Ray Blakney of Podcast Hawk talks to us about his experience bootstrapping multiple software and brick and mortar businesses.
"If you want to bootstrap a business, you better like learning and you better like making mistakes."
"The difference between a successful frugal premier and an unsuccessful one is the successful ones just kept going while the unsuccessful ones quit."
Ray Blakney is the founder and CEO of Podcast Hawk, a platform that helps you get booked as a podcast guest on autopilot. He is also the founder of Live Lingua, a successful online language school.
This is Ray Blakney's story...
Ray Blakney is a software engineer who quit his high paying job to start multiple businesses. He is the founder and CEO of Podcast Hawk, which helps you get booked as a podcast guest on autopilot. He has also bootstrapped multiple seven figure companies..
In this episode, you will learn the following:
1. How Ray Blakney bootstrapped multiple seven-figure businesses without any money
2. How Ray Blakney's first business became profitable almost immediately
3. How Ray Blakney's second business was born out of necessity during a global pandemic
[00:00:00] - Sarah St. John is the host of the Frugalpreneur Podcast. Ray Blakeney is the founder and CEO of Podcast Hawk, a platform that helps you get booked as a podcast guest on autopilot. Ray quit his job as a software engineer and has bootstrapped multiple seven figure companies.
[00:00:23] - After studying computer engineering in Silicon Valley and working in Fortune 500 companies, he quit his job and moved to Mexico to start a business. He sold his house, car, condo and all his possessions and started a chocolate factory in Southeast Asia. Now he's writing a book about his life.
[00:03:45] - In 2008, he launched a Spanish school in Queretaro, Mexico, for $2000. And it was profitable from day one. He didn't know how to build a website and he didn't do the front end very well. He was a computer programmer. He is currently doing a course called Podcast Pro. Before he wrote his first business, he had launched two successful businesses. He owned a chocolate factory in Southeast Asia and a language school in Tulum, Mexico. He read two business books a week. He's been trying different business models since 2008. He doesn't want to do it again. There was a pandemic in Mexico and the borders were closed for 30 days. This affected the business of a language immersion school. The school had to cancel all the bookings and refund all the money. It took them seven years to get to seven figures. Most people will never have a seven figure business if they stick to it for seven years. If you're 25 and listening to this, at 32, you have a 7 figure business. Even if you're 40 or 50 listening to it, you can still have a business.
[00:15:01] - In his opinion, starting an online business is easier than running a brick and mortar business. For example, for $100 you can have a professional looking business up online in a month. Brick and mortar businesses are usually run by older people who want to retire and are sold for a profit. Idea is to buy an existing business and turn it into a profitable one. He would like to buy a dry cleaner, a locksmith, plumbers or a storage unit business. He doesn't want to buy the brick and mortar business yet, as he wants to be location independent. You can buy a business with other people's money. The business pays off itself in the next two or three years and you just ride it for the rest of your life. If you want to scale it up, you hire someone to scout out all the businesses and you show up once every three months to sign the check. He wants to write a book about the process.
[00:24:37] - Ray is a software engineer and a serial entrepreneur. His main business is Live Lingua, which is the online language. He wants to get on more podcasts. He spent a weekend building a database of all the podcasts in the world. He booked four shows a month for $4000. Pat Flynn and Jordan Harbinger are both advisors and investors in Podcast Hawk Podcast Hawk has a database of every single podcast out there. It updates every 24 hours. They stay in your account, and when you have a new one, you kind of move it. It's not tied to John Smith. When John Smith leaves, you just deactivate that, and then Jane Smith comes in and you retake that seat. It just can make it easier for you to manage.
[00:39:50] -Talked about the lazy man survival mindset. According to him, lazy people are efficient people who don't want to do any more work. He likes the Peretta principle of 80% of the work. In the first 20%, 20% of work will produce 80%.
[00:41:50] - Ray Blakney is an entrepreneur who believes in frugal business strategy. He doesn't want to spend a lot of money on perfecting his product. He travels a lot and he likes the freedom he has. He drives a Mazda and doesn't care about fancy cars.
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Welcome to the Frugalpreneur podcast. I am your host, Sarah St. John yesterday quit his high paying job as a software engineer and has bootstrapped multiple seven figure companies. He is the founder and CEO of Podcast Hawk, which is a platform that helps you get booked as a podcast guest on autopilot. Please welcome to the show Ray Blakeney.
Sarah, thanks for having me on. I'd love to start with background history and especially focusing on bootstrapping multiple businesses. Yeah. So the short story of bootstrapping multiple businesses, I didn't have any money, so I really had no other choice, I guess would be the short story. I think a lot of your listeners can probably relate.
If you have millionaire parents, this is probably not too relevant to you, but I think most of us out there do not. And we kind of have to start from this bootstrapping place or go into a lot of debt and take on a lot of risk. And at least when I started off my business journey, I was pretty risk averse because I was taught that that was bad. So quick little background is born in the Philippines.
I grew up in Turkey. My dad's from the United States, but grew up in Rhodesia. I've been living in Mexico for the last 15 years. So that kind of tells you a little bit about how I like to travel. And I didn't like being tied down to any one place.
I studied computer engineering, which to the path of getting a job at big companies in the United States, which you alluded to. Right? So I worked in Silicon Valley, Fortune 500 companies, making a good salary that a lot of people, I guess, strive for. But I remember thinking to myself, there's got to be more to life than this. Specifically, there was a commercial on TV for the US.
Navy at the time. While I never thought of joining the Navy, my respects to everybody there armed forces. My uncle was in the Navy on the Filipino side of my family. Most of my family is in the army. But if you start shooting at me, I start running the other way as fast as physically possible.
