they never thought they would be in this position this time 2 years ago.
So what are Dollarsprout’s goals?
- Some days they want to be leaders in the industry (personal finance)
- Other days they wonder why they’re still working so hard
But it is clear to see that they are really enjoying giving other people opportunities for meaningful work and making a difference to peoples lives.
And are you beginning to realise how modest and down to earth these guys are?
Part 4- What is a Normal Day Like Now for Jeff and Ben?
So it was at this stage that they were talking about how it’s not really about the money aspect as much any more.
It begged the question… what does a normal day look like for you now? Are they just sipping cocktails on the beach?
You’ll have to listen in to this part to see what their day is like.
It’s probably not what you think…
Dollarsprout- Top Tips for Themselves Before They Started
Here are 5 amazing takeaways that can help you in whatever venture you are thinking of starting.
This is what Jeff and Ben would tell themselves if they had a time machine
- Save more money than you think you need
- Have proof of concept! Make sure your side hustle is producing some income- Otherwise, the stress you’re under is more than you may expect
- Have an accountability partner- It could be your wife, a friend or another blogger
- Give it enough time to manifest- probably more time than you think
- Set a date to audit yourself and be prepared to pivot if it’s not working
Action for You…
This obviously depends on where you are at:
- You’re looking to start an online business or make more money with affiliate marketing
- You’ve already seen some success from affiliate marketing but want more traffic
1. Start an Online Business
This may apply to you if you are either of these people:
- Want to start an online business, but have no idea where to start
- Already have a blog (online business) but haven’t seen the results you wanted.
Disclaimer- DO NOT sign up to this email if you are looking to get rich quick without putting time and effort in.
2. Not Seeing the Traffic You’d Like?
If you have an online business (or blog) already but you are looking to grow your traffic, then there’s only one place I would recommend people go!
The BTOP “Perfect Pin” course.
Once you try this course out you will see why so many people recommend it to their friends.
For $9 it is a steal (I’ve spent over $25 a whack for Pinterest books before, that offer a smidge of value)
To be honest I put this off for a long time because I thought you can’t get that much value from $9… I was wrong!
Contact Jeff and Ben
Dollarsprout – Save and make money online and from home
Breaking The One Percent– tips and tricks for bloggers (some of their best articles have been linked to throughout these show notes)
BTOP Facebook Group (amazing community)
Jeff and Ben From Dollarsprout – Summary
Well, this has been an absolute beast of a “podcast show notes”.
I genuinely think there is too much information in here not to access it so hopefully the podcast, written content and videos may help you take some of their amazing wisdom away with you.
To summarise my main takeaways:
- Get better at using Pinterest
- Find an accountability partner
- Invest 50% of income back into growing your business
Drop a comment below to let me know what your main takeaways are.
On a personal note, I felt like these guys were so humble and genuine. They started the podcast by saying we have all day, there were no time limits on their end.
They even went as far as to say that they were grateful to be on the podcast!
If you’re like me, then you’re probably very excited to see how far they will go on this journey.
Keep changing for the better,
P.S. Please remember to subscribe and leave a review on the podcast (click here to do that on iTunes) and please share this with someone if you think it may help them.
Hi Mike, thanks for your very elaborate dollarsprout podcast post . I for one have not quite fully grasped how pinterest works and I have signed up to your course to see if I can get an in depth understanding of it. There are so many very important points made in this post, for example that making money online is very lucrative yet it is not for those who seek instant gratification, it is a normal business and requires planning, strategy, energy-time-relationships-money investment, commitment and above all a passion and curiosity that goes beyond the ordinary.
You’ve hit the nail on the head there about making money online. Jeff and Ben literally have been through all the stages you can imagine so it’s amazing to hear their advice.
The Pinterest course is a great way to get started and give you the foundations for Pinterest. But if you want to get good at it quickly and miss out all the hours of mistakes I’ve made designing and pinning to the right place I’d highly recommend BTOP’s “The Perfect Pin” course. It really is amazing for just $9! Click here (affiliate link) to see what it entails.