So it really wasn't my thing. But the phrase that popped up during this commercial and I can't even find the commercials, such an obsolete commercial. I googled it on YouTube to try to find it, and they said if they were to write a book about your life, would anybody want to read it? And I was 25, 26 at the time. And I remember sitting there in Cleveland, Ohio, and kind of looking at it, and I'm like, no, if I keep on this track for the next 20, 30, 40 years, I wouldn't read my own book.
That's not to say I want to be famous, not the whole, I'm going to write a book and I want everybody to buy it and to be famous about it. It's more the concept of a life well lived. Right. I want to look back on my life and say, okay, yeah, this is a life that was interesting. Doesn't necessarily mean easy, but interesting.
So I quit my job and applied for the US Peace Core. I guess it's reversed. I applied for the US Peace Core. It was supposed to take me a year to get in.
It took me, like a month. And within three months, I quit my job, sold all my earthly, my condo, my car, everything, and moved to Mexico, where the Peace Corps sent me to the southern border of Mexico to work with indigenous communities down there and help them out. And that's where I met my wife. She wasn't in the indigenous community. She was my Spanish teacher.
Spanish. And when we finished two years in the Peace Corps, the Peace Corps gives you $2,000 check, which is supposed to help you pay a deposit on your rent. They pay $150 a month. While you're in the Peace Corps, they give you $2,000 saying, this is just to help you buy your bed and put a down payment on a rental, your first month deposit when you move back to the United States so you can go and get a job. I didn't do that.
And my wife and I was like, hey, let's take this $2,000, and let's see if we can launch a business. And that's how I became an entrepreneur. That was my first business, which was a chain of brick and mortar language schools in Mexico, physical schools, which we sold in 2012, I think. Yeah. And from there now I bootstrapped the chocolate factory in Southeast Asia.
I bootstrapped the marketing agency. One of the top five online language schools in the world should be Bootstrapped. And I'm Bootstrapping Podcast talk right now. Wow, that's awesome. So launching a brick and mortar, how are you able to do that, which is $2,000?
Yeah, I think ignorance is bliss, because I'm like, wow, if I knew anything about business, I probably wouldn't have done it. But I've never studied business in my life, right. I'm a computer programmer. This will be relevant later. Computer programmer.
I was a guy who, when you hit the submit button at banks, it does the fancy stuff in the background. That's what I know how to do. I don't know how to make good looking websites. Right. I mean, I'm not a graphic designer.
I don't do the front end very well. But we didn't know any better. So what we did is we rented out the city called Queretaro, Mexico. We rented out an old historic home downtown. $2,000 was enough to pay two months rent.
I had actually been working about eight months before we started on a website for it. Again, it looked awful. I mean, really bad. This is back in 2008 when you can buy nice themes for $20. I mean, it would just be how do you do HTML because when I was a program, I never needed to.
I had people send me the designs. So I learned HTML. Like marketing would be kind of nice. How do you market a website? And I learned about this thing called search engine optimization.
So I'm like, oh, it sounds kind of cool. So I kind of started doing that for about eight months. By the time we launched, we were number two in Mexico. Like if you look for Spanish school in Mexico, learn Spanish and Mexico, all those keywords, you would have come across our school. We had $2,000 to put most of it down for a deposit.
We would sleep on the floor of the school because we couldn't rent out a second place, right? So we had this inflatable mattress which came with a hole in it. So we would actually sleep on inflatable mattress, wake up on the floor, because this we slept over. A knife kind of inflatable mattress would slowly deflate, then roll it up, throw it under there's like two tables we had there, and we would start giving classes. The way we did it was since we were number one or number two in Mexico, we were fully booked the day we opened.
Of course, we asked for a 40% deposit from everybody. One of them was this big family of like twelve people. And they said, no, let's just put it all up front. We don't want to have to worry about it. So they sent us all the money via PayPal.
And my wife and I ran out and bought tables and stuff like that and decorated the walls. In the first few days, we didn't actually have enough tables for all of our rooms, so we would actually move tables between classes to other classrooms so it looked like all the classrooms were full as we were moving students in and out of it. That lasted about 60 days until we actually could fully furnish everything. And that's kind of how we launched our first school. And we were profitable pretty much from day one.
Wow, that's awesome. I don't know if I've heard a story like that before of a brick and mortar being profitable right away. I mean, I guess it helps that you are renting versus having to drop a whole bunch of money on a purchase and then being the only one there. And you have probably almost 100% of the market share there. We did.
So one of the keys there, and it's a concept that you hear a lot of online businesses, but I only in retrospect do I see that we did it. In our brick and mortar business, we pre sold, right? So if anybody who's listening is taking those courses on how to do your online course or something, what's the number one thing they teach you? Come up with that line, sell it, see if anybody buys it, then scramble and actually build it. I knew nothing about business.
That wasn't a thing back then, but that's kind of what we did. We presold almost everything. So by the time we launched, we knew that this was a viable business model. We actually knew that before because there are other Spanish schools that do this. My wife had worked in those before.
We knew foreigners came to Mexico and kind of lived with a Mexican family and all that. So we weren't inventing a business model. We were just applying it to a city where there was only one Spanish views of 2 million people, but there was only one other one competitor, and they knew nothing about online marketing. That's currently what I'm doing with a course that's called Podcast profit Pro. Starting to work on it a little bit, but I haven't started doing the video.
That stuff just more smaller stuff. So I'm pre selling it now. I learned that concept by a year or two ago. I learned it a decade after I actually did it. I'm like, oh, so that's what that was called.
The interesting thing was, so I had launched two successful businesses before I wrote my first business. We launched the language schools. The first one is called language School. It was SEO. So we just put the name of the city in front of Lower Language School just so we rank right.
Here in Mexico. We just launched those. That worked great. We launched our online version of the school, and that worked great.
I'm like, Why do people read business books? This whole business thing is so easy. Then I bombed a whole bunch of other businesses after that. And I'm like, okay, maybe I should try to start learning a little bit about this. And that was when I actually started learning.
But that was already three or four years into my journey before I read my first business book. And now I read two books a week. So don't get me wrong, I recommend that everybody do not do what I did. But that's kind of my history and how I came in there. So I had all these vast knowledge in certain areas, but these big gaps between one area and the other, because I didn't know I even had the gaps.
I didn't even know what I didn't know until I started to reach out. So then all your other businesses, have they been all online businesses? No. So most of them have. Just as a caveat, after launching the first business in Mexico, I'm not going to do it again.
Just as Mexican tax law is so crazy that I had no idea at the time. Like, our account would just say the taxes you are all these weird things, and firing and hiring people strange out here. I owned a chocolate factory in Southeast Asia. That's probably the one people are most interested in. That's absolutely brick and mortar so we had a chocolate factory there and I knew nothing about factories or chocolate or any of that kind of stuff.
But I like to say what I don't know stop me from doing something. A lot of people say I don't know that so I'm not going to do it. I say I don't know that. So I'm like okay, let me learn how to do it. YouTube video to see how I could design boxes.
And my chocolate boxes came out really well. They look like gold bars as we were called. So they were like gold bars. And then I designed the whole story behind the chocolates. Each one was like a gem.
So you'd open up like sapphires, rubies and all the rest and I do Spanish names because that worked in the Philippines. My partner knew the actual chocolate production process. She won a scholarship to go to get Belgian study chocolate tearing. So we did the capital investment, I did the product and the brand design. I ordered the boxes from China.
I had no idea such as the concept of minimum order quantity to even existed. Can you send me ten other like what are you talking about? Minimum 50,000?
We had to find somebody who eventually could give us 5000 which was like the minute the smallest factory we could find was like $5,000. I really hope people buy this shop that's what a $5,000 just negotiating with foreign export. I have no idea what I was doing there. I stumbled through that. But that's kind of the fun.
If you want to bootstrap a business, if you want to be appropriate, you better like learning and you better like making mistakes because otherwise you're not going to make let's be honest, I mean you have to go out there and you'll have to try something that's not going to work. You're going to try something else. It's not going to work. You might try 100 different things before you find what actually works. The difference between a successful frugal premier and an unsuccessful one is the successful ones just kept going while the unsuccessful ones quit.
Yeah, exactly. I've tried a million different business ideas or models and it wasn't until since 2008 I've been trying different things and it wasn't really until the past couple of years that found my thing. Which is basically all things podcasting. So then you start doing some online things like Live Lingua. That's right.
So Live Lingua was actually the second successful business that launched out of our school. So what happened there was I think it was six or eight months into us launching our brick and mortar school. There was something in Mexico called the Mexican swine flu which was this big thing. It was supposed to be this global pandemic and if anybody has deja vu, pretty much that was supposed to be what COVID is. Right now we're recording towards what I hope is the end of COVID right now, right?
So for a period about 30 days, they shut down the borders of Mexico. Nobody was in, nobody was out, and it contained this pandemic. Now, our school, because we only have one at the time, we expand three later. All of our students came from the US. Europe, Canada, even some from Asia to Mexico for a language immersion experience.
So if you close the borders, Mexico, suddenly we have no students anymore, right? So suddenly all the bookings were canceled. We had to refund all the money. The worst part was that our teachers were contractors, so literally they would work a week, and then we pay them at the end of the week. I went to pay for the end of the month, but that's culturally not done here because budgeting is not a thing.
So you pay them on Friday, by the following Friday, they have no money, right? If I paid them for a whole month on the first of the month, by the 7th of the month, they'd have no money, right? I mean, it wouldn't matter. It's not that I would pay them the same amount, so I had to pay them every single week. We had a responsibility to them, right, because they were working for us.
If we could bring it to students, they couldn't pay rent, they couldn't pay for the kids school, they couldn't pay for food. So it was actually my wife who had the idea of contacting all of our old students and say, hey, you guys want to have class on Skype? I mean, this was a novel concept back in 2008, right? And so I emailed them all out. This was before active campaign and all the rest.
I literally was copying the email addresses at a time, google to the BCC column and just sending out emails. Pretty sure I messed up on one of them. And it was like in the CC. So all these emails got shared. Poor surprise, like 20% to 30% said, yeah, that sounds awesome.
Let's start that. Really? So I'm like, okay, let me just throw up a digital website, see if anybody else in the world would possibly be interested in taking the Skype Spanish lists. So I threw up the website, did some SEO within three months. So the swipe flew fizzled out 30 days.
So within three months, the school was fully booked again, but we were actually making as much money and within three months on our online inside hustle than we were with our brick and mortar school. It was called the Spanishlastonsoflight.com or something back then, right? So we're like, maybe we're onto something. We expanded that out to all these little micro sites, English lessons, online French lists, all that kind of stuff. And within about a year or two, we will make way more money off of that than brick and mortar.
So that's why we decided to sell the brick and mortar school. We sold it and then like a few months later, google decided to do something called a Penguin Update. You can Google it if you're interested in the websites. All twelve or eleven or twelve of our websites disappeared from Google, like over my gone. So I had to build a business again.
It's pretty much I knew the business model worked. I knew that people would sign up for this kind of thing. So I rebrand. I had this corporate page called Live Linguist. Nothing on it.
It was just like, here's our corporate page, just to make the other eleven mini pages look a little more efficient. So I just re put that on the website and I started from the ground up and I built the business again. It took us about two years to get back to where we were before. And I like to joke, it took us seven years to get to seven figures. That's the title of my book, seven Years to Seven Figures.