Hope it helps!
P.S. Please do respond to any emails you get sent from me I will check them all (I may not always be able to help but I [99% of the time] will be able to point you in the right direction)
I am fairly new to the blogging and am trying to learn as much as possible, as fast as possible.
I haven’t had so much to do with Pinterest (apart from creating an account), so its great to hear what these guys have to say.
Once of the things I did like was the way they spent their day – using the higher thinking to determine where to go next. A lot of the time I know that I can get bogged down in my tasks that I can forget to look up at the horizon.
There is a lot to take away, and I will have to come back and listen again at another time.
I think initially its wise to just get stuff out there on Pinterest, then determine what is working.
Thanks for your message. It defo sounds like you have the right mindset for this!
What I would say is that I really wish I had taken their course sooner ($9 is such a low price that I actually thought it wasn’t going to be that good) I ended up spending more money on other things about Pinterest ($25 books x2!!) that had good detail but I got overwhelmed and didn’t take action!
Their course will make your pins look amazing and help you to understand what you’re actually trying to achieve rather than shooting from the hip.
I only recommend things that I’ve personally used and feel adds insane value!
Thanks for stopping by!
“The Perfect Pin” (affiliate link)
You have me sold on pinterest. I have been aware of the power of pins for a while now but have been stalling on it for a couple of reasons – my actual site lacks content and I am absolutely hopeless as far as graphic design goes – never been artistically minded or even remotely able to use canva.
Is there a recommended beginners graphic design course that you would recommend to go along with pinterest – eye catching pins are going to get more clicks.
It does seem like such a powerful tool particularly to people bloggers starting out.
I would 110% recommend Jeff and Ben’s Perfect Pin course ($9 and that’s an aff link). It’s crazy how much info they put in that course for only $9!
Hope it helps
great post! For me Pinterest is a rather new and unknown tool. I use frequently Facebook and Instagram and although I have a Pinterest account, I barely use it.
Nevertheless, I also think that it has great potential. Do you know if there are guides how to create great graphics that convert well on Pinterest?
You sound like you’re in the exact same boat I was in before trying it out. To be honest I didn’t even have a Pinterest account!
Yeah there are heaps out there… but be warned some that I have tried are junk!
I would recommend giving the email course in the post a read as it will help to get Pinterest set up in the best way for promoting a blog. And I highly recommend Jeff and Ben’s $9 course. It’s helped so much to create better pins and see more traction (I didn’t realise how bad mine were before doing this!)
Thanks for stopping by,
Thanks for this in depth conversation/article. You have covered a lot of ground so I have bookmarked this to come back to. I have just started my own website on style but have been addicted to Pinterest for many years. I have been thinking for a while that I will start pinning my pictures and use Pinterest to get traffic to my site so it has been really helpful to stumble across this site at this time. Thanks heaps.
It honestly was not something I even considered using to promote my blog. After hearing numerous people tell me I thought I had to give it a shot to see what all the fuss was about.
Hope this helps!
I am looking to earn money on the internet and this story of these guys inspired me I will fight for my site to improve and I earn real money from the job I already left.
Glad to hear it Ananias, I hope it helps!
These guys are my inspiration. I started blogging due to their story. Thanks a lot for thia awesom discussion Mike, it was truly insightful… (I’ll be definitely stealing some of Jeff’s pinterest remarks lol) keep it going man
Yeah they are so cool aren’t they (although they wouldn’t say that!)
I just love their honesty and down to earth approach to everything. Defo one of my favourite chats, I’m glad it helped!
This post is amazing. It gives a motivation for small bloggers like me. I have started a blog and after a year. I didn’t get traffic. After that now I am learning and implementing many new things. I will surely achieve like you in some years. Thank you for this blog post.
You’re welcome Alex. Yep, it is one of my favourite chats I’ve had about this stuff.
Note- These guys worked REALLY hard to make this happen. They didn’t just put in 2 hours a week for a year and see success. They pretty much went full time asap.
Comments are closed.