And nobody would buy it because everybody wants the 30 Day Solution to how to make a million dollars, right? Nobody wants to hear that you work but off for seven years to start making good income. What I found out later, now that I have a lot of friends who are entrepreneurs and business owners, most of them take seven to ten years to get to a seven figure income as well. So seven years to seven figures is the more normal journey, especially if you're a frugalpreneur
If you want to start your own business without going into debt, you can have to put on a lot of the sweat equity yourself, and it's going to take you realistically, seven years to get to about seven figures. It's not so bad, trust me. If I was working as a software engineer, I wouldn't be making seven figures. I mean, no matter how, if I work for seven years, right? If I were 20 years, I probably would.
It sounds like a long time, but most people will never have a seven figure business if you stick to it for seven years and you get a seven figure business. If you're 25 and listening to this at 32, you have a seven figure business. Trust me, you're fine. Even if you're 40 or 50 and listening to this. If you're 15 listening to about 57, you have a seven figure business, you're still fine for the rest of your life.
It's that kind of time scale that we're talking about here. So that's a long winded answer. So did you find that doing online businesses was easier? Because I primarily focus on online businesses just because there's hardly any overhead. So I assume at least in my experience, because I did have a photography business for a while, which I didn't have a brick and mortar location for, but I still had the expensive equipment and had to go out and drive everywhere anyway.
So even that I decided, was too expensive for me to run. So then I started doing online stuff. So in your experience of doing both, I'd be curious to hear your thoughts. Absolutely. Well, there are a few caveats in here.
I'll start with the backstory. I love entrepreneurship and business now. It's my passion. It wasn't before I built it into one, so I could talk about a lot of different things. So generally speaking, the easy answer for me is yes, online business is the way to go.
It's what I would recommend, especially if you're appropriate, go for the online business. Right. There's one exception that I'll mention at the end. Beauty of online is you can start it up for almost nothing. You can go to Namecheap, and I think it's like $9 per year for a domain and maybe basic hosting.
I mean, there's almost no overhead. Put in the sweat equity. It's what we talked about, right? You might not know how to make a website, then go to UW, buy a $5 WordPress course. Learn how to put up a WordPress website.
Go to ThemeForest and buy a theme for $50. So your website actually looks good. We're bootstrapping it's not zero, but like, for $100, you can actually have a very professional looking business up online. I would say that by the end in a month. And that's assuming you know nothing, like, you're my parents level of technical where I say click on the mouse, and they're like, which side?
There's three buttons here. Like, it didn't even hurt to me to tell them to click on the left. Right? If you're that level, you can still launch an online business in like 30 days. If you're dedicated, you spend some time for about $100.
Then you have to do the marketing SEO. I still recommend that it's not good for your blood pressure because they randomly change Google algorithm and you can go up and down, but it is free. All the other things people teach Facebook Ads, Google Ads, generally, there's a good amount of money there. You can also go down the social media side, but that getting traction there takes a lot of work. Right.
I think on your age, let's just say going on Instagram and posting personal photos might not be really the thing that's going to kind of get you a lot of trash. So, absolutely go into online businesses. If this is your first foray into business, it's an easy learning curve with very little risk. The one exception I have for brick and mortar businesses have been exploring this area recently is one thing that I would do for brick and mortar is buy an existing business in a really boring industry. Right?
So if you're trying to make quite a bit of money, for example, you could go and get a local dry cleaners in the town that you live in. Sarah you in Dallas, go and buy a local dry cleaners, right? Few benefits to this. Generally those businesses are run by older people who want to retire. They're being sold for one to two times even.
So earnings before income taxes and accruals, which means profit for all practical purposes. So let's just say this business is making $50,000 a year. They can assault to you for $100,000. You can get an SBA loan for $100,000 relatively easily. Or you can even negotiate with the owner of this dry cleaner.
It's like, look, I'll pay you instead of $100, I'll give you 120, but you give me three years to pay you off. So I'll pay you like 40,000 a year. So you're actually making like $10,000 a year off this purchase without actually using any money yourself. But at their age, they just want to get out. And they're like, I'm done.
I'm tired. I've been doing this for 40 years to get out. So that's step number one. Step number two is since they're older, they're probably not good at online marketing. So teach yourself online marketing.
I mean, if this person is making $50,000 a year, they probably don't have a Facebook page. They might not even have a Google, like on Google Maps, they're probably not even listed with a photo. These basic things that you could do in a weekend might take that $50,000 business up to a $70,000 business to $100,000 business. Ideally you want to buy a business, but like the teams in place too, so you're not buying a job. So you're not going to buy from that person who runs the dry cleaner.
And then you're going in, you're doing the dry cleaning every day, right? There should be a business person in place. Those businesses I would buy because I know I can do online marketing way better than somebody who's probably 70 years old has been running that business. It's already profitable. They already have the stuff in place.
All I have to do is go in there and maybe run some basic Facebook ads to it using the money that they're already making. It's not my own money. I'm going to use that $50,000 of profit, just kind of throw it back in business for the next twelve months to kind of double it up. Then that works. You made the money, you pay it off in two years.
You buy the dry cleaner and the next town over, and then the next town over, and then the next town over. Pretty soon you own all the dry cleaners in your area. And now you've even consolidated expenses because instead of having one full person in each dry cleaner, you now one phone person answers the phone all day for all twelve of your dry cleaners. Instead of you get cheaper prices for the soap because you're not buying it for one dry cleaner. You're buying soap for twelve dry cleaning.
But all these different things, they can do. So you can take the profit up there. That's something I hope to explore in the next five, four to five years. I think I could build a million dollar business there in about three or four years that way. So that's my exception to it.
It's not building my own, it's buying an existing one in a really boring industry. Yeah, that's an interesting I hadn't really heard of that before. The only thing I've heard of someone talk about was buying storage units or having a storage unit business. Well, the thing about storage units though is you still are running it yourself, right. Unless you're buying like a place that has 100 storage units and comes with the security guards and the managers and all the rest.
If you have your own storage unit, you have to worry about renting it out. You have to do all the rest of it. If you're buying a storage unit business, most of which are very profitable, then it means you have an office manager already. You probably have a marketing guy and a salesperson and all the rest of it, then it's worth your time. But you're probably not talking for a $50,000 business anymore.
That's a few dollar purchase. Look at dry cleaners. Look like, what's the most boring business that you can see that just been there for like 20 years in your area? Right. Those kind of things like locksmiths, plumbers, those kinds of businesses.
That's the kind of thing I would look at. Stuff that's not sexy, it's not going to make it on the news, none of that kind of stuff. They only make fifty dollars to two hundred thousand dollars a year, which I say only because that's a good amount of money. Right. But they make fifty dollars to two hundred thousand dollars a year and you can buy them for one or two years of their income.
Balding wires on online businesses are five to 30 X, right. So you want to buy a $50,000 online business, you're looking between $200,000 to a million dollars right. To buy that same business. There are definitely things that you want to do. I'm not too into it, the brick and mortar yet because I like being location independent.
You and I were talking before the call. I live in Mexico now. I'll move into the beach in eight weeks with my wife and son. Why not? It seems like a fun place to live.
Because I don't have to be around my laundry mat. Right. I mean, I don't have that kind of thing to do. But if your life is somewhere and you're not looking, just hopping around the world every few years, I think that's a really cool option for a lot of people. The only other thing I've thought of, if there's land available near something popular, creating a parking lot and then charging like $30 a car.
Absolutely. Well, that's the thing. There are a lot of great. Business ideas out there. But if we're talking frugal side of things, right, you need to buy the land.
You need to have the money. You either need to get into a huge amount of debt, get out of mortgage for the property, and then get out another loan to actually cement it over and put a parking lot there and then hire some staff on the whole. So there's a lot of money. If it works, you're rolling in the dough. But there are these other options.
You don't need as much money as I said, you can buy a business with somebody OPM other people's money. It's not my phrase. Somebody else came up with it, right? But essentially, you can negotiate with that person who really wants to get out of the laundry map business, and you just kind of come up with a deal where you pay them off over three years. Literally, they're paying their own money back, right?
So it's a zero money. Maybe they'll actually put $10,000 down just to make sure you're serious, but you paid $10,000 down. Then the business pays off itself in the next two or three years and you just ride it for the rest of your life. Or you double the size and then you sell it. You flip it in a few years because you just do basic Facebook and then you can replicate that process over and over again because you got it to work with one laundry mat.
Just find another laundry mat that matches exactly the criteria, makes $50,000 a year, has to be placed. And it's really bad at online marketing, right? You just have your own little checklist and you just keep on going around the city until you find something that doesn't you're like, okay, same deal. And the owners between 50 to 70 years old, approach them and just do it again. Do it again.
It becomes a little machine. In fact, if you really want to scale it, you move it up. You hire somebody to actually do what you do and just scout out all these businesses. And all you do is show up and sign the check, sign the actual line when you purchase the business. Once all the due diligence has been done on the business, you just kind of show up once every three months.
You sign it. You say, Good. Do what you did. You tell your manager, do what you did for that other laundry bat on this laundry mat. And then you walk away and you wait for your checks to come, and you come back three months later and decide it again.
You're like, do it again. And they walk away, right? Yeah. Whenever you actually do start doing that, you should write a book about the process. I don't even know if there is a I mean, maybe there's a book out there about that, but I've never seen one about what you're talking about.
Ideas are easy. Doing them is the hard part. And honestly, so I aspire to write a book one day, but right now I can't spell my name without spell check. So I have to get that first and then let's get into writing. And I have so many things going on right now that I definitely want to write.
I want to write that. I want to write science fiction, fancy notes, which is for my personal interest on site. But I don't want to be a starving artist. I want to be an artist who sold multiple million dollar businesses first so I don't have to worry about money. Then I can sit down and quote unquote waste my time writing fantasy novels on the one of them takes off because I know my wife, my son are taken care of and I'm not going to be out on the street.
And this does work out. You had mentioned you have a lot of different things going on, and one of the most recent things I think that you've launched that I'd love to talk more about this podcast hog. Can you give an explanation of what that is? I know I mentioned it in passing in the intro. Yeah.
So quick little backstory. The origin story, I guess, of podcasts. I seem to come up with really good business ideas during Pandemics. My main business, my biggest business still is Live Lingua, which is the online language, right?
So we were in a lucky place that when COVID hit, we were one of the businesses that did really well business, sign up to one of 40%, probably one of 40% within 30 days because everybody was stuck at home. And they're like, well, I might as well learn better in Chinese or Spanish or Italian and everything. That's what we do. We match you up with live tutors and we match you up. We're like an online language.
We took a brick and mortar language school and we moved it online is essentially what Live Link was. And we do the typical marketing, Facebook Ads, Google Ads, SEO, that's kind of our main channels on there. And I was like, okay, this is a good time. Everybody wants to get online. I need to find a new marketing channel.
I had been on a few podcasts in the past, so I speak at conferences, and I have some friends who are podcasts, but maybe 20 over four years, just casually, if somebody met me, I'd be on their podcast. I'm like, well, the podcasts are fun. I should go out there and try to get on some more podcasts. So I do what everybody does. I went on Google.
It's podcasts, right? It's like Google web podcasts. After spending an entire day doing that, I had a list of between 50 to 70 podcasts that were relevant for me to pitch. And I was sitting back. I'm like, okay, there are about 2 million podcasts in the world, and I just spent an entire day, and I only buy 50 or 70 and that you go through and half of them aren't active anymore, or you find Joe Rogan.
As much as I'd love to be on Joe Rogan, he's probably not having me on the show, right? The ones that show up on Google are not the shows that I could be on. So I'm like, okay, there's got to be a better way than this, right? So I started looking for softwares that helped find podcasts and get booked on there. Couldn't really find anything, right?
There are softwares that help you search. There are all these different broken things out there, but there was nothing that really did this. Maybe agencies do this for you. So I reached out to podcast booking agencies, then I got the price. I was like, are you kidding me?
I'm like, we're talking, if you're lucky, of high hundreds to tens of thousands. I'm lucky to these agencies. Like, we'll be in relationships. You want like four shows a month. I'm like, I'm not paying you four grand.
I can have four shows a month. Can you guarantee download trip? No. Well, the host report their downloads, but we have no way of verifying it. I'm like, so you're saying that could be paid $1,000 to get on a podcast where the kids in his parents' basement with a microphone with nobody listening to a show, and they're like, yeah, that could theoretically happen.
I'm like, no, I could pay $4,000 for that, right? So me being a software engineer and a serial entrepreneur, I'm like, well, if nobody has created a solution to that, I might as well do it myself, right? So that's the side hustle as most of my businesses are. I grid the MVPs myself, minimum Viable Products, and I wonder if there's any way I could find all the podcast. Can I get all the podcasts in the world into a database?
So I spent the weekend and I'm like, okay, yeah, it's physically possible. I mean, it took much longer and then a weekend to get all the podcasts in the world to a database, but I'm like, it is physically possible to do can I get contact information for all these podcasts so I can't spend a weekend? I'm like, okay, physically possible to do? Yes. The contact information from software sources is going to be about 70, 75% accurate.
I have some ideas that could fix that. I spent the next three to six months building the MVP myself where I got every podcast, got all the contact information, and I put it into this really rustic looking system. And I'm like, okay, so you could go in there and let's say, Sarah, you wanted to be on podcasts about selling courses for your upcoming course, right? So you could say, give me every podcast, whether we're courses in the description that have at least 50 episodes that have at least 1.5 stars. 13 reviews have released an episode in the last two weeks and has the word flamingos in the title.
Because you like flamingos. I challenge anybody who's listening to do on Google and see how long it takes you on our system. You click Search and within one or 2 seconds you'll have every podcast in the world. We have a database of 2.2 million podcasts that matches that criteria. Then I was like, okay, so that was the first part that I built.
This is kind of cool. I shared with some friends and they were able to download the email addresses and all the rest of it, but they're like, now I have to manually email all these people myself and send the follow ups and all the rest of it. There is software out there that helps you do that, but we're talking like $70, $50 a month subscription. I'm like, okay, I did do that for a month or two. And I'm like, okay.
It caught me on a lot of shows. I'm like, I wonder if I could build that email system too. So I set out, I built the email system. We're still in the beta at this point when we're doing this podcast. So there's still some bugs in there.
But essentially what our system allows you to do is you find all those podcasts, then you manually could add anyone you like to our campaigns because sometimes you run that search and not everything is relevant. I did a tour on travel podcast. I've been on almost 200 shows in the last year. And you're surprised how many Disney Cruise podcasts there are out there in the travel category. And I'm like, I've never been on Disney Cruise.
I need to eliminate all those Disney Cruise podcasts right from so I manually added you can add the multiple campaign and then depending on the plan you pay for, you do that. We help you create custom pitch emails. We have templates you can use, but you can also do yourself. It has the insertion, so you see like high first name. You can customize the parts.
We have a customization wizard. So if you want, like, the higher level podcast, we score podcast from zero to 100 within our system. You can go in there, all the episode, you can list all the episodes on the left, the descriptions on top with all their URL, Facebook pages. You can click on that and it opens it up in new tabs. You can customize the pitch to every podcast from within our system.
You don't have to go around and look for this stuff. You can go on there like, Sarah, I just saw you went out for great barbecue in Dallas because you happen to post that on your blog last week, right? I mean, you could see that from our system. You hit save and then once you built your campaign, let's say you went in there and you build a campaign, you have 2000 podcasts you want to pitch. Depending on our plans, we'll pitch 25, 50 or 100 on autopilot.
So once you build a campaign, you hit start and we get about 10% response rate. Like if you find good podcasts and you have a good pitch. So at our lowest one at 25, you're getting on a podcast every other week. At our highest one at 100, you're getting on about two or three podcasts a week on that one. But you no longer have to do anything because our email just keeps getting sent out and it's not like a big bulk.
We send out one or two to three a day, so it looks natural. It's all that, we'll send the three day follow up if they don't answer. We'll send a seven day follow up if they don't answer that. We'll send a 14 day follow up if they don't answer that. And you never have to log back into our system until we get a reply.
And then you get an email, Sarah, saying, Sarah, somebody just replied to you one of your pitches and then you take it from there. Calendar link or intake form, they might be asking for more information at that point. You kind of do it and you kind of finish up the process. But the actual pitching, we do every single thing for you. So you hit that, you don't log back into our system again.
You have to change anything for the next year, two years, depending on how it takes you. Wow. Yeah, that's very automated because of the whole email campaign thing within it. But then even as important, I think is the fact that you give each podcast like a score based on, I guess how many reviews they have, how. Many episodes, everything we have social media likes, we have all of that.
We put it in there, as you say. As you know, we don't know the download numbers right. So a lot of other sites try to pretend they do and they give you like this weird range of download numbers, which I have friends who have very high level podcasts and they look at those and they just laugh. Those aren't even close. Whether too high, whether too low, it's a side name drop kind of thing to see how much of the podcast industry, if you're familiar with Pat Flynn or Jordan Harbinger, they are both advisors and investors in podcast stock, so they are actually helping us out.
So I meet with them every two weeks as well. So those are two of the people who told me, I'm like, yeah, those download numbers on those other sites, no, because they know their actual download numbers. And for those of you not familiar with them, they're two of the top podcasters. They're related niches. I think Jordan is actually one of the top 20 or 30 talk radio podcasters in the world.
And he kind of advises us the company as well. Yeah, it's interesting you mentioned both of them. I've had Pat Flynn on my show, and I just had Jordan Harbinger. His episode actually went out today the day that we're recording this. So how interesting.
I am honored to be interviewed on the same podcast as those two things. Yeah, and I knew Pat Flynn was involved because that's actually how I found out about podcast Hog was because on his website where he lists his recommended resources or whatever, but I didn't know about Jordan Harbinger being connected. He's newer. He's been in the last two months. So he was with us for, I think six to eight months.
I'd have to check exactly Jordan's more. I've known Jordan for years, so I know him and his wife and met his kids yet. But hopefully I'll be seeing him again in two months. I'll be hanging out with him up in North South Carolina, one of those places. There's a little get together over there.
But he just recently joined us as an adviser. So it might be one of the first podcasts I'm mentioning now. Oh, wow. Well, that's very interesting. I did sign up for it a while back ago and did like the trial period.
And I'm actually thinking about actually signing up for a plan now. But I was kind of messing with it. I was like, wow. So I onboarded the first about 100 people that signed up for podcast, right? And one of the stories I love is one of the first kind of people I onboarded was a burlesque dancer.
So she came on there and she was saying, are there any podcasts on Burlesque Dancing? And I'm like, I'll be honest. I have no idea. This is not a search I have ever run before. So I help her create her first campaign and we run a burlesque dancing.
I'm like, there were almost 200 burlesque dancing podcasts in the world. I'm like, you learn something new every single day. But I guess I have 2.2 million podcasts. There'll be 100 and something that are in this range. She was able to pitch and get on most of them.
And now, no matter what poor, lengthy podcast you listen to, you probably going to hear an interview with her because she's been on almost all of those podcasts. That's the power of podcasting. And Sarah, you know this as well. It's what's the other OPA, right? Other people's audience, you get in front of the audience that these other people have created for you, right?
And there's a level of trust because good podcasters, they vet their guests. It's not just like anybody wants to go out there. And don't get me wrong, podcast Talk is not a spamming software. We will send it the highest level, three emails a day. We have people contact us.
Like, I want all of it. I want to email all 1 million podcasts. I'm like, don't come to us. This is not what we do. The reason is we want to make sure we're matching the best guests with the best podcast posts.
So you as a guest need to bet the podcast host and you know that the podcast hosts are going to be you. I'm telling you, 10% response rate, that's pretty good for cold email marketing. But that means 90% of the people are still not going to do it because they bet the guests. You might not be a good fit for their show. And that's kind of how the whole podcast ecosystem works.
And that's how we want to help facilitate through Podcast Hawk, right. We want to make sure if you're a big podcaster like Pat, Jordan and Tim, you probably get more people than you know what to do with pitching. If you're just starting off or even in the mid tier, though, sometimes it's hard to find good guess. So I'm a failed podcaster multiple times over, so I've had podcasts, and I'm sorry for anybody who's bought those courses where they say all you need to do is buy a microphone and you're a podcaster. If you believe that I have a bridge in Brooklyn, I'm willing to sell you.
Right. Because podcasting is a lot more work than that. You have to find the guest. You have to bet the guest. You have to do backwards if you want.
You have to research them so you have good questions, connect with your audience and you have to record there's all this kind of stuff. Again, if you're a frugalpreneur, you don't have money to be paying $500 an episode for audio editor to be editing all of your podcasts. That's a lot of work. That's a lot less work going on somebody else's show who's done all that work for you and talking for 30 minutes to an hour about something you're passionate about. So to me, podcast guesting is a great way to do that.
People have these amazing stories to share. If you don't mind, Sarah, a little bit of, I guess, free promotion on our end. We give free accounts, our podcast talk to anybody who has a message that's going to make the world a better place. So if you do that, go to our contact. If you work for a charity or social enterprise you're trying to add global warming, email us to our contact page.
We will give you a 100% free premium. Not like the low level when they try to upsell you and you have to pay for the higher ones highest level we got. We will give you 100% because we want to help those people get their message out there absolutely. For free. Oh, wow, that's awesome.
I wasn't aware of that. Yeah. And something that you had mentioned about how Podcast Hawk differs from others is that you have a database of every single podcast out there versus just people who happen to sign up. So you're not going to have every podcast out there. Does it automatically update itself then?
Every 24 hours. Wow. It will have a new podcast pop in there. Oh, wow. So I have a podcast production agency that I just launched.
Well, it's production and management and marketing and like the whole thing. But I started thinking about helping people get on podcasts or if someone has a podcast, helping them find the right guests and all this stuff. Could I use Podcast Hawk as an agency? Absolutely. So right now this is not public, but since you and I are no, it's not a secret, it's just I guess nobody's asked me that on a podcast before.
It's when people ask me tell them. But we are building the agency dashboard right now. So we're going to open that up for a few agencies. We have two or three agencies in the midst and if you're interested Sarah, just send me an email afterwards, I'll introduce my partner, we'll put you on the list. It might not be there to be there until the end of Q 3 2022, but you can use our system as an agency right now.
It's a little more cumbersome, but pretty much what we do for agencies is you're going to come in there and all of your clients are going to have their own individual podcast hock account. So, Sarah, you've used it. You know how the individual account looks, but an agency account is just one level above that. So essentially you can go there and you have a list of all your clients. You click on it and opens up their individual accounts, start running all these different campaigns for all these different accounts.
So you're like, okay, for my client, a, they want to get on marketing podcast, hit send when they reply, it comes to you with a client and you can actually take the onboarding from there. Why? And B wants to get on sales podcast or travel podcast. You have that campaign running all of it with nice little reports on the top so you can see how each one of the campaigns are doing the reply rates and all the rest of it for anybody who's there. And we sell it for the agency by seat.
So let's just say you start off with that's the minimum, we have ten clients, kind of the minimum agency account we're going to open. But let's say you have 50 clients and then two clients leave. We just take those down. You have two more seats free. They stay in your account and when you have a new one, you kind of move it so we don't say, oh no, you opened this for a client, John Smith, and now you have to pay us for the rest of your for John Smith.
It's not tied to John Smith. You just have this extra seat there. When John Smith leaves, you just got to deactivate that and then Jane Smith comes in and you retake that seat and you put them in there. So it's not like a fluctuating cost for you every single month. So that's how it's going to work for agencies.
It just can make it easier for you to manage. You can manage thousands of campaigns all from one little window and you'll see how every single one is doing. I can't guarantee this in this short in the next year, but we'll eventually going to even have these exported reports so you could brand them. So if I'll have your logo on it just like auto export you look PDF file, you can just send that out to all your clients. It's your report for your podcast for the last month and it'll all be done from within our system.
Wow. Yeah, that's awesome. Yeah, I'll definitely be emailing you about that. Yeah, let's do it. Let's do it.
One thing that I wanted to ask you about that I think I heard you talking about on Entrepreneurs on Fire was about the lazy man survival mindset. Can you go over that? Absolutely. So what most people don't know about me is I'm kind of lazy, right. I don't like doing more work than absolutely necessary and that's where my lazy man survival mindset kind of comes in and it takes a little bit.
So I am a very lazy entrepreneur. What does that mean? Lazy people are actually extremely efficient people because they don't want to do any more work. That's absolutely necessary. Right.
So that is the mindset that I go to with entrepreneurship. What is the least amount of work I can do to get this task done and up to the preemptive principle? Because I do believe in done is better than perfect or something like that is the thing that kind of goes. Out there, right, or good enough is better than perfect. Exactly, something like that.
But you get the basic idea. Right? I like the Peretta principle. 80 20. Do 80% of the work in the first 20% of your day or 20% of work will produce 80% of the results.
Right. So the way I like to describe that is if you're a perfectionist, you spend 100% of the work, you get 100% of results. Me, as a lazy person who's trying to be efficient, I can do for 20% and I now have 360% of the results that still have 20% of my day free to go play computer games while you as a professional have spent a whole day to do it and you get one third of the results. That I that is the beauty of the lazy man's mindset. When you're going towards lazy man means try to be efficient so you can go and lie down for the rest of the day and watch TV if you want.
That's kind of the mindset you have to go into it with. If you can apply that to being disciplined as well. Then suddenly you're lazy, but you're actually getting a whole lot of things done because you're getting them done so efficiently, not effort, wasting any work. You'll actually reach your goals a lot more quick. Yeah, I love that, because I don't think that's really something that people talk about, or at least describe it in that way.
So one problem a lot of entrepreneurs have is perfection. Like, oh, it has to be perfect. But it will never be perfect. Yeah, that's the thing. You'll never put out the book or the course or this or that if you wait until it's perfect.
Yeah, listen to that. I think it's jack Dorsey from Twitter says, if you're not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you waited too long to launch. I love that, right? Because I'm like, yeah, even podcast up now is embarrassing to me. Right?
There are bugs in there, and there's like, the way that certain features work, I'm just like, wow. The way my head I have it all designed out by head, right? It's going to work perfectly this way. Yeah. The world doesn't work.
I'm like, oh, never expected a user to actually do that, right? And it crashed the system. I'm like, no. Why did somebody put an image into the text view? Why would you do something like that?
What somebody does, right? And the server crashes. Little things like that. So if you're working for Perfect, don't do it. Especially when you're again, in the frugal mindset that we're talking about.
Perfection is something for the realms of these, like, million dollar companies, right, where they could pay a design company millions of dollars so that your next iPhone looks flawless. If you have millions of dollars to spend on that, don't spend it on that. Retire. I was like, do something for fun. Why are you wasting your millions of dollars on Perfecting?
The look of your website? That's a waste of time, in my opinion. Be clear about what your goals are in life. My goals in life is not to build the next Facebook. I absolutely would not want to build the next Facebook.
That's not something I'm at all interested in. I like the freedom I had before my son was born, before Covet. My wife and I would travel three months out of the year and we would just work. We work from an island of Capri in Italy. We've worked from Japan for a month.
I've been in Chiang Mai. We've got Morocco. We were out in the sand dunes. That's what I live for. I drive a Mazda.
I don't care about fancy cars. I don't have a huge house. None of that stuff is important to me. So be very clear what you're building, the business forms. You might end up building the business, a successful business that makes you miserable just because you're trying to follow what the other books tell you to do, right?
Like what you need to build the next Southwest Airlines. There's a reason why Fortune 500 CEOs, like, 60% of them are divorced, right? I mean, the amount of sacrifice necessary to get up there and I don't know how much joy those people actually have in their lives, so they try to fill the joy with stuff. Now, there's nothing wrong with that if that's what makes you happy. But for me personally, that's not what I'm working for.
I'm working for freedom. I have the freedom to work when I want, the freedom from where I want, and not to work when I want. And you don't need that much money for that. I mean, if you make 100 grand, 200 grand, 300 grand a year, most people will be perfectly happy. A lot of people are happy $50,000 a year.
So keep that in mind whenever you're launching your business. Don't build the business you're going to hate. Yeah, good points. I've loved this interview. I really appreciate your time.
And if people want to check out Podcast Hawk, it's podcasthawk.com. And RayBlakney.com That's Rayblakney.com. I'll have show notes with links to all of these different things @thesarahstjohn.com/ray. Awesome. Well, I really appreciate your time today.
